A Zoroastrian Educational Institute



HomeArticlesAuthorsBook ReviewCommunityLibraryProminentsRegisterStoreArticle SubmissionAbout Us




A noble son of the Zarathushtrian tradition 
"Dinshah Irani, Solicitor"

Prominent Zarathushtis

Dinshah Irani's Memorial Volume, Bombay 1948

Sir Jehangir C.Coyajee

His Services...
In Iran


Related Articles:

Related Links:


In the course of the Zoroastrian history, many distinguished individuals who gave of themselves for the benefit of their community have appeared on the scene. Not only did they show a strong commitment to the cause of their religion, but their acts of giving and generosity extended to humanity at large. Such behavior manifested by these noble people clearly demonstrates their belief in the principle of the Zoroastrian religion.

One such noble Zartoshty was Dinshah Irani more popularly known as Dinshah Irani Solicitor due to his fame in his profession. The following is an excerpt from Dinshah Irani Memorial book produced here to familiarize you with the great man that he was.

Mr. Dinshah Irani, born in India came of an Iranian stock, which has given quite a number of eminent men both to India and Iran, and which must therefore have possessed remarkable vitality and must have concentrated in itself quite a number of notable qualities. In our age, students of Eugenics like Dr. Francis Galton have shown how there is a tendency to concentrate good qualities through the laws of heredity in certain families and groups. Such must have been the group to which that famous ancestress of Mr. Dinshah Irani (Gulestanbanu) belonged. Tradition tells us that in the year 1794 A.C., one of the much oppressed Iranis of the day, Keikhosrow Yazdyar by name, migrated to India with one of his young daughters (Gulestanbanu), and she married in Bombay, Framjee Bhikha-Behram and became the ancestress of the well-known "Panday" family. Mr. Dinshah Irani too traced his descent from her. Other daughters of this Keikhosrow Yazdyar married in the ‘Cama’, the ‘Meherhomji,’ and the ‘Nasrabadi’ families. But even this does not tell the whole story. For one of the sons of this Keikhosrow Yazdyar was the ancestor of the famous Zoroastrian statesman of modern Iran, the Hon. Arbab Keikhosrow Shahrokh, M.P. Thus Keikhosrow Yazdyar was the ancestor of a great number of distinguished persons in Iran as well as India, and Mr. Dinshah Irani was reminded of this very interesting fact by Arbab Keikhosrow when they met in Iran in the year 1932.

He was particularly fortunate in securing in the year 1917 for his life partner an intellectual cultured lady, who was fitted in every way to secure the happiness and to forward the noble aims to which his life was devoted. Banu Mithibai was the youngest daughter of Mr. Ardeshir Cowasji Sethna, a barrister by profession. She too loved Iran and accompanied her husband on his journey in 1932 to that country. Their home seems to have been a pattern of those virtues and that healthy social life that characterizes the Parsis as a class. That he was very fond and very proud of his wife and two sons Keikhosrow (1922) and Farokh (1927), and that he was most anxious to impress on these latter the highest ideals of Zoroastrianism, will appear from some extracts from his letters to his eldest son Keikhosrow.

"………..I have taught you the passages from the Gathas and the patriotic lines of Aga Poor-e-Davood not merely for fun. Daily I have been trying to infuse in you an undying love for our religion, and for our ancient fatherland, Iran. I firmly believe the seed is sown. If God grants it, I will water the sapling plant till it is firmly rooted in your heart. For, dearest child of mine, I wish to see you grow up, a true scion of the ancient Iranian race, as you actually are, devoted to Truth, perfectly righteous, manly and noble, above, far above, everything mean and low, serving with your life and soul the cause of your ancient land, the cause of your great religion, and serving humanity and holding up your actions, as Holy Zarathushtra says in his divine Gathas, as worthy of an offering of love to the Father in Heaven."

Obviously Mr. Dinshah Irani felt that it was his duty so to bring up his son that he should grow up into a true Zoroastrian. It is gratifying to find that in the midst of such a busy life, and even when weighed down by very poor health, Mr. Dinshah Irani conceived, and as far as possible carried through, such an excellent plan of education for his son.

Born in Bombay on the 4th November 1881, Mr. Dinshah Irani passed his B.A. in 1901, and studied Avesta and Pahlavi in the Sir Jamshedji Jijibhoy Madressa, Bombay. Needless to say his student life was bright. He brought himself to public notice in 1904, when he passed his L.L.B., securing the Judge Spencer Prize and the Maneckji Nowrosfi Banaji Scholarship for proficiency in Equity. In 1908, he passed the solicitor’s Examination and joined the well-known firm of Messrs. Mulla & Mulla. He commanded a wide clientele, but he distinguished himself most by specializing himself in questions relating to Income Tax and arguing important cases on that matter. In 1936 he rose to be the senior partner of his firm. Thus he shone as a lawyer, but his talents instinctively aspired to even more exalted forms of activity. His vocation was not merely for law, it included other and higher activities. He was both a literary man and a man of action, who strove to serve his community at once in its present and its earlier home.

His Services to the Parsi Community
His assiduous labours as a lawyer did not hinder him from serving the Parsi community with characteristic zeal and ardour. Thus he was one of those who brought into existence the Parsi Statistical Bureau with the collaboration of Sir Hormasji C. Adenwala, Kt., M.V.O., O.B.E., Sir Sorabji N. Pochkhanawata, Kt., J.P., and Sir Jehangir C. Coyajee, Kt. The labours of that Bureau have just borne first fruits in a series of valuable pamphlets by Mr. Pestonji A. Wadia. Even prior to that, in the year 1935, Mr. Dinshah Irani had written a valuable report on the advisability of practical steps to combat the economic depression among the Parsis. In this line of work, he had the support of philanthropists like Lady Navazbanoo Ratan Tata as well as Mr. and Mrs. J. K. Mehta. He also exerted himself particularly to forward the move for increase of housing accommodation for poor Parsis at Tardeo, Bombay, a field in which Sir Cowasji Jehangir, Bart., K.C.I.E., O.B.E., and Lady Navazbanoo R. Tata have distinguished themselves. The Fasli party for reform of Zoroastrian calendar found in him an ardent champion. He worked not only on the "Rahnumae Mazdayasnan Sabha" and the "Gatha Society," but as a trustee of important fire-temples. Yet all the time literary work was calling to him and fascinating him.

His activities on behalf of his race and community also found another sphere of work. He was one of the founders of the Iranian Zoroastrian Anjuman in 1918 and of the Iran League in 1922. His high merits received recognition when he was elected to the post of the president of the former and a Vice-President of the latter and continued to be so for his lifetime.

In Iran

Naturally with his deep interest in the old home of the Parsi race, he had always been very anxious to visit Iran. His fame had spread to that country already on account of the interest that he had taken in it, and the services that he had rendered as regards the educational, medical and general welfare of the Iranian Zoroastrians. The opportunity that he had been always looking for to see the old country came at last in 1932, when he was invited along with the great Indian sage, Dr. Rabindranath Tagore, as the guest of the Government of Reza Shah Pahlavi. On that occasion, he was accompanied by Mrs. Dinshah Irani, Miss Zerbanu J. Irani, Mr. Rustom P. Masani, M.A., J.P., Mr. Burjor S.J. Aga, F.R.I.B.A., and Mrs. Agha and son, Dr. Sohrab Meherhomji, M.D., and Mr. Keikhosrow A. Fitter, Secretary, Iran League. As his fame as a student and lover of Iran and its culture had preceded him in Iran, receptions were held in his honor by the Iranian men of letters and population alike, and the municipalities of some of the leading towns gave him public welcome. By his learning, modesty and character Mr. Dinshah had equally created a very favorable impression on the minds of those who came in contact with him including the famous Iranian nationalist figure Aaraf Ghazvini. When in Tehran, he had the honor of being the leader of a Parsi deputation to which an audience was granted on 2nd May 1932 by Reza Shah Pahlavi. Further opportunity seemed to lie before him to revisit Iran, especially as the ruler of Iran had extended a special invitation to him on the historical occasion of the Millenary of the great poet Firdausi Tusi in 1934. He had made the necessary arrangements but an attack of ill health defeated the project. Even so, who can appraise the intense joy and deep enthusiasm with which his contact with the historical as well as a rejuvenated Iran must have inspired him? Had he been destined to live longer, the conceptions, emotions and enthusiasms roused in him by visits to Iran would have let him to form more comprehensive schemes for linking up the fortunes and energies of the Zoroastrian community in the two countries.

However the Late Shah of iran graciously recognised the late Mr. Irani’s High merits by conferring on him the "Neshan-e-Elmi" of the First Order from the Educational Department of Iran in 1932. The late Shah of Iran was also pleased to mark his interest in the Parsi community of India by entrusting Mr. Irani on 2nd May 1932 with a special message to it. It is worth while quoting here at least a part of that message:

"You Parsis are as much the children of this soil as any other Iranis, and so you are as much entitled to have your proper share in its development as any other nationals. We estimate Our Empire’s resources to be even greater thatn those of America, and in tapping them you can take your proper part. We do not want you to come all bag and baggage; just wait a little and watch. If you find the proposition beneficial both to yourselves and to this land, then do come and We shall greet you with open arms, as We might our dear brothers and sisters"

"Iran is a vast country pregnant with many advantages and fresh fields waiting for development. We suggest that the Parsis, who are still the sons of Iran, though separated from her, should look upon this country of to-day as their own, and differentiate it from its immediate past, and strive to derive benefit from her developments, especially when they are sure to work their way through……."

He passed away on the 3rd November 1938; and was accorded the highest honor open to any one of the Parsi community when the Trustees of the Parsi Punchayet of Bombay convened a meeting of the whole Anjuman to place on record his valuable services to the community.

It will also not be out of place to add that on the occasion of the first anniversary of his demise messages were received from Sir Cowasji Jehangir, Bart., K.C.I.E., O.B.E., and the Iranian Counsul in Bombay. A few lines from them deserve to be quoted here. Thus the former drew attention to the high merits of the deceased in these words:

"A man who owed nothing to hereditary position or wealth, who was greatly instrumental in educating himself, attained a position of respect and dignity in his own profession, and a corner in the hearts of all who knew him, and was equally respected by a much larger circle in his own community who benefited greatly by his untiring efforts of their upkeep and happiness."

"The one great characteristic of his life, worthy of imitation by the younger members of his community, was his unassuming and modest personality, which never craved for honor or reward, but sincerely believed that it consisted in the good he did to his fellow-beings."

"May the community produce many more Dinshah Iranis and if they do, they have nothing to fear in the future."

Mr. Kaivany, the consul for Iran in Bombay, struck the true note when he observed that:

"His demise is a great and irreparable loss not only to his family but also to the Iranian and Parsi communities. His patriotic services in the cause of Iran will never be forgotten. May his Soul rest in Peace."

This article was prepared from an earlier article written by Sir Jehangir C.Coyajee, a lawyer and close colleague of Mr. Dinshah Irani. The original article was published in the memorial volume published in Bombay, 1948.