Gandhi: Parsi Link to Indian Politics

In the true notion of democracy, the most powerful name in India, the epicenter of Indian politics is a Parsi name. Below is quoted text from an op-ed.

The name Gandhi comes not from the Mahatma but from Indira’s husband Feroze Gandhi, who was Parsi. The Parsi variation of the word Gandhi, which means grocer or merchant in Gujarati, is normally spelled Ghandy. That’s because Parsis, like some Gujarati communities, find it difficult to sound the soft ‘dh’ (as in ‘Dharna’) and use the harder ‘d’ (as in ‘Diet’) instead. But by a happy coincidence Feroze used the conventional spelling and the most powerful name in Indian politics was given extension.

Her marriage to a Parsi offended nobody, but because of it Indira Gandhi was denied entry into the temple of Jagannath in the state of Orissa. Jagannath means ‘Lord of All’ and the temple is to Vishnu, one of Hinduism’s three primary gods. Perhaps uniquely in India, the Jagannath temple’s priests have kept a ‘Hindus-only’ policy, which is counterintuitive if they think of him as Lord of All. But this bigotry comes from the days when only caste Hindus were allowed into temples, and the lower castes and untouchables kept out. The constitution and the Supreme Court have decapitated caste hierarchy in India, but some people are nothing without their prejudice.


Indians were appalled when news of Indira being denied entry appeared, but the temple’s policy is still in place.

To return to Feroze Gandhi, like Hindus, Parsis do not proselytise either. Though the community accepts as Parsi the children of Parsi males and non-Parsi women, they do so grudgingly. It is actually unclear what religion the Nehru-Gandhi family belongs to or believes in. But like I said, Indians do not care where on the spectrum of Hinduism you lie. For us it is good enough that the Gandhi family is an extension of Nehru’s Brahmin lineage.

Neither of Indira’s sons married a Hindu. Rajiv married Sonia, and his brother Sanjay married Maneka, who is Sikh.

The fact that the Gandhis look and behave like we think Brahmins should — fair, handsome and soft-spoken — helps them. As does the fact that they have followed Hindu custom. Their names, Rajiv, Sanjay, Priyanka, Rahul and Varun, are Hindu, though Varun is really Feroze Varun and named after his grandfather.

Read the entire Op-Ed titled “How religious do politicians need to be?” by Aakar Patel in The News Pakistan.

  • May i Request the Parsee Comunity not to spoil the Good Name of Late Firoze Gandhi, he was a trough gentleman & he behaved like one & not like the Parsees of Today.
    He made a name for himself & his country & he lead an honest life but today i feel sorry to state that most of the parsees youngsters do not live up to that great man expectations.
    I also feel sorry for him as he was an honest person & today i am saying with a very sad heart that the same Congress party to whom he was associated is the most corrupt party in Indian Politics.
    I feel that god is playing with the sentiments of the Hindus by helping the most corrupted persons like Gandhis to rule over my beautiful mother country India.
    My Humble Request to all the parsees that please do not try to spoil the name of that great man Firoze by saying that he was also an parsee.
    Now a days many youngsters of the community do not have the moral rights to say that they are like Firoze Gandhi.
    May his soul rest in peace.
    Ronnie Jal Patel.(Muscat).

  • rustom jamasji

    Rohinton Patel and his affiliation tries to prove that Firoz Gandhi was not a Parsi but a hindu….(right wing hindu logic!!)
    Rohinton Patel should be credited with some truth…after belittling the whole community and the Parsi youth , due to his persdonal afiiliations show that some of the Parsis can stoop so low as brandishing the community..ofcourse such always demand that no one else has the right..but his is self imposed whilst talking about the community…his earlier generations benefitted from…

    Rohinton Patel from muscat tops the list of those parsis..he portrays…

    we also had traitors during sparta and armenian wars…

  • rustom jamasji

    As far as policies related to different religions, the best one is’ lets not sterp on anyones toes and let not anyone step on ours..”

    If the hindus have a policy of no entry in their concecrated temples, like the muslims have theirs..n the christians while taking the communion….one shud learn to respect such…no need to fire the gun from the parsi community’s shoulder…after all there are billions of hindus, christians and muslims, let the onus lie on these billions to oversee the functioning of their respective religions n laws of such!!!