DASTUR KAIKOBAD ADERBAD DASTUR NOSHIRWAN
DASTUR KAIKOBAD ADERBAD DASTUR NOSHIRWAN
THE HIGH PRIEST OF THE DECCAN, CALCUTTA, MADRAS, MALWA, AND 23 OTHER DIOCESES
Tawarikhe-Dastoor Jamasp Ashana.
Tawarikhe-Dastoor Jamasp Ashana [History of the Jamasp Ashana Family] (Bombay: Mumbai Vertman Press, 1912), 146-53 (translation from Gujarati by Homi D. Patel).]
Sardar Dastur Kekobad Aaderbad
With the end of the history of this Dasturji, the history of the decedents of the Late Dastur Behmanji Jamshedji ends here. He was the youngest son of Dastur Behramji – the fourth son of the first Head Dastur of the Deccan – Dastur Jamaspji Edulji, but since his paternal cousin the Late Ervad Aderbad was adopted by Dastoor Nosherwan, he is associated with his name. He was born at the Dastur hall at Poona on Roj 11th Mah 2nd 1231 Yezdezardi dated 3rd November 1861, Samvat 1918’s Kartik Sud 1 (date according to Hindu calendar), it was a Sunday. He acquired the training of “Naaver Martaab” (i.e. training to be initiated into priesthood) under the able guidance of his maternal uncle and then on Roj 22nd Mah 7th Yezdezardi 1243 dated 10th April 1874, Samvat 1930 acquired the advance training of Ervad at the main Dehermeher of Navsari. Under the guidance of same teacher, he studied further and did the advance study of “Paav Mahal” and “Barashnum”. He followed the profession of “Yozdathragiri” for quite a long time. He was trained in Marathi, Farsi and English languages at Poona’s Government High School, and studied Sanskrit under one Pandit. He achieved excellence in the languages of “Zend” and “Pehelvi” by taking up its advance studies under the guidance of his able paternal uncle Late Sardar Dastur Hoshang Jamasp.
Right from his childhood, he had inculcated hobby of drawing portraits, and he gradually developed that ability in him. Many a portraits, drawn by him still adorn his present day residence, giving the idea of his artistic brush.
After his appointed as the Head Dastur of the Deccan, the prominent ceremonies performed by him included the laying of the foundation and bringing into the service – the “Dokhma” at Igatpuri. The foundation laying of the aforesaid “Dokhma” was performed by the help of his maternal uncle, Dastur Khurshedji Jamshedji of Mhow under the supervision of his elder paternal uncle – Late Sardar Dastur Nosherwanji Jamespji – on Roj 19th Maha 8th in the year 1253 Yezdezardi dated 4th May 1884. Thereafter, the ceremony of “Parthavani” – i.e. consecration – was performed under the supervision of his second (the Gujarati word used here could also mean “Other”) paternal uncle, Sardar Dastur Hoshang Jamasp on Roj 16th Mah 9th in the year 1254 Yezdezardi dated 31st May 1885. The Anjuman of Igatpuri felicitated him with a Shawl, on his accomplishment.
He was appointed the Head Dasturji, on the day of the “Uthamna ceremony” (the third day’s ritual since the demise of a Parsi Zoroastrian) of his eldest Paternal uncle, the Late Sardar Dastur Nosherwanji Jamaspji – which was on Roj 12th Mah 2nd in the year 1254 Yezdezardi, dated 29th October 1884. Five shawls from the following greeted his appointment:
- From the Trustees of the Late Sheth Sohrabji Rattanji Patel’s Charitable Trust.
- From the Anjuman of Poona.
- From Dastur Jamshedji Rustomji Jamasp Aasha.
- From Sheth Hormusji Sohrabji Todiwalla.
- From Sheth Dhunjishaw Jamshedji Ankleshsaria.
During March 1895, he was appointed as a Government nominated member at the Municipal Corporation of Poona and presently he adorns the post of its vice chairman.
Before being appointed as the Head Priest, he published many books. In June 1896, he translated “Karname Ardeshir Babegan” from Pehlvi to English and Gujarati and published it along with the original narration of “The Shahanama”. Thereafter in December 1899, he published “Jande Behmanyesht” with its Pehlvi text and Gujarati translation and the translation of “Mino Khered” from Paazend to Gujarati. The Pehlvi text of “Behman Yasht” was printed by the “Photozinco Process”. All the above three books received critical appreciation from English and Gujarati newspapers.
“Mr. Cama Memorial Volume” which was edited by Shamshul Ulama Ervad Jivanji Jamshedji Modi in the year 1901, as a token of remembrance on the seventy-first birthday of the late scholar Sheth Khurshedji Rustomji Cama – included “Avesta Shabde No Mool” (The origin of the word Avesta) a write up by him. The famous scholar of the Pehelvi Language – Doctor West – termed that write up as “— of requiring extreme attention”. The issue of the magazine “Raast Goftar” dated 8th September 1901, carried the following citation: –
“Dastur Kekobad Noshirwan Jamasp Aashana, has undertaken a very informative topic of exploring the root of Avasta and we are of the opinion that he has more or less reached the point of success; so also will be acknowledged by our Parsi as well European Scholars.”
During July 1903, the Honourable Government granted him the respect of appointing him the Honorary Magistrate of Poona.
The “Parthavani ceremony” of the Dokhmas at Devlali was accomplished solely by himself on Roj 19th Maha 3rd in the year 1277 Yezdezardi on date 1st December 1907, on that day he was honoured by the Anjuman of that place, by bestowing a shawl. Thereafter he set out to inspect the :Panthaks” (undertaking of offering religious services by junior mobeds) under him and had to visit Bhusaval, Akola, Badnera, Nagpur, Kamli and Igatpuri. At all those places, he received pomp welcome along with scrolls of honour and shawls. Some gents also arranged for a function of tea party.
He ascended the throne of High Priest of Deccan of Roj 15th and Maha 8th in the year 1277 Yezdezardi dated 25th April 1908, after the demise of Sardar Dastur Hoshang Jamasp. A resolution supporting his appointment, made on behalf of the Trustees of the Late Sheth Sohorabji Rattanji Patel’s Charitable Trust was read out before the Anjuman – which was as follows:-
“Gentlemen of the Anjuman, The Trustees of the Late Sheth Sohorabji Rattanji Patel’s Dehermeher and Charitable Trust, note with utter grief the sad demise of one of our Co-trustee and the Head Priest of this Dehermeher – Dastur Hoshangji, who during the course of his life had brought about a progress in facilities at this Dehermeher and all the charitable trusts by his tireless efforts and that is how they have been able to reach the present state of excellence. Now, in accordance of the authority vested in us – the existing trustees – by the Trust deed and by consensus, nominate our present assistant Dastur Kekobad Saheb Aaderbad Dastur Nosherwan in place of the Late Dasturji Saheb Hosangji for the management of the Dehermeher and keeping updated all the arrangements. We sincerely hope that our Anjuman will also like this appointment. The Late Dasturji Hoshangji’s dedication of his entire long life to his pious post and by the ardent services offered had won over the hearts of all; Dastur Kekobad will also follow in his auspicious steps and will give sufficient satisfaction to the Trustees as well as the Anjuman, of that we are very much sure.”
Dastur Kekobad had acquired quite an art and gained a vast experience having functioned as an assistant to the Late Dastur Saheb Hoshangji. In the similar manner, with a view to keep up the tradition of this Dasturi throne, we trustees have arranged for the son of Dastur Kekobad, Bhai Nosherwan – who is presently under extensive training – that after he completes his training he will be appointed as the assistant Dastur. We believe this arrangement will also meet the approval of our Anjuman.
