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

Volume Two - The Advent of Asho Zarathushtra

Chapter One

Long ago in the mists of time, the great Persian peoples resided in their ancient sacred homeland Aryanam Vaejo, at the top of the world in the then warm Arctic. Aryanam Vaejo (Seedland of the Persians) was the birthplace of the first mighty civilisation on the otherwise barbarous earth. It was a divine place where just and righteous kings ruled and man lived in harmony with nature and close communion with God.

The Persians were worshippers of Ahura Mazda, the One True God and called themselves, the Mazdayasnis. Every man and woman proudly wore the ancient sacred Persian girdle, the Aiwiyaongahana or the Kusti as it was to be known later on, as a proof that he or she belonged to the divine Persian people and was a follower of the ancient religion of Ahura Mazda. In that ancient home of the Persian people, poverty and sickness did not exist. And when the great Persian king Jamshed ruled (Yima Vivangaho in the Persian Scriptures), even death was banished from the kingdom.

But it was then that the evil one struck a terrible blow. The ice age occurred at that time twenty thousand years ago, covering the warm Arctic with tons of ice and turning it into a frozen wasteland. The pure Persians were forced to migrate from their beloved homeland when their houses collapsed under tons of snow and their world disappeared before their very eyes. The great Persian migrations began twenty thousand years ago, from the North to the South-East and the South-West. Passing through immense tribulations to preserve their ancient Persian religion of Ahura Mazda and their people from extinction; the Persians reached the blessed land of Iran. It was from them that Iran received its sacred name.

Like the breath of life blowing across the world, their great wheeled chariots, the Raths rumbled like an avalanche onto the countries of Europe which they inhabited. At that time, in that age; the religion of Ahura Mazda stretched across the whole world and every man, every woman wore the sacred Persian girdle; the Aiwiyaongahana (Kusti) proudly.

Centuries rolled away one by one. Men and women of the old world passed away and men and women descended from them rose up, generations after generations flowing past like the waters of a mighty divine stream.

And then, like a terrible storm, the forces of darkness broke upon the ancient forces of Good. Evil overwhelmed all that was good and pure. The Persians were deluded by the wicked one. Memory of their ancient God Ahura Mazda passed them by. They forget they were Mazdayasnis; they forgot their precious sacred girdle, the great sign of the Persian people of which they had been so righteously proud. The Persian inhabitants of Europe slowly but surely lost their ancient culture and civilisation and reverted to the barbarism they saw around them. Tribe fought against tribe, and all of these ancestors of the present day Europeans forgot that they once wore the sacred Aiwiyaongahana together. A few ancient memories stayed on as myths, such as the memory of an ancient homeland and a great migration. A few rituals too stayed on, such as the Greeks worshipping fire as a divinity (they called the fire God Atros) and the Romans centuries later installing a sacred fire in the centre (Atrium) of every household. But the divine faith of the Persian ancestors was lost in its roots from the minds of the European Persians.

And what of their brothers, the Persians who had settled in the blessed land of Iran? Since they had settled down sooner and not spent thousands of years in wandering, the Persian culture was not lost to them. But alas, there came a time when they too started to forget. They forgot the brave feats of their ancestors, those Persian forefathers of theirs who had painstakingly made the great migration from the ancient homeland. They forgot how Noshirwan had courageously defended his daughter single-handedly against scores of barbarians to protect her honour, how Peshotan and his mighty steed Tehmton had leapt over the deadly ice chasm to save a maiden of the Persian people from a fate worse than death, and how Yasmin had fought against savage brutes with sword in her hand and the Persian Mathravani (verses of prayer) on her lips to protect her Persian maidenhood. They forgot all the tears of their ancestors; all the pain, the sorrow and the suffering.

A life of pleasure now enthralled them. Moving further and further away from the simple hardy divine life of their Persian ancestors, they were now more concerned with accumulation of fleeting fortune, wealth and power and all the attendant luxuries rather than with following the path of Righteousness, the path of Ereta (Ashoi). Evil men now sprang up, posing as priests and leaders of the people but in reality practising the barbarous arts of witchcraft and black magic. Gone was the pure Persian concept of praying to Ahura in the majestic open outdoors, on the summit of hills or in beautiful forests before the mighty Fire. Now the Persian bowed to ugly idols; and terror filled his soul instead of love and devotion.

When the clouds of darkness surrounded the world and it seemed that the pure Persian faith would die out; when tears arose in the eyes of every righteous man on the earth when he suffered and the evil rejoiced; then the Soul of the earth could bear it no longer.

Amidst the swirling mists, the Soul of the earth; Geush Urvan stood before the Lord of mankind; Ahura Mazda. Tears in her beautiful eyes, the earth was in the shape of a disconsolate white cow; mooing with pain. Is there a heart so hard that would not be moved to tears by that sight; the sight of our own mother earth so terribly distressed? Her voice filled with plaintive complaint; the Soul of the earth cried out:

"O Master of the Universe! See Thou my tears. Kahmai Ma Thwarozdum - For what purpose has Thou brought me into existence, Ke Ma Tashat - Why did You design me?"

"Alas, evil has triumphed on me. Around me rage the clouds of wrath and violence, the darkness of immorality and arrogant lust. Men have turned from the true path of Ereta (Asha), they no longer worship You; O Lord. Indeed, belief in You has vanished from the world. Your children, the ones You created rely on the Lie; they rely on the worship of evil. They worship pleasure and sex, not the ancient wisdom of love and marriage that You gave to them. They bow before idols, and pay homage to evil magicians who are black-hearted and lecherous.

"The Persian religion is dying, O Ahura! The righteous man, he who walks on the noble path of Asha; suffers. He is condemned for his folly; he is made to pay with his life for being steadfast to You; indeed there are tears in his eyes at every moment of his life!

"I cannot bear the suffering of my children; I cannot bear the evil that thrives in me. You have created me, O Fashioner of the Universe. Noit Moi Vasta Khshmat Anyo - There is no defender for me other than You.

"O Ahura! Atha Moi Sasta Vohu Vastrya! So unto me do announce a pure and strong Protector!

"Send me a brave Warrior to do battle against evil. Send me someone who would by the strength of his divine arms eradicate the evil from my bosom!"

The Lord of the world, Ahura Mazda now spoke in a thunderous voice. Rays of light shot out from His dazzling form of eternal splendorous light, as He thundered:

"O Geush Urvan! Mother Soul of the Earth, indeed I have fashioned you. I am the Divine Creator of the Universe, kind and merciful. Your lament has moved Me, and unto you I say:

"Go! Do not cry any longer, for your days of agony are at an end. Your surface will shine with the True Religion once again.

"I shall soon send the soul of Zarathustra down to you; My Blessed One who I promised to the Persian ancestors. I grant him the divine status of My Messenger, and bestow on him the charm of speech so that he will proclaim in songs the instructions I reveal to him and the divine immutable Law of Ereta (Asha). These divine songs will be known as the Gathas of Holy Zarathustra, and will resound in the world for all time to come!"

But thereupon the Soul of the earth was not satisfied. Mooing mournfully, she lamented:

"O Ahura! Do you not understand my pitiable condition? How can a mere man of words help me? How can a timid mortal help me?

"I long for a powerful warrior, resplendent in divine armour! I ask You for a heroic leader, who would overthrow evil and alleviate my unhappiness. I pray You, Ahura! Send Thou to me such a powerful hero!"

The Lord of Light looked down with kindness and mercy. "O Geush Urvan! Do not underestimate the divine Zarathustra. Appreciate My divine choice, full of Wisdom.

"Zarathustra'7s words (Mathravani) are more powerful than a thousand daggers in the heart of evil. When men shall hear his words, they shall change over to the divine Path of Ereta by themselves. The wisdom in his words shall be more effective than a thousand blows on the wicked; indeed he is more powerful than thousands of divine warriors.

"It is due to divine Zarathustra that the ancient Persian religion will live on and not die out. He is the Saviour of the religion.

"The whole world will forget the Persian religion, save for Iran where his blessed steps will fall and rejuvenate the ancient faith of mankind, the faith I imparted to the first man on the earth, Gayo Maretan (Gayomard). And so the Persian religion will be kept alive, its words of wisdom, knowledge of the right path of Ereta and its inspiring message will resound till the time of the glorious Frasho- Kereti (Renovation) when I shall eradicate evil once and for all from the universe.

"At this glorious end time I shall make fresh everything in existence. There will be no death, no decay, no hunger and no suffering for any living creature on the world. For I have boundless compassion for even the smallest life that walks on your surface, and can hear its footsteps.

"I will restore the righteous dead to life, collecting their dust from the four directions in which it has been scattered and will reform their bodies by My immense powers. For this reason am I known as the Frashogar, the resurrector.

"Men will speak one language and have one commonwealth; men will live without food and will not cast shadows. Hunger, thirst, anger, envy will be no more; and My Divine Kingdom will be established on the Earth.

"My Kingdom will be the Kingdom of Ereta (Asha), and I shall be the Ruler. I shall Myself come down to the Earth and perform the greatest of all Persian Fire ceremonies, the Holy Yasna. I shall act as the Zaota, the head priest and I shall hold the sacred Aiwiyaongahana (Kusti) in My hand, the beloved Kusti girdle I gave to the first man. I shall then chant the sacred Mathras Myself, and this shall destroy the evil one and all the forces of darkness for ever and ever. For Such is My Power.

"S o rejoice, O Soul of the Earth! Your suffering is due to end. Zarathustra will be born to eclipse evil. The great Saviour will come to you soon, O unhappy Earth."

Hearing the divine words of the Ultimate; the Soul of the earth lost her doubts. Tears of joy in her eyes, she bent low to the mighty Lord of Lords who had answered her prayer and granted her wish.

At that time on the earth, there lived a beautiful young Persian girl in the city of Ragha or Rae in Iran.

Dughdowa, as she was called; was a pure and righteous girl. Proud to be a member of the Persian race, she wore the ancient Persian Aiwiyaongahana around her waist and was devoted to Lord Ahura Mazda with all her heart and soul. Deeply religious at a tender age, she would pray the sacred Persian verses of prayer or Mathras regularly; so much so that a powerful illuminating radiance seemed to emanate from her face and body when she was fifteen years of age. When she walked on the streets of Ragha, intoning the powerful names of Ahura Mazda, it seemed that she overshadowed the moon at night and the sun itself at day.

Now the city was filled with more evil than good, and this meant that the people were afraid and jealous of pure Dughdowa. The corrupt priests, who themselves had no such radiance, were even more envious. Clearly, the girl was extraordinary among the women of her age. And as time progressed there could be a distinct possibility of her goodness and purity threatening the evil in the city. Because evil has always felt threatened by truth, because darkness has always felt overwhelmed by the light; evil and darkness have always attacked truth and light throughout the centuries. And so it was in that ancient time, eight thousand years ago.

It was late in the night one day when a body of these evil people mustered enough courage and burst into the house of Dughdowa and her father, Frahimurva.

Frahimurva ran forward, surprised at the sudden intrusion in the dead of night. Pulling out his mighty sword with the name of his Persian forefathers inscribed on it; he shouted:

"Hold! What be your intentions?"

The ruffian leading the crowd, a big burly evil-looking middle-aged man who practised black magic to earn the favour of others as evil as him; put his hand on his sheathed sword.

"Frahimurva! We have nothing against you. However, your only crime is that you have given birth to Dughdowa! So stand aside and let us deal with her."

The words rumbled against the ears of the old father, who stood aghast. His sword hand shaking, Frahimurva spoke.

"Why! What has my innocent daughter done? I ask you, what is her sin that you should take her name thus?"

The ruffian gritted his teeth.

"Dughdowa is a witch! She will doom the entire city. She will doom all of us. We have seen the radiance that her evil magic has created. Her hated presence fills us with fear and anger, when she passes by we shiver and shake.

"Frahimurva, we respect you. You are an Persian like us, although you do not bow before our new idol Gods and do not desire to learn our new magical rites. You insist on following the religion of your ancestors, and we respect you for that. Hence we give you this concession: we ask you to kill your daughter with your own hands. Put an end to her life as soon as possible!

"Remember this: If you do not do so; we shall come again. And then she shall die not a pretty death, by these swords that you see and hear! You shall be a witness to that; so know that she cannot escape from our wrath!"

And in the recesses of the house, as the trembling Dughdowa heard the menacing words spoken to her father; she sprang to her mother's breast and hid her milk-white face in the soft bosom; her mother comforting her shaking tender body as tears of fright broke out from her innocent face.

O Ahura! Will Evil never end?
The righteous suffer,
The innocent are condemned
The tears in a pure face
move not the hearts of stone...
Send down Thy Messenger, O God
Let not evil triumph in this world!
Let Your pure Faith thrive everywhere,
Let Goodness fill the hearts of men once again!
Hearken to the cry of the millions that suffer
Remember Your promise, You who never forget
Send the Saviour, pure and strong
Send Zarathustra the Promised One
So that evil does not remain in this world!

Chapter Two

The clouds hung gloomily over the darkened sky. It was a cold and windy night, the blasts of wind howling across the dark plains and trees.

A long line of horses was galloping through the darkness of the night, the thud of their hooves shaking the earth. The horsemen were making their way from the city of Ragha in the great Persian land of Iran; secretly at an hour when everyone slept

. They had in their charge the beautiful Persian daughter of Frahimurva. Dughdowa, the pure fifteen year old; had parted from her father with tears in her eyes when her father had embraced her before sending her away with his trusted friends.

The wise Frahimurva knew that the evil people of the city would never rest until their promise to kill Dughdowa was fulfilled. Rather than put an end to his daughter's life himself as he had been threatened to do, he had thought it best to secretly smuggle his dearest daughter away. And when she was safe, he did not care what happened to him.

He had a great friend far away: the mighty Persian noble Paitarasp; and he was sending her there. Paitarasp dwelled in the region of Arak; where he was the lord of beautiful expanses of land. The homestead of Paitarasp was situated on the bank of a mighty river, the Dargahidhainush near the mountain of Paitizbara in Iran.

Paitarasp, a true friend of Frahimurva bid the latter's daughter welcome at his house. Touched with pain at her story, he declared that she could stay with him as his own daughter as long as she liked.

The dawn broke with the glory and beauty typical of the land of Iran; and the shy fifteen year old after having rested was introduced by Paitarasp to his son. A handsome and tall youth; Pourushaspa was his name and Dughdowa noticed at once the pride on his face as he mentioned that he was also fifteen and had thus entered the Persian race by virtue of the Navjot ceremony when he was invested with the ancient Persian sacred girdle; the Aiwiyaongahana or Kusti. What pride the ancestors of the human race had in their Persian religion and the precious Kusti, a sacred pride that was good and uplifting.

