Kavi Firoz Rustomji Batliwalla

Death centenary of

Kavi FIROZ RUSTOMJI BATLIWALLA

The music maestro who composed the Parsi anthem Chhaiye Ame Jarthosti

 to the tune of Good Bye My Blue Bell

by

Marzban Jamshedji Giara

How many of us know that he also composed the popular songs such as Khudavind O Khavind, Saras sau thee kharo rahebar, Bhale lidho janm jagpar. He was born in 1846 at Navsari. He studied at ElphinstoneInstitution.  He  served as a cashier in G.I.P. Railway. He used to sing and teach music in various public societies. From childhood his hobby was to compose Gujarati poems and songs.

Rahnumae Mazdayasnan Sabha organised a competition in 1893 for composing devotional hymns in simple Gujarati language. This competition was won by Firoz and his lyrics were published by the Sabha in 1894. He had also prepared a book of Indian ragas with staff notation according to western music. He prepared several music books such as ‘Firozi Gayan’ and ‘‘Sarode Avestani notation tatha Jarthosti Bandagio’ and Sarode Paak Daamani ane Sitame Minar –tragic story of two Parsi ladies who in order to save their honour sacrificed their lives at the Rajabai Tower, Mumbai.

Sarode Avesta is a collection of devotional hymns in Gujarati giving the meanings of  most of our daily prayers Ashem Vohu, Yatha Ahu Vairyo, Kemna Mazda, Hormuzd Khodae, Jasme Avanghe Mazda, Sarosh Baj, Ahmai Raescha, Hazangarem, Jasme Avanghe Mazda, Kerfe Mozd, Dinno Kalmo, Doa Tandorosti, five gehs, five niyaeshes, Namaskars. etc.  When he composed Sarode Avesta he went to Dasturji Peshotan Sanjana who was very pleased on hearing these songs. Firoz also rendered these devotional hymns before audiences in Poona. Late Sardar Dastur Kaikobad and his cousin Khan Bahadur Dastur Meherji expressed their desire to teach these hymns in their schools.  Vistasp Bulsara, the famous music maestro along with Dhunnawaz Indorewalla produced a gramophone record of these lyrics. These songs are now available on an audio CD titled Zoroastrian Hymns.

Firoz used to teach music in Parsi schools and compose songs for public functions. He earned great fame by rendering his songs at public functions in the presence of Viceroys and Governors. ‘Gayan Uttejak Mandali’ started by Kaikhushru Navroji Kabraji in 1870 conferred honorary life membership on him on 23rd November 1889 in appreciation of his valuable services. He also served as its secretary for some time. He presented a collection of his books to this Mandali. He composed songs for plays and himself used to sing and play the tunes which were well appreciated. He was a most humble and well respected person. He devoted his whole life to teaching music in schools. Innumerable grandmas, mothers and daughters sang these songs in Parsi homes and spread joy.

He was the son of Rustomji Cowasji Batliwalla and father of Kaikhashru Firozshah Batliwalla. He passed away at age 66 on Khordad Sal day Roz 6 Khordad Mah 1 Farvardin 1282 Yezdezerdi 17th September 1912 A.C.

Parsis flock to programs of film music but are unaware of their own rich musical heritage.  A song becomes a hit because it is played over and over again. Unfortunately today at many Parsi functions only a few lines of Chhaiye Ame Jarthosti are sung and not the entire anthem of five verses. Let us in this centenary year of the Kavi sing the entire anthem in full as also his devotional hymns and usher in joy and happiness in our homes and our surroundings.

 

5 comments

  • Aspandiar Jamshed Engineer

    Shocking,a Kavi in our midest we are ignorant about it.
    Sure enough we would like to have the CD Zoroastain hymes.Can some one contact us.

  • guys instead telling history how was mama and papa put the song so people can listen

  • Marzban, thank you for the insert and your ever selfless dedicated endeavors towards your life’s love for our Religion & co-Religionists. I was in search of your email & came across this.

