Roj Govad Mah Bahman, 1378 Yz.
July 7th, 2009 marks the 82nd death anniversary of our beloved Master, Ustad Saheb Behramshah Nowroji Shroff. Ceremonies to mark this day will be held in Agiaries and Atash Behrams all over India. Machi will be offered to various Padshahs and Patet prayers will said for the Ustad. In our own Daremeher – the Ustad Saheb Behramshah Nowroji Shroff Daremeher at Behram Baug, Jogeshwari, ceremonies will start from 6 am and go on throughout the day and night. A Jashan and a small talk detailing his life will also be held.
Ustad Saheb was the single most highly advanced soul on this Earth in the last 200 years. Yet it is a pity that most Parsis know very little about him and his life. Nevertheless such is the spiritual power of his soul that even today, 82 years after he passed away on 7th July, 1927, his name and his miracle have a magical effect on those who know about him. I personally can state without any doubt that the name of Ustad Saheb and the details of his miraculous years, which I first came to know when I was 17 years old, had a profound effect on my life and I can easily say that it was the single most important event in my existence. After the first hearing, I delved deep into all the literature that was available and soon thereafter began to speak in public on his life and teachings.
I vividly remember the day in December 1987, when I was scheduled to give a talk on the life of Ustad Saheb under the auspices of the Rahnumae Mazdyasnan Sabha, at the K. R. Cama Oriental Institute. After the Chairman’s introduction, I had just gotten up to speak when in walked a very old, but distinguished Parsi. He was not very tall, but slim, and had a slight hunch. But it were his clothes that attracted the most attention. He was dressed in white cotton drill trousers, a long white cotton Dagla with ivory buttons, a tall, upright black cotton topi, and shining black leather shoes which clicked-clocked with military precision as he walked in, oblivious to the surprised looks of other members of the audience. I immediately realized that this could be no ordinary person. Throughout my one and a half hour talk, he looked at me most intently, as I recounted the details of Ustad Saheb’s life, nodding his head at times. His eyes had a light sparkle and I could see that he was, in some manner, really moved by the story.
After the talk was over and the concluding remarks made, the crowd dispersed, but the old gentleman remained. I went up to him and introduced myself. He shook my hand, patted me on the back and with great humility and without any pretension, said: ‘My name is Namdar Darashaw Sanjana, and I had the good fortune to see Ustad Saheb Behramshah Nowroji Shroff.’ For a second I was lost for words. It had always been my deep regret that despite searching I had never been able to find or talk to a person who had actually met Ustad Saheb. I had always longed to know: how did he look? What were his features like? This is because there was no photograph of the Ustad ever taken. And here stood a man in front of me who had actually met our Ustad Saheb! We began talking and he gave out the details of his meeting. He was a young boy when he had met Ustad Saheb on a trip to Matheran. He was too young to gather any knowledge but Mr. Sanjana went on repeating one thing: ‘His eyes, Ustad Saheb’s eyes, had a spark in them, a spark which I cannot forget even today when I am over 80 years old! Oh, those eyes!’ I asked him many questions which he answered patiently and then I finally asked him: ‘what did he look like?’ Mr. Sanjana replied: he looked very much like Jamsetjee Tata, the founder of the House of Tata. He had a long flowing beard, he was very tall and very well built. But those eyes…
I often met Mr. Sanjana after that and he gave me a few precious books from his library. He was an intensely pious man, not very rich, but his wealth lay in his great integrity and humility – and the contentment of a complete and well-lived life achieved by very few men in this day and age. He had Nirangdin ceremonies performed for his late wife and his mother, and the image is still clear in my eyes: Mr. Sanjana sitting right next to the Vada Dasturji Saheb and intently observing the two priests performing the Nirangdin ceremony at 1 o’clock in the night. He had such tender looks when the name of his late mother was called out in the ceremony, the way he bowed down to the priests as they went about their work, the respect he gave to the Dasturji sitting next to him… And I wondered what must be his level of spiritual development, to be able to see our beloved Master and after all these years, still feel so intensely for him.
It is my deep regret that Mr. Sanjana moved to Pune and passed away after a few years. Despite many efforts, I have been unable to find out his date of death so that I could do some prayers for him as my way of returning the great favour he did for me. Perhaps someone reading this will help me in my search.
Here is a photograph of Jamsetjee Tata which may give some idea to my readers as to what Ustad Saheb may have looked like. Please remember, this is the photograph of Jamsetjee Tata, NOT Ustad Saheb.
Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram