The Zoroastrian Myth of Migration from Iran and Settlement in the Indian Diaspora

Text, Translation and Analysis of the 16th Century Qesse-ye Sanjān 'The Story of Sanjan'


The Qesse-ye Sanjān is the sole surviving account of the emigration of Zoroastrians from Iran to India to form the Parsi (‘Persian’) community. Written in Persian couplets in India in 1599 by a Zoroastrian priest, it is a work many know of, but few have actually read, let alone studied in depth. This book provides a romanised transcription from the oldest manuscripts, an elegant metrical translation, detailed commentary and, most importantly, a radical new theory of how such a text should be “read”, i.e. not as a historical chronical but as a charter of Zoroastrian identity, foundation myth and justification of the Parsi presence in India. The book fills a lacuna that has been acutely felt for a long time.


EUR €110.00USD $138.00

Biographical Note

Alan Williams PhD (1984), in Iranian Studies, University of London, is Reader in Iranian Studies and Comparative Religion at the University of Manchester. He has published extensively on Zoroastrianism and also translated Rumi’s Masnavi into blank verse for Penguin (2006).

Review Quotes

Winner of an Honourable Mention at the International Society for Iranian Studies Ehsan Yarshater Book Award for books published in 2008 and 2009. Please visit:

"This excellent volume is important for understanding not only the history of the Parsees and their quest for identity in a diasporic home, but also the dynamics of history, multiculturalism, and religious contact in premodern Western India." – Frederick M. Smith, University of Iowa


All those interested in the history of religions, Zoroastrianism, Iranian studies, myth, and comparative literature, as well as anthropologists and cultural historians interested in exiled religious minorities and diasporic communities.


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