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Iran's quest for peace

By Tahereh Ghanaati (Source: Press TV)

The date - January 6, 5 B.C- As the kneeling servant put a final buff on his master's soft, leather boots, the master, a young man aged about 25, rose to his full height. Placing his tall, serrated felt cap on his head, the young man, Hormizdah (who is known to Western tradition as Caspar), gazed into the distance.

As the sun sank into an ocean of fire, another great light was gaining strength in the heavens and that light, which Hormizdah and his two companions had been following for the past year, was now practically overhead. Indeed, that was the reason why the three had exchanged their dusty travel garb for the fine clothing of their station. It was the reason why they had bathed and anointed their beards with costly attar of roses. For tonight, they would pay homage to the special child - the beloved of Ahuramazda.

At that moment, Hormizdah's two companions, middle-aged Yazdegerd (or Balthazar) and 75-year-old Perozadh (Melchior,) joined him. All three were similarly attired in jackets of exquisite Persian brocade along with cloaks and trousers of the finest, silky wool. And the cloaks of all three were clasped with heavy gold brooches bearing the insignias of their separate houses - the same insignias that adorned their standards and as well as the liveries of their servants and men-at-arms. Hormizdah's was the great Persian eagle - bestowed on his ancestor by the mighty Cyrus.

All three men were "satraps", or governors of provinces in the Parthian (Persian) Empire and all three were Magi - astronomers, men of wisdom and learning and priests of the one true God.

Their journey had been a long and arduous one, beginning almost a year earlier, in the Persian town of Saveh, when Ahuramazda's holy Farvahar first appeared as a brilliant constellation in the western sky. The going had been fairly easy while the three friends were traveling along the well-kept roads of the Persian Empire, but once they crossed over into Roumiyan (Roman) territory, the dangers multiplied a thousand fold. .

Rome, an expansionist, warlike empire, which had won its territory by the point of the sword - and kept it by terrorizing its conquered peoples -- was a sworn enemy of Persia and was constantly attempting to carve off bits of Persian territory to add to its own sprawling holdings. Persia had thus far managed to defend its borders, but if word reached the Roman authorities that three highly placed Persian satraps were now deep within its territory, who knew what could happen? Which is why the three men, being wise, had thus far kept a low profile (except on one occasion, when they had visited this region's King Herod,) traveling as anonymous merchants.

Tonight, however, they would pay their respects to the special child so they would be entering his presence in while in full regalia - in the same way they would appear before their own Great King.

Moreover, they would not enter his presence empty-handed. They had brought with them rare and costly gifts - gold, frankincense and myrrh.

"Tonight, my friends," said Perozadh to his two companions, tonight we will see this child - beloved of Ahuramazda, and pay homage to him. The three Persians then mounted their snowy dromedaries and headed over the hill to Bethlehem.

On January 6, countless numbers of people throughout the western world will celebrate a holiday, known as "Three Kings' Day," the traditional day in which it is believed that the three Kings - or Magi - brought gifts to the Christ child.

There is little doubt that the Three Magi were Iranians. Overwhelming evidence points to such an assumption. Firstly, the word, "Magi" - "Magus" in the singular, --comes from the Avestan (old Persian) word, "Magauno," the priestly or religious caste of Zoroastrianism, into which Zoroaster, himself, was born. And the very earliest traditions surrounding the story of the Magi's visit to the Christ child always depicted them as Persian. As Dariush Jahanian, a Zoroastrian scholar, pointed out, a sixth century Syrian source (the earliest in which the 3 Magi are named), calls them Hormizdah, Yazdegerd and Perozadh. All three names are Persian.

And then there is Byzantine art, which generally shows the three distinguished visitors in Persian dress, including trousers, capes and Phrygian caps. Finally, there is Marco Polo's observation in his Travels, he writes:

"In Persia is the city called Saveh, from which the three Magi set out when they came to worship Jesus Christ. Here, too, they lie buried in three sepulchres of great size and beauty. Above each sepulchre is a square building with a domed roof of very fine workmanship. The one is just beside the other. Their bodies are still whole, and they have hair and beards. One was named Beltasar, the second Gaspar, and the third Melchior."

