Above is Babak’s castle that is right out of Tolkein. Surely this is the home of Gandalf the Grey’s grandfathers.
Jon the Nazarite
Babak Khorramdin (c 795/798-838) was born to a Zoroastrian family of Azerbaijan close to the city of Artavilla (modern Ardabil) in north-western Iran and the southwest Caspian region. The name Babak (also Papak) was the name of the founder of the Sassanian dynasty c 200 CE.
Babak’s Early Life
According to medieval writer Waqed bin Amr Tamimi’s Akbar Babak, a lost text quoted in the Fehrest of Ibn al-Nadim, Babak’s father was a Persian from Mada’in (Gk. Ctesiphon), 35 km south of modern Baghdad in Iraq. Mada’in was at one time a capital of Sassanian Persian Empire. Perhaps in order to distance himself from the increasing Islamic environment, Babak’s father left Mada’in for the frontier region of Azerbaijan and settled in the village of Balalabad in the Maymadh district. According to another author Fasih, Babak’s mother Mahru, was a native of Azerbaijan. On becoming a teenager, Babak received the tradition Zoroastrian rites of passage in a Zoroastrian fire temple (navjote?). At the age of 16, Babak went to the city of Tabriz to work before returning to Balalabad at the age of age of 18.
Babak’s Introduction to Khurramdin
Shortly thereafter fate intervened in the shape a wealthy individual named Javidan Shahrak (or Shahrak). Javidan, had been travelling to Zanjan from Badd where he had been seeking the leadership of the Khorrami constituency in the highlands, could not travel any further with his accompanying servants because of a snow storm and was forced to find shelter. He knocked on the door of Babak’s home and was afforded a place by the fire to keep warm. During his stay, Javidan became so impressed with Babak’s manner and intelligence, that he offered to employ Babak and offered to give his destitute mother fifty dirhams a month as part of Babak’s salary.
Javidan taught Babak the principles of the Khurramdin and at some point Babak appears to have adopted the name Babak Khorramdin.
Babak’s Decision to Revolt
One of Babak’s supporters was a prince, Afshin Kheydar. According to the medieval historian, Ibn Esfandyars book Tarikh-e Tabaristan, the History of Tabaristan (Mazandaran and Gorgan), they made a pact together stating “I, Afshin Kheydar son of Kavus, and Babak had made an oath and allegiance that we re-take the government back from the Arabs and transfer the government and the country back to the family of Kasraviyan (Sassanids).” Gardizi reports that Afshin was of Zoroastrian descent. He cites members of his family who were clearly Zoroastrian.
Babak’s Revolt Against the Arabs
Around 816 CE, Babak began to recruit followers inciting the to hate the Arabs and rise in rebellion against the caliphate. Babak’s campaign, however, was not just a military campaign but one to restore the Persian language and culture. The forces he put together soon seized castles and garrison outposts. The numbers at his command grew as others joined his campaign until it grew to 100,000 men (by Abu’l-Ma’ali’s account), then 200,000 (by Mas’udi’s account) and 300,00 (by Baghdai’s account).
His army consisted of farmers who had shunned the taking of life and whose only weapons training was sling-shots. Nevertheless, Babak moulded them into a fighting force that took on the well trained and battle hardened Arabs. Soon people in Hamadan, Isfahan and Iraq were joining Babak’s group of followers.
From 817 to 837, Babak’s force fought hard. His insurrection developed into the most serious revolt the Arabs had faced since their invasion of the Aryan lands. Gardizi reports that Mazyar (d. 839 CE), the ispahbad (sepabad) of Mazandaran and Gorgan (Tabaristan), who had abandoned Zoroastrianism for Islam, decided to become a Khurramdin after learning of Babak’s campaign and successes.
