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Volume V No.7 Mah Meher, Fasal Sal 1373: September-October 2004


      Humatanām hukhtanām hvarshtanām,              We are the admirers and teachers of all

           yadachā anyadachā verezyamnanāmcha    good thoughts, words and deeds which

           vā-verezananāmcha, mahi aibi-jaretāro    are done and which will be done, here 

           naenaestāro, yathanā vohunām mahi.     as well as elsewhere.

          Tat at vairimaidi, Ahurā Mazdā ashā.   

           srirā hayat -i- mainimadichā, vaochoi-    So are we of all good things.  We choose, 

           māchā verezimāchā, yā hātānm      Oh Ahura Mazda, all that is holy, splendid

          shyaothananām vahistā khyāt uboibyā ahubyā.   and best in this life for both the worlds. 

[Hapatan Yasht: Karda I Para 1 & 2] 

In this Issue: 

      2 THE VEDA & THE AVESTA   By Nagendranath Gupta 

      6 CONTEMPLATION   By Naval M. Magol 

      7 THE MEANING OF “ÂRAMAITI” By Ali A. Jafarey 

      8 LET LOVE BE YOUR RELIGION (POEM) By J.A. Lindberg 

            [Chapter 8: First Railway Line, Napier Mole Bridge and

      12 LESSONS FROM ASHES By Dastur Khursheed S. Dabu 

“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us;

what we have done for others and the world remains and is our immortality.”

[ALBERT PIKE – Philosopher] 


Nagendranath Gupta 


OME European orientalists and a few Zoroastrian scholars have devoted some study and attention to the very remarkable similarity between the Vedas and the Avesta, but the parallelism has not been explored thoroughly and exhaustively.  It is one of the most fascinating and fruitful studies in comparative theology and comparative philology.  There was a time when the Aryans of India and the Aryans of Iran were the same people, following the same religion and the same customs.  Then at some time in the remote past they divided into two sections and went different ways.  Before they parted there was a religious schism of which there is evidence in their scriptures.  There must have been considerable bitterness of feeling, though there is no circumstantial or suggestive evidence and no tradition that there was any actual feud or fighting between the two sections of the tribe. 

      In order to trace the similitude between these two ancient faiths to the fullest extent it is necessary to have a full and accurate knowledge of Vedic Sanskrit and also the language of the Avesta.  The scriptures of both languages should be carefully studied and great patience will have to be exercised in making comparisons.  There should be no predilection and no prejudice. It should be calm dispassionate research work with the sole object of finding the truth.  We have to wait for such a gifted and devoted scholar.  Meantime the spadework may continue and any contribution in this direction, however, humble may prove useful.  

      So long as the original Indian Aryans and the Iranian Aryans lived together there was no need of separate prayers or different forms of worship.  The art of writing was unknown and was not introduced till many centuries later.  Long before that the tribe had divided and gone different ways.  The scriptures that existed were retained merely in the memory.  The tongue was the stylus, and the memory was the tablet.  The Vedas were ultimately collected and put together in India, the Avesta in Iran.  Whether these two are derived from a still older language, or whether they are the same dialect in which differences have appeared on account of change of locality and surroundings is mainly a matter of conjecture.  It is a common experience that shades of difference appear in the same language or dialect by reason of distance alone.  A spoken dialect undergoes changes in the countryside at the distance of a few miles.  There are changes in accent, in idioms, in pronunciation, in the grouping of letters.  This is noticeable everywhere.  Cockney English and the English spoken in Yorkshire are so utterly at variance that they sound like two different languages.  The difference in the sounds of certain letters in the Veda and the Avesta is very noticeable while it is impossible to overlook the similarity in the use and the meaning of words.  Specially, the spelling and pronunciation of Avestan words have been markedly influenced by other Iranian languages, which are not of direct Sanskritic origin.  Vedic Sanskrit differs from later Sanskrit but all the sacred literature of the Aryans and the later Hindus are in Sanskrit, while Pahlavi and Persian in which a portion of the Khordeh Avesta is composed is not Sanskritic at all. 

