October 27, 2009

Baha’u’llah recalls the Impact of a Puppet Show He Saw as a Child

“When I was still a child and had not yet attained the age of maturity, my father made arrangements in Tihran for the marriage of one of my older brothers, and as is customary in that city, the festivities lasted for seven days and seven nights. On the last day it was announced that the play ‘Shah Sultan Salim’ [a king by the name Salim] would be presented. A large number of princes, dignitaries, and notables of the capital gathered for the occasion. I was sitting in one of the upper rooms of the building and observing the scene. Presently a tent was pitched in the courtyard, and before long some small human-like figures, each appearing to be no more than about a hand’s span in height, were seen to emerge from it and raise the call: ‘His Majesty is coming! Arrange the seats at once!’. ..there appeared, arrayed in regal majesty and crowned with a royal diadem, a kingly figure, bearing himself with the utmost haughtiness and grandeur, at turns advancing and pausing in his progress, who proceeded with great solemnity, poise and dignity to seat himself upon his throne.

At that moment a volley of shots was fired, a fanfare of trumpets was sounded, and king and tent were enveloped in a pall of smoke. When it had cleared, the king, ensconced upon his throne, was seen surrounded by a suite of ministers, princes, and dignitaries of state who, having taken their places, were standing at attention in his presence. A captured thief was then brought before the king, who gave the order that the offender should be beheaded. Without a moment’s delay the chief executioner cut off the thief’s head, whence a blood-like liquid came forth. ..
This Youth regarded the scene with great amazement. When the royal audience was ended, the curtain was drawn, and, after some twenty minutes, a man emerged from behind the tent carrying a box under his arm.
‘What is this box,’ I asked him, ‘and what was the nature of this display?’
‘All this lavish display and these elaborate devices,' he replied, 'the king, the princes, and the ministers, their pomp and glory, their might and power, everything you saw, are now contained within this box.'
I swear by My Lord Who, through a single word of His Mouth, hath brought into being all created things! Ever since that day, all the trappings of the world have seemed in the eyes of this Youth akin to that same spectacle. They have never been, nor will they ever be, of any weight and consequence…” (Baha’u’llah, Summons of the Lord of Hosts, pp. 165-6)