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Chapter XVII

1. BUT even Gods fail at times. For by failures do all persons learn there are higher powers. Only Jehovih never faileth.

2. In the last month of the last year of a'ji, even whilst God, Jehovih's Son, and his Lord Gods, and his Lords and sub-Gods, were proud of heart that they should carry the earth and her heavens through safely, they met sore trials. This, then, is what happened: A comet came within the earth's vortex, and was drawn in, even as floating drift is drawn within a whirlpool in a river. The substance of the comet was condensed, and fell on the earth in mist, and dust and ashes. And the earth, and the heavens above the earth, were in darkness twelve days, and the darkness was so great that a man could not see his hand before him.

3. And during those days of darkness there were more than four score hells founded within Ahura's heavenly regions, and he himself was cast into one of them, and he was walled about by more than three thousand million angels; pilfered and stripped of all he had. And his remaining sub-Gods were also bound in hell and robbed of all they had.

4. And presently the spirits ran for the kings' and queens' souls (of them who had been tyrants on earth), and they caught them, and brought them and cast them into hell also, taking vengeance on them with stripes and foul smells. And hundreds of thousands of spirits went and gathered foul smells and cast them into hell, and surrounded the hells on every side with foul gases, so that none could escape.

5. So desperate became the madness p. 307 upon them, that even the tormentors rushed in, making a frolic of madness. And whosoever had ever had an enemy on earth now ran for him and caught him in hada and brought him; and others helped; and they took and cast him into the torments of hell. And those who had been slaves hundreds of years to Ahura and his Gods, now caught every one they could lay hands on, and dragged them into hell.

6. As soon as God's messengers came and told him what had happened, God sent all his available forces to overthrow the place if possible. Vishnu, full of hope and courage, sent one-half of this forces to God's assistance, thereby risking the guardianship of the three great mortal kingdoms, Vindyu, Jaffeth and Arabin'ya. And God sent messengers to the heavenly kingdoms of North and South Guatama, saying to the Gods of those places: Behold, Ahura, the false, is involved in torments; his hosts are upon him, three thousand millions! Send all above grade seventy at once. To Uropa he sent also, saying the same thing, and adding thereto: Alas, my little wisdom in sending off a thousand million of mine own hosts to Craoshivi at such a time!

7. Craoshivi was the new plateau, difficult of access, and it was scarcely possible to recall his hosts in the time required. And God summoned the Diva, that they might sit for the Father's Voice; and the members came and sat in the usual way, and Jehovih spake unto God, saying:

8. Peace be unto Thee, My Son! Neither regret thou that thou sent thy most exalted hosts to Craoshivi. Did not I lead thee thither? And I said unto thee: Possess this place, and send thou thy hosts hither. Neither grieve thou because I sent the nebulae and the darkness of that time. Is it more to thee to behold these things, than for mortals to witness the spring floods that wash away the summer's coming harvest?

9. To learn to provide against contingencies, this is wisdom. Yet not All Wisdom is in man's heart, nor yet with My Gods. How canst thou perceive how it is with Ahura's soul, whether this hell be good or evil unto him in the end?

10. If thou behold My sudden power, how much more must not Ahura feel it? Yet thou shalt deliver him out of hell; by thy hosts shall he and his sub-Gods be delivered. But far greater shall be the torments of his own soul, than what his drujas can heap upon him.

11. Then God inquired of Jehovih, saying: What is the best, most perfect way, to deliver Ahura and his subjects out of hell?

12. Jehovih answered him, saying: Whom he hath despised, send; whom he hath ill-treated, send; whom he hath humbled, send. And when thy Lords and Gods are come to the place, let these, his abused enemies, take the hand of thy Lord or thy God, and they shall call out to Me in the name, Ormazd, the which name Ahura hath tried to destroy for the glory of his own. And at the sound of the name, Ormazd, thy hosts shall cast burning light into the faces of the drujas, and thus scatter them away till Ahura be released; and he shall witness that he hath been released through the name, Ormazd.

13. God sent E'chad, and Ah'oan, to deliver Ahura out of hell, and they labored four years in accomplishing it, and then Ahura was free, and his hosts were divided into groups of tens of thousands, and hundreds of thousands; and God appointed generals and captains over them. Save and except eight hundred million drujas that escaped from hell and through the guards' fires, and descended back to the earth, to torment and to deceive mortals.

14. So it turned out that Vishnu failed in some degree to save the nations of the earth from the approach of evil spirits. Jehovih spake to Vishnu, comforting, saying: Because thou hast helped to deliver Ahura, thou shalt not take sorrow to thy heart. What are eight hundred millions to thee? So Vishnu grieved no more.

