Remembering Dr. Saheb Framroze S. Chiniwalla – part 2

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Roj Gosh Mah Spendarmad, 1380 Yz.

In around 1931, Doctor Saheb received a large sum of money from the proceeds of a life insurance policy. He used this money to publish his first work, the Khshnoom Nikeez-e-Veh Din, a mammoth volume of 1400 pages. Those who were wondering what would happen after Ustad Saheb passed away in 1927 had their reply. This book firmly established the credentials of Doctor Saheb. Then started an unending flow – the second Nikeez – Doctor Saheb’s most difficult work, another 1400 pages, in 1935. The Yazashne book, where certain priests were surprised at the intricate knowledge of ritual possessed by a Behdin, in 1937. Then in 1938, Doctor Saheb published his Khordeh Avesta ba Khshnoom – a word by word translation of the whole Khordeh Avesta, along with detailed notes, whole essays on Tarikats, Atash and many other topics, 1100 pages full. In 1939, Doctor Framroze published his first book on the Gathas, taking up 211 pages to explain the few stanzas of Yasna 28! More Has were published in 1940 and 1941. Then came the mammoth Fravardin Yasht volume in 1941, taking 600 pages to throw new light on a completely mis-understood scripture.

In 1943, Doctor Saheb went to Poona for a short time. This was the time when the conversion controversy was raging within the community. Using his spare time, Doctor Saheb started writing, and finished, a 500 page book on conversion. In the first part he explained the detailed esoteric truth as why there was only one type of conversion in nature – from evil to good, not from one religion to another. In the second part, Doctor Saheb took on the translation of the over 50 paragraphs in the Avesta cited by the liberals as proof of conversion. Taking each paragraph and translating every word, Doctor Saheb, using Avesta grammar, displayed how each paragraph had a deeper meaning which had nothing to do with conversion. This book is undisputed even today.

Readers are requested to visit this page, where most of Doctor Saheb’s books are available in digital format alongwith a brief summary.

Despite all this writing, a intriguing picture emerges about Doctor Saheb from his choice of a pen name. Readers may be aware that Ustad Saheb wrote under the pen name of Khaksar (the embodiment of humility), a title bestowed upon Ustad Saheb by his Master, the Sraoshavarez Marzbanji Saheb. When Doctor Saheb printed his first book – the Nikeez volume I, he disclosed his pen name (Takhallus) as “Khushe Chine Ilm-e-Khshnoom”. The derivation of this term is fascinating because it shows the extent of humility within Doctor Saheb. The Persian term Khushe means ‘one who is so humble that his eyes are always cast down, to the ground.’ The term Chine is derived from root chindan ‘to glean (a field)’. What is gleaning?

Millet Gleaners

Gleaning is a technical term in farming. In the olden days, once a farmer had harvested his crop, there would still be a few earns of corn or wheat left behind in the field. These would lie few and far, making it uneconomical or unviable to go back and harvest. As a matter of human kindness, farmers would allow the poor and destitute persons, who had no land of their own, to roam on their fields and gather the left over crops. This process of collecting the left-over crops is called gleaning.

Thus Doctor Saheb, the most erudite and comprehensive of all Khshnoom writers, blessed with the benign gaze of the Abed Sahebs, chose to describe himself as a poor, humble fellow, eyes always cast on the ground, waiting to collect the left over crops from the field of Khshnoom! Thus Doctor Saheb considered himself as not one of the greats of Khshnoom, but rather held the view that the greats had all passed away, taking the first and excellent harvest of the Divine Knowledge with them. What they had left behind, he, a humble feckless fellow, was patiently gleaning from the field and presenting to the world! Dear readers, this is real humility and in that humility, truly Doctor Saheb Framroze displayed his true greatness.

A strange incident happened after the publication of Doctor Saheb’s first Nikeez which has not been in the public domain till now. A very important disciple of Sai Baba of Shirdi was a saintly person called Shri Upasini Baba Maharaj.