Dughdowa felt herself drawn to this dazzling youth, and her heart beat quickened when he took her hand in his strong one and asked her to accompany him on a tour of the estates.

As they rode on two strong white horses and Pourushaspa showed her the beauty and scenic sites of their land; he watched her face as she smiled at him. He had never felt this way before, he wondered. Who was this girl, pure and beautiful, with a radiance seeming to emanate from her exquisite features and why did she fill his heart with love and devotion.

They were crossing a stream of running water, one of the many small rivulets that branched out from the mighty Dargahidhainush. Their horses stepped slowly over the immersed stones when suddenly the stone on which Dughdowa's mount stood slid crumblingly away; the horse neighing loudly as it struggled to keep balance and the beautiful girl rider screamed as she felt herself falling.

Suddenly, she was enveloped in the strong arms of the alert Pourushaspa who shot forward like a thunderbolt and lifted her bodily from her saddle as her horse bolted away from the stream in a flurry of alarm; its hooves thudding off into the distance.

Her heart beating, the Persian girl closed her eyes as Pourushaspa tenderly caressed her; placing his arms around her to still her shaking body. She was so like a frightened deer, he thought. So vulnerable and timid. His eyes were suddenly moist as he realised the unhappiness and shock she must have suffered when she was forced to leave her birthplace and her beloved father and mother, due to the capricious whims and jealousies of her fellow beings.

Love and its tender fire broke out in the breasts of Pourushaspa and Dughdowa for each other, as they gazed into each other's eyes. The Persians believed that when man and woman met in this way, it was Ahura Mazda who brought them together. The mighty Lord of the Persian race and of the whole world, who had fashioned man and woman; had also commissioned their union.

Ahura it is who created Love divine,
Between man and woman, in bird and beast
Ahura created the Love that begets Life
So that death ever defeated would be!
When the two came back from the estates and the forests that day, they were as lovers and they knew that they would never part from one another.

When the aged Paitarasp gazed upon the two young Persians, he could immediately fathom the divine union and he was pleased beyond measure. Ahura had given him a beautiful daughter-in-law, and he could also keep his word to his friend Frahimurva and protect his daughter. For an ancient Persian, friendship and a promise were sacred.

Pourushaspa and the beautiful Dughdowa were soon united in the bonds of holy Persian matrimony before the holy fire. As they watched the flames of the mighty fire soar upwards; they promised to be ever true to one another and to love each other for the rest of their lives. And as true Persians, they promised the fire that they would give birth to mighty Persian children who would support the Persian king, the Persian land and the Persian religion; wear the sacred Persian Kusti, chant the ancient sacred Mathras or prayers and live the prescribed ways of the noble Persian religion of Mazda as their ancestors had done since the world was created. And, as every Persian knew, these actions would strike a deadly blow against the evil one.

Work for Righteousness,
And fight against wickedness
This is the guiding principle of life!
Be not a passive onlooker, but
Hunt out the Hydra of evil -
And strike at its manifold hoods
So that the Earth may not suffer!
Progresses then the Mother Earth
Towards that sacred time, when
The Divine Kingdom of Ahura Mazda
is established on Her surface!
Kingdom of Ahura come!

Chapter Three

The days of blessed married life passed like moments in a dream. Dughdowa realised that Pourushaspa truly loved her as he showered care and affection on her and let no troubles come her way. Not a day would pass when he would not demonstrate his unstinting devotion to her in some way or the other. If words did not come one day, flowers did; and her days passed in his caresses so full of love.

Soon she was with child; and she was very happy. As she fondly passed her hands over her radiant white stomach, she spent her days in prayer to Lord Ahura Mazda and His divine creations Fire, Water, the Sun, the Moon, the Stars, the Wind, the Mother Earth, and the Plants, the Trees and the Animals. She also prayed fervently to the ancient Persian divinity Ardvisur Anahita or Ava, the pure and unsullied force of the Waters of reproduction which made the world bear children and thus progress.

The Persian men and women prayed to Ava before they embraced in the fire of love, so that Ava would grant them many mighty children. The Persian women also prayed to Ava when they were pregnant so that Ava would grant them easy delivery of their child. It was also this pure divine force of the waters which made the divine milk sprout forth in a mother's breast, so she could fulfil the thirst of her child.

That night, as Dughdowa slept peacefully by her Persian husband and it seemed the whole earth was a heaven for her; the smile on her sleeping face disappeared as she was lost in a terrible dream.

In the dream, she was walking slowly towards a forest; heavy with baby. Suddenly, the clouds overhead darkened and the heavens burst forth with rain and lightning. Her eyes searched for cover but she found none; and soon she was drenched to the skin in the heavy downpour and stood there shivering under the heavens.

And then, to her sudden shock and amazement as she looked up into the sky; she realised that a large black cloud seemed to be rushing towards where she stood. Shivering with fright, she stood transfixed; her eyes large with panic as the evil cloud advanced closer and closer.

What she saw now was unbelievable: a terrible sight enough to curdle anyone's blood. The dark cloud seemed to change into a horde of ugly wild animals; wolves and cats and rodents who snarled and jumped from the skies towards her. Screaming with fright, the beautiful Persian maiden turned and fled; stumbling over the muddy ground. But she knew she could not outrun them, and she had hardly covered a few paces when a huge hairy wolf jumped violently onto her back; its claws pulling her down while a desperate scream emanated from her mouth.

And then she was down on the ground, the wolves and the other creatures of the evil brood sinking their claws into her hands and feet as she cried in pain. Her eyes rolling in panic, she now saw a terrible wolflike creature; dark as the night and its red eyes gleaming; walk up to her upright on its two legs like a man and stand over her.

She screamed violently as the evil man-wolf sunk its claws into her stomach and ripped it open. Red saliva dribbling from its mouth and its jaws seeming to shake with evil laughter, the monster placed its mouth into the bloody mass and drew out the baby from her stomach.

Feeling her life ebbing away from her, Dughdowa watched feebly as the wolf howled in victory. But just when it seemed that the forces of evil had won and her baby would be killed, a miraculous event occurred.

Suddenly, the heavens above sent down a flash of lightning which stunned the eyes of the beasts. As they lifted their ugly heads in shock, there now appeared before them a shining young man; dressed in the golden armour of a Ratheshtar, a Warrior of God.

The divine Ratheshtar carried a powerful Persian bull- headed mace or Vadhare in one hand. In the other he carried a dazzling Golden book, on which was inscribed in letters of gold: "Agusto Vachao Ahurae Mazdao" - the Divine Revelations of God, which were Agusta - never heard before by man.

Looking at their divine opponent; the great mass of beasts was seized with terror. Trembling violently at his approach; they watched as he slowly lifted the Golden book he held. As the book came up, their bellies sank lower and lower until they touched the ground and they started whining with fright.

And then the Ratheshtar of God threw the divine book at them, and their evil jaws broke with panic as they turned tail and rushed away into the dark night, howling painfully as if the life itself was ebbing out of them.

The young dazzling Ratheshtar now turned to Dughdowa. He smiled.

"See thou the Power of Ahura Mazda, before whom no evil can stand. The accursed forces of evil have fled; and you are safe."

The warrior now picked up the small shining baby and placed him back into the stomach of his mother.

Instantaneously the wound on her stomach healed up, along with every single wound on her body and she felt as fresh as life itself. As she stood up, the divine Ratheshtar bowed to her.

"O Mother! Truly blessed you are For in your womb you carry the Saviour divine He whom the suffering Earth thirsts for Will be born to you soon!"

Suddenly, the dark night passed away and it was morning once again. The rays of the glorious Sun burst forth through the windows and Dughdowa woke up, filled with joy. She turned to her husband Pourushaspa and shook him awake, and when he had rubbed the sleep from his eyes, she explained her dream to him.

When Pourushaspa had heard her out, he was overwhelmed with joy. He caught her in his arms, his face radiant with delight and kissed her.

"My beloved! No man could be happier than I am. My son will be the Promised One of Ahura, who will save the Persian religion! How blessed are we to have such a son.

"Your dream means that our son will have to fight the forces of evil. These forces would seem to succeed at first, but in the end they would be vanquished. Our son has Ahura's divine power behind him, and the great Ahura would protect him at every step of his life. We have no cause to worry, dear wife. So let us sing and rejoice."

Look! What a Joyous Occasion!
The forces of evil stand disarrayed
They shiver, they tremble, they panic; for -
Ahura's Prophet shall be Born to the World!
Our Lord's Promise shall come True soon
Zarathustra, The Divine One
Shall Deliver The Persian Religion
So Rejoice, World - and Sing with Joy!

Chapter Four

The radiant Sun showered warmth onto the earth, its powerful rays penetrating into the mansion of Pourushaspa where frantic activity was on. The entire household was agog with excitement, for they knew that the time would come soon when the pure Dughdowa would deliver forth to the world, the fruit she had conceived and nourished in her womb.

Pourushaspa left no stones unturned in his effort to minimise the troubles of Dughdowa in childbirth. The love he had for her was so great that he prayed to the Almighty at every step to protect her and care for her, while also procuring for her the best in care.

In the ancient sacred Persian country of Iran, there were two kinds of doctors: the Durustpat or Master of health who aimed at removing the causes which gave rise to disease, and the other was the Tan Beshazak or the healer of the body who treated diseases after they appeared. The Master of health or Durustpat of Pourushaspa's household was kept occupied in pointing out the hygienic precautions to be taken before and during the childbirth, and also the food to be eaten by the Persian wife during her pregnancy.

The sacred Persian Mathras were recited as a special instrument of removing illness and ensuring the pure health of Dughdowa, since the ancient Mathras have always possessed the power to eradicate evil disease from time immemorial. Indeed, the Persians knew that the Mathras were the best means of ensuring health and curing illness and disease. The divine Ahura Mazda Himself had proclaimed:

"Asho Baeshazo, Dato Baeshazo
One cures by Righteousness, One cures by Justice
Kareto Baeshazo, Urvaro-Baeshazo
One cures by Surgery, One cures with Herbs
Mathro Baeshazo
And one cures by Mathravani, the holy word.
Baeshazanam baeshazyotemo -
That healer is the best healer -
Yat Mathrem Spentem baeshazyo!
Who cures by praying the divine Mathras!"

And then, it was spring time; a time so dear to the Persian race. Winter had given way to the radiant glory of the Sun and new leaves and flowers and shoots blossomed and sprang forth; reminding the Persians of the ultimate glorious Renovation of the world by Ahura when evil would be vanquished and the Law of Ereta (Asha) would reign supreme; every soul on earth obeying and following that Law created by Ahura to the minutest detail.

When the Sun shone, it was obeying the Law; when the Stars and the Moon revolved in the Universe, they followed the great Law: every single natural action in the world was as per the Law of Ereta. And when man lived the pure and simple life, farmed the land, worshiped the divine Fire and the elements created by God: the wind, the earth, the plants, the animals, the rivers and the oceans; worshiping and protecting them from injury or pollution; when man protected and nourished the mother earth instead of polluting and tearing it up for coal and oil, when man wore the sacred Persian Kusti girdle and prayed the divine Mathras to Ahura, then he too was following the Divine Law of Ereta.

For; as the ancient Persians sang; there was only one path: the Path of Righteousness. All other paths were no paths.
Aevo Pantao Ashaono
Only one Path there is -Righteousness,
Anyo Pantao Apantao.
All other paths are no paths.

It was spring and the sixth (Khordad) day of the first month (Fravardin) in the ancient Iranian calendar. On that blessed day, Dughdowa's fruit ripened and fell forth from her womb. Strangely, Dughdowa seemed to feel no pain as the divine baby came forth. And then Dughdowa's child was born, and a hush fell upon all those present.

Astonishment flooded onto Pourushaspa's face as he looked at the brilliant face of his son; all at once seeming to be brighter than the rays of the Sun.

And there was such a beautiful smile playing on the child's face.

The eyes of the two loving parents filled with tears of joy as they gazed with wonder and astonishment onto their new born, realising that there was no crying to be heard from the baby's mouth. Only that wonderful smile.

The child seemed to know and understand his divine mission on earth, and while all humans cried on birth because on the onrush of the evil one; the baby was too divine to be affected; indeed he laughed at the marauder.

The divine Saviour had seen the ultimate end of evil in the world.

Pourushaspa raised his eyes heavenward. In a voice shaking with emotion, he spoke:

"O Ahura Mazda! Great God, you have given me the most precious gift of all. You have given me a divine son.

"My son shines like a Light of the heavens even at birth, and thus I name him Zarathustra - He who shines like a Golden Star. May he bring succour to the suffering Persian race."

At that divine moment of the birth of the Promised Saviour, all of Nature sighed in delight and satisfaction. The trees seemed to sway in happiness and the mountains trembled: the birds chirped joyously and the animals gambolled about, mad with ecstasy. In some supernatural way, all the creations of Ahura seemed to know of the birth of His Messenger; and they went mad with joy.

The Soul of the earth, Geush Urvan shed tears of happiness and cried out her thanks to Ahura Mazda that the Saviour had been born. Taking the form of a milk-white cow, she jumped with joy and mooed loudly, joining in the song of the whole creation:

"Ushta No Zato
Athrava Yo Spitamo Zarathushtro!
O, What a Blessing!
For us is born the Divine Helper -
Zarathustra the Spitama!
Thanks to You great Ahura,
Thank You again and again
Vanish shall all our sorrows and tears, since
Zarathustra is the Priest
and Deliverer of mankind
from the hidden vault of sorrows and sufferings!
Doomed is evil now for certain,
We hail the promised Saviour -
Zarathustra the Divine!"

Chapter Five

Servants came running to Pourushaspa. Bowing to the proud and happy father, they informed him that the villagers had witnessed an extraordinary event: a bright light had been shining for three days and nights; turning darkness into midday. All the villagers were astonished, and the wisest among them told them that this was the sign of the soon-to-be destruction of evil; the herald of the coming of Ahura's mightiest Soldier.

But while the righteous rejoiced at the news and laid thanks to Ahura in their souls, the evil-minded could barely hide their discomfiture. These, the servants of the evil one were the magicians and the false priests, those who had strayed from the righteous path of Ereta (Ashoi). And they trembled at the birth of the Golden Warrior, Zarathustra. They knew his divine mission was to destroy evil and lead the Persians back to the original faith; and they were thus greatly agitated.

One dark night not long after Zarathustra's birth, the evil priests and magicians met in a secret meeting.

The moon hung high in the sky, drifting through dark black clouds as owls hooted eerily. Through the inky darkness hanging like a shroud over the earth, the group of robed men walked with sinister steps into a dark vault.

Wolves were howling in the forests as they bowed to a huge stone statue of the evil one. The ten-feet tall idol looked repulsively loathsome and ugly; horns growing out from its forehead and a terrifying snarl etched on its fanged mouth.

And then the leader of these servants of the evil one turned and began to speak. A powerfully built man, his face was dark with loathsome traits of envy and avarice. He was the accursed Durasarob, the chief of the evil cult which enjoyed immense popularity among the common people. He was the arch hypocrite, the man who talked of God but acted like the devil; dabbling in black rites and evil ceremonies behind closed doors.

With his evil mercenaries, he led a reign of terror; forcing the common people to go astray from the true path of Asha and pay homage to him and the evil one; instead of worshiping the true Master of the Universe: Ahura Mazda.

It was Durasarob's voice that shook with unholy rage as he began to speak.

"Fellow servants of the evil one! All of us know what has transpired. Near this village, in the house of Pourushaspa has been born our greatest enemy; Zarathustra! And that too under our very noses, while we hold sway with our black rites over the hearts and minds of the Persian peoples.

"We know Who has sent him, we know what he is here for. His mission is to destroy our ways and teachings. He is born to break our sway over the people of the world.

"As Good and evil are always sworn enemies and the whole universe is a battleground for this fight; so must we too; being the followers of evil; fight the Good with all our might.

"We must fight Zarathustra and kill him. We cannot allow him to carry out his divine mission on earth. If he does; our evil work will be to no avail; and evil will never reign supreme in this world!"

A hoarse cry went up from the dark-robed gathering.

"No, no! That cannot be! Zarathustra must die; he must not exist any longer!"

Durasarob raised a hand and the tumult subsided.

"Very well. Let us consider in what manner the child is to be killed."

While the murderers plotted in their dark temple of hell on that day eight thousand years ago; the babe Zarathustra slept in his cradle; a picture of innocence and purity. Perhaps unaware of what was going on, or perhaps divinely aware of the conspiracies of evil; the Golden baby slept the sleep of the blessed.

O Zarathustra! Helpless babe,
The arms of evil are raised in threat
To you as you dream in your innocence!
Fie! Cruel world so degraded,
Men would stoop to kill a sleeping babe!
But Ahura IS THERE, by your side
Ahura shields the one who is Righteous
So what good a Thousand daggers to evil?

Chapter Six

The Glorious Sun, the beloved Hvare Khshaeta of the Persian race illuminated the golden sky of the Persian country of Iran. The hills and dales, mountains and valleys were resplendent and the sun shone over the gorgeous colours of the far-flung flower fields.

Birds chirped merrily as the three Persian couples, handsome pairs of men and women walked in their colourful costumes and skirts. They walked with a light and joyful step over the blessed ground of Iran, through the beautiful countryside and valleys and mountains and fields.

The women were fair and beautiful, their flowery dresses blending with the natural beauty around them. The men were tall and manly; they held a stringed musical instrument in their hands which they strummed and sang in a deep baritone voice; the women liltingly echoing them:

"We Sing the Song of Zarathustra,
The Great, the Beloved Saviour
Of all the Persian peoples -
Sent by Ahura to allay our suffering
And remove our tears -
Come! One and all, and listen to his story,
Hear what happened after He was born!"

As these beautiful words were being sung by the men, the women sweetly followed each line with a tremulous "Holy... Zara... thush... tra...!", the sound of their voices like the rippling of a pristine stream.

The men and women were wandering bards, and as they sang and walked from village to village, from settlement to settlement of the Persians, they were welcomed eagerly by the noble Persian people wherever they went.

When the bards came, it was a cause for great celebration and gaiety for they were well versed in the music and epic Sagas of the Persians.

For this was how the Persians remembered their history, in glorious verses of romantic poetry that were sung and thrilled at around the fires every night. Every Persian was a bard at heart, every one of our ancestors had music and song run as blood in his veins.

For life, the gift of Ahura; had to be enjoyed to the fullest: it was wrong to be sad, it was wrong to lose hope, it was wrong to deny life. But then merry-making and enjoyment without the presence of God were also empty and wrong, this the Persians believed.

The ancient Persians remembered Ahura with every breath and were happy. Every one of their divine songs invoked the Ultimate's name, whenever they sang it was with their eyes raised heavenward.

And now these handsome singers were telling the story of Zarathustra to those assembled on that day eight thousand years ago.

And the Persians listened with rapt attention, their hearts beating with excitement as they heard the song of Zarathustra - the great Persian Prophet who had been born in their midst.

With bated breath, they heard of the evil machinations of Durasarob. As the singers sang, they wondered at the evil that could possess man and make him do cruel things. And then the story went on.

It was very quiet in the house of Pourushaspa. Evening shadows were falling as the lone man stealthily slipped into the house.

Dressed entirely in black robes, the man was an agent of Durasarob - and black evil was in his heart.

He slowly made his way into the center of the house, hugging the walls or falling to the floor when he heard someone passing by the hallway.

And then he saw the cradle: placed in the middle of the largest room, it contained the divine baby in its warmth. The scoundrel stole a quick glance at the room beyond from where he heard the voice of Dughdowa, the baby's mother and he knew he would have to act fast.

He was just moving towards the cradle when it happened. Suddenly, he felt an arm snake around his neck with overpowering force. The arm was bone-crushing, and he felt his breath rush out of him as the guard who had caught him prepared to call out to the others.

But Durasarob's agent knew the methods of silent fighting. Swiftly sifting his weight, he stepped aside and tripped his opponent. Forced to let the agent slip out from his grasp, the guard stumbled and was just regaining his balance when the agent's fist exploded against the side of his head with an overpowering force and sent him crashing into unconsciousness.

The body of the guard slumped and fell against the agent, who caught it and silently lowered it onto the ground, taking care not to make the slightest sound. His eyes darting around, the agent straightened up; knowing that he would have to do what he had come to do before the guard was missed.

Rushing like a snake towards the cradle, he reached it and stood looking into it for a moment, his eyes full of evil design.

The baby Zarathustra was beautiful.

Pure and innocent, he lay there in the cradle; smiling sweetly at the man who meant so much harm.

For a moment; the man who stood before the baby felt he could not do this thing, for a split second he perhaps understood the glory and greatness of the one before him. And then the feeling passed: he was once again the agent of the evil Durasarob.

And the wish of his cruel master was his command.

Extending both arms like a bird of prey, he picked up the baby who strangely enough did not utter a cry of fright. The kidnapper clutched the baby violently against his chest, and turning his back on the empty cradle slithered out from the house as fast as he could, running to a waiting horse.

Ere minutes had passed, the agent had accomplished his evil mission. No one in the house was as yet even aware of what had happened, while the precious baby of Dughdowa had been carried to the den of the evil Durasarob.

Chapter Seven

The gathering gloom hung over the dense dark forest. It was twilight. In the gloomy vault that lay somewhere on a forgotten path deep inside the seemingly impassable undergrowth, the lighted torch flared up. It cast dark shadows behind the bodies of the robed men that had gathered before the looming figure of their master.

A shrill laugh cackled through the gloomy air in the den. Durasarob was very pleased. He feasted his eyes on the baby; running his fingers with glee through his black beard.

"At last... At last! The cursed one is within my grasp; and now we shall see!"

A beady eyed hawk faced man shuffled forward. He was one of Durasarob's chief henchmen, who did all the dirty work for him.

"How are we to do this deed, O mighty magician? How shall we kill this baby? Shall we tear him to pieces with our swords and throw the scraps to the wolves?"

A murmur of vicious approval passed through the ranks of the cruel men gathered there that black night. But Durasarob scowled and all were silent.

"Artfully, my dear Barotakesh. Let us do so artfully. A sword is not always the best way to depart a hated opponent.

"No one should know that we have done this deed; none should even remotely connect us with the baby's death. And I have a plan which should help us to do just that.

"A simple but effective solution. Barotakesh! You will carry Zarathustra to the lane of Samannaz."

The beady eyed man was puzzled.

"Yes, my Lord. I know that lane. It is on the outskirts of the village. But what then?"

Durasarob cackled again, his eyes brimming with anticipation.

"Don't you remember, fool! The Samannaz lane is used by the herdsmen when they bring the herd back home from the fields, after the day's grazing. The lane is specially built for that purpose; so that the herd is not disturbed by any other animals. And that lane suits our purpose admirably.

"All that you have to do is place our accursed enemy on the ground in the middle of the lane. Then you can stand back and watch the devastation: when the bulls come back home, they will send Zarathustra to meet his ancestors!"

The entire den flooded with the sound of fiendish laughter, as the murderers applauded the dastardly scheme of their master. And the wily Barotakesh was the loudest of the lot.

"What an idea! What a fantastic idea! I couldn't have thought of it myself; but perhaps I could have got a more cowardly one if I tried!"

Durasarob's raised voice cut like a knife through the tumult.

"Silence, all. And you, Barotakesh; I shall cut your tongue out the next time you speak in this manner. But now, take the baby and begone! It approaches the time when the herd comes home from the far fields. Go fast, lest you miss it."

Barotakesh bowed to Durasarob. Fright had shown large on his face when he had heard the threat spoken by his master. Knowing those were no idle words, he snatched up the baby Zarathustra and enveloping him in the folds of his long dark robe; spoke in a simpering tone.

"I go to do your bidding, O mighty magician. Be assured that before the night is exhausted, destruction will overtake your enemy. And so will die all who oppose our master!"

Durasarob dismissed his henchman with a wave of his hand, smiling. A great satisfaction was already welling up inside his being.

Satisfaction at the thought that Zarathustra was doomed, satisfaction at his conclusion that there was no way a small helpless baby could escape his persecutors.

As the cowardly Barotakesh and three of his servants carried the baby away, Durasarob ordered a night of revelry and feasting; wine and dance in anticipation of the death of Zarathustra.

As evil threatened to engulf good; as night overpowered the glow of the day and darkness replaced light; the good in the hearts of men gave way to hatred and fear which overwhelmed their souls and deadened them to all sense of what was right and wrong, deadened them to the one pure path of righteousness, the path of Ereta or Ashoi created by Ahura Mazda.

At such a time the mother of the missing baby cried her heart out but there was no one in the world who could comfort her, no one who could return her baby to her.

Howsoevermuch Pourushaspa searched and searched; sending out his servants and going out himself on horseback to scour through the surrounding miles; there was no one who could even tell her where her baby was. At such a time the distraught mother cried out in the depths of her heart:

"O AHURA! Mercy to me!
Creator of the entire Universe
Maker, Fashioner, Righteous Judge
Thou truly art the Protector -
of all the world's inhabitants!
Thou art the Lord and Master
Of the Glorious Persian race,
The beckoning Light and Guide
Of we, the Persian peoples.
O Ahura! Heed a mother's tears,
Protect my Zarathustra from harm
My son, the hope of the Persians!
My son, the Light of the World!
Vouchsafe that he is safe from injury -
And return him back to my arms,
O my baby, my Zarathustra!"

Chapter Eight

The horses thudded through the falling darkness, as clouds hung gloomily in the sky. Even the birds in the trees seemed to weep with fear and sorrow as the cowardly henchman of Durasarob, the Barotakesh whose name would be ever infamous; urged his horse on.

In a basket behind him; lay the infant holy Zarathustra who had woken up from his sleep and lay wailing; tossed about by the violent upheavals of the ride.

Barotakesh was smiling evilly. How easy it all would be. In the matter of a few minutes, they had reached the lane of Samanaaz. There, the accursed enemy would meet his ultimate doom.

Or so he thought.

The lane was deserted: only a few birds flitted here and there, feeding on the grains that lay scattered on the ground and trying to do so before the gathering darkness in the sky made it impossible .

And then; from the far away horizon out in the beautiful fields beyond the village; Barotakesh's sharp eyes focused on a large cloud of dust: the herd was coming back home.

The evil man leaped from his mount with a ferocity that would have surprised even a wild beast. Extending his arms into the basket; he picked up the crying baby and ran forward; and then he bent and placed the baby on the ground in the middle of the lane.

Immediately, he mounted his horse; turning it back and goading it on.

"Quickly, men! Let's go!" The three others obeyed with alacrity; for the herd was now very close.

The horses neighed vigorously as their riders pulled them up a short distance away, turning to watch the results of their deed with an unholy glee in their hearts.

The earth was trembling now: the herd had reached the spot. Large, frightful bulls stomped towards the prostate babe, kicking dust and stones about. The child that lay on the ground was crying; and the birds that flew overhead seemed to divinely understand what was going on and they fluttered about in grief and fright.

If only they could protect the helpless Zarathustra! Mother earth trembled; this cowardly and cold blooded murder was more than she could bear. Was her Saviour then lost? Was there no hope for the earth to be saved from the evil that thrived at the expense of Good? Would the promised one die under the merciless hoofs?

No! Ahura Mazda, Lord and Master of the Persian race and God of the whole world would never allow this to happen. While there was breath, there was hope; and the same mighty Ahura Who could move mountains and whole worlds by a single gesture, would not let evil triumph.

Today is the test, O Lord
The fight between Good and Evil -
Evil stands arrayed so strong
Good helpless and meek, yet -
Ahura, Thou art on the side of Good
So impossible evil it is, it is
For ye to ever win!

The mighty Lord Ahura Mazda who could melt the heart of a stone into water; the God for Whom nothing is impossible: not even the tremendous and seemingly impossible feat of Resurrection of the body from its scattered individual components at the time of the Glorious Resurrection (Ristakhiz); Ahura who had done so much to protect the ancient Persian race from time immemorial; created a miraculous spark of love in the heart of the bull leading the herd.

Savage and ferocious otherwise, the heart of the bull was mellowed and softened when it saw the prostate baby in the middle of the lane. Divine Love and affection broke out in its heart, what a wonder!

Slowing down its pace, the huge bull walked straight towards Zarathustra and stopped when the baby lay between its fore and hind legs. Then, the bull looked about with its large kind eyes, anxious that none of the herd would trample the baby. The rest of the herd had to brush past the motionless bull, and no harm came to he who lay underneath.

The watching birds were wonder-struck; the earth shed tears of joy. Who could have believed that death would be averted when only a step away, in this wondrous fashion? It was all the Glory of Ahura Mazda.

The bull's love for the child was but a reflection of the mighty Divine Love Ahura Mazda had for the entire creation. And Ahura could inspire this love in anyone He chose, even in the most ferocious wild beast.

Even animals have hearts - when YOU awaken them A pity it is, O Ahura...that Men are more cruel - And do not listen to Your Voice in their hearts!

The dust and noise made by the huge herd as they passed the spot where the holy infant lay; inspired glee in the hearts of evil Barotakesh and the others when they saw that the herd was passing in full force through the lane.

In their unholy minds, they could picture the body of the child and they felt sure that it would have been crushed to a pulp by now. The evil ones shouted and whooped with pleasure; laughing at the fate of Zarathustra, laughing at the misfortune of another. It was more than certain that all they had to do now was to return to Durasarob to give him the glad tidings.

And then; the herd passed: save for one sole mighty bull; who stood still in the middle of the lane. As the evil ones watched, their jaws dropped wide open in surprise and their joy changed to bewilderment as they realised that the bull was standing right above where the baby was lying on the ground.

"Impossible!" Barotakesh screamed, goading his mount towards where the bull stood. The bull turned its head calmly and stared at the oncoming riders. For a moment, scorn was written large on the bull's face. Scorn and disgust for the cruel-hearted. And then, the large beast slowly moved off nonchalantly, leaving the beautiful baby untouched on the ground.

The horsemen came up fast to the baby. One of them scooped it up in its arms, as the others reined in their horses and looked at one another. They still couldn't believe what had happened.

"Bah! The bulls were useless. But I won't give up, men. This time, Zarathustra will die. I, Barotakesh; promise you that. Let's go!"

The riders turned their horses. In the matter of seconds, they were lost in the darkness; carrying with them their helpless burden.

Chapter Nine

The riders reined in their horses and sprang to the ground. Barotakesh laughed as he threw open the gates of the stable.

"A splendid idea, if I may say so myself! These, the great stallions of Pourushaspa; the father of our enemy Zarathustra himself; will do our job for us! So what if the bull acted strangely. Surely, these spirited great horses wont!"

Carrying their flaring torches, the blackhearts rushed into the domain of the stallions. The sleeping majestic horses, the pride of Pourushaspa and of every ancient Persian family sprang to their feet; neighing loudly as the men swung their torches at them.

Working them up into a frenzy which grew with every second, Barotakesh waited until he could see total panic gripping the horses. Then he screamed: "Enough, men! Let's go!"

The villains bolted from the stable. Then, the one that carried the baby flung it to Barotakesh; who looked at it for a moment with glee.

"So long, Zarathustra!" Barotakesh threw the baby into the stable where the horses were rushing about in a mad stampede, their noses snorting and neighing vigorously.

Then, he signalled to his men; who pushed close the stable door.

"Heh! Heh! It is the end for him this time." One of the villains laughed hoarsely.

And inside the stable on that dark night, the helpless baby rolled on the straw; the sharp hoofs slamming down around him on every side.

But when the grip of evil seems all powerful, when it seems that pride and arrogance reign supreme over humility and innocence and that nothing can resist the darkness of the night; it is then that the hopes of the evil are cut asunder and their deceitful ambitions come crashing down.

Just one of the rays of the morning Sun is enough to burn the darkness and make it flee, just one glance from the Almighty protects the meek from all harm.

And so was it on that night.

The mightiest horse in the stable looked at the baby and stopped thunderstruck in its tracks. In its heart of hearts, the stallion knew instantly that it must never harm this lovely human child. Seeming to know that the child was none other than the son of its long time master Pourushaspa; it neighed loudly, warning the other horses to stay clear. Then; the stallion leaped and stood like a rock over the baby.

A rock against which wave after wave of maddened horseflesh struck, but a rock which stood as immovable as a mountain from its roots; as unshakeable as the ocean from its gigantic basins. As the minutes passed, the fright that ran through the veins of the horses died down and the great stallions stopped dashing about in their mad frenzy.

Breathing heavily, they slowly gathered around where the stallion stood rock-still and looked down at the divine child; who seemed to be smiling at them.

Barotakesh was listening. When he heard the horses calm down; he snapped his fingers at his men. Instantly, they opened the barricaded door and rushed inside.

What a sight it was that met their eyes! The divine Zarathustra was slowly crawling towards the door, lifting his little baby hand and smiling innocently at them.

And behind him, all the mighty horses were gathered in a silent group; eyes fixed on the baby in reverence and delight. If a horse could smile, all those horses were doing the smiling now.

"Grrrrrrrrr!" Barotakesh was going crazy. "Scoop the child up, men. I hear voices. Let's go before Pourushaspa finds us and his son here!"

In a flurry, the riders disappeared with their small burden.

They took the long lonely path, the path that meandered besides the stormy river and headed to the dense forest a short distance away.

Barotakesh was trying hard not to look disappointed.

What was going wrong? Murder was nothing new to them. And yet, why was it so difficult to dispatch a small baby?

Chapter Ten

The forest loomed before them. Dark and forbidding, the tall trees whispered eerily and swayed in the breeze. Owls hooted and jackals howled as they rode slowly into the dense undergrowth.

The riders were beginning to shiver in the cold winds that howled and buffeted against their ears. In the distance, a mountain grew darkly against the dark sky.

Barotakesh pointed his finger at it.

"That is where we shall leave the child. At the base of yonder mountain, men. There is a small cave there. Zarathustra's death shall emerge from that cave!

"Wolves live in the cave. Fierce, savage wolves. The hounds of the devil and the scourge of mankind. When they find the baby, it will be torn to pieces! No bull, no horse can save the child this time!"

Savage glee darkening their faces yet again; the riders shuffled as close as possible to the cave as their cowardice dared.

They hurriedly placed the baby on the damp grass before the dark gaping mouth of the cave, and backed off. Springing to their horses, the cowards turned them in the opposite direction and headed away.

"No need to stay around! We'll be back later to pick up the leftovers. Out of the forest for now, men; and we'll let Durasarob know what's happening."

Barotakesh's voice was filled with satisfaction. Soon, he and the other riders disappeared into the darkness.

The small baby was left behind. Left on the grass in the dense forest, all alone by itself.

And a few yards away stood the dark and sinister cave, the abode of ferocious wolves. Wolves that would come out at any minute.

Wolves that could tear a live buffalo to pieces in a bloody death - in the matter of a few screaming minutes.

What chance would a small human being, one that could not even defend itself as yet; have? It would seem to any rational mind that might would be victorious; and that power - however evil - always succeeds.

But rationality and logic fail before the Divine working of the Almighty Ahura Mazda. The lowly - the helpless are helped by the Power supernatural, and though the might of evil may appear awesome in the beginning; it is always crushed by the forces of Good in the end.

In the divine battle between Good and evil that has raged since the creation of the world, Good is destined to be the final victor; helped to this end by the Will of Ahura Himself.

For nothing can happen without the Will of the Lord. The Master and Fashioner of the world, Geush Tasha controls every leaf that flutters, every drop of rain that falls from the skies; indeed- every single particle that exists in the entire Universe.

So how could evil ever succeed.
Who can harm you if -
Ahura is your protector?
Have Faith, O Faithless, in His Power!
That which He envelops
And watches over day and night
With his eyes, the billion stars in the sky
That which He Loves
No one can ever destroy!
So what fear could you have, O Man -
Have Faith in Ahura, the Mighty!

Chapter Eleven

The shadow of evil hung like a mantle over the dark forest. Bats flapped across the trees and an owl hooted eerily, as dark clouds spread across the coal black sky.

A cold wind blew against the dense undergrowth, and a sinister whispering sound that could chill the staunchest heart grew with the wind, the sound of the trembling leaves and branches. The dark mountainside loomed tall in the sky, and the gaping hole of the cave on its lower side yawned black and forbidding.

Suddenly, in the ink black darkness of the cave; two large red eyes with small inhuman pupils glittered with life.

The eyes were sinister and curved, and they seemed to be brimming with the look of the evil one himself.

They were the eyes of a wolf.

The dark furry body sauntered slowly out of the cave. Standing hunched like a demon, the wolf looked at the night sky.

And then its ugly mouth curved upwards and a chilling howl burst forth into the night air:


It was the time of the night. The time when evil held its full sway over the world, when the glorious sun was hidden from view and the powers of darkness were at their might.

It was the time of the wolf and his prowl of the night, searching for the luckless animal that he might tear apart from its sleep and its life. It was the time.

The earth trembled as the footsteps of the furry demon fell on it. Its coal-red eyes piercing the darkness, the dark shape of death moved forward. Nostrils sniffed the thin air, searching for the prey. And then suddenly, dilated with excitement.

A smell. The smell of human flesh. Warm and alive. And very close by.

The wolf's hair bristled with passion as its eyes scoured the surroundings. All of a sudden, it found what it was looking for.

A low growl emanating from its mouth, the beast moved rapidly towards the baby that lay on the damp grass near the cave.

Small Zarathustra was asleep. Which was just as well.

The hideous face of the wolf loomed out of the darkness and looked down at the sleeping baby, saliva dribbling from its open jaws and the red satanic eyes gleaming with glee.

And then, the breathing of the wolf grew more excited as it prepared to clamp its cruel jaws down and crush the soft bones that lay before it.

The heavens stood still at that moment. Evil seemed to have won, and the mother earth cried with pain. The heart of the wolf would not change, it had no place for the weak and helpless.

But then those who do not pity find no pity themselves.

It is Ahura Mazda who acts as the mighty Davar (Judge) of the world and metes out punishment equal to the deed. As one sows, one indeed reaps. None is exempt.

The cruel heart of the wolf found no pity from the Merciful Lord. The wolf who thrilled in the awesome power of its jaws, the jaws that could crush the bones of a buffalo suddenly found those same jaws paralysed by the Almighty. Paralysed and unable to be moved even a fraction of an inch.

O Might! If you were to be used for evil
To oppress the meek,
and to terrify the unfortunate
Then this would be your fate, this!
If you underestimate the Radiant's Power
And His desire to keep His children from harm
If you be drunk in the wine of your might
Then this would be your fate, this!

Moaning with great fright, the wolf backed off: eyes brimming with pain. Its large jaws locked open in paralysed spasm, the furry beast had been shocked into learning its lesson and now scampered off into the dark forest.

The power of evil had been broken and the divine child was safe. And its eyes were even now locked in innocent sleep. A sleep that lasted the rest of the night.

Divine morning now broke. The glorious Sun, Golden King (Hvare Khshaeta) of the sky erupted in a blaze of colour, banishing gloom and evil with its Godly rays.

It was not for nothing that the ancient Persians worshiped the Sun.

Every Persian in those days payed homage to the Sun in the morning, tying on his sacred Persian Aiwiyaongahana (Kusti) and praying the sacred Mathras of praise to the Sun.

The Sun, the Persians sang, was the special creation of Mazda for the benefit of the entire world. The Sun was life itself, its golden rays purifying and uplifting the entire world and defeating disease and sickness everywhere.

If the Sun was not to rise at all, the evil one would easily blacken and destroy the entire creation.

And it was this divine Sun, beloved of the Persians that was shining down right now on a beautiful scene in the forest.

The baby, the One who was to be Saviour of the Persian religion was being suckled by two milk-white goats who had come out of the forest, drawn irresistibly to the baby with motherly love in their hearts.

With that divine love, they had offered their udders to the baby and the thirsty and hungry baby had accepted.

Milk, the gift of Ahura to the world poured like the fountain of rejuvenating life into the baby's mouth. And after the cruel and heartless manner in which man had tried to murder a child, the affection and love afforded by these simple animals seemed so much welcome to the baby.

The day passed like a dream.

The milk-white goats were very tender in their treatment of the baby. They lovingly nudged him with their mouths and licked him all over, sitting down on the grass besides him so that he could extend his tiny hands and touch their warm skin; and besides keeping an eye out for any other dangers that could threaten the baby.

But what more danger to man than from man himself? A pity it is that the evil in men has always made them go astray from the right path of Ashoi (righteousness), and, blinded to what they are doing; they then turn themselves over to the storm of hate and injury.

Why do you suppress the Good in you, O Man
Why do you disbelieve
Why do you pamper your ego, O Man
And not pay heed to your elders -
When you turn from what they taught you,
When you turn from your ancient religion -
When you no longer walk
On the Great ancient Path
Then this is the path of ruin, know!

Chapter Twelve

The evening shadows were falling when Durasarob rode into the forest with a score of his followers.

Barotakesh had told Durasarob everything. How his first two attempts at murder had failed.

"But now!" he laughed shrilly. "Nothing could have gone wrong, master! The wolves are wild beasts, not domesticated livestock. They must have ripped him apart by now!"

Durasarob had nodded grimly.

"I certainly hope so, Barotakesh. For your own sake. Still, I would like to check for myself."

The trees were shivering in the cold evening wind as the band of horsemen galloped past. Barotakesh pointed the way to the cave, and as they neared the spot the hearts of these evil men filled with cruel anticipation of the sight that would meet their eyes.

Their hated enemy, Zarathustra - dead! That would be their fondest desire for all time.

And then they reached the cave. Barotakesh's eyes spun to where he had dropped the child, and there they riveted and fixed in amazement.

The baby was there. Lying on the ground just as it had been left. And in a sound sleep!

A happy smile shone on its innocent face, and its mouth was white with traces of milk. Goat's milk.

The horsemen were struck dumb. For a moment, they looked at one another; awe and traces of fear written on their faces.

The baby had been left near a terrible wild animal. A wolf.

A beast that was the bane of the forest, feared by men and animal alike. A creature so cruel and evil that legends were woven around it. In the domain of this terror of the night, the baby had been abandoned.

And yet, it was unharmed. And yet, it had milk on its face, as if it had just been breast-fed by its mother. How could this be? Wasn't this a miracle? Wasn't this a display of His greatness?

Even hard hearts tremble
When you display Your Might -
The evil faint and gasp for breath
When you glance once in disfavour,
When you decide to withhold
The Favour of Life!
You, O Ahura, art the Universe's Pilot
Guiding the Stars along their Shining Paths!
Hold Puny man by his trembling hand
He falls, he stumbles, without Your Help!

Durasarob's guttural voice broke the stunned silence. The black magician clambered down from his horse and rushed towards the baby.

"NO, cursed one, NO! Thou shall not defeat me! I shall destroy thee, I will BURN thee!"

"Get to work, men! Build a huge fire - the tallest ever seen! Collect dry branches and leaves from the forest, and ignite it!

