chapter  XLIV
16 Pages

On the revolt of Mazdak and the doctrines of his sect; how Nushirvan The Just destroyed him and his followers

I The first person in the world to introduce atheistic doctrines was a man who appeared in the land of Persia; he was a Zoroastrian high priest1 in the time of King Qubad ibn Firuz and Nushirvan The Just; and his name was Mazdak Bamdadan. He plotted to corrupt the Zoroastrian faith to the disadvantage of its adherents, and spread a new way in the world. Now it so happened that this Mazdak was well versed in astrology, and from the motions of the stars he foretold that in that age a man was to appear who would introduce a religion to cancel the Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian and idolatrous faiths; this new religion he would impose upon the necks of mankind by miracles and by force, and it would last until the resurrection. Mazdak conceived the vain fancy that he would be this person, and he began to ponder how he should convert the people and propagate a new cult. He knew that in the king's council he enjoyed the utmost respect and the highest estate, while his word was supreme among all the nobles; never had he been heard to utter a vain word - until he laid claim to prophethood. What he did was to tell his minions to make a tunnel in a certain place; they gradually bored a hole so that the end of it came up in the fire-temple, just at the spot where the fire was made; it was only a small opening. Then he began to state his claim to be a prophet, and said, 'I have been sent to renew the faith of Zoroaster because people have forgotten the meaning of the Avesta and Zend, and have ceased to obey the commands of The Good One as Zoroaster laid down; just as in the case of The Sons of Israel when they were disobedient and failed to perform the laws of Moses (upon him be peace) which he received from God in the Torah, He sent a prophet, as promised in the Torah itself, to cast out the disobediences from The Sons of Israel, to restore the authority of the Torah and bring the people back to the right way. Now I have been sent to renew the faith of Zoroaster and shew people the right way.' These words reached the ears of King Qubad.