The miraculous life of the Master – part 25

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Roj Hormazd Mah Amardad, 1379 Yz.

Despite the severe setback of the loss of young Ervad Sorab Panthaki, the work of the Society progressed. In 1918, the Fasli Takchian ceremony was once again conducted under the supervision of Ustad Saheb at the bungalow of Mr. Captain. There were a larger number of persons who submitted the names of their deceased for the 18 day prayers and more priests were requisitioned for the same. Not satisfied at this progress, the members of the Society begun to think on a larger scale. The teachings of the Zoroastrian religion as explained and revealed by the Master had made a lasting and very deep impression in the minds of many members and had caused them to completely change their lifestyle to live a truer Zoroastrian life. The increasing urbanization of Mumbai meant that slowly but surely, it was becoming difficult to practice the principles of purity as expounded in the religion and which form the bedrock of any practice of Tarikats.

As more Parsis migrated from villages to Mumbai in search of jobs and a so-called better quality of life, the large house of the villages which allowed the perfect Parsi lifestyle gave way to cramped houses built one on top of the other – a disaster for any Tarikat practicing Parsi.

These shortcomings, along with the dire prophecies of Ustad Saheb regarding the future of Mumbai, specially the part of the city reclaimed from the sea, caused some senior members of the Society to think very long term. It was suggested that the Society look for a large parcel of land within the limits of Mumbai, where members could buy or lease small plots to build small houses or bungalows where like-minded persons would live a harmonious life, in synch with Zoroastrian principles. This Tarikat colony, as it was proposed to be called, would also hold a small Dadgah where the Fasli Hingam would be observed, as well as the Fasli Takchian be held every year. In future, it was hoped that Ustad Saheb would reveal the method of consecrating a fully Fasli Atash Dadgah and thereby reintroduce the Fasli calendar within the community after a gap of nearly 800 years.

In 1918, a large plot of land measuring about 25,000 square yards was indentified in the village of Gundivali near Andheri and purchased by the Society and a syndicate of some private persons at about Rs. 1.25 per square yard. As the first World War was reaching its climax and bloody end, the prices of land, as well as other assets fluctuated wildly. Soon the land purchased at Rs. 1.25 began quoting at Rs. 8.50! The Society members felt it would be better to sell the land at this high price and look for a larger tract somewhere else. A deal to sell the land was struck with a Hindu trader. At about the same time, an Englishman by the name of Mr. Miranda, who owned a very large parcel of land in village Oshiwara, hardly a kilometer away from the earlier land agreed to sell the same at quite a low price. A deal was struck with the foreigner to buy nearly 150,000 square yards at village Oshiwara. After the deal was struck, the war ended and prices of land dropped drastically. There was a danger that the Hindu trader would backtrack out of his high-priced deal and the Society members would have to face court proceedings from the Englishman for non-payment of his dues! But thankfully the trader stuck to his part of the deal, with the condition that he pay the amount in installments. Finally the Gundivali land was given up and the Oshiwara land, measuring about 30 acres came into the possession of the Society. This was the humble and tense beginning of Behram Baug!

The miraculous way in which the Society was able to get such a large piece of land at a very low price encouraged its members to plan on a grand scale. The Society announced plans to build a Tarikat colony, where small plots of the land were to be given to members for a lease rent of Rs. 1 per year. Members were then allowed to build small bungalows or houses on the land and live a life of Zoroastrian Tarikats. Along with that, the plans to build a Fasli Daremeher with the active participation of Ustad Saheb gathered momentum. This project again required huge sums of money, which the Society did not have and so an appeal to gather funds was issued to the members. Mrs. Meherbai Pallonji Plumber was a very active and enthusiastic member of the Society and had played an enterprising part in the Fasli Takchian project in the early years. Her husband, Pallonji Plumber was very well settled in business and they had a son called Darabshah. In a horrible tragedy, Darabshah died at a very young age. In her grief, Meherbai promised a sum of up to Rs. 150,000/- (an unheard of sum in those days) towards the Fasli Daremeher project in the memory of her only offspring. In this way, the Society was now fully equipped in terms of land and finances to build a Tarikat colony as well as a Dadgah to further the aims of Ustad Saheb.

But time had something else in mind. The cautionary words of Ustad Saheb: ‘Mata nathi’ would prove correct.

Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram