Ghadiali, Dinshah Pestanj (1873–1966)
Dinshah Pestanji Ghadiali, an Indian American, pioneered
vegetarianism and chromotherapy (healing with color) in twentieth-century
America. Born November 28, 1873, into a Zoroastrian
family in Bombay, India, he developed an early interest
in chemistry and trained himself through his reading. He was
only 11 when he became an assistant in math and science at
Wilson College.
During his teen years Ghadiali became a rational materialist,
then in 1891 he encountered the Theosophical Society. At
the time of his initiation he had a visionary experience of one
of the mahatmas, the superhuman entities who are believed to
guide the work of the society. Ghadiali studied with a Hindu
neighbor and gave up meat and alcohol. Through the society,
he was introduced to the world of religion, and for a time became
a student of Hindu guru Swami Murdhan Shastri.
After finishing college, Ghadiali practiced medicine. He
moved to the United States in 1911 and was naturalized in
1917. His medical degree was not recognized in the United
States, and he was also alienated from medicine as it then existed.
He had adopted the Hindu virtue ahimsa, harmlessness, as
a basic principle of living and was led to naturopathy, which
had developed out of older natural schools of healing. In 1919
he became vice president of the National Association of Drugless
Practitioners and actively participated in efforts to have the
government recognize alternative medical practices.
In 1920 Ghadiali announced that he had perfected the techniques
of spectro-chrome therapy, a method of healing using
attuned color waves. The machine he developed could project
beams of light upon the body of an ill person. In addition,
Ghadiali received his medical degree in chiropractic, naturopathy,
and several other healing practices, and two years later he
purchased land in Malaga, New Jersey, and opened the Spectro-Chrome
Institute. He wrote several books over the next few
years, but his primary text, the three volume Spectro-Chrome
Metry Encyclopedia, was finished in 1933. Meanwhile, Ghadiali
faced a series of court actions as the government moved against
his healing practices. He was arrested for fraud in 1931 but was
acquitted. In 1934 an attempt was made to strip him of his citizenship,
as had happened to so many Indian Americans under
provisions of the 1924 anti-Asian immigration law. He argued
that though he was an Indian, he was of Persian ancestry, and
thus was able to retain his citizen’s status.
During the next decade, Ghadiali was able to train more
than 100 students in the techniques of spectro-chrome therapy,
but in 1945 the government acted again. Ghadiali faced
charges that he had made false claims about his spectrochrome
healing device. In 1947 he was convicted but not sent
to prison on the condition that he cease practicing chromotherapy.
His books and unsold devices were destroyed, and those
that had been sold were confiscated from their owners. In the
1950s he resumed his healing practice and operated quietly
until his death on April 30, 1966. His son, H. Jay Dinshah, continues
Ghadiali’s work, but concentrates on veganism, a strict
form of vegetarianism. Dinshah founded and heads the American
Vegan Society.
Ghadiali, Dinshah P. Spectro-Chrome Metry Encyclopedia. 3
vols. Malaga, N.J. Spectro-Chrome Institute, 1933.
The Life of a Karmi-Yogi. Malaga, N.J. American Vegan Society,