The Holy Ground of Ridvan
By John Taylor; 2008 Apr 29, 02 Jamal, 165 BE
This is a rescript of an excerpt from a Badi' Blog essay of a couple of years ago.
Ridvan roisterers celebrate a collective coming of age, the arrival of a New Day, the One True Enlightenment. At the primal moment when Baha'u'llah declared His Station in that garden, God raised us out of the particulars of minority to the universality of maturity. This radical change was initiated at the point of departure of Baha'u'llah from
When the order came to leave for the capitol, Baha'u'llah agreed but requested and was granted a month to prepare. His popularity had grown over the years. Very frequent were the visits and paying of respects from people high and low whose lives had been touched by Him. So great was the pushing and shoving that it was finally decided to rent an island in the River where He would entertain His friends and followers. This place He named Ridvan, or
The first day of Ridvan commemorates the time when Baha'u'llah and a handful of aids crossed over to that garden on that island on the outskirts of
"...the perceptible change noted in His demeanor; and finally, His adoption of the taj (tall felt head-dress), on the day of His departure from His Most Holy House - all proclaimed unmistakably His imminent assumption of the prophetic office and of His open leadership of the community of the Bab's followers." (Shoghi Effendi,
Starting on the first day Baha'u'llah revealed a prodigious number of His most important Tablets, each of which in one way or another announced His station and the nature of His mission to the followers of the Bab. These letters, some of which were book-length, were entrusted to certain prominent Babis, now Baha'is, who were charged to take them back to
In the following passage, Baha'u'llah Himself sums up the essence of the message He expounded on that first day of Ridvan, and every day afterwards,
"On the first day of His arrival in the garden designated the Ridvan, the Ancient Beauty established himself upon the Most Great Throne, thereupon the Tongue of Glory uttered three blessed verses. First, that in this revelation the use of the sword is prohibited. Second, that whoso layeth a claim ere the expiration of a thousand years is assuredly in grievous error; by year, a complete year is intended and any interpretation of this matter is forbidden. And third, that the One True God, exalted be His Glory, at that very moment shed the splendours of all His Names upon the whole creation." (Baha'u'llah, provisionally translated in Saiedi, Logos and Civilization, 242)
More broadly, these three "blessed verses" cover the three salient features of His revelation as a whole. By forbidding the sword, Baha'u'llah began His mission to eliminate all standing obstacles to peace, both within and among religions, and in the world at large. Such reconciliation, He often wrote, was His greatest aim and desire. In His subsequent proclamation to the Kings, Baha'u'llah fleshed out His peace plan in detail.
The second point covers His Covenant; years after, in
The third point connects His Revelation to the collective maturity of the human race. By shedding "the splendour of all His names upon the whole creation," the human race gained a new ability to take in the full spectrum of God's Names. This is the full station of humanity, the fact (often articulated elsewhere in Baha'u'llah's Writings) that whereas lower forms of life can reflect just one Name or attribute of God each, our supernatural, human station is holistic or hologram-like in that it can reflects the universe in a grain of sand, all divine Names radiate out from a single, synoptic mirror.
Ridvan makes of us all philosopher kings, the chosen few who escape the dark cave and return with full vision of the totality of reality.
"Reflect thou, how, in one hand, He hath, by His mighty grasp, turned the earth of knowledge and understanding, previously unfolded, into a mere handful, and, on the other, spread out a new and highly exalted earth in the hearts of men, thus causing the freshest and loveliest blossoms, and the mightiest and loftiest trees to spring forth from the illumined bosom of man." (Kitab-i-Iqan, 48)
The true Ridvan, then, is a fertile garden we feel beating whenever we lay our hand on our own breast.