So the Magi, who were Iranians, made an arduous journey, deep into the heart of hostile (Roman) territory to pay homage to the new born child, who would one day be called the "Prince of Peace." How ironic it is that some of the very same Western countries, which on January 6 will celebrate "Three Kings' Day," are accusing the land of the Three Magi of fomenting war.

The fact of the matter is that, all rhetoric and political spin aside, Iranians are not a warlike people, and seldom go to war unless first attacked. Iran has not waged a war of aggression in nearly 300 years. And the last such conflict, in which Nader Shah Afshar in 1739 attacked and conquered the Moghuls of India, was waged because the Iranian monarch claimed that his Hotaki Afghan enemies were taking refuge in the subcontinent. In other words, despite the fact that Nader Shah was an absolute ruler, he still found it necessary to give the Iranian people a valid reason for attacking and invading another country.

It bears mention that Nader Shah was unusual for an Iranian head-of-state in that he idolized the Mongol warlords, Genghis Khan and Timur Lang (Tamerlane) - an unusual choice of heroes, to say the least, considering the fact that the Mongols had once conquered and terrorized Iran.

Of course, there are some who might contend that desperate times called for desperate measures and that Nader Shah's military campaigns were nothing more than Iran's attempt to keep its borders safe. With the Ottomans pressing from the Northwest, the Russians encroaching on Iranian territory in the North, the Moghul threat in the South, and the Hotakis in the East, Iran was in dire straits. Through his military campaigns, however, Nader Shah was able to turn the situation around, restoring the country's territorial integrity and sending the invaders packing.

Thus some historians contend that the king's military exploits were not wars of aggression in the true sense of the word, but wars for survival.

Be that as it may, the fact is that before the reign of this 18th century monarch, Iran had not waged a war of aggression since the days of the Persian Empire. And since that time (Nader Shah's reign ended with his death in 1747), no such conflict has been waged.

And that brings us up to the present day. Why is there so much fear in certain quarters that Iran will cause a major war in the Middle East? And here's another question - is that "fear" genuine, or is it simply more facile political spin?

Firstly, it is highly doubtful that Mideast experts actually take the "Iranian threat" as seriously as they claim to. The facts on the ground indicate there is no reason on earth why they should. If a nation is peaceful by nature, if it has been so for two thousand years, why would it suddenly make a 180-degree about-face and become warlike? Such a turn of events is simply not likely to happen. And the Iranians are a peaceful, highly civilized people, who have given the world mathematics, astronomy, medicine and poetry, among other gifts. There is little reason to believe that such a people would be suddenly transformed into a bellicose gang of raging Neanderthals.

Thus the accusations must simply be based on political spin aimed at causing fear among Western nations. But why would governments want to raise such alarm among their own people? Well, that question might best be answered by posing another. Why did they demonize the Germans on the eve of the First World War, calling them the "Huns" and comparing them with Attila, who cut a wide swath of death and destruction throughout the ancient world?

One of the first and most important steps in getting one's own population to back a war against another group of people is to first dehumanize those you wish to attack - to demonize them, picture them for the ignorant masses if you would, as the enemy. Otherwise, one could never get one's own population (because most people are pretty decent), to attack an innocent peaceful nation that is simply minding its own business and going about the task of daily living. To attack and kill such ordinary individuals would hit too close to home. It would be like attacking one's own neighbors - or members of one's own family. Therefore, that primary step is of the greatest importance if a government wishes to psyche its people for war. If that step is omitted - if for some reason or other, it is not taken, the endeavor is almost certain to lack popular support and will therefore fall through.

... Payvand News - 01/01/11 ... --

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