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Volume V No.4:  Mah Tir, Fasal Sal 1373: June-July 2004


By Mazda’s grace Informal Religious Meetings enters 30th year. 

Yé dâţ manô vahyô, Mazdâ, ashyas-châ,  Whoso makes (his) mind better, O Mazda, or else

Hvô daénãm shyaothnã-cha vachańhâ –cha;  worse, he surely through deed and word (makes his

Ahyâ zaosheʼng ustis vareńêg hachaitê,  own) Inner-Self (also better or worse); his Will

Thwahmi Khratâo apémem nanâo ańhaţ   follows his voluntary choice; in Thy Wisdom (their)

[Spentā-Mainyū 2.4: Yasna  48.4 : Translation by Irach J. S. Taraporewala] 

Zarathushtra’s outlook on life was one symbolic of the essential unity of the universe.  In his system the entire creation forges its way towards the goal of perfection, and it is man’s mission in this world to contribute towards the attainment of that goal.  For the fulfillment of this glorious mission he must set his feet on the Path that leads mankind the destined goal---the Path of Asha, or Righteousness. All other paths are no paths.”  [SIR RUSTOM MASANI]

In this Issue:

      2         BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF PROF. JACKSON By Dr. Charles J. Ogden, Ph.d. 

      4 IF WE COULD TEACH  (POEM) By Farida Bamji 


      ZARATHUSHTRA AND AGRICULTURE By Dr. Maneck B. Pithawalla 

   11      CATHOLICITY OF ZOROASTRIANISM By Dastur Khurshed S. Dabu 

       13      WHY IS IT SO HARD TO SAY, “I’M SORRY”? By Tom Schaefer  

“May you have hindsight to know where you’ve been,

the foresight to know where you are going and, finally,

the insight to know when you’ve gone too far.”

[Author unknown] 


By Dr. Charles J. Ogden, Ph.D 

ABRAHAM VALENTINE WILLIAMS JACKSON, for forty years professor of Indo-Iranian Languages in Columbia University, and during that period pre-eminent among American scholars in the domain of the languages, literature and religion of Ancient Iran, was born in New York City on February 9, 1862.   He sprang from families of old American stock, which had held a respected place in the city’s life.  After attending private schools, he matriculated in 1879 in Columbia College, from which he was graduated with honors in 1883.  During his undergraduate course he devoted himself to the classics, then still the mainstay of liberal education, but in his senior year he took up the study of Sanskrit under the guidance of E.D. Perry.  It was through the latter’s inspiration that Jackson became, in his own words, “filled with an enthusiasm for the study of the ancient language and literature of India.” 

      After graduation he continued his philosophical studies at Columbia, but added that of Avestan, then for the first time offered in America by E. W. Hopkins.  In this field he was to find his life work, although the exigencies of the academic career required him for a number of years to undertake also the teaching of Anglo-Saxon and of the history of the English language.  In 1887, when he had already received the degrees of L.H.D. and Ph.D. from his Alma Mater, he was granted leave of absence to pursue his Indo-Iranian studies in Germany, and for a year and a half he worked at Halle under Karl F. Geldner in Avestan and Sanskrit, and Richard Pischel in Sanskrit and Prakrit.  The former he always regarded as his guru.  On his return from Europe in 1889 he resumed his teaching position at Columbia. For some years he still divided his time between English and Indo-Iranian, but from 1895 onward, when the professorship of Indo-Iranian languages was established, he devoted himself more and more to Oriental studies.    

      By this date Professor Jackson had published a number of articles, mostly of a philological character, on Iranian and especially, on Avestan subjects, also two small independent works.  A Hymn of Zoroaster: Yasna 31 (Stuttgart, 1888), and The Avestan Alphabet and its Transcription (Stuttgart, 1890).  More important was his An Avesta Grammar in Comparison with Sanskrit (Stuttgart, 1892), a descriptive account of the language upon the model of Whitney’s Sanskrit Grammar, followed by the Avesta Reader, First Series (Stuttgart, 1893). Already, however, his interest in Iranian religion and particularly in its supreme representative, the prophet Zoroaster, had become evident, and in 1899 appeared his epochal Zoroaster, the Prophet of Ancient Iran, the work with which his fame will always be most closely associated.  In its through mastery of the complicated and often fragmentary material and in its evocation of a great religious personality it is an enduring monument of scholarship.  Jackson’s position as an authority on this subject was recognized, by his being chosen to write the section on Iranian religion in Geiger and Khun’s Grundriss der Iranischen Philologie (“Die Iranische Religion,” Vol. 2, pp. 612-710, published 1900-1904) 1 

