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Jamshid Soroush Soroushian[1]
(November 8, 1914 – February 28, 1999)

Pl. 11.  Jamshid Soroush Soroushian, Berlin, 1939.
















Rare it is to find caliber and resolve so happily blended as in the person of the august Jamshid Soroushian whose memory is exalted and perpetuated through these commemorative volumes; it is hoped that this biographical note will do some measure of justice to that revered memory.  (For portraits of persons mentioned in this article, refer to the following collection of historical photographs.)

Pl 5. c. 1896. Students at Kerman's Zartoshty school for boys.
Identified in the picture:
* Soroush Shahriar Soroushian  (Jamshid Soroushian's father),
** Faridun Shahriar Soroushian (Jamshid's uncle),
+ Keikhosrow Shahrokh, at the time a young school teacher in Kerman.

Going back along four patrilinear generations before the late ra'is, we note Soroush (Pls. 5, 8), Shahriar (Pl. 6), Khodabaxsh and Jām. Jām, it is believed, originally hailed from Yazd. The provision of precise datings for this early period is unfortunately impossible. His son Khodabaxsh lived and worked in the mid-nineteenth century, out of Kerman’s Gabar Mahalle or Zoroastrian Quarter to which the Zardushtis had long been restricted. With the resilience and resourcefulness born of acute hardship, he journeyed as petty commodity merchant south to Jupar and nearby villages eking out a living to support himself his jobbing spouse and four sons. In those uncertain times of high infant mortality exacerbated by great poverty and dearth of health care, it became the norm to produce large families in the strenuous hope that some, at least, from the generations to follow would somehow survive.

Khodabaxsh himself succumbed to the rigors of a severe winter ─ he would then at the utmost have been in his early thirties, leaving the oldest boy Shahriar, aged nine when this calamity overtook the family, to cope as best he could with preserving his mother and younger siblings from an inevitable destitution.

Pl. 6. 1897. Kerman: Gathering of the Zoroastrians of Kerman. Seated in the front row  (L R) second person (with white beard) Mulla Gushtasp Dinyar (served as 4th president of Zoroastrian Anjoman of Kerman), Dastur Rostam Jahangir Hormuzdi (Head Mobed of Kerman, also served as the 3rd president of the Kerman Anjoman), Shahriar Khodabaxsh Jām (served as 5th president of Kerman Anjoman), and Percy Sykes (later knighted by the British Crown) who established the British interest section in Kerman.

The compelling story of Shahriar's providential encounter at a time of acute physical hardship with the khazer folk and the subsequent revitalization of his fortunes, forms part of the Soroushian family's stock of ancestral legends to this day. As the young merchant's trade prospered, he teamed up with the business house in Kerman of the respected Arbab (Mullah) Gushtasp Dinyar (Pl. 6), formerly of Yazd, where his industry advanced him in prominence. He duly married Mullah Gushtasp's daughter Banu (Pl. 8). After Gushtasp Dinyar's demise, his wealth was distributed among Zoroastrian communal relief projects; his residence was bequeathed for the purpose of commencing schooling for Zoroastrian boys. Girls were denied all public education; in the privacy of their homes, old customs and venerable traditions were instilled, ensuring a rich continuity of cultural values and deep familial ties whose enduringness over the generations triumphed through an enforced exclusion into the full light of modernity. With equality of status for women regained, as attested in the early history of Zoroastrianism, the long repressed distaff side assumed its rightful place in family and public life. 

Banu Gushtasp, a redoubtable lady, married Shahriar who came to be regarded as Pedar-e mellat or Father of the Community. Banu herself became affectionately recognized as memas, Grandma Banu, and thus was established the Patriarchate of the Soroushians amongst whom the story of the arranged marriage of their son Soroush to IranBanu, the daughter of Shahriar's brother Esfandiyar had been planned, it is maintained, before their respective births (with presumption, of course, of gender difference). Shahriar's son, Soroush, grew up to accordingly wed his first cousin Iranbanu, the very slightly younger daughter of Esfandiyar and his wife Sultan-e Bahram.

Pl. 8.  1920. Picture taken in Kerman showing three generations of the Soroushian family.  LR: (seated) Faridun Shahriar Khodabaxsh Jām Soroushian, holding his oldest son Shahriar,  Banu Faridun Shahriar Khodabaxsh Soroushian (young child standing at his knee); Kaikhosrow Faridun Shahriar Khodabaxsh Soroushian held by Mrs. Khorshid Farmotani (standing 3rd row); Memas Banu (Jamshid Soroushian’s paternal grand mother), Parviz Soroush Shahriar Khodabaxsh Soroushian (young boy at her knee); Soroush Shahriar Khodabaxsh Jām Soroushian, holding his third son Esfandiyar Soroush Shahriar Khodabaxsh Soroushian; Jamshid Soroush Shahriar Khodabaxsh Soroushian; Katayun Soroush Shahriar Khodabaxsh Soroushian; Mr. Hormuzdyar Naderi (younger step brother of Memas Banu) standing.

Jamshid (Pls. 8, 11, 13, 15, 19), whose life story is encapsulated here was born in Kerman, like his other siblings from this harmonious pre-ordained union on 8th November 1914 shortly after the outbreak of the Great War. The far-reaching repercussions of that pan-European conflagration were to be felt throughout Iran, and most keenly along the "buffer zone" of influence between Imperial Russia and Great Britain. Now on a war footing, the Great Game continued relentlessly to unfold, with Imperial Germany making an aggressive bid for supremacy along the politico-military wedge recklessly driven in the push for ascendancy by the conflicting Western Powers. Too young to be affected by these insidious tensions foisted upon his beloved Kerman, Jamshid spent his infancy nurtured in the bosom of his close-knit family.  He primarily attended the Kerman Zoroastrian boys' school up to the best grade offered there. His higher education followed at the day-school establishment conducted by Christian Missions, first in Kerman, and then as a boarder at the Church Missionary Society School in Isfahan run along English Public-school lines. Here students from different ethnic and religious backgrounds were taught; Jamshid was the only Zardushti pupil, which singled him out for ridicule of his religious beliefs and attitudes. The school officials were more circumspect with regard to those from Christian and Muslim backgrounds. Those irksome experiences served only to strengthen Jamshid's faith and resolve him to inquire further into his Zoroastrian heritage and his community's affairs and background ─ a deep involvement ensued which, if anything, burgeoned throughout his life and defined his future career. He became wholly committed to his people, his family, and to a sound scholarship for which the Isfahan mission school had unwittingly equipped him. His spirit and intellect bonded wonderfully within him, begetting high ideals of life and of character, and impelling him surely towards his goal of restoring a long awaited glory upon the noble faith of his ancestors in the very heartland of his beloved Iran.

Pl. 13. 1949. Baghin (20 Miles West of Kerman): Arbab Sohrab Rostam Kaikhosrow Viraf Kianian (president of  the Zoroastrian Anjoman of Yazd wearing a hat and holding his grand daughter Mahvash Jamshid Soroush Soroushian) has accompanied Professor Ibrahim Pour-Davoud (standing to his immediate right) to Kerman. Jamshid Soroush Soroushian (president of Zoroastrian Anjoman of Kerman) is standing to Professor Pour-Davoud's immediate right. Other well wishers, part of the welcoming party have also posed for this photo session.

An older sister Katayun (Pl. 8) and a younger Mahindokht  together with three brothers, Parviz (Pl. 8), Esfandiyar (Pl. 8) and Hormuzd completed Jamshid's generation.

Shahriar the well-remembered patriarch, had assiduously built up a modest agricultural business through careful management of the several small-holdings around Kerman. Under Soroush and his brother Faridun (Pls. 5, 8, 12), it further expanded with land sales by Qajar royalty to land holders, and happened also to include cultivable land near Tehran. This latter acquisition had been facilitated through the kindly offices and good influence with the Qajar families of Arbab Keikhosrow Shahrokh (Pls. 5), the then Zoroastrian representative in the Majlis at the national capital. 

Jamshid stalwartly resumed his family's business activity whilst absorbing himself in penetrating studies of his ancestral religion and civilization. He had encountered the research work of the Parsi solicitor Dinshah J. Irani (the father of Professor Kaikhosrov) who had twice visited Iran ─ once accompanied by Rabindranath Tagore. Impressed with his profound interest in Zarathushtra and the promulgation of his wonderful universalist message, and that of his like-minded distinguished Iranian colleague Ibrahim Pour-Davoud (Pl. 13), Jamshid soon adopted the latter as mentor and revered teacher. Pour-Davoud was long remembered by him for his tremendous qualities of heart and mind.

Pl 15. March 1964. Kerman: Family picture taken on the occasion of NouRuz at the family residence.

Front row LR: Armity Jamshid Soroushian, Jamshid Soroush Soroushian, Homayun (Sohrab Kianian) Soroushian, KhorshidBanu Sohrab Kianian, Anahita Jamshid Soroushian.

Second Row LR:  Mehrborzin, Mahvash, and Soroosh Soroushian. 
(Background: A custom décorative Kermani Carpet commissioned by Jamshid Soroushian, capturing a historical scene of Achamedian Emperor Xerxes and his queen Esther.)

No ordinary bibliomane, Jamshid found time to pursue his Zoroastrian studies and fulfill an unselfish ambition for enlightening his co-religionists everywhere. Remarkably, his religious interests and convictions were directed outwards, yet held within the bounds of his intense nationalism. All the works he was to produce in the field of historical and religio-cultural research were in Farsi, and his comprehensive collection of literature on these subjects reflected as much on the endeavors of Iranian savants as on the scholarship of outsiders who had devotedly immersed themselves in studies of the ancient Iranian civilizations.

Over the years he had welcomed overseas visitors, students and investigators of this far-reaching ancient culture, rejoicing in their company and in evaluating their noteworthy contributions. He maintained a lively correspondence with many scholars abroad and would visit them whenever possible during his travels outside Iran. It is good to confirm that several papers reproduced here are from his friends, colleagues and admirers who can easily and appreciatively recall his spontaneous welcome and traditional hospitality in his bustling Kerman home which many regarded as informal education center. Thus Jamshid Soroushian's multifaceted personality ─ he was a scholar, but even more a man of the religion and a leader of the community ─ explains the choice of papers included in this volume: not only articles by scholars, but also contributions by friends and co-believers who wished to testify their admiration for the man.

Kerman itself held a sacrosanct place in Jamshid's heart. Has it indeed not been said of this marvelous symbiosis of city and citizen by Shah Nematollah Valli, Kermān dēl-e 'ālam-ast, ā mā ahl-e dēlīm.

Jamshid had a formidable acquaintance with the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi Tusi which he tactically used with great effect and with much frequency in resolving thorny situations demanding persuasion and diplomacy. It always worked! In addition to his undoubted business acumen, his extensive erudition became widely respected both among his fellow Zardushtis and those not of the faith. He was elected to the high profile position of rā'is-e anjoman, in which prestigious capacity he served as guiding light to his beloved community. It is pointed out that he was the tenth occupier of that office. His brother Parviz stood later as the twelfth incumbent.

Since boyhood Jamshid had been afflicted with mild deafness. In later years this was to intensify to the point of totality and it is recounted that in his last years he was able to communicate only through his attentive lip-reading of close family members. Throughout, his vitality remained undiminished and his unfailing courtesy amply compensated his many anxious friends, associates and guests.

Representing the Zoroastrian community during a royal visit to Kerman in 1964 by Shah Mohamed Reza Pahlavi

Jamshid Soroush Soroushian as scholarly author is best remembered for his Farhang-e bēhdīnān the comprehensive lexicon of the dārī dialect extensively spoken among the Zardushtis of Iran until quite recently. But not far behind in importance ranking are his other published works including Savād āmūzi va dabīrī dar dīn-e Zartušt (which bespeaks early universalist education), Ba yād-e pir muġān (commemorating the Magians), Rōšānibāxš (on early Zoroastrian esoteric traditions), Tārix-e Zartuštiān-e Kermān dar in čand sad sāleh (outlining past centuries' history of the Kermani Zardushtis), Pand-nāme-ye Mohammad (putative instructions of Mohammad on the treatment of vanquished peoples), Šāhnāme-ye haxāmenišiān (a challenging work presenting subtle aspects of Ancient Iran's Achaemenid dynasty), and Āb-e garmābe va pākīzākī nazd-e Zartuštiān-e Irān (on traditional cleansing among the Zardushtis). Jamshid's last completed work, Čāšt, (including chapters on the maltreatment by the Arabs of the Zardushtis of Balochistan) has recently been posthumously published; his unfinished set of chapters of an incomplete draft awaits editing with a view to publication.

In the year 1946 Jamshid married Homayun (Pls. 15, 19), the daughter of Arbab Sohrab Kianian (Pl. 13) of Yazd. She bore him five children over the course of a long and steadfast marriage: the eldest daughter Mahvash Goodarz (Pls. 13, 15), was followed by sons Soroosh (Pl, 15) and Mehrborzin (Pl. 15), and their twin sisters Armaity Shahriari (Pl. 15) and Anahita Soroushian (Pl. 15).

His links with Yazd were additionally reinforced through his studies on Yazdi history and culture, and between the two ancient Zoroastrian stronghold cities, he thoroughly imbibed and vigorously propagated the precepts of the Good Religion. His long-time friend and editor of the Persian Section volume, Emeritus Professor Bastani Parizi, remarked of him, "Jamshid expects his audience in the span of fifteen minutes over tea with him to realize the merits of the Dīn-e bēhī and to become believers in it!" Indeed a fervent Zardushti!

Pl. 19.  Summer 1998. Jamshid Soroushian inspecting a pistachio garden in Saidi (North-Eastern Suburb of Kerman). His grand son, Vishtasp Mehr Soroushian is walking behind him.  Ruins of a 3rd century C.E. mountainous fortress named after the Sasanian Shah Ardeshir can be seen in the background.

On his last visit away from Kerman, Jamshid Soroush Soroushian suffered a stroke in Tehran and expired on 28 February 1999. His remains were brought to his beloved home city and there inhumed in the family plot, between his dearly revered parents, in the Zoroastrian burial ground. A staunch traditionalist in socio-religious matters, it is believed that he regretted the ending of the system of exposure within dakhmas some two generations ago ─ (the Yazd Manakji dakhma, however, remained in use until the early 1960's) ─ but was of a mind which kept pace with changing events and new developments. His humanitarianism and breadth of vision overrode considerations of ancient usages when they could no longer continue to be validated. For him it was the progressive Zoroastrian way, and he departed this life as he had lived it: in dignity, peace and in the due fullness of time.

While Jamshid's heart was devoted to his family, both domestic and extended, his soul was anchored in Zoroastrianism. Inasmuch as he diligently attended to the family business of agronomy which flourished under his careful stewardship, he carved out time for his concerns for his community and its material and spiritual well-being. He encouraged the education of all to the utmost level of their abilities, and from the humblest of the Soroushian enterprises' employees to the highest among his many acquaintances, he ensured that such opportunities were always made available. It could sincerely be said of Arbāb Jamshid that brightly as the ritual Fire burns externally, his unquenchable spiritual Fire blazed up gloriously within him. Truly, it is his Ātaš-e dorun ─ the Fire withinwhich we reverently commemorate herewith! May it ever blaze forth to illumine the living soul of Zoroastrianism!

Ašaonąm frauuašim yazamaide.

[1] Reproduced in most parts from ĀTAŠ-E DORUN - The Fire Within: Jamshid Soroush Soroushian Memorial Volume II, 1st Books Library, Bloomington, Indiana, 2003, pps. xi-xxxvi.