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Eduljee Hormusji Coyaji
The Good Doctor of Poona

Prominent Zarathushtis


Shroff, Maharukh



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Early Life – humble beginnings
Eduljee Hormusji Coyaji was born in Surat, India in 1889.  He was the third child among 9 siblings (five brothers, 3 sisters). The Coyajis had their own family house, but were a family of very humble means.

Young Eduljee completed his basic school and college education in Surat. Financial constraints notwithstanding, with a great deal of difficulty, he finished his MBBS degree examination from the Grant Medical College in Bombay.

Medical career
His professional career started in Poona (now known as Pune), where he took up medical practice as an assistant to a very well known, wealthy doctor, Dr. Sorabjee Mody. For several years Dr Mody and Dr. Coyaji practiced together.  The professional relationship turned to a personal one when Eduljee married Dr. Mody’s daughter, Goolcheher. They had one son, Soli, who was born handicapped – a cripple and totally helpless from birth till is death in May 1946.

Dr. Coyaji later established his own clinic at 10, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Poona. He was blessed with an uncanny diagnostic skill and his treatment was always simple, yet effective. This made him very famous and patients came to him not only from within Poona, but also from nearby districts and villages. Although he later went on to establish a hospital, this clinic still stands.  Today it is maintained and run by his sister-in-law Dr.  Banoobai Coyaji and her son Dr. Kurush Coyaji. Various prominent visiting doctors come on specified days to administer medical treatment to the poor for negligible fees thereby honoring the memory of a man who stood for service above everything else.

Jehangir Nursing Home
So impressed were Sir Cowasji Jehangir and his wife Lady Hirabai, with the dedication and zeal of this man that they put their palatial mansion on Sassoon Road at his disposal and persuaded him to start a hospital. The mansion was called Ready money Villa, but in 1944 when Cowasji and Hirabai’s son Jehangir died in an accident, the hospital was renamed Jehangir Nursing Home in his memory. (Today it is called Jehangir Hospital and Medical Center.)

For the first few years, Dr. Coyaji managed the hospital single-handedly, with visiting doctors from Bombay. He worked tirelessly from morning to night, and in his lifetime not once did he attend a single social function or celebration or festive occasion! His life revolved around his hospital, and his service to his patients, who always came first.

The visiting doctors were always his personal guests and enjoyed hospitality in his own home. Noted medical luminaries like Dr. Rustom Cooper, Dr. Billimoria, Dr. Katrak, would come from Bombay to Poona, stay with him at his home, perform surgeries at the hospital and rush back to Bombay. Postoperative care of all the patients was done by Dr. Coyaji himself.

Dr. Coyaji’s integrity and dedication were rewarded by generous donations that poured in and the hospital, which was started with only six beds in the main building of the mansion, gradually grew and wards were built elsewhere on the huge property.

When the volume of work became too much for him to handle Dr. Coyaji appointed two resident doctors. Later his sister-in-law Dr. Banoobai Coyaji looked after the gynaecology department of the hospital.

His passion
Dr. Coyaji was a simple man. Apart from service to humanity, his greatest passion was books. He eagerly devoured books on medicine and on religion. Despite the long hours he put in at work, he always found time to keep abreast of the latest techniques and discoveries in the field of medicine. He would mark out the relevant passages and then give the books to the doctors working for him, so that they would be well versed in the latest developments in the field. His was an ongoing quest for knowledge, and he instilled the same in the doctors who worked with him.


A True Zarathushtrian
Dr. Coyaji was deeply religious man - the living embodiment of everything that a true Zarathushti should be. Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds was the sacred Zarathushtrian trilogy that he lived by. Selfless service came naturally to him. He never demanded any fees from the poor for his medical advice. In his clinic he kept an open box on his table. A patient could put into it whatever he could afford.  Often times the very poor even pocketed some money from that box! But he never objected or admonished them.

The wealthy and the destitute were equal in his eyes – they were his patients who needed his care and treatment. Often he not only gave free medicines to the poor, but he would slip some money into their hands or under their pillows so they could get nourishment to regain their health. Such was the dedication and noble spirit of this man!

With such disregard for personal gain it is hardly surprising that he never accumulated any wealth. All his life he lived in rented premises.

Dr. Coyaji died on December 11, 1963, leaving a great void in Poona. The people of that city, especially the poor who worshipped him, felt orphaned when he left them for his heavenly abode.  His life, his work and the legacy he left behind can be summarized in Yasna 51.21 of our Gathas:

“The man of devotion is beneficent to all.
He is beneficent because of his wisdom,
Because of his realization of truth,
Because of the goodness in his thoughts, in his
        words, in his acts.
Unto him Ahura Mazda shall grant the Kingdom of
        the Good Mind,
And verily, this blessing I too long for!

(Y 51.21 - Irani translation)


[1] [Acknowledgment - This article has been written with information provided by Dr. Goolcheher Coyaji, niece of Dr. Eduljee Coyaji. The author also wishes to acknowledge the help given by her cousin, Tehmi Aspi Anklesaria of Poona, who helped her get the information from Dr. Goolcher Coyaji.]