    To seek your outspread information and knowledge, dispersed over a variety of topics on our Religion, I was delighted to have sought your help during the mid 1990s; at which time I visited Bombay. My purpose then, during the KR Cama Hall gathered assembly, was to ask for blessings and donations with solid reasons to build an Agiary in London from the already enthused co-Religionists at the spring of our Revival of our universal Religion.

    I have two requests which I hope you will be able to fulfill. First, please could you give me your email (as a fellow IBMer). Second, to appease my searches on the multifarious aspects of Zoroastrianism, please could you research as to what has happened to the progress of “Mazdayasnian Hymns”. These are 39 hymns that were composed in English by late Mr Alexander Rogers in 1910 and printed as a cloth hard-bound booklet. As I gather, it was awaiting to be set to an appropriate music/rhythm/prosody form, for recital as Zarathushtri Hymns by the educated and the laity. It was by sheer chance that I stumbled to purchase this booklet which is in my possession.
    After my death, this with my other books are intended be housed in the future Library of The WZO Headquarters at Feltham, England.

    This wonderful project, that may have been intended to maintain and to progress our interests towards the resurgence of our Religion, as early as in the nineteenth century, had been commissioned by late Mr Nusarvanji M Cooper, proprietor of both The London Indian Chronicle and The Cooper Publishing Company of Ilford, England, in the memory and in the honour of The Late Dadabhoy Byramjee, Head & Founder of the firm of Dadabhoy and Company of London, New York, etc.

    My search to seek the present thread of the family tree, being within a limited group of Parsee friends in UK, was not successful.

    Just the thought of The Grand Works of Dedication and Commitment that these Stalwarts of our Religion had started to undertake in the years after 1850, is certainly beyond my comprehension and ability.

    Your cause, as I would summarize, is to see that the sterling works and worth of our ancestors and present co-religionists will become the beacon for us and our ancestors to gain happiness through The Religion of Man -Zarathushtri. Ameen.

    With respect and humility, hope to hear from you. .
    Rohinton Irani

  • ROHINTON A GOOD COMMENT AND ARTICLE . U CAME TO INDIA FOR FUNDS FOR A FIRE TEMPLE ,WHAT WAS ‘W Z O’ DOING. IS THERE A FIRE-TEMPLE IN LONDON.

  • Dear John Doe, Thank you for your kind words. I will try to answer your Qs to the point.

    Yes, as an individual, I came to India (and also to Hong Kong) to seek funds to build an AGIARY in London. For reasons beyond our scope here, I had to shelve it, even after pledges for funds were collected, after a 3Acre virgin site was being negotiated and after architectural drawings from the USA were drawn.
    An Agiary, or an Atash Adaran, is a Consecrated Fire Temple of the 2nd Degree. The Atash Behram being of the 1st Degree, the 3rd Degree is the Atash Dadgah. Each is graded by the extent of the consecration process undertaken. The term used in general is Fire Temple.

    Major Organisations in UK, being in the main WZO & ZTFE, have similar generic aims (1)harness/grow co-Religionists and necessary Shelters, (2)provide/promulgate information on education/celebrations/social-life to members, (3)evaluate/execute charitable deeds.

    WZO, as with ZTFE and also most other smaller Organizations, abide by their Articles of Memorandum and perform to their annual aims and goals.

    Atash Adaran or an Agiary does NOT exist in London -Nowhere outside of Iran, India, Pakistan.

    Atash Dadgah (the ‘house’ fire/ashes of coal/wood of beyond 70 years, not Consecrated) can exist anywhere, cradled in a room in a Building, which at times can be extinct, smoldering or in flames.
    At present, there are 2 Atash Dadgah in London -at ZTFE and at Ferdowsi Centre.

    Hope my answers, which could be subject to scrutiny, are to your expectation.

    Kind Regards
    Rohinton Irani

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