Upasni Baba

This evolved soul had set up an ashram at Sakori village, about 5 km from Shirdi. People of various faiths would come to this ashram for meditation and to listen to the discourses of Upasini Baba. In this ashram, there was a separate hut, built by a Parsi devotee, where Parsis would come to stay and meditate. After the publication of the first Nikeez in 1932, Mr. Ardeshir Toddywalla (the uncle of later Khshnoom speaker and ace astrologer Mr. Savaksha Toddywalla), a religious Parsi who had great faith in Ustad Saheb and Khshnoom, purchased the Nikeez and decided to go and stay at Sakori to read and meditate on it. At the same time, another Parsi, who was an avid Theosophist also landed up at Sakori in the Parsi hut. As is inevitable, when two Parsis meet, there must be some disagreement. The Theosophist laughed out aloud at the Nikeez book and ridiculed it. Ardeshir Toddywalla decided to make him keep quiet. Accompanied by the Theosophist, the two went to Upasini Baba, and presented the book to him, asking for his opinion.

The Baba was an evolved soul, who had understood the concept of Jiram or gradation of souls. To all his disciples he would always prescribe some verse from the scripture of the religion to which the devotee belonged. It is said that his soul was so advanced that he could even point out a mistake in the recitation of the Gathas, if a Parsi were reciting them. He took the book in his hands and turned a few pages. He then closed the book and held it still and shut his eyes. After a few moments, he opened his eyes, gave the book back to Mr. Toddywalla and said humbly: ‘If a person were to fall at the feet of the author of this book, his sins of many previous births would be washed away! Do not attempt to read this book. Take it home, place it in a pure and sacred place, preferably where you do the Divo. Once a day, take it out and bow down to it. That will earn your redemption.’ He then turned to the theosophist Parsi and said: ‘This is not for you’.

Mr. Ardeshir Toddywalla was deeply moved by this encounter. Some time later, he happened to come across Doctor Framroze in the bazaar in Surat. Remembering the words of Upasini Baba, Ardeshir immediately bent down and touched Doctor Saheb’s feet. Doctor Framroze became very upset and scolded him for this public display. Later on, both met privately and it was then that Ardeshir recounted his experience with Upasini Baba to Doctor Saheb. Taking a vow of silence, Doctor Framroze forbade him from ever mentioning this incident in public. This information was given by Doctor Saheb to his brother Jehangirji who disclosed it only many years after Doctor Framroze’s passing away.

In this manner, Doctor Saheb continued his divinely appointed mission, churning out book after book, article after article. Many times, Doctor Framroze was asked: ‘Saheb, who will read all this?’ Doctor Framroze would reply: ‘why should I bother? My task is to write.’ Realizing Doctor Saheb’s mission, his younger brother Jehangirji always ensured that Doctor Framroze was never disturbed or had to bother about mundane things. Jehangirji insisted on Doctor Saheb living with his (Jehangirji’s) wife Gulcheher, and his children Sohrab and Piroja (affectionately called Pinky), at his house at Chowpatty. Doctor Saheb’s needs were frugal – two meals to eat, a bed to sleep in, an endless supply of paper and ink, and a steel cupboard to store it all!

Many Khshnoom lovers would come to meet Doctor Saheb, mainly at his consulting room and some at Jehangirji’s house. He would discuss all kinds of intellectual things with them, giving answers to difficult questions and personal problems. Those few priests who realized his greatness would ask him endless questions on Pav Mahel and ceremonies and be amazed at his answers. Never could they even think of shortening a prayer or having a wink when they should be praying. Doctor Saheb’s descriptions of the effects of prayers was so graphic and intense that its imprint would be left on the Mobed’s mind forever.

We shall learn more about Dr. Saheb Framroze’s style of writing in the next post.

Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram

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Comments

  1. kfkeravala  August 1, 2011

    The Saint is a man who disciplines his ego.
    The Sage is a man who rids himself of his ego.
    Wei Wu Wei(Terence Gray)

  2. khursheed  August 2, 2011

    Respecded Dastoorji,

    Thanks again for this valuable insight on our beloved Doctor Saheb.

    Please write about Mr Phiroz Masani as he and his work and writings has always facinated me a lot. I would be very greatful if you would be able to tell me as to where he used to stay in Khareghat colony as in which Building, Floor & Flat No.

    Thanks a lot

    Khursheed

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