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 History of Principals


THE PITHAWALLA PERIOD

of

BAI VIRBAIJI SOPARIVALA PARSI HIGH SCHOOL

DR. MANECK B. PITHAWALLA D.SC. L.C. P. (London)

(1920 - 1946)

In the annals of the Parsi History of Karachi the year of 1859 is the year of Parsi Education when the first school for teaching boys and girls to read Gujarati, and recite Zarathustrian prayers was opened.

From that humble beginning within a span of sixty-one years it had grown into an educational institution though not of a high school standard, yet reputable with its own imposing structure that hollowed the name of the Soparivala family-the founding fathers of Parsi education in Karachi.


But the next twenty-six years of the school were glorious, as true to that 'word' that glimmered in the school song. And behind that period of a quarter century and a year loomed a towering figure of that young Parsi from Poona with a missionary zeal to educate and inculcate the Zarathustrian virtues in the young minds of his pupils.

Within two years of his principal-ship the school expanded physically and intellectually and became a High School in 1922. Since then hundreds of his pupils matriculated and went out for higher education and were qualified as doctors, engineers, and accountants. Some joined the armed forces and a few couldn't resist the temptation to serve as teachers in the alma mater under one, who once was their pricipal.


Dr. Pithawalla's career as an educationist commenced in 1908 when he was appointed as a temporary Religious Teacher in the Sir J. J. Parsi Benevolent Institution, Bombay and then four short years in the Bhopal State Education Service, before he could inaugurate and join the Sardar Dastur Hoshang Boys High School in Poona in 1912.

For his educational experience, he owes it firstly to his school-Madressa education at Navsari and secondly to his college-Madressa education in Bombay. His religious zeal coupled with his scholarship of ancient languages of Avesta and Pahalavi, had made him more than a religious teacher. His daily morning sermons in the central hall of the school as he chanted Avestan songs from his 'Daily Dips into Avesta', and reciting the litany to fire -Atash Niyash on Hamkara days were instrumental in imbibing Zarathushtian ideals of righteousness, truth, self-help, compassion and charity in the young minds who could be an asset to their homes, family, country and the world.

Besides being an inspiring teacher of religion and as well as of academical subjects, he was associated with the founding of the Sind Secondary Teacher's Association. A prolific writer whose works was a link between the three civilization of Persia, India and Britain as reported in 'Poetry & The Play' of Birmingham & London; a prodigous scientist. A geographer actively involved in Sind Geographical Society and an examiner in geography for the university and also an examiner in geology for students studying upto the master's level.

From a humble beginning as a temporary religious teacher through utmost diligence he rose to the pinnacle of his educational career culminating as a principal of a school. Though well equipped to earn accolades in the fields of geography and science, he chose to remain an educationist ---a profession, which was overwhelmingly dear to his heart. He gave away the best years of his life to make the school a model institute in education and in extra curricular activities that mounded the students to be of sound in mind and body. For this singular achievement and his devotion to the school his service was superannuated from the retirement age of 55 to the age of 60.

On 20th November 1946 he stepped out from the principal's office and climbed down the stairs to bid a sad adieu to a period of twenty-six years, for a retired life.

He was well known and respected within the community, and on his being conferred the degree of Doctorate in Science by the University of London, various Parsi institutions of Karachi jointly honored him.

All those bright and mischievous boys who were fortune to study under Dr. Pithawalla fondly remembered him, for he had won their hearts. Strict as he was to uphold his principles, at times he had to wield the cane on those who erred. But deep within him was a sympathetic, caring soul, --a source of lasting encouragement.

Ten years later on 20th November 1955 was his seventieth birthday when Old Virbaijeeitees as an expression of their deep gratitude for their ex-principal honoured Dr. Pithwalla. One of his brightest pupils and then the president of the Old Virbaijeeites Associaton, Dr. Roeinton Burjor Khambatta extold:

"When a man completes his alloted Biblical span of three score years and ten, it is a great achievement. The greater is the feat when age presents no barrier to his pursuit of knowledge, and breadth of vision. Today we Old Virbaijeeites honor such a man and we are proud to do so. We have built no monuments for you and have erected no pillars. Great empires have built these and have been razed to the ground, forgotten forever. We give you something more-the promise of a thousand and more Old Virbaijeeitesto tread the paths you hacked out so well, to pass on your teachings by word and mouth to the generations that come to always seek that goal you set for us "TOWARDS THE BEST LIGHT"

With the motto "Towards the Best Light", coined by him for the school, permeates Dr. Pithawalla's enliven spirit - blessing all who enter the portals of the B.V.S. Parsi High School of Karachi.

(written by Virasp Mehta - Old Virbaijeeite and a student of Dr. Pithawalla)

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