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Art. VII.—Some Remarks on the Bábí Texts edited by Baron Victor Rosen in Vols. I and VI of the Collections Scientifiques de l'Institut des Langues Orientales de Saint-Pétersbourg.1

  • Edward G. Browne

The Institut des Langues Orientales of St. Petersburg has an admirable custom, which it were well if other similar institutions would imitate. From time to time it publishes, under the title of Collections Scientifiques, not mere catalogues of recent acquisitions, but full accounts of the more interesting manuscripts which have been added to its library, with copious extracts, tables of contents, and critical notes. The sixth volume of these Collections has lately appeared in two parts, of which the second is almost entirely filled with a description, from the pen of Baron Rosen, of certain Bábi MSS. acquired by the Institut. It is this second part of vol. vi that I propose specially to discuss here, but of the Bábí texts contained in vol. i (published in 1877) I shall also have something to say.

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page 266 note 1 This passage is also quoted in the Traveller's Narrative (vol. i, p. 4; vol. ii, pp. 3–4).

page 266 note 2 Cf. also B. ii, pp. 952–3, and n. 1 on latter.

page 271 note 1 I find some difficulty in accepting this view. See pp. 281–2 and 313 infra.

page 276 note 1 Cf. ḳur'án, xxviii. 30.

page 276 note 2 The Báb continually calls himself “The Tree of Truth” (cf. T.N., pp. 219, n. 12; 224, 225, 230, 294), and Behá'u'lláh here (and I think elsewhere) applies the same term to himself. The allusion is to the “Tree on Sinai” (the Burning Bush) from which Moses heard the words “Verily I am God.” See Kur'án, xxviii. 30.

page 276 note 3 It is probable, however, that the word al-ḳuds (“the Holy”) may here have a less definite meaning.

page 277 note 1

page 280 note 1 Not A.H. 1281 as stated at p. 525 of B. i. See p. 308 infra.

page 280 note 2 See p. 307 infra.

page 280 note 3 Instances of this are pretty common, but one example will suffice. The Báb appears to have been born on Muharram 1st, A.H. 1236 (cf. B. ii, p. 993, and T.N. ii, pp. 218–222), but in the text of the Traveller's Narrative (vol. i, p. 2; vol. ii, p. 2) the date of his birth is given as Muharram 1st. A.H. 1235 (cf. also Coll. Sc. vi, p. 252). It is easy to see that an anniversary is more likely to be correctly remembered than a date.

page 281 note 1 See pp. 307–8 infra.

page 282 note 1 See Traveller's Narrative, i, p. 146, where the passage stands somewhat differently, though the general sense is the same.

page 286 note 1 This is important, as confirming the conclusion already arrived at (p. 282 supra) concerning the date of this Epistle.

page 286 note 2 Apparently Behá'u'lláh and his sons (Aghṣán), the “confidential attendant” being, in all probability, Áḳá Mírzá Áḳá. Ján of Káshán called Khádimu'lláh. (See B. i, p. 519, and T.N. ii, Index, s.v. Khádimu'lláh).

page 292 note 1 i.e. Behá'u'lláh. Though he is generally spoken of, when mentioned by name, as [Mírzá] ḳuseyn ‘Alí, it would appear from this and other passages, especially the opening words of the Súratu' -l-Muták, and a passage in another letter contained in MS. No. 438 (see Coll. Sc. i, p. 192 and n. 2) that he sometimes calls himself either Huseyn simply, or Huseyn ibn 'Alí So, in ch. lxxxii of the Commentary on the Súra of Joseph, the Báb, who is generally called [Mírzá] ‘Alí Muḥammad, speaks (apparently) of himself as Ibn Muḥammad Alí. Yet Behá's father was named ‘Abbás and the Báb's father Riẓá.

page 204 note 1 This celestial Ḥúri or angel occupies a prominent position throughout the first half of the Súra-i-Heykal, and seems to play a part analogous to that taken by the angel Gabriel in the revelations of Muḥammad.

page 294 note 1 The expression “people,” or “church of the Beyán,” is ordinarily used to denote the adherents of the old dispensation of the Bábí religion, or, in other words, Bábís pure and simple, as contrasted with Behá'is.

page 295 note 1 By this expression Behá appears to denote himself, as the instrument whereby God's pleasure is made known to men.

page 295 note 2 Ḳur'án, liii, 14.

page 297 note 3 i.e. the unpoisoned side.

page 298 note 1 i.e. the Jikád, or religious warfare, is abolished in this dispensation.

page 300 note 1 Light (núr) and Fire (nár) in the Beyán mean belief and unbelief, or believers and unbelievers.

page 300 note 2 i.e. Within this number of years after the ‘Manifestation’ of the Báb.

page 300 note 3 i.e.the Christians.

page 300 note 4 The words wherewith Christ is alleged by the Muḥammadans to have foretold the mission of Muḥammad. See T.N. ii, p. 293, n. 16.

page 300 note 5 i.e. the ḳur'án and the Beyán.

page 301 note 1 One MS. here inserts which, however, seems redundant.

page 301 note 2 Two MSS. read , which very materially alters the meaning of what cfollows. The reading here adopted, however, seems to me the best.

page 301 note 3 One MS. has .

page 301 note 4 Or, if we adopt the other reading, “ will suffer.”

page 301 note 6 Here the fire of expectation and unsatisfied longing seems to be meant.

page 302 note 1 Cf. Kur'án v. 110; vi. 7; xi. 10, etc.

page 302 note 2 i.e. the Muḥammadans. Behá here accuses the Ezelís of being as obdurate in their rejection of himself as the Muḥammadans were in their rejection of the Bab.

page 302 note 3 i.e. the Muḥammadans.

page 302 note 4 i e. from going to visit the Báb.

