Krishna was a Messenger of God. His Message was the Message of love. He was born in a prison. This was a sign for us to know that all of us are born in the prison of self, the prison of this world. Krishna miraculously escaped from prison. If we try to be good, if we try to be godly, we too can escape from the prison of self.
Krishna, like all the other Manifestations of God, was confronted with the forces of evil. He fought against evil and became victorious. No matter how powerful evil might be, the power of truth is always victorious.
Krishna became the king of Dwarka - which means the small Gate. He was the gate of the knowledge of God Himself. His teachings were for the good of man. But alas! man has rejected them.
Krishna was sad that the people would not understand Him. He complained that people did not believe in Him because He came in human form. They had their own fancies about God and His Manifestation. Therefore, when Krishna claimed that He manifested God, the people rejected Him. This is what Krishna says in the Gita:
"The deluded despise Me clad in human body not knowing MY high nature as Lord of all existence." (Gita, IX, II)
Even His beloved disciple Arjuna could not understand the Divine Power in Krishna. Arjuna could not believe that the temple of man might become the seat of the Divine Being. They say that Krishna had to transfigure Himself into the Divine Form so that Arjuna could see His power and believe in Him. This means that Krishna helped Arjuna to understand His spiritual majesty and grandeur before Arjuna would find faith in the Lord.
The battle of Kurukshetra took a different turn when Arjuna took up arms to obey the Lord. You know that this battle was the battle between Good and Evil. The Kaurvas, the cousins of the Pandavas, started it. Arjuna, the mighty one among the Pandavas, was led by Krishna to fight the army of Darkness. Krishna was Arjuna's charioteer. But Arjuna did not want to fight his own relatives. His beloved teacher and his friends were in the army of the Kaurvas. Arjuna tried to argue and laid down his mighty bow. But Krishna demanded that Arjuna should surrender himself to Him and fallow Him.
When we find the Manifestation of God and embrace His Faith, we must obey His Commands. This is what Krishna taught us in the Gita:
"Surrendering in thought all actions to Me, regarding Me as the Supreme and resorting to Steadfastness in understanding, do thou fix thy thought constantly on Me." (Gita XVIII, 57)
Krishna was the abode of peace. He called us to Himself, saying :
"Abandoning all duties, come to Me alone for Shelter, be not grieved, for I shall release thee from all evils." (Gita, XVIII, 66)
Krishna, the Manifestation of God, brought a new civilization. He delivered man from evil and sorrow. He assured His followers that in the future also God would manifest Himself to repeat what Krishna had done. In order to guide the wandering people of the world to the straight path of God, He said:
"Whenever there is a decline of righteousness and rise of unrighteousness, O Bharta (Arjuna); then I send forth Myself for the protection of good, for the destruction of the wicked and for the establishment of righteousness. I come into being from age to age." (Gita, IV,7,8)
We shall see in the following pages how this promise of the Lord has been fulfilled.
Buddha was born in the royal family of a Himalayan kingdom. He was still a baby when an old sage, named Asita, visited the palace. Asita was a godly man and he gave the good news to the father of Buddha that his son would become the Saviour of Man.
Buddha was then called Prince Gautama. His father provided his beloved son with all the enjoyments of life. He wanted to make his son a good king. But Gautama found that worldly pleasures alone were not the cause of comfort. One day He saw an old man, then a man who was sick, and then one who had died. He found out that all human beings were subject to suffering and death. Therefore He realized that spiritual happiness alone could make all men really happy.
Gautama left His home, His wife and child to seek spiritual truth. In the beginning He went to far away jungles and denied Himself food and comfort. This was not helpful. For if the body is weakened, mental powers also grow weak. It was under a Bodhi Tree in India that Buddha received His enlighten. From that day He started His great mission to save mankind from suffering.
