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Arbab Rustam Bahman Guiv, (1888-1980)

Prominent Zarathushtis

Jamshid Pavri



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Rostma Guiv.jpg (6531 bytes)Shahpur Guiv was a modest businessman of Yazd, Iran. His primary business was selling of local hand made cloth. He was married to Kharman and had three sons -Guiv, Rustam, Bahman and two daughters - Dowlat and Gohar.

Bahman, the Youngest son passed away at a young age and after his demise, Rustam adopted the name of his brother as his middle name and began to be known as Rustam Bahman Guiv.

Ardeshir Mehraban was another businessman of Yazd. He was married to Dowlat and had four sons - Bahman, Jamshid, Fareidon, Rashid and two daughters - Gulchehr and Morvarid.

Ardeshir Mehraban had four other brothers - Keikhosrow, Godarz, Rustam and Rashid. All these five brothers had business in Iran and India, Yazd and Bombay being principal places.

Keikhosrow whose full name was Keikhosrow Mebraban Kaikhosrowi first went to Bombay in 1856 and stayed for several years, was the leading person of the Irani Zarthushtis of Bombay and donated generously in charitable causes. In 1890, he built a school - Dabirestan-e-Keikhosrowi in Yazd at a cost of Rs.10,000/- (Indian Rupees) and also donated Rs. 5,000/ for its maintenance fund.

Arbab Rustam Guiv had attended this school and had his elementary and secondary education in Dabirestan-e-Keikhosrowi in Yazd, under Ustad Khodabux, his venerated teacher. Arbab Rustam Guiv married Morvarid, the daughter of Ardeshir Mehraban Keikhosrowi. Keikhosrow Mehraban Keikhosrowi was Morvarid’s uncle.

In 1908, Arbab Rustam came to Tehran on a mule to join his elder brother Arbab Shahpur Guiv and other relatives. From thereon, skies began to revolve benignly and both brothers prospered in business. Besides their import end export business, they were also engaged in real estate and had large holdings of land.

Arbab Shahpur Guiv was married to Kharmen whose mother and Arbab Rustam Guiv’s mother were sisters. Arbab Shahpur Guiv had three sons and two daughters - Keikhosrow, Homayun, Parvin, Mehraban and Jamshid.

After the death of his brother, Arbab Rustam Guiv continued the business with his brother's sons and other relatives.

Arbab Rustam Guiv with considerable foresight, purchased between 150 to 200 acres of fallow land at the foot of the Demavand mountain, and with determined zeal, boring tube wells, converted same into fertile land and cultivated fruits and grain which were exported to European countries as well. To this land, he gave the name of 'Rustamabad'. Rustamabad is about 100 kilometers north of Tehran.

Similarly, he purchased additional fallow lands at Koohan, a village about 10 kilometers distance from Rustamabad and turned same into fertile land where he cultivated fruits and vegetables, thus providing livelihood to a large number of persons who worked on the farms. At Koohan, he also built a large training and educational organization for the youth of the village.

Arbab Rustam Guiv began taking interest in community affairs from 1953 when he was elected a member or the Tehran Zoroastrian Anjuman. In March 1935, he became the Vice-President and continued in that capacity until the death of Arbab Keikhosrow Shahrokh who was the then President of the Anjuman as well as a Member of the Iranian Majlis. In 1935, when he became the Vice-President, the Tehran Zoroastrian Anjuman was in financial difficulties. Arbab Rustam Guiv gave a part of his large land holding to the Anjuman, which was sold and the Anjuman difficulties were ended.

Arbab Keikhosrow Shahrokh passed away on July 2, 1940 and thereafter, Arbab Rustam Guiv took his place as the President of the Tehran Zoroastrian Anjuman.

Because of the Second World War, Arbab Keikhosrow Shahrokh's place in the Iranian Majlis remained unoccupied. On January 16, 1942, Arbab Rustam Guiv was elected as a representative of the Zarthushtis in the Iranian Majlis.

Vicaji Ardeshir Taraporewala, a leading architect of Bombay, prepared plans for the Atash Bahram of Yazd. This Atash Bahram was built at a cost of Rs.31,823/- by the trustees of the Persian Zoroastrian Amelioration Fund, Bombay, on lands donated by the sons of Ardeshir Mehraban, Dastur Rashid Shahriar. and Dastur Namdar Shahriar, The Atash Bahram was officially opened by Arbab Rustam Guiv on June 3, 1944.

