The Divine Springtime is come, O Most Exalted Pen, for the Festival of the All-Merciful is fast approaching. Bestir thyself, and magnify, before the entire creation, the name of God, and celebrate His praise, in such wise that all created things may be regenerated and made new. Speak, and hold not thy peace. The day star of blissfulness shineth above the horizon of Our name, the Blissful [al-Bahhaj], inasmuch as the kingdom of the name of God hath been adorned with the ornament of the name of thy Lord, the Creator of the heavens. Arise before the nations of the earth, and arm thyself with the power of this Most Great Name, and be not of those who tarry. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings From the Writings of Baha’u’llah, pp. 27-28.
In the unique and fascinating Baha’i Calendar, the name of the eleventh year in the Baha’i cycle of 19 years is “Delightful” (Persian/Arabic: Bahhaj). Shoghi Effendi has also translated this very same word as “Blissful,” as seen in Baha’u’llah’s Tablet of Ridvan, quoted above. The numerical value of Bahhaj is eleven, corresponding to the eleventh year in the Baha’i calendar’s 19-year cycle of years.
The Bab’s original name for what has become the Baha’i Calendar was the Badi (“Wondrous” or “Unique” or “New”) Calendar. Not only is the Badi Calendar original, innovative, profoundly spiritual, and absolutely unique among the calendrical systems of the world—so too are some of the “Names of God” used to designate the various months, days, and years.
Similar to the word for “Generosity” (jad) for the eighth year of the calendar (see “A Brand New Word—and a New Concept—for Generosity”), the word Bahháj is also a “neologism” (a newly coined word) devised by the Bab, who created new Arabic syntax and grammar. The Arabic noun bahja, according to The Hans-Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic (p. 78), means: “Splendor, magnificence, beauty, resplendence, joy, delight.”
The Bab simply altered this word slightly in order to give it the numerical value of eleven. John Walbridge, in Sacred Acts, Sacred Space, Sacred Time (p. 194), says that Bahhaj is a “neologism, coined by employing a real root in a possible but unused form, and is a typical example of the Bab’s willingness to take liberties with Arabic grammar and syntax.” According to Dan Gebhardt, faculty at the Wilmette Institute: “Bahhaj is certainly a very uncommon word. It does not appear in the Arabic lexicons and is scarce on Google. It is an intensive form, from the same root as bahja.”
Enough of the technical discussion! Let’s see some other examples of how this rare “Name of God” has been used in the Baha’i writings. For instance, Bahhaj as a “Name of God” occurs in the “Long Healing Prayer,” a prayer by Baha’u’llah, said to have been endowed with more power than other prayers.
In one of the stanzas of the Long Healing Prayer, Baha’u’llah calls upon God, invoking various attributes of God as though summoning various powers of God necessary for the ideal combination of healing through both physical and spiritual means:
I call on Thee O Enkindler, O Brightener, O Bringer of Delight (ya Bahhaj)! Thou the Sufficing, Thou the Healing, Thou the Abiding, O Thou Abiding One! – Baha’u’llah, Baha’i Prayers, p. 96.
Elsewhere, Baha’u’llah explicitly uses the same term as an attribute of God:
And when the scripts are manifest there cometh the ornamentation through the [Divine] Names according to the number of Our Name, al-Bahhaj.” – Tablet of Baha’u’llah to Khalil Shirazi, provisional translation by Stephen Lambden.
“Delightful” — a happy name, to be sure. This term can also mean jubilation, mirth, glee, etc. But what does this have to do with you and I?
So far, each and every one of the “Names of God” covered in this series describes various spiritual perfections, each of which translates into human virtue expressed in action. Those perfections, when it comes to human endeavor, all represent a process even more than an outcome.
While God is absolute perfection, whatever qualities you and I may have, no matter how refined, can never reach perfection in its ultimate, superlative sense. Instead, think of perfection as shorthand for striving for perfection in a healthy, positive sense — not necessarily in the sense of being a compulsive perfectionist. In a mundane, practical way, perfection describes a process of trying to improve and refine a skill or quality, as best we can.
So—what goodly actions may follow from the godly attribute of “Delightful?”
As the mystic, or magical, saying goes: “As above, so below.” As God is the supreme “Bringer of Delight,” so should we also be sources of joy and happiness for others—as well as for ourselves. Of course, physical joy and happiness, no matter how intense they may be, are temporary and transitory. Spiritual joy and happiness are more long-lasting, because they result from having done something good, worthwhile, of abiding value, a benefit to others, as a contribution to society and civilization.
So the Baha’i calendar reminds us that joy and happiness are also part of the spiritual path—and something that we can try our best to inspire and instill in others as well. You can translate this godly quality into good actions for the happiness of others, and transform into a “Bringer of Delight:”
Let all your striving be for this, to become the source of life and immortality, and peace and comfort and joy, to every human soul, whether one known to you or a stranger, one opposed to you or on your side. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, pp. 256-257.