Friday, March 21, 2008

On the Shrine of Baha'u'llah at Bahji: Whether and when a superstructure will be built

I count 19 petals on this flower. -gw

"On the way to the Shrine of Baha'u'llah." Uploaded on February 10, 2007 by Sholeh on flickr, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic

Email from Barmak Kusha to Baha'i Views. -gw

Someone asked Mr Mitchell during one of the evening talks during our pilgrimage about whether and when there would be a Superstructure for Shrine of Baha'u'llah. He replied, of course, it will be splendid, and as to when, that is hidden in the mind of the Universal House of Justice.

I mentioned this to my friend John, and told him how I had not been able to find anything online insofar as discussions, or ideas, or preliminary personal individual attempts at design options... It made him do some research and he found these below...

This is a good post topic... Maybe our Jinabi Architect can take this on as a Sacred Holy Task... I mean I hate to ask him to, God forbid, DOODLE something of this sacredness, but then again, there is nothing wrong with individual Baha'is attempting designs on their own as long as it's dignified in approach, and undertaking, no?

Cheers, B

----- Forwarded Message ----

From: John to Barmak
Subject: clues of future superstructure

Hey Barmak,
Our conversation the other night, regarding our understanding that no apparent mention existed of a "superstructure" around the Most Holy Shrine, really sparked my curiosity. I dug a little deeper and found the following passages from the Guardian which shed light on the subject:

"The signal success in the removal of the ruins was immediately followed by landscaping the approaches to the Shrine, the erection of a gate and the embellishment of the surroundings of the Tomb of Bahá'u'lláh, long denied a befitting entrance through the deliberate obstruction by the enemies of the Faith. Public access to the heart of the Qiblih of the Bahá'í World is now made possible through traversing the sacred precincts leading successively to the Holy Court, the outer and inner sanctuaries, the Blessed Threshold and the Holy of Holies. Recent events prelude the acquisition and development of over thirty acres of property surrounding Bahá'u'lláh's resting place and are paving the way for the erection in the course of future decades of a befitting Mausoleum destined to enshrine the Dust of the Founder of God's Most Holy Faith." (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Bahá'í World: 1950–1957, pp. 29-30, passage dated 11 June 1952)

"The signature to the agreement signalized the commencement of large-scale landscaping, aiming at the beautification of the immediate precincts of the holiest spot in the entire Bahá'í world, itself the prelude to the eventual erection, as happened in the case of the Báb's Sepulcher, of a befitting Mausoleum enshrining the precious Dust of the Most Great Name." (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Bahá'í World: 1950–1957, p. 46, passage dated 12 November 1952)

"On eve of convocation of history-making, long eagerly anticipated African Intercontinental Conference share with communities of Bahá'í world the joyous news of the rapid progress of the twin sacred undertakings launched on the Mountain of God and the holy Plain of 'Akká, destined to culminate in the erection of worthy sepulchers of the Herald and Author of the Bahá'í Revelation... The landscaping initiated at the inception of the Holy Year of thirteen thousand square meter area immediately surrounding the Qiblih of the Bahá'í world, involving extension of its outer sanctuary, to be designated henceforth as the Haram-i-Aqdas, is virtually concluded, paving the way, successively, for the embellishment and extensive illumination of the entire area and erection of stately portals, presaging the rearing at a future date of a magnificent mausoleum in its heart. The striking enhancement of the beauty and stateliness of the most holy spot in the Bahá'í world constitutes a befitting tribute to the memory of the Founder of the Faith, within the hallowed area adjacent to His resting place, on the occasion of the centenary celebrations of the birth of His glorious Mission." (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Bahá'í World: 1950–1957, p. 135, passage dated 9 February 1953)

"The implementation of this order will, at long last, cleanse the Outer Sanctuary of the Qiblih of the Bahá'í world of the pollution staining the fair name of the Faith and pave the way for the adoption and execution of preliminary measures designed to herald the construction in future decades of the stately, befitting Mausoleum designed to enshrine the holiest dust the earth ever received into its bosom." (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Bahá'í World: 1950–1957, p. 122, passage dated 3 June 1957)

Take care,

{Posted with permission}

Other Photos:
"Shrine of Baha'u'llah." Uploaded on May 11, 2007 y lay-c dot com on flickr, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
"Bahji Foliage: The grounds at Bahji (the Mansion and properties that encircle the Holy Shrine of Baha'u'llah) are filled with amazingly strange and beautiful flora. Photo by Madeline Johnson." Uploaded on October 17, 2007 by andropolis on flickr, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic
"Collins Gate, Shrine of Baha'u'llah." Uploaded on January 12, 2008 by John Barnabas on flickr, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic


Anonymous said...

George -

Shoghi Effendi accepted a
design by Mason Remey for the eventual elaboration of the Shrine of Baha'u'llah. A plaster model of the design is on display in the Mansion at Bahji. You will see it when you are there on Pilgrimage. It isvisible in many photos, in the central room of the upper storey. Seethe wonderful little book "Shoghi Effendi: Recollections" by Hand of the
Cause Ugo Giachery for more info. And if you ever need this factoid forBaha'i Jeopardy or something, the Beloved Guardian also accepted a design for the House of Worship that will someday stand on top of Mt. Carmel.

Disclaimer: Don't take my word for anything. Use independent
investigation. But I'm pretty sure this is right.

- Tim

Anonymous said...

I just want to make a few things clear. What I had meant about not finding anything online was that I had found nothing of a personal or private nature, as opposed to semi- or erstwhile "sort of" official nature. Not that I have seen anything of the latter kind either. Like Shoghi Effendi says in his writings, confirming my pilgrim note of Mr Mitchell's answer to the question: the timeline, the design, the announcement, etc. for the magnificent superstructure of the Shrine of Baha'u'llah are all to be decided in the future, and I would think are now the exclusive prerogative of the Universal House of Justice, the Head of the Baha'i Faith. In fact, one of the things I learned from studying the writings of the Guardian that John sent me was that this superstructure would be preceded by much beautification and enhancements to the Sacred Precincts of Bahji "over decades," among them being the construction of "stately portals." One of the most recent examples of the latter is, of course, the Monumental Public Entrance to the Gardens at Bahji, located at the extreme north of the sacred precincts, and completed around 2000-2001. And of course we can not forget the beautiful new Bahji Visitor Center, with its welcoming, warm soul, and its harmonious design with the Mansion. So, this is a long-term process I surmise, for these and other practical reasons, such as needed capacity for public access, sufficient access roads, and permissions from local and national authorities.


Anonymous said...

George -

I am a storehouse of unverified facts. I only found the following references in Dr. Giachery's book and in God Basses By. Interesting reading, of course. But not complete verification.


The Mansion of Bahji is composed of a ground floor with spacious rooms and high ceilings, surrounded on the north, west and south sides by a graceful arcade which confers an air of spaciousness and strength to the whole building. Around this floor there is a small enclosed garden of flowers and citrus trees. Each room on these sides opens on the colonnade, while on the east side, in addition to some doors of rooms, there is the main door leading by a staircase to the upper floor. This upper and only other floor was designed for comfortable and gracious living. On reaching that level the visitor enters, by a short corridor, a large hall paved with marble and flooded with light penetrating from a series of large windows opening into the roof, which is supported by eight marble columns, in the manner of an Islamic courtyard. This hall, with its majestic size and luminosity, lends itself perfectly to the plans devised by Shoghi Effendi, as the area of the floor and of the walls gave him the opportunity to display world-wide historical mementoes, and many visual representations of milestones in the development of the Faith. Over a number of years, whenever some remarkable happening took place, he found a way to remember it by a picture, a relic, a drawing, or some other object placed on the walls, while models of the Shrine of the Bab and of Baha'i Temples, already built or to be built, were placed on small tables located in the centre of the floor right under the well of light.
(Ugo Giachery, Shoghi Effendi - Recollections)

A good many years ago, the believers of Rangoon, Burma, shipped an alabaster sarcophagus - as they had done for the remains of the beloved Bab - to be used in the Shrine of Baha'u'llah, to gather in it His mortal remains. It reached the shores of the Mediterranean, but because of the unsettled situation in the Near East area, it could never be brought to its destination. The beloved Guardian asked me at one time - in the late 'forties - to arrange for its transportation to the Holy Land, but the worsening political situation did not permit the consummation of the plan. The sarcophagus is now in good hands waiting for the opportunity to be sent to its rightful destination and thus fulfil another wish of the Guardian, as part of his plan to beautify that Holy Shrine.

In future, as the world Baha'i membership increases and means become abundant, no doubt the erection of a magnificent mausoleum, as envisaged and desired by Shoghi Effendi, will be an impellent necessity accomplished by the enthusiastic support of every believer from every land of the globe. Then, the twin Spiritual Centres of the Faith, Haifa and 'Akka, will irradiate their resplendent glory with a potency that nothing on earth shall be able to surpass.
(Ugo Giachery, Shoghi Effendi - Recollections)

Already, during... 1922... Shoghi Effendi had discussed... at length various possibilities for the ultimate construction of a tomb for 'Abdu'l-Baha, the site of the future Baha'i Temple on Mt Carmel and a general landscaping plan for the Baha'i properties there.

(God Passes By)

The second, "without doubt," Shoghi Effendi wrote, "the most distinguished of the four Intercontinental Teaching Conferences commemorating the Centenary of the inception of the Mission of Baha'u'llah" and marking the launching of that "epochal, global, spiritual decade-long Crusade", took place in the middle of the Holy Year and constituted the central feature of that year's celebrations and the highest point of its festivities. This great all-America Conference was held in the heart of North America, in Chicago, the very city where sixty years before Baha'u'llah's name had first been publicly mentioned in the Western World during a session of the World Parliament of Religions held in connection with the World's Columbian Exposition which opened on 1 May 1893. Its sessions were preceded by the consummation of a fifty-year-old enterprise - the dedication to public worship, on 2 May, of the Mother Temple of the West, which was, Shoghi Effendi assured us, not only "the holiest House of Worship ever to be reared to the glory of the Most Great Name" but that no House of Worship would "ever possess the immeasurable potentialities with which it has been endowed" and that the "role it is destined to play in hastening the emergence of the World Order of Baha'u'llah" could not as yet be fathomed.

The unveiling of the model of the future Baha'i Temple to be erected on Mt Carmel at the World Centre of the Faith was another event which Shoghi Effendi himself had planned to take place in conjunction with that Conference - a Conference which he said will "go down in history as the most momentous gathering held since the close of the Heroic Age of the Faith, and will be regarded as the most potent agency in paving the way for the launching of one of the most brilliant phases of the grandest crusade ever undertaken by the followers of Baha'u'llah since the inception of His Faith..."
(God Passes By)


Anonymous said...

The only plaster model in Bahji is for one preliminary design of Mason Remey mentioned by Tim but it is for the future Temple of the Holy Land, to be located where the Obelisk is now on Mt Carmel, not far from the Cave of Elijah and the Carmelite Monastery, and with a view of the Shrine of the Bab. There is no design or model displayed for the Shrine of Baha'u'llah that I can remember. There may be some posters in some of the rooms of the Mansion, as there are for a future Shrine of Abdu' Baha, as well as some prelim designs for the Shrine of the Bab even; but of course we know whose design the Guardian went with for the latter. But these are displayed in my view in a much more historical manner, without any emphasis or major labelling identifying them as "approved" or "official." For these reasons, and as I say in my comment on your blog, I don't believe the House of Justice is in any way obligated to follow any preliminary design from anyone that may have been approved by the Guardian. It certainly never says that it is so obligated, an neither do the House members say so. Why? Because I don't think the Guardian left any instructions saying "you must carry out this design." By the way, there are also designs by Remey for the future Temple of Iran for example, again in the rooms in Bahji


Barmak Kusha said...

Thank you, Tim for these great passages!!