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Zoroastrian Heritage

Author: K. E. Eduljee





The epic

The Poet Ferdowsi


Writing & Books

Oral Tradition

Ferdowsi's Sources

Khvatay-Namak / Khodai-Nama

Achaemenian Era Book of King - Basilikai Difeterai


Other Legends

Ferdowsi's Original Work Lost

Differences in Shahnameh Copies

Reconstruction of an Authoritative Shahnameh

English Translations

Spelling of the Names

Resources-Persian Text


Ferdowsi's Manuscript

Earliest Surviving Manuscript Copies Known

Recent Manuscript Discovery in Beirut

Illuminated Manuscripts

Great Mongol/Demotte Manuscript

Bayasanghori Manuscript

Tahmaspi/Houghton Manuscript

Elation, Regret & Hope

Shahnameh's Characters

The Heroes - Story in Brief

English Translation

W = Warner & Warner
A = James Atkinson
Z = Helen Zimmerman

1. Prologue W

2. Creation W

3. Gaiumart W

3. Kaiumers A

4. Hushang W

5. Tahmuras W

6. Jamshid W

7. Zahak W

3-7. Shahs of Old Z

8. Faridun W

9. Minuchihr, Sam, Zal, Rustam W

10. Naudar W

11. Zav W

12. Kai Kaus 1 W

13. 7 Courses of Rustam W

14. Kai Kaus 2 W

15. Kai Kaus 3 W

16. Warriors W

17. Suhrab W

18. Siyawush W

19. Kai Khusrau 1 W

20. Kai Khusrau 2 W

21. Farud W

22. Kai Khusrau 3 W

23. Rustam W

24. Rustam's Exploits W

25. Bizhan W

26. Gudarz W

27. Great War W

28. Passing of Kai Khusrau W

29. Luhrasp & Gushtasp W

30. Gushtasp & Zardhusht W

31. Asfandiyar's Seven Stages W

32. Asfandiyar W

33. Asfandiyar's Fight with Rustam W

34. Rustam & Shaghad W

35. Bahman W

36. Humai & Darab W

36a. Humai & Darab A

37. Darab & Dara A

38. Sikandar A

Satire on Sultan Mahmud A

The Heroes - Story in Brief


The Characters

Locale - Sistan

Pahlavans & Their Role


Zal Woos Princess Rudabeh

The Birth of Rustam

Rustam's Horse Rakhsh

Rustam Meets Princess Tahmina

The Tragedy of Sohrab

Page 10

Chapter 8


How Naudar succeeded to the Throne

The mourning over, Shah Naudar exalted
His royal crown o'er Saturn and gave audience
Upon the throne of Minuchihr, bestowing
Drachms and dinars upon the troops. The nobles
Did reverence with their faces in the dust,
And said: "We are the bondslaves of the Shah,
Our eyes and hearts are full of love for thee."
But matters changed, the monarch proved unjust,
Laments went up on all sides, and men's heads
Were whitened by the Shah. He blotted out
The customs of his sire and grew severe
To chief and archimage, spurned gracious ways
And was enslaved to pelf. The peasants rose,
Bold spirits claimed the realm, and tumults followed.
The unjust Shah in terror wrote to Sam,
Then at Sagsar within Mazandardn,
And first invoked the Maker of the world,
The Lord of Venus, Mars, and Sol, who made
Both ant and elephant? Naught is beyond
His power, or too minute for His regard.
Now may the Master of the sun and moon
Have mercy on the soul of Minuchihr,
The Shah, through whom the glorious crown grew bright,
My predecessor on so great a throne;
And may as many blessings light on Sam,
The hero, as the clouds shed drops of rain;
May that redoubted glorious chief be sound
In heart and mind, and sorrowless in soul.
The paladin of earth should know, I ween,
All matters close or open. Minuchihr,
Before he closed his eyes, spake much of Sam,
And I too have a warm supporter in him,
Who - paladin and favourite - watched over
My father's realm, illuming throne and crown.
Now things have reached this pass that save thou takest
Thy vengeful mace the throne will be abolished."
Whenas the letter came Sam sighed. At cockcrow
The sound of tymbals rose within the court,
And from the Kargasars he marched a host
Such that the green sea had been lost therein.
The magnates in Iran went out to meet
The approaching troops, dismounted when near Sam,
And spake with him at large of all the actions
Done by Naudar, and how he was unjust
And left his father's footsteps recklessly.
"He hath made earth a desert," they protested,
"His fortune that was wakeful is asleep.
He walketh not in wisdom's way, the Grace
Of God hath left him. How would it be if Sam
With his shrewd mind were seated on the throne?
His fortune would regenerate the world,
The country and its throne would both be his.
We all would serve him and would pledge our lives
For fealty to him."
But Sam replied:-
"Would God approve? Naudar hath royal blood
And sitteth belted on the royal seat.
Could I lay hands upon the realm and crown?
Impossible! One should not hear such words.
Would any chief dare say this publicly?
If but a daughter of Shah Minuchihr
Sat crowned upon the golden throne the dust
Would be my couch whence I should joy to gaze
Upon her. If Naudar hath left the way
Trod by his sire it hath not been for long,
The iron is not so rust-eaten yet
As to be hard to furbish. I will bring
The Grace back and make all desire his love.
The dust of Minuchihr shall be my throne,
The print of his son's horseshoe be my crown.
We will speak much with him, and by our counsel
Bring him good fortune. Ye! repent yourselves
Of what hath passed and tender fresh allegiance.
Unless Almighty God and Shah Naudar
Shall pardon you, the Shah's wrath is your portion
On earth, and fire your dwelling-place hereafter."
The chiefs repented and made fealty
Afresh; that prosperous-footed paladin
Made earth grow young throughout. When Sam had reached
The presence of the Shah he kissed the ground.
The Shah descended from the throne, embraced
His captain, seating him upon the throne
With greetings and unbounded compliments.
They feasted for a week with harp and wine,
All offered their excuses to Naudar,
And bare themselves as subjects. From each province
Came tax and tribute out of fear of Sam,
The swift of wrath. Naudar sat on the throne
In splendour and in undisturbed repose,
Till in the presence the chief paladin
Arose and asked permission to depart,
Threw wide the door of counsel to the Shah
And told again the goodly histories
Of glorious Faridun and Shah Hushang
And Minuchihr, the lustre of the throne,
And how they ruled earth justly and gave alms
And would not countenance iniquity.
Sam brought the monarch's wayward heart to reason,
Warmed the chiefs' hearts toward him, rendering
All justice and injustice at his hands
Acceptable, and having said his say
Both to the nobles and their sovereign
Went with a robe of honour from Naudar,
With crown and throne and signet-ring and slaves,
With steeds whose furniture was wrought of gold
And two gold goblets all a-brim with rubies.
So matters stayed awhile, but heaven above
Revolved not o'er Naudar in peace and love.