      It is impossible to ascertain the circumstances under which a schism appeared and the Aryan tribe was divided into two, but there are certain indications of the stage of religious advance at which the division took place.  Any suggestion made is neither inferential, nor can any theory be put forward with any degree of confidence.  It can only be offered for what it may be worth 

      The hymns of the Vedas as well as the existing parts of the Avesta must have been composed at different times spread over a considerable period.  Part of the Rig Veda may have been in existence when one section of the Aryans came to the Punjab, then known as Aryavarta, or the first settlement of the Aryans.  It is certain, however, that the concluding portion of the Rig Veda and the hymns contained in it must have been composed in India, for there are references to the Indus and the other rivers of the Punjab and the Sarwasvati, to which hymns are dedicated, is believed to have been a river near Ambala, adjoining the eastern boundary of the Punjab.  This river has disappeared, but its bed can still be traced.  In the Avesta the Gathas are the oldest portion as is apparent from the evidence of the language, but in the Vendidad, Fargarad I, it is mentioned that the fifteenth and the best of places created by Ahura Mazda was Hapta Hendu, named Hidus in the Cuneiform Inscriptions.  Hapta Hendu is the same as Sapta Sindhavas, the seven rivers, in the Vedas.  This is India, or rather the Punjab. This makes it clear that the ancient Aryans of Iran were perfectly aware of the existence of India.         

      The split between the Vedic and Avestan Aryans must have taken place early. Part of the Vedas was then in existence and the rites and rituals of worship had been definitely settled.  To what was the schism due?  To this question no answer can be given, but it may be surmised that some difference arose as regards the position assigned to Vedic gods and also because one section of the tribe showed an inclination to depart from ancient customs.  The number of gods in the Vedas is thirty-three; some are worshiped by hymns, others by oblations and sacrificial offerings.  Of the higher gods Mitra and Varuna are named often together, sometimes Indra-Varuna, and some hymns are addressed to Varuna alone.  Varuna is chief of the Asuras (Ahura in Avesta.)  The root Asu means life and in the Zend Ahu has the same meaning.  In the Veda Varuna is called Maha (great), which is the exact equivalent of the Avestan word Maz.  The letter h in Sanskrit becomes z in Avesta, both words convening precisely the same meaning.  Hotar in Sanskrit and Zaotar in Avesta have the same meaning. 

      In the Rigveda the hymns gradually display a tendency to assign to Varuna a secondary place to make Indra the principal divinity in the pantheon.  Perhaps this was resented by one section of the people.  Among the 101 names of Ahura Mazda in the Khordeh Avesta, Varauna is given the 44th name (varun = savior). It is not improbable that the differences also arose about some customs.  Consanguineous marriages are not permitted by the Vedas; the allegory of Yama and Yami is an instance.  However, the Avesta allows them.  The original custom about the disposal of the dead was the same as that practiced by the Zoroastrians up to the present day.  One section might have introduced the burning of the dead and this must have given great offence to the conservative and the orthodox section.  It is mentioned in the Vendidad that Angre-Mainyus created the curse of inexpiable acts, the burning of the dead.   

      The resulting breach and religious hostility assumed a very curious form.  The word Deva is from the root div, to shine.  The Devas are the Shining Ones, the Celestials.  In the Avesta this word is slightly changed to Daevas, and means evil spirits.  We shall presently see that this does not mean that Vedic Gods are rejected in the Avesta.  They are invoked under other names.  Moreover, the word Daeva is very comprehensive and includes many spirits, such as the pisachas, which haunt the places of the dead and are called evil spirits in the Veda.  The Druh in the Veda are Drukhs in the Avesta and are evil spirits.  Besides, the Avesta does not contain such an anomaly as giving to the same word two diametrically opposite meanings.  The Daevas are evil throughout the Avesta; on the other hand, Asura in the Rigveda means the highest among the gods in the major portion of the hymns, while in some other portions Asuras mean demons.  No explanation whatsoever is forthcoming.   So brilliant and gifted a commentator as Sayana, or Mahidhra, or any one else never explains why the word Asura, in the same Veda, should mean the highest among the gods in so many hymns and why the Asuras should be degraded to demons in other hymns.  But this is a sure indication of the parting of the ways.  When the Protestants broke away and exalted Asura Varuna to the highest and denounced the other Devas, Indra in particular, the other section changed the great god Asura into a demon and called Agni (Fire) Asura-slayer.  Indra became the tutelary god of the Indian section of the Aryans.  In hymn 124 of the 10th book of the Rigveda it is clearly indicated that Agni, the fire-god has left Varuna-Asura originally the supreme deity, whose power was waning and associated himself with Indra who has superseded that god.  The fire-god declares kingship alternates and he favors it.  Some time later, the word Asura lost its original meaning altogether and even the root was perverted.  A new word which cannot be found anywhere in the Vedas, Sura was coined to mean the Devas, the prefix a implied the negative and a new classification of gods and demons was made, viz. Suras and Asuras.  This invention is in defiance of Vedic grammar and original etymology of the word Asura 