"When the fire roars, when its flickering fingers reach out and gesture; I will reduce Zarathustra to ashes in the flames of its hunger!"

Durasarob's men fell to work frantically. Possessed by an uncanny fright that lent devilish speed to their efforts, they ignited a roaring fire in a clearing in the forest in the matter of a few minutes.

The fire stood tall and awesome. Durasarob waved a hand, and his men stood aside.

Clutching the baby in his claws, he stomped up to the fire and lifted the baby aloft in the air.

"Fire! I charge thee, reduce my enemy to ashes!" And then the cruel-hearted magician threw the small child deep into the crackling heart of the inferno.

Chapter Thirteen

In a moment, there was no trace of the baby. The fire seemed to have engulfed the small body, and transmuted it to ashes in a few burning seconds.

The birds that were watching from the branches of the trees all around, seemed to stop their gambolling and look at the scene in sorrow. A sad chirping song, heard only by those who had the ears to hear; broke out in a thrilling note to the heavens above:

"Is this the fate of the Chosen One?
Ahura, we ask You this
Could Good be used for evil -
and anarchy's purpose serve?
How could Divine ATHRA, the Fire;
Your Glorious Radiant Son
Consume He who shall one day be -
Saviour of the world?"

No! Good could never be used for evil. Fire would never burn the pure of heart. And if that went against all the rules of common-sense and science, then so be it.

Suddenly, the fire erupted. Huge balls of fire burst from the inferno, floating in the air and dashing against the criminals; scalding their skin and causing them to scream in terror and pain.

Suddenly, the hunter was the hunted; the conqueror was the conquered. Durasarob and his men ran helter-skelter into the forest, frightened out of their wits. Their horses, tethered to the trees caught the panic fast.

Neighing loudly, they broke free and bolted, galloping off into the darkness before the criminals could even try to mount them.

Durasarob and his men were now alone in the dense forest. Alone, separated from one another in their blind panic, and without any horses at all.

The inferno that had burst upon the criminals suddenly quietened down. The fire seemed to subside, and slowly spluttered and hissed to a standstill. The flames sank into hot ashes, and then even the red ambers disappeared altogether.

Where the fire had been, there was now a carpet of red roses, blooming with the perfume of life. And in the midst of the bed of roses lay the divine child Zarathustra.

I shall Astound the evil with Your Greatness
I shall Show the world Your Miracles, O Ahura!
The dreams of the wicked come crashing down
While You laugh and smile at their folly -
A Raging Inferno, all consuming
a fairy bed became of aroma and delight
Roses that lull a baby to rest!
The Storm of evil that rages is dispersed
When over it Thine Hand Radiant whispers!
How can the Pure of Heart ever suffer, O Lord
If they ever worship you, have faith in You
As Their Champion Divine!

Many of Durasarob's followers that night had realised the truth about baby Zarathustra, that nothing they could do would ever harm him since he was protected by the Ultimate God Himself.

One by one they straggled out of the forest, gasping with exhaustion and fright.

And, one of them, having found his horse rode straight to the house of Pourushaspa, Zarathustra's father.

Stopping a short distance away, the man hurriedly wrote a few words describing where Zarathustra was. Then he tied the note around the shaft of a long thin arrow.

Drawing his bow, the man shot the arrow with great accuracy.

The arrow whizzed through the air and slammed into the wooden wall of the house near the face of an astonished servant.

Within a breathless half-hour or so, the parents of Zarathustra had rushed to the forest. Almost mad with fear for their missing baby since the past few days, mother and father were now mad with delight.

It seemed that their torture was now over and they would find their beloved child again.

When they reached the dense forest, they followed the directions supplied on the note attached to the arrow.

And in a few minutes, the parents of Zarathustra found him. Dughdowa was the first to dismount from her horse. Followed closely by Pourushaspa, she ran sobbing with delight to where her son lay in the bed of roses. Kneeling down, she caught him up and embraced him again and again while Pourushaspa kissed his son's forehead with tears in his eyes.

Their eyes flew heavenward towards the Maker. Their hearts knew it was He who had protected their child, He who had allowed them to find him again.

And, filled with gratitude, they raised their palms heavenward in devotion and sang.

We praise the King of the Skies so blue,
We praise the Fashioner of the Universe
For Ye has ears to hear the voice of suffering
Of even the smallest, the weakest, the least!
Thou were merciful, thou has returned
Our precious son born out of us
Flesh of our flesh, soul of our souls
Our darling, our Zarathustra to us!
Protect him, O Ahura Mazda, throughout
His life long and precious
Though we may not be there to see,
Let him live, and prosper!
May evil ever stand away from our son
May he fulfil the Promise - Sacred of your lips
And perform on suffering earth
His great Mission divine!
Hail be to you, O Great Master of us all
Thy Divine Will, unshakeable rules the world
O Ahura Mazda - Radiant Creator and Sustainer
We shall sing Thy Glories for ever and ever!

Chapter Fourteen

The great white shapes of the clouds floated in the azure blue sky. Building on one atop another like craggy mountains, their gorgeous beauty was awe-inspiring as they seemed to gently caress the pregnant green earth and the mountains of the sacred land of Iran: a land of milk and honey, a land blessed by Ahura Mazda - the land in which the Mazda-worshiping Persians had made their home. And when the Persians rejoiced in the beauty of their Iran, they offered thanks to Ahura for His great gifts to them.

Who is the Painter of these Sights
More Beautiful than could be drawn
Ever by any human artist born...
What Great Craftsman fashioned
These clouds, these hills, these radiant flowers
These things that fill us with sheer delight!
Who, other than You
Traced Thine divine brush over the Universe
And watched it bloom and flourish -
Like a flower from the bud,
Like a child from the womb
The Creation sprang from a Source eternal
Thou, Geush Tasha, Fashioner of the Universe!

The Persians, beloved children of Ahura Mazda had always obeyed the divine immutable law of Ereta (Asha) - the law revealed by Ahura to Gayo Maretan, the first man on earth.

The great Law of Asha governed the working of the entire universe as per the sacred Will of Ahura. When the Sun arose in the heavens, cutting a scythe through the darkness of the night; it was following the Law.

When day broke and night fell, when the seasons of spring and summer and autumn and winter followed one another; when the rain fell from the dark clouds rolling in the blue heavens and mesmerised the thirsty earth; when flowers and trees blossomed and grew; when indeed the shimmering stars revolved in their steady perfect paths around the mighty universe; it was that ancient iron Law of Ahura that controlled these and every single leaf that fluttered, every single act of nature.

And when Man lived in harmony with nature, when he worshiped Ahura and His divine elements and creations Fire, Water, Earth; the Wind, the Sun, Moon and Stars, and when he loved and protected the Plants and the Good Animals around him; when he was truthful, humble and obedient to the will of his elders, and when he wore the sacred Persian girdle Aiwiyaongahana (Kusti) with love and cherish; then he too was following the divine Law of Ereta or Asha.

The very name "Persian" meant the one who followed the Path of Ereta, the right path and no other path. Indeed, even the English word "Right" would derive centuries later from the word "Ereta" of the Persian Avestan language.

For it was the pure and noble Persian race who centuries before recorded time began, taught the world what was right and what was wrong.

We, the Persians, your children beloved
ever shall obey the Divine law of Asha
And keep Thy Name, O Ahura Mazda
Uppermost on our lips.
We shall wear our sacred girdle,
Thy precious Gift
Mark of our Persian race, and proof we worship Thee
Proud Kusti, armour of the Warrior divine
Affording protection against evil terrible
Which seems belittled against its Godly power.

Pourushaspa led his beloved wife Dughdowa to his mighty bronze Chariot or Rath, drawn by eight powerful white horses. The father of Zarathustra was also a charioted warrior, a Ratheshtar and he loved to feel the rein in his hands and the pull of Persian horses obeying his every command faithfully.

For there was a unique bond between Persian man and the animals who served him in those days eight thousand years ago.

Dughdowa was carrying her precious child Zarathustra very close to her bosom. The Rath gained momentum and the flowing wind thrilled past her long silken hair and the scarf tied around her head; as she looked with tender love and devotion at her Persian husband driving the great chariot.

Pourushaspa, seeming to know her innermost thoughts; passed the reins to his left hand and drew her close to him with his strong right arm; a smile shining on his face.

A beautiful Persian wife and a handsome Persian son. A strong Rath beneath him, and mighty horses before him. The great Persian bull-headed mace or Vadhare behind his shoulders, and the strong bow and arrow at his side. What more could an Persian man want.

The happy family of Pourushaspa were headed for the clan gathering of the Persian tribes, the Saba of the Persians when the Persians came together and celebrated the holy Fire ceremony or the Yasna.

As the Rath drew near the appointed place, many of those present recognised the young couple and raised their bull-headed maces in greeting.

Pourushaspa smiled in return, proudly gesturing at his new son. And then he stopped the Rath, the horses neighing vigorously as the women friends of Dughdowa helped the young mother and child down.

Chapter Fifteen

In those days, the Persians worshiped Ahura Mazda and His divine son Fire not inside a temple but in a wide open space, amidst nature. The Persians sat in their appointed seats and watched as the bearded white-robed Athravans (Fire priests) intoned the sacred Persian Mathras of praise and devotion to the Lord of the Persians, offering sandalwood to the sacred Fire which flared brighter and more awesome with every offering placed into it, with every word of the Mathravani spoken near it.

The words of the Athravans were heard and understood by every Persian in that august meeting, for the language of use then was the ancient Persian language of the Mathras themselves: Avestan.

Athro Ahurae Mazdao Puthra
O Fire Son of Ahura,
Airyanam Khareno Mazda Dhatanam!
In you shines the Glory of the Persians,
created by Mazda!
Atarsh Spenta Ratheshtar
Warrior You are the divine against evil
Athro Ahurae Puthra Yazatahe!
We revere the Fire, Son of the Lord!
We give a divine offering, to You
who are worthy of praise and homage -
That man certainly becomes of good fortune,
who praises you with uplifted hands!
Bestow upon us Light, intellect and nourishment
Protect our lives, if we are pious.
May you, Fire of Ahura,
grow blazing in our bodies
and spark within us a high and mighty
renewal of inner light!
O Fire, standing exalted, not sleeping at all
You possess great strength,
deliverer of persons from sin -
It is You who renders prosperous
our homes, families and race
You advance the religion of the Persians
in the world!
Glorious Fire, You are a Sun
against the time of Darkness
You lead the souls of men against evil.
Athrem Spentem Yazamaide,
The holy Fire we worship,
Takhemem Hantem Rathaeshtarem.
Strong brilliant Warrior of God.

As the holy fire ceremony of the Yasna drew to a close, many of the Persians present had tears in their eyes. The devotion of the Persian race to Fire had always been present from time immemorial, right from the distant age of the first man on earth, Gayo Maretan (Gayomard).

He had been the first worshipper of Fire, the first man to wear the sacred girdle, the first Persian and the first Mazdayasni or Mazda worshipper on the earth.

And then the Athravans performed the sacred initiation ceremony of the ancient Persians for the fifteen year old members of the race, what we call the Navjot ceremony today.

When an Persian reached the glorious age of fifteen (Panchadasavo) so often mentioned in the Mathras themselves, he or she became a full-fledged member of the Persian race by undergoing this ancient ceremony whereby the ancient girdle Aiwiyaongahana (Kusti), the very substance of the religion and the race was put on for the first time.

The glorious fifteen year old now was a true Persian and was asked never to take off the Kusti as long as he lived. The true mystic meaning of the Persian Kusti was explained to the young man or woman, about how the girdle formed a storehouse of spiritual forces, absorbing the dynamic vibrations of the sacred Mathras and using them as a force field against the ever-attacking forces of evil.

The ancient Persian race was highly attuned to the cosmic forces of the universe, the Aiwiyaongahana forming a link to the spiritual Minoi world.

Alas that this wonderful ancient knowledge would one day be lost to most of the world, to most of Iran and even to most of the Mazdayasnis themselves. The world would indeed be a loser and a lot poorer if it forgot the ancient ways and mystic knowledge of the Persians.

The marriages of young Persian couples were then performed, watched by the entire race.

Marriage was a holy Persian institution and was considered to be essential for every member of the Persians.

The priests blessed the couples and asked them to bring forth many children into the world, as was desired of them by Ahura. The children were to be trained to follow the righteous path of Ereta and be faithful to the pure Mazdayasni faith, to be courageous warriors (Ratheshtars) of Ahura and fight evil whenever and wherever they encountered it in their lives. So, raising children as righteous and glorious as these was one of the great duties of an Persian.

After the holy ceremonies were over, the Persians erected huge bonfires and celebrated.

Dughdowa and Pourushaspa joined a circle, the proud father now carrying Zarathustra in the comfort of his arms. They watched, smiling with joy as a handsome Persian youth raced out into the center of the gathering, holding a red kerchief which he twirled in the air.

The youth danced vigorously, enticing a young woman out to join him. The girl was dark-haired and beautiful, a smile dancing on her rosy cheeks. The watchers clapped their hands as the dancers swung into the air, the young woman's skirt billowing out and the young man catching her as she fell.

As they lay in one another's arms, the couple kissed instinctively. Exhausted, they now made way for another couple and so the dancing continued into the night. The Persians had always been a joyous and vigorous race, fond of dancing and singing.

The greatest songs were the Mathras, which were sung like the great poems they were. For the ancient race loved to remember Ahura every moment of the day.

Finally, all the couples joined in for a vigorous finale to the dance. By the glow of torchlight, the broad smiles on the faces of each and everyone present seemed to echo the lilting beat of the drums and the stringed instruments being played.

For the righteous people gathered there that night had a hope in their breasts.

A hope that the Promised One would come soon. The Messenger, promised by Ahura to their ancestors to deliver the Persian religion in the time of its tribulation.

Little did they realise that the Great Ahura had placed him right in their midst. The divine child, held in the tender embrace of his parents who alone knew and rejoiced in their child's great destiny: Zarathustra, the Saviour.

Chapter Sixteen

The footsteps of the three men sounded eerily in the underground cavern.

The cold and mouldy stone steps lead interminably into the bowels of the earth, in a maze of sinuous convolutions that would lead astray even the most assiduous pursuer. Such a dark hidden place served its purpose well as a secret hide-out of the evil magicians.

Bats, disturbed from their dark repose by the light of the flaring torches, fluttered off wildly as the trio penetrated deeper and deeper into the dark abysses of the cavern.