Arbab Rustam Guiv and his wife Morvarid Khanum came to Bombay on February 15, 1953 and were the guests of Sir Noshirwan and Lady Jerbanoo Engineer. From Tehran, they had first gone to Karachi before coming to Bombay. They were in India for almost two months and visited Udvada, Navsari, Banglore, Mysore, Coonoor, Ooota-camund, Calcutta and Delhi. Wherever they went, the Zarthushtis most cordially welcomed them.

During this visit, Arbab Rustam Guiv was deeply impressed with the housing colonies of the Parsis in Bombay. He was particularly impressed with Khosrow Baug in Colaba and from that time on, he seriously thought of doing something similar for the low and middle income Zarthushtis in Iran.

The members of the Tafti and Aresh families began the development of Tehran-Pars township in 1952, a suburb north of Tehran. They purposely chose the name Tehran-Pars for this township to associate the ancient province of Pars, a stronghold of Zarthushtis and from which, the present day community members in India have come to be known as Parsis.

Arbab Rustam Guiv bought about l5 acres of land in this new development and built total of 80 two-unit houses to house total 160 low and middle-income Zarthushti families. He also built a beautiful Adarian (Fire Temp1e) using the style of old Achaemenian architecture at Persopolis and also provided a big separate hall for use for all religious and social community activities. This is the 'Rustam Baug' of Tehran-Pars, a beautiful housing colony in garden-like surroundings, providing economical housing to poor and low-income Zarthushti families. This 'Rustam Baug' was built during 1956 and 1957.

Besides the housing colony in Tehran-Pars, Arbab Rustam Guiv also built two schools in Tehran-Pars and dedicated them to Aga Poure Dawood, scholar and professor of Avesta and to his old venerated teacher - Ustad Khodabux of Dabirestan-e-Keikhosrowi of Yazd where Arbab had his education as a young boy. The Pour Dawood school is for boys and Ustad Khodabux School is for girls.

Arbab Rustam Guiv had built for his own residential purpose, a huge palatial place on Shah Reza Avenue, which had become a place for Parsi and other dignitaries coming to Tehran from India and elsewhere to whom Arbab extended true Zoroastrian hospitality.

On the same avenue stood the magnificent Anoushiravan Dadgar Zoroastrian Girls High School. This school was built out of a donation of Rs. 100,000/ - from Ratanbai Edulji Bamji in memory of her father Nusserwanji Ratanji Tata. This school was officially opened on September 11, 1936.

Adjacent to this school, Arbab Rustam Guiv built the only Girls' School out of the funds belonging to his late brother Arbab Shahpur Guiv. This school provides education up to elementary and secondary levels.

Arbab Rustam Guiv continued as the President of the Tehran Zoroastrian Anjuman except for one term in 1957 when Dr. Esfandiar Yeganegi, BA. Ph.D. served as the President. In all, Arbab Rustam Guiv served the Anjuman for a total of 32 long years, 5 years as the vice-President and 27 years as the President.

In 1960, Arbab Rustam Guiv and Morvarid Khanum went to Japan, and on their way, stopped in Bombay. On March 21, 1960, at the Byramji Jeejeebhai Institute, the trustees of the Parsi Panchayte, the Irani Zarthushti Anjuman, and the Iran League gave a big reception to them.

After his visit to Japan, Arbab Rustam Guiv in partnership with his friend Mr. Arjumand, started the GUIVAR factory of Tehran where they manufactured pipes and fittings, employing between l00 to 150 workers, mostly Zarthushtis. It is said any Zarthushti, from any place in, Iran found work at this factory.

In all his acts of charity, it was his wife Morvarid Khanum who impelled and pushed him all the time. Between them, they decided to create the Guiv Foundation. Arbab decided to change his, residence and demolished his palatial residential place on Shah Reza Avenue. In its place, he built a five-storey commercial-cum-residential building, the entire income of which went to the Guiv Foundation for various charities. Thus Sazemane Kheyria Rustam Guiv (Registered No. 386 under Iranian law) a philanthropic organization came into existence in 1960 on Shah Reza Avenue - Kakh Jonubi No. 4.

Zarthushtis from India, Pakistan, Africa and other places began to come to North America, first as immigrants to better their future and later in recent times, as a place of haven and refuge. As has happened many times in the long history of our people, at times of adversity, under some divine dispensation, someone from nowhere suddenly appears on the scene to buttress and prop-up the community, especial1y in matters religious and to hold the community together.

