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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 15



How Kai Kaus warred with the King of Hamavaran

We have received it both from archimage
And ancient bard of rustic lineage
That afterward Kaus resolved to make
A progress through his kingdom. From Iran
He journeyed to Turan and Chin, and after
Passed to Makran, and thence down to the sea
In state; men's waists knew neither belt nor buckle.
The chiefs all paid their tribute and their dues,
The Ox took care not to provoke the Lion.
Thence to Barbar they went - a brilliant throng
With crown and diadem, intent on conquest.
The monarch of Barbar prepared for war,
And matters changed their hue. A host came forth
And stayed the revels of the great king's troops,
The elephants were hidden by the dust,
Men saw not hand or rein. The hosts encountered
Like mighty waves. Gudarz beholding this
Took from the saddle-bow his mighty mace,
Urged on his steed and, with a thousand warriors
With javelins and with breastplate-piercing arrows,
Closed with and brake the centre of the foe.
Behind him charged the Shah, thou wouldst have said:-
"There is not left a cavalier or spearman
Within Barbar." The elders of the country,
On seeing that the blast of war had passed,
Came to KauS, heart-broken, to seek peace,
And said: "We are thy slaves and bow our necks
To tribute; we will pay in gold and jewels
Instead of drachms, and earn thy treasurer's praise."
Kaus received them graciously and taught them
New laws and ways. Anon the sound of bells
And cymbals rose with shouts and clarion-blare,
And he departed westward toward Mount Kaf.
The people when they heard about the Shah
Came forth to him and proffered fealty,
While all the great men went to welcome him,
And laid a heavy tribute on themselves.
When men performed his will with due submission
He and his host passed by and hurt them not.
He led the army to Zabulistan
As Rustam's guests and tarried there a month
With hawk and cheetah, song and minstrelsy.
Ere long a bramble grew among the roses.
To meet with trials is the lot of all,
And he that mounteth must expect a fall.
The Arabs rose when all seemed going well.
A wealthy and aspiring man of parts
Set up his standard both in Misr and Sham,
The people turned away from Kai Kaus,
Renouncing fealty, who when he heard
Bade the drums sound and marched forth from Nimruz
Light-heartedly, the soldiers wrote his name
Upon their shields, their swords shook in their
Unnoticed by the foe he led his host
Down to the sea, built ships of war and transports
Beyond compute, embarked the host and sailed
A thousand leagues as thou wouldst count on land
Till he arrived to win his own again
Where three states met - Misr on his left; Barbar
Upon his right; 'twixt him and his objective
Hamavaran, which fronted him, the sea.
Each had a mighty host. News came to them:-
"Kaus hath crossed the water with his troops."
The three conferred, their troops met at Barbar -
An army such that desert, sea, and mountain
Were all aweary of the horses' hoofs.
There was no room left for the ravening lion,
Or path for onager across the plains;
The fish in water and the pard on rock,
The cloud and flying eagle in the air,
Sought passage, but what passage could there be
For wild things in a region so bested?
Now when Kaus had disembarked his host
One saw not plain or mount. " The world is mailed,"
Thou wouldst have said, " each spearpoint is a star!"
What with the golden helms and golden shields,
And glittering axes borne upon the shoulder,
Thou wouldst have said: "The earth is running gold,
And Indian scimitars are raining souls."
The army's dust made heaven like sandarach,
The whole world turned as black as ebony,
The mountains shivered at the trumpets' blast,
And earth was bent beneath the horses' hoofs,
The din of tymbals would have made thee say:-
"Earth is one camp."
When from the Iranian host
The trump and drum were heard Bahram, Gurgin,
And Tus came forth and, where Gudarz was stationed,
Shidush, Farhad, and Giv let fall their reins,
And steeped the heads of all their spears in bane.
The horsemen bent upon the saddlebow,
And shout and crash of battle-ax were heard;
Thou wouldst have said: "They quarry stone and iron,
Or dash down heaven to earth." When at the centre
Kaus advanced, and host encountered host,
The eyes of men grew dim, vermilion rained
On lapislazuli, and thou hadst said:-
The air is hailing and is planting tulips
Among the rocks." The javelins' eyes flashed fire,
And earth because as 'twere a sea of blood.
The Iranians so dismayed the three allies
That end and middle were all one to them.
The monarch of Hamavaran was first
To drop the scimitar and massive mace,
Saw that the day was lost and sorrowing sought
Peace with the Shah, agreeing to send tribute,
Steeds, implements of war, and thrones and crowns,
Provided that Kaus, when all was paid,
Should go and keep his troops from harrying.
Kaus replied: "I grant you all protection.
Seek not my crown and throne."
He then marched back
Well pleased to camp, and from Hamavaran
An envoy brought him treasures, stores of arms,
With emeralds and other gems and said:-
"O just and mighty lord! we chiefs and commons
Are dust upon thy feet and slaves of thine.
Be joyful and triumphant all thy years,
And be the heads and fortunes of thy foes
He kissed the ground and bore to Tus
The store of gold and gems, who therewithal
Gave to each man a largess great or small.

