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We’ll need great power to bring about a Great Peace.

Peace begins with a message–principles, plans and promises; followed by the power to implement the message–especially the willpower of powerful leaders, finally culminating in peace.

In this series, we learned of Deganawida’s gospel of “the Good Message and the Power and the Peace” which unified five (and later six) warring Iroquois nations into the Great League of Peace. (“Iroquois” is the French name for the Haudenosaunee, or “People of the Longhouse.”)

Where does “the Power” to build peace come from? According to Deganawida, the Iroquois “Peacemaker,” the Power first comes from “the one with great power, the one who is the Creator”:

Thereupon Tekanawitaˀ stood up, saying, “The Great Power came from up in the sky, and now it is functioning, the Great Power that we accepted when we reached consensus. . . . Now, therefore, we shall give thanks, that is, we shall thank the Creator of the earth, that is, he who planted all kinds of weeds and all varieties of shrubs and all kinds of trees; and springs, flowing water, such as rivers and large bodies of water, such as lakes; and the sun that keeps moving by day, and by night, the moon, and where the sky is, the stars, which no one is able to count; moreover, the way it is on earth in relation to which no one is able to tell the extent to which it is to their benefit, that is the people whom he created and who will continue to live on earth. This, then, is the reason we thank him, the one with great power, the one who is the Creator, for that which will now move forward, the Good Message and the Power and the Peace; the Great Law. – Deganawida, Concerning the League, pp. 294–296.

Although the power for peace originates with the Creator, Deganawida said, peace also requires the consensus of world leaders.

Baha’u’llah, world peacemaker, similarly speaks of the “Great Being” and world peace:

The Great Being, wishing to reveal the prerequisites of the peace and tranquillity of the world and the advancement of its peoples, hath written: The time must come when the imperative necessity for the holding of a vast, an all-embracing assemblage of men will be universally realized. The rulers and kings of the earth must needs attend it, and, participating in its deliberations, must consider such ways and means as will lay the foundations of the world’s Great Peace amongst men. Such a peace demandeth that the Great Powers should resolve, for the sake of the tranquillity of the peoples of the earth, to be fully reconciled among themselves. Should any king take up arms against another, all should unitedly arise and prevent him. If this be done, the nations of the world will no longer require any armaments, except for the purpose of preserving the security of their realms and of maintaining internal order within their territories. This will ensure the peace and composure of every people, government and nation. We fain would hope that the kings and rulers of the earth, the mirrors of the gracious and almighty name of God, may attain unto this station, and shield mankind from the onslaught of tyranny. – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed After the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 165.

These are powerful words. The “Great Being” calls upon the “Great Powers” to bring about “the world’s Great Peace” by consensus. That can, must, and will happen, according to Baha’i teachings.

If the two Peacemakers–Deganawida and Baha’u’llah–could meet, how would they regard each other? With profound respect:

It is clear and evident to thee that all the Prophets are the Temples of the Cause of God, Who have appeared clothed in divers attire. If thou wilt observe with discriminating eyes, thou wilt behold them all abiding in the same tabernacle, soaring in the same heaven, seated upon the same throne, uttering the same speech, and proclaiming the same Faith. Such is the unity of those Essences of being, those Luminaries of infinite and immeasurable splendour. Wherefore, should one of these Manifestations of Holiness proclaim saying: “I am the return of all the Prophets,” He verily speaketh the truth. – Baha’u’llah, The Book of Certitude, pp. 153–154.

Many Native American and Native Canadian Baha’is believe that Baha’u’llah is the return of Deganawida, as he himself foretold:

If at any time through the negligence and carelessness of the lords, they fail to carry out the principles of the Good Tidings of Peace and Power and the rules and regulations of the confederacy and the people are reduced to poverty and great suffering, I will return.
– Deganawida, quoted in Arthur Caswell Parker’s The Constitution of the Five Nations, Or, The Iroquois Book of the Great Law, p. 105.

If Baha’u’llah is indeed the return of Deganawida, this does not mean the reincarnation of Deganawida. Rather, it is the renewal of the essential teachings of the first Peacemaker, whose teachings are reaffirmed and universalized by the second Peacemaker.

Meeting of Hiawatha and Deganawida

Meeting of Hiawatha and Deganawida

The first Peacemaker came to unite five warring nations. The second Peacemaker came to unite all nations in peace.

Both Peacemakers brought the same message. Although their respective laws and practices are distinct, yet they share a similar purpose and a kindred spirit. That being so, these practices can be reciprocally respected, honored, and performed, preserving thereby the best of both traditions.

Baha’u’llah came not to replace, but to unify, to widen the circle, and to honor previous Peacemakers, past and present. The two Peacemakers are one in spirit, one in principle, kindred in practice.

Deganawida did not bring about peace alone. Hiawatha and Jigonsaseh (the “Peace Queen”) assisted him. Together, even this “peace trio” needed the acceptance of tribal leaders to bring about peace.

Baha’u’llah cannot magically bring about peace. But, together with those who accept his message, who put Baha’i principles of justice and unity into practice, and who network with all those dedicated to peace-building the world over, then, in good time, peace will come.

We must have faith that this can happen. It will happen, if we dedicate ourselves to “that which will now move forward, the Good Message and the Power and the Peace; the Great Law,” as Deganawida, the great Peacemaker taught, in his message not only for the Haudenosaunee, but for all nations.

In principle, turning to the timely teachings of Baha’u’llah also returns to the ancient teachings of Deganawida, still practiced today by many of the “People at the Longhouse.” Deganawida’s name means “Two Rivers Flowing Together.” The teachings of Deganawida and Baha’u’llah are also “Two Rivers Flowing Together.”

2 Comments

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  • Mar 26, 2015
    Christopher thank you, thank you for shedding light on one of the first American continent Peacemakers Deganawida and his more famous helper Hiawatha. It's obvious to me that the Iroquois Confederation was the example for our own colonies Articles of Confederation, the precursor to the Constitution.
    • Mar 26, 2015
      Rodney: Thanks for your comments. Why don't you post the similarities that you see between the Great Law and the Articles of Confederation? I'd be interested to see your analysis. Thanks.