REMEMBERING RAYMOND PETER

REMEMBERING RAYMOND PETER

31 August 1936  to  9 July 2020

Profiled here is the story of Raymond Peter, a believer of the Ten-Year Crusade period who had decorated the pages of history with his unique, admirable and unparalleled service record. The memory of this star-servant shall always linger in the minds of those who had known or moved with him, and his exemplary services are sure to be admired by the current generation and generations yet to be born.

The early events in the life of Raymond Peter were certainly providential. When living in Conlay Road in Kuala Lumpur Peter was brought as a church-going member of the Catholic church. When his family moved into a nearby Kampong Pandan Tamil Settlement, his father Mr. Santiago Raiappan Peter became one of those instrumental in getting the government to approve a land in that area to build a church, which still stands today. Peter was involved in charity work even at his tender age, following the priest in helping the poor and downtrodden. On his own initiative, he even got the church to provide food to an Indian Muslim family that was suffering from hunger. Initially, his father had sent him to a Chinese school and a Tamil school, but finally Peter ended up in the English medium St. John’s Institution in Kuala Lumpur.  Peter was the eldest and the only son among the five siblings. Having passed his Senior Cambridge Examinations, an achievement in those days, Peter started his career as a clerk. When he saw an advertisement for the post of Health Inspector meant for those residing in the state of Malacca, he applied for it, quite half-heartedly. Although that job was meant for those residing in Malacca and he lacked a high score in the English language, with an unsatisfactory medical condition he was puzzled when offered that job. Little was he aware that some divine forces were at work, having some major plans for him in Malacca.

Peter took up the post of Probationary Health Inspector in Alor Gajah town. Sadly,  he underwent a kind of persecution and duress under the hands of his supervisor and one colleague. One day Peter was so distressed that he went home and cried the entire day and wrote a letter to God to relieve him of atrocities and injustice at the office. But he did not post it, as in his own words, “I did not have the address of God.” Yet God answered his prayers by transferring him soon to the neighboring town of Jasin, where dramatic events started to unfold.  There two believers – Leong Ho Chiew, son of Leong Tat Chee  was serving as Police Inspector,  and  Tushar Kanti- Paul as a  teacher from Bengali background.  Ho Chiew, followed by Tushar gave him the Faith, and from Malacca town came Leong Tat Chee,  his wife, and Saurajen gave Peter the healing message of Bahá’u’lláh. Peter liked the Faith and the company of the Bahá’ís. Having been steeply rooted in Christianity it was not easy to convince him, especially on the irrefutable proof on the second coming of Christ. Yet Peter joined Ho Chiew and Tushar in going into the rubber plantation settlements to carry out teaching work, to translate for them from English into Tamil. On many occasions, Tushar would take him on his motorcycle for those teaching trips for Peter to help in the translation. And whenever Tushar was tired, Peter would take over and talk in detail about the Faith, though he had not formally become a believer.

The turning point was the coming of Ms. Jeanne Frankel and her mother Margaret Kelly Bates to Malacca for the first Bahá’í Summer School in Malacca at the end of December 1957. They were sojourning in Penang upon return from their pioneering post in the Nicobar Island and waiting for a visa to enter their next pioneering post in the Cocos Keeling Islands.  After the Summer School, they stayed on to teach the Faith in Malacca state, including Jasin town. She gave convincing answers to the many doubts that Peter harbored in his heart, especially proof of Bahá’u’lláh as Christ returned. After long days of discussions with Jeanne, Peter accepted the Faith on 21 February 1958. That was the day when his own destiny was sealed, and by extension, a new chapter was opened for the Cause in Malaysia. Peter was elected to the first Local Spiritual Assembly of Jasin in 1958.


First Local Spiritual Assembly of Jasin, 1958. Seated (L-R) Tushar Kanti-Paul (Secretary) E.A. Fernandez (Chairman), Arthur Knight (Vice-Chairman), Chakrabarthy (Treasurer). Back row (L-R) Surinder Singh, Raymond Peter, Anthony Louis, Arumugam Ramanan, Goh Tiow Li

The election of the first Local Spiritual Assembly became a joyful celebration for the believers of the state of Malacca. After the election was over the believers of Jasin and Malacca town adjourned to the Jasin Studio to have a group photograph taken.


Photo taken in a studio in Jasin town following the election of the first Local Spiritual Assembly of Jasin, 1958. Seen here are Bahá’ ís of Malacca and Jasin. Seated (L-R) Surinder Singh, Lena Saurajen, Margaret Kelly Bates, Elaine Saurajen, G. Saurajen. Standing in the middle row (L-R) Chakrabarthy, Leong Ho San, Raymond Peter, Leong Tat Chee, Arthur Knight, Arumugam Ramanan, Goh Tiow Lim, Jami Subramaniam. Back row (L-R) Tushar Kanti-Paul, E.A. Fernandez, Kumara Das, Anthony Louis, Leong Ho Chiew

Peter moved across the state and took part in the activities. In those days any activity held in any part of Malacca invariably attracted the participation of believers from all over the state.

A gathering at the Boy Scout Headquarters,  1958. Kumara Das is in the middle with a black necktie. Anthony Louis is squatting at the extreme right. Koh Ai Leen is standing at the extreme right. Lily is standing third from right, Raymond Peter stands eighth from right in dark glasses. Leong Ho San is standing fifth from left, with M. Maniam standing in front of him. The three squatting from left are Pijush Kanti Paul, Tushar Kanti-Paul and Jami Subramaniam

It was not a smooth sail for Peter. The news of his conversion spread to the Catholic circle and to his family as well. His first action after accepting the Faith was to stop taking part in the ‘Our Lady of Fatima’ motorcycle cavalcade in Malacca. He was vehemently criticized by the Catholic community and his Christian friends. During these testing times, Leong Tat Chee was always by his side, giving words of comfort and consolation. In late 1959 Peter’s father came from Kuala Lumpur to Malacca to win him back, but Peter was already a convinced and believer in Bahá’u’lláh. His father returned terribly upset.  Later an incident happened in Kuala Lumpur, which according to Peter, led his father to make a statement to his family that Peter should be allowed to follow his way. Summoning to his aid courage and confidence, Peter soldiered on as a gallant worker for the Cause. From the moment Peter accepted the Faith he was often transferred to Alor Gajah, Masjid Tanah, Jasin, and Malacca towns, even for short stints, and had dedicatedly served on these Local Spiritual Assemblies. He was seen all over Malacca state in the first decade of his acceptance of the Faith, making waves.


Local Spiritual Assembly of 1963. Seated (L-R) Daisy Das, Betty Fernandez, Chiang Kim Lin. At the extreme left is Leong Tat Chee, and at the extreme right is E. A. Fernandez. Standing (L-R) S. Vasudevan, Tushar Kanti-Paul, Raymond Peter, and S. Bhaskaran


At a gathering outside the Bahá’í Centre in Seremban, 1963. L-R: Raymond Peter, Yankee Leong, Nit Singam, Elinor Wolff, Isaac D’Cruz, Mary Tan Leng Neo and S.Vasudevan

From the early days, Peter was identified as a highly resourceful person upon whom was placed many responsibilities. His high caliber naturally drew the attention of the institutions to task him with the responsibilities of various capacities. He received accolades and recognition as early as 1960, barely two years after accepting the Faith. At the Second Pan-Malayan Teaching Conference held on 11 December 1960, Peter was singled out for this accolade,  “His zeal and devotion are well-known in many Bahá’í circles.” He was on the Organizing Committees of several local, regional, and national events, and carried out his tasks very well. In 1967 he was elected on to the National Spiritual Assembly and remained on this august body till the end of 1969 when he left for Sri Lanka

Apart from Leong Tat Chee, Peter was further deepened in the Faith by visiting Hands of the Cause of God in the early days such as Dr. Raḥmatu’lláh Muhájir, Shu’á’u’lláh ‘Alá’í, Abu’l-Qásim Faizi, Agnes Alexander, and Taráz’u’lláh Samandarí who had all come to Malacca. There was a string of visitors especially pioneers from abroad visiting Malacca. Peter was by nature a passionate reader and laid his hands on whatever Bahá’í book he came across.

A great transformation came upon Peter when he participated in the Intercontinental Conference held in Singapore in September 1958 where he saw some three hundred believers and nine Hands of the Cause of God who delivered speeches that moved his soul. Peter, along with Anthony Casimir Louis took the responsibility of arranging the flowerpot on the table on which the portrait of the Blessed Beauty was to be placed. The believers lined up to view the Portrait, but Peter lined up twice to view the Portrait.  Hand of the Cause Leroy Iaos who was standing by the Portrait saw Peter’s enthusiasm and closed his eyes and threw a smile at him. During the session to call for pioneers, among others, Peter only 22 years of age, and Anthony Louis volunteered to pioneer to any part of the world.  The Intercontinental Conference triggered off his passion to attend future Bahá’í gatherings. He participated in the Pan-Malayan Teaching conferences held in Malacca in 1960 and 1961, and several other local and regional gatherings. In 1963, he participated in the First Bahá’í World Congress in London, where he met several Hands of the Cause of God, some 6,000 believers from across the world. He was to recall this earth-shaking event throughout his life, as one of those that had confirmed him in the Cause. The other was the Inter-Continental Conference in New Delhi in October 1967 where he met Dr. Muhájir, Shu’á’u’lláh ‘Alá’í, Abu’l-Qásim Faizi. Locally there was no gathering that Peter missed, especially Summer Schools where he was a much sought after speaker.


First Bahá’í World Congress. R-L: Shantha Sundram, Bill Smits, Jeanne Frankel and Raymond Peter. Jeanne Frankel was his spiritual mother, while Bill Smits was a motivator for Raymond Peter to take up  deepening activities as a life-long activity

The year 1958 offered yet another path of service for Peter. Professor Bill Smits, an American pioneer to South Korea came over to Malacca after the Intercontinental Conference and traveled for three months to Singapore, Penang, Malacca, and Jasin to deepen the friends on the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh, before returning to South Korea. Peter who, at the end of 1958 was already a resident in Malacca came on his motorcycle sometimes with Leong Ho Chiew, without fail to participate in his classes held in Jasin town, with all enthusiasm and gained a much-deepened understanding of the Faith. In the early days of his Bahá’í life, Peter saw the effectiveness of such classes and resolved to follow the footsteps of Bill Smits. He would later prepare lessons, type them out on stencils, cyclostyle, and bind study notes. His favorite topics were the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh. He not only mastered these two topics but took it as his personal goal to deepen others both within Malaysia and abroad.  His debut as an eloquent speaker was at the First Pan-Malayan Youth Conference in the Negeri Sembilan Indian Association Hall in Seremban in December 1961. He spoke on the topic of  Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that he received all-round applause that was deafening and prolonged for attempting a difficult talk with such clarity and eloquence. That started his permanent place in gatherings in Malaysia whenever serious speakers were needed. At the summer school of 1968, Peter presented his talk on the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh and traced the different forms of governments in the world and compared them with the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, and the friends were deeply impressed, including his spiritual mother Jeanne Frankel who had come to Malaysia for three months to involve in proclamation work. Coming from Christian background he was able to deepen several friends on Christian subjects. Yet he could be counted upon to present talks on new subjects at short notice, which he did very well.  In the early days, when literature was not readily available, Peter emerged as one of the most deepened believers, and on account of this coupled with his natural oratory skills, coated with wittiness, he was invariably selected a speaker at almost all local and regional conferences and Summer Schools. He could keep listeners spellbound, mesmerized and in stitches, a talent very few possessed.

Teaching became the dominating passion of his life that he carried right to the tomb.  His first area of service was teaching the Cause to the Tamil speaking people in the rubber plantation settlements, a service that started before accepting the Faith but continued thereafter. Peter was effective in estate teaching, though with his vocabulary of the Tamil language was limited, yet acceptable to the listeners.  As history goes, Peter was one of the earliest in Malaysia to have involved teaching the labourers in the estates in 1957. He was also actively involved in the first phase of mass enrolments in Malaya in 1960, riding on a motorcycle to all nooks and corners of the state of Malacca, individually at times when he had no other companion following him.

Effective 1960, on the encouragement of Hand of the Cause of God Dr. Muhájir, Peter had individually and in collaboration with others taken the Faith to various parts of the country and opened new localities and deepened individual believers and communities. Some of the communities that kept singing his praises in the early 1960s were  Muar, Mentakab, Rawang, Kuala Kubu Baru, and  Kangar. The outbreak of cholera in the Kelantan, Terengganu, and Pahang states in the mid-1960s took Peter to these places where he was successful in eradicating cholera and serving the Cause effectively. When he was in Terengganu in 1964, he invited M. Maniam to stay with him to teach the Faith, and that became about the earliest attempts to teach in Terengganu. Peter came into the spotlight and was in high demand when the success of his field teaching was noised across the country. When manpower was needed to open the rubber plantation settlements in the state of Negeri Sembilan, Peter was sought, which he obliged.  Even before Dr. Muhajir mooted the idea of setting up a border teaching committee to teach around the borders joining West Malaysia and  South Thailand,  Leong Tat Chee  and  Raymond Peter attempted teaching work across the border in South Thailand during their earlier trips in the 1960s.

While in Jasin in 1968, he was never seen at home after work.  He would come home take some tea and take the teachers for estate teaching on his motorcycle. And he would go into all the estates that were in abundance in the Jasin area. He would return at night and give deepening sessions if there were teachers staying with him. He was also periodically involved in bringing the Faith to the aboriginal villages and the Chinese communities, though not knowing their languages. In 1963, Peter and Rodney Edwards, an African- American pioneer from Thailand and Vietnam, went into the jungles of Perak to teach the Asli people as well. He had also undertaken a similar trip with Leong Tat Chee in 1964.


