A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE Bahá'í FAITH IN ANDHRA PRADESH
The Bahá'í Faith was first introduced to Andhra Pradesh in early 1920's by Mr. Mahmood Zarghani-a Persian Bahá'í and one of the secretaries of the Beloved Master 'Abdu'l-Bahá. It is reported that he stayed in Hyderabad for a period of about two years and besides teaching the nascent faith to the natives, finalised the manuscript of his book Baday'ul-Asar which was later printed in Bombay and contained an historical account of the talks and travels of 'Abdu'l-Bahá in the west. At about the same time, another Persian Bahá'í Mr Samat Shakibai came and settled in Hyderabad after consultations with the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Bombay. It was, however, not until 1942 9almost 20 years later) that the first Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Hyderabad was formed.
The first Bahá'í pioneers to settle in Secunderabad, who a;ose to serve the Cause of God in response to the call of the beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, in early 1940s, were Mrs and Mr Rustom Farudi. They arrived in Secunderabad on November 13, 1942 from Poona. At that time there was no Bahá'í Centre in Secunderabad and the centre of Bahá'í activities was a rented house in Chirag-Ali lane, Hyderabad Prof. Abdul Aziz, Nawab Amin Jung Bahadur, and a few other Bahá'í friends were, at that time, taking keen interest in spreading the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh - the Founder of the Bahá'í Faith. Soon after their arrival, the Farudi family was well established in Secunderabad and gradually their home became the centre of activities for the Bahá'ís. As a result of their continued efforts to teach the Bahá'í Cause the first Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Secunderabad was formed, only a year after their arrival, in 1943. The Farudis purchased their own house in 1956 and gave their residence (the present Bahá'í Centre, 2541, Rashtrapathi road, Secunderabad) to the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Secunderabad with a request to convert it into the Bahá'í Centre for the city of Secunderabad. Meanwhile, the Local Spiritual Assemblies of Hyderabad and Secunderabad merged together to form what was then known as the Mother Local Spiritual Assembly for the Bahá'ís of the whole of Andhra Pradesh.
It must be mentioned here, however, that throughout this time (1920s-40s). Bahá'ís from within and outside India kept on visiting the twin cities and greatly assisted the local believers in their efforts to promulgate the Bahá'í Cause to all within their teach. Prominent among the Bahá'í visitors to Andhra Pradesh during this time were : Ms Martha Root, an American Bahá'í, who met many prominent Ministers in the Ministry of the erstwhile Nizam as also Mrs. Sarojini Naidu, the great poetess-patriot, of Hyderabad ; Mrs Fozdar, a Bahá'í from Parsi back- ground, who is at present in Singapore and is a well-known worker for the cause of women there; and Dr. Lukmani, an Indian Bahá'í from Muslim background, who in fact stayed in Hyderabad for some tome and later left for Sri Lanka as a Bahá'í pioneer. He later became a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís Sri Lanka. In appreciation of his valuable services. Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, honoured him with the title 'Feteh-e-Ceylon' (Conqueror of Ceylon). During 1950s and 1960s many Hands of the Cause of God to visited Hyderabad. Mr Horace Holly, a great scholar and author of many Bahá'í books visited Hyderabad in 1953 and Mr Jalal Khazah and 'Amatu'l-Bahá Ruhiyyih Khannum (wife of Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith) visited the twin cities in 1962 and 1964 respectively. Afterwards, Hands of the Cause Mr Tarazu'llah Samandari and Dr. Mohajer as well the famous Bahá'í scholar Mr Ishraghi Khavari also visited the State.
The Bahá'í pioneers thus assisted by eminent Bahá'í teachers continued to propagate the Bahá'í Faith to all whom they could reach. Their efforts were supplemented in 1969 by the arrival, on the scene, of two dynamic young men-Mr Moghaddas and - Mr B. Afshin. During their time, (in early 1970's) the Bahá'í activities were taken out of the confines of the twin cities and extended to the surrounding towns and villages. It was nearly at this time that four Bahá'í centres were built by Farudi Family on the sites donated by local believers in the villages of Raj Bolaram, Jeedipallym Aushapur and Chitkul. The first of these centres at Raj Bolaram was inaugurated by Counsellor Mrs Zena Sorabjee in 1971. Regular Bahá'í deepening classes were held in all these Village level Bahá'í Centres at that time.
The Inaugural function of the first village level Bahá'í Centre at Raj Bolaram. seen sitting in the picture are (from left to right) Prof. Chaturvedi, Counsellors Mrs Zena Sorabjee and Mr B, Afshin, Mr. Farudi is at the mike.
The Bahá'í activities received a further boost when Mr. Narayan Swami, a Bahá'í worker from Mysore, shifted his residence to Andhra Pradesh in order to assist the Bahá'ís of Andhra Pradesh to extend their teaching activities. Mr Swami had a good command on the Telugu language and was, therefore, instrumental in training many local Bahá'í teachers. He also took up the editing work of the first. Bahá'í magazine "Pradha." This Bahá'í magazine was then being published by the first Regional Teaching Committee of Andhra Pradesh.
A Bahá'í gathering in the twin cities in early 1970's
Meanvhile, the remarkable and dedicated efforts made by Mr. Afshin and Mr. Moghaddas resulted in the bringing of many intellectuals to the fold of Bahá'u'lláh. Further, the now well known Bahá'ís of Andhra Pradesh like late Mr. Ramswami, late Mr Raja Bahadur and Prof. and Mrs. B. N. chaturvedi. who had accepted the Faith earlier became active during this time. Mr Afsh.n and Mr. Moghad das left Hyderabad within a few years to serve the Cause else-where, but the teaching work they had initiated was continued by Messers Kudrat Vatan Khan, Asad Asadyari, Faridum Yazdani, Saifullah, Bejan Talibreza, Mehartash Azmi and Mahnaz Azmi. At this time there were a good number of Bahá'í women workes in Hyderabad. The names of Mr Ruhiyyih Faurdi, Ms Meherangiz Mehrshai (now a Bahá'í pioneer to Lio/a, West Africa), Mrs Ravinder, Mrs C. Pritabha Mishra are worth mentioning for their outstand- ing services to the Bahá'í Faith. It is interesting to note that during this time an active Bahá'í young lady Ms Parvana Faroughi was the Secretary both to the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Hyderabad and Secunderabad and the Bahá'í State Teaching Committee of Andhra Pradesh.
The Local Bahá'í youth, who had achieved an understanding of their role in the development of the Faith by this time, increase their activities considerably. The Local Youth Committe of the time raised funds which it utilized to construct two Bahá'í Centres in Mokila and Kalvakunta villages.
In 1975, the first Intra-State Bahá'í conference was held in Andhra Pradesh where funds were also pooled to purchase a Haziratu'l-Quds (Bahá'í Centre) for the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. In the same year, due to the efforts of Prof. B. N. Chaturvedi many well- known Bahá'í scholars were invited to deliver Bahá'í massage to the students of Osmania University Mrs. Zena Sorabjee was invited twice and Dr Munje once to speak on the Bahá'í Faith. These lectures were attended in large numbers by the students and much appreciated.
time Mr K. V. S. Narayana and Mr. K. N. Omprakash were making utmost efforts to reach the Bahá'í message to their brothers and sisters in Andhra Pradesh. They were assisted in their efforts by the Rohani family who were then partly living in Warangal and partly in Hyderabad. The Bahá'í activities were catching up in many districts of Andhra Pradesh by this time. Mr Rambabu, a physically handicapped Bahá'í was one of the first to develop the Bahá'í Faith in his village. Later, he became the first local believer to translate a Bahá'í book 'Vasudhaive Kutambakam' by Dr Munje into Telugu Mr. Vithal Reddy was an active Bahá'í worker at the village level then. Mr. Venugopal became the first Bahá'í to settle in Vijayawada and enrolled a few Bahá'ís there. After a short while two Persian pioneers Mr. Farhang Farudy and his brother Feroz also settled in Vijayawada. They were able to further consolidate the Faith in Vijayawada and surrounding areas with the help of Mr. Ramanujappa who was then a full time Assistant to one of the Auxiliary Board Members in the State.
In early 1977, Dr. Paranjyoti, an ex-Person came from Karnataka and settled in Kuppam. He did marvellous work in establishing the Bahá'í Faith there and was soon appointed an Auxiliary Board Member for propagation. In the same year, Mr.Z. Muniabdi, who had originally gone to Kuppam to lead a unit of South India Project, decided to settle down there along with his family. He was appointed an Auxiliary Board Member when Dr. Paramjyoty left Kuppam to serve the Cause as a home-front pioneer to Shillong.
In 1978, Miss Seema became the first Bahá'í pioneer to settle in Guntur. She was soon joined by Ms Priya and some other Persian pioneers. Mr. Sambasiva Rao and Mr. Satyanarayana started taking keen interest in the State wide Bahá'í activities. They functioned from the State Bahá'í Institute, Secunderbad. While, during the
A picture of one of the earlier Bahá'í Local Youth committees of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.
At about the same time, a Bahá'í Teaching Project was launched by the State Teaching Committee in the various districts of Andhra pradesh. At a Regional Teaching Conference in Hyderabad held in this connection, a young Bahá'í from Singapore Mr. G. S. Santhanam Krishnan volunteered with some other Bahá'í friends to teach the Faith in an interior tribal area in Warangal. When the call for funds was made he gave his watch then all his money and finally his sandals he, then, proceeded with the team to Warangal where they had some success but Krishnan soon fell ill. However, such was his devotion to the Cause of God that he kept on teaching fill his last moments in the tribal areas. Finally, when he had become extremely sick and suffered total physical exhaustion, he was admitted to the University Hospital there and succumbed to an internal haemorrhage which took his life on December 6, 1975. "In his small battered suitcase were found only Bahá'í books and note-books containing quotations from the Bahá'í Writings and carefully transcribed prayers. 'We were grieved to learn.' wrote the Universal House of Justice on December 22, 1975, 'of the passing of the devoted, brave and steadfast pioneer, Mr. S. Krishnan. In his life time he has established a link between Bahá'í Communities in India and Singapore. This bond of love and cooperation between your two countries will be further strengthened by his passing. We shall offer prayers at the Holy Shrines that the mercy of Bahá'u'lláh may rest upon his soul.' Mr. Krishnan's remains were buried with all Bahá'í honours at the Bahá'í Cemetery near Parsigutta, Secunderabad.
In 1976, Mr. B. Afshin (who was though not residing in Andhra Pradesh at that time but was still an Auxiliary Board Member for the area) became a Counsellor and Mr. P. Fazli settled in Hyderabad with his family as an Auxiliary Board Member for Protection for the whole of Andhra Pradesh. Soon he was joined by Mr Soroosh Fanaian who was till then a pioneer in Visakhapatnam. At the same same year, Mr Lakshmi Kantam, a home front pioneer settled i Kurnool. Besides continuing his education he was successfully able to spread the message of Bahá'u'lláh among the natives there. Back home in Secunderabad, the State Bahá'í Institute, where the present function is being held, was acquired and Mrs Colombowala had been instrumental in organizing the first Bahá'í Women Committee in Andhra Pradesh.
In 1979, a Bahá'í News Bureau was established in Warangal by the efforts of Mr Parsuramlu and Mr. Nasir Rohani through the encouragement and inspiration of the Bahá'í State Teaching Committee of Andhra Pradesh. The first Bahá'í news letter called 'Bahá'í Vartalu' was launched. It was editted by Mr Parsuramlu and mailed to all the Bahá'ís in the State. Gradually "Bahá'í Vartalu' grew into a very popular Bahá'í newspaper and was printed in 10,000 copies. The Bahá'í News Bureau, which is now shifted to Hyderabad has been successful in establishing contact with most of the major newspapers of Andhra Pradesh (and many minor papers too) and keeps them informed of the latest events which take place in the Bahá'í world.
Thus 1970's saw the establishment and consolidation of most of the Bahá'í Institutions which exist in Andhra Pradesh today. It was also during these years that a concrete wall was constructed and a well dug at the Bahá'í Gulistan (Cemetrey) Secunderabad and two young Bahá'ís from Iran, Miss Seema and Miss Mina Shahim Ain settled in Vijay Wada.
A grand function was held in 1980 at Dwaraka Hotel, Hyderabad to mark the occasion of Bahá'í Centenary Celebrations. Many eminent Bahá'ís, members of the National Spiritual Assembly of India, and Ministers in the then Government of Andhra Pradesh took part in the function. At that time it was also decided to establish a college at the Saidabad land. Efforts are still being made to achieve this goal.
In the same year, Dr Munje was appointed a representative of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'í of India for Andhra Pradesh. He extensively toured the whole State and conducted Bahá'í deepening classes at various places. A public function, on a large scale, was orgainised at Kurnool to reach the Bahá'í teachings to the masses. The function was presided over by the then District Collector and addressed by Dr Munje and Prof. Chaturvedi. A Press conference was also held.
In January 1981, in a meeting of Vice Chancellors of the Indian Universities in Hyderabad, Dr Munje presented a paper 'Moulders of Mind and Unfolders of Hidden Genius' which contained Bahá'í views on the three types of education - divine, human, and material. The meeting was presided over by the then Education Minister and attended by 81 Vice Chancellors and 30 Heads of the various Departments of Osmania University. In the same year, Mr Ramanujappa raised the first Bahá'í School in the State in Nuna Village in Vijaya- wada district. Soon after, he established the second Bahá'í school in Numbur village in Guntur district. The main event of the year 1981 , however, was a visit to Andhra Pradesh by Mr Hooshmand Fatehazam - a member of the Supreme Bahá'í body today - 'The Universal House of Justice.' He was the first member of the Universal House of Justice to visit the State and the Bahá'í community of Andhra Pradesh was privileged to hold consultations with him regarding the future of the Bahá'í Faith in the State.
In 1982, a young man from Bangalore, Mr. N. Krishnan, accepted the Cause of God in Hyderabad (perhaps by a strange coincidence of fate) and within a short time of a few months arose to pioneer to Sikkim. He is, at present, the Treasurer of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Sikkim and the Editor of the English section of "Bahai Sikkim".
Back home in Andhra Pradesh, the State Teaching Committee continued its efforts to publish more and more literature in Telugu. In 1983, at a formal function organised by the committee, the present Finance Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Mr. N, Bhaskara Rao, inaugurated the first Bahá'í magazine for children in Telugu entitied 'Varqa'. The Committee also decided to raise the number of Bahá'í schools through out the State. For this purpose, a Bahá'í School Committee was appointed (a few months back) which has already taken over the management of all the Bahá'í schools in Andhra Pradesh. It has also been successful in establishing yet anther Bahá'í school in Nidamamur village near Vijayawada. The Bahá'í School committee hopes to establish three more schools in vijayawada and Gunture districts in the near future.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mr. Anil Sarwal accepted the Bahá'í faith in 1974 in Chandigarh. Since then he has been an active Bahá'í and has served as an executive member on various Bahá'í Committees in India. He was the Secretary of the State Teaching Committee of the Bahá'ís of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh during the years 1976-78. Later he pioneered to Sikkim and was appointed Auxiliary Board Member fro Protection for the State by the Continental Board of Counsellors for South central Asia for about two years. In 1980, he was elected on the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Sikkim and served as its Treasurer till he came to Hyderabad in 1981 for continuing his higher education. It is worth mentioning here that, while in Sikkim, he received the first prize for writing an essay on 'National Integration' from the then President of India, Sri Neelam Sanjiva Reddy.
Mr Sarwal has written many articles on the various aspects of the Bahá'í Faith. He was also the Founder-Editor of the first Bahá'í newspaper. of Sikkim 'Bahá'í Sikkim'.
At present Mr Sarwal is a Research Fellow at the central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, and Chairman of Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Hyderabad and Secunderabd.
- Prof. B. N. Chaturvedi, Vice-Chairman, Bahá'í Spiritual Assembly.
The State Teaching committee has received three communications from the Universal House of Justice in 1983 in appreciation of their work regarding (i) the publication of Varqa Children's Magazine in Telugu, (ii) the printing of the revised edition of 'The New Garden' in Telugu by a non-Bahá'í publisher; and (iii) the exemption of State Bahá'í Institute from property taxes by the Government of Andhra Pradesh.
THE PRESENT STATUS OF THE BAHÁ'Í FAITH IN ANDHRA PRADESH
1. BAHÁ'Í INSTITUTIONS
State Teaching Committee of Andhra Pradesh
(State Baha'i Institue,9-1-97, Tate Chari Compound, Secunderabad 500025.) 1
Auxiliary Board Members 3
Bahá'í State Youth Committee 1
Bahá'í State Women Committee 1
Bahá'í Area Teaching Committees 14
Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assemblies 248
Bahá'í Local Youth Committee 1
Bahá'í Local Women Committee 1
2. BAHÁ'Í GROUPS, CENTRES AND LOCALITIES
Bahá'í Groups 1155
Bahá'í Isolated Centres 345
Bahá'í Localities 1749
3. BAHÁ'Í BOOKS IN TELUGU 15
4. BAHÁ'Í PERIODICALS IN TELUGU 3
5. BAHÁ'Í PROPERTIES
Owned Bahá'í Centres in cities. 2
Owned Bahá'í Centres in village 7
Rented Bahá'í Centres in villages. 7
Bahá'í Cemetery land 1
105 acre leased land for educational purposes at Saidabad, Secunderabad. 1
6. BAHÁ'Í SCHOOLS
STC owned Bahá'í Schools 3
Schools run by individual Bahá'ís under the supervision of STC. 3
I am highly grateful to all the Bahá'ís in the twin cities who have assisted me in compiling the above history. To Prof. B. N. Chaturvedi, Mr Samat Shakibai, Mrs and Mr. R. Farudi, Mr. Rohani and Mrs Fanaian, I owe special thanks for providing me with valuable and relevant information. Further, Mr Ravinder Auluck has worked with me day in and day out and has been instrumental in reaching me to the appropriate people and places for collecting much factual information presented in this work. I am indebted to the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Hyderabad and Secunderabad, who not only encouraged me to undertake this difficult task of writing the history of the Bahá'í Faith in Andhra Pradesh, but have also generously given me permission to print it in this Souvenir.
Notes and References
1. A title; literally 'Servant of Glory'.
2. Literally 'New Creation'.
3. At that time, the LSA of Bombay was functioning as the Mother Spiritual Assembly for the whole of India because NSA of the Baha is India had yet not been formed.
4. The Baha,i faith.
5. During the Nizam's period and till some time later Hyderabad and Secunderabad officially had two municipalities.
6. A professor at Jamaia Osmania then; later the Principal of Technical college.
7. A home Minister in the Nizam's Court
8. Literally 'Glory of God;' 'Vishnu Yasha' in Hindi.
9. Refer to 5 above
10. A designation bestowed upon a few distinguished Bahá'ís by Bahá'u'lláh, 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi
11. Later a member of the NSA of Bangladesh
12. Now settled in Panchagni (Maharashtra)/ A member of the Continental Board of counsellors
13. Formed in 1969.
14. Then, Head, Department of Geography, Osmania University; has been a member of the LSA of the Bahá'ís of the twin cities for many years now.
15. Treasurer of the LSA of the Bahá'ís of the twin cities for almost 10 years now.
16. Established in early 1970's
17. First formed in 1969.
18 Author of many Bahá'í Books, and a member of the Continental Board of Counsellors for many years now.
19. A distinguished Bahá'í Scholar and member, NSA, India for many years.
20. Bahá'í world volume, 1976.
21. An Institution of the Learned appointed by the continental Board of Counsellors.
23. Presently, Chairman, Bahá'í State Teaching Committee, A.P.
24. A piece of one and a half acre land acquired in 1950's
25. Bahá'í World Centre, in Holy land (Haifa), Israel
26. 'Pigeon' in English.
27. This was the first time a Bahá'í book had been printed, on commercial basis, by a non-Bahá'í publisher in India. 28. Information as provided by the Secretary, Bahá'í State teaching committee of Andhra Pradesh.