Within only three months after ascending the throne – that is during July 1908 the Honourable Government bestowed upon him the title of the First Grade Sardar of the Deccan and by virtue of that, his inclusion was made in the Levy that is held in the Government Palaces. The excellent quality of Dasturi and his nobleness was highly appreciated in the Government circles and he was conferred the title of “Private Honorary”. The manner in which this honour was carried in the English as well as Gujarati newspapers – will be appropriate – if mentioned here: –
(The English passage appears here)
“The Head Priest of Deccan Dastur Kekobad Aaderbad Dastur Nosherwanji has been appointed as the Sardar of the 1st grade by the Honourable Government. The rank of a Head Priest should be considered more then any other Governmental honours despite this fact the Parsis of Poona and Deccan will not be able to conceal their joy upon the achievements of their Head Priest. Dastur Kekobad is truly worthy of this honour.
*** He has given substantive services in the legislative assembly also. ***
“We convey our heartiest greetings to Dasturji Saheb Kekobad for such a magnificent achievement and wish that he keep on getting more and more such adornments”
(Jame Jamshed: 21st July 1908)
In the Parsi community presently there are three Baronets, two Knights and a Sardar and to that there is the addition of one more Sardar. The Honourable position of the Head Priest of the Parsis of Deccan and Malwa has been graced since many years by the descendants of Dastur Jamesp Aashana. Two Dastur Sahebs – the last of this clan – Dastur Nosherwanji Jamaspji and his brother Dastur Hoshangji held the position of the first grade of the Dasturs. Presently their successor, the new Dastur Kekobad Aaderbad has also been conferred with the honour of being decorated as the Sardar of the first grade by the Honourable Government and has spread joy and cheers in the community. We have been observing that this Dasturi family of Poona has won the laurels and honours because of their wisdom, ability and determination. The native place of that family is Navsari and as a rule, the Athornan tribe of Navsari has been a success wherever they have been because of the wisdom of their heart. However, the Jamesp Aasha family of Poona have gained their fame due to their knowledge of the religion, their progressive habits in keeping with the current trends, and considering it as their ardent duty to make their fellow tribesmen achieve progress. Dasturs could be found in plenty today, but those that guide their tribe in accordance of the advanced knowledge of their religion to stride on the true path, are not known to us to be found except – those daring Dasturs from Poona.
* * * Dasturs should of course be of clean conscience and of advanced knowledge * * *
Dastur Kekobad had a pragmatic mentality; he was an archenemy of superstition, fanatics and obstinacy and believes in keeping up the pace of progress along with the world. We heartily congratulate such a religious scholar for having achieved the rank of a Sardar from the Government. [italics mine] (Raast Goftar – 26th July 1908).
The presentation ceremony of the scroll was presided over by the Agent of the Sardars – Mr. Ropar on 22nd July 1910, the day that was also celebrated as the birthday of His Highness the King, at a pompous gathering at a Darbar at Poona.
He was appointed to preside over a Zarthoshty conference called by some prominent Zoroastrians in Bombay, on 16th April 1910. An agitation arose amongst the Parsis, as a couple of Bombay based Parsi newspapers tried to create a hindrance to holding such a meeting and quite an effort had been made by them for creating an obstacle. However, due to the perseverance, patience, tact and far-sightedness of the organisers they overcame this hindrance and the conference was successfully held. Whilst delivering the Presidential address, the Dasturji impressed the crowd so much by use of his rational and mature words, that they created a miraculous effect on the audience. After hearing the lecture, an arch opponent who was against this conference right from the beginning – an eminent Sheth of Bombay – Sheth Shapurji Behramji Katrak, even dared to withdraw his earlier hostility. Not only that, but in order to laud that conference, a dinner was arranged on the night of 30th April at the Grant Road bungalow of Sheth Nusserwanji Maneckji Petit which was presided over by Sir Dinshaw Maneckji Petit Baronet.
The performance of the consecration ceremony of the Adarian at the Madras Dehermeher on Roj 29th Maha 11 1279 Yezdezerdi on 7th August 1910 under his leadership. On that occasion, the Anjuman of that place – with a scroll of honour and a shawl, graced him. During that occasion, he took a chance to call upon the Government of Madras Sir Arthur Lolly at the Government Palace resort in Oatacommud.