      In 1901 Professor Jackson was able to realize his long-cherished wish of visiting India and becoming personally acquainted with the Parsi community, with which he ever after remained in close contact.  In 1903 came his first journey to Iran and Central Asia, during which he made the perilous ascent of the Rock of Behistun in order to study at first hand the great inscription of Darius I.  The fruit of this journey was his Persia Past and Present (New York, 1906), a volume in which lively descriptions of travel are mingled with chapters of erudite and penetrating literary and archaeological research.  The subsequent trips to these regions, in 1907 and 1910, led to the writing of a companion work, From Constantinople to the Home of Omar Khayyam. (New York, 1911) 

 As the title of this latter book indicates, Jackson’s Iranian interests were not restricted to the Zoroastrian period, and the poetical literature of Modern Persian had a special attraction for him.  It was his custom to read a passage of Persian verse every evening before retiring, and he projected a series of volumes on the poetry of the early and the classical periods, of which only one, Early Persian Poetry, from the Beginnings down to the Time of Firdausi (New York, 1920), was completed.  Many bits of tasteful translation, scattered through his other works and articles, attest his loving familiarity with Persian literature. 

      The publication, by F.W.K. Mulller, C. Salemann and others, of the Manichaean material from Turfan, in several Middle Iranian dialects, had aroused Jackson’s philological interest and the relation between the newer religion and Zoroastrianism seemed to him to need careful investigation.  Accordingly Manichaeism became more and more the focal point of his later studies.  His first publication on the theme, Studies in Manichaesim (JAOS. 43. 15-25), appeared in 1923, and thereafter hardly a year went by without an article on Manichaeism from his pen.  In 1932 his chief contribution was published, Researches in Manichaeism, with Special References to the Turfan Fragments (New York, 1932).  In these investigations, which at times led him far beyond the confines of the Iranian field, he renewed the pioneering enthusiasm of youth, and even if some of his conclusions on this novel and still imperfectly understood subject may need to be revised, the stimulating effect of his work will be acknowledged by all his co-laborers. 

      While the main current of his scholarly activity flowed from beginning to end in the domain of Iran, Professor Jackson always had a lively interest in the neighbor land of India. Rather strangely, his predilection for the Avesta did not lead him to Vedic studies, and it was the classical Sanskrit literature that he found most attractive.  The Hindu drama, with its technique in many respects resembling the Elizabethan, interested him particularly.  He published a number of articles dealing with it, also a translation of Priyadarśikā (New York, 1923), based on a manuscript rendering by the Parsi scholar G.K. Nariman.  Mention should be made of the History of India in nine volumes, which he edited for the Grolier Society (London, 1906-1907), and of his important chapter on “The Persian Dominions in Northern India” in The Cambridge History of India, Vol. 1, pp. 319-342 (Cambridge and New York, 1922).  

      The pursuit of his researches and the discharge of his academic duties were the substance of Professor Jackson’s career, but he bore his share as citizen and scholar, in the events of the world about him.  Accompanied by his wife, the constant companion and inspiration of the latter portion of his life, he made three journeys to the Orient in addition to those already mentioned, mainly, to India in1911, to Iran in 1918-1919 on the American Relief Mission to Persia, when he went around the world, and again to India and Iran in 1926, when he had the satisfaction of at last entering Afghanistan.  He went to Europe many times in order to take part in the International Congresses of Orientalists and in other gatherings of scholars.  A severe illness in the summer of 1931 compelled him to restrict his activities, and in 1935 he retired from his Chair at Columbia University, with the title of Professor Emeritus in Residence.  Despite the handicap of failing health he continued his scholarly work, and was engaged in preparing another volume on Manichaesim when death suddenly overtook him on August 8, 1937. 

      It is, of course, by his published works that a scholar’s fame is judged, yet all who had the privilege of knowing Professor Jackson personally must feel that the man himself had qualities of mind and heart which to them even outranked his learning.  Perhaps his most noticeable trait was his extreme kindness and affability, yet he had a strong will and an unflinching sense of duty.  While he always avoided speaking ill of anyone, he was unyielding in matters of principle.  He had a genuine love of teaching and inspired his students with his own enthusiasm for his subject.  He did not think it beneath his dignity as a scholar to lecture to popular audiences on the themes closest to his heart, and to the listeners his melodious voice and the graceful exuberance of his style seemed to fill the hall with the spirit of the Orient.  In his work he was unsparingly conscientious, a severe taskmaster to himself and a strict though kindly guru to those who received their training under him.  The thirteen volumes of the Columbia University Indo-Iranian Series bear witness to his achievement as editor as well as author.  Destitute of envy, he was a friend and counselor to other scholars working in the Iranian field.  He had especially close relations with the Parsi community in India, which had as it were adopted him into its membership, as this memorial volume so graciously testifies. 

      The honors and distinctions of the entire learned world were showered upon Professor Jackson.  In his own country he was a member of the American Philosophical Society, and of several other learned societies.  He was for many years a Director and twice President of the American Oriental Society, and was Honorary President of the American Institute for Persian Art and Archaeology.  Abroad he was an honorary member both of the Royal Asiatic Society and of the Société Asiatique.  He had received from a former Shah the decoration of the Lion and the Sun, and an honorary degree from the Dáridul-Funun University in Tehran.  He welcomed these tokens of recognition with human pleasure but without losing the innate modesty of a true servant of learning.  When he left this world to ascend to Garõnmāna, there passed from us a great scholar and a very noble gentleman. ■  

1.This appeared in English, in a revised and enlarged form, as the first part of Jackson’s Zoroastrian Studies: The Iranian Religion and Various Monographs (New York, 1928)

[Source: ‘Professor Jackson Memorial Volume’: The K.R. Cama Oriental Institute Publication, 1954] 


By B. T. Dastur 


O value system has remained in a straight jacket for all time, nor been bounded by a cast-iron frame. Some basic tenets have remained inviolate for several centuries.  But everything else around it has been evolving, sometimes perceptibly and sometimes imperceptibly.  Let me explain: during World War II (1939-45) many Christians – both Catholics and Protestants turned agnostics and some even atheists.  The unlimited butcheries that the Germans committed not only against the Jews of all nationalities, but against all dissidents, made the sufferers and the others doubt the existence of God  (agnostics). And some disbelieved in the existence of God (atheists). Church attendance fell abysmally, and kept falling till the early ‘60s.  The then Archbishop of Canterbury (a Protestant pontiff) said that if Britons refused to go to the church the church should go out to Britons.  The Church of England bought phased-out buses from the County Councils, converted those into mobile Churches, which went out into the streets on Sundays, and some other holidays to attract people.  

      The same thing has happened, not on such a drastic scale, to our Zoroastrian tenets and value systems, over centuries.  Some deserved to fall by the wayside particularly customs which came to be believed as religious practices (but really weren’t).  Some religious practices lost their efficacies with the dissolution of the joint family systems and the emigration of Parsis to the West and the East.  Haven’t we stopped burying nails after paring those?  Haven’t we stopped maintaining a continuous fire in our houses? And, haven’t we started marrying out side our fold (to which I have referred later)?  Haven’t most of us stopped praying five times a day?  Haven’t we started disposing of our dead in an unconventional manner (cremating or burying), in Iran and the West and elsewhere, and also within India? 

      Ultra-orthodox Parsis (not only of India) take a very myopic view of our religion, which is so catholic, so magnanimous and so scientific.  They seem to purvey the wrong image by propagating that our religion is inviolate, static and fanatically fundamental, which it is not.  I am not suggesting that in the name of science and liberation, we dilute our religion and our value systems beyond recognition and extinguish its holy roots.  While we are catholic towards the others, I am afraid that there is a progressive Talibanisation of our preaching which misdirect the youth and confuse the others. 

      The pontiffs and the scholars have a right to interpret our religion, but in that the basic virtues of catholicity and the scientific nature of our great religion, cannot be subjected to a dogmatic interpretation and personal image pushing. 

      Let me dwell, further, on Zoroastrian virtues, not necessarily in the ascending or descending order: 

      Concord and Amity: Our seven Amesha Spentas exemplify these traits. Visparad 5.1/2   Yasna 11.18 and 58.5 are replete with references as to how we Zoroastrians should lead a life of amity and concord which, to our dismay and chagrin we find that our microscopic community is driven with discord and jealousy.    

      Wealth gathering and temptation: Wealth like power dazzles the possessor as well as the beholder. Our religion sanctions wealth gathering, and sharing it with the disadvantaged.  Zoroastrianism does not believe in privation as a road to salvation.  The only injunction is that the wealth should not be ill-gotten. In the scramble for wealth a considerable degradation of Zoroastrian values has taken place.  Anghra Mainyu laid a wager that whoso tempted Zarathushtra to his fall would be crowned with a diadem and held high in the sphere of apostasy.  Both he and his cohorts failed miserably and ignominiously even when they awarded the wealth of the world provided Zarathushra gave up his religion. He defied them and retorted that neither for the riches of the world, nor for the love of his life, would he depart from the Mazdayasni religion.  Our holy Prophet sent them groveling in the dust.  Zarathushtra stupefied Anghra Mainyu.  How many of us are able to stand erect against such temptation? Let us ask ourselves.      

      Asha, the Path of Righteousness: Not only Zarathushtra, but those that preceded and followed him, asserted and reasserted that there was only one path of Asha.  The others were non-paths.  Right is the path of righteousness, and wrong is the path of the wickedness.  Many of us have gone waywardly, by either diluting that path of deviating from it, by being ensnared into enduring pitfalls.  Because we have chosen the easier, and not the rugged path of Asha, we are going down the hill.   It is wrong to give up that path just because it is easier to chase a shadow than the substance.  

      Industriousness, a great virtue: One of the blessings, which Zarathushtra showered on King Vistaspa was that the King’s whole life should be honestly industrious.  Very many of us have lost our verve for honest industry, become slothful and some able-bodied men have started living off doles.  Honest work imparts dignity and reinforces the Zoroastrian virtue that we must leave this world better than we found it. Honest industry is a priceless virtue.  Even the Bible says: “Work is worship”.  

      Progress as a Zoroastrian virtue: Progress is the watchword of Zoroastrianism.  We landed empty handed, but not empty-willed.   Until fifty years back we had a lot of  ‘fire in our belly’, and were pioneers in India’s trade with Aden, Zanzibar, East Africa, Hong Kong, Japan, China, Singapore and even England. It is false to imagine that the British gave all the support to establish what the Tatas achieved. The Geological Survey of India refused to share the data on mineral deposits with Jamshedji Tata and his team.  The Hydrological Survey of India did the same. But Jamshedji Tata had an unlimited fire in his belly and got the British geologist from England to map out what is known as Jharkhand and the Western Ghats for building dams and power system.  It is good that our community did not ask for protection as a minority – though we deserve it the most, being microscopic in numbers.  Reservation breeds lassitude, inefficiency and indolence. While two Parsis viz. Pallonji Mistry and Adi Godrej continue to appear in the ‘Fortune’ and ‘Forbes’ lists of billionaires, the average wealth of the community is eroding because we have opted for softer options. 

      The Power of Prayers: Needs no elaboration.  Quite a number of men and women do not wear Sudreh and Kusti.  Forget praying five times a day.  Most of us, including myself cannot pray five times a day, but surely we can wear Sudreh and Kusti and pray once or twice a day.  It is now a fashion for those who have not worn Sudreh Kusti for twenty years to preach to us to be true Zoroastrian fundamentalists.   

      Faith and Religion: Some religions are called faiths.  What is very worrying is that for the way our holy religion is preached by some diehards, our religion is reduced to a faith, which asks not for facts, demands no proofs and seeks no evidence.  “Faith thinks not, cogitates not and reasons not.”  Faith believes not in reason, is aggressive, authoritative, arbitrary, adamantine and blind”. This is very worrisome, because it digs at the very roots of our religion.  Ours is not a fanatical religion. Right thinking boys, girls, men and women must resist this with force and not permit our pseudo-preachers to interpret our religion the way it suits their dogmatism, fanaticism and bigotry, all of which are alien to our great religion.  The Gathas emphasize that each man has to judge himself as to what is good and what is bad, and not pawn away his reasoning. 

      Conversion and Inter-faith marriages: No child is born with a religious label while coming out of its mother’s womb.  It is surprising that very many Parsis believe that the religion started with Zarathushtra.  Totally wrong, the religion much antedates ZarathushtraZarathushtra only reformed the religion and substantially helped eradicate dogmas, sorcery, magic, and irrationality, worships of ghosts and goblins and so on.  He reformed it, re-imparted rationality, logic, compassion, and devotion to Asha – the straight path and reconstructed the original Mazdayasni value systems, which were hopelessly diluted or abrogated.  Even the ancients Mazdayasnans (of the pre-Zoroastrian era) were converts to our religion.  It could not have been otherwise.  The followers of every religion were converts.  We were the first, being rational, logical, willing and bold converts who were at a total variance with the Turanians, who exemplified everything that was opposite and noxious. 

      For some modern preachers to say that there was or there is no conversion to our religion is absolutely balderdash and a blatant lie.  Yes, we never converted by force – so we believe.  But historical records show that King Shahpur was a fanatical Zoroastrian and clobbered non-Zoroastrians into adopting our religion.  He was not alone, but he was just one of the two or three such proselytizers.   

