IRANI, DINSHAH JIJIBHOY, Parsi notable and scholar (b. Bombay, 4 November 1881; d. Bombay, 3 November 1938; Figure 1). His grandfather, originally from Yazd, moved to India around the middle of the 19th century. His father, Jijibhoy, was an engineer, and his mother, Piroja Banoo, belonged to a family that had migrated to India towards the end to the 18th century.
Irani had a brilliant academic career, received his B.A. degree in 1901, his LL.B. in 1904, and became a solicitor in 1908, winning Judge Spenser Prize and Maneckji Nowrosfi Bananji Scholarship. He joined the firm of Messrs. Mulla and Mulla Solicitors, and became its senior partner in 1934, distinguishing himself in income-tax matters. He, however, did not devote his time and energy merely to his professional concerns as a lawyer; he was also a scholar, a man of letters, and a community leader actively involved in its service. He served the Parsi community in many capacities. He was one of the founders of the Parsi Statistical Bureau, gave thrust to the move for the increase of housing accommodation for poor Parsis of Bombay, and was an ardent supporter of the Fasli (Faṣli) movement for revision of the Parsi calendar (see CALENDARS iv). He was one of the founders of the Iranian Zoroastrian Anjuman in 1918 and of the Iran League (q.v.) in 1922, and served as president of the former and vice-president of the latter till the end of his life.
Besides his legal acumen, he was well versed in Avestan, Pahlavi, and Persian, having studied these subjects at the Sir Jamshedji Jijibhoy Zarthoshti Madrasa while he was a law student. He was a zealous worker in the field of Iranian literature, translating the poems of Saʿdi and Ḥāfeẓ. With his great love for Iran, he had the opportunity to visit the country in 1932 in the company of the poet-philosopher Rabindranath Tagore, when he was invited by Reza Shah Pahlavi. Recognizing his merits as a scholar of repute and a devoted friend of Persia, the shah conferred on him the Medal of Sciences (nešān-e ʿelmi) of the First Order. The last three or four years of his life form a tragic period with ill-health stalking his steps and loosening his hold upon his various activities. His declining health compelled him to decline courteously the second invitation to visit Persia extended by Reza Shah in 1934 in order to participate in the millenary celebration (jašn-e hazāra) of Ferdowsi (q.v.). He had a fairly short life but it was useful, rich, and beneficial to his community. His patronage of the Persian scholar Ebrāhim Pur(-e) Dāwud (see HISTORIOGRAPHY ix) during the latter’s sojourn in India and his effort to have the latter’s translations of Avestan texts printed in India are fondly acknowledged by him in several of his works (e.g., 1928, I, pp. 11-12; idem, 1952, pp. vāv-za, ka).
Works. Gems from the Divine Songs of Zoroaster, Bombay, 1922.
The Divine Songs of Zarathustra, New York, 1924.
Poets of the Pahlavi Regime, Pastonji D. Patel Memorial Iranian Series 4, Bombay, 1933.
Parov-i az falsafa-ye Irān-e bāstān, Bombay, 1933.
Aḵlāq-e Irān-e bāstān, Bombay, 1933.
Ed. and tr., Montaḵabāt-i az divān-e Abu’l-Qāsem ʿĀref Qazvini/Poems of Aref, Bombay, 1933.
The Path to Happiness: The Ethical Teachings of Zoroaster, Bombay, 1934.
Meaning of Masonry and the Meaning of the Persian Master and Our Beautiful Navjote Ceremony, Bombay, 1939.
Understanding the Gathas. The Hymns of Zarathustra: Introductory Lectures on Gathic Themes, ed. Kaikhosrov D. Irani, Womelsdorf, Penn., 1994.
Irani also translated Pur(-e) Dāwud’s introductions to his Persian translations of the Yašts and the Gathas and also published with English translation Ebrāhim Pur(-e) Dāwud’s own poetry, Purāndoḵt-nāma, Bombay, 1927.
Studies. In 1943 Iranian, European Iranis, and Parsi friends dedicated a collection of essays on Iranian studies to his memory: see the introduction to Dinshah Irani Memorial Volume: Papers on Zoroastrian and Iranian Subjects, Bombay, 1943.
Ebrāhim Pur(-e) Dāwud, ed. and tr., Yašthā, 2 vols., Bombay, 1928. Idem, tr., Gāthā I, Bombay, 1952.
Idem, “Dinšāh Irāni,” Iran League Quarterly 9, 1959, pp. 1-6.
“Šād-ravān Dinšāh Irāni,” Andiša-ye mā 1/5, 1946, pp. 4-6.
(Kaikhusroo M. JamaspAsa)
Originally Published: December 15, 2006
Last Updated: March 30, 2012
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Vol. XIII, Fasc. 5, pp. 500-501