Baha'i texts online?

Discussion in 'Baha'i' started by iBrian, Mar 7, 2004.

  1. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    If I'm going to build a Baha'i section on the main site, something I will really need to look to do is host the writings of Baha'u'llah on site (that is my aim for all the religions I cover).

    May I therefore please ask how much material Baha'u'llah actually wrote, and how much of it is freely available online?
     
  2. Ocean_Drop

    Ocean_Drop World Citizen

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    Good news! Most of it is available freely online at www.bahai-library.org .

    Baha'u'llah spent some 40 years of His life in exile, much of which was in the vile and remote prison of Akka, reserved for murderers and highwaymen. Despite this, He Revealed over 100 Books and Tablets on diverse subjects from spiritual development to worldwide issues such as establishing the "Most Great Peace".

    Just to let you know, we believe that only the Writings of Baha'u'llah and The Bab are divinely inspired. Baha'u'llah's eldest son, Abdu'l'Baha (translation: servant of Baha) is regarded as the perfect exemplar of the Faith and His writings are considered Sacred, much of them interpreting His Father's teachings. Finally, Abdu'l'Baha's great grandson - Shoghi Effendi - was 'The Guardian' of the Faith and overseen the formation of the 'Universal House of Justice' which is the central administration of the Faith that is on Mount Carmel, Holy Land (e.g. www.bahaipictures.com ). Whew!

    Basically: -

    Divine Revelations: Baha'u'llah and The Bab
    Sacred Scripture/Authoratitive Interpretations: Abdu'l'Baha
    Guardian/Also Authoratitive: Shoghi Effendi

    It'd be great to see a Bahai section! I think the official website at www.bahai.org will help you out if you haven't seen it already :)

    Warmest,
    Ocean Drop
     
  3. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    Ah - there is quite a lot. :)

    Would it be possible to indicate which are the most precious gems of that collection? :)
     
  4. Ocean_Drop

    Ocean_Drop World Citizen

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    Spoilt for choice really :)

    For starters: -

    For spiritual guidance and brief but powerful passages: The Hidden Words, Baha'u'llah
    The journey of the soul (mystical work): The Seven Valleys, Baha'u'llah
    Bahai Apologetics (proofs of His Revelation and more, quite heavy but powerful): Kitab-I-Iqan, Baha'u'llah
    The letters He addressed to all the worlds leaders (including Napolean III, President of USA, Queen Victoria, Czar of Russia, the Pope, and so on): The Summons of the Lord of the Hosts, Baha'u'llah

    Miscellaneous topics explained by Baha'u'llah's Son, Abdu'l'Baha - Some Answered Questions, Abdu'l'Baha

    That's plenty to start with! :) If you have the bandwith/time, I'd strongly recommend downloading the Ocean library which is full of hundreds of books and scriptures on most major religions.. it's about 20mb http://www.bahai-education.org/ocean/

    Good luck!

    Warmest,
    Ocean Drop
     
  5. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    Thanks for the help - and a reminder of the link! (A lot easier to work with now I'm on ADSL :D). However, someone should tell someone else that it's nearer 25 megs, though. ;)
     
  6. brucegdc

    brucegdc Moderator

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    Yea, not to mention the updates once its installed. Thank goodness for broadband !!!

    Wonderful collection, though. (Some very odd pieces in there)
    ... Bruce
     
  7. BruceDLimber

    BruceDLimber Baha'i

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    Web sites for Baha'i scriptures

    Greetings, Brian; I'm very happy to hear this! :)

    As has been said, Baha'u'llah Himself wrote about 100 volumes, and the Baha'i scriptures i toto amount to about 200 volumes! (Not all of these are translated into English yet, though.)

    Anyway, you can find helpful selections at these sites:

    www.bahai-library (click "Baha'i Writings" for our scriptures; there are many other documents, too)
    and
    www.bahaistudy.org (this site also has videos and talking books).

    The Baha'i scriptures cover a wide range of topics and styles, including theology, law, mysticism, poetry, Q-and-A discussion, and more! I'll also endeavor to mention several titles below, with brief descriptions:

    - "The Hidden Words" This ranks almost as poetry. It's Baha'u'llah's first book; He describes it as a capsule summary of past religious teachings.

    - "The Book of Certitude" (aka "Kitab-i-Iqan") This is our primary theological work.

    - "The Seven Valleys" A mystical work describing the journey and progress of the soul.

    - "Gleanings" A compilation of many of Baha'u'llah's foremost Writings.

    - "Epistle to the Son of the Wolf" Baha'u'llah's last book, it contains a retrospective of His life and of the Baha'i Faith to that time.

    - "Some Answered Questions" by 'Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'u'llah's son and authorized interpreter An informal Q-and-A book in modern English; it covers many topics!

    Good hunting! :)

    Bruce
     
  8. smkolins

    smkolins Bahá'í

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    truely a lot!

    I've seen a variety of responses to this thread but here's some more for thought.

    Among Baha'is priority is given to Baha'u'llah's and the Bab's works, then Abdu'l-Baha, then Shoghi Effendi (more properly refered to as the Guardian) and the Universal House of Justice. I would note that officially the holy scriptures of other faiths are respected - words of Jesus and Muhammad on par with Baha'u'llah and the Bab etc. The same for the Buddha and Krishna. However there is the question of authenticity to cloud the issue. Specifically the words of the Prophet-Founder are called the "Creative Word" while Abdu'l-Baha's words are "sacred" and the Guardian and the Universal House of Justice are "inspired".

    There is also something of a nontraditional but inspired readings which don't officially fit in yet. Mulla Husayn, Tahireh, and Quddus are each very prominant followers of the Bab a few of who's writings still exist and a few of which are in translation. Tahireh holds a special favor as she was a woman - the foremost woman of the Babi period, and her status carries great weight among Baha'is still. Note for example The Tahirih Justice Center

    A figure less obvious, but considered the foremost woman of the Baha'i period however long it shall last, is "The Greatest Holy Leaf" - called Bahiyyih, sister of Abdu'l-Baha. Several of her letters have been collected in a volume. Both the Bab and Baha'u'llah married and I know the Bab's wife left a diary which is published and given special weight.

    There are also important works which aren't considered scripture. Great historical works are - _The DawnBreakers_, _God Passes By, _The Revelation of Baha'u'llah_ (4 volume set), _King of Glory_, _Robe of Light_, and _Century of Light_. Each has content that can be found no where else, though all cover some of the same material as well.

    And just to make it interesting note that *most* of Baha'u'llah's works have not been translated! There are some 100 or 200 individual works. Many pieces of most of them may well be in translation but whole books remain. The general scheme being used for translation is to have two teams of scholars. One translates the original into English and the other takes the resulting translation back into the original language (usually Arabic but also Persian and alittle in Turkish I think.) When the translation can make the circle without alteration it's considered ready to publish. The most recent work released under this scheme is _Gems of Divine Mysteries_
     
  9. barefootgal9

    barefootgal9 Baha'i

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    Steven, I'll try to find the link for you, but I believe the number of distinct tablets, poems, books etc., by Baha'u'llah alone is about 15,000. Close to that many also for 'Abdu-Baha.

    Here's a link estimating total numbers, current to '86 - actually I think there are a lot more than indicated in this cite. There's more up-to-date info somewhere, I'll try to find it):

    http://bahai-library.com/?file=number_tablets_bahaullah.html

    A chronology of major works is here:

    http://bahai-library.com/resources/tablets-notes/

    Baha'is aren't going to run out of "new material" for quite some time yet. I'm very excited about the mystical poetry that is in provisional translation now. Beautiful, beautiful imagery!

    bfg
     
  10. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    Which would be rated as the most important few texts?
     
  11. smkolins

    smkolins Bahá'í

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    I think Bruce's outline above is good for that list.

    Using my own words I would say the the Kitab-i-Iqan (aka The Book of Certitude) is the primary work covering a variety of themes and doctrines. Personally I have a strong attachment to _The Seven Valleys_ and I know many others have an equally strong attachment to _The Hidden Words_. Certainly the Kitab-i-Aqdas must rank of high importance - it is the central work of Baha'u'llah's laws and forms the axis about which so many other Tablets and Letters revolve - though they may be more readable as they are more about principles and standards elaborated from the Book of Laws. These are collected in two works - one is Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah and the other is Tablets Revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas. _Gems of Divine Mysteries_ forms a good bridge between the themes covered in the Book of Certitude and The Seven Valleys. There are also a few specific Tablets that speak specifically to the issue of succession.

    Of the Bab's works I believe only a summary _Selections from the Writings of the Bab_ is available.

    Of Abdu'l-Baha's works _Some Answered Questions_ must be by far the most circulated. Other major works often noted at The Tablets of the Divine Plan and The Secret of Divine Civilization, and there are several collections of his talks and speaches. His Tablet to August Forel is certainly of unique importance.

    The Guardian wrote mostly letters which are collected in various volumes. His one book as such was _God Passes By_ and he edited and translated _The DawnBreakers_ - the two most central histories of the Baha'i Faith.

    The Universal House of Justice is probably best known for it's letters to the world on various themes - The Promise of World Peace and a book recently published _Century of Light_.
     
  12. smkolins

    smkolins Bahá'í

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    thousands of works...

    I stand corrected! A link off the second link above shows: " The estimated figures for the total number of individual tablets are as follows: Bahá'u'lláh, 7,160 tablets archived, 15,000 total estimated to have been written; 'Abdu'l-Bahá, 15,549 tablets archived, 30,800 total estimated to have been written; Shoghi Effendi, 16,370 letters archived, 30,100 total estimated to have been written ("Bahá'í Archives: Preserving and Safeguarding the Sacred Texts," in 'Andalíb magazine, 12.48 (Fall 1993): insert)"

    Sometimes I wonder if there is a tablet "Open in 2005" and such but I'm pretty sure not.
     
  13. barefootgal9

    barefootgal9 Baha'i

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    Brian --

    I myself would most recommend "Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah" for a first-read -- these selections were chosen by the Guardian as the most important to translate and get into the hands of the (woefully ignorant!) early Western believers. The selections span the breadth of Baha'u'llah's teachings and most essential principles with clarity and depth, and provide a very good representative sampling of His writings.

    Other texts usually focus on specific themes: The Kitab-i-Iqan (The Book of Certitude) is His extensive exposition of the unity of religion and the concept of progressive revelation, which is critical to understanding the place of Baha'u'llah and this Faith in the "Divine Scheme of Things." I would recommend it to you, personally, as you are so well-read in religion and I think you would find it especially interesting - tho the Gleanings also covers the concepts clearly, but in less depth.

    The Hidden Words - Baha'u'llah's first book. These are short, poetic "meditations" which explore the relationship of the soul to God and presage virtually all of His later teachings. (I've heard it said that if every text of the Faith had been lost but this one, the Faith would have continued virtually intact!)

    The Seven Valleys and The Four Valleys -- The journey of the seeking soul in Sufi imagery (I think you would love this!)

    The Kitab-i-Aqdas, His book of laws applying to personal conduct and the organization of the community.

    I would add to Steven's list of works by 'Abdu'l-Baha: Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha. The translations are more accurate than those in Some Answered Questions - tho the latter is very good and covers questions directed to him on Christian concepts, and some philosophical ones (such as free will vs predestination, etc), which, as far as I know, aren't covered directly anywhere else.
     
  14. barefootgal9

    barefootgal9 Baha'i

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  15. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    I have actually visited, but always found the delphi forum format to be a little unfriednly for myself. I'll see if I can post there sometime, but at the moment I am quite overwhelmed with work. Thanks for the offer, though - and also the book recommendations - something I can look into properly when establishing that section. :)
     
  16. smkolins

    smkolins Bahá'í

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    The Book of Certitude begins

    I've heard of but never visited it. I may take a look but I have seen problems where moderation was not followed - if people cannot be excluded for base behavior discussions tend to break down.

    However, I thought perhaps it might be useful to look a bit at the Kitab-i-Iqan, title translated as the Book of Certitude.

    "IN THE NAME OF OUR LORD, THE EXALTED, THE MOST HIGH.
    No man shall attain the shores of the ocean of true understanding except he be detached from all that is in heaven and on earth. Sanctify your souls, O ye peoples of the world, that haply ye may attain that station which God hath destined for you and enter thus the tabernacle which, according to the dispensations of Providence, hath been raised in the firmament of the Bayan.
    The essence of these words is this: they that tread the path of faith, they that thirst for the wine of certitude, must cleanse themselves of all that is earthly--their ears from idle talk, their minds from vain imaginings, their hearts from worldly affections, their eyes from that which perisheth. They should put their trust in God, and, holding fast unto Him, follow in His way. Then will they be made worthy of the effulgent glories of the sun of divine knowledge and understanding, and become the recipients of a grace that is infinite and unseen, inasmuch as man can never hope to attain unto the knowledge of the All-Glorious, can never quaff from the stream of divine knowledge and wisdom, can never enter the abode of immortality, nor partake of the cup of divine nearness and favour, unless and until he ceases to regard the words and deeds of mortal men as a standard for the true understanding and recognition of God and His Prophets."

    There are numerous references in the Baha'i Writings to the idea that one must clean out one's mind and heart from preconceptions and decide for oneself, after heartful and mindful consideration, what is right. One must look to the greatest examples and ideals and understand and act. Paying attention to the norms of the day, the judgement of the crowd, the safe choices that don't cause the least discomfort, indeed letting others lead us without our own understanding can only lead to rejection of the totally new and authentic life and message which while not bound by the day in which it lives also is true to the source and the promise from which God and His Prophets operate.
     
  17. smkolins

    smkolins Bahá'í

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    Re: The Book of Certitude

    Baha'u'llah's involvement in the Babi Faith reached a key turning point when there was an attempt on the life of the Shah by a Babi. A purge began which was building in intensity to which Baha'u'llah directed his steps. Found innocent of any involvement he was nevertheless sent to a kind of prison, had the family properties and holdings taken from him and he and his family and others banished in winter to Baghdad. But one feature of the pivot point in history was Baha'u'llah's intentions. He says: "Day and night, while confined in that dungeon, We meditated upon the deeds, the condition, and the conduct of the Babis, wondering what could have led a people so high-minded, so noble, and of such intelligence, to perpetrate such an audacious and outrageous act against the person of His Majesty. This Wronged One, thereupon, decided to arise, after His release from prison, and undertake, with the utmost vigor, the task of regenerating this people."

    Some 10 years would pass between that heartfelt expression to the writing of the Book of Certitude. The Babi community was almost undone and was the object of scorn and fear. Ten years latter leaders of thought and community reform and religious leaders sought out the company of Baha'u'llah and the community was trusted and held in some renown. Around this time a relative of the Bab had asked Baha'u'llah for explanations of some questions he had concerning the Bab's religion and the Book of Certitude was written in response.

    The Bayan was the Bab's prime Book - a synonym for Heaven as in the decent of a New Jerulsalem.
     
  18. smkolins

    smkolins Bahá'í

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    'Consider the past. '

    'Consider the past. How many, both high and low, have, at all times, yearningly awaited the advent of the Manifestations of God in the sanctified persons of His chosen Ones. How often have they expected His coming, how frequently have they prayed that the breeze of divine mercy might blow, and the promised Beauty step forth from behind the veil of concealment, and be made manifest to all the world. And whensoever the portals of grace did open, and the clouds of divine bounty did rain upon mankind, and the light of the Unseen did shine above the horizon of celestial might, they all denied Him, and turned away from His face--the face of God Himself. Refer ye, to verify this truth, to that which hath been recorded in every sacred Book.
    Ponder for a moment, and reflect upon that which hath been the cause of such denial on the part of those who have searched with such earnestness and longing. Their attack hath been more fierce than tongue or pen can describe. Not one single Manifestation of Holiness hath appeared but He was afflicted by the denials, the repudiation, and the vehement opposition of the people around Him. Thus it hath been revealed: "O the misery of men! No Messenger cometh unto them but they laugh Him to scorn." Again He saith: "Each nation hath plotted darkly against their Messenger to lay violent hold on Him, and disputed with vain words to invalidate the truth."
     
  19. smkolins

    smkolins Bahá'í

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    In otherwords, look - something is happening. Religion usually totally centers on One or Another Person and we forget what happened to the prior Person. But something has happened time and again - with differences to be sure but with commonalities too.


    It cannot be that Jews in the time of Moses are so different than in the time of Jesus, of Christians in the time of Jesus so different from in the time of Muhammad.

    At some level or time people feel it is ok to denigrate and punish and it seems like this happens most right as its time for a Manifestation to appear. Certainly others have noticed this as well.
     
  20. barefootgal9

    barefootgal9 Baha'i

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    Hi Steven!

    Poor dear, left to talk to himself....
    (sorry, I've been taking a little break from the discussions)

    I think it is a process of rigidification that takes place over time... a "spiritual rigormortus" where "correct doctrine" gradually strangles the spirit of love, the joy of inquiry and discovery, and the creative, outflowing, embracing Spirit of the original Revelation.

    Guess when the "control freaks" ascend ... the Spirit must descend again. So goes the cycle. But the "control freaks" ever fight tooth and nail against being dethroned.

    Thus do the "stars" fall from the heavens.
     

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