The Saga of the Ancient Persians
Closely based on The Saga of the Aryan Race by Porus Homi Havewala - copyright claimed

Volume One - The Great Migration

Chapter One

The Story begins twenty thousand years ago, in an age shrouded in the mystery of time. An Age of Heroism, an age of strength and unbridled courage when men as strong as lions and women as pure as moonlight waged war against evil and fought for the welfare of their race and children.

At this time, the world was almost uninhabited. Except for a few savage tribes in Africa and India, the earth lay barren. It was the breeding place of dangerous animals and untamed jungle lands and deserts where no human could survive.

And yet, amazingly, there was one place on earth that was peopled. The very top of the world, the North Arctic region; was populated by a race of people who proudly called themselves, the Persians. By this they meant simply, the Pure and the Noble Ones. They formed the first civilised nation in the history of the world.

The Arctic region in those days, was not as icy and cold as it is now. It was warmer and the Persians lived there very comfortably. The Persians called their land Airyanam Vaejo, which meant the Homeland of the Persians.

Great Kings ruled over the Persians in the North in that era of time. We speak of the time of King Jamshed, or Yima Vivangaho as he was called in those days.

There was no King greater than King Jamshed. A Man above men, he towered tall in his love for Ahura Mazda, the Eternal God. He led the Persian race in the worship of Ahura Mazda, and the Persians were thus called Mazdayasnis; Worshippers of Mazda.

King Jamshed was dearly loved by his subjects. And with very good reason. His was a Golden Rule. A rule in which there was no poverty to be seen in his Kingdom. Disease was brushed away from his subjects. It was said that when father and son used to walk on the street in the reign of King Jamshed, each appeared as young as a fifteen year old! Such was the purity of his subjects at the time.

Of all his happy subjects, we speak of one family under his reign. The family of Noshirwan the Warrior.

Noshirwan had been a Warrior since he was fifteen years of age. A Warrior of the Persians always had a Chariot or Rath of his own, and so Noshirwan was called a Ratheshtar. Meaning, the Charioted Warrior.

Very fair, tall and manly; with a leonine beard, he had married when he was fifteen to a girl he had seen one day on the streets of King Jamshed's capital. The milky-white Persian girl with long beaded plaits running down the back of her flowery dress, was very beautiful. Her young and innocent face was aflame with devotion as she mouthed the words "Ahura Mazda" while walking on the streets. Havovi was her name, and she had entranced Noshirwan when he saw her. He found from her parents that she had reached the age of fifteen just as he had, and so he had waited till it was time for the Yasna.

The Yasna was a huge open-air religious ceremony of the Persian race. The Yasna was by far the holiest ceremony and was conducted by offering oblations to the Holy Fire in a huge altar erected on an open space of land. The ancient Persian verses of praise and prayer were sung with zeal by the worshippers. The Persians worshipped Ahura Mazda and His holy elements Fire, water, earth and wind; the plants and the faithful animals on the earth; and the Sun, the Moon, and the constellations of Stars in the bright heavens above. For, as they sang with love and devotion; these precious things had been made by Ahura for helping man, and for being protected by man in turn. It was a cardinal sin to make impure the gifts of God. For this reason the Persians never washed or bathed in a river, and followed the principles of hygiene and ecology thousands of years before modern science invented these words.

At the time the Yasna was held, the fifteen year olds of the race, whether men or women were accepted into the membership of the race by the Initiation ceremony, or what we now call the Navjot ceremony. The boy or girl was given the Kusti or Sacred Girdle to wear, which was called the Aiwiyaongahana in those days. On wearing the girdle, the boy or girl became a true member of the Mazdayasni Persian community. He or she wore the Kusti proudly, as a symbol of righteousness and as a sign that he or she was a full-fledged member of the Persian race. Such a person had a right to vote and speak in meetings of the race, and the boy could now be accepted for training as a warrior and Ratheshtar so that he could defend the Mazdayasni religion from enemies and his race from extinction.

It was at this Yasna ceremony, about twenty thousand years ago; that Noshirwan and Havovi were accepted into the Persian Mazdayasni fold. As Havovi stood there proudly wearing the Kusti and being congratulated by her family and friends, Noshirwan walked up to her.

Havovi's attention centred at once on this tall dazzling young man, and her heart-beat quickened as those surrounding her made way for him. Noshirwan stood before her, and smiling from his deep brown eyes; spoke the words:

"I have chosen you as mine, O beautiful Havovi. Do you accept me, a member of the Persian race, as yours?"

The happiness shone in Havovi's eyes. The young man before her was strong, manly and a courageous Ratheshtar. The light of his valour shone in his young eyes. And he was wearing his newly won Kusti so proudly, she thought.

"YES, I do.....!". And her eyes bowed down in maidenly shyness.

Immediately, a roar of enthusiastic happiness broke out from the circle of people gathered around. With happiness in their eyes, the parents and friends of Noshirwan and Havovi blessed them and wished them a long life and many Persian children.

They were wed within the next hour, by a Zaota or High Priest of the religion. Standing in the open air before the sacred fire altar, the Zaota asked them to respect and faithfully obey the Persian Institution of marriage, to learn to love each other for the rest of their days, to pay devotion to Ahura Mazda together as man and wife and to please Ahura, the King and the race by begetting many children.

For, as the Zaota explained, to bring forth new lives into the world was a Godly task. Each new life had to be trained by the parents to be a Ratheshtar, a warrior of God and to defend goodness and fight evil in the world. The more Ratheshtars the parents brought forth into the world and trained properly, the more pleased was Ahura Mazda and the King.

Havovi enjoyed her married life. Noshirwan treated her with great love and affection, and in every sense as his equal. The years passed by blissfully, Havovi inspiring her husband to new heights of courage and glory as he fought to protect the outlying areas of the Persian homeland from marauding wild beasts and savage uncivilised tribes.

One day not long after, when Noshirwan had gone with his Rath to patrol the limits of the homeland, a small girl child was born to Havovi.

The child was dazzling in its beauty. When Havovi looked at it for the first time, she gasped in admiration; forgetting the labour pains through which she had just passed. Skin as white as the snowy clouds in the sky, eyes as blue as the deepest waters in the North; and hair as soft and blond as a Sun-beam come down to the earth. And a smile so innocent so as to melt a stone into water. Havovi's heart swelled with pride as she whispered...

"O Smallest, Newest Entrant into the Persian Race! I, your mother; proudly name you Yasmin!"

Chapter Two

It was Evening and the sun was lolling on the horizon. At the North of the world, in the then warm Arctic, the Persian community had made its abode. The day's work had ended and the people met in the square as usual, men and women together; to sing and dance in joy under the light of torches and to raise thanks to Ahura.

The Persians had always been filled with the zest of life from time immemorial.

The girls formed a long line, shoulder to shoulder and arms around one another's waists, and started dancing to the sound of clapping from the gathered men. The crowd watched, entranced. Out of the entire line of girls, one girl outshone the rest, just as the moon outshines the stars at night. Tall and delicate and as beautiful as a red rose, the girl had finely chiselled features, ocean blue eyes and long golden hair forming a gorgeous halo behind her face. As she twirled her body in tune to the clapping, her well-formed breasts and her perfect body entranced all the men who saw her. The crowd was enraptured, and a collective sigh went up from the mouths of those who had assembled that night: "Who is this flower of the Persian race?"

A proud voice answered. It was the voice of Havovi, the wife of Noshirwan.

"It's my daughter Yasmin!"

By this time the young men had also noticed the beautiful fifteen year old. One by one they came up to her, their hands clapping in rhythm to the group song, their faces smiling and their eyes looking deep into her; but the maiden shook her head and lifted an arm each time to send the distraught reject away. One by one they came, the fair, the handsome youth of the Persians, until she lifted both hands up in despair, her lips bursting out in song:

"Fair face and handsome demeanour These are not all I seek for; But manly bravery, the pride of a warrior A True Believer in Ahura Mazda, Such a youth will I wed And keep as my own for ever!"

Suddenly, a shout went up from the assemblage. "Make way, make way, a messenger from King Jamshed!". A heavy Rath was drawing near, the sound of its iron wheels rumbling through the ground. The dancers broke away and mingled with the crowd as the Rath came into the clearing.

The crowd gathered around as the Ratheshtar reigned in his horses. As he turned to face the people, they saw that he was a tall youth, with penetrating deep-brown eyes that commanded their attention at once. He was dressed in the armour of a Ratheshtar, which meant a coat of mail made of rings of brass, a helmet of brass and a belt to support a sharp sword. He also carried a long and heavy Vadhare or club made of iron, with a horned bull's head at the top.

The young Ratheshtar began to speak. All eyes were riveted on him. This included Yasmin, who; lost in the crowd about her, felt a tremor in her young breast as she perceived this youth.

And then she heard his voice, which sounded as the rumbling of a great waterfall; distinct and commanding.

"My Persian blood brothers and sisters! I am named Peshotan by my mother, the son of the Persian Framroz, of the clan of Athwya. My ancestor was the great Faredun. I am the Ratheshtar, the warrior of Lord Ahura Mazda and of the Great Persian King Jamshed."

"The King of Kings Jamshed has ordered me to convey to you, his Persian subjects whom he considers as his own children; the following message which I now speak in his own words:

"I , King Jamshed, Worshipper of Ahura Mazda and ruler of the Persian nation of tribes; pay respect to you, my good subjects.

"An issue of the utmost importance has emerged, which has led me to take a decision. Indeed, this decision is of far- reaching consequence to the history of the whole Persian nation. It must be reflected upon by each member of the race.

"Due to the blessings of Ahura Mazda, I have been able to fulfil my obligations as a Ruler and have given you justice, peace and prosperity. As you, my people, well know; Ahura Mazda taught me His beautiful religion which we know as the Mazdayasni religion. Only one man had been taught the religion by Ahura before me, and that man was Gayomard, the first man in the world. Having been taught His religion, I asked Ahura to make me His Prophet. But Ahura declined, saying that I was unfit for the task; and that I should be content with Righteous Kingship over the Persian race. So saying, He blessed my reign with peace, plenty and prosperity.

"Accepting the Will of Almighty Ahura Mazda, I asked Him to choose another righteous person as His Prophet, and Ahura promised me He would do so in the days to come; when the good Mazdayasni religion would loose its vibrant vitality and need a saviour to redeem it from such a state. Such a prophet will be the Great Zarathustra, born to one of your descendants; my people, and from thenceforth the Mazdayasni religion will be called the Mazdayasni Zarathustri religion."

Surprise and awe was written large on the faces of many of the people who were listening. Tears welled up in the eyes of some, and a whisper went up from the crowd......

"Praise be to Zarathustra, the Promised One!" "Praise be to Ahura Mazda, the Lord of Lords!"

Chapter Three

The Ratheshtar, standing upright in his Rath, paused in his reading. The people were now agog with excitement. They had understood that King Jamshed had something very important to tell them.

"Go on, Brave Peshotan; read on!" came a voice from the crowd; and others took it up. Peshotan raised an arm and immediately the tumult subsided.

"My Persian brothers; I continue the King's message." "I, King Jamshed; ruler of the Persian race, have thus been favoured by Lord Ahura Mazda. But my dear subjects, troubled times loom menacingly ahead for the Persian race.

"The Great Ahura Mazda, the Lord of the Persians; has told me thus:

"O King, evil times will strike upon the Persian race. In the form of cruel winter, evil will come. Snow will fall, lakes will freeze, crops will die. The homeland of the Persians, Persianam Vaejo will become totally cold and inhospitable.

"I Who am Ahura Mazda, your God and the God of the whole world, wish to warn you of the coming events. It is my wish that the Persian race and the Persian religion be not extinguished. Therefore, you should take the necessary steps."

"So informing me, Ahura Mazda has obliged all of us. He has made it possible for us to prepare for the great journey that our race should undertake.

"So prepare, my dear Persian subjects. We must leave our beloved homes and move southwards. We must uproot our houses and our hearts and move along. Remember, we do it for the welfare of our children, for the future of the Persian race. We do it so that the Persian Mazdayasni religion will not die out. It is for the future that we must leave our ancient homeland and move.......!"

