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Some observations on the history of the Parsi Dar-i Mihrs

  • Firoze M. Kotwal

Within a few years of their landing at Sanjan in Gujarat, in A.C. 916, the Parsis established a great sacred fire there, an Ātaš Bahrām. This was a costly and laborious undertaking, which must have taxed the resources of the small new colony to the utmost. One of the most exacting tasks was to fetch by land from Iran ash from an old Ātaš Bahrām, to be used in the preparatory rituals. Through this the Ātaš Bahrām of the Parsis acquired a physical descent, a silsila, from the sacred fires of Iran; and once they had enthroned it, with rites which took months to complete, the Parsis were content to let this be their only temple fire for hundreds of years. A second Ātaš Bahrām was not installed until 1765. Since then another six have been consecrated, making a total of eight of these great fires.

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1 For this date see the admirable exposition by Hodivala, Shahpurshah Hormasji, Studies in Parsi history, Bombay, 1920, 6784.

2 The story of the founding of this fire is preserved in the Qissa-i Sanjan, composed in A.C. 1599 by Bahman Kaikobad Hamjiar Sanjana. For the text see Unvala, M. R., Dārāb Hormazyār's Rirāyat, Bombay, 1922, 343–54; transl. by Shahpurshah H. Hodivala, op. cit., 94–117.

3 This is traditional knowledge in Navsari.

4 Vadī and Motī both mean ‘great’. Another term for it is the Junī (‘Old’) Agiary, because of its long history.

5 The exact date is, however, open to question. See Hodivala, Shahpurshah H., ‘Five lectures on Parsi history’, J of the K. R. Cama Or. Inst., 8, 1926, 108 ff.

6 See Navasārī-nī pahelā Dastūr Meherjī-Rānā Library madhenō Ervad Jāmāspjī Sorābjī tathā Jamšedjī Sorābjī Dastūr Meherjī Rānā-e tayyār karelo asal dastāvejo-nī nakalo-no hastalekh, pub. by the Trustees of the Parsi Panchayat of Bombay, 1933, pt. I, p. 20, document 16.

7 See Patel, Bamanji Byramji, Pārsī prakāš, I, Bombay, 1860, p. 27 with n. 2.

8 See ibid., I, 4, with a learned discussion of the date and other details by Meherji-Rana, Dara Sorabji Dastur, Nōdh ant nuktačīnī, Bombay, 1939, intro., 66–7, text, 58–66.

9 See Dara Dastur Meherji-Rana, loc. cit.

10 See Patel, B. B., Pārsī prakāš, I, 147.

11 See Meherji-Rana, Dara Dastur, Dastūrān-dastūr Meherjī-Rānā Yādgārī granth, Bombay, 1947, I, 146.

12 See Patel, B. B., Pārsī prakāš, I, 453.

13 See ibid., I, p. 650, n. 4.

14 See Patel, B. B., Pārsī dharmasthulo, Bombay, 1906, 4.

15 See ibid., 6.

16 See ibid., 8.

17 See Patel, , Pārsī prakāš, I, 345.

18 See ibid., I, 501.

19 See ibid., I, 536.

20 See ibid., I, 132.

21 See ibid., I, 171, with footnote.

22 See Patel, ibid., II, 292, with footnote; Pārsī dharmasthalo, 191, 533–7.

23 For the statistics at the end of the nineteenth century, see Seervai, Kharsedji N. and Patel, Bamanji B., ‘Gujarāt Pārais’, Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency, IX, II, Bombay, 1899, appendix I.

24 That is, by the custom of carrying household fire to grow cold in the presence of an Ādarān fire, the Ādarān itself to grow cold in the presence of an Ātaš Bahrām. On this see, with references, Boyee, M., ‘The fire-temples of Kerman’, Acta Orientalia, XXX, 1966, 63–4.

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Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies
  • ISSN: 0041-977X
  • EISSN: 1474-0699
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