Panj Kanz (The Five Treasures)

What follows is my provisional translation of the Panj Kanz, an oral discourse given by Baháʼuʼlláh in Baghdád to a group of expatriate Persian princes. This discourse was transcribed by Nabíl-i-Zarandí, who was present. An authorized version of Nabíl-i-Zarandí’s transcription of the Panj Kanz, prepared by the Research Department at the Baháʼí World Centre, can be found here.

For more contextual information on the Panj Kanz, refer to Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baháʼuʼlláh, vol. 2, pp. 140–143.

To clarify, all indented text in this translation represents the words of Baháʼuʼlláh as recorded by Nabíl, while all other text represents the commentary of Nabíl himself.

A facsimile of “The Five Treasures,” which Nabíl-i-Zarandí has derived from the utterances of Bahá’u’lláh, the All-Glorious, in Baghdád

The First Treasure

One day, the Beauty of the All-Knowing* was walking in the bírúní [1] of the Most Great House in Baghdád when some of the princes of Persia, who were residing in that land, entered His presence. With the utmost solicitude, the Ancient Beauty* inquired after them and asked about the current affairs of that land. One of them made this remark, “How is it that You discuss spiritual matters with Your friends when they attain Your presence, but with us You ask only of the town and the market? It seems You do not consider us worthy,” by which he intended to ask, “Why should these people—bereft of exquisite clothing, wealth, knowledge, and insight—take precedence over us, with our riches and sagacity?”

The Blessed Beauty* responded:

Dost thou know what sort of person is worthy of hearing My words and is fit to enter My presence? I will say it that thou shalt know. Suppose one should find himself in a limitless space, unbounded in every direction. To the right, there existeth every pomp and glory, pleasure and comfort, and sovereignty eternal and stainless; and to the left is prepared every calamity and hardship, vengeance and poverty, and vicissitude unyielding and perpetual. Suppose then that the Faithful Spirit should call out, from the precincts of the Lord of the Worlds, to that one, saying, “Shouldst thou choose the right—with its eternal pleasures and all that is therein—over the left, thou wouldst not, in the estimation of God, be abased in the least; and shouldst thou choose the left—with its perpetual hardships and all that is therein—over the right, it would not add an ounce to thy worth in the sight of the Almighty, the Unconstrained.” Should that one choose, at that moment, the left over the right—afire with ardor and zeal, and filled with rapture and ecstasy—then would he be fit to enter My presence and worthy of hearing My magnificent words.

In this connection, the Tongue of Grandeur* revealed the following poem addressed to His followers:

If thine aim be to cherish thy life, approach not our court;

But if sacrifice be thy heart’s desire, come and let others come with thee

For such is the way of faith, if in thy heart thou seekest reunion with Bahá;

Shouldst thou refuse to tread this path, why trouble us? Begone! [2]

In the same vein, the Dove of Eternity* has warbled thus in the gardens of the Qasídiy-i-Varqáʼíyyih [3]:

Thou didst desire a hopeless union, the

condition for which Thou must satisfy:

Thou must drain every cup of fate’s ordeals;

thy heart must spew the blood of tyranny.

Thou must cut off all hope of comfort’s touch;

Thou must renounce every necessity.

Thy duty is to shed blood in love’s faith;

a love-scorched soul is fealty to Me.

Nights spent awake at slanderer’s attacks,

a constant stream of insults all the days;

In My faith poison’s as a healing drink;

in My Path, fate’s wrath is a tender grace.

Cease claiming to love, or accept all this,

For thus was it ordained in My Law’s scroll. [4]

And in the same connection, He has said:

Should a person not see himself swimming in a sea of blood, and yet claim to love Me, he would be utterly bereft of sincerity.

The Second Treasure

When the Lord of Men,* the Causer of Causes,* had concluded His first utterance, He addressed that same questioner, saying:

Dost thou know what My purpose is in coming to this world and in proclaiming My Cause amongst the peoples? I will say it that thou shalt know. I have come to establish openly—through the strength and power of God—justice, protection, trustworthiness, and piety in every corner of this world, which is so replete with defilement, and in which the oppression of the oppressors and the treachery of the treacherous have sealed shut the door of tranquility to all creation. These I shall establish in such wise that a woman secluded behind the veil—to a ray of whose beauty even the sun itself would fail to compare, and whose virtue and beauty are without like or peer; a woman adorned with every precious gem, and bedecked with ornaments incalculable even to them that are endued with understanding—can step out from behind that veil with manifest splendor and travel, alone and without guardian or escort, from the uttermost corners of the East to the uttermost ends of the West. She would, indeed, be a wayfarer in every land and a traveler in every region. The state of trustworthiness, piety, equity, and justice—free of any treachery, baseness, injustice, and oppression—will be such that not a single rapacious hand would stretch out to encroach upon her riches, nor would one look of perfidy, perversity, or passion fall upon the beauty of her purity. Indeed, with a heart unsullied and countenance filled with joy, she would conclude her journey through every land and return to her native home.

He then said:

I will, through the power of God, fashion the world in this very way, and this greatest portal will be opened before the faces of all men. It is in this connection that the Supreme Pen hath revealed, “Erelong wilt thou behold the earth as the Most Glorious Paradise.”

The Third Treasure

Concerning the subjects of pure motives, deeds sanctified in every way, living only for the sake of God, and having one’s gaze ever fixed upon God—Who is rich in Himself and independent of all that is not of Him—the Tongue of Grandeur* gave an allegory, which was even as a limpid wine sealed in the vessel of purity, majesty, and glory. With it, He addressed the entire creation, quenching the thirst of them who wander in a desert devoid of truthfulness and sincerity:

Suppose there is a rich man, who possesseth a wealth so incalculable that it exceedeth even the number of people on this earth, and a poor man, whose indigence is as extreme as the affluence of the rich man. Suppose then that, with generosity and beneficence, the rich man gradually giveth so much of his wealth to the poor man that it doth revert that rich one to his own initial state of poverty. Consequently, as fate would have it, the formerly rich man now oweth a meager sum to another, yet this is a debt he is unable to pay. In the markets and in the streets, people arise to punish and torment him, and his deliverance from this state remaineth unimaginable until his debt is paid. It is under these circumstances that the formerly poor man cometh upon the formerly rich man, to whom he oweth his superior wealth. As the gaze of the formerly rich man falleth upon his friend, he thinketh to himself, “Would that this friend of mine remember my charity unto him, that he might rescue me from this plight!” Yet, the very moment the thought “I rendered charity unto him” entered the mind of the formerly rich man, all his good works sank into nothingness. He was, moreover, held back from obtaining the good-pleasure of God, and shut out as by a veil from the true meaning of humanity. In like manner, suppose the formerly poor man—indebted to the formerly rich man for the degree of affluence he now enjoyeth—should think to himself, “How excellent! Because of the infinite kindnesses this man rendered unto me, I am able to rescue him from his hardship and secure his comfort for the remainder of his life.” In thinking that he saved his friend through his kindness or his generosity, and not through humanity alone, this man depriveth himself of the chalice of pure intentions, and—despite the immensity of his wealth—departeth to the valley of eternal baseness and perpetual poverty, unless the beneficence of the formerly rich man be rendered purely out of humanity and strictly for the sake of God, and the act of the formerly poor man be carried out for God alone without consideration of previous or subsequent circumstances. “We nourish your souls for the sake of God; we seek from you neither recompense nor thanks” [5].

Gracious God! Behold the realm wherein the immortal Bird of Eternity* wings His flight, and observe the passion and desire of this mortal lot! Gone are the days when a man would, by simply reciting the declaration of faith, be numbered with the true believers. The time has come when the Ancient Beauty,* seated upon His mighty throne, proclaims unto all that dwell upon the earth:

O wayfarer, O mystic, O lover, O you who have attained unto reunion with the Beloved!

Until His attributes appear in thee,
Know thyself as lost, in separation [6]

Out of Thy benevolence, O God, and by the legitimacy of the Mystery of God, make me a striver in Thy path, purely for Thy sake, who makes mention of Thee and arises only in Thy love. Enable me to reflect all Thine attributes, to be a mirror of Thine essence, to manifest naught but utter servitude, and to be a star of salvation unto others. Make me, moreover, a discerning friend, a dayspring of life, and a servant unto all Thy creatures.

