Very Good Story about Parsis! (Post No.9471)

Union Minister Smrti Irani with her Parsi Husband Zubin  and her Parsi children.


Post No. 9471

Date uploaded in London – –8  APRIL  2021     

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I have dealt with this anecdote in my earlier articles. But hearing from Swami Ranganathananda makes it more interesting. Moreover, he gives it from a book written by a Parsi. Here is a story

from my paper cutting dated August 15, 1988, Bhavan’s Journal.

Swamiji writes

It will be educative to study the spirit and method of their reception in India.

That story is impressively presented in a book entitled

‘The Parsis’ written by a Parsi scholar Mrs Piloo Nanavutty and published by the National Book Trust, New Delhi, India. I was much impressed when I read that book. It contains a touching narration of the story of the Parsi refugees coming to the western coast of our Gujarat state and what happened to them.

Pp 38-40

“Under the Arabs, Iranians were forcibly converted to Islam. Those who clung to their ancient faith were persecuted and fled to the mountains of Kohistan in Khorasan. According to tradition they stayed here for 100 years. Then they went to the Persian gulf port of Hormuz where they are said to have remained for 15 years.

From there they set sail in seven junks, according to the Reverend Henry Lord writing in 1930 and arrived at Diu or Div, an island off the southern extremity of Kathiawar. They stayed there for 19 years and they again set sail this time for Sanjan, a small fishing village on the west coast of Gujarat where they landed around 785 (CE)  , and where the local Hindu Raja Jadi Rana or Jadhav Rana gave them shelter.

According to Behman Kaikobad, when the Parsis approached Jadi Rana, he imposed five conditions on them. These were

1.The explanation of Zoroastrian religion to the Raja by the Parsi high priest who accompanied the refugees and had safeguarded the sacred fire all the way from Iran to India;

2.The adoption of Gujarati as their mother tongue

3.The adoption of  sari by Parsi women;

4.The surrender of all weapons

5.And finally, the Parsi wedding processions to be held in the dark.

This last might have been a request from the refugees themselves, a protective measure to avoid the attention of other communities to an alien community in their midst.

A far more vivid account of the meeting between the Persian refugees and Jadhav Rana, than that in the Kissa, is given in the Gujarati Garbas, group songs and dances, composed by the Parsis and sung by Parsi women on such happy occasions as Navjots and weddings.

I give the story in prose which was once sung in verse:

Jadhav Rana issued a proclamation inviting all citizens to assemble in open maidan (meadow). On a throne covered with rich drapes, the Raja took his seat. He was dressed in royal robes, wore a magnificent turban and embroidered velvet slippers. Ranged round him were his mounted body guards, dressed in white, holding glittering spears.

At a signal from Jadhav Rana, the Persian refugees were brought into the centre of the assembly. Their frail, old priest, holding a small Afarghan with the sacred fire, was the spokesman for the group through an interpreter.

What is it you want from us, O strangers from a far land? Asked Jadhav Rana.

Freedom of worship, Sire, replied the old priest.

Granted. What else do you wish?

Freedom to bring up our young in our own traditions and customs.

Granted. What else do you wish?

A small piece of land that we could cultivate, so that we may not be a burden to the people among whom we live.

Granted. In return what will you do for the country of your adoption?

The old priest asked for a brass bowl to be filled with milk and brought to the assembly. This was done. He then stirred a spoon full of sugar in the bowl and holding it up in his trembling hands, asked,

Does any man see the sugar in this bowl of milk?

All shook their heads

Sire, said the priest, we shall try to be like this insignificant amount of sugar in the milk of your human kindness.

There were murmurs of approval from the crowd.

Then at a signal from the priest, all the refugees — men, women and the children — prostrated themselves in full length on the ground. Each picked up a hand full of earth and, with tears streaming their faces, they pressed it to their eyes and forehead .

Then after washing their hands and faces, the refugees turned their faces to the sun and recite d the Kusti prayers and performed Kusti ritual”.

How true it has been throughout the history of these twelve hundred years- this silent, sweetening, by the Parsis , of the milk of Indian society and culture.

When two cultured people meet together, this is what will happen.

Have you any parallel to this in any part of the world?

—Swami Ranganathananda


Tags- Parsis, refugees, Gujarat, Jadhav Rana

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