Translated in part
By the late
Miss Ratanbai Ardeshir Vakil
Printed for private circulation
A special interest attaches to this translation into English of D. Menant’s monograph entitled “Les Parsis,” arising from the circumstance that it is, in great part, the work of a Parsi lady, the late Miss Ratanbai Ardeshir Vakil.
I have still a vivid recollection of the morning in the beginning of the year 1886 on which Mr. Ardeshir F. Vakil, senior partner in one of the leading firms of solicitors in Bombay, brought his two daughters Meherbai and Ratanbai to the Wilson College to begin their career as students of the Bombay University. Although for many years that University had prefaced its Regulations with the sentence—“In the following regulations the pronoun ‘he’ and its derivatives are used to denote either sex,” and had thus opened its doors wide to the women of India, only one lady student had been enrolled as undergraduate in Arts before these two sisters entered upon their College career. The experiment which was then made awakened some anxieties. Would it be possible for Indian ladies to study in a mixed College class? How would the men be likely to conduct themselves in the new situation?—these were questions which naturally presented themselves. The result of the experiment disappointed from the beginning all such fears. From the first day the presence of these ladies elevated the tone and discipline of the College class in a manner most creditable to the ladies and to the men. The success of this experiment paved the way for the admission during subsequent years of an increasing number of lady students to the privileges of a University education, who are under no small obligation to the courage and character displayed by these two sister pioneers. They both came to the University under the impulse of a real love of learning, and their success in the pursuit of it was assured from the beginning.
In this prefatory note I confine myself to the career of the younger sister. The elder, after her graduation as Bachelor of Arts in Bombay,