"Ode of the Dove" composed by Baha'u'llah

Discussion in 'Baha'i' started by arthra, Dec 24, 2019.

  1. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2003
    Messages:
    3,623
    Likes Received:
    112
    For the past month or so I've been exploring an "Ode of the Dove" composed by Baha'u'llah after He was exiled from Persia around 1853. The Babi community had been attacked by the established religion and civil authorities and many were executed. Baha'u'llah went into retreat in the Mountains of Suleymaniyyih and lived in a cave called "Sar Galu". The retreat lasted around two years and He then returned to Baghdad. While He was in Suleymaniyyih He was approached by some Sufis to compose a poem similar to that composed by an Arab mystic and poet known as Ibn al-Farid. The original "Ode" consisted of two thousand verses only 127 of which have survived.



    I am attaching above an English translation of the Ode accompanied by music and a chant as well as a meditation about the retreat of Baha'u'llah in "Sar Galu" below:



    You can also read the text of a provisional translation of the Ode and a translation of comments and meanings of the Ode written by Baha'u'llah:

    https://bahai-library.com/bahaullah_ode_dove_cole
     
    StevePame likes this.
  2. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2018
    Messages:
    1,424
    Likes Received:
    641
    Thanks fir this! It's hard to come by information about that part of Baha'u'lla's life.

    Would you share your thoughts on the verses?
     
  3. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2019
    Messages:
    68
    Likes Received:
    25
    Hi again,
    If you want to to gain familiarity with Baha'ullah's life it I suggest you read The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh by Adib Taherzadeh covers the 40 years of His Mission, from 1853-1892. You can read the four volumes online and they are also available in print.

    Volume 1: Baghdad 1853-63
    Volume 2: Adrianople 1863-68
    Volume 3: Akka, The Early Years 1868-77
    Volume 4: Mazra'ih&Bahjí 1877-92
     
    arthra likes this.
  4. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2018
    Messages:
    1,424
    Likes Received:
    641
    Thank you, @Trailblazer. There is a little information about his stay in Kurdistan in https://d9263461.github.io/cl/Baha'i/Others/ROB/V1/p053-070Ch05.html which you linked. It is tantalizingly sparse, though! It does contain a reference to Sar Galu and the poem he composed there.

    On a related topic, do you think this poem refers to the same being also referenced in the Tablet of the Maiden and the Tablet of the Wondrous?

    http://bahai-library.com/bahaullah_lawh_huriyyih

    http://bahai-library.com/?file=bahaullah_lawh_ajab

    These, alongside the Four Valleys and the Seven Valleys are very interesting mystical scriptures, I think.
     
  5. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2019
    Messages:
    68
    Likes Received:
    25
    Yes, I think it refers to the same being, but I am not that familiar with these Tablets.

    On a related topic, have you read this Tablet?
    Tablet of the Holy Mariner (from the Persian)
     
  6. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2018
    Messages:
    1,424
    Likes Received:
    641
    Oh yes, good one.

    The last paragraph is a bit of a hasty retraction, though, in my opinion. How do you understand it? Is carnal longing to fault? Is it really about adorning the temples with divine attributes, in light of the verse I quoted above?
     
  7. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2019
    Messages:
    68
    Likes Received:
    25
    Sorry, you lost me. o_O Can you state that a little more clearly?
     
  8. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2018
    Messages:
    1,424
    Likes Received:
    641
    Certainly, sorry for being unclear.

    The Holy Mariner, towards the end, has the two following passages, which I feel are in stark contrast, and I find this interesting:

    and a few lines down

    Comparing to other mystical traditions, this reads like a parallel to the "return to society" - after the simplicity of the realization, the return to elaborately decorating the temple, the return to abstractions, divine attributes, and so on... The Zen tradition has the "ten bulls" series of pictures: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Bulls and I can imagine parallels between numbers eight and ten in the pictures, and the two verses I quoted from the Holy Mariner.

    Very fascinating!
     
  9. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2019
    Messages:
    68
    Likes Received:
    25
    Sorry, you lost me again. :confused:
    Mind you, I am the practical Baha'i, not the mystical Baha'i. I find mysticism fascinating and interesting but I often do not have a clue when trying to interpret meanings of passages. :(
    But if people explain the meaning then I can usually go back and understand the passage.
     