A hush fell over the gathered people. They looked at the Ratheshtar, who had become silent, his face bowed down in thought. They looked at one another. It seemed the worry and fear that had suddenly come over their faces would boil over into panic. At that instant, an old lady shrieked:

"Southwards! Great Ahura, protect us from the monsters and barbarians who dwell in such places. How will we ever pass through such troubles!"

The Ratheshtar's head swung up when he heard those words. His chest swelled and a glow sparked on his face, the red glow of manly courage as he sang with emotion and feeling in his voice:

"A Ratheshtar am I, a warrior true To protect good, and fight evil is my due Faith in Ahura Mazda is my shield, My sacred girdle is my armour - And my prayers are my swords so sharp! Ten such as me can overcome Ten thousand demons and monsters... So my people! Do not worry, Have faith in Ahura and let us be gone! Let us be gone to make a new home, For our children; and their future, So that the true religion will ever live on, Have faith in Ahura and let us be gone!" At that precise moment there was a clap of thunder.

Angry clouds had gathered in the heavens above. Lightning burst and fell, shaking the sky; seemingly threatening to split the earth apart.

And then it happened. For the first time in the history of the Arctic, snow fell in an angry rush; then hunks of ice driven by a howling ice-cold gale. The attack of evil on the ancient homeland of the Persians had begun. The Golden Age of ancient mankind was over - the dreaded ice age was to follow.

But the people did not panic; they plodded valiantly in the storm towards their homes, their chests thrust defiantly out against the gales; singing the name of Ahura Mazda on their lips.

The day of the great tribulation of the Persian peoples had arrived.

In the hearts of Yasmin and all those on that day twenty thousand years ago, there was but one desire - to keep the flame of the religion of Ahura Mazda alive and strong. There was only one question burning in their minds - whether the evil spirit would succeed in vanquishing them in the tons of snow that were falling all around, covering their homes, their roads, their chariots, their crops and their farms and numbing their bodies and minds; or whether they would be able to struggle through the long journey southwards; through the dangerous lands on every side; where monsters and barbarians lurked at every step - through all the difficulties and tribulations that surrounded the Persian race at that time.

And in the breast of young Yasmin; there burnt the flicker of hope that she would meet this brave young Ratheshtar again. But then her mind told her that the chances were very low that she would ever even see him again, in the course of the great Persian migration southwards when tens of thousands of people would travel with her and it would be very hard to meet Peshotan again.

Yasmin closed her eyes momentarily, her lips whispering in prayer:

"O Ahura Mazda! Giver of Mercies! This much I ask you today - That I meet this brave young man again, Peshotan, heroic Ratheshtar - Who has moved me as no other."

Chapter Four

The sun was invisible. Darkness hung its dark hood over the entire world. Snow was falling incessantly, whipped by an ice- cold howling gale.

The beautiful homeland of the Persians, Airyanam Vaejo had turned into an iceland.

Through the cutting snow, through the howling wind; the bravery of man shone. A long struggling line was plodding on its way; the Persian race was leaving its beloved motherland.

Tears in their eyes, the men and women bade goodbye to their homes; their gardens for the last time. Carrying their precious children in their arms; they boarded their Raths or chariots. Their faithful animals with them - the dogs, the cows and bulls, the goats and the roosters of their household; the Persians started to drive the horses of their Raths southward.

As they drove on that day twenty thousand years ago, they saw their houses crumble and fall under tons of snow; they saw the trees they had planted with such care and love wither and die; the birds in them falling to the iced ground frozen to death. Yet they did not flinch, for they had faith in Ahura Mazda and breathed His Name with every step. They were the true Mazdayasnis; the Worshippers of Ahura Mazda.

It would have been easier just to give up and die. But they had to live, for their children and for the bright tomorrows. They had to live so that the ancient Persian religion of Mazda could live, so that this pure faith would not die out; the faith which had been entrusted to Gayomard, the first of the Persian race and the first man on earth.

The Ratheshtars, warriors drove in their heavy Raths; arms at the ready. Their mighty swords, long spears and heavy Vadhares; maces with the great Persian horned bull head at the far end were ready to strike violently in the defence of the followers of Ahura Mazda.

Peshotan, the brave Ratheshtar was riding at the forefront. At his side was his commander, the Persian general Darab who had been placed in charge of this band of ten thousand Persians by the great Persian king Jamshed himself.

The four powerful white horses that drove the Rath of Peshotan, neighed vigorously as he reined them in; stopping his Rath at the beckoning of General Darab.

Darab, a very brave warrior of the Persians; looked at Peshotan. He was proud of this dashing young man he commanded.

"Peshotan, my brave Lieutenant. I have full confidence in you. Go, organise the Ratheshtars to protect our people from all sides."

Peshotan bowed in acceptance. Darab lifted his hand and pointed to the curtain of snow behind him.

"And you yourself, I ask you to pass from the start to the end of our line and back again; assuring that our people are safe and no mishap occurs to them during this long journey."

This time, a puzzled look appeared on the young Ratheshtar's face. General Darab was quick to notice it.

"Speak out your doubt."

Peshotan looked devotedly at Darab. He spoke with fervour in his voice.

"My General, I would rather be here; at your side. Ahead of us lies land filled with fiendish monsters and savage barbarians. You will need every Persian sword you can find; every fighter to fight in the cause of good against evil."

Darab smiled.

"Peshotan, the middle lines must be guarded as well as the front. You speak thus, but what if an enemy were to penetrate our lines and reach our people, unknown to us? Who would protect them then, if they would call out to us so far placed from them and we would not hear them? The Persian people need you, brave young man, go! Do not delay longer; the snow falls thicker."

Peshotan extended both hands and grasped the palms of his commander in his own. This was the salute of the Ancient Persians, known as Hamazor. A spiritual force seemed to travel into each of the two men as both jointly breathed the words:

"Victory to Ahura Mazda!"

Good would surely triumph over evil.

As the two warriors parted in their Raths that day twenty thousand years ago, their pure faces reflected their devotion and faith in the great Ahura. Each knew the awesome responsibility upon their shoulders. But as faithful warriors of God against evil, they knew they had to do their duty; to protect the ancient Persians against all the dangers that faced them at that time. This was their vow, they would lay down their lives to this end.

What if one battle were lost. What if it seemed that evil was succeeding over truth. That was only a transitory illusion. The war would be won, the war of goodness over evil. And goodness whose other name was Ahura, would reign supreme in the end.

This was the great promise of the Ancient Persian faith.

Chapter Five

Peshotan swung his mighty horses around. The ground shuddered as his powerful Rath (chariot) thundered back the way he had come. Minutes passed into hours. After some time, through the darkness and the falling snow, he could now barely distinguish the long line of Persian families in their chariots; travelling much slower than him.

There was a burning flame placed in a partially covered canopy in each Rath, and it was in that light that the families were able to follow one another. The flame, so zealously protected from the falling snow and the howling winds was the personal Sacred Fire of each Persian family.

From time immemorial, from the start of the world; the Persian race had worshipped the holy element of Fire. Fire, they had always sung; was the greatest gift of Ahura to man.

When Ahura made the world, when he made the plants, the animals, and man; all were lifeless. Then Ahura created Fire; and Lo! It was this holy Fire, the spark of life that entered the breasts of Ahura's creation and made them vibrantly alive. Fire, the vivifying force was that agent of God which had given them life, which had made each human a warrior on the side of Goodness against evil, a Ratheshtar.

If man did not follow this God-given duty, if man did not fight against evil in whatever form he encountered it throughout his life, then he was a betrayer of God's army and a coward.

In the hymn to Fire, which was intoned by every Persian family once in a day; the Persian paid homage to Fire as the Universal Purifier. Fire, the purest element of God; inspired the Persian to greater heights of purity and heroism. The family prayed that the majestic Fire may ever remain burning in their household, and they may remain under its purifying influence.

Peshotan turned his horses to the far right of the line of Persians. He motioned to the Ratheshtars he saw to fan out on all sides; indicating with his powerful heavy Vadhare or horned bull- headed mace the directions he wanted them to protect.

One Rath was coming straight towards him. As it drew nearer, he saw that it was his childhood friend, Feroz in the Rath.

The hands of Peshotan and Feroz met in the Ancient Persian greeting of Hamazor, as their faces smiled. Feroz, a powerfully built young Persian was a faithful friend of Peshotan. Their families knew each other since many years ago, and Peshotan and he had played and prayed to Ahura together.

Feroz smiled again. Was he remembering those forgone years in their lost homeland, Airyanam Vaejo? Peshotan's eyes were misty with memories. How they had enjoyed those childhood days together, when they had attended the Aryapatastan, the religious school of the Ancient Persians. In the school which was held in the open air amidst the glories of nature, masters taught them the principles of the Persian faith of Ahura Mazda along with training on how to use arms. Everyone was trained to be a warrior; just as everyone was taught the sacred hymns and trained to become an Athravan (Fire Priest). It was up to the individual to make his choice. The girls received equal status as the males, and received the same training in arms as well as tending the fire.

Peshotan's mind turned back to the present. He pressed the back of Feroz's hand again. His lips were just beginning to form a word when suddenly a ear-splitting roar split the air.

Peshotan and Feroz spun around in their Raths. Their eyes pulled wide open in shock and surprise and for a moment they stood paralysed in their Raths in the falling snow.

It was something that none of them had ever seen before. A Monster. A huge thirty-feet tall black animal with long woolly hair, wicked curved tusks and large red gleaming eyes. A mammoth of the prehistoric era.

And it was rushing straight at the two Ratheshtars, on that day twenty thousand years ago.

Chapter Six

The blood-curdling roar of the monster mammoth thundered in the air as the two Ratheshtars gathered their wits about them.

They knew what they had to do. Under no circumstance could this monster be allowed to pass into the midst of the Persian families, the women and children not very distant from them. It would be a massacre if they could not stop it.

The two Raths (chariots) broke away and fanned out like twin thunderbolts in the opposite directions, stopping when they had gone far enough from one another. Without wasting another moment, Peshotan and Feroz picked up their heavy brass spears and urged their great white horses towards the monster elephant.

Their young throats shook the air with the Ancient Persian battle cry, "Victory to Ahura Mazda!" as they rushed headlong against the terrible beast.

Feroz was the first to throw his spear.

The heavy brass spear hissed through the air and struck the mammoth in the shoulder. Roaring with pain, the prehistoric elephant swung towards its tormenter and, picking him up in its long trunk, threw him into the sky.

His mouth screaming "NO!", Peshotan reached the maddened elephant and with a tremendously powerful throw, slammed his deadly spear straight into its skull.

Lost in its death throes, the monster elephant sank to its knees as Peshotan rushed his chariot to where the body of Feroz had fallen. Tears in his eyes, he jumped from his Rath and lovingly placed the dying warrior's head in his lap.

Feroz, his eyes half closed and already dimmed; looked up as a tear fell on his cheek.

As the snow fell in torrents around them, and as the howling wind passed like a demon over their heads; the dying warrior whispered in halting gasps to his weeping friend:

"Do not cry, my noble friend Since I die to save my people - I leave you now for ever, To Ahura's arms I go And when - I am gone - You too must do as I have done And protect our ancient religion from harm! I die, but the Faith of Ahura Mazda Must never die out!"

The last words were barely out when the brave youth's eyes lost their flicker of life.

Peshotan stood up. The snow was already beginning to cover the body. He forced his eyes away and ran towards his Rath.

Some distance away, the ten thousand strong band of Persians was continuing the tremendous journey southwards. The snow storm that had lasted for so many days had now abated. The air was filled with a sharp chill, and the Persian men and women rubbed their weary eyes as they looked at the sky.

The sky on that day twenty thousand years ago was beginning to fill with an azure blue sheet of colour as the grandeous sun arose. The sun, the beloved of the Persian race. The giver of warmth and life to the world, and the special creation of Ahura Mazda for the benefit of mankind.