How Pashang heard of the Death of Minuchihr

News of Shah Minuchihr's decease, and how
Things fared ill with Naudar, came to Turan,
Whose folk held commune with the malcontents.
Pashang; the Turkman ruler, also heard
And contemplated war. He spake at large
About his sire Zadsham, talked big of Tur,
The throne of Minuchihr, his troops, his warriors,
His princes and his realm, then summoned all
The captains and grandees, as Ighriras,
Barman, and Garsiwaz, that raging Lion
Kulbad, and generals like skilful Wisa,
The leader of the host. He also called
His son Afrasiyab, who came in haste,
To whom he said concerning Salm and Tur :-
"We may not hide revenge beneath our skirt,
For all whose brains are level in their heads
Knowhow the Iranians have entreated us,
And always girded up their loins for ill.
Now is the time for action and revenge,
The time to wash the blood-tears from our cheeks.
What say ye now? What answer do ye make?
Advise me well."
His words inspired Afrasiyab
With zeal, he bragged before his sire with loins
Girt up and vengeance in his heart? To fight
With Lions is my work, I match myself
Against Naudar, and if Zadsham had warred
He had not left the world in such ill plight,
But had become the master of Iran.
Now whatsoe'er my grandsire left undone
Of vengeance-seeking, fight, and stratagem,
Is left for my sharp sword to execute.
The time of turmoil is the time for me."
Pashang grew keen for battle as he marked
The lofty stature of Afrasiyab,
His elephantine might, his breast and arms
So lion-like, his shadow stretching miles,
His tongue a trenchant scimitar, his heart
An ocean and his hand a raining cloud.
Pashang commanded him to draw the sword
Of war, and lead an army to Iran.
A chief whose son is worthy of his name
May raise his own head to the orb of day,
For afterwards, when he hath passed away,
The son will keep alive the father's fame.
Afrasiyab, high-wrought and full of vengeance,
Went forth and opening the treasury
Abundantly equipped his warriors;
But when all things were ready, Ighriras
The counsellor, heart-musing, sought his sire,
For thinking is the business of the heart,
And spake on this wise? Mine experienced father,
The highest of the Turkman race in valour
Although Iran hath now no Minuchihr,
Sam, son of Nariman, is general;
There are besides Kishwad, the brave Karan,
And other men of name among the folk.
Thou know'st what Salm and valiant Tur endured
Through that old wolf and sworder Minuchihr,
And yet Zadsham, my grandsire and our king,
Whose helmet touched the circle of the moon,
Ne'er spake a word of such a war, or read
The book of vengeance in the time of peace.
'Tis better for us to restrain ourselves,
Because this madness will confound the realm."
Pashang said: "That brave crocodile, Afrasiyab,
Is as a lion on a hunting-day,
An elephant of war in battle-tide.
Call him a bastard that would not avenge
His grandsire's wrongs. Depart forthwith and counsel
Afrasiyab in matters great and small.
So when the crumple-skirted clouds are gone,
When rains have drenched the wastes, when hill and plain
Give pasture for the steeds, when herbage riseth
Above our warriors' necks and all the world
Is green with corn, then camp upon the plain;
Midst rose and verdure bear a gladsome heart,
And lead the whole host onward to Amul;
Tread Dahistan beneath the horses' hoofs,
Speed and incarnadine the streams with blood.
Thence Minuchihr departed to the war
To take revenge on Tur, thence did his powers
Advance against us like a murky cloud,
And by that token it is your turn now
To send the dust up from their nobles' heads.
The refuge of the army of Iran
Was Minuchihr, and he adorned the throne.
Why fear the lranians now that he is gone?
They are not worth a pinch of dust. I fear not
Naudar, who is but young and raw. Karan
Will be your foe, and one more warrior -
Garshasp. May ye so treat them on the field
As to rejoice our fathers' souls, and burn
Our foemen's hearts."
The prince said: "Blood shall run
Along in streams ere my revenge is done."

How Afrasiyab came to the Land of Iran

When herbage made the plain like painted silk
The warriors of Tciran girt up their loins;
An army marched forth from Turin and Chin
With mace-men from the Western lands-a host
Without a middle or an end; withal
The fortune of Naudar was young no longer.
As these approached Jihun he heard the news
rind drew forth to the plain toward Dahistan.
Karan, who loved the fray, was general,
Behind him came Naudar, the king of kings,
And all the world was filled with bruit of warfare.
The host approaching Dahistan concealed
The sun in dust. They pitched the camp-enclosure
Of Shah Naudar before the hold. Brief respite
Was theirs, because Afrasiyab, who then
Was in Irman, sent thirty thousand warriors,
With Shamasas and Khazarwan as leaders,
Toward Zabul to take revenge on Zal,
For "Sam," they heard, "is dead, and Zal is busied
About the obsequies."
Was pleased, perceived that fortune was awake,
Marched forth to Dahistan, and pitched against it.
Who knoweth how to reckon up his host?
Go count a thousand o'er four hundred times.
Thou wouldst have said: "The sands and uplands seethe,
The wilderness is naught but ants and locusts."
With Shah Naudar were seven score thousand men,
And certes they were warlike cavaliers.
Afrasiyab surveyed them and despatched
By night a cameleer to bear Pashang
A letter? The expected good hath come,
Naudar's whole host is as a quarry to us,
And Sam is dead. I feared none in Iran
But him. His death alloweth our revenge.
Zal is engaged upon the obsequies
And hath not foot or feather for the fight.
By this time Shamasas is in Nimruz
Enthroned and crowned. Prompt action well advised
Is best for us; occasions will not wait."
The camel spread its wings and went apace
Toward Pashang, that king of sunlight grace.

How Barman and Kubad fought together and how Kubad was slain

The van appeared in front of Dahistan
As morn rose o'er the hills. The armies camped
Two leagues apart in warlike pomp. A Turkman,
By name Barman - one who bade sleepers wake -
Approached, spied out the whole Iranian host
And viewed the camp-enclosure of Naudar,
Returned, reported to his chief, and said:-
"How long must all our prowess be concealed?
Now if the king permit I will engage
Our foemen like a lion. They shall see
My skill and know no hero but myself."
"But if in this," said prudent Ighriras,
"Some misadventure should befall Barman,
Our marchlords would be cowed, our folk discouraged.
Nay, choose we rather one of small account,
For whom we need not bite our nails and lips."
Then lowered Afrasiyab, ashamed to hear
Such words, and frowning spake thus to Barman :-
"Put on throe armour and string up thy bow;
It will not come to using teeth and nails."
Barman pricked forth and shouted to Karan :-
"In all the army of the famed Naudar
Hast thou a man who will contend with me? "
Karan looked round upon his mighty men
For one to volunteer, but none responded
Save valiant old Kubad. The prudent chief
Was grieved and troubled when his brother spake,
And wept for wrath, and there was room for it
With that great host, that, with so many young
To fight, one old man only volunteered.
Vexed to the heart about Kubad, Karan
Addressed him thus in presence of the chiefs:-
"At thine age thou shouldst not contend with one
Fresh, ardent, young, and daring, like Barman,
Who hath a lion's heart, and head sun-high.
Thou art an honoured chieftain, and the centre
Of counsel to our Shah. If thy white locks
Grow red with blood our bravest will despair."
Mark his reply in presence of the troops:-
The The rolling sky hath given me enough.
Know, brother! that the body is for death;
My head and neck were meant to wear a helm.
My heart hath been in anguish from the time
Of blessed Minuchihr until this day.
No mortal passeth into heaven alive,
Man is death's quarry; one the scimitar
Destroyeth mid the mellay, and the vulture
And lion tear his corpse; another's life.
Is ended on his bed. Beyond all question
We must depart, and if I quit the world
My tall and lusty brother is still safe.
Make me a royal charnel in your love,
Give musk, rose-water, camphor for my head,
My body to the place of endless sleep.
This do, live peacefully, and trust in God."
This said, he grasped his spear and sallied forth
Like some fierce elephant. Barman exclaimed:-
"Now hath fate put thy head within my reach.
Well hadst thou held aloof, for time itself
Would have thy life."
"The sky," Kubad replied,
"Gave me my share long since, and he whose hour
Hath come will have to die where'er he be:
That time is not ill-timed at any time."
He spake and urged his sable steed, denying
His ardent heart all rest. The two contended
From dawn till shadows lengthened. In the end
The victory was Barman's, who as he rode
Hurled at Kubad a dart which struck his hip
And pierced his belt. That ancient lion-heart
Fell headlong and so passed. Then with cheeks flushed
With pride and satisfaction came Barman
Before Afrasiyab, who gave him gifts
Unprecedented as from king to liege.
Karan the battle-lover, when Kubad
Was slain, drew out his army and attacked.
The two hosts seemed as 'twere two seas of
Thou wouldst have said: "Earth shaketh."
Then Karan
The warrior rushed forth and Garsiwaz,
Huge as an elephant, confronted him.
The chargers neighed, the sun and shining moon
Were hidden by the dust-clouds of the host,
Swords diamond-bright and spear-heads steeped in gore
Shone mid the dust - dust like a rainy cloud
Wherethrough vermilion droppeth from the sun,
A cloud whose marrow thrilled with tymbal-din,
While liquid crimson drenched the falchions' souls.
Where'er Karan urged on his steed the steel
Flashed like Azargashasp, and thou hadst said
"His Diamond sheddeth Coral." Nay, shed souls.
Afrasiyab beheld and led his troops
Against Karan, and with insatiate hearts
They fought till night rose o'er the hills, and then
Karan withdrew the host to Dahistan.
With heart distracted by his brother's death
He came to the pavilion of Naudar,
Who on beholding him let tears down fall
From weary eyelids that had seen no sleep,
And said: "Since Sam the horseman died my soul
Hath not grieved thus. Live thou for evermore,
And sunlike be the spirit of Kubad.
A day of joy and then a day of grief,
Such is the wont and fashion of the world'
No fostering will rescue us from death;
Earth's only cradle is the sepulchre."
"I have resigned to death," Karan replied,
"My doughty body even from my birth.
'Twas Faridun that put my helmet on
That I might tread the earth to avenge Iraj,
And hitherto I have not loosed my girdle,
Nor laid aside the sword of steel. My brother -
That sage - is dead. I too shall die in harness;
But be of cheer, Afrasiyab to-day
Was straitened, and he called up his reserves.
He saw me with mine ox-head mace and eagerly
Attacked me; eye to eye I fronted him.
He used some magic and my keen eyes lost
Their vision, night came on and all was dark,
Mine arm was tired of striking. Thou hadst said:-
'The End hath come.' The sky was overcast,
And we were forced to quit the battlefield
Because the troops were spent and it was dark."
The opposing hosts reposed a while, and when
The morrow dawned began the strife again.

