Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Vada Dasturji Meherjirana Passes Away

Vada Dasturji Meherjirana passed away in the early hours of June 4, 2019 in Navsari, India. Garothman Behest to dear Dasturji soul.

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The above photograph is from December 2018, when the participants of the 5th Zoroastrian Return To Roots Trip to India had a chance to meet with Vada Dasturji at the WZO Senior Citizen’s home in Navsari.

Nauzer Bharucha at Times of India reports

The Parsi community’s oldest High Priest, Kaikhusro Navroz Dastoor Meherjirana (92) passed away early Tuesday morning after a brief illness in Navsari, Gujarat. A respected scholar priest, Meherjirana was also an advocate, author of two books on banking law and a student of Indian classical music.

He lived most of his life in Mumbai before shifting to Navsari after his appointment as High Priest (Vada Dastur) in 2010, played the flute and was a follower of the Kirana gharana of Ustaad Abdul Karim Khan, and particularly of the late singer Gangubai Hangal of Hubbali.

In his youth, he frequently gave music recitals on the All India Radio in Vadodra for which he was paid Rs 30 per show in those days.

Dastoor Meherjirana was the 17th High Priest from the priestly Meherjirana family of Navsari. The first Meherjirana (1510-1590) was anointed High Priest in the late 16th century and was honoured as a guest in Emperor Akbar’s court.

Akbar is believed to have met the first Meherjirana at the time of the siege of Surat in 1573, when the imperial army was encamped at Kenkra Khari. Akbar later gifted him 200 acres of land at Gelkhari village near Surat.

Incidentally, the Parsi community has lost its second High Priest in the past few weeks. Last month, the world renowned Avesta scholar priest, Dastur Kaikhusroo JamaspAsa, passed away in London.

Eminent community historian and dear friend of Parsi Khabar, Marzban Giara of Navsari writes

“Vada Dasturji Kaikhashru Navroji Dasturji Meherjirana passed away at D. N. Mehta Hospital at Navsari after being hospitalized for a few weeks. He was 92 years old. His paidast will be held at Navsari doongerwadi today 4th June at 3.40 p.m. His uthamna will be held at Navsari Atash Behram on Wednesday 5th june at 3.40 p.m.

He was the 17th heir to the historic Dasturji gaadi since January 2010. He was a solicitor and General Manager Legal with Bank of India. He was an exponent of ilm-e-kshnoom, the esoteric science of Zoroastrian religion. He used to deliver lectures and wrote books and spread religious knowledge. He was a flautist and played the flute even on All India Radio. He was resident at WZO Senior Citizens Centre at Navsari for the past five years.

May his soul progress in garothman behest.”

Ervad Zerkxis Bhandara of California writes

It is so hard to fight back the tears when writing this. Goodbye old friend, Dasturji Meherjirana XVII has left us for his onwards journey of oneness with the Creator. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to meet you one last time in December. Will always remember the camps you used to have in California and when you came to our house to pay respects to the Muktad. Even though, he held the highest authority in the Parsee community, conferred by both Mughal and British Monarchs, he always remained humble and meek. Your kindness, candor, and humor will always be remembered. Thank you for letting us be a part of your life. May you rest in eternal peace.

Hanoz Mistry of The Parsee Voice writes

Vada Dasturji Kaikhushroo Navroze Dastoor Meherjirana, the 17th Dastur Meherjirana, passed away today early morning at 2.55 a.m. in Navsari. He was 92 years of age.

Born on 16th January 1927, the year in which Ustadsaheb Behramshah Shroff passed away, he was a descendant of the first Dasturji Meherjirana. His late father Ervad Navroze Dinshaw Dastoor was an accomplished senior priest of the Bhagaria tola having performed innumerable Nirangdin ceremonies and had for some time also served as the Nayab Dastoor (Assistant to the Vada Dastoor) under Dasturji Kekobad. His uncle, late Ervad Rustamji Dinshawji Dastoor, popularly known as Bapaji, was an accomplished scholar of Avesta and Pahlavi and the author of the book used by all priests in their daily ceremonies.

Ervad K. N. Dastoor completed his Navar and Maratab initiations from the Vadi Daremeher in Navsari and thereafter completed his graduation in Science and Law. He served for many years with a nationalized bank and reached the post of General Manager and Chief Vigilance Officer. Thereafter, he practised law privately. He authored two books on Banking Law.

At a very young age, Ervad K. N. Dastoor or KND as he was popularly known, was fortunate to come into contact with late Jehangirji Chiniwalla, the senior disciple of Ustad Saheb Behramshah N. Shroff, who was an advocate himself. This friendship and discipleship grew over the years and Ervad Dastoor played a leading role in the printing of the Parsi Avaz paper described earlier. On the death of Jehangirji Chiniwalla, Ervad Dastoor took on the mantle of spreading the knowledge of Ilm-e-Khshnoom, which continued for many years through thousands of talks, seminars and camps in India and other parts of the world, till his health permitted. He published the Parsi Pukar magazine for many years, which was later merged with Dini Avaz to form the reborn Parsi Avaz.

Ervad K. N. Dastoor was also at the forefront of all community campaigns, whenever the traditional nature of our community was threatened. A powerful orator, he could speak with great authority and conviction on any religious topic, which helped to motivate many an errant to return to the fold. He was very well read in books written by famous scientists and experts in other disciplines.

He was also an accomplished Indian classical musician and flautist and was a follower of the Kirana gharana of Ustad Abdul Karim Khan, and particularly of the late singer, Gangubai Hangal of Hubli. During his youth, he used to frequently give musical recitals on the All India Radio in Vadodara.

At the age of 83, in January 2010, he was anointed at Navsari in Gujarat as the 17th Dastur Meherjirana.

The twilight years of his life were spent in Navsari, where he passed away. In his passing away, the Ilm-e-Khshnoom movement has lost its seniormost stalwart, leaving a void which can never be filled. Some of us who had the pleasure of knowing him personally and being his avid students when he was in Mumbai, will miss him terribly for he was one of those who taught us how to drink from the pristine spring of Ilm-e-Khshnoom, which changed our lives permanently.

We pray that his immortal Ruvaan receive the protection of Sarosh Yazad and may it progress from Tanasakh to Tanpasin at the earliest.

In grief

On behalf of The Parsee Voice

Hanoz M. Mistry