Baha'u'llah lived in Persia. He was a wonderful person. His hair was black and His beard was black. He had happy, laughing eyes, and He made everybody happy because He loved them so much. He rode on horseback and He was brave and strong. He was just like a king.
His wife was called Navvab. Her hair was black and her eyes were dark blue. She was very beautiful. Her heart was so pure and she was so gentle. She loved everybody and she made them happy too.
Baha'u'llah and His wife were very rich. They had three children. The eldest was a boy named 'Abbas Effendi, and He was nine years old. When He grew up He was called 'Abdu'l-Baha. The next was a little girl named Bahiyyih Khanum, and she was six. When she grew up she was called the Greatest Holy Leaf. And the smallest was a little boy named Mirza Mihdi, and he was two. When he grew up he was called the Purest Branch.
They all lived in a big house that looked like a palace and had many servants. One maid-servant was black. One man-servant was named Isfandiyar. The black maid-servant and Isfandiyar loved Baha'u'llah and His family more than all the others did.
The house was full of beautiful things. There were Persian rugs, and gold ornaments and fine hangings. When Navvab had married Baha'u'llah her wedding treasures were so great that it took forty mules to carry them to the house. Her clothes were so pretty, even the buttons were of gold set with precious stones. The children wore beautiful clothes too.
In those days all the men in Persia wore a special sort of coat, it was called an 'aba, and Baha'u'llah wore an 'aba. He wore a turban too.
In those days all the ladies in Persia wore veils and big, dark cloaks that covered them all up. When Navvab went visiting she wore one of those big cloaks and a veil, and she travelled in a covered seat on the back of a mule. A mule is like a big donkey.
Whenever Navvab or the children went out a servant always went with them. There were no cars or buses in those days, everybody travelled on horseback, or on mules or donkeys, or walked.
Baha'u'llah and His wife were kind to everybody. They were especially kind to poor people who were cold and hungry. They gave them food and other things. No one was turned away. Because of their exceptional generosity, Baha’u’llah and Navvab became known as “The Father of Poor” and “The Mother of Consolation”.
Many important people came to their spacious house. The men came to see Baha'u'llah and the women and children came to see Navvab. The house was always a busy place. The three children, 'Abbas Effendi, Bahiyyih Khanum and Mirza Mihdi, were happy there, with their loving parents. Sometimes the family went to their house in the country. 'Abbas Effendi and Bahiyyih Khanum especially liked that, because they could play in the beautiful gardens. There were many kinds of wonderful fruits and flowers and flowering trees in the gardens.
One day, when Navvab and the children were at home in their main house, something dreadful happened. A servant came rushing in and said: 'The Master, the Master, He is arrested - I have seen Him! He has walked many miles! Oh, they have beaten Him! They say He has suffered the torture of the bastinado! His feet are bleeding! He has no shoes on! His turban has gone! His clothes are torn. There are chains upon His neck!'
Navvab's face grew whiter and whiter. The children were terribly frightened and wept bitterly. Immediately everybody, all their relations, and friends, and servants fled in terror. Only the man-servant, Isfandiyar, and the black maid-servant remained.
Their house was very soon stripped of everything. The carpets, the velvet pillows, the treasures, all were stolen by the people who came swarming in.
The children's paternal uncle Mirza Musa helped Navvab and the three children to escape from the house into hiding. She was able to save a few of her marriage treasures, and that was all that was left of all their vast possessions. Some of these things were sold, and with the money Navvab was able to pay the gaolers to allow her to send food to Baha'u'llah in the prison.
Now their Father was in the prison and the children lived with their mother in a little house that was very far from the prison.
The prison was not a nice place. It wasn’t like any ordinary prison. It was an underground dungeon. It was dark and dirty. And it was full of bad people, murderers and highway robbers. But amongst all these bad people there were forty wonderful people, they were Bábís, followers of the Báb. Baha'u'llah also believed in the Báb. The Bábís and Baha'u'llah had been put into that horrible prison because two half-crazy young Bábís had tried to shoot the Shah after the Báb was executed. The Shah was the king of Persia.
Baha'u'llah was kept in the prison for four months. But although it was such a horrible place, He had a wonderful experience there. Later on He told us about it in His Own words. He said:
“During the days I lay in the prison of Tihran, though the galling weight of the chains and the stench filled air allowed Me but little sleep, still in those infrequent moments of slumber I felt as if something flowed from the crown of My head over My breast, even as a mighty torrent that precipitateth itself upon the earth from the summit of a lofty mountain.”
Have you ever seen water rushing down the side of a mountain? That is how Baha'u'llah felt, as though water were rushing down a high mountain. That was a very important moment, the moment when Baha'u'llah knew from God that He had a special mission for the whole world. But just then it was not the time to tell anybody about it, so Baha'u'llah said nothing.
When He was released from the prison, Baha'u'llah and His family were sent into exile. That means that they had to leave Persia, go away and never come back.
(Adapted from ‘Stories of Baha’u’llah as told by Pokka’, by Betty Reed’)