HŌŠANG (Hōshang) JĀMĀSP, a distinguished Parsi scholar-priest (b. 26 April 1833 in Navsari; d. 23 April 1908 in Pune). He was of Bhagariā (q.v.) stock, a descendant of the famous Dastūr Jāmāsp Āsa (q.v.; d. 1753). His father, Jāmāspji Edalji, was the first to be appointed Dastūr (High Priest) of the Deccan, with charge of the Patel Dar-i Mihr in Pune. Hōshang received his initial priestly training from him, becoming herbad (the first priestly qualification) in 1848 and marāteb the following year. His father died in 1846, being succeeded as Dastūr of the Deccan by his eldest brother Nōshīrwān, under whom Hōshang continued to study Avestan, Pahlavi, Pazand, Persian, Arabic, and Urdu, learning Sanskrit from a Hindu teacher.

Through entering local government service he came into contact with the German orientalist Martin Haug (q.v.), who was appointed in 1858 Professor of Sanskrit at the Deccan College, Pune. They became friends; and Hōshang studied philology with him, and Latin and German, becoming one of the first Parsi priests to apply philological principles to study of the Avesta (q.v.). In 1863 he and Haug, with a grant from the Bombay Government, spent 3 months in Gujarat studying and collecting old manuscripts, of which they brought a number back to Bombay. Hōshang himself had a fine collection of such manuscripts, much of it a family inheritance, of which a catalogue was published by Friedrich Müller (Vienna Oriental Journal 3/2, 1889, pp. 195-201).

Again with support from the Bombay Government, he and Haug published An Old Zend-Pahlavi Glossary (Bombay and London, 1867), followed by An Old Pahlavi-Pazend Glossary (Bombay, 1870). They were joined by E. W. West in co-editing The Book of Ardā Virāf together with Gōsht-i Fryāno and Hādōkht Nask (Bombay, 1872). Hōshang and West jointly edited Shikand-Gumānīk Vijār (Bombay, 1887); and Hōshang later published the Vendidād (Avesta with Pahlavi translation, I, text, II, glossary, Bombay, 1907).

Hōshang was elected a Fellow of Bombay University in 1866, and in 1874 was appointed Professor of Persian at Deccan College, a post he held for 26 years. His scholarship and public services received ample recognition from the British Government. The title Khān Bahādur was conferred on him in 1878, that of Sardār of the first order in 1885, that of Shams-ul ʿUlama in 1890, and that of Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire in 1906. In 1886 he received an honorary Ph.D. from Franz Josef, Emperor of Austria. He corresponded regularly with such scholars as West, Geldner, and Mills, while Andreas, Darmesteter, Monier-Williams, and others visited him in Pune.

His scholarly work did not lead to neglect of his community. In 1877 he founded in Pune a society, the Bazm-e Rūz-e Bahrām, for the promotion of religious knowledge, at which he delivered over the years some 500 talks on religious subjects. A selection from these was published by the society in Bombay in 1908 as Zarthōsh-tī dharma saṇbaṇdhī vāējō (“Sermons on the Zoroastrian Religion”) with a sketch of his life by D. D. Kapadia (pp. 17-43). When his brother died in 1884, the Pune Anjoman appointed him Dastūr of the Deccan and Malwa; and during his dasturship 8 new Dar-i Mihrs (q.v.) and 8 dakhmas (q.v.) were consecrated in different towns under his jurisdiction. He strongly supported female education, and founded in Pune the Sardār Dastūr Nōshīrwān Girls’ High School in memory of his brother. He was happily married and had six sons. Three died in childhood; the others all entered government service and attained important positions. At his death his uthamna service (the last funerary rite for the departing soul) was held not only in Pune but in Mumbai, Navsari, Udvada, Surat, Bhushaval, Ajmer, Kolkata, Nagpur, Hyderabad, Secunderabad, and Mhow; and in due course an international group of scholars published a memorial volume in his honor. He was succeeded in his dasturship by the grandson of his brother Nōshīrwān.


Bibliography (in addition to works given in the text):

Dastūr Hōshang Memorial Volume, Bombay, 1918, pp. ix-xii.

A. K. Jāmāsp Āshānā, Tawārīkhe khāndāne Dastūr Jāmāsp Āshā (“History of the family of Dastur Jāmasp Āshā”), Mumbai, 1912, pp. 113-45.

Navsārīnī vadī daremehrmā thaylā nāwarōnī fehrest (“List of nawars ordained in the Vadī Dar-e Mehr, Navsari”) I, Mumbai, 1929, p. 605, no. 4488.

(Mary Boyce and Firoze Kotwal)

Originally Published: December 15, 2004

Last Updated: March 23, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. XII, Fasc. 5, pp. 492-493