Esperanto
Author: David Poulson


The Convert: Lidia Zamenhof and the Bahai Faith

Author: David Poulson
Published on: April 14, 2000

"The Earth is but one country and mankind its citizens." Baha'u'llah.
"Treat the human race as one family." L.L. Zamenhof

In the last Esperanto Topic article, I wrote a 12- point summary of Dr Zamenhof's personal philosophy, the ethical system which he called Homaranismo. The next thing I want to do is to compare this with the main principles of the Bahai faith, which, as far as I understand it, can also be summarized in 12 main points as follows.

1 The essential unity of the human race.
2 All religion has a common foundation.
3 Religion is the cause of unity.
4 Religion must be consistent with scientific and rational thought.
5 Independent investigation of the truth.
6 The equality of women and men.
7 The abolition of prejudice.
8 Peace for everyone.
9 Education for everyone.
10 A universal auxiliary language.
11 A spiritual solution of economic problems.
12 An international tribunal.

The first point in this list corresponds to Zamenhof's idea that the human race should be treated as one family. The seventh point is more or less the same as Zamenhof's view that we should not judge any individual according to his racial origin but according to his behaviour and actions. And point ten, the need for a universal auxiliary language is obviously common to both sets of principles.

Point eight above does not have a corresponding dot point in the summary of Homarismo. But it is well-known that Zamenhof wished for peace among hostile nationswhich decent person does not?and he fully recognised the importance and value of education in the battle against ignorant prejudice and the destructive consequences of irrational hatred.. Finally, there is some agreement between point 4 above and Zamenhof's belief that your own religion ought to be a matter of personal choice and not something forced on you by your ethnic background.

So half of the principles listed above match views held by Dr. Zamenhof. But after that it seems to me I that the two systems begin to diverge. The Bahai faith moves in a direction which I would describe as spiritual, even mystical, while Homarismo shows that Zamenhof belongs to an ancient and honourable line of humanistic thinkers.

Initially, Lidia probably shared her father's views and was not sympathetic to any religion but given the extent to which the basic principles of the Bahai faith matched those of Homarismo, she probably found it easy to listen courteously to the proselyting of Martha Root. But, as Lidia grew older, she became first a sympathiser and then a fervent convert to Bahai and, indeed, showed in her writings and her speeches that she herself had a very strong spiritual or mystical side to her nature. For clear evidence of this, see in particular:

"Man and Mankind on the Way of Progress"

This is a translation of a talk given by Lidia Zamenhof during the 23rd International Esperanto Conference held in Cracow, Poland in August 1931. You will find it at David Pardue's site with a number of other useful Web resources, all very helpful for anyone wishing to find out more about Bahai and its connection with Esperanto. You will also find some stylish translations which Lidia made from the Polish writer Henryk Sienkiewicz. Here is a partial list of the material which David Pardue has put together..

Articles about the Bahai faith in English and Esperanto.

"La Bahaa Filozofio"
An article written by Lidia Zamenhof, taken from The Baha'i World

"Bahaismo, la religio de paco"
Another article written by Lidia Zamenhof, first published in 1931.

"Baha'u'llah kaj la Nova Epoko"
A lecture given by Roan Orloff Stone in 1974.

"Baha'u'llah and the New Era"
English translation of the item above

The Baha'i Faith and Universal Language
An article written by Arild J. Pettersen, which appeared in Language in Religion. Ed. Humphrey Tonkin and Allison Armstrong Keef. Papers of the Center for Research and Documentation on World Language Problems 1: Lanham, Md., Univ. Press of America, 1989.

Translations from literary works made by Lidia Zamenhof

Lux in tenebris lucet
La maljuna servisto
Dioklo
Estu benita!

Four stories by Henryk Sienkiewicz (1846-1916), a famous Polish writer who received the Nobel prize for literature in 1905.

All of the above items can be located by following this link

Other useful resources can be located at these links:

1. The Bahai Faith and Esperanto

2. Search results

3. The Bahai Faith: Basic facts
http://www.warble.com/Bahai/BasicFacts/basictext.html

4. Bahaanoj kaj Esperantistoj

In fact, as you will see if you follow these links, there is so much material available in both English and Esperanto on the subject of Bahai that I can now leave this aspect of Lidia's life and move on to other things. So I propose to leave Lidia altogether for now, knowing that her life story is still incomplete, and investigate instead another little-known religion which also has very strong links with Esperanto. In fact, I think that the Esperanto connection may even be stronger than that of Bahai! Please join me next time to learn a little about Oomoto and judge for yourself.

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