      Excluding the Puranas and judging from the Veda and the Avesta the feeling of hostility in the latter is far more vehement than in the former.  There is no book corresponding to the Vendidad in Sanskrit.  Vendidad is Vidaeva-data, the law against the Daevas, but there are laws against human offenders also and they are draconian in their severity.  One wonders whether the penalties prescribed were ever enforced.  As has been pointed out the Daevas are not only the Vedic gods but all kinds of evil spirits and evildoers, and there are men among the Daeva-worshippers.  Part of the daily worship of a Zaoroastrian consists of the denunciation of the Daevas.  Among the Indian Aryans there are no set prayers for denouncing the Asuras, nor is there any declaration of faith laying down opposition to the Asuras as a paramount duty.  It is undeniable that the bitterness on the part of one party was much greater than the other. 

      In the tenth Fargard of the Vendidad certain Daevas are named as those to be combated with.  The 17th verse says: “I combat Indra, I combat Sauru I combat the Daeva Naonhaiti away from the dwelling, the clan, the tribe, the region.”  Further on it is said: “I combat the Daeva of rain, I combat the Daeva of wind.”  Indra, who wields the thunderbolt, is called Andar in the Bundahishn.  Sauru is identified as Siva, or it may be Rudra. Naonhaiti is the name of the Asvin twins called Nasatya in the Rigveda.  The Vedic Deva of rain is Parjanya and the wind is named Vayu.  This exclusion, however, is not so final as would appear from the passage quoted above for they are to be found under other names in the Avesta.  The Vedic gods are the Yaztas of the Avesta  

      One of the most important Devas in the Veda is Agni or Fire, who is invoked in numerous hymns.  He is also called Vaisvanara, the god who is present with, and benefits all, Aryan men. In the Avesta and among the Zoroastrian community Fire is the chief symbol of purity and holiness.  The common place of worship is a temple where the sacred fire is kept permanently alight like the fire in the temple of Vesta in ancient Rome.  It is clear that Fire is not among the Daevas. It is called the Son of Ahura and in the Veda also it is said that Fire was born from womb of Asura.  The notable point is that the Vedic words Agni and Vaisvanara are never used in the Avesta anywhere. The word used in the Avesta is Atar, from which, comes Atarsh and Atash. But this word also is not outside the Vedas.  Athar is a special name of Agni, the Fire-god.  Hence the Atharva Veda and the fire-priest, the Atharvan. This word is retained almost unchanged in the Avesta as Athravan.  In the minutest detail the rite of the Homa, Haoma, is the same in the Vedas and the Avesta.  The Barhishi, trimmed grass for fire, of the Veda is the Beresma of the Avesta; the priests Hotar and Atharvan of Veda are the Zaotar and Athravan of the Avesta.  The famous libation of Soma in the Veda is Haoma in the Avesta. 

      Indra or Andar, the opponent of Asha-Vahista himself and second only to Ahirman in malignity may be driven away from the realm as a Daeva chief but who is Verethraghna of the Bahram Yasht if not Indra himself under one of his Vedic names?  There is scarcely any change even in the name itself.  Verethraghna is Vritraghna, the slayer of Vritra, the Demon of drought.   The root is han, to kill. In the Ramayana the youngest brother of Rama is named Satrughna, the slayer of foes.  The legend of the slaying of Vritra, who is named Daeva Apaosha (drought) is told in the Tistar Yasht. Vritra or Apasho is a demon both in the Veda and the Avesta.  In the latter the star Tishtrya (Sirius) plays the part that is assigned to Indra in the Veda.   