How Afrasiyab fought with Naudar the second Time

The Iranians drew up for battle royal,
And what with thundering drum and blaring trumpet
Thou wouldst have said? The earth is tottering."
Afrasiyab, when he beheld, arrayed
His army opposite. "The sun hath set,"
Thou wouldst have said, earth was so dark with dust
Of horsemen. Mid the war-cries none could tell
A mountain from a plain, host grappled host
And blood ran like a river where Karan
Sought for the fray, and where Afrasiyab
Towered till Naudar approached and challenged him.
They strove together, spear confused with spear;
No serpents ever writhed together so;
How could kings battle thus?
They fought till night
And then Afrasiyab was conqueror,
For more were stricken on the Iranian side
And still the foemen's battle was unbroken.
The Iranians turned their faces helplessly,
Abandoning their camp upon the waste.
Naudar was grieved that fortune should besmirch
His crown with dust, and when the tymbals ceased
He sent for Tus, who came with Gustaham,
All sighs and grief. " What pain is in my heart!"
He cried, recalling what his dying sire
Foretold? An army from Turan and Chin
will come against Iran, grieve thee and bring
Disaster on thy troops."
"The words are now
Fulfilled," he said, " the arrogant have triumphed;
But who e'er read in tales of famous men
Of any that led forth such Turkman hosts?
Go ye to Pars to fetch the women-folk
And bear them through the passes to Alburz.
Take unperceived the road to Ispahan,
Else ye will break our soldiers' hearts, inflicting
A second wound. Some haply of the seed
Of Faridun may scape of all our troops.
I know not if I shall behold you more
Because to-night we make our last attempt.
Have scouts out night and day to watch events;
If they give evil tidings of the host
And say: ' The Glory of the king of kings
Is dimmed,' grieve not too much at heart; high heaven,
Since it had being, bath been ever thus.
Time bringeth this to dust while that enjoyeth
A royal crown. Death, whether violent
Or natural, is one - a throb then peace."
Naudar with tears of blood embraced his sons.
The royal pair proceeded to depart,
But he remained and with a heavy heart.

