Category Archives: Notable Zoroastrians

Jivanji Jamshedji Modi’s speech at the Parliament of Living Religions

Sir Jivanji Jamshedji Modi’s Speech at the Parliament of World Religions.1893 at Chicago

The glory of the Parliament of World Religions was most obvious in the opening ceremony, on Sept. 11, 1893. More than 4000 people had gathered in the Hall of Columbus, when at 10oclock a dozen representatives from different faiths marched into the hall hand in hand. At the same time, the Columbian Liberty bell, in the Court of Honour tolled ten times, honouring the ten great world religions—Confucianism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, Taoism, Shintoism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. Among the speakers Swami Vivekananda’s three speeches drew the most attention.

The aim of the conference was to bring together in conference, for the first time in history, the leading representatives of the great historic religions of the world and to set forth, by those most competent to speak, what are deemed the important distinctive truths held and taught by each Religion.

Ervad Sheriarji Dadabhai Bharucha was requested by Dadabhai Navroji to prepare a paper on the Zoroastrian Religion to present at the Parliament. In the published report of the Parliament of Religions 1893 (Vol 1, p. 58) the President writes “Hon. Dadabhoy Navrojee, M.P., of London, Jivanji Jamshedji Modi, Dastur Dr. Jamaspi Minocher Jamasp Asa, M.A. Ph.D., and Ervad Sheriarji Dadabhai Bharucha, took active interest in the Parliament and enlisted the cooperation of the Parsis of India “However, Ervad Sheriarji Bharucha was unable to attend the Parliament.

Sir Jivanji  Jamhedji Modi addressed this historic Parliament of World Religions in 1893.

He gives a detailed account of the religion, manners and customs of the Parsis. On the lighter side, he mentions, that the qualifications for a good husband are that he should be young, handsome, strong, brave, healthy, diligent, industrious, truthful, wise and educated. A good wife must be wise, educated, modest, courteous, obedient and chaste”. “According to the sad-dar, a wife who gives herself to her husband three times a day-in the morning, afternoon and evening performs as meritorious an act as that of saying her prayers three times a day”.

He explains, “Zoroastrianism or Parsism, by whatever name the system may be called is a monotheistic form of Religion. It believes in the existence of one God Ahura Mazda”. We might hardly conceive what human belief would be now had Zoroaster never existed.

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beliefs and customs of thr religion of Zarathustra by JJ MODI

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

Publication of Naoroji: Pioneer of Indian Nationalism

Dear all:

I hope that you and your families are keeping well at the current moment.
I would like to announce the publication of my biography of Dadabhai Naoroji, Naoroji: Pioneer of Indian NationalismIt is being released by Harvard University Press today, 12 May, in the United States and will be released in India and the UK on 31 May (in India it will be released by HarperCollins).
Dadabhai Naoroji was much more than just a pioneering Indian nationalist, an innovative economic thinker, and the first Asian to be elected to the British Parliament. He was also a proponent of women’s rights in India and Britain, a supporter of certain socialist ideas, and an anti-imperialist of global significance, someone who forged links with Irish home rulers, American Progressives, African-Americans and Afro-Caribbeans, and colonized people from around the world.
Given the current extraordinary circumstances, I am not quite sure about the availability of physical copies in India after 31 May, but the Kindle edition should be available shortly.
To supplement the book, I’ve made some resources on Naoroji’s life available on a website: photographs, information on his life and family, some of his correspondence, old newspaper articles, and maps of London and Bombay that show landmarks associated with his life.
The book has been recently reviewed in the Wall Street Journal, and you can read the review here.
Best regards,

Dinyar Patel, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Modern South Asia
Department of History
University of South Carolina
On leave on Fulbright and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships during 2019-20

Remembering Dadabhai Naoroji

Dadabhai Naoroji, a pioneer of many fields, was popularly known as ‘The Grand Old Man of India’. He was also an intellectual and an educator.

He became the first Asian man to be elected in British Parliament in 1892.

