Ferdowsi, Shahnameh, Key Qubad, and the Return of the Great Emperor – Wishes for 2021!

My very best wishes for a Happy New Year 2021 full of health, illumination, and prosperity!

With his stories about Key Qubad, Ferdowsi reminds us that the Return of the Great Emperor may be very near!

Ferdowsi (Abul Qasem Ferdowsi Tusi; also latinized as Firdausi; 10th c.) is the greatest non-anonymous epic poet of all times. He is the only human to have comprehensively and accurately conceptualized the History of the Mankind in spiritual -and not material or rational- terms.

Shahnameh: the Spiritual History of the World

Shahnameh (Book of Kings; 50000 distiches or 100000 verses), Ferdowsi’s grand opus, is the greatest masterpiece of Spiritual History of all times; many would certainly ask what Spiritual History truly means. The response is simple: perception, identification and narration of developments occurred in the Spiritual Universe, which were the reason for respective events to subsequently happen in the material universe.

The unique and unsurpassed epic makes of the complex relationship between Iran and Turan (one nation in two alter egos) the epicenter of the World History. The Book of Kings is not an Iranian/Turanian History narrated in mythical and legendary terms; it is the History of the World from the Creation to the End, recounted (not in terms of codified symbolism but) with constant reference to the various elements, dimensions and hierarchies of the spiritual universe. As such, it involves altogether Cosmogony, Human History, and Messianic Eschatology.

In fact, Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh reveals that the World History revolves around the axis between Mesopotamia (as inherited by Iran) and Central Asia, Northeastern Asia, and North China (as exemplified by Turan). Relating the World History as divided in three parts, namely the Pishdadian dynasty, the Kayanid dynasty, and the Late Antiquity, Ferdowsi made of his superb grand opus Shahnameh the epitome of spiritual narrative. His heroes are neither invented literary figures nor historical kings immortalized in myth because of the poet’s literary fervor.

Ferdowsi decomposed each of the World History’s major monarchs, prophets, mystics and paladins into their constituent spiritual elements and re-composed the elements into personified embodiments of spiritual paradigms that constitute in reality thematic characters. This means that several historical sovereigns (identified or not by modern interpreters) with certain reciprocal similarities are comprised (and their history narrated) within one only heroic character of Shahnameh. And, to say it reversely, most of Ferdowsi’s heroic characters are not independent individuals but constructed beings composite of different combinations of spiritual elements and variables of moral principles. As these combinations are attested in several historical rulers, Ferdowsi collects the respective aspects of these rulers’ souls and personalities and establishes out of them independent heroes, who are in fact the nuclei of the World History’s most crucial humans.

Shahnameh is therefore the History of the spiritual elements, of the moral principles’ variables, and of their different combinations within each crucial human’s soul; in simple words, this is the History of the Divine within the human. That is why Ferdowsi constitutes the most resolute and the most comprehensive rejection of the Western post-Renaissance paranoia and of the fake scientific disciplines that are collectively called ‘Humanities’; he reminds us of the only possible name that truthful, pertinent and worthwhile sciences have: Divina Studia.

As the moral principles emanate from the twelve Divine Ideas, Ferdowsi superbly demonstrates clearly how these supreme spiritual hypostases permeate the human souls, thus dwelling therein, and how each human soul’s diverse composition hinges on the different proportions of Divine Ideas that are harbored in it.

Key Qubad

Key Qubad is therefore the manifestation of the sublime, ethereal Emperor whose existence goes beyond all time limits, as he originates from the Pishdadian Fereydun; therefore his ancestry can only be hinted at and not recounted. It is not only the presence of narratives that matters in Shahnameh, but also the lack thereof. As the forefather of the Kayanid dynasty, Key Qubad is associated with gold, crystal, soft waters, Elburz (Alborz) Mountains, and everything paradisiacal, being an Emperor even when he does not reign.

Key Kavus, son of Key Qubad

Key Kavus, Key Qubad’s adventurous, unpredictable and audacious son and heir, consists in the paragon of the Air and the standard bearer of all the consubstantial, beings. Contemplative, aerial Emperor, Key Kavus ascends to the heaven, trespasses the realm of nature, and resumes his position on the enchanted throne which is carried by birds. Because of his obstinate search for immortality, he sins, falls in divine disgrace, and is finally held captive by humans and by demons, notably the composite evil spirits of confusion. All the same, through the tragic death of his son Siyavush (or Siyavash; the name is associated with the Turkish word ‘savaş’ which means ‘war”), Key Kavus obtains atonement. Killing Siyavash, Afrasiab, the famous monarch of Turan, puts an end to wars only to be castigated in his turn later.

Firdawsi – Kay Kavus Receives Kay Khusraw on his Arrival from Turan – Walters W602158B – Full Page

Key Khusraw, great grandson of Key Qubad

At the twilight of World History, Key Khusraw, Key Kavus’s grandson, appears to mend the world at last. Contrarily to Kay Qubad’s nativity, which is only hinted at, the birth of both, Key Kavus and Key Khusraw, is narrated by Ferdowsi. But contrarily to Key Qubad’s and Key Kavus’s decease, which is narrated by Ferdowsi, Key Khusraw’s miraculous occultation is only hinted at in Shahnameh.

Aqueous, impulsive and forceful, Key Khusraw comes to take revenge of his father’s death, which was due to his grandfather’s raving, extravagant and enchanted character. Formidable combatant, righteous ruler, persistent warden, majestic feast-giver, and wise mystic able to see through the miraculous “Cup that shows the World”, Key Khusraw is the embodiment of the commitment to final victory, and he personally announces his victory over Afrasiab to his grandfather Key Kavus.

Unwavering in his dedication, gallant in his manners, and pious in his supplication to God, Key Khusraw personifies the permanent defender of the order and the regimented fighter, who finds no meaning in a life without struggle; that is why, when finally the order and the discipline are reinstated in their original status, he willingly retreats to remote, snowed mountains and vanishes from among his paladins, who pay tribute to the Great Emperor of the End, uttering the words below, before they also disappear from the rest:

“No warrior will hear of one like him for manliness,

for justice, generosity, and parts,

for stature and demeanour, fame and birth”.

(Calligrapher) Salik b. Sa’id

From Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh, four sizeable excerpts with description of the exploits of the Sublime Key Qubad (in English translation)

Translation: Arthur and Edmond Warner, in 9 vols, 1905-1925 London

Vol. 1: https://ia802803.us.archive.org/19/items/FirdausiShahnamaTrWarnerVol1/FirdausiShahnamaTrWarnerVol1.pdf


  • The Emperor returns:

