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THE LEGEND OF KING JAMSHEED

Monday, March 16, 2015
By Dr. Shernaz Baji Avari

It was King Jamsheed of the Peshadadian Dynasty in Iran who paved the way for progress and prosperity of mankind.

As the Sun enters the Zodiac sign of Aries, this auspicious day of 21st March marks the birth of the Sun God – Khorshed Yazad (in the Zoroastrian Religion, Khorshed is the physical manifestation of Lord Ahura Mazda himself).  This day is therefore celebrated as JAMSHEDI NAVROZE – the beginning of Spring and New Year for the Iranis.  Besides, King Jamsheed of the Peshadadian Dynasty of Iran ascended the throne on this auspicious day and therefore the celebration of this celestial event is rejoiced with gaiety, merriment and a deep religious zeal.  Navroze and King  Jamsheed remain inseparable in the annals of history. Hence the term JAMSHEDI NAVROZE.  Navroze also signifies everything new in Nature as it gets rid of its redundant past and dons a new robe with trees, plants and flowers in full bloom.  Just as Nature does, we too should get rid of our past follies along with mental garbage and move ahead in life with a more positive attitude.  ‘Nav’ means new and ‘roj’ signifies a day; hence a new beginning.

King Jamsheed was hailed in the highest esteem and remembered and revered till date.  His ascesion to the throne was celebrated with music, wine, and a great festive spirit throughout the Kingdom as also by other Emperors.  None could supercede him in magnanimity, radiance, glory or in any other sphere.  As he ascended the jewel studded throne, brilliant sparks started emanating out of the jewels accompanied by his Divine Aura i.e. Royal Glory.  This was his first miracle.  He ruled majestically with righteousness, tranquility, peace, prosperity and above all justice to one and all.  Achievements and progress in various fields saw the light of the day and religion rose to the pinnacle of perfection.

King Jamsheed was blessed with a divine power from Lord Ahura Mazda to understand scientific truths for the development and advancement in various fields. That’s why his reign is called the GOLDEN AGE in the history of Iran.  He invoked the spirit of the angels and received boons whereby he could prosper God’s creations and over power every obstacle and evil in the world.  His devotion and obedience to Ahura Mazda and the laws of Nature and commitment towards his Royal duties made him a brilliant, pious and respected monarch.  He was offered prophethood by Lord Ahura Mazda (which was later given to Zarathushtra) but he politely declined as he felt that he was not fiit for the onerous task.  Instead he opted for the progress of the material world for the progress of mankind.

Due to Iran’s bracing and invigorating climate devoid of pollution (which we now face on a daily basis) all his subjects remained healthy and happy.  It was never extremely hot or cold but always moderate and his subjects never faced the vagaries of extreme temperatures.  Ill-health and vices almost vanished from his Kingdom due to his wise and just rule.  The concept of old age was unknown as both father and son looked alike.  Because of healthy living conditions, population and prosperity grew in equal measure.  He therefore increased the boundaries of his Kingdom manyfold times.

He introduced new arts, new skills and new trades.  The art of brick-making and clay-plastering led to the building of houses and Palaces.  For the first time in the history of the world, people started living in houses!  The craft of making boats for navigation and the art of swimming were introduced in his reign which in turn further flourished the diving and pearl-fishing industry.

Mining started on a large scale. Metals were made from ores and useful implements like the plough, swords, spears, helmets and armours were used.  Horse shoes were fitted giving the horses more agility and mobility as they were one of the main modes of transport.  Precious metals like gold, silver and diamonds were also initiated by King Jamsheed.

Perfumes were extracted from musk, amber and scented flowers.  The art of fumigation was developed. Spinning, weaving and making clothes developed for the first time.  The clothes also had golden and silver threads (zari) and silk.  This led to the art of sewing and stitching.

If music be the food of love, play on... Many musical instruments were invented and the composition of melodious tunes wafted in the air during his regime.

Unlike the modern centuries, the ills of pills were unknown.  Many medicinal plants and herbs were used to get rid of diseases and ill-health.  Therefore his subjects remained in optimum good health. The concept of wine as a medicine started during his reign.  A drink made from fermented grapes made his subjects recover from the jaws of death.

King Jamsheed divided his subjects into 4 professional groups.  The Athornans or the Priest-class, the Rathestrars or the Warrior-class, the Vastriyonshans or the agriculturist and the Hutoxans as craftsmen and artisans.  These trades would be improved upon and handed over from the father to the son which passed on from one generation to another.

King Jamsheed had developed a gadget called ‘jam’, a Goblet with a peculiar shape.  Legend has it that he used the Goblet every year on 21st March, the day of Vernal Equinox when day and night stands equal in length, space and time and there is bounty in Mother Nature.  Looking into the ‘jam’, he was able to see all that occurred throughout the world.  He was able to know the past and predict the future through astrological calculations by the divine influence of the stars, planets and constellations.

Greatly favoured by Ahura Mazda, the Archangels and the Angels, he got the intuition from Sarosh Yazad of the practice of tying the sacred girdle known as the ‘kasti’ which is made up of pure lamb’s wool on the waist by chanting some powerful Mathravani prayers.  The rationale behind the practice was to protect the wearer from the forces of evil towards the forces of good and righteousness in life as according to Lord Ahura Mazda, the forces of good and the forces of evil run simultaneously on the planet.  Even now, living in the 21st century with all our material progress, we do read about both the good and bad forces on a daily basis.  Sometimes, we feel it’s more ‘bad’ than ‘good’ as terrorism, rape, accidents, ill-health, cheating and back-stabbing take the roost.  The ‘Kasti’ therefore guides the wearer against the forces of evil and also directs one to lead a life of moderation. The ‘Sudreh’, a vest made up of mulmul cloth, light in weight along with the ‘Kasti’ (initiated during the Navjote ceremony) are our religious symbols meant to protect us.

Seven centuries is a very very long time indeed, almost frightening even if we are blessed to live for a 100 years, to survive.  It is believed that King Jamsheed ruled for a few centuries and made his Kingdom and subjects proud of his achievements.  But pride has its downfall too.  One day out of pompousness, he declared to his subjects that there was none like him in the whole world.  It was he who had relieved pain and suffering from this world; it was he who had introduced different skills and trades; it was he who had introduced houses clothes and food so his subjects should now call him ‘God’.  As soon as he uttered these words, the divine glory fled away from him in the form of a bird. His subjects lost respect for him and disregarded him as their King.  Within 23 years, his army too deserted him.  It was as if God who had granted him so much was Himself turning his face away from him.  By the time he realized his folly, it was a little late in the day.

The forces of evil overpowered him in the form of the evil Zohak and he had to flee Iran to save his life.   

All said and done, the world owes its gratitude to King Jamsheed.  Navroze is not a festival celebrated by just a handful of Parsis and Iranis trotting the globe but on a wider spectrum it is celebrated in other regions and by other religions like the Muslims and Arabs and in some European countries as well.  UNESCO, a few years back, declared it as a National Holiday.

The festival of Jamshedi Navroze is legendary now and is celebrated with great aplomb.  In Iran, everything comes to a standstill for nearly 15 to 17 days as people rejoice in merry-making.  Here too, it’s a day of rejoicing with music, Parsi plays with their own brand of humour which also tickles the funny bones of non-Parsis, movies, delectable cuisine with special emphasis on ‘falooda’, sev-dahi and laying a special Navroze table, a trend followed by the Iranis even today with items ranging from ‘sh’ in the Persian dialect.  Moreover, it’s a day when we visit the Fire Temples to invoke blessings and in thanksgiving and gratitude for the year that passed by with all its highs and lows.  Donning new clothes, visiting family and friends and wishing them on the telephone and sending sms is all a part and parcel of this wonderful day’s celebrations.

Have a wonderful year ahead by doing all the good you can to as many people as you can.  May the Parsi-Irani  population, which is dwindling soar up steadily with the Jiyo Parsi scheme launched for the first time by any Government anywhere in the world, thrive and survive as every new born is a matter of joy and pride for the community.  SAAL MUBARAK  & JAMSHEDI NAVROZE MUBARAK.

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