How Kaus asked to Wife Sudaba, the Daughter of the King of Hamavaran

Anon one said to Kai Kaus: "This monarch
Hath in his bower a daughter goodlier
In stature than a cypress, crowned with musk,
With locks like lassos, dagger-shaped of tongue,
With lips like sugar, decked like Paradise
With charms, or like bright Sol in jocund spring.
None else should be the consort of the Shah
How good it were for him to mate this Moon!"
His heart was stirred, he answered: "It is well.
I will demand her from her sire; her beauty
Will well become my ladies' bower."
He chose
A man of noble birth, shrewd, wise, and grave,
Bade him set forward to Hamavaran,
And said: "Dispose the king to favour me,
And charm his intellect with honied words.
Say thus to him: 'The most redoubted chiefs
Throughout the world seek mine affinity
Because the sun is lighted from my crown,
Earth is the footing of mine ivory throne,
And one that sheltereth not beneath my shade
Hath little standing-room. I seek to be
Affined to thee and wash the face of peace.
Now I have heard that thou hast in thy bower
A daughter who is worthy of my state,
Immaculate in form and countenance,
Praised everywhere by all. Thou wilt obtain
The son of Kai Kubad as son-in-law,
For know that Sol thus favoureth thy cause.'"
This shrewd man with the ready tongue approached
The ruler of Hamavaran, adorned
His tongue with eloquence, his heart with zeal,
And furnished forth his lips with courtesies.
He gave that monarch greeting from Kaus,
Then did the embassage, which pained the king,
Who thought: "Though he be king of kings and worldlord
Victorious and obeyed, I have no daughter
But this, and she is dearer than sweet life
Yet if I slight and spurn this messenger
I cannot fight. 'Tis best to shut mine eyes
To this affliction and repress my wrath."
He answered that fair-spoken envoy thus:-
"He asketh of me much - two things unequalled
In preciousness; my wealth is my support,
My child my treasure; being robbed of her
My very heart is gone, yet. I resign them
And yield to his request."
He called Sudaba,
And full of sorrow spake thus of Kaus :-
"A courteous envoy hath arrived and brought
A letter from that mighty lord, who lacketh
Naught that is great and good, to this effect
He would deprive me, though I wish it not,
Of heart-repose and all my peace of mind.
What dost thou say now? What is thine own wish?
What is thy shrewd decision in this case?"
Sudaba answered: "If this must be so
There is no need to sup on grief to-day.
Why grieve at union with the king of earth,
Who can deprive the mighty of their lands?
This is not grief but joy."
The king perceived
That she was not unwilling, called the envoy,
And gave him the chief place. They made a compact,
Each with the rites and sanctions then obtaining.
The broken-hearted monarch and his chiefs
Were busied for a week, and then brought forth
Two scores of litters and three hundred slaves,
A thousand each of camels, steeds, and mules,
Whose loads were of dinars and of brocade,
And 'neath the haudahs hung embroidered trappings.
An escort was drawn up in long defile;
The New Moon graced one litter; following her
There came her marriage-portion, then the escort
Arrayed like Paradise; thou wouldst have said:-
The The heaven hath planted tulips in the earth!"
Now when that fair-faced troop and Heart's Delight
Approached the presence of Shah Kai Kaus
A New Moon issued from the haudah like
A new-throned monarch robed. There musk and rose
Contrasted, and the earrings hung on civet;
Eyes languished, cheeks were ruby-red, and eyebrows
Sprang from a column like a silvern reed.
Kaus in rapt amaze invoked God's name,
He called the hoary, shrewd, and wise archmages,
And having judged her fit to be his consort
He sanctioned his desires with legal rites.
"I knew thee at first sight," he told his spouse,
"Fit to adorn mine Idols' golden house."

How the King of Hamavaran made Kaus Prisoner

Meanwhile the father grieved and sought a cure;
So eight days afterward he sent at dawn
A messenger to Kai Kaus to say:-
"If now the Shah will be mine honoured guest
The people of Hamavaran will be
Much honoured too when they behold his face."
In this wise sought he to entrap Kaus,
And being bad of heart and shrewd of wit,
Thought to retain his kingdom and his child,
And to escape all tribute. Now Sudaba
Knew that her sire meant outrage at a feast,
And said to Kai Kaus: "This is not well.
Thou must not be his guest, lest at the banquet
He make a brawl and get thee in his clutches.
All this ado is made on mine account,
And must result in thy discomfiture."
He heeded not her words because he held
Her people feeble folk, and as a guest
Went with his warriors and mighty men.
The ruler of Hamavaran possessed
A pleasure-city, Shaha bight, and had
A residence therein. He decked the city
Throughout, and when the exalted Shah arrived
The citizens all did him reverence,
Showered gems and saffron, mingled ambergris
With musk, and wove the sounds of harp and song
Like warp and woof. The monarch and his nobles
Descrying Shah Kaus approached on foot.
The palace from the gateway to the hall
Rained jewels, pearls, and gold; men poured them forth
From golden trays and sifted ambergris
And musk o'erhead. The king set up a throne
Of gold within the palace and Kaus
Sat there in joy. He revelled for a week;
The place delighted and enchanted him.
The monarch of Hamavaran stood girded -
A subject in his presence day and night -
With all his troops to serve the Iranians
Till each felt safe, and all suspicion ceased;
But when the week was o'er their hosts were ready
And rose; the soldiers of Barbaristan
Had been apprised and were upon the march
Such was the plot. Their advent joyed the king.
At night came sound of trumpet and assault
When no Iranian was prepared for fight.
Forthwith the forces of Hamavaran
Seized on Kaus and Giv, Gudarz and Tus,
Gurgin and Zanga son of Shawaran,
And all the other famous warriors;
These they took captive and bound fast in bonds,
And throne and Grace were shent' What saith the man
Of insight and O sage : what thinkest thou?
"Trust in another man is not secure
Without the tie of blood to make it sure,
And even one so bound to thee may turn
His face away and thine affection spurn.
If then another's love thou fain wouldst try
Prove it in weal and in adversity,
For if in rank thou art more high than he
Then envy will abate his love for thee.
The course of this pernicious world is so,
It lightly changeth with all winds that blow."
Kaus was ta'en; his over-confidence
Achieved the purpose of Hamavaran.
There was a mountain with a cloud-rapt head,
Which God had lifted from the ocean-depths,
And on the mountain-top a fortress rose;
Thou wouldst have said: "The sky is in its lap. '
'Twas thither that the monarch sent Kaus,
Giv, and Gudarz, and Tus; the other chiefs
He flung inside that stronghold with the Shah
Bound. Over it a thousand warriors,
All swordsmen of renown, kept watch. He gave
The camp-enclosure of Kaus to spoil,
Bestowing on his own chiefs crowns and purses.
Two files of ladies with a covered litter
Between them were deputed to escort
Sudaba home and trampled on the tents.
Now when Sudaba saw the ladies come
She rent her royal raiment and plucked out
Her musky tresses. With her filbert-nails
She stained her rosy cheeks the hue of blood,
Exclaiming thus: "Men that are men indeed
Hold in contempt such tricks and outrages.
Ye should have bound him on the day of battle
What time his robe was mail, his throne a steed,
And chieftains such as Giv, Gudarz, and Tus
Rent with their drums your hearts. Ye make the throne
Of gold an ambuscade and break your faith."
She called the servants " dogs," her jasmine-skin
Was smirched with blood, she did not spare her words.
She said: "I will not part with Kai Kaus
Although he shall be hidden in the dust,
And, since he needs must drag his chain, behead me
All guiltless as I am."
They told her sire,
Who was enraged and, eager for revenge,
Dispatched her to his fortress, broken-hearted
With blood-stained cheeks to join her husband there.
Thenceforth she sat in sorrow with the king
Engaged in tending him and comforting.

