Sacred Texts  Asia  Myths/Legends  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at



300"Hearken, give heed to the hearing of my tidings, discourses and deeds such that I can scarce utter them! She who maddens me, for whom I am overpowered by melancholy, for whom flow streams of blood, from her I never expect comfort.

301"Thou knowest, as every man knows, of India's seven kings. P’harsadan possessed six kingdoms; he was sovereign, generous, rich, bold, ruler over kings, in form a lion, in face a sun, a conqueror in battle, a leader of squadrons.

302"My father sat on the seventh throne, king, terror of adversaries; Saridan was his name; not underhanded in the destruction of enemies, none dared offend him either openly or secretly; he hunted and made merry, careless of Fate.

303"He hated solitude; it created hosts of cares in his heart. He said to himself: 'By conquest I have taken from foes the vicinage of the marches, I have chased them forth everywhere, I am seated in power, I have pomp and might; he said: 'I will go and enjoy the favour of King P’harsadan.'

p. 50

304"He resolved to despatch an envoy to P’harsadan; he sent a message saying: 'Thou hast the rule of all India; now I also wish to exhibit before you the power of my heart; may the glory of my faithful service remain!'

305"P’harsadan, on hearing those tidings, made great jubilation. He sent a message: 'I, ruler of the lands, give thanks to God, because thou, a king like me enthroned in India, hast done this; now come, I shall honour thee like a brother and parent.'

306"He bestowed on him one kingdom well worthy of a good knight (or vassal), also the dignity of Amirbar (Grand Marshal)--the Amirbar in India is also Amirspasalar (Commander-in-Chief); when he sat as king, he was not absolute: he only lacked the overlordship, in all else he was sovereign lord.

307"The king considered my father equal with himself; he said: 'I wager that no man has an Amirbar like mine.' They waged war and they hunted; they forced their enemies to make peace. I am not like him, as no other man is like me.

308"The king and the sunlike queen had no child, for this they were sad; a time came when the armies were seized with alarm thereat. Woe befall that cursed day when I was given (born) to the Amirbar! The king said: 'I shall rear him as my son; he is even of mine own race.'

309"The king and queen took me as their child, they brought me up as lord of all the soldiers and countries, they gave me wise men to instruct me in the behaviour and deportment of kings. I grew up, I became like the sun to look upon, like a lion in mien.

310"Asmat’h, tell me whatever thou knowest to be false in my story! When I was five years old I was like an opened rosebud; to me it appeared no labour to slay a

p. 51

lion--it was like a sparrow. P’harsadan cared not that he had no son.

311"Asmat’h, thou art witness of my pallor! I was fairer in beauty than the sun, as the hour of dawn than darkness. Those who saw me said: 'He is like a nursling of Eden.' My person now is but a shadow of what it was then.

312"I was five years old when the queen became with child." When he had said this the youth sighed, and weeping said: "She bare a daughter." He was like to faint; Asmat’h sprinkled water on his breast. He said: "She for whom these flames now burn me was like the sun even then.

313"The tongue with which I now speak cannot utter the praise of her. P’harsadan sat down to announce the good news with jubilation and pomp. From everywhere came kings bringing many kinds of gifts. They gave away treasure; they filled the soldiers with presents.

314"The guests at the birth festivities separated. They began to rear me and the maiden; even then she was like the sun's rays augmented threefold; the king and queen loved us and looked on us alike. Now shall I utter the name of her for whom my heart is consumed by flame."

315The knight swooned when he sought to mention her name. Avt’handil also wept; his fire made his heart like soot. The maiden revived (Tariel); she sprinkled water on his breast. He said: "Hearken! but this truly is the day of my death.

316"That maiden was called by the name Nestan-Daredjan. When she was seven years old she was a gentle and wise maid, moonlike, not equalled by the sun in beauty;

p. 52

from her how can the heart bear separation (even if it were) adamant or forged (steel)?

317"So she grew up, (and) I was able to go to battle. Since the king looked upon the maid as the heir to the kingship, he gave me back into the hands of my father. When I was of that age I played at ball, I sported in the lists, I killed a lion like a cat.

318"The king built a house, and in it a dwelling for the maid; for stone he used bezoar, cut jacinths and rubies; in front was a little garden and a fountain of rose-water for bathing; there abode she for whose sake a furnace of flame consumes me.

319"Day and night cut aloes poured forth their incense from censers. Sometimes she sits in the tower; sometimes she descends to the garden when it is shaded. Davar was the king's sister, a widow who had been wedded in Kadjet’hi; to her the king gave his child to be taught wisdom.

320"The palace was curtained with cloth of gold and costly brocades; none of us saw her (how) she became crystal and rose of face; Asmat’h and two slaves she had, they played backgammon. There her shape was formed; she grew up like (? a tree) in Gabaon.

321"I was fifteen years old. The king brought me up as a son; by day I was before him, (and) he did not even give me leave to sleep (at home). In power a lion, to the eye a sun, in form I was like one reared in Eden; they lauded the feats done by me in archery and in the lists.

322"The arrow I shot slew beasts and game; returned from the plain, I played at ball in the square; then I went home, I used to make a feast, accustomed continually

p. 53

to rejoice. Now Fate has sundered me from the crystal-ruby-faced!

323"My father died; the day of his death was come. This event brought to nought all sign of merriment for P’harsadan; it rejoiced those whom terror of fear of him as a foe exhausted; the loyal began to mourn and recall the reproaches of their enemies.

324"I sat in the dark (mourning) for a year, annihilated by Fate; by day and by night I groaned, calmed by none; then courtiers came to conduct me, they told me the king's command; he said: 'Son Tariel, wear mourning no longer!

325"'We are even more grieved (than thou) at the loss of our peer.' He gave a hundred treasures, and commanded that I should put off my black (raiment). He gave me all the lordship that had belonged to (my father). 'Thou shalt be Amirbar; fulfil the duties of thy father.'

326"I was inflamed; inextinguishable furnaces burned me for my father's sake. The courtiers standing before me led me out from the dark; the monarchs of India made jubilation at my coming forth; they met me afar off, they kissed me with regard like parents.

327"They seated me near their thrones, they honoured me like their son, they both told me gently of my obligation of duty; I was recalcitrant, and to behave as he (my father) had done seemed a horror to me. They would take no denial; I submitted, and bent to them (did homage) as Amirbar."

Next: VI. Tariel Tells the Tale of His Falling in Love When He First Fell in Love