How Rustam brought Kai Kubad from Mount Alburz

Then glorious Zal spake unto Rustam, saying :-
“Bestir thyself, take up thy mace, select
The escort, go with speed to mount Alburz,
Do homage unto Kai Kubad, but stay not
With him, be back within two sennights, sleep not,
But late and early hurry on and tell him:-
‘The soldiers long, and deck the throne, for thee.
We see none fitted for the royal crown,
O monarch, our defender! but thyself.'”
When Zal had spoken matchless Rustam swept
The ground with his eyelashes, joyfully
Got on the back of Rakhsh, and proudly rode
In quest of Kai Kubad. A Turkman outpost
Held the road strongly, but he charged the foe
As champion of the host with his brave troops,
Armed with the ox-head mace. He brandished it
And towering in his wrath struck out and raised
His battle-cry. The Turkmans’ hearts all failed,
His arm laid many low. They strove with him,
But had to flee the battle in the end.
With broken hearts and tearful eyes they turned
Back to Afrasiyab, and told him all.
He sorrowed at their case, called one Kulrin,
A gallant Turkman warrior full of craft,
And said to him? Choose horsemen from the host,
Go thou too to the palace of the king,
Be careful, prudent, and courageous,
And specially keep watch with diligence;
The Iranians are human ihrimans
And fall on outposts unawares.”
Departed from the royal camp with guides
To bar the road against the noble foe,
With warriors and lusty elephants.
Now Rustam the elect and brave marched on
Toward the new Shah, and when within a mile
Of mount Alburz perceived a splendid seat
With running water and abundant trees –
The home for youth. Upon a river’s bank
Was set a throne besprinkled with rose-water
And purest musk. A young man like the moon
Was seated on the throne beneath the shade,
While many paladins with girded loins
Mood ranked as is the custom of the great,
rind formed a court well fitted for a Shah,
Like Paradise in form and hue. On seeing
The paladin approach they went to greet him
And said: “Pass not, O famous paladin
We are the hosts and thou shah be our guest.
Dismount that we may join in jollity,
And pledge thee, famous warrior! in wine:’
But he replied? Exalted, noble chiefs!
I must to mount Alburz upon affairs
Of moment, and not loiter in my task.
I have much work to do, the Iranian marches
Are full of foes, all households weep and mourn,
I must not revel while the throne is void.”
They said: “If thou art hasting to Alburz
Be pleased to say of whom thou art in quest,
For we who revel here are cavaliers
From that blest land, and we will be thy guides
And make friends on the way.”
He thus replied:-
The Shah is there, a holy man and noble.
His name is Kai Kubad, sprung from the seed
Of Faridun the just and prosperous.
Direct me to him if ye wot of him.”
The leader said: “I wot of Kai Kubad.
If thou wilt enter and delight our hearts
I will direct thee and describe the man.”
The peerless Rustam hearing this dismounted
Like wind, and hurried to the water’s edge,
To where the folk were seated in the shade.
The youth sat down upon the throne of gold
And taking Rustam’s hand within his own
Filled up and drained a goblet ” To the Free!”
Then handed it to Rustam, saying thus :-
“Thou askest me, O famous warrior!
About Kubad, whence knowest thou his name? “
Said Rustam: “From the paladin I come
With joyful news. The chiefs have decked the throne
And called on Kai Kubad to be the Shah.
My sire, the chief whom men call Zal, said thus:-
‘Go with an escort unto mount Alburz,
Find valiant Kai Kubad and homage him,
Yet tarry not, but say? The warriors call thee
And have prepared the throne.'” If thou hast tidings
Give them and speed him to the sovereign power.”
The gallant stripling, smiling, answered
Am Kai Kubad and sprung from Faridun,
I know my lineage from sire to sire:’
When Rustam heard he bowed, rose from his seat
Of gold to do obeisance, and thus spake
“O ruler of the rulers of the world,
The shelter of the brave and stay of chiefs
Now let Iran’s throne wait upon thy will,
Great elephants be taken in thy toils.
Thy right seat is the throne of king of kings;
May Grace and glory be thins own! I bring
A greeting for the king of earth from Zal,
The chieftain and the valiant paladin.
If now the Shah shall bid his slave to speak
I will acquit me of the chieftain’s message.”
Brave Kai Kubad rose from his seat, intent
Upon the speaker’s words, while peerless Rustam
Discharged his ernbassage. With throbbing heart
The young prince said: “Bring me a cup of wine,”
And drank to Rustam’s health, who likewise drained
A goblet to the monarch’s life, and said
“Thou mindest me of glorious Faridun “
(For Rustam was rejoiced at seeing him),
“Not for an instant may the world lack thee,
The throne of kingship, or the royal crown.”
The instruments struck up, great was the joy,
The grief was small, the ruddy wine went round
And flushed the youthful Shah, who said to Rustam :-
“Mine ardent soul in sleep saw two white hawks
Approaching from Iran, and bringing with them
A crown bright as the sun. They came to me
With dainty and caressing airs and set it
Upon my head. I wakened full of hope
Because of that bright crown and those white hawks,
And made a court here such as kings would hold,
As thou perceivest, by the river-side.
Like those white hawks hath matchless Rustam come
With news that I shall wear the warriors’ crown.”
When Rustam heard thereof he said: “Thy dream
Had a prophetic source. Now let us rise
And journey to Iran and to the chief’s.”
Then Kai Kubad rose swift as fire and mounted
His steed, while Rustam girt his loins like wind
And journeyed proudly with him. Night and day
He travelled till he reached the Turkman outposts,
When bold Kulun, ware of his coming, marched
To meet and fight with him. The Shah thereat
Was fain to put his battle in array,
But mighty Rustam said to him: “O Shah!
‘Tis not a fight for thee, they will not stand
Against my battleax and barded Rakhsh;
My heart and arm and mace are help enough;
I ask but God’s protection. With a hand
Like mine and ruddy Rakhsh to carry me
Who will confront my mace and scimitar? “
He spake, spurred on and with a single blow
Threw one and hurled another at a third
Whose brains ran down his nostrils. Those strong hands
Unhorsed the foe and dashed them to the ground,
And in their fall brake heads and necks and backs.
Kulun beheld this div escaped from bonds
With mace in hand and lasso at his saddle,
Charged him like wind and thrusting with his spear
Brake through some fastenings of his mail, but Rustam,
What while his foe was lost in wonderment,
Seized on the spear and wrenched it from Kulun,
Then roared like thunder from the mountain-tops,
Speared him and having raised him from his seat
Put down the spear’s butt to the ground.’ Kulun
Was like a spitted bird in sight of all.
The victor rode Rakhsh over him, and trod him
To death. The Turkman horsemen turned to flee
And left Kulun upon the field. His troops
Fled in dismay from Rustam. In an instant
Their fortune was o’erthrown. He passed the outposts
And hastened toward the hills. The paladin
Alighted at a place with grass and water
Till night had come and he had furnished robes
Fit for a paladin, a royal steed
And crown, then introduced the Shah to Zal
Unnoticed. For a, week they sat in conclave
But kept their movements secret. All agreed
“Kubad hath not his peer in all the world.”
For seven days they revelled with Kubad,
Upon the eighth hung up the crown on high –
And ‘neath it decked the throne of ivory

