diffusion of the literature of the Faith. The interests of the blind, too, have not been neglected by that alert and enterprising community, as is shown by the placing of Bahá'í books, transcribed by its members in Braille, in thirty libraries and institutes, in eighteen states of the United States of America, in Honolulu (Hawaii), in Regina (Saskatchewan), and in the Tokyo and Geneva Libraries for the Blind, as well as in a large number of circulating libraries connected with public libraries in various large cities of the North American continent.
Nor can I dismiss this subject without singling out for special reference her who, not only through her preponderating share in initiating measures for the translation and dissemination of Bahá'í literature, but above all through her prodigious and indeed unique exertions in the international teaching field, has covered herself with a glory that has not only eclipsed the achievements of the teachers of the Faith among her contemporaries the globe around, but has outshone the feats accomplished by any of its propagators in the course of an entire century. To Martha Root, that archetype of Bahá'í itinerant teachers and the foremost Hand raised by Bahá'u'lláh since `Abdu'l-Bahá's passing, must be awarded, if her manifold services and the supreme act of her life are to be correctly appraised, the title of Leading Ambassadress of His Faith and Pride of Bahá'í teachers, whether men or women, in both the East and the West.
The first to arise, in the very year the Tablets of the Divine Plan were unveiled in the United States of America, in response to the epoch-making summons voiced in them by `Abdu'l-Bahá; embarking, with unswerving resolve and a spirit of sublime detachment, on her world journeys, covering an almost uninterrupted period of twenty years and carrying her four times round the globe, in the course of which she traveled four times to China and Japan and three times to India, visited every important city in South America, transmitted the message of the New Day to kings, queens, princes and princesses, presidents of republics, ministers and statesmen, publicists, professors, clergymen and poets, as well as a vast number of people in various walks of life, and contacted, both officially and informally, religious congresses, peace societies, Esperanto associations, socialist congresses, Theosophical societies, women's clubs and other kindred organizations, this indomitable soul has, by virtue of the character of her exertions and the quality of the victories she has won, established a record that constitutes the nearest approach to the example set by `Abdu'l-Bahá
Himself to His disciples in the course of His journeys throughout the West.
Her eight successive audiences with Queen Marie of Rumania, the first of which took place in January, 1926 in Controceni Palace in Bucharest, the second in 1927 in Pelisor Palace in Sinaia, followed by a visit in January of the ensuing year to her Majesty and her daughter Princess Ileana, at the royal palace in Belgrade, where they were staying as guests of the King and Queen of Yugoslavia, and later, in October, 1929, at the Queen's summer palace "Tehna Yuva," at Balcic, on the Black Sea, and again, in August, 1932 and February, 1933, at the home of Princess Ileana (now Arch-Duchess Anton of Austria) at Mödling, near Vienna, followed a year later, in February, by another audience at Controceni Palace, and lastly, in February, 1936, in that same palace--these audiences stand out, by reason of the profound influence exerted by the visitor on her royal hostess, as witnessed by the successive encomiums from the Queen's own pen, as the most outstanding feature of those memorable journeys. The three invitations which that indefatigable champion of the Faith received to call on Prince Paul and Princess Olga of Yugoslavia at the Royal Palace in Belgrade; the lectures which she delivered in over four hundred universities and colleges in both the East and the West; her twice repeated visits to all German universities with the exception of two, as well as to nearly a hundred universities, colleges and schools in China; the innumerable articles which she published in newspapers and magazines in practically every country she visited; the numerous broadcasts which she delivered and the unnumbered books she placed in private and state libraries; her personal meetings with the statesmen of more than fifty countries, during her three-months stay in Geneva, in 1932, at the time of the Disarmament Conference; the painstaking efforts she exerted, while on her arduous journeys, in supervising the translation and production of a large number of versions of Dr. Esslemont's "Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era"; the correspondence exchanged with, and the presentation of Bahá'í books to, men of eminence and learning; her pilgrimage to Persia, and the touching homage paid by her to the memory of the heroes of the Faith when visiting the Bahá'í historic sites in that country; her visit to Adrianople, where, in her overflowing love for Bahá'u'lláh, she searched out the houses where He had dwelt and the people whom He had met during His exile to that city, and where she was entertained by its governor and mayor; the ready and unfailing assistance extended by her to the administrators of the Faith in all countries where its institutions had been erected or were being
established--these may be regarded as the highlights of a service which, in many of its aspects, is without parallel in the entire history of the first Bahá'í century.
No less impressive is the list of the names of those whom she interviewed in the course of the execution of her mission, including, in addition to those already mentioned, such royal personages and distinguished figures as King Haakon of Norway; King Feisal of Iraq; King Zog of Albania and members of his family; Princess Marina of Greece (now the Duchess of Kent); Princess Elizabeth of Greece; President Thomas G. Masaryk and President Eduard Benes of Czechoslovakia; the President of Austria; Dr. Sun Yat Sen; Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler, President of Columbia University; Prof. Bogdan Popovitch of Belgrade University; the Foreign Minister of Turkey, Tawfíq Rushdí Bey; the Chinese Foreign Minister and Minister of Education; the Lithuanian Foreign Minister; Prince Muhammad-`Alí of Egypt; Stephen Raditch; the Maharajas of Patiala, of Benares, and of Travancore; the Governor and the Grand Muftí of Jerusalem; Dr. Erling Eidem, Archbishop of Sweden; Sarojini Naidu; Sir Rabindranath Tagore; Madame Huda Sha'raví, the Egyptian feminist leader; Dr. K. Ichiki, minister of the Japanese Imperial Household; Prof. Tetrujiro Inouye, Prof. Emeritus of the Imperial University of Tokyo; Baron Yoshiro Sakatani, member of the House of Peers of Japan and Mehmed Fuad, Doyen of the Faculty of Letters and President of the Institute of Turkish history.
Neither age nor ill-health, neither the paucity of literature which hampered her early efforts, nor the meager resources which imposed an added burden on her labors, neither the extremities of the climates to which she was exposed, nor the political disturbances which she encountered in the course of her journeys, could damp the zeal or deflect the purpose of this spiritually dynamic and saintly woman. Single-handed and, on more than one occasion, in extremely perilous circumstances, she continued to call, in clarion tones, men of diverse creeds, color and classes to the Message of Bahá'u'lláh, until, while in spite of a deadly and painful disease, the onslaught of which she endured with heroic fortitude, she hastened homeward to help in the recently launched Seven Year Plan, she was stricken down on her way, in far off Honolulu. There in that symbolic spot between the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, in both of which she had labored so mightily, she died, on September 28, 1939, and brought to its close a life which may well be regarded as the fairest fruit as yet yielded by the Formative Age of the Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh.
To the injunction of `Abdu'l-Bahá bequeathed in His Will to follow in the footsteps of the disciples of Jesus Christ, "not to rest for a moment," to "travel throughout all regions" and to raise, "without rest and steadfast to the end," "in every land, the cry of `Yá Bahá'u'l-Abhá,'" this immortal heroine yielded an obedience of which the present as well as future generations may well be proud, and which they may emulate.
"Unrestrained as the wind," putting her "whole trust" in God, as "the best provision" for her journey, she fulfilled almost to the letter the wish so poignantly expressed by `Abdu'l-Bahá in the Tablets, whose summons she had instantly arisen to carry out: "O that I could travel, even though on foot and in the utmost poverty, to these regions, and, raising the call of `Yá Bahá'u'l-Abhá in cities, villages, mountains, deserts and oceans, promote the Divine teachings! This, alas, I cannot do. How intensely I deplore it! Please God, ye may achieve it."
"I am deeply distressed to hear of the death of good Miss Martha Root," is the royal tribute paid to her memory by Princess Olga of Yugoslavia, on being informed of her death, "as I had no idea of it. We always enjoyed her visits in the past. She was so kind and gentle, and a real worker for peace. I am sure she will be sadly missed in her work."
"Thou art, in truth, a herald of the Kingdom and a harbinger of the Covenant," is the testimony from the unerring pen of the Center of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant Himself, "Thou art truly self-sacrificing. Thou showest kindness unto all nations. Thou art sowing a seed that shall, in due time, give rise to thousands of harvests. Thou art planting a tree that shall eternally put forth leaves and blossoms and yield fruits, and whose shadow shall day by day grow in magnitude."
Of all the services rendered the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh by this star servant of His Faith, the most superb and by far the most momentous has been the almost instantaneous response evoked in Queen Marie of Rumania to the Message which that ardent and audacious pioneer had carried to her during one of the darkest moments of her life, an hour of bitter need, perplexity and sorrow. "It came," she herself in a letter had testified, "as all great messages come, at an hour of dire grief and inner conflict and distress, so the seed sank deeply."
Eldest daughter of the Duke of Edinburgh, who was the second son of that Queen to whom Bahá'u'lláh had, in a significant Tablet, addressed words of commendation; granddaughter of Czar Alexander II to whom an Epistle had been revealed by that same Pen; related by both birth and marriage to Europe's most prominent families; born in the Anglican Faith; closely associated through her marriage with the
Greek Orthodox Church, the state religion of her adopted country; herself an accomplished authoress; possessed of a charming and radiant personality; highly talented, clear-visioned, daring and ardent by nature; keenly devoted to all enterprises of a humanitarian character, she, alone among her sister-queens, alone among all those of royal birth or station, was moved to spontaneously acclaim the greatness of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh, to proclaim His Fatherhood, as well as the Prophethood of Muhammad, to commend the Bahá'í teachings to all men and women, and to extol their potency, sublimity and beauty.
Through the fearless acknowledgment of her belief to her own kith and kin, and particularly to her youngest daughter; through three successive encomiums that constitute her greatest and abiding legacy to posterity; through three additional appreciations penned by her as her contribution to Bahá'í publications; through several letters written to friends and associates, as well as those addressed to her guide and spiritual mother; through various tokens expressive of faith and gratitude for the glad-tidings that had been brought to her through the orders for Bahá'í books placed by her and her youngest daughter; and lastly through her frustrated pilgrimage to the Holy Land for the express purpose of paying homage at the graves of the Founders of the Faith--through such acts as these this illustrious queen may well deserve to rank as the first of those royal supporters of the Cause of God who are to arise in the future, and each of whom, in the words of Bahá'u'lláh Himself, is to be acclaimed as "the very eye of mankind, the luminous ornament on the brow of creation, the fountainhead of blessings unto the whole world."
"Some of those of my caste," she, in a personal letter, has significantly testified, "wonder at and disapprove my courage to step forward pronouncing words not habitual for crowned heads to pronounce, but I advance by an inner urge I cannot resist. With bowed head I recognize that I too am but an instrument in greater Hands, and I rejoice in the knowledge."
A note which Martha Root, upon her arrival in Bucharest, sent to her Majesty and a copy of "Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era," which accompanied the note, and which so absorbed the Queen's attention that she continued reading it into the small hours of the morning, led, two days later, to the Queen's granting Martha Root an audience, on January 30, 1926, in Controceni Palace in Bucharest, in the course of which her Majesty avowed her belief that "these teachings are the solution for the world's problems"; and from these followed her publication, that same year on her own initiative, of those three epoch-making
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