Hindus in Armenia

Hindoos in Armenia-Part 3


The prince of the house of Angegh, then entrusted St.Gregory, into the hands of the prince of Mocks enjoining him to take him immediately to the Castle of Oghkan and await developments, and forthwith sent intimation to the troops. The prince of the Mocks, accompanied by St.Gregory descended the declivity of the hill wishing to go to Kuars, but the people of the place began to block the way.

Seeing that there was a great danger in the place, St.Gregory hid the relics which he had with him near a spring on the other side of the hill, opposite to village, marking the spot and God covered the relics and nobody could see them till the return of St.Gregory to that spot afterwards. We were, however, pursued by the men of the village, but being mounted on our horses, we took refuge in the Castle of Oghkan where we reached before them as the men of the place came forward and took us in.

The villagers (Hindoos)then went to Kuars and informed the people there about us. Hearing this they came and began to besiege the castle. Being seized with apprehensions we immediately despatched a messenger with a letter to the prince of the house of Angegh informing him of the state of affairs. He immediately sent four thousand picked men furnished with swords who crossed the river and arrived on the following day. They laid siege to the city of Kuars for three days and having demolished the ramparts, they reduced the place to ruins and the inhabitants were conducted to Meghtes.

The Armenian princes being informed of this, ascended the hill and saw Artzan lying in ambush with about four hundred men. The brave princes made an attack immediately and were putting him to fight when the Armenian troops, hearing the din of the battle, crowded immediately to the mountain whereupon Artzan rallied and began to hurl abuses on the Armenian princes.

"Come forward," he said, "O you base apostates who have denied the gods of your ansestors and are the enemies of the glorious Gisaneh. Do you not know that it is Gisaneh who is waging war against you to-day and will betray you into our hands and strike you with blindness and death." At this the prince of the Ardzrunies rushed forward and said "Oh you braggart, if you are fighting for your gods, you are false, and if it is your for your country, you are altogether foolish for behold the prince of the house of Angegh and the prince of the house of Sunnies and the other nobles whom you know but to well."

To which, Demeter, the son of Artzan replied thus. "Listen unto us O you Armenian princes, it is now forty years since we are engaged in the service of the mighty gods and we are aware of their powers, for they fight themselves with the enemies of their servants. We are not, however, able to oppose you in battle for this is the house of the king of Armenia and you are his nobles, but let it be known to you all that although we cannot possibly conquer you, yet it is better for us to die a glorious death to-day in upholding the honour of our gods rather than live and see their temples polluted by you. Death is, therefore, more welcome to us than life. But you, who are the prince of the house of Angegh come forward and let us fight singly."

The prince of the house of Angegh and Artzan having come forward, they commenced going round each other, when Artzan with his spear inflicted hurriedly a wound on his opponent's tigh and well-nigh brought him to the ground. But the prince of the house of Angegh having regained his position, turned towards the antagonist and addressed him thus. "Know you this O Artzan that this place will be called Artzan (the Armenian word for statue) for you are destined to be fixed here with the left shoulder and leg from body by stroke of the sword on the right shoulder. Artzan fell to the ground rolling and they collected a heap over him and he lies buried in the same place and the mount is to this day called Artzan.

Immediately after the action the troops fo the priests arrived from the city of Veeshap (the Armenian word for dragon) together with the people of Partukh and Meghti and they all crowded for the battle. Others came from Astaghon also four hundred and fifty. When they arrived at the summit of the mountain, there was a commotion on both sides and the heathen priests made an attack, en masse, on the Armenian troops and putting them to flight made them descend the mountain and fly towrads the villages. The villagers who were laying in ambush, opposed our troops and hemming them on both sides began to put them to the sword.

But the prince of the house of Angegh, having cut through the ranks of the heathen (Hindoo)priests, directed his course towards the mountain, from the back, where some men were kept in reserve on the top who caused great havoc by flinging stones at horses. But when Demeter observed the prince of the house of Angegh ascending the hill, he left the troops behind and followed him, so did the other troops who were mounted on horses.