How Naudar fought with Afrasiyab the third Time

The host reposed two days, but when the sun
Rose on the third the Shah was forced to fight.
Then like a foaming sea Afrasiyab;
Dashed at the army of Naudar, the war-cry
Rose from the camp-enclosures mid the din
Of trump and Indian bell, the tymbals sounded
Before the Shah's tent, and the warriors donned
Their iron helmets. None had thought of sleep
Within the camp of great Afrasiyab;
All night they had made ready, sharpening
The swords and double-headed darts. The earth
Was filled by armoured men with heavy maces.
Karan was marshal of the central host
Whereto the Shah and he were towers of strength.
The Shah's left wing the hero Taliman
Claimed for himself, and bold Shapur the right.
From morning till the sun had left the dome,
Hills, plains, and wastes were indistinguishable;
Thou wouldst have said: "The sword's heart is enlarged
And earth is groaning underneath the steeds."
But while the javelins put the earth in shade
Defeat drew ever nearer to Naudar,
And as his fortunes sank the Turkmans' rose.
Upon the side where bold Shapur was stationed
The ranks were broken and the troops dispersed,
But he maintained his post till he was slain.
The Iranians' fortune turned away its head,
And many another chieftain of the host
Was killed or wounded on the battlefield.
Now when the monarch and Karan perceived
The stars averse, they fled before the foe
To Dahistan, and there maintained themselves,
Cut off from all outside it. Night and day
They fought in the approaches. Passed a while.
Now since Naudar had refuged in the hold,
Where horsemen could not act, Afrasiyab
Made ready and despatched a force by night,
Bethought him of the chieftain Kurukhan,
Of Wisa's race, and bade him lead them forth
Along the desert-route to Paars, for there
The Iranians' homes were situate, and men
In trouble make for home. Karan heard this
And, moved with jealousy and grieved at heart,
Went in as 'twere a leopard to Naudar
And said: "Behold how base Afrasiyab
Is dealing with the monarch of Iran!
He hath despatched a countless host of troops
Against our warriors' women. Should he get them
Disaster will befall our men of name
And we shall hide our faces in disgrace;
So Kurukhan roust be attacked forthwith,
And by the leave of the victorious Shah
I will pursue with speed. Thou hast a river,
Provisions, and right zealous warriors.
Stay thou; be not concerned. Thou canst defend
Thyself with ease, so play the lion's part,
For monarchs should be brave."
Naudar replied :-
"Not so, the host hath none like thee to lead them.
'Twas for our homes that Tus and Gustaham
Went forth at beat of drum, and they will reach
The women in good time, such is their speed,
And take the needful steps."
The mighty men
Went to the sleeping-chamber of the Shah
Where presently they sat and called for wine
To purge their hearts of sorrow for a while.
When Shah Naudarwas well bemused he went
Behind his curtains, meditating vengeance,
And those brave chief's - the Iranian cavaliers -
Departed in disorder from the court
To assemble at the quarters of Karan,
With eyes like winter-clouds; with much debate,
They all agreed? We must set out for Pars
Forthwith or else our wives and little ones
Will all be broken-hearted slaves, all captured
Without a struggle, and who then will wield
The spear upon the plain or rest in peace? "
Now when these three - Shidush, Kishwad, Karan -
Had taken counsel for the whole emprise,
And half the night had passed, they made them ready
To sally forth. At dawn with heavy hearts
They reached what men in those days called "White Castle."
There found they Guzhdaham the castellan
Together with his watchful warriors
Beleaguered by Barman, who held the road
With troops and elephants and valiant chiefs,
And erst had wrung the heart of brave Karan
Who, eager to avenge his brother's blood,
Assumed his mail, prepared his men for action,
And made for Pars. The brave Barman was ware
And like a lion met him on the way.
Now when Karan saw mid the dust of fight
That man of blood he grappled with his foe,
All lion-like, not giving time for ruse,
But closed at once, invoking God for succour,
And pierced the Turkman's girdle with a javelin
Through mail and buckle. From his charger's back
Barman fell headlong, the bright orb of day
Turned dark to him, his army's heart was broken,
His soldiers fled. Karan the chieftain then
Went on toward Pars with all his valiant men.

How Naudar was taken by Afrasiyab

Naudar, on hearing that Karan had gone,
Sped after him, all instant to escape
The evil day, lest heaven should trample him.
Afrasiyab gat tidings that Naudar
Had sought the waste, collected troops, and followed
As 'twere a lion. Drawing near he found
The foemen ready for a running fight,
And as he marched mused how to take the head
That wore the crown. They fought all night till noonday,
And earth was dark with warriors' dust. At length
The Shah was taken with twelve hundred nobles;
Thou wouldst have said: "Their place on earth is void."
strive as they might to flee they were ensnared
Within the net of bale. Afrasiyab
Put into bonds the captured host and Shah.
Though thou shouldst sit in conclave with the sky
Yet will its revolutions grind thee down.
It giveth majesty and throne and crown,
It giveth too despair and misery.
It playeth friend and foe, and proffereth thee,
At times a kernel and at times a shell;
It is a conjurer that knoweth well
The sleights of every form of jugglery.
Although thy head may touch the clouds, it must
Have in the end its place amid the dust.
Afrasiyab gave orders? Search," he said,
"The caves, the hills, the waters, and the waste
That fierce Karan may not elude our troops."
But hearing that Karan had gone to save
The women he was furious. " Let Barman,"
He bade, "speed forth and lion-like pursue
Karan, and bring him me a prisoner."
They told the monarch how Karan had served
Barman, and brought him from his steed to dust;
Whereat Afrasiyab was sorely grieved,
Food, rest, and sleep were bitterness to him,
And thus he spake to Wisa: "Let the death
Of this thy son steel thine own heart, for when
The son of Kawa warreth leopards shrink
Before his spear. Go with a valiant host
Well furnished, and take vengeance for the lost."

