The way to Ashok's school led past a Fire Temple of the Zoroastrians and Ashok was first attracted by the fragrance of sandalwood from it. He wondered what was in this temple and why sandalwood was burned there. When he was early for school Ashok would stand at the entrance and watch Zoroastrians going in and out, wearing special caps. His school friend Jamshed, had told him that a big fire was always kept burning before which they stood and prayed. Ashok had become interested and very curious. Once he had asked Jamshed to take him inside the Fire Temple but Ashok was told that only Zoroastrians could go in. This made Ashok more eager than ever. And this was why he had decided to know everything about Zoroaster and His teaching through the Time Capsule.
Ashok had found that Zoroaster lived 3000 years ago in the land of Persia, now called Iran. So he knew now what keys to tap on the Time Capsule's keyboard. As the room darkened strange voices filled the room. As the screen lit up Ashok found himself in ancient Persia amid a fair people with dark hair who wore long robes. Even the soldiers of King Vishtaspa who ruled over them, wore long tunics and carried spears and shields.
Farmers brought their products for sale in the market loaded on donkeys. They appeared to be a friendly people, kind and simple. They were all talking about the sudden and strange illness of "Asb-i-siyah" the favourite black stallion, of King Vishtaspa. Many wise men and doctors had examined the horse and tried different treatment but none would cure it. The King had offered a high reward for anyone who could make his horse well again.
Word of the strange sickness of the horse and the many fruitless efforts to cure it had reached even the prison. Among the prisoners was a radiant young man who had falsely been blamed and imprisoned. But this man was no criminal and unlike the other prisoners he spent the hours in prayer and praise of God. When he heard of the condition of Asb-i-siyah he asked one of the jailors to take a message to the King that he could cure the horse.
The jailor took him out of the prison to the palace. The King sat sadly on his throne very worried about his favourite horse when the young prisoner was brought before him. The King looked upon the young man and asked, "Why came ye to trouble us when we are already burdened with sorrow over the grave condition of our brave Asb-i-siyah?"
Speaking without fear the young man replied "Sire, I came not only to relieve your immediate anxiety by making your horse well again but I can also remove the distress and unhappiness from the lives of all your subjects."
The King was impressed by the young man. He asked, "Who are you?"
The young man replied, "I am called Zarathustra."
The King wanted to make sure that Zarathustra could really cure his horse and not kill it, so he questioned him further, "With what magic or medicine do you claim to be able to cure our Asb-i-siyah?"
Zarathustra's answer was quick and brief: "With the Power of the Word of God."
The King was not convinced and asked again. "Whence do you come from and who are 'your parents?”
One of the prison guards , stepped forward and answered the King. "My Lord, Zarathustra is born of Pouroshaspa and Dughdova in the town of Rae in Azarbaijan province. Since childhood Zarathustra has displayed rare characteristics. He claims to have the power of the word of God."
"Which God?" enquired King Vishtaspa, pointing to the statues of the Gods in his chamber.
Now Zaratustra spoke up again: "There is but one God, Ahura Mazda, the Creator and Ruler of all the world. These statues aye the handiwork of men. They are powerless and are not to be worshiped."
Immediately the King took the opportunity and said, "If your Ahura Mazda is powerful then let Him cure our Asb-i-siyah."
Just as quickly Zarathustra replied, "If your horse is cured by the will of Ahura Mazda then you must believe in Him and follow His teachings." The king agreed.
Now all attention was focussed upon the young Zarathustra and they wondered what he would do next. Zarathustra approached the stricken horse and turning his heart to God recited a prayer. After a while the horse was cured.
The King and Queen and their son Isfandiar announced their belief in Ahura Mazda. Furthermore they enquired what were the teachings that they should follow.
Zarathustra pronounced three strange-sounding words-Humata, Hukhta, Havareshta, which mean 'good thoughts', 'good words’ and 'good deeds’. Zarathustra explained these as the secrets of a good and happy life.
These words and Zarathustra’s other teachings rang out through the court and the countryside as it was spread from person to person. Before long the teachings of Zarathustra spread beyond the borders of Vishtaspa's kingdom into the neighboring Turanian realm, whose people began living according to the new teachings of Zarathustra and their lives became more fruitful and happier. They wore under their normal clothes a white muslin vest called 'sudreh' over which they tied a special white woolen string called the 'kushti' to remind them always that their inner lives -- their thoughts, words and deeds, must always be as white and pure. Fire came to be the symbol of their religion, for the fire of faith removes all evil from the lives of men.
Followers of Zarathustra came to be known as Zoroastrians and they established the great Zoroastrian empire and culture and civilization, which spread far and wide.
Zarathustra Himself lived and taught amongst his followers until he was seventy years old. One day while he was saying his prayers a Turanian attacked and killed Him.
By now Ashok had become so attracted to the life and teachings of Zarathustra that he was saddened at His death. As he came back to his own time and the lights in the Capsule gradually came on with the fading picture, Ashok felt great love for Zoroaster and understood the meaning of the burning of the fragrant sandalwood in the Fire-temples. He emerged from the Capsule with a new found joy and satisfaction; the words -- good thoughts, good words and good deeds were engraved upon his heart.
(by Shahriar Nooreyezdan, ‘Varqa Children Magazine’, vol. 1, no, 2, May-June 1981)