The Beloved Master, Abdul-Bahá, describes the achievements of the twentieth in these words: " Praise be to God! This century is, verily, the spring season. The world of mind and kingdom of soul have become fresh and verdant by its bestowals. It has resuscitated the whole realm of existence. On one hand, the lights of reality are shining; on the other, the clouds of divine mercy are pouring down the fullness of heavenly bounty. Wonderful material progress is evident, and great spiritual discoveries are being made. Truly, this can be called the miracle of centuries, for it is replete with manifestations of the miraculous."1
The unity of the East and West, the Orient and Occident, "is a miracle of the twentieth century which proves that the seemingly impossible may become real and possible in the kingdom of man."2 Abdul-Bahá says, "The East can communicate with the West in a few minutes. This is a miracle transcending natures control."3 And further, "The time has come when all mankind shall be united, when all races shall be loyal to one fatherland, all religions become one religion, and racial and religious bias pass away. It is a day in which the oneness of humankind shall uplift its standard and international peace, like the true morning, flood the world with its light."4
The achievements of the twentieth century have far surpassed the total progress made by man so far. Abdul-Bahá says, " In the estimation of historians this radiant century is equivalent to one hundred centuries of the past. If comparison be made with the sum total of all former human achievements, it will be found that the discoveries, scientific advancement and material civilization of this present century have equalled, yea far exceeded the progress and outcome of one hundred former centuries."5
He continues, "The production of books and compilations of literature alone bears witness that the output of the human mind in this century has been greater and more enlightening than all the past centuries together. It is evident, therefore, that this century is of paramount importance."6
Abdul-Bahá draws our attention towards the main characteristics of the twentieth century in these words: "Reflect upon the miracles of accomplishment which have already characterized it: the discoveries in every realm of human research. Inventions, scientific knowledge, ethical reforms and regulations established for the welfare of humanity, mysteries of nature explored, invisible forces brought into visibility and subjectiona veritable wonder-world of new phenomena and conditions heretofore unknown to man now open to his uses and further investigation."7
In this radiant century "the East and West can communicate instantly. A human being can soar in the skies or speed in submarine depths. The power of steam has linked the continents. Trains cross the deserts and pierce the barriers of mountains; ships find unerring pathways upon the trackless oceans. Day by day discoveries are increasing. What a wonderful century this is! It is an age of universal reformation. Laws and statutes of civil and federal governments are in process of change and transformation. Sciences and arts are being moulded anew. Thoughts are metamorphosed. The foundations of human society are changing and strengthening."8
In the Baháí view, all scientific discoveries and attainments are the outcomes of knowledge and education. Abdul-Bahá explains, "All the marvellous developments and miracles of what we call civilization would have remained hidden, unknown and, so to speak, nonexistent, if man had remained in his natural condition, deprived of the bounties, blessings and benefits of education and mental culture. The intrinsic difference between the ignorant man and the astute philosopher is that the former has not been lifted out of his natural condition, while the latter has undergone systematic training and education in schools and colleges until his mind has awakened and unfolded to higher realms of thought and perception; otherwise, both are human and natural."9
Through education, in this century, man has evolved in all fields of human endeavour. A new age in human evolution has begun for which a new pattern of life is necessary. Abdul-Bahá says, "Today sciences of the past are useless. The Ptolemaic system of astronomy and numberless other systems and theories of scientific and philosophical explanation are discarded, known to be false and worthless. Ethical precedents and principles cannot be applied to the needs of the modern world. Thoughts and theories of past ages are fruitless now. Thrones and governments are crumbling and falling. All conditions and requisites of the past unfitted and inadequate for the present time are undergoing radical reform."10
In keeping with the spirit of the age, religion also has been renewed. All superstitions, dogmas, rituals and harmful traditions must be rejected in this century. In this age of enlightenment, Abdul-Bahá emphasizes that " counterfeit and spurious religious teaching, antiquated forms of belief and ancestral imitations which are at variance with the foundations of divine reality must also pass away and be reformed. They must be abandoned and new conditions be recognized."11
The moral values of humanity must change for the better. Otherwise, these can result in disunity and lead to great disasters. Abdul-Bahá says, "The morals of humanity must undergo change . Just as the thoughts and hypotheses of past ages are fruitless today, likewise dogmas and codes of human invention are obsolete and barren of product in religion. Nay, it is true that they are the cause of enmity and conducive to strife in the world of humanity; war and bloodshed proceed from them, and the oneness of mankind finds no recognition in their observance."12
The Baháí Writings explain that true religion is the cause of love and fellowship in humanity. All religions stress the need for unity while retaining human diversity. Unity of God, Unity of Mankind and Unity of Religions are the three key themes of the Baháí Revelation. The invisible force of God is at work in all efforts towards unity, whether in the scientific, economic, religious or political fields.
Abdul-Bahá calls upon every one to " investigate the essentials of divine religion, seek the realities underlying the oneness of the world of humanity and discover the source of fellowship and agreement which will unite mankind in the heavenly bond of love." He warns " if we remain fettered and restricted by human inventions and dogmas, day by day the world of mankind will be degraded, day by day warfare and strife will increase and satanic forces converge toward the destruction of the human race."13
The miracles of the twentieth centurythe great progress made in all fields of human endeavour as well as the revolutions in the fields of science, technology and communicationshould, therefore, help the peoples of the world in living with each other in unity and peace. If such a state were to be achieved, it would fulfil the prophecies of all Prophets that predict the ultimate unity of mankind. This would be the realization of the Hindu ideal of Vasudhaiva-Katumbakam (the whole of humanity is but one family) as well as the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth, as foretold by Christ.
NOTES AND REFERENCES
1. Abdul-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 153.
2. ibid., p. 101.
3. ibid. pp. 351-2.
4. ibid., p. 153.
5. ibid., p. 143.
8. ibid., p. 144.
9. ibid., p. 309-10.
10. ibid., p. 144.