Moreover, he was the first Indian to become a professor at the Elphinstone Institute, Bombay (now Mumbai), where he taught mathematics and natural philosophy. He taught in the special classes which were held to encourage education for women.

Dadabhai Naoroji was a great public figure during 1845-1917. He was associated with the innumerable societies and organisations through which he voiced grievances of the Indian people and proclaimed their aims, ideals, and aspirations to the world at large.

Today, we bring you some facts about him:

  • In 1855, he sailed for England to join the first Indian business firm to be established in Britain, Cama & Co, and three years later in 1859 he established his own business firm under his own name, Naoroji & Co
  • During his time in England, Dadabhai delivered speeches and educated the British people about their responsibilities as rulers of India
  • From his early childhood, he was sympathetic towards the social condition of the Indians. So for the betterment of his countrymen, he founded the Dnyan Prnasarak Mandali to educate the women
  • The Dadabhai Naoroji Road, in Mumbai is named in his honour
  • He was patronized by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III of Baroda and started his public life as the Dewan (Minister) to the Maharaja in 1874. He also served as a member of the Legislative Council of Mumbai from 1885 to 1888
  • He was elected the president of the Indian National Congress in 1886
  • He moved to London in the late 1880s and was elected for the Liberal Party in Finsbury Central at the 1892 general election — becoming the first British Indian MP
  • He spent his later years writing articles and giving speeches on the exploitation of India by the British, thus setting the foundation for the Indian Nationalist Movement
  • In his many writings and speeches and especially in ‘Poverty and Un-British Rule in India (1901)’, he argued that India was too highly taxed and that its wealth was being drained away to England.


See Also –


The incredible story of the founder of Central Bank who with his idealism, hardwork and capability brought an iconic institution to reality. Comments by Mrutyunjay Mahapatra, Senior Banker, Author and Public speaker

A Parsi lad 30 years young started his own bank, he registered it on
21,December 1911,with a Paid Up Capital of just 20 Lakhs

He had started his Bankers Career as an Accountant with Bank of India

Though the Bank of India was Indian sponsored, Top managerial positions were all held by Europeans.

At Bank of India, Mr. HP Stringfellow, Was the European Boss of the Parsi Bawa. He drew a salary of Rs. 5000/- a month while Parsi bawa was paid Rs. 200 a month.

Not only were there huge pay disparities and humiliations, Europeans dominated banks were partial when it came to giving out credit to Indian entrepreneurs and businesses.

Parsi Bawa didn’t like this. He wanted an Indian Bank managed by Indians. Early 1900s saw rise of Swadeshi movement and it was applied to the world of banking also

The young boy resigned from Bank of India service. Thakordas Parekh who worked with him at Bank of India left along with him & assisted him in setting up his bank by joining as Superintendent of Current Account and Bills It’s noteworthy that Thakordas Parekh is Deepak Parekh’s grandfather.

But initial few years post starting operations were not easy,

Between1913/1917. 87 banks failed

Early on post the bank started its operations, there were multiple runs on Parsi bawa’s bank too. Just 2 year into operations, there was a major run on the bank. Directors of the bank pledged titles of their personal properties to pay

Before 1923, Parsi bawa’s bank saw through another couple of bank runs. Each time coming out stronger purely on commitment and sincerity of its management.

Then something extraordinary happened in 1923

Not many know this, but Tata’s once owned and operated a bank too – for a grand total of 6 years.

They had once set up Tata Industrial Bank (TIB) during boom of WW1 (1917).
TIB had paid up capital of Rs. 2.3 cr and deposits totalling to ~6 cr. These were big numbers back then.

Post World War-1, the TIB started to get into trouble.

Once the boom of World War-1 ended TIB’s industrial investments rapidly depreciated. TIB had also spent 66 Lakh on magnificent structures in Bombay & Calcutta. House of Tatas was also passing through a lean phase in early 1920s.

Imagine what history would have looked like had a bank from Tatas failed.

Although a competitor bank, Parsi bawa didn’t want TIB to fail. TIB failing would have put shutters on operational success of lot of other Indian sponsored banks.

Parsi Bawa’s Banks all though less than one fifth in size of TIB, wanted to Amalgamate TIB with his bank.TIB was amalgamated with bank in July 1923.

The European staff of TIB was slowly replaced with Indians.
With this and some truly fantastic innovation mostly mastered by , the bank became a force to reckon with in Indian banking industry.

There were some firsts which came out from this bank. For example this bank was the first to launch a Safe Deposit Vault.It was also first in India to introduce HSS passbooks and system of withdrawals by cheques in Savings Account.

In 1924 it became the first to employ women assistants to serve lady customers and even maintained a separate department for them.Bank offered free life insurance if one maintained avg. bal. of Rs.10.

At one point one in 15 Bombayite had an account with his bank.

I belive you have gussed the name of Parsi Bawa and the Bank !

Parsi bawa’s name was Sir Sorabji N Pochkhanawala & his bank’s name is Central Bank of India.

Sir Sorabji was only 30 year old when he founded Central Bank.

Today Central Bank of India is a government owned bank, it is one of the oldest and largest commercial banks in India.It is based
in Mumbai.It is one of twelve public sector banks in India to get recapitalised in 2009. In a merging initiative Central Bank of India is kept out because it has Pan India presence

Despite its name it is not the central bank of India. It is a public bank.

(RBI)RESERVE BANK OF INDIA Is the central bank to India.

Source: Internet, Goggles Search, Reference Article by Shri.VK Chopra, Former CMD Corporation Bank

The Fascinating Story of Maneckji Limji Hataria

The Fascinating Story of Maneckji Limji Hataria; Scholar, Civil Rights Activist and Personne Particulièrement Extraordinaire!
In 1779, the sudden death of the Shah Karim Khan Zand threw Iran into turmoil.
Fearing for their safety, two wealthy Zoroastrian families left Kerman and made their way to Yazd and eventually reached the distant port city of Bombay in 1796. One of them was a beautiful girl named Golestan-Banu, daughter of a benevolent merchant Kai Khusrau-i Yazdyar.
After arriving in Bombay the Yazdyar family was helped and looked after by the local Zoroastrians and Golestan eventually married a Framji Bhikaji and settled into comfortable life, however, her heart ached for her land Iran and her city Kerman.
She urged her father, husband and later her children to help her people in Kerman. Inspired by her, Golenstan’s husband Framji spent considerable time and fortune in assisting Iranians trying to find passage to Bombay.
In 1834, her eldest son Burjorji Framji set up a fund to assist Irani arriving in Bombay. 20 yrs later, her grandson Meherwanji founded an ambitious organisation ‘Society for Amelioration of the Condition of Zoroastrians in Iran’ and this would have far reaching consequences.
As the 1st emissary of this Society, the Surat (India) born “Manekji” arrived in Iran in April 1854 and with his charity, honesty, tact & patience in negotiations, and  moral and physical courage, literally changed the fate of Zoroastrians in Iran in the next few decades.
His efforts led to the 1882 repeal of jazia on Zoroastrians by the Shah, secular education for Zoroastrian boys & girls (which was unheard at that time) and achieved universal literacy, became mostly urban and relatively wealthy in just a generation.
Manekji is fondly remembered by the Zoroastrian of Iran and a bronze bust of his placed in the famous atash bahram of Yazd. The social and economic success of Zoroastrians in Iran owes it to the generous support they received from the Indian Zoroastrians, aka “Parsi”.

A Tribute to Mrs. Scylla R. Vatcha – A Woman of Substance.

