THE HIGH PRIESTS OF THE COMMUNITY IN 1917 AS PICTURED IN THE BOOK “THE PARSIS”, A TRANSLATION BY M M MURZBAN OF MLLE. DELPHINE MENANTS “LES PARSIS”.
Mlle. Delphine Menant wrote her work on the Zoroastrian Communities in India in 1897. The first 3 Chapters were first translated from the original French by Miss Ratanbai Ardeshir Framji Vakil, B A. The entire work was later translated by M M Marzban in 1917. “The first part comprises chapters devoted to the civil life of the Parsis, from birth to death, under the customs described by old travellers, and the changes of the present century”.
“The second part is a treatise on the religious duties of the Parsis”.” A succinct account is submitted on the labour of scholars of the ancient Persians”. She takes the reader from the Parsis of ancient Persia to the Parsis in India today.
The date of this book 1917 is important as it was the time of learning, and a time of rediscovering the forgotten connection the Parsis in India had with the Parsis in Persia. It highlights the Head Priests of the communities as scholars having studied under foreign savants and authors on books of Religion.
Shams-ul-Ulama Dastur Darab Dastur Peshotan Sanjana,B.A. Present Dastur (High Priest of the Wadiaji’s Shahanshahi Atesh-Beherum, in Bombay, since 1899. Born 18th Nov 1857 A D
A scholar and linguist; Principal of the Jamsetji Jeejeebhoy”Zarthoshti Madressa” (Seminary) since 1899: Fellow of the University of Bombay. Author of: “The Doctrine of the Soul in the Avesta”: “Next of kin Marriages in Iran”, “Position of Zoroastrian Women in Remote Antiquity”. Translator, in English of “Zarathustra in the Gathas and in the Classics”, from Dr.W.Greiger’s German work. ‘The Age of Avesta and Zoroaster”, from Dr.W.Geiger and Von Spiegels works. Editor of : “The Pahlavi Nirangistan and Minu-i-Khrat” (with notes and commentaries): “The Dinkart”, (Vols X-XVI) (with translations into Gujrati and English):”The Pahlavi Karnamak-I Artakshir-i-Papakan”,(Pahlavi text with English and Gujrati translations): Author of a number of Papers, Lectures, and Sermons, in English and Gujrati.
These are Dastur Darab’s views on acceptance of people born in another religion and converted to Zoroastrianism as recorded in the court case Saklat vs Bella:
Extract from pages 24-25 of Zarathushtra in the Gathas by Darab Dastur Peshotan Sanjana, filed before Commissioner. EXHIBIT 54 Suit No. 91 of 1915 OF CHIEF COURT, LOWER BURMA.
R. S. DADACHANJI, Commissioner
18th March 1916.
First, it is regarded as a sacred obligation to convert the infidels by means of words and doctrine (Yasna XXVIII, 5). The religion of Zarathushtra is a religion of culture, of spiritual and moral progress and proficiency. It penetrates through all conditions of human life, and it considers every action of life, as for instance, the clearing of the soil, the careful tending of herds, and the cultivation of the fields, from the standpoint of religious duty. Such a religion, or such a philosophy, cannot be confined to a narrow circle; the propagation of it and the conversion of all men to it, are ideas which are at the basis of its very essence. We, accordingly, find complete hymns, as Yasna XXX and XLV, which were evidently intended to be delivered before a numerous audience, and in which Zarathushtra, or one of his friends, expounds the essential points of the new doctrine for the approval of the hearers.
Ratan Tata asked for Dastur Darab’s opinion before converting his wife Susaune to Zoroastrianism. This is Dastur Darab’s reply:
Bombay 8 February 1903
Gracious Seth Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata
Respected Sir, we have received your letter dated February 7. 1 would like to thank you for your gracious invitation to participate in this Navjote ceremony that is going to take place today. For this invitation consider that you have kind feelings for me. Because of certain items, I am sorry that I will not be able to attend the gathering
You have said in your letter that you had read the public sermon which we have published, and that you are planning to act accordingly. I am very happy to know this.
If a pious man or woman with firm belief is accepted into the Zoroastrian religion and taken into the community, then the Zoroastrian religion has no closed-door policy. This is our humble opinion that we have expressed in our sermon
Darab Dastur Peshotanji Sanjana
Shams-ul-Ulema, Dr Dastur Peshotanji Beheranji Sanjana, (father of Dastur Darab Peshotan Sanjana), M.A., Ph D., Late Dastur of Wadiaji’s Shahanshahi Atesh-Beheram, in Bombay. (Died on 26th December 1898).
A ‘Fellow’ of the University of Bombay, and a member of the German Oriental Society. Editor of the ‘Dinkart (Vols I to IX),’ with Pahlavi text, transliteration in Avesta characters: and translations into English and Gujrati: of ‘Vijirkard-i-Denik;’ ‘Karnamak of Ardesher Babagan,” in Pahlavi : and author of a voluminous Pahlavi Grammar.
“His works, connected with Pahlavi literature were both numerous and important, all indicating as competent a knowledge of that complicated language as any contemporary scholar possessed….” Dr E W West, Editor of the Sacred books of the East Series.
He wrote ‘Nirang-i-Zawitdinan”, an explanatory treatise, with regard to the kind of ceremonies that should be performed for admission of Jud-dins(aliens) into the Mazdayasna Zoroastrian Religion. As recorded in the court case of Saklat vs Bella
BOOK BY DASTUR PESHOTAN SANJANA ON THE CEREMONIES TO BE PERFORMED TO CONVERT JUDDINS
Dastur Dr. Jamaspji Dastur Minocherji Dastur Edalji Jamaspasana, D C L,(Oxford), M A (Germany). Late Dastur of the Anjuman’s Shahanshahi Atesh Beheram, in Bombay. Died on 26th September 1898, in Bombay.
Author of: “Old Zend and Pahlavi Glossary”. Pahlavi, Gujrati and English Dictionary; the “Pahlavi text of Ayibatkar-i-Zariran”. Translalator of “Sardar=e-Behere Tavil,” from Persian to Gujrati, and author of many Gujrati Sermons and Controversial pamphlets. Translator, into Gujrati of the Pahlavi “Vendidad”, with translations.
Dastur Kaikhusru Dastur Jamaspji Jamaspasana. Late Dastur of the Anjuman’s Atesh-Beheram, in Bombay. (Died on 23rd June 1916 A D).
Editor of the “Arda Viraf Namah”. In the original Pahlavi (with introduction and Notes: Gujrati translation and Persian version of “Zarthost Behram” in verses
Dastur Kaikhusru and Dastur Minocher (next Picture) performed the Navjote of Susaune Braire and her wedding to Ratan Tata by Parsi rites under the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act. Dastur Kaikhusru was also the Head Priest of Calcuttas Banaji Agiari, the Banaji Atash Behram and the Camay Bay Agiari, Soda Water Wala’s Agiari, and the Godiwala Agiari. He was in charge of the Agiaris in Aden,Colombo, Lahore and Lunoul.
The opinions of the Dasturs was sought by the sub-committee which was appointed by a committee chosen by the Zoroastrian Anjuman Council on the question of a non- Zoroastrian being accepted into the Zoroastrian Religion.
This is the reply given by Dastur Kaikhusru Jamaspji
September 14, 1903
You have asked your opinion of whether or not to accept people of other faith into our religion, according to the teachings of our religion. You want to know whether this is acceptable or not. I am taking the permission to reply to you that according to our religion there is absolutely no restriction against accepting a non-Zoroastrian into the Zoroastrian religion. This is what the religion says. In the daily prayers of the Zoroastrian such as “Khurshid and Meher Niayesh”, the person prays that May the Mazdayasna religion be spread on seven continents. (Hafta Keshvar Zamin). In the olden times the Athornan (Priest) class did not only pray this and sit around, but they went into far off countries in order to spread the Mazdayasna religion or the religion of Ashoi. (See Yajashne Ha chapter 41 paragraph 6). In several instances tyrannical people used to create problems when these Athornans went out to spread the religion. (Yajashne Ha 9 paragraph 24) We would like to point out above instances only: from the instructions or the ruling found in the Zoroastrian religion we can say that it is perfectly alright to accept non-Zoroastrians into the Zoroastrian religion.
We agree completely with the second publication of the booklet by Ervad Temurasp Dinshawji Anklasaria with the necessary proof for accepting non-Zoroastrians into the Zoroastrian religion. (Judeen No Ne Mazdayasni Din Ma Dakhel Karwa Rava Chhe Te Vishaynee Shahdato). In this, the learned Ervad points out examples from Avesta, Pahlavi, and Farsi books.