Exhaustion and fright was written large on the face of one of the three. It was clear he was not accustomed to accompanying the others and that he had never come here before.

"How much further?"

There was no answer forthcoming from the other two who seemed immersed in their own dark thoughts, full of foreboding.

The journey seemed to take forever. But at last the low roofed stone passageway gave way to a large cavern.

The two men placed their fiery torches in wall brackets, the light throwing gigantic shadows and half illuminating the huge cobwebs that seemed to stretch from stony ceiling to ceiling.

And then they turned to the third man, who stood hesitatingly in the middle of the cavern, his trembling face betraying his fears and apprehension.

"Physician! We have brought you here for a reason."

The man standing in the cold dark cavern, a great distance below the earth's surface; felt an uncontrollable wave of terror envelop him.

Before him were Durasarob and Barotakesh, two of the most powerful men in all Iran.

He had always avoided any association with them, knowing fully well that their power and might came from the evil one, and not from Ahura Mazda.

But he did not feel confident enough of opposing them either, when they had forced him to accompany them down here.

Durasarob walked with slow measured steps to the shivering figure. Looking straight with his dark penetrating eyes at the man's face, he placed one hand on his shoulder.

"We know that you are a wise and learned Persian physician, well versed in our sciences of medicine: of cure by herbs, of cure by the knife; and of cure by the Mathras. And you are loved and respected by the people."

"That is so, Durasarob!" The physician had found his tongue at last. "Do you wish me to cure someone for you?"

A smile broke out on Durasarob's face. But the smile was not calculated as one to put the physician at ease. Rather, it was full of menace.

"Not so, physician." Durasarob signalled to Barotakesh to continue.

The evil Barotakesh, aide of Durasarob in all of his foul deeds slithered forward and thrust his bearded face before the physician.

"Is the household of Pourushaspa under your care?"

The physician was surprised at the unexpected question. "Yes, that is so. As a matter of fact, I was on my way to Pourushaspa and his family when you intercepted me and brought me here."

"Excellent, physician. And do you know the cause for your visit to the place?"

"Of course... Pourushaspa's small son is ill. I am to cure him of a fever or some minor ailment - I think Zarathustra is his name. But hold! Why am I telling you this? What business is it of yours, anyway?"

Barotakesh smiled evilly. His hand slithered to his waist, and slowly unsheathed a large dagger.

The eyes of the physician riveted to the cold steel glittering cruelly in the hand before him and he was lost to panic again, forgetting his courage of a moment ago.

These two could kill him silently in this underground hell cavern and no one would ever know. The magicians had ways of disposing of people they did not want around.

"We are making it our business, physician. Now listen carefully. As you know, Pourushaspa is a great friend of ours.

"Of course, we wouldn't want his son Zarathustra to unduly suffer from whatever you may treat him with, so we would like you to use our medicine."

Barotakesh, still holding the dagger; slid his other hand inside his dark robe. He slowly drew out a small earthenware jar which had been sealed with hide at the top.

"This jar contains our medicine. Physician, all you have to do is to treat Zarathustra with this. And then he will be very much cured!"

The evil laugh of the two men resounded in the dark cavern, echoing and re-echoing off the walls and seeming to build up into a crescendo.

Chapter Seventeen

It was night. In the depths of the earth, the laugh was still resounding in the dark cavern.

It was the laugh of the magicians.

They had a jar of medicine in their grubby hands.

Looking at the trembling frame of the physician, they laughed yet again, this time more shrilly.

Evil glee was written large in their eyes. The glee of warped puppeteers who made their dolls dance to an unholy tune.

The man to whom the jar was being extended stood there, rooted to the spot. All at once he realised what the magicians really wanted.

"Is Death in this jar?"

The laugh froze on Durasarob and Barotakesh. For long seconds there was a deadly silence.

Durasarob now strode forward menacingly. He snatched the dagger from Barotakesh's hand, grabbed the physician by his robe and thrust the sharp side of the dagger against the man's throat.

"You are smart, Physician. Take care that you do not get too smart."

The man he held in his grasp had long been a healer, a person who dealt out life. And now, though death was pressed against his throat; he found the courage to cry out defiantly.

"NO! I wont do this evil thing, magician! I will not kill a child!"

"Then you will not leave this place alive. And the same applies to your beloved family as well!"

Barotakesh clapped his hands thrice. Suddenly, a low rumbling seemed to fill the air as a huge stone block slowly moved from the wall.

The physician watched, his eyes astonished and then blind panic and concern filled his heart as he saw a beautiful Persian woman and child in the opened recess.

As Barotakesh carried a torch close, he saw that the woman and child were slumped against the wall, their eyes closed. And as the approaching light made more and more features recognisable, he realised with a surging shock who the unconscious woman and child were.

"NAVAZ! ADEL! My beloved wife and son!"

"So you know who they are, physician. I had them brought here before you. Do you know why they are unconscious and unable to greet you?"

"Scoundrel! Scion of the evil one! Release them!"

Durasarob smiled with vile satisfaction.

"The chamber they are in, physician. Look carefully. It is sealed from the outside. Completely. The lack of air has made them unconsciousness. Another hour or so, and they will be dead."

Barotakesh clapped twice. The huge stone door, the seal of death started to move slowly back into place with a grating sound, scraping against the rough rock of the floor and slowly removing the light from the lovely woman and child within.

The sole remaining member of the Persian family watched aghast as the wall slammed shut with a loud ringing sound, blocking the view of his unconscious wife and son from him.

And his heart raced as he thought of the precious few minutes left before the life-giving air in the cave would exhaust itself and they would die of suffocation in the murky bowels of the earth; their bodies rotting where they lay and not even obtaining the ancient sacred Persian rite of disposal by vultures.

Such a fate he would not wish on his worst enemy. What then of his wife and child?

There comes a moment in the life of every follower of the Mazdayasni religion when he is forced to decide between right and wrong, to choose to stay on the path of Righteousness (Ashoi) or to turn to the path of evil and falsehood.

The physician knew that it was a heinous crime to take the life of a small child, but his heart would not permit any harm to his precious wife and child. Forgetting his righteousness - and forgetting the sacred duty assigned to him as an ancient Persian physician to protect all life, the man spoke frantically; lost in the bottomless mire of fear and desire:

"Yes! I will do all that you say. I shall administer your
poison to the baby. But save my wife and son, save them!"
Temptation and fear assail me on all sides
O Ahura! Let me not fall prey to the beast
Though death and defeat stare at me everywhere;
May I never swerve from Asha! Thy noble path.

Chapter Eighteen

The ancient Mathravani filled the air, seeming to resound in every room of the noble Pourushaspa's house. The deep voice of the mighty Persian father of Zarathustra intoned the sacred ancient words of the Haoma Yasna, the worship of Haoma where the mighty Haoma juice was prepared.

Centuries before even Zarathustra's birth, the Hom Yasht was sung. The green Haoma plant, full of fragrance was pounded in a mortar during the ceremony and the juice collected. The divine Haoma juice was further purified by the Mathras chanted by the priests and thus had incredible powers: the ability to impart health and strength and, in its purest form; to defeat death and disease.

Haoma, the foremost of the plants was revered by the Persian race. So did Pourushaspa explain to Dughdowa, who listened breathlessly to these timeless truths.

"Sweet wife, according to the legendary history of the Persian race, the first man to prepare the mighty Haoma juice in the Haoma Yasna was Vivangham. That beloved ancestor of the Persians prayed to Haoma for a son, and on partaking of the juice his prayer was granted and the great Persian king Yima Khshaeta (Jamshed) was born to him. Jamshed thus had a divine birth, and during his glorious reign there was no severe cold or heat, no disease, no old age and no death; neither was there any evil in the minds of men during that golden Persian age on earth. Unaging and undying, father and son would walk; and both looked as if they were fifteen years young - the perfect age according to us.

"The second man to prepare this sacred juice was Athawya, our Persian ancestor. He too partook of the death- dispelling Haoma and to him was born Thraetona (Faridun), the great Hero. Well do we all know how Faridun fought and defeated the evil Azi Dahak (Zohak), the merciless evil tyrant and monster who had been sent by the evil one for destroying the righteous Creation of Ahura Mazda. All to no avail! Because Faridun triumphed over the demon by the grace of God, and we shall ever keep him in our memories and in our prayers for that.

"Third was Thrita, of the clan of Sam. He was blessed with two mighty sons, Urvax and Keresasp. Urvax became a very wise man and a teacher of the Mazdayasni religion and Keresasp a mighty warrior, wielding the great Persian bull-headed mace or Vadhare. With that mighty mace that has so often protected our race and religion in the past, Keresasp destroyed the evil Sravar, a gigantic mammoth (ancient elephant) that was a menace to the lives of all men, women and animals.

"Dearest Dughdowa, it was I who was the fourth to prepare the Haoma juice. Yes, I who am Pourushaspa, the Persian! I prayed to Haoma to grant me a Godly son, righteous and opposed to evil. In answer, Zarathustra was born. Yes, it was predicted by the mighty Haoma Himself during the ceremony."

Pausing to look deep into the thrilled tear-filled eyes of the mother, Pourushaspa realised Dughdowa's great joy when her son was mentioned. All at once he too shared in the happiness of an Persian parent in the great future foretold for their son.

"Yes. I was told by the glorious Haoma that Zarathustra would be born as a son to me. Renowned of Persian lineage, Zarathustra would chant the sacred Mathra known as the Ahunavar or the Yatha Ahu Vairyo first of all on this earth. That sacred and extremely powerful prayer of the Persians would be given to him by Ahura Mazda Himself. This is what the divine Haoma, curer of all death and disease told me as a prophecy for my son:

"O Zarathustra! You shall cause all the evil to hide beneath the earth, who before this were roaming in human form on the earth. You who have been created the Most Powerful (Aojishto), the Most Vigorous (Tanjishto), and of Righteous Victorious Strength (Ash-Verethrajanstemo) amongst the Creation of Spiritual Ones."

The parents of Zarathushtra lovingly uplifted their baby, and placed him tenderly before the fire, bowing their heads and intoning the sacred words. One wish swam in their minds: that the divine Haoma would remove the illness of Zarathustra.

"O Golden (Zaire) Wisdom (Madhem)! Guide our baby to health, guide him to growth, guide him to greatness, guide him to victory so that he may go forth as a ruler at will in the world, destroying the malice of the evil ones (tbaesho-taurvao drujemvano)!

"This we beg of you as the first blessing, O True Worshipper who drives the death afar. The Heaven (Vahistem Ahum) which is filled with righteous people, bright and happy. May Universal Happiness come to be, for all righteous men and women, of every country in the world. This we ask of you as a second blessing, O True Worshipper. This health (Dravatatem) of the body (Anghaose Tanvo). This we ask from you as a third blessing, O True Worshipper. The long vitality (Daregojitim) of Life (Ushtanahe).

"Great Warrior Haoma! Lift up your Mace (Vadhare) and smite the evil in the world. Smite the evil and the unrighteous, the fiendish women, the magicians and the tyrants. You destroy the unlawful lust in the minds of men, so that it flees from the body of the righteous. You are indeed the Fountain of Righteousness!

"To increase your power in the world, Almighty God Ahura Mazda made the sacred girdle (Aiwiyaongahana) that is star-studded (Stehrpaesanghem) and put it around the earth. Yes, the stars that surround the earth are indeed the original Kusti that we Persians wear, placed there by Ahura to guide the world first in the good Mazdayasni religion. We Persians, children of Ahura follow the Order of the Universe when we place our own sacred Kusti around the waist, and the most ancient commandment of God.

"We praise the Earth, who indeed is your mother and the mother of us all, O Haoma. The Earth is wide, spacious, productive and enables us to be self-supporting; allowing us to eat without unnecessarily taking animal life. We praise Mother Earth, sweet-scented (Hubaoidhish) and exalted (Aurvo) in the fields (Charanem). When we cultivate the Earth, the good Creation of Ahura flourishes and you, Haoma become more powerful and prosperous. When we Persians grow crops, fruits and flowers; it is as if we are singing (Gara) in the praise of God!"

Gave Nemo! We salute the Earth.
Gave Ukhdhem! Praiseworthy is the Earth.
Gave Verethrem! Victory to the Earth.
Gave Kharethem! Glorious is the Earth.
This Earth is the Glory increaser of the Persians,
The Persians prosper when they till the Earth.

Chapter Nineteen

The divine Mathras, full of pregnant meaning to the ancient Persians infused their highly potent spiritual power into the Haoma juice that was being prepared. The Yasna (worship) ended and at that point the radiant parents, certain of the power of the juice put it to the lips of the baby.

The golden child Zarathustra smiled with delight as the milky-white Haoma passed down its small throat. It seemed to know and thrill in the spiritually potent drink. Pourushaspa and Dughdowa watched and held the baby as the miraculous Haoma, giver of life worked its way in the small baby; and as if a shadow on the ground were passing away under the advancing rays of the sun, the sickness in Zarathustra shrunk and retreated in mere seconds before the spiritual power of Haoma!

Staunch in their ancient faith, the parents watched with satisfaction and looked at one another with quiet joy.

"He is well again." Pourushaspa said to Dughdowa, who nodded.

"We are thankful to the great Haoma. As you know, Dughdowa, in the final days of the world when all will be judged and all the dead will be resurrected in their bodies once again, at that time the Mighty Haoma will play a direct part. The final Saviour (Saoshyant) of the world at that time, Astavat-Ereta (He who establishes Righteousness) will himself perform the Haoma ceremony.

"The white Haoma juice prepared by him at that divine time, will be an elixir of immortality - it shall banish death forever from the world. Death, the instrument of the evil one shall no longer prey upon the good Creation of Ahura Mazda. So, the power of Haoma is no ordinary one. Little wonder then that our child has been cured."

At that very moment one of the kinsmen of Pourushaspa approached the happy couple.

"The Physician has arrived! He stands outside the house."

Suddenly remembering that he had called the physician, Pourushaspa realised that the medicines he had asked for to cure his sick child were no longer needed. Looking at his wife, he nodded and hurried to the door.

Standing there in the sunlight, the thin man trembled almost perceptibly under Pourushaspa's gaze. But the master of the house did not notice, as he walked forward and welcomed the man of medicine.

"Greetings, Persian. I am happy that you have come. But fortunately, your services are no longer required at this house."

The physician's face betrayed his nervousness.

"How so?"

"The Mighty Haoma juice, the giver of life has worked its wonder once again. I see your bewilderment. Yes - we have just performed the Haoma Yasna and prepared the juice."