15. Now during the time of the deliverance of Ahura, no less than six knots had been tied in hell, and in one of these Ahura and his sub-Gods had become bound, so there was no escape for them. But the outer and extreme knots were untied first, and as fast as the delirious spirits were rescued, they were carried without and beyond the firewalls and placed under guard.

16. Thus in sections was Ahura's hell cast out; and when the deliverers came to Ahura and his confederates they were all, save Ahura, in a state of chaos, frenzied with fear. But Ahura was not beside himself, though in serious fright. Ah'oan, Lord of Jaffeth, spake to him, saying: In the name of God, and of Ormazd, I have delivered thee. How is it with thee?

17. Ahura said: I am done! I am nothing! One God alone can do p. 308 nothing. Do with me whatsoever thou wilt. I am thy servant.

18. Ah'oan said: Nay, be thou servant to none save Ormazd, thy Creator. His name is the watch-word and the power in all the high heavens. By his name thou shalt become one amongst Godly companions.

19. Ahura said: But thou must torment me first! Ah'oan said: Wherefore? My work is not to cast down but to lift up. So it is with all of Ormazd's Gods. Behold thou here, even thy sub-Gods, and such as thou hast in times past evilly used! See, they hold up their hands in prayer to Ormazd for thee!

20. And is this not the way of knowing angels and mortals, whether they be of the Creator? If they pull down, they are not His. If they slander or torment, or speak evil of one another, or give pain, they are not His. How, then, shall I not do good for thee and restore thee to thy kingdom?

21. Ahura said: Give me anything, but give me not my kingdom again; for of all torments this is the worst. Ah'oan said: Wouldst thou evilly treat them that had been thy subjects? If so, thou art not of the everlasting resurrection. Ahura said: Nay, I would see them not forever! I would hear them not, know them not forever. If, therefore, thou wilt do me good instead of evil, I pray thee take me afar off, and alone, that I may meditate forever on the horrors I have passed through.

22. Ah'oan said: Hear me now, once for all, and I speak in the name of God and of the Great Spirit, Ormazd: Because thou hast served thyself and compelled others to serve thee for nearly two thousand years, thou hast become blind to the Ormazdian law, which is: That thine own peace and happiness can only come by making restitution to thy servants, and by lifting up those whom thou hast cast down. How can I deliver thee away from them? I may take away thy person, but I cannot deliver thy memory. No man can be delivered from himself.

23. One way only is open for thee, which is under the Ormazdian law; which is, that thou shalt take thy kingdom again, and deliver it unto righteousness, intelligence and good works. Serving Ormazd by doing good unto them whom the Creator gave thee. Many of them have served thee more than a thousand years; wouldst thou now cast them off without recompense?

24. Ahura said: Thou art just, O Ormazd! I perceive the wisdom of Thy Gods, and the bondage of men. Take me, O Ah'oan, put me in a way to carry out this great light.

25. Ah'oan said: Hear thou thy sentence, in the name of Ormazd, the Creator; which is, that thou shalt be taken to a place of safety, which E'chad shall select; and thither shall thy best, most exalted people be taken, and put to work and to school, and in nurseries and hospitals; and thou shalt go about amongst them, teaching and encouraging them in industry and righteousness, for Ormazd's sake. And when thou hast certain ones disciplined in this way, thou shalt receive another installment of thy people, and they shall be disciplined in the same way. And then another installment, and so on, until thou hast all thy kingdom.

26. And that thou shalt be successful, these, my Lords, and generals, and captains, shall go with thee and labor with thee and thy hosts. And thou and thy people shall have no ornaments; and your raiment shall be white-gray, alike and like, teachers and pupils, save when especially ordered otherwise by God and his deputies.

27. And when thou and the majority of thy hosts have risen above grade fifty, thou shalt be crowned in the name of Ormazd, and thy kingdom shall have a throne, and thou shalt be one amongst the united hosts of the higher heavens. Till then, go thou to thy labors diligently, and may Ormazd abide with thee in wisdom and power.

28. Ahura said: Thou art just, O Ormazd. I will henceforth, forever, serve Thee with all my wisdom and strength!

29. And then E'chad and his attendants led the way, and the marshals and geneerals and captains brought Ahura's hosts, the first installment, and they went to a place called Ailkin, a heavenly place capable of seven thousand millions, and there they founded the new colony for Ahura.

30. But Ah'oan and his hosts continued their labors in delivering the hells, until they delivered the four score and placed all the spirits under guard and discipline.

Next: Chapter XVIII