Behram attacks, Khushru flees
Behram’s sister tried to bring sense in him. She said, “Dear brother, do you know why Sam, Zal and Rustom never tried to occupy the throne, though they had so many chances. It was because they were wise and knew that this throne belongs only to those who have the divine glory of the royalty, those who are destined for it through lineage. Please drop the idea of occupying the throne of Iran, or it will bring you nothing but destruction.”
Behram agreed with her, but said, “Sister, I have come too far now to be able to retreat, even if I wanted to. Now it is either death or the throne.”
Khushru prepared for a Shab-e-khun “attack at night”, but Behram got this information through his spies, and he attacked first. Khushru’s army was badly defeated. The king’s advisors asked him to escape with some wealth and a few soldiers, since if something happened to him there would be no successor to the Iranian throne. Khushru agreed and did accordingly.
Behram saw Khushru while he was fleeing, and caught up with him. They had a brief duel, but Khushru managed to escape. Behram tried to follow him, but Khushru slowed Behram down by shooting an arrow at Behram’s horse. Meanwhile Khushru crossed the bridge of Naharavān and got it broken by the time Behram arrived. So when Behram arrived, he could no longer pursue Khushru and hence he went back to Ctesiphon.
The fleeing Khushru then went to his imprisoned father, seeking his advice. The blind Hormazd advised him to go to Rome and seek the help for finance and army from the Kaizar. As soon as Khushru left his father, Gastaham and Bandui took the life of Hormazd, fled from the palace and caught up with Khushru. Behram came into the capital, and entered the palace, and sent an army of six thousand soldiers to capture Khushru.
At night Khushru reached a Christian rest-house in the jungle where he sought refuge and food. The Bishop very kindly gave him food and wine and allowed him to rest there with Gastaham and Bandui. They had meal after taking bāj, holding the barsom in their hand.
Just as they were about to retire for the night, the chief Bishop came huffing and announced, “I see clouds of dust in the distance, behind which an army is advancing.”
Khushru was terrified at this news as his army was fatigued and in no condition to go any further. He beseeched Bandui, “O my well-wisher, I have run out of plans, now you will have to do something.”
A very somber Bandui declared, “In the present conditions there is only one plan I can think of, and that is to sacrifice myself to save you.”
A grateful Khushru, told him, “If you sacrifice yourself for me now, you will surely go to heaven. Anyways, we all may die if we do nothing. But by your sacrifice you may at least save the king. Do tell me your life-saving plan.”
“We both are almost of the same height and body,” Bandui explained. “I will wear your royal clothes, fool the enemy from a distance. They will think that you are standing here, and thus I can keep them waiting for some time. In the meantime, you will immediately flee with a few soldiers to Rome, as I hold the enemy up for a couple of days by my trick. When they find that they were tricked, I may most certainly lose my life, but I will die happy, that I was able to save my king.” A grateful Khushru, thanked Bandui for this supreme sacrifice and immediately escaped to Rome. Bandui then asked the Christian priests to leave the place and go somewhere safe.
Bandui wearing King’s clothes, crown and jewels stood on the terrace of the Christian rest-house.
The enemy soldiers look at him from down at a distance. (Illustration by Mrs. Katie Bagli)
Bandui then wore the King’s clothes, crown and jewels and stood on the terrace of the Christian rest-house. Behram’s army came considerably near to see him, but not near enough to make out his face. The enemy soldiers mistook him for the king and started shouting in joy. Bandui was assured that his trick had succeeded. He rushed down changed to his normal clothes and again went up to the terrace of the rest-house.
First he asked the soldiers for their leader. Behram, son of Siyavakhsh, came forward. Addressing him, Bandui said, “Tell your commander that our king is very tired and wants to rest for now. He will surrender himself to you tomorrow morning.” The leader agreed and they stayed on for the night outside the building.”
The next morning, the army was awaiting Khushru’s surrender, but he did not turn up. They were getting impatient as the sun had already gone up. Bandui once again went on the terrace and told them, “Our king could not sleep yesterday night as he was praying. Now he is resting. Since the sun has already gone up, he has decided that we should proceed tomorrow morning.”
Behram, son of Siyavaksh was not sure what to do. He feared that if he forced the king, he may want to fight, for which they were not prepared, and which may also anger their commander Behram Chobin. Hence, he decided to wait for one more day.
