E. G. Browne's
"A Traveller's Narrative:" Note X[page 390]
TRANSLATION OF THE SUPERSCRIPTION AND EXORDIUM OF
THE EPISTLE TO THE KING OF PERSIA.
My original purpose was to give in this note nothing more than a translation of that portion of the "Epistle to the King of Persia" which is omitted in the text, but the permission so generously accorded to me by Baron Rosen to make full and free use of the proof-sheets of his still unpublished work enables me to add the text and translation of the instructions given to the bearer of the missive. [See p. 102 supra, and footnote.] The text of these instructions is as follows:-
[ten lines of Persian/Arabic text]
[ten lines of Persian/Arabic text]
"This is a copy of what was written on the back of the
Epistle to the King.
'He is God, exalted is He.
'We ask God to send one of His servants, and to detach him from Contingent Being, and to adorn his heart with the decoration of strength and composure, that he may help his Lord amidst the concourse of creatures, and, when he becometh aware of what hath been revealed for His Majesty the King, that he may arise and take the Letter, by the permission of his Lord, the Mighty, the Bounteous, and go with speed to the abode of the King. And when he shall arrive at the place of his throne, let him alight in the inn,
and let him hold converse with none till he goeth forth one day and standeth where he [i.e. the King] shall pass by. And when the Royal harbingers shall appear, let him raise up the Letter with the utmost humility and courtesy, and say, "It hath been sent on the part of the Prisoner1." And it is incumbent upon him to be in such a mood that, should the King decree his death, he shall not be troubled within himself, and shall hasten to the place of sacrifice saying, "O Lord, praise be to Thee because that Thou hast made me a helper to Thy religion, and hast decreed unto me martyrdom in Thy way! By Thy Glory, I would not exchange this cup for [all] the cups in the worlds, for Thou hast not ordained any equivalent to this, neither do Kawthar and Salsabíl2 letteth him [i.e. the messenger] go, and interfereth not with him, let him say, "To Thee be praise, O Lord of the worlds! Verily I am content with Thy good pleasure and what Thou hast predestined unto me in Thy way, even though I did desire that the earth might be dyed with my blood for Thy love. But what Thou willest is best for me: verily Thou knowest what is in my soul, while I know not what is in Thy soul; and Thou art the All-knowing, the Informed."'"
Baron Rosen, after quoting the version of Mírzá Badí''s mission and martyrdom which I published at pp. 956-957 of my second paper on the Bábís in the J. R. A. S. for 1889, observes that, considering the text of the above instructions, and the minute obedience yielded by Behá'u'lláh's followers to his slightest wish, this version is extremely improbable. He says:- "S'adresser au souverain de la Perse, en lui disant 'j'ai un fermân pour vous' etc., - cela n'est certes pas l'humilité parfaite dont parle l'hérésiarque." The opinion thus expressed by Baron Rosen is entirely borne out by the present work (see pp. 102-105 supra), and I am now quite convinced that it is correct. He further adds, "Quant à la date de l'événement, j'ai toutes raisons de croire qu'il s'est passé au mois de Juillet de l'année 1869, indiquée par M. Browne."
1 Cf. p. 104 supra.
2 The names of two rivers in Paradise.] rival it!" But if he [i.e. the King
TRANSLATION OF THE EXORDIUM OF THE EPISTLE.
[Persian numbers]1, Behá.]
"This is what was revealed in the 'Heykal2." The original from which the Kirmán text and the glosses appended to it (which agree almost exactly with those given by Baron Rosen) were derived would therefore appear to have been communicated to the Bábís in Persia by Áká Mírzá Áká Ján ("Jenáb-i-Khádimu'lláh") at the command of Behá'u'lláh's eldest son 'Abbás Efendí. [See Introduction; Note W, p. 361 supra; and b. i, pp. 518-519.]' for His Majesty the King. 'He is God, exalted is His state [in] Might and Power.
'O King of the earth, hear the voice of this servant. Verily I am a man who hath believed in God and His signs, and I have sacrificed myself in His way; to this do the afflictions wherein I am (the like of which none amongst mankind hath borne) testify, and my Lord the All-knowing is the witness to what I say. I have not summoned men unto aught save unto thy Lord and the Lord of the worlds. In love for Him there hath come upon me that whereof the eye of creation hath not beheld the like: in this will those servants whom the veils of humanity have not withheld from confronting the Chiefest Outlook bear me out, and beside them He with whom is the knowledge of all things in a Preserved Tablet. Whenever the clouds of fate rain down the darts of affliction in the way of God the Lord of the Names, I advance to meet them; to this testifieth
1 These numerals, as remarked by Baron Rosen (pp. 146-147), clearly stand for the equivalent letters ~~~.
2 Concerning the Súra-i-Heykal (of which the Epistles to the Kings collectively form only a portion) see note 1 at the foot of p. 108 supra; B. ii, p. 954; and p. 149 of Baron Rosen's forthcoming work. My Kirmán MS. lacks this heading, for which the following is substituted:- "This Epistle was revealed in Adrianople specially for His Majesty the King. This servant, the confidential attendant of their Excellencies [apparently Behá-'u'lláh and his sons], sends it for you to peruse. The meanings of sundry Arabic phrases which were in my mind have been written down agreeably to the command of God's Most Mighty Branch [Ghusnu'lláhi'l-a'zam].
every fair and rightly-informed person. How many are the nights wherein the wild beasts rested in their lairs, and the birds in their nests, while this servant was in chains and fetters, and found for himself none to succour, nor any helper! Remember the grace of God towards thee when thou wast in prison with sundry others, and He brought thee out thence, and succoured thee with the hosts of the Invisible and the Visible, until the King sent thee to 'Irák[i.e. Baghdad] after that We had disclosed to him that thou wast not of [the number of] the seditious. Verily such as follow [their] lusts and turn aside from virtue, these are in evident error. And as for those who work sedition in the earth, and shed blood, and falsely consume men's wealth, we are quit of them, and we ask God not to associate us with them either in this world or in the world to come, unless they repent unto Him; verily He is the Most Merciful of the merciful. Verily it behoveth him who turneth towards God to be distinguished in all actions from what is apart from Him, and to conform to that which is enjoined upon him in the Book: thus is the matter decreed in a Perspicuous Book. As for such as cast the command of God behind their backs and follow after their lusts, they are in grievous error.
'O King, I conjure thee by thy Lord the Merciful to regard [His] servants with the gaze of pitiful eyes1, and to rule with justice in their midst, that God may award His favour unto thee: verily thy Lord judgeth as He pleaseth. The world shall perish with whatsoever of glory and abasement is therein, while dominion remaineth unto God, the Supreme and All-knowing King. Say, Verily He hath kindled the Lamp of the Beyán2, and He will continue it with the oil of ideas and expression: exalted is thy Lord the Merciful beyond this, that created beings should withstand His command. Verily He will shew forth what He pleaseth by His authority, and will guard it with a cohort of the Proximate Angels. He controlleth His handiwork and compelleth His creation: verily He is the All-knowing, the Wise.
1 Literally, "with the glances of the eyes of thy clemency."
2 Or "of Utterance" or "Revelation."
'O King, verily I was as [any] one amongst mankind, slumbering upon my couch. The gales of the All-Glorious passed by me and taught me the knowledge of what hath been. This thing is not from me, but from One [who is] Mighty and All-knowing. And He bade me proclaim betwixt the earth and the heaven, and for this hath there befallen me that whereat the eyes of those who know overflow with tears. I have not studied those sciences which men possess, nor have I entered the colleges: enquire of the city wherein I was, that thou mayest be assured that I am not of those who speak falsely. This is a leaf which the breezes of the Will of thy Lord the Mighty, the Extolled, have stirred. Can it be still when the rushing winds blow? No, by the Lord of the Names and Attributes! Rather do they move it as they list, [for] Being belongeth not to Nonentity in presence of the Eternal. His decisive command did come, causing me to speak for His celebration amidst the worlds. Verily I was not save as one dead in presence of His command, the hand of thy Lord the Merciful, the Clement, turning me. Can any one speak on his own part that for which all men, whether low or high, will persecute him? No, by Him who taught the Pen eternal mysteries, save him who is strengthened by One Mighty and Strong.
'The Supreme Pen addresseth me, saying, "Fear not; [but] relate unto His Majesty the King what hath come upon thee. Verily his heart is between the fingers of thy Lord the Merciful: perchance He will cause the sun of justice and kindness to dawn from the horizons of his heart." Thus was the command revealed from the All-Wise.
