History of movemnets - 30

Henceforth the movement began to be known as Behaism and spread fast in Persia, Turkestan, Tartary and Egypt and reached out to Europe and America. Eminent statesmen and scholars, and royal person­ages visited and consulted Beha’u’llah in the prison, who was treated with great honor in his confinement. Prof. Browne of Cambridge was one of such visitors. He has graphically described the noble figure and demeanor of the illustrious prisoner and the effect of the visit on himself. On being ushered in he was addressed by Beha‘u’llah "Blessed be the name of God. Yon have come to see an exiled prisoner. We wish the good of the world and welfare of nations and we are the victim of banishment. What crime is there in proclaiming the unity of religions, annihilation of the distinctions of races, and the promotion of brotherly love among mankind!.... And this shall be in the end. The international conflict shall cease and Peace shall reign. Did not Christ prophesy this? And yet the kings of Europe instead of spending their trea­sures for the welfare of their subjects are wasting them in murderous wars. This carnage should cease and Humanity be one family, Man should take pride not in loving his own country but the whole humanity!”

Prof. Browne in his “New History of the Bab" (Page XXIV. Introduction) thus contrasts the teach­ings of Behaism to those of the primitive Babism “No sooner was Beha firmly established in his authority, than he began to make free nse of the privileges accorded by the Bab to “Him whom God shall manifest” to abrogate, change, cancel and develop the earlier doctrines. His chief aim seems to have been to introduce a more settled order, to discour­age speculation, to direct the attention of his followers to practical reforms pursued in a prudent and unobtru­sive fashion, to exalt ethics at the expense of meta­physics, to check mysticism, to conciliate existing authorities, including even the Shah of Persia, the Nero of the Babi faith, to abolish useless, unpractical and irksome regulations and restrictions and in general to adapt the religion at the head of which he now, found himself, to the ordinary exigencies of life and to render it more capable of what he intended to make, a universal system suitable to all mankind. A remembrance of all the wrongs which he and his co­religionists had suffered at the hands of Mussulmans, further caused him gradually but steadily to eliminate the tinge of, Mahammedan and more especially of Shicite thought which the Babi doctrine still maintain­ed, while ever seeking a better understanding with the Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians, with all of whom he recommended his followers to consort on friendly terms.”

The Present Position: Abdul Beha: After 26 years of life in the prison at Acre, Beha’u’llah departed this world leaving behind his son as the head of the Behai church. The son is in no way inferior tothe father in scholarship and learning, foresight and attractiveness. Spending 16 years in the prison after his father, he was released in the revolution of 1908, and he is now free to move wherever he chooses. But he was in no way idle in the prison. Many visitors came to him from Europe and America. One of them Mias Lansa Clifford Barni has published a beautiful book of about 350 pages “Some Answered Questions” a well arranged conspectus of the various topics dwelt upon by Abdul Beha.  Translations of this in Persian and French are also published.

Behaism was first introduced in America by an adventurous Behai Missionary Mirza Abdul Fazal- Chicago has now been the focus of Behai activities in America. Many Behai Americans visit the Beha, centres in Europe, Turkey and Persia and spread the cause by delivering lectures in India, China and Japan. At present there are Behai Congregations in the following places in India—Bombay, Poona, Amritsar, Lahore, Calcutta and Rangoon. In Chicago there is a grand central Prayer Hall, to which thousands of pounds have been contributed by Behais all over the world.

Most of the educational and social progressive activities in Persia may be traced to Behai initiative. Schools, hospitals and other philanthropic institutions are being conducted by self-sacrificing men and women from America. To promote education on a larger scale a Society called “The Persian-American Education Society” has been formed; the name is now changedat the suggestion of Abdul Beha into “Occidental— Oriental Interdependence Society”. The aim of this Society is no less than to promote general co-operation between mankind irrespective of time and country”. Last year Abdul Beha was enthusiastically welcomed in England by the Congregationalists in the City Temple and by the Unitarians and Brahmas in their Essex Hall in England, whence he was to proceed to America and other countries.