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Twin Birthdays: The Glorious Birth of Baha’u’llah

Christopher Buck | Nov 1, 2016

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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Christopher Buck | Nov 1, 2016

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

Think of Christmas, which marks the birth of Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity. The Birth of the Bab and the Birth of Baha’u’llah are the Baha’i counterparts to Christmas. This is because the Bab and Baha’u’llah are considered the “co-founders” of the Baha’i Faith.

What is the spiritual as well as social significance of the birth of Baha’u’llah? Baha’u’llah wrote several tablets (letters) that commemorate this occasion. Here is how one of these tablets begins:

This is the month wherein was born He Who beareth the Most Great Name, Whose appearance hath caused the limbs of humankind to quake and the dust of Whose footsteps the Concourse on high and the dwellers of the cities of names have sought for a blessing.

Whereupon they rendered praise unto God and cried out in joy and exultation. By God. This is the month through which all other months have been illumined, the month wherein He Who is the hidden Secret and the well-guarded Treasure hath been made manifest and hath called aloud amidst all humankind. All dominion belongeth to this newborn Child through Whom the face of creation hath been wreathed in smiles, and the trees have swayed, and the oceans have surged, and the mountains have taken flight, and Paradise hath lifted its voice, and the Rock hath cried out, and all things have exclaimed, “O concourse of creation! Hasten ye towards the dawning-place of the countenance of your Lord, the Merciful, the Compassionate!” – Baha’u’llah, Tablet for the Twin Holy Days

Outwardly, the birth of Baha’u’llah was a private affair, with no fanfare and no publicity. It did not attract worldwide attention, as might otherwise be indicated by this passage. Therefore another meaning must be understood.

The Baha’i writings, highly spiritual and metaphorical, encompass both this world and spiritual realities beyond. Consider life after death. If the soul, being a self-conscious entity, continues to live on in the afterlife, consider what that would collectively entail. Assuming that there is communication by way of thought in the next world, and further assuming that there is much greater awareness, too, then the significance of an outwardly unheralded event here on Earth, such as the birth of a messenger of God, would have a much different reception in a realm where the spiritual significance of Baha’u’llah is known and understood.

This same tablet continues:

This is the month wherein Paradise itself was decked forth with the splendours of the countenance of its Lord, the All-Merciful, and the heavenly Nightingale warbled its melody upon the Divine Lote-Tree, and the hearts of the favoured ones were filled with rapture. But alas the people, for the most part, are heedless. Blessed be the one who hath recognized Him and apprehended that which was promised in the Books of God, the Almighty, the All-Praised; and woe betide him that hath turned aside from the One upon Whom the Concourse on high have fixed their gaze, Him who hath confounded every wayward misbeliever. – Baha’u’llah, Tablet for the Twin Holy Days

Here, we see Paradise splendidly arrayed. Traditionally, Paradise has been described as a royal garden. The “heavenly Nightingale” is a metaphorical nightingale, maybe symbolizing the Bab—who, after all, was Baha’u’llah’s herald. In other tablets, the “Nightingale” often represents Baha’u’llah himself.

When I grew up as a Christian, I looked forward, with wrapt anticipation, to the return of Christ. I was taught about the “Rapture.” Here, Baha’u’llah speaks about a kind of “rapture” where transports of joy seize the dwellers of the celestial realm. They soar in the atmosphere of exhilaration, they are enraptured, lifted up, buoyed by jubilation. The spiritual multitude—here called the “Concourse on high”—rejoices in the unseen, yet very real, spiritual realms of advanced and enlightened consciousness.

In another beautiful tablet revealed for the same occasion, Baha’u’llah writes:

The Birthday Festival is come, and He Who is the Beauty of God, the All-Powerful, the All-Compelling, the All-Loving, hath ascended His throne. …

This, verily, is the majesty of the Lord that hath encompassed the entire creation, and this is His transcendent power that hath pervaded all them that see and all that is seen. Take fast hold of the cord of His sovereign might and make mention of your Lord, the Unconstrained, at this dawntide whose light hath laid bare every hidden secret. Thus hath the tongue of the Ancient of Days spoken on this Day wherein the choice wine hath been unsealed. Take heed lest the vain imaginings of them that have disbelieved in God perturb you, or their idle fancies deter you from this outstretched path.

O people of Baha! Soar upon the wings of detachment into the atmosphere of the love of your Lord, the All-Merciful. Arise then to render Him victorious, as bidden in the Preserved Tablet. Beware lest ye contend with any of My servants. Bestow upon them the sweet savours of God and His holy utterances, for through their potency all men will be enabled to turn unto Him. – Baha’u’llah, Tablet for the Twin Holy Days

In this sense, the Birth of Baha’u’llah represents a cosmic event, a resounding celebration. But no sound can be heard, except by the spiritually discerning. This is something that typically you will not read about in the newspapers—even though you’re reading about it online.

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