Any facts regarding the number of Baha’is in India?

Sep 2011
192
Russia
Dear friends!

I’m doing a research regarding Baha’i statistics in the world. Since many sources state that Indian community is the largest Baha’i community it is important to understand what the exact number of Baha’is in India.

On my question I’ve recently received an answer from Baha'i Department of External Affairs of India which merely confirmed that there are over 2 million Baha'is in India as stated on their official website at http://www.bahai.in.

My problem is that I don’t have other options but to believe the information from only one source. I cannot validate this information from other sources. Can anybody direct me to credible documents?
Also can anybody provide additional facts that support the official statement about 2 million Baha'is in India? For example: cases of extremely large and developed local communities, recent mass enrolments, number of LSAs and study circles, contribution to the Fund and so on.
Or maybe there are evidences that community in India not as strong as it should be expected from 2 million community. Any examples?

I need facts from reliable sources or your personal firsthand experience, please. Your advices how to tackle this question will be appreciated as well.


Thank you in advance for your help!
 
Jun 2006
4,319
California
"...to understand what the exact number of Baha’is in India."

Well finding the "exact number of Baha'is in India" is a daunting task... there are estimates of course. A few million Baha'is may seem like a lot compared to say 140,000 Baha'is in the US...but bear in mind that India has over a billion people. Also Baha'is in other countries don't necessarily have declaration cards and keep records the same way Baha'is do in other countries. But we Baha'is are on the whole I think pretty well organized from the local level to the national level where ever we reside and we have regular annual conventions too.

See:

http://www.bahai.in/

I'm sure you've read this article in Bahaikipedia:

After more than a century the Bahá’í Faith in India had only reached around 1,000[12] and for a significant time there hadn't even been a Indian-based community in India. Various social and religious forces encouraged a broader outreach for the aims of the proselytizing activities of the religion. It was a time of "Mass Teaching".[12] The teachings were adapted for presentation to a clearly Hindu context familiar to the people of the countryside - using principles and language familiar to them.[12] -

the presentation of Bahá’u’lláh as the kalki avatar who according to the Vishnu Purana will appear at the end of the kali yuga for the purpose of reestablishing an era of righteousness
emphasizing the figures of Buddha and Krishna as past Manifestations of God or avatars,
references to Hindu scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita,
the substitution of Sanskrit-based terminology for Arabic and Persian where possible (i.e., Bhagavan Baha for Bahá’u’lláh), and the incorporation in both song and literature of Hindu holy places, hero-figures and poetic images.
Hindi translations of Bahá’í scriptures and prayers that appeared during this period which are so heavily Sanskritized as to make it difficult to recognize their non-Hindu antecedents.

Together with the teaching of the unity of humanity these approaches attracted many of the lower castes.[16] In short order a most of a tiny village of some 200 people mass converted to the Bahá’í Faith.[12] The following year hundreds of people adopted the Bahá’í Faith thanks to an open air conference where speeches could be heard. In two more years almost as many people became Bahá’ís as had been Bahá’ís through regions of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. In 1961 there were a total of 78 local spiritual assemblies and less than 1,000 believers, by 1970 these figures had risen to 3,350 assemblies and 312,602 believers.[12] However in contrast to the Neo-Buddhist movement no effort was made to denounce Hinduism[12] and progress along Bahá’í ideals progressed - Assemblies formed in response to growing numbers of Bahá’ís, the House of Worship for India was built, and schools were established.

The largest Bahá’í community in the world in 2000AD following less than a century of mass teaching became India, with an official Bahá’í population of between 1.7 million[17] to 2.2 million,[18] The expansion of the numbers and organization of the community has helped grow the publishing agencies of the religion until the Indian Bahá’í Publishing Trust has an international reputation.[19]

Source:

India - Bahaikipedia, an encyclopedia about the Bahá


Also, the House of Worship in New Delhi continues to attract a lot of people:

Since its inauguration to public worship in December 1986, the Bahá'í House of Worship in Delhi has, as of late 2002, attracted more than 50 million visitors, making it one of the most visited buildings in the world.[10] Its numbers of visitors during those years surpassed those of the Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal. On Hindu holy days, it has drawn as many as 150,000 people; it welcomes four million visitors each year (about 13,000 every day or 9 every minute).

