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The Reconciliation of Races and Religions by Thomas Kelly Cheyne

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_Lafayette, Manchester._





To my dear wife in whose poems are combined an ardent faith, an
universal charity, and a simplicity of style which sometimes reminds
me of the poet seer William Blake may she accept and enjoy the
offering and may a like happiness be my lot when the little volume
reaches the hands of the ambassador of peace.


The primary aim of this work is twofold. It would fain contribute to
the cause of universal peace, and promote the better understanding of
the various religions which really are but one religion. The union of
religions must necessarily precede the union of races, which at
present is so lamentably incomplete. It appears to me that none of the
men or women of good-will is justified in withholding any suggestions
which may have occurred to him. For the crisis, both political and
religious, is alarming.

The question being ultimately a religious one, the author may be
pardoned if he devotes most of his space to the most important of its
religious aspects. He leaves it open to students of Christian politics
to make known what is the actual state of things, and how this is to
be remedied. He has, however, tried to help the reader by reprinting
the very noble Manifesto of the Society of Friends, called forth by
the declaration of war against Germany by England on the fourth day of
August 1914.

In some respects I should have preferred a Manifesto representing the
lofty views of the present Head of another Society of Friends--the
Bahai Fraternity. Peace on earth has been the ideal of the Babis
and Bahais since the Babs time, and Professor E. G. Browne has
perpetuated Baha-'ullah's noble declaration of the imminent setting up
of the kingdom of God, based upon universal peace. But there is such a
thrilling actuality in the Manifesto of the Disciples of George Fox
that I could not help availing myself of Mr. Isaac Sharp's kind
permission to me to reprint it. It is indeed an opportune setting
forth of the eternal riches, which will commend itself, now as never
before, to those who can say, with the Grandfather in Tagore's poem,
'I am a jolly pilgrim to the land of losing everything.' The rulers of
this world certainly do not cherish this ideal; but the imminent
reconstruction of international relations will have to be founded upon
it if we are not to sink back into the gulf of militarism.

I have endeavoured to study the various races and religions on their
best side, and not to fetter myself to any individual teacher or
party, for 'out of His fulness have all we received.' Max Muller was
hardly right in advising the Brahmists to call themselves Christians,
and it is a pity that we so habitually speak of Buddhists and
Mohammedans. I venture to remark that the favourite name of the Bahais
among themselves is 'Friends.' The ordinary name Bahai comes from the
divine name Baha, 'Glory (of God),' so that Abdu'l Baha means 'Servant
of the Glory (of God).' One remembers the beautiful words of the Latin
collect, 'Cui servire regnare est.'

Abdu'l Baha (when in Oxford) graciously gave me a 'new name.'
[Footnote: Ruhani ('spiritual').] Evidently he thought that my work
was not entirely done, and would have me be ever looking for help to
the Spirit, whose 'strength is made perfect in weakness.' Since then
he has written me a Tablet (letter), from which I quote the following

_'O thou, my spiritual philosopher,_

'Thy letter was received. In reality its contents were eloquent, for
it was an evidence of thy literary fairness and of thy investigation
of Reality.... There were many Doctors amongst the Jews, but they were
all earthly, but St. Paul became heavenly because he could fly
upwards. In his own time no one duly recognized him; nay, rather, he
spent his days amidst difficulties and contempt. Afterwards it became
known that he was not an earthly bird, he was a celestial one; he was
not a natural philosopher, but a divine philosopher.

'It is likewise my hope that in the future the East and the West may
become conscious that thou wert a divine philosopher and a herald to
the Kingdom.'

I have no wish to write my autobiography, but may mention here that I
sympathize largely with Vambery, a letter from whom to Abdu'l Baha
will be found farther on; though I should express my own adhesion to
the Bahai leader in more glowing terms. Wishing to get nearer to a
'human-catholic' religion I have sought the privilege of simultaneous
membership of several brotherhoods of Friends of God. It is my wish to
show that both these and other homes of spiritual life are, when
studied from the inside, essentially one, and that religions
necessarily issue in racial and world-wide unity.

OXFORD, _August_ 1914.












_A Message (reprinted by permission) from the Religious Society of

We find ourselves to-day in the midst of what may prove to be the
fiercest conflict in the history of the human race. Whatever may be
our view of the processes which have led to its inception, we have now
to face the fact that war is proceeding upon a terrific scale and that
our own country is involved in it.

We recognize that our Government has made most strenuous efforts to
preserve peace, and has entered into the war under a grave sense of
duty to a smaller State, towards which we had moral and treaty
obligations. While, as a Society, we stand firmly to the belief that
the method of force is no solution of any question, we hold that the
present moment is not one for criticism, but for devoted service to
our nation.

What is to be the attitude of Christian men and women and of all who
believe in the brotherhood of humanity? In the distress and perplexity
of this new situation, many are so stunned as scarcely to be able to
discern the path of duty. In the sight of God we should seek to get
back to first principles, and to determine on a course of action which
shall prove us to be worthy citizens of His Kingdom. In making this
effort let us remember those groups of men and women, in all the other
nations concerned, who will be animated by a similar spirit, and who
believe with us that the fundamental unity of men in the family of God
is the one enduring reality, even when we are forced into an apparent
denial of it. Although it would be premature to make any
pronouncement upon many aspects of the situation on which we have no
sufficient data for a reliable judgment, we can, and do, call
ourselves and you to a consideration of certain principles which may
safely be enunciated.

1. The conditions which have made this catastrophe possible must be
regarded by us as essentially unchristian. This war spells the
bankruptcy of much that we too lightly call Christian. No nation, no
Church, no individual can be wholly exonerated. We have all
participated to some extent in these conditions. We have been content,
or too little discontented, with them. If we apportion blame, let us
not fail first to blame ourselves, and to seek the forgiveness of
Almighty God.

2. In the hour of darkest night it is not for us to lose heart. Never
was there greater need for men of faith. To many will come the
temptation to deny God, and to turn away with despair from the
Christianity which seems to be identified with bloodshed on so
gigantic a scale. Christ is crucified afresh to-day. If some forsake
Him and flee, let it be more clear that there are others who take
their stand with Him, come what may.

3. This we may do by continuing to show the spirit of love to all. For
those whose conscience forbids them to take up arms there are other
ways of serving, and definite plans are already being made to enable
them to take their full share in helping their country at this
crisis. In pity and helpfulness towards the suffering and stricken in
our own country we shall all share. If we stop at this, 'what do we
more than others?' Our Master bids us pray for and love our enemies.
May we be saved from forgetting that they too are the children of our
Father. May we think of them with love and pity. May we banish
thoughts of bitterness, harsh judgments, the revengeful spirit. To do
this is in no sense unpatriotic. We may find ourselves the subjects
of misunderstanding. But our duty is clear--to be courageous in the
cause of love and in the hate of hate. May we prepare ourselves even
now for the day when once more we shall stand shoulder to shoulder
with those with whom we are now at war, in seeking to bring in the
Kingdom of God.

4. It is not too soon to begin to think out the new situation which
will arise at the close of the war. We are being compelled to face the
fact that the human race has been guilty of a gigantic folly. We have
built up a culture, a civilization, and even a religious life,
surpassing in many respects that of any previous age, and we have been
content to rest it all upon a foundation of sand. Such a state of
society cannot endure so long as the last word in human affairs is
brute force. Sooner or later it was bound to crumble. At the close of
this war we shall be faced with a stupendous task of reconstruction.
In some ways it will be rendered supremely difficult by the legacy of
ill-will, by the destruction of human life, by the tax upon all in
meeting the barest wants of the millions who will have suffered
through the war. But in other ways it will be easier. We shall be able
to make a new start, and to make it all together. From this point of
view we may even see a ground of comfort in the fact that our own
nation is involved. No country will be in a position which will compel
others to struggle again to achieve the inflated standard of military
power existing before the war. We shall have an opportunity of
reconstructing European culture upon the only possible permanent
foundation--mutual trust and good-will. Such a reconstruction would
not only secure the future of European civilization, but would save
the world from the threatened catastrophe of seeing the great nations
of the East building their new social order also upon the sand, and
thus turning the thought and wealth needed for their education and
development into that which could only be a fetter to themselves and a
menace to the West. Is it too much to hope for that we shall, when
the time comes, be able as brethren together to lay down far-reaching
principles for the future of mankind such as will ensure us for ever
against a repetition of this gigantic folly? If this is to be
accomplished it will need the united and persistent pressure of all
who believe in such a future for mankind. There will still be
multitudes who can see no good in the culture of other nations, and
who are unable to believe in any genuine brotherhood among those of
different races. Already those who think otherwise must begin to think
and plan for such a future if the supreme opportunity of the final
peace is not to be lost, and if we are to be saved from being again
sucked down into the whirlpool of military aggrandizement and
rivalry. In time of peace all the nations have been preparing for
war. In the time of war let all men of good-will prepare for
peace. The Christian conscience must be awakened to the magnitude of
the issues. The great friendly democracies in each country must be
ready to make their influence felt. Now is the time to speak of this
thing, to work for it, to pray for it.

5. If this is to happen, it seems to us of vital importance that the
war should not be carried on in any vindictive spirit, and that it
should be brought to a close at the earliest possible moment. We
should have it clearly before our minds from the beginning that we are
not going into it in order to crush and humiliate any nation. The
conduct of negotiations has taught us the necessity of prompt action
in international affairs. Should the opportunity offer, we, in this
nation, should be ready to act with promptitude in demanding that the
terms suggested are of a kind which it will be possible for all
parties to accept, and that the negotiations be entered upon in the
right spirit.

6. We believe in God. Human free will gives us power to hinder the
fulfilment of His loving purposes. It also means that we may actively
co-operate with Him. If it is given to us to see something of a
glorious possible future, after all the desolation and sorrow that lie
before us, let us be sure that sight has been given us by Him. No day
should close without our putting up our prayer to Him that He will
lead His family into a new and better day. At a time when so severe a
blow is being struck at the great causes of moral, social, and
religious reform for which so many have struggled, we need to look
with expectation and confidence to Him, whose cause they are, and find
a fresh inspiration in the certainty of His victory.

_August 7, 1914._

'In time of war let all men of good-will prepare for peace.' German,
French, and English scholars and investigators have done much to show
that the search for truth is one of the most powerful links between
the different races and nations. It is absurd to speak--as many
Germans do habitually speak--of 'deutsche Wissenschaft,' as if the
glorious tree of scientific and historical knowledge were a purely
German production. Many wars like that which closed at Sedan and that
which is still, most unhappily, in progress will soon drive lovers of
science and culture to the peaceful regions of North America!

The active pursuit of truth is, therefore, one of those things which
make for peace. But can we say this of moral and religious truth? In
this domain are we not compelled to be partisans and particularists?
And has not liberal criticism shown that the religious traditions of
all races and nations are to be relegated to the least cultured
classes? That is the question to the treatment of which I (as a
Christian student) offer some contributions in the present volume. But
I would first of all express my hearty sympathy with the friends of
God in the noble Russian Church, which has appointed the following
prayer among others for use at the present crisis: [Footnote:
_Church Times_, Sept. 4, 1914.]

'_Deacon_. Stretch forth Thine hand, O Lord, from on high, and
touch the hearts of our enemies, that they may turn unto Thee, the God
of peace Who lovest Thy creatures: and for Thy Name's sake strengthen
us who put our trust in Thee by Thy might, we beseech Thee. Hear us
and have mercy.'

Certainly it is hardness of heart which strikes us most painfully in
our (we hope) temporary enemies. The only excuse is that in the Book
which Christian nations agree to consider as in some sense and degree
religiously authoritative, the establishment of the rule of the Most
High is represented as coincident with extreme severities, or--as we
might well say--cruelties. I do not, however, think that the excuse,
if offered, would be valid. The Gospels must overbear any inconsistent
statement of the Old Testament.

But the greatest utterances of human morality are to be found in the
Buddhist Scriptures, and it is a shame to the European peoples that
the Buddhist Indian king Asoka should be more Christian than the
leaders of 'German culture.' I for my part love the old Germany far
better than the new, and its high ideals would I hand on, filling up
its omissions and correcting its errors. 'O house of Israel, come ye,
let us walk in the light of the Lord.' Thou art 'the God of peace Who
lovest Thy creatures.'




The crisis in the Christian Church is now so acute that we may well
seek for some mode of escape from its pressure. The Old Broad Church
position is no longer adequate to English circumstances, and there is
not yet in existence a thoroughly satisfactory new and original
position for a Broad Church student to occupy. Shall we, then, desert
the old historic Church in which we were christened and educated? It
would certainly be a loss, and not only to ourselves. Or shall we wait
with drooping head to be driven out of the Church? Such a cowardly
solution may be at once dismissed. Happily we have in the Anglican
Church virtually no excommunication. Our only course as students is
to go forward, and endeavour to expand our too narrow Church
boundaries. Modernists we are; modernists we will remain; let our only
object be to be worthy of this noble name.

But we cannot be surprised that our Church rulers are perplexed. For
consider the embarrassing state of critical investigation. Critical
study of the Gospels has shown that very little of the traditional
material can be regarded as historical; it is even very uncertain
whether the Galilean prophet really paid the supreme penalty as a
supposed enemy of Rome on the shameful cross. Even apart from the
problem referred to, it is more than doubtful whether critics have
left us enough stones standing in the life of Jesus to serve as the
basis of a christology or doctrine of the divine Redeemer. And yet one
feels that a theology without a theophany is both dry and difficult to
defend. We want an avatar, i.e. a 'descent' of God in human
form; indeed, we seem to need several such 'descents,' appropriate to
the changing circumstances of the ages. Did not the author of the
Fourth Gospel recognize this? Certainly his portrait of Jesus is so
widely different from that of the Synoptists that a genuine
reconciliation seems impossible. I would not infer from this that the
Jesus of the Fourth Gospel belonged to a different age from the Jesus
of the Synoptists, but I would venture to say that the Fourth
Evangelist would be easier to defend if he held this theory. The
Johannine Jesus ought to have belonged to a different aeon.


Well, then, it is reasonable to turn for guidance and help to the
East. There was living quite lately a human being of such consummate
excellence that many think it is both permissible and inevitable even
to identify him mystically with the invisible Godhead. Let us admit,
such persons say, that Jesus was the very image of God. But he lived
for his own age and his own people; the Jesus of the critics has but
little to say, and no redemptive virtue issues from him to us. But the
'Blessed Perfection,' as Baha'ullah used to be called, lives for our
age, and offers his spiritual feast to men of all peoples. His story,
too, is liable to no diminution at the hands of the critics, simply
because the facts of his life are certain. He has now passed from
sight, but he is still in the ideal world, a true image of God and a
true lover of man, and helps forward the reform of all those manifold
abuses which hinder the firm establishment of the kingdom of God. I
shall return to this presently. Meanwhile, suffice it to say that
though I entertain the highest reverence and love for Baha'ullah's
son, Abdul Baha, whom I regard as a Mahatma--'a great-souled one'--and
look up to as one of the highest examples in the spiritual firmament,
I hold no brief for the Bahai community, and can be as impartial in
dealing with facts relating to the Bahais as with facts which happen
to concern my own beloved mother-church, the Church of England.

I shall first of all ask, how it came to pass that so many of us are
now seeking help and guidance from the East, some from India, some
from Persia, some (which is my own case) from India and from Persia.


So far as Persia is concerned, the reason is that its religious
experience has been no less varied than ancient. Zoroaster, Manes,
Christ, Muhammad, Dh'u-Nun (the introducer of Sufism), Sheykh
Ahmad (the forerunner of Babism), the Bab himself and Baha'ullah
(the two Manifestations), have all left an ineffaceable mark on the
national life. The Bab, it is true, again and again expresses his
repugnance to the 'lies' of the Sufis, and the Babis are not
behind him; but there are traces enough of the influence of Sufism
on the new Prophet and his followers. The passion for martyrdom seems
of itself to presuppose a tincture of Sufism, for it is the most
extreme form of the passion for God, and to love God fervently but
steadily in preference to all the pleasures of the phenomenal world,
is characteristically Sufite.

What is it, then, in Sufism that excites the Bab's indignation? It
is not the doctrine of the soul's oneness with God as the One Absolute
Being, and the reality of the soul's ecstatic communion with Him.
Several passages are quoted by Mons. Nicolas [Footnote: _Beyan
arabe_, pp. 3-18.] on the attitude of the Bab towards Sufism;
suffice it here to quote one of them.

'Others (i.e. those who claim, as being identified with God, to
possess absolute truth) are known by the name of Sufis, and believe
themselves to possess the internal sense of the Shari'at [Footnote:
The orthodox Law of Islam, which many Muslims seek to allegorize.]
when they are in ignorance alike of its apparent and of its inward
meaning, and have fallen far, very far from it! One may perhaps say of
them that those people who have no understanding have chosen the route
which is entirely of darkness and of doubt.'

Ignorance, then, is, according to the Bab, the great fault of the
Sufis [Footnote: Yet the title Sufi connotes knowledge. It means
probably 'one who (like the Buddha on his statues) has a heavenly
eye.' Prajnaparamita (_Divine Wisdom_) has the same third
eye (Havell, _Indian Sculpture and Painting_, illustr. XLV.).]
whom he censures, and we may gather that that ignorance was thought to
be especially shown in a crude pantheism and a doctrine of incarnation
which, according to the Bab, amounts to sheer polytheism. [Footnote
4: The technical term is 'association.'] God in Himself, says the
Bab, cannot be known, though a reflected image of Him is attainable
by taking heed to His manifestations or perfect portraitures.

Some variety of Sufism, however, sweetly and strongly permeates the
teaching of the Bab. It is a Sufism which consists, not in
affiliation to any Sufi order, but in the knowledge and love of the
Source of the Eternal Ideals. Through detachment from this perishable
world and earnest seeking for the Eternal, a glimpse of the unseen
Reality can be attained. The form of this only true knowledge is
subject to change; fresh 'mirrors' or 'portraits' are provided at the
end of each recurring cosmic cycle or aeon. But the substance is
unchanged and unchangeable. As Prof. Browne remarks, 'the prophet of a
cycle is naught but a reflexion of the Primal Will,--the same sun with
a new horizon.' [Footnote: _NH_, p. 335.]


Such a prophet was the Bab; we call him 'prophet' for want of a
better name; 'yea, I say unto you, a prophet and more than a prophet.'
His combination of mildness and power is so rare that we have to place
him in a line with super-normal men. But he was also a great mystic
and an eminent theosophic speculator. We learn that, at great points
in his career, after he had been in an ecstasy, such radiance of might
and majesty streamed from his countenance that none could bear to look
upon the effulgence of his glory and beauty. Nor was it an uncommon
occurrence for unbelievers involuntarily to bow down in lowly
obeisance on beholding His Holiness; while the inmates of the castle,
though for the most part Christians and Sunnis, reverently prostrated
themselves whenever they saw the visage of His Holiness. [Footnote:
_NH_, pp. 241, 242.] Such transfiguration is well known to the
saints. It was regarded as the affixing of the heavenly seal to the
reality and completeness of Bab's detachment. And from the Master we
learn [Footnote: Mirza Jani (_NH_, p. 242).] that it passed to
his disciples in proportion to the degree of their renunciation. But
these experiences were surely characteristic, not only of Babism,
but of Sufism. Ecstatic joy is the dominant note of Sufism, a joy
which was of other-worldly origin, and compatible with the deepest
tranquillity, and by which we are made like to the Ever-rejoicing
One. The mystic poet Far'idu'd-din writes thus,--

Joy! joy! I triumph now; no more I know
Myself as simply me. I burn with love.
The centre is within me, and its wonder
Lies as a circle everywhere about me. [a]

[Footnote a: Hughes, _Dict. of Islam_, p. 618 _b_.]

And of another celebrated Sufi Sheykh (Ibnu'l Far'id) his son writes
as follows: 'When moved to ecstasy by listening [to devotional
recitations and chants] his face would increase in beauty and
radiance, while the perspiration dripped from all his body until it
ran under his feet into the ground.' [Footnote: Browne, _Literary
History of Persia_, ii. 503.]


Sufism, however, which in the outset was a spiritual pantheism,
combined with quietism, developed in a way that was by no means so
satisfactory. The saintly mystic poet Abu Sa'id had defined it thus:
'To lay aside what thou hast in thy head (desires and ambitions), and
to give away what thou hast in thy hand, and not to flinch from
whatever befalls thee.' [Footnote: _Ibid_. ii. 208.] This is,
of course, not intended as a complete description, but shows that the
spirit of the earlier Sufism was profoundly ethical. Count Gobineau,
however, assures us that the Sufism which he knew was both
enervating and immoral. Certainly the later Sufi poets were inclined
to overpress symbolism, and the luscious sweetness of the poetry may
have been unwholesome for some--both for poets and for readers. Still
I question whether, for properly trained readers, this evil result
should follow. The doctrine of the impermanence of all that is not God
and that love between two human hearts is but a type of the love
between God and His human creatures, and that the supreme happiness is
that of identification with God, has never been more alluringly
expressed than by the Sufi poets.

The Sufis, then, are true forerunners of the Bab and his
successors. There are also two men, Muslims but no Sufis, who have a
claim to the same title. But I must first of all do honour to an
Indian Sufi.


The message of this noble company has been lately brought to the West.
[Footnote: _Message Soufi de la Liberte Spirituelle_ (Paris,
1913).] The bearer, who is in the fulness of youthful strength, is
Inayat Khan, a member of the Sufi Order, a practised speaker, and
also devoted to the traditional sacred music of India. His own teacher
on his death-bed gave him this affecting charge: 'Goest thou abroad
into the world, harmonize the East and the West with thy music; spread
the knowledge of Sufism, for thou art gifted by Allah, the Most
Merciful and Compassionate.' So, then, Vivekananda, Abdu'l Baha, and
Inayat Khan, not to mention here several Buddhist monks, are all
missionaries of Eastern religious culture to Western, and two of these
specially represent Persia. We cannot do otherwise than thank God for
the concordant voice of Bahaite and Sufite. Both announce the
Evangel of the essential oneness of humanity which will one day--and
sooner than non-religious politicians expect--be translated into fact,
and, as the first step towards this 'desire of all nations,' they
embrace every opportunity of teaching the essential unity of

Pagodas, just as mosques, are homes of prayer,
'Tis prayer that church-bells chime unto the air;
Yea, Church and Ka'ba, Rosary and Cross,
Are all but divers tongues of world-wide prayer. [a]

[Footnote a: Whinfield's translation of the quatrains of Omar
Khayyam, No. 22 (34).]

So writes a poet (Omar Khayyam) whom Inayat Khan claims as a Sufi,
and who at any rate seems to have had Sufi intervals. Unmixed
spiritual prayer may indeed be uncommon, but we may hope that prayer
with no spiritual elements at all is still more rare. It is the object
of prophets to awaken the consciousness of the people to its spiritual
needs. Of this class of men Inayat Khan speaks thus,--

'The prophetic mission was to bring into the world the Divine Wisdom,
to apportion it to the world according to that world's comprehension,
to adapt it to its degree of mental evolution as well as to dissimilar
countries and periods. It is by this adaptability that the many
religions which have emanated from the same moral principle differ the
one from the other, and it is by this that they exist. In fact, each
prophet had for his mission to prepare the world for the teaching of
the prophet who was to succeed him, and each of them foretold the
coming of his successor down to Mahomet, the last messenger of the
divine Wisdom, and as it were the look-out point in which all the
prophetic cycle was centred. For Mahomet resumed the divine Wisdom in
this proclamation, "Nothing exists, God alone is,"--the final message
whither the whole line of the prophets tended, and where the
boundaries of religions and philosophies took their start. With this
message prophetic interventions are henceforth useless.

