Who was `Abdu'l-Bahá, and why did He come to the West?

Friday, November 9, 2012

November 9, 1912 Replacing enmity with love; a large banquet

Washington DC:
Mahmud writes: "The Master called on the Jewish rabbi, showered him with kindness and countless blessings, and spoke to him regarding peace and harmony among the Jews, Christians and Muslims as well as the need for respect for the leaders of each other's religions. The Master said: Whenever these people mention each other's leaders with due reverence then all sufferings and contentions shall cease and instead of hatred there will be love and instead of enmity and disunity there will be harmony and affection. This is my purpose.
The Master continued to speak in this vein with the rabbi, who left His presence with humility and respect.
Several distinguished persons visited the Master on the second floor of Mrs Parsons's home, to whom He spoke about various spiritual and important issues. The eternal bounties poured forth like refreshing rain, beautifying the gardens of the hearts and causing the world of the spirit to triumph and to overflow with glad tidings.
In the evening the band of lovers observed the Feast of the Covenant with a magnificent banquet in one of the city's largest halls. The sounds of their congratulations and praises created a festive and beautiful celebration. Large tables were arranged in the center of the hall in the shape of the figure nine. At the head of the tables was the Master's chair, on two sides were the chairs of His companions, while the remaining chairs were occupied by the friends. The tables were decorated with flowers and other ornaments and the doors and walls were decorated with screens, flags, festoons, lanterns and banners. Above all of these was the symbol of the Greatest Name. More than three hundred guests were present, apart from those serving as hosts. Almost everyone at the banquet was in formal attire and their attention focused on the Master.
As soon as the Master arrived they all sang with one voice a song in praise of `Abdu'l-Bahá. When He had taken His seat, Mr Remey stood in the center of the hall facing the Master and devoutly read a paper, afterwards congratulating the Master on behalf of the friends and assuring Him of their obedience and renunciation of the world. Before eating `Abdu'l-Bahá rose and recited the following prayer:
He is God! O Lord! We are assembled here in the utmost love and are turned toward Thy Kingdom. We seek none other but Thee and desire not but Thy good pleasure.
O Lord! Make this food heavenly and make those assembled here of the hosts of Thy Supreme Concourse so that they may become life-giving and the cause of the enlightenment of the world of man, that they may arise to guide all the peoples of the world.
Thou art the All-Powerful, the Almighty, the Forgiving and the Kind.
He then invited everyone to begin their dinner, saying, `Tonight I myself wish to serve the friends of God.' He therefore made several rounds, distributing sweets and flowers and anointing each person with attar of rose. When the Master completed one round, the friends sang songs of praise to the accompaniment of the piano. After supper, the Master rose and spoke about the preeminence and distinction of the gatherings of the friends of God, saying that the actions and services of the people of Bahá would be everlasting.  This gave further encouragement to the friends to burst enthusiastically into wonderful songs and melodies, giving renewed joy to the hearts and to the souls a new delight. This was one of those great gatherings that demonstrate the majesty and power of the Center of the Covenant.
The Master then went into another room where a number of people were granted private interviews. Among them was a gentleman who had lost both legs in a railway collision and wore artificial limbs. To him the Master said:
Mutilation of the body brings no harm to the soul. This is one of the proofs of the immortality of the soul, for death consists of the change and dispersion of the members and elements of the body. As a bodily change does not bring about change in the soul, it is evident that the soul is unchanging and imperishable.

When the Consul General of Turkey and others came to see Him, `Abdu'l-Bahá spoke to them about the Universal House of Justice."


Agnes Parsons clarifies that the banquet was held at Raucher's. She says, "Boxes of sugar plums were placed at each place, at the table, and the decorations were yellow chrysanthemums.  It was all very lovely and the occasion had a significance which we do not yet understand." (135)  The banquet started at 10; at 8:30 there was a misunderstanding about the talk that was scheduled--some thought it was only for men. 'Abdu'l-Bahá spoke about the informal talk He had had with Rabbi Simon at 4 pm.  At 4:30 He had given a talk on immortality.  Quite a day!

Yellow chrysanthemums had also garnished the table in Oakland, as I recall.  These events seem delightfully festive--and this one was quite formal. The Feast after the banquet must have been quite late. Agnes says that a few friends including some of the Persians were there--"exquisite prayers were offered by Him for our advancement and firmness."

Wow. I wish we could attend such a banquet--again and again.  Don't you wish you could hear the singing, in one voice, of the song in praise of the Master? What song was it?  Oh--for a time machine. 

No comments:

Post a Comment