The Parsi community’s oldest High Priest, Kaikhusro Navroz Dastoor Meherjirana (92) passed away early Tuesday morning after a brief illness in Navsari, Gujarat. A respected scholar priest, Meherjirana was also an advocate, author of two books on banking law and a student of Indian classical music.
He lived most of his life in Mumbai before shifting to Navsari after his appointment as High Priest (Vada Dastur) in 2010, played the flute and was a follower of the Kirana gharana of Ustaad Abdul Karim Khan, and particularly of the late singer Gangubai Hangal of Hubbali.
In his youth, he frequently gave music recitals on the All India Radio in Vadodra for which he was paid Rs 30 per show in those days.
Dastoor Meherjirana was the 17th High Priest from the priestly Meherjirana family of Navsari. The first Meherjirana (1510-1590) was anointed High Priest in the late 16th century and was honoured as a guest in Emperor Akbar’s court.
Akbar is believed to have met the first Meherjirana at the time of the siege of Surat in 1573, when the imperial army was encamped at Kenkra Khari. Akbar later gifted him 200 acres of land at Gelkhari village near Surat.
Incidentally, the Parsi community has lost its second High Priest in the past few weeks. Last month, the world renowned Avesta scholar priest, Dastur Kaikhusroo JamaspAsa, passed away in London.