E. G. Browne's "A Traveller's Narrative:" Note C


        The Báb mentions his age in two passages in the Persian Beyán. The first of these occurs in hid II, ch. 1 and runs as follows in my MS. The variants of the British Museum codex marked Or. 2819 are here and hereafter given at the foot of each page. This codex is denoted by the letter B.

[six lines of Persian/Arabic text, including seven footnotes]

[page 219]

[eight lines of Persian/Arabic text, including eleven footnotes]

        "And if anyone should reflect on the appearance of this Tree12, he will without doubt admit the loftiness of God's religion. For in one from whose life [only] twenty-four years had passed, who was devoid of those sciences wherein all are learned, who now recites verses after such fashion without thought or hesitation, who in the course of five hours writes a thousand verses of supplications without pause of the pen, who produces commentaries and learned treatises of so high a degree of wisdom and understanding of the Divine Unity that doctors and philosophers confess their inability to comprehend those passages, there is no doubt that all this is from God. What pains do these doctors

        12 i.e. the Báb, who repeatedly calls himself "the Tree of Truth."

[page 220]

take who study diligently from the beginning to the end of their lives when writing a single line of Arabic! Yet after all [the result] is but words which are unworthy of mention. All these things are for a proof unto the people; else is the religion of God too mighty and glorious for one to be able to understand it by aught other than itself; rather by it is all else understood"

        The second passage occurs in hid vi, ch. 11, which prohibits the cruel beating of children and defines the penalties incurred by schoolmasters and teachers who infringe this injunction. After stating these in full it continues as follows:-

[five lines of Persian/Arabic text, including five footnotes]

        "The fruit of these ordinances is this, that perchance no sorrow may befal that Soul from the ocean of whose bounty all are endowed with existence. For the teacher doth not recognize the Teacher of himself and of all, even as in the manifestation of the Furkán [i.e. the Kur'án] none recognized that Sun of Truth till forty years had passed, and in the [case of the ] Point of Revelation [i.e. the Báb] for twenty-five years."

        In my first paper on the Bábís in the J. R. A. S. (B. i, pp. 509-511), I was disposed to believe that in each of these two passages the Báb referred to his actual age at

[page 221]

the time of writing, and that this was why he described himself in one passage as being twenty-four years of age and in the other as twenty-five. Starting with this hypothesis, I attempted to fix as nearly as possible the date when the first of these passages was written, and decided that it must have been about the end of A.D. 1847 or the beginning of A.D. 1848. From this I concluded that the Báb must have been born not earlier than A.D. 1824, and that he was consequently only nineteen years old at the commencement of his mission, as alleged by Gobineau (pp. 142-143) and by some of the Bábís whom I saw in Kirmán. Further information as to the date of the Báb's birth, which reached me after the publication of my first paper, compelled me to abandon this view1. Indeed, had I not been unduly influenced by the idea that the Báb was nineteen years of age at the commencement of his mission, and had I more carefully considered the second of the two passages above quoted, I should have perceived that the Báb speaks of his own age and that of Muhammad at the beginning of their respective missions when their prophetic office was first disclosed to mankind. In ~~~ (Seven Proofs) the Báb also describes himself as ~~~ "of an age which did not exceed five and twenty." When in Cyprus I one day enquired of Mírzá YahSubh-i-Ezel how old the Báb was at the time of the 'manifestation.' He replied without hesitation "twenty-four, and entering on his twenty-fifth year." Now the date of the 'manifestation' is given in the Persian Beyán (the passages will be quoted immediately) as Jamádí-ul-Úlá 5th A.H. 1260 (May 23rd A.D. 1844). It therefore follows that the Báb, being at that date, according to his own statement, over twenty-four and under twenty-five years of age, must have been born on Muharram 1st A.H. 1236 (October 9th, A.D. 1820) rather than on Muharram 1st A.H. 1235 (October 20th, A.D. 1819) as stated at p. 2 of the present work. The

        1 This information will be found at p. 993 of my second paper on the Bábís.

[page 222]

correctness of the former date is further corroborated by the enquiries kindly undertaken by a friend of mine at Shíráz who is himself connected with the Báb's family (see B. ii, p. 993), and I think there can be little doubt that it is the true one.

