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Abstract:
Five documents from Baha'i World 18 part four section 5: Institution of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar, its spiritual significance, the temple on the Indian sub-continent, the Lotus of Bahapur, and the first Mashriqu'l-Adhkar of the Pacific Islands.
Notes:
See Baha'i World volume 18 table of contents.

The Institution of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár

by Universal House of Justice, Horace Holley, Fariburz Sahba, and Sheriar Nooreyezdan

published in Bahá'í World, Vol. 18 (1979-1983), pages 568-588
Haifa, Israel: Baha'i World Centre, 1986
                        CONTENTS
           Part Four: THE WORLD ORDER OF BAHA'U'LLAH 

  V. THE INSTITUTION OF THE MASHRIQU'L-ADHKÁR  
       1. Foreword, by Horace Holley...................................................... 568  
       2. The Spiritual Significance of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár, by Shoghi Effendi.......... 569  
       3. The Mother Temple of the Indian Sub-Continent, by F. Sahbá...................... 571  
       4. The Lotus of Bahapur, by Sheriar Nooreyezdan.................................... 574  
       5. The First Mashriqu'l-Adhkár of the Pacific Islands.............................. 585  


page 568

1. Foreword

by Horace Holley

Blessed is he who directeth his steps towards the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár at the hour of dawn, communing with Him, attuned to His remembrance, imploring His forgiveness. And having entered therein, let him sit in silence to hearken unto the verses of God, the Sovereign, the Almighty, the All-Praised. Say, the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár is in truth any House raised in towns or villages, for mention of Me. Thus hath it been named before His Throne; would that ye know it.
Bahá`u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas

MANY discerning minds have testified to the profoundly significant change which has taken place during recent years in the character of popular religious thinking. Religion has developed an entirely new emphasis, more especially for the layman, quite independent of the older sectarian divisions.

    Instead of considering that religion is a matter of turning toward an abstract creed, the average religionist today is concerned with the practical applications of religion to the problems of human life. Religion, in brief, after having apparently lost its influence in terms of theology, has been restored more powerfully than ever as a spirit of brotherhood, an impulse toward unity, and an ideal making for a more enlightened civilization throughout the world.

    Against this background, the institution of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár stands revealed as the supreme expression of all those modern religious tendencies animated by social ideals which do not repudiate the reality of spiritual experience but seek to transform it into a dynamic striving for unity. The Mashriqu'l-Adhkár, when clearly understood, gives the world its most potent agency for applying mystical vision or idealistic aspiration to the service of humanity. It makes visible and concrete those deeper meanings and wider possibilities of religion which could not be realized until the dawn of this universal age.

    The term `Mashriqu'l-Adhkár' means literally, `Dawning-place of the praise of God'.

    To appreciate the significance of this Bahá`í institution, we must lay aside all customary ideas of the churches and csathedrals of the past. The Mashriqu'l-Adhkár fulfils the original intention of religion in each dispensation, before that intention had become altered and veiled by human invention and belief.

    The Mashriqu'l-Adhkár is a channel releasing spiritual powers for social regeneration because it fills a different function than that assumed by the sectarian church. Its essential purpose is to provide a community meeting-place for all who are seeking to worship God, and achieves this purpose by interposing no man-made veils between the worshipper and the Supreme. Thus, the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár is freely open to people of all Faiths on equal terms, who now realize the universality of Bahá`u'lláh in revealing the oneness of all the Prophets. Moreover, since the Bahá`í Faith has no professional clergy, the worshipper entering the Temple hears no sermon and takes part in no ritual the emotional effect of which is to establish a separate group consciousness.

    Integral with the Temple are its accessory buildings, without which the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár would not be a complete social institution. These buildings are to be devoted to such activities as a school for science, a hospice, a hospital, an asylum for orphans. Here the circle of spiritual experience at last joins, as prayer and worship are allied directly to creative service, eliminating the static subjective elements from religion and laying foundation for a new and higher type of human association.

HORACE HOLLEY

2. The Spiritual Significance of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár

A LETTER FROM SHOGHI EFFENDI

IT should be borne in mind that the central edifice of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár, round which in the fullness of time shall cluster such institutions of social service as shall afford relief to the suffering, sustenance to the poor, shelter to the wayfarer, solace to the bereaved, and education to the ignorant, should be regarded apart from these dependencies, as a house solely designed and entirely dedicated to the worship of God in accordance with the few yet definitely prescribed principles established by Bahá`u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. It should not be inferred, however, from this general statement that the interior of the central edifice itself will be converted into a conglomeration of religious services conducted along lines associated with the traditional procedure obtaining in churches, mosques, synagogues, and other temples of worship. Its various venues of approach, all converging towards the central hall beneath its dome, will not serve admittance to those sectarian adherents of rigid formulae and man-made creeds, each bent, according to his way, to observe his rites, recite his prayers, perform his ablutions, and display the particular symbols of his faith within separately defined sections of Bahá`u'lláh's Universal House of Worship. Far from the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár offering such a spectacle of incoherent and confused sectarian observances and rites, a condition wholly incompatible with the provisions of the Aqdas and irreconcilable with the spirit it inculcates, the central House of Bahá`í worshup, enshrined within the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár, will gather within its chastened walls, in a serenely spiritual atmosphere, only those who, discarding forever the trappings of elaborate and ostentatious ceremony, are willing worshippers of the one true God, as manifested in this age in the Person of Bahá`u'lláh. To them will the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár symbolize the fundamental verity underlying the Bahá`í Faith, that religious truth is not absolute but relative, that Divine Revelation is not final but progressive. Theirs will be the conviction that an all-loving and ever-watchful Father Who, in the past, and at various stages in the evolution of mankind, has sent forth His Prophets as the Bearers of His Message and the Manifestations of His Light to mankind, cannot at this critical period of their civilization withhold from His children the guidance which they sorely need amid the darkness which has beset them, and which neither the light of science nor that of human intellect and wisdom can succeed in disipating. And thus having recognized in Bahá`u'lláh the source whence this celestial light proceeds, they will irresistibly feel attracted to seek the shelter of His house, and congregate therein, unhampered by ceremonials and unfettered by creed, to render homage to the one true God, the Essence and Orb of eternal Truth, and to exalt and magnify the name of His Messengers and Peophets Who, from time immemorial even unto our day, have in divers circumstances and in varying measure, mirrored forth to a dark and wayward world the light of heavenly guidance.

    But however inspiring the conception of Bahá`í worship, as witnessed in the central edifice of this exalted Temple, it cannot be regarded as the sole, nor even the essential, factor in the part which the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár, as designed by Bahá`u'lláh, is destined to play in the organic life of the Bahá`í community. Divorced from the social, humanitarian, educational and scientific pursuits centring around the dependencies of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár, Bahá`í worship, however exalted in its conception, however passionate in fervor, can never hope to achieve beyond the meagre and often transitory results produced by the contemplation of the ascetic or the communion of the passive worshipper. It cannot afford lasting satisfaction and benefit to the worshipper himself, much less to humanity in general, unless and until translated and transfused into that dynamic and disinterested service to the cause of humanity which it is the supreme privilege of the dependencies of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár to facilitate and promote.


page 570

Nor will the exertions, no matter how disinterested and strenuous, of those who within the precincts of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár will be engaged in administering the affairs of the future Bahá`í commonwealth, fructify and prosper unless they are brought into close and daily communion with those spiritual agencies centring in and radiating from the central shrine of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár. Nothing short of direct and constant interaction between the spiritual forces emanating from this House of Worship centring in the heart of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár, and the energies consciously displayed by those who administer its affairs in their service to humanity can possibly provide the necessary agency capable of removing the ills that have so long and so grievously afflicted humanity. For it is assuredly upon the consciousness of the efficacy of the Revelation of Bahá`u'lláh, reinforced on one hand by spiritual communion with His Spirit, and on the other by the intelligent application and the faithful execution of the principles and laws He revealed, that the salvation of a world in travail must ultimately depend. And of all the institutions that stand associated with His Holy Name, surely none save the institution of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár can most adequately provide the essentials of Bahá`í worship and service, both so vital to the regeneration of the world. Therein lies the secret of the loftiness, of the potency, of the unique position of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár as one of the outstanding institutions conceived by Bahá`u'lláh.

25 October 1929.

picture at Bottom of the Page with the Caption:  The Mother Temple of the West, Wilmette, Illinois, U.S.A. The corner-stone was laid by `Abdu'l-Bahá on 1 May 1912. On 23 May 1978 the structure was designated by the United States government `one of the nation's cultural resources worthy of preservation' and listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

page 571

3. The Mother Temple of the Indian Sub-Continent

by F. Sahbá

TO raise an edifice and create within it an atmosphere that will reflect the glory and majesty of the Greatest Name is indeed a challenging commission and a daunting task. This awesome responsibility devolves upon an architecture that in the fullness of time will be inspired from the ocean of Bahá`í art. At this embryonic stage of our acquaintance with a Dispensation divine in origin, how can we be so presumptuous as to even make mention of `Bahá`í art' when we recognize that the Revelation of Bahá`u'lláh will eventually draw forth from countless minds and hearts and hands art forms of such splendour that as we cannot now even dimly imagine. We in this day have the same feeling as a beginner in primary school who, while struggling to learn the basic alphabet, views the shelves of books in the libraries and has a vague precognition that when he has mastered the alphabet he will discover a great new world. Nevertheless, the restive imagination of the child cannot be prevented from roaming this mysterious world. We may take comfort in the thought that one day in the distant future the true Bahá`í artists of the Golden Age of our Faith may look upon our efforts with understanding and recognize that although we had no share of the boundless ocean from which they may draw their inspiration yet we, with hearts throbbing with longing, were ardently seeking it.

    I have not visited any of the existing Houses of Worship but one of the fondest memories of my childhood is listening to my mother's description of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár of `Ishqábád with its heavenly atmosphereóthe light that filtered through the arched, latticed windows onto the lectern; the echo of the chanting of prayers all mingling together to ascend upwards towards a dome resplendent with engravings; and, in the centre of the dome, a star that reminded one of celestial palaces. Undoubtedly my mother had found beneath that majestic dome the spiritual comfort of which she spoke with so much feeling. This is how I first thought of a House of Worship.

    There is no doubt that the interest which `Abdu'l-Bahá expressed in the Taj Mahal of India had a significant influence on the designs of several of the Bahá`í Houses of Worship. In designing the House of Worship to be erected in India one could not forget that He had expressed admiration for this splendid historical monument. There is a symbolism in the Taj Mahal which speaks to the very hearts of the people:   with its roots in the earth, it speaks of divinity. It is like a white dove soaring in the blue sky. In sunshine, in rain, at sunrise, at sunset, it manifests varied splendours. Although the architect has created a unique building that is magnificent in itself, undoubtedly it is the story of the monument and its bond with the culture of India that have played a major role in making it immortal in the hearts of the people of that country. Therefore, with the House of Worship of India, beauty and symmetry of architecture would not in themselves be sufficient:  the edifice must speak in a meaningful way to the hearts of the people. Perhaps nowhere else in the world is this matter of greater importance. India is a land of secrets and mysteries. Every shape and form has its own myth and legend and is a symbol of a cherished belief, and such beliefs are an inseparable part of Indian life. The little shrub growing in a corner of a temple court, the paint on the courtyard walls, the engravings visible on the faÁadeóall are bound with inseparable ties to the temple. In India, if you were to lead a blind person to a temple he would, from the smell of plants and by touching the walls, be able to tell you the religion to which that temple belongs.

    The House of Worship of India could not be an inspiration from or a derivation of any of the existing examples or schools of religious architecture for this would have identified it in the minds of the people with structures held sacred by other religionsóHindu, Budddhist or


page 572

Muslim. Although the building must come to be recognized as being associated with the Revelation of Bahá`u'lláh, manifesting and symbolic of the Greatest Name, its design must be familiar to the people of India, creating a bridge to their own heritage, in much the same way as when the principles of the Faith are explained to one with a receptive spirit the listener feels that the words in all their freshness have a familiar strain, like a remembered dream that is now coming true. Such a concept could not be realized through instruments and capacities available to an architect regardless of the extent of his knowledge and experience. I am certain that it could only be confirmed through divine assistance.

    Whenever it is asked how the idea of this design was conceived I realize with ever-increasing awe and wonderment that from the very first step I have been guided. However, it would be untrue to say that this was a result of study and research or consultation with the learned and the accomplished. With excitement and anxiety and many questions in my heart I beseeched the prayers of the Universal House of Justice and set about travelling throughout India. I was attracted to people of diverse backgrounds and classes and am convinced that it was through the bounties of Bahá`u'lláh that these people were prompted to direct me. At the outset, in a small city of India, a simple and good-hearted teacher spoke spontaneously to me about the lotus. On that day his purity and friendliness, more than his ideas, attracted my heart, but from then on the image of the lotus seemed to grow in my awareness more and more persistently, however much I tried to resist this notion with its attendant danger of producing a design that would be merely a poor imitation of nature.

    Wherever I went, whether to ancient Hindu temples or Buddhist caves, among all the carvings and symbols the lotus flower seemed to stand out and to capture my eye until, for the first time without reservation, I shared my idea with a friend who had wide experience and knowledge of the cultures and religions of India and who had come to guide me round the temples of a city in southern India. He listened to me with shining eyes and growing excitement and together we were prompted to find a growing lotus plant. All day we searched, undeterred by the realization that it was not the season, and at last we found a single blossom in a small pond. On that day I resolved to justify the lotus as a concept for the House of Worship. From then on, with each passing day, I became more strongly convinced that this was the only solution.

    The lotus flower is rooted in slime and yet it speaks of a world of purity because it floats on the water's surface in the utmost purity and grace and remains untainted in the midst of filth. The loveliness and immaculacy of this flower, which sparkles everywhere like a star on the waters of India, have made it a symbol of spirituality and beauty in the mythology of all the religions of that country. In Hindu mythology Brahma, the Creator, is described as having sprung from the lotus that grew out of Vishnu's navel when that deity lay absorbed in meditation; hence one of the epithets of Brahma is lotus-born. In Buddhist and Jain temples all over Asia you will find idols of Buddha and of others always seated on the lotus flower. The lotus has been accorded the greatest importance in the decoration of temples of all religions throughout India and perhaps all countries in East Asia. The most sacred prayer of the Buddhists of Tibet extols a sanctified jewel in the lotus flower:  `O Jewel in the Lotus.'  I learned that for centuries the people of India had conceived the lotus as a temple of light, a dream-thought that could now be realized. The glad-tidings of the `Jewel in the Lotus' had been given to them and this jewel could be none other than the Greatest Name.

    When we made from crépe paper the first model of the design for the House of Worship of the Indian sub-continent I observed it keenly with awe and a dawning realization that the essential element of that design had not come from me. With gratitude and humility I then became assured that Bahá`u'lláh had indeed answered my prayers.


page 573

Two Pictures with the Caption:  Architectural drawings of the Indian Temple:  above, Podium Level Key Plan; below, Main Building Section.


page 574

4. The Lotus of Bahapur

by Sheriar Nooreyezdan

THE designing of a Mashriqu'l-Adhkár is a spiritual undertaking, an effort to clothe religious truth in material garb, an endeavour to symbolize divinity, an attempt to harmonize the aspirations of peoples, an enterprise to establish upon the face of the earth a magnet to attract the bounties of God. It is an adventure in creativity that calls for more than the best architectural skills. The renowned architect of the Wilmette Temple, Louis Burgeois, commenting upon his design for the Mother Temple of the West, has succinctly recorded: 'Its inception was not from man, for, as musicians, artists, poets, receive their inspiration from another realm, so the Temple’s architect, through all his years of labour, was ever conscious that Bahá'u'lláh was the creator of this building to be erected to His glory.’ It is therefore with awe and reverence that an architect approaches the designing of a House of Worship, an edifice designated by the Supreme Pen as the 'Dawning-place of the praise of God’. For general guidance the architect first immerses himself in the infallible Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá and seeks guidance in the writings of Shoghi Effendi.

Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas calls upon His followers to erect in every city Houses of Worship in His Name, as perfect as can be built on earth, wherein praise of the Lord may resound in a spirit of joy and radiance, hearts illumined and eyes solaced. Among the encouragements and instructions that flowed from the pen of 'Abdu'l-Bahá to the early American believers engaged in raising the Mother Temple in Wilmette is this brief description of the 'Ishqábád Temple: It has nine avenues, nine gardens, nine fountains, so it is nine on nine, all nines. It is like a beautiful banquet. Just imagine an edifice of that beauty in the centre, very lofty, surrounded by gardens, variegated flowers ... That is the way it should be ... matchless ... most beautiful. And from the stream of directives of the beloved Guardian to National Spiritual Assemblies and individuals involved in the raising of different Houses of Worship the architect gleans that great emphasis is laid upon the elegance and dignity of the building.

These being the general overall instructions with regard to the design, the architect must in addition take into account the religious and cultural background of the people of the land, accommodating their susceptibilities and aspirations. Ideally, the design must be distinctive yet unrelated to any established school of architecture and dissimilar to traditional places of communal worship so as to attract all and exclude none. The architect is therefore called upon to weave into his design the basic tenets and symbolize the fundamental aim of the Cause of God.

Mr. Faríburz Sahbá, architect of the Mother Temple of India, had never conceived or attempted a total design for a Mashriqu'l-Adhkár, although he had had some notions and innovative ideas on separate elements of a building with such spiritual significance. It was the Hand of the Cause Dr. Rahmatu'lláh Muhájir who first suggested to Mr. Sahbá, who was then working as an associate architect on the design of the permanent Seat of the Universal House of Justice, that he prepare a design for the Indian Temple. Mr. Sahbá admits, 'This suggestion and the thought of such an undertaking kept me awake many nights.’ For the first time he began to give serious thought to this subject and he put on paper the images and ideas he had conceived for some separate elements of a Mashriqu'l-Adhkár. Realizing the importance of a greater understanding and deeper appreciation of the multi-faceted culture of India, Mr. Sahbá embarked upon a 'voyage of discovery’ to India whose rich and varied culture awed, illumined and inspired him. He travelled the length and breadth of the sub-continent with an open mind, later stating: 'This journey provided me with a fresh insight into the boundless horizons of Indian culture and heightened my esteem and respect for India. I also realized the difficulty of the task of producing a design, a concept, a symbol that would transcend every barrier of region, religion, language, caste and culture and


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which would be capable of attracting the hearts of the varied and pure-hearted people of India.’

Elsewhere in this volume Mr. Sahbá has related how he came to select as the design concept of the Temple the lotus, significant in Indian mythology and associated with worship in that country from time immemorial.. It became his task to work this concept into a design that would reveal the simplicity, clarity, freshness and unifying power of the Bahá'í Revelation and a constant reminder that all Revelation springs from one divine source. He was concerned that the building should inspire reverence and be spiritually uplifting.

With his thoughts crystallized, Mr. Sahbá returned to the drawing-board. Step by step the building took shape on paper. He wanted the Temple to resemble the lotus bloom in its natural habitat as closely as possible. Into such a design there had to be worked, naturally, the directives of 'Abdu'l-Bahá on the general design of a Mashriqu'l-Adhkár. Nine leaves were created which serve as entrances and give the appearance of the completely opened petals of the lotus. Nine inner leaves constitute the dome, the leaves converging at the apex and giving the appearance of petals just opening. And in order that the building resemble a natural lotus a third medial set of nine outer leaves was provided, these giving the appearance of semi-opened petals. Internally, thirty-six unopened petals, or the lotus bud, took the form of nine thin hemispherical shells of concrete criss-crossing each other and constituting the interior dome.

A Mashriqu'l-Adhkár is to have nine pools and fountains, according to the wish of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, so nine pools were provided.

Administrative offices, conference and audio-visual rooms, residential accommodation for the caretaker and other facilities were provided in the two wings of an ancillary building landscaped into the design by exploiting the natural contours of the site. All this gave symmetry and shape to the building but many other factors needed to be considered such as electrification, plumbing and water drainage and a suitable system of air-conditioning that would make the temperature inside the auditorium equitable and comfortable in the extreme temperatures of Delhi.

For the internal illumination of the Temple Mr. Sahbá concealed all electrical lighting within the interior dome or the folds of unopened lotus petals, so that when the lights were turned on a soft translucent light would fill the auditorium giving the impression of natural light filtering from outside through the folds of the lotus bud. This would also symbolize divine bounties and spiritual illumination flowing through the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár to the worshippers within. External illumination of the building was designed to highlight only the superstructure against the dark skyline so as to give the impression that the Temple was not anchored to the earth like ordinary buildings, but appeared as a bright lotus bloom suspended between heaven and earth. The architect had always thought of using light and water to underline the characteristics of the Temple and he has effectively done so in his design. With a stroke of genius he has created an eminently practical and economical system of air-conditioning the large central auditorium using the pools and fountains already provided. The natural slope of the land is made use of in the creation of a large basement at the level of the pools. The floor of the auditorium is lowered by three feet so that five steps lead down from the outer podium and the spaces between the steps act like louvres that allow the air, cooled naturally by passing over the pools and through the fountain sprays, into the auditorium at floor level. The warm air rises up to the dome and escapes at the top so that a convection current is set up and the structure acts as a chimney. This process is supplemented by impellers and expellers fixed in the basement and interior dome respectively. The entire system can be reversed during winter so that the temperature within the auditorium is always equitable.

Now the architect’s inspired dream had to be objectified in a building of structural reliability to serve as a monument that would stand for several centuries. This important responsibility was given to Flint and Neill of London, the renowned firm of structural engineers who worked on the Panama Temple. For over a year Mr. Sahbá and Dr. Flint, with the assistance of specialist engineers and the use of computers, collaborated in working out all the details of the building’s structure. A


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great deal of research and study had to be undertaken in London and Delhi and voluminous data, not easily assembled, were collected. As no geological survey reports were available test bores were made in order to study the rock stratification of the area. Meteorological statistics of the past one hundred years were researched to note the highest and lowest temperatures recorded, the strongest winds, the severest earthquakes, the wettest monsoon and extremes of humidity. All these details, so critical in the designing of a monumental building, were painstakingly gathered and catered for in the final architectural and structural designs. All structural drawings and calculations were double-checked in Geneva through the good offices of Prof. Hushmand Naimi, lecturer and consultant in structural engineering.

Nor did the checking end there. Although the ehaviour of reinforced concrete and that of its ingredients are well known, yet the determination of the type of concrete and its strength for each part of the structure became a study in itself and called for conferences with specialist concrete technologists and the specialists of the Concrete Association of England. Moreover, a scale model of the Temple was made by specialists in London and subjected to various tests not usually applied to building designs. Wind tunnel tests proved that the building could withstand the strongest wind forces and rotary movement of the high superstructure was well provided for. To study the efficiency of the natural air-conditioning system coloured smoke was injected from various points into the transparent plexi-glass model, and the movement as well as rate of evacuation of the smoke bore out the viability of the design.

While no efforts could be spared to create a building 'upon which depended the prestige of the Cause’ and to design a structure that would conform to the general configuration prescribed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, that would be both symbolic and of aesthetic beauty and that would be of such structural integrity as to last several centuries, the designers laboured under a serious constraint. They did not have the freedom to employ the best materials and technology available in the world but were limited to the use of materials, skills and equipment available in India. At every stage the availability and quality of essential materials had to be verified and references continually made to the Code of Indian Standards for construction materials; the available diameters and graders of steel; the types and strengths of cement manufactured; availability of copper pipes for superstructure water drainage; of lead sheets for flashings; of galvanized reinforcement bars; of glass sheets of the required thickness for glazing; of cladding materials such as marble or special ceramic tiles for the petals, and hundreds of other items which are easily obtained in western countries. This major constraint notwithstanding, the design that finally emerged bears eloquent testimony to the inspiration and bounty that were bestowed upon the designers. Their dedicated efforts were crowned with the completion of a design that has already attracted the attention of the architectural and civil engineering worlds and has come to be considered among professionals as one of the outstanding designs of the century. The model of the House of Worship has been accorded a place of distinction in the construction department of the Science Museum of London and after completion of construction the model will be sent there.

Mr. Sahbá’s three-year long odyssey of study and prayerful search was over at last and his chosen design was captured in some four hundred blueprints ready to be translated into an exquisite building. The final design and layout were presented to the Universal House of Justice in 1977. It was proposed that within the rectangular plot of land measuring about 450 metres in length in an east-west direction and 220 metres in width the Temple building would be located at the western end with its main entrance facing east. Entry to the Temple ground would be from the main road leading to a parking area at the east end of the estate. A 250-metre walkway would lead to the ancillary building between the two wings of which would rise the main entrance steps to the Temple. At a point some 50 metres from the ancillary building two corresponding paths would diverge to the south and north for access to other entrances of the Temple. The ancillary building, completely landscaped and almost concealed, would provide about 900 square metres of space for administrative and other services. The steps between the wings of


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the ancillary building would lead to a bridge over the pools and onto the outer podium or walkway around the main building. Facing each of the nine bridges would be a doorway into the auditorium canopied by its entrance petal 7..5 metres high. Standing between the entrance petal and inner petals would be the outer petals, 22.5 metres in height, surrounding the external dome made up of the nine inner petals. The diameter of the dome would be 35 metres and its height 28 metres from the floor of the auditorium and 43 metres from the main entrance steps. All the petals that, with the interior dome, comprise the superstructure would be thin double curvatured coroidal shells of white concrete finish internally and clad externally with white marble. The doorways would lead into the auditorium down five steps under nine massive arches. The auditorium would be circular with a diameter of 36 metres and have a seating capacity of about 1,200, which could be increased by an additional 1,000 seats in the triangular balconies formed between the entrance and outer petals. The balcony and auditorium floors, as well as the steps and arches, would be covered with white marble, and the walkway around the central auditorium with red sandstone. The outer podium over the pools up to the bridges would be edged with specially designed and precast banisters in white concrete. There would be a walkway around the tops of all nine pools while steps would take visitor and worshipper to the lower walkway at basement level around four of the pools. These walkways and steps would also be covered with red sandstone. Thus a part of the outer basement area would be open to visitors and the remainder would be enclosed and used for various installations and equipment. The distance across the pools would be about 120 metres while the area of each pool would be 500 square metres. Fountains would jet water outwards across the one-metre deep pools. Water in the pools would be replaced periodically but would be continuously filtered and kept clean by filtration plants ensconced beneath the bridge abutments. The surrounding grounds would be suitably landscaped and beautified with decorative trees and flowering plants.