Buddha told men to purify their souls and minds, to avoid greed and dishonesty and to realize that this world of suffering is a place where they should prepare for eternal and spiritual joy and happiness. He set an example for us in His blessed life. When He was sitting under the Tree wrapped in meditation, Mara, the evil one, tried to tempt Him by offering Him the wealth of the world and the pleasures of the senses. But Buddha, the Enlightened One, overcame the forces of evil. His power was the power of the spirit.
Through His wonderful teachings, Buddha helped millions of people of various nations to attain spiritual salvation.
In the days of Buddha the people of His country were fighting against each other in the name of God. They had, in fact, set up many different gods and goddesses for themselves. Buddha knew that the way to God was only through His Manifestation. He was the Manifestation of God, therefore, He did not want people to fight against each other in the name of God Whom they could not know except through Him. He was a wise teacher. To avoid quarrels among the people, He was mostly silent about God but called upon them to obey Him, the Manifestation of Truth. In this way he succeeded in uniting millions of people who were divided among themselves either in the name of God or in the name of caste. He said, "One does not become a Brahmin by birth, one does not become an outcast by birth. One becomes Brahmin by act, one becomes an outcast by act."
Shortly before His passing away from this earth, Buddha made a great promise to His followers who were afraid that His Cause would gradually die away. He said:
"I am not the first Buddha who came upon earth nor shall I be the last. In due time another Buddha will arise in the world, a holy one, a supremely enlightened one endowed with wisdom in conduct, auspicious, knowing the universe, an incomparable leader of men, a master of angels and mortals. He shall reveal to you the same eternal truths which I have taught you. He will preach to you this religion, glorious , in its origin, glorious at the climax, and glorious at the goal, in the spirit and in the letter. He will proclaim a religious life wholly perfect and pure such as I now proclaim. His disciples will number many thousands while Mine number many hundreds.”
This promise gave hope to Buddhists that they would not be left alone on this earth but would receive the light of guidance from another glorious Buddha. Buddha is now rejoicing in His eternal abode because He sees His glorious promise fulfilled in Baha’u’llah, the Glory of God.
In a far-away land there was a group of slaves living a very difficult life. They were called the "Children of Israel'' and were working as slaves under the mighty emperor of Egypt. These people belonged to another country, now 'called Israel, but had been taken away from their homes by force. Only a Manifestation of God could save them from their suffering. So Moses was destined to arise for the salvation of these people. He was alone and the Egyptian emperor had every means to destroy Him. But when the Manifestation of God comes, He is endowed with such a great power that no power on earth can overcome it. Moses, unaided and singlehanded, arose to give the glad-tidings of the Kingdom of God to His people.
When Moses declared Himself as the Manifestation of God, the Children of Israel knew that the time of their suffering was over. They followed Him. They came back to Israel, the Holy Land, and started a new life. The emperor of Egypt, with all his might and all his power, could not prevent them. When he and his army tried to do so, they were drowned in the Red Sea.
The words of God transformed the lives of the Children of Israel. Though they had been mere slaves, they established a wealthy kingdom. They became great teachers of mankind. Many of the philosophers and teachers of other lands derived their knowledge from the followers of Mosses. For with His coming, the Manifestation of God not only brings us happiness but also gives us the source of great knowledge and wisdom.
Moses, summarized His teachings in 10 laws. They were beautiful laws. He told us to love God; never to love anything else more than God; to love our father and mother and to obey them. He told us not to steal; not to hurt other people; to be pure and clean ; to be always truthful. Besides these beautiful teachings, Moses made a promise to His people that in the fulness of time, the Lord of Hosts would come to deliver them from all sufferings. He promised that when the Lord of Hosts did come, the Children of Israel would once more return to the Holy Land after ages of separation, and would be united again in the land of their forefathers.
The Lord of Hosts has come. Baha'u'llah has proclaimed that the Day of God, promised in the Holy Books of the past, has come. He gave the glad-tidings to the followers of Moses that their cherished Promise has been fulfilled. Jews of all countries, after an age-long separation, during which time they endured all forms of humiliation and suffering, have now gathered together in the Holy Land. They have established a separate homeland for themselves called Israel. According to the Promise of Moses all this had to be fulfilled when the Lord of Hosts sat on the Throne of Judgment on this earth. Many Jews, when they saw how the Children of Israel had gathered in the Holy Land according to the Promise in their Holy Book, understood that the Lord of Hosts had come. Otherwise it would have been impossible for them to gather together.
In the Baha’i World community there an many Jews, who believe in Baha’u’llah as their glorious Promised One.
The story of Jesus Christ is a very beautiful story. It is a story of the love of God and the love of mankind, it is the story of a Manifestation of God.
Before Christ revealed His Mission to mankind, there lived a holy man by the name of John the Baptist. We have seen in the story of Buddha how a holy man gave the good news that the Saviour of mankind would soon appear. This is exactly what happened what happened before Christ revealed His Mission. John the Baptist gave the good news to the people of his time that the Messenger of God would come to deliver them from all sorrows. The people of that time did not like to change their ideas; they wished to go on imitating what their forefathers had done for centuries before them. The priests who led the people did not want a Messenger of God to come, because they were afraid that if He came they might lose their position. Therefore, they put John the Baptist in prison and after some time they cut off his head. John was happy to give even his life in the path of God.
Jesus Christ was born in a very simple home. Joseph, who was known to be His father, was only a carpenter. Christ Was born in the Holy Land. He was very good and kind to the people even when He was a young boy and workinng as a carpenter with His father. When He was a young man, He said, "The time has now come for me to look after the business of my real heavenly Father."
He went out for meditation for many days, then came back to the people revealing His true mission. He gave the glad tidings of the Kingdom of God.
Once He went to a holy place. This was a centre of pilgrimage and reverence for the Jews, but they had also turned it into a business centre. Christ went and pulled down their shop and chased them out of the holy place. He said, “This is the House of God. You should not pollute itwith your worldly interests." He wanted to show that the Religion of God should not become a source of material gains.
In the days of Christ there were very many people who were spiritually sick and spiritually dead. He cured them and gave them life with the power of the Word of God. Soon He became very popular. The priests grew jealous and did not like that their followers should be attracted by this simple man, who was teaching a new way of life for the people. When He told them that He was their spiritual King, the One Promised in their Holy Books, the priests grew very angry because they expected their king to be a man with worldly grandeur while Jesus Christ was a simple man. He had even no shoes. Nevertheless, He proclaimed that He was the King of Israel. "I am your true King , He said, "I am the Master of the New Kingdom. These worldly kingdoms are nothing as compared to the everlasting Kingdom of God." But the Jews did not want to Him. They rose against Him and had Him crucified along with two thieves. Even on the Cross, Jesus Christ prayed for the forgiveness of His enemies.
The Jews did not understand the true meaning of their Holy Book; they did not even know that by killing Manifestation of God, they could not kill His voice as it was the Voice of God and would be heard in every land.
When Christ died, very simple and ordinary people were among those who believed in Him. They had received new spiritual life by the power of the Word of Christ and risen out of their graves of ignorance. Although these early disciples of Christ were humble fishermen, ordinary clerks, farmers and tillers of the soil, they were guided by a Manifestation of God and received new powers through Him. They scattered far and wide throughout the world and spread the good Message of their Master – Jesus Christ. Many of them even gave their lives for the sake of His Cause. Under great hardships and the threat of the sword, they carried His Message to different peoples and cried aloud that the Kingdom of God had been established on earth through Jesus. Though mere fishermen and farmers, they withstood the onslaught of the forces of the whole world. They conquered nation after nation with the Word of God and brought new spiritual life to all who came under their influence. This was the divine power of Jesus Christ, the Manifestation of God.
Before He left this world, Christ, like Krishna and Moses, assured the people of the world that in the fullness of time He would come again in the glory of His Heavenly Father. He said to the people of His age that He had many other things to say but they would not be able to understand them. He promised, however, that another great Messenger would later come to tell them more about God and religion.