'Say, "O King, look with the gaze of justice upon thy servant; then decide according to the right concerning what hath befallen him. Verily God hath appointed thee His shadow amongst [His] servants1, and the sign of His Power to the dwellers in the land: judge between us and those who have oppressed us without proof or clear warrant. Verily those who surround thee love thee for their own sakes, while [thy] servant loveth thee for thine own sake;
1 See footnote on p. 156 supra.
nor doth he desire aught save that he may bring thee nigh unto the station of Grace and turn thee unto the right hand of Justice: thy Lord is witness unto that which I say."
'O King, of thou wouldest hear the cry of the Supreme Pen, and the murmur of the Dove of Eternity on the branches of the Lote-tree beyond which there is no passing1 in praise of God, the Maker of the Names, the Creator of the earth and the heaven, verily this would cause thee to attain unto a station whence thou wouldest behold in existence naught save the effulgence of [God] the Adored, and [whence] thou wouldst regard dominion2 as a thing of least account in thine eyes, leaving it to him who desireth it, and turning toward a horizon illumined with the lights of [God's] countenance; neither wouldst thou ever endure the burden of dominion, unless [it were] to help thy Lord, the High, the Supreme. Then would the people of the Supreme Concourse magnify thee [saying], "How good is this most glorious state," if thou wouldest [but] ascend thereunto by authority accorded unto thee in the Name of God.
'Amongst mankind are some who say that this servant desireth naught save the perpetuation of his name, and others who say that he desireth the world for himself, notwithstanding that I have not found during the days of my life a place of safety such that I might set my feet therein, but was ever [overwhelmed] in floods of affliction, whereof none wots save God: verily He knoweth what I say. How many were the days wherein my friends were disquieted for my distress, and how many the nights wherein the sound of wailing arose from my family in fear for my life! None will deny this save him who is devoid of truthfulness. Doth he who regardeth not [his] life [as assured] for less than a moment desire the world? [I] marvel at those who speak after their lusts, and wander madly in the desert of passion and desire. They shall be questioned as to that which they have said; on that day they shall not find for themselves any protector nor any
1 See Kur'án, liii, 14.
2 Or, "the world," for the word ~~~ bears this meaning also.
helper. And amongst them are those who say, "Verily he denieth God," notwithstanding that all my limbs testify that there is no God but Him, and that those whom He quickened with the truth and sent for [men's] guidance are the manifestations of His Most Comely Names, the day-springs of His Supreme Attributes, and the recipients of His revelation in the realm of creation; by whom the Proof of God unto all beside Himself is made perfect, the standard of the [faith of the] Unity is set up, and the sign of renunciation becomes apparent; and by whom every soul taketh a course towards the Lord of the Throne. We bear witness that there is no God but Him; everlastingly He was, and there was nothing beside Him; everlastingly He will be, even as He hath been. Exalted is the Merciful One above this, that the hearts of the people of wisdom should ascend unto the comprehension of His Nature, or that the understanding of such as inhabit the worlds should rise to the knowledge of His Essence. Holy is He above the knowledge of all save Himself, and exempt is He from the comprehension of what is beside Him: verily in Eternity of Eternities was He independent of the worlds.
'Remember the days wherein the Sun of Bat-há1 shone forth from the horizon of the Will of thy Lord, the High, the Supreme, [how] the doctors turned aside from him, and the cultured found fault with him; that thou mayst understand what is now hidden within the Veil of Light. Matters waxed so grievous for him on all sides, until those who were [gathered] round him were dispersed by his [own] command2: thus was the matter decreed from the Heaven of Glory. Then remember when one of them came in before the Nejáshí3 and recited unto him a súra of the Kur'án. He said to those around him, "Verily it hath been revealed on the part of One All-knowing and Wise. Whosoever accepteth what is best, and believeth in that which Jesus brought, for him it is impossible to turn aside from what
1 i.e. Muhammad. Bet-há is here synonymous with Mecca.
2 Allusion is made to the flight of the persecuted and unprotected Muslims from Mecca in the fifth year of Muhammad's mission.
3Nejáshí is a generic name for the Kings of Abyssinia, as Kisra is for the Persian, and Kaysar for the Roman emperors.
hath been read: verily we testify unto [the truth of] it, even as we testify unto [the truth of] what is with us of the books of God2 the Protecting, the Self-Subsistent."
'By God, O King, if thou wouldest hear the strains of the dove which cooeth in the branches with varied notes by the command of thy Lord the Merciful, thou wouldest assuredly put away dominion behind thee and turn unto the Chiefest Outlook, the station from the horizon of which the Book of the Dawn is seen, and wouldest spend what thou hast, seeking after that which is with God. Then wouldest thou find thyself in the height of glory and exaltation, and the zenith of greatness and independence: thus hath the matter been written in the primaeval revelation1 by the Pen of the Merciful One. There is no good in what thou dost possess to-day, for another shall possess it to-morrow in thy stead. Choose for thyself that which God hath chosen for His elect: verily He will bestow upon thee a mighty dominion in His Kingdom. We ask God that He may help thy Majesty to hearken unto the Word whereby the world is illumined, and preserve thee from those who are remote from the region of nearness.
'Glory be to Thee, O God! O God, how many heads have been set up on spears in Thy way! How many breasts have advanced to meet arrows for Thy good pleasure! How many hearts have been riddled for the exaltation of Thy Word and the diffusion of Thy Religion! How many eyes have overflowed [with tears] for Thy love! I ask Thee, O King of kings, Pitier of thralls, by Thy Most Great Name, which Thou hast made the day-spring of Thy Most Comely Names and the manifestation of Thy Supreme Attributes, to lift up the veils which intervene between Thee and Thy creatures, withholding them from turning towards the horizon of Thy revelation; then draw them, O God, by Thy Supreme Word from the left hand of fancy and forgetfulness to the right hand of certainty and know-
1 i.e. the Sacred books which we now possess, the Gospel.
2 Literally "the Mother of Revelation" or "of the Beyán," a phrase evidently copied from the expression ~~~, which occurs in several places in the Kur'án (súras iii, 5; xiii, 39; xliii, 3, &c.).
ledge, that they may know what Thou, in Thy bounty and grace, desirest for them, and may turn towards the Manifestation of Thy religion and the Day-spring of Thy signs. O God, Thou art the Gracious, the Lord of great bounty; withhold not Thy servants from the Most Mighty Ocean, which Thou hast made to produce the pearls of Thy Knowledge and Wisdom, neither repel them from Thy Gate, which Thou hast opened unto all who are in Thy heaven and Thy earth. O Lord, leave them not to themselves, for they know not, and flee from what is better for them than whatsoever hath been created in Thine earth. Look upon them, O Lord, with the glances of the eyes of Thy favours and bounties, and free them from passion and lust, that they may draw nigh unto Thy Supreme Horizon, and may discover the delight of remembering Thee, and the sweetness of the table1 which hath been sent down from the heaven of Thy Will and the air of Thy Bounty. Everlastingly hath Thy Grace encompassed [all] contingent beings, and Thy Mercy preceded2 [all] creatures: there is no God but Thee, the Forgiving, the Merciful.
'Glory be to Thee, O God! Thou knowest that my heart is melted about Thy business, that my blood boils in my veins with the fire of Thy love, and that every drop thereof crieth unto Thee with dumb eloquence3), which, as contrasted with "the tongue of utterance" (~~~), signifies the words wherewith the state of an inarticulate thing may appropriately be described.] [saying], "O Lord Most High, shed me on the earth in Thy way," that there may grow from it what Thou desirest in Thy books, but hast concealed from the sight of Thy servants, save such as have drunk of the Kawthar4 of knowledge from the hands of Thy grace, and the Salsabíl of wisdom from the cup of Thy bounty. Thou knowest, O God, that in every action I desire nothing save Thy business, and that in every utterance I seek naught but Thy celebration, neither doth my pen move except I desire therein Thy
1 Cf. Kur'án v, 112, 114.
2 See note 1 on p. 113 supra.
3 Literally, "the tongue of [its] state" (~~~).
4Kawthar and Salsabíl, the names of two rivers in Paradise.
good pleasure and the setting forth of what Thou hast enjoined upon me by Thy authority. Thou seest me, O God, confounded in Thine earth: if I tell what Thou hast enjoined on me, Thy creatures turn against me; and if I forsake what Thou hast enjoined on me on Thy part, I should be deserving of the scourges of Thy wrath, and far removed from the gardens of nearness to Thee. No, by Thy Glory, I advance toward Thy good pleasure, turning aside from what the souls of Thy servants desire: and accept what is with Thee, forsaking what will remove me afar off from the retreats of nearness to Thee and the heights of Thy Glory. By Thy Glory, for Thy love I flinch not from aught, and for Thy good pleasure I fear not all the afflictions in the world: this is but through Thy Strength and Thy Might and Thy Grace and Thy Favour, and not because I am deserving thereof.'"
The Epistle then continues as in the text (pp. 108-151 supra).