How Wisa found his Son - that had been slain

So Wisa, chief of the Turanian troops,
Departed with a noble, vengeful army,
And saw before he overtook Karan
His loved son lying slain, his banner rent,
His kettledrums o'erturned, his shroud of blood
Like tulips, and his face like sandarach;
While warriors and chieftains of Turan
Were flung in numbers with him on the route.
The sight grieved Wisa so that thou hadst said:-
"His heart is rent by anguish," while his eyes
Wept scalding tears. He sped to catch Karan.
Thus like a torrent Wisa rushed along
And shed calamity throughout the world.
"He marcheth on in triumph gloriously,"
Such was the news that reached Karan, who sent
His Arab horsemen forward to Nimruz
And followed there himself - the Sun of earth.
Now when from Pars he reached the waste, a dust-cloud
Appeared upon his left, and from the dust
The sable flag emerged, while from the van
The Turkman chief led on his host. Both armies
Arrayed their ranks; the warriors sought the fray.
Then from the centre Wisa shouted, saying:-
"Gone to the winds are crown and throne of greatness.
All from Kannuj up to Kabulistan,
Ghaznin too, and Zabulistan, are ours
Our throne is graven on their palaces,
Where wilt thou refuge since the Shah is taken? "
The other said: "Karan am I, and cast
My blanket on the waters. Neither fear
Nor any idle rumour sent me forth.
I marched to fight thy son, and having taken
Revenge on him will take it now on thee,
And show thee how brave warriors fight."
They urged
Their chargers on, the clarions blared, dust rose
To left and right and moon and sky waxed dim.
Men grappled eagerly and showered blood.
Karan and Wisa met once in the mellay,
But Wisa turned away and fled the field
Where many a chief had fallen, yet Karan
Pursued not. Wisa, broken by misfortune,
Appeared before Afrasiyab in pain
And weeping for his son that had been slain.

How Shamasas and Khazarwan invaded Zabulistan

The expedition from Irman went forth
Against Zabul, and Shamasas advanced
Toward Sistan in haste, while Khazarwan,
With thirty thousand famous men - good swordsmen
Marched warily as far as the Hirmund
With glaive and mace, and fortune at its height.
Now Zal was at the burial-place erecting
In pain and grief a charnel for his father,
While brave Mihrab, whose mind was on the alert,
Was in the city, and despatched an envoy
To Shamasas. When this man reached the camp
He gave his master's greetings, saying thus:-
"For ever may the monarch of Turan
Continue bright of heart and wear the crown.
Zahhak the Arab was mine ancestor,
And little do I love mine overlord,
But by alliance have I purchased life
Because I saw no other course. At present
I dwell within the palace, ruling all
Zabulistan. When Zal went whelmed with grief
To bury Sam my heart rejoiced, and I
Will never see his face again. I ask
The famous paladin for time to send
Afrasiyab a prudent cameleer;
'Twill shorten matters if he know my mind.
I will despatch him fitting gifts besides
The tribute, and if he saith 'Come,' will stand
Before his throne, resign to him my realm,
And joy in him. I will not vex the paladin,
But send him every kind of hoarded wealth."
Thus one hand held back Shamasas and one
Was stretched for help. He sent a messenger
And said? Fly! Ply thy feathers and thy pinions,
Announce to Zal what thou hast seen, and say:-
'Pause not to rub thy head but come at once,
For of the Turkman host two paladins,
Like leopard's claws, advanced to fight with me;
But when they were approaching the Hirmund
I put their feet in fetters of dinars.
Now if thou waitest to draw breath but once
Our foes will have their will.'"
The envoy came
To Zal, whose heart forthwith was all a-flame.

How Zal cane to help Mihrab

Zal hearing this had the gold trappings placed
Upon his steed, and faring night and day
Rejoined his troops. Whenas he saw Mihrab
Unmoved and full of knowledge and good counsel,
He thought? What cause have we to fear this host,
For Khazarwan is but a pinch of dust
To me? "
Then to Mihrab: "O man of prudence,
Approved in all! now will I go by night
And lay a hand upon the foe for blood.
They shall be ware that I am back again,
Back with full heart and ready to avenge."
He marked the stations of the hostile chiefs,
Then drew his bow amain and shot three arrows
Of poplar, bough-like, arching through the sky
In three directions, and a clamour followed.
When it was day the soldiers gathered round
And marked the arrows, saying? They are Zal's!
None other shooteth with such shafts as these."
Cried Shamasas: "O Khazarwan, thou Lion
Hadst thou not been remiss in fight, not dallied
So with Mihrab, his army and his treasure,
Zal had not troubled thee."
Then Khazarwan :-
"He is but one, not Ahriman or iron.
Fear not, for I will grapple him anon."
Whenas the bright sun crossed the vault were heard
Drums on the plain, and in the city sounds
Of tymbals, clarions, gongs, and Indian bells.
Zal donned his mail apace, bestrode his charger
As swift as dust, while all his warriors mounted
With vengeful thoughts and frown's upon their brows.
He led the army forth upon the plain;
Equipped with elephants and camp-enclosures,
Where host encountered host and made the waste
As 'twere a darksome mountain with the dust.
Then Khazarwan with mace and buckler rushed
To counter Zal, and smote his glittering breast
A blow that brake his famed cuirass. When Zal
Withdrew the warriors of Kabulistan
Retreated, but brave Zal armed him afresh.
His head was wroth, his blood was up, he brandished
His father's mace, while Khazarwan advanced
To challenge fight, a roaring Lion he,
Before the host. Zal had no sooner raised
The reek of fight than Khazarwan was on him
As quick as dust, while Zal in fury charged
His foe, and brandishing the ox-like mace
Smote Khazarwan upon the head and made
The ground as 'twere a leopard's back with blood;
Then flung him down, trod on him, passed along
And led the army forward to the plain,
Inviting Shamasas to come and fight,
But Shamasas came not; his blood was chilled.
Zal next descried Kulbad amid the dust
And shouldered his steel mace. Thereon Kulbad,
Observing Zal with mace and scimitar,
Endeavoured to escape his foeman's sight,
But Zal the cavalier strung up his bow
And lightly aimed at him a poplar arrow,
Struck full upon the girdle of Kulbad -
A girdle that was wrought of links of steel -
And pinned him to the pummel through the loins.
His troops' hearts burned for him while Shamasas
Despaired, his face paled when those chiefs were slain,
And he and all his army in full flight
Dispersed like sheep upon a stormy day,
Pressed by the soldiers of Zabulistan
And by Mihrab. The field was such with corpses
That thou hadst said: "The troops are cramped for room."
The Turkmans fled toward Afrasiyab,
Their mail unfastened and their girdles snapped.
When Shamasas had reached the open plain
Karan, the son of Kawa, came in sight
Returning from pursuing Wisa's host,
Whose noblest he had slain so easily.
The armies met together, Shamasas
Met with Karan, the lover of the fray,
Who knowing his antagonists, and why
They were retreating from Zabulistan,
Bade trumpets sound and occupied the road.
Thus host encountered host. The paladin
Said to his troops? Ye men of noble name
And ardent soul! go battle with your spears,
And may ye rob the foe of life."
With cries
Of maddened elephants they seized their spears,
Which made a reed-bed of the battlefield
And veiled the sun and moon. He lightly slew
Those Turkman troops and flung them on the track,
Fell on the wounded and the prisoners,
And sent their dust up to the shining sun,
While Shamasas with certain men of might
Fled and escaped the murky dust of fight.