Baha’is give the good news to their Christian brothers that Christ has come again in the glory of the Father. This is what Baha’u’llah said to the leaders of Christianity, “Surely the Father hath come and hath fulfilled that which you were promised in the Kingdom of God...."
There is a land called Arabia. It is mostly desert with very little water and a hot, unfavorable climate. In this difficult land there used to live savage tribes who were always at War with one another. They were so savage and ignorant that they used to bury alive their own baby daughters just because they were girls, and women were no more than slaves in those days. But no matter how cruel those people Were, they were still God's children and had to be educated. So Muhammad, the prophet of God, was born among them.
Muhammad was a simple man. He was in charge of a caravan, taking camel-loads and goods from Arabia to sell in other lands. Most of the Manifestations of God wert simple people. Even those who, like Buddha, came from higher ranks in life, gave up their princely positions to live simple lives. God wants to show that it is His wealth and His influence that work through His Manifestations. When charged with the Power of God, even the humblest person becomes victorious over all the power of the world.
One day when Muhammad was praying on a hill-top, He received inspiration from God. He had not been to any school. He could not even write His own name, but from that hour the verses of the Holy Qur'an were revealed through Him. From then onwards, Muhammad was no longer a leader of a caravan. He was the Messenger of God. He went to the people with His Message. At first nobody listened to Him. When He insisted that they should stop worshipping the idols they had built, and should believe in the One True God, the people of Arabia rose against Him. They called Him a madman. They ridiculed Him as a poor poet. But Muhammad went about saying, "O people, I am the Messenger of God. I have come to save you and to lead you to the Path of Truth." This was too much for the proud people of Arabia. They had tolerated Muhammad at first then they persecuted Him and His followers, but after 13 long years of suffering Muhammad was still calling upon them to turn to the One Compassionate God and follow His Commandments. Why should they put aside their own gods; they thought. Besides, they were too busy with their continuous warfare. They had no more patience with Muhammad. So they decided to kill Him and His handful of followers. But the Mission of Muhammad was not yet fulfilled. He still had other laws to give to people of His age. He left His birth-place, Mecca, for another town, now called Medina.
The enemies of the Cause of God organized great armies to kill Muhammad and His band of followers. Muhammad had to protect the Cause of God and those who had come to believe in God, so He permitted His followers to fight against the savages who wished to destroy them. Thus, in the days of Muhammad, as in the life time of Krishna, the armies of Light and of Darkness arrayed their forces against each other.
Muhammad was a Divine shepherd. He had to protect His innocent flock from the attack of savage wolves. In the beginning, Muhammad end His followers had a difficult time. Many of them were killed while defending themselves against the fierce onslaught of their enemies. But all the time Muhammad assured them that the Cause of God had always been victorious and would always continue to be so. When the Muhammadans, His followers, were surrounded by powerful enemies, Muhammad foretold that mighty empires would soon crumble before them because they were alive with the Spirit of God whereas others were spiritually dead.
This has come to pass as we all know. The great Persian and Roman empires were defeated by a handful of Arabs whose lives were transformed after they believed in Muhammad, the Prophet of God, and accepted His divine Message. The Maaage of God transformed the lives of millions of other people too, for the teachings of Islam spread from India to Spain. During the age of Islam's golden civilization many different nations united in one great brotherhood. They offered their daily Prayers to the One God, the Compassionate, the Merciful. They recited the Holy Qur’an which prescribes a life of virtue and submission to the Will of the Almighty. Even today millions of the people all over the world pray the same prayer and read the same Holy Book. Muhammad, like all the Manifestations of the past, assured His followers that a great messenger that a great Messenger would come after Him. He said that the Religion of God which had come down from heaven through Him, would go back to God after the passing of a thousand years. By this He meant that people would forget His teachings in the course of one thousand years. But after that, He said, when no trace of God's Religion was left on earth, a mighty Trumpet sound would be heard -- not once but twice -- and the people of the world would behold the Face of God Himself.
The Trumpet sound means the Call of God. The Call of God has already been raised twice in this age foretold by Muhammad. The Báb appeared exactly one thousand years after the revelation of Islam. Almost immediately after Him, Baha’u’llah declared His Mission. Was it not the Báb Who called men to God and reminded them of God's great Promise? And was it not Baha’u’llah Who raised up the cry a second time immediately after the Báb, calling upon the children of God to behold His Face?
'Báb' means 'Gate?! The Báb was the Gate to a new Kingdom -- the Kingdom of God on earth.
The Báb was very young when He told people about the Message which God had given Him. He was only twenty-five years old. A beautiful city in the south of Iran, called Shiraz, was the birthplace of the Báb. The people of Iran were Muhammadans, so He was given a name that was much used in that country. He was called Ali Muhammad, and was a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad Himself. The Báb's father died soon after His birth, so He was placed under the care of His maternal uncle. As a child He was sent to a teacher who taught the Qur'an and elementary subjects. But from His early childhood, the Báb was different from other children. He was always asking difficult questions and then giving the answers Himself in a way that astonished His elders. Often when other children were busy at play, He would be found wrapped in prayer under the shade of a tree or in some other quiet spot.
Later, when the Báb revealed His reality as a Manifestation of God, both His uncle and His teacher believed in Him because they had known Him since His childhood, and seen the difference between Him and other children. His uncle even died as a martyr for the Cause of God revealed through his Nephew, the Báb.
Before the Báb declared His Mission as a Messenger of God, there were two famous teachers who said that according to the Qur'an and the holy traditions, the Promised One of Islam would soon appear. These two teachers were Sheikh Ahmad and his chief disciple Siyyid Kazim. Because they were holy men and very learned, many people believed what they said and prepared themselves to receive the Promised One.
When Siyyid Kazim died, his followers scattered in different directions to find the Promised One. A number of them, under the leadership of a pious and learned young man, called Mulla Husayn; spent 40 days in prayer and fasting, and then took the road to Shiraz.
Their prayers were answered. Near the gate of Shiraz, Mulla Husayn met a radiant young man who had come out to receive him. This young man was none other than the Báb Himself.
He invited Mulla Husayn to His house and there, on the 23rd of May 1844, the Báb declared Himself as the Promised One.
Mulla Husayn's heart had been drawn towards the Báb from the minute his eyes rested, on Him outside the gate of Shiraz, but now that his Host made His great announcement, he asked for some proof by which he could know Him as the promised One. The Báb said that no proof was greater than divine verses revealed by a Manifestation of God. Then, taking up His pen and paper, He wrote down His first sacred Writing. Though He had not attended any school except for a brief period in His childhood, the Báb, like all the other Manifestations, was endowed with a deep knowledge which was a gift of God. He wrote with great speed and, as He wrote, He chanted the verses in a heavenly, mild voice. Mulla Husayn needed no further proof. With tears in his eyes, he prostrated himself before the Manifestation of God.
Mulla Husayn was the Báb's first disciple. The Báb gave him the title of Bábu'l-Báb which ,means gate of Gate. That night was the beginning of a new era. The Baha'i calendar starts from that year.
It was not long before many people came to believe in the Báb. Some met Him, some read His holy Writings while others recognized Him through dreams and visions.
The Manifestation of God is like the sun. When the sun rises, everybody sees it except those who are fast asleep. Even the sleeping ones must sooner or later come to know that the sun is shining.
The Message of the Báb was first given to the people of Iran. But the Muslims of other countries did not yet know that their Promised One had come. Therefore when thousands of Muslims from all countries gathered in Mecca for pilgrimage, the Báb journeyed to this holiest spot of Islam to tell them that the object of their adoration had come and that He was their Promised One. Nobody listened to Him; but the Báb had completed His announcement.
When the Báb returned to His native land, He was met by a group of soldiers who had come to arrest Him because the fanatical Mullas did not want the new Faith to spread. These Mullas made every effort to put out the Light of God which was burning in the breast of the Blessed Báb. From that day the Báb had to undergo many hardships.
His short but brilliant life was mostly spent in prison after He had made His Declaration. Twice He was sent to prisons built on very cold and forbidding mountains. But no chains or prisons could ever prevent the Call of God from spreading. When the Báb was ni prison, His faithful followers spread His Message throughout the country, and during that brief time thousands of people gave their lives for His Cause.
The Báb was still young, about 31 years of age, when they decided to kill Him. The Báb knew that He would be martyred in the path of God. He was glad to give His life so that the people of the world might come to understand the purpose of their lives and turn to God and His eternal kingdom.
The day of His martyrdom was the 9th of July, 1850. In the morning, the officer who was in charge of the Báb's execution came to Him in the prison. The Báb was talking to one of His followers who was writing down His last instructions. The officer told Him that the time had come for His execution and soldiers were ready in the city square to carry out their orders. The Báb said that He had to finish His conversation with His disciple, but the officer laughed and said that a prisoner could not choose to do as he wished. As the Báb was being taken away, He said that no power on earth could harm Him until He had completed His Mission in this world, and had finished what He intended to say. The officer paid no attention and took the Báb to the public square. At this time, one of the disciples of the Báb, a young man named Muhammed Ali Zunuzi, rushed forward and, throwing himself at the feet of his beloved Master, begged to be permitted to die with Him. The officer tried to push him away but Muhammad Ali Zunuzi wept and entreated so much that he was obliged to take him also.
In the square where the soldiers were waiting to shoot the Báb, a great crowd had gathered. They all watched while the Báb and His young disciple were tied in such a way that the head of the disciple rested on the chest of his Beloved. Then came the great moment. Drums were beaten, trumpets were sounded. And as the sound of the trumpets died away, the terrible order was heard: "Fire."
Hundreds of soldiers who had taken aim, fired their guns. A huge cloud of smoke spread through the whole place. The smell of gun-powder filled the air. After some time when the smoke cleared, there came a great surprise. There was no trace of the Báb, while His faithful disciple was standing there unharmed. No one hew what to think. Many people said that a miracle had happened and the Báb had gone up to heaven. The firing squad and their commander had never seen such an extraordinary thing happen before. Officers were sent in every direction to search for the Báb. The same officer who had brought the Báb from the prison cell now found aim sitting calmly at the same place, finishing His conversation which had been rudely interrupted. The Báb turned to the officer and smiled saying that His Mission on earth was now completed, and that He was ready to sacrifice His life to the truth of His Mission.
The Báb was once more taken in to the square, but the commander of the firing squad refused to have anything to do with His execution. He took his soldiers out of the square and swore that nothing would make him take the life of such an innocent and saintly youth. Another company of soldiers was found to carry out the execution, and this time hundreds of bullets riddled the bodies of the Báb and His faithful disciple. His beautiful face, which was not scattered by the bullets, still bore a lovely smile - showing the peace and happiness of One who had given His life to proclaim the beginning of a new era for mankind.
The Báb was a great Manifestation of God. In all His Writings He said that the main purpose of His coming was to give the glad-tidings that very soon the Promised One of all ages would appear. He warned His followers to beware lest they failed to recognize "Him Whom God shall make manifest." He said that they should lady aside everything else and follow Him as soon as they heard His Message.
The Báb wrote many payers beseeching God that His own life might be accepted as a sacrifice to the Beloved of His heart, the One "Whom God shall make manifest." He even referred in His Writings to the Order of Baha’u’llah, and said: "Well is it with him who follows Baha’u’llah."
The Báb's prayers were answered and His promise was fulfilled. Nineteen years after His Mission, Baha’u’llah openly declared that He was the Promised One Whose coming had been foretold by all the Manifestations of God in past ages.
On April 21st 1863, Bahá’u’lláh proclaimed to the world that "The Revelation which, from time immemorial, hath been acclaimed as the Purpose and Promise of all Prophets of God, and the most cherished Desire of His Messengers, hath now.. been revealed unto men.", When Bahá’u’lláh made this wonderful announcement, He was a prisoner at the hands of two powerful monarchs, and He was being exiled to Acre, "the most desolate of lands."
About 46 years before this announcement, Bahá’u’lláh was born in the house of a distinguished Minister of the royal court of Iran. From the days of His childhood everybody could notice that Bahá’u’lláh was different from other children, but no one actually knew that this wonderful Boy was soon to change the whole destiny of mankind.
When He was 14 years old, Bahá’u’lláh was already famous in the court for His learning and wisdom. He was 22 years of age when His father died. The government wished Him to take over the position His father had occupied. They thought this gifted young man would make a very good minister, but Bahá’u’lláh had no intention of wasting His time in the management of worldly affairs. Being a man of God, He took no interest in the royal life which was offered Him. He left the court and its ministers to follow the path set for Him by the Almighty.
When the Báb declared His Mission, Bahá’u’lláh was 27 years old. He immediately accepted the Báb as the Manifestation of God and soon became one of His most powerful and famous followers.
At the time when the Government and fanatical Mullas persecuted the followers of the Báb, Baha’u’llah was not spared in any way. He was twice imprisoned, and once He was beaten so severely with whips, and canes that the soles of His feet started bleeding.
Nine years after the Báb's Declaration, Bahá’u’lláh was thrown into a dark dungeon. This was a terrible underground room which had no window or other opening except the door through which they entered. In this dungeon Bahá’u’lláh was imprisoned with about 150 murderers, highway robbers and other such criminals. The chains that were put round His neck were so heavy that He could not lift up His head. Here Bahá’u’lláh spent four terrible months of suffering, yet it was in this same dungeon that the Glory of God filled His soul. He writes that one night in a dream He heard the following words vibrating from all sides.
"Verily, We shall render Thee victorious by Thyself and by Thy Pen."
Bahá’u’lláh endured all these hardships for our sake and for the sake of generations to come. He bore chains round His blessed neck in order to free us from the chains and fetters of prejudice, bigotry and enmity.
At last Bahá’u’lláh and His family were, deprived of all their ancestral riches and ordered to leave the country. They were exiled to Baghdad in the bitter cold of winter. The road lay along mountainous parts of Iran where thick snow and ice covered the ground. Bahá’u’lláh, His wife and young children had to walk hundreds of miles to their destination and the fact that they did not have proper clothing made the journey even more difficult to endure. At last they reached Baghdad but Bahá’u’lláh's sufferings did not come to an end in that city. However, had Bahá’u’lláh been afraid of hardships and difficulties, He could have enjoyed a luxurious life in the court of the king of Iran. He was prepared to endure any amount of suffering in the path of God.
The fame of Bahá’u’lláh soon spread throughout Baghdad and other cities of Iraq, and many people came to the door of this exiled Prisoner to receive His blessings. The followers of the Báb gathered round Him from different parts of Iran and Iraq seeking guidance and inspiration.
But there were some who became jealous of His fame. Among them was His own brother Yahya, who was living under Bahá’u’lláh’s loving care and guidance. Yahya thought that, because he was respected by the followers of the Báb, he might be accepted as their leader if he should denounce Bahá’u’lláh. He did not realize that by turning against the Manifestation of God, he was bringing about his own doom. For when a Manifestation appears, only those who accept His servitude can hope for true greatness. Even His closest relatives are no exception, because a Manifestation of God stands apart from all other human beings and has a station which no one else can share. All the past Manifestations have had brothers and sisters or other relatives, but even their names have now been forgotten.
Yahya's plotting caused disunity among the followers of the Báb and this made Bahá’u’lláh very sad. One night without telling anybody, He left His home and went into the mountains of Kurdistan. He spent two years of secluded life in these mountains giving all His time to prayer and meditation. He stayed in a small cave and lived on very simple food. Nobody knew His name. Nobody knew where He had come from. But soon, like a moon in a dark night, His light shed over all Kurdistan and everybody heard of the "Nameless One". All this time His family and friends in Baghdad who were heartbroken by His departure did not know where He was. Then they too heard about the "Nameless One", the great Saint who was known to have inherent knowledge bestowed upon Him by God. Bahá’u’lláh’s son, 'Abdu'l-Baha, immediately knew that this could be no one but His beloved Father. He sent letters and a special messenger entreating Him to return because not only His own family but all the followers of the Báb were suffering from His absence.
Thus, after spending two years in prayer and meditation, Bahá’u’lláh returned to Baghdad and with Him returned the joy of all the Báb's followers.
The only people who were angry about His return were the fanatical Mullas and His treacherous and jealous brother Yahya. The Mullas did not want Bahá’u’lláh to stay in Baghdad because He was too close to certain sacred places belonging to the Muslims, and pilgrims who came to visit these places were often attracted by Bahá’u’lláh’s charm and personality. These Mullas kept on complaining until the Government of Iran joined hands with the authorities of the Turkish Empire to remove Baha’u’llah to a more distant place - Istanbul.
The same thing happened in Istanbul which was the seat of the Muslim Caliphs. Bahá’u’lláh's great wisdom and personal charm attracted many people. "He must not stay in Istanbul any longer", said the fanatical Mullas, so once more He was sent to a smaller town – Adrianople. From there He was again exiled, but this time to Acre in the Holy Land, which was then a special penal colony reserved for murderers, thieves and highway robbers undergoing life imprisonment. It was a terrible place and for the first few days after their arrival even water was denied to Bahá’u’lláh, His family and friends.
The hardships and sufferings of Bahá’u’lláh in Acre are too many to describe. In the beginning He was imprisoned in a lonely cell where even His children were not permitted to see Him. He lacked every means of comfort, and was surrounded by enemies day and night. Yet it was from Acre that He sent His famous letters to the most powerful kings and rulers of His day, calling upon them to listen to the Message of God and obey the Commandments of the King of kings. No one but a Manifestation of God could dare to address those who had imprisoned Him as a king addresses his vassals.
Bahá’u’lláh raised the banner of universal peace and brotherhood from His prison walls and though the powers of the world combined their forces against Him, He was victorious over them all as God had promised Him in His dream. The Message of Bahá’u’lláh influenced the hearts of thousands of people and many of them gave their lives for His Cause. Through the power of the Word of God and the sacrifices of the followers of Bahá’u’lláh, now hundreds of thousands of people who were once divided under various names have become like members of one family.
Although Bahá’u’lláh was sent to Acre as a prisoner for life, He chose to leave that fortress city nine years after His arrival. By this time, His great personal charm had made such friends of all those around Him - even His hard-hearted jailor - that no one objected to His leaving His prison. Bahá’u’lláh spent the remaining years of His life in a place outside the city of Acre where He passed away to His heavenly Kingdom on May 29th, 1892.
The Message of Bahá’u’lláh spread to different parts of the world from the Holy Land as had been foretold in the sacred Books of the past. In Buddhist scriptures the Holy Land is referred to as a Paradise in the West, the Seat of the Promised One - Amitabha. To the Jews it is "The Promised Land" from where the Law of God will once more go out into the world. The Christians and Muslims too have wonderful prophecies about this sacred country which has been their Holy Land for many centuries. Since the time when Bahá’u’lláh was exiled to Acre the Holy Land of the religions of the past has become the World Centre of the Baha’i Faith.
Bahá’u’lláh is that Great Manifestation of God Whose coming all the Manifestations of the past have foretold. The divine religions of all ages lead to the same direction and teach the same goal - the Baha’i Faith. They are like many rivers that flow into the ocean. Each river irrigates thousands of acres of land, but no single river is, by itself, as vast and powerful as the mighty ocean because the ocean is the meeting place of all these rivers. In the Baha’i community followers of all religions have come together and become united. Eventhough they are from the four corners of the earth, they have now joined hands in one great Brotherhood, one common Faith.
The waters of different Rivers merge into one indeed, when they pour into the Mighty Ocean! (Hushmand Fathe’azam, ‘The New Garden’)