        The first passage in the Persian Beyán where the date of the 'manifestation' is given occurs in hid II, ch. 7, which treats of the real meaning of the Resurrection. It commences as follows:-

[nine lines of Persian/Arabic text, including 12 footnotes]

[page 223]

[11 lines of Persian/Arabic text, including 14 footnotes]

[page 224]

[six lines of Persian/Arabic text, including 7 footnotes]

        "The seventh chapter of the second Váhid. In explanation of the Day of Resurrection. The quintessence of this chapter is this, that what is intended by the Day of Resurrection is the day of the appearance of the Tree of Truth: but it is not seen that any one of the Shi'ites hath understood the Day of Resurrection; rather have they fancifully imagined a thing which with God hath no reality. [And that which hath no reality with God hath no reality.] But what is meant by God and by those who are wise amongst the people of truth by the Day of Resurrection is this, that from the time of the appearance of the Tree of Truth, at whatever period, and under whatever name [or form] (it be), until the moment of its disappearance is the Day of Resurrection. For example, from the (first) day of the mission of Jesus till the day of His ascension was the Resurrection of Moses, for during that period the manifestation of God [appeared in the form of that Truth, who rewarded by His word everyone who believed in Moses, and punished by His word everyone who did not believe. For what God regarded at that time] was what God beheld in the Gospel. And after the (first) day of the mission of the Prophet of God

[page 225]

till the day of his ascension was the Resurrection of Jesus, wherein the Tree of Truth appeared in the form of Muhammad, rewarding by his word every one who was a believer in Jesus, and tormenting by his word every one who was not a believer in Him. And from the moment when the Tree of the Beyán appeared until it disappeareth is the Resurrection of the Prophet of God which God hath promised in the Kur'án; of which appearance the beginning was when two hours and fifteen minutes (had passed) from the eve of [Friday the fifth of] Jamádí-ul-Úlá (A.H.) 1260, which is the year 1270 of the mission (of Muhammad). (This) was the beginning of the Day of Resurrection of the Kur'án. And until the disappearance of the Tree of Truth1 is the Resurrection of the Kur'án. For of no thing doth the Resurrection occur till it reacheth the stage of perfection. The perfection of the religion of Islám was consummated ere the beginning of this Manifestation, and from the beginning of this Manifestation till the moment of disappearance the fruits of the Tree of Islám, whatever they are, will become apparent. And the Resurrection of the Beyán is from the (first) appearance of Him whom God shall manifest; for to day the Beyán is in the stage of seed, but at the beginning of the manifestation of Him whom God shall manifest the ultimate perfection of the Beyán will become apparent, when He shall gather the fruits of the trees which have been planted."

        The second passage giving the date of the 'manifestation' occurs on hid vi, ch. 13 and runs as follows:-

[three lines of Persian/Arabic text, with seven footnotes]

1 See note 12 at the foot of p. 219.

[page 226]

        "And after the planting of the Tree of the Kur'án the perfection thereof was attained in one thousand two hundred and seventy years. Had the maturity thereof been (attained) at two o'clock on the night of [Thursday] the fifth of Jamádí-ul-Úlá, it (i.e. the new manifestation) would not have appeared five minutes later."

        The above quotations also illustrate what I have had occasion to notice in my first Paper on the Bábís (B. i, p. 507), viz. that the Báb prefers to date not from the flight of Muhammad but from the beginning of his mission, which he places ten years earlier. Hence he usually states the beginning of his own mission as having occurred not in the year 1260 A.H., but "1270 years after the mission of Muhammad." Cf. Persian Beyán, hid ii, ch. 7; iv, 14; iv. 16; iv, 18; vi, 7; vi, 8; vi, 13 (bis).
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