Our Daily Bread: Not Purely Pure

Bahá’u’lláh’s letter to Mánikchí Ṣáḥib is noteworthy for being one of his few “pure Persian” compositions, but it is not purely pure. In fact, the closing passage, a prayer for forgiveness, is written in Arabic. This would not have made much difference to the addressee, because he was a Parsee, and probably spoke only Hindi and Gujarati. The only difference it might have made is that it may have required an extra translator.

I have no idea whom the prayer asks forgiveness for, if it’s actually asking at all.

Since the prayer is omitted from all English translations of the letter, and because this makes me curious as to what this omission consists of, and because I’m generally curious about everything relating to Zoroastrians, I’ve taken a stab at a rough translation, which is bound to remain an unfinished hack. The prayer begins as follows:

اى ربّ أستغفرک بلسانى و قلبى و نفسى و فؤادى
و روحى و جسدى و جسمى و عظمى و دمى و جلدى ،
و إنّک أنت التّوّاب الرّحيم

O Lord! Thou forgiveth with my tongue, and my heart, and my soul, and my heart, and my spirit, and my body, and my flesh, and my bone, and my [دم], and my skin; verily Thou art the Relenting, the Compassionate.

It’s been over twenty years since I tried to read anything in Arabic. I’ve asked Juan Cole if he ever finished translating the letter, but he’s not got back to me yet. I don’t hold it against him. He’s got bigger fish to fry.

Just in case anyone out there wishes to help me with this, here’s the rest of the prayer. It’s basically a refrain of the form “Thou forgiveth, O my God … Thou forgiveth, O my King … Thou forgiveth, O my Pardoner …,” and ends with two of the 99 names of God, “the Almighty, the All-Knowing.”

و أستغفرک يا إلهى باستغفار
الّذى به تهبّ روائح الغفران على أهل العصيان و به
تُلبس المذنبين من رداء عفوک الجميل . و أستغفرک يا
سلطانى باستغفار الّذى به يظهر سلطان عفوک و عنايتک
و به يستشرق شمس الجود و الافضال على هيکل المذنبين
و أستغفرک يا غافرى و موجدى باستغفار الّذى به يُسر عَنّ
الخاطئون الى شطر عفوک و احسانک و يقومنّ المريدون
لدى باب رحمتک الرّحمن الرّحيم . و أستغفرک يا سيّدى
باستغفار الّذى جعلتَه ناراً لتُحرق کلّ الذّنوب و العصيان
عن کلّ تائب راجع نادم باکى سليم و به يَطهُر اجساد
الممکنات عن کدورات الذّنوب و الآثام و عن کلّ ما
يکرهه نفسُک العزيز العليم

Source: Daryay-e-Danesh, pages 9-10.

3 comments on “Our Daily Bread: Not Purely Pure

  1. Sen McGlinn says:

    “damii” here must be ‘my blood’

  2. Hi Dan,

    There’s quite a bit of background information on the tablet at Baha’i Library Online – Tablet to Mánikchí Sáhib. There is a very brief mention of the untranslated prayer “appended at the end of the tablet”.

    ka kite (no, that’s not a prayer)

  3. Dan Jensen says:

    Thanks, Steve and Sen.

    One trivial correction: Manikchi probably spoke English as well, given the close relations that existed between the Parsees and the British.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *