A Dramatized Reading of E. G. Browne’s Meeting with Baha’u’llah

In honour of this year’s joyous celebration of the bicentenary anniversary of Baha’u’llah’s birth, Baha’i Blog is thrilled to share with you a downloadable audio reading of Edward Granville Browne’s account of meeting Baha’u’llah.

E. G. Browne, a professor from Cambridge University, met Baha’u’llah in the Mansion of Bahji in April 1890 on four separate occasions and recorded his thoughts and impressions of his first meeting for posterity. He was the only Westerner to meet Baha’u’llah and his account, although brief, is a treasure as it offers us a unique perspective of what it was like to attain Baha’u’llah’s presence.

This reading, performed by Ata Farhadi, and recorded by Kevin Mehrabi, is from E. G. Brown’s introduction in his translation of Abdu’l-Baha’s A Traveller’s Narrative, which was published in 1891 by the Cambridge University Press.

Total running time is: 3 minutes 17 seconds.

Here is a transcript of the text:

The distinguished orientalist, the late Professor Edward G. Browne, of the University of Cambridge, visited Baha’u’llah at Bahjí in the year 1890, and recorded his impressions as follows:

… my conductor paused for a moment while I removed my shoes. Then, with a quick movement of the hand, he withdrew, and, as I passed, replaced the curtain; and I found myself in a large apartment, along the upper end of which ran a low divan […]. Though I dimly suspected whither I was going and whom I was to behold (for no distinct intimation had been given to me), a second or two lapsed ere, with a throb of wonder and awe, I became definitely conscious that the room was not untenanted. In the corner where the divan met the wall sat a wondrous and venerable figure, crowned with a felt head-dress of the kind called taj by dervishes […], round the base of which was wound a small white turban. The face of him on whom I gazed I can never forget, though I cannot describe it. Those piercing eyes seemed to read one’s very soul; power and authority sat on that ample brow; while the deep lines on the forehead and face implied an age which the jet-black hair and beard flowing down in indistinguishable luxuriance almost to the waist seemed to belie. No need to ask in whose presence I stood, as I bowed myself before one who is the object of a devotion and love which kings might envy and emperors sigh for in vain!

A mild dignified voice bade me be seated, and then continued: “Praise be to God that thou hast attained!… Thou hast come to see a prisoner and an exile…. We desire but the good of the world and the happiness of the nations … that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened; that diversity of religion should cease, and differences of race be annulled – what harm is there in this?… Yet so it shall be; these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the ‘Most Great Peace’ shall come…. Let not a man glory in this, that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind….”

Such, so far as I can recall them, were the words which, besides many others, I heard from Beha […] consider well […] whether such doctrines merit death and bonds, and whether the world is more likely to gain or lose by their diffusion.

You can also read Baha’i Blog’s tribute to E.G. Browne here: Edward Granville Browne: The Only European Historian who met Baha’u’llah

About the Author

In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a stay-at-home parent and a bookworm with a maxed out library card but professionally she is a museologist with a background in English Literature. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she's driving at night.

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