Category Archives: History

New Book about history of Zoroastrianism has been published

My name is Denis Karasev. I live and work in Russia.

 

My father – Dr. Vladimir Karasev – is a famous archeologist and historian from Central Asia. Here is his official website – http://www.vladimirkarasev.com

 

For more than 30 years he was studding history of Zoroastrism in Central Asia and based on his 30 years research, he has written a book with the name “At Ahura Mazda’s Throne”. This book was published few days ago with quite limited circulation and now available in Russian language on Vladimir’s official website https://vladimirkarasev.com/book?id=24. (For English Version – Click Here – https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=ru&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.vladimirkarasev.com%2F) It is distributed only as a hard copy and can be delivered worldwide.

 

This book is the first book that has been published about Zoroastrism in post-Soviet space and I believe that may be of your interest. Vladimir does not speak English so I would be more than happy to help and answer any questions.

 

Book has introduction letter from Dr. Keki Bhote (one of the principles of World Zoroastrian Organization).

 

Kind regards,

Denis Karasev

 

 

 

Studies in Parsi History

STUDIES IN PARSI HISTORY by SHAPURSHAH HORMASJI HODIWALA 1920

The historian S H Hodiwala discusses the Traditional Dates in Parsi History. Dates of the Sack of Sanjan, Jadi Rana and the Kisah -i-Sanjan, the colophons of Mihirapan Kaikhusru, Parsi Sanskrit Colophons and the dates of the Riwayat’s. He also gives a translation of the Kissah-i-Sanjan.

He writes, “It is fairly well known that the only source of our knowledge of the early history of the Parsis is the Kisaah-i-Sanjan, a narrative in Persian verse by Bahman Kaikobad Hamjiyar Padam Kaikobad in 1600 AC.”

“Bahman does not give us a precise chronological starting point, it remains open to the reader to infer whether a long period of time, or a short one, whether many years or a few years passed between events”. The 846 lines of the Kisaah are translated from page 102.

From page 199 he writes about ancient documents which are family papers of some Zoroastrians who lived in the 16th and 17th Century which show the kind of life they led. “It is fairly well known that the people were in a state of obscurity and indigence in those times”.

“Most of the documents tell us, which may appear incredible today, that the Parsis of those times lived for the most part, only by agriculture and retail.” “These are the oldest original papers in existence relating to our ancestors”

This is a very meticulously researched book with historical references. A must read to know the truth about our past.

The original article was published in the

JOURNAL OF THE IRANIAN ASSOSSIATION VOL. II JANUARY 1914.

THE TRADITIONAL DATES OF PARSI HISTORY by PROFESSOR S. H. HODIWALA M. A. (pg309 TO 325)

Objects of the Iranian Assossiation.

  • To maintain the purity of the Zoroastrian religion and remove the excrescences that have gathered around it
  • To expose and counteract the effects of such teachings of Theosophists and others as tend
  1. To corrupt the religion of Zarathustra by adding elements foreign to it, and
  2. To bring about the degeneration of a progressive and virile community like the Parsis, and make them a body of superstitious and unpractical visionaries
  • To promote measures for the welfare and advancement of the community.

 

 

MEMBERS OF THE MANAGING COMMITTEE OF THE IRANIAN ASSOSSIATION

 

President                   Mr H. J Bhabha

Vice President           Mr J A Dalal

Mr L N Banaji

MEMBERS

Mr D F Gimi                  Mr Ardeshir Servai

Mr Padamji B Desai     Mr  N N Katrak

Mr M F Anklesaria       Mr D M Madan

Mr P A Engineer           N N Kanga

Mr Jamshedji Nadirshaw

 

Click Here to Download the entire work and read it at leisure

JOURNAL OF IRANIAN ASSOCIATION – QUESTIONS ON SOME HISTORICAL DATES

JOURNAL OF THE IRANIAN ASSOSSIATION VOL. II JANUARY 1914.
CONTENTS
THE TRADITIONAL DATES OF PARSI HISTORY by PROFESSOR S. H. HODIWALA M. A. (pg309 TO 325)
Objects of the Iranian Assossiation.
1) To maintain the purity of the Zoroastrian religion and remove the excrescences that have gathered around it
2) To expose and counteract the effects of such teachings of Theosophists and others as tend
a) To corrupt the religion of Zarathustra by adding elements foreign to it, and
b) To bring about the degeneration of a progressive and virile community like the Parsis, and make them a body of superstitious and unpractical visionaries
3) To promote measures for the welfare and advancement of the community.

MEMBERS OF THE MANAGING COMMITTEE

President Mr H. J Bhabha
Vice President Mr J A Dalal
Mr L N Banaji
MEMBERS
Mr D F Gimi Mr Ardeshir Servai
Mr Padamji B Desai Mr N N Katrak
Mr M F Anklesaria Mr D M Madan
Mr P A Engineer N N Kanga
Mr Jamshedji Nadirshaw

The original paper written by the historian Hodiwala on the traditional dates of Parsi history were published in this journal in 1914.

He explains that our knowledge of our ancient history is based on a poem Qissa I Sanjan written in 1599. There is much confusion regarding dates as there is no recorded history but a surmise is made depending on the events mentioned in the poem and matching it with the historical facts available. Thus he writes “the same event (the arrival of the Parsis at Sanjan) occurred in 716, 839 and 905 AD.”
” I believe these dates to be speculative dates, calculated dates, ex post facto results of calculations made upon the basis of a few generally accepted postulates, but combined diversely by different persons with conjectures, emendations and probable estimates of their own……..our ignorance of early Parsi history in this country is to-day almost as dense as it was fifty or a hundred years ago.”
He explains in detail in the original article in the Journal of the Iranian Assossiation which is attached.

 

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The Jubilee Diamond – Sir Dorabji Tata

The Jagersfontein Mine, located in South Africa, has been of the great diamond mines of the world. Discovered in 1870, it has yielded over 9.6 million carats of beautiful diamonds over its lifetime. Yet the unique stone that was discovered here in 1895 was particularly special, in more ways than one.

First and foremost, this magnificent large diamond, weighing 245.35 carats, turned out to be the sixth largest diamond in the world. This means it was twice as large as the legendary Kohinoor. Second, it was a diamond of exceptional purity and sparkle, and often described as the most perfectly cut of all large diamonds. But most importantly, as this interesting story will soon reveal to you, it went on to play a very important role for the Tata Group, well beyond the normal remit of diamonds and jewellery.

The large rough stone was sent to Amsterdam in 1896 for polishing, where it became clear that it was yielding a superb, colourless, cushion-cut diamond. A stone so perfect in cut, that it could be balanced on its narrow culet, less than 2 mm across. In 1897, it was named the “Jubilee” Diamond, to commemorate the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria. Here is a rare instance of a diamond being named for a diamond jubilee, quite a literal commemoration ! Indeed, the consortium of three London merchants who owned it then may have even thought that this diamond would be best placed in Her Majesty’s royal crown.

However, destiny had other plans in store for the Jubilee Diamond. In 1900, it was displayed at the Paris Exposition, which was held to celebrate the achievements of the past hundred years, and also to welcome the new century. The diamond was a centre of attraction at this global fair, and received a lot of praise from experts. At that time, it must have caught the imagination of Sir Dorabji Tata, the elder son of Jamsetji Tata, founder of the Tata Group. Two years earlier – on Valentine’s Day of 1898 – Dorabji Tata had been married to Meherbai, and he was deeply in love with her. He now decided to gift her the Jubilee Diamond.

Dorabji bought the diamond from the London merchants for around UK £100,000. Lady Meherbai Tata had it set on a platinum claw, and it was then hung on a platinum chain which she could wear around her neck. She would wear it for special occasions, and it is quite possible that she may even have worn it while meeting the then US President Calvin Coolidge, or the King and Queen of England.

Lady Meherbai Tata was a pioneer of the women’s movement in India, and she was also very proud of her Indian roots, so she inevitably wore a saree to celebrate her Indian heritage, even while travelling abroad. The Jubilee Diamond must have been a perfect accessory, complementing her beautiful Parsee sarees. However, this was a very valuable diamond, and heavily insured too. Dinsi Gazdar, who was a well known jeweler of those days at the Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai, remembered Sir Dorabji Tata stating that every time his wife took the diamond out of their safe deposit vault in London, he was “fined” £200 by the insurance company.

In the meanwhile, Sir Dorabji Tata had succeeded his father as Chairman of the Tata Group, and was busy managing the affairs of Tata Steel, Taj Mahal Hotel and other business ventures of the Group. Tata Steel, based in Jamshedpur, had undertaken an expansion programme, post the first World War, and the Company, which was still in its early years, now ran into a host of difficulties, ranging from price inflation to labour issues. Demand in Japan, a large market, came spiraling downwards because of an earthquake there. By 1923, there was a shortage of cash and liquidity, and the Tatas grasped for breath, making valiant efforts to raise funds.

In 1924, a telegram arrived from Jamshedpur, and it was bad news. It simply said that there was not enough money to pay wages to the employees of Tata Steel. Would the fledgling Company survive, or would it be forced to shut down ? Would the dreams and visions that guided the establishment of India’s first integrated steel plant come tumbling down ?

Sir Dorabji Tata did not hesitate for a moment. He had to save the Company, so that it could survive during these difficult times. His wife Meherbai and he decided to pledge their entire personal wealth, which came to around Rs. 1 crore (a huge amount in those days), to a bank, to raise funds for Tata Steel. Sir Dorabji pledged his family wealth to the Imperial Bank. This included all the jewellery owned by his wife, including the Jubilee Diamond.

The Imperial Bank provided the Tatas a loan of Rs. 1 crore, against this personal pledge. The money was used to fund Tata Steel. Soon, the Company’s expanded production facilities began producing returns, and the situation took a turn for the better. Not a single worker was retrenched during this period of intense struggle, though shareholders were not paid dividends for the next several years. The Company returned to profitability within a few years, and the pledge was repaid. By the late 1930s, Tata Steel began hugely prospering once again. By then, Sir Dorabji Tata had passed away, but the personal sacrifice made by his wife and by himself, in pledging their wealth and jewellery, had saved Tata Steel from extinction.

Lady Meherbai Tata died of leukemia, at the relatively young age of 50 years, in 1931. Sir Dorabji Tata passed away just a year later, in 1932. He willed his entire fortune to the Sir Dorabji Tata charitable Trust – including, of course, the Jubilee Diamond. The Jubilee Diamond was sold through Cartier in the year 1937, and the funds from this sale went to the Trust.

The Sir Dorabji Tata Trust used these funds that it was endowed with, to establish the Tata Memorial Hospital and many other Institutions, including the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. This surely makes the Jubilee Diamond unique – it is perhaps the only diamond in the history of mankind that has saved a steel company from collapse, and hence saved several livelihoods from being lost, and has then gone on to create a cancer hospital as well. No diamond has served worthier causes, and this was only possible because of two wonderful hearts of gold.

What happened to the Jubilee Diamond, thereafter ? It was acquired from Cartier by M. Paul-Louis Weiller, a French industrialist. It has since been bought by Robert Mouwad, of the House of Mouwad, reputed jewelers and watchmakers since 1890. There it rests today, its brilliance as splendid as ever, on the back of its eventful history. A beautiful, magnificent diamond with a Tata history.

When Sir Dorabji Tata died, the Times of India wrote, on 4th June 1932 –

“Sir Dorabji’s fame, however, will not rest on his great (industrial) achievements, splendid as they were, or on his wealth, but it will rest solidly on the use he has made of his possessions.”

Truly, what use we put our possessions to, is the real value that they serve. The story of the Jubilee Diamond stands testimony to this truth. (Harish Bhat, Brand Custodian, Tata Sons)

Sir Jamsetji Jeejeebhoy

Birthday Salutations to
Sir Jamsetji Jeejeebhoy
(15th July-1783 to 14th April 1859)
The biggest Philanthropist — Maker of Modern Mumbai
His wife Lady Jeejeebhoy by making Mahim Causeway contributed to biggest wealth creation in Indian History Development of city of Mumbai
Today is the 237th  Birth Anniversary of Sir JJ. His contribution towards building this great city is unparalleled and he could be rightly called founding father of Mumbai.
Following are the contributions of this great person and his family:
1) Before 1845 people beyond Mahim were traveling to city by ferries causing lot of hardships, deaths and other problems. To resolve this hardship faced by poor people Lady Jamshetji contributed full amount to construct the Mahim causeway bridge with a condition that there would be no toll.
In last 165 years the city has grown leaps and bounds unimaginably due to this great contribution.
Can we imagine anyone doing this today when even governments do not build anything without toll?
2) Sir JJ group of Hospitals and Grant Medical College.
Since 1845 this Institution is one of the oldest and best Institutes in Asia Ranked always in first 10 in India and one of the 8 institutes recognized by Singapore Medical Council is built on large Grant from Sir JJ.
This treats 1200000 OPD and 80000 indoor patients every year .
Must have treated at least 30 Crore patients in last 160 years
This is done before start of Mumbai University which means Sir JJ was a pioneer in education and he provided best health services almost FREE of cost to poor people.
3) Sir JJ Dharmashala running for last 150 years takes care of old and destitutes till today.
4) Sir JJ school of Architecture: One of the best in country and produced some of the best architects in India
5) Sir JJ school of Arts from where some of our finest artistes have emerged.
6) Sir JJ school of Commercial Art
7) He built innumerable schools hospitals and Agyaries.
Above all we all use Charni Road Railway Station. Do we know that all this precious land belonged to Sir JJ? He donated this land, again free of cost, to build Charni Road Station.
All these contributions could run into thousands of crores of rupees in today’s valuations. Mumbai owes a lot to this great person  who was an orphan, completely self made , practically educated and knew what troubles the common man goes through.
My humble tribute and salute to this great Mahamanav who contributed towards modernity , growth and happiness of the
Common man.
For his outstanding contributions Queen Victoria conferred baronetcy on India’s first Knight

CENSUS OF BOMBAY CITY – 2 FEBRUARY 1864

The list of the Parsis of Bombay by occupation shows that Parsis had a variety of occupations from accountants and bankers to hawkers, umbrella makers, cooks, servants, gardeners, prostitutes, palm wine dealers and many more.

 

Listing of Number of Parsis by Profession in Alphabetical order

 

TOTAL POPULATION   —   49201

MALES  —   28008

1-30 days–70

1-23 months–823

2-13 years–5873

14-44 years—16430

45 years and above–4840

FEMALES   —  21003

1-30 days—36

1-23 months—762

2-13 years—5749

14-44 years—10790

45 years and above–3700

 

OCCUPATION

 

ANNUITANT, INDEPENDENT, LIVING ON DIVIDEND OR RENTS   — 3117

AUCTIONER                                                                   —   107

BAKER                                                                             —     93

BEGGAR                                                                          —

BRACELET MAKER                                                          —  434

BULLOCK DRIVER, DAIRY MAN                                    —  325

CANE WORKER, PALM LEAF WEAVER                        —  649

CHARCOAL DEALER                                                        —    92

CLOTHIER, DRAPER                                                        —  590

COOK                                                                                — 1641

COPPERSMITH                                                                 —

CONFECTIONER OR SWEET MEAT MAKER                 —    38

CONTRACTOR                                                                  —  606

COTTONWORKER OR RETAILER                                   —   205

CROCKERY, GLASS DEALER                                            —   150

DOMESTIC SERVANT                                                       — 5325

PERFUMER                                                                        —   150

DYER                                                                                  —

ENGINEER                                                                          —

ENGINE DRIVER                                                                —    907

FISHERMAN                                                                      —       40

GARDENER, GREEN GROCER, AGRICULTURIST,

HAY AND STRAW DEALER                                                —     270

 

GOLD, SILVERSMITH, JEWELLER                                     —    128

GRAIN DEALER OR GRINDER                                           —         3

GRAIN PARCHER                                                                —         5

GROCER                                                                              —     316

GUNPOWDER, FIREWORKS MAKER DEALER                —       54

HAWKER                                                                             —      180

HEMP, AND COLI WORKER OR DEALER                         —        31

HORSE DRIVER                                                                  —–

IRON WORKER OR DEALER                                                      1200

LABOURER                                                                                   1079

LAWYER AND CIVIL SERVANT OF GOVERNMENT        —        36

LEATHER MAKER, WORKER OR DEALER                       —         31

LEECHMAN                                                                        —–

LIQUOR SELLER, DISTILLER, PALM WINE DRAWER    —      2421

MARITINE MAN, BOATMAN                                          —           29

MASON, QUARYMAN, LIMESTONE WORKER OR DEALER —  139

MEDICAL MAN                                                                  —        503

MARINE STORE DEALER                                                  —        186

MERCHANT BANKER, BROKER                                       —       6149

MILITARYMAN AND PENSIONER OF GOVERNMENT —          773

MONEY CHANGER                                                           —          639

MUSICIAN                                                                          —           12

OIL DRAWER OR DEALER, SOAP MAKER, CANDLE MAKER —  111

PAINTER                                                                             —          106

PHOTOGRAPHER                                                              —            50

PITCH, TAR, RESIN DEALER                                             —            46

PLUMBER AND PIPE LAYER                                            —             16

POLICEMAN, WATCHMAN, MESSENGER ,TAX GATHERER        71

POTTER, BRICK, TILE MAKER OR DEALER                     —               5

PAULTERER                                                                       —                3

PRIEST                                                                                —         3580

PRINTER, STATIONER, BOOK BINDER                           —           575

PROSTITUTE                                                                      —             41

PURVEYOR OR BUMBOAT MAN OR BOATMAN              —         58

SALT MAKER OR DEALER                                                     —            4

SCAVENGER, SWEEPER                                                        —-

SCHOOL MASTER, TEACHER                                               —        376

SILK WORKER, DEALER                                                        —          71

TAVERN, COFFEE, BOARDING HOUSE KEEPER                —        111

TIN, TINPLATE WORKER, GLAZIER                                     —          35

TOBACCO, BETEL, OPIUM, GUNJA DEALER                     —            3

TOY MAKER, DEALER                                                           —        210

UMBRELLA MAKER                                                              —          68

WASHERMAN                                                                       —-

WATCHMAKER                                                                     —       176

WATER CARRIER                                                                   —       337

WEAVER                                                                                 —

WOOD WORKER OR DEALER                                              —      5906

WRITER ACCOUNTANT                                                        —      7180

WOOL WORKER OR DEALER                                               —      1209

 

 

The above is extracted from the Census of Bombay, taken by the Local Government on a single day – 2 February 1864 (Enclosed)

Kind Courtesy : Ms. Prochy Mehta

 

 

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Love story of Ratan D. Tata & Susaune Briere

 

Ratan D. Tata

 

Susaune Briere

This is a love story of two people born almost a generation apart, in two different continents and how the wheels of fortune brought them together.

Ratan D. Tata (nephew of Jamshedji Tata), was in Paris hoping to trade in pearls and silk. He wanted to learn French, so his uncle Jamsetji recommended a teacher to him – Madame Briere. It was here that he met and fell in love with he teacher’s beautiful daughter Susaune, slim and tall with beautiful golden hair. She was just twenty years old. Ratan informed his uncle Jamsetji about his affection for the beautiful lass, and his desire to marry her. He was quite prepared for an angry “No” but instead, was delighted when Jamsetji readily gave his consent. The wedding was held in 1902 and Jamsetji attended the wedding in Paris and even gave a speech at it.

After the wedding, Jamsetji took Ratan D. Tata and Susaune (now called Sooni after her golden hair) to Britain and gave a party at Kingston-on-Thames. It was “the largest gathering of Parsis which had hitherto been held west of the Suez Canal”.

Jamsetji spared no expense to make it a success. He took his guests in a pleasure streamer from West Minister to Kingston-on-Thames. An account of the occasion says –

“He played the host to perfection, though he depreciated in courtly manner, the numerous expression of thanks. His friends Jamsetji and Lady Jeejeebhoy had cut short a tour of Scotland in order to be present. Sir Mancherji Bhownagree represented the House of Commons; Mr. Dadabhoy Navroji, doyen of the Parsi residents in England, brought his family.”

At this occasion, Sir Mancherji Bhownagree, in his toast touched on Ratan D. Tata’s marriage to Susaune.