Raymond Peter, second from left and Leong Tat Chee back row right at an Asli settlement, 1964

And in  1965 Masjid Tanah area with a large presence of Chinese people was chosen for Chinese teaching. In 1966  assistance came from Mrs. Orpha Daugherty, an American pioneer taking up temporary residence in the Masjid Tanah, and Mr. Firaydun Mithaq a pioneer in Laos. Peter joined Lily Chinniah and her mother in giving the needed support. In October 1966, a successful Chinese Conference was held in Masjid Tanah with Peter, Sathasivam, and a few others looking into the physical arrangements of the Conference.  Such was the spirit of Peter, assisting even when he was handicapped in foreign languages. He was to be seen wherever teaching activities were going on.


 All Chinese Teaching Conference, Masjid Tanah, with Mrs. Daugherty seated in the entre. Lily Chinniah is seated second from right and Mrs. Leong third from right. Lily Ng from Seremban is seated to the right of Mrs. Daugherty. Leong Tat Chee at the centre in the middle row and S. Sathasivam is at the extreme left in the back row. Raymond Peter is fourth from right in the back row


Masjid Tanah, January 1967. (L-R) Hand of the Cause of God Mr. Samandarí, his son Dr. Mehdi Samandarí and Raymond Peter

Peter occupies a special place in the development of teaching materials and conducting impactful deepening sessions. The years 1967 to 1969 were the deepening period in the history of the Faith in West Malaysia, with Peter taking the lead. Leong Tat Chee was deepening the believers with the Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh and other Holy Writings.  But when there was a good number of pioneers arising from 1967, the year Peter was elected to the National Spiritual Assembly, he and Inbum Chinniah, Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly devised strategies to deepen the potential pioneers, with the sole aim of making them versatile, independent and knowledgeable in the field of service. The spacious quarters of Peter were used for accommodating the participants and deepening them. With Lily Chinniah supplying food, Peter and Inbum would prepare the lessons on the books such as the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh and The Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promised Day Is Come, Guidance for Today and Tomorrow, The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, The Advent of Divine Justice, Bahá’í Administration, and Christian subjects from the book Some Answered Questions.  Peter and Inbum would anxiously lookout for new arrivals on the shelves of the Bahá’í bookshop and immediately get copies and prepare summaries of those books. Peter on his own came out, for the first time with a compilation of the Covenant which was new to the early believers. The participants would also be required to memorize prayers, especially the Tablet of Ahmad. Such deepening courses would be held once in two months. And upon completion of the courses, they were sent into field teaching in Malacca, with limited cash for the unemployed to learn the art of surviving with the minimum. Some of those who participated in these deepening sessions were G. Appala Naidu, D. Rama Naidu, C. Kanagaratnam, Lily Ng. G. Kuppusamy and S. Ravichandran, who all went abroad to teach the Cause, registering good impacts in the field — thanks to Peter and Inbum.


Receiving Hand of the Cause of God Mr. Faizi at the First South East Asia Bahá’í Youth Conference December 1968. L-R: Mr. Faizi, Tony Fernandez, Chairman of the National Spiritual Assembly, R. Ganasa Murthi, Chairman of the National Bahá’í Youth Committee, A. P. Arumugam, Chairman of the Technical College Bahá’í Society of Kuala Lumpur and Raymond Peter, member of the National Spiritual Assembly and Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Conference.


National Spiritual Assembly of 1969. Seated L-R: Dr. John Fozdar, Shantha Sundram, Tony Fernandez, Mrs. George Lee. Standing L-R: Inbum Chinniah, K. Rajah, S. Nagaratnam, Appu Raman, and Raymond Peter

SRI LANKA DAYS

A major turning point came upon Peter on his wedding day. Peter married Joan Athalie, daughter of  Hand of the Cause of God Collis Featherstone, whom he first met at the South East Asia Regional Bahá’í Youth Conference held in Kuala Lumpur in December 1968. The marriage was held on 12 April 1969 in Malacca Capitol Hall and conducted by Inbum Chinniah under the auspices of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Jasin. Hands of the Cause of God Collis Featherstone and Dr. Muhájir graced the occasion. Peter’s first cousin Peter Raiappan played a key role in getting the consent of Peter’s father while Sathasivam Sithambaranathan took care of the physical arrangements for the wedding. That was the first marriage alliance between a Malaysian believer of Indian background to an Australian believer and was a big proclamation event for the Faith.


Raymond Peter marries Athalie Joan. (Photo Courtesy: Mahmood’s family of Sri Lanka)


Local Spiritual Assembly of Jasin, 1969. Joan Peter and Palaniandy are holding the Greatest Name. Raymond Peter is seated at the extreme right. Standing (L-R) Raj, Alex, Kesavan (unknown), Kathirvelu

Dr. Muhájir had known of Peter arising to pioneer at the Intercontinental Conference in Singapore in September in 1958 and had been pursuing Peter since, but owing to his family commitments, Peter could not pioneer earlier. But on the wedding day, Dr. Muhájir told the couple not to go building their future in Malaysia but to proceed to Ceylon (Sri Lanka since 1973) where there was a bad need of pioneers who could serve the Faith faithfully and undergo all the rigors of hardship. Dr. Muhájir knew this couple would be successful in Ceylon. By this time Peter was already promoted as a full-fledged Public Health Inspector. Peter, in obedience to Hand of the Cause, gave the notice to terminate his prestigious post with the Government of Malaysia, clear in his mind that he would be losing for good his pensions, benefits, and other perks. Uppermost in his soul was the wider interest of the needs of the Faith. The couple participated in the Conference for the South East Asia zone in Singapore from 6 to 8 December 1969, where Peter announced that he was finally pioneering to Ceylon.


Deepening Class at the Bahá’ í Centre, 1969. Sitting at the extreme left is S. Bhaskaran and to his left is Sarojini Nair followed by Saratha Sangaran Nair. Seated fifth from the left is Joan Peter, and seated at the extreme right is Machamboo. Standing at the extreme left is S.K. Somu, fourth from left is Raymond Peter, sixth from left is Bornoh Das, seventh from left is Anthony Louis and eighth from left is S. Sathasivam. Standing at the extreme right is M. Ganesan


Bahá’í Teachers Training Course, September 1969.  Seated (L-R) S. Saratha, S. Bhaskaran, Leong Tat Chee, Joan Peter, Raymond Peter, Anthony Louis. Squatting (L-R) Sathasivam, S.K. Somu, M. Maniam. Standing second from left is S. Ravichandran, third from left is Annamalai, fourth from left is S. Chandrasekaran and sixth from left is Ramayah

Both Peter and Joan went to Kuala Lumpur to tell Peter’s father that he had left the government service and was proceeding to Ceylon to teach the Faith, but upon reaching his father’s residence Peter did not straightaway disclose the matter. His father had a premonition and gave them lunch after which he and Joan went to see a film. In the middle of watching the film suddenly his name appeared on the screen summoning him to the office. At the office, he was informed that his father had passed away. His family gave him a good burial. With his sudden passing, Peter and Joan had to postpone their departure date to Ceylon to find someone to entrust the business of his father — Peter Typewriting Services at Leboh Ampang in Kuala Lumpur. Jami  Subramaniam resigned his well-respected government job with the Public Works Department in Rompin town in Negeri Sembilan and took over the management of Peter’s family business, just to enable a fellow believer to pioneer. The understanding was that Jami would run the business until his return from the pioneering post.

By the time he left Malaysia for pioneering to Ceylon, Peter had earned a name for his organizational skills,  a man for all seasons, and master of many tasks. When Peter left for Ceylon, he was a ready-made material to be effective as a pioneer, well molded into a man of all seasons, and malleable for any kind of service. He went with his many talents as an excellent administrator, zealous deepener of the Faith, and counselor in moments of needs. Ceylon was not new to Peter as he had visited the country and left this note dated 7 November 1967  in the visitor’s book kept at the National Bahá’í Centre, “I pray to God that the Ceylon community will continue reaping the wonderful activities which are a source of inspiration to other parts of the world. It is true that the Faith rises in the East and goes to the West eventually, it is also time that Mass Conversion requires in these parts and spreads westwards and eventually changes the world.  May Ceylon be one of the Mass Conversion Areas.”  This was a trip he had undertaken after the Intercontinental Conference held in New Delhi in October 1967.

Peter and Joan arrived in Ceylon and accommodated in the  National Bahá’í Centre. Peter started to serve with ability and agility, keeping in mind the high expectations of Dr. Muhájir. They were receiving funds from the World Centre for their daily expenses. Life was not a bed of roses, which they anticipated. When Joan was carrying their first child Shamina, Joan had a hard time coping with the day to day matters. The couple made many trips to the upcountry, Kandy, and to Jaffna in the North of Sri Lanka which was under curfew.  Peter, Joan, and their daughter had to hide in a drain when they heard shooting. They had to stay overnight at the airport and went to visit the Bahá’ís there the next morning after the curfew. The couple underwent many hardships, and at times Joan had to stay alone when Peter traveled upcountry. Once Joan was bedridden and Peter used to wash all the clothes. The community viewed them as a couple loving each other, suffering for each other, and living for each other.

Peter created a huge impact in Ceylon, as envisaged by Dr. Muhájir. Peter was involved in attending to administrative matters that were pending for some time, which he carried out in his individual capacity as a dutiful pioneer and collectively with other local believers. He went through all the individual declaration cards and visited those dormant believers one by one and enticed them into the mainstream of activities. As the National Bahá’í Centre that was purchased in 1955 needed facelift, Peter took photos of the building and sent it to the World Centre. His proposal met with cheerful agreement and the World Centre sent funds to the National Spiritual Assembly of Sri Lanka for extensive renovations. Thus, the National Bahá’í Centre saw a new facelift with his initiative.

The National Spiritual Assembly of Sri Lanka was not registered for some thirty years for various reasons. One of the requirements was to have an official bank account under the name of the National Spiritual Assembly. Peter wrote to the World Centre to have the funds sent into a local bank rather than to the National Treasurer which the World Centre agreed. That paved the way to smoothen the registration of the national institution. The change of membership, especially the Treasurer after each national convention was another reason for the hurdle in the registration of the national institution. To resolve this situation and Hand of the Cause Collis Featherstone appointed some trustees to sign on behalf of the National Spiritual Assembly to offset the change in membership. One Mr. Cecil Arasakularatna was engaged to conduct the official auditing which the Companies Registration Office of Ceylon accepted. The World Centre sent Dr. Franghi, an Iranian who was well-versed in registration matters to come to Sri Lanka to help in the registration work.  He approached the Registrar who asked for engaging a lawyer which was duly done. Finally, the Registrar of Companies got the National Spiritual Assembly officially registered. The World Centre was duly informed, and they sent a beautiful letter to the national institution and praised them for the great achievement.

In 1971, Peter and Joan also joined the local believers in organizing on a befitting scale the 50th anniversary of the passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. They prepared a memorial booklet which is today in the archives of that  National Spiritual Assembly. In one of the many visits of Dr. Muhájir to Ceylon, he asked the believers to get recognition for the Faith by celebrating international events like the Human Rights Day and Peter gave a helping hand. They got hold of a good artist who made good posters to enhance the event. They also invited some international speakers from the public sector and other fields and successfully held this event with the blessing of the National Spiritual Assembly. The Mayor of Negombo, a city on the west coast of Ceylon and other dignitaries were invited to speak on this day which ended with wide media coverage.

Peter was elected to the National Spiritual Assembly for 1972 to 1973. In 1973 they left the country, with the full satisfaction and blessings of the World Centre. Peter sent  Joan, and his daughters  Shamina born on 13 August 1970 and  Delshad born on 1  October 1972 to Australia. Peter stayed back to complete an important teaching book “Teaching the Faith” by Margery McComick which was translated into Tamil in Malaysia. After clearing up other important matters Peter too arrived in Australia.


National Spiritual Assembly of Sri Lanka, 1972/3. Standing (L-R) Raymond Peter, R. D. David, B. D. Saleh (Treasurer), K. C. Swarnaraj, K.G. Chandradasa. Seated (L-R) V. Chitravelu (Secretary), Mrs. B. A. Cadir, Anwer Cadir (Chairman), M.L.C. Chandrasekera (Vice-Chairman)  Photo Courtesy: National Spiritual Assembly of Sri Lanka

But a shock was waiting for Peter in Australia, which turned into comfort and ease.  Peter entered Australia without a visa. But surprisingly the strict immigration officers never checked his passport or stopped him from entering Australia. Upon arriving at home Mr. Featherstone heard the incident and commented that God had temporarily closed the eyes of the Immigration officers. Another shock was coming up.  At the National Convention, Peter was asked to produce credentials which he did not carry, but he produced the letter of the World Centre instead.  On reading the letter the receptionist rose up from her seat and allowed him in with praises showered upon him. While in Australia on that short stint, Peter conducted his favorite deepening on the topic of the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh in various parts of the country. Communities that saw reports of his great success in conducting the deepening session had called him to proceed with his deepening. On that short stint in Australia Peter was upset when some prejudiced white people stared at him as a colored man traveling with a white Australian wife. He used to relate later days in jest that the only time he was happy travelling with Joan in Australia was when the train they traveled in passed through dark tunnels when nobody could detect and differentiate colors! Such was his wittiness.

