DARABPAHLAN, DASTUR, Zoroastrian priest and author (b. Navsari, Gujarat, 1668, d. Navsari, 1 September 1734), eldest son of Pahlan Fredoon, who was accorded the title “dastur” (high priest) and the privilege of occupying the second chair in the Zoroastrian assembly of the small port of Navsari in 1670 or perhaps earlier; the first chair belonged to the family of Dastur Meherjirana and the third to the family of Dastur JamaspAsa. Darab Pahlan, a brilliant student, learned Avestan, Pahlavi, Pāzand, Sanskrit, and Persian under the tutelage of his father, whom he esteemed highly and to whom he ascribed his own knowledge. He was ordained a priest in Navsari in 1679. He wrote his first book in Persian, Ḵōlāsa-ye dīn (Exposition of religion), including his Rūz-nāma praising the thirty days of the Zoroastrian calendar month, in 1690, at the age of only twenty-two years; it was inspired by a visit to Surat, where he was the guest of Kaus Bahman and his son Jamshed. Three years later he published his second book, Farżīyāt-nāma (Book of duties), composed in Persian couplets, in which he defined the duties of a Zoroastrian from birth to death.
Darab assisted his father in the performance of his priestly duties, including the higher liturgical ceremonies in the Navsari dar-e mihr (dar-e mehr). He also became known as a scribe and in 1694 copied a manuscript of the Vidēvdād. After his father’s death in 1706 Darab was appointed dastur. He was a capable teacher and had many students in Pahlavi, Persian, and religious studies; foremost among them was Desai Khurshed Tehmulji. Many priests sought his advice, and laymen from various cities wrote to him inquiring about matters of religion, astrology, and prognostication. In particular he defended the rights of the Bhagarias, local priests of Navsari, so-called because they distributed among themselves the receipts, or share (bhāg), from rituals, in their quarrels with the descendants of the immigrant priests of Sanjan.
Beside the works already mentioned Darab Pahlan wrote monājāts, Dīvān-e qāmūs, Saddar, Sroš Hādōxt, Enšā-ye Abu’l-Fażl, all in Persian, and a Persian version of the ninth and tenth chapters of the Yasna based on Pahlavi and Sanskrit renderings. He also translated the Yasna, the Vidēvdād, and the Ḵorda Avesta into Gujarati.
He died at the age of sixty-seven years, leaving three sons: Kaus, Barzo, and Bahram.
Darab Pahlan, The Persian Farziât-nâmeh and Kholâseh-i Dîn, ed. J. J. Modi, Bombay, 1924.
(Kaikhusroo M. JamaspAsa)
Originally Published: December 15, 1994
Last Updated: November 15, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. VII, Fasc. 1, pp. 7-8