March 14, 2018

Tablet of the Howdah (Lawh-i-Hawdaj/Samsun) – by Baha’u’llah

--provisional translation by Stephen N. Lambden

[Sighting from His howdah the Black Sea, as He approached the port of Samsun, Bahá'u'lláh, at the request of Mirza Aqa Jan, revealed a Tablet, designated Lawh-i-Hawdaj (Tablet of the Howdah), which by such allusions as the "Divine Touchstone," "the grievous and tormenting Mischief," reaffirmed and supplemented the dire predictions recorded in the recently revealed Tablet of the Holy Mariner. (Shoghi Effendi, ‘God Passes By’)]

These are verses which were disclosed in the Pavilion of Eternity and the Howdah of Holiness at the moment when the Greatest Name arrived at the precinct of majesty in the land of Sāmsūn, at the shore of a mighty ocean. Then did the hosts of the inspiration of God descend, so splendidly ornamented, that all who are in the heavens and on earth were thunderstruck thereat. Before them did the Sun of the Divine Beauty radiate forth in an holy, ethereal Temple and addressed the Ark with the like of that which had streamed forth from the Pen of God aforetime, in a Tablet in which We addressed the Holy Mariner with a secret, sorrowful Call. And this in accordance with what hath this moment been sent down in this Tablet from an holy, luminous Pen. And whomsoever desires to comprehend the mysteries of the Command on the part of One, Wise, All-Knowing, let such an one consider these two Tablets and thus become cognizant of the mysteries of God; eyes solaced thereby and one numbered among such as are possessed of certainty.

The times of reclining in the Howdah of Holiness hath been completed and the Beauty of the Divine Essence hath emerged unto a mighty, noble panorama. Say: 'The terrestrial journey hath found completion at the shore of a mighty ocean.' At this did the Howdah of Immortality weep and a luminous Ship of Holiness rejoice.

O Holy Mariner! (ya mallāḥ al-quds) The promise hath come to pass just as We promised thee through a sure and knowing Tongue. So be of good cheer within thyself that the Logos-Self of God, which is naught save Him, might embark upon the Ark through this novel yet ancient Command. Before thee shall be made manifest all that We, in very truth, promised thee, if thou art truly patient. We announced unto thee aforetime all that hath come to pass and none in all the worlds hath been privy thereto. We made them to be heedless thereof on account of that which their hands hath wrought.  And this, assuredly, is but manifest justice.

By God! Such as enter beneath thy shade shall be seized by a grievous and tormenting mischief. By God! This is the Touchstone of God. He hath risen up with justice and shall distinguish between truth and falsehood, doubt and certitude.

But thou, Purify! thy vision from the limitations of mortal men and suffer not thy sight to be distracted from this luminous Panorama. Waft then upon them [a portion] of the breezes of the Divine Bounty perchance they might be purified of their idle fancies and be oriented towards God, the Mighty, the Wise; their hearts cleansed of their vain imagining and they be enabled to attain unto the sacred, wondrous Homeland. And perchance thereby the veils of imitation be burned up and the Beauty of the Divine Oneness radiate forth in the ethereal lamp[s] of the hearts. It is not fitting that the servants [of God] weigh the Balance of God for they shall at every moment be weighed and so be counted among such as are weighed. So turn aside from them! And disregard their outrages, for Thou, verily, art One Generous, Possessed of Grace, All-Knowing. Then, when Thou hast shut Thine eyes to the rebellion and opened them to that which is most-excellent, waft upon the denizens of existence fragrances holy and beneficent. This perchance they might become cognizant within themselves that God hath preferred them above all creatures, made them to be the associates of His Own Logos-Self, ennobled them through the Meeting with Him, caused to descend upon them the fruits of Union from an Holy, Manifest Tree. [He furthermore] made them to be robed in the garment of distinction, preferred them above such creatures as have been and now exist, and made their names to be inscribed upon mighty, preserved Tablets. All this shall assuredly be conferred upon them; as long, that is, as they alter not the bounty of God unto themselves, comprehend that which God hath graciously bestowed upon them, and at every moment render thanks unto Him.

And Thou, O Ark of the Cause! Transport them! Embark across the Ocean with the permission of God, the Mighty, the Powerful.

O Ship of Holiness! Rejoice within thyself for a Beauty, mighty, and transcendent hath come upon thee.

O Sea of Immortality! Delight thine eyes for there hath come upon thee a Sea spiritual and ethereal. Wherefore wert thou created before other seas if thou be of those that are truly aware. Then honor the guests of God, servants who ride upon thee, and who have arrived before thee, and be not such as create confusion. Preserve the trustees of God! Act not treacherously within thyself and be not of those that are perfidious.

O fishes of the Sea! Be joyous within thyselves, then be mindful of thy Creator, in that thou hast attained to the Meeting with God in the days in which the Sun of the Divine Beauty hath radiated forth from the Dawning Place of an Ancient Name.

O Atmosphere of the Sea! Waft thou upon the luminous, well-fashioned bodies which God created from the Light of His Essence before He created the heavens and the earth! Exalt within thyself them rejoice in thy spirit for God hath provided for thee an atmosphere, spiritual and ethereal.

By God! While the inmates of the inhabitants of the sea hath rejoiced,  those that dwell on the land hath raised tumult for the Beauty of the Divine Essence hath emerged from the Howdah of Eternity and come to dwell within an Ark proximate and elevated.

Say: `O People of Secret and the Disclosed, the Hidden and the Manifest! Let nothing sadden thee. Rejoice at the rejoicing of God, the Sanctified, the Most-Elevated, the All Knowing.'

Say: 'This is assuredly the Jubilation which hath captivated the totality of things existent and hath encompassed all that inhabit all the worlds.' Yet hath none been enraptured save such as hath turned towards the Panorama of God, the Sanctified, the Mighty, the Luminous.

Say: 'This is assuredly the Divine Bounty which hath inclined all the atoms towards the Beauty of the Divine Essence with a nearness comparable to the Beloved One's being mindful of the name of the Loved One.' Thus do We set forth the verses of the Spirit and widen the expanse of the Divine Bounty for all who are gathered in the earthly dominion.

And Thou, O Depth of Holiness! Raise thou a Call at the conclusion of this discourse in that the Depth of God, the Help in Peril, the Victorious, the Steadfast, hath arrived before thee.

O Billowing Ocean of the Divine Oneness! Be joyous in thine essence in that the Billowing Ocean of Joy hath risen up over thee. This, verily, is a mighty bounty.

O Fathomless Deep of the Divine Might! Be exhilarated within thy spirit for the Fathomless Deep of God, the Most-Elevated, the Mighty, the Powerful, hath compassed thee about. So be thou gladdened in that about thee are transported those that are nigh unto God. And at this moment hath all atoms reoriented [their gaze], risen up in thine atmosphere, and are of such as look on, for the Breezes of Holiness passeth over them from the Shore of the Divine Oneness, from this Enshrouded, Veiled, Concealed, Manifest, Apparent and Hidden Ridvān. So blessed be they and such as hath entered beneath His shadow, been ennobled with the Meeting with Him, drunk deep of His Cup, and taken hold on His strong and Firm Cord.

In such manner have We graciously conferred Divine Favor upon those of former and of latter times and sent down from the Clouds of Holiness that which serves to purify the hearts of such as are possessed of divine knowledge. And We have decreed the Robe of Guidance for all things should they give assent to Him and be of the truly pious. Thus hath been decreed in the Heaven of the Divine Command that which is the cause of the enrichment of all the worlds.

[From the Right-hand side of the Command / Cause there hath issued forth (the statement)] There hath indeed been manifest [herein] a tribulation [test] (fitnah) which We sent down [revealed] in this scriptural Tablet (al-lawh). We thus spoke forth and such is indeed the certain Truth-Reality (huwa al-haqq). By God! Such as have entered into Thy shadow, shall indeed be seized by the torment of a mighty tribulation [test] (‘adhāb fitnat in `azimin)!