  • The Emperor in War:

How Kai Kubad ascended the Throne and warred against Turan

WHEN Kai Kubad acceded to the throne,
And donned the jewelled crown, chiefs such as Zal,
Karan the warrior, Kishwad, Kharrad,
And valorous Barzin, flocked round and scattered
Gems over that new crown. They said: “O Shah
Prepare to fight the Turkmans.”
Hearing this
He went, reviewed his host, and on the morrow
Marched forth while shouts rose from his tent-enclosure.
Then Rustam armed and like an angry elephant
Sent up the dust, the troops arrayed their ranks,
And girt their loins for bloodshed. On one wing
Mihrab the Waster of Kabul was stationed,
Upon the other doughty Gustaham.
Karan the warrior was in the centre
With bold Kishwad the shatterer of hosts,
While Rustam led the van with chiefs and heroes,
And Zal and Kai Kubad as their supports.
Here there was fire, there storm, while Kawa’s standard
Amid the van made earth red, violet,
And yellow, and the seated world was like
A wave-tossed barque upon the sea of Chin.
The deserts and the dales were carpeted
By shields on shields, the falchions gleamed like lamps,
And all the world became a sea of pitch
Whereon a hundred thousand tapers burned.
Thou wouldst have said: “The sun hath lost its way
Frayed by the trumpets’ blare and warriors’ shouts!”
The hosts encountered, none knew van from rear.
Karan o’erthrew ten warriors at each charge;
Now wheeling to the left, now to the right,
And seeking to wreak vengeance on all sides,
He made earth mountain-like with slain, astounding
The bravest Turkmans. Seeing Shamasas,
Who raised the war-cry lion-like he charged,
Unsheathed his sword smote his foe’s head, and shouted:-
The The famed Karan am I,” while Shamasas
Sank to the ground and perished in a breath.
The manner of this ancient sky is so,
At whiles like arrow and at whiles like bow!

  • The Emperor guarantees the peace between Iran and Turan:

How Paschang sued to Kai Kubad for Peace

The chieftain of Turan, whose eyes were tearful,
Was all astonied at Afrasiyab
That he should have bethought him of such words,
And that his soul had turned to what was just.
He chose a prudent envoy for Iran,
And wrote a letter worthy of the Artang,
Decked with a hundred colours and designs:-
“In the name of Him who ruleth sun and moon,
And gave to us the faculty of praise!
May He accept the soul of Faridun,
From whom our race deriveth, warp and woof.
Hear now, O famous Kai Kubad! and I
Will utter words of kingly rede and right.
Tur brought calamity on blest Iraj
Upon a question touching crown and throne.
On this I say that feuds should not endure
For ever, and if vengeance for Iraj
Was owing it was wreaked by Minuchihr.
In that first settlement by Faridun,
Whose object was a just apportionment,
It will be well for us to acquiesce
And not transgress the precedents of kings.
From Turkestan to Ma wara ‘u’n-Nahr,
Whose boundary is Jihun that is our share.
When Faridun was Shah Iraj ne’er saw it,
But had from him his blessing and Iran.
If we transgress these boundaries and fight
We make earth strait to us, the scimitars
Will clash, God will be wroth, and we shall lose
Our portion in both worlds. What Faridun
Divided unto Salm, Tur, and Iraj,
Let us retain and then be friends henceforth,
For earth itself is worth not so much bale.
The reverend head of Zal hath grown like snow,
The dust is crimson with our warriors’ blood,
And yet a man will only own at last
His body’s length of all that he possesseth
We with a shroud for robe, a grave for home,
Shall own but some five cubits’ length of earth;
All other wishes are but care and toil –
A cause for trouble in this Wayside Inn.
If Kai Kubad doth acquiesce in this,
And if that sage’s head ensueth right,
Not one of us shall dream of the Jihtin,
But let the Iranians keep to their own side.
It may be that good will and intercourse
Will make both realms contented with this pact.”
He sealed and sent this to the Iranian host
With jewels, crowns, gold thrones, fair damsels girt
With gold, Arabian steeds with golden trappings,
And Indian swords in silvern sheaths besides
The goodliest native wares. The envoy reached
Kubad and gave the letter and the message.
The king of kings read and replied at large:-
“We did not recommence; this war was caused
Directly by Afrasiyab. The wrong
Began with Tur when he bereaved a prince
Such as Iraj was of the throne, and now
It is Afrasiyab that crosseth over
The river to invade us. Thou hast heard
His treatment of Naudar, which filled wild beasts
With grief and pain, while on wise Ighriras
He did a deed unworthy of a man.
Yet if ye do repent I will renew
The compact, though I well could take revenge,
Armed as I am for all emergencies,
Thus leaving you the lands beyond the river,
And then perchance Afrasiyab will rest.”
The Shah drew up the treaty and thus planted
A fresh tree in the garden of his greatness.
The envoy went and brought with leopard’s speed
The letter to Pashang, who packed his baggage,
Marched back, and sent the dust-clouds heavenward.
He crossed Jihun like wind, and news thereof
Reached Kai Kubad, who joyed because the foe
Withdrew without a fight, but Rustam said:-
“Look not, O Shah? for peace in time of war.
Of old we ne’er had rest from their assaults;
My mace it was that made them thus to-day.”
Thus to that noble chief spake Kai Kubad :-
“Naught have I seen more goodly than the right.
Pashang, a scion of blest Faridun,
Avoideth strife for he hath had enough,
And men of wisdom must not look upon him
Askance and with injustice. I will draw
A deed of gift on silk for thee of all
Between the Indus and Zabulistan.
Go take the throne and crown too of Nimruz,
And lighten all the world. Upon this side
Give to Mihrab Kabul, and keep thy spearpoints
Sharp, for where’er a king is there is war
Though earth is broad enough.”
The Shah prepared
Gifts both for Rustam and for Zal whose head
He crowned, whose loins he girt, with gold, and gave
Half of the world to him. He kissed the ground.
Kubad the fortune-favoured further said:-
“No’er may the throne of majesty lack Zal,
One hair of whom outweigheth all the world;
He is the heirloom left us by the great”
They furnished forth five elephants with litters
Inlaid with turquoise brighter than Nile-water,
And spread upon the litters cloth of gold,
Besides unreckoned wealth, a royal robe
Of gold, a crown and girdle wrought of jewels
And turquoise, all of which he sent to Zal,
And said: “I fain had sent a greater gift,
And, should long life be mine, I will not leave
A wish of thine unsatisfied on earth.”
Moreover on Karan the warrior,
Upon Kishwad, Kharrad, Barzin, Pulad,
He showered robes of honour as was fit,
And to the rest that seemed to him deserving
Gave money, shields, and swords, or, if he felt
Their merit greater still, a sword and belt.

  • The Emperor departs:

How Kai Kubad came to Istakhr of Pars

Thence Kai Kubad departed unto Pars
Where lay his treasury. The capital
Was then Istakhr – the glory of the Kaians.
With general assent he claimed the crown
And, mounted on the Kaian throne, held sway
By justice and the customs of the wise.
He thus addressed the chiefs: “The world is mine.
For elephants to war on gnats would make
A breach in Faith and justice. I will have
Naught but the right, for of God’s anger cometh
Disaster. I have brought men peace by toil
And justice, and where earth and water are
My treasure is. Kings are my bodyguard;
I hold the citizen and soldier equal.
Make God your refuge, be ye wise and harmless,
Enjoy what ye possess, give liberally,
And thank me too for that which ye enjoy;
While they that want and cannot live by work
Shall pasture at my court.”
He gathered troops,
And went about inspecting everywhere.
Thus for ten years he roved and ministered
All justice publicly and privily.
He built him many cities jocund seats –
Such as the hundred that surrounded Rai,
But when the hand of time had fallen upon him
He set his face toward Pars, sat on the throne
‘Mid archimages, readers of the stars,
And sages, gathered too his warriors,
And gazing on them with a wounded heart
Talked of the mighty who had passed away.
His gifts and justice made the world rejoice,
And thus he reached his hundredth year in joy.
See if the world hath any king like him.
He had four sons, all men endowed with wisdom,
To keep his memory alive on earth
The first was glorious Kaus, the second
Was Kai Arash, the third was Kai Pashin,
The fourth was Kai Armin. They walked the world
In peace and great content.
A century passed,
A change of fortune came to crown and throne.
For when the Shah perceived that death drew near,
And that the green leaf was about to wither,
He summoned noble Kai Kaus, spake much
Of justice and of generosity,
And said: “I load the baggage to depart.
Perform mine obsequies and take the throne,
Though as for me I seem but just arrived
Rejoicing with my men from Mount Alburz!
Oh! what a thing is fortune thus to leave us
Without a warning! They that worship it
Lack wisdom. Thou, if thou art just and upright,
Wilt have thy guerdon in the other world,
While if thy passions shall ensnare thy wits
Thou wilt unsheathe a sword whose edge is keen –
A sword wherewith thou first wilt wound thyself
And afterward resign it to the foe
Thy dwelling there will be a place of fire;
Here bitterness of heart and grief be thine.”
He spake these words and leaving this wide world
Exchanged his palace for a sepulchre
It hath been this world’s way time out of mind
To form of dust and scatter to the wind.
The tale of Kai Kubad is at an end;
To that of Kai attention lend.























Hossein Alizadeh, Ney Nava |   نی نوا حسین علیزاده |

NeyNava is a studio album by Iranian Musician Hossein Alizadeh. It was released On 23 September 1983, through Mahoor Records.

(the entire opus lasts 1:12:14)





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