Many of those on that great journey paused for a moment to bow to the shimmering golden sun, and the air reverberated with the chanting of thousands of powerful holy verses or Mathras of praise for the shimmering orb of light.

If the Sun were not to rise at all, the Persians sang; the evil spirit would destroy the entire creation. The Sun, known to them as Hvare Khshaeta (Golden King) from which the word Khorshed was later derived; was eternally brilliant, and the emitter of strong light. When the Sun's rays shone, thousands of spiritual beings created by Ahura sent down the lustre to the earth; to render prosperous the righteous creation of Ahura.

When the Sun rises, they sang with devotion and fervour; the land created by Ahura becomes purified. The flowing waters of the rivers are purified, the waters of the spring, the sea and the stagnant waters are purified. The Sun's holy rays even purified the wisdom of the human mind and increased the righteousness in the person who kept his mind open to the sun's purifying influence.

This was their fervent wish and desire, that the Sun would influence them to be more righteous, more pure and ever truer in their devotion to the great Ahura Mazda, the ancient God of the Persians and the God of the whole world.

Chapter Seven

So, the Persians claimed with zeal, he who gives praise to the Sun that is eternal; offers resistance to evil and to the darkness, offers resistance to the thief and plunderer, offers resistance to sorcerers. He who gives praise to the shining sun; reveres Ahura Mazda Himself, reveres the eternal holy laws, reveres his own soul, whoever reveres the Sun that is eternal, brilliant and emitting strong light.

This was why the pure, the noble Persian race had always paid homage to the rising Sun on the break of dawn; and this was what they were doing now; ending their hymns with a fervent prayer to the Sun to lend them its pure and mighty strength, the greatest strength created by God; so that they could struggle against the evil which threatened to extinguish their race and so that they could surmount all the difficulties in the great migration to the south.

Ahead of that long and courageous line of Persian families lay a long wide expanse of frozen ice; utterly cold and lifeless and unfriendly. All around them, on every side; stretching as far as their eyes could see was that same chilling whiteness.

Wherever their tired faces turned, they saw frozen ground and huge mountains and chunks of ice.

Yasmin, the flower of the Persian race was among the great line of families. Her beautiful face was aglow with devotion as she praised the rising sun with upraised hands and put on her sacred Persian girdle or Kusti. She then paid tender respect to her mother and father at the break of the day, as every Persian whether man or woman was wont to do.

Noshirwan, her father drove the Rath with the ease born of experience. He had grown old, yet the same strength, the same courage had not left him as when he had fought with wild animals barehanded in his youth. His faithful wife, Havovi stood there at his side, her hair blowing in the breeze and one arm around her husband's waist.

Yasmin sat her tender body down on a small seat in the Rath. Her lovely pure and innocent face, deep blue eyes and golden tresses shone shimmeringly in the rays of the Sun, as she looked at the hills of ice all around. She looked breath-takingly beautiful. The suffering she had undergone so far in the journey had brought a greater light to her face.

She was thinking of the brave warrior Peshotan, and of the day she had first seen him when he had delivered the great Persian King Jamshed's message to the people. Her mind wondered whether she would ever meet him again. Her eyes were lost in deep thought when it happened.

Suddenly, with a gushing roar, only twenty feet away from Yasmin's chariot the ground split with a tremendous force. The ice sheets on which a number of Raths (chariots) were driving crumbled devastatingly beneath their very wheels and a huge chasm split the earth into two great halves under Yasmin's and her parents' terrified eyes.

Piteous cries and screams and the neighing of horses rent the air as the Raths that followed were desperately forced by their riders to a grinding halt. People rushed forward to the edge of the yawning chasm, but there was nothing they could do.

The Raths and their unfortunate screaming occupants were lost in the tons of snow and ice that cascaded into the chasm down from its opposite sides.

It was an icy grave, a grisly icy death for many Persians.

It was a victory of the evil spirit over Man, Ahura's finest creation. Albeit, the victory was a temporary one. The evil spirit would be vanquished by Ahura in the end. And man as the Ratheshtar, the warrior of God was an important tool that would bring about that end.

Chapter Eight

Noshirwan, the aged warrior quickly assumed command. Ahead of his Rath and the others that followed, lay the vast ice chasm that had swallowed up the unfortunate ones. But they had not died in vain.

In the hearts of those who saw them die, there arose the renewed desire that they would surmount all the trials and tribulations that faced the Persian race at that time. They would preserve the ancient religion of the Persians, the religion of Ahura Mazda and see that it would never die out from the face of the earth. This they would do, while there was blood running in their veins and the breath in their nostrils.

Noshirwan observed that the chasm stretched on either side as far as the eye could see. He turned around in his chariot and faced the Raths that had come to a standstill.

"My fellow Persians! There is no time for us to loose. We must cross this chasm. Let us follow it on our right, so that we may see where it ends or becomes narrow enough for us to cross."

The occupants of the chariots raised their hands.

"We are with you, brave Noshirwan! Lead us on."

Everyone knew this brave aged warrior, and the feats of war he had performed on the battlefield. They knew he was a true warrior or Ratheshtar of Ahura Mazda on the side of good against evil.

Noshirwan whirled his Rath around. His wife Havovi and daughter Yasmin looked at him proudly from the back of the chariot as he led the Persian Mazdayasni families on that day twenty thousand years ago. Horses neighed vigorously as the chariots changed course to follow the path of the vast ice chasm.

Snow and ice were kicked up in a flurry as the chariots went on for a time, and just when it seemed that there could be no narrowing to the chasm and that it would go on for eternity; the vastness changed and narrowed down to a mere two or three feet.

Noshirwan reigned in his horses and stopped his chariot, raising one arm for those following his chariot to halt. There could be no point in following the chasm endlessly, when it could be crossed now.

"Worshippers of Mazda! Now is the time. We shall cross over the chasm and resume our great journey southwards."

"However, it is foolish to risk crossing on our loaded chariots. Let us dismount and cross over on foot; leading our horses and chariots over after each of our families have crossed."

There was a hum of approval from the two hundred families that had come with Noshirwan. Then, one by one; the Persian families crossed. The women and children crossed first; jumping over the three feet or so wide chasm; and then the men of the family led their horses and chariots over; at times lifting the chariot wheels over the chasm.

Noshirwan declined to cross over until every Persian family in his charge was safely on the other side, shaking his head each time a friend asked him to cross. It was only after an hour had passed by, and the two hundred families had crossed safely across; that the last of the Persian families prepared to cross over.

Yasmin and her mother Havovi crossed the chasm slowly, the name of Ahura on their lips. No sooner were they on the other side; then they turned and beckoned to Noshirwan to cross.

The aged warrior Noshirwan took the rein of his mighty Rath in his hands, and his horses were beginning to stride majestically towards the chasm when the unexpected happened.

Suddenly, with a dull roar, the ice beneath Noshirwan started to rumble. Yasmin and her mother looked on in shocked surprise as the ice sheets began to break away once again and Noshirwan stood in his Rath, unsure of what was happening.

"Father! Go back!"

Yasmin was running towards the crumbling chasm, her face crying in panic and then she jumped across the disintegrating chasm towards her father, disregarding the tremendous danger and her only thought for her father.

As her foot touched the other side, the ice broke away in a huge sheet and started to cascade down into the huge crevice.

Yasmin lost her balance and was falling away from her father into the hungry yawning mass of crumbling ice when Noshirwan reached out one strong arm and caught her by the waist; pulling her and himself away barely in time from the cascading danger rushing into the bowels of the earth.

Havovi stood on the other side, her eyes and features shaking in panic as she saw her husband and daughter on the other side of the awesome and uncrossable vastness that had sprung up in between.

She was starting to throw herself towards her loved ones, screaming out their names; unmindful of the yawning gap before her when her friends caught her and held her back.

The clouds in the heavens above, long silent spectators broke down and tears of their agony poured down when they saw what had happened on the earth that day twenty thousand years ago.

An Persian family had been separated by the evil one. Loved ones had been torn apart. An Persian wife who had never wilfully separated from her husband, an Persian mother who had never let her precious daughter be removed from her eyes from the moment she was born; was now forced to let both her husband and daughter part from her as the Persians families continued their great migration southwards.

If the heavens could weep, they wept now.

Chapter Nine

Night had come and gone. The lone Rath (chariot) was rumbling alongside the great ice chasm, its weary occupants searching for an end to its vastness. Then they would cross and at long last join the hundreds of Persian families that had gone across before them.

Yasmin closed her eyes. Crying her heart out, she clung to the breast of Noshirwan.

"Father, will we EVER meet mother again?"

Noshirwan, his face bleak without any sleep; soothed his daughter's golden hair and pressed her to him.

"Yasmin, Yasmin. My dearest daughter. Have faith. Have hope. Take the Name of Ahura Mazda. Believe in His majesty and mercy."

Indeed, the gift of Ahura to man is hope. Man can but hope, when through trials and sufferings he finds himself defenceless.

"To be despondent is against our Persian religion. To be dejected is not worthy of us. Let us fill our minds with cheerfulness and give thanks to Ahura that we are still alive."

Dawn was breaking, a glorious dawn and the sun was rising; bathing the whole land in its rays of light. The ice shimmered and shone pure white as father and daughter stopped the chariot to sing hymns of praise to the rising sun.

This the Persians had always done since time immemorial; and this father and daughter did now; and then put on their sacred Persian girdles or Kustis.

Yasmin then bowed down to her father; who blessed her with eyes moist with paternal love. Every Persian child was noble enough to pay respect to his or her parents each morning. The very word Persian meant, the Noble.

Noshirwan drove the Rath more slowly now. His daughter's rosy face was aglow with devotion and love as she looked at her father and listened to him explaining Ahura's Divine plan to her. The Persian parents taught their children to be warriors of God and fight for God on the cause of Good against evil. Every Ratheshtar (warrior) of God was expected to fight evil in whatever form he encountered it.

If he noted evil tendencies in his fellow humans, he should speak out fearlessly against them and try to convert them to the good Path of Asha (Righteousness). If he noticed impurity and uncleanliness in the creations of God such as the rivers and trees, he should try to make them clean and pure once again. For, cleanliness and purity both in body and spirit were very important if one wanted to follow the path of Asha.

It was the path of Asha that Noshirwan was explaining to Yasmin. Asha or Ereta (Rta in Sanskrit) was the great law of the universe. Everything worked as per this law, which had been created by Ahura. When the planets revolved, they were following the law of Asha. When the rivers flowed and fell into the ocean, they were following the law of Asha. When man was being righteous, he was following the law of Asha.

Thus, Noshirwan explained to his daughter; Asha meant following the Natural law. Being truthful, pure and devoted to Ahura was but natural, since He had created us. And being clean and not making impure any creation of Ahura was also the natural law, and so following the path of Asha to the ancient Persians included following the laws of ecology and hygiene thousands of years before modern science invented these words.

The sun had reached its zenith and the Rath; its wheels slowly turning rumbled ahead, the brave father explaining the faith of the Persians to his devoted daughter. Suddenly, a hoarse cry pierced the air. Noshirwan and Yasmin, shocked out of their dialogue spun around in surprise.

Barely a mile away from them; shouting and shrieking; a group of riders was advancing on them. Even from that distance, Noshirwan could recognise them. He looked at Yasmin and said tersely:


Barbarians! The sworn enemies of the Persians. They were the tribes living on the fringes of the Persian homeland and who did not believe in Ahura Mazda, yet had no religion of their own. They practised barbaric rites including human sacrifice, and worshipped demons and evil spirits.

The barbarians had always been jealous of the civilised towns and cities of the Persians in Airyanam Vaejo, the ancient homeland. Under the great Persian Kings who were known as Kavis, the greatest of them being Yima Vivangaho or Jamshed, the Persians had reached the zenith of civilisation. The sciences of medicine, surgery, agriculture, ecology, astronomy and astrology were perfected by them.

This was the cause of fanatic envy for the barbarians, who had no civilisation to call their own.

And they had always eyed the beautiful and fair-skinned Persian women with lustful desire.