In 819-820, The Arab caliphate sent Yahya ibn Mu’adh to battle Babak, but Babak could not be defeated. Two years came armies under Isa ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Khalid and these too very defeated. In 824-825, the caliphate sent general Ahmad ibn al Junayd to subdue Babak, but Babak defeated and captured the Arab general instead. Then in 827-828 the caliphate dispatched Muhammad ibn Humayd Tusi to fight Babak and the Arabs gained victory but could not capture Babak. On June 9, 829, Babak returned the favour and defeated Muhammad ibn Humayd Tusi at Hashtadsar. This defeat cost ibn Humayd his life and the Arabs lost many soldiers as well. In 835-836 the caliph al-Mu’tasim sent one of his best generals Haydar bin Kavus Afshin (not to be confused with Babak’s ally, though the name sounds suspiciously Iranian) against Babak.
Babak’s Castle. Ghaleye Babak
Babak’s Castle exists today as ruins on a mountain top and, it is known variously. It is known as Badd, Ghaley-e / Qale-e Babak and Qala-e Jomhur. In Turkish Azeri, it is also known as Bazz Galasi .
The castle itself was not built by Babak. Its origins goes back to the Sassanian era (c 249-650 CE) and possible even the Parthian era (c 227 BCE – 249 CE).
Today, Babak has become a national hero and the castle’s ruins have become a Iranian nationalist symbol and the castle is also known as the Castle of the Republic or the Immortal Castle. Every July 10th, many Iranians journey to the castle to celebrate the life and ideals of Babak and his companions. Their sacrifice in the giving of their lives while seeking to free Iran from Arab domination as well as their efforts for the preservation of Iranian culture are also honoured.
The citadel’s ruins are located in East Azarbaijan Province some 50 km north Ahar city some5 km southwest of Kalibar town as the crow flies. It overlooks the left bank of a tributary of the river Qarasu. The surrounding mountains are called the Jomhur mountains and the mountains are home to the Arasbaran or (in Turkish, Qaradag) forest, a UNESCO registered biosphere.
The structure was built on a mountain-top 2,300-2,600 m above sea level, and is surrounded on all sides by ravines 400-600 m deep.
Access to the castle is a narrow track that winds its way across patches of dense forest, through gorges, and up steep slopes. The final approach to the castle’s gate is through a narrow defile wide enough for only one person to walk at a time. Large military equipment can be carried up this path. The citadel itself was located a further 100 m climb from the castle’s walls via a narrow path along a ridge, and the path once again was wide enough for only one person. The ridge is surrounded by a forested ravine some 100 m deep.
Babak had other castles as well (Nafisi, pp. 69-71; Tabatabai, pp. 472-75).
Babak’s Defeat & Execution
The curtains now began to close for Babak and Hatdar Afshin captured Babak’s stronghold of Badhdh. Babak, however, managed to escape and did not surrender despite an offer for amnesty saying, “Better to live for just a single day as a ruler than to live for forty years as an abject slave.” Besides the Arabs seldom kept their word and lived by deceit. Babak sought refuge in Armenia. Enticed by a large reward and perhaps the fear of retribution as well, the Armenian Prince of Khachen, Sahl Smbatean (Sahl ibn Sunbat in Arab sources) delivered Babak to Afshin.
Babak asked Afshin if he could spend a last night at his castle at Badhdh and Afshin consented. That castle would come to be known as Ghaleye Babak. Haydar Afshin delivered Babak as a prisioner to the Abbasid Caliph who with characteristic Arab cruelty had his executioners first cut off his legs and then his hands. Legend has it that as a final act of defiance, Babak rinsed his face with the blood that poured from his severed limbs before succumbing to his wounds.
A year after Babak’s execution in 838 CE, Mazyar of Mazandaran was captured and killed. A similar fate awaited Afshin, whose sincere adherence to Islam and allegiance to the caliphate was questioned.
After the defeat of the Khurramdins, there is no longer any mention of non-Muslim uprisings in Iran. Even references to Zoroastrians in Muslim documents become rare.
Babak & Khurramdin’s Humane Reputation
Arab historians tell us that it was Babak and Zoroastrianism / Khurramdin’s social message that attracted these followers. An example of the expression of his faith was the manner in which his army treated prisoners fairly and humanely (cf. Cyrus’ treatment of prisoners – he was more a liberator than conqueror). This was in marked contrast to the brutality with which the caliph’s army treated their prisoners. Babak’s prisoners were often set free on the promise that they would not fight against Babak’s army again. His administration improved the treatment of women and children giving them legal rights as people identical as men. When Babak was taken in shackles to be tortured and executed, women demonstrated their mourning without restraint, striking their faces and crying.
Abu Mansur al-Baghdadi who was a mortal enemy of Babak states that Babak and his followers, most of whom were Zoroastrians, practiced great religious tolerance and (despite the harm that Muslims had caused Zoroastrians) allowed Muslims to freely practice their religion and even helped them build a mosque. Abu Mansur mentions that the Khurrami were of the Mazdakite school. When we put the Baghdadi and Mansur statements together, we have that Babak and his Khurrami followers were of the Mazdaki school (denomination) in Zoroastrianism.
Mazdakite influence seems evident in the social order he and his followers were trying a build – a classless society where rich landowners and military lords did not oppress the common person. He divested landowners of land they had obtained through illegal means and distributed the land free to farmers.
Hyrcania to escape from the rival king, Tiridates III. He returned, however, in 36, and, being afraid of a conspiracy, took refuge at the court of Izates, who was powerful enough to induce the Parthians to reinstate Artabanus. For this service certain kingly honors were granted Izates, and the city of Nisibis was added to his dominions. However, around 40, Gotarzes II, an adopted son of Artabanus, was raised to the throne by the nobles, in preference to Vardanes I, his half-brother. In 49 Meherdates Mithridates, a son of Vonones, was sent from Rome by Claudius to take possession of the throne of Parthia. Izates played a double game, though he secretly sided with Gotarzes. A few years later, Vologeses I set out with the intention of invading Adiabene and of punishing Izates; but a force of Dahae and Scythians had just entered Parthia, and Vologeses had to return home.
Despite the overthrow of the Parthians by the Sassanids, the feudatory dynasties remained loyal to the Parthians, and resisted Sassanid advance into Adiabene and Atropatene. Due to this, and religious differences, Adiabene was never regarded as an integral part of Iran, even though the Sassanids controlled it for several centuries. After the Roman Empire declared Christianity as its official religion, the inhabitants of Adiabene, who were Assyrian Christians, sided with Christian Rome rather than the
The Sassanid Empire was founded by Ardashir I, after the fall of the Arsacid Empire and the defeat of the last Arsacid king, Artabanus IV. It lasted until Yazdegerd III lost control of his empire in a series of invasions from the Arab Caliphate. During its existence, the Sassanid Empire encompassed all of today’s Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, the Caucasus (Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Dagestan), southwestern Central Asia, part of Turkey, certain coastal parts of the Arabian Peninsula, the Persian Gulf area, and areas of southwestern Pakistan, even stretching into India. The native name for the Sassanid Empire in Middle Persian is Eran Shahr which means Aryan Empire. According to legend, the vexilloid of the Sassanid Empire was the Derafsh Kaviani. It was also hypothesized that the transition toward the Sassanid Empire represents the end of struggle of ethnic proto-Persians with their close migrant ethnic relatives, the Parthians, whose original homeland was in modern-day Central Asia.
The Sassanid era, during Late Antiquity, is considered to have been one of Persia’s/Iran’s most important and influential historical periods, and constituted the last great Iranian empire before the Muslim conquest and the adoption of Islam. In many ways, the Sassanid period witnessed the peak of ancient Persian civilization. Persia influenced Roman civilization considerably during the Sassanid period. The Sassanids’ cultural influence extended far beyond the empire’s territorial borders, reaching as far as Western Europe, Africa, China and India. It played a prominent role in the formation of both European and Asian medieval art.[14
War with Rome
In the latter years of his reign, Ardashir I engaged in a series of armed conflicts with Persia’s great rival to the west – the Roman Empire.
Ardashir I’s expansionist tendencies had been frustrated by his failed invasions of Armenia, where a branch of the Arsacids still occupied the throne. Given Armenia’s traditional position as an ally of the Romans, Ardashir I may have seen his primary opponent not in the Armenian and Caucasian troops he had faced, but in Rome and her legions.
Ghaleh Dokhtar, or “The Maiden’s Castle,” Iran, built by Ardashir I in AD 209, before he was finally able to defeat the Parthian empire.