Also, our late respected Dastur Jamaspji has pointed out in the book “Pasokhay Nirangeh Javit Deenan” published in 1252 Y.D. that to accept non-Zoroastrians into the Zoroastrian religion is perfectly alright, and he has given examples. From the examples of the above booklet by Ervad Temurasp Anklesaria, as well as our late Dastur Jamasp, one can say that for any new student there is nothing left to search for. For this reason, we are pointing you to the examples in these booklets and are presenting them to the sub-committee. Signed,
Kaikushru Dastur Jamaspji.
Dastur Minocher Dastur Jamaspi Jamaspasana. Present Dastur of the Anjuman’s Atesh-Beheram, in Bombay. (Born 2nd November-1870 A D)
Editor of an “Epitome in Gujrati prose, (in four volumes), of Firdausi’s Shah Nameh” He together with Dastur Kaikhusu did the navjote of Susaune Brair and her Parsi wedding to Ratan Tata.
THE PARSI WEDDING CERTIFICATE OF RATAN TATA AND SUSAUNE BRAIRE. OFFICIATING PRIESTS KAIKHUSRU JAMASPJEE AND MINOCHER JAMASPJEE
Shams-ul-ulama, Khan Bahadur, Sirdar, Dr Dastur Hoshangji Jamaspji Jamaspasana C I E., Ph.D.
(Died on 23rd April 1908 A D)
Late High Priest of the Shahanshahi Parsis in the Deccan. A scholar and linguist, Professor of Persian, in the Deccan College, in Poona. Author and Editor of several works, of which the principal are: “Pahlavi Pazand Glossary: Shikana-Gumanik Vijar, (co-edited with the scholar Dr E W West.): “The Book of Adar-Viraf Nameh, with an English translation, (co-edited with Dr Martin Haug): “The Vendidad in Avesta text, with Pahlavi translation and commentary and Glossorial Index.”. Editor of : “Zend and Pahlavi Izashne”, and the “KHORDEH AVESTA” : “The Minokherd”, etc. Author of a number of Sermons on the Zoroastrianism and many contributions on Avesta and Pahlavi literature.
Dr E W West and Dr Martin Hauge were 2 of the famous foreign scholars on Zoroastrian Religion. They established Zoroastrianism as a monotheistic Religion with the belief in one God, Ahura-Mazda.
The Dastur Hoshang Memorial Volume, papers on Iranian subjects in honour of the Late Shams-ul-ulama Sardar Dastur Hoshang Jamaspji was published in his honour by the Gatha Society of Bombay. Eminent Iranian scholars of the East and West answered the call of the society and contributed more than 75 articles for the Memorial Volume. Dastur Sheriarji Bharucha’s article on the universality of the Zoroastrian Religion is published here titled “Is Zoroastrianism Preached to All Mankind or to a Particular Race”.
Shams-ul-ulama, Sirdar Dastur Kaekobad Adarbad Dastur Noshirwan Jamaspasana (born 3rd November1861 A D) Present High Priest of the Shahanshshi Parsis in the Deccan, Calcutta and Madras and Malwa and had 23 Panthaks under him. (High Priest of the D B Mehta Zoroastrian Anjuman Atash Adaran Calcutta)
Editor of: “Kar-na-mak-I Ardeshir Babukan”, in the original Pahlavi text, transliteration, (with comparative passages from the Shah-Nameh), with notes and translation in Gujrati: “Dana va Mino-i-Khirad”, with notes and translations in Gujrati.
He represented the Community at the Parliament of World Religions where he spoke about the universality of the Zoroastrian Religion. Of a belief in one God Ahura-Mazda and that the religion was meant for all mankind
Dastur Kekobad Aderbad Dastur Noshirwan went from Calcutta to Rangoon to perform Bellas navjote. Bella was the orphan child of a Parsi mother. He accepted Bella as a Parsi as “she was born of a Parsi mother”. (Saklat vs Bella)
DASTUR KEKOBADS TELEGRAM TO MERWANJI SAYING HE HAS PERFORMED NAVJOTES SIMILAR TO BELLA’S.
‘I AM AN INDEPENDENT DASTUR’
A report was published in the Jame Jamshed when Dastur Kaikobad took office as High Priest:
(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 Jamasp 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 Adarbad 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 Jamasp 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”.
= Ervad Sheriarji Dadabhai Bharucha. Born in March 1843. Died 2nd September 1915A D).
More than once he refused to accept the offer of a Dastur’s office.
Late Instructor, of Zend, in Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy Madressa(Seminary), in Bombay, from 1865 to 1870: of Zend, Pahlavi and Persian, in Sir Cowasjee Jehangir Zarthosti Madressa, in Naosari, from 1877 to 1884. Author of “An Outline of Zend Grammar, Compared with Sanskrit”: of a Series of 6 Brochures on Zoroastrian Morals,(in Gujrati): of “Nirange Rististan (A Complete Account of Zoroastrian Customs and Ceremonies of the Dead): A Brief Sketch of Zoroastrian Religion and Customs, ( Specially ritten for the Religious Congress in connection with the World’s Colombian Exhibition , of 1893, at Chicago): of an essay on the Distair, ( especially written in the Oriental Congress in 1895 at Geneva): of “Collected Sanskrit Writings of the Parsis, in seven parts (some being still unpublished): of a “Scheme for the Education of Parsi Children in the tenets of the Zoroastrian Religion”: of “Lessons on Avesta and Pahlavi Pazand”: of Pahlavi-Pazand-English and English-Pahlavi-Pazand Glossary”: Translator of the “Pahlavi of Aderbad Marespand’s Pand-Nameh: Co-edited the Pahlavi “Dadestan-i-Dinik”, with the late Ervad T D Anklesaria. He has published numerous Lectures and Sermons on behalf of the “Rah-numane Mazdayasnan Sabha”. The “Gayan Prasarak Mandli” and the Fasli Sal Mandli”.
Note-To his personal, valuable assistance The Parsis in India are highly indebted.
Ervad Sheriarji Bharucha was one of the members of the Expert Committee on Religion appointed during the case Petit vs Jeejeebhoy to determine if conversion was a tenet of the religion. He gave evidence in favour of Ratan and Susaune. He wrote a” Brief Sketch of the Zoroastrian Religion and Customs” which was presented at the Parliament of World Religions in 1893. Swami Vivekananda made his historical speech at this Parliament of World Religions.
His opinion on acceptance of a person born in another faith and converted to Zoroastrian Religion is expressed in the letter he wrote to the Trustees of the Anjumans Atash Behram.
I have received your letter of this current month dated the 16th, and I am taking the liberty to answer the questions being asked in it
Any person of another faith, man or woman, who with a firm belief, free will, and a desire, wishes to enter our religion to perform his Navjote and accept him into the Zoroastrian Religion
If once an individual either born to people of another faith or born to a Zoroastrian has a Navjote performed, and has made the necessary solemn declaration in the presence of the priest thereby being accepted into the Zoroastrian Religion, from that point that person should be considered for all the rights as a Zoroastrian. This is my humble opinion
Ervad Sheriarji Dadabhai Bharucha.
Dr. Dastur Maneckji Nusserwanji Dhalla, Ph. D.
Present High Priest of North-Western India. (Born on 22nd September 1875 A D).
Author of: “Zoroastrian Theology, from the Earliest times to the Present Day”,(in English) : “Nyaneshis, or Zoroastrian Litanies
Dastur Dhalla says in his Autobiography, The Saga of a Soul, in 1942,
“It is possible that after decades the community may create an enlightened and educated priest-class and a popular understanding that to spread the good faith and to increase our strength is not only commensurate with the precepts of our religion but also in the interest of our social well-being.” Dastur Dhalla.
DASTUR DARABJI DASTUR MAHYARJI MEHERJIRANA HIGH PRIEST OF NAOSARI
The Anjuman’s Atash Behram wrote a letter to experts on Religion whether it was alright to accept people of other Religions into the Zoroastrian faith. Dastur Mahyarji’s reply:
January 3, 1904
Received your letter in which you have written, “Kindly express your opinion at your earliest with examples and arguments on the question of whether according to the teachings of our religion is it alright to accept people of other religions into the Zoroastrian religion”. I am taking the liberty to answer this question. According to the writings of our religious books, any person of another faith with a true belief, and who is anxious to enter our noble religion, has no restrictions shown him. There are certain proofs in favour of acceptance as found in:
Jashne Ha (Chapter) 30 Paragraph 11 Jashne Ha (Chapter) 43 Paragraph 6
Jashne A (Chapter) 46 Paragraph 13
Jashne A (Chapter) 45 Paragraph 1
Yajashne Ha (Chapter) 8 Paragraph 7
The final paragraph of the Vendidad Progress, etc.
Dorabjee Dastur Maheeyarji
Courtesy: Prochy Mehta