By Noshir Dadrawala

ZARATHUSHTRIAN SAINTS AND MARTYRS series in the Jam-e-Jamshed Weekly

The kings of ancient Iran especially during the Peshdadian and Kayanian dynasties were both spiritual and temporal leaders. In Zarathushtrian tradition many of them are regarded as prophets who laid the path for the advent of the prophet of prophets Asho Zarathushtra.

After a long golden period under Shah Jamsheed, Iran came under the rule of the evil Zohak. Zohak or Azhi dahaka was a tyrant who unleashed an era of terror and oppression. He murdered Shah Jamsheed and ordered human sacrifices. In the Avesta he is called "Baevare -aspa (possessing the strength of 10,000 horses). He was the living embodiment of evil and the ten vices that afflict humanity.

Faridoon ("one possesing the wisdom of the 8th sky") was born to Athwiyan and Franak during these troubled times. When evil Zohak murdered Athwiyan, Faridoon's mother Franak took the little boy to a secluded place in Alburz mountains and entrusted the child in the care of 'Purmayaah' the spiritual cow who nursed the child for three years. In the meantime, astrologers beqan to predict that the young lad named Faridoon would soon slay the evil Zohak.

The first to rise in rebellion against Zohak was a blacksmith named Kawa. He made a war standard out of his leather apron and collected an army under "Drafshi-i-Kawayani" (the flag of Kawa).

Kawa sought out Faridoon and encouraged him to liberate Iran from the yoke of Zohak's evil rule. Faridoon with the aid of Sarosh Yazata was successful in overthrow Zohak. Under the guidance of Sarosh Yazata, Faridoon did not kill Zohak (since the time had not come in Nature to do that), instead he tied the evil one on Mount Daemavand. The day this event took place was Roj Meher of Mah Meher. Thus was laid the foundation of the festival of "Meherangan" or the day when good triumphed over evil and the pious Faridoon liberated the land of Iran from oppression and tyranny.

According to legend, Zohak who was the living embodiment of evil is still chained to that great spiritual mountain, Daemavand. It is said every night when the forces of evil gain strength the chains weaken. However at the crack of dawn when the cock crows and the sun comes out the chains are again secured and the evil one is rendered powerless. This is an important truth in nature wrapped in an easy-to understand legend. This is the reason why we pray in the "Afreen-i-haft Ameshaspandan": "Hamazor Daemavand koh ke dravand Bivarasp andar oye basta ested." (Be in accord/attuned with Daemavand Koh (mountain) (which has the power and) in which is enchained the demon - Bivarasp, the demon (with power) of ten thousand horses".

Shah Faridoon is also recognised in Zarathushtrian tradition as a Master Healer. He is said to have known all sorts of holy incantations (nirangs) with which he could change his form at will as also heal various afflictions. Even today many of the "nirangs" which we pray are ascribed to Faridoon Padshah. Faridoon was a saintly monarch who ruled with benevolence and re-established during his reign of 500 years an era of virtue, happiness and prosperity.

Shah Faridoon had been blessed by Sarosh Yazata with the power to neutralize all forms of evil whether in the form of disease, human vices or an evil energy at a metaphysical level. In the Fravardin Yasht we invoke his righteous fravashi in order to withstand various diseases: 'Thrnotnonahe Athuynnoish ashaono Iravashim yazamaide'. We also pray in the Vanant Yasht: 'Baeshaza goafringan bad. Name Ahura Mazda pa name niv khoreh Faridoon Faridoon Athavyan' "(May there be health and fame!) Through the name of Ahura Mazda and through the name and the power and glory of Faridoon the son of Athavyan".

It is considered very efficacious to remember the name of Shah Faridoon and invoke his pious fravashi for spiritual assistance during prolonged illness or whenever one feel afflicted by various forms of evil. His fravashi may also be invoked for spiritual assistance in controlling personal weaknesses such as the demon of wrath, greed, envy, lust, etc.

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