“…the dawn of a New Day shall break upon that land and the Rays of this Divine Revelation shall make of India a spiritually-quickened, peaceful and united country.” — Shoghi Effendi, Jan. 9, 1923
The sub-continent of India, favoured by special mention in the Qayyumu’l-Asma, on the Day of the Declaration of the Bab, is a land of the greatest spiritual potentialities. During the life time of Abdu’l-Baha a steady stream of teachers from East and West arrived to establish the Faith, and at the time of His passing, there was a sizeable community of Baha’is in India. This was the community that grew into spiritual maturity, expanded and developed under the unerring guidance of our beloved Guardian who fostered its growth, ever beckoning it forward.
The Guardian summoned the believers to achieve great victories, local movements and limited projects would not be commensurate with the greatness of the Revelation of Baha’u’llah; he led them to self-sacrifice, to big undertakings, and to bold ventures. Gradually, he brought to light the vastness of the realm of service, pointing out the many races and tribes that inhabited this land of ancient civilization and cradle of important world religions. He gave instructions and plans to this Community to take the healing Message of God to all these peoples and tribes. Step by step, Shoghi Effendi guided the Community on how to plan and organize a comprehensive teaching plan.
As far back as 1933, the beloved Guardian summoned the Baha’is of India to teach among the masses, and to reach persons of capacity in every strata of society. He guided us in every accomplishment, pointing out the objectives, counselling and urging the completion of goals set for the Community.
The reader will find for himself what great victories still remain to be won and what great potentialities still remain hidden in India — “a vast country and an excellent field of service”. This book is for those, anywhere in the world, who wish to arise individually and collectively to establish the World Order of Baha’u’llah and the Kingdom of God on earth.
Dr. R. Muhajir
New Delhi,March 9, 1970
The beloved of the Lord and the handmaids of the Merciful throughout India and Burmah, Care of the members of the Spiritual Assembly.
Beloved co-workers in the Vineyard of God!
It has been my great pleasure and privilege to send you, since my return to the Holy Land, first my general message of confidence and of love addressed to all believers throughout the East, and later another letter wherein I appeal in particular to those faithful lovers of His Cause in that vast and distant dominion to labour whole-heartedly and to the very end for the diffusion of His Light and the spread of His Cause. Remembering, however, the few among my friends in that land who are as yet unfamiliar with the Persian Tongue, I have thought of sending these few lines to them in particular and through them to the rest of my brethren and sisters in those regions who, despite the diversity of tongue, of race and custom are all united at heart and animated by one common desire to uplift humanity and carry out His Divine Purpose for this world.
What an alluring field of service India with all its possibilities unfolds to our eyes at the present time and how vast are the opportunities of sowing the seeds of unity and loving kindness in the hearts of its divers peoples!
True, that land seems now unhappily to be plunged in the darkness of prejudice, hate and mistrust, yet however dark the immediate prospect may appear, our confidence remains unshaken that ere long these mists shall clear away, the dawn of a New Day shall break upon that land and the Rays of this Divine Revelation shall make of India a spiritually-quickened, peaceful and united country.
The universal Teachings of Baha’u’llah if declared and propounded with wisdom and judgement, determination, selflessness and sincerity, and above all if exemplified in our lives and dealings with our fellow-men, cannot fail to inspire and stimulate the mind of the enlightened seeker and win the admiration and allegiance of all mankind. Ours then is the duty and privilege to bring to the attention of this distressed and war-weary world this Message of Eternal Salvation and help to establish the Era of Peace and Brotherhood as purposed and foretold by Baha’u’llah.
The welcome news of the progress of the Third All-India Baha’i Convention as well as the favourable comment made upon it by the Press of that country have been fully shared with the pilgrims and resident friends in the Holy Land and we have all admired and rejoiced at the efforts you are exerting for the consolidation of the Movement in that ancient land.
May your endeavours in every sphere of your spiritual activities be crowned with brilliant success, that His glorious Promise regarding the future of that land may be speedily fulfilled!
