Baha’u’llah, the Prophet-Founder of the Baha’i Faith, passed away on 29 May, 1892. This holy day is commemorated by Baha’is all over the world and is known as ‘The Ascension of Baha’u’llah’. The final resting place of Baha’u’llah, the Shrine of Baha’u’llah, is located in Bahji (in present day Israel), and is the Point of Adoration to which Baha’is turn when reciting their Obligatory Prayer.
They say if you want to remember a particular moment in your life, you should listen to a piece of music. Melodies help us recall the very shape and form of an experience or moment in time. The same can be said about fragrance. Wear one type of perfume for a set period and you will always associate that scent with that same period in your life.
During her last month of volunteer service in the Holy Land, my sister-in-law listened to one selection of music only. Upon her return home and whenever she heard those specific melodies, she would immediately be carried away to Israel where the memories of her last few weeks in paradise replayed vividly in her heart, mind and soul.
The Writings of the Faith have a very similar effect on one’s senses. They are a melody, a fragrance, and they have the power to transport you to a different time or place – conjuring up memories, feelings and emotions of times gone by.
For me, the Tablet of Visitation is one such reading. During my year of service in Israel, this Tablet would be recited at every Holy Day commemoration or celebration. Now, whenever I read it or hear it being recited, I am taken back to the Holy Land and all six of my senses are heightened. I can smell the sweet scent of rose petals, I can feel the breeze blowing in from Haifa Bay, I can taste the oranges from the blessed citrus trees and I can hear the pebbles clink under my feet as I circumambulate the Holy shrines, my eyes fixed on the beauty of the surrounding gardens.
But more importantly, it is my spiritual senses that are aroused. The word Visitation, when directly translated from the Persian, means Pilgrimage (Ziyarat) and it’s no wonder. This Tablet does indeed take you on a spiritual pilgrimage across the seas and the lands to the very threshold of Baha’u’llah where you find yourself bowing down in supplication and voicing your utmost gratitude to Him:
The praise which hath dawned from Thy most august Self, and the glory which hath shone forth from Thy most effulgent Beauty, rest upon Thee, O Thou Who art the Manifestation of Grandeur, and the King of Eternity, and the Lord of all who are in heaven and on earth! 1
The Tablet itself is quite firm in its tone. It does not only have us proclaim our complete devotion to God but also our steadfastness of Faith and detachment from all save Him – yet another reason why it is so spiritually rejuvenating. The following are some of the passages that reaffirm that fact:
I bear witness that he who hath known Thee hath known God, and he who hath attained unto Thy presence hath attained unto the presence of God. 2
Waft, then, unto me, O my God and my Beloved, from the right hand of Thy mercy and Thy loving-kindness, the holy breaths of Thy favors, that they may draw me away from myself and from the world unto the courts of Thy nearness and Thy presence. 3
And while the reasons I love this Tablet are innumerable, I am especially taken by its strong imagery, particularly in the final passages. These passages are not only evocative, but they remind us of the trials and tribulations faced by The Bab and Baha’u’llah for the good of humanity and for our own spiritual well-being.
Thou wast immersed all the days of Thy life beneath an ocean of tribulations. At one time Thou wast in chains and fetters; at another Thou wast threatened by the sword of Thine enemies. Yet, despite all this, Thou didst enjoin upon all men to observe what had been prescribed unto Thee by Him Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. 3
And in the final paragraph:
Bless Thou, O Lord my God, the Divine Lote-Tree and its leaves, and its boughs, and its branches, and its stems, and its offshoots, as long as Thy most excellent titles will endure and Thy most august attributes will last. Protect it, then, from the mischief of the aggressor and the hosts of tyranny. 4
Attending a commemoration of the Ascension of Baha’u’llah in Israel was one of the most spiritually intoxicating moments I have experienced in my life. In the early hours of the morning, as the rest of the country slept, hundreds of volunteers from the Baha’i World Centre gathered by the Shrine of Baha’u’llah for one of the most significant commemorations in the Baha’i calendar. The air was crisp, the atmosphere was afire with love, and the mood was of complete reverent elation. When the time came for the final reading – the chanting of the Tablet of Visitation in Arabic – all the volunteers stood and turned towards the same Blessed Spot as thousands of other Baha’is scattered around the world.
Almost 10 years may have passed since that day, but I often close my eyes and remember that very moment where I stood only metres away from the Most Sacred Threshold, overwhelmed with emotion. The Tablet of Visitation only makes that special memory all the more vivid.
Footnotes & Citations
Baha’i Prayers: A Selection of Prayers Revealed by Baha’u’llah, The Bab, and Abdu’l-Baha, US Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1991 edn, p. 230[↩]
Baha’i Prayers: A Selection of Prayers Revealed by Baha’u’llah, The Bab, and Abdu’l-Baha, US Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1991 edn, p. 231[↩]
Baha’i Prayers: A Selection of Prayers Revealed by Baha’u’llah, The Bab, and Abdu’l-Baha, US Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1991 edn, p. 232[↩][↩]
Baha’i Prayers: A Selection of Prayers Revealed by Baha’u’llah, The Bab, and Abdu’l-Baha, US Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1991 edn, p. 233[↩]
Dellaram is a Baha'i, wife, and mother of three, who works as a freelance journalist and copywriter in her hometown of Ballarat, Australia. She is passionate about building community and loves the thrill that comes with op-shopping!