      A global immigration brought about inter-faith marriage, and the question of the future of the children of such marriages and the issue of inter-faith marriages has assumed alarming proportions, when: 1) One in three Indian Parsis marries outside our fold. 2) One in three British Parsis marries outside. 3) One in two North American Parsis (Ages 19-32) marries outside. 4) One in three North American Parsis (Ages 33-.51) marries outside. 5) One in five North American Parsis (Age 51 and over) marries outside.  Are we going to right them off, and also their children? Let the Parsis around the world ask themselves this fundamental question. 

      The die-hard Parsis arrogate themselves the right to discard them.  That right cannot be given to them. The entire global community has to hold an international referendum on it. The whole community is interested in its survival and not just the hidebound Parsis.  These hidebound Parsis refuse to see the demographic figures produced by the Census Commissioner of India, who has set a string of alarm bells ringing. They pooh-pooh these figures and their contention is that these figures are unacceptable and spurious!!  If we do that, we do so at our peril.  Do we want to be reduced to six, the present number of the great Andaman tribe? Or to 10 the current number of the Ongo tribe, also in Andaman? 

      Pragmatism: It appears that we are losing our innate Parsi pragmatism, which has been our hallmark for the last fourteen centuries, in Iran, in India and the far-flung corners of the world where we settled, in the last 150 years.   Can we be purblind to the forthcoming realities, which are crucial to our survival?  The die-hards want to keep the neo-Zoroastrians at bay in the emerging countries of Central Asia and northern South America.  These neo-Zoroastrians will form a parallel body, because we show empathy towards them.  What is important? Is it our bigotry or is it our survival?  Let the whole community choose for itself.  The choice cannot be left to the handful of bigots. ■ 

[Source: “Jam-e-Jamshed Weekly, 21st March 2004] 



By Dr. Maneck B. Pithawalla 


ARATHUSHTRA was decidedly a prophet of the poor, and to them the agriculture and tillage of the rich Iranian soil was a great blessing.  For his sermons he never went to gilded halls and galleries, nor to cloistered chambers; but in fertile fields he sowed the seeds of Righteousness.  He himself went to the country farms, and taught all who came from near and far the art of agriculture and work for Ahura Mazda. He was the farmer of the first rank, and in those days of nomadic life his word was a welcome antidote to the Semitic practice of butchery. 

      The friendship of the animals and the fertility of the Persian soil helped the farmers a great deal to fulfill Zarathushtra’s message of work and worship.  This farmer-prophet was the first in the world to preach the simple life; to him the modern world might listen with profit.  Of all professions, agriculture is the most natural and suitable to man. 

      The early Persians as well as the forefathers of Indian Parsees were expert farmers; and even today it is the plough that would give the country her old strength and wealth.  In fact, the world might with profit leave aside the complexities of life and turn once more to simple ways.  All new sciences should be subordinated to this time-honored art of nature-culture. 

      The intricacies of industrialism must melt before the simple and sublime mode of life.  Zarathushtra was beyond all doubt a practical teacher as well as an idealist, and he would today strongly uphold engineering skill for the sake of irrigation and such sciences and defy a failure of the monsoon.   It is high time the modern world gathered all its mechanical and electrical appliances for the building of social and moral structures everywhere.  This alone can save the present crises in business and commerce.■

[Source: “The Light of Ancient Persia” by the author] 

“He that groweth corn, groweth Righteousness”


[Vendidad 3.31] 


Lt, Gen. Sir Charles Napier after conquering Sind, first established his headquarters in Hyderabad. Finding the climate uncomfortable he sent Capt. (later Sir) Richard Burton, the famous explorer and linguist to investigate the conditions in Karachi. On Burton’s report that Karachi being on the seashore was a much cooler and a better place to live in, Napier decided to move immediately his headquarters to Karachi.  Some of the Parsis of Hyderabad followed.  Napier had rightly imagined that if shipping could be brought to the port, shipping interest would be attracted to it.  

Sometime between 1839-42 Hormusji Dadabhai Ghadialy arrived with his nephew Dinshaw Pirojsha Minwalla. Hormusji was a contractor to the English army. Then he started a business of purchasing jewelry of the Mirs of Talpur and selling it at good price. 

      Sometime between 1839=42 Hurmusji Dadabhoy Ghadialy arrived, with his nephew Dinshaw Pirojsha Minwalla who was a contractor to the English Army.  Humus Ghadialy started a business of purchasing jewelry of the Mirs of Talpur and selling it at good price.  It It It is said that this way he became very rich and influential. He was considered a leader of the Parsi community of Karachi.  After the annexation the British gave away large plots of land in Saddar quarter of Karachi to Hormusji for distribution among the Parsi community for development.  Dinshaw Minwalla was also a government contractor but later became a stockiest of wines, liquor and opium.  He was very proficient in the English language, which helped him develop great influence with the British.  He was very helpful to the community.  He died of snakebite in 1874. 

      Another returnee from Afghanistan was Dossabhai Cooper.  He had gone as a cooper (maker of casks) with the British army to Afghanistan.  Within this span of five years the number of Parsis must have grown and as such an ārām gāh (cemetery) was warranted.  The Golwalla family, which was initially trading in Hyderabad and Sukkur had now settled in Karachi, purchased a plot of land for Parsi cemetery in 1839-40.  This plot was behind the present Jinnah Hospital, near old Kala Pul (bridge).  The body of one of their family members, Shahpurji Mancherji Golwalla, who died in Sukkur, was brought all the way from there on a camel and was buried in this cemetery. It is believed that only eight persons were buried in this cemetery because its use was discontinued soon.   

      Dossabhai Meherwanji Wadia was another settler of that period, and established “Dossabhai Meherwanji & Co”.  Later on he established business links with U.S.A., becoming the first to do so.  He was then appointed agent to U.S. government and later as the consul of U.S.A.   

      These five years saw many developments in the world.  The Penny postage was instituted. The opium wars were fought with China.  Punch magazine was founded in England, and the British acquired Hong Kong. 

      The influx of Parsis into Karachi increased after the British takeover.  Among the latest settlers were Khurshedji and Muncherji Golwalla.  They had gone with the British to Afghanistan as “traveling bakers”.  Cowasjee Variyawa, another returnee from Afghansutan, first worked with Dubash Brothers and then started his own stevedoring business.  He succeeded very well in his business ‘Cowasjee & Sons’, which in time, his progeny enlarged into one of the largest and most famous stevedoring houses in the country.  Cowasjee like a true Parsi was a philanthropist and took great interest in the welfare of Parsi community.  Mehrwanji Framji Panday, of the famous Panday Sanatorium at Bomaby, started his business in Karachi with his brother` Pestonji.  His shop of English products was named ‘Pestanji Meherwanji”  

      1844 saw the arrival of Hirjibhai Jamshedji Behrana. Later to be known as ‘Hirjikaka’.  He came as a servant of a British officer, but soon left the job and started an auctioning business, the first Parsi to do so in Karachi.  Maneckji Mehta great grandfather of Jamshed Nusserwanjee too came to Karachi in 1844; and his vocation was manufacture and sale of country liquor. 

      Until now the Parsis in Karachi were temporary residents, who were a sort of refugees and had come to try their luck in their fight for survival.  But Horumusji Dadabhai Ghadialy foresaw the future prospects in Karachi as secured, and built his own house in Saddar (1844).  This house was the first to show that the Parsis were here to stay.  This house until recently demolished was the oldest privately owned house in Karachi. 

      Elsewhere the first telegraphic message was transmitted, and Alexander Dumas wrote The Three Musketeers  

      The next five years (1845-50) were eventful for Karachi in general and Parsis in particular.  St. Patrick’s church was constructed, and Karachi was hit by a cholera epidemic.  By now Hormusji Ghadyali was accepted as the leader of the community and like a true leader he endeavored to fulfill his responsibilities.  He decided to have a Dokhma built in memory of his father.  The tana ceremony was performed on 22nd April 1847 and the completed Dokhma was consecrated in January 1848.  For this ceremony Parsis from all over India were invited to participate, by advertisements in Bombay newspapers.  The employers of Parsi staff in Karachi were requested to give a holiday to their Parsi employees, so that they could attend the ceremony, and this way a large number attended the function.  Dastur Faridunji Behramji Jamaspasana led the Jashan.  After the ceremony Dastur Faridunji was presented a shawl and declared as Dastur of Karachi.  This made him the first Dastur of Karachi Parsis. 

      In 1848 there was Potato famine in Ireland, gold rush in California, and the publication of the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engles.  In 1849 the British annexed Punjab and consolidated their position in this region. 

