103. Virji Premji Parpiya, Wazir - page 431
Virji Premji Parpiya traced his lineage from his ancestor, called Khoja Bhalo (d. 1607), who lived around 1154 at Lohgadh in Punjab, belonging to the Lohana class in the Rajput stock. He embraced Ismailism by Pir Dadu (d. 1596) and with the request of Rao Bharmal (1585-1631), the ruler of Kutchh, Pir Dadu left Sind and arrived in Kutchh with Khoja Bhalo in 1587. Bhalo was employed to a high post in the state administration. He was followed by his son Lakho (d. 1629), Khetasi (d. 1687) and Banno, who died in Delhi in 1715. His son was Jivo (d. 1752), whose son was Ebhalo (d. 1784) and henceforward, the whole family became known as the Ebhlani family. Ebhalo had five sons, viz. Chagalo, Tejasi, Bijal, Hamir and Punjo. The elder son Chagalo (d. 1814) had two sons, Kamadia Mannek and Aloo. Kamadia Mannek (d. 1880) had a son, called Mukhi Dhalla (d. 1889), who had three sons, Rahim, Hirji and Jaffer. On the other hand, Tejasi, the second son of Ebhalo, had a son called Alarakhia and whose son was Kamadia Bharmal (d. 1888). Kamadia Bharmal Alarakhia had two sons, Nur Muhammad (d. 1890) and Alauddin (d. 1914). Alauddin had two wives, Kajbai and Sakinabai. Kajbai had 14 children, in which 12 children were died in infancy and two daughters were survived, namely Mariambai and Sakinabai. Mariambai was the mother of Virji Premji Parpiya.
Virji Premji Parpiya was born in a rich and reknowned family on May 12, 1881 at Baroda, India. His mother, Mariambai died when he was hardly six months old, therefore, his upbringing came in the hands of the ignorant house-keepers and servants. Being a son of a wealthy father, his early life passed in luxury. His father was a leading trader of charcoal powder in Baroda, who got his son married in the early age of 14 years in 1895.
He was mostly interested to study the Vedic and Sufic literature. When Missionary Ibrahim Jusab Varteji had not yet embraced Ismailism and was studying the Sufism, he had a productive meeting with Premji Parpiya in Bombay in 1905 and was highly impressed with his knowledge. In memory of this meeting, Missionary Varteji advertised in his book, 'Hyder Hullas' that he would soon publish verses on Sufic thoughts with the penname, Prem Wali. When Missionary Varteji came in the fold of Ismailism at the end of 1914, he was encouraged by the Ismaili writers, including Virji Premji Parpiya.
He passed his life in the affluent class till he reached the age of 39 years, and during this period, he had become an addict of wine. On December 20, 1920, he abstained from wine all of a sudden and also abandoned smoking on March 21, 1921. He even left tea in 1923 and passed a sober life.
His public service began when he built a boarding, called Virashram, near the race-course ground in Baroda on August 21, 1921, where all people were allowed irrespective of cast and creed. It was supervised by the President Krashanrao Vinaik Sarangpani. This noble project made him eminent among the masses. Sayed Aminuddin Hussain Khan, the Collector of Kolaba district once wrote a letter on November 10, 1934, which reads: 'Mr. Virji Premji Parpiya is known to me for decades and the work he has been doing in his private institution, 'Virashram' has had the approval of all classes and creeds. Mr. Parpiya is desirous of continuing the educational philanthropic work, social economical and industrial development of rural population in the villages, which no doubt is the crying need of India. I have my hearty support in his selfless and sincere endeavours for the good of ignorant uneducated and superstitious masses. I am sure all those with whom he comes in contact will give him their best cooperation and assist him in achieving success in his mission.'
It is interesting to note that the government of Baroda had sought his services to exhort the prisoners once a month in Baroda Jail in 1924. He continued it for few months till another arrangement.
His appearance in the arena of community service began when he played a key role in establishing the 'Ismaili Literature Society' in 1911. He commanded good knowledge in Arabic, Persian, English and Gujrati. He encouraged the promising Ismaili writers to demonstrate their religious feelings through literature for the benefit of the community. He managed to compile some religious books through the Ismaili writers and got them published, such as 'Maqsad-i Haqiqat', 'Zauhar-i Haqiqat', 'Niband Prakash' (Part I & II), 'Silsila-i Imamate', 'Jasann Case', etc.
He was appointed the Hon. Secretary of the 'Ismaili Dharmik Library' in 1913 and also for the monthly 'Ismaili Sitaro' in 1914. In 1914, the library presented a humble mehmani before the Imam alongwith its progress report. The Imam said, 'Struggle with much patience, how the infirm people in India be prospered.' The guidance of the Imam inspired a new spirit in the members.
There were three groups of the Khojas in India, viz. the Khoja Ismailis, the Khoja Ithna Asharis and the Khoja Sunnis. Virji Premji Parpiya had a plan to bring these three groups on a platform on certain matters and established the 'Khoja Social Service League' in 1923. He also succeeded to bring the eminent persons of the three groups in this institution, but his plan could not be materialized.
In the month of Ramzan in 1925, he kept fast and past a whole month speechless. He studied the Holy Koran day and night, including the study of the world religions, Islam and Ismailism. He also published a monthly 'Khoja Social Reformer' in 1925, but discontinued after seven issues.
He was also appointed the Mukhi of Baroda Jamatkhana. On November 24, 1933, he sent a telegram to the Imam that, 'The jamat will rejoice for Your Highness's holy visit to India. Waiting anxiously for the didar.' The Imam arrived in India in December, 1933 and visited Baroda by Frontier Mail on January 28, 1934, where the Imam was accorded a rousing welcome at the station by Wazir Premji Parpiya, Murad Ali Hasan Ali, the deputy station master, Ratansi Kara of Indore, Mukhi Ibrahim Wali of Dabhoi jamat, etc. On that occasion, the Imam invested him the title of Wazir at the station for his meritorious services. Later on, the jamat hosted him a garden party to honour him, which was presided by Kamadia Merali Jivan on April 28, 1934.
The Imam had taken a visit of his bungalow in Baroda in 1913 and also in 1935. On February 3, 1935, the Imam graciously presented him a shawl and said, 'You wear it as my souvenir.' It is to be noted that Virji Premji Parpiya had no child and when a son was born at his nephew's house in 1926 and the mother of the child died after three days, he and his wife happily adopted the newly born child, named Mehboob Hussain. When the Imam visited his bungalow lastly in 1935, he told to the Imam how he adopted a son. The Imam said to the child, 'You will also serve in the same fashion as your father did.'
Wazir Mukhi Virji Premji Parpiya died on July 31, 1946.
He was a dedicated social worker, fluent orator, trenchant writer and journalist. He compiled and published several books, such as 'Kaba Timir Bhaskar' (1917), 'Tambaku Samvad' (1922), 'Pita'ni Putr pratiy'e faraj' (1924) 'Abhiyas ane Rahdaymanthan' (1936), 'Dua'ma samaili Namaz', 'Aam Varg'ne Appeal', 'Me'n Nisho sha mat'e chhodio', Dhan-Dharam'no hakdar kon?' (1940), etc.
He was also a posthumous writer of 'Illahi Sandesh' (Bombay, 1953), which he had completed a day before his death, but it could not be published. It was however published by his son, Mehboob Hussain.