On 17th November 1910 the Honourable Government appointed him as a delegate of
“Parsi District Matrimonial Court”. ( Extract from the History of the Jamasp Ashana Family)
In October 1912 he concecrated the Late Ervad D B Mehta Zoroastrian Anjuman Atash Adaran in Calcutta.He was the first Head Shenshai Dastur of the Atash Adaran and the trust deed of the Agiari states that Shams- Ulama Sardar Dastur Kaikobad Adarbad Dastur Noshirwan shall examine into regulate and control the religious rites, ceremonies and services of the said Atash Adaran. An annual donation was to be sent to the revered Dasturji Saheb.
In 1914 Dastur Kaikobad went from Calcutta to Rangoon to perform Bella’s (daughter of a Parsi mother and non-Parsi fathers) navjote. He was in Calcutta with his wife attending the wedding of his brother -in-law. He and his wife then went by ship to Rangoon where he first performed Bella’s adoptive mothers navjote, then the wedding of her adoptive parents by Parsi rites and then Bella’s navjote. He was of the view that Bella was a Parsi because “her mother was a Parsi”. He believed in the universality of the Zoroastrian Religion and was an independent priest firm in his religious beliefs.
DASTUR KAIKOBAD “I AM AN INDEPENDENT DASTUR”. IN THE HINDI PUNCH CARTOON, REPORTING ON THE PROGRESS OF THE CASE, SAKLAT VS BELLA IN 1914.
At the Parliament of Living Religions held at the Imperial Institute, London, September 22nd to October 3rd1924 in a report by William Loftus Blake, he writes,
“A short description of the Parsi religion is given by Dastur Kaikobad who addressed the audience “
“They are Persians by race and religion, and preserve the faith taught in the sixth century BC by Zoroaster. Here again the conference was well served by a lucid paper by Shams-ul-ulema Dastur Kaikobad Aderbad Dastur Noshirwan, Ph. D. first class Sardar and High Priest of the Deccan. Poona. India, whose simple exposition of the basic principle of Zoroastrianism, a universal religion, was much appreciated.”
“The Dastur’s paper though short, was simple and clear, and removed, I thought, the whole subject from the realm of controversy in which it is so often wrapped. The whole paper was interesting as evidence of the way in which the followers of so many religions nowadays, have given up the exclusive demands of their faith. For it is upon the principles that harmonize with the idea of a universal religion that emphasis is laid. Within all the faiths, as with all the nations, the desire for union is being increasingly felt. After a brief account of Zoroaster as a religious reformer of ancient Persia—or rather of Iran of which Fars was one province only—he affirmed that the Zoroastrian theology was a monotheism…….The ethical conceptions of Zoroaster were described, followed by a view of the hereafter.”
Certainly a very interesting and and quite an informative piece of our history. However, one wonders aloud on how the balance has swung from one end to the other over a period of time, when our own ‘Dasturs’ have attempted to screw around with our great Zarathushti religion.
As per this posting – “In 1914 Dastur Kaikobad went from Calcutta to Rangoon to perform Bella’s (daughter of a Parsi mother and non-Parsi fathers) navjote. He was in Calcutta with his wife attending the wedding of his brother -in-law. He and his wife then went by ship to Rangoon where he first performed Bella’s adoptive mothers navjote, then the wedding of her adoptive parents by Parsi rites and then Bella’s navjote. He was of the view that Bella was a Parsi because “her mother was a Parsi”.
Now compare that ridiculous logic of the so-called Shams-Ulama Sardar Dastur Kaikobad of yesteryears, to the frivolous defence by several Mobeds and Dasturs of today, claiming that there is no infringement on our religious tenets, when performing navjote ceremonies of ‘mixed’ children, because “the father is a Parsi”.
The lesson that the Parsi community as a whole, should learn from this diagonally opposite viewpoints is simply this – none of these practices are actually correct. The rationale that are blurted out by our religious leaders for their inappropriate actions which are incongruent to our religious tenets, are simply the function of which way the wind blows for them at the time – no more, no less.