And now on that day twenty thousand years ago, a band of these same barbarians was advancing with fierce whooping cries on Noshirwan and his lovely daughter; Yasmin ...the Fairest of the Persian race.

Chapter Ten

Noshirwan urged his Rath to a standstill. He stood there, tall and erect in his place; facing the advancing barbarians. For an Persian to flee before enemies would be unthinkable. Noshirwan was a Ratheshtar, a warrior. Courage ran as blood in his veins.

"Be brave, Yasmin. Act as a true daughter of the Persians."

The aged warrior lifted his powerful bow and an ancient hymn reverberated on his lips as he closed his eyes for a moment.

The hymn was to Verethraghna, the Persian Divinity of war who was the embodiment of Victory over evil. Verethraghna, in later centuries known as Behram Yazad; was always invoked by the Persian warrior before battle was joined.

Then, with a hiss; the first arrow of the battle flew from Noshirwan's bow.

The arrow flew fast and true, like a thunderbolt from heaven. Such was the force of the arm that had dispatched it that it cut like a scythe through the mass of barbarians, piercing the strongest of the horsed riders right in his throat.

Screaming, the rider plunged from his neighing horse to the ground; his breath drawn out violently from him.

The barbarians had almost reached the chariot. Screaming fiercely, they surrounded the Rath and then attacked the lone fighter. Yasmin crouched down behind her father as Noshirwan dropped his bow and picked up his heavy shield and his powerful iron mace or Vadhare, with the great Persian horned bull head at the striking end.

Yasmin gasped in naked fright and horror as she saw the barbarians, the sworn enemies of her Persian race for the first time.

Half naked they wore raw animal hides and necklaces of animal and human bones. Whooping and screaming, riding barebacked on their horses; their ugly swine featured faces were a truly frightening sight to the young Persian girl.

Noshirwan swung his powerful Vadhare violently. The force of his swing was powerful enough to unseat two of the enemy from their horses. The next tremendous swing broke the skull of another.

Wary by now, the barbarian band urged their horses backwards; retreating before the swinging mace. They were beginning to feel they should have left this powerful warrior alone.

They were almost about to give up, and back their horses away in retreat when one of the party noticed the frightened figure behind Noshirwan's legs.

His face breaking out into an excited smile, the barbarian shouted out to the others what he had seen.

Yasmin, the fairest of the Persian race was now the prize of the battle.

On one side of the battle was her own father, who was willing to sacrifice his very life to protect her maidenhood. And on the other side were the cruel barbarians, full of lust and desire.

The barbarians attacked with renewed vigour. They had seen the prize.

Noshirwan was extending his hand to draw his sword when a spear pierced the right side of his chest.


Yasmin screamed as Noshirwan's arms dropped and he slumped.

The faithful horses of Noshirwan's Rath went berserk when they saw their master wounded and they charged at the barbarians, their hoofs flying. Yasmin caught the reins as the Rath tore through the encircling barbarians.

She urged the horses on, faster and faster. The barbarians, taken aback at the sudden charge watched their prize fleeing from them. Then, with a savage shout; they urged their horses after her.

Chapter Eleven

The Rath was rumbling over the iced ground, Yasmin at the reins urging her neighing horses on. Her long golden hair flew out in the rush of wind as she controlled the horses of her chariot.

Noshirwan, badly wounded and lying in the chariot; raised a hand and grinding his teeth; pulled the barbarian spear out from his body.

"Yasmin - daughter - flee! Do not let these savages destroy your virginity."

Yasmin's face reddened with fury as she heard her father's words.

"NO! No barbarian can touch me."

Her eyes were filled with a new courage as she bent one arm down and picked up her father's sword.

The barbarians were closing in fast.

Noshirwan watched helplessly as they gradually drew abreast of the Rath on their neighing horses, their eyes gleaming as they raised their swords high.

Then, with a sudden strike, a sword cut at the reins in Yasmin's hand. The reins broke and the horses of the Rath scattered, overturning the Rath. Yasmin and her father were thrown violently on the hard iced ground, Noshirwan groaning in pain.

Yasmin, though bruised, still had the sword in her hand. She sprang up from the ground and stood over her father.

The barbarians reined in their horses and galloped back to where the Rath had overturned.

They rode their horses slowly, forming a circle around Yasmin and her unconscious father.

Yasmin held her sword bravely in her hand. She was remembering the words of her father:

"Act as a true daughter of the Persians."

On that day twenty thousand years ago, as the barbarians surrounded the young Persian girl, there was open lust in their eyes.

This girl was more beautiful than any they had ever seen, indeed the most beautiful in the world. Her golden hair, eyes as blue and shimmering as the waves of the ocean; her snow-white skin, the fairest in the land and her full womanly figure were like tantalising diamonds to them. And her defiance was fascinating.

Their eyes moved to the sword in the girl's hand. And then their faces turned into hideous grins, as they looked at one another.

On that day twenty thousand years ago, evil seemed to have triumphed over good. Yasmin, her sword hand shaking in emotion; raised her eyes to the deep blue sky above. Desperate tears swimming in her eyes, her pure heart whispered urgently to the Lord God of the Persians and of the whole world:

"Let Strength flow into my arms, O Ahura! Today I fight to guard my honour - Let the spirits of my ancestors Fill me with valour! I would die, but I will NOT Let a Non-Persian trespass On even a strand of my hair!"

One of the horsed men dismounted and walked with raised sword towards Yasmin, his lips curling out lustfully. Yasmin looked at him with sudden rage and, speaking the name of Ahura in her heart; locked swords with him.

There they fought, the young Persian girl and the barbarian; and the heavens themselves stooped down to watch.

Nature seemed hushed as the spirit and fervour of the girl to protect her maidenhood broke through the defence of the savage enemy.

The barbarian lay dead at her feet in the space of the next few moments.

Incredulous, the grins wiped from their faces; the other barbarians dismounted and rushed at Yasmin.

Yasmin, her face aflame with purity; held her own for a few seconds, her sword arm flying and maiming or killing the barbarians until she received a blow on the head from behind which knocked her senseless.

Swiftly, a barbarian picked her up and threw her on his horse which he then mounted; his face exult with jubilation as the others jumped on their horses.

Whooping with lustful joy, the barbarian band rode off into the horizon; leaving the chariot and the grievously wounded and unconscious Noshirwan behind.

On the back of a horse, the booty of the barbarians; lay the unfortunate Yasmin; the fairest of the Persian race.

Chapter Twelve

The sun was at its zenith. The iced ground shook as the long line of Persian families passed over in their Raths, in their long journey southwards.

The brave Persians faced the most difficult obstacles and surmounted them, out of their devotion to Ahura Mazda and their faith in the ancient Persian religion. They lived so that the religion could live on, and they died so that it could never die out.

Peshotan, the brave Ratheshtar (warrior) was driving his Rath down the line of Persian families. It was his duty to protect the inside lines, to console the grieving and to check if anything was amiss.

The families were driving in bands. As one large band ended, Peshotan drove his Rath towards the next one.

The next band which was coming towards him was not a very large one, he thought; as he rode towards it.

As soon as he neared the first chariot, Peshotan was signalled to stop. The Raths came in, one by one until they faced Peshotan. The puzzled Ratheshtar could see the anxiety and worry on the faces of everyone. Then, the last Rath came in. It emptied, and a middle-aged woman rushed towards Peshotan.

It was Havovi, Noshirwan's wife and Yasmin's mother.

The crying Havovi poured out her unhappy tale to Peshotan. She told how she had been separated from her husband and daughter by the yawning ice chasm, and how she had been worried to no end about their safety.

Peshotan did his best to comfort her. Holding her hand in his, he looked at her red rimmed eyes.

"Your tears pierce me, my Persian mother. Do not cry, I will bring your husband and daughter back to you."

An elderly Persian drew near, and placed his hand on Peshotan's shoulder.

"I am called Zubin. You must hurry, my brave son. We noticed a band of barbarians from afar in the same area, across the ice chasm. They could do us no harm, but we fear they could have attacked Noshirwan and his daughter."

Peshotan's face hardened into a determined look. His heart-beat raced as he thought of what the barbarians were capable of. He ran forward and threw off the reins of his chariot, unyoking the best of his horses from the Rath.

The horse was Tehmton; the swiftest and the most powerful horse in Peshotan's team and Peshotan threw himself on Tehmton's back.

"Take my Rath with you." He looked at Zubin who nodded.

Peshotan turned his mighty steed in the direction Zubin pointed out. He leaned forward and whispered in the horse's ear.

"Go, Tehmton, Go!"

The horse was like a thunderbolt when he heard those words. Havovi and her friends looked on and waved until, in the space of a few seconds, Peshotan was out of sight; the thud of his horse's hooves reverberating in the cold air.

The weary Persians climbed back into their Raths and, taking the name of Ahura Mazda on their lips; continued their journey.

In their hearts, they prayed to the Ancient God of the Persians and the God of the whole world that the brave Ratheshtar would be successful; that he would carry with him the strength and valour of the famous warriors of the Persian race so that he could rescue the helpless two from the evil which threatened them.

Peshotan was riding hard and fast. He was thinking furiously.

Could the barbarians have taken Noshirwan and Yasmin?

He came to the great ice chasm within a short while.

There was no second thought in Peshotan's mind, no doubt. He knew the horse would have to jump over the yawning break in the iced ground. Closing his eyes, he sang a short hymn to Ahura Mazda and then patted his horse's head.

"Jump, Tehmton!"

The great steed rushed with its master towards the deadly spot where the ice ended and fell away into the bottomless hell.

The chasm, twenty feet or more in width, flew beneath horse and rider in the superhuman jump. The fantastic feat passed unnoticed except by the heavens above which clapped in thunder.

Peshotan patted the mane of his mighty horse. "Well done, my brave friend."

His horse neighed vigorously in understanding. Tehmton was a worthy horse of the mighty Persian race.

Peshotan rode on, following the path of the chasm. The hoofs of his horse thudded in the snow.

Everywhere about him, there was silence. Save for the howling of the wind there was no sound to be heard.

Suddenly, he realised that a Rath lay overturned ahead of him.

He urged his horse on, until he came to the Rath. And the body lying on the iced ground close by.

Chapter Thirteen

Peshotan dismounted in a flash. He ran to the body and turned it over carefully.

Noshirwan, his breath still in his body; looked at Peshotan through eyes dimmed with pain. Making a superhuman effort, he tried to rise; but Peshotan restrained him.

"My Persian elder, you are badly wounded. Let me treat your wounds."

Noshirwan, his voice trembling, caught Peshotan's hand.

"No! I will die here, my son. Do not waste time on me. Save my daughter Yasmin! Barbarians - Barbarians have carried her away!"

With a last effort, Noshirwan pointed his hand in the direction his daughter had been taken away, then his eyes closed and his hands crashed back to the ground as the breath left his body for ever; his lips forming the last word of his life: the name of the ancient God of the Persian race and the God of the whole world, Ahura Mazda.

When an Persian died, he preferred to utter the name of the Almighty God in his last breath.

Peshotan stood up. His eyes were moist.

"I salute you, brave Ratheshtar!"

The heroic young warrior swiftly mounted his powerful steed and rode off in pursuit of the enemy.

His blood boiled as he thought about the young Persian girl in the hands of the barbarians. Come what may, he would save her from her plight. What if he would die in the process! He would willingly sacrifice his life ten times over, if he could save a precious girl of his race from a plight worse than death.

The snow was flung about by flying hoofs which seemed as though they would set the ground on fire; as the horse Tehmton, riding his fastest; overtook the barbarians in under an hour.

As soon as Peshotan spotted the barbarians, he drew his mighty sword and charged straight at them.

The barbarians had been riding slowly and comfortably, flushed with success; their beautiful captive making them heady with anticipation. They were surprised at the sudden savage attack of the young Ratheshtar as he swept into them, his face aglow with lion's courage as he shouted the battlecry of the Ancient Persians.

"Victory to Ahura Mazda!"

Yasmin, her hands tied behind her back watched with bated breath as this young man of her race joined battle with the barbarians. One man against scores. Her eyes flooded with tears as she realised that the brave Persian youth had no chance. She could not be rescued, and this handsome warrior would die, just like her father.

The first barbarian was pierced in the heart by Peshotan's sword. As he fell, three other brute-faced fiends threw themselves together on Peshotan. Peshotan fended off two blows and slashed the hand of one of the enemy with his sword.

Screaming with pain, the man dropped from his horse. The sword of the Persian warrior swung like an avalanche in the storm of clanging steel, as the enemy pressed upon Peshotan and surrounded him on all sides.

As one barbarian died, another took his place. As one sword fell, another came up to the fight.

And then one of the evil enemy crept his horse to behind the fighting warrior. Using a slingshot made of raw animal hide, he hurled a sharp pointed bone straight at Peshotan with tremendous force and accuracy.

"No........!" Yasmin screamed, her breast thudding with sudden alarm as the missile hissed through the air and hit Peshotan in his unprotected left shoulder.

Grimacing, the Ratheshtar felt the blood spurt out. His left arm was loosing its strength.

Forcing himself to fight harder, he remembered the Persian Divinity of war Verethraghna for an instant and immediately felt his powers increase.

The Ancient Persians had always invoked the embodiment of victory, Verethraghna or Behram Yazad as he was later called; in a battle. It was Verethraghna or Behram, the divine spirit of victory over all evil, that had always inspired the Persians to heroic feats of courage and bravery on the battlefields of war. The war had always been for the defence of Good from threatening evil, for protection of the race and never for aggression. For, the pure Persian race preferred to live in peace with all mankind.

With the powerful name of Verethraghna ringing in his heart, his pain and wound left behind; Peshotan lifted his heavy mace with a horned bull's head at the end and with the spirit of the Persian Divinity of victory in him, created havoc in the enemy ranks.

The barbarians were now no match for him.

Routed, demoralised; they forced their neighing horses away and fled. Yasmin felt her breath rush out as the rider of her horse pushed her violently to him and, shrieking at his horse; frantically tried to escape with his prize.

Peshotan urged his great steed Tehmton after the horse with the screaming girl and overtook the barbarian in the matter of a few furious seconds.

With one blow of his heavy Vadhare, the mighty horned Persian bull-headed mace; he smashed the head of the barbarian even as the latter swung his sword.

As the barbarian fell, Peshotan reached out and pulled Yasmin to his own horse, cutting her bonds with one stroke of his sword.

Yasmin clung like a child to his breast, her eyes sobbing in her relief at being rescued as Peshotan stopped his steed and watched the barbarians flee.

Then the brave warrior looked at the young girl in his arms. Yasmin was called the flower of the Persian race. On that day twenty thousand years ago, in the arms of the young Ratheshtar; she looked very beautiful and pure. Her golden hair, deep blue eyes, rosy red lips and her fragrant proximity took Peshotan's breath away.

He felt his heart miss a beat as he saw the tears overflowing out from her innocent eyes, as she hugged him again and again in her unalloyed happiness.

She had been rescued, she thought, from the ugly clutches of the savage barbarians. From a fate worse than death. For, for every Persian maiden her virginity, her purity was the most important thing in her life. If it was lost, she was lost.

Precious and delicate is womanly virtue, that which can be soiled by the slightest evil touch. Woman's priceless wealth is indeed chastity - the purest pearl, the brightest diamond fade away before the shining purity of the chaste woman.

Peshotan and Yasmin dismounted. The next few minutes passed by blissfully as the young pair of Persians found solace in each other's company and heaven in each other's eyes. Yasmin dressed Peshotan's wound lovingly. She remembered that she had asked Ahura Mazda to let her meet Peshotan again, and she raised her thanks to the mighty Ahura in her heart. This brave warrior had saved her life and was now everything in the world to her. She would wed none other than him.

As for Peshotan, he was lost. Lost in her eyes. In her beauty. And more than that, in her purity and innocence which was shining through everything else.

What force from Heaven Puts man and woman Together but Him, Like a rose Love blooms When young hearts meet, blossoming so strong They float on the skies, Dreaming that they are Soul and Body; One not Two And for ever and evermore Shall they love one another!

Chapter Fourteen

The clouds drifted dreamily in the deep blue sky, seeming to dip downwards onto the pristine white of the iced earth. The whole world seemed full of enchantment to Peshotan and his beloved Yasmin. Their eyes were locked, and their hearts and souls smiled at each other and whispered:

Where were you, my beloved - Why did not we meet before Life! So unkind you were That apart were we for so long But now I have found you; And Ahura I thank for His Mercy!

We do not know how long they were there, for when Love lends time its wings; time flies. Yasmin's hands were clasped in his; and she breathlessly told him all those little things that had happened in her life. They opened out each other's hearts and when no secret was left between them; Peshotan drew her irresistibly into his arms.

The beauty of the young Persian girl was compelling; and Yasmin closed her eyes in maidenly shyness as his strong lips drew near her own. Then, for an instant; the whole world seemed to recede into the background as the two young lovers kissed for the first time. What a divine moment!

In that instant, Yasmin and Peshotan both understood Ahura Mazda's divine plan for the Universe. The Great Ahura, in bringing man and woman together; had made it possible for the human race to continue. Man, the most perfect instrument of God and the most powerful Ratheshtar (warrior) of Goodness against evil; had been immortal when the world was created. But the attack of the evil one had destroyed that immortality. Gayo Maretan (Gayomard) the first Persian; had died the first death. As such; the entire human race would have been eradicated and would have ceased to exist; but for the divine grace of Ahura Mazda. The Glorious Ahura, in order to offset the deaths caused by the evil one; created the loving relationship between man and woman. It was because of this wonderful love between man and woman, the love which was created by Ahura Mazda; that the human race would never become extinct.

Peshotan and Yasmin realised this in their hearts; and they also knew that the divine Law (Asha) of Ahura Mazda commanded them to raise the children of their union as divine Ratheshtars of God; followers of the ancient Persian religion of Ahura Mazda; wearers of the sacred Persian girdle or Aiwiyaongahana (Kusti). Each child had to be trained by his Persian parents to be a courageous warrior of Ahura; fearless and brave and ever furthering good so that the goodness in the world would increase and evil would ever decrease. Until, at a time in the future; goodness would reign all triumphant in the universe and evil would fade into non-existence. This would be the future state of the world; when there would be no death; no decay; no unhappiness; no illness and no human failings. This would be the world as the Persians have fervently prayed for, since time eternal.

Their hearts beating in loving unison, Peshotan and Yasmin mounted the mighty horse Tehmton. The horse neighed vigorously, pleased at his master's radiant happiness as Peshotan placed Yasmin in his lap; her tender body against his broad chest.

One of his hands held the reigns of Tehmton as he planted a soft kiss on the side of Yasmin's snow-white neck.

"Come, my Dearest! We go to join the Persian race."

Yasmin smiled as the horse leapt forward powerfully. The snow had started falling softly again as the steed with its two riders thudded over the iced plain.

Peshotan; his head erect with the success over the enemy; held Yasmin tight. Yasmin leaned against his strong chest, her arms entwined around the powerful arm of the warrior which lay across her breast. She looked ahead; her beautiful blue eyes shifting from the mane of the horse to the horizon visible in the distance. At times she would draw her eyes up and look at the manly face of her Peshotan; her hero and he would look back at her and smile.

Time passed and finally, the mighty horse reached their destination; the mighty line of the ancient Persians migrating southwards on their great war chariots or Raths.

A shout went up along the line, as the Persian families saw the lone horse and its two riders approaching them. Puzzled, the Raths slowed down and then halted; their occupants straining to look at the oncoming riders.

And then the face of the mighty Peshotan was recognised; and a murmur of approval went down the line as they saw the beautiful Persian girl sitting in his lap. The horsed warrior had now reached the line; and instantly the Ancient Persians lifted up their Vadhares (bull-headed maces) in salute.

"Bravo! Young Peshotan, BRAVO!"

The great Persian general Darab drew forward; and Peshotan dismounted; gently placing Yasmin onto the ground. He turned towards the general and bowed his head.

"I await your orders."

Darab smiled. There were tears in his eyes. He had not expected to see his brave lieutenant Peshotan alive again; when he had heard of his heroic attempt in setting out alone to rescue a young Persian girl. Darab gave silent thanks in his heart to Ahura Mazda for having protected Peshotan.

"Peshotan, you have proved your mettle today. You are a true Ratheshtar, indeed the bravest warrior of Jamshed, King of the Persian race! I am proud of you, my son."

Suddenly; from the line of smiling Persian families; a middle-aged woman ran forward. Havovi; the wife of Noshirwan and mother of Yasmin; was mad with joy. Tears streaming down her eyes; she embraced her daughter; calling out with sudden emotion:

O Ahura! Praise to you again and again! For I realise what You have done, You have brought Yasmin to me again, Comforted an old mother's heart Which was sick with pain, And You have let her know She has not cried in vain!

Chapter Fifteen

Righteousness had triumphed over evil. The glorious sun, beloved of the Persian race smiled down through the thin chilly air onto the brave Persian people, and its shimmering rays seemed to echo the fact that the heroism and manly bravery shown by the young Ratheshtar in the cause of Ahura; would never be forgotten by the Persian peoples. If there were such powerful warriors of Ahura in their midst; who would not hesitate to sacrifice their all for the ancient religion of Ahura Mazda; the Persians felt that they were sure to overcome the tremendous dangers in their path; and preserve the glorious Persian faith.

Yasmin clung to her mother. In between sobs of joy; she breathed out the story of what had befallen her and her father. When she came to the point of her father's ferocious fight against the barbarians to protect her Persian maidenhood; Havovi stopped her.

"Is he dead?" was the whisper from her mother's pale mouth as she looked at her daughter.

Yasmin, her eyes downcast in sorrow; did not reply.

Havovi clasped the fair shoulders of her daughter and shook them, searching the face of the young Persian girl for an answer. Then, suddenly; she felt a hand on her shoulder.

She turned around slowly. Peshotan stood before her, his face filled with compassion. He took both her hands into his own, and whispered:

"He fought like a warrior true Though outnumbered, valiant to the end And when he lost the breath of Life The name of Ahura was on his lips! A brave Persian, his death shall ever Inspire me to avenging deeds!"

The tears, which had welled up in the aged Persian woman's eyes and which seemed as if they would overflow at any moment; seemed to disappear as Havovi's eyes were filled with a glorious pride for her husband. Her face became firm and joyful, as she looked up glowingly into the blue skies.

"My husband! You died a hero's death, as you always wanted to. You died fighting evil and protecting the good. May you cross the glorious sword-bridge Chinvato Peretu as easily as a child walks across a field, and may you find lasting happiness in the blessed company of Glorious Ahura Mazda; in the beautiful Garo-Nmaane; the abode of songs! May it be so even as I say."

The Persians, from the time of Gayomard the first Persian and the first man on earth; had always known what happened to the soul after death.

The soul, known to them as the Urvan; passed three days and nights near the head of its dead body. A person who was righteous and who fought for the sake of Ahura against evil in his life; enjoyed exquisite happiness on these three days and nights. At the end of the third night; when dawn breaks out in the sky; the righteous man's Urvan rejoices in the fragrance of a delicately perfumed wind, blowing all around him.

Suddenly, through the swirling mists blowing towards him; it appears to him that his own conscience or Daena was stepping forward in the astral body (Keherpa) of a maiden (Kainini); beautiful, brilliant, white-armed, well-shaped, of straight structure, raised breast, beautiful of body, born of a glorious seed, fifteen year old; and so much fairer than the fairest in the creation.

That tantalising beauty delights the Urvan, and the fascinated Urvan now whispers:

"Chishcha Charaitish Ahi? What maid art thou, The most beautiful I have seen?" Through the swirling mists that hover all around, the bewitching beauty smiles. She then speaks in a liltingly sweet voice.

"I am your own work in the world, O glorious Ratheshtar (warrior) of Ahura. I am your own thoughts, words and deeds. Be not surprised, O ever-youthful soul; at my beauty. It is you who have made me so beautiful.

"When you fought against evil in whatever form you encountered it in your life; when you protected your race and religion from injury; when you chanted the ancient Persian Mathras or verses of prayer; wearing your sacred Persian Kusti girdle, when you praised the good waters, the Fire of Ahura Mazda and helped all righteous men from far and near; when you protected Ahura's creations in this world from pollution and harm; and when you raised your voice in songs of praise and devotion to the glorious Ahura Mazda; then I the beautiful became more beautiful; I the fair became fairer; I the desirable became more desirable. Indeed, it is so!"

The rejoicing Urvan now advances and tenderly places his hand in the beautiful maiden's own. Smiling, she now walks with him further and further away from the material (Geti) world and into the spiritual (Minoi) world; until finally they see in the distance the great flaming sword-bridge or Chinvato Peretu!

The Persian race knew that this was the ultimate test of the bravery of a Ratheshtar of Ahura. This, the great flaming sword- bridge presented a sight forceful enough to daunt the staunchest of hearts. Stretching across the firmament; the sword of blazing red hot steel was awesome: a blazing inferno.

Underneath the sword was abysmal darkness, the abode of evil or drujo-demane where the evil one waited to see who would slip from the sword-bridge and fall in his snare.

But, all this could not raise a tremor in the heart of the righteous Urvan. For, he knew that the heat and sharp edge of the sword would prove unbearable for the evil but would feel cool and broad enough to be walked comfortably, to the righteous. And; at the end of the awesome sword-bridge was the glorious Ahura Mazda; waiting to welcome the righteous; man or woman in his delightful abode Garo-Nmaane where songs of happiness swam in the air and the Urvan would feel ever happy and ever satiated in the company of the glorious God of light; Ahura Mazda.

All these scenes swam before the eyes of Havovi and the gathered Persian people and warriors on that day twenty thousand years ago; as they thought of the departed warrior Noshirwan. Some of them wiped tears from their eyes; as they remembered a member of their own family who had died in the great migration from their ancient homeland Airyanam Vaejo. The thoughts of the Persians were of one accord as they prayed to Ahura Mazda and lent support to the souls of Noshirwan and the Persian dead, in their great journey towards the sword-bridge.

Smiling now, Havovi blessed Peshotan and her daughter Yasmin as they stood before her; hand in hand. Happiness shone on the faces of the two young Persians as their elders granted them permission to marry and seal their love for each other with many mighty Persian children. The people standing all around, smiled with pride as they saw the beautiful Persian pair.

Peshotan; the tall and strong; broad-chested and brown eyed pure Persian warrior was the perfect match for Yasmin; the fairest of the Persian race with her hair as golden as the shimmering rays of the sun; her eyes as blue as the deepest waters of the North and her face as fair and innocent as the purest moonbeam come down to earth. And besides their physical beauty, the two had shown such bravery and fearlessness in the face of overwhelming odds, as was matchless. The elders wiped a tear from their eyes and thanked Ahura Mazda in their hearts for such a glorious union of Persian man and woman.

Before the shimmering sun set that day, they were wed by the Athravan (Fire-Priest) before a blazing fire. The sacred hymns of marriage were sung by the priest, asking them to remember that the institution of marriage had been created by the Persian race and they should honour it. They should always remain true in their love and devotion to one another to the end of their lives, and they should consider it their sacred obligation to Ahura Mazda to bring forth as many new lives into the world as possible. The more lives they brought forth and trained properly to be soldiers of righteousness, to fight evil and to wear the Aiwiyaongahana; the sacred Persian girdle or Kusti; the more certain and the more nearer would the ultimate victory of good over evil be. Thus, to the ancient Persians it was a sacred duty to marry; and it was a sin to remain single and unmarried.

As the stars shone across the skies that night; Yasmin and Peshotan looked dreamily into each other's eyes.

And when their lips and bodies met each other, it seemed that two thirsty swans had found springs of water in one another; that the moon had found its hidden eclipsed part; and that the two young lovers were not born as two separate beings but as one.

Chapter Sixteen

The moon hung in the night sky like a diamond, and the stars shone like jewels in a heavenly necklace; looking down on the long line of Raths making their way southwards from the North, to the unknown lands below.

Peshotan drove his Rath proudly, his chest thrust out against the cold gusts of wind. Armed with his sword, his spear and his heavy Persian bull-headed mace or Vadhare; he cut a striking figure even in the semi-darkness.

Directly behind; his beloved Yasmin was sleeping like a baby, confident of her husband's protection. Peshotan smiled as he looked back at Yasmin, and his heart swelled with pride as he remembered that she was pregnant with their baby.

Yasmin was sleeping the sleep of the innocent. The rumble of the heavy Rath over the iced ground sounded sonorous to her drowsy mind and, remembering the kisses of Peshotan on her full stomach; she drifted off into a deeper and deeper sleep.

Suddenly, on that cold night twenty thousand years ago; she was dreaming a wondrous dream.

In her dream, the snow had disappeared and she was in a beautiful garden; sitting with her back to a giant leafed tree. And her beloved Peshotan's head was in her tender lap, his eyes closed.

As she looked all around her, Yasmin saw flowers everywhere. Beautiful red and yellow roses, jasmines and blue tulips were resplendent in their beds. As far as she could see, there were trees and greenery stretching to the horizons.

Majestic clouds drifted dreamily in the blue sky; seeming to touch the earth and fountains of water were erupting in the gardens. Birds chirped merrily and squirrels ran about from tree to tree.

Yasmin watched, enchanted. To her young and pure mind; it seemed as if she was in the blessed Garo-Nmaane itself; the paradise of Ahura Mazda. She placed her hand lightly on Peshotan's forehead; offering thanks to Ahura in her heart that she was in such a beautiful place with her mighty husband.

Peshotan's eyes opened. He looked up at Yasmin and smiled.

"My beloved!" He whispered; tenderly pulling her hand towards his lips and planting a soft kiss on its milky whiteness.

Birds sang a joyous song as Peshotan embraced Yasmin, his face filled with love. The two young lovers then sat under the great tree; Peshotan having placed his beloved wife lovingly in his lap.

As the two young Persians looked into each other's eyes and at the beautiful world around them; their hearts were overwhelmed with love and gratitude to Ahura Mazda; the God of the Persian race and of the whole world. They knew it was Ahura Who had created the awesome beauty of the universe; and it was Ahura Who had brought them together as the lover and the beloved; the man and the wife.

Peshotan praised Ahura in glowing terms. Inspired by his love for Ahura, he then explained to Yasmin the origin of the world as the Persians had known since the beginning of time; and Yasmin listened eagerly. It seemed to her that the child in her swollen stomach was also listening to these age-old truths.

"Yasmin, Time as we know it is called by us as Zaravane Darego-Khadat; or the Time which is limited. This time, as you know; is counted by the glorious Sun's rising and setting; by the revolution of the shimmering stars in the heavens. But there was a time when there was no sun, there were no stars. The world had not been created; indeed - at that point there was no time as we know it.

"At that glorious state when there was no time; our Lord Ahura Mazda existed in a perfect, all-encompassing state. That period we call as the glorious Zaravane Akarane; which means the time without shape; the time without limit.

"Yasmin, when Ahura Mazda created the Sun and the Stars; time as we know it came into being. Ahura Mazda created the glorious Persian Race, and all the other races on earth. These races, though not inferior to one another; were meant to keep to themselves without any unnatural mixing.

"Time in the physical world, or Darego-Khadat as we call it; has a definite span. This time span will one day end. At the start of the Darego-Khadat; the Persians are in their homeland; Airyanam Vaejo at the North of the world. They prosper under great kings, and evil is at a minimum. But when evil strikes with the coming of the ice age; they migrate from the North and, like the mighty purifying waters of a spiritual ocean; spread out over the four corners of the globe.

"But slowly, the evil one makes his mark. Sad days will come, when of the numerous Persian settlements; all but a few forget their ancient religion; the Persian faith of Ahura Mazda. As evil spreads its vile influence in the world; they even throw off their ancient Persian Sacred Girdle; the Aiwiyaongahana (Kusti); the ancient sign of their Persian race. They forget the religion of their Persian ancestors; and start to worship idols and holy men. They call men who have been born as we were and died as we shall, as God Himself. Or worse; they worship no God at all."

O human beings! Fie on You So unfair to Ahura have you been! The same Lord who protected your ancestors And led them from storms and icy death; Because of His Grace you today exist And you have forgotten Him! And your Persian Faith! Forgotten is your sacred Kusti girdle, O faithless beings! Fie on you!

Chapter Seventeen

"But, the evil one who has made all this happen; does not succeed entirely. The Persian religion of Ahura Mazda can never die out; this; the purest of all faiths; is destined to live - if only in the breasts of twenty thousand or so souls towards the end of this Darego-Khadat time period.

"Yes, Yasmin; be not surprised that only so few will be faithful to the ancient Persian faith. Evil will be all powerful in the world at that time. The righteous will indeed suffer. And in that small community of Persian worshippers of Ahura, there will be many who will marry non-Persians and those who do not worship Ahura Mazda, for the sake of lust alone or to enjoy an easy life. Indeed, such unfortunate people will have to stand shamed before Ahura Mazda for they have been unfaithful to their ancient Persian race and religion. When they should have upheld it, they have dealt it a blow, for the sake of their own personal pleasures."

Yasmin shuddered when she heard these strong words spoken by Peshotan. She burst out involuntarily:

"I would RATHER DIE than marry someone who does not worship Ahura Mazda, a non-Persian who wears not the sacred Kusti girdle. For me, such a state is worse than drujo-demane - the abode of the evil one itself!"

Peshotan smiled.

"Bravo, Yasmin! I know how you feel. And there will be many who will feel the way you do even in those times; and on the strength of these Persian youth our religion will survive. I bow to those future descendants of our race. But for them, our precious religion for the sake of which we have gambled our all; would be but a memory to the world."

"For this, our descendants will have to struggle through the temptations of the world at that time, against criticisms and derision. In an age when to wear the sacred Kusti will be considered undesirable; their Faith and conviction in the one true Persian religion will carry them through. Until finally, Ahura Mazda sends the last of his promised prophets down to the suffering earth.

"This glorious messenger of Ahura; will be known as the mighty Saoshyant and will break upon the world's evil like a thunderbolt. Ahura has promised us that he will establish Righteousness in the world, the one true path of Asha or Ereta and so he will be called as Astavat-Ereta (He who establishes Ereta in the world).

He will ask men and women to listen to him, for he has come to remind all of their ancient Persian faith. He will stand as a rock-hard flame, and the winds of evil will angrily try to destroy him; but to no avail. Convincing the Persians, he will lead them back to their ancient homeland; Airyanam Vaejo at the North of the world which will be the only safe place in the entire world at that time. Those who do not listen to him and stay behind will repent when the Godless civilisation at that time is wiped out by cataclysmic wars and disasters.

"But at the North of the world, the Persians who have accepted the Saviour will be saved from the destruction. Giving up the frivolous pleasures they have been accustomed to, they will live a simple, pure and hardy life as farmers on the soil; as their ancestors did. The soul of man will soar once again in daily contemplation of Ahura Mazda and His Divine Creations; which will be revered and never again desecrated or polluted. The Persians will wear the Aiwiyaongahana (Kusti) again, and pray to Divine Fire; the Water; the Sun; the Moon and Stars; indeed all of Ahura's righteous creations. They will banish the evil one with one accord from their minds; and righteousness or Asha will grow in them; sown by the Great Saoshyant.

"Yasmin, our great and glorious King Jamshed has been divinely inspired to construct vast underground caverns in Airyanam Vaejo. We call these ancient shelters the Vara. Great Jamshed built these for the safety of our race; and in the end times it is to these caverns that the Saoshyant will lead our descendants thousands of years later. Then; the great Darego-Khadat will draw to an end; evil will heighten to such an extent that the remaining men left on the earth will destroy themselves. Their own sciences, used evilly; will help them to do so. For science without God will be a monster without compare.

"The world will suddenly become barren, and civilisation in the ensuing centuries will be present solely in Airyanam Vaejo where the Persians will live in a pure, happy and spiritual state. There will be no death, no sickness, no unhappiness. Paradise will descend upon the earth in this glorious time, verily; the House of Songs or Garo-Nmaane will be the earth itself. Evil will totally vanish - the evil one annihilated.

"Ahura Mazda will be worshipped in every moment of their lives. Verily, their own breath will sing the song of praise for Ahura; for ever and ever. We call this time as the glorious Frasho- Kereti, the making fresh and wonderful of the world by Ahura Mazda. Ahura will fill the cup of their joy and laughter till it overflows, because He will also bring about the Resurrection of the righteous dead. The dead will be reformed by His mighty power from the four directions in which their individual elements have been scattered, and they will live with the living and praise God for ever and ever. That is why we call Ahura as the Frashogar, meaning the Resurrector: His most Majestic and Powerful Name. And that is why our holy Athravans (Fire priests) have placed this sacred Name of God as the final Name in the list of One Hundred and One Names of Ahura that we revere: since the Resurrection or Ristakhiz shall be the final and single greatest moment of all time."

And Peshotan kissed Yasmin's lips at that point. Suddenly, Yasmin's dream ended. She was astonished; it seemed to her that she had not seen a dream but everything that she remembered had actually happened; so sharp it all was in her memory.

Yasmin turned excitedly to her husband and told him all about what she had dreamed. The brave Peshotan was delighted on hearing her.

"Yasmin, your wondrous dream augurs well. Hurrah! I feel that we, the Persians shall soon come upon a beautiful land; where we may stay in peace and where our children would grow up.

"Although at present we see snow and glaciers on every side and death lingers in the air; what you have seen in your dream will soon be a reality, my beloved. I believe this in the depth of my heart!"

And he embraced her with sudden emotion, planting a kiss on her beautiful red lips.

When the Persians travelling with them were told of that wondrous dream, everyone; whether man or woman; rejoiced. Weary after long years of travelling; the Persians felt hope rekindle in their breasts as they halted their Raths. The young Persian girls and boys started to dance merrily in the light of the sacred Fires shining in each chariot; as the onlooking families clapped their hands. The Persians, always fond of singing and dancing; were filled with the zest of life from time eternal.

At times joining hands with the girls, at times jumping high into the air; the Persian young men shouted for joy and watched their girls twirl their skirts and smile and laugh prettily. And then a song rang out in the air, as the Persians imagined the glorious land before them:

O AHURA MAZDA! WHAT A BLESSING! We shall reach a land at last Your Golden Land, won by Your Favour Filled with milk and honey it shall be; It shall be the land of the Persians - Where our Kings shall rule in pomp and glory Where we shall worship you, O Lord - This Great Land shall be called IRAN! By all of us as

Chapter Eighteen

A glorious dawn was breaking. Rays of golden sunlight were shooting down from the high heavens; turning sky into fire and earth into gold. Clouds were drifting overhead as the mighty Persian race paused; in its great migration southwards; to pay homage to the glorious Sun.

The powerful ancient Mathras, words of praise and prayer in the Avestan language rang in the air; seeming to charge the atmosphere with a powerful force as thousands of the Persian race bowed to the Sun and put on their sacred Persian girdle or Aiwiyaongahana (Kusti); the mark of their Persianhood and their religion that they were so proud of.

For, he was not an Persian who did not wear his Kusti; but having removed it wilfully out of his own arrogance, was a betrayer to the race and religion who would not bear to see face to face to Ahura Mazda when the time came for him to be judged for his actions.

Suddenly, a shout rang in the air: through the curling mists that were now being dissipated away by the Sun's rays; the leading Ratheshtars could make out a vast line of gigantic shapes on the horizon.

And then the mists were blown away by a strong wind and the eyes of Peshotan and Yasmin and the other Persians riding alongside; shone with excitement as they saw, in the windswept plains before them, a fantastic sight. There they stood: a long range of mighty mountains; stretching right across the horizon. The mountains were high and proud, their peaks seeming to touch the sky and the clouds seeming to play between their broad sides.

At first, looking at that marvellous sight; the Persians seemed stunned. And then a shout of joy rang in the air as they urged their horses forward; the excitement visible in each and every contour of their faces.

In the hearts of all those on that day twenty thousand years ago; there suddenly dawned the realisation that they were close to the glorious promised land, Iran. They knew then that their suffering was soon at an end; since the mountains foretold a change from the dreaded ice sheets and wastelands they had trod on for so long.

Yasmin was clinging to Peshotan, her face awash with hope and joy as she remembered her prophetic dream. Her husband, his chest broad and strong drove the Rath with a renewed vigour as he led the main line of families on their Raths behind the leading warriors.

In the matter of a few hours, they had reached the foot of the glorious mountains which now towered above their heads into the sky. The Zaota or head priest of the Persians climbed down from the chariot his family was on.

As the Persian race watched, the holy Zaota; a powerful bearded man with the fire of Ahura Mazda in his eyes; walked to the foot of the mountains and stopped when he was close enough. His eyes looking up at the peaks, he touched his forehead in obeisance and bent his head down; intoning in a deep voice:

"O Glorious Mountains, made by Ahura Mazda! We, the Persian race name you as Haoro-Berezaiti! We shall always respect and revere you, since you will protect our race and religion in the days to come.

"Kindly allow us to pass, in our journey to the land behind you; where we shall stay under your protection and preserve our ancient Persian religion! For, such is the wish of Ahura."

Hearing the words of the Zaota; the eyes of the Persians filled with tears as they bowed to the great mountain chain. These would be known as the Elburz mountains in later days.

And then the race continued its journey; the Raths pulled by the mighty horses from the lowlands to the high. The line of 53 families slowly struggled through the mountain pass they had found cutting through the mountains, at times the inhabitants having to push their vehicles over steep surfaces and dangerous pitfalls. When they were passing through the great Haoro-Berezaiti mountains; one of that long line of peaks caught their attention at once.

That majestic peak appeared as if it were the King of the range: so grand, gigantic and beautiful it was. The snow lying like a soft Godly blanket on its peak; the mountain seemed to inspire in them awe and devotion of the deepest nature.

And when they heard the voice of their Zaota ringing through the air; they bowed their heads in obeisance. "This is the glorious mountain Demavand, my Persian people. Great and majestic will be its history; much will it do to protect our race. Pay respect to it with love and devotion in your hearts!"

"O DEMAVAND! PURE AND GLORIOUS Father of the Mountains strong - You stand as a King, high and mighty With the Power of AHURA in you! Because of you we shall prosper; Our Holy Athravans shall stay in you Where they shall be protected - From all evil, kept far away! When the age of evil falls on us - Persian Man, Woman and Child shall Secret themselves away in your caves And keep the flame of Ahura's religion Burning for ever and ever! Demavand, this is due to you - Holy Demavand, Homage to you!"

Chapter Nineteen

The Raths rumbled slowly through the mountain range. The pass was long and tedious, the families following the wheel marks made by the leading Ratheshtars as they scouted ahead. But at times even these marks faltered and backtracked; as the Ratheshtars found their way blocked by treacherous crevices and impassable mountains. They were thus forced to take another route; and the Persian families followed them.

Soon it was the end of the day, and the Persians camped for the night in the pass itself; in the midst of the mountains. They went to sleep with a tremulous heart, since they knew in the depth of their souls that their long quest for a new homeland would be over when the day dawned.

And then it was a new morning: the Sun arose like the Messenger of Ahura; sending its brilliant and life-giving rays onto the good earth below. Enthusiastic but composed, the long suffering Persians urged their Raths on; after having paid their homage to the Sun.

Time passed as they made their way through the pass; the Sun climbing higher and higher and it was then that the pass suddenly came to an end.

The Persians had reached an elevated platform at the end of the mountain range; and when their Raths touched that spot they reined in their horses and sucked in their breaths in astonishment at the wonderful scene that met their eyes.

From that vantage point; they saw a breath-takingly beautiful land before them. Clouds climbed on top of one another forming unearthly snowy mountains in the sky; and it seemed as if there was a canopy over the green, lush land which was dotted with large forests of trees and mighty mountains.

The eyes of the Persians were amazed; tears welled up in the eyes of some. But no one could speak a word. It seemed that every single Persian had been struck dumb with astonishment by the grandeur that they saw before them.

Peshotan's beloved Yasmin was trembling with joy as she looked at the land. She passed her hands lovingly over her swollen stomach, as if to let her precious child share the joy in her heart.

It was her brave Peshotan who broke the silence; as he turned to face the people. His manly chest swelled with pride and his face and voice rang with emotion as, with his mighty Persian bull-headed mace or Vadhare across his shoulder; he sang:

"O Persians! Make joy, sing and dance We have arrived in IRAN at last! This is the Land promised to us The blessed Land; given us by Ahura Where we can live, grow and prosper Our children can walk with heads held high Our race will grow, our religion thrive! Raise thanks to Ahura, the Great and Merciful But for His Help we would have been swallowed By the hungry snows and monsters! So never forget Ahura, and His Good Religion Vow to see It never dies out And teach that to your descendants too! Ahura Mazda has pulled us through, O Persians! Rejoice and dance!"

Like a storm breaking the silence of a dark night; like the sudden force of lightning illuminating the gloomy skies; the joy that had remained hidden for so long in the hearts of the Persians burst forth. Their faces mad with happiness; they embraced one another with tears in their eyes; whether man or wife, or friends, or brother and sister or loving mother and children.

Peshotan gathered Yasmin in his arms, and kissed her full on the lips; she trembling in his arms with joy and her eyes brimming with tears of happiness. On that day twenty thousand years ago, her heart filled with gratitude to the great Ahura Mazda. She knew that Ahura had fulfilled all her heartfelt desires so far and had never refused her anything. Ahura had given her a mighty husband, a soon to be born mighty son and now Ahura was giving her a mighty land as her home.

"Devotion fills my heart, O Ahura To You and Your benevolence For it is YOU Who have delivered me Saved my honour from barbarians, Given me untold treasures My Peshotan, my Son and my Land Where in love together we can live! So worship You, O Ahura! I shall, for ever - Sing the beautiful Persian Words of Prayer, And wear Your Sacred Kusti girdle And give it to my Son too!"

Chapter Twenty

The glorious Persian race now spread out into the land of Iran like the purifying waters of a mighty ocean, and Iran welcomed them. The beautiful land became even more beautiful and enhanced by their loving touch, since the Persians loved and venerated nature and never sought to wreck or destroy the Creations of God. Pollution of the elements of nature was considered by them to be a grievous sin, and hence amazingly they followed the sciences of ecology and conservation thousands of years before modern science invented these words.

Wherever the Persians settled in the land, they made a paradise around them by planting beautiful trees and flowers. Iran twenty thousand years ago was transformed into a garden land, each family cultivating its own huge garden with roses, tulips, marigolds, sunflowers and pretty little fountains sprinkling water everywhere. The concept of a Garden originated from the noble Persian race; the very word "garden" in English would derive thousands of years later from the Avestan word Garo-Deman or Garo-Nmaane; the paradise of Ahura Mazda.

It was the aim of the Persians to re-create the beautiful heaven of Ahura on the earth itself, and make it a place of songs, flowers, beauty and happiness. The noble Persians therefore desired to stay in peace with every creation of God; indeed it was them who were the most cultured people on earth: who were so much in love with nature.

The Persians especially liked the Rose, red or yellow and they planted roses all over the land. To this very day, the land of Iran seems filled with the wild yellow rose; no doubt planted by the Persian ancestors. Rich grape vineyards, luscious peach and orange fruit orchards, and cherry fields also sprang up all over.