How Afrasiyab invaded the Land of Iran

The ambitious Shah being bound, his army made
Toward Iran, and having passed the sea
In ships and transports crossed the desert homeward.
When they arrived 'twas bruited through the realm :-
"The Cypress-tree is missing from the garden,
The throne of king of kings is overturned."
Now when men saw the golden throne left void
They all desired the crown; upon each side
Great hosts of Turkmans and of desert-spearmen
Approached, cries rose from both sides of Iran,
And peace was changed to strife. Afrasiyab
Joined battle fiercely with the Arabian host;
They fought three months, and many heads were lost
To win a crown, the Arabs were o'erthrown,
And all their gain was loss. The Turkman troops
O'er-ran the country and enslaved the folk.
It is the custom of this Wayside Inn
That greed should bring both travail and chagrin;
At last both good and evil pass away;
Death is the hunter and this world his prey.
The people said: "Our fortunes are o'erturned,
We are confronted with a grievous case.
Woe for Iran, for it is desolate,
The lair of pards and lions! 'Twas erewhile
All warrior-horsemen and the seat of kings,
But now a scene of hardship and of bale,
The dwelling-place of dragons sharp of claw!
Seek we a remedy and banish care.
One fed on leopards' milk shall succour us;
Dispatch we then a sage in state to Rustam."
An archmage went to him and told the tidings,
And Rustam, deeply moved, wept tears of gall.
He answered : "I and mine are girt for vengeance.
First I will see about Kaus, then sweep
The Turkman from Iran."
He summoned troops,
Who flocked to him out of Zabul, Kabul,
And Hindustan. Throughout his wide domain
Arose the sound of trump and Indian bell.
The heart of Rustam raged like fire; he led
The army forth and like a storm-wind sped.

How Rustam sent a Message to the King of Hamavaran

Then Rustam sent a wary messenger
To make his way to Kai Kaus and say :-
"I am approaching with a mighty host
To fight the ruler of Hamavaran.
Be glad of heart and feed not on thy grief
Behold! I am already in the land."
Withal a man of name among the chiefs
Went to the ruler of Hamavaran,
And Rustam wrote to him in warlike terms
A letter all mace, scimitar, and fray :-
"Thou hast entrapped our Shah and broken faith.
It is not manly to use guile in war,
Nor art thou dour like the bold crocodile
Which never ambuscadeth in the fight
Although its heart be brimming with revenge.
Thou shall escape the Dragon's evil clutch
If Shah Kaus be set at large; if not,
Prepare thyself to feel my weight in battle.
Thou surely must have heard the chieftains tell
Of how I fought against Mazandaran,
Fought with Pulad son of Ghundi and Bid,
And smote the White Div."
As he read the letter
The king turned dizzy, and the world grew dark
Before his eyes. He answered: "Kai Kaus
Shall never set foot on the plain, and when
Thou comest to Barbaristan, and all
Thy cavaliers have fled, a chain and pit
Are ready for thee too. If these delights
Allure thee I, according to our custom,
Will meet thee with my troops."
When Rustam heard
The answer, and the chieftains had assembled,
The trumpets sounded and he mounted Rakhsh.
He went by sea because the way by land
Was tedious, crossing to Hamavaran
With all his mighty host in ships and transports.
The troops were ready both to spoil and slay,
And banished all compunction from their hearts.
Now when the monarch of Hamavaran
Had news of vengeful Rustam and his host
He raged, the war-cry rose, and all the world
Seethed up in blood and pillage. Rustam donned
His armour, mounted on the snorting Rakhsh,
And shouldering his mace charged furiously.
Whenas the foemen saw his chest and arms,
And how he handled mace and battle-ax,
Thou wouldst have said: "They have no hearts at all."
They scattered in their fear of him, and thus
That great host fled back to Hamavaran.
The king in conclave summoned two young men
In order to dispatch them to Barbar
And Misr, like rushing wind, each with a letter
Penned in distress of heart with blood for ink,
And thus it ran : "Our realms confine, we share
In good and evil, and in fight and feast.
If ye will join with me I fear not Rustam
In fight; if not, the evil will extend,
And evil's hand extendeth on all sides."
Whenas the letter reached the kings, announcing
That Rustam led his host across the desert,
They feared, bestirred themselves, arrayed their powers
And marched toward Hamavaran. The land
Became all hill, troops stretched from range to range,
And dust obscured the moon. Then Rustam sent
A warrior in haste to Shah Kaus
By stealth to say: "The monarchs of three realms
Approach to fight - brave men who shall not know
Their heads from feet when I encounter them
But thou must not be injured by our strife
Since evil men are prone to outrages,
And e'en Barbar's throne would avail me not
If ill befell the person of the Shah."
Kaus made answer: "Have no care for this;
The earth was not spread out for me alone,
And bane will mix with sweets and love with hate
While heaven turneth. God too is my friend,
My refuge, and my stronghold is His love.
Give Rakhsh the rein, and level to his ears
Thy lance's point; let not a foe remain
In arms or hiding."
Matchless Rustam heard,
Armed, and went forth to battle, urged fleet Rakhsh
Along, and challenged all the world to fight,
Then stood alone and glared upon the foe,
But no one dared though Rustam waited long,
Until bright Sol was setting in the sea,
And dark-hued night was coming on apace.
Then that great elephantine chief returned,
And rested in his tent till night was passed;
The next day, when the sun grew bright again,
He came forth anal arrayed his mighty men.

