After the death of former Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry, a lot is being written on the activities of his last time. On Sunday, 4 September, Cyrus Mistry died in a road accident in Palghar, Maharashtra.
A few hours before this, he had visited the ‘Iranshah’ Fire Temple in Udvada, Gujarat. This temple is said to be of great importance to the Parsi community. According to media reports, Cyrus Mistry himself used to bear the maintenance cost of this temple.
Why is the Fire Temple important for Parsis?
Udvada is a locality in the Valsad district of Gujarat. This small town on the Arabian Ocean, 120 km from Surat, is a holy place for the Parsi community. Parsis from around the world come here to see the Holy Fire of the Parsi Community. Agni is called ‘Atish’ (or Atash) in Persian, whose Parsi worshipers are said to be.
At the same time, the Iranian ruler is called ‘Behram’ (or Bahram) in Persian. That is why the fire burning in the fire temple of Udwara is also called ‘Atish Behram’ by the Parsi community. The descendants of the Parsis once ruled Iran. Then his religion used to be the state religion of the Persian Empire. Because of this, the holy fire burning in Udwara is also called ‘Iranshah’ by the Parsis.
Atish Behram of Udwara is India’s oldest ‘living’ fire temple. Meaning its fire is still burning today. It is said that this holy fire was not ignited in India but was brought here from Iran around 715-720 AD. More than 700 years have passed, but this fire has not been extinguished.
Why was ‘IranShah’ brought to India?
By the 8th century, the Persian Empire of Iran was driven out by the rulers of Arabia. Then he had to leave Iran to protect his dynasty. He reached India between 715-720. Together they also brought this fire, which as a symbol represents the Persian Empire of Iran.
The top religious priest or Dharmacharya of the Parsi community oversees this fire. These priests are called ‘Dastur’. These spiritual gurus are the descendants of the same Dasturs who brought this fire here.
Atish Behram was not in Udvada earlier. When the descendants of the Parsi community reached Diu, the sea coast of Gujarat via the Persian Gulf, they first made the Sanjan city of Valsad their abode. The holy fire was first established in Sanjan itself. It is believed that they had given this name to Sanjan.
At that time, it was ruled by the Hindu king Jadi Rana. According to the book ‘Zoroastrianism’ by well-known author and textbook editor Paula Hartz, Jadi Rana had given land for refuge and settlement to Parsi descendants under certain conditions. They flourished here and built the first Atish Behram in AD 721.
But after living here for 400 years, around 1297, the Muslim ruler Sultan Mahmud attacked Gujarat, which we know as Mahmud Ghaznavi. He captured Sanjan, so the Parsi descendants had to leave this place.
They fled and took refuge in the caves, where the holy fire was also kept for 12 years. Later, when the situation improved, he reached Navsari district by fire and stayed there for 14 years. Now devotees also started coming to see the holy fire.
From 1419 to 1740, after spending more than 300 years here, the fear of nomadic robbers in Navsari had significantly increased. In such a situation, Agni was temporarily brought to Surat. But the issue of Parsis arose with the local priests here. He then had to get Iranshah out of Navsari to Valsad. But this time, friendly terms could not be made with the local priests of Sanjan.
After travelling for hundreds of years, Iranshah was finally brought to Udvada in 1741. Within a year, Aatish Behram was constructed here. In this way, in 1742, this sacred fire found a permanent place for itself in India. 280 years have passed, and this fire is continuously burning in Udwada.
Cyrus Mistry had gone to Atish Behram a few hours before the accident on Sunday. Dastur Ji Khurshid of Fire Temple said that the mistry had worshipped in the temple. It was also told that Cyrus and his father used to make secret donations to the Fire Temple. Six months ago, his company had repaired this holy place of Parsis.