Tribute to Dasturji Jamshed Ervad Sohrab Kukadaru
Today is Shehenshahi Roj Zamyad Mah Ava. It is also Dasturji Kukadaru saheb’s birth anniversary!
He was a Saint who led a Simple life – A Priest but not Pedantic – An Alchemist but he never abused the knowledge or power he was blessed with – An Astrologer but not prone to Alibi – A Healer with a Heart of gold.
His greatness lay in his simplicity and his piety and we remember him to this day.
He was Panthaky (managing Priest) of the Kapawala Agiary and commanded the respect of his peers and the Behdin (laity). He washed his own clothes and ate only one meal a day which consisted of rice and ghee (clarified butter) which he used to cook by keeping a vessel filled with rice in the rays of the sun and reciting sacred Avestan verses. He was a vegetarian by choice and spent most of his time in offering prayers. Although the title of Dastur (High Priest) was conferred on him posthumously, the behdins regarded him as a Dastur even during his lifetime. Whenever he attended a wedding or navjote, the whole gathering would stand up as a mark of respect.
Dasturji had developed qualities of clairvoyance as a result of certain tarikat (spiritual discipline), amal (ritual power), manthravani (prayers) and leading a life of ashoi (righteousness). He is believed to have accurately predicted the day and time (to the hour) of Dastur Peshotan Sanjana’s death as also the death of Queen Victoria and Sir Dinshaw Petit.
Once, when a marriage procession was passing through Chira Bazaar in Mumbai, Dasturji sent word that the procession should halt for about an hour. No one paid any heed. Within a short time, there was an accident and the bridegroom died on the spot.
He had comprehensive knowledge of Avesta and Pahlavi. He served as a teacher at the Seth Jijibhai Dadabhai Zend Avesta Madressa at Fort, translated certain volumes of the Pahlavi Dinkard and contributed regularly to a journal called ‘Yazdan Parast’. He had also brought out various booklets, one of which was ‘Khoasa-e-afringan’ in which he advocated reciting the ‘Tao ahmi nemane’ karda.
Dasturji, with the power of his ashoi (holiness/righteousness) and manthravani (prayers), healed a number of ailing and suffering persons. For instance, when Jehangir Karkaria, a teacher at Bharda School, was just three, he had a severe attack of jaundice, and the doctors had given up hope. His grandmother took the ailing boy to Dasturji at the Agiary. He made her sit at a certain spot with the ailing child in her lap. Dasturji sat at some distance and began praying after placing a brass bowl filled with clean well-water between them. As Dasturji prayed, the water in the bowl began to turn yellow and the child began to recover. The child grew up to be a well-regarded teacher and mathematician and died at a ripe old age.
One day, a Muslim Pir (Saint) appeared at the gate of the Kappawalla Agia`ry with a view to test Dasturji’s spiritual powers. After some discussion, the Pir challenged Dasturji to bring the water level of the Agiary well to the surface. Dasturji agreed, but warned that if the water overflowed, the sin of wasting water would be on the Pir’s head. After performing the Padyab Kushti, Dasturji began to pray. Towards the end of the prayers, the water level began to rise. When the water surfaced right up to the top, the Pir implored Dasturji to stop. The water receded and the Pir left chanting Dasturji’s praise.
The miracle for which Dasturji is most renowned is the one connected with the establishment of the Anjuman Atash Behram. Reportedly, Dasturji Saheb transformed an ordinary mud brick into a large bar of gold by chanting Avestan prayers throughout the night. This was on request of Zoroastrian devotees to cover a shortfall in the funds required for constructing the Anjuman Atash Behram building at Dhobi Talao, in Mumbai. Kukadaru Saheb requested Dasturji Kaikhushru Jamaspji the High Priest to go to the next room and sell the item which he would find there. The item happened to be a gold brick which, in those days, fetched a handsome sum of Rs. 10,000/-
It is likely that Kukadaru Saheb was well-versed in the science of Alchemy. We know today, in the light of modern science, that when the number of protons in the nucleus of an atom of any element is changed (i.e., increased or decreased) the element itself can change from one to another. Perhaps Dasturji with his ashoi and manthravani had the power to alchemise metals.
Amazing and extraordinary as this ‘miracles’ may appear, the famous English Scientist, Alfred Russell, believed, “a miracle is nothing but certain laws of Nature which we neither know nor understand.” Mystics like Dastur Azar Kaiwan, Dastur Meherji Rana and Dastur Kukadaru understood and knew these Laws of Nature and used them for righteous purposes.
May Dasturji saheb’s blessings always be upon our community and this world.
By Noshir H. Dadrawala