      The Daeva of wind is to be exorcised energetically.  In the Gatha Vahishtoishti this Daeva (Vayu) is named twice, a being written short as in Call.  But under the name of Ram the wind is invoked in the Ram Yasht and calls himself Yayu and addresses himself to Zarathushtra as one of the great Ones.  Mihr Yasht is an invocation to Mithra, the Vedic Mitra, the Sun.  Aban Yasht is like the Vedic hymns to the waters and the river Ardvisura is invoked just like the Sarasvati or the Indus.  An examination of the Avesta shows that in actual practice very few of the Vedic Devas, were really treated as Daevas. 

      The resemblance in the names is so close that any notion of an accident or coincidence must be ruled out at once. The names are identical, only the inversion and reversion of ideas are sometimes very curious.  Yama in the Vedas and Yimi in the Vendidad are identical.  Even the name of Yama and Yimi’s father is the same.  In the Rigveda Yama is called the son of Vivasvan; in the Vendidad he is repeatedly addressed as the son of Vivanhao.  In the Avesta Yima is later designated Jima, which is again transformed into Jamshed.  In Vedic lore Yama is the Ruler of the land where the departed souls of men go.  He is called the king who gathers men together.  In the Vendidad Yima is the ruler of the fabulous region of Airyanavaeja, the first land of happiness created by Ahura Mazda.  The common feature of both these regions is that the dwellers live in the enjoyment of all bliss and happiness.  Fragard II of the Vendidad contains an account of Yima’s kingdom.  It is always expending as must happen in the land of the dead since the number of the dead is always increasing and the dead from the beginning of creation must exceed the living   In Persian mythology, however, Jamshed was a king who ruled over the living.  All the three sections of the Parsis, the Shahenshahis, the Kadmis and the Faslis, observe Jamshedi Nowroz on 21st March every year and it is also celebrated by the followers of Islam in Iran. 

      One of the most extraordinary coincidences between the Veda and the Avesta is in regard to a certain rite performed in connection with the dead.  When a follower of the Zoroastrian faith dies a dog is brought in the presence of the dead.  This rite is called sagdit; sag is a Persian word meaning a dog, dit is derived from the Sanskrit drishit, seeing.  With reference to this a fuller account is to be found in the Rigveda than in the Verndidad.  The 14th hymn of the 10th Book of the Rigveda is an invocation of Yama.  The spirits of the departed, the Fathers are advised to ‘run and out-speed the two dogs, Sarama’s offerings, brindled, four-eyed, upon the happy pathway’ that leads to the Kingdom of Yama.  These two dogs accompany the departing souls. ‘Dark-hued, insatiate, with distended nostrils, Yama’s two envoys roam among the people.  May they restore to us a fair existence here and today, that we may see the sunlight.’  Sarama is the bitch hound of Indra and all dogs are considered her offspring.  In the Vendidad, Fragard 8, only one dog is mentioned, though the description suggests two, ‘a yellow dog with four eyes, or a white one with yellow ears That is brindled; the four eyes mean certain peculiar spots over the eyes.  Nothing is said about the origin of the dog.  Elsewhere in the Vendidad it is stated that the beautiful and pure soul goes to the Bridge of Chinvat accompanied by dog.  In the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata it is stated that a dog accompanied King Yudhishthria to heaven.  The rite of sagdit* is still practiced by the Parsis, whereas the Hindus who look upon a dog as an unclean animal have discarded this practice.   It is a Vedic rite as well as an Avestan ceremony.  It is allegorical but most Vedic rites come under that description. 

      There is inherent evidence that the dispute that divided the ancient Aryans into two sections did not materially affect the religious beliefs of the Indian and Iranian Aryans.  Most of the Daevas of the Avesta are also the demons of the Veda.  A few Vedic Devas, that are denounced by name or designation in the Avesta are invoked under other names in other parts of the Avesta.  The Yasna, the Gahs and the Yashts are all like Vedic hymns.  The Gathas alone, though not quite free from the Vedic tradition of a variety of divinities, invoke a single supreme deity as the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. ■  [Source: “Silver Jubilee Memorial Volume: Y.M.Z.A. Karachi 1935] 

(*The practice of Sagdit has ceased to be observed in Pakistan) 



[Song 9.10: Ushtavaiti Gāthā] 

Naval M. Magol 

                  Religion can never be a pompous gathering,

                  Of rituals and ceremonies in utterance and action,

                  A scrupulous observation, and listening to conscience. 

                  Tell me, therefore, O Sublime Ahura Mazda,

                  Whether the religion which upholds sublime righteousness,

                  And considers right attitude of mind as the Way of Life,

                  Can be considered as the best for people of the world? 

                  My aspirations, O Mazda, are for Your Inner Knowledge,

                  And my desires shall be fulfilled, O Sublime Wise Lord,

                  By concentration, contemplation, meditation, and prayers.  

“Consider nothing as true conquest save that of religion” 

(Emperor Asoka) 


By Ali A. Jafarey 


RAMAITI occurs for full forty times in the Gâthâs and three times in the Haptanghâiti, the subtle and sublime supplement next in importance to the Gâthâs.  While some modern scholars equate it with the Sanskrit “aramati” – readiness to serve, obedience, devotion, “from “aram – ready” there are some who accept the Pahlavi translation on linguistic basis, to mean “ara – right + maiti – thinking and render it as “perfect-mindedness, noble-mindedness” Incidentally, the Rig Veda has another “aramati” meaning “without repose” (“a—prefix of negation + ramati – repose,” see below).  No one has gone for this. 

      Whatever the case, the lengthened “â” makes one have a second thought.  Zarathushtra is quite ‘normal’ in pronouncing the word “arem – rightly, correctly” with a simple “a” when he speaks about “being rightly accompanied by Âramaiti (Song 8:10 = Yasna 43:10), “correctly understanding the facts of life” (Song 9:8 = Yasna 44:8), and “correctly acknowledging (arem manyâtâ) Ahura Mazda and denying (tare-mâñstâ) false gods and their followers, who in their turn deny (tare-manyantâ) Mazda” (Song 10:11 – Yasna 45:11).  Why should he lengthen the initial vowel to have “âramati” then?  Any reason for this so-to-say abnormality?  

      One can understand that Zarathushtra is a Master Poet and his Sublime Songs are an unmatched masterpiece of Indo-Iranian poetry.  But Zarathushtra is not here to show us his mastery of language.  He has turned to poetry only with one aim:  Popularize and eternalize his Mâñthra-s, thought-provoking Message in a non-adulterated form.  And he has fully succeeded in his aim.  Therefore, poetry is secondary.  His first and foremost aim and objective is to deliver the Divine Message to all the living. And to deliver it, he has to be clear in his words.  He simply cannot play with them and leave us puzzled as to what he means to convey.  A person is only puzzled when he/she cannot fully grasp what Zarathushtra conveys in a stanza, a song or the entire Gâthâs.  The Gâthâs are guiding.  One only falls short because one has to rely on a translation that puzzles him/her. 

      Philologically the lengthened “â” warrants that it should be delivered from a stem with an initial “â.”  There is a stem, “ram –to be at rest, to be stable, to be at peace.”  It yields several words, with and without the prefix “â” in Avesta and Sanskrit, all showing tranquility, stability, serenity, quietness, peace and pleasure.  If so, then ÂRAMAITI” is made of “â + ram + aiti (suffix of action)” instead of the Vedic “aram (correctly, readily) + ati (suffix of action)” with a secondary meaning “state of readiness to serve, obedience, devotion,” and the Pahlavi “bovandak menishnîh –right-mindedness,” based on the Avestan “ara (correctly, rightly) + mati (thinking from “man” to think).  “Âramaiti” should mean “tranquility, stability, peace, and serenity.”  

      A scanning of the Gâthâs shows that in spite of the terms, like “râman – peace (Song 2:10 = Yasna 29.10); “hujiti – good living (Song 6:10 = Yasna 33:10), hujyâiti – good life (Songs 5:5; 13.8 = Yasna 32.5; 48:8); and hushiti/husheiti – good dwelling (Songs 2:10; 3:10; 13:11 = Yasna 29.10; 30:10; 48:11); there is a vacuum for a major abstract for peace and stability, the KEY to a blissful living under

the Gâthic “Primal Principle of Life –dâtâo angheush pouruyehyâ).  They are progressive mentality (spenta mainyu), good mind (vohu manah), best righteousness (asha vahishta), divine communion (seraosha), the choice of good dominion (vohu khshathra vairya), and more than a dozen other principles 

      The only missing link is STABILITY and SERENITY to give a person/community – wise and progressive, precise in actions in a choice of good government and enjoying communion with God – the ultimate goal: wholeness (haurvatât) and immortality (ameretât).  And ÂRAMAITI stands high among the principles to give one the peace and serenity one would like to enjoy on the road to progress.  It fills well the vacuum, which does not exist.  However, one would feel the want if the Primal Principles do not emphatically provide for stability and serenity. 

      That is one of the reason it is called “SPENT” – progressive, increasing” in the Gâthâs (Songs 5:2; 6:13; 7:9; 14:2; 16:4; 16:11 = Yasna 32:2; 33:13; 34:10; 34:9; 49:2; 51:4; 51:11).  It is not a static state of comfort.  It is moving, progressing, active and productive.  That is one of the reasons it is closely linked with the khshathra, the settled order. That is one of the reasons why the later Avestan composers made her represent with the good earth.  And that is the main reason I derive it from “â-ram” (compare modern Persian “ârâm – peaceful, tranquil and ârâmesh – peace, tranquility) and render ÂRAMAITI as SERENITY.  It completes the Divine Doctrine of Zarathushtra, based on Good Thoughts, Good Word, and Good Deeds for progressive peace –SPENT ÂRAMAITI – to wholeness and immortality. 

      Mazda Ahura, our “ally through ‘vohu manah’ and good friend through the glorious ‘asha’ tells us by means of ‘khshathra’.  We have chosen the good and progressive SERENITY (spentâm âramaitîm vanguhîm) for you.” And we all readily respond “Hâ nê anghat – May it be ours!” (Song 5:2 = Yasna 32:2).  Hâ nê anghat!  ■


Let Love be Your Religion 

[J.A. Lindberg] 



IN 1858 the first Parsi doctor, Bejonji Rustamji arrived.  He was a recent graduate of the Grant Medical College, and was appointed at the Government Dispensary.  Besides his practice he wrote a number of papers on medical subjects.  He also wrote an interesting book in Gujarati called darek mānas-no vaid (every man’s doctor) Shapurji Hormusji Soparivala who had come in 1854 had a Sagdi (fire place) built near the Dokhma.  There will be more mention of Shapurji later. 

      The Agra Bank and Masterman Bank opened their branches in Karachi.  The Municipality to facilitate supply of water laid a water line from Rambagh well, along Bunder Road (now M.A. Jinnah Road) up-to Custom House, with taps on the way for public to fill water. 

      Dinshaw Maneckji Minwalla, who once served in the Royal artillery and went with it to Punjab in 1849, left it and became a partner with W.E. Chamberlain in a trading company.  In 1859 he purchased a press with its newspaper, SIND KASED, becoming the first Parsi and first native to do so.  Edulji Dinshaw was his sister’s son and had come to Karachi with him. 

      The history of the Parsi press in India goes a long way back. Bhimji Parekh, a Parsi, through agency of East India Co. had the first printing press and a printer brought to Bombay from England in 1670.  Bombay’s first English News Paper, THE BOMBAY COURIER was printed in the printing works of Rustamji Kershaspathi in 1777. And Faredunji Marzban started BOMBAY SAMACHAR in 1822 

      In 1859 the Municipality started selling its vacant lands.  The investors bought these lands to build houses etc. to give out on rent. Since the times of the Talpurs, and because of their liberal trade policies, other people from Gujarat (like Parsis) had come to Karachi.  They were from Kutch, Okha, Jodia, Porbunder etc.  These people were quick to invest in real estate ventures.  Jodia Bazar and Kutchi Gali were the first areas to be developed.    

      The child population of the Karachi Parsis had increased in number and need for a Parsi school was felt.  Though there were other Gujarati teaching schools also.  So under the leadership of Nanabhai Faramji Spencer the Parsis of Karachi raised money amongst themselves and on 23rd May 1859 “Karachi Parsi Balakshalla”(kindergarten school) was established. The school was first housed in the home of Dadabhai Palanji Paymaster and was run mostly by volunteer teachers. 