Arbab Rustam Guiv appears to have chosen one for this purpose. His friend, philosopher and guide, Dr. Rustam Sarfeh was instrumental in inducing Arbab Rustam Guiv to do something for the Zarthushties of North America.

The Zoroastrian Association of Greater New York (ZAGNY) became the first recipient of Arbab Rustam Guiv's benefaction. Arbab Rustam Guiv and Morvarid Khanum attended the Parsi New Year function of ZAGNY on August 23, 1975 where his attention was drawn to the efforts made by ZAGNY to have a place of worship. Arbab promised financial assistance, which culminated in the establishment of Arbab Rustam Guiv Darbe-Mehr in New Rochelle, New York. This Darbe-Mehr was officially declared open on December 3, 1977 with 235 adults and 80 children attending.

At the opening ceremony on December 3, 1977, Arbab Rustam Guiv said and this is from ZAGNY's Newsletter of January 2, 1978 - "...be united... be broad minded and welcome new comers who desire to know, study and follow Zoroastrianism. Our prophet did not ever put any restrictions to anyone who willingly wanted to follow his principles ..... make constructive criticism to build up new and thoughtful plans to make the Zoroastrian Temple an International Center."

Arbab Rustam Guiv’s donation totaled US$180,000 when the Darbe Mehr was dedicated and declared open and it is reported that he was also assisting in the maintenance of the Darbe Mehr.

It was in November 1977, Arbab Rustam Guiv and Morvarid Khanum accompanied by Dr. Rustam Sarfeh were in Toronto when plans were laid to have a Darbe Mehr in Toronto. A year later, on November 26, 1978, Arbab Rustam Guiv invited the Zoroastrian community to a luncheon and informal dedication of the Mehraban Guiv Darbe Mehr. This Darbe Mehr is named after his nephew Mehraban, son of his elder brother Arbab Shahpur Guiv.

The luncheon and informal dedication was attended by Arbab Rustam Guiv and his wife Morvarid Khanum, Keikhosrow Guiv and his wife Shirin Khanum, and two of their children Guiv and Freny, Dr. Rustam Sarfeh and 500 members of the Zoroastrian community of Toronto. Keikhosrow Guiv, another son of Arbab Shahpur Guiv and nephew of Arbab Rustam Guiv also made a brief speech and said - "I pray to Ahura Mazda that everyone present in this place and those who are absent, try their utmost to make use of the Mehraban Guiv Darbe Mehr by their kind participation in its activities and give their best efforts to make the place function at its best, so that the soul of my brother may rest in peace in heaven."

The official inaugural ceremony of the Darbe Mehr was on September 21, 1980 but Arbab Rustam Guiv and Morvarid Khanum or anyone from Iran were unable to attend. Arbab Rustam Guiv and Morvarid Khanum were not sure if they could return to California because of cancellation of all visas of Iranian passport holders as decreed by President Jimmy Carter on April 7, 1980 and nobody was permitted to leave Iran because of the Iran-Iraq hostilities.

Arbab Rustam Guiv's donation for this Toronto Darbe Mehr was US$ 600,000 which he had initially sent for the purchase of this beautiful place which was purchased for Can$ 515,000 and had to be altered to make applicable for community use.

Similarly, Arbab Rustam Guiv had also promised the Zoroastrian community of Chicago, a sum of US$ 150,000 if the community could raise amongst themselves $50,000. Previous to this new arrangement, there was some other arrangement whereby land was purchased for a Darbe Mehr but later that scheme fell through.

The Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe (Incorporated), the London Anjuman, London, England, have also received various donations from Arbab Rustam Guiv over the past years prior to Arbab’s death.

Their Annual Report for 14 months ending March 31, 1980 reports munificent donation of l00,000 by Arbab Rustam and Madam Guiv and Mr. Fareidon and Mr. Mehraban Zartosthy families for either a new property or for an extension to their present Zoroastrian House. Arbab's donation appears to have been 50,000.

To have a permanent qualified priest to serve the London Anjuman, a Mobed Fund is established in which Arbab Rustam Guiv and the Zartosthy brothers have each donated 7,500.

There was however a hope that Arbab Rustam Guiv would also be generous in his charitable help for the poor needy Zarthushtis of India, especially for housing of the needy in Bombay. Mr. B. K. Boman-Bahram, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Parsi Punchayet, Bombay, had written to Arbab Rustam Guiv in August 1978 to assist in this respect and Arbab Rustam Guiv responded with an immediate remittance of Rs. 600,000 and had expressed a desire to send another remittance of Rs. 600,000 if the situation in Iran would improve.

Furthermore, he wrote to Mr. Boman-Behram - "In gathering, from, your letter, the sad result of the housing problem for the Parsi/Irani community specially in Bombay, I have decided to stop (apart from completing what I have done upto now) my activities in U.S.A. and Canada, and concentrate my future activities (although my financial sources are almost exhausted) to India, specially Bombay.''

The situation in Iran instead of improving, deteriorated and Arbab Rustam Guiv and Morvarid Khanum who had dome to North America, thereafter themselves could not return, to Iran, or even go anywhere else. They became virtual exiles.

Arbab, Rustam Guiv made La Jolla in California his temporary place of residence. He however desired to go to Bombay for permanent residence but such a visa was denied to him and per force he had to remain in California.

During September 1980, the Zoroastrian Center of California under the direction of Madam Farangis Shahrokh was looking for a suitable place for their Center instead of having the Center in a rented place which was, straining them financially. They found a suitable place and Arbab Rustam Guiv, three weeks before his death, came forward with the required finance, $108,000 to purchase the property.

This property is located at 4814 South Bayless, Anaheim, California, which is about half way between Los Angeles and San Diego, California.

All the properties in North America, in New Rochelle, N.Y., Toronto, Canada, and Anaheim, California were purchased by Arbab, Rustam Guivs Foundation and leased to the respective Zoroastrian organizations on a 99 year lease at a, token $1.00 rent per year.

Arbab Rustam Guiv fell down at his residence in La Jolla and had to be taken to the hospital. There he developed pneumonia, was in a state of coma for the last four or five days and the stout noble Zoroastrian heart breathed for the last time on October 7, 1980 at 4.15 a.m.

It was his wish to take his body to Iran but under present conditions there, it was not possible to do so immediately. It was discussed to embalm his body and transport when opportunity would make that possible but it was said that would interfere with religious ceremonies.

In the end, Arbab Rustam Guiv was buried on October 9, 1980 after a funeral ceremony performed by Ervad Parvez Patel of New York and Ervard Keikhusrow Mody of Los Angeles. It was a working day and about a hundred community members attended the ceremony and paid him their last respects. He was buried in Rosehill Memorial Gardens, Whittier, California.

A week later, his wife Morvarid Khanum purchased 50 burial lots in the same cemetery and the community there is collecting funds to purchase additional 100 burial lots and have reserved another 100 to 150 lots in the same area, thus making a separate Zoroastrian section in this cemetery.

The Iranian government for his long and distinguished services, as a Member of Parliament, as a Senator and a kindhearted philanthropist, honored Arbab Rustam Guiv.

He was awarded the Nishane Daraje Yek Tarbiat Badani (Medal of the First Rank in Physical Culture) on 10th Aban, 1335, (November 1, 1956). Farmane Neshane Sepas Daraje Yek Vizarat Farhang (Medal of the first merit from the Ministry of Education) was awarded on 24th Esfand, 1536 (March 15, 1957). Farmane Inte-sale be Sanatori (Appointed a Senatbr) on 3rd Mehr, 1342 (September 23, 1963) and Farmane Ozviat Sazimane Melli-e Hefazat (Appointed member of the organization for the Preservation of National Ancient Heritage) on 19th Tir, l345 (July 10, 1966).

Such indeed was the life of a devout religious charitable noble worthy Zoroastrian on whom Ahura Mazda showered His Blessings during a long healthy and virtuous life. He has indeed left behind visible marks of his munificence arid it will be the responsibility of the recipients of his benefactions to uphold his honorable name and perpetuate his memory.

Advanced in age and almost in virtual exile, many thoughts must have crossed his mind. Many would be his wishes unfulfilled. We know at least of two. His wish to do something for the needy Zarthushtis of Bombay and his wish to return to Iran remained unfulfilled.

Arbab Rustam Guiv is dead indeed in the eyes of men but in the memory of Ahura Mazda he will live forever. May his soul and souls of his ancestors rest in Eternal Beatitude and Peace and may the love and blessings of Ahura Mazda descend upon them all, and rest, remain and abide with them all forever and ever. Amen!

It is indeed the hope of this writer that some future mature historian will do proper justice to the manifold activities and charities of this noble soul. This is only a brief account from very little limited available material.