Heroes get remembered, but legends never die; dear Scylla donned her ethereal robes on 17th March 2020 to progress to the higher realms where she will for eternity be held in Divine Embrace.
It was 30 years ago in 1990 that Bachi & I were blessed to have met Scylla for the very first time at a social function at the residence of late Thrity & Homi J. H. Taleyarkhan at Mumbai. It was a year when the two of us had just begun to conceptualise setting up a Public Charity Trust that was predominantly intended to support poor Zoroastrians (mainly agrarians) residing in the villages of South Gujarat in abject poverty.
Our meeting up with Scylla was indeed a red letter day in our lives and by extension also for very many other community members in diverse areas of need.
The World Zoroastrian Organisation Trust became operational in 1991 at which time we depended mainly for the most part on the largesse of Scylla. Her response was always with alacrity and laced with generosity.
Interacting and working closely with her was an education in itself. It was through our regular meetings and exchange of ideas with her that we learnt from her example that the essence of philanthropy was not all about money, but about feeling the pain of others and caring enough about their needs and helping them.
The support extended to the WZO Trusts was phenomenal and enormous. In addition to providing regular support such as providing assistance to poor farmers, replacing huts into cottages, she very generously extended support towards various major projects:
a) The Athornan Mandal – WZO Trust Funds Young Full Time Mobeds Scheme was started due to the donation of Rs.90,00,000 (Rupees ninety lakhs) given by her in 1995-1996. Till the time of writing 75 Mobeds continue to receive support from the income of the fund.
b) The WZO Trust Funds ‘Self-Employment Scheme’ was conceptualised in association with her; she funded Rs.100,00,000 (Rupees one crore) each for a period of 5 years – 1995 through 1999 – on the condition that amounts by way of ‘interest free financial support’ be extended to Zoroastrians wishing to be gainfully self employed with repayments being recycled. The result of this initiative has been 1156 Zoroastrian individuals spread over 123 rural and urban locations having received supported to kick start modest businesses and be gainfully self-employed. As at end March 2019 the amount of Rs.500,00,000 has been recycled to Rs.208,611,543 and been instrumental in changing the lives of many.
c) The WZO Trust Funds Bai Maneckbai P. B. Jeejeebhoy Senior Citizens Centre at Navsari that became operational in January 1998 was established due to her vision. The complete expense from purchase of property, construction and fully furnishing the institution was made available through her. The institution has evolved into a leading community centre where 55 mobile senior citizens reside, spending the evening of their lives in a vibrant atmosphere, free from stress.
d) Many individuals donate their old ancestral houses at Navsari to The WZO Trust Funds, which are demolished and comfortable apartment blocks constructed at nominal rents. From the 18 such buildings that have been constructed so far, 7 have been funded from the funds made available by dear Scylla.
e) The Sanatorium at Sanjan is the result of a munificent donation received by the WZO Trust Funds from Scylla of Bai Maneckbai P. B. Jeejeebhoy Deed of Settlement Fund. The Sanatorium became operational in 2001 and has over the years become a popular retreat for community members. The Sanatorium at Sanjan is a palatial bungalow, comfortable rooms radiating with understated elegance, a huge front yard where a beautiful garden, the like of which is rarely seen, is always in full bloom, the backyard has a planned mango orchard, coconut trees growing along the boundary, palm trees and many others all combine in harmony to create an ambience without parallel. The pollution free environment complements the trees, the flowers and the fauna.
Scylla was a visionary who believed that philanthropy lies at the heart of human greatness. Her generosity was the outward expression of her inner attitude of compassion and loving kindness towards economically and physically challenged and elderly human beings in different forms of distress.
Being extremely meticulous and forward thinking, Scylla though no longer physically in our midst, had planned well before her passing to the higher realms, the philanthropic work that she started and the legacy she created would continue without hiccups. Her daughter in law Persis having worked very closely with Scylla over the years during her life time, the transition has been smooth, seamless, continuing and effective.
Scylla embodied what Buddha said “No true spiritual life is possible without a generous heart. Generosity allies itself with an inner feeling of abundance – the feeling that we have enough to share”.
Scylla will always be remembered by the thousands of those whose lives she touched so brilliantly.
Dinshaw Tamboly
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