The Fourth Magi

We all know the story of the three wise-men of the East who traveled to Bethlehemfollowing a star, to see Baby Jesus. Well, there was a fourth wise man who also followed the star. A very different Catholic version of this story was first read out on X’mas day of 1892 at the service of New York’s Presbyterian Church. Ruby Lilaowala shares the gripping story with the readers of Parsi Times.


We have all heard about the three wise men of the East who traveled to Bethlehem, following a star, to see Baby Jesus. Well, there was a fourth wise man, a fire-worshiper from Persia, who also followed the star. This is his story. A very different Catholic version of this story was first read out on the X’Mas day of 1892 at a service of New York’s Presbyterian Church. I have adapted the same for the readers of Parsi Times, especially because there are indications that the fourth Magi was a Zorastrian.

King Harod was ruling Jerusalem while inside a mountain in Persia (Daemavand?) there was a council being held by the Great White Brotherhood (Abed and Magav Sahebs). They revered fire and the leader waved a sacred bunch of branches and fed the fire with fragrant pine-sticks, singing to Ahura Mazda, the Divine Spirit of all wisdom, all purity and all goodness (Humata-Hukta-Havrashta). They had searched the secrets of nature, studied the healing virtues of water, fire and plants and could see the future by studying the position of stars. They were called the Magi and they practiced white-magic to save mankind from the dark side of nature.

On a particular night, they saw two great planets meeting and knew that a great soul was about to be born (Jesus) in Jerusalem, where the celestial light pointed. A young man dressed in a white vest held with a woolen girdle (sadro and kasti) was chosen to go and gift the divine baby three things viz. an emerald, a ruby and a pearl. He set off on his horse through hills, valleys and plains to reach Babylon.

There he saw a man, dying, with vultures waiting patiently around him while his bony fingers closed convulsively on the hem of the pure white Magian robe (Jammo?). He wondered what claim this unknown human life had on his service. He carried him under a palm tree, moistened his parched face and gave him some water. Taking out the potent remedies from his girdles (Magis were skilful physicians) he laboured until the man’s strength returned. He was a beggar having no money for food. To give him the gift of life, the Magi gave away the emerald to him. “I have nothing to give you except blessings” said the beggar.

The Magi crossed the dessert by following a train of camels and reached Bethlehem where he saw a young mother hiding a new-born child and running away from King Harod’s soldiers. Astrologers had warned King Harod that a child called Jesus will grow up to destroy him and put an end to his cruelty. So Harod had ordered every new-born child to be killed. Just as the soldier raised his sword to kill the child, the Magi said, “Spare the child and I’ll give you this ruby.” The soldier, amazed at the gem’s splendour, glittering on the palm of Magi’s hand like a drop of blood, snatched it, telling other soldiers: “March on. There’s no child here.” The mother blessed the Magi and disappeared.

The Magi passed several towns, saw famine; poor people fighting for bread, plague-stricken cities where the sick languished in pain. In this scenario of misery, he fed the hungry, healed the sick and comforted the captive. He lost his way in the desert. He traveled for years until his black hair turned white. He reached Golgotha where he saw a young man with a halo round his head (Rayomand, Khorehmand), full of spiritual energy and light carrying a cross while King Pilate’s soldiers whipped him. Why? He asked. “Because, he is King of the Jews and even his best Apostle Judas has betrayed him.”

The ways of God are stranger than the thoughts of men. Just nearby, Macedonian soldiers were dragging a young girl with a torn dress. She managed to free herself from her tormentors and clasped the Magi’s feet saying: “My father was a merchant but he is dead and I am seized for his debts to be sold as a slave – save me!”
Twice before, the gift he had consecrated to religion had been drawn from his hand to the service of humanity. This was his third trial. He took the pearl from his bosom to help the helpless girl because this was the true deed of love, and love for humans is real love for God. Serving humans is serving God. The pearl had never seemed so luminous. He put it in the slave-girl’s hand, saying, “This is your ransom, daughter.”

He had parted with the last hope of finding Jesus, seeing him or gifting him the three precious gems. He failed but still he felt peaceful because he had done the right thing. His capsule-prayer ‘Ashem Vohu’ said, “Do the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing.” If he had his life all over again, it could not have been otherwise.

When he reached Golgotha again, there was a sudden huge pulsation of an earthquake and a roof-tile fell on the Magi. As his consciousness was slowly fading, he saw the young man carrying the cross, telling him, “You, my fourth Magi are the best. I have accepted your present of the emerald, ruby and pearl.”

He disappeared and a vision of the Great White Brotherhood appeared bearing golden robes for him (Golden- Siav). The Celestial sisters, Meher and Rashna bowed before him and he saw a most beautiful 16 year old girl take him by hand to a bridge (Chinvad). “Who are you?” he asked. “Your good deeds (Kedar). That’s who I am.” she replied.

One long last breath exhaled gently from his lips. His incarnation had ended. His gifts were accepted. He heard the sweetest Celestial music in a garden (Garothman) filled with endless light (Anasar-Roshni). There he stayed forever.

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