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Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era

  • Author:
  • J. E. Esslemont

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1980 edition
  • Pages:
  • 286
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Pages 48-49

His Writings

The Writings of Bahá’u’lláh are most comprehensive in their range, dealing with every phase of human life, individual and social, with things material and things spiritual, with the interpretation of ancient and modern scriptures, and with prophetic anticipations of both the near and distant future.
The range and accuracy of His knowledge was amazing. He could quote and expound the Scriptures of the various religions with which His correspondents or questioners were familiar, in convincing and authoritative manner, although apparently He had never had the ordinary means of access to many of the books referred to. He declares, in Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, that He had never read the Bayán, although in His own Writings He shows the most perfect knowledge and understanding of the Báb’s Revelation. (The Báb, as we have seen, declared that His Revelation, the Bayán, was inspired by and emanated from “Him Whom God shall make Manifest”!) With the single exception of a visit from Professor Edward Granville Browne, to whom in the year 1890 He accorded four interviews, each lasting twenty to thirty minutes, He had no opportunities of intercourse with enlightened Western thinkers, yet His Writings show a complete grasp of the social, political and religious problems of the Western World, and even His enemies had to admit that His wisdom and knowledge were incomparable. The well-known circumstances of His long imprisonment render it impossible to doubt that the wealth of knowledge shown in His Writings must have been acquired from some spiritual source, quite independent of the usual means of study or instruction and the help of books or teachers. 1 49
Sometimes He wrote in modern Persian, the ordinary language of His fellow countrymen, which is largely admixed with Arabic. At other times, as when addressing learned Zoroastrians, He wrote in the purest classical Persian. He also wrote with equal fluency in Arabic, sometimes in very simple language, sometimes in classical style somewhat similar to that of the Qur’án. His perfect mastery of these different languages and styles was remarkable because of His entire lack of literary education.
In some of His Writings the way of holiness is pointed out in such simple terms that “the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein” (Isaiah xxv, 8). In others there is a wealth of poetic imagery, profound philosophy and allusions to Muḥammadan, Zoroastrian and other scriptures, or to Persian and Arabic literature and legends, such as only the poet, the philosopher or the scholar can adequately appreciate. Still others deal with advanced stages of the spiritual life and are to be understood only by those who have already passed through the earlier stages. His works are like a bountiful table provided with foods and delicacies suited to the needs and tastes of all who are genuine truth seekers.
It is because of this that His Cause had effect among the learned and culture, spiritual poets and well-known writers. Even some of the leaders of the Súfís and of other sets, and some of the political ministers who were writers, were attracted by His words, for they exceeded those of all other writers in sweetness and depth of spiritual meaning.
1. When asked whether Bahá’u’lláh had made a special study of Western writings and founded His teachings in accordance with them ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said that the books of Bahá’u’lláh, written and printed as long ago as the 1870’s, contained the ideals now so familiar to the West, although at that time these ideas had not been printed or thought of in the West.   [ Back To Reference]