In that era of peace and plenty, Peshotan and Yasmin settled down to a life on the land. Although Peshotan was a Ratheshtar (warrior), he was free to do what he wanted in times of peace. And farming was what he had chosen; because in the twin hearts of he and his beloved Yasmin; indeed in the hearts of all Persians; there was a love for living off the land: the most noble profession according to the Persians.

In their sacred prayers, the Persians emphasised that the earth becomes happy if the righteous man builds upon it a house where the sacred Fire is kept burning, and he lives there with his beloved wife and his precious children, in a household filled with dogs, horses, and cattle. The earth was happy only when it was cultivated. Like a virtuous and beautiful maiden it waits for the cultivator; and whoever cultivates this land with the left arm and right arm brings towards himself riches; as in the manner that man in the course of sleeping by a beloved wife on a spread carpet brings down a mighty son or a pure daughter; a beautiful increase in the family.

The earth causes fruits to come, and brings all foods that satisfy the pangs of hunger. Whoever cultivates the earth worships Ahura Mazda Himself indirectly, and gives resistance to the evil spirit who after all would like to see the earth lying shallow and lifeless. And the one who does not cultivate the earth, the earth speaks to him thus:

"O Man who does not cultivate me With the left arm and right! Certainly you will stand there At the door of others, Wandering for food amongst the beggars! Certainly stale food shall be thy lot - This you are to have from him; Who has superfluous wealth. But if you were to work on my fields - If the sweat of thy brow Were to mingle with my soil; I would reward you with the Milk of my breast! The fruit of thy labours would feed thy family - Blessed would I be on that day; And Lord Ahura Mazda would be well pleased! So Glorious Man! Remember and Cultivate me!"

Peshotan and Yasmin delighted in singing the sacred Persian words of praise for agriculture. Ahura Mazda once taught mankind how the Mazdayasni religion would be increased. According to Ahura Mazda Himself:

"Whoever produces corn he produces Righteousness, he hastens the growth of the Mazdayasni religion, he nourishes this Mazdayasni religion with one hundred honours; one thousand praises and ten thousand performances of the Yasna (holy fire ceremony)!

"When corn is bestowed in the ground then the devil is out of breath, when it is fit to be gathered and given then the devil coughs; when it is thrashed and given then the devil weeps; when it is given for grinding then the devil is destroyed; here in the house where this corn flour abides the devil is smitten.

"Let this holy word be remembered: by eating nothing you have no power for Righteousness (Asha), no power for agriculture, no desire to beget children. Certainly by eating all My Creation lives; by not eating it dies."

This was why the noble Persian race had always held a positive attitude to life. For the Persians there was no fasting, there were no mendicants who would live only by alms. The very concepts of fasting and renunciation were unknown, negative and alien concepts which were created later on by non-Persians. The joyous and buoyant spirit of the Persians refused to allow them to think of such thoughts: indeed, for them the sense of being alive was the greatest gift of Ahura.

The world was Ahura's, they were the children of Ahura; specially sent down by Him to the world. And they had two duties: to live in righteousness or Asha, by the Great Law of the Universe (Avestan Ereta, Sanskrit Rta) and secondly to fight the evil they encountered in the world as true Ratheshtars (warriors) of Ahura.

The world was not evil, the world was the battleground specially created by Ahura and in this world all the unhappiness they encountered was not sent to them by their Commander but instead by the evil one, their enemy.

Chapter Twenty-One

Peshotan and Yasmin lived happily, Yasmin's pregnancy progressing until at long last her baby was born on the glorious Naoroz day.

It was a handsome son, and Peshotan and his wife looked at their new born with pride and joy. Their family and friends soon crowded the house, shouting out blessings and then in the courtyard a lively dance began.

The Persian couples, young and old clasped each other's hands lovingly and, one by one; ran out into the clearing with a lusty shout to show the watching people the feats they could perform on the dance ground. Feet tip-tapping and skirt swirling, the pure Persian girl twirled and danced with a smile on her pretty face while the Persian man rested on a bent knee and watched her, clapping his hands.

And then it was his turn to get up like the rush of a hurricane, and he lifted her clear off her feet and turned her in the air; she yelling in delight and the breath going out from her until he placed her back on her feet. When one couple had exhausted itself; it made way for the next and in this way the evening passed in merry-making until all the Persian couples now joined in for a vigorous finale to the dance; joyous and full of abandon.

The Persians had struggled hard to reach the land of Ariana (Iran) and they deserved these moments of happiness. As the Persians danced and made merry on that night twenty thousand years ago; the thought uppermost in their minds was their great Lord Ahura Mazda, who had rewarded them with the most beautiful land on the earth; a land they had settled and transformed into Garo-Nmaane itself; the Paradise of Ahura: overflowing with the goodness of nature; totally unspoilt and filled with the songs of happiness; because of the unselfish, pure and loving nature of the land's inhabitants: the Great Persian Race.

It was the Great Naoroz day, and wine flowed freely. The Naoroz was the day on which the ancient Persians began their new year; the first day of their calendar. And it had a very special significance attached to it. Naoroz was the Ancient Persian spring festival: the day when the cruelties of winter were deemed to have receded and the delights of spring were in the air; when the cold and barren trees again blossomed forth with flowers and leaves. In the same way that nature renovated itself every spring, the Persians knew that the world would also renovate itself one day. This glorious renovation; known to them as Frasho-Kereti, the making new and wonderful of the world by Ahura Mazda would occur one day in the future when Ahura Mazda would reign triumphant over the evil one, goodness would vanquish the bad in the minds of all the world's inhabitants and there would be no death, no sickness, no hunger, no thirst, no unhappiness and no ugliness any longer.

Indeed, it was the glorious spring festival Naoroz started by the Persian King Jamshed under divine guidance; that reminded the Persians of the ultimate blessed state of the world and of the purpose of creation. The righteous men and women who had died since the beginning of time; a prey to the evil one who had destroyed man's originally immortal existence and made him suffer from diseases and ultimately death; all of these victims of evil and death would be raised up again in the flesh by the Hands of the Eternal Architect Ahura Mazda Himself; from the four directions in which the wind had scattered their bodies. Just as leaf and blossom now break out of earth and branch; so would man be raised up again in his own body.

This Greatest Miracle of God was called as Ristakhiz or the Resurrection, and was first taught by the Persian race to the world. Ristakhiz was what every Persian worth his name eagerly waited and fervently prayed for, each and every day and night while singing the divine Persian Avestan words of prayer. In times of oppression and trouble, when it seemed that the evil one had succeeded in its evil vow of exterminating the noble race and religion and ensuring the sway of evil over the entire world; in times of calamity and distress and tears; it was the noble aspiration for the glorious divine future Frasho-Kereti that suffused them with renewed hope and faith in the Power of the Lord; that dried their tears and changed their sorrow to happiness; and their despair to fresh fountains of joy: so that the whole world would wonder at their divine nature which would not be extinguished by any evil.

It was this great promise of the ancient Persian faith that the Persians saw reflected in their spring festival, Naoroz which heralded the victory of nature; of warmth over cold; of spring over winter. On this wondrous day of Naoroz, day and night were of exactly the same length and that was what made it the first day of Spring. Modern science now knows this as the Vernal Equinox; but it was known to the Persians thousands of years ago. The great Persian king Jamshed (known at that time as Yima Khshaeta) who was the ruler of the entire Persian race in their homeland Airyanam Vaejo; was the one who had commenced this uniquely Persian festival.

The inspired Jamshed was deeply loved by his Persian subjects and with very good reason; for the great Persian King had abolished old age, sickness, death and unhappiness in the entire ancient Persian kingdom. Indeed; in his blessed reign father and son used to walk forth on the streets; each looking as young as a fifteen year old. Such was the purity in the subjects and the King in that glorious Golden age of the Persians.

And it was Jamshed who had been inspired by Ahura to commence the spring festival; and it was in memory of their ancient King and in hope of the coming Renovation of the world; that the Persians remembered and celebrated the Naoroj festival with gaiety and abandon from time immemorial.

Wine was drunk as a special gift of Ahura; since it was King Jamshed himself who had discovered the art of wine making and found it to be so beneficial that he recommended it to his subjects. And whenever an Persian drank wine, he remembered his great King Jamshed and his Great Lord Ahura Mazda; who had commanded him to be happy and cheerful at all times.

And now time passed on. Many more happy spring festivals passed; and each was as full of rejoicing as the previous one. The son of Yasmin and Peshotan grew up. They had named him Meherazad, born of the Sun. To add to their plenty, Yasmin the pure Persian wife and mother bore two more mighty brothers to the first in the space of a few years; and then three fair and lovely Persian daughters. Indeed, their cup of happiness seemed full.

The Persians settled in Iran now heard of their brethren who had not taken the same route they had; but had branched off to the West, to the East and to the South-east. Scouting Ratheshtars brought back their reports: the Persians had settled in another Ahura-created land; where mighty rivers flowed and tall snowy peaks clung to the sky. This was the land of Aryavat; which was to be known after thousands of years as Afghanistan and Kashmir and Pakistan and the upper reaches of North India. The fine Persian cities of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro were the places where the Ahura-worshipping Persians lived and thrived for thousands of years; and Ahura Mazda and His glorious Creations such as Fire were worshipped devotedly.

Peshotan and Yasmin also heard of other Persian tribes who settled in present-day Russia, while others travelled across the continent to spread like a great ocean into Europe. Fighting and conquering the barbarians wherever they went; the Persians inhabited the present day countries of Europe: Germany, Greece, France, Italy, Spain, England, Ireland and the Scandinavian countries. The European Celts, the Greeks, the Italians, the Slavs, Lithuanians, Germans, Anglo-Saxons, Irish and Scandinavians were but offshoots of this mighty race.

In those days when the Persian religion of Ahura Mazda stretched across the entire world; who would have imagined that the Mother Faith would one day be lost to most of its countless adherents. Like a breath of destruction, the evil one blew across these lands. Slowly but surely the pure and pristine ideas of the Persian faith were forgotten or glossed over; and ideas full of negation such as forced rebirth, the theory of the world being Maya or illusion and the belief in Avatars or incarnations of God crept in: ideas which were never present in the Persian religion. The pure breath of life in the Indian Persian Vedas was lost in the later day books; in which myths strange to the Persians grew. But what of the Persians who had spread to the other parts of the globe, notably Europe? Alas, they were lost to Ahura. They managed to keep up the Persian religion for thousands of years but slowly succumbed: gradually all traces of their ancient God and religion were lost, and they too reverted to the barbarism they saw around them. The civilisation and culture developed in the ancient homeland Airyanam Vaejo and preserved by the Persians in Iran, was not retained by the European Persians. They remained wandering, semi-nomadic as their ancestors during the great migration or at the most started to live in caves or in tribal villages. However, a few Persian customs persisted for thousands of years; and to this day in Europe the village doctors prescribe the ancient Persian remedy of bull's urine or Gomez for human disorders: a sure sign of their ancestral Persian origin.

But the saddest part of it all is that today, the nations of Europe, Britain, Russia and America have forgotten that they are derived from the same Great Persian Brotherhood! They have forgotten that they once wore the sacred Persian girdle or Aiwiyaongahana together.

So, of all the many lands on the globe, the land of Iran was the only one which retained the Mother Faith in all its purity. Iran was truly the Blessed Land. But yet there came a time when night surrounded the world, a time when all the efforts of the brave Persian ancestors to preserve their religion, the efforts of Peshotan, Yasmin, Noshirwan and Havovi seemed lost. There came a time when the evil one seemed all triumphant, and Iran too seemed on the verge of forgetting its Persian religion.

O IRAN! Stand strong and firm You are the last stronghold, The forces of evil surround you But you shall never succumb - The Persian religion which you uphold Shall never, never die out! Through centuries immortal It shall stand bold and true, since - Zarathustra The Blessed Saviour Shall soon be born on your sacred soil! He shall redeem our Persian Faith Asha And unfurl the flag of again! Till then, precious motherland, wait in faith O IRAN! Stand Strong and Firm!

End of Volume I.

The Saga of the Ancient Persians continues heroically onto Volume II, "The Advent of Asho Zarathushtra". By The Grace of God.