is not given, it is earned. It is not in what kind of work you do, it is
in how you do it.”
That was the late Fereidoon Zartoshti’s motto for life. He first heard
it in his youth from his teacher Mr. Pinto, who was explaining a poem by
Shakespeare. This statement became a life long quest of one of the most
successful Zoroastrian businessmen of our recent times who was a man of
charity and good will.
lived a long, prosperous and charitable life of 96 years. He was born in
Yazd to Farangis and Jamshid in March 1904. Since his uncle Bahman and
his wife could not have any children, Fereidoon was considered their
adapted child and carried Bahman’s name as his middle name. This was a
tradition amongst the Zoroastrians of Iran.
Bahman Zartoshti, 1955
Till the very end,
Fereidoon was mentally alert and sharp and wrote his autobiography in
his own hand-writing. It is out of respect that we present the late
Zartoshti’s autobiography in his own words so that the next generations
of Zoroastrian youths can follow in the footsteps of giants like him.
“Soon after I
finished my schooling and graduated from Dinyari School in Yazd, I
started to study the Avesta and religious ceremonies in order to become
a ‘Nozoot’ and eventually earn my Mobed status. In order to learn the
Avesta one had to memorize by heart the grand Yasht in 72 sections and
Yasna. My teacher was Dastur Pirouz who was known as the ‘old master’.
Once I finished my
religious education and was ready to take my exam, I was lead to a place
in the prayer room and was tested by the late Dastur Pirouz, Master
Ardeshir Shahriar, Mobed Fereidoon, Mobed Rashid, Mobed Bahram, Mobed
Bahman, Mobed Hamavand, Mobed Dinyar and Mobed Jamshid. The exam took
about 2 and half hours and I feel blessed to pass it.
The good news
quickly reached my family. After consulting my mother, I was going to
go through the ‘Noshveh’ process. I did this 7 times and each time would
take 9 days where I was totally secluded. The process which needed to be
repeated 72 times would start early in the morning with one spoon of
‘Nirang’ and would continue with prayers from Yashts and the Vandidad.
After 72 days and after passing through all the rituals one would be
declared as a ‘Nozoot’.
In addition to my
interest in religious affairs, I had a deep interest in education as
well and since there were some opportunities for me in Bombay, India I
decided to go there to pursue it. I feel it is necessary to share with
you the experience I had on my trip from Yazd to Shiraz and the Persian
Gulf port of Busher. We started our journey from Yazd to Shiraz with
the late Arbab Khodamorad Eidoon and a few other Zoroastrians and were
using the late Mr. Naemi’s caravan.
Left to Right:
Shahriar Bamasi, Mehraban Zartoshti, Fereidoon Zartoshti.
We stayed in Shiraz
for a few days in small shops in Bazar (Hojre), where business trades
were conducted during the day and the shops were used to sleep in at
night. After a few days, one morning before dawn, we set off to Busher.
On our way to Busher we passed through Kazeroun where a special message
was sent from Arbab Eidoon to the Governor of Kazeroun for a meeting.
The governor invited Arbab Eidoon to his home for dinner and we stayed
in the Caravansra. After about 3 hours Arbab Khodamoead Eidoon returned
and told us that he was able to convince the governor to accept half of
the safe-passage ‘Fee’ in gold English Liras and the other half in
silver Iranian Rials. This news soon spread in the city of Kazeroun and
many knew about the deal that had been made between the two.
The next day, very
early in the morning, we set off for Busher. On the way out of Kazeroun,
we were stopped at the 1st government police station to be
searched by the gendarmes. They asked us to lay down all our personal
belongings and unload the donkeys.
At this time, I
started protesting and jumped down in front of the agent and asked him
with what authority and under whose order did he dare to search our
personal belongings. I told him that Reza Shah had cleared all the
roads for the people and we were free to go wherever we wished.
Once I finished, the
agent pushed me aside, took his rifle, aimed it at me and said, “I will
show you something so you remember not to talk like this to a government
agent.” At this time, there was an old lady who was accompanying us as
an aide to Arbab. She quickly jumped down and told the gendarme that he
had no right to threaten this little kid! She warned me that these
agents kill people so easily that you have to be careful how you
At this time, Arbab
went forward and apologized to the agent and opened up two of the
boxes. The agent asked about the content of the boxes and was told that
they contained cooking oils, different kinds of drinks, etc. He asked
if we had liquor and alcohol, which we did not. He searched more and
saw some silk handkerchiefs and brand new handmade shoes. Arbab told
him that the handkerchiefs were made in Yazd and the shoes in Shiraz and
offered them to him.
The man took them
and let us go. We passed through several cities on our way to Busher. I
would write to Reza Shah on every occasion I could find, about the
discrimination and unjust treatment we received. Once we reached Busher,
I gave these writings to our host Mr. Golshani to be sent to Reza Shah
and they were mailed the day after we left Busher for Bombay.