Khushru on his way to Rome
The next morning Bandui went up to the terraced and announced to Behram-e-Siyavaksh and his army waiting down, “Our king Khushru had fled to Rome two days back, and may have already reached there safely. Now you have two choices. You may either fight with me and I will fight till the last breath of my life, or take me as a prisoner to your Commander Behram, where I will answer all his questions.”
A flabbergasted Behram-e-Siyavaksh was completely floored by the trick. Hethought for some time and decided to take Bandui as a prisoner to Behram Chobin.
When Behram-e-Siyavaksh reached Behram Chobin with Bandui, he was very angry on both of them. He ordered Bandui to be imprisoned for the time being. He decided to deal with him very strictly later on.
Behram Chobin occupies the throne
Behram Chobin called a conference of the senior courtiers and staked his claim for the throne. The courtiers agreed to have him as the king, considering that he had saved Iran from the Chinese king Saveh. Most senior courtiers like Sheran-gurāz, Farrokhzād and Sambāz spoke in his favour and pledged their allegiance to him, even if Khushru were to return.
However a few courtiers, like Khushru the ruler of Kharzvan, maintained that Behram Chobin had no right to occupy the throne as he did not belong to the royal family. He said, “Even a lady of the royal family is preferable as a ruler than the bravest warrior who does not belong to the royal family.”
There was a danger of tension erupting in the court among the two groups, as members of both the groups drew their swords. Behram Chobin intervened and warned that nobody should use the sword or he will severely punish them. Annoyed, he left the court.
The next day he occupied the throne and issued a decree announcing himself the king of Iran, and henceforth only his family members would be entitled to the throne. He took the signatures of all courtiers who accepted him as the king, and to those courtiers who did not sign, he gave a period of three days to leave Iran and go to their king Khushru in Rome.
In prison, Bandui befriended Behram-e-Siyavaksh who was his guard. He convinced him that Behram Chobin will soon lose his throne, since Khushru will attack him with a big army from Rome. He assured him of pardon and a good position once Khushru became the king.
Bandui not only convinced Behram-e-Siyavakhsh to free him, but also to kill Behram Chobin, when he was outside, playing the game of Chogan-gui. However, the wife of Behram-e-Siyavakhsh was a big admirer of Behram Chobin, and she warned him of her husband’s plan. Immediately Behram apprehended Behram-e-Siyavakhsh when he came on the play-ground and killed him.
Then Behram Chobin instructed his trusted man Māhrui to be Bandui’s guard. To their dismay, they realised that he had already fled. It was then, that Behram Chobin realized that it was Bandui who had misled Behram-e-Siyavakhsh. He regretted killing his trusted commander in hurry.
On the other hand Bandui, with a few trusted soldiers of Behram-e-Siyavakhsh, fled towards Ardabil. On the way in the jungles, he met an Armenian by the name Mausil and befriended him.
Khushru Parviz reaches Rome
Khushru fled non-stop towards Rome. On the way, he was warned him that the soldiers of Behram Chobin were following him. A tired and hungry Khushru reached the Euphrates river where a kind Arab leader by the name of Kaius-e-Hāres gave him food and place to rest. On the way he met a kind man by the name Kharrād-e-Barzin who also gave him food and became his guide. From then on he became a trusted advisor.
Khushru reached Rome in 590 CE after passing through many villages and cities. On the way he met a very old priest in a Church, who was a renowned astronomer. The priest predicted that Khushru would get back his throne back in a year with the help of the Roman Emperor, that he would marry his daughter and thereafter he would have a very happy life. He was also told that he would have to beware of his uncle Bestam.
Now, Khushru knew that the real name of his uncle Gastaham was Bestam, so he summoned him and told him of the prophecy. Gastaham pledged that he will never do anything to betray his trust. The, he went further and stopped in the city of Hierapolis, and stayed there with some priests in a Church for three days.
When the Roman Kaisar Maurice (582-602) came to know of Khushru’s presence in Rome, he conveyed a message to him assuring him all possible help. Khushru in return sent his best warriors Bāluy, Shapur, Kharrad and Andiyān to the Kaisar at Constantinople, under the leadership of Gastaham, with the message seeking help of the Kaisar in over-throwing the rebel king Behram Chobin.
(Part 3……to be continued)