He crowned himself on the Persian peacock throne as if he were immortal and reigned with iron fist, suffocating people with oppression and heavy taxation across the vast Persian Empire to the detriment of most of its inhabitants whom he treated as his serfs and slaves. His vast territory stretched from the Indus and the Oxus Rivers of the Orient, to the Nile, Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers of the Occident. Nonetheless, ZaHawk feared the masses he oppressed and was afraid that the disgruntled populace would at any moment turn against him. In the meantime, ZaHawk lived in a pitch black, damp and pungently musty cave on Mt. Damavand, a volcanically semi extinct roaring peak, and survived so long as his lackeys fed the flesh of a young newly married couple each day to two ugly serpent beasts rising out of his shoulders. ZaHawk knew that the two serpents would devour him immediately if they were not fed two newly weds before each sunset.
It was whispered knowledge amongst the masses, serfs and slaves, that while they took refuge with the righteous Spenta Mainyu , the good spirit Faravahar emanating from Ahura Mazda who was the Lord of light and wisdom, and his sol invictus Mithra , that ZaHawk was directed by the impure fire and filth spitting dragon Ezhdeha, drawn from Angra Mainyu aka Ahriman, who lived deep down the volcanic shaft in earth mantle. It was Ezhdeha who had grafted the two cannibalistic serpents onto ZaHawk’s shoulders so he could outpour misery, famine, disease, pain and suffering to people and mother earth.
However, injustice does not remain in place forever. Kaveh the Ironsmith , gravely irate about the well-being of his compatriots, hung his toughened leather apron, the Derafsh Kaviani , over a javelin and marshalled forward the disgruntled populace after the silhouette dawn of Yalda , on the rebirth of the sun. His bravest diehards followed him shoulder to shoulder as a Si-Morgh (metaphorically speaking 30 birds forming one unified body at a time) up the treacherous m ountain. There, Kaveh beheaded the three culprits on one body with one mighty sword strike, thus eradicating injustice and reinstating equality and happiness across Persia.
Kaveh had in reality reincarnated what his ancestors Cyrus and Mandana, Xerxes and Arianna, and Darius and Anahita of the Achaemenes, delivered when they had also eradicated injustice and inequality, and reinstated love, equality, inclusivity, harmony, tranquility, and peace on earth. And so, the Phoenix (Si-Morgh) once again rose out of historical ashes of oblivion, the much anticipated and ever brightened and warmer sun reemerged out of the dark chilling clouds and proudly shone as a beacon of hope and happiness on the hillside of Mt. Damavand. And as the eternal fire became strong again, along with it the soil was purified as pristine water from the glaciers poured down into the valley with fresh air all around.
Ecstatically exhilarated by joy, most people had not realized that Ezhdeha, the multi-headed dragon and father of all miseries and the creator of the now obliterated ZaHawk, was still alive deep down the vertical volcanic shaft of Mt. Damavand. The nocturnal dragon would unexpectedly appear in his targeted communities to instigate catastrophe by kissing the two shoulders of a replacement for ZaHawk so that two new serpents were mounted again. Houshang, who was to be the newly crowned king of the Pishdadian dynasty, had to follow Ezhdeha back into the cave whereby he threw a large flintstone and killed the dragon. The flintstone bounced off the dragon’s corpse and struck another rock. The resulting spark kindled a sacred soothing, felt by all down the valley, and still burns eternally in Yazd today. Hooshang, slayed in the crossfire though, was replaced by King Jamshid Kiani crowned at Nowruz, the spring vernal equinox and the birth of Zarathustra. And so, the people from all walks of lived happily thereafter. However, if the people became complacent, the Ezhdeha reincarnated reappeared again in the same or another region of Persia to bring about chaos from within or from without Persia
The Nowruz celebration was the most effective juncture year after year for the people to ward off all evil spirits, including the ZaHawks and Ezhdehas, when communities sprinkled esfand va kondor, rue and frankincense over the glazed holy fire yielding a strongly aromatic scent.
No wonder Homa Chehrazad, the just Queen of the Kiani dynasty, created a utopian paradise on earth for 30 tranquil years. Her descendent Shahdokht, the daughter of Yazdgerd III of the Sassanid Dynasty and the legitime queen, ran away toward a mountain in Yazd to take refuge. As she approached, the mountain opened up and closed after she entered. There since exists the drops of pure tears dripping down the deep water-well today called Chek-Chek and revered as sacred ground by Iranians. In fact, Yazdgerd was slain and his dynasty abolished by yet a foreign Zahawk from the southwestern deserts. What is excruciatingly ironic is that irrespective of perceived ideological and strategic differences among the culprits of all times and places, their thirst for absolute power to plunder natural and human resources only continues to grow. They exploit and pillage, all the while accumulating wealth and power.
Surprisingly and tragically, their tactical methodology has essentially remained the same Ezhdeha since antiquity.
The perpetual doctrine of “divide to conquer,” has remained forever the Modus Operandi of self-righteous and megalomaniac economic powerhouses and despotic political rulers. In so doing, and by creating a diversionary smokescreen, they inflict catastrophic devastation through instigating wars and violence, usury and monetary manipulation, destruction, trans-migration, mass killings of innocents.
If humans possess the capacity to bring about justice, why then resort to the fatalistic posthumous promise of a never seen utopia called paradise?! The only way the masses can propel forward is to sustain alive a glimmer of hope through acquiring education, knowledge, enlightenment, and self-empowerment. They must hang their aprons on their spears and unite as a Si-Morgh, thirty flying birds merged into one. Only then can we beat the oppressors at their own game and move towards a happy life, true freedom and peace! This is the pinnacle of E pluribus unum . Eternally yearning for sustaining the universal justice anchored on love, civility, compassion and mercy, and leading to tranquility, harmony, happiness, and peace on earth, we perpetually rise as a Si-Morgh!
Persia (and later Iran) has for millennia undergone turbulent trials and tribulations, and been afflicted by evils from both within and without.
As narrated by Ferdowsi , the “Homer of Iran,” this tale from his Shahanameh wends its wisdom and relevance through tens of thousands of years of Iran’s history, bringing hope of salvation from evil through altruistic acts of courage.
Shahnameh the Book of Persian Kings – an epic poem composing 30,000 verses and written over the course of 30 years more than a thousand years ago – still remains alive in every Iranian’s soul. The patron King Mahmoud who had promised the poet a golden coin for each verse broke his promise. The improvised Ferdowsi, having instead resided tranquilly in the luscious rich paradise of his own imagination, never saw the coins which arrived by the repentant King only after he died.
Anchored on the trilogy of good thoughts, good words and good deeds, everyone reaffirms their commitment to one or more of the following virtues, namely volunteerism, altruism, philanthropy, benevolence and above all, to advancing dignified humanism as the pinnacle of life. The belief in the golden rule of “treating others as you would expect to be treated” anchored on the tripartite pedestal of good thoughts, good words and good deeds, conjures up a poem by the acclaimed 13thcentury Persian poet Sa’adi :
All humans are members of one frame,
Since all at first, from the same essence, came.
When by hard fortune one limb is oppressed,
The other members lose their desired rest.
If thou feel’st not for others’ misery,
A human is no name for thee!