Zohak was the son of Khrutasp, a very pious and noble King. Zohak was a rash, ill-tempered and troublesome child. His mother Vadak was a maid. Zohak had great love for horses. He possessed ten thousand horses, and hence he is also called Bivar-asp In Avesta.
Once Ahriman, the Evil Spirit, decided to corrupt Zohak and use him as his pawn. He sent his stooge in the form a man by the name Ablis, to tempt him. He befriended Zohak and impressed him with his sweet talk. He instigated Zohak to kill his father to become the king. Zohak was terrified at this advice, but under the influence of Ablis, he killed his father.
Very shortly Zohak became the King. Ablis left him by himself. However, he soon returned , this time in the guise of a young chef. He enticed Zohak with mouth watering dishes and gained the king’s favour with his palatable cooking. Impressed by his cooking Zohak asked the new chef to ask any favour. The chef asked to be allowed to kiss the king’s shoulders.”
Zohak granted the wish. As soon as he kissed the shoulders two black snakes sprang up, which started troubling him day and night. Zohak tried many things but nothing and nobody could get rid of the snakes. Finally Ablis once again came as a doctor and said that there was no cure for this problem. The only way to stop the bother of the snakes, he will have to feed human brains to the snakes.
Zohak started feeding the snakes daily with brains of two young men. By and by a shortage of young men was felt in his small kingdom. At this time, the people of Iran, dissatisfied by Peshdadian King Jamshed, invited him to take over their country. Zohak forced King Jamshed to flee and became the King of Iran. The practice of daily killing two young men for feeding Zohak’s snakes went on for years.
One night Zohak dreamt that three young men were riding towards his palace. The youngest who was riding in the middle, alighted from the horse, struck Zohak with his mace, tied his hands and feet and dragged him to a mountain. On finding out the meaning of the dream Zohak came to know that the young man was Faridun. Though he is not yet born, he will end his evil rule.
On hearing this, he ordered all new born babies to be killed. In due time Faridun was born to a noble lady by the name Faranak. To save the baby Faridun, his mother went to a village and entrusted her child to a farmer who had a magnificent cow by the name Purmae, which nursed the baby for three years..
When Zohak came to know the cow he ordered his men to go and search. Faranak had a divine intuition. Before Zohak’s men could reach the farmer’s house, Faranak reached there, thanked the farmer, took the child and proceeded towards the Alburz mountains. When Zohak’s men came to search the farmer’s house, they were unable to find the baby, so they destroyed the house and killed the farmer and the cow.
In the Alburz mountains Faranak met a saintly man to whom she entrusted her child. Faridun grew up in the care of the saintly man who educated him in the arts of warfare and administration. When Faridun was sixteen years old, Faranak narrated to him the story of his birth, his father being killed by Zohak, Zohak’s dream and finally Zohak’s killing of Purmae.
Faridun was very angry. He wanted to go and fight Zohak, but his mother stopped him saying that when the time was ripe, friends would help him in his destined work.
In Zohak’s kingdom, a blacksmith by the name Kaveh revoleted against Zohak, because he had killed 17 of his 18 sons. Though Zohak gave him back his last son, Kaveh gatheredthe people and wanted to attack Zohak. He made a flag from his leather apron by fastening it on his spear. It came to be known as Kāvyāni Zundo “The Flag of Kaveh.”. It became Iran’s national flag.
Kaveh was divinely guided to Faridun on the Alburz mountains, he was ready to go with them. Together they set off to fight Zohak. Faridun ordered a blacksmith to prepare a special mace for him, adorned with the head of a cow, in memory of cow Purmae. This mace was called Gurz. Sarosh Yazad taught Faridun Afsuns and Nirangs, which were small prayers, useful to fight the evil powers of Zohak’s black magic.
After facing many difficulties, they reached Zohak’s palace. They reached Zohak’s capital where his palace was situated. Faridun majestically rode into the palace chanting Nirangs. Arnavaz and Shernaz, the two sisters of king Jamshed who were forcefully made queens by Zohak, were freed from the spells. They were overjoyed to see Faridun. They told him all the secrets, and also informed him that Zohak had gone to India to seek a new kingdom.
The palace custodian sent a message to Zohak informing him about Faridun’s arrival. Zohak collected soldiers and rode towards his palace. He entered his room room through a portico with a dagger in his hand and was about to strike the Arnavaz and Shernaz, when Faridun came and attacked him with his sword. A fierce duel took place. Just when Faridun was about to strike Zohak with his Gurz, Sarosh Yazad intervened and advised him not to kill Zohak. He directed Faridun to secure Zohak in chains and imprison him in the Demavand mountain.
Faridun bound Zohak on a camel and took him to Mount Demavand, the highest peak of the Alburz mountain. The people of Iran triumphantly followed him, shouting slogans against Zohak. Sarosh Yazad advised him to tightly secure Zohak in chains and imprison him. Faridun accordingly imprisoned Zohak in a deep dungeon in Mount Demavand.
Legend has it that Zohak is still imprisoned in Mount Demavand. Every night he nips at the iron chains and makes them extremely thin, but as they are on the verge of snapping, morning dawns with the crow of the rooster which restores the chains to their original size. This allegorical story signifies that the forces of evil at their height during the night. But as morning dawns, the good forces, symbolised by the rooster representing Sarosh Yazad, become powerful once again and the evil forces have to retreat.
As the end of the world will approach, the power of evil will increase and Zohak will free himself from the chains that bind him. He would once again reign over the world for a year, after which his life and reign will be brought to an end by the great Iranian hero Kersasp.