How Naudar was slain by Afrasiyab

News of the death of those famed warriors
Came to the Turkman king; his heart was pained,
His cheeks were wet with his heart's blood. He said:-
"Naudar is in my prison, yet my friends
Are vilely slaughtered thus! What can I do
But shed his blood and give new cause for feud? "
He was enraged and cried? Where is Naudar,
For Wisa calleth for revenge on him?
Bring him," he told an executioner,
"That I may teach him war."
Naudar on hearing
Knew that his time was come. A clamorous throng
Departed, bound his arms firm as a rock,
And haled him bare both head and foot, fordone,
In shameful plight before the Crocodile.
Full of impatience great Afrasiyab
Looked out for him, and seeing him approach
Reminded him of their ancestral feud,
Began with Salm and Tur, and washed away
From heart and eyes the reverence due to kings.
"Thou hast deserved whatever ill may come,"
He said, called fiercely for a scimitar,
Smote Shah Naudar upon the neck and flung
In foul contempt the body in the dust.
Thus passed that Memory of Shah Minuchihr
And left Iran bereft of throne and crown.
O man of knowledge shrewd exceedingly!
Don not the whole robe of thy greed, for throne
And crown have seen already many an one .
Like thee, and thou mayst hear their history.
If thou hast gained the object of thy lust
And appetite hath ceased, so strong before,
Why shouldst thou ask this gloomy mournful dust
To make thee miserable any more?
They haled the other captives forth in shame,
And asking quarter. Virtuous Ighriras
Saw this and anxiously besought the king:-
"To slay so many noble warriors
And horsemen in cold blood - mere prisoners
Disarmed - is base, and base where we should look
For magnanimity. 'Twere worthier far
To spare their lives. Commit them bound to me
And I will prison them within a cavern,
Well guarded. Prison will restore their wits;
But shed not blood."
At Ighriras' request,
Perceiving his distress and earnestness,
The monarch spared their lives, and bade men take
The captives to Sari in shameful bonds.
This done he marched from Dahistan to Rai,
Hid earth beneath his cavaliers and made
His chargers sweat, assumed the royal crown,
Bestowed a liberal largess of dinars,
And played as monarch of Iran his part
With thoughts of war and vengeance in his heart.<