      This was the year when we came to know from Charles Darwin’s ‘Origin of the Species’ that our ancestors were apes.  The Honeymoon Lodge, now known as Aga Khan Pahari at the corner of the Defense Society’s Phase II shopping area, was built in 1860. And the European firms of that time, to safeguard their interests formed the Karachi Chamber of Commerce.  

      From the moment the British forces occupied Karachi they suffered greatly from scarcity of water. Water supply was a problem that tried the powers of a considerable number of skilful and intelligent men, but the problem remained unsolved. Previously water was collected in tanks (ponds or talaos) and used sparingly.  In course of time wells were dug on the banks of the Lyari River and water was obtained, but insufficient in quantity.  Pipes were laid from wells in Rambagh, to cisterns placed at intervals on Bunder Road, to which large stone troughs were affixed.  Residents collected water in their ghadā-s and mutka-s (water pitchers) and carried them to their houses.  For those at a distance from the source, water was carried in large barrels on carts. There were bhistees (water carriers) with their mashaks (water bags made from leather).  People who could afford had their own wells dug.  On 1st January 1861 Navajbai, widow of Dadabhai Shapurji Kothari had one well dug at RattanTallao for exclusive use of the Parsi community.  Later on in 1869 public spirited, Shapurji Soparivala had another well dug near Rattan Tallao for public use and handed it over to the municipality. 

      By this means the population was partially supplied with water, not altogether wholesome. It was too saline and not too potable.  Sir Bartle Frere, then the commissioner of Karachi said about the water obtained from the best of the wells, “….although the permanent residents get used to it and it does not disagree with them, on all new comers it has the effect of a weak solution of Epsom or Cheltenham salts.”  This was the condition in which the Parsi pioneers of Kurrachee lived.  Parsi population of Sind at that time was about 400 persons.  Sind Cotton Press and Hodgard Press had started functioning in 1861  

      In response to a request by Parsi leaders of Bombay to allow them to join or form a Volunteer corps, the Governor General replied, ”Though there is no need to have a native volunteer corps, but if some respectable native who can speak English and has no objection to putting on a European uniform, and if he desires, there is no objection to enroll him in the Volunteer corps”.  As a result many Parsis of Karachi too joined as volunteers.  The first to join up were Maneckji Framji Colabewala, Cawasji Faramji Mistry, Ardesher Gustadji Kohiyar, Byramji Cawasji Messman, Mehrwanji Bomanji Engineer, Hormasji Jamshedji Ghadyali, Hormasji Shahpurji Limki, and Bomanji Framji Purveyor. 

      Wherever possible I have tried to give a list of names to show who were then in Karachi, so the present generation can trace their ancestors.■ (continued) 





N important event far away came as a blessing in disguise for Karachi. It was the American Civil War.  As the cotton production in America reduced and the demand from other sources rose, its cultivation in India increased to a much greater extent than had hitherto been done. It was also realized that Karachi would be the best port for export of cotton produced in Sind and Punjab. This also meant great trading opportunity for Karachi traders. This enhanced the importance of Karachi in the eyes of the Government at Bombay and Karachi got a push to progress. 

      The first railway line linking Karachi with Kotri (105 miles) was completed in 1861.  The ceremony of laying the first track was held in 1858 at the site where today we have the City Railway station.  With the start of Railway an Industrial area (tanneries, oil mills and wool washing factories) sprang up along the Lyari River. The work on Keamari groin was started in 1861 and completed in 1863. 

      The source of revenue of the Municipal Committee formed in 1852 was the levy of taxes on malt liqueurs, wines and spirits in addition to taxes on articles of local consumption and transit duties on cotton, wool, grain and seeds. In 1863 the Municipality imposed a 2% house-tax.   

      That year Dinshaw Phirojshah Minwalla was appointed a government member to the Municipality.  Later he was also appointed a delegate to the district matrimonial court. 

      The Parsi Balak Shalla was growing steadily and in 1863 it had to be shifted from the residence of Dadabhai Paymaster to a rented bungalow, which was situated where the present Hirjikaka Dar-e-Meher stands. The rent was Rs.20/- p.m. 

      1864 was another milestone year for Karachi.  The Napier Mole Bridge crossing the China creek next to Native Jetty was completed, and the work on East Pier started. 

      In the same year the Geneva Convention originated, Leo Tolstoy wrote: WAR AND PEACE, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, and Lister introduced antiseptic for surgery.  On 1st March 1865 the first direct telegraphic message was transmitted between India and England.  The first “through” telegram received in London on the opening of the Indo-European telegraph system was transmitted from Karachi. In 1865 it rained heavily in Karachi with 20” of rain in 6 hours causing severe floods.  That year also occurred an unfortunate happening. Karachi was again hit by a cholera epidemic. During, the epidemic Sohrabji Dhunjishah Wadia provided painkiller free to the public.  Sohrabji had a school building constructed at Garikhata (now Pakistan Chowk) in memory of his uncle Dossabhai Mehrwanji Wadia.  Since the school building was much larger than needed, a part of it was used to house the Wadia Dar-e-Meher.  There will be more details about this Dar-e-Meher later 

      Sir Bartle Frere after leaving the post of Commissioner of Karachi became the Governor of Bombay.  This was very fortunate for Karachi, as he always had interests of Karachi dear to him.  The grateful citizens erected, perhaps the most beautiful building in Karachi, in his honor and named it Frere Hall. The Hall was opened in October 1865.   Sir Bartle Frere held a Durbar in this hall in 1867 when he visited Karachi.  It might be of interest to readers to know that Bartle Frere was the first East India Company’s cadet to arrive in India (1834) by the overland route. 

      As early as 1828 the Bombay Government has appointed a commission to enquire into the usages recognized as law by the Parsis in India.  The commission requested the Parsis to frame their own laws to avoid controversies in the future.  In 1855 a Parsi Law Association was formed at a meeting attended by 3000 Parsis at Bombay. The Law Association stimulated the Government to setup a commission in 1861.  On the basis of this commission’s report two laws were promulgated in 1865. They were the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, and the Parsi Succession Act  

      The population of Karachi in 1866 was 56,789 souls and the municipal revenue was Rs, 240,914/- Meanwhile in London, Dadabhai Naoroji, in order to educate the British public on the issue of economic exploitation of India by the British, started the East India Association. 

      The building of Sezdegah-e-Ravan, which was donated by Byramji Kotwal in 1849, had become dilapidated.  So in 1860 Shahpurji Soparivala and Hormusji Dubash had a new structure erected in its place. This year there was a scholastic achievement of a Karachi Parsi worth mentioning.  Peshotan Dinshaw Minwalla, who was a clerk at the Post Office joined M/s Cleveland Peel Solicitors as an article clerk and passed his law exams, becoming the first Parsi solicitor of Karachi. ■ [To be continued]



By Dastur Khurshed S. Dabu 


shes from the alter-plate of a fire-temple are offered to worshippers, who take a pinch and apply it to their foreheads.  These ashes teach the following lessons: 

      Humility: Reminding one of a handful of dust that the physical body would yield ultimately.  Equality: All contributors rich or poor, receive the same “return”. Similarly, the offering of all worshippers are received and consigned to the fire, without distinction.  The resulting ashes reflect the lesson of all men being equal on the same level.  Loyalty: The invisible “King” at the altar is worshipped as God’s representative (called the Son), and it is an oriental custom to apply on the forehead (as the sign of fidelity) dust from under the feet of a ruler.  Law of Retribution: We offer our activities to the Recorder, and these are turned into corresponding rewards or re-actions.  As you give, so do you receive: the fragrant wood is consumed, and the result is the pure ashes.  Magnetic Vivifier: The ashes from the sacred altar are radiant with magnetic emanation. These, applied to our vital centers (or plexuses) stimulate the life within, and purify our aura.  Token: It is the token of acceptance of an offering, the only link between the Invisible Presence and the devotees who cannot enter the sanctum.■ 

[Source: MESSAGE OF ZARATHUSHTRA by the author] 

Published for Informal Religious Meetings Trust Fund, Karachi. By Virasp Mehta

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