The Fourth Treasure

The Tongue of Glory* then delivered these blessed and consummate words:

Had the community of Islam acted upon two commands from among the utterances of God, all mankind would have been guided aright, reached the realm of His acceptance, and attained unto the pavilion of reunion with Him. That community would not be afflicted with all these spiritual maladies and selfish motives, which prompted them to put to death Him Who is the solace of the eyes of the Prophets, and the apple of the eyes of the Messenger of Baṭḥá [Mecca] and Yathrib [Medina]. [7] They regarded themselves as His followers, who arose in the Name of the Promised Qáʼim, [8] yet they made His pure and radiant body the target of their darts. “O Thou Who art our Lord! Judge between us and our people in truth, for Thou art the best of those who give judgment.” [9] The aforementioned two commands are these: “O ye who believe! Fear God, and be with the sincere ones,” [10] not with them whose hearts are hardened and incapable of the remembrance of God. [11]

In this connection, the Tongue of Grandeur* also said:

Suppose that thou shouldst associate with another over the course of three meetings. If thine influence had no discernible effect on him, thou shouldst undoubtedly avoid his company, for his influence upon thee will, in time, be made manifest.

The Lord of All Creation* continued in this connection:

Suppose there is a man with a keen sense of smell, and a sound and discerning sense of taste. As soon as another man, who guideth others aright, entereth the home of the first man, he findeth the air to be fragrant, the food delicious, and the drink delectable and delightful. Conversely, should a heedless person enter that home, he would find the air unpleasant, and the flavor of the food and drink unpalatable. We seek refuge with God from the wickedness of the heedless! He saith, glorified be His mention: “Treasure the companionship of the righteous and eschew all fellowship with the ungodly.” [12]

The Fifth Treasure

Since the Ancient Beauty* has flung open the doors of joy and glad-tidings before the faces of the people of the world, He has delivered this mighty utterance:

I have come to this world to mine gems. If the tiniest gem be latent within a stone, and if that stone be hidden beneath the seven seas, I shall not cease My work until I have extracted the gem from that stone. He saith, exalted be He: “God, exalted be His glory, hath sent a Trusted One in every age to bring forth Mystic Gems from the mine of man.” [13]

O God! In this state of poverty and degradation, I make mention of Thy hidden treasures; deprive me not thereof. Aid me, then, to perform such acts as beseem Thee. Thou, verily, art the All-Hearing, the Answerer of Prayers.

___________

* All of these titles refer to Bahá’u’lláh.

[1] From the Encyclopedia Iranica: “The public or male quarters of wealthy households, used for the conduct of business, male religious ceremonies, and parties for men.”

[2] An excerpt from the Persian poem Sáqí az Ghayb-i-Baqá, revealed by Bahá’u’lláh in Kurdistán. Translated by Shoghi Effendi in The Dawn-Breakers, p. 96 (Brit.), pp. 137–8 (U.S.).

[3] “The Ode of the Dove,” an Arabic poem revealed by Bahá’u’lláh in Kurdistán.

[4] Qasídiy-i-Varqáʼíyyih, verses 55–61. Translation by Juan Cole; available online.

[5] Qurʼán 76:9.

[6] From Bahá’u’lláh’s Mathnaví-yi-Maʻnaví, verse 288. Translation by Franklin Lewis; available online here. For consistency’s sake, the present translator has altered Lewis’s translation of this couplet to use archaic forms of pronouns.

[7] This is a reference to the Prophet Muḥammad.

[8] This is a reference to the Báb.

[9] Qurʼán 7:89.

[10] Qurʼán 9:119.

[11] This appears to be a paraphrase of Qurʼán 39:22.

[12] Bahá’u’lláh, Persian Hidden Words, #3.

[13] From a tablet by Bahá’u’lláh. English translation published in ʻAbdu’l-Bahá, A Traveller’s Narrative, p. 42. The present translator has altered E.G. Browne’s rendering of this excerpt so that it more closely follows the style used by Shoghi Effendi. Bahá’u’lláh makes a very similar declaration in Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 10: “The purpose of the one true God, exalted be His glory, hath been to bring forth the Mystic Gems out of the mine of man…”