Keeping balance

Pahlavans like Takhti exemplified the necessity of maintaining balance


Keeping balance
by IranWrites

I read an article posted by Siamack Baniameri ["Once there was a legend"], there were a few remarks I could not let pass. Judging from the comments there, I gathered Siamack is an old and well-respected friend of So I reread the article, just to make sure that I had read it right. And hey, I had read it right. Yes, Gholamreza Takhti was saluted, praised, and acknowledged as a legendary pahlavan. But, the author writes, he had emerged against all the odds, “In a country full of lies, deception, hypocrisy, drug addicts and…,” and despite all this, emerged pure and self-sacrificing...

Truthfully, wrestling is not one of my favorite sports, it is a little messy for my taste, and the idea of two semi-naked, sweaty men twisting around each other never appealed to me. To make it worse, I should admit that my technical knowledge of this sport does not go further than some generalities. However, I know its cultural value, its place in Iranian culture, and its relevance to Iranian life. But while reviewing Marcello Di Cintio Poets and Pahlevans, I learned a lot more about this sport, its technique as well as its social and cultural value. The author, a young Canadian poet and a semi-professional wrestler, makes two tripsto Iran to record various local techniques of wrestling. In this quest, he stumbles over a poet’s grave next to almost every wrestling pit, in remote villages of Iran, which functions as a shrine, or, better to say, a temple for oracles for the locals as well as domestic tourists. While describing the local techniques of how these naked muscle-men twist around into each other’s legs and arm pits (yech!), he places them against the background of the sublime poetry of the poet who is buried a few steps further under a tree, next to a rock or below a waterfall. I have no doubt that Siamack’s remarks, and Jahanshah Khan Javid’s comments would not have bothered me if I did not know what little I do know. Therefore, I, very humbly, can not resist informing both of them of how they are wrong on a few counts.

First is Siamack’s depiction of Iran. No, my friend, Iran is not full of liars and drug addicts and people whose main occupation is to deceive, nor did Takhti appear as an angel from heaven. Iran is populated by seventy-five million people with all ranges of culture and education. There are plenty of them who lie, cheat, deceive, steal, abuse, and much more besides. But their existence is merely an accident to Iranianculture and society, i.e. they do not characterize our society. Our good parents never encouraged or trained us to lie or cheat and never provided us freely with drugs or alcohol. The existence of any of the above abnormalities and maladies is not essentiallyIranian. Was the misappropriation, lying, cheating, deceiving etc., etc., which took place right here under our nose, in broad day light, by our administration which was in office by our trust, enough for you to see that these maladies had nothing to do with any nationality, culture, heritage, or genes? Was it enoughto tell you that it could happen anywhere in the world?

Besides, Takhti did not emerge as an exception to the norm. He indeed was the by-product of our Iranian culture, and the Iranian norm, where we all are raised to be Takhtis. The above-mentioned virtues we praised in Takhti not only are aspects of, or definition of the world “pahlavan”, but are the merits desired for any Iranian, though many could not muster them all.

Upsetting as this comment was, the other one did have a reverse effect. I noticed that I’m not the only one who has something to learn about this sport. I have Siamack and Jahanshah for company. No, Jahanshah, wrestling is not the game of “zoor” (strength), it is the art and skill of keeping ones balance, which is a core tenet of the Iranian culture. We have a magnificent document to testify on my claim and that is the Shahnameh. Maintaining one's balance is the key issue to Iranian art, (particularly Iranian miniatures, and my favorite example for anything Iranian), science and our culture in general. Iranian medicine is based on keeping the balance between cold and warm in one hand, and the four elements in the other. The notion of Iranian tragedy is not the same as the Greek, merely the fall of the hero from the summit of his life by his fault or some cosmic chance, but when the balance of life and society is upset by his action or intentions. Rostam and Sohrab is a magnificent example of this, whereas our hero Rostam undergoes monumental suffering to maintain the hierarchy of the society as it ought to be.

In our history and our folkloric tales, many pahlavans, with high moral standards, have exemplified the necessity of maintaining this balance, and Takhti was one of them. Ironically enough, his tragic suicide (yes, it was suicide, and SAVAK had nothing to do with it, despite the rumors) was the direct result of imbalance, where our pahlavan could not maintain the balance in his personal life outside of wrestling pit.

Well, let us all keep the balance. Acknowledging Takhti should not cost us, the Iranians, so much as to become a culture of “lie, deception,cheating, drugs and zoor. Neither do we need to compromise his popularity, his grand soul, his athletic merits or his javanmardi, morovat, and fotovat,(chivalry and valiance are only weak English approximations of these words) if we talk about his failure. As a matter of fact, I have heard of a very good documentary made about Takhti’s life, which by the producer’s consent is kept from public access to protect his reputation. In my humble judgment, Takhti was such a great man that his life, in the hands of a good playwright, can produce an everlasting tragedy in the same line of Sisyphus, or Oedipus.


Recently by IranWritesCommentsDate
Mar 28, 2009
Obama's Call
Nov 02, 2008
Sara Palin, a Woman's View
Sep 13, 2008
more from IranWrites


by Sasan (not verified) on

LOL...yeah...30 years later, Takhti's family is still afraid of Savak, covering up his death..!!



True Muslims never commit suicide!!!

by Anonymous None Muslim (not verified) on

Well, if this is an absolute statement then he was not a true Muslim, and all the other Muslims that commit suicide are not true Muslims. I am talking about the Mumbai attackers who were on a suicide mission, so were the Muslims who piloted the airplanes on September 11th 2001, the Madrid subway attack, and all the other Muslim suicide bombers. This is not to compare Takhti’s suicide to those lunatics Muslims, but to say that when someone makes an absolute statement like that proof to the contrary will be presented.

Muslims, whether true or not, commit suicide like anyone else in this world. Each year hundreds of abused Muslim women pure kerosene on themselves and burn themselves to death, and thousands of other Muslims, men and women, kill themselves because of depression, failed love affairs, life pressures, and even a lot of so called Muslim revolutionaries prefer to commit suicide than being captured alive by their enemies.


Takhti was a true moslem. He would never commit suicide!

by gol-dust on

I feel your whole purpose of article was to wash off the Shah's hand from killing Takhti! I was agreeing with the writer at the beginning till I read that he commited suicide! How do you know? Were you there? His family said so? If they did, it was to save their own lives and I am glad they did it! if they did!

As for heros, I knew many Iranians who were like Takhti, but they were not famous! My neighbor was bigger and stronger than him and had as big a heart as him, but only his workers in his factory and whoever dealt with him knew that! He did a lot of good for the poor that even his wife didn't know till after his death!

Takhti was what every iranian would have liked to be! He lived the true way of our precious culture. The culture that was there for thousands of years! I know many wrestlers and boxers who are in their fifties and sixties who could have been Takhtis!

As for balance, Persian culture and science has more balance than many other cultures. One reason is that they invented algorithm and geometry, and this was used in their architecture and art frequeently. Examples such as mosques which have two menarh as opposed to one in sonni, and of course the most famous balancing act is the TAJ MAHAL which is the most balance archtecture of the time! let's not forget the balance between our religion and culture as well.

Life goes around in balance. Look at our body structure! The earth. Our brain. Man and woman! (gays?)

If people due to circumstances violate the persian culture, that doesn't make our culture bad. If one vilotes the law by passing the red lite it is not the law that has problem, it is the violater!


Still missing the point!!!

by Anonymouszzzz (not verified) on

You sound as disingaged with the events evolving around Takhti inside Iran, as you are with indulging the audience with credible evidence to substantiate your claim and prove otherwise.

Regardless, balance aside, for a guy with no formal education, Takhti demonstrated his command of math and physics on the mat better than many professors could with chalk in their hand.

Hero's are in the eyes of the beholder....and that's the real legend of Takhti.


We don’t need no heroes

by Anonymous No Hero (not verified) on

We don’t need no leaders to follow blind
We don’t need no heroes to copy / paste
I object!
We’re on a wrong way
I reject!
Plastic sincerity
We can break new own grounds, mature own fruits
We can break new own grounds that fit our needs
We’re what we are
What do we want to be
We’re what we are
Not what we’re told to be
The rhythm of our hearts beat
Look! this is us
Not his replica
It’s time to bury down our failure complexes
Lack of self-confidence, second rate identities
We have much more to say, to do our own ways
For all of us hungry here, not all of them stodgy there



by Sasan (not verified) on

He committed suicide!
His son says so.
His family says so.
More Catholoic than Pope, say it was murder...


Suicide or murder?

by Anonymouszzzzz (not verified) on

It would be great for the author to provide credible substantiation on Takhti committing suicide.

Note that those in his subculture believe that the final chapter of Takhti's life has yet to unfold. His young son aside, he still has close family members that have chosen to remain silent over Takhti's death.

The same subculture is convinced that his influence and popularity over the peasants and the working class lead to his death. An order executed by an extortionist coercion artist who later died in a plane crash.

Jahanshah Javid


by Jahanshah Javid on

IranWrites, I'm not convinced that "art and skill of keeping ones balance ... is a core tenet of the Iranian culture." It seems to me that balance is the core of every human civilization and practically every sport I can think of. But you also need balance to cook a nice meal. You need balance to be able to get along with your co-workers. Balance is a universal thing.