The concept and design met with the general approval of the Universal House of Justice which, on 3 August 1977, confirmed Mr. Sahbá’s appointment, stating: 'We are profoundly impressed by the beauty of the concept you have presented.’ When Amatu'l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum was invited to view the model she summed up the appreciation of all. In her own words: 'When I was invited by the Universal House of Justice to see this design, I was apprehensive. Being an architect’s daughter I know what a difficult problem it is to design a circular nine-sided building. But when I saw this beautiful model I was deeply impressed and I think that it will be a wonderful thing and very much loved in India.’ On the symbolism of the lotus, Rúhíyyih Khánum added: 'The lotus has not only an association with Buddhism and Hinduism, but, par excellence, it is the symbol of the Manifestation of God. The lotus is probably the most perfect flower in the whole world. It is symmetrical, it is exquisitely beautiful. And how does it grow? It grows in a swamp and it raises its head out of the slime absolutely clean and perfect. Now this is what the Manifestation of God is in the world: perfect. He comes out of the slime. He comes from the worst place in the planet. He appears amongst the worst people in the planet, so that nobody can say that we made Him. They say only God brings forth such a being from such an environment. This is perhaps the greatest symbolism of the lotus.’

Fund Raising

Those beacons of divine illumination, the majestic Houses of Worship standing in different continents of the globe beckoning the foundering ship of human society to the safe haven of the Cause of God, have been raised through the sacrificial outpourings of the world-wide community of the Greatest Name and are manifestations of the zeal and dedication of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh. The Mashriqu'l-Adhkár is a divinely-ordained institution of the Cause of God and endowed with power and potency so great that the beloved Master, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, has affirmed that its mystery cannot be understood. We have His assurance that Some material things have spiritual effect, and the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár, though outwardly a material foundation, is possessed of spiritual effect and causes the union of hearts and the gathering of souls. In


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their eagerness, therefore, to fulfil one of the injunctions of the Supreme Pen and to raise in the world institutions that can alter constructively the course of history and the spiritual destiny of nations and peoples, Bahá'ís everywhere rise spontaneously and make every sacrifice necessary, delighting to avail themselves of the priceless opportunity to share in such a glorious spiritual enterprise. The beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, has emphasized '... the greater the sacrifice, the greater the power of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár’.

During the Ten Year Crusade, after approval of Shoghi Effendi was received for the land, the National Spiritual Assembly entered into negotiations with the owners of the five separate plots that were comprised in the total area of about 92,000 square metres (22.5 acres) and settled for a price of Rs. 140,289. This was a considerable sum of money for the number of believers at that time, and the National Spiritual Assembly set about raising the sum. The amount was distributed among the communities of India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon, then under one jurisdiction, and members of the National Assembly set out in different directions to acquaint the believers with the need and to encourage them to raise this unprecedentedly large sum. The extraordinary response of a modest and devout believer, Mr. Ardashír Rustampúr of Hyderabad, Sind, is alluded to in the 'In Memoriam’ article appearing elsewhere in this volume of the international record. As if he had waited a lifetime for this opportunity, he placed before the astonished members of the National Assembly, Mr. Isfandiar Bakhtiari and Mr. Abbas Aly Bhatt, his entire savings of Rs. 100,190 accumulated from the operation of his restaurant, remarking: 'It is not my money; all of it belongs to Bahá'u'lláh and I am happy to return it. I have been merely a trustee, a temporary keeper.’

When discrete enquiries by the representatives of the National Spiritual Assembly revealed that indeed Mr. Rustampúr had no other savings and had kept nothing whatever for any contingencies they expressed to him their concern, urging him to keep some amount for himself, and received his ready reply: 'What I have given to the Cause I cannot take back. If I deserve it, then Bahá'u'lláh will surely meet my future needs.’ Only at the insistence of the National Assembly representatives, and as a token of obedience, did Mr. Rustampúr relent and agree to accept Rs. 190. His magnanimous contribution covered the total cost of the first and largest of five plots. Now, as long as the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár stands at Bahapur, will generations of Bahá'ís recall the generosity and be inspired by the devotion of this humble believer.

Fund-raising for the construction of the Temple began in a very strange way and in a most unexpected place. A Bahá'í serving a prison sentence in Mozambique had made some simple rings out of ivory and had sent one to Amatu'l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum when she was in Africa. At the time of the dedication of the Panama Temple in 1972 when Rúhíyyih Khánum addressed the friends she expressed her thought that 'it would be lovely if we sent a little nest-egg from the dedication of this Temple for the next Bahá'í Temple that will be built’ and she offered the ivory ring for sale. Present at that gathering was a young Bahá'í from Hawaii who was a jeweller. Though not a wealthy man he had, in the course of his business, come into possession of a very large emerald. Impetuously, and though he could ill-afford it, he offered the valuable emerald, worth at least $25,000 to $30,000, for the inexpensive ivory ring. Later the secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama went to Hawaii especially to take charge of the emerald which had, in the meantime, been set in a large gold setting and she delivered it to Rúhíyyih Khánum during the International Convention in Haifa in 1973. Amatu'l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum entrusted the beautiful gem to the members of the National Spiritual Assembly of Írán, also present at the Convention, instructing them to auction it, accept the highest bid and contribute the proceeds as the first contribution to the cost of constructing the future Mashriqu'l-Adhkár to be erected during the next teaching Plan. The emerald fetched the handsome sum of approximately $100,000. Mysterious indeed are the ways of God! The simple ivory ring made in an African prison and worth perhaps one dollar, but offered with complete sincerity and love, became the largest single contribution and the nest-egg from the Panama Temple to the


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Indian Temple. Nor was this the end of it, for when Rúhíyyih Khánum narrated this touching story at the time the foundation stone at of the Indian Temple was laid at Bahapur on 17 October 1977 the participants in that historic gathering were so moved that many divested themselves of their gold jewellery for the temple fund, made cash offers on the spot and pledged contributions. Thus the simple restaurateur of Hyderabad, the prisoner of Mozambique and the Hawaiian jeweller became the foremost benefactors of the Mother Temple of the Indian sub-continent and their example would be emulated by a host of equally dedicated believers throughout the Bahá'í world.