Lotus Temple - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Baha'i publications in India also seem to be healthy:

http://www.bahaipublishingtrust.in/

http://www.gracepublicationsindia.com/

http://www.carmelpublishers.com/about_us.php
 
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Sep 2010
1,297
Canada
In addition to the above, I should say that the Baha'i Faith based on it's history has never been into bluffing. 2 million comparing to billions is a low percentage anyways.
 
Sep 2011
192
Russia
Arthra, thank you for your post! Yes, I've read that article. And frankly I found the thought about heavily sanskritized Baha'i Writings disturbing. But it's off topic here.
And yes, I've seen the web site of the Indian Baha'i publishing trust. And even analyzed it for the purpose of my research. But I didn't know about the other two publishers. So thank you for mentioning them. I've look through them as well and let me share here what I've found. On all three websites there are books mostly in English and some in Persian and Arabic. And there are 0 books in any Indian languages! Well, it looks odd to me. 2 million Baha'is need adequate quantity of prayer books, HW, Ruhi books. Where are they? I admit that it all might have a very simple explanation. I just hope that somebody with intimate knowledge of Indian Baha'i community will shine a light on it. I personally cannot explain what I see.

For example if you go to Russian official Baha'i website (bahai.ru) you can find there some 50 Baha'i books in Russian. And for the last 20 years there were published some 200 titles of Baha'i books in Russian: http://www.bahaiarc.narod.ru/bibliography.htm

Just compare a tiny 20-years old Russian Baha'i community and the largest and oldest Indian Baha'i community! The score will be 200 to 0! Don't you think that something wrong with the picture here?

So there are still more questions than answers regarding the Baha'i statistics in India.
 
Sep 2011
192
Russia
In addition to the above, I should say that the Baha'i Faith based on it's history has never been into bluffing. 2 million comparing to billions is a low percentage anyways.
Who said anything about bluffing? Statistics is a complex issue especially when it deals with people. There are may be several different and right answers regarding the question as how many Baha'is in India.

As arthra correctly pointed out: 'Also Baha'is in other countries don't necessarily have declaration cards and keep records the same way Baha'is do in other countries.'

My hypothesis is that it is all about definition. The official figure of 2 million Baha'is in India can be correct when they count all declared Baha'is for say the past 30 years. But the actual number of 'active' Baha'is may be way below that quantity. What I what here it that somebody can state anything to support or to refute it. I just don't have enough information to draw any conclusions so far.
 
Jun 2006
4,319
California



Anton:

English is a common language in India but you also have a lot of Indian languages in Baha'i songs and so forth..

Internet Archive Search: Baha'i

and

http://www.archive.org/details/BahaiPrayersAndSongs

There's an interesting class on the Bhagavad Gita and the Baha'i Faith...

Questions about the Baha'i Faith in Hindi

Questions and Answers on the Baha'i Faith - Hindi : Prof. Anil Sarwal : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive

I particularly liked listening to Anil Sarwal:

Srimad Bhagawat Gita and the Baha'i Faith - A Discussion : Prof. Anil Sarwal : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive

You will also see Ruhi series in Hindi offered by BPT in India:

Bah' Publishing Trust - Books

You can get the Ruhi series in Bengali at

http://www.ruhiresources.org/index.php?src=directory&view=simple&submenu=Ruhi_Book_Translations&category=Ruhi Book Translations&query=category.eq.Ruhi Book Translations&refno=9&srctype=simple_detail

If you look for it it's out there!:)
 
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Mar 2010
1,349
Rockville, MD, USA
On all three websites there are books mostly in English and some in Persian and Arabic. And there are 0 books in any Indian languages!
Then I suggest you are looking in the wrong places, the more so given that there's obviously an India Baha'i publishing trust!

Peace,

Bruce
 
Sep 2010
1,297
Canada
My hypothesis is that it is all about definition. The official figure of 2 million Baha'is in India can be correct when they count all declared Baha'is for say the past 30 years. But the actual number of 'active' Baha'is may be way below that quantity. What I what here it that somebody can state anything to support or to refute it. I just don't have enough information to draw any conclusions so far.
Yes, probably the 2 million Baha'is, is the current number of declared Baha'is. But I don't think it's too difficult for the NSA of India to know the number of declared Baha'is. Each LSA would have the list of the local Baha'is, and it's just the matter of adding them up.