Parsis in India and the Diaspora
Edited by John Hinnells, Alan Williams
Routledge – 2008 – 304 pages
The Parsis are India's smallest minority community, yet they have exercised a huge influence on the country. As pioneers in education in nineteenth century India, and as leading figures in banking and commerce, medicine, law and journalism, they were at the forefront of India's industrial revolution. Parsis were also at the heart of the creation of the Indian National Congress in the nineteenth century and contributed some of the great leaders through into the twentieth century.
This book, written by notable experts in the field, explores various key aspects of the Parsis. It spans the time from their arrival in India to the twenty-first century. All contributions are based on original research and most of them use hitherto unexplored primary sources. The first part of the book analyzes the topic of Parsi migration from very different points of view; the second part presents leading Parsi personalities of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The final part is a set of studies of the Parsi traditional community in Bombay and an examination of three different diasporas. The concluding chapter, by John R. Hinnells, shows the range of contributions of Parsis to modern India and also in the diasporas, where the Zoroastrian religion is practiced in more countries around the globe than at any time in its history of more than 3,000 years.
'This collection presents a fascinating, multifaceted picture of a most remarkable religious minority whose culture, intellectual and economic influence has been enormous…This important book offers a wealth of information and deep, at times revealing, insights which the general reader will find illuminating and the professional scholar indispensable' - Almut Hintze, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 2009
Preface John R. Hinnells. Introduction John R. Hinnells and Alan Williams Section 1: The Settlement of the Parsis in India 1. The Structure, Significance and Poetic Integrity of the Qesse-ye Sanjan Alan Williams 2. The Landing of The Zoroastrians at Sanjan: The Archaeological Evidence Rukshana Nanji 3. Parsi Prayer and Devotional Song in the Indian Diaspora Sarah Stewart Section 2: Parsis in Nineteenth Century India 4. Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy and the Public Culture of Nineteenth Century Bombay Jesse S. Palsetia 5. Changing Perceptions of Authority among Parsis in British India John R. Hinnells 6. Bombay Parsi Merchants in the Nineteenth Century Rusheed R. Wadia 7. Mourning, Philanthropy, and M.M. Bhownaggree’s Road to Parliament John Mcleod Section 3: Parsis in Twentieth Century India and in their Diasporas 8. Judging Conversion to Zoroastrianism: Behind the Scenes of the Parsi Panchayat Case (1908) Mitra Sharafi 9. Iranians and Indians on the Shores of Serendib (Sri Lanka) Jamsheed K. Choksy 10. Zoroastrians in Europe 1976 to 2003: Continuity and Change Gillian Mary Towler Mehta 11. Para-Zoroastrianisms: Memetic Transmission and Appropriations Michael Strausberg 12. Parsis In India and their Diasporas in the Twentieth Century and Beyond John R. Hinnells. Illustrations
John Hinnells was Professor of the Comparative Study of Religions at Manchester and SOAS. He is now retired but has a part time Research Professorship at Liverpool Hope University and is Honorary Professorial Research Fellow at SOAS. He has published widely in the area of South Asian religion, in particular the Parsis, and the comparative study of religions. His books include Zoroastrians in Britain (1996), Zoroastrian and Parsi Studies: selected works of John R. Hinnells (2000), and The Zoroastrian Diaspora (2005).
Alan Williams is currently Senior Lecturer in Comparative Religion in the School of Arts Histories and Cultures, University of Manchester. He has published several books on Iranian studies and also writes about the history of religions, comparative literature and translation studies. His most recent book is a new English blank verse translation of the first book of Rumi's Persian mystical masterpiece, the Masnavi-ye Ma'navi (Spiritual Verses for Penguin Classics, 2006).