How Rustam fought with Three Kings and delivered Kaus

Next day they set the battle in array
And raised their standards. When the peerless Rustam
Had led his forces to the field, and viewed
The armies of three monarchs and three realms,
He thus harangued his noble warriors :-
"Keep your eyelashes well apart to-day,
And look to mane and forelock, steed and rein,
With both eyes on your spearpoints. Be the foe
A hundred on a hundred thousand horse
Their sum importeth not for, since the All-holy
Is our ally, I will bring down their heads
To dust."
The monarchs on their side were seated
On elephants; their forces stretched two miles.
Barbaristan sent eight score elephants
All foaming like the Nile, Hamavaran
Contributed a hundred more - huge beasts -
And had a line of battle two miles long,
And thirdly was arrayed the power of Misr.
The atmosphere was darkened, earth was hidden,
And thou hadst said: "The world is all of iron,"
Or : "Mount Alburz hath donned a coat of mail."
Behind the warriors' backs amid the dust
Waved flags of yellow, red, and violet;
The mountains echoed with the heroes' shouts,
And earth was weary of the tramp of steeds.
Then were the claws and hearts of lions rent,
And lusty eagles flung their plumes away,
The clouds of heaven melted in mid air,
For how could anything oppose such troops?
The Iranians ranked the host to right and left,
The heroes longed for battle and revenge.
Guraza held the right where was the baggage,
Upon the left was glorious Zawara -
A Dragon and a Lion in the fray -
While Rustam at the centre, with coiled lasso
Hung to his saddlebow, bade sound the advance.
Then sword and javelin gleamed; thou wouldst have
"Heaven hath sown earth with tulips," and where Rustam
Urged Rakhsh: "He spreadeth fire," and: "All the waste
Is as a Zam of blood, not like a field
Of elephantine Rustam's." Helmed heads
Were smitten off, and plain and hollow strewn
With mail. The peerless hero urged on Rakhsh
And, deigning not to slaughter common folk,
Charged at the king of Sham and lassoed him
(Thou wouldst have said the lasso crushed his waist),
Then snatched him from the saddle, like a ball
Struck by a polo-stick, and flung him down.
Bahram made fast his hands. They captured sixty
Of name and deluged plain and hill with blood.
The monarch of Barbar and forty chiefs
Were taken prisoners by Guraza's hand,
And when the monarch of Hamavaran
Beheld his soldiers slain on every side,
Beheld a troop of wounded warriors,
Another troop fast bound in heavy chains,
And valiant Rustam with his trenchant sword
Creating Doomsday on the battlefield,
He felt: "This day is one of bale," and sent
To Rustam to ask quarter, promising
To give up Kai Kaus and all the leaders,
And to restore the treasures, crowns, and jewels,
The tent-enclosures, thrones, and golden girdles,
And slaves. They made a peace and then disbanded
Three hosts. The monarch of Hamavaran '
Went home and sat in council, sent, and fetched
Kaus, and righted him. When Rustam thus
Released the Shah with Giv, Tus, and Gudarz,
He stored three kingdoms' arms, three monarchs' riches.
The tents, the crowns, and everything of value,
Among the treasures of Shah Kai Kaus,
Who then refulgent in his sun-like Grace
Prepared a gilded litter of brocade
Of Rum, a crown of gems, a turquoise seat,
A sable housing decked with jewelry,
And placed them on a steed of easy pace,
Whose bridle was adorned with gold. He made
The litter out of fresh-cut aloe-wood
Inlaid with many divers kinds of gems,
And bade Sudaba take her seat therein
Secluded like the sun beneath the earth,
Then led the army campward from the city
To reassert his claims upon Iran.
A hundred thousand horsemen from Barbar,
Hamavaran, and Misr assembled round him,
While his own host was fifteen thousand score
Of cavaliers on barded steeds and more.

How Kaus sent a Message to Afrasiyab

Now when the Arab spearmen of the desert
Heard from Hamavaran of Rustam's doings
With Misr and with Barbar and with their kings,
They chose a wise and valiant man, well skilled
In horsemanship and javelin-play, and wrote
A royal letter couched in fitting terms.
"We are," they said, "the servants of the Shah
And only walk the world at his command;
So when a host came from the Kargasars
To seek his throne our hearts were greatly grieved
At such presumption. When Afrasiyab
Desired thy throne (may none such dream thereof)
We chiefs and swordsmen went forth to the field
With our long spears and turned his joy and ease
To bitterness. On both sides many fell,
The age grew conversant with good and evil,
And now we hear of thee and that the Grace
Of king of kings reviveth. When thou comest
Back from Barbar we all will shoulder spears,
Fill earth from hill to hill with foemen's blood,
And make the world run like Jihun."
The envoy
Spurred forth toward Barbaristan, the Shah
Received the letter couched in such fair terms,
Then wrote a letter to Afrasiyab :-
"Quit thou Iran and limit thine ambition.
I wonder much at what I hear of thee.
Thou hast no wants, thou joyest in Turan;
Then be not covetous or fondly grasping
At ill, which soon will bring thee lengthy toils.
A smaller matter is enough for thee -
To save thy skin. Dost know not that Iran
Is my seat, earth all mine? The boldest leopard
Will never dare to face the lion's claws."
He gave a paladin the letter sealed,
Who reached the monarch of Turan and Chin
In haste, first kissed the ground and did obeisance.
And after compliments gave him the letter
Which, when Afrasiyab had read it, filled
His head with vengeance and his heart with rage.
He answered: "Only miscreants talk thus.
In thy case, if Iran had satisfied thee
Thou hadst not coveted Hamavaran,
And now that I have won Iran, and raised
My fluttering flag, that broad Champaign is mine
On two accounts; thou needs must hear the truth
First - I inherit all the land from Tur,
My grandsire and the son of Faridun;
And secondly - I cleared it of the Arabs
With my sword-arm. I with my scimitar
Behead the mountains and bring eagles down
From their dark cloud-tops."
He equipped his troops,
And marched in person to oppose Kaus,
Who, when he heard, arrayed a boundless host
And from Barbar marched to Arabia
To meet Afrasiyab; the world was filled
With trump and tymbal-din, the sky was ebony,
The earth was iron. What with crash of ax
And twang of bow a blood-wave swept the field,
While Rustam thundering from the centre broke
The foemen with one charge. On that field slept
The fortunes of Turan. Afrasiyab
Boiled, like fermenting must, without a fire,
And cried: "O gallant hearts of mine, my Lions,
And chosen chiefs! 'twas for a time like this
That ye were reared upon my breast, and now
Ye play at battle with mine Arab foes!
Be strong, renew the fight, and make the world
Too narrow for Kaus, spear and cut down
His warriors, and behead his haughty chiefs.
As for this lion-hearted man of Sigz,
Who maketh heaven redden with his sword,
Be bold and take him captive with your lassos.
Whower on the battlefield shall bring him
Down from the pard - skin to the dust shall have
A realm, a parasol, my daughter's hand,
And be entitled 'captain of the host;'
Him will I make the lord of all Iran,
And will exalt him to revolving heaven."
Thereat the Turkmans rallied to the fight.
With massive maces in their hands the brave,
The chieftains of Iran, so slaughtered them
That rivers, plains, and hills were strewn with slain -
The more part of their host - and earth was puddled
With blood to clay. The Turkmans' fortune slept.
Afrasiyab fled Rustam with the troops
From Ghur; he sought for gain but gained a loss,
And seeing fortune's bent left them and stricken
Marched toward Turan, his warriors mostly slain
He searched the world for honey and found bane.

How Kaus ordered the World

Kaus arrived at Pars, the world began
An age of happiness. He acted justly,
Adorned the throne, and gave free scope to feasting
He sent forth wise and noble paladins
With troops to all parts - Marv and Nishapur,
Harat and Balkh. Then justice ruled the world;
The wolf eyed not the lamb. Such were his treasures,
His state, and Grace, that fairies, men, and divs
Served him, all were his lieges, other kings
Were soldiers in his host. He gave the office
Of paladin of paladins to Rustam -
The author of his weal - and wearied out
The divs to build himself on Mount Alburz
Two mansions, each ten lassos long, which they
Constructed at his bidding of hard stone.
He excavated stables in the rocks,
The columns were of stone with clamps of steel,
And there he kept the war-steeds and the camels
To ride or carry litters. He erected
A pleasure-house of crystal, studding it
With emeralds; a cupola of onyx
Brought from Yaman, and there installed archmages
That learning might not fail; two armouries
Of virgin silver and a golden palace
Twice sixty cubits high for his own seat.
With turquoise traceries; he spared not jewels.
It was a dwelling after his own heart,
Where daily provand waxed continually.
There was no summertide or wintertide,
The air was ambergris, the rain was wine,
The days of springtide lasted all the year.
And roses there were like a maiden's blush,
The heart was far from sorrow, pain, and tra
The divs were harmless being spent with toil.
So good and just was he that fortune slept,
While drudging divs beneath his rigour wept.

How Kaus, beguiled by Iblis, ascended the Sky

One dawn Iblis, unknown to Kai Kaus,
Addressed the assembled divs: "Our daily task
Is one of cruel labour Fur the Shih.
We need a div shrewd and presentable
To tempt him, soil his Grace, wean him from God,
And thus abate his tyranny."
They heard
And mused. None answered, for they feared Kaus.
At length a wicked div arose and said:-
"Be mine this subtile task. I will pervert
His mind from God as none but I can do."
Appearing as a youth of good address
And mien, he waited till the famous Shah
Went hunting from Pahlav. The div approached
With roses to present, then hissed the ground,
And said: "Thy glory and thy Grace are such
That heaven is thy fit home and earth thy slave
Thou art the shepherd, nobles are the sheep.
One thing is lacking still - that thou shouldst leave
Thine everlasting mark upon the world.
How is it that the sun concealeth from thee
The secret of its rising and its setting?
What is the moon? What are the night and day,
rind who is master of the turning sky?
Thou hast the earth and all thou didst desire;
Now take the heaven also in thy toils."
The Shaih's heart strayed, he tarried not to think,
Convinced that turning heaven favoured him.
He knew not that the sky is ladderless,
Nor that, though stars be many, God but One,
What ever He commandeth must be done
How ever great the struggle and the stress.
The Maker hath no need of sky and earth;
'Twas for thy sake that both of them had birth.
The Shaih mused how to roam the air though wingless,
And often asked the wise: "How far is it
From earth to moon? "
The astrologers replied.
He chose a futile and perverse device
He bade men sale the aeries while the eagles
Were sleeping, take a number of the young,
And keep a bird or two in every home.
He had those eaglets fed a year and more
With fowl, habab, and at some whiles with lamb.
When they were strong as lions and could each
Bear off a mountain-sheep he made a throne
Of aloe from Kumar I with seats of gold.
He bound a lengthy spear at every corner,
Suspended a lamb's leg from every spear-head,
Brought four strong eagles, tied them to the throne,
And took his seat, a cup of wine before him.
The swift-winged eagles, ravenous for food,
Strove lustily to reach the flesh, and raising
The throne above earth's surface bore it cloudward.
Kaus, as I have heard, essayed the sky
To outsoar angels, but another tale
Is that he rose in this way to assail
The heaven itself with his artillery.
The legend hath its other versions too;
None but the All-wise wotteth which is true.
Long flew the eagles, but they stopped at last,
Like other slaves of greed. They sulked exhausted,
They drooped their sweating wings and brought the Shah,
His spears, and throne down from the clouds to earth,
Alighting in a forest near Amul.
The world preserved him by a miracle,
But hid its secret purposes therein.
In answer to his prayers a duck appeared,
For something must be had to eat and drink,
And if Shah Kai Kaus had perished there
Worldlord Khusrau had not been born from him.
Instead of sitting on his throne in might
His business then was penitence and travail.
He tarried in the wood in shame and grief
Imploring from Almighty God relief.

How Rustam brought back Kaus

While thus the Shah sought pardon his own host
Was searching for him everywhere. When Rustam
With Giv and Tus gat news of him they marched
With many troops and drums. Said old Gudarz
To Rustam: "Since my mother suckled me
I have been conversant with crown and throne,
With kings and great men of unsleeping fortune,
But have not seen in all the world a man
'Midst high and low so self-willed as Kaus.
He hath no wisdom, common sense, or Faith,
He is wrong-headed and wrong-hearted too.
Thou wouldest say: 'He hath no brains, his thoughts
Are all awry.' None of the great of yore
Hath e'er essayed the heavens. Like witless madmen
He is borne off his feet by every wind."
Whenas the paladins arrived they rated
The Shah. " The madhouse is thy proper place,"
Gudarz said, "not the city. Thou surrenderest
Thy seat to foes and tellest none thy whims.
Thrice hast thou been in trouble, yet thy head
Is none the wiser! To Mazandaran
Thou led'st a host, and look what mischief followed!
Again, thou madest merry with a foe,
Yet thou - his idol - hadst to worship him!
And when none in the world save holy God
Remained to read the title of thy sword,
Since earth was conquered, thou must needs try heaven,
Although to soar one hand-breadth is revolt.
What bale hast thou encountered yet escaped
Hereafter folk will tell of thee: 'A Shah
Went to the sky to see the sun and moon,
And count the stars.' Now do as princes do
When prudent, pious, and beneficent -
Serve God and Him alone in weal and woe."
Kaus, abashed before those famous heroes,
Replied: "No harm can come of righteous judgment;
Thy words are righteous and thou hast convinced me."
He wept gall, called on God, and took his seat
Distressed and penitent within the litter.
He reached his lofty throne, but, being troubled
Still at his great offence, he quitted it
And entered not his palace out of shame,
But paced the dust in prayer before his God
For forty days. Thou wouldst have said: "His skin
Hath burst." He prayed with tears of blood and wailed
For Grace. Abashed to meet the mighty men
He ceased from banquetings and audiences,
Repented and did penance, giving largess,
And laid his cheek upon the darksome dust
In prayer to God who in a while forgave him.
His scattered troops assembled at his gate;
God's pardon gave him brightness; he was ware
That penance had borne fruit. He took his seat
Crowned on the throne of gold, gave to his troops
A donative, reformed the world, and grew
A Light to great and small; thou wouldst have said:-
"The world, now right is done, is all brocade,
The king of kings illumineth the throne."
From every province those illustrious chiefs,
That had assumed the crown, renewed allegiance
And journeyed to his court, old times returned,
The monarch bathed his crown in love and faith,
The princes all attended as his slaves
Before him while he sat upon his throne
Of jewel-work with crown and ox-head mace.
tell the tale as I have heard it told,
And none hath such another to unfold.
Such were the actions of the worldlord king
And Rustam, chief of paladins! Whene'er
A king is just then all is well and fair;
He needeth not to cry for succouring.
Kaus saw what was right, did what was right,
A breath of wind was this world in his sight.

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