From: Dr. Teja Singh <email@example.com>
Subject: [Sikh-Diaspora] Travel memoirs
To: “Sikh Diaspora” <Sikh-Diaspora@yahoogroups.com>
Date: Monday, September 13, 2010, 8:13 AM
The story of Rustum and Sohrab is only one of the many chapters in Shahnama, “Book of Kings or Great Book”. It is regarded as a literary masterpiece in Persian language.
The incentive for revival of Persian cultural traditions came after the seventh century conquest (in 633) of Persia by Arabs.
Shahnama tells the history of old Persia before the Arab conquest of the region. This tale, all written in poetic form, starts 7,000 years ago and covers the mythical and historical past of Persia.
It poetically narrates the story of Persian kings and knights that made the land of Persia an Empire through the ages. Nearly two-thirds of the Shahnama is devoted to their heroic roles.
It also reflects on Persia’s cultural values and its ancient religion of Zoroastrianism, and conveys a profound sense of nationhood.
Ferdowsi used the slightest admixture of Arabic words in his poetry. His book has been pivotal in reviving the purity of Persian language.
Shahnama succeeds in capturing the timeless power of a great culture. As the crown jewel of Persian literature, it is cherished by all Iranians and non-Iranians, which include the Persian speaking societies of Afghanistan, Tajikistan and the ancient cities of Samarqand and Bukhara.
Though separated by political borders, they share the same traditions.
After 30 years of hard work, Ferdowsi went to the capital to present his book to Sultan Mahmud of Gazni. The Sultan had promised to pay the fee of 30 horses, loaded with gold coins, to the poet for dedicating the book to him.
However, the Sultan turned furious for not being mentioned in the tale of kings, as Ferdowsi had only covered the period prior to the Arab conquest.
Contrary to the agreement, he offered Ferdowsi thirty horses loaded with Silver coins. The offer was refused by Ferdowsi.
Frustrated and wandering for a time to avoid the wrath of the Sultan, the poet returned to his home town of Tus, heartbroken and poor.
He wrote a long and angry poem for the Sultan, and stuck it to the wall of the room where he had worked for all those years. It ended with the verse translated as:
“Heaven’s vengeance will not forget.
Shrink tyrant from my words of fire,
and tremble at a poet’s ire.”
The Sultan is reported to have relented eventually.
Realising the true value of the Shahnama, he sent the agreed fee to the poet.
Ironically, when the messenger arrived with the promised loads of golden coins, Ferdowsi’s coffin was being carried out through the exit gate of Tus to his grave.
The gift was then given to his daughter, since his son had died before his father at the age of 37.
The daughter is reported to have refused to receive it.
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