It is my earnest hope that “The Baha’i News”, the representative organ of the Baha’i Community in India, may expand and develop, may widen the sphere of its correspondence, add to the number and quality of its articles in Persian as well as in English, report regularly in its columns the news of the spiritual activities of all Baha’i centres in India and elsewhere, and in general provide for the full, correct and dignified presentation of the Cause to the general public.
Assuring every one of you of my constant prayers on your behalf and wishing you success in your noble task,
I am your brother and co-worker, SHOGHI
January 9, 1923
As you mentioned India is a vast country and an excellent field of service. If the younger Baha’i generation, in whom Shoghi Effendi has great hopes, take the pain of studying the Cause deeply and thoroughly, read its history, find its underlying principles and become both well informed and energetic, they surely can achieve a great deal. It is upon their shoulders that the Master has laid the tremendous work of teaching. They are the ones to raise the call of the Kingdom and arouse the people from slumber. If they fail the Cause is doomed to stagnation. May we all hope and earnestly pray that through God’s infinite grace, through the Master’s spiritual guidance and through Shoghi Effendi’s tender care we may do justice to this tremendous work and not fail to do the Master’s bidding.
As Shoghi Effendi has not yet taken up the tremendous work and responsibility of attending to the correspondence of the individual friends, he asked me to write you this note, acknowledge the receipt of your letter, and ask you to do the following things: (1) Change the name of your Executive Committee to “The National Spiritual Assembly”, because the corresponding Assembly in England and America bear the same name, and uniformity in such matters is most advisable. (2) He likes to receive regular and detailed reports of the position of the Cause as well as the activities of the friends in India drafted as well as sent by the Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly. So as to be informed of the conditions there and administer to your needs. (3) He wishes to have the postal as well as telegraphic address of the secretary so as to send his communications to him.
Shoghi Effendi earnestly hopes and prays that this National Spiritual Assembly will be able to achieve a great deal and herald a new era of spiritual awakening in that land.
April 26, 1923
[From the Guardian:]
Regarding the position of the Baha’i women in India and Burma, and their future collaboration with the men in the administrative work of the Cause, I feel that the time is now ripe that those women who have already conformed to the prevailing custom in India and Burma by discarding the veil should not only be given the right to vote for the election of their local and national representatives, but should themselves be eligible to the membership of all Baha’i Assemblies throughout India and Burma, be they local or national.
This definite and most important step, however, should be taken with the greatest care and caution, prudence and thoughtfulness. Due regard must be paid to their actual capacity and present attainments, and only those who are best qualified for membership, be they men or women, and irrespective of social standing, should be elected to the extremely responsible position of a member of the Baha’i Assembly.
This momentous decision, I trust, will prove to be a great incentive to the women Baha’is throughout India and Burma who, I hope, will now bestir themselves and endeavour to the best of their ability to acquire a better and more profound knowledge of the Cause, to take a more active and systematic part in the general affairs of the Movement, and prove themselves in every way enlightened, responsible and efficient co-workers to their fellow-men in their common task for the advancement of the Cause throughout their country.
May they fully realise their high responsibilities in this day, may they do all in their power to justify the high hopes we cherish for their future, and may they prove themselves in every respect worthy of the noble mission which the Baha’i world is now entrusting to their charge.
December 27, 1923
[From the Guardian:]
Your long-awaited letter, penned by our dear and devoted brother, Mr. N. R. Vakil, has been received and read with profound interest. I note with deep satisfaction the vigour and earnestness with which you are conducting the affairs of the Movement throughout the length and breadth of that vast and distant land, and ardently pray that you may achieve, individually and collectively, the highest success in all your endeavours.
Regarding the Baha’i News, I strongly urge those responsible for its publication, and in particular, our beloved friends, Prof. Pritam Singh, Mr. Vakil, … Mr. M. U. Abasi, Mirza Niku, Mr. Ardeshir Khodadad, and Haji Ahmad, to do their utmost that this Baha’i organ may increase in volume, widen in scope, broaden in its outlook, improve in style and general presentation, and reflect more extensively the activities of the friends in India, Burma, and elsewhere. As a magazine that has been established in the days of our departed Master, and been the recipient of His special favours and blessings, it ought, and I have no doubt it will, with your active support and under your constant and general supervision, carry out the great plan it is destined to fulfill in this world.
With regard to Burma and its Baha’i activities, I trust you realise that that province falls directly within the sphere of your activities, and although a Central Council for all Burma is in the process of establishment, that Council as well as all local Assemblies throughout Burma will have to be under the protection, care and direction of the All-India Spiritual Assembly.
I would indeed welcome regular, frequent and comprehensive reports from the National Assembly on the various branches of its manifold activities, and will spare no effort to contribute my humble share in consolidating and extending the Teaching Campaign throughout that vast Dominion.
I would be pleased to receive the permanent postal and telegraphic address of the Secretary of the National Assembly, and am confident that by the grace of Baha’u’llah and under the guiding Hand of our beloved Master, we shall all carry triumphantly the noble task entrusted to our charge to a speedy and successful conclusion.
June 1, 1923
[From the Guardian:]
It is a great pleasure and privilege for me to renew the bonds of fellowship and affection that have always united our hearts in the service of our beloved Master. I need not recall to your minds the warm and abiding place which that gifted Dominion has always occupied in our Beloved’s heart, and the high hopes he cherished for its future contribution towards the triumph of the Movement in those distant regions of the earth.
I am sure the hour has struck when those dearly-beloved pioneers of the Master’s Cause, scattered throughout the length and breadth of that vast and promising land, should unite, consolidate their forces, and effectively combine for the laying of a firm foundation for the future progress of their noble task. It is my earnest hope and my most cherished desire that at the forthcoming Convention the vigour and enlightened efforts of the Baha’i youth of India, coupled with the generous support and devotion of the old beloved Parsee friends, and reinforced by the vast numbers of the ardent followers of the Faith in Burma, may, by imparting power and brilliancy to its proceedings, herald an era of unprecedented activity for the ultimate recognition of the Cause by the peoples of that country.
I shall welcome with genuine satisfaction every effort which that talented and untiring servant of Baha’u’llah, our highly-esteemed sister Mrs. Stannard, may exert in this connection, and would feel truly gratified to learn of her determination to play a conspicuous part in the presentation of the Cause to the eyes of the enlightened public. May the sustaining grace of God, the power of Baha’u’llah, and the loving counsels of our beloved ‘Abdu’l-Bahá guide you and aid you in your mighty endeavours for the accomplishment of your task.
I shall eagerly await any particulars you might wish to send me regarding your various activities in the service of the Cause, and I trust that during the interval between now and Ridvan a complete and careful arrangement for the successful conduct of the coming Convention will have been drawn by all the friends and assemblies of India and Burma, and to which, I assure you, I shall be most pleased to contribute my humble share of cooperation and advice.
Hoping to hear from you, individually and collectively, and assuring you of my constant prayers on your behalf.
December 5, 1923
Nothing, I dare say, can be more encouraging and gladsome to Shoghi Effendi than the news of the activities of the friends in such a vast and promising field as India. In the last few years the harvest of the friends’ endeavours was not as rich and abundant as we all would wish and undoubtedly the political throes through which India has been passing and the general unrest which such conditions have brought about, account to a large measure for this comparative unfruitfulness in the self-sacrificing efforts of the Indian Baha’is. Yet nothing must damp our zeal and we cannot for a moment doubt the remarkable change that the Master said would take place in that country.
We have been all very much interested in the first-hand information which Mrs. Stannard has given us and we lament the formidable difficulties and obstacles with which the Baha’is must cope in their effort to imbue the individual with a new spirit and to bring new measures of reform in the social order. We shall, however, pray for you all and eagerly await every good news you have to share with us.
[From the Guardian:]