'The Sufi has no prejudice against any prophet, and, contrary to
those who only love one to hate the other, the Sufi regards them all
as the highest attribute of God, as Wisdom herself, present under the
appearance of names and forms. He loves them with all his worship,
for the lover worships the Beloved in all Her garments.... It is thus
that the Sufis contemplate their Well-beloved, Divine Wisdom, in all
her robes, in her different ages, and under all the names that she
bears,--Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Mahomet.' [Footnote: _Message Soufi
de la Liberte_ (Paris, 1913), pp. 34, 35.]

The idea of the equality of the members of the world-wide prophethood,
the whole body of prophets being the unique personality of Divine
Wisdom, is, in my judgment, far superior to the corresponding theory
of the exclusive Muhammadan orthodoxy. That theory is that each
prophet represents an advance on his predecessor, whom he therefore
supersedes. Now, that Muhammad as a prophet was well adapted to the
Arabians, I should be most unwilling to deny. I am also heartily of
opinion that a Christian may well strengthen his own faith by the
example of the fervour of many of the Muslims. But to say that the
Kur'an is superior to either the Old Testament or the New is,
surely, an error, only excusable on the ground of ignorance. It is
true, neither of Judaism nor of Christianity were the representatives
in Muhammad's time such as we should have desired; ignorance on
Muhammad's part was unavoidable. But unavoidable also was the
anti-Islamic reaction, as represented especially by the Order of the
Sufis. One may hope that both action and reaction may one day become
unnecessary. _That_ will depend largely on the Bahais.

It is time, however, to pass on to those precursors of Babism who
were neither Sufites nor Zoroastrians, but who none the less
continued the line of the national religious development. The majority
of Persians were Shi'ites; they regarded Ali and the 'Imams' as
virtually divine manifestations. This at least was their point of
union; otherwise they fell into two great divisions, known as the
'Sect of the Seven' and the 'Sect of the Twelve' respectively. Mirza
Ali Muhammad belonged by birth to the latter, which now forms the
State-religion of Persia, but there are several points in his doctrine
which he held in common with the former (i.e. the Ishma'ilis).
These are--'the successive incarnations of the Universal Reason, the
allegorical interpretation of Scripture, and the symbolism of every
ritual form and every natural phenomenon. [Footnote: _NH_,
introd. p. xiii.] The doctrine of the impermanence of all that is
not God, and that love between two human hearts is but a type of the
love between God and his human creatures, and the bliss of
self-annihilation, had long been inculcated in the most winning manner
by the Sufis.


Yet they were no Sufis, but precursors of Babism in a more
thorough and special sense, and both were Muslims. The first was
Sheykh Ahmad of Ahsa, in the province of Bahrein. He knew full
well that he was chosen of God to prepare men's hearts for the
reception of the more complete truth shortly to be revealed, and that
through him the way of access to the hidden twelfth Imam Mahdi was
reopened. But he did not set this forth in clear and unmistakable
terms, lest 'the unregenerate' should turn again and rend him.
According to a Shi'ite authority he paid two visits to Persia, in one
of which he was in high favour with the Court, and received as a
yearly subsidy from the Shah's son the sum of 700 tumans, and in the
other, owing chiefly to a malicious colleague, his theological
doctrines brought him into much disrepute. Yet he lived as a pious
Muslim, and died in the odour of sanctity, as a pilgrim to Mecca.
[Footnote: See _AMB_ (Nicolas), pp. 264-272; _NH_, pp. 235,

One of his opponents (Mulla 'Ali) said of him that he was 'an
ignorant man with a pure heart.' Well, ignorant we dare not call him,
except with a big qualification, for his aim required great knowledge;
it was nothing less than the reconciliation of all truth, both
metaphysical and scientific. Now he had certainly taken much trouble
about truth, and had written many books on philosophy and the sciences
as understood in Islamic countries. We can only qualify our eulogy by
admitting that he was unaware of the limitations of human nature, and
of the weakness of Persian science. Pure in heart, however, he was;
no qualification is needed here, except it be one which Mulla 'Ali
would not have regarded as requiring any excuse. For purity he (like
many others) understood in a large sense. It was the reward of
courageous 'buffeting' and enslaving of the body; he was an austere

He had a special devotion to Ja'far-i-Sadik, [Footnote: _TN_,
p. 297.] the sixth Imam, whose guidance he believed himself to
enjoy in dreams, and whose words he delighted to quote. Of course,
'Ali was the director of the council of the Imams, but the
councillors were not much less, and were equally faithful as mirrors
of the Supreme. This remains true, even if 'Ali be regarded as himself
the Supreme God [Footnote: The Sheykh certainly tended in the
direction of the sect of the 'Ali-Ilabis (_NH_, p. 142; Kremer,
_Herrschende Ideen des Islams_, p. 31), who belonged to the _ghulat_
or extreme Shi'ites (Browne, _Lit. Hist. of Persia_, p. 310).]
identical with Allah or with the Ormazd (Ahura-Mazda) of the
Zoroastrians. For the twelve Imams were all of the rank of
divinities. Not that they were 'partners' with God; they were simply
manifestations of the Invisible God. But they were utterly veracious
Manifestations; in speaking of Allah (as the Sheykh taught) wer may
venture to intend 'Ali. [Footnote: The Sheykh held that in reciting
the opening _sura_ of the Kur'an the worshipper should think of
'Ali, should intend 'Ali, as his God.]

This explains how the Sheykh can have taught that the Imams took
part in creation and are agents in the government of the world. In
support of this he quoted Kur'an, Sur. xxiii. 14, 'God the best of
Creators,' and, had he been a broader and more scientific theologian,
might have mentioned how the Amshaspands (Ameshaspentas) are grouped
with Ormazd in the creation-story of Zoroastrianism, and how, in that
of Gen. i., the Director of the Heavenly Council says, 'Let _us_
make man.' [Footnote: Genesis i. 22.]

The Sheykh also believed strongly in the existence of a subtle body
which survives the dissolution of the palpable, material body,
[Footnote: _TN_, p. 236.] and will alone be visible at the
Resurrection. Nothing almost gave more offence than this; it seemed to
be only a few degrees better than the absolute denial of the
resurrection-body ventured upon by the Akhbaris. [Footnote: Gobineau,
pp. 39, 40.] And yet the notion of a subtle, internal body, a notion
which is Indian as well as Persian, has been felt even by many
Westerns to be for them the only way to reconcile reason and faith.


On Ahmad's death the unanimous choice of the members of the school
fell on Seyyid (Sayyid) Kazim of Resht, who had been already
nominated by the Sheykh. He pursued the same course as his
predecessor, and attracted many inquirers and disciples. Among the
latter was the lady Kurratu'l 'Ayn, born in a town where the Sheykhi
sect was strong, and of a family accustomed to religious controversy.
He was not fifty when he died, but his career was a distinguished one.
Himself a Gate, he discerned the successor by whom he was to be
overshadowed, and he was the teacher of the famous lady referred
to. To what extent 'Ali Muhammad (the subsequent Bab) was
instructed by him is uncertain. It was long enough no doubt to make
him a Sheykhite and to justify 'Ali Muhammad in his own eyes for
raising Sheykh Ahmad and the Seyyid Kazim to the dignity of Bab.
[Footnote: _AMB_, pp. 91, 95; cp. _NH_, p. 342.]

There seems to be conclusive evidence that Seyyid Kazim adverted
often near the close of life to the divine Manifestation which he
believed to be at hand. He was fond of saying, 'I see him as the
rising sun.' He was also wont to declare that the 'Proof' would be a
youth of the race of Hashim, i.e. a kinsman of Muhammad,
untaught in the learning of men. Of a dream which he heard from an
Arab (when in Turkish Arabia), he said, 'This dream signifies that my
departure from the world is near at hand'; and when his friends wept
at this, he remonstrated with them, saying, 'Why are ye troubled in
mind? Desire ye not that I should depart, and that the truth [in
person] should appear?' [Footnote: _NH_, p. 31.]

I leave it an open question whether Seyyid Kazim had actually fixed
on the person who was to be his successor, and to reflect the Supreme
Wisdom far more brilliantly than himself. But there is no reason to
doubt that he regarded his own life and labours as transitional, and
it is possible that by the rising sun of which he loved to speak he
meant that strange youth of Shiraz who had been an irregular attendant
at his lectures. Very different, it is true, is the Muhammadan
legend. It states that 'Ali Muhammad was present at Karbala from
the death of the Master, that he came to an understanding with members
of the school, and that after starting certain miracle-stories, all of
them proceeded to Mecca, to fulfil the predictions which connected the
Prophet-Messiah with that Holy City, where, with bared sabre, he would
summon the peoples to the true God.

This will, I hope, suffice to convince the reader that both the Sufi
Order and the Sheykhite Sect were true forerunners of Babism and
Bahaism. He will also readily admit that, for the Sufis especially,
the connexion with a church of so weak a historic sense was most
unfortunate. It would be the best for all parties if Muslims both
within and without the Sufi Order accepted a second home in a church
(that of Abha) whose historical credentials are unexceptionable,
retaining membership of the old home, so as to be able to reform from
within, but superadding membership of the new. Whether this is
possible on a large scale, the future must determine. It will not be
possible if those who combine the old home with a new one become
themselves thereby liable to persecution. It will not even be
desirable unless the new-comers bring with them doctrinal (I do not
say dogmatic) contributions to the common stock of Bahai
truths--contributions of those things for which alone in their hearts
the immigrant Muslim brothers infinitely care.

It will be asked, What are, to a Muslim, and especially to a Shi'ite
Muslim, infinitely precious things? I will try to answer this
question. First of all, in time of trouble, the Muslim certainly
values as a 'pearl of great price' the Mercifulness and Compassion of
God. Those who believingly read the Kur'an or recite the opening
prayer, and above all, those who pass through deep waters, cannot do
otherwise. No doubt the strict justice of God, corresponding to and
limited by His compassion, is also a true jewel. We may admit that the
judicial severity of Allah has received rather too much stress; still
there must be occasions on which, from earthly caricatures of justice
pious Muslims flee for refuge in their thoughts to the One Just
Judge. Indeed, the great final Judgment is, to a good Muslim, a much
stronger incentive to holiness than the sensuous descriptions of
Paradise, which indeed he will probably interpret symbolically.

The true Muslim will be charitable even to the lower animals.
[Footnote: Nicholson, _The Mystics of Islam_, p. 108.] Neither
poor-law nor Society for the Protection of Animals is required in
Muslim countries. How soon organizations arose for the care of the
sick, and, in war-time, of the wounded, it would be difficult to say;
for Buddhists and Hindus were of course earlier in the field than
Muslims, inheriting as they did an older moral culture. In the Muslim
world, however, the twelfth century saw the rise of the Kadirite
Order, with its philanthropic procedure. [Footnote: D. S.
Margoliouth, _Mohammedanism_, pp. 211-212.] Into the ideal of man, as
conceived by our Muslim brothers, there must therefore enter the
feature of mercifulness. We cannot help sympathizing with this, even
though we think Abdul Baha's ideal richer and nobler than any as yet
conceived by any Muslim saint.

There is also the idea--the realized idea--of brotherhood, a
brotherhood which is simply an extension of the equality of Arabian
tribesmen. There is no caste in Islam; each believer stands in the
same relation to the Divine Sovereign. There may be poor, but it is
the rich man's merit to relieve them. There may be slaves, but slaves
and masters are religiously one, and though there are exceptions to
the general kindliness of masters and mistresses, it is in East Africa
that these lamentable inconsistencies are mostly found. The Muslim
brothers who may join the Bahais will not find it hard to shake off
their moral weaknesses, and own themselves brothers of their servants.
Are we not all (they will say) sons of Adam? Lastly, there is the
character of Muhammad. Perfect he was not, but Baha'ullah was
hardly quite fair to Muhammad when (if we may trust a tradition) he
referred to the Arabian prophet as a camel-driver. It is a most
inadequate description. He had a 'rare beauty and sweetness of
nature' to which he joined a 'social and political genius' and
'towering manhood.' [Footnote: Sister Nivedita, _The Web of Indian
Life_, pp. 242, 243.]

These are the chief contributions which Muslim friends and lovers will
be able to make; these, the beliefs which we shall hold more firmly
through our brothers' faith. Will Muslims accept as well as proffer
gifts? Speaking of a Southern Morocco Christian mission, S. L.
Bensusan admits that it does not make Christians out of Moors, but
claims that it 'teaches the Moors to live finer lives within the
limits of their own faith.' [Footnote: _Morocco_ (A. & C. Black),
p. 164.]

I should like to say something here about the sweetness of
Muhammad. It appears not only in his love for his first wife and
benefactress, Khadijah, but in his affection for his daughter,
Fatima. This affection has passed over to the Muslims, who call her
very beautifully 'the Salutation of all Muslims.' The Babis affirm
that Fatima returned to life in their own great heroine.

There is yet another form of religion that I must not neglect--the
Zoroastrian or Parsi faith. Far as this faith may have travelled from
its original spirituality, it still preserved in the Bab's time some
elements of truth which were bound to become a beneficial leaven. This
high and holy faith (as represented in the Gathas) was still the
religion of the splendour or glory of God, still the champion of the
Good Principle against the Evil. As if to show his respectful
sympathy for an ancient and persecuted religion the Bab borrowed
some minor points of detail from his Parsi neighbours. Not on these,
however, would I venture to lay any great stress, but rather on the
doctrines and beliefs in which a Parsi connexion may plausibly be
held. For instance, how can we help tracing a parallel between 'Ali
and the Imams on the one hand and Ahura-Mazda (Ormazd) and his council
of Amshaspands (Amesha-spentas) on the other? The founders of both
religions conceived it to be implied in the doctrine of the Divine
Omnipresence that God should be represented in every place by His
celestial councillors, who would counteract the machinations of the
Evil Ones. For Evil Ones there are; so at least Islam holds. Their
efforts are foredoomed to failure, because their kingdom has no unity
or cohesion. But strange mystic potencies they have, as all pious
Muslims think, and we must remember that 'Ali Muhammad (the Bab)
was bred up in the faith of Islam.

Well, then, we can now proceed further and say that our Parsi friends
can offer us gifts worth the having. When they rise in the morning
they know that they have a great warfare to wage, and that they are
not alone, but have heavenly helpers. This form of representation is
not indeed the only one, but who shall say that we can dispense with
it? Even if evil be but the shadow of good, a _Maya_, an appearance,
yet must we not act as if it had a real existence, and combat it with
all our might?

May we also venture to include Buddhism among the religions which may
directly or indirectly have prepared the way for Bahaism? We may; the
evidence is as follows. Manes, or Mani, the founder of the
widely-spread sect of the Manichaeans, who lived in the third century
of our era, writes thus in the opening of one of his books,--
[Footnote: _Literary History of Persia_, i. 103.]

'Wisdom and deeds have always from time to time been brought to
mankind by the messengers of God. So in one age they have been brought
by the messenger of God called Buddha to India, in another by
Zoroaster to Persia, in another by Jesus to the West. Thereafter this
revelation has come down, this prophecy in this last age, through me,
Mani, the Messenger of the God of Truth to Babylonia' ('Irak).

This is valid evidence for at least the period before that of Mani. We
have also adequate proofs of the continued existence of Buddhism in
Persia in the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries; indeed, we
may even assert this for Bactria and E. Persia with reference to
nearly 1000 years before the Muhammadan conquest. [Footnote:
R. A. Nicholson, _The Mystics_, p. 18. Cp. E. G. Browne,
_Lit. Hist. of Persia_, ii. 440 _ff_.]

Buddhism, then, battled for leave to do the world good in its own way,
though the intolerance of Islam too soon effaced its footprints. There
is still some chance, however, that Sufism may be a record of its
activity; in fact, this great religious upgrowth may be of Indian
rather than of Neoplatonic origin, so that the only question is
whether Sufism developed out of the Vedanta or out of the religious
philosophy of Buddhism. That, however, is too complex a question to
be discussed here.

All honour to Buddhism for its noble effort. In some undiscoverable
way Buddhists acted as pioneers for the destined Deliverer. Let us,
then, consider what precious spiritual jewels its sons and daughters
can bring to the new Fraternity. There are many most inadequate
statements about Buddhism. Personally, I wish that such expressions as
'the cold metaphysic of Buddhism' might be abandoned; surely
metaphysicians, too, have religious needs and may have warm hearts.
At the same time I will not deny that I prefer the northern variety of
Buddhism, because I seem to myself to detect in the southern Buddhism
a touch of a highly-refined egoism. Self-culture may or may not be
combined with self-sacrifice. In the case of the Buddha it was no
doubt so combined, as the following passage, indited by him, shows--

'All the means that can be used as bases for doing right are not worth
one sixteenth part of the emancipation of the heart through love. That
takes all those up into itself, outshining them in radiance and in
glory.' [Footnote: Mrs. Rhys Davids, _Buddhism_, p. 229.]

What, then, are the jewels of the Buddhist which he would fain see in
the world's spiritual treasury?

He will tell you that he has many jewels, but that three of them stand
out conspicuously--the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. Of these
the first is 'Sakya Muni, called the Buddha (the Awakened One).' His
life is full of legend and mythology, but how it takes hold of the
reader! Must we not pronounce it the finest of religious narratives,
and thank the scholars who made the _Lalita Vistara_ known to us?
The Buddha was indeed a supernormal man; morally and physically he
must have had singular gifts. To an extraordinary intellect he joined
the enthusiasm of love, and a thirst for service.

The second of the Buddhist brother's jewels is the Dharma, i.e.
the Law or Essential Rightness revealed by the Buddha. That the Master
laid a firm practical foundation for his religion cannot be denied,
and if Jews and Christians reverence the Ten Words given through
'Moses,' much more may Buddhists reverence the ten moral precepts of
Sakya Muni. Those, however, whose aim is Buddhaship (i.e. those
who propose to themselves the more richly developed ideal of northern
Buddhists) claim the right to modify those precepts just as Jesus
modified the Law of Moses. While, therefore, we recognize that good
has sometimes come even out of evil, we should also acknowledge the
superiority of Buddhist countries and of India in the treatment both
of other human beings and of the lower animals.

The Sangha, or Monastic Community, is the third treasure of Buddhism,
and the satisfaction of the Buddhist laity with the monastic body is
said to be very great. At any rate, the cause of education in Burma
owes much to the monks, but it is hard to realize how the Monastic
Community can be in the same sense a 'refuge' from the miseries of the
world as the Buddha or Dharmakaya.

The name Dharmakaya [Footnote: Johnston, _Buddhist China_,
p. 77.] (Body of Dharma, or system of rightness) may strike strangely
upon our ears, but northern Buddhism makes much of it, and even though
it may not go back to Sakya Muni himself, it is a development of germs
latent in his teaching; and to my own mind there is no more wonderful
conception in the great religions than that of Dharmakaya. If any one
attacks our Buddhist friends for atheism, they have only to refer (if
they can admit a synthesis of northern and southern doctrines) to the
conception of Dharmakaya, of Him who is 'for ever Divine and
Eternal,' who is 'the One, devoid of all determinations.' 'This Body
of Dharma,' we are told, 'has no boundary, no quarters, but is
embodied in all bodies.... All forms of corporeality are involved
therein; it is able to create all things. Assuming any concrete
material form, as required by the nature and condition of karma, it
illuminates all creations.... There is no place in the universe where
this Body does not prevail. The universe becomes dust; this Body for
ever remains. It is free from all opposites and contraries, yet it is
working in all things to lead them to Nirvana.' [Footnote: Suzuki,
_Outlines_, pp. 223-24.]

In fact, this Dharmakaya is the ultimate principle of cosmic energy.
We may call it principle, but it is not, like Brahman, absolutely
impersonal. Often it assumes personality, when it receives the name
of Tathagata. It has neither passions nor prejudices, but works for
the salvation of all sentient beings universally. Love (_karuna_) and
intelligence (_bodhi_) are equally its characteristics. It is only
the veil of illusion (_maya_) which prevents us from seeing
Dharmakaya in its magnificence. When this veil is lifted, individual
existences as such will lose their significance; they will become
sublimated and ennobled in the oneness of Dharmakaya. [Footnote:
_Ibid_. p. 179.]

Will the reader forgive me if I mention some other jewels of the
Buddhist faith? One is the Buddha Ami'tabha, and the other Kuanyin
or Kwannon, his son or daughter; others will be noted presently. The
latter is especially popular in China and Japan, and is generally
spoken of by Europeans as the 'Goddess of Mercy.' 'Goddess,' however,
is incorrect, [Footnote: Johnston, _Buddhist China_, p. 123.]
just as 'God' would be incorrect in the case of Ami'tabha. Sakya
Muni was considered greater than any of the gods. All such Beings
were saviours and helpers to man, just as Jesus is looked up to by
Christian believers as a saviour and deliverer, and perhaps I might
add, just as there are, according to the seer-poet Dante, three
compassionate women (_donne_) in heaven. [Footnote: Dante,
_D.C., Inf._ ii. 124 _f_. The 'blessed women' seem to be
Mary (the mother of Christ), Beatrice, and Lucia.] Kwannon and her
Father may surely be retained by Chinese and Japanese, not as gods,
but as gracious _bodhisatts_ (i.e. Beings whose essence is

I would also mention here as 'jewels' of the Buddhists (1) their
tenderness for all living creatures. Legend tells of Sakya Muni that
in a previous state of existence he saved the life of a doe and her
young one by offering his own life as a substitute. In one of the
priceless panels of Borobudur in Java this legend is beautifully
used. [Footnote: Havell, _Indian Sculpture and Painting_,
p. 123.] It must indeed have been almost more impressive to the
Buddhists even than Buddha's precept.

E'en as a mother watcheth o'er her child,
Her only child, as long as life doth last,
So let us, for all creatures great or small,
Develop such a boundless heart and mind,
Ay, let us practise love for all the world,
Upward and downward, yonder, thence,
Uncramped, free from ill-will and enmity.[a]

[Footnote a: Mrs. Rhys Davids, _Buddhism_, p. 219.]

(2 and 3) Faith in the universality of inspiration and a hearty
admission that spiritual pre-eminence is open to women. As to the
former, Suzuki has well pointed out that Christ is conceived of by
Buddhists quite as the Buddha himself. [Footnote: Suzuki, _Outlines
of the Mahayana Buddhism_.] 'The Dharmakaya revealed itself as
Sakya Muni to the Indian mind, because that was in harmony with its
needs. The Dharmakaya appeared in the person of Christ on the Semitic
stage, because it suited their taste best in this way.' As to the
latter, there were women in the ranks of the Arahats in early times;
and, as the _Psalms of the Brethren_ show, there were even
child-Arahats, and, so one may presume, girl-Arahats. And if it is
objected that this refers to the earlier and more flourishing period
of the Buddhist religion, yet it is in a perfectly modern summary of
doctrine that we find these suggestive words, [Footnote: Omoro in
_Oxford Congress of Religions, Transactions_, i. 152.] 'With this
desire even a maiden of seven summers [Footnote: 'The age of seven is
assigned to all at their ordination' (_Psalms of the Brethren_,
p. xxx.) The reference is to child-Arahats.] may be a leader of the
four multitudes of beings.' That spirituality has nothing to do with
the sexes is the most wonderful law in the teachings of the Buddhas.'

India being the home of philosophy, it is not surprising either that
Indian religion should take a predominantly philosophical form, or
that there should be a great variety of forms of Indian religion. This
is not to say that the feelings were neglected by the framers of
Indian theory, or that there is any essential difference between the
forms of Indian religion. On the contrary, love and intelligence are
inseparably connected in that religion and there are fundamental ideas
which impart a unity to all the forms of Hindu religion. That form of
religion, however, in which love (_karuna_) receives the highest
place, and becomes the centre conjointly with intelligence of a theory
of emancipation and of perfect Buddhahood, is neither Vedantism nor
primitive Buddhism, but that later development known as the
Mahayana. Germs indeed there are of the later theory; and how
should there not be, considering the wisdom and goodness of those who
framed those systems? How beautiful is that ancient description of
him who would win the joy of living in Brahma (Tagore, _Sadhana_,
p. 106), and not much behind it is the following passage of the
Bhagavad-Gita, 'He who hates no single being, who is friendly and
compassionate to all ... whose thought and reason are directed to Me,
he who is [thus] devoted to Me is dear to Me' (Discourse xii. 13, 14).
This is a fine utterance, and there are others as fine.

One may therefore expect that most Indian Vedantists will, on entering
the Bahai Society, make known as widely as they can the beauties of
the Bhagavad-Gita. I cannot myself profess that I admire the contents
as much as some Western readers, but much is doubtless lost to me
through my ignorance of Sanskrit. Prof. Garbe and Prof. Hopkins,
however, confirm me in my view that there is often a falling off in
the immediateness of the inspiration, and that many passages have been
interpolated. It is important to mention this here because it is
highly probable that in future the Scriptures of the various churches
and sects will be honoured by being read, not less devotionally but
more critically. Not the Bibles as they stand at present are
revealed, but the immanent Divine Wisdom. Many things in the outward
form of the Scriptures are, for us, obsolete. It devolves upon us, in
the spirit of filial respect, to criticize them, and so help to clear
the ground for a new prophet.

A few more quotations from the fine Indian Scriptures shall be
given. Their number could be easily increased, and one cannot blame
those Western admirers of the Gita who display almost as fervent an
enthusiasm for the unknown author of the Gita as Dante had for his
_savio duca_ in his fearsome pilgrimage.


Such criticism was hardly possible in England, even ten or twenty
years ago, except for the Old Testament. Some scholars, indeed, had
had their eyes opened, but even highly cultured persons in the
lay-world read the Bhagavad-Gita with enthusiastic admiration but
quite uncritically. Much as I sympathize with Margaret Noble (Sister
Nivedita), Jane Hay (of St. Abb's, Berwickshire, N.B.), and Rose
R. Anthon, I cannot desire that their excessive love for the Gita
should find followers. I have it on the best authority that the
apparent superiority of the Indian Scriptures to those of the
Christian world influenced Margaret Noble to become 'Sister
Nivedita'--a great result from a comparatively small cause. And Miss
Anthon shows an excess of enthusiasm when she puts these words
(without note or comment) into the mouth of an Indian student:--

'But now, O sire, I have found all the wealth and treasure and honour
of the universe in these words that were uttered by the King of Kings,
the Lover of Love, the Giver of Heritages. There is nothing I ask
for; no need is there in my being, no want in my life that this Gita
does not fill to overflowing.' [Footnote: _Stories of India_,
1914, p. 138.]

There are in fact numerous passages in the Gita which, united, would
form a _Holy Living_ and a _Holy Dying_, if we were at the
pains to add to the number of the passages a few taken from the
Upanishads. Vivekananda and Rabindranath Tagore have already studded
their lectures with jewels from the Indian Scriptures. The Hindus
themselves delight in their holy writings, but if these writings are
to become known in the West, the grain must first be sifted. In other
words, there must be literary and perhaps also (I say it humbly) moral

I will venture to add a few quotations:--

'Whenever there is a decay of religion, O Bharatas, and an ascendency
of irreligion, then I manifest myself.

'For the protection of the good, for the destruction of evildoers, for
the firm establishment of religion, I am born in every age.'

The other passages are not less noble.

'They also who worship other gods and make offering to them with
faith, O son of Kunti, do verily make offering to me, though not
according to ordinance.'

'Never have I not been, never hast thou, and never shall time yet come
when we shall not all be. That which pervades this universe is
imperishable; there is none can make to perish that changeless
being. This never is born, and never dies, nor may it after being come
again to be not; this unborn, everlasting, abiding, Ancient, is not
slain when the body is slain. Knowing This to be imperishable,
everlasting, unborn, changeless, how and whom can a man make to be
slain or slay? As a man lays aside outworn garments, and takes others
that are new, so the Body-Dweller puts away outworn bodies and goes to
others that are new. Everlasting is This, dwelling in all things,
firm, motionless, ancient of days.'


Judaism, too, is so rich in spiritual treasures that I hesitate to
single out more than a very few jewels. It is plain, however, that it
needs to be reformed, and that this need is present in many of the
traditional forms which enshrine so noble a spiritual experience. The
Sabbath, for instance, is as the apple of his eye to every
true-hearted Jew; he addresses it in his spiritual songs as a
Princess. And he does well; the title Princess belongs of right to
'Shabbath.' For the name--be it said in passing--is probably a
corruption of a title of the Mother-goddess Ashtart, and it would, I
think, have been no blameworthy act if the religious transformers of
Israelite myths had made a special myth, representing Shabbath as a
man. When the Messiah comes, I trust that _He_ will do this. For
'the Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath.'

The faith of the Messiah is another of Israel's treasures. Or rather,
perhaps I should say, the faith in the Messiahs, for one Messiah will
not meet the wants of Israel or the world. The Messiah, or the
Being-like-a-man (Dan. vii. 13), is a supernatural Being, who appears
on earth when he is wanted, like the Logos. We want Messiah badly now;
specially, I should say, we Christians want 'great-souled ones'
(Mahatmas), who can 'guide us into all the truth' (John xvi. 13). That
they have come in the past, I doubt not. God could not have left his
human children in the lurch for all these centuries. One thousand
Jews of Tihran are said to have accepted Baha'ullah as the expected
Messiah. They were right in what they affirmed, and only wrong in
what they denied. And are we not all wrong in virtually denying the
Messiahship of women-leaders like Kurratu'l 'Ayn; at least, I have
only met with this noble idea in a work of Fiona Macleod.


And what of our own religion?

What precious jewels are there which we can share with our Oriental
brethren? First of all one may mention that wonderful picture of the
divine-human Saviour, which, full of mystery as it is, is capable of
attracting to its Hero a fervent and loving loyalty, and melting the
hardest heart. We have also a portrait (implicit in the Synoptic
Gospels)--the product of nineteenth century criticism--of the same
Jesus Christ, and yet who could venture to affirm that He really was
the same, or that a subtle aroma had not passed away from the Life of
lives? In this re-painted portrait we have, no longer a divine man,
but simply a great and good Teacher and a noble Reformer. This
portrait too is in its way impressive, and capable of lifting men
above their baser selves, but it would obviously be impossible to take
this great Teacher and Reformer for the Saviour and Redeemer of

We have further a pearl of great price in the mysticism of Paul, which
presupposes, not the Jesus of modern critics, nor yet the Jesus of the
Synoptics, but a splendid heart-uplifting Jesus in the colours of
mythology. In this Jesus Paul lived, and had a constant ecstatic joy
in the everlasting divine work of creation. He was 'crucified with
Christ,' and it was no longer Paul that lived, but Christ that lived
in him. And the universe--which was Paul's, inasmuch as it was
Christ's--was transformed by the same mysticism. 'It was,' says
Evelyn Underhill, [Footnote: _The Mystic Way_, p. 194 (chap. iii.
'St. Paul and the Mystic Way').] 'a universe soaked through and
through by the Presence of God: that transcendent-immanent Reality,
"above all, and through all, and in you all" as fontal "Father,"
energising "Son," indwelling "Spirit," in whom every mystic, Christian
or non-Christian, is sharply aware that "we live and move and have our
being." To his extended consciousness, as first to that of Jesus, this
Reality was more actual than anything else--"God is all in all."'

It is true, this view of the Universe as God-filled is probably not
Paul's, for the Epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians are hardly
that great teacher's work. But it is none the less authentic, 'God is
all and in all'; the whole Universe is temporarily a symbol by which
God is at once manifested and veiled. I fear we have largely lost
this. It were therefore better to reconquer this truth by India's
help. Probably indeed the initial realization of the divinity of the
universe (including man) is due to an increased acquaintance with the
East and especially with Persia and India.

And I venture to think that Catholic Christians have conferred a boon
on their Protestant brethren by emphasizing the truth of the feminine
element (see pp. 31, 37) in the manifestation of the Deity, just as
the Chinese and Japanese Buddhists have done for China and Japan, and
the modern reformers of Indian religion have done for India. This too
is a 'gem of purest ray.'




Seyyid 'Ali Muhammad was born at Hafiz' city. It was not his lot,
however, to rival that great lyric poet; God had far other designs for
him. Like St. Francis, he had a merchant for his father, but this too
was widely apart from 'AH Muhammad's destiny, which was neither more
nor less than to be a manifestation of the Most High. His birthday was
on the 1st Muharrem, A.H. 1236 (March 26, A.D. 1821). His maternal
uncle, [Footnote: This relative of the Bab is mentioned in
Baha-'ullah's _Book of Ighan_, among the men of culture who
visited Baha-'ullah at Baghdad and laid their difficulties before
him. His name was Seyyid 'Ali Muhammad (the same name as the
Bab's).] however, had to step in to take a father's place; he was
early left an orphan. When eighteen or nineteen years of age he was
sent, for commercial reasons, to Bushire, a place with a villainous
climate on the Persian Gulf, and there he wrote his first book, still
in the spirit of Shi'ite orthodoxy.

It was in A.D. 1844 that a great change took place, not so much in
doctrine as in the outward framework of Ali Muhammad's life. That
the twelfth Imam should reappear to set up God's beneficent kingdom,
that his 'Gate' should be born just when tradition would have him to
be born, was perhaps not really surprising; but that an ordinary lad
of Shiraz should be chosen for this high honour was exciting, and
would make May 23rd a day memorable for ever. [Footnote: _TN_,
pp. 3 (n.1), 220 _f_.; cp. _AMB_, p. 204.]

It was, in fact, on this day (at 2.5 A.M.) that, having turned to God
for help, he cried out, 'God created me to instruct these ignorant
ones, and to save them from the error into which they are plunged.'
And from this time we cannot doubt that the purifying west wind
breathed over the old Persian land which needed it so sadly.

It is probable, however, that the reformer had different ideas of
discipleship. In one of his early letters he bids his correspondent
take care to conceal his religion until he can reveal it without
fear. Among his chief disciples were that gallant knight called the
'Gate's Gate,' Kuddus, and his kind uncle. Like most religious
leaders he attached great worth to pilgrimages. He began by journeying
to the Shi'ite holy places, consecrated by the events of the Persian
Passion-play. Then he embarked at Bushire, accompanied (probably) by
Kuddus. The winds, however, were contrary, and he was glad to rest a
few days at Mascat. It is probable that at Mecca (the goal of his
journey) he became completely detached from the Muhammadan form of
Islam. There too he made arrangements for propaganda. Unfavourable
as the times seemed, his disciples were expected to have the courage
of their convictions, and even his uncle, who was no longer young,
became a fisher of men. This, it appears to me, is the true
explanation of an otherwise obscure direction to the uncle to return
to Persia by the overland route, _via_ Baghdad, 'with the verses
which have come down from God.'

The overland route would take the uncle by the holy places of 'Irak;
'Ali [Muh.]ammad's meaning therefore really is that his kinsman is to
have the honour of evangelizing the important city of Baghdad, and of
course the pilgrims who may chance to be at Karbala and Nejef. These
were, to Shi'ites, the holiest of cities, and yet the reformer had the
consciousness that there was no need of searching for a
_kibla_. God was everywhere, but if one place was holier than
another, it was neither Jerusalem nor Mecca, but Shiraz. To this
beautiful city he returned, nothing loth, for indeed the manners of
the pilgrims were the reverse of seemly. His own work was purely
spiritual: it was to organize an attack on a foe who should have been,
but was no longer, spiritual.

Among his first steps was sending the 'First to Believe' to Isfahan to
make a conquest of the learned Mulla Mukaddas. His expectation was
fully realized. Mukaddas was converted, and hastened to Shiraz,
eager to prove his zeal. His orders were (according to one tradition)
to introduce the name of 'Ali Muhammad into the call to prayer
(_azan_) and to explain a passage in the commentary on the Sura
of Joseph. This was done, and the penalty could not be delayed. After
suffering insults, which to us are barely credible, Mukaddas and his
friend found shelter for three days in Shiraz in the Bab's house.

