My prayer book cover illustrating the ringstone symbol
Seven common religious symbols in approximately chronological order.
Designed by `Abdu’l-Bahá, the Baha’i ringstone symbol, as its name implies, is the most common symbol found on rings worn by Bahá’ís, but it is also used on necklaces, book covers, and paintings. It consists of two stars (haykal) interspersed with a stylized Bahá’. The lower line is said to represent humanity, the upper line God, and the middle line represents the special station of Manifestation of God; the vertical line is the Primal Will or Holy Spirit proceeding from God through the Manifestations to humanity. The position of Manifestation of God in this symbol is said to be the linking point to God. (cit. wikipedia)
Excerpt: This part of the symbol comprises three levels, each level indicated by a number. Together they represent the underlying belief which is the basis of all the religions of God. They are as follows:
- The World of God – The Creator
- The World of the Prophets or Manifestation – Cause, or Command
- The World of Man – Creation.
“The followers of all religions believe that man, left to himself, can never recognize God and attain His presence; nor is man able to fathom the mystery and purpose of his own creation. God, in His unlimited bounty has singled out His Chosen Ones and will continue to do so, sending them to man at different times and ages in order to grant him penetrating insight and to enable him to have a glimpse of the unfading glories of the innumerable worlds beyond.
“The Prophets accept descent from their realms on high and suffer the abasement of living in human temples, walking amongst men and speaking their languages. The Manifestations are invariably denied, ridiculed, humiliated and even put to death. Were it not for their spiritual upliftment and leadership, man would have continued to live as a wild beast and would have been eternally doomed to deprivation and loss.
“These functions of the Prophets are clearly demonstrated in the design of the Greatest Name by having the world of the Prophets (shown in horizontal line) repeated in vertical line, thus joining the world of the Creator to that of His creation.”
A.Q. Faizi, Explanation of the Symbol of the Greatest Name
“Since the true bá, which is the universal reality, passes down through the three grades from the highest summit to the lowest centre and shines forth in each grade, it is the unifier and revealer of all the worlds. On the horizon of ancient grandeur, two brilliant stars are shining and luminous: one star is on the right, the other on the left. And this great mystery is the two shapes that have been drawn upon the left and right of the Greatest Name on the ringstone symbol. The mystery concerns the manifestation of Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb. Although the two shapes on right and left are in the form of a star, they refer nevertheless to the Temple of Man, which consists of a head and arms and two legs.” (Read the Tablet on the Birth of the Greatest Name II written by Baha’u’llah)
Is my personal interpretation illustrated below valid? It is clear that some of the corresponding shapes may be coincidental though they still have some significance. I see the concept of Progressive Revelation illustrated in the symbol.
Thus it is recorded: “Every knowledge hath seventy meanings, of which one only is known amongst the people. And when the Qá’im shall arise, He shall reveal unto men all that which remaineth.” He also saith: “We speak one word, and by it we intend one and seventy meanings; each one of these meanings we can explain.” (Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 255)
Far from being limited, Bahá’u’lláh asserts that “knowledge hath seventy meanings”, and that the “meaning” of the Word of God “can never be exhausted”. (The Universal House of Justice, 1995 Jan 31, Questions on Scholarship)
An ancient Hindu symbol that symbolizes Peace and Harmony, Lord Ganesh has it on his right hand. Differs from other uses of swastika by the four dots inside each of the four arms. Also, it is always drawn with the four inner arms at 0, 90, 180 and 270 degrees on the compass, unlike other inscriptions where the inner arms are in the form of an ‘X’. The swastika was traditionally used in India by Buddhists and Hindus as a good luck sign. In East Asia, the swastika is often used as a general symbol of Buddhism.
A seven petaled Lotus. Eight petaled lotuses are also common.
Illustrating the eight points of the symbol’s design overlayed with lotus petal symbols.
A Lotus Flower
Hebrew Star of David
Zoroastrian Faravahar (guardian angel)
The eight-spoked Dharmacakra. The eight spokes represent the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism.
Widening the Dharmacakra makes its ‘fit’ more clear.
The Christian Cross.
The star and crescent is a symbol consisting of a crescent with a star at the concave side. In its modern form, the star is usually shown with five points (though in earlier centuries a higher number of points was often used). The two signs together or the crescent only is often regarded as a symbol of Islam.