Symbols of the world's religions

               

STORIES ABOUT BABA IN PERSIA

Jean Adriel

 
In September of this same year [1929], Baba left with a group of twelve of his disciples on the third trip to Persia. As usual he travelled third class, sleeping on deck. Among the stewards, who were Goanese (Roman Catholics of Portuguese descent) was one who attended to Baba's going and coming from the bath in second class, which had been arranged for him by a devotee. One day he asked the disciple who accompanied Baba: 'Who is this saintly person? Is he your living Christ?'

On board Baba's identity was not disclosed, and he saw no one outside of his own party, except a Mohammedan member of the engine room crew, who used to go daily to Baba and stand silently in worship before him for a few moments. On the last day of the voyage Baba gave him his handkerchief, which brought tears of joy to the man's eyes.

This trip to Persia differed from the others in that Baba and his party received a very cordial welcome from rich and poor alike. Though his visit had not been advertised in advance, the news of his arrival spread like brush fire; with the result that at all their stopping places he was greeted by throngs of worshippers which included some of the highest ranking government officials and military officers. These men declared themselves as believing that Baba's presence in their country was a symbol of its redemption, which could only be achieved through the agency of the Masters of Perfection.

In their zeal, they wanted to arrange for their King, Reza Shah, to meet Baba and publicly proclaim him as their country's spiritual benefactor. This, however, Baba did not wish. One private reception was given in Yezd by a leading merchant of the city, but the townspeople soon got news of Baba's presence and crowded into the grounds by the thousands. A number of people narrowly escaped serious injury as the eager throng pushed their way toward Baba, that they might see and if possible touch him.

One significant incident occurred when an important leader of the Bahai sect arrived by airplane from Shiraz. His purpose in coming was to question Baba; but when he saw the Master and felt his divine radiation, he prostrated himself at Baba's feet, crying, 'You are God!' As he rushed out through the crowd, he proclaimed: 'I have seen God!'

In this recognition of Baba's spiritual status, he was revealing his own high development, since God can only be recognized by one in whom God is awakened. He was also exemplifying the teaching of the great Bahai Founders — to acknowledge God wherever one finds him.

Another evidence of the understanding with which Baba was greeted on this trip was given at Bam, where the Master and his disciples were resting for a few days. A man in military uniform, with several stripes on his chest asked permission to see the Master. At first he was told by one of Baba's men that no private interviews were being given. But the officer insisted that the 'Holy One' be informed that a beggar was outside, asking alms of him. When told this, Baba consented to see him. The officer marched in, but with his hands folded reverently across his chest. He first saluted the Master in military fashion, then he removed his sword and fell upon his knees, kissing Baba's proffered hand with reverence.

When Baba asked who he was, he replied, "Your humble slave!" To Baba's repeated query he answered, "I am nothing in the presence of your Holiness."

Then Baba explained that he wished to know his military rank. "A general," the man replied humbly.

"To die in the service of one's country is great indeed, but to die in the service of God is greater," Baba told him.

"Indeed, Holy Master, I understand," the man agreed, and implored Baba's grace in his search for God. Baba assured him of his help. The general then declared that though he belonged to the Persian army, he believed that the salvation of his country lay not in its military strength, but in its spiritual rebirth. He besought Baba's help on behalf of his unfortunate country and its ignorant people.

"That is why you see me here," Baba assured him.

One more incident illumines this trip for us. In the street opposite to the house where Baba stayed while in Bam, was the 'seat' or headquarters of a Saint, or Buzoorg, as such a one is known in Persia. He was held in great reverence by the local people and had a large following.

The first evening when Baba appeared for a walk with his disciples, the Saint arose from his seat and paid his respects to Baba whom he seemed to know. Later, he told all those who approached him that there was in their midst the "Emperor of all Saints."

 

AVATAR, pp. 119-122
1947 © Jean Adriel

               

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