      The Parsi community was growing and many poorer Parsis were living in congested cosmopolitan areas and were highly inconvenienced at the time of bereavement in their families.  So need for a Sezdeh-gah-e-Ravan (a place for final rites) was felt. On 4th August 1849 Behramji Meherwanji Kotwal purchased an open plot on Mansfield Street and had a structure erected upon it for that purpose. The present Sezdegah is on the same plot.  It was a usual practice in those days that at the time of Uthamna ceremony or a public Jashan, a person intending to make a large donation made an announcement about it, and the Mobeds recited a tandarosti.  On 25th January 1848 after the consecration of the Dokhma; Hirjibhai Beherana (Hirjikaka) declared his intention to establish a Dar-e-Meher.  It is said that Hormusji Ghadyali too had an intention to build one.  For sometime there was a tussle over this matter.  Ultimately it was decided to let Hirjikaka build the same.  So, on 3rd May 1849 the Dar-e-Meher was established.  It was first housed in half portion of Hirjikaka’s own house.  Hirjikaka was not a rich man but his zeal towards the community was tremendous. 

      This was the first decade of Parsis in Karachi, fairly fruitful –during the tenure of Sir Charles Napier as the Governor of Sind.  From the time he was appointed, he took great interest in the development of the harbor and town.   But he left too soon (1847) to see his dreams come true. In Karachi he stayed in a bungalow on the site where the Governor’s house stands to day.  At the time of cholera epidemic in 1846, he appointed a board of conservancy to improve the sanitary conditions of the town. The board found the filth and unsanitary conditions within the walled town an impediment in combating cholera so they broke down whatever town walls were remaining.  This was the original town and suburbs merged to form one urban town unit.  Napier set up a police force under Capt. Marston.  Marston was with Napier at the battle of Mianee.  Napier ordered the construction of barracks which were named after him.  He selected areas we now know as cantonment for settlement of the British people.  With the settling of the British in the cantonment area a bazaar grew up in the nearby Saddar and with it grew the Parsi community.  Napier also ordered establishment of gardens where vegetables and feed for pack animals of the army were grown.  This garden now houses the zoo.■

[To be continued]



      Ya hoo! The Parsi’s prayer is accepted.  Ya hoo! The Parsi’s prayer is accepted.

      Ya hoo! Whatever the Parsi requests is accepted Oh, Shah Meheryar, with your long beard,

      Even as clouds rise from the burning of  Your face glows with the Light of God

      fragrant sandalwood and incense.

                              Thus says Mia Tansen:

                              ‘Hearken, O Shah Akbar,

                              Here stands the Flower of Paradise*

                              Ya hoo! The Parsi’s prayer is accepted. 

      The Sufi saints when practicing jikra, a form of ecstatic chanting would recite the word Allah when inhaling, and recite the word Hoo when exhaling. According to Behram D. Pithawalla, the author of The Iranian Basis of Devangiri Sanskrit Alphabet, the phrase Ya Hoo refers to the opening line of the sacred prayer: Yatha Ahu Vairyo, which Dastur Meherji Rana must have chanted before the sacred fire he lit at the Court of Emperor Akbar.  ■   

* ”Flower of Paradise” was a common epithet applied to Sufi saints. Tansen was a renowned singer at the Court of Akbar [Source: “THE PARSIS” – Piloo Nanavautty]  


By Dastur Khurshed S. Dabu 


OROASTER wisely kept his teachings unrestricted as to time and place, so that these limitations may not cramp human progress in thought and conduct.  It has universal respect for all that is good and true and beautiful throughout the world.  The declaration of Zoroastrians is unequivocal and liberal with regard to the unlimited scope of all truth-seekers: 

      1) It says in the Haptan Yasht: “We revere and love all good thoughts, words and deeds, that may have been presented here or elsewhere, now or at any future period, because we are on the side of Goodness”.  Thus the religion of Zoroaster is free to embrace and absorb all future developments and progress in human thought.  It is not an insular exclusive philosophy, but a constantly expanding and liberal synthesis of every aspect of truth. Whatever is good is Zoroastrian!  

      2) In the Vispa Humata declaration: all good thoughts words and deeds are supposed to be inspired by wisdom, and are sure to lead us to Heaven, in as much as the sources of all these is Heaven. 

      3) In his declaration of Creed a Zoroastrian promises to adore all good thoughts words and deeds. 

      4) In his commemoration of holy men (in Faravardin Yasht) he invokes with reverence the pious souls of all countries---naming even Turan that was usually hostile to Iranian freedom and aspirations.  When a virtue is praised, it is “for all men”, and not for the followers of Zoroaster only. Men and women are given equal status in every sphere of life.  Both have equal opportunities of spiritual evolution and salvation. The Initiation-rite for a Zoroastrian is open to both sexes. ■ 

[Source;  “Message of Zarathushtra” by the author]



IR or Tishtrya is described in the Avesta as the glorious star genius of the rain, and the one that brings fertility to fields, farms and all other lands.  It is presumed to refer to the star Sirius in the constellation of Canis Major.  Farmers and agriculturists look to this star of the genius of the rain to send refreshing showers to their parched lands so that good harvests may ensue and mankind may prosper.   