How Zal had Tidings of the Death of Naudar

This news reached Gustaham and Tus? The Grace
Of kingship is obscured. They have struck off
Remorselessly with trenchant scimitar
The head that wore the crown, and all is over."
Men tore their faces and plucked out their hair,
A cry of mourning went up from Iran,
The great put dust and earth upon their heads,
All eyes wept tears of blood, all robes were rent.
Men turned their faces toward Zabul; their tongues
Spake of the Shah, their souls yearned for the Shah.
They went to Zal in mourning and in pain,
With blood-stained cheeks and dust upon their heads.
They cried? O good and valiant Shah Naudar!
O great just monarch, wearer of the crown,
The guardian of Iran, the prop of nobles,
The head of kings and monarch of the world!
Thy head is seeking for a crown from dust
And earth is savouring of the blood of Shahs.
The grasses on these fields and fells are hanging
Their heads in shame before the sun while we
Ask vengeance, mourning as it were a father,
In whom the stock of Faridun survived,
While earth was servant to his horse's shoe.
Now him and all that famous troop have they
Beheaded shamefully, despitefully;
But we will draw our swords of watered steel,
Will go to seek revenge and slay the foe
So arm ye and revive the ancient feud.
The heaven is surely with us in our grief;
Its eyes rain tears of blood for very ruth.
Do ye too fill your eyes with tears like those
And strip your bodies of their dainty dress,
For in revenge for kings it is not well
That eyes should stint their tears or hearts their rage.'
The mournful multitude wept bitterly,
And burnt as though upon a raging fire,
While Zal rent all his raiment and sat down
With lamentable outcries in the dust.
He said: "My trenchant blade shall ne'er behold
Sheath till the Resurrection, my white charger
Shall be my throne, a spear mine only tree,
My place a stirrup and a dusky helm
The crown upon my head. There is no rest
Or slumber in this feud. No stream can match
The river of mine eyes. Oh! may the soul
Of great Naudar shine bright amid the mighty,
And may the Lord of earth bestow on you
A soul for Faith and duty. All of us
Are born to die; it is our lot whereto
We yield our necks."
Now when the captives heard:-
The The Iranians are upon the march for vengeance,
They send out cameleers on every side,
Have gathered countless troops and have renounced
Home and delights," they neither ate nor slept,
Such was their terror of Afrasiyab.
A message from them came to Ighriras :-
"O man of mighty purpose, famous chief
We are thy slaves in all, and by thy word
We live. Zal, as thou knowest, is at home
And acting with the monarch of Kabul.
Men like Barzin, Karan the warrior,
Kharrad, and that host-shatterer Kishwad,
Are men of might with hands that reach afar
And will not keep their clutches off Iran.
Now when these warriors wheel about us here
And brandish their sharp lances in his sight
The great Afrasiyab will be enraged,
His heart will be inflamed against his captives,
And for his crown's sake he will bring to dust
The heads of all our blameless company.
If prudent Ighriras see fit to free us
We will disperse, praise him before the great
And make thanksgiving unto God for him."
Wise Ighriras replied? Such skilleth not;
'Twere a foe's act; this human Ahriman
Would be incensed. I will not take other order
So that my brother may not turn upon me
In vengeance. If now Zal is keen for war
And will advance to fight us at Sari
I will deliver you to him, myself
Evacuate Amul, forbear to fight
And bring to infamy my honoured head."
At this reply the nobles of Iran
Bent to the ground, and full of praise for him
Despatched a courier from Sari with speed
To Zal, the son of Sam. The message ran. -
Our Our God hath pitied us; wise Ighriras
Is now our friend. This is the pact between us
If only two Iranian warriors
Shall come and offer fight that noble man,
Who walketh fortune's path, will quit Amul
For Rai, and so some one of us may scape
The Dragon's clutch."
The courier reached Zabul
And made the glad news known to Zal, who called
The nobles, told them all, then said: "My friends,
Pards of the fray and winners of renown
Who is the warrior of princely heart,
All black with courage, who will raise his neck
To touch the sun by undertaking this? "
Kishwad accepting struck his breast and said:-
"My hand is ready for an act so just."
The glorious Zal approved him, saying thus:-
"Live happily while months and years endure."
So from Zabul a troop of warriors
Intent on war set face toward kmul.
When they had journeyed for a stage or two
The tidings came to Ighriras their friend,
Who blew the brazen trumpets, marched away
His troops and left the captives at Sari.
When fortunate Kishwad arrived he found
The key to loose their bonds, provided steeds,
And from kmul sped toward Zabul. When Zal
Was told? Kishwad is coming back in triumph,"
He gave a largess to the mendicants,
The robe that he was wearing to the messenger,
And when Kishwad approached went out to meet him
In state, while weeping tears of joy for those
That had been captive in the Lion's clutch,
And then with dust upon his head wept tears
Of grief o'er famed Naudar. He took the loved ones
Within the city, gave them palaces,
And they became as when Naudar was king,
Possessed of crowns and thrones and diadems,
While Zal distributed his treasure-store
Until the army could desire no more.

How Ighriras was slain by his Brother

When Ighriras went from Amul to Rai
The king asked? Wherefore hast thou acted thus?
Why hast thou mingled colocynth with honey?
Did I not bid thee : 'Slay these evil men;
It will be folly to imprison them? '
The warrior's head is not concerned with statecraft,
His fame is gained upon the battlefield;
Nor should the soldier tread the path of wisdom,
For wisdom never mingleth with revenge."
"Tears and compassion are not wholly needless,"
He answered. " When thou hast the power to harm
Fear God and do it not, for crown and girdle
See many like thee but are no man's own
For ever."
Hearing this Afrasiyab
Was silenced, for the one was full of fire,
The other wise; and how should wisdom fit
Divs' heads? At his reply the chieftain raging,
Like elephant gone mad, drew forth his scimitar
And cut his brother down; that man of wisdom
And goodness passed away. ZAl heard, and said :-
"Now shall the fortune of Afrasiyab
Be darkened and his throne laid waste."
He blew
The trumpets, bound the tymbals on, arrayed
The army like the eye of chanticleer
And went toward Pars, in anger and revenge,
With troops that stretched from sea to sea, and darkened
The sun and moon with dust. Afrasiyab,
On hearing Zal's design, marched forth his host
Toward Khar of Rai, drew up and took his stand.
The outposts were engaged both day and night;
Thou wouldst have said: "The world hath but one hue."
Both hosts lost many a gallant man of mark.
'Twas thus until two sennights passed away,
And horse and foot were weary of the fray.

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