Abdu’l-Baha sends greetings to the Theosophical Society

September 14, 1911: a meeting at the office of the Editor-in-chief of the Journal of the Freemasons and Theosophists, in London
[note 1]

A provisional translation from Khetabat-e Hazrat-e `Abdu’l-Baha dar safr-e-Europa (Talks of ‘Abdu’l-Baha in his European travels), edited by Mahmud-i-Zarqani , page 18.

He is God!

Please give my respectful greetings to the Theosophical Society, and tell them ‘You are in truth promoting the oneness of humanity, for you are free of ignorant prejudices and earnestly desire that all people should be one. Today, whoever promotes the oneness of humanity is acceptable in the eyes of God. All the divinely-inspired prophets strove for this goal, and served humanity. The oneness of humanity is the foundation of the divine teachings. His holiness Moses promoted the oneness of humanity, his holiness Christ established the oneness of humanity, his holiness Muhammad declared the oneness of humanity. The Torah and the gospels and the Qur’an laid the foundations for the oneness of humanity. The Law of God is but one thing, and the Religion of God is one thing: it is loving kindness. His holiness Baha’u’llah has renewed the teachings of the Prophets and proclaimed the foundation of the religion of God, that fellowship may reign between the diverse communities, and the diverging religions may be harmonised. The teachings of Baha’u’llah have had such an effect in the nerves and arteries of humanity that unity has been established between the divergent peoples and kindreds. Since you are working for an admirable cause, I will pray for you and ask God to assist you.’

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One thought on “Abdu’l-Baha sends greetings to the Theosophical Society

  1. The heading is translated from the Persian, and the details represent the perception of the Persian in Abdu’l-Baha’s entourage who took the notes. From the contents of the message, it appears it was addressed to the Theosophists, not the Freemasons. A helpful colleague has commented that Abdu’l-Baha’s message to the Theosophists was in fact published, in Theosophy in Scotland on October 1911 (p. 79). The editor was David Graham Pole (1877-1952), Secretary-General of the Scottish Theosophical Society (formed in 1910). He had travelled with other Scottish theosophists to meet Abdu’l-Baha in London. An account of this meeting was published in the same issue. He had mentioned the Faith in his magazine at least once before meeting Abdu’l-Baha.

    There are slight differences between the Persian text and the English translatioon in Theosophy in Scotland. For instance, the English contains a reference to Buddha which is absent in the Persian.

    There is a chapter in Abdu’l-Baha in London which is supposedly a talk and discussion on various topics, with Theosophists, in September 1911. The talk cannot be authenticated, and the long section on the Buddha is certainly not authentic. The story that begins “Buddha had disciples and he wished to send them out into the world to teach …” is from the Punna Sutta, also known as the Punnovada Sutta, in the Pali canon. the story is repeated in various ways in other collections of Buddhist wisdom and local history (for the Sunnaparanta region), and some of these were translated prior to 1911. Compare the story in Abdu’l-Baha in London with the same story in The Influence of Buddhism on Primitive Christianity (1893), and Notes on evolution and Christianity by J. F. Yorke (1883). There was also a more scientific French translation of the Sutta, by E.Burnouf and others, Paris, 1840-98, and a report which I cannot confirm that An English translation by Winifred Stephens was published as Legends of Indian Buddhism, in 1911.

    It appears that the person who composed this “talk” inserted the words from one or other translation — whether of the Punna Sutta or of one of its legendary forms — into the text. A modern translation of the Punna Sutta is available online.

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