  10. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2003
    Messages:
    3,623
    Likes Received:
    112
    As I mentioned in the opening post Baha'u'llah also commented on the Arab verses in Farsi and you can explore them here.... The comments are listed by the numbered verses:

    originally revealed as "Qasídiy-i- Varqá'íyyih" in Arabic.
    first written or published 1856(?)
    see Bahá'u'lláh's own notes to this Tablet

    The closing commentary is in the form of a prayer:

    Praise be to Thee, O God, My God! I call upon Thee at that time, a time in which Thou didst send down upon Me the evidences of divine sorrow, which, were they to overflow into the universe, would cause the seen and the unseen world to pass out of existence, in such wise that the spirit well-nigh departed in its agitation. By Thy Might, and Thine invisible Eternality, were I to breathe a word of it, the hearts would burn in their inmost essences, the heavens and all that is in them would be cleft asunder and the earth and all that is upon it would be devastated. Alas, alas, thereby the fragrance of constancy would never be diffused from the garden of glory, nor would the everlasting breezes be wafted from the city of splendor. The nightingale of pre-existence would never warble upon the crimson twigs, nor would the chanticleer of grandeur raise his voice in the kingdom of exaltation.

    By the glory of Him Whom Thou has glorified and made the Manifestation of Thy Divinity and the Fountainhead of Thy supreme Power, I have forgotten every mention, and all the wonders of Thy knowledge, and the comprehensive signs of Thy wisdom which Thou didst teach Me aforetime. Nay, I was forgetful and oblivious, as though I were not in the realms of the seen. And by the Lives of `Ali and Muhammad, and by the pure Spirit, the compassion of the Merciful, the attraction of Mahmud, the distraction of Ahmad, the secret of the Beloved, the delight of the Pure One, I like not to remain in this kingdom even a second. And God was behind Me as My witness.

    O people of the Bayan, and whoso draweth nigh to God and His verses in the Living One of Utterance: Give ear to that which the Dove of the divine Essence doth warble in the utmost rapture, overwhelmed with the love of God and with yearning for Him, having died to the self and now living in God, the Mighty, the Powerful.

    Fear God, and do not differ concerning His cause. Worship naught else but Him, and wreak not corruption in the land of knowledge. Accept the counsel proffered ye by this Servant, upon Whom the darts of the divine decree have rained down from the crimson cloud, in such wise that none but God can ever estimate their number, or fully perceive them. O people, be merciful, fear God and devour not this Servant in the flames of your own selves. Torture Him not with the idle fancies of your base desires, and do not deliver Him into the prison of your heedlessness. Do not slay Him with the swords of your hypocrisy, nor banish Him with the spears of your injustice and malice. For He hath but summoned ye to God, and shall never call ye unto anyone save the Manifestations of His Self, the Mirrors of His inmost Essence, and Him Who standeth in the stead of His Cause itself.

    Say: Fear God, and oppose Him not, nor transgress the bounds of His counsel. Know yet that there is among ye one who worketh corruption in this good and blessed land. The malediction of God be upon him, and whosoever raiseth his hand without the approval or permission of God, or stirreth in disobedience to Him. Such a one is deprived of God's compassion. Whosoever taketh his hands from his pockets and followeth his selfish passions, casting the Cause of God behind his back, hath removed himself from the shadow of Providence, though he dwell in the vicinity of the shrine of God. Whoso submitteth to his base desires and attributeth this to God hath forfeited the garden of His loving-kindness, and whoso faileth to detach himself from all who are in the heavens and on earth shall never be able to enter the kingdom of heaven. For he who hath in his heart aught else but the love of God shall never step foot in His city. The vengeance of the Lord be upon whoso teacheth anyone without His permission, and the awful might of God be upon whoso distributeth His words to any soul without His leave.

    https://bahai-library.com/bahaullah_ode_dove_notes

    I'll add a few comments I've found relating to the retreat of Baha'u'llah in Kurdistan:

    Retirement to Kurdistan

    "On the morning of April 10th, 1854, to their utmost surprise, Bahá'u'lláh's household awoke to find Him gone. He had left Baghdad for the mountains of Sulaymáníyyih in the heart of Kurdish Iraq.

    In one of His later writings, He thus explained His reason for leaving Baghdad: "The one object of Our retirement was to avoid becoming a subject of discord among the faithful, a source of disturbance unto Our companions, the means of injury to any soul, or the cause of sorrow to any heart."20 Abu'l-Q'asim-i-Hamadani, a Muslim, was the only person who accompanied Bahá'u'lláh from Baghdad and remained aware of His whereabouts in Kurdistan. Evidently, Bahá'u'lláh gave this individual a sum of money and instructed him to act as a merchant in that region. Hamadani occasionally visited Bahá'u'lláh and brought Him money and certain goods. Bahá'u'lláh who was intent upon living a life of complete solitude decided to conceal His true identity by dressing in the garb of a poor dervish and assuming the fictitious name of Darvish Muhammad-i-Irani. He only took with Himself one change of clothes and an alms-bowl or kashkul which is typically carried by dervishes. (Bahá'u'lláh's kashkul is preserved in the Bahá'í International Archives at Haifa, Israel.)

    "In the first phase of His retirement, He lived on a mountain named Sar-Galu, about 3 days of walking distance from Sulaymáníyyíh in the Iraqi Kurdistan.21 Milk and rice were His main sources of sustenance there, which He evidently obtained by occasionally traveling to nearby towns. 22 His dwelling place was sometimes a cave and at other times a rude structure of stones that was also used as shelter by peasants who, twice a year (during planting and harvest), traveled to that area. 23

    "It is not entirely known how Bahá'u'lláh's days were spent in Sar-Galu. Some Bahá'í accounts suggest that He was going through the same purification process which all prophets must go through before revealing their mission.24 Thus, He is believed to have been mostly engaged in writing and chanting prayers in the wilderness and reflecting upon the events that had transpired and possibly what the future had in store.

    "One thing is, however, clear. He was extremely distressed during this period. In a letter to His cousin Maryam, written after His return to Baghdad, Bahá'u'lláh stressed His utter loneliness in Sar-Galu by stating that His only companions in those days were the 'birds of the air' and the 'beasts of the field.' 25 Additionally, in the Kitab-i-Iqan which He wrote later, He described His state of mind in that region as follows: "From Our eyes there rained tears of anguish, and in Our bleeding heart there surged an ocean of agonizing pain. Many a night We had no food for sustenance, and many a day Our body found no rest. Alone, We communed with Our spirit, oblivious of the world and all that is therein...." 26 For some time, Bahá'u'lláh was successful in completely severing ties with the outside world, but this did not last long. Either the travelers who passed through or the migrant farm workers who visited the Sar-Galu mountains must have come into contact with Him or observed Him living a life of asceticism which was favored by the mystics (Sufis) who resided in those regions and related their observations to others. Consequently, through word of mouth, His fame as a detached Soul who had chosen to live in wilderness and eschewed human society began to spread to neighboring towns.

    Shortly thereafter, Shaykh Isma'il, the leader of the mystic Naqshbandi Sufi group, came into contact with Bahá'u'lláh. It is not known how the two first met. What is clear, however, is that soon the Shaykh developed an attachment to Bahá'u'lláh and, over time, persuaded Him to leave Sar-Galu and take residence in his seminary (or takyah) in the city of Sulaymáníyyih. Bahá'u'lláh's stay in Sar-Galu lasted less than a year, from April of 1854 to sometime in 1855, although the exact date and circumstances of His departure from Sar-Galu remain unknown.

    Around the same period new developments took place in Baghdad and Persia which were indicative of further radicalization of Azal and his supporters. Some of the more learned Bábís who had found Azal's leadership wanting began to challenge him by advancing counterclaims to leadership and disseminating their own writings. It is believed that at one time, as many as twenty-five individuals had advanced some type of claim to spiritual authority.27 Among them were Mirza Assad'u'llah-i-Khuy surnamed Dayyán (Judge) by the Báb and Nabil- i-Zarandi (the author of The Dawn-Breakers)."

    https://bahai-library.com/masumian_bahaullah_kurdistan
     
    Trailblazer likes this.
  11. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2018
    Messages:
    1,424
    Likes Received:
    641
    Thanks for the additional info, Arthra.

    Trailblazer, I'm notoriously bad at explaining mystical stuff. It doesn't really happen on a rational intellectual level, for me. So in any discourse explaining about symbols and mystical correspondences and meanings I am useless.

    On one level, maybe I can relate what I feel about this: Have you ever experienced the challenge of bringing something you just discovered and were excited about, to a greater audience? The hard work of finding a common denominator, of coming down to earth? The passage about decorating the temple, at the end of the holy Mariner, evokes a similar sense in me.
     
  12. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2019
    Messages:
    68
    Likes Received:
    25
    I hope you had a nice few days away from the forum. :)
    I am sorry if I put you on the spot to explain that, I know it is not explainable. I wish I had more time to read and reflect, but I am swamped on another forum right now.

    I can usually explain my experiences in words because they are not mystical, but rather more mundane. I did have a mystical experience when I first read Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah and I tried to explain how that felt, but I am not sure anyone understood. How can one explain what it feels like to "find God" for the first time, and in a book? All I could really explain is how it affected me... here I was weeping on the city bus. Life was never the same after that day, and the story continues. That was 5 ½ years ago.

    One thing about me is that I do not take time just for myself to read or study because I consider other people before myself. I just happened to be reading Gleanings that day because I was feeling desperate owing to a life crisis I was going through and I was grasping for something that would help me, given all else had failed. :(
     
    arthra likes this.

Share This Page