In 230 Ardashir I led his army into the Roman province of Mesopotamia, unsuccessfully besieging the fortress town of Nisibis. At the same time, his cavalry ranged far enough past the Roman border to threaten Syria and Cappadocia. It seems that the Romans saw fit to attempt a diplomatic solution to the crisis, reminding the Persians of the superiority of Roman arms, but to no avail. Ardashir I campaigned unsuccessfully against Roman border outposts again the following year (231). As a result, the Roman emperor Alexander Severus (222–235) moved to the east, establishing his headquarters at Antioch, but experienced difficulties in bringing his troops together and thus made another attempt at diplomacy, which Ardashir I rebuffed.
Finally, in 232, Severus led his legions in a three-pronged assault on the Persians. However, the separate army groups did not advance in a coordinated fashion, and Ardashir was able to take advantage of the disorder and concentrate his forces against the enemy advancing through Armenia, where he was able to halt the Roman advance. Hearing of the Roman plans to march on his capital at Ctesiphon, Ardashir left only a token screening force in the north and met the enemy force that was advancing to the south, apparently defeating it in a decisive manner. However, one can discern that the Persians must have suffered considerable losses as well, as no attempt was made to pursue the fleeing Romans. Both leaders must have had reason to avoid further campaigning, as Severus returned to Europe in the following year (233) and Ardashir did not renew his attacks for several years, probably focusing his energies in the east.
These were my thoughts upon visiting the park located off Joaquin Miller Drive, a park which bears Miller’s name, which includes his “Frémont Ranch,” and which contains seven monuments left by the Poet of the Sierras.
The monuments themselves are crude by almost any measure. Miller seems to have done all the work himself, mixing equal parts of serpentine and Portland cement. There is a barrel-shaped tower dedicated to the Brownings, a pyramid to Moses, a battlement-like tower dedicated to General John C. Frémont.
The shapes themselves-triangle, circle, square-suggest a child’s basic play set. His house remains, The Abby, California Historical Landmark no. 107, along with a “Sanctuary to Memory,” where he stored his mementos and where his grieving daughter Juanita created a replica of her father lying in bed as he had during the last days of his life, surrounded by his boots and other memorabilia. In this vicinity is a statue of himself seated rather woodenly on a horse. This is the only monument not of his own design. The work of Kisa Beeck, it was commissioned by Juanita to mark the spot where her grandmother’s cottage once stood. The seventh monument is a massive stone stage, approached by three broad steps. On this elevated platform, Miller wished to be cremated in an open funeral pyre in the manner of the Native Americans he so admired.
All around these emblems of the past, Joaquin Miller Park bustles with activity. The Oakland Parks and Recreation Department operates a community center; there is a ranger station and a municipal wood chipping site. Weddings take place here. For many years, residents of the wider East Bay have visited Woodminster Amphitheater to hear musical theater performed on summer evenings. For many local singers and dancers, Woodminster was their first auditioning experience, and for some, their first appearance on a professional stage. The amphitheater itself, with its adjacent fountain and spectacular views, is dedicated to California Writers. (The name Woodminster means “cathedral in the woods.”) The park, now 512 acres, began with the acquisition by the City of Oakland of the 52 acres Miller purchased in 1886.
Armenia and Adiabene were in heart of former Assyria. Hundred of years earlier Assyrians kings deported peoples from Israel to Assyria. Yet these people needed to be “converted”? They were no longer considered “Jewish”, or perhaps never were?
Meher Baba (Devanagari: मेहेर बाबा, Urdu: مہر بابا), (February 25, 1894 – January 31, 1969), born Merwan Sheriar Irani, was an Indian mystic and spiritual master who declared publicly in 1954 that he was the Avatar of the age.
Merwan Sheriar Irani was born in 1894 and led a normal childhood, showing no particularly strong inclination toward spiritual matters. At the age of 19, a brief contact with the Muslim holy woman Hazrat Babajan began his seven-year process of spiritual transformation. Over the next months, he contacted four additional spiritual figures whom, along with Babajan, he called “the five Perfect Masters.” He spent seven years with Upasni Maharaj, one of the masters, before beginning his public work. The name Meher Baba means “Compassionate Father” in Persian and was given to him by his first followers.
