King Khushru I of the Sasanian dynasty came to the throne in AD 531. He was a good and great king who paid a lot of attention to the needs of his people. Villages, roads and bridges were built, canals and waterways were cleaned and he reduced taxes so as to be just to all people. He was brave and a conqueror, but is remembered in history not for his conquests but for his kindness. He earned the title of Anushehrawan Dadgar or Adil. Dadgar stands for “listener of complaints or giver of justice”, and Adil means “Just”. Since he always listened to all his subjects and helped them, he was called Anushehrawan or Noshirwan with the title Adil or the Just.
Under Noshirwan-I-Adil, Iran rose to great heights and enjoyed great prosperity. In fact Hazrat Muhammad the Prophet of Islam spoke with pride of being born during the reign of King Noshirwan. It is stated in the Hadis, “the prophet, on whom be peace, sayeth ‘I was born in the reign of King Noshirwan, the Just’”.
Noshirwan kept his palace open to all and was ready to listen to the poorest of the poor or any complaint, which a person wanted redressed. But the courtiers around him were not happy because they could not take advantage of the people. Some of his guards began demanding a bribe before they would let a person enter the palace gates. King Noshirwan was very angry and upset when he came to hear of what was happening in the court. He decided that he would make sure that everyone had easy access to the king. After thinking it over he put a large bell at the palace gate and another connected with a huge chain in his own room. Anyone who wanted the attention of the King had to ring the bell outside and he would speak to him or her directly.
Late one night Noshirwan heard the bell pealing out loudly. It kept on ringing without stopping. The king went out of his room, followed the chain through the garden and outside the gate. There to his astonishment, he found a very old cow pulling at the bell with her mouth. He brought her in gently and took her to his main audience hall. All the guards and courtiers who had woken up were sent to search for the cow’s owner. Noshirwan sat up all night till the owner was brought to the court.
As soon as the man entered he began apologizing and pushing out his “old, useless cow”. Noshirwan stopped him and told him that the cow had come to the king to complain and he now understood the reason. The cow had become old and could no longer give milk. The owner had left her to wander the streets at night hunting for food instead of looking after her. The owner admitted that he had done so because there was now no profit to be gained from the cow. Noshirwan rebuked the man severely. “When you are old and cannot work for your living would you like your children to send you off into the night to search for food?” “The cow has served you well and you must protect it and serve it now”.
The owner felt very ashamed and said he would accept any punishment for his cruelty to the old animal. He promised to look after the cow as if he was looking after his own mother. Noshirwan-I-Adil thought over what punishment he should give and decided that the owner should learn more compassion and commanded him to take care of five hungry street dogs every day.
Thus, it is said that in the time of Noshirwan-I-Adil, even an animal which could not speak would always get justice from the king.