The tragic life-story of King Khusrau Parvez – part 3

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Roj Dae-pa-Adar Mah Adar, 1381 Yz.

First comes glory, then destruction. This is nature’s truth and it played out in case of Khosrau Parvez too. The 38 years of prosperity and peace brought a slight arrogance in the King. But now the tide turned. A severe outbreak of plague struck the empire, killing thousands of citizens and destroying crops. This caused the tax collection to falter, rousing the King’s ire. Given his uncompromising nature, the taxes were forcibly collected, causing much pain and hunger among the common people. As their patience stretched thin, their loyalty and devotion towards Khosrau Parvez began to wane. This was precisely the moment the underground Mazdak movement was waiting for.

In its years of suppression, the movement had managed to gather a very large following, even amongst the nobility. As resentment against Khosrau grew, a group of these traitorous nobles met in secret to plan out the next course of action. The head of this nefarious group was none other than Farrokhzad, the Vazir of Khosrau Parvez! After discussions, the nobles devised a stratagem. They decided to free the weakling Shirooy from his house arrest, stage a palace coup and depose the King, and appoint Shirooy in his place. Given Shirooy’s Christian loyalties, he would let the Mazdakites have a free hand in the empire. Moreover, his weak nature would be easy for the nobles to manipulate to their whims and fancies.

The nobles selected one of the senior most members of their cabal, called Tokhar to run the entire operation. Tokhar gathered a small group of superbly trained warriors who were totally loyal to him and approached the palace complex where Shirooy was living under virtual house arrest. Under cover of darkness, the warriors silently killed the few watch guards and secured the complex. Tokhar had the lad Shirooy dragged out of the complex and brought in front of him. The hapless lad had no idea what was happening and began trembling as he was brought before Tokhar. ‘Where is my father, why have I been brought outside the palace complex?’ he kept on muttering. Tokhar spoke to him sternly: ‘Shut up and listen to me very carefully, boy! Stop asking silly questions and get ready to accompany us and do our bidding. Remember the King has 16 other sons, each better than you and each more qualified to sit on the Divine Throne of Iran. If you do not agree, soon the King will have one child less! Now what will it be, quickly boy, I don’t have time to stand here and talk to you! The country awaits a new ruler!’

The stern words had the desired effect on the impotent boy. Without a word, he agreed and followed Tokhar and soon the group of conspirators came up to the main palace where the Shah Khosrau Parvez slept, in the bower with his beloved Shirin. Now it was the custom in ancient Iran that the guards on night duty would patrol around the palace complex. As each hour passed, the guards would call out: ‘the third hour passeth! May King Khosrau Parvez rule forever and may his name be promulgated far and wide!’ But as night fell and as Tokhar’s group were freeing Shirooy and bringing him to the palace, the traitor Vazir Farrokhzad gathered all the guards of the palace and gave them new instructions. As they patrolled, they were commanded to replace the name of Khosrau Parvez in their night call with Kobad – the Iranian name of Shirooy. The resentment against the King was so great that the guards did not have to be pressed too strongly to join the mutiny.

Late in the night, as Tokhar got along Shirooy, Farrokhzad gave the signal. As the hour passed, the sentries called out: ‘the fourth hour passeth! May King Kobad rule forever and may his name be promulgated far and wide!’ In the luxurious bower as the King slept with his beloved Shirin, she awoke as the guards called out the passing hour. But as the name of the emperor was changed to Kobad, a.k.a Shirooy, a terrible coldness passed through her body. She urgently awakened the King and made him hear the call of the sentries. In the halls outside, the sound of guards running around to secure the complex and find the King could be heard. Time was short, decisive action was necessary. The King realized his time was up and decided to slip out of the complex. As he put on his armour and weapons and took hold of a massive golden shield, his thoughts went back to the word of the great astrologer who had told him: ‘After 38 years of glory, on Roj Dae-pa-Adar of Mah Adar, your crown and your glory will be reduced to dirt.’

As the King took along a trusted bodyguard and escaped through the numerous tunnels built for this purpose, he recalled that indeed it was Roj Dae-pa-Adar of Mah Adar! With a broken heart and bleeding eyes, the deposed King made his way out of the tunnel and into the countryside.

Readers of Frashogard, indeed even today it is Roj Dae-pa-Adar of Mah Adar! This event which we have described took place on the night of 23rd February, 628 AD. It is 1385 years to the day that we are tracing the beginning of the decline and fall of our monarchy and our motherland! Spare a thought for the King and his glory and downfall.

As Firdausi says:
What of this swiftly turning sky say we,
Which never rests from its instancy ?
It gives unto one the royal crown,
Another to the fishes in the sea.

One man has head and feet and shoulders bare,
No peace, no food, no shelter anywhere;
It gives to another drink of milk and honey ;
furs, brocade and silks to wear!

Dust and the darkness of the grave await
Them both. To be unborn would best abate
The sage’s cares, for never to have been
Is better than to be for small and great.

Such is this tyrant Hostel’s (this world) wont ! You must
Look not upon it with an eye of trust.
Of all things cultivate a generous mood.
And let your thoughts be ever bent on good.

When you shall say: “The world has granted me
My wish” then mark ! That wish will prove to you
A bond and snare. If so you can abstain
From thought of ill and list this sage’s strain.
Here will your soul from every fault be freed
When you do rightly both in word and deed.

[to be continued…]

Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram