The tragic life-story of King Khosrau Parvez – part 5

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Roj Aneran Mah Adar, 1381 Yz.

‘Firstly’, the King rejoined to his wayward son, ‘only he who is without fault should point out the fault of others. Besides, much of what has been written has been penned not by you, but by others who are using you for their own selfish purposes. Be that as it may, here are my replies to your accusations: Firstly, your allegation that I killed my father is untrue. He was, in fact, killed by my uncles, who misled me in the first place and caused bad blood between me and him. Once the real enemy – Behram Chobin was killed, I therefore extracted my revenge and had the uncles murdered, since they had themselves killed my father. What was wrong in that?

‘Secondly, about your allegation that I placed you under house arrest for no rhyme or reason, there is definitely a good reason for my doing that. The palace astrologers had all counseled me that you were born under very bad stars and would cause untold harm and destruction not only to me and my family but to the whole country. It was to shield you from any outward influences and bad company that I had you secluded in the hope that maybe I could lessen the impact of the planets on you. But that was not to be. You fool, the astrologers had even predicted that you would make your foolish move or Roj Dae-pa-Adar of Mah Adar, but I never took that as a threat and had you finished off, which I could easily have done!

‘Thirdly, you call me oppressive and an excessive wealth-seeker. But whatever tribute I  have taken from the neighbouring countries is only after consultations with their respective Kings. All of them have the deepest respect and love for me. Taking of a tribute is a right, in exchange for their protection and stability of their Kingdoms. Whatever taxes I have collected from the farmers and peasants was as per the rates and measures laid down by King Khosrau Noshirwan the Just. Remember my wayward son, that Kingdoms run on taxes. There is no cruelty in enforcing the tax code. It is for the good of the empire. Also remember that the cursed Behram Chobin had ransacked the treasury and I had to start from scratch all over again. But with my efforts I raised the treasury to great levels and used the riches for the benefit of our countrymen. What was wrong in that?

‘Regarding my relationship with the Caesar and the refusal to return the Cross of Christ to him, let it be known to you that while I am grateful to the Caesar for providing me with an army in my time of need, my defeating Behram Chobin had nothing to do with the Caesar’s help. He did not help me defeat Behram Chobin. It was the help and Divine assistance of the Yazads that I could do so. I gave countless dinars and riches to the Caesar in return. He asked for a piece of wood. What value does that piece of wood have? If it were really the Cross of Christ, then it should have disappeared from my treasury and appeared with the Caesar, just as Christ had disappeared after his death and re-appeared again amongst his followers! By returning a piece of wood, I would have become the laughing stock of Kings throughout the world. Emperors exchange gifts of value and prestige, not something like this.

‘Finally, you ask me to seek forgiveness from you! From you! How dare you even say those words! The Yazads gave me my throne and crown and they have taken it back from me. The Yazads made me taste sweet success and now bitter defeat. They maintained me for 38 years in a style no other King has ever enjoyed. I have enjoyed great success and honour in this world and soon I will receive the same in the other world. Only the Lord Ahura Mazda is my saviour and my redeemer! I have no fear of death, for death is the reason for being born! Where are the emperors Hoshang, Tehmurasp and Jamshed today? Where the beloved and blessed Faridun? Where the master archer Arash, where the mighty Kayanian Khoreh holders Kobad, Kaus and Kaikhushroo? Where are the valiant warriors Rustam and Zal, Aspandiar and Godrej and his seventy sons? Where the mighty King Gustasp in whose reign the blessed religion was revealed and the wise Vazir Jamasp? Where is my illustrious grandfather Khosrau Noshirwan?

‘Just as all of them have gone and left behind their legacy, taking nothing with them, so also I will depart shortly. But remember my words of prophecy, my wayward son! Soon a terrible calamity will strike our beloved nation! You will all be destroyed by in-fighting and jealousy and intrigue. Father will kill son and son will kill father. Neither will remain the King, nor his kingdom! The army will disappear and the empire will end. The very name of Sassan will be obliterated from the pages of history! When a King like me and the others I have mentioned are no longer there, what will happen of you, pathetic Shirooy and your court! Avast, from here you miserable courtiers, take this message of mine to your tin pot King!’

As the ashamed courtiers heard the reply of their real King, they trembled in their shoes and moistened their eyes. They apologized for their impertinence and took leave of the valiant Khosrau. With fear in their hearts about the coming days, they conveyed the reply of King Khosrau Parvez to the pathetic Shirooy.

When Ashtad and Kharrad Burzin delivered Khosrau Parvez’s reply to Shirooy, the son didn’t know what hit him! He raised his hands in the air and beat himself on the head with them, wailing loudly. Shirooy was under the mistaken notion that perhaps Khosrau Parvez would still reconsider and tender an apology to him. He therefore decided to let Khosrau live for another month, in the Mahrespand palace. This was of course, really bad news for the courtiers and army leaders who had overthrown Khosrau and appointed the weakling. A month is a very long time in politics and they had great fear about Khosrau Parvez’s ability to somehow free himself and then wreak vengeance on those who had betrayed him. The conspirators slunk out of the court quietly and gathered at a secret meeting place to decide on the next course of action.

Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram