KANGA, MANECK FARDOONJI, (b. Navsari, 21 January 1908; d. Bombay, 17 October 1988; Figure 1), Parsi scholar of Zoroastrianism and Iranian languages. He received his early education at the D. K. Tata Anglo-Vernacular School and matriculated from the Sir Cawasji Jehangir Madressa High School, in Navsari, Gujarat, India. He was ordained as a Zoroastrian priest (Guj. nāwar) in Navsari, a town well known as a center of Zoroastrian learning, especially for priestly training and traditions. Priestly training required him to memorize the seventy-two chapters of the Yasna, under tutelage of his father Fardoonji, who was an active mobed. He obtained Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Arts from St. Xavier’s College, Bombay, while studying the Avestan and Pahlavi languages and texts at the Sir J. J. Zarthoshti Madressa in the same city. He was awarded the Sir Dinshaw Petit University scholarship and the Firozeshah Mehrwanji Jejeebhoy Avesta Pahlavi Scholarship in 1931. After completing his studies in 1934, Kanga worked as a Custom’s appraisal and excise officer with the Government of India before retiring in 1964 as Chief Appraiser, while continuing his research in Avestan and Pahlavi as a scholar priest (Guj. ērvad). Married, he had one daughter.

Kanga was a Fellow in English of St. Xavier’s College and a Fellow in Avesta Pahlavi of Sir J.J. Zarthoshti Madressa. As Secretary of the Gatha Society, Kanga organized lectures and published literature on Iranian studies. ērvad Kanga also served as President of the Iranian Studies Section of the All India Oriental Conference for four terms. He held the position of Secretary of the K. R. Cama Oriental Institute in Bombay for 15 years and edited that Institute’s journal. He served as Professor of Avestan Studies at the University of Bombay and was the examiner for both graduate and post-graduate studies. Kanga was also a member of the board of Ancient Studies at the University of Allahabad and a member of the Vaidika Saṁśodhana Maṇḍala (Vedic Research Institute) at Pune, where he succeeded Dr. Irach J. S. Taraporewala as its director.

In 1954 he was invited to speak by the University of Cambridge at the 22nd International Congress of Orientalists. Later, in recognition of his scholarship, he was deputed as the Indian delegate at the Shiraz Congress on Iranology in 1971 to mark what was proclaimed as the 2500th anniversary of the “Founding of the Persian Empire” (marked from the death in late 530 BCE of the Achaemenid King Cyrus II the Great [see CYRUS iii]). Moreover, he was appointed an honorary member of the Royal Asiatic Society (London), Société d’Iranologie (Tehran), Corpus Inscriptionum Iranicarum (London), and the American Oriental Society (U.S.A.) in recognition to his contributions in the field of Iranian studies. He was a visiting Professor of Iranian Studies at the universities of Frankfurt, Hamburg, Berlin, and Shiraz and a delegate at the 16th Deutscher Orientalistentag at the University of Heidelberg (Mama, 2009).


In 1941 Kanga published an English translation of the Pahlavi Version of the Yašts. Four years later, he presented a paper at the 12th All India Oriental Conference at Banaras Hindu University on “The Pahlavi Version of Yasna I” (Jam-e Jamshed Newspaper, 18 January 1944) that was published in 1945. At the 14th All India Oriental Conference, in 1948, he read a paper on the “Interpretation of some Avestan and Pahlavi Words and Glosses.” At the 15th All India Oriental Conference in Bombay during 1949 he read a paper on the “Dātistān i Dēnīk - Puršišn XL,” which was published ten years later. In 1953, Kanga produced a transliteration and translation of the Pahlavi Yasn, chapters IX-XVI, with a complete concordance of words in the Pahlavi text with their Avestan original. His main aim was to determine how representative the Pahlavi translation was as a correct interpretation of the Avestan text in view of advancements made in modern philological research. Kanga based his transcription on the Pahlavi Yasna and Visperad edited by Bamanji N. Dhabhar (1949) and consulted Friedrich von Spiegel’s (q.v.) studies of the Pahlavi Yasna as well. Kanga’s edition and translation of Čītak handarz ī pōryōtkēšān (see ČĪDAG ANDARZ Ī PŌRYŌTKĒŠĀN) was published in 1960 with a forward by Sir Harold Bailey (q.v.). He also published a Devanagari edition of the Avesta in 3 volumes (1962, 1965). His Avesta Reader (1988) was released by then President of India Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma at the Diamond Jubilee of the Vaidika Saṁśodhana Maṇḍala, which had facilitated his research.

Kanga’s vast knowledge of Avestan and Pahlavi enabled him to edit, translate, and comment upon a range of Pahlavi texts, including chapters of the Dādestān ī dēnīg (q.v.) and the Nāmagīhā ī Manuščihr ī Gōšnamān (uwānamān), the Epistles of Manuščihr. In his 1958 article on the Second Epistle of Manuščihr, Kanga concurred with E. W. West’s observation (West, p. xix) that the writings of Manuščihr and his brother Zādspram are the most difficult Pahlavi texts to translate, together with Dēnkard III. As for the Dēnkard, Kanga paid tribute to its comprehensive coverage of the Mazda-worshipping religion in his 1964 article on the Pursišnīhā ī Boxt-mārā

At the request of the Bombay Parsi Punchayat, Kanga translated Avesta scriptures into English from the Gujerati versions done by the nineteenth-century scholar-priest Kawasji Edulji Kanga. These were published posthumously: the Khordeh Avesta (1993), the Gāthās (1997), and selected Yašts (2001). Those three books are still utilized by Zoroastrians to recite prayers and to gain an understanding of them.


Works of M. F. Kanga.

Pahlavi Version of Gāthā Ushtavaiti: A Volume of Indian and Iranian Studies, Pune, 1939.

Pahlavi Version of the Yašts, Bombay, 1941.

Pahlavi Version of Yasn I, Bombay, 1945.

Māh i fravartēn, roz khvardat, Bombay, 1946.

Pahlavi Yasna ha VIII: A Critical Study, Hoshiarpur, 1950.

Characteristics of a Fortunate Man according to the Middle Persian Text, Bombay, 1951.

Pahlavi Yasn chapters IX-XVI, Bombay, 1953.

Progress of Iranian Studies in India and in Europe, Iran Society, Calcutta, 1957.

“Transcription and Translation of the First Chapter of the Second Epistle of Manuščihr Gōšnamān: A Text Criticism,” Deccan Bulletin 18, 1958, pp. 374-80.

“Dātistān i Dēnīk - Puršišn XL,” in Indian Linguistics. Turner Jubilee Volume II, Calcutta, 1959, pp. 140-44.

Čītak Handarz ī Pōryōtkēšān: A Pahlavi Text, Bombay, 1960.

“A Critical Study of Chapter II of Epistle II of Manuščihr,” in Proceedings of the XXI All-India Oriental Conference, Srinagar, 1961, pp. 1-11.

co-author with N. S. Sontakke, Avesta: The Sacred Scripture of the Parsees/Avestā : āryavaṃśasamudbhūtapārasīkānāṃ Vedagranthaḥ, vols. 1-2, Pune, 1962; vol. 3, 1965.

“Dātistān i Dēnīk, Pursišn I: A Critical Study,” in Indo-Iranica. Mélanges présentés à G. Morgenstierne, Wiesbaden, 1964, pp. 98-102.

“Dātistān i Dēnīk - Pursišn II,” in Dr. J. M. Unvala Memorial Volume, Bombay, 1964, pp. 127-40.

“Pursišnīhā i Boxt-mārā ut-šān passoxīhā: A Pahlavi Text,” Indian Linguistics 25, 1964, pp. 3-20.

“Dātistān ī Dēnīk - Pursišn XXX,” Indian Linguistics 26, 1965, pp. 72-86.

“Epistle I, Ch. IV of Manuščihr Gōšnamān: A Critical Study,” Indian Linguistics 27, 1968, pp. 46-57.

“Dātistān ī Dēnīk - Pursišn XVI: A Critical Study,” in K. R. Cama Oriental Institute Golden Jubilee Volume, Bombay, 1969, pp. 65-84.

Middle-Persian Word for Sanskrit Mauna, Pune, 1968.

Dātistān ī Dēnīk - Pursišn XVIII, Pune, 1969.

“Dātistān ī Dēnīk, Pursišn IV and V: A Study,” in Prof. R. N. Dandekar Felicitation Volume, Indian Antiquary, 3rd series, vol. 3, nos. 1-4, Bombay, 1969.

“Dātistān i Dēnīk, Pursišn XIV and XV: A Critical Study,” in W. B. Henning Memorial Volume, London, 1970, pp. 219-27.

“Rivāyat ī ēmēt ī Ašavahištān, Pursišn IX-X,” in Traditional Attitudes and Modern Styles in Political Leadership: Papers Presented to the 28. International Congress of Orientalists, Canberra, 1971.

“A Critical Study of Epistle I. Ch. 6 and 7 of Manuščihr Gōšnamān,” in Mémorial Jean de Menasce, Louvain, 1974, pp. 251-62.

“Pahlavi Version of Yasna hā LX: A Study,” in Memorial Volume in Honour of Acharya Vishva Bandhu, pt. 1, Hoshiarpur, 1974, pp. 1-7. 

“Kingship and Religion in Iran,” in Commemoration Cyrus. Homage universel, Acta Iranica 3, Leiden, 1974, pp. 221-31.

“Sitīkar Nāmak i Manuščihr Gōšnamān: A Critical Study (Epistle III),” in Monumentum H. S. Nyberg I, Acta Iranica 2, Leiden, 1975, pp. 445-46.

“Epistle II. Ch. 3 of Manuščihr Gōšnamān: A Critical Study,” Studia Iranica 4, 1, 1975, pp. 27-35.

Rivāyēt ī ēmēt ī Ašavahištān Pursišn XL, Bombay, 1975.

“Pahlavi Version of Gatha Spenta Mainyu Yasna Hās 47-50,” Bulletin of the Asia Institute of Pahlavi University 1/4, 1976, pp. 45-96.

“Dātistān i Dēnīk - Pursišn 36, 1-11,” Journal of the K. R. Cama Oriental Institute 45, 1976, pp. 74-80.

“Dātistān i Dēnīk - Pursišn VII and VIII,” in Miscellanea in Honorem Ibrahim Purdavud, Farhang-e Irān Zamin 21, Tehran, 1976, pp. 66-71.

“Dātistān ī Dēnīk - Pursišn XII and XIII,” Acta Antiqua Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 25/1-4, 1977, pp. 249-53.

“Dātistān i Dēnīk - Pursišn 36, 12-24,” in Proceedings of the All-India Oriental Conference 29th Session, Pune, 1978, pp. 243-48.

Avesta: The Sacred Scripture of the Parsees, pt. 3, with N. S. Sontakhe, Pune, 1978.

“Dātistān i Dēnīk - Pursišn XXI and XXII,” Journal of the K. R. Cama Oriental Institute 48, 1980, pp. 211-19.

“Dātistān i Dēnīk - Pursišn XIX and XX,” in Golden Jubilee Volume, Vaidika Saṁśodhana Mandala, Pune, 1981, pp. 129-35.

“Dātistān i Dēnīk - Pursišn XXIII and XXIV,” Journal of the K. R. Cama Oriental Institute 50, 1983, pp. 112-25.

“Epistle I, Ch. IX of Manuščihr Yudānyimān: A Critical Study,” Papers in Honour of Mary Boyce II, Acta Iranica 25, Leiden, 1985, pp. 357-63.

“Epistle I, Ch. X of Manuščihr Yudānyimān: A Critical Study,” in Studia Grammatica Iranica: Festschrift für Helmut Humbach, Munich, 1986, pp. 203-15.

“Epistle I, Ch. XI of Manuščihr Yudānyimān: A Critical Study,” in A Green Leaf: Papers in Honor of Professor Jes P. Asmussen, Leiden, 1988, pp. 83-91.

Avesta Reader: Text, Translation, and Explanatory Notes with Sanskrit Cognates, Pune, 1988.

Khordeh Avestā, tr. of, Khordeh-Avestā-Bā-Maāni by Kawasji E. Kanga, Mumbai, 1993; digital edition at avesta.org, 2013.

Tr., Gātha-Bā-Maāni by Kawasji E. Kanga, Mumbai, 1997.

Tr., Yasht-Bā-Maāni by Kawasji E. Kanga, Mumbai, 2001.


B. N. Dhabhar, Pahlavi Yasna and Visperad, Bombay, 1949.

Jam-e Jamshed Newspaper, 18 January 1944.tist

Arnavaz Mama, “Knowledge is Wealth,” Parsiana 31, 2009, pp. 35-36.

Friedrich von Spiegel, Avesta, die heiligen schriften der parsen. Aus dem grundtexte übersetzt, mit steter rücksicht auf die tradition, 3 vols., Vienna, 1853.

Parinaz Toddywalla, “Scholar’s Submission,” Parsiana 11, 1988, pp. 48-49.

Edward William West, tr., Pahlavi Texts Part II. The Dâdistân-î dînîk and the Epistles of Mānūškîhar, Sacred Books of the East XVIII, Oxford, 1882. 

(Firoze M. Kotwal and Jamsheed K. Choksy)

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