This befitting beginning of the fund-raising was followed by a more sustained and continuous process. Interestingly, after the Indian Temple fund was announced internationally, among the first contributions to be received from abroad was from the Bahá'í children’s Moral Class of Samoa where another House of Worship was concurrently under construction. As reports of progress of construction were disseminated throughout the Bahá'í world community the slow trickle of contributions swelled to a steady flow from both east and west. All at once it appeared as though the Bahá'í world had taken the lotus Temple to its heart. Each envelope received at the Temple office brought a token of love and devotion to the Cause. The heartwarming messages that accompanied the contributions were so touching as to bring tears to the eyes. Those servants of Bahá'u'lláh from the far-flung corners of the world ceased to be faceless believers but were seen as partners with us in a great spiritual enterprise. The participation of the Bahá'ís in achieving a common spiritual goal formed a bond that linked continents and countries with Bahapur. Repeated and regular contributions were received from many individuals and communities, strengthening the bond. Was this part of the mystery of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár spoken of by 'Abdu'l-Bahá? Indeed, the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár, when completed, would symbolize the unity and strength of the Bahá'í community, would manifest the potency and divinity of the Supreme Pen and would disseminate the divine fragrances—as assured by the Universal House of Justice—not only among the multitudes in the Indian sub-continent but throughout Asia. Whereas the believers in all lands, territories and islands of the globe have contributed their mite to the Temple fund, it is significant that the beleaguered and oppressed community of the Greatest Name in Írán have been at this time deprived of this privilege and bounty. However, the very news of the progress of construction of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár must assuredly bring to their hearts a measure of cheer. Within India itself the believers have responded with great generosity and self-sacrifice.. One anonymous village Bahá'í, for example, dropped into the Temple fund box at an area teaching conference all the money he had, a two-paise coin (one-fifth of a cent) for which another believer offered Rs. 100). Their efforts to date have resulted in the community being able to meet twenty-three per cent of the construction cost incurred thus far.

Construction

One of the goals of the Ten Year Crusade was the acquisition of sites for Houses of Worship in three Asian capitals, including New Delhi. The National Spiritual Assembly of India, Pakistan and Burma (as it was known from 1947 to 1957) set about locating a suitable site, their choice falling upon a large tract of hilly land in a totally undeveloped area of south Delhi. The site, which, as has been stated, comprised five plots collectively and measured about 92,000 square metres, was approved by the beloved Guardian. When the land revenue officials visited the site to demarcate the boundaries, their records revealed that the land was part of an ancient village named Bahapur, 'Abode of Baha’. Bahá'ís see in this the mysterious hand of Providence. The hillock, they feel, was destined to become the footstool of God and the location of the Mother Temple of the Indian sub-continent.. The area was marked off by a low brick wall and a plaque was mounted designating the property as the site of a Bahá'í Temple. This accomplished, the Bahá'í community looked forward to the next development which took place in August 1977 when the Universal House of Justice approved the Temple design and appointed Mr. Sahbá as architect. On 17 October 1977 Amatu'l-Bahá


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Rúhíyyih Khánum laid the foundation stone of the Temple amid prayers and recitations of praise and gratitude to Bahá'u'lláh.

An excavation contractor was appointed and work got under way at a steady pace. The site being on the brow of a hill its topsoil had been eroded and the foundation pits had to be carved out of granite rock, weathered and soft in some places but mostly hard and difficult to excavate. During a period of almost twelve months a huge bowl approximately 150 metres in diameter was cut out of the hillside and, within the bowl, seven sets of nine foundation pits in concentric circles for the sixty-three columns and abutments that support the building. Meanwhile the contract and tender documents were drafted in England and in September 1979 tenders were invited. Six of the largest and most experienced companies in India made bids for the contract which, after exhaustive study and comparison, was awarded to Engineering Construction Corporation Ltd. on the first day of Ridván 1980. Mobilization of the site took about two months, during which period the contractor brought engineers, surveyors, men and equipment to the area and the next month saw the growth of a little township at Bahapur including site offices, storage facilities, accommodation for labourers, etc.

When trimming and preparation of the pits began it was discovered that in many of the pits soft and dangerous micaceous strata existed. This called for further excavation until hard base-rock was reached in all pits, some at depths of thirty feet. The pits from which would rise the load-bearing columns of the main building were enlarged and deepened to ensure the consistency of hard-rock strata. A total quantity of about 6,000 cubic metres of rock was excavated, enough to build a stone wall five feet high and one foot thick extending over twelve kilometres. The excavation was completed without any mechanical equipment and all excavated rock and earth was carried in head-loads.

30 July 1980 marked the day of the structural 'birth’ of the House of Worship. While the sun played hide-and-seek among the dark monsoon clouds Mrs. Golnar Sahbá poured the first trowelful of concrete into the first pit of the innermost circle of columns. Prayers were offered and, following tradition, coconuts were broken and sweets were distributed to the gathering which included representatives of the Continental Board of Counsellors, National Spiritual Assembly, the Delhi Bahá'í community and visiting Bahá'ís. On that momentous occasion the Universal House of Justice inspired all with its cable:
REJOICE NEWS COMMENCEMENT CONSTRUCTION MASHRIQULADHKAR HEART INDIAN SUBCONTINENT. THIS ACHIEVEMENT IS IN SHARP CONTRAST SAD HAPPENINGS CRADLE FAITH AND WILL BE SOURCE DELIGHT BELIEVERS ALL LANDS. SUPPLICATING SACRED THRESHOLD THAT TEMPLE OF LIGHT WILL SOON BECOME INSTRUMENT RADIATE DIVINE GUIDANCE ILLUMINE HEARTS OF THE MULTITUDES. MAY BAHAIS OF INDIA ARISE TO MEET RESPONSIBILITIES RENDER UTMOST ASSISTANCE RAISING THIS BEAUTIFUL EDIFICE IN THE NAME OF BAHAULLAH.
Then came the pouring of concrete to the required levels into the readied pits from which the column footings would rise. Soon the site was alive with the staccato sound of pneumatic drills, chugging and puffing of diesel-driven concrete mixers, whining of concrete vibtarors, shouts of supervising foremen and the sing-song of women carrying head-loads of concrete from the mixers. By December 1980 all the yawning foundation pits were filled and the columns began to rise, while the general areas between the columns making up the basement of the main building and floor of the ancillary building were levelled. Now the outlines of the building were discernible.

By January 1981 when the Hand of the Cause Paul Haney visited the site, many columns stood, like silent sentinels, and others were in various stages of construction. The site took on a colourful look as work progressed. The required concrete was churned out, under the watchful eyes of supervisors, by two mixers working in tandem at two convenient locations. Male workers mixed the concrete and filled pressed-steel vessels which their womenfolk carried on their heads, walking back and forth between mixers and site like an endless human conveyor belt.1 The women, clad in their traditional saris of many
    1 Approximately ninety families were among the 500 workers at the site. They were provided with living facilities, and a nursery and primary school were set up at the site to care for and educate the infants and children while their parents were working.

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hues and marching sedately in time to their own singing, worked cheerfully in two groups, vying with each other. Thus all the columns of the main building were raised, as were also those of the ancillary building and its reinforced concrete walls.

9 May 1981 marked the commencement, amid prayers and the distribution of sweets, of concreting of the podium which was completed by 16 September. Day and night the site during this period presented a picture of feverish activity with each team of skilled workers discharging its allotted responsibility and moving on to the next podium section while another team took over in rapid succession to carry out its part of the operation. In addition to the normal supervision and precautions usual in the Indian construction industry consideration had to be paid to the extremely high temperatures in Delhi. When possible, concreting was programmed to take place during the cooler summer nights under floodlights, and when concrete temperatures rose above the stipulated maximum, tons of ice had to be added to the concrete mix to lower the temperature. During the podium concreting, a new element—the contractor’s giant tower crane—was introduced. One of the two concrete batching plants was assigned to the crane and the second remained the preserve of the labourers. Whereas earlier two labour crews had vied with each other in concreting footings and columns, now humans pitted themselves in high spirits against a machine. While the crane scooped up hopper-loads of concrete, swinging into position and emptying 1,000 kilograms of concrete with a giant hiss, women who made up the human conveyor belt rushed from mixer to site and back with 25-kilogram head-loads of concrete—and they invariably won. It was estimated that during the nineteen weeks devoted to the concreting of the podium each woman worker carried some 7,500 kilograms of concrete in 25-kilogram head-loads over 21 kilometres in an eight-hour working day! The quantity of material making up the podium with its columns—40,000 bags of cement, 3,600 cubic metres of aggregate (making 4,000 cubic metres of concrete) and 450 metric tons of reinforcement bars—would have been sufficient to have raised a solid concrete block 25 feet square and 225 feet high, the height of a twenty-storey building. While podium concreting progressed, the rise of the ancillary building kept pace and rose to join the main building over the main entrance bridge that connects the two structures.

Construction of the substructure and podium, being of the normal column-beam-slab type, presented no special technical problems. However, construction of the superstructure with its thin double-curvatured shell elements was something that had never before been attempted in India and necessitated almost eighteen months’ study, discussion, resort to computer facilities and the making of full-scale mock-ups. Designing of the temporary steel staging and support system for the superstructure construction alone, involving the planning, fabrication and erection of some 1,200 metric tons of structural steel, presented
    Picture in Upper Right Corner with the Caption: Construction worker at Temple site; 1983.

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more technical challenges than the contractor had ever faced before. Time and perseverance resolved all problems and overcame all challenges.

The exquisite beauty of the lotus design is in the perfect symmetry and sheer lines of the 'petals’. Hence, in the construction of the superstructure adherence to the exact geometry of the design was most critical and the error tolerance virtually nil. Checking systems that were virtually foolproof had to be devised. The degree of accuracy required had to be achieved, especially in the formwork, with age-old traditional implements. Any oversight or error would be magnified a hundredfold and completely destroy the symmetry and beauty of the building.

The first elements of the superstructure to be constructed had to be the nine massive arches, 8 metres high and 10 metres wide, that gave entry into the central auditorium of the House of Worship. That happy day when all the check-list and pour cards were signed off for the first arch concreting was 26 March 1982. Once again the concrete mixers came to life churning out a very rich mix of concrete. When day temperatures were too high during the months of May and June concreting of the arches was carried out under floodlights at night, and under waterproof tarpaulins when monsoon clouds threatened. There was something special about the second arch to be constructed. This was the arch that faced the Qiblih of the Bahá'í world, and in its crown, which from the centre of the auditorium exactly faces 'Akká, were embedded on 3 April 1982, the foundation stone and a brick from the Síyáh-Chál, as directed by the Universal House of Justice. The ninth arch was completed on 26 July 1982. The total quantity of materials that went into the arches was sufficient to build a reinforced concrete bridge half a kilometre long and twenty feet wide. Upon completion of this phase of construction another inspiring message was received from the House of Justice:
NEWS COMPLETION FIRST PHASE SUPERSTRUCTURE TEMPLE NEW DELHI CAUSED MUCH JOY. CONGRATULATE APPRECIATE EFFORTS DEVOTED SOULS DIRECTLY INVOLVED THIS MAGNIFICENT PROJECT. ASSURE FERVENT PRAYERS SUCCESS FURTHER STEPS.
The unique characteristic of the superstructure is that it contains no element with even a single straight line. Such structures cannot be described in the ordinary plan-and-section drawings. Extraordinary measures had to be adopted including the building of full-scale sections of different superstructure elements in timber for use as templates. The most practical method of ensuring accuracy of geometry was found to be to check the curvatures in both directions of every formwork panel with the special templates, then completely assemble, at ground level, all the panels constituting the complete formwork or mould of each element, rechecking the overall geometry with other templates, number and dismantle the panels and reassemble them in their respective positions in the structure. Indeed, construction of the superstructure is so difficult that a well-known British architect, having glanced over the drawings, opined: 'To construct such a building in Europe will be difficult; in India, impossible.’ The complexity of the structure was also underscored by a senior Italian engineer of the firm supplying marble for the external shell cladding who remarked, after studying the drawings and the mock-ups: 'I cannot sleep at night for thinking how to cover these leaves with marble.’ One wonders, therefore, how those persons can sleep who are charged with the responsibility of supervision and construction of such a complex structure.

Another unique feature of the superstructure construction is that it is in white concrete, and galvanized reinforcement bars are used, both for the first time in India. Special efforts were made to locate sources for the best quality white aggregate and white sand to be used with white cement for the superstructure concreting operation.

With the gigantic staging erected upon the auditorium floor to support the formwork of the inner leaves, the checked and numbered panels were raised to their respective positions and fastened in place. Panel by panel each inner leaf took shape reaching 30 metres into the sky and was subjected to a final geometry check-out with sensitive instruments. The next phase of work will be the tying of reinforcement bars before the back shutters are erected and the 'sandwich’ is completed. Then each leaf will be concreted, non-stop over twenty-four hours to completion, using


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    Two Pictures:

    Caption of Top Picture: The Mashriqu'l-Adhkár of the Indian sub-continent under construction; 1 December 1981. A general view of the site shows the city of New Delhi in the distance.

    Caption of Bottom Picture: Construction work in progress on the Mother Temple of the Indian sub-continent near New Delhi, India; 19 April 1983.

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the 'climbing shutters’ method and other phases of construction will proceed, step by step, until that longed-for day when the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár of the Indian sub-continent—the lovely lotus Temple—will welcome through its portals worshippers from every part of the world.
    Picture at Bottom of the Page with the Caption: Architect’s model of completed Temple.

5. The First Mashriqu'l-Adhkár of the Pacific Islands

NO crisis besets the Bahá`í Faith, Shoghi Effendi observed, that does not bring with it the release of a fresh outpouring of celestial strength' which among other effects, provides `an instrument for the fulfilment of age-old prophecies . . . an impetus for the enlargement of its limits and the propagation of its influence, and a compelling evidence of the indestructibility of its cohesive strength.'1  Thus the triumphant emergence of the first Mashriqu'l-Adhkár of the Pacific Islands even while the Cause of Bahá`u'lláh in Írán endures an onslaught of `cruel, systematic oppression'2 of an intensity unprecedented in recent years, provides cogent testimony of the resistless onward march of the Faith of Bahá`u'lláh, calling to mind His words, concerning His Revelation, that should they attempt to conceal its light on the continent, it will assuredly rear its head in the midmost heart of the ocean, and, raising its voice, proclaim:  `I am the life-giver of the world!'3

    The foundation stone of the Mother Temple of the Pacific islands was laid on 27 January 1979 by His Highness Malietoa Tanumafili II, the first Head of State to embrace the Cause of Bahá`u'lláh. 4  The Hand of the Cause Amatu'l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum, the representative of the Universal House of Justice, participated by placing in a niche in the stone a small casket of Dust from the sacred Shrine of Bahá`u'lláh. 5  The moving ceremony was recorded in a colour motion-picture, with sound track, which bears the title `Blessed is the Spot', words from a prayer of Bahá`u'lláh's.

    Already the building has made an impact in Samoa and it is expected to attract even more attention as it nears completion. It is situated at an elevation of 1,800 feet overlooking the city of Apia, Western Samoa, on a plot of land purchased in November 1975. Since that time additional adjoining plots have been acquired to permit direct access to the Temple from the main road.

    At Ridván 1978 Mr. Husayn Amánat was appointed architect and in September of that year his design for the Temple was approved by the Universal House of Justice. Following soil testing and engineering studies, tenders for the construction of the House of Worship were let in June 1980. Soil investigation had revealed the need for the injection of considerable quantities of grouting in lava cavities under the foundation pads, a process occupying the better part of four months. A contract was signed with a New Zealand contractor and a building permit was issued in August. In September work started on the site and on 18 December 1980, in the presence of the Malietoa, the first concrete was poured for the foundations. Construction is now progressing to the architect's satisfaction, and if ideal circumstances obtain, the building is scheduled for completion by Ridván 1984.

    As is true of all Bahá`í Houses of Worship the Samoan Temple will be a nine-sided building, beautiful in design and workmanship. This structure will be surmounted by a dome. Landscaped entrances ornamented by trees and fragrant blossoms will rejoice the eyes of the worshipper as he approaches the building to engage in communion with the Creator of his soul.

    In creating a design for the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár of the Pacific Islands, the first to rise there, Mr. Amánat said that he was much influenced by two factors, the simplicity of life of the Samoan people and the extremely lush, verdant quality of the landscape. Samoa is one of the most beautiful islands of the Pacific. The variegated tropical scenery, so filled with bright colour and busy pattern, suggested to Mr. Amánat the need for a building of great simplicity that would be sympathetic to its setting, with white predominating against the natural background of blue sky and green verdure.

    The local residential units indigenous to the island, called fales, are built on a round or

1 Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 61.

2 Universal House of Justice, letter 19 November 1982, to all National Spiritual Assemblies.

3 Shoghi Effendi, `America and the Most Great Peace', in The World Order of Bahá`u'lláh.

4 The Bahá`í World, vol. XV, p.180.

5 The Bahá`í World, vol. XVII, p.371.


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elliptical plan, with ornamented timber posts serving as columns, supporting a thatched roof that has a delicately curved pitch. The most distinctive aspect of a fale is its openness to light and air. Beautiful timber beams support the roof, the beams often handsomely carved and lashed with hemp rope. Lovely, intricate patterns are created by the lashing. Between the posts woven screens are suspended which may br lowered or raised, permitting maximum flow of air and providing privacy and shelter when needed. The fale is the most significant man-made form found on the island, and its contour or silhouette is seen everywhere.

    Mr. Amánat has created for the House of Worship a design that reflects the harmonious relationship of the fale to the setting. His design utilizes nine portals, reminiscent of the posts supporting the roof of the fale, and creating the same openness in the Temple. The dominant white dome is supported by buttress walls which, like the parapet, are of a rough granite of coral hue. The aesthetic balance the architect desired to maintain was achieved through the arrangement of the structural elements and particularly the ribs of the dome. From the exterior the dome is seen to be made out of nine separate sections which are unified into one visual effect through the ribs. The core of each rib will be inset with a special glazing to reduce the effects of tropical heat and to admit light, so that gazing up to the dome from inside the eye will behold a pattern of a nine-pointed star. To avoid maintenance problems the interior of the dome will be of white concrete, thus eliminating the use of paint and plaster and reinforcing the theme of simplicity which governed the architect in creating his design. The exterior of the dome will be covered with white mosaic tile. The building will be approximately thirty metres high; the height from the floor to the top of the dome will be approximately twenty-seven metres.

    Materials for the construction of the Temple have been brought from various parts of the Pacific:  white aggregate was imported from Niue Island, white sand from New Zealand, granite from Australia, and cement and steel from New Zealand and Japan.

    At mezzanine level wooden carvings and tappa designs adapted from the traditional bark cloth patterns used throughout the Pacific provide simple but effective ornamentation that embellishes but does not overwhelm the entrance portals. Words of Bahá`u'lláh will be carved above the portals. The building combines in its component elements the effect of warmth and nobility to which Mr. Amánat was so attracted in the Samoan people, and the grandeur that befits a Bahá`í House of Worship, yet the scale and proportion are in harmony with the setting.

    The visitor to the Temple is admitted through a low approach. The overhanging mezzanine successfully protects him from feeling dwarfed or intimidated by the height of the dome. The entire effect is one of being gently enfolded in an atmosphere which invites worship without distractions caused by ornate elements in the interior design. Raising his glance to trace the ribs of light that rise softly all about him the visitor's eyes will rest upon the symbol of the Greatest Name in the centre of the domeóthe Name of Bahá`u'lláh truly raised aloft in the midmost heart of the ocean.

ROGER WHITE

    (Based on an interview with Mr. Husayn Amánat)


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Two Pictures:

Caption of Top Picture:  His Highness Malietoa Tanumafili II visits the Samoan Temple site at Apia, Western Samoa, on 18 December 1981, the day of the first concrete pour. He is shown here accompanied by Mr. Suhayl `Alá`í, member of the Continental Board of Counsellors in Australasia.

Caption of Bottom Picture:  An aerial view of the Samoan Temple under construction on 15 January 1983.


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Two Pictures with the Caption under the Bottom Picture:  Two views of the construction work on the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár of the Pacific Islands at Apia, Western Samoa; above, February 1983; below, May 1983.

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