      “O Ahura Mazda, when Thy Tishtrya rains his blessings on the earth, the fields do smile, the trees and forests rejoice and men, the birds and beasts are gladdened.  The whole nature goes green and sings to Thy greatness and glory, and bows to Thee in gratitude for Thy goodness and love.  May Apaosha, the adversary of Tishtrya, and the creator of drought and famine never get the upper hand, and may our lands always be blessed with the favors of Tishtrya.” ■ 

[Source: “TEACH ME TO PRAY—A Second book of Prayers for Zoroastrians”: Noshir H. Vajifdar] 



By Tom Schaefer 


HETHER it’s the president of the United States, an angry co-worker or an upset spouse, why is it so hard to say, “I’m sorry”?  The answers are as varied as the excuses children give for misbehaving.  A politician may worry about the ramifications of an apology.  A co-worker may be leery of appearing vulnerable and losing his or her place in the organization’s pecking order.  A spouse may still be seething over hurtful words spoken long ago. 

      I’m sorry. Two simple but seldom spoken words.  Most of us have learned about their importance in the greater good called forgiveness.  Religions teach that forgiveness restores relationships, both human and divine.  There is a life-changing quality to a heartfelt apology.  So why are apologies not easily offered and, when they are offered, not readily accepted?  Consider two examples with broader implications. 

      Following reports about the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. forces, politicians and others outraged about it demanded that the president apologize.  He was slow to respond with any type of apology.   

      After reports of sexual abuse by Catholic priests were widely reported, victims and others in the church were upset with church officials who took a long time before expressing their remorse and removing the offenders. To be sure, no one is suggesting that an apology immediately undoes the damage done to humiliated prisoners or to sexually abused boys by clerics. 

      But an admission of error or sin –if the honest intention is to redress wrongs –is a necessary first step to healing.  In both cases, a reluctance to say, “I’m sorry” made a bad situation worse. After remorse, though, a second step must follow.  The injured person must be willing to say: “You’re forgiven” –or words to that effect.  And it can be the harder step to take. The pain or injury, whether physical, mental or spiritual, is not easily erased. Feelings of anger, shame or despair can be overwhelming for many victims.   

      Taking that second step is only the start of the struggle to awaken from a nightmare of hurt.  But not to take it is to let the pain fester and decay and spread its poison in one’s own life and in one’s relationship with others.  Clearly, confessing sin and offering forgiveness are more easily understood in one-to-one relationships.  But they also need to happen on a larger scale and often do not.  As a result many people are stuck in their anger.  They want “a pound of flesh”, not an apology.  They want a gleeful satisfaction, not words of remorse. 

      I repeat: Saying I’m sorry doesn’t cancel the need for legal restitution.  But at some point we need to accept an apology and move forward.  Otherwise our anger will drive a wedge between us, and the very people who need redeeming.  So how do we reverse the downward spiral of destructive behavior?  How do we avoid becoming victims of our own making?  To start, we need to put into practice what we say we believe. 

      “The practice of forgiveness is not only, or even primarily, a way of dealing with guilt,” wrote L. Gregory Jones in “Practicing Our Faith”  “Instead, its central goal is to reconcile, to restore communion –with God, with one another, and with the whole creation.” 

      If life is only about my side or my point of view prevailing, then I surely will lose in the end.  By winning at all costs, with no attempt at reconciliation, I will have contributed to the poisoned atmosphere around me.  But if I believe that I’m to live with justice for all, and in peace with all –then I have the responsibility to practice forgiveness in my relationship with spouse, children, neighbors and co-workers as well as those of higher rank.  That means offering an apology when I’ve injured another and extending forgiveness when others express their remorse.  In a doing so, a chain reaction that changes attitudes and restores communion will commence.   

      It has to start, though, with a willingness to speak two words: “I’m sorry.”  ■ 

[Source: “Faith & Values” – The Wichita Eagle] 

      There is no friend like the old friend who has shared our morning days, no greeting like his 

      welcome, no homage like his praise: 

      Fame is the scentless sunflower with gaudy crown of gold; but friendship is the breathing 

      rose, with sweets in every fold.  


Published for Informal Religious Meetings Trust Fund, Karachi 

By Virasp Mehta 

4235 Saint James Place, Wichita KS 67226, U.S.A.