When they went up the hill, the battle was resumed. Our princes were waiting for further re-enforcements since all the troops had not assembled there yet, as four thousand were left in charge of the prisoners at Meghti and three thousand proceeded to Bassean and Harkh. The rest were still in the field pillaging and marauding. And when they were about to commence the battle and exchange decisive blows, night approached and they encamped in the place until the following morning. At a dawn, the remaining Armenian troops arrived there and a re-inforcement of about five hundred men from the city of Tirakatar came to the assistance of the heathen priests. The heathen numbered six thousand nine hundred and forty six whilst the troops of the Armenian princes were in all five thousand and eighty.

The trumpets were sounded and both sides arranged themselves in battle. At the commencement the Armenians proved victorious over the heathens, but the prince of Hashtens who was now in command of the Armenain troops although of the same (Hindoo)race as Demeter, deserted and joined the heathen priests with seven hundred men and commenced fighting the Armenian princes. When the Armenian troops saw him, they were dismayed and fell to the ground for he was a brave man of extraordinary prowess, of indomitable courage and of vast experience in warfare and military operations which made all the Armenian princes tremble before him.

He commenced the onslaught relentlessly and all the troops cried out and appealed to the prince of Siunies for help whereupon he called out to him (the prince of Hashtens) saying, "you whelp of a worlf! You have remembered teh nature of your father and delight in feasting on carrion." The rebel chief retorded by saying tuntingly "You offspring of an eagle, you who boast on the prowers of your wings, but if you ever fall into my trap, I shall then show you my strength."

The prince of Siunies could not brook this taunt and rushing on him furiously, struck him on the helmet with his axe and having dislodged him from his troops by driving him to some distance, pursued him to the mountain eastwards. Having chased him to the place known as the Innaknian (nine springs) he threw him down by a violent shove from his horse and having alighted, he severed his head from the body and dropped it down the mountain saying, "now let the vultures see you and know that the eagle has killed the hare." The prince of Siunies returned to the army immediately after this and the place where the rebel prince Hashtens fell, is to this day called the "Eagles."

The prince of the Ardzroonies then attacked the head priest of Ashtishat whose name was Metakes whom he pursued to the summit of the mountain which commanded a view of the battle. When he reached there, Metakes made a violent resistance and struck hin on thigh. The Armenian prince, burning with rage, struck him immediately with his scimitar on the neck which he severed from the body. He then threw down the headless body and the place where the deed was committed was called Metsakkogh.

The prince of Arjootz (Hindoo)seeing this, took refuge in flight and concealed himself in the same place which the prince of Ardzoonies pretended not to have observed. He then approached the fugitive and attacked him suddenly but he fled into the forest where a sharp piece of wood from the branch of a tree passed through his heart and live and he died on the spot. The victor (Armenian prince)returned with the two horses and the place was called the vale of 'Arjootz'.

After his return, he found that Demeter and the prince of the house of Angegh were wrestling with each other. Having made a rush he cut off the right shoulder of the former and threw him down. He then severed the head and throwing it into his knapsack, went away. The Armenians having attacked the heathen army furiously, put one thousand and thirty eight of them to the sword and the rest were stripped of all they possessed. In this battle Demeter killed the son of the prince of Mocks which caused great sorrow amongst the Armenian princes.

When Demeter fell in the battle, the prince of the Siunies sounded the trumpet of peace and both sides stopped slaughtering each other. The surviving heathen priests seeing this, solicited the Armenian princess to give them permission to bury their dead which was readily granted. The killed on both sides were then collected and buried in pits dug for the purpose. Monuments were then raised over their graves bearing the following inscription, in Syrian, Hellenic and Ismaelitish characters.

THE FIRST BATTLE WHICH WAS FOUGHT VERY FIERCELY. ARTZAN (ARJUN) THE HEAD PRIEST, THE CHIEF COMMANDER OF THE BATTLE LIES INTERRED HERE, AND WITH HIM ONE THOUSAND AND THIRTY-EIGHT MEN.

WE WAGED THIS WAR ON ACCOUNT OF THE IDOL GISANEH AND ON BEHALF OF CHRIST.


Note-Some of the important Hindoo names, as mentioned by Zenob in the course of his narrative, may be identified as follows:- Gisaneh may have been the corrupt form of Krishna, and Demeter the Hellenised form of Juggernath or Gonesh, which according to Hindoo mythology, ar the lords of earth and creation. Similarly, Kuars may be identified with Koilash, Meghtes with Mukti, Horean with Horendra and Artzan with Arjun, all of which are genuine Hindoo names of Ancient India.

The End