“I may recall as an example of enlightened sentiments of our host, that recently an event has happened in his family, which I am told, would have been impossible without his sanction and consent. I have the great good fortune to have on my right hand a lady of French nationality who is associated in life and fortune for the rest of her days with Mr. Tata. If am rightly informed, Mr. Ratanji Tata, the lucky possessor of that bride, had some misgivings as to how the projected union would be regarded by the head of the family. The fact that in spite of his many years of orthodoxy, Mr. Jamsetji Tata gave his ready consent to the alliance, is one more proof of his progressive tendencies and his interest in the social advancement of the community”.

Susaune wrote letters to her mother and these letters give an insight into the intense love she shared with Ratan D. Tata.

She writes – “I only have to look at Ratan (mon-petit) and I am truly happy! My husband makes me feel safe, content, protected”.

She reveals to her mother that the religious-minded Ratan was planning to do her navjote and then marry her again by Parsi rites – “the official sanction has been given only this morning by the High Priest and Ratan wants the ceremony on Sunday, …………… It will be attended by a whole lot of important Parsis and will take place in Mr. Sethna’s house.”And the navjote and wedding were attended by “60 Dasturs when only one is really necessary”

“I will wear an ‘ijar’ and will be wrapped in a white cashmere shawl. But what is most significant is that at the same time the priest will marry us and then no one will give me another thought. I will be allowed to enter the temple or stay in a house where a Parsi lies dead.”

After the navjote and wedding, she writes describing the event in detail. (courtesy of JRD Tata Papers, Tata Central Archives)

Darling mother …. Here I am, at last a Parsi. Everybody is happy for me and so am I. I spent five sleepless nights filling my head with the prayers I had to learn – now I feel exhausted. Let me however try and recount the ceremonies of my conversion and our marriage that took place at Mr. Sethna’s big house. At 4 pm I was made to sit in a small room next to the huge salon in Mr. Sethna’s house where the ceremony was going to be performed. A dastur with his face hidden sat opposite me. I recited some prayers with him, ate a piece of pomegranate and then raised my lips in a gesture of sipping a cup of pewter which contained the urine of the cow. It is supposed to purify but of course nobody really drinks it – not even touch it with their lips – but it is a custom that has existed since the beginning. Ratan asked me not to tell you about this (he finds it distasteful). Don’t therefore talk of it. Normally, a dastoor is present but this time, he remained on the other side of the partition. The wife of a dastur and the beautiful Meherbai Tata were with me. They dressed me in an ‘ijar’ and confined my hair in a (matte bonu) and draped a white cashmere shawl around my shoulders. Then feeling very pale and nervous, and with my feet in sapats I entered the drawing room where there were waiting at least 60 dasturs when only one is really necessary. I was made to sit with my back to everyone facing the high priests and I started to recite the prayers with him. After 15 minutes or so, he placed my hands in the sleeves of the sudra and left, then all the Parsi ladies, the wife of Mr. Kanga, the daughters of Meherbai and the wife of the dastur held up before me a white sheet to shield me from view. I put on the sudra, my blouse and a white sari with a silver border. When I was ready, the High Priest returned but this time we stood – he standing just behind me. Then, while I held his little fingers, he tied the kusti around me. Then seated again there were more prayers with the priest showering my head with pieces of pomegranate, coconut. There it ended and I was led into the midst of all our friends who were waiting to congratulate me. Soon only our close friends remained, and the drawing room was prepared for our wedding which had to take place before sunset. I read out aloud, the pledge to the Zoro faitehr, in French, and then the ceremony began. Ratan and I sitting side by side and the dasturs started to pray and showering us with rice. It took about 25 minutes. When everybody except the family and Mr. Kanga had left, we all drank champagne and then quietly we returned home.

(From the French original text, 1903)

They were married for 21 years, had five children – Sylla, Jamshed (JRD), Rodabeh, Darab and Jimmy. During the war, she served as a volunteer and contracted TB.

In 1923, her health was deteriorating but Ratan D. Tata was engaged in the struggle of establishing Tata Steel in India, and she was in Paris. Every day, he would wonder whether he would arrive in Paris in time to see her.

Finally, on the day he got on to the ship to leave for Paris, he received a cable that Sooni was no more. With a heavy heart, he proceeded to France and brought his children back to India where they stayed in the house Ratan was building for his wife. He called the house “Sunita” in her memory.

Courtesy : Prochy Mehta

prochymehta@hotmail.com

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 “

Parsism

“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.”

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