It should be noted that I here employ the symbolic name 'the Bab.'
There is a traditional saying of the prophet Muhammad, 'I am the
city of knowledge, and 'Ali is its Gate.' It seems, however, that
there is little, if any, difference between 'Gate' (_Bab_) and
'Point' (_nukta_), or between either of these and 'he who shall
arise' (_ka'im_) and 'the Imam Mahdi.' But to this we shall
return presently.

But safety was not long to be had by the Bab or by his disciples
either in Shiraz or in Bushire (where the Bab then was). A fortnight
afterwards twelve horsemen were sent by the governor of Fars to
Bushire to arrest the Bab and bring him back to Shiraz. Such at
least is one tradition, [Footnote: _AMB_, p. 226.] but some
Babis, according to Nicolas, energetically deny it. Certainly it
is not improbable that the governor, who had already taken action
against the Babi missionaries, should wish to observe the Bab
within a nearer range, and inflict a blow on his growing
popularity. Unwisely enough, the governor left the field open to the
mullas, who thought by placing the pulpit of the great mosque at his
disposal to be able to find material for ecclesiastical censure. But
they had left one thing out of their account--the ardour of the
Bab's temperament and the depth of his conviction. And so great was
the impression produced by the Bab's sermon that the Shah
Muhammad, who heard of it, sent a royal commissioner to study the
circumstances on the spot. This step, however, was a complete
failure. One may doubt indeed whether the Sayyid Yahya was ever a
politician or a courtier. See below, p. 90.

The state of things had now become so threatening that a peremptory
order to the governor was sent from the court to put an end to such a
display of impotence. It is said that the aid of assassins was not to
be refused; the death of the Bab might then be described as 'a
deplorable accident.' The Bab himself was liable at any moment to be
called into a conference of mullas and high state-officers, and asked
absurd questions. He got tired of this and thought he would change his
residence, especially as the cholera came and scattered the
population. Six miserable months he had spent in Shiraz, and it was
time for him to strengthen and enlighten the believers elsewhere. The
goal of his present journey was Isfahan, but he was not without hopes
of soon reaching Tihran and disabusing the mind of the Shah of the
false notions which had become lodged in it. So, after bidding
farewell to his relatives, he and his secretary and another well-tried
companion turned their backs on the petty tyrant of Shiraz.
[Footnote: _AMB_, p. 370.] The Bab, however, took a very wise
precaution. At the last posting station before Isfahan he wrote to
Minuchihr Khan, the governor (a Georgian by origin), announcing his
approach and invoking the governor's protection.

Minuchihr Khan, who was religiously openminded though not scrupulous
enough in the getting of money, [Footnote: _NH_, p. 346.]
granted this request, and sent word to the leading mulla (the
Imam-Jam'a) that he should proffer hospitality to this eminent
new-comer. This the Imam did, and so respectful was he for 'forty
days' that he used to bring the basin for his guest to wash his hands
at mealtimes. [Footnote: _Ibid_. p. 372.] The rapidity with
which the Bab indited (or revealed) a commentary on a _sura_ of
the Kur'an greatly impressed him, but afterwards he gave way to the
persecuting tendencies of his colleagues, who had already learned to
dread the presence of Babite missionaries. At the bidding of the
governor, however, who had some faith in the Bab and hoped for the
best, a conference was arranged between the mullas and the Bab
(poor man!) at the governor's house. The result was that Minuchihr
Khan declared that the mullas had by no means proved the reformer to
be an impostor, but that for the sake of peace he would at once send
the Bab with an escort of horsemen to the capital. This was to all
appearance carried out. The streets were crowded as the band of
mounted men set forth, some of the Isfahanites (especially the
mullas) rejoicing, but a minority inwardly lamenting. This, however,
was only a blind. The governor cunningly sent a trusty horseman with
orders to overtake the travellers a short distance out of Isfahan, and
bring them by nightfall to the governor's secret apartments or (as
others say) to one of the royal palaces. There the Bab had still to
spend a little more than four untroubled halcyon months.

But a storm-cloud came up from the sea, no bigger than a man's hand,
and it spread, and the destruction wrought by it was great. On March
4, 1847, the French ambassador wrote home stating that the governor of
Isfahan had died, leaving a fortune of 40 million francs. [Footnote:
_AMB_, p. 242.] He could not be expected to add what the
Babite tradition affirms, that the governor offered the Bab all
his riches and even the rings on his fingers, [Footnote: _TN_,
pp. 12, 13, 264-8; _NH_, p. 402 (Subh-i-Ezel's narrative),
cp. pp. 211, 346.] to which the prophet refers in the following
passage of his famous letter to Muhammad Shah, written from Maku:

'The other question is an affair of this lower world. The late
Meu'timed [a title of Minuchihr Khan], one night, made all the
bystanders withdraw, ... then he said to me, "I know full well that
all that I have gained I have gotten by violence, and that belongs to
the Lord of the Age. I give it therefore entirely to thee, for thou
art the Master of Truth, and I ask thy permission to become its
possessor." He even took off a ring which he had on his finger, and
gave it to me. I took the ring and restored it to him, and sent him
away in possession of all his goods.... I will not have a dinar of
those goods, but it is for you to ordain as shall seem good to
you.... [As witnesses] send for Sayyid Yahya [Footnote: See above,
p. 47.] and Mulla Abdu'l-Khalik.... [Footnote: A disciple of
Sheykh Ahmad. He became a Babi, but grew lukewarm in the faith
(_NH_, pp. 231, 342 n.1).] The one became acquainted with me
before the Manifestation, the other after. Both know me right well;
this is why I have chosen them.' [Footnote: _AMB_, pp. 372,

It was not likely, however, that the legal heir would waive his claim,
nor yet that the Shah or his minister would be prepared with a scheme
for distributing the ill-gotten riches of the governor among the poor,
which was probably what the Bab himself wished. It should be added
(but not, of course, from this letter) that Minuchihr Khan also
offered the Bab more than 5000 horsemen and footmen of the tribes
devoted to his interests, with whom he said that he would with all
speed march upon the capital, to enforce the Shah's acceptance of the
Bab's mission. This offer, too, the Bab rejected, observing that
the diffusion of God's truth could not be effected by such means. But
he was truly grateful to the governor who so often saved him from the
wrath of the mullas. 'God reward him,' he would say, 'for what he
did for me.'

Of the governor's legal heir and successor, Gurgin Khan, the Bab
preserved a much less favourable recollection. In the same letter
which has been quoted from already he says: 'Finally, Gurgin made me
travel during seven nights without any of the necessaries of a
journey, and with a thousand lies and a thousand acts of violence.'
[Footnote: _AMB_, p. 371.] In fact, after trying to impose upon
the Bab by crooked talk, Gurgin, as soon as he found out where the
Bab had taken refuge, made him start that same night, just as he
was, and without bidding farewell to his newly-married wife, for the
capital. 'So incensed was he [the Bab] at this treatment that he
determined to eat nothing till he arrived at Kashan [a journey of five
stages], and in this resolution he persisted... till he reached the
second stage, Murchi-Khur. There, however, he met Mulla Sheykh
Ali... and another of his missionaries, whom he had commissioned two
days previously to proceed to Tihran; and then, on learning from his
guards how matters stood, succeeded in prevailing on him to take some
food.' [Footnote: _NH_, pp. 348, 349.]

Certainly it was a notable journey, diversified by happy meetings with
friends and inquirers at Kashan, Khanlik, Zanjan, Milan, and Tabriz.
At Kashan the Bab saw for the first time that fervent disciple, who
afterwards wrote the history of early Babism, and his equally
true-hearted brother--merchants both of them. In fact, Mirza Jani
bribed the chief of the escort, to allow him for two days the felicity
of entertaining God's Messenger. [Footnote: _Ibid_. pp. 213, 214.]
Khanlik has also--though a mere village--its honourable record, for
there the Bab was first seen by two splendid youthful heroes
[Footnote: _Ibid_. pp. 96-101.]--Riza Khan (best hated of all the
Babis) and Mirza Huseyn 'Ali (better known as Baha-'ullah). At
Milan (which the Bab calls 'one of the regions of Paradise'), as
Mirza Jani states, 'two hundred persons believed and underwent a true
and sincere conversion.' [Footnote: _Ibid_. p. 221. Surely these
conversions were due, not to a supposed act of miraculous healing, but
to the 'majesty and dignity' of God's Messenger. The people were
expecting a Messiah, and here was a Personage who came up to the ideal
they had formed.]What meetings took place at Zanjan and Tabriz, the
early Babi historian does not report; later on, Zanjan was a focus
of Babite propagandism, but just then the apostle of the Zanjan
movement was summoned to Tihran. From Tabriz a remarkable cure is
reported, [Footnote: _NH_, p. 226.] and as a natural consequence we
hear of many conversions.

The Bab was specially favoured in the chief of his escort, who, in
the course of the journey, was fascinated by the combined majesty and
gentleness of his prisoner. His name was Muhammad Beg, and his moral
portrait is thus limned by Mirza Jani: 'He was a man of kindly nature
and amiable character, and [became] so sincere and devoted a believer
that whenever the name of His Holiness was mentioned he would
incontinently burst into tears, saying,

I scarcely reckon as life the days when to me thou wert all unknown,
But by faithful service for what remains I may still for the past

It was the wish, both of the Bab and of this devoted servant, that the
Master should be allowed to take up his residence (under surveillance)
at Tabriz, where there were already many Friends of God. But such was
not the will of the Shah and his vizier, who sent word to Khanlik
[Footnote: Khanlik is situated 'about six parasangs' from Tihran
(_NH_, p. 216). It is in the province of Azarbaijan.] that the
governor of Tabriz (Prince Bahman Mirza) should send the Bab in charge
of a fresh escort to the remote mountain-fortress of Maku. The
faithful Muhammad Beg made two attempts to overcome the opposition of
the governor, but in vain; how, indeed, could it be otherwise? All
that he could obtain was leave to entertain the Bab in his own house,
where some days of rest were enjoyed. 'I wept much at his departure,'
says Muhammad. No doubt the Bab often missed his respectful escort; he
had made a change for the worse, and when he came to the village at
the foot of the steep hill of Maku, he found the inhabitants 'ignorant
and coarse.'

It may, however, be reasonably surmised that before long the Point of
Wisdom changed his tone, and even thanked God for his sojourn at
Maku. For though strict orders had come from the vizier that no one
was to be permitted to see the Bab, any one whom the illustrious
captive wished to converse with had free access to him. Most of the
time which remained was occupied with writing (his secretary was with
him); more than 100,000 'verses' are said to have come from that
Supreme Pen.

By miracles the Bab set little store; in fact, the only supernatural
gift which he much valued was that of inditing 'signs or verses, which
appear to have produced a similar thrilling effect to those of the
great Arabian Prophet. But in the second rank he must have valued a
power to soothe and strengthen the nervous system which we may well
assign to him, and we can easily believe that the lower animals were
within the range of this beneficent faculty. Let me mention one of the
horse-stories which have gathered round the gentle form of the Bab.
[Footnote: _AMB_, p. 371.]

It is given neither in the Babi nor in the Muslim histories of
this period. But it forms a part of a good oral tradition, and it may
supply the key to those words of the Bab in his letter to Muhammad
Shah: [Footnote: Ibid. pp. 249, 250.] 'Finally, the Sultan
[i.e. the Shah] ordered that I should journey towards Maku without
giving me a horse that I could ride.' We learn from the legend that an
officer of the Shah did call upon the Bab to ride a horse which was
too vicious for any ordinary person to mount. Whether this officer was
really (as the legend states) 'Ali Khan, the warden of Maku, who
wished to test the claims of 'Ali Muhammad by offering him a vicious
young horse and watching to see whether 'Ali Muhammad or the horse
would be victorious, is not of supreme importance. What does concern
us is that many of the people believed that by a virtue which resided
in the Bab it was possible for him to soothe the sensitive nerves of
a horse, so that it could be ridden without injury to the rider.

There is no doubt, however, that 'Ali Khan, the warden of the
fortress, was one of that multitude of persons who were so thrilled by
the Bab's countenance and bearing that they were almost prompted
thereby to become disciples. It is highly probable, too, that just now
there was a heightening of the divine expression on that unworldly
face, derived from an intensification of the inner life. In earlier
times 'Ali Muhammad had avoided claiming Mahdiship (Messiahship)
publicly; to the people at large he was not represented as the
manifested Twelfth Imam, but only as the Gate, or means of access to
that more than human, still existent being. To disciples of a higher
order 'Ali Muhammad no doubt disclosed himself as he really was,
but, like a heavenly statesman, he avoided inopportune self-revelations.
Now, however, the religious conditions were becoming different. Owing
in some cases to the indiscretion of disciples, in others to a craving
for the revolution of which the Twelfth Imam was the traditional
instrument, there was a growing popular tendency to regard Mirza 'Ali
Muhammad as a 'return' of the Twelfth Imam, who was, by force of
arms, to set up the divine kingdom upon earth. It was this, indeed,
which specially promoted the early Babi propagandism, and which
probably came up for discussion at the Badasht conference.

In short, it had become a pressing duty to enlighten the multitude on
the true objects of the Bab. Even we can see this--we who know that
not much more than three years were remaining to him. The Bab, too,
had probably a presentiment of his end; this was why he was so eager
to avoid a continuance of the great misunderstanding. He was indeed
the Twelfth Imam, who had returned to the world of men for a short
time. But he was not a Mahdi of the Islamic type.

A constant stream of Tablets (letters) flowed from his pen. In this
way he kept himself in touch with those who could not see him in the
flesh. But there were many who could not rest without seeing the
divine Manifestation. Pilgrims seemed never to cease; and it made the
Bab still happier to receive them.

This stream of Tablets and of pilgrims could not however be
exhilarating to the Shah and his Minister. They complained to the
castle-warden, and bade him be a stricter gaoler, but 'Ali Khan, too,
was under the spell of the Gate of Knowledge; or--as one should rather
say now--the Point or Climax of Prophetic Revelation, for so the Word
of Prophecy directed that he should be called. So the order went
forth that 'Ali Muhammad should be transferred to another
castle--that of Chihrik. [Footnote: Strictly, six or eight months
(Feb. or April to Dec. 1847) at Maku, and two-and-a-half years at
Chihrik (Dec. 1847 to July 1850).]

At this point a digression seems necessary.

The Bab was well aware that a primary need of the new fraternity was
a new Kur'an. This he produced in the shape of a book called _The
Bayan_ (Exposition). Unfortunately he adopted from the Muslims the
unworkable idea of a sacred language, and his first contributions to
the new Divine Library (for the new Kur'an ultimately became this)
were in Arabic. These were a Commentary on the Sura of Yusuf (Joseph)
and the Arabic Bayan. The language of these, however, was a barrier to
the laity, and so the 'first believer' wrote a letter to the Bab,
enforcing the necessity of making himself intelligible to all. This
seems to be the true origin of the Persian Bayan.

A more difficult matter is 'Ali Muhammad's very peculiar
consciousness, which reminds us of that which the Fourth Gospel
ascribes to Jesus Christ. In other words, 'Ali Muhammad claims for
himself the highest spiritual rank. 'As for Me,' he said, 'I am that
Point from which all that exists has found existence. I am that Face
of God which dieth not. I am that Light which doth not go out. He that
knoweth Me is accompanied by all good; he that repulseth Me hath
behind him all evil.' [Footnote: _AMB_, p. 369.] It is also certain
that in comparatively early writings, intended for stedfast disciples,
'Ali Muhammad already claims the title of Point, i.e. Point of
Truth, or of Divine Wisdom, or of the Divine Mercy. [Footnote: _Beyan
Arabe_, p. 206.]

It is noteworthy that just here we have a very old contact with
Babylonian mythology. 'Point' is, in fact, a mythological term. It
springs from an endeavour to minimize the materialism of the myth of
the Divine Dwelling-place. That ancient myth asserted that the
earth-mountain was the Divine Throne. Not so, said an early school of
Theosophy, God, i.e. the God who has a bodily form and manifests the
hidden glory, dwells on a point in the extreme north, called by the
Babylonians 'the heaven of Anu.'

The Point, however, i.e. the God of the Point, may also be
entitled 'The Gate,' i.e. the Avenue to God in all His various
aspects. To be the Point, therefore, is also to be the Gate. 'Ali, the
cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, was not only the Gate of the City
of Knowledge, but, according to words assigned to him in a
_hadith_, 'the guardian of the treasures of secrets and of the
purposes of God.' [Footnote: _AMB_, p. 142.]

It is also in a book written at Maku--the Persian Bayan--that the
Bab constantly refers to a subsequent far greater Person, called 'He
whom God will make manifest.' Altogether the harvest of sacred
literature at this mountain-fortress was a rich one. But let us now
pass on with the Bab to Chihrik--a miserable spot, but not so
remote as Maku (it was two days' journey from Urumiyya). As
Subh-i-Ezel tells us, 'The place of his captivity was a house
without windows and with a doorway of bare bricks,' and adds that 'at
night they would leave him without a lamp, treating him with the
utmost lack of respect.' [Footnote: _NH_, p. 403.] In the
Persian manner the Bab himself indicated this by calling Maku 'the
Open Mountain,' and Chihrik 'the Grievous Mountain.' [Footnote:
Cp. _TN_, p. 276.] Stringent orders were issued making it
difficult for friends of the Beloved Master to see him; and it may be
that in the latter part of his sojourn the royal orders were more
effectually carried out--a change which was possibly the result of a
change in the warden. Certainly Yahya Khan was guilty of no such
coarseness as Subh-i-Ezel imputes to the warden of Chihrik. And
this view is confirmed by the peculiar language of Mirza Jani,
'Yahya Khan, so long as he was warden, maintained towards him an
attitude of unvarying respect and deference.'

This 'respect and deference' was largely owing to a dream which the
warden had on the night before the day of the Bab's arrival. The
central figure of the dream was a bright shining saint. He said in
the morning that 'if, when he saw His Holiness, he found appearance
and visage to correspond with what he beheld in his dream, he would be
convinced that He was in truth the promised Proof.' And this came
literally true. At the first glance Yahya Khan recognized in the
so-called Bab the lineaments of the saint whom he had beheld in his
dream. 'Involuntarily he bent down in obeisance and kissed the knee of
His Holiness.' [Footnote: _NH_, p. 240. A slight alteration has
been made to draw out the meaning.]

It has already been remarked that such 'transfiguration' is not wholly
supernatural. Persons who have experienced those wonderful phenomena
which are known as ecstatic, often exhibit what seems like a
triumphant and angelic irradiation. So--to keep near home--it was
among the Welsh in their last great revival. Such, too, was the
brightness which, Yahya Khan and other eye-witnesses agree, suffused
the Bab's countenance more than ever in this period. Many adverse
things might happen, but the 'Point' of Divine Wisdom could not be
torn from His moorings. In that miserable dark brick chamber He was
'in Paradise.' The horrid warfare at Sheykh Tabarsi and elsewhere,
which robbed him of Babu'l Bab and of Kuddus, forced human tears
from him for a time; but one who dwelt in the 'Heaven of
Pre-existence' knew that 'Returns' could be counted upon, and was
fully assured that the gifts and graces of Kuddus had passed into
Mirza Yahya (Subh-i-Ezel). For himself he was free from
anxiety. His work would be carried on by another and a greater
Manifestation. He did not therefore favour schemes for his own
forcible deliverance.

We have no direct evidence that Yahya Khan was dismissed from his
office as a mark of the royal displeasure at his gentleness. But he
must have been already removed and imprisoned, [Footnote: _NH_,
p. 353.] when the vizier wrote to the Crown Prince (Nasiru'd-Din,
afterwards Shah) and governor of Azarbaijan directing him to summon
the Bab to Tabriz and convene an assembly of clergy and laity to
discuss in the Bab's presence the validity of his claims.
[Footnote: _Ibid_. p. 284.] The Bab was therefore sent, and
the meeting held, but there is (as Browne has shown) no trustworthy
account of the deliberations. [Footnote: _TN_, Note M, 'Bab
Examined at Tabriz.'] Of course, the Bab had something better to do
than to record the often trivial questions put to him from anything
but a simple desire for truth, so that unless the great Accused had
some friend to accompany him (which does not appear to have been the
case) there could hardly be an authentic Babi narrative. And as
for the Muslim accounts, those which we have before us do not bear the
stamp of truth: they seem to be forgeries. Knowing what we do of the
Bab, it is probable that he had the best of the argument, and that
the doctors and functionaries who attended the meeting were unwilling
to put upon record their own fiasco.

The result, however, _is_ known, and it is not precisely what
might have been expected, i.e. it is not a capital sentence for
this troublesome person. The punishment now allotted to him was one
which marked him out, most unfairly, as guilty of a common
misdemeanour--some act which would rightly disgust every educated
person. How, indeed, could any one adopt as his teacher one who had
actually been disgraced by the infliction of stripes? [Footnote:
Cp. Isaiah liii. 5.] If the Bab had been captured in battle,
bravely fighting, it might have been possible to admire him, but, as
Court politicians kept on saying, he was but 'a vulgar charlatan, a
timid dreamer.' [Footnote: Gobineau, p. 257.] According to Mirza
Jani, it was the Crown Prince who gave the order for stripes, but his
'_farrashes_ declared that they would rather throw themselves
down from the roof of the palace than carry it out.' [Footnote:
_NH_, p. 290.] Therefore the Sheykhu'l Islam charged a certain
Sayyid with the 'baleful task,' by whom the Messenger of God was

It seems clear, however, that there must have been a difference of
opinion among the advisers of the Shah, for shortly before Shah
Muhammad's death (which was impending when the Bab was in Tabriz)
we are told that Prince Mahdi-Kuli dreamed that he saw the Sayyid
shoot the Shah at a levee. [Footnote: _Ibid_. p. 355.]
Evidently there were some Court politicians who held that the Bab
was dangerous. Probably Shah Muhammad's vizier took the disparaging
view mentioned above (i.e. that the Bab was a mere mystic
dreamer), but Shah Muhammad's successor dismissed Mirza Akasi, and
appointed Mirza Taki Khan in his place. It was Mirza Taki Khan to
whom the Great Catastrophe is owing. When the Bab returned to his
confinement, now really rigorous, at Chihrik, he was still under the
control of the old, capricious, and now doubly anxious grand vizier,
but it was not the will of Providence that this should continue much
longer. A release was at hand.

It was the insurrection of Zanjan which changed the tone of the
courtiers and brought near to the Bab a glorious departure. Not, be
it observed, except indirectly, his theosophical novelties; the
penalty of death for deviations from the True Faith had long fallen
into desuetude in Persia, if indeed it had ever taken root there.
[Footnote: Gobineau, p. 262.] Only if the Kingdom of Righteousness
were to be brought in by the Bab by material weapons would this
heresiarch be politically dangerous; mere religious innovations did
not disturb high Court functionaries. But could the political leaders
any longer indulge the fancy that the Bab was a mere mystic dreamer?
Such was probably the mental state of Mirza Taki Khan when he wrote
from Tihran, directing the governor to summon the Bab to come once
more for examination to Tabriz. The governor of Azarbaijan at this
time was Prince Hamze Mirza.

The end of the Bab's earthly Manifestation is now close upon us. He
knew it himself before the event, [Footnote: _NH_, pp. 235,
309-311, 418 (Subh-i-Ezel).] and was not displeased at the
presentiment. He had already 'set his house in order,' as regards the
spiritual affairs of the Babi community, which he had, if I
mistake not, confided to the intuitive wisdom of Baha-'ullah. His
literary executorship he now committed to the same competent hands.
This is what the Baha'is History (_The Travellers Narrative_)

'Now the Sayyid Bab ... had placed his writings, and even his ring
and pen-case, in a specially prepared box, put the key of the box in
an envelope, and sent it by means of Mulla Bakir, who was one of
his first associates, to Mulla 'Abdu'l Karim of Kazwin. This trust
Mulla Bakir delivered over to Mulla 'Abdu'l Karim at Kum in
presence of a numerous company.... Then Mulla 'Abdu'l Karim conveyed
the trust to its destination.' [Footnote: _TN_, pp. 41, 42.]

The destination was Baha-'ullah, as Mulla Bakir expressly told the
'numerous company.' It also appears that the Bab sent another letter
to the same trusted personage respecting the disposal of his remains.

It is impossible not to feel that this is far more probable than the
view which makes Subh-i-Ezel the custodian of the sacred writings
and the arranger of a resting-place for the sacred remains. I much
fear that the Ezelites have manipulated tradition in the interest of
their party.

To return to our narrative. From the first no indignity was spared to
the holy prisoner. With night-cap instead of seemly turban, and clad
only in an under-coat, [Footnote: _NH_, p. 294.] he reached
Tabriz. It is true, his first experience was favourable. A man of
probity, the confidential friend of Prince Hamze Mirza, the governor,
summoned the Bab to a first non-ecclesiastical examination. The tone
of the inquiry seems to have been quite respectful, though the accused
frankly stated that he was 'that promised deliverer for whom ye have
waited 1260 years, to wit the Ka'im.' Next morning, however, all
this was reversed. The 'man of probity' gave way to the mullas and
the populace, [Footnote: See _New History_, pp. 296 _f._, a
graphic narration.] who dragged the Bab, with every circumstance of
indignity, to the houses of two or three well-known members of the
clergy. 'These reviled him; but to all who questioned him he declared,
without any attempt at denial, that he was the Ka'im [ = he that
ariseth]. At length Mulla Muhammad Mama-ghuri, one of the Sheykhi
party, and sundry others, assembled together in the porch of a house
belonging to one of their number, questioned him fiercely and
insultingly, and when he had answered them explicitly, condemned him
to death.

'So they imprisoned him who was athirst for the draught of martyrdom
for three days, along with Aka Sayyid Huseyn of Yezd, the
amanuensis, and Aka Sayyid Hasan, which twain were brothers, wont
to pass their time for the most part in the Bab's presence....

'On the night before the day whereon was consummated the martyrdom
... he [the Bab] said to his companions, "To-morrow they will slay
me shamefully. Let one of you now arise and kill me, that I may not
have to endure this ignominy and shame from my enemies; for it is
pleasanter to me to die by the hands of friends." His companions,
with expressions of grief and sorrow, sought to excuse themselves with
the exception of Mirza Muhammad 'Ali, who at once made as though he
would obey the command. His comrades, however, anxiously seized his
hand, crying, "Such rash presumption ill accords with the attitude of
devoted service." "This act of mine," replied he, "is not prompted by
presumption, but by unstinted obedience, and desire to fulfil my
Master's behest. After giving effect to the command of His Holiness, I
will assuredly pour forth my life also at His feet."

'His Holiness smiled, and, applauding his faithful devotion and
sincere belief, said, "To-morrow, when you are questioned, repudiate
me, and renounce my doctrines, for thus is the command of God now laid
upon you...." The Bab's companions agreed, with the exception of
Mirza Muhammad 'Ali, who fell at the feet of His Holiness and began
to entreat and implore.... So earnestly did he urge his entreaties
that His Holiness, though (at first) he strove to dissuade him, at
length graciously acceded.

'Now when a little while had elapsed after the rising of the sun, they
brought them, without cloak or coat, and clad only in their undercoats
and nightcaps, to the Government House, where they were sentenced to
be shot. Aka Sayyid Huseyn, the amanuensis, and his brother, Aka
Sayyid Hasan, recanted, as they had been bidden to do, and were set
at liberty; and Aka Sayyid Huseyn bestowed the gems of wisdom
treasured in his bosom upon such as sought for and were worthy of
them, and, agreeably to his instructions, communicated certain secrets
of the faith to those for whom they were intended. He (subsequently)
attained to the rank of martyrdom in the Catastrophe of Tihran.

'But since Mirza Muhammad 'Ali, athirst for the draught of
martyrdom, declared (himself) in the most explicit manner, they
dragged him along with that (Central) Point of the Universal Circle
[Footnote: i.e. the Supreme Wisdom.] to the barrack, situated
by the citadel, and, opposite to the cells on one side of the barrack,
suspended him from one of the stone gutters erected under the eaves of
the cells. Though his relations and friends cried, "Our son is gone
mad; his confession is but the outcome of his distemper and the raving
of lunacy, and it is unlawful to inflict on him the death penalty," he
continued to exclaim, "I am in my right mind, perfect in service and
sacrifice." .... Now he had a sweet young child; and they, hoping to
work upon his parental love, brought the boy to him that he might
renounce his faith. But he only said,--

"Begone, and bait your snares for other quarry;
The 'Anka's nest is hard to reach and high."

So they shot him in the presence of his Master, and laid his faithful
and upright form in the dust, while his pure and victorious spirit,
freed from the prison of earth and the cage of the body, soared to the
branches of the Lote-tree beyond which there is no passing. [And the
Bab cried out with a loud voice, "Verily thou shalt be with me in

'Now after this, when they had suspended His Holiness in like manner,
the Shakaki regiment received orders to fire, and discharged their
pieces in a single volley. But of all the shots fired none took
effect, save two bullets, which respectively struck the two ropes by
which His Holiness was suspended on either side, and severed them. The
Bab fell to the ground, and took refuge in the adjacent room. As
soon as the smoke and dust of the powder had somewhat cleared, the
spectators looked for, but did not find, that Jesus of the age on the

'So, notwithstanding this miraculous escape, they again suspended His
Holiness, and gave orders to fire another volley. The Musulman
soldiers, however, made their excuses and refused. Thereupon a
Christian regiment [Footnote: Why a Christian regiment? The reason is
evident. Christians were outside the Babi movement, whereas the
Musulman population had been profoundly affected by the preaching of
the Babi, and could not be implicitly relied upon.] was ordered
to fire the volley.... And at the third volley three bullets struck
him, and that holy spirit, escaping from its gentle frame, ascended to
the Supreme Horizon.' It was in July 1850.

It remained for Holy Night to hush the clamour of the crowd. The great
square of Tabriz was purified from unholy sights and sounds. What, we
ask, was done then to the holy bodies--that of Bab himself and that
of his faithful follower? The enemies of the Bab, and even Count
Gobineau, assert that the dead body of the Bab was cast out into the
moat and devoured by the wild beasts. [Footnote: A similar fate is
asserted by tradition for the dead body of the heroic Mulla
Muhammad 'Ali of Zanjan.] We may be sure, however, that if the holy
body were exposed at night, the loyal Babis of Tabriz would lose
no time in rescuing it. The _New History_ makes this statement,--

'To be brief, two nights later, when they cast the most sacred body
and that of Mirza Muhammad 'Ali into the moat, and set three
sentries over them, Haji Suleyman Khan and three others, having
provided themselves with arms, came to the sentries and said, "We will
ungrudgingly give you any sum of money you ask, if you will not oppose
our carrying away these bodies; but if you attempt to hinder us, we
will kill you." The sentinels, fearing for their lives, and greedy for
gain, consulted, and as the price of their complaisance received a
large sum of money.

'So Haji Suleyman Khan bore those holy bodies to his house, shrouded
them in white silk, placed them in a chest, and, after a while,
transported them to Tihran, where they remained in trust till such
time as instructions for their interment in a particular spot were
issued by the Sources of the will of the Eternal Beauty. Now the
believers who were entrusted with the duty of transporting the holy
bodies were Mulla Huseyn of Khurasan and Aka Muhammad of
Isfahan, [Footnote: _TN_, p. 110, n. 3; _NH_, p. 312, n. 1.] and the
instructions were given by Baha-'ullah.' So far our authority.
Different names, however, are given by Nicolas, _AMB_, p. 381.

The account here given from the _New History_ is in accordance
with a letter purporting to be written by the Bab to Haji Suleyman
Khan exactly six months before his martyrdom; and preserved in the
_New History_, pp. 310, 311.

'Two nights after my martyrdom thou must go and, by some means or
other, buy my body and the body of Mirza Muhammad 'Ali from the
sentinels for 400 tumans, and keep them in thy house for six
months. Afterwards lay Aka Muhammad 'Ali with his face upon my
face the two (dead) bodies in a strong chest, and send it with a
letter to Jenab-i-Baha (great is his majesty!). [Footnote: _TN_,
p. 46, n. 1] Baha is, of course, the short for Baha-'ullah, and, as
Prof. Browne remarks, the modest title Jenab-i-Baha was, even after
the presumed date of this letter, the title commonly given to this

The instructions, however, given by the Bab elsewhere are widely
different in tendency. He directs that his remains should be placed
near the shrine of Shah 'Abdu'l-'Azim, which 'is a good land, by
reason of the proximity of Wahid (i.e. Subh-i-Ezel).' [Footnote: The
spot is said to be five miles south of Tihran.] One might naturally
infer from this that Baha-'ullah's rival was the guardian of the
relics of the Bab. This does not appear to have any warrant of
testimony. But, according to Subh-i-Ezel himself, there was a time
when he had in his hands the destiny of the bodies. He says that when
the coffin (there was but one) came into his hands, he thought it
unsafe to attempt a separation or discrimination of the bodies, so
that they remained together 'until [both] were stolen.'

It will be seen that Subh-i-Ezel takes credit (1) for carrying out
the Bab's last wishes, and (2) leaving the bodies as they were. To
remove the relics to another place was tantamount to stealing. It was
Baha-'ullah who ordered this removal for a good reason, viz., that the
cemetery, in which the niche containing the coffin was, seemed so
ruinous as to be unsafe.

There is, however, another version of Subh-i-Ezel's tradition; it has
been preserved to us by Mons. Nicolas, and contains very strange
statements. The Bab, it is said, ordered Subh-i-Ezel to place his
dead body, if possible, in a coffin of diamonds, and to inter it
opposite to Shah 'Abdu'l-'Azim, in a spot described in such a way that
only the recipient of the letter could interpret it. 'So I put the
mingled remains of the two bodies in a crystal coffin, diamonds being
beyond me, and I interred it exactly where the Bab had directed
me. The place remained secret for thirty years. The Baha'is in
particular knew nothing of it, but a traitor revealed it to
them. Those blasphemers disinterred the corpse and destroyed it. Or if
not, and if they point out a new burying-place, really containing the
crystal coffin of the body of the Bab which they have purloined, we
[Ezelites] could not consider this new place of sepulture to be

The story of the crystal coffin (really suggested by the Bayan) is too
fantastic to deserve credence. But that the sacred remains had many
resting-places can easily be believed; also that the place of burial
remained secret for many years. Baha-'ullah, however, knew where it
was, and, when circumstances favoured, transported the remains to the
neighbourhood of Haifa in Palestine. The mausoleum is worthy, and
numerous pilgrims from many countries resort to it.


The gentle spirit of the Bab is surely high up in the cycles of
eternity. Who can fail, as Prof. Browne says, to be attracted by him?
'His sorrowful and persecuted life; his purity of conduct and youth;
his courage and uncomplaining patience under misfortune; his complete
self-negation; the dim ideal of a better state of things which can be
discerned through the obscure mystic utterances of the Bayan; but
most of all his tragic death, all serve to enlist our sympathies on
behalf of the young prophet of Shiraz.'

'Il sentait le besoin d'une reforme profonde a introduire dans les
moeurs publiques.... Il s'est sacrifie pour l'humanite; pour elle il
a donne son corps et son ame, pour elle il a subi les privations,
les affronts, les injures, la torture et le martyre.' (Mons. Nicolas.)

_In an old Persian song, applied to the Bab by his followers, it is

In what sect is this lawful? In what religion is this lawful?
That they should kill a charmer of hearts! Why art thou a stealer of


Mulla Huseyn of Bushraweyh (in the province of Mazarandan) was the
embodied ideal of a Babi chief such as the primitive period of the
faith produced--I mean, that he distinguished himself equally in
profound theosophic speculation and in warlike prowess. This
combination may seem to us strange, but Mirza Jani assures us that
many students who had left cloistered ease for the sake of God and the
Bab developed an unsuspected warlike energy under the pressure of
persecution. And so that ardour, which in the case of the Bab was
confined to the sphere of religious thought and speculation and to the

Book of the day: