The Tree of Peace and the Coming of Bahá'u'llah
First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #2
Bahá'í National Center: Wilmette, Illinois, USA
March 25–27, 1994
(see list of papers from #2)
Deganawida, known by Many simply as the Great Peacemaker, was the 15th century prophet whose divine inspiration founded the Six Nations Confederacy. This Confederacy, hailed as one of history's greatest achievements, was the primogenitor of the government of the United States of America. This country founded its constitution upon the principles of government that were the genius of Deganawida. He was a supernal spring of virtue and statesmanship.
Many are the people who relate the genesis of the American democracy to the united nations of the Iroquois. They believe this by virtue of the close political associations of people such as Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, with the sachem (chiefs) of the Iroquois. But little consideration enters that picture of a God-sent bounty upon this land. A new light will shine on this picture as some of the spiritual points of the revelation of Deganawida are brought forth. Thus will we see that He did not merely establish a form of government, but rather did He establish a peace among nations that is pan of a divine purpose for mankind. The claim of Deganawida perhaps will find its greatest expression in the words of Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas: "Think not that We have revealed unto you a mere code of laws. Nay, rather, We have unsealed the choice Wine with the fingers of might and power .... "
Deganawida sought at all times, while civilizing the minds of His listeners, to call man back to God. He bestowed this Divine Wisdom In the form of a message which He called the Great Peace. Among the Iroquois, peace and law are the same, they are used interchangeably, thus the Great Peace of Deganawida was the Great Law, and this took the form of three words. These words constituted, in essence, the Word of God, a choice Wine brought from heaven by Deganawida.
These three words that Make up the revelation of Deganawida will be examined closely; their meanings will be related to the vast ocean of the revelation of Bahá'u'lláh.
The three words that comprise the Great Peace are: Gáiwoh, Skénon, Gashasdenshaa Righteousness, Health, Power.
Deganawida made it very clear that His revelation was not intended to be a universal one. He gave clear promises to the Iroquois concerning the coming of Bahá'u'lláh. He said that only after the strife of time, when the second coming was upon us, would the Spirit of God unite not only the people of Turtle Island, but the whole world. This talk will examine a few of these prophecies of Deganawida.
The Religion of the Six Nations ruled supreme until the dark hours of the Revolutionary War, when division broke out as to who to support. Joseph Brant of the Mohawks journeyed to England and created alliances there; whereas others established strong political ties with the revolting American colonies. Some hoped that the American colonies would be kept at bay if they aided the British to put back the revolt; others wished to see the American colonies become strong, in the hopes that they would join with them in their Six Nations union. Both decisions proved fatal, as they were not made in unity. As a result, the might of the Iroquois began to fade.
In the last days of the 18th century, a man of Seneca stock was awakened from his evil ways by the spirit of the fast-approaching Day of God. His name was Skanientafflo, known commonly as Handsome Lake. Though he was not a prophet, but rather a simple man, until his death in 1815 he preached his vision for sixteen years to the people and renewed some elements of the Faith of Deganawida. He reiterated some of the prophecies of Deganawida and established codes of conduct that would free the Iroquois from the fetters of white civilization that were threatening to destroy them.
Notable among these fetters were drinking, gambling, and Immoral acts such as 'love medicine" and abortion, all of these evils were contrary to the Laws of the Great Peace revealed by Deganawida. But all of this, In my estimation, was merely a part of a process of change, preparing the Hotinonshonni (People of the Longhouse) for the coming of Bahá'u'lláh. We will examine this process and become aware of the spiritual truths of the age.
Certainly the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, the Faith of the Most Great Peace, will prove to be the cause of the reawakening of the Indian spirit. Not only will the Indian receive life again, we will also have the opportunity, accorded by the Lord of the Age, to play an Important part In the process of the unification of the entire world.
We will find a new sense of sacredness for this country, the homeland of the Onkwehonwe (Original Beings), through the vision of 'Abdu'l-Bahá as seen in the Tablets of the Divine Plan, for America and its 'original inhabitants! Perhaps new light will then be shed on the significance of the spiritual traditions of Turtle Island (meaning, in part, a Place of Covenants).
this paper is not yet online