Roj Ardibehest Mah Tir, 1379 Yz.
Bahmanshah Dosabhai Hakim belonged to the famous Bhogiji Hakim family of Surat. Sometime in the 18th century, a famous Armenian Hakim (traditional doctor) called Khwajah Avanes Saheb had come to Surat. One of the ancestors of Bahmanshah had given the Khwajah a place to stay in his own residence in Surat. As a favour, Khwajah Avanes imparted his deep knowledge of traditional medicine to this ancestor of Bahmanshah. After the Khwajah passed away (his grave exists in Surat till this day), the ancestors of Bahmanshah began their practice of the traditional medicine and soon became well known for their cures and remedies. Hence the family surname changed to Hakim from Bhogiji. Over the next generations, the medical practice thrived and the family’s cheap and effective prescriptions, especially their ‘cough remedy’ and ‘fever packets’ achieved great popularity not only in Surat but all over India. Bahmanshah’s elder brother Ardeshir Hakim became the Diwan (Prime Minister) of the Maharaja of Kashmir, while another brother Dr. Dhunjishah studied western medicine and combined it with his traditional knowledge to have a good practice in Surat.
Bahmanshah was an exception in this family. He did not study much and was not interested in anything much. His love lay in wrestling, and he had joined the ‘Jamna Veni Akhada’ or wrestling club in Surat. Now in traditional Indian wrestling, the teacher is respectfully called ‘Ustad’ and boys would always enter the wresting ring after taking the name and blessings of their teacher or Ustad. For some peculiar reason, Bahmanshah did not like to call a non-Parsi as ‘Ustad’ and would enter the ring without paying the traditional respect to the teacher, but in his mind he would remember the famous ‘Pahelwans’ of Iran like Rustam and Zaal. Since he was good at the game, this was tolerated. But in his mind, he always used to yearn for a Zoroastrian guru, whom he could call Ustad.
As a young Parsi lad in Surat at the beginning of the 20th century, Bahmanshah was attracted to the Bazm of Manchersha Master and used to attend the meetings and talks. On that fateful day, when Manchersha Master was speaking on Atash and the blessed footsteps of Ustad Saheb first landed at the Bazm, Bahmanshah was one of the young boys present there. At the end of that lecture when Ustad Saheb was asked as to where he had got the knowledge from, the Master replied that he had acquired the knowledge from his Zoroastrian Ustad, Sraoshavarez Marzbanji Saheb of Demavand. This remark of Ustad Saheb had a great effect on Bahmanshah. As he went home that night, he made up his mind that from the next day onwards the Sraoshavarez would also be his own personal Ustad! The very next day, young Bahmanshah went to the house of Behramshah. In his youthful exuberance and innocent manner, Bahmanshah asked Behramshah: ‘Sir, you claim that you have an Ustad in Iran. Can I see him? Can he be my Ustad? Is your Ustad aware that you talked about him to us yesterday evening?’ The Master replied: ‘Yes, from certain indications I have received today, I can say that he is aware of what happened yesterday evening. As far as seeing him goes, if you practice the Tarikats of our religion, chant the Avesta and show your devotion towards him, maybe you will be able to see him.’
Now Bahmanshah was on friendly terms with a Brahmin boy who used to come to the wrestling club with him. This Brahmin had entered into the tantric arts and had some minor power to answer people’s questions, based on his tantric practice, as well as some connection with certain Muslim entities. As they met that evening, the Brahmin told Bahmanshah that he was in a phase of his practice where his powers were at their highest potency and if Bahmanshah had any questions he could surely answer them. In young Bahmanshah’s mind, this was a great opportunity to see whether Ustad Saheb was really speaking the truth.
The next day Bahmanshah met his Brahmin friend to put his mind to rest. The Brahmin asked Bahmanshah to take a coin in his hand, concentrate on the question he wanted answered and then hand over the coin to him. Bahmanshah took a coin in his hand and concentrating hard, asked the question in his mind: ‘Behramshah Shroff says that he has an Ustad. Is this true, and if so where is this Ustad and what is he doing now?’ Bahmanshah then handed over the coin to his friend, who took it and loudly praying some charm demanded the answer from his spiritual connector. But there was no reply. The Brahmin repeated the procedure three times but there was no reply. He then asked Bahmanshah to repeat the question on another coin and then hand over the coin to him. Bahmanshah did as asked and once again the Brahmin took the coin, repeated his formula and asked for the answer. But there was no reply. The Brahmin tried to explain away by saying maybe the time was not right, the question was not right or some other excuse, but Bahmanshah scorned him and said: ‘maybe you were just pulling a fast one on us, maybe you don’t have any powers after all!’
This incensed the Brahmin, who promised to give a reply to Bahmanshah. He went to the nearby well, drew water and had a bath. He then took out a copper bangle and an amulet (Taaveez), which had been given to him by his master to be used in extremely difficult cases. He then wore the copper bangle on his wrist, and taking the Taaveez in his hand, started chanting some words loudly and put the Taaveez on the burning embers in a small fire vase. As soon as the Taaveez burned, he went into the trance and replied: ‘You are asking about the saintly priest residing on the other side of Turkestan. Yes, he is there and he has just arisen from his morning prayers!’
In the next meeting of the Bazm, after Ustad Saheb had finished speaking and Manchersha Master had finished summarizing what Ustad Saheb had said, young Bahmanshah got up and narrated what had happened. Ustad Saheb looked at him closely and asked a few questions and said nothing. But in the audience there was a murmur of surprise, that their young friend had somehow managed to show that what Behramshah was saying all along was not a fairy tale but the reality. But more importantly, Bahmanshah was motivated to pray long and hard and harboured in his mind the expectation that one day he would be able to see Sraoshavarez Marzbanji Saheb.
Sitting at the feet of his Ustad, Bahmanshah received great wisdom from the Master. His noble family background, strictly traditional upbringing and most importantly, the perfectly developed yet humble mind enabled him to imbibe the difficult science of Khshnoom and more importantly, to put that knowledge into practice. Bahmanshah developed a great appetite for prayers and with the blessings of his Master, spent nearly all his wakeful hours in prayer. Guided by the Master, Bahmanshah would embark on all kinds of prayer expeditions: praying a particular prayer at the same time, place and position for forty days at a stretch, invoking particular Yazatas one by one, and receiving untold benefits from them. His daily prayers would begin at Hoshbam (dawn), when he would start with the dawn prayer and then pray all the five Nyaeshes and then 5 Yashts as advised by Ustad Saheb – Hormazd, Ardibehest, Sarosh Hadokht, Khordad and the Haft Ameshaspand Yasht (praying the Yatu zi Zarathushtra para in the Yasht 7 times). Then he would pray the Yasht of the day, or either one or all of the following Yashts – Avan, Tir, Behram, Hom, Vanant, Fravardin and then go on to various Pazend Setayashes. In the evening, Bahmanshah would have a bath again and then proceed to the Atash Behram where he would do the Aiwisruthrem Farajyat prayers and then start praying a number of Sarosh Yasht Vadi prayers – on some days praying 21 one of them in one Gah! Bahmanshah’s family had a huge house in Surat which was well equipped to enable him to live a life of very strict Tarikats. He would always re-wash the clothes that came from the Dhobi with well water with his own hands and only then put them on. His eating habits were also very regulated and in synch with religious requirements.
Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram