Seeking information on Pestonji Padshah, a friend of Mahatma Gandhi
Please see the message below from Gopalkrishna Gandhi, author and former governor of West Bengal. He is seeking information on a Parsi figure from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Pestonji Padshah, who knew Mahatma Gandhi (Pestonji Padshah’s brother, Burjorji, worked with the Tatas). He asks if you could get in touch with him if you might have any information on Padshah and his family. Mr. Gandhi has already done extensive research and is in touch with the Tata Central Archives, so please contact him only if you might have specific information to share.
Mohandas K. Gandhi met and got to know Pestonji Padshah when both of them were students in London. Gandhi studied law at the Inns of Court, 1888-1891. I do not know where Pestonji studied. Indian students in London at that time, as later and even earlier, regarded Dadabhai Naoroji as the solar centre of their universe. It is likely that Gandhi met Pestonji in the ‘Dadabhai circle’. He met up with Pestonji later, in Bombay, when he (Gandhi) was back from South Africa on a brief visit by when, as Gandhi says, Pestonji had become Prothonotary in the Bombay High Court. Pestonji advised Gandhi against prolonging his stay in South Africa saying that there was work to be done by him in India. Gandhi refers to the Padshah family again in his description (in his autobiography) of a meeting with Sister Nivedita, in 1902. He says he encountered the distinguished Irishwoman in Pestonji’s home as she spoke to Pestonji’s mother. Gandhi acted as an impromptu interpreter for the senior lady, sharing with her the medium of Gujarati. It is not immediately clear from this description whether the meeting – and this residence of the Padshahs – was in Bombay or in Calcutta.
I am curious to find out more about Pestonji Padshah for a study I am engaged in of Gandhi’s autobiographical observations beyond his book The Story of my Experiments with Truth. Any clues about that gentleman will be most valuable to my study.