Panic flashed for a moment on the doctor's face, but it vanished as the intelligence of the man, now turned to evil thought of a way out.

"Aaah...but I must still examine the baby, to discover the cause of his illness. It is very well that he has been cured, but we must see that it doesn't happen again."

"Well, most certainly, physician. Please enter my house." The unsuspecting Pourushaspa stepped aside, letting the foul would-be murderer enter his house.

Exists there anything so cruel
As a hand that healed turned,
To a hand that holds poison?
O Evil! You cause men
to shamelessly pretend
that they are friends,
though they hide death and destruction
and knives in their bosom.

Soon, the physician was gazing upon the child. His eyes glanced from the child to parent to parent, whose twin pairs of eyes were riveted on the child.

All at once, the man's conscience twitched as he felt the love that shone in their gaze.

But he shrugged, overpowering his conscience in his evil and in his cowardice.

"I wish to be alone, to examine the child."

Pourushaspa nodded, and he and Dughdowa stepped out from the room; closing the curtains behind them.

Chapter Twenty

Silence reigned in the room. As the cool breeze streamed through the open window, the soft hissing sound it made seemed to build up in the mind of the man who stood in the room. Build up in his tense nerves and blood until it reached a crescendo of devastating quiet. Build up his guilt and his fear till even silence seemed a terrifying scream.

The man who stood in the room was a physician. And before him was a small child, lying helpless and innocent in its cradle.

A human being in the dawn of its life, which had not yet fully begun with all the joys, all the sorrows attendant to this life. A flickering flame of being.

Even the wind dies down and allows the sheltered fire to live, even the cruel winter changes to summer and lets the flowers and leaves sprout out once again; even the worst would give life a chance. But the man had but one heartless desire: to snuff the flame of life in the child out.

The man looked about him furtively. Pourushaspa and Dughdowa had passed into the other sections of the house, but he knew they would be back soon. Now was the time. He slid his hand like a snake into the folds of his physician's robe and withdrew the jar.

The jar of death. The jar made of clay, that had been given to him by the two evil magicians. With the poison that could kill two horses with one drop.

The physician opened the jar. The seething, writhing liquid inside gurgled like a demon. Grimacing momentarily, he forced a smile on his face and slithered forward to the baby.

"Zara, child. Wake up now. Here's some medicine."

His hand stretched forward, lifting the baby and its head from the cradle. The baby, half asleep gurgled as it tossed its head, its mouth opening involuntarily.

The jar of death came yet closer.

And then it happened. The baby's eyes opened. In that split second, they shone upon the man who held the poison with a brilliance that would startle anyone who gazed upon them.

For, these were not the eyes of an ordinary child. They were eyes filled with wisdom and greatness beyond the age of the child.

They were eyes that understood all in the world, eyes that could know the difference between Good and evil and choose between the two; to reject the evil and to choose the Good. Eyes that would teach others in the future to do the same.

They were the eyes of the Messenger of God.

The man holding the child stopped, thunderstruck. The evil in him melted away before that gaze, full of power and spirituality. He could advance the jar of poison no further.

Apply it to the baby's lips no longer.

At that instant, the baby's hand hit the jar.

The clay smashed into a thousand pieces as the deadly fluid burst forth and spilled impotently on the floor, wasted and defeated in its evil mission.

The hand of Ahura Mazda Himself had struck forth - and death, instrument of the unholy one was thwarted. The same death that had preyed on countless beings of the good Creation since its introduction into the world by the accursed angrahe mainyush, the death that had struck down the first man Gayo Maretan and the descendants that followed him, that death was as nothing before the Messenger of God, before he who was protected by Ahura Mazda Himself.

The physician slowly crumpled to the floor, his eyes overflowing with remorse as he realised the enormity of what he had tried to do.

"Forgive me! O Lord Ahura Mazda, forgive me! I am an evil sinner - trained to cure and heal, I have instead tried to kill. I have broken the divine trust that You have placed in every healer. I therefore deserve the most dreadful punishment!"

Sobbing with anguish, he buried his head in his arms and cried.

"It is enough, brother Persian, that you seek forgiveness of Ahura."

The soft words of Pourushaspa fell on the unhappy man's ears as if rain was softly falling on the parched earth of summer.

The man swung his head up - and when he saw the father of the child beside him, he cast his head to the ground in shame.

Pourushaspa knelt besides the cringing man and softly helped him to his feet.

"I forgive you... since you are truly repentant. I know that my son is divine, and no evil in this world can harm him. But, physician - I know you to be a good and kind man. Why then this sudden change, this murderous intention? Is it I who have offended you, that you should seek to place your wrath on my young and innocent son?"

It was then that the sad tale unfolded in the ears of Pourushaspa, ensuing from the lips of the grieving man; and filled him with angry surprise.

Surprise at the realisation that there were such men in positions of power in the world in his time who would stoop to such evil, and anger that these men should go about unpunished and be respected and afforded high status in society.

Although the physician was too terrified to mention the names of Durasarob and Barotakesh, Pourushaspa had understood that the men who held his wife and son captive under threat of death were the practitioners of evil magic.

"Men! Mount your noble horses. We ride this instant!"

Pourushaspa shouted to his guards, gearing them into a frenzy of action as he strode like a majestic lion to the mighty bronze shield and sword hanging on the wall.

Bowing to them for an instant, he reached out and armed himself with them. His eyes travelled to the mighty Persian bull- headed mace, the Vadhare (Gurz) that had served him well so often in battle before and he clasped it behind his shield.

At that moment, Dughdowa appeared; having been informed by the guards of the impending task before her husband. Her face filled with the pride of an Persian wife when she saw Pourushaspa armed with the ancient Persian instruments of war.

"Beloved husband! May you be victorious
In the battle you wage against evil -
Driving in your Rath, Chariot Golden
O Ratheshtar! Fighter of Ahura
Protect the innocent, save the meek
And Victorious return to me!"

Such was the prayer every Persian wife sang for her husband who went to the battlefield and waged righteous war for the sake of the Persian country, the Persian king and the good Persian religion, and such was the prayer Dughdowa, the mother of Zarathustra sang for her husband Pourushaspa as he rode forth to save the innocent Navaz and Adel, wife and child of the physician.

Chapter Twenty-One

The earth trembled. The great bronze wheels of the Rath fell like an avalanche on the moist grass, as the eight majestic white horses effortlessly pulled the glittering golden chariot along at a speed that even the accompanying horsemen found hard to keep up with.

Pourushaspa stood like a lion in the chariot, armed with his sword and shield and his mighty bull-headed mace or Vadhare across his broad shoulder.

With a single hand controlling the flow and rhythm of the spirited great horses, his manly chest swelled with pride and courage as he thought of the impending battle ahead.

The physician had given him a rough idea of the hidden lair of the master magicians in the forest, and it was there that they would search.

And find the secret labyrinth they would.

"Fan out Men! Steps into the earth, probably concealed are what you would be looking for!"

In a flash, the trustworthy soldiers plunged their horses into the undergrowth of the forest, their faces searching for a sign of the elusive hide-out.

Pourushaspa calmed his horses into a slow trot, and as the Rath rustled through the shrubs and leaves he looked intently for an opening.

Hardly a few minutes had gone by when a sudden scream of exultation rent the air. It was one of the soldiers.

"Pourushaspa! I have found the steps - they go into the bowels of the earth! This could be the hidden lair of evil."

Pourushaspa's Rath had rushed over instantly, the face of the Ratheshtar taut with excitement.

"Indeed, this could be it. Men, dismount! Lift up your arms and keep them ready, and let's go in."

The Ratheshtar, first in courage and bravery was the first to enter the lair.

Pourushaspa led the soldiers with lighted torches as they followed the dark and broken steps into the sinuous convolutions of the cavern, leading deeper and deeper into the insides of the dark earth.

Ahura Mazda, Lead me On -
Your Soldier brave am I
Evil, Wherever I see it -
My Enemy to fight and destroy.
Award me Courage!
The Strength of ten warriors grant me
Guide Thou my arms, my soul -
In the Battle Divine!

Suddenly, hundreds of screeching black bats materialised out of no where, flying helter-skelter and dashing into the faces of the warriors.

The hideous fangs of the bats threw sudden fear by shock and surprise into the men, who now raised their shields and smashed them into the flying demons.

The bats screeched angrily and started to stream out from the cavern into the cold night air outside. Relieved, the men continued on their path into the depths of the earth.

The stone steps ended abruptly into a large dark cavern. The floor rang with the heavy thud of Pourushaspa's armoured feet as he jumped squarely into the middle of the cavern, the light of the torches in the hands of the men behind him casting eerie shadows on the walls of the dark chamber of death.

It was in that light that he saw them.

Two men. Wearing black suits of armour. Dark and evil, their faces were expressionless as they lifted their swords and changed their stance to one of attack.

They were warriors employed by the magicians. Evil men who would fight for money. Men to whom right or wrong mattered nothing. And they were masters of the art of death.

"Victory to Ahura Mazda!"

The ancient battle cry of the Persians rang out from Pourushaspa's throat like the bellow of a mighty bull. In the next second, he had his great bull-headed Vadhare (mace) in his hand as he leapt forward.

The mighty Persian mace, destroyer of evil swooshed through the air and rammed into the black helmeted skull of one of the enemy.

The heavy iron helmet cracked like glass by the force of the blow, bone cracking as the black warrior's eyes curdled in the freeze of death.

Rage loomed large in the face of the surviving warrior as he saw his friend die before him. Realising that Pourushaspa was no ordinary warrior, he side-stepped and avoided the full swinging force of the mace.

Suddenly, from one of the dark recesses tens of evil magicians poured into the cave. Holding small daggers, they threw them adroitly at the warriors behind Pourushaspa.

"Men! Take care." shouted Pourushaspa, but it was too late.

Three of the daggers slithered through the air with pin- point precision, striking and piercing the hearts of those warriors who went down, their lungs choking with blood and a hideous scream on their lips.

As the others watched them die, they saw a blood- curdling sight: the dagger in each screaming man turned into a green slimy serpent and slithered back out of the body.

Seeming to hiss and splutter like demons straight out from hell, the slimy beasts crawled back towards the magicians.

The awesome power of evil magic had to be broken somehow.

Pourushaspa immediately thought of Teshtar Tir Yazata, the ancient destroyer of evil the Persians prayed to when they wanted to fight black magic. The Tir Yasht, the hymn of praise to Tir Yazata sung the glory of the most luminous Star in the heavens - the Star that Ahura had created to watch over the material world.

Chapter Twenty-Two

According to the Persians, the Stars were the wonderful creation of Ahura Mazda, there to protect and help man in his earthly life. But to counter the Stars, the evil one angrahe mainyu had placed the planets into orbit around the Sun - to take away the happiness due to man.

The Persians were the first to perfect the ancient science of Astrology, and they knew how the Stars as Warriors of Ahura fought the baneful influence of the planets on the life of man. Each constellation of Stars fought a particular planet. If the Stars were successful, the planet grew weak and was good in its influence over man, such as Venus. If the planet defeated the Star in the esoteric combat, then it could influence man for the worse at every point it touched his life, as Saturn did.

This was a wonderful explanation of the laws of astrology.

This was why the Persians had always worshiped the luminous Stars, Creations of Mazda but never the planets.

But there was more to it than that. What of the man, born at a time that the evil planets were so arranged that they were certain to destroy his future happiness.

He would be lonely, he would never marry, he would be a pauper and suffer horribly. Astrology would have most certainly arrived at that conclusion, judging from the various aspects or angles the planets formed in the sky at his birth time.

Was then there no hope for him - no recourse? Was Fate then fixed and immovable in its influence over man - and man a tool, a plaything in its hands?

No! For the ancient Persians, this could never be so. The Persian who prayed to the mighty Tir Yazata, the great Chief of the Stars Ahura had placed in the Heavens, could be victorious over all malefic influences; over all the evil powers of fate. Even if his horoscopes showed unhappiness and despair, bliss would fill his heart; if it showed poverty then he would become a rich and lordly king; if it showed death - he would live so long that death would have seemed to pass him by.

All misfortunes, all evil influences could be averted by the power of Tir Yazata, the glorious Ahura-created Star of the heavens.

God had given this marvellous power to man, and this ancient secret knowledge to the Persian race.
Know that you are not a slave
to Fate's blind power
But you yourself hold the reins
of the chariot of your life.
So man! Do not curse your fate
nor the Maker with your breath
This power is yours, this secret wisdom
O Persian, let it change your life.

As all this raced through his thoughts, Pourushaspa immediately called out: "Men! Pray the hymn to Tir Yazata. The magicians will be destroyed."

The fighting warriors closed their eyes for a second as they intoned the ancient hymn, bowing their heads to the awesome power of Tir Yazata.

Ahe Raya Kharenanghacha -
For His Brilliance and Glory
Tem Yazai Surunvata Yasna -
I revere with songs of Prayer
Tishtarim Starem, Zaothrabyo
Leader Priest of all Stars, Tishtarim Star
Tishtarim Starem, Raevantem
Kharenanguhantem, Yazamaide!
We worship the ancient Power
Teshtar Tir Yazata, Mighty Star
Glorious, Radiant and Death-Destroying!
You have the Power to destroy sorcerers,
Destroy the evil power of these magicians.
One's Own Self should be Pure,
of High Mentality
To ask Your Assistance
And Speak These Words.

As the Avestan words rumbled through the cavern, the magicians' faces contorted into bewilderment as they felt their evil power slipping away from them. As the ancient Star Tishtarim heard the prayer of the men, it increased its power and seemed to send its starry light right into the depths of the dark cavern itself.

The power of the Chieftain of all the Stars, Tishtarim was indeed more powerful than any evil, any black magic on earth or from the planets. In the Tir Yasht, Tishtarim Yazata himself had proclaimed to the Persians:

"If Men were to worship me daily
with such righteous prayer
I would increase in glory and power
So much so that evil would be
defeated and removed from this world.
When the Persian Nations worship me
Then the Persian Nations are ever glorious
Victorious in war, happy in prosperity."

In a sudden flash, the slimy serpents seemed to wither away and die on the ground on their flat bellies, hissing and spitting in pain. Stark terror grew in the eyes of the magicians as they realised that their magic was useless now and they would have to fight the warriors arrayed against them on the strength of their arms alone.

With a yell of raw courage, the warriors leapt forward like lions. Filled with the pure light of Tir Yazad, they engaged battle with the men of evil with a vengeance.

Steel crashed with steel with a terrible clang as the righteous soldiers grappled with the magicians who had unsheathed their swords, and soon the cries of dying men rent the air as the good slowly overcame the forces of evil.

The magicians fell, one by one and their blood stained the dark earth of the cavern.

Pourushaspa and the black warrior faced one another. A battle terrible now began.

Chapter Twenty-Three

A fight to the death.

Oblivious to the din around them, the pair exchanged blow for blow: the sword-thrusts of the enemy bouncing off the giant shield that Pourushaspa thrust in between, and the warrior's face contorted in frustration at each wasted blow that would have felled a lesser man.

But then the mighty bull-headed Vadhare (mace) in the capable hands of Pourushaspa connected with a bone-shattering blow on the left shoulder of the black warrior.

Grimacing with excruciating pain, the man glared ferociously at Pourushaspa as he felt his shoulder bones crack. His left hand was useless now.

He knew he would not last longer if he did not act quickly.

Suddenly, he threw his shield at Pourushaspa. The surprise move caught Pourushaspa off-guard for an instant as the heavy shield hit him squarely on his face.

Stunned by the sudden impact and momentarily dazed, his eyes hazily saw the black warrior crouch on his knees and wickedly thrust his sword straight at Pourushaspa's throat.

Bare fractions of a second were all that separated life from death, before the treacherous thrust would rip open the Ratheshtar's gullet and snuff out his life: mere pulses of time in which Pourushaspa rolled his body away from the thrust.

But it was too late to avoid the deadly curve of the sword.

Too late.

The sword grazed Pourushaspa's neck, rolling away the skin in a wide scythe. Blood boiled forth as the wound erupted.

But the next instant Pourushaspa's mighty bull-headed mace swung and struck the skull of the black warrior with an avenging force.

The impact was so strong that the armoured helmet of the adversary cracked open like a rotten egg, breaking the skull underneath and killing the man instantaneously.

Eyes popping out in surprise, the man's face glazed over in the pallor of death as he slowly crumpled and fell to the ground.

Pourushaspa stood over him. A few of his warriors rushed over to where he stood, worry written large on their faces at the sight of blood on their master but the brave Ratheshtar gestured reassuringly.

"It is nothing... just a skin wound. Have the magicians been defeated?"

"Yes, Pourushaspa. They have surrendered to us. What's left of them that is."

"Good. Let me talk to their leader."

Immediately, a dark and swarthy fellow was led forward.

Dressed in robes of dark purple, the man scowled evilly.

Directing his strong gaze directly onto the shifting eyes of the magician, Pourushaspa bellowed out in a lion's voice:

"Scoundrel! Your evil work here is finished, as from this moment! "So this is how you mislead the people, professing to be men of God outside but conducting your terrible deeds inside this dark cavern. This is proof indeed.

"We know you hold an innocent woman and child captive. If you value your worthless life, tell us immediately where they are. Now!"

Pourushaspa unsheathed his sword in one sharp motion and pointed it directly at the throat of the magician, pressing it against the rough; warped skin. He slowly increased the pressure.

A thin line of blood streaked out and trickled down.

The eyes of the man were bulging out as Pourushaspa brought the weight of his arm to bear.

"No, no!" The magician's nerve had broken completely. "Spare me, righteous Ratheshtar. I will show you where the woman and child are hidden!"

Pourushaspa beckoned to the warriors to let the man loose. Clutching his bleeding throat, the man stumbled towards a dark corner of the cavern; closely followed by the Ratheshtar and his warriors.

The magician laid his hand on a portion of the wall and slowly pushed. Instantly, the block of stone slid inside and a low rumbling filled the air, seeming to echo and re-echo in the dark cavern.

A huge block of stone was moving away from the wall, the stone grinding and rumbling as it slowly uncovered a recess in the wall.

The warriors brought forth their torches, their faces taut with concern when they saw what was inside the recess.

A mother and child. In a tender embrace. Their eyes closed, their bodies slumped against the wall.

"Get them out fast, men!"

The warriors sprang to obey the command of Pourushaspa. They carried the unconscious woman and child outside.

"This I tell you, magician. If they die, then you shall meet me in the ancient Persian combat of righteousness. To the death, by fire or water or air!"

The ancient Persians had a tradition of deciding between who was right and wrong by the ancient ordeals of fire, water and air. It was understood that the Lord of the Persians, Ahura Mazda was on the side of the righteous man and so he was certain to come out unscathed.

This was also shown in the idea of the Renovation of the world, called Frasho-Kereti by the ancient Persians which meant the Making fresh of the world by Ahura Mazda. At the time of the final Saviour Astavat-Ereta (He who establishes Righteousness), the whole world would be scourged by molten metal which would come from the melted-down mountains. At that end time the evil doers would be scorched and burnt, but the righteous would wade through God's molten metal just as they were bathing in a shower of warm milk.

For such was the power of righteousness, and such was the protection of Ahura Mazda over the righteous.

Fiery showers, molten lakes
Hold no threat for you, man
Although evil thunders and bellows
Like a demon out to destroy the world
Before you it is nothing,
before you how can it stand
Know! Your own Righteousness
protects and guides you.

Chapter Twenty-Four

The village square was agog with excitement. A crowd had gathered in the center, the men holding aloft burning torches and their women enveloped in their arms; faces taut with shock and surprise and eyes fixed on the two bodies lying on the soft carpet someone had laid out on the ground.

Pourushaspa and his warriors had speedily carried the woman and child on horseback to the Persian village.

Ringing the large brass bell the Persians always used to warn of any calamity, he had awakened all the sleeping Persians and gathered them in the square.

"Men and Women of the Persian race! I am Pourushaspa, son of Paitaraspa of the clan of Spitama. My ancestor was Thraetona (Faridun).

"I am an Persian, Son of an Persian (Arya Ahmi, Arya Puthro Ahmi) and a proud member of our Persian race. I am a follower of Ahura Mazda (Mazdayasni Ahmi), the Lord of the Persians and a Ratheshtar of the Persian king on earth. You all know me to be a righteous man.

"O fellow Persians! I bring before you evidence of the evil in the men you trust for guidance and religion. Bring before me the magician!"

Out from the press of the crowd, the purple-robed swarthy man was led forward. Enmeshed in chains, the man scowled evilly, beads of perspiration tumbling down his forehead and chin. The eyes of those around widened in surprise when they realised who it was.

"It is Berezavant! He gives us religious instruction and trains our youngsters. Is he responsible?"

Pourushaspa nodded.

"The magicians, led by this man have done very wrong. A most sinister act of evil. They forced our Persian physician to use poison, and that poison was laid in my own son Zarathustra's medicine. My son, who is still a little child."

"Poison!" shrieked the crowd. "Alas, an age of evil has come upon us. How could this be? How could the physician, he who has healed so many from among us, do this deed?"

"Because, my fellow Persians; attachment for one's family is so powerful it may force a man to do anything. It is indeed very difficult to stay on the path of Asha as our Persian ancestors have shown us, and very easy to stray from it for the sake of personal feelings and selfish motives.

"The magicians had imprisoned this innocent Persian lady and child in their dark cavern. They threatened to snuff out their very life-breath if the physician did not do what they demanded: to poison my son."

The faces of the Persians gathered there that night were aghast.

How could this be? How could purity suffer in the hands of the unholy? How could those who said they taught the law of God, themselves be agents of the evil one?

Almost unbelievable, the facts presented themselves to all on that unforgettable night eight thousand years ago.

Evil! Stand exposed in the market place
Be shamed - be covered in your own guilt
Your disguise of false religion torn asunder
By the righteous, O unrighteous priest!
The unhappy cry out for justice bitterly
And accuse you twice and thrice and evermore.
How long could you last, foolish men
Against the Sledge-hammer of Truth
and those you oppressed with all your might?
I warn thee Evil, thou art not powerful
When you exceed His Divine patience
Tremble! God Himself shall strike you down!

"Navaz! Adel! My wife and child, what have they done to you?"

A crying, sobbing man had burst from the midst of the crowd, pushing his way frantically through.

It was the physician, and when he saw his wife and child lying in that unhappy state on the carpet; he was totally distraught. A few of the women gathered there rushed to comfort him, placing their hands consolingly on his shaking shoulders.

Pourushaspa stepped closer, addressing the sobbing man. There was great compassion in his voice.

"My warriors have rescued your family from the clutches of the magician, O physician. You are a trained master in the Persian arts of healing, hence I say: it does not befit you to bow and cry before the power of death.

"Use your ancient skill, the skill of your Persian father who created you and who too was a great healer. Use your divine power of healing and rescue your wife and child from the jaws of death!"

For the Persians, healing had always been a divine art. The science of medicine had reached a perfect state in that ancient civilisation, when the Persians were in their homeland Aryanam Vaejo (The Seedland of the Persians) twenty thousand years ago - long before the ice age forced them to abandon their glorious homeland and migrate like the freshening waves of the ocean to the four corners of the earth.

Ancient legend, sung out by the bards of Iran stated that in the long lost fatherland, the great Persian hero Thrita first learnt the art of medicine from Ahura Mazda and then imparted it to mortal men. Thrita had prayed to the Creator for a medicine that would withstand the disease and death the evil spirit was spreading among men.

In answer to his prayer, Ahura sent down to the earth varieties of miraculous healing plants from the heavens. These wondrous medicines had been growing around the Gaokerena tree in the cosmic ocean. Thrita was therefore, sang the Persians, the one who had driven away sickness, fever and death from men.

And in the time of the glorious reign of the beloved Persian King Yima Vivangaho (Jamshed), medicine was at its highest zenith: mighty Jamshed had banished ill-health, sickness and all disease from the Persian kingdom over which he ruled righteously. He had made man and animals perfect, ever young and immortal. Food was imperishable, and death was no more during his reign.

But these were no longer the glorious times of the ancient Persian homeland. Evil had spread in the world. All the Persians who had settled or still wandered in other parts of the world such as Greece, Norway, Germany, France, England and other countries of Europe and the world had forgotten their ancient heritage.

They had reverted to the barbarism they found around them, due to their ceaseless migrations and the ensuing trials and tribulations. The race of man had degenerated from its former divine state.

Only the Persians that had settled in Iran and upper India retained their Persian culture, but that too was in danger of being eroded.

A danger that was very real.

With the onset of evil in the minds of man, when man was led by wild and brute instincts and selfish motives instead of his Godly soul, when he prided himself on science rather than on faith, when he thought he could mistreat, pollute and ride roughshod over the Creations of Ahura: the earth, the oceans, the plants and the animals instead of protecting and nourishing them as his ancestors had done, at that time the ancient pure religion was slowly but surely being forgotten by him.

At that time the world was surely close to becoming the conquest of the evil one angrahe mainyush.

That was why Zarathustra had been born. The Lord of the Universe Ahura Mazda had heard the plea of the suffering millions and the cry of the World Soul (Geush Urvan) and had sent His Greatest Warrior to the earth to fight against evil - and to teach men to tread on the Right Path once again.

Zarathustra would be the Saviour of the Persian Religion.

Due to him, the true faith would never die out in Iran and would last till the end time of the world - unconquered and unshakeable by any force of evil ever conjured up since time began.

And now, the physician worked frantically to save his wife and child.

Watched by Pourushaspa, his warriors and the assembled men, women and children; he examined them for traces of life and then applied the ancient techniques of medicine to restore breath to their semi-dead bodies.

Suddenly, red traces of blood crept into the cheeks of the beautiful lady Navaz and her eyes flickered with life. The watching people heaved a collective sigh of relief when they saw Navaz open her eyes and look at her husband.

Almost at the same instant, the small Adel opened his eyes too.

"Ahura Mazda be praised!" intoned Pourushaspa, lifting his eyes heavenward to the shining stars. He and his warriors watched happily as the mother cuddled her now awakened child, and they were both drawn into the embrace of her husband who was shaking uncontrollably with joy and excitement.

The tenderness of that moment brought tears into the eyes of many an Persian gathered there that night. And the Persian always thanked Ahura Mazda for any happiness that came to him or others.

Thanked Him with song and dance.

Pourushaspa's wife had rushed to join him in the village square. Informed by a warrior of her husband's victory, she was proud as any Persian wife would be. Embracing him with a glowing love, she declared to him:

"You have increased my glory, you have raised the banner of my virtue aloft. When you fought to save the innocent's honour, you have acted like a true Arya: a true member of the race noble. I am thus proud of you, my Pourushaspa!"

The Persians now spontaneously formed into a circle around the village square, drawing back and leaving room for the pairs of young people who jumped out from the crowd, their faces gay with sudden joy.

The people cheered as the fair Persian girls twirled around in their billowing skirts, the handsome young men escorting them clapping their hands and smiling into the eyes of the girls.

A merry old man with a large moustache jumped out with a stringed instrument, strumming it generously and the dance gained sudden momentum. The young men now put their fists on their waists, their arms arching out as they bent their legs and, crouching; walked with slow dance steps around the girls.

And then they sprang up with a sudden hurrah, their arms enveloping the girls and drawing their lips close to their own.

Now unleashing the bull-headed mace or Vadhare that each carried, the glorious Persian youth started the manly mace dance in the light of the flaring torches and the moon and stars shining overhead in that fresh night sky.

Each man yielded his mace expertly, twirling the heavy iron rod slowly around while the muscles on his arm swelled with manly pride.

For the Persians, a powerful dance with weapons had always been very pleasing; and this was the special ancient weapon of the Persian race: the symbol of Righteousness itself in the fight against evil.

The Vadhare (or Gurz as it was later called) was a solid gold or iron mace with a bull's head on the end, large and powerful and bone-shattering.

This was the mace that was sung about in Persian legend, the mace of gold that the great Mithra (Meher Yazad) - the Warrior of God Himself carried and shook over hell three times a day to restrain the demons inside so that they may not harm God's creations. Every righteous Ratheshtar of the Persians loved, respected and carried the Vadhare which was to be used only for the sake of Ashoi (Righteousness) and defending the Persian religion and the Persian race.

The maces clashed as the young warriors danced, the faces of their women taut with glowing excitement when they watched the raw vigour and leonine power in the mace dance. The women in those days were attracted not by riches, nor by appearance or sweet talk; but by bravery and true adherence to the Persian religion. The Persian woman, fair and beautiful would sing out her heart's desire under the torchlight's glow.

"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!"

And so the Persians celebrated the just victory of Pourushaspa and his warriors on that night eight thousand years ago.

End of Volume II.

The Saga of the Ancient Persians continues heroically onto Volume III, "Asho Zarathushtra - The Saviour walks forth".