In about 3 moths
after we left Iran, I heard through Arbab Khodamorad that due to a
direct order from Reza Shah, the handkerchiefs and shoes were taken back
from the government agent. They were in possession of Mr. Golshahni to
be returned back to us. We decided to ask Mr. Golshani to keep those as
a token of our appreciation for his help.”
The above anecdote
in Mr. Zartoshti’s own words, proves his strong character and drive for
justice that was installed in him from a very early age; a
characteristic that stayed with him along with his good sense of humor
and kindness till the last days of his life.
There were several
attempts to write his biography, but every time, he would insist on not
writing about him while he was alive. When his family was asked as to
why the late Zartoshti pursued careers other than Nozoot even when he
became one, they said that he was very interested in continuing his
higher education, which he saw in no way conflicting with his religious
Nozoot standing. Therefore he decided to go to Tehran to pursue his
dream of higher education.
However, since his
father was already in Bombay, the decision was made for the young
Zartoshti to go to India instead. In Bombay, after 4 years in a well
known and most prestigious school in the city, he was able to graduate
at the top of his class. During this time, in addition to pursuing his
education he was helping his father in his trade. Unfortunately his
father became ill and Feridoon arranged to send him back home to Iran.
He then started to manage the overall business and thus could not find
time to attend college.
After the demise of
his father, he established ‘Zartoshti Brothers Trading Corporation’ in
India with the help of his younger brother Mehraban. He continued his
business activities in Iran and from the early days of founding the
company until the very last day of his active life, he was dedicated to
work and occupied in business. The late Zartoshti was a generous man
and along with his younger brother and business partner Mehraban, they
made enormous contributions to various organizations and associations
while he was alive. The Zartoshti brothers’ philanthropical activities
have been continued by his brother Mehraban after Feriedoon’s demise.
In addition to a
company that he had with his uncle Rostam Khodabandeh and his cousin
Rostam Rashidi and Bahram Esfandiar, he started another business with
his other nephew, the late Rostam Zartoshti under the registered title
of Fereidoon and Rostam Zartoshti Company. Meanwhile, the late Mr.
Jamshid Bahram Yeganegi, who had the import rights for the Fisk Tires of
US and Diesel engines of Lister of UK offered the use of office space to
the Zardoshti brothers. This arrangement lasted for about 3 years until
the Zardoshti brothers purchased an old building in Saadi Avenue and
constructed a four storey building as their business headquarters.
Once the new
building was finished, they opened their first organized business
operation in Iran under the name of Zardoshti Brothers Trading
Corporation. Among their first business activities was to secure the
trade rights to sell Robson Diesel engines of UK and agricultural water
pump of Varuna of India under Emu of Germany and other equipment from
Denmark with the purpose of expanding the newly organized agricultural
industry across Iran. The late Arbab Fereidoon looked after accounting
and his younger brother was responsible for the day to day operations of
Through many years
of hard work and dedication and strong principles of honesty, trust and
Good Deeds the Zardoshti Brothers’ business flourished tremendously in a
short period of time. They soon started the Shahin Plastic and Synthetic
Leather manufacturing in partnership with Mr. Hussain Abhari. In time,
due to the high quality of their production, they became the sole
provider of synthetic leather to the newly created national auto
The large and reputable Zardoshti Brothers business was gaining even
larger momentum and was about to expand in other areas of Iranian
industry but the Islamic revolution put a halt to their success and shut
down their operation along with many other businesses in Iran. Had it
not been for the Islamic revolution, chances were very high that the
Zardoshty brothers’ business would have grown more and would have helped
Iran in its struggle for becoming economically and industrially
After the Islamic
revolution, the Zardoshti Brothers’ businesses were confiscated by the
Islamic regime. Arbab Fereidoon was house bound and he remained there
till the latter years of his life, when he was allowed to travel
overseas to visit his family in the US.
A partial list of
some of his contributions appears at the end. One of the main reasons
and a driving force behind so much generosity can be traced to his
father’s advice to put aside a portion of their income and dedicate it
to the good cause of helping people. It was Feriedoon’s belief and
based on his Zoroastrian faith, that ‘Life is the most precious gift of
God’ and it is a pity to see anyone live in misery and sorrow due to
The late Arbab
Fereidoon Zartoshti was not only a man of honor, selfless dedication to
help people and a backbone of the Zoroastrian communities of Iran, but
he was also a man of humor and joy. He cherished and welcomed any
joyous moment and was a strong advocate of upbeat mindset and good
life. Most of the time, when he provided the community with his
generous financial support, he brought a personal touch to the ceremony
by his humorous and simple speech which was his hallmark.
The late Arbab
Zartoshti passed away in Southern California on 27th of Aban
of 1379 (Nov. 18, 2000). His remains were flown to his birth land that
he so dearly loved, and buried at Tehran’s Zoroastrian Aramgah
(cemetery) of ‘Qasre-Firouzeh’ on 11th of Azar of 1379 (Dec.
2, 2000). On that rainy day, a large number of Iranians, several
thousands, gathered to pay respect to an accomplished, and honorable son
ceremonies were held in his honor in Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan, Yazd and
Karaj where people from all walks of life paid their respect to this
His younger brother
and partner Mehraban, has been continuing the work the two brothers had
started, providing for the welfare and well being of Zoroastrian
inside and outside
of Iran and supporting all efforts to preserve and promote the
Zoroastrian religion, heritage, history and identity.
Partial list of the
Zartoshti brothers’ (Feridoon and Mehraban) charitable
‘Zartoshti Brothers Hall’ at new Zoroastrian center in London,
construction of prayer hall at the Houston Zoroastrian center, in
for the construction of an outside tent at the Zoroastrian Darbe
Mehr in San Jose, California
for holding Gahanbar and religious classes for training Mobeds in
Zoroastrian Organization for taking care of patients and
Zoroastrian farmers in the remote villages of Gujarat
upgrade of the Fire Temple in the city of Yazd
Markar buildings in the city of Yazd
Firoze Bahram high school, Rostam Abadian junior high and Jamshid
Jam elementary school
Zoroastrian Senior Citizens Housing in Tehran
housing for young married couples
maintaining the ‘House of Zartoshtis’ in Isfahan
religious books such as the Avesta and Gathas
assistance to renovate religious temples
funds for the establishment of the Zartoshti brothers chair of
Zoroastrian studies at London, UK University’s School of Oriental
and African Studies (SOAS)
A brief explanation
of some of the above charitable and humanitarian works that were done
over the years in the spirit of partnership and cooperation with his
brother Mobed Mehrban Mobed Jamshid Zartoshti is as follows. This
information has been translated from the book “A ray from the love of
Mazda” by Mr. Jamshid Pishdadi.
In Tehran, Iran:
renovation of the famous Firoozbahrm high school from beginning to
end, providing much needed work to preserve this historical academic
institution which has contributed to the education of many Iranian
leaders over several decades of its existence. The selfless help of
Mr. Rostam Farkhondeh in connection with the renovation must be
Markar has been
an institution by itself since the early 20th century
dedicated to the education of the youth of Yazd, regardless of their
religion. Founded by Peshotanji Markar it has contributed
enormously to the advancement of elementary education in that
region. The historical building of this academic institution was
damaged due to wear and tear and needed a complete renovation. The
late Arbab Fereidoon with the help of his brother Arbab Mehrban
provided financial assistance to restore this historical building
to its original status. The supervision of Mr. Sirus (Cyrus)
Khosrovi in accomplishing this task is hereby acknowledged.
Atash Varahram which has been in care of the Zartoshti brothers for
more than 40 years was transferred to the Yazd Zoroastrian Anjoman.
The financial asset allocated to the preservation effort was put in
control of Anjoman in order to leverage the interest of the assets
to provide the cost of preservation.
continuous financial assistance to the needy Zoroastrian of Yazd.
financial help to Zoroastrian Youth organization of Yazd for sport
activities and Zoroastrian athletes.
In Bombay, India:
large capital and assets to the Bombay Parsi Panchayat in order to
provide financial assistance to any Parsi family with 3 or more kids
and to newly wed young people and needy families.
financial assistance through a special fund for Zoroastrian youths
who wished to pursue a priesthood career &/or those who become
scholars in Zoroastrian studies &/or those mobeds who follow up on
their education to earn their PhDs. At the time of this writing,
there are two young Iranian Zoroastrians who are following in this
path at the Athornan School in Bombay and there is a high hope that
they soon graduate and start serving the Zoroastrian community as
to Athornan school of Bombay for providing housing for needy
financial help to B.H. Petit Parsi General Hospital for renovation
of one storey of the current building in the name of Manekji Limji
assistance to K.R. Cama Oriental Institute and specifically its
library in order to preserve and publish the valuable Zoroastrian
books and writings.
financial capital to Bombay University to establish a new library in
pious memory of Sir Phirozshah Mehta,
the founder of the Bombay University, a well known attorney, mayor
of Bombay and also known as the Lion of Bombay.
funds for the establishment of a chair at Mumbai University in honor
of Sir Phirozeshah Mehta (the first president of that university).
assistance to Surat Parsi Panchayet for a 4 storey building in the
name of Arbab Fereidoon’s wife the late Mehrbanoo Bamassi Pour. This
amount was provided by Arbab Mehraban in the name of his sister in
law, Arbab Fereidoon’s wife.