More than twenty years ago a compilation entitled Dawn of a New Day was published by the Bahá’í Publishing Trust of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of India, which contained some 200 letters and 70 cablegrams of Shoghi Effendi, to India and Burma.
Although all his letters were not available at the time, it was felt that extracts from the ones at hand would be of great interest to the Bahá’í World. That edition quickly sold out. Gradually more of his letters were collected by the Archives Department of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of India, to be published in an expanded edition. We rejoice in presenting available letters and cables of our beloved Guardian, his precious legacy, to the ever-expanding Bahá’í community of the Indian subcontinent in this volume.
We would like to express our sincere and grateful appreciation to Mrs. Muhajir, for her loving efforts in compiling and editing the “Dawn of a New Day” in 1970 in India and “Messages of Shoghi Effendi to the Indian Subcontinent,” in 1994, at the Bahá’í World Centre.
We are grateful for the assistance of the Archives Office at the World Centre for providing many additional letters and cables, specially those addressed to Burma. We express our thanks to Mrs. Behnaz Bahrami Furughi and Mrs. Ṭáhirih Tahririha Danesh for research and proofreading. We are particularly indebted to Mr. Arman Danesh for executing the artistic and technical aspects in the publication of this collection.
National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of India
November 4, 1994
The sub-continent of India, favoured by special mention in the Qayyúmu’l-Asmá’, on the Day of the Declaration of the Báb, is a land of the greatest spiritual potentialities. During the lifetime of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá a steady stream of teachers from the East and West arrived to establish the Faith, and at the time of His passing, there was a sizeable community of Bahá’ís 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 Bahá’u’lláh; 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 on how to plan and organize a comprehensive teaching plan.
As far back as 1933, the beloved Guardian summoned the Bahá’ís 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 raise individually and collectively to establish the world Order of Bahá’u’lláh and the Kingdom of God on earth.
Dr. R. Muhajir New Delhi 9 March 1970
The history of the Faith in the Indian sub-continent started when Shaykh Sa’id Hindi, travelled to Írán to seek the light of the Promised Qá’im, and attained the bounty of becoming one of the Letters of the Living. During this time at least three other individuals in India independently recognized the Báb as the Promised One of all ages.
Some years later Bahá’u’lláh instructed a well-known Persian Bahá’í scholar, Jamál Effendi, to visit India and Burma and to teach the new Faith to dignitaries and people of learning. Jamál Effendi arrived in Bombay in 1872 and was instrumental in attracting a large number of prominent people to the Faith, some of whom received Tablets from Bahá’u’lláh and were praised by Him. Among them was Siyyid Muṣṭafá Rumi, the recipient of many tablets from Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and Shoghi Effendi. He was posthumously appointed a hand of the Cause of God by the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith.
During the Ministry of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, under his watchful guidance, the newly-born communities grew and strengthened. He showered his love and bounties upon them through more than 700 tablets.
The Local Spiritual Assembly of Bombay, the first to be formed in India, acted as the coordinating centre for Bahá’í activities throughout that land. In Burma, the Local Spiritual Assembly of Mandalay, under the guidance at Siyyid Muṣṭafá, served as the mother Assembly of that region.
With the passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the guidance that flowed from the pen of Shoghi Effendi, for thirty six years, united the separate elements existing in that community into one coherent, spiritually dynamic and organically expanding force and brought the fledgling community of the Bahá’ís of India and Burma under the banner of the worldwide Faith of Bahá’u’lláh.
Through Shoghi Effendi’s copious letters to India and Burma, we can glean his loving vision for the future of the masses in that vast region. To India he wrote in one of his earliest letters: “India, whether by virtue of its size and the ancient history of its civilization, or diversity of its beliefs, religions and races, and the receptivity of its inhabitants, is a ripe and vast field for the diffusion of the word of God and the hoisting of the banner of His Religion. Particularly, it was, in the latter years of the Centre of the Covenant, the recipient of His special favours and derived joy and hope from His divine promises.” To Burma he said, “How sweet and glorious to remember in these days of strife and turmoil how the mighty hand of our beloved ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has gathered together peoples of divers tongues and distant climes and united their hearts in one common spirit of love and servitude to the sacred Threshold of Bahá’u’lláh.” This sense of love and encouragement persisted throughout his ministry.
Patiently and painstakingly, Shoghi Effendi established the framework of the Bahá’í Administration in India and Burma. He guided the newly-established National Spiritual Assembly to translate Bahá’í literature into several Indian and Burmese languages, assisted financially for their publication, instructed them to purchase Bahá’í Centres and establish Bahá’í Summer Schools, advised them to purchase the National Ḥaẓíratu’l-Quds and the Temple Land, contributed for the publication of Bahá’í magazines and periodicals, guided them in all details of hosting national and intercontinental conferences, defined the means and paths of community development encouraged and praised them for the successful completion of the Plans they had devised, which led to the active participation of the Bahá’ís of India in the world-embracing Ten Year Crusade. Throughout the years he emphasized the importance of spreading the Message of Bahá’u’lláh to the masses of the Indian Subcontinent and urged the friends to “forget their former and traditional prejudices whether religious, racial or social, and commune together on a common basis of equality, love and devotion to the Cause.” His heartfelt desire for the masses of India to respond to the Divine Message of Bahá’u’lláh was realized, shortly after his ascension to the Abhá Kingdom.
This massive expansion continues under the infallible guidance of the Universal House of Justice. Bahá’ís of India, who now number more than two million, will surely ponder the words of the beloved Guardian, in his letter of January 9th, 1923, to fulfil his wish to surpass all past records:
“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 Rays of Divine Revelation shall make of India a spiritually-quickened, peaceful and united country.”
National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of India April 1995
The beloved of the Lord and the handmaids of the Merciful throughout India and Burma, 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 wholeheartedly 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 Bahá’u’lláh 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 Bahá’u’lláh.
The welcome news of the progress of the Third All India Bahá’í 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 Bahá’í News,” the representative organ of the Bahá’í 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 Bahá’í 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 Haifa, Palestine
The beloved of the Lord and the handmaids of the Merciful throughout Burma. Care of Áqá Siyyid Mustapha, Mandalay, Burma.
Dearly beloved brethren and sisters in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:
How sweet and glorious to remember in these days of strife and turmoil how the mighty hand of our beloved ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has gathered together peoples of divers tongues and distant climes and united their hearts in one common spirit of love and servitude to the sacred Threshold of Bahá’u’lláh. The Spirit that has achieved so great a measure of reconciliation, is today the one Factor that can, amid the unceasing contentions of races, nations, creeds and classes, assure to this disillusioned world the reign of true felicity and peace.
How great is then our privilege to labour for the diffusion of this Spirit, and how vital and urgent our task to relieve mankind from its present state of uncertainty and peril!
True, the work to be achieved is immeasurably difficult, the obstacles to be surmounted innumerable but our reliance is in His all conquering Spirit which has effected such a change in the past, and is sure, according to his explicit promise, to effect a still greater change in future.
I would be most pleased and gratified to receive a detailed report of your spiritual activities, and a full description of the present position of the Cause in those regions and of the plans you contemplate for its progress in future. I assure you that your welfare and happiness are the objects of my deepest care and concern, and I wish you to rely on my readiness to be of any service to you in your labours for the Cause.
I shall look forward from now on to the joyful tidings which my spiritual brethren and sisters in Burma, assisted by the efforts of our devoted and able Bahá’í sister, Mrs. Stannard, will send me in the near future.
It is my earnest prayer, whenever I visit the Three Sacred Shrines, that the blessings of the Almighty may rest upon your efforts and make of that far away region a radiant centre of spiritual activity and humanitarian achievements.
Your brother and co-worker,
Shoghi Haifa, Palestine