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

Monday, January 21, 2013

January 21, 1913 Departure; a love-laden smile

Earl Redman writes: 

Finally, came ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s last day in London, 21 January 1913. Everyone was ready to leave for the railway station – except ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Who was busy writing. One of His secretaries reminded Him of the time and the train, but He simply said, ‘There are things of more importance than trains’, and continued to write. Then abruptly, a man carrying a large garland of fragrant white flowers rushed in and bowed deeply before the Master, saying, ‘In the name of the disciples of Zoroaster, The Pure One, I hail Thee as the Promised Sháh Bahrám!’ The man then placed the garland of flowers around ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and anointed all present with rose-scented oil. When this amazing ceremony concluded, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá carefully removed the flowers and departed for the train.[i]
             ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had gone. Lady Blomfield wrote:
We stood bereft of His presence.
            Of the friends who gathered round Him at the train, one had been a constant visitor, a charming Eastern potentate, dignified and picturesque in his jewelled turban. He was an example of earthly kingship, one of the many other great personages of the world, all of whom, absent and present, were so small, so insignificant, when compared with the Ambassador of the Most High, as He stood, clad in a simple garment, speaking courteous words of farewell, smiling that love-laden smile which comforted all hearts.

[i] Blomfield, The Chosen Highway, pp. 173–4.

Moving, indeed.  And this is from 'Abdu'l-Bahá in London: 

The Farewell
    ON the last morning of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's stay in London many friends gathered both at Cadogan Gardens and at the station to bid him farewell. An impressive and interesting ceremony was performed at the house by a Zoroastrian (a physician), who sent an elaborate telegram to some Pársís in Bombay, saying: "The Torch of Truth has been lighted again in the East and the West by 'Abdu'l-Bahá." Instructed by his brethren, this follower of one of the most ancient religions in the world had brought with him a sacred oil of a rare perfume, with which he annointed the head and breast of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, afterwards touching the hands of all present. He then placed around 'Abdu'l-Bahá's neck and shoulders an exquisite garland of rose-buds and lilies.
    The last glimpse which the friends had at Victoria Station was that of the venerable face and form standing at the window, gazing out with a look of benevolence and wonderful tenderness on those he was leaving.  (113)

Also, these are words He had spoken after His arrival on the earlier trip, Sept. 1911:

    The magnet of your love brought me to this country. My hope is that the Divine Light may shine here, and that the Heavenly Star of Bahá'u'lláh may strengthen you, so that you may be the cause of the oneness of humanity, that you may help to make the darkness of superstition and prejudice disappear and unite all creeds and nations.
    This is a brilliant century. Eyes are now open to the beauty of the oneness of humanity, of love and of brotherhood. The darkness of suppression will disappear and the light of unity will shine. We cannot bring love and unity to pass merely by talking of it. Knowledge is not enough. Wealth, science, education are good, we know: but we must also work and study to bring to maturity the fruit of knowledge.
    Knowledge is the first step; resolve, the second step; action, its fulfillment, is the third step. To construct a building one must first of all make a plan, then one must have the power (money), then one can build. A society of Unity is formed, that is good--but meetings and discussions are not enough. In Egypt these meetings take place but there is only talk and no result. These meetings here in London are good, the knowledge and the intention are good, but how can there be a result without action? Today the force for Unity is the Holy Spirit of Bahá'u'lláh. He manifested this spirit of Unity. Bahá'u'lláh brings East and West together. Go back, search history, you will not find a precedent for this.  (54–55)
Because I have not studied all of the days in London, I am loathe to leave the story here. I hope there will be time to come back to this important place of the Master's visit.  Don't you wish you could see the Master wearing the garland of rosebuds and lilies? (Among other things.) 

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