When Peter returned to Malaysia in 1973, he took over his father’s company which by now had grown well through the laborious work of Jami Subramaniam. Peter was very enterprising, and he shifted the company to new premises, engaged more than thirty technicians, including the handicapped to repair and carry out maintenance of office equipment,  and trained them. Joan was looking into office management and accounts, while Peter took to public relations work. The business progressed well on a new and dynamic footing. Peter frequented Singapore and purchase old machines, got them reconditioned and sold at a good price. He also started to manufacture the spare parts himself and thus minted money and was well-positioned. His third child, Riaz a baby boy was born on 2 September 1974  and he added to the luster of good family life.

Though prospering in business, he was deeply involved in community activities. His rented premises, within walking distance from the National Bahá’í Centre, became a hive of activities with deepening sessions and firesides. which was always a hive of activities and full of laughter with his fun that resonated in his house. There was always a group of believers dropping all the days, even at midnight to enjoy his characteristically witty jokes and humor. Peter devoted the weekends for teaching and consolidation trips in the estates around the state of Selangor.


Youth of the Kuala Lumpur at the Local Bahá’í Centre in Air Panas area, 1975.  These youths gathered at this Bahá’í Centre or at the home of Raymond Peter which was a sanctuary for them. Joan is seated second from left while Raymond Peter stands second from right

UNITED KINGDOM DAYS

Peter left for the United Kingdom in 1977 to further studies in Public Health. with the intention of joining the World Health Organisation at a later stage.  He enrolled in the then Greenwich Polytechnic near London which later became the University of Greenwich. Apart from his studies Peter was actively involved in community activities and teaching the Faith at firesides. Teaching the Faith to the people in the United Kingdom was not easy for the local believers. But Peter found his own way of teaching and enrolling them into the Faith.  He was more of a pioneer than a student while in the  United Kingdom, and his activities are far too many to be related. Suffice to say his teaching activities had assisted in bringing new people into the Faith, opening up new areas for the Faith, especially goal areas, the formation of new Local Assemblies, and reviving lapsed ones.

In  Bexleyheath, there was short of a few more members to form an Assembly. Peter taught the wife of an ex-Catholic priest who accepted the Faith, but the husband was hesitant. Peter said the Fire Tablet on a Friday and posted a Bahá’í declaration card to the husband. When the declaration card arrived by post, he accepted the Faith. There was great joy amongst the friends and that paved the way for the formation of the first Assembly of Bexleyheath.

Several miracles had happened in the teaching activities, including teaching by correspondence which Peter carried out very well. When attending the National Convention, a beautiful woman came to him and asked if he was Raymond Peter. On his acknowledgment, she warmly embraced him and said that she was the person Peter had brought into the Faith by post. He conducted deepening on the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh for the friends and strengthened them in the Faith.

Since London could not offer him the full degree, he enrolled into the Plymouth University to study Health Science. While there he brought in many into the Faith, including six Malaysian students. At Plymouth University, Peter met Venugopal Nambiar of Malaysia who was pursuing a degree in Civil Engineering. Venu was already given the Faith by his course mate Egbal Maani and was about to become a believer but accepted the Faith in 1978 when Peter gave him the declaration card. Peter and Venu were housemates for a year and the flat was used for teaching activities. Peter by nature was a fearless and prolific teacher. He made friends easily with strangers and would invite them over for fireside and dinner with Venu doing the groceries and cooking. Several times Peter would promise of bringing only a few friends but would always arrive at the last minute with many more. Venu would be stressed and would run to the stores to get more food for cooking. It was stressful and yet enjoyable for both.


At Plymouth, 1978 – Venugopal Nambiyar and Raymond Peter

Peter often called Eng Kee, another Malaysian student who was pursuing a degree in Business Studies at the same University to go over to his place for home-cooked Malaysian meals. And, during short holiday breaks, Peter would get him to go along with him to visit local Bahá’ís for Fireside and Feast. At an opportune moment, when Eng Kee was quite exposed to the Faith, Peter handed his prayer book to him to say the Fire Tablet, the significance of that Tablet Eng Kee was not aware of then. Upon completing the prayer, Peter asked if he would like to accept the Faith, which he did. Eng Kee and his family have been pioneering in China since 2000.

Peter, Venu, and Eng Kee were extraordinarily successful in bringing the people into the Faith that some residents passed remarked that these two were casting magical spells on the enquirers. At one of the meetings, Mr. Adib Taherzadeh (a member of the European Continental Board of Counsellors, who was later elected to the Universal House of Justice in 1988) embraced Peter and asked him to reveal the secret of the success of Malaysian believers in bringing people into the Faith. Taherzadeh requested Peter to continue the great work that he and his Malaysian friends Venu and Eng Kee were doing.

Yet one more person was Narendra Pande from Nepal who came to England in 1978 on a United Nations Fellowship Program. Peter gave him the Faith at Plymouth and Pande became a believer.  Pande later became a pillar of the Faith in Nepal.

Peter always had the tendency to speak up his mind. While in the United Kingdom there had been uncomfortable domestic scenarios that Peter reported to the institutions for the purpose of upholding the image of the Cause. The institutions appreciated his frankness. He instilled in the individuals and the communities the importance to respect and obey the divinely appointed institutions.

As a constant teacher, Peter wore Parker pants with many pockets stuffed with pamphlets, pocket-sized prayer books, and declaration cards. At one of the Irish Summer Schools, Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum was seated with one Mr. Philip Hainsworth who called Peter and asked that if he had a declaration card with him.  Peter put his hand into his coat pocket to retrieve one. Amatu’l-Bahá noticed this and commented that we Bahá’ís should always be ready to accept people into the Faith, with a note of praise for the Malaysian Bahá’ís that Peter represented. Peter had heard Dr. Muhájir mentioning at the launching of a teaching campaign in the United Kingdom that each group should have at least one Malaysian Bahá’í for he will teach, cook, wash your clothing, and take care of you. Such were the accolades Peter received in the United Kingdom!

While Peter was making positive waves in the teaching field in the United Kingdom, he also had a series of setbacks. His financial means dried up completely and he was forced to apply for small grants and earned a livelihood by all kinds of odd jobs. He moved into the apartment of Venu to waive expenses on rentals. One day in December 1979 Peter was crying loudly in his room when news of the passing of his spiritual mentor Hand of the Cause of God Dr. Muhájir.


Tea-break during the First Pan-Malayan Teaching Conference Happyland hotel of Malacca in May 1960. Raymond Peter is seated second from left, while Dr. Muhájir and his wife are in the center. Raymond Peter was very much the product of the brilliance of Dr. Muhájir

Before he could recover from this blow, in February 1980, Peter was again seen sobbing in his room for hours, this time on receiving news of the passing of another spiritual mentor Counselor Inperaju Chinniah, affectionately called Inbum Chinniah.


Raymond Peter with Inbum Chinniah at the South East Asia Regional Youth Conference in December 1968. Inbum was Raymond Peter’s true friend, philosopher, and guide.

Peter returned to Malaysia in 1980. They decided to end their marriage through mutual understanding. When Joan passed away on 8 October 2017 in Kuala Lumpur, Peter, himself ailing felt melancholy, as she was still a mother to his three children. He sent messages to friends in Cambodia and abroad to pray for the progress of her soul. Peter also left a note with Mariappan Muniandy (Mario) of Cambodia. Part of it reads,

“In the ten years of association with Joan, I found her to be a spiritual and God-fearing person. She was a staunch supporter of all the Bahá’í activities that I undertook in Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Australia. We should remember her in our prayers. …. I think on the whole Joan brought maturity to all the children… and I am sure to ask God to bring her to nobler heights.”  

A seasoned man who had always left his life in the hands of His Creator, Peter carried on with his own life. Whenever down in spirit he would recollect what Jeanne Frankel, his spiritual mother had told him at the time of accepting the Faith. “Life is to look upwards, never downwards. Every dark cloud would have a silver lining. Look out for joy within your pain.” Above this, he was always armed with the love for Bahá’u’lláh ever burning in the innermost corner of his heart.

SINGAPORE DAYS

Singapore opened service opportunities for Peter. Peter was elected to the  Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Singapore from November 1980 to March 1981, following a by-election of the National Assembly on 2 November 1980.  He left for a job in Thailand in March 1981. He left Singapore on 19 March 1981 for a posting that he took up Bangkok on 24 March to work for the United Nations’ International Refugee Committee with the job of looking into the health and sanitary conditions of the refugees and their camps in Thailand.  Raymond was back in Singapore in December 1981 and was assisting in teaching till January 1982. He was appointed to the Border Teaching Committee in March/April 1982 and along with others, he visited Kluang town in Johor state on 8 and 9 January 1983.

In 1982 Peter was employed by UNHCR to help with the repatriation of the Vietnam refugees fleeing from the Vietnam War, mostly by boat. Over 30,000 refugees stayed at Hawkins Road in Sembawang, before resettling elsewhere. Wong Meng Fook of Penang who had just moved into Singapore with his family remembers Peter organizing a United Nations Day at Hawkins Refugee Camp on 24 October 1982, in which function Peter was the Bahá’í speaker. It was grand occasion bringing much publicity for the Cause with some 30 strong Bahá’ís turning up to throw their support for the event. Counselor Owen Battrick and his wife June from Australia along with Anula, Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of Singapore were among those present. Samuel Murray and his friends entertained the crowd with songs. Peter did create good inroads for the Cause through the United Nations Day celebrations.

Wong Meng Fook worked together with Peter in the community of  Bukit Panjang, where both resided. Auxiliary Board member Christine and Meng Fook remember Raymond Peter winning the hearts through his contagious laughter and sharing of joys and jokes about the teaching trips with the early believers in Malaysia. At the Bahá’í Centre at Murray Street, Peter conducted his deepening sessions, including his favorite and famous topic of  ‘Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh’ which he was able to present with such depth.

TAMIL NADU DAYS

From 1983 to 1985 Counsellor S. Nagaratnam invited Peter to use his energy for the Cause in Tamil Nadu, India. Soon he became a force to be reckoned with. He went around Tamil Nadu meeting communities and deepening them on various aspects of the Cause and attending conferences where he threw in concrete suggestions for the further promotion of the Cause. Elected into the State Bahá’í Council in 1984, Peter assisted in educating the community on the Bahá’í Administration which was one more of his favorite topics.

Peter gave talks at the regular firesides held in the Madras  Bahá’í Centre. He was also involved in mass teaching in a place called Sulur and visited many tribal villages in Coimbatore area with Munusamy, another travel teacher from Malaysia. Peter and Munusamy formed many Local Spiritual Assemblies in Coimbatore area. In one of the areas, they performed a Bahá’í wedding. Peter supported the author in December 1984 in taking giving the Faith to the topmost government officials and those in the highest capacity in the print and electronic media.  Interviews on the Faith on radio and television, bringing unprecedented publicity for the Cause.

He was highly successful in deepening individual believers in the state. Having made friends with All-India Radio, Chennai Station, Peter gave a talk on the Faith in Tamil, following a few days of rehearsals. When his tasks in India were satisfactorily accomplished, he returned to Malaysia, this time quite well-polished in the Tamil language. His stay in Tamilnadu was highly impactful, to be remembered forever.

CAMBODIA DAYS

The life of Peter and the history of Cambodia could not be written without the mention of Peter.  The Bahá’í Consultative Council of Cambodia (CCC) that existed before the first Spiritual Assembly of Cambodia was formed in 1994 had called for manpower to assist Cambodia and Malaysia sent in large numbers. Their task was to go to various parts of the country to round up all those who became Bahá’ís earlier at the refugee camps in Thailand and deepen them and to teach and bring in new believers into the Faith.  At the request of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Malaysia to revive the Faith in Cambodia, Peter pioneered to Cambodia in 1992 as Malaysia’s first pioneer.  Upon arriving in Cambodia, he saw  the ground situation with the eyes of the beloved Guardian, “ The field is indeed so immense, the period so critical, the Cause so great, the workers so few, the time so short, the privilege so priceless.” Even before settling down well, he returned to Malaysia to make a passionate appeal to close friends to go over to Cambodia to serve the Cause. His cousin Dr. Joseph Swaminathan rose to the occasion and followed him.  These two were able to assimilate easily into the Cambodian society and won their love. They together started the City Lotus Restaurant and Guest House which served them and the Faith. They continued to invite more believers from Malaysia and elsewhere to go over to Cambodia for serving the Cause, promising to provide whatever assistance they could in their humble way.

They came into the country during the troubled times and their space was used as a defacto Bahá’í Centre. They communicated with the World Centre, giving suggestions to how the Faith could be reestablished. Peter, in his great excitement, wrote to the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia to send pioneers to Cambodia and flew down to meet the Secretary of the national institution to speed up the process. Peter also wrote to the World Centre and they cabled the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia to expedite the matter. Dynamic forces were let loose and some Malaysian believers were sent in officially, while some others turned up under Peter’s personal appeal. The happy Peter gave all assistance and advice. Upon optional retirement in 1993, S. Satanam from Malaysia went to Cambodia for 3 years and added manpower for the development of the Faith there.

Whoever came to serve the Cause in Cambodia were magically attracted to the City Lotus Restaurant and Guest House that provided food and hospitality and disseminated the Bahá’í teachings, all in one package. New believers were brought to Peter to be deepened in the Faith. And these believers were put through the institute process that was first started in Cambodia on the rooftop of the City Lotus Restaurant and Guest House. Thus, there was a new zeal, renewed spirit and irrepressible enthusiasm at the City Lotus Restaurant and Guest House, which had become a beacon of light in disseminating the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh. All these developments had earned the good pleasure of the World Centre.

In a letter dated 11 November 1993 addressed to Peter and Dr. Joseph Swaminathan, the Universal House of Justice mentioned that they were very proud of the significant progress of the Cause ushered by them in Cambodia and assured prayers for their efforts in the Holy Shrines.

In its letter dated 10 December 1993, the Universal House of Justice called the Malaysian Bahá’í community to extend a helping hand toward the formation of the National Spiritual Assembly of Cambodia. Many rushed to serve in Cambodia including all nine members of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Petaling Jaya. Peter and Dr. Jospeh Swaminathan were most happy to have this band of believers arising to the call of the Supreme Body.


A serious discussion on teaching strategies with volunteers from the Petaling Jaya community. L-R: Shirley Wong, Veronica Lim, S. Ravichandran, and Raymond Peter


Lum Weng Hoe from Petaling Jaya and Raymond Peter getting ready to go for some trip on motorcycle

In Ridvan 1994 the National Spiritual Assembly of Cambodia was formed with Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum representing the Supreme Body. Muthusamy from Batu Pahat town, Ramayah from Kuantan town, Krishnamoorthy from Klang town, and Dr. M. Singaraveloo from Johor Baru were among the Malaysians present at the Convention. A lunch was organized for Amatu’l-Bahá at the City Lotus Restaurant and Guest House. Mrs. Satanam cooked special dishes for Amatu’l-Bahá, assisted by Shanti Ram and Rajeswary from Malaysia who had come as volunteers to give a helping hand for the convention. Amatu’l-Bahá enjoyed the meal most.


Lunch gathering for Amatu’l-Bahá at the City Lotus Restaurant and Guest House. Standing L-R: Dr. Jospeh Swaminathan, Raymond Peter, Shanti Ram, Krishnamurthy, and Rajeswary. Seated with Amatu’l-Bahá is Violette Nakhjavani. Amatu’l-Bahá specially posed for this photograph to be taken by Muthusamy of Batu Pahat town in Malaysia

With expatriates found in abundance in Cambodia, the business ran well, but when they started to leave the country in large numbers the business was dwindling. Sometime after the national convention, Dr. Joseph Swaminathan left the partnership with Peter to take up a teaching post. Peter managed the restaurant on his own.


The Phnom Penh Bahá’í  Centre above the City Lotus Restaurant and Guest House. Seated in the center on the floor are Raymond Peter (L) and S. Satanam(R). Counselor Dr. Loh Lee Lee is seated among the ladies, in the yellow outfit

The individual initiative that Peter employed throughout his days marveled everyone. Peter was a very relentless teacher and took up trips risking his life, sometimes against the advice, even if it had to do visiting just one individual. One such trip was in 1996 to the Stung Treng area some 400 kilometers away from the capital Phnom Penh, just to visit and give strength to one local Bahá’í residing there. It was a four-day boat journey in the Mekong River, breaking the journey for three nights. Halfway in this trip, the propeller broke down and efforts to repair were in vain. He and the other passengers had to catch the next boat.  Next, they had to pass a night on the boat beside a heavily forested area, that travelers would avoid. On their onward journey, they passed through a strong Khmer Rouge area where it was common for the soldiers to loot everyone of whatever they had, even if it were slippers. Passing through this zone,  everyone was worried, but Peter resorted to reciting the “Remover of Difficulties” prayers, placing the little cash he carried inside his socks. Their worst nightmare came true when a few soldiers with AK47 stopped the boat and came on board. To their great surprise, they were the government soldiers who had eradicated the Khmer Rouge insurgents only a few days earlier.  Peter being the only foreigner the solders questioned his background and when told he was a Bahá’í on way to visiting another Bahá’í, they smiled at him and allowed the boat to pass through.  Arriving in Stung Treng completely worn out, he spent a  few days there to consolidate the single soul and returned to Phnom Penh. Such was the spirit of Peter, going long distances, risking his life, even if it was to consolidate one soul.

In 1996, Peter married Miss Chheung Sokkheourn a local Cambodian believer, and with that his burning desire for his bones to be buried in a foreign country as a pioneer became a reality. She proved to be a very able lady in handling domestic affairs and the finance of the family. She was also a great source of support and main chef during the time Peter had to manage his City Lotus Restaurant and Guest House on his own. They were gifted with a brilliant daughter Almirah Monineath Peter. He was forced to close down the City Lotus Restaurant and Guest House in 1997 owing to the internal political situation. Peter wanted to provide the best for the family for which he tried various money-generating avenues.


Peter with an able wife Chheung Sokkheourn and a brilliant daughter Almirah Monineath Peter at the Sokha Beach in Sihanoukville, Cambodia


Nat Yogachandra from New York visiting Raymond Peter in the Phnom Penh Bahá’í Centre in 2011. Yogachandra was one of the hundreds of visitors deeply impressed by Raymond Peter’s knowledge, spirit and example

TIMOR LESTE AND AFGHANISTAN

Peter had an opportunity to be a United Nations Volunteer in Timor Leste in 2001 and 2002 and in Afghanistan in 2004.  Mr. Velayutham Gopal, a Malaysian pioneer to Cambodia who was working with the United Nations Volunteers program in Afghanistan and handled international recruitment managed to bring onboard a handful of Bahá’í friends into the system including Peter, among others. Peter went to Afghanistan at the age of 68, and his desire to work in dangerous and difficult non-family field missions was great.

As there were quite a number of Bahá’í friends in the mission, they had the opportunity to work in pairs. As such both Peter and Suresh Rama Naidu were working near the Iranian border called Nimroz. That created a window for the friends to care and support each other both physically and spiritually. Apart from performing his duties, he continued to teach the Faith wherever possible and permissible. Suresh extended a helping hand in preparing a particular PowerPoint presentation of the Faith, based on the materials and sketches Peter had prepared.

After a few months at the hazardous duty station Nimroz, it was so unfortunate that Peter suffered heart problems and went for a heart bypass procedure in Malaysia and recouped in the home and hospitality of Ho Yuet Mee and Venugopal. Upon regaining strength, he returned to Cambodia. Velayutham recalls, “Peter returned with a renewed zeal and energy. His spiritual power overtakes his physical power, and suddenly you see him moving about like a young man.” Despite his health, he still travelled in order to deepen friends on the subject of the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh. He even tried organizing such classes in Malaysia, but then the Ruhi classes were in full swing.  He would return to Cambodia with bags full of Bahá’í literature and white pocket-size prayer books for the believers in Cambodia. With the Faith fairly well established in Cambodia, in his last days, he desired to take the message to countries where the Faith needed more work to be done. He was contacting believers abroad for openings, and the believers who were well aware of his health situation preferred him to stay put in Cambodia.


Raymond Peter with Suresh Ramanaidu in Afghanistan

BACK IN CAMBODIA

Back in Cambodia, Peter continued to be active with the Local Chamber of Commerce (Malaysian Businesses), President of the Lion’s Rotary Club of Cambodia, teaching English at local institutions, catering food for certain Non-Governmental Organizations as well as embassies of  Australia, Malaysia, and Singapore. At one point he also worked at the Ministry of Health as a special advisor to the Minister. All these involvements enabled Peter to create inroads for the Cause.


A happy moment with visiting Malaysian believers in Phnom Penh,  2013. L-R: Sathasivam from Malacca, Tan Boon Tin from Ipoh, Ronnie Koh from Kuala Lumpur, Raymond Peter, Low Ling Wah from Malacca, and Mrs. Sathasivam


With some children attending the Junior Youth Class at the residence of Velayutham Gopal. Mrs. Ramani Velayutham, teacher of the Junior Youth Class and Children class is seated third from right. Seated at the extreme left next to Raymond Peter is Steve, a neighbor who had accepted the Faith through the efforts of Raymond Peter


Exhibition on the occasion of the Bicentenary celebrations of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh, 15 October 2017. L-R: Peter, Joe Bushnell a visiting believer from the USA, and Meach Hoeun, a member of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Phnom Penh
Ayyam-i-Ha celebration on 1 March 2018 at Tanuja Mahmood’s place, Phnom Penh

SUNSET DAYS

Peter made his last trip to Malaysia in 2018 to get treatments for several ailments he was suffering from. He started off by getting admitted into the Tun Hussein Onn hospital in Petaling Jaya for a cataract operation. When running through a general checkup prior to the eye operation, the doctors detected major blocks in his heart and advised him to get the heart operation done first. Peter was then admitted into the Serdang Government Hospital for the heart operation, but owing to more urgent cases coming in, his heart operation could not be performed. After passing a long period of waiting, he decided to return to Cambodia much frustrated. He could barely walk with his failing health and poor eyesight. The staff at the airport assisted him in walking him right to his seat in the cabin.

In Cambodia, Peter’s condition got worst over the last few years but was always very eager to participate in any Bahá’í activities. He brought along his prayer beads at gatherings and always had an encouraging word for friends, or he will come and hold you. Peter worked for unity among people of various backgrounds as his heart knew no cultural boundaries. Whenever he saw someone new in town, he would say, “Hey we have to teach that fellow lah.” Although he was quite immobile, he was always distributing photographs of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and white pocket-sized prayer to his contacts. Although he was declining in health, he was always sharp in his mind.


Velayutham Gopal of Cambodia presented Raymond Peter with the book DAWNINGS on the history of the early days of the Faith in Malacca that has several references to Raymond Peter’s immense services. That was the last book Raymond Peter read in one sitting

He became bedridden from the middle of March right to the day he breathed last. Some believers who visited him noticed that though bedridden his will power was greater during this time as he appeared to be active by turning his body, consuming liquid food, and requesting for prayers in the Tamil language. Although Peter had tasted the cup of tests for decades, he suffered the worst in his last hours. The doctor who visited Peter said that his death would come soon, and the believers said the Tablet of Ahmad and the Tablet of Visitation of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Raymond Peter, 84 years, passed away in the early hours of Thursday, 9 July 2020 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and with that, we have been robbed of a great worker of the Cause. On his passing the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Malaysia sent out a message of condolences praising his services and calling all Local Spiritual Assemblies in the country to organize memorial services.

The Universal House of Justice of being informed of the passing of Raymond Peter sent the following message dated 19 July 2020 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Cambodia.

Dear Bahá’í Friends,
The Universal House of Justice regretted to learn from your email letter of 17 July 2020 of the passing of Raymond Peter, devoted servant of Bahá’u’lláh. His services to the Cause of God, including as an international pioneer to Sri Lanka as well as to your country, are recalled with appreciation. Kindly convey to his family members the heartfelt sympathy of the House of Justice for the loss they have suffered and assure them of its loving prayers at the Sacred Threshold for the advancement of his soul in the heavenly kingdom and that they may find peace and tranquillity at this time of bereavement.

With loving Bahá’í greetings,
Department of the Secretariat

Peter had one wish, which came to be fulfilled before his passing. Peter wanted his brilliant daughter Almirah to get the best education for which he was praying daily. Bahá’u’lláh had not left his prayers unanswered. Peter was the happiest father when Almirah had gained admission for a degree in Civil Engineering in Gwangju, South Korea under the full scholarship of the Korean government before he passed away. Peter’s wife was inconsolable when he passed away. On the seventh day, she had a dream in which she saw Peter standing under a bright light, with brighter light radiating from him, and composed herself. She was so happy to have fulfilled Peter’s last wish to be buried in accordance with full Bahá’í rights. She is ever indebted to the Blessed Beauty for His unfailing protection and blessings upon her family.


Devotional gathering  on 18 February 2018 for Almirah’s send off to South Korea for a degree course in Civil Engineering

The passing of Peter triggered many thoughts in the minds of those who had moved with him or heard of his services. Peter had made both the wider world and the Cause proud in ways more than one. He rose to the high position of Health Inspector in Malacca, and had he stayed on would have gone even higher in his career. He received recognition for his meritorious performance in Malacca and parts of Malaysia in the field of control of cholera. He was seen as a clean, trustworthy and honest government worker who never received bribes, or never issued certificates of fitness for bartering favors. For such honesty, he had envious enemies who schemed against him and perpetuated false accusations. But they were dealt with grievous blows. One of them sustained a heart attack and finally passed away in Peter’s own hands when Peter tried to massage his heart. And as he breathed his last, Peter forgave him and said a prayer for the departed and said in all sincerity.

Peter was also a very generous-hearted person who gave away to the needy whatever was in his pocket, and without counting. With helping nature running in his blood, Peter had a natural sympathy for those downtrodden and teachers in the field who underwent suffering.  In 1962, the  Local Spiritual Assembly of Malacca sent  M. Maniam to rural estates in Malacca state to consolidate the many new believers. But soon he was short of money and was subsisting by visiting the coffee shops and eating bread crust. The news came to Peter who found it impossible to get the institutions to send the necessary funds to Maniam immediately. Peter went to his grocery shop and bought some provisions on credit. He then took his radio to another shop and sold at less than half the price and bought more provisions and sent them over to Maniam. Peter was always fond of Maniam for being a good fieldworker and paid a special visit upon him in 2009 in his hometown of Kuching in Sarawak. When in Jasin in 1968, Peter had invited youths from other parts of the country to come over to stay with him and involve in estate teaching.  He provided them accommodation and took them to the nearby restaurant and told the owner to provide them unlimited breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the bills for which he would settle at the end of the month.

Peter Speaks

When he was staying at the back of the National Bahá’í Centre in Setapak in the mid-1970s,  there were so many visitors, Asli teachers, and volunteers who were accommodated in the Bahá’í Centre. He had an eye for the youth, especially students and those unemployed or those away from home. Peter would bring the whole lot for meals in his house providing great hospitality. All these friends had a free flow of food, almost daily and with lots of fun. Even while running the City Lotus Restaurant