By Asst. Editor Delaveen Tarapore with inputs from Dr. Jasvi Doshi
PT: Can you share some of the highlights of your life growing up?
Meher: Born in Bombay in 1943, I grew up with strong family values. I spent most of my childhood in Delhi, Hyderabad and Bombay, before moving to Tanganyika for nine years in 1951. My connection with the United Nations (UN) was laid in these formative years as Tanganyika was a UN Trust Territory mandated to Great Britain, and maintained high levels of culture. In that era, school education was available upto Class XII, after which Asian children pursued higher education in India or England. As my father was a Barrister, I opted to study at the Oxford High School for girls in England and became the first Parsi Zoroastrian woman to graduate in Law at Oxford University. I then enrolled as an advocate in the High Court of Judicature at Bombay, working with Mulla and Mulla, Craigie, Blunt and Cairoe. Having practised in the law field for a while, my avocation was in Jurisprudence – teaching law at University post-grad level, which necessitated a Master’s Law degree. So, in 1968 I became the first Oriental woman to be granted the Barbour Scholarship for Law studies. In an era where it was extremely difficult for even white American women to be appointed in University Law Faculties, I became the first and youngest Non-WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) woman to be appointed as Assistant Law Professor at Canada’s University of Manitoba, in 1969. Ever since, I’ve been in the International Academic circuit, till I retired in 2004, after 33 years of teaching International Law and Jurisprudence.
PT: Tell us about Zoroastrian College and the role you fill.
Meher: It was my destiny to establish the only Zoroastrian College in the world that provides ancient cosmic wisdom contained in the Mazdayasnie Zarathushtrian Daena. The predictions are contained in the ancient ‘Avestan’ texts about Shah Behram Varzavand Saheb, the Prince of Peace of the Aquarian age, whose mission was to revive spirituality and purify earth, water, air and environment, and save earth from annihilation. The work of Zoroastrian College is guided by him. My role is to be a channel to make this happen, not only in India but throughout the world for the spiritually fit and selected souls to progress and advance. At Zoroastrian College near Sanjan we are endeavouring to establish a Spiritual White Light Centre – where people from all countries can live together as an educational community and practice the spiritual way of life. Having started its first lecture courses in 1986, the Zoroastrian College provides research facilities for post graduates since 1989. The first doctorate degree was conferred on Benazir Bhutto, the first Muslim Woman PM of Pakistan, and since then over 500 persons have benefitted through the Zoroastrian College located all over the world – including in Ecuador which focuses on health subjects in Spanish language; in Taiwan which focuses on Interfaith, Buddhism and Health; in Tajikistan, Iran and Germany which focuses on Avesta, Persia and Health. Within two decades, Zoroastrian College has gained international recognition through the UN.
PT: What process does the Zoroastrian College follow?
Meher: Zoroastrian College follows a unique, atypical but effective process. We have no classes – all students are research scholars from age 20 to over 80 years! Our oldest Parsi graduate was late Kaikhushroo Chargeman, who submitted his research thesis in 1991, at the age of 84 years! Recently, one Jain gentleman from Indore aged over 87 years, completed his PhD, while his work was internationally recognised and he was conferred the ‘Golden Book Award’ from USA. This month, our NGO sent a 7-lady delegation to attend the United Nations 61st Women’s Conference in New York. There are only 3 Zoroastrian-based organisations, of which the Zoroastrian College is the only one that provides membership worldwide, and I represent the Zoroastrian religion as a speaker at major ‘Interfaith and Peace’ conferences globally.
PT: What are the highpoints of your career?
Meher: It was a moment of pride for me when I was conferred a Ph.D Honoris Causa in Copenhagen through Medicina Alternativa, for my pioneering research work in Kirlian photography, through my book ‘Rainbow Colours of Light and Medicina Alternativa’, which was internationally released. In September 1986, the ‘United Nations Sec. Gen. Dag Hammarsckold Award’ was conferred on me making me the first lady recipient in India to achieve this; the only other lady being late Mother Teresa – later the same year. A third moment of pride was in May 2004, when I was on the podium facing the firing end of the Selection Committee of the UN-ECOSOC for our NGO application. By the grace of God, ours was the only application from India that was accepted. Between 2002 and 2007, my trilogy of books – ‘the Illustrated Khordeh Avesta’ in English, Tajik and Russian languages – was released in Mumbai at the Russian Centre for Science and Culture, by the Consul General of the Russian Federation and the Consul General of Poland; and by the Minister for Higher Education, the cousin brother of the President of Tajikistan, His Excellency Emomali Rahmonov and by the Minister of Culture in 2003, in Tajikistan, where I was the only official Zoroastrian guest invited from India to participate in the conference celebrating 3000 years of Zoroastrian culture and civilisation.
PT: You are known to nurture a wide area of interests…
Meher: I have a vast range of areas of interest based on my interaction with people during my childhood. I’m passionate about our Zoroastrian religion and an enthusiast of astronomy, astrology, Ayurveda and an animal lover. I had a penchant for reading and writing, thanks to my mother who ensured I read a new book daily on varied subjects, while writing and opera singing came to me as an inheritance from my grandparents. I believe every soul on Earth has a particular mission, and I feel blessed to be given the best of every opportunity to be fully trained and equipped to fulfil mine.