82nd death anniversary of Ustad Saheb Behramshah Nowroji Shroff – part 1

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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.

Jamsetjee Tata

Jamsetjee Tata

Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram



  1. Nazneen  July 7, 2009

    May Dadar Ahura Mazda Bless the Pious Soul of Ustad Saheb Behramshah N. Shroff and
    May the Blessings of Ustad Saheb continue to Guide us earthlings in the right direction.

  2. Behram P. Dhabhar  July 7, 2009

    Coincidentally, today is the Hindu festival Guru Purnima where devout Hindus revere their Masters. Since Ustad Saheb was our Master, it is miraculous that his Baj too falls on this day.

  3. Adi Dubbash  February 28, 2013

    Respected Ervad Marazbanji,


    I first heard about Ustad Saheb in the eighties and got an insight into his life in the book titled LIFE OF USTAD SAHEB BEHRAMSHAH NOWROJI SHROFF published under the auspices of the Mazdayasni Monasterie by the general editor Dame Meher Master – Moos.

    When I laid hands on the book the first thing I did was to thumb through it searching for Ustad Saheb’s photo but was disappointed to find none. It did seem odd that the book did not have a picture of this giant of Ilm-E-Kshnoom but on page 183 the following is stated…’He believed that after death a persons photograph, handwriting and any object on which the person’s vibration exist, should not be preserved as the ‘Kehrp’ of the departed soul would get attracted to such vibrations and would find difficulties in disengaging itself from all links with this earth. This would hinder the progress of the soul through the Dakhyus region. He believed eyes and other body organs should not be donated after death as that would create a terrible ‘Keshash’ in nature and hinder the progress of the soul and also harm the ‘Keshash’ of the recipient’

    Personal effects of a deceased person like clothes, footwear, etc. are given away to some needy person or to inmates of charitable homes/institutions, and are discarded, when they have outlived their utility. Even old furniture… although some years back, I recollect reading an article in the Jam-E-Jamshed (wish I had taken a cutting) about how to purify articles used by a deceased person, for one’s personal use. The article could be of wood, iron, cloth, copper, leather etc. but the point is, no one gives away photos of the deceased and they remain with the family for generations. We also find photographs of illustrious personalities who have passed away hanging in practically every Atash Behram/Agiaries/Baugs/Gymkhanas/Educational and Financial Institutions.

    Those who have preceded us to the Minoi world, will always dwell in our hearts and we do remember them frequently and in our prayers too then where is the need to retain their photos thereby hindering their progress.

    If the above as believed by Ustad Saheb is a fact, and he must have had very good reason in believing so, then should we not do away with such photographs?

    I feel if at all one wishes to retain photos of the deceased, it would be better if they were preserved in digital form. I wonder if Ustad Saheb would have approved of it.

    Thank you

    Adi Dubbash