page 302 note 5 Cf. T. N. ii, p. xxxviii. This alludes to a vulgar belief prevalent amongst Persian Muḥammadans that the Bábis bewitch their guests by means of some enchanted substance mixed with their food or tea, so that whoever eats or drinks with them becomes a Bábí. This superstition is referred to in the Táríkh-i-Jadíd.

page 303 note 1 By the ‘Reminder of God’ () the Báb seems to be meant. This is clearer in another passage of the Sura-i-Heykal (p. 167, 11. 3–5), of which this is the translation:— “Do ye ask the Jews whether the Spirit [i.e. Christ] was of a truth from God? Or [do ye ask] idols whether Muḥammad was a prophet? Or [do ye ask] the church of the Furḳdn [i.e. the Muḥammadans] concerning the Reminder of God , the Mighty; the High?”

page 310 note 1 Perhaps we should rather translate “zaptiehs’ or “military police.”

page 310 note 2 The Báb appears to be meant.

page 311 note 1 i.e. as I suppose, when the final breach occurred between Behá. and Ezel. (See pp. 296–7 supra).

page 312 note 1 I mention this point because if, as I have conjectured above, Hájí Muḥammad Ja'far be addressed in the words , it is natural enough that he should be associated in Behá's mind with the missionaries who were his fellow-travellers.

page 313 note 1 The possibility of such recension or re-arrangement must always be borne in mind. That the sanctity of the sacred texts is now considered to be violated by the publication of a “revised version” is clearly shewn by the very considerable alterations and suppressions made in the text of the Epistle to the King of Persia by the author of the Traveller's Narrative.

page 322 note 1 See Z.D.M.G. for 1881, vol. xxxv, p. 328.

page 323 note 1 When is short in scansion, or is commonly written by modern Persians.

page 324 note 1 It would appear that this should be .

page 325 note 1 Cf. Traveller's Narrative, vol. ii, p. 315, n. 2.

page 325 note 2 Cf. Traveller's Narrative, vol. ii, p. 315, n. 1, and B. ii, pp. 917–918.

page 325 note 3 Cf. Traveller's Narrative, vol. ii, p. 357. n. 5.

page 325 note 4 i.e. I am the Imám Ḥuseyn returned again. Cf. B. ii, p. 932, and footnote 1.

page 327 note 1 MS.

page 327 note 2 MS. om.

page 328 note 1 MS. , but I think this emendation is needed.

page 328 note 2 MS.

page 328 note 3 MS. , contra metrum.

page 328 note 4 MS. omits.

page 329 note 1 MS. , but, unless we can take this in the sense of (a trust) some emendation seems missing.

page 329 note 2 MS. , contrary alike to sense and metre.

page 329 note 3 MS. , by an obvious slip.

page 329 note 4 MS. . An emendation is clearly needed, but I am by no means certain that I have hit on the right one.

page 329 note 5 This word is very carelessly written, and might be read .

page 330 note 1 MS. , which seems to me to give no good sense.

page 330 note 2 MS. om. ,.

page 330 note 3 For see first footnote on preceding poem.

page 330 note 4 This line seems to me corrupt, but I cannot suggest an emendation.

page 330 note 5 The words “Beháyam kú?” have a double signification: either “where is my price?” in the sense of “where is my equivalent for this coin of life?”— “Where is an object on which I may worthily expend it?” —or, “where is my Behá?”

page 330 note 6 Páyam kú? Strength, endurance is a recognised and not uncommon meaning of .

page 330 note 7 i.e. my blood-wit or compensation will be nothing less than the Beloved.

page 331 note 1 Kur'án, vii, 139.

page 331 note 2 Ḥuseyn Manṣúr the wool-carder (ḥalláj), the celebrated ṣúfí who was hanged or crucified for crying out in one of his mystical raptures Ana 'l-ṣaḳḳ (“I am the Truth,” i.e. “God.”)

page 331 note 3 I am uncertain alike as to the correctness of the reading and the true sense of this line.

page 332 note 1 This alone is tantamount to a declaration of Behá's Divine Nature, since, according to Shi'ite belief, Muḥammad was God's guest on the night of his ascent to Heaven.

page 332 note 2 Cf. Traveller's Narrative, vol. ii, p. 362, 1. 5.

page 332 note 3 i.e. Joseph.

page 332 note 4 According to Muhammadan belief it was Ishmael (Isma'it), not Isaac, who was destined by Abraham for sacrifice, wherefore he is entitled , “the sacrificial victim.”

page 333 note 1 i.e. tears.

page 333 note 2 ḳur'án, ii, 109.— .— “And whithersoever ye turn there is the Face of God.”

page 334 note 1 The word (only) occurs in so many passages of the Kur'an that it is difficult to conjecture which is here intended. I think, however, that Ḳur'an vi, 109, may be meant— —. “Say, ‘signs [áyát] are in God's hands alone.’”

page 334 note 2 The name of a foul and bitter tree which grows in hell. See ḳur'án, xxxvii, 60; xliv, 43; lvi, 52.

page 334 note 3 The names of three celestial rivers.

page 334 note 4 i.e. Muhammad, called al-Musṫtafạ “the Elect.”

page 334 note 5 The gaping of the shell of the pistachio-nut is continually taken by Persian poets as the emblem of a smiling mouth. Hence the meaning of this line is “Relax Thy mouth in a smile that all other smiles may seem in comparison of no account.”

1 I omit in this article all but incidental reference to vol. iii of the Collections Scientifiques (Manuscrits Persans), published in 1886, which contains descriptions of the Persian Beyán and the Iḳán. Of the former I am now engaged in the preparation of a complete text, and I gladly take this opportunity of expressing my gratitude to the Academy and the Institut of St. Petersburg for their liberality in permitting me to borrow the MSS. of this work contained in their collections.

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