By Dr. Shernaz Baji Avari
This auspicious day of 21st March celebrated as Jamshedi Navroze in many parts of the world with joy and revelry is synonymous and inseparable with King Jamshed who ascended the throne on this day and paved the way for progress and prosperity in the world while laying the seeds of the glorious Mazdayasni religion of the Parsi-Irani Zoroastrians.
As the Sun enters the Zodiac sign of Aries, this auspicious day of 21st March also marks the ‘Salgreh’ or birth of the Sun God, Khorshed Yazad, the giver of life and light and the remover of darkness and evil as Nature rejoices in its beauty, bounty, and plentitude discarding all that is old and frivolous. The brilliant Khorshed Yazad with its resplendant glory is regarded as the most beautiful manifestation of Lord Ahura Mazda, the Supreme Creator or God spreading its brilliant light to aid all its creations with growth and abundance this spring season.
After the cold frosty winter and devastating deluge in Iran, the advent of Spring Equinox on 21st March was a celebration of this celestial event with gaiety and deep religious zeal when King Jamshed of the Peshadadian Dynasty in Iran ascended the throne and the festival of Jamshedi Navroze continues till this day and is celebrated in many parts of the globe. Therefore Navroze is a new day, a new beginning, a day of new hopes and aspirations which remains synonymous and inseparable with King Jamshed in the form of Jamshedi Navroze.
Emperior Shah Jamshed was and is hailed in the highest esteem down the ages and revered amongst the Emperors moreso as he was a worshipper of one God, Lord Ahura Mazda. None could supercede him in glory, divinity, magnanimity or any other sphere. It is said that as he ascended the throne wearing a golden crown, sparks emanated out of his throne studded with jewels due to his divine and graceful aura. This was indeed a miracle. His reign is known as the Golden Age in the history of Iran as there was progress, prosperity and achievement in almost every field. Dedication and faith towards the glorious Mazdayani Religion rose to the pinnacle of perfection. Life during his reign was not restricted to under a hundred years as is now. He lived for nearly 700 to a 1,000 years as long life was a common feature in those days. Can we imagine such a life now? I am sure nobody would ever want it now! His justful ruling was an overall reflection of truthfulness and tranquillity, peace and prosperity, jubilation and justice to all. The Shahnameh states that rivers of milk, ghee, honey and ‘sherbet’ flowed under his realm. No one ever remained hungry or thirsty.
Science took a gigantic stride towards research and development, trade and commerce under his reign as he was blessed with supreme divine powers by Lord Ahura Mazda being in communion with him through Sarosh Yazad, the angel of wisdom and intuition. He progressed God’s creations upholding the Mazdayani religion. He was even offered Prophethood by Lord Ahura Mazda which he gracefully declined as he wanted to better the cause of humanity and society at large, for the progress of the material world as also to thwart miseries, diseases, death and evil forces. It is said that he once asked Ahura Mazda and beseeched Him against death descending on earth. Ahura Mazda conceded to his request but said that the results would be different. As years rolled by, there was an overwhelming increase in population. The effect of the victory over death was so adverse that he re-appealed to let death prevail back on earth.
King Jamshed was conferred with the divine inheritance of four kinds of auras. The aura of a Prophet, the aura of a Shah or Emperior, the aura of a warrior or ‘pehlwan’ and also the aura of a common man ‘aam anjuman’. It is said that Jamshed befitting his status of a prophet brought the fire of the eternal world known as ‘Minoi Jehan’ and ‘Hasti’ and bridged it with ‘Nisti’ our universe. This fire ‘Ader’ reigned supreme for millenniums known as Atash-e-Jamshed. What is most amazing is the fact that this fire being cool did not burn anybody, remained aloof above earth and glowed constantly without any nature of fuel offered.
During the reign of King Jamshed, his subjects lived a very long, healthy and prosperous life full of happiness and joy. Vices almost vanished from his Kingdom. There was neither extreme heat nor cold but a bracing invigorating climate throughout the year. Since the population in his Kingdom increased manifold times, due to a very long life, he increased the boundaries of his kingdom for the comfort of his subjects.
The Golden Age in the History of Iran and human progress in almost every walk of life was flagged off during his reign. New skills were introduced. The art of brick-making, plastering, building houses and palaces was carried out for the first time in the history of the world when people started living in homes. The craft of making boats and ships was introduced. As swimming and diving thrived, pearl-fishing became an ancillary art. Mining started on a large scale and useful weapons like swords, spears, helmets and armours were made from metals. Precious metals like gold and silver and precious stones were initiated during his reign. The art of making perfume from scented flowers was taught to the people. Spinning, weaving and the art of sewing clothes from silver and golden threads developed. Many musical instruments saw the light of the day and melodious music was composed which filled the air with gaiety. To keep ill-health at bay, many medicinal plants and herbs were introduced. The discovery of wine as a medicine started during his reign. The miraculous curative properties of the wine, accidentally discovered from a jar containing fermented grapes by a terminally-ill maid who recovered completely, was then taken in moderation as a rejuvenating drink to restore good health.
To enhance the quality of work in their respective trades, he divided his subjects into four groups. The first was the exalted position of the priest class known as ‘Athornans’; then the Warrior Class known as ‘Ratheshtars’; the Farmer class known as ‘Vastriyash’ and lastly the craftsmen and artisans known as ‘Hutokshans’. These trades were perfected and handed over from one generation to another.
Greatly favoured by Lord Ahura Mazda, the Arch Angels and Sarosh Yazad, the angel of wisdom and intuition, King Jamshed developed an instrument known as ‘jam’. It was a goblet (jam) type gadget which enabled him to know the past and predict the future through astrological calculations which involved the stars, planets and constellations. Legend has it that this goblet was used by King Jamshed every year on 21st March, the day he ascended the throne, as it was the most auspicious time of spring equinox when days and nights stand equal in duration to see and fathom what was and what would be.
To protect mankind from evil influences and to lead a life of righteousness, goodness and moderation, the sacred ‘Sudreh’, a vest like garment made from ‘mulmul’ with its pocket of virtue known as ‘Garehban’ and ‘Kushti’, the sacred girdle tied around the waist upon the Sudreh, made from lamb’s wool, which all devout Parsi-Irani Zoroastrians wear even today stands as a symbol of our religion, was introduced during the regime of Shah Jamshed.
The benevolent King with divine ‘Khoreh’ ruled for nearly seven to 10 centuries with great aplomb and paved the way for prosperity and plenty as we have seen earlier. But as we say, ‘time and tide wait for no man’. In later years, he became proud of his achievements and felt that there was nobody like him in the world, so he summoned his subjects to proclaim him as God himself. As soon as he uttered these words, his divine glory fled away in the form of a bird, his ubjects disregarded him as the king and within a few years his army too deserted him. It seemed that God had turned away from him. Realising his folly, he changed his identity and dress code and fled from one place to another in repentance fearing Zohak, the vicious evil one who was out to destroy the world. Finally he set off to India and was located in China by Zohak who mercilessly killed him. Thus ended the life of one of the greatest monarchs of Iran.
The lesson we all Zoroastrians learn from his extra-ordinary life is to lead a life of humility and devotion to the Almighty, always, at all times, counting our blessings showered on us with his abundant grace. We as a community are proud of our roots, our timeless culture and heritage and ofcourse our immense contribution to the development of our country, community and religion. We strike a melodious chord and are respected by members of other communities wherever we go, even today and that’s because of our honesty, loyalty, sincere dealings, tolerance, excellence and a hundred percent litracy accompanied by our own brand of Parsi humour which shines through. Women’s emancipation and empowerment? Well, one may talk about it today, but we enjoyed that a long time ago!
Opening the windows of our souls, let’s all remain united in peace, prosperity, progress and family happiness and celebrate this great festival of Jamshedi Navroze year after year with the countless blessings of our prophet Zarathushtra. Greetings and all good wishes – Jamshedi Navroz Mubarak.