- Dastur Azar Kaiwan, born in 1533 at Ishtakhra in Shiraz, was the leader of a group of about 12 priests and lay men who came from Iran and eventually settled in North India at Patna, between 1570 to 1620. They are first believed to have come to Surat, from there they went to Navsari and then to Patna. They also visited Kashmir and Agra. Azar Kaiwan passed away in Patna in 1618 at the age of eighty five. His last resting place is at Azimabad village near Patna. Though early Persian works don’t call him a Dastur, later Gujarati sources refer to him as a Dastur. Some aspects of his life are not very clearly known and understood.
- He is referred to as a baste-kushtiyan. Some sources claim that he had a son, but this seems to be an error. He never seemed to have married as he was a mystic and a recluse. He is regarded as the last chief of the Abadan group. His father was Gushtasp whose descent is traced from the first Peshdadian king Gayomard, through kings Jamshed and Faridun. His mother Shirin is said to have descended from the line of Sasanian king Noshirwan Adel. He had proclivity towards mysticism and spirituality right since childhood. He spent the initial 28 years of his life in strict seclusion. He was himself a strict vegetarian and a proponent of vegetarian diet. He instructed his followers to be kind to animals.
- The purpose of the visit of Azar Kaiwan and his disciples to Patna is not clear. All were mystics who probably came to visit Akbar’s court which had many mystics at that time. They were proponents of riazat, that is abstinence and austerities. Their philosophy leans a lot towards mysticism and occultism. They believed that they were continually in communion with God and received instructions from God and other great souls. They kept their practices a secret and did not mingle with people. They believed that each should follow his own religion. Some of Azar Kaiwan’s teachings, like those of the transmigration of souls, asceticism, austerities, mortification, fasting, abstinence, praise for unmarried life and celibacy do not agree with Zoroastrian teachings.
- Azar Kaiwan and his disciples had amazing powers born out of their practices. They ate very little food. Azar Kaiwan ate just about 50 grains of food and his disciples less than 500 grains. They seemed to possess some miraculous powers like changing themselves to stones or animals, making their souls leave the body at will, reading the thoughts of others, stopping breathing for hours, being sleepless and without food for days, understanding the language of animals and plants, walking over water, fire and air, and making themselves invisible.
- The Persian books Dabistan and Desatir tells us about Azar Kaiwan, his disciples and his philosophy. These books were brought to the notice of the people of Mumbai in mid 18th century. They are not considered authentic and reliable Zoroastrian writings as they do not wholly agree with Zoroastrian teachings. Books ascribed to Azar Kaewan and his immediate disciples are: Jashan-i-sadeh, Sarud-i-Mastan, Jam-i-Kaekhushru, Zardusht Afshar, Kheshtab and Zindeh Rud.
- It is believed that Dasturji Kukadaru considered himself connected to Dastur Azar Kaiwan and received divine guidance through him. It is also believed that Dastur Azar Kaiwan was an elevated soul initially staying in the inner circle in Demavand mountain and came out to the outside world inspite of being forbidden to do so.
8. The Persian aphorism Nist hasti bazuz yazdan is the most famous maxim attributed to Dastur Azar Kaiwan. It literally means “Nothing exists apart from God.” In this short, concise statement lies a great spiritual and mystical truth, that for mystical and spiritual people, nothing exists except for God, since they always live in communion and communication with God. This maxim can also be understood as a reminder of the teaching that all creations are ultimately coming from God.