Bahá’u’lláh says:

“That one indeed is a man who, today, dedicateth himself to the service of the entire human race. In all circumstances one should seize upon every means which will promote security and tranquillity among the peoples of the world… Great is the station of man. Great must also be his endeavours for the rehabilitation of the world and the well-being of nations.” Tablet of Maqsúd

It was the summer of 1905 when Mr Sydney Sprague arrived in India. He travelled from town to town and bore every kind of hardship in order to reach the seekers with the call of “Yá Bahá’ul-Abhá”.

Mr Sprague began his teaching trip in Bombay, and from there went on to several important towns until he arrived at Lahore (at that time a part of India, but today a part of Pakistan). In this town he contracted typhoid fever and became bed-ridden. There were no possibilities of medical treatment and the disease epidemic had spread to the masses of the people; those who still had some energy left in them escaped from Lahore with empty stomachs and weakened bodies. The small and poorly equipped hospital in Lahore was utterly inadequate for the thousands of sick patients. Every day thousands were dying and their corpses were left in the streets, as there were no burial facilities. Under these conditions Mr Sprague was ill and about to die.

Two of the Bahá’ís of Lahore asked the Spiritual Assembly of Bombay for assistance to take him to a hospital in Bombay. The telegramme requesting this help arrived and was read at its meeting. Everyone fell silent and went into deep thought. Who was ready to endanger his life to go to Lahore? It required a great sacrifice. One of the Bahá’ís in Bombay, Kaykhusraw Isfandyár volunteered. He went to Lahore that same evening, leaving his wife, children and business in the hands of God. On the fourth day after Kaykhusraw’s arrival in Lahore, Mr Sprague’s condition deteriorated. He had become so weak that there was no hope of him being able to tolerate the trip to Bombay. Everyone believed he was about to die. At midnight, Kaykhusraw, alone, knelt by the sick man’s bedside. He held Mr Sprague’s weak hands and began to pray thus: “O Thou Kind One! Thou art the Healer. This man has come from the West to the East to teach Thy Cause. He has an able tongue and sweet speech… I am only a shop owner. O Thou Powerful One! Sacrifice my life for this servant of Thy threshold. My life is worthless. Accept this invocation of mine.”

The next morning, Mr Sprague opened his eyes. He felt somewhat better. Kaykhusraw realized that his prayer had been answered and that Bahá’u’lláh had accepted his sacrifice.

At midday that same day, the strong and healthy body of Kaykhusraw became afflicted with the plague. It only took eighteen hours before his sacrificing spirit, joyful and content, ascended to the Abhá Kingdom.

Mr Sprague writes in his book: “The moment Kaykhusraw came to my bedside my soul received an extraordinary power. I felt Kaykhusraw’s faith in his movements, in his demeanour and the warmth of his hands. I did not have the strength to speak, but I heard his voice. Every time he held my hands in his during his prayer, it was as though the strength of his faith spread to my being. Kaykhusraw sacrificed his sweet life for my health; not only for me, but also for the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh which I had arisen to serve and teach.

Kaykhusraw’s father, wife, and two little children came to see me. They were all happy that he had performed such a great sacrifice. His son said: “My father was a shop keeper who did not have the ability and eloquence to teach, but you can travel to every corner of the world and raise the call of ‘Yá Bahá’ul-Abhá’ to the masses of humanity.”

Kaykhusraw Isfandyár was the first eastern Bahá’í to have sacrificed his life for his western brother. When the news of this sacrifice reached `Abdu’l-Bahá, He immortalised Kaykhusraw by conferring upon him the rank of a martyr.

Here is the tablet of `Abdu’l-Bahá to Kaykhusraw’s family:

“He is God!

O ye family and kindred of that enlightened one! The blessed Kaykhusraw tread the path of audacity and loyalty; he evinced noble attributes and acted bounteously. He arose with his entire being to carry out whatsoever is enshrined in the teachings of the Blessed Beauty, His exhortations and His testament. In truth he sacrificed his soul for Sprague, and gave up his life for the friends.

That pure and holy soul ascended to the resplendent Kingdom, and that sanctified being soared up unto the exalted heights, and became illumined in the eternal realm. His friends and kinsmen ought to be exultant, proud and honoured. They should offer thanks to the threshold of Oneness that from among them such a blessed soul perished in the path of God and sacrificed himself.

O Kaykhusraw! Thou art the conquerer of both worlds and the prince of the eternal Kingdom. Thou wert so dear that thou didst make my senses redolant with thy fragrance. Like unto pure gold, thy countenance glowed in the fire of tests. Thou didst raise up a commotion in the world of being, won the prize of love, accomplished thy goal, and didst hasten forth from this strait and darksome world to the resplendent Kingdom. Well is it with thee! Well is it with thee!

It is the hope of `Abdu’l-Bahá that He may also be aided to follow in thy way and thus offer up His life for the love of the friends.

O Thou Peerless Lord! Do Thou nurture this beloved friend under Thy care. Adorn and beautify his being with Thy ornament of bounty. Grant him the crown of the custodianship of the eternal realm and attire his head with the diadem of heavenly grace.

He longed to meet Thee; guide him unto the assembly of light. He desired to gaze on Thy face; bestow upon him the effulgent rays of Thy countenance. He was an eager butterfly; bring him close to the candle of Thy beauty. He was an attracted nightingale; allow him reunion with the Flower. Aid Thou his loved ones, and confer upon them patience and composure, tolerance and long-suffering, so that they may be saved from burning in the fire of his separation and may find consolation of heart from the hopelessness of his loss. Thou art the Powerful. Thou art the Beloved. Thou art the Helper. Thou art the Mighty. Verily Thou art powerful over all things.”

`Abdu’l-Bahá `Abbás

~Andalib magazine, year 7, no 25

This story is from “Light of Faith” and posted with the permission of the authors.