From July 10, 1925 to the end of his life, Meher Baba maintained silence, communicating by means of an alphabet board or by unique hand gestures. With his mandali (circle of disciples), he spent long periods in seclusion, during which time he often fasted. He also traveled widely, held public gatherings, and engaged in works of charity with lepers, the poor, and the mentally ill.
In 1931, Meher Baba made the first of many visits to the West, where he attracted many followers. Throughout most of the 1940s, Meher Baba worked with a category of spiritual aspirant called masts, whom he said are entranced or spellbound by internal spiritual experiences. Starting in 1949, along with selected mandali, he traveled incognito about India in what he called “The New Life.” On February 10, 1954, Meher Baba declared that he was the Avatar (an incarnation of God),  and on July 10, 1958 he released his Universal Message.
Meher Baba was an Irani born in Pune, India to a Zoroastrian family. His given name was Merwan Sheriar Irani. He was the second son of Sheriar Mundegar Irani, a Persian Zoroastrian who had spent years wandering in search of spiritual experience before settling in Poona (now Pune), and Sheriar’s young wife, Shireen.
Āzar Kayvān (b. between 1529 and 1533; d. between 1609 and 1618), was a Zoroastrian high priest of Istakhr and native of Fars who emigrated to the Gujarat in Mughal India during the reign of the Emperor Akbar and became the founder of a Zoroastrian school of ishraqiyyun or Illuminationists. Exhibiting features of a Zoroastrianized Sufi order, this school became known as the Sepassian.
In his spare time he learned to read and write his native Persian, as well as the Gujarati, Arabic and Marathi languages. This allowed him to continue his mystical studies in the textual realm, where he became recognized as an able scholar. Kevin R. D. Shepherd has linked him with the Ishraqi tradition of Iranian illuminationist philosophy, as mediated by the 16th-century Iranian Zoroastrian sage Azar Kayvan. The circle of savants associated with Kayvan combined Zoroastrian, Sufi, Neoplatonic and other gnostic beliefs with a nonsectarian approach to the study of comparative religion.
There is an apparent dichotomy in the fact that Sheriar is referred to in biographical sources as both a Zoroastrian and a Sufi dervish, as Sufism is a branch of Islam and not a part of Zoroastrianism. However, this fact is explained in Bhau Kalchuri’s Lord Meher. Sheriar’s personal philosophy incorporated elements from both Zoroastrianism and Sufi mysticism, a characteristic that he adopted from his father Moondegar who was an enigma to his Iranian Muslim neighbors because as a Zoroastrian he participated in both Muslim and Zoroastrian festivals and was a devout follower of a Muslim saint. Because there are no mystic, mendicant, or ascetic traditions in Zoroastrianism, Sheriar chose to practice an Islamic mystic path such as that of the Sufi mendicant. However he neither officially converted to Islam nor left his birth religion of Zoroastrianism. After his marriage, arranged by his sister Piroja to a Zoroastrian girl Shireen in India, Sheriar rejoined his Irani community in Poona, was a householder and followed all Zoroastrian practices. Thus he could be said to have returned to his Zoroastrian roots.
Herodian Leadership in the Jewish Revolt
Jerusalem relief effort led by Helen 871, 902, 904
Includes Paul, Phillip, and Barnabus, even Izates (transformed into a eunuch). 921, 943
Wealth of Helen and her tomb in Jerusalem rivaling that of Herodians 902, 913
Revolt began in Edessa where resistance against Rome had previously been successful.
Jewish War of Independence led by the kinsmen of Helen of Adiabene and Edessa 868, 884-885
Niger (Simon of Cyrene?)
Silas the Babylonian (Silas the closest partner of Paul)
Monobazus brother and successor of Izates (one of the sons of Helen/Mariamne?)
(Aristobulus III, king of Armenia, thought to have died c. 63 A.D., that is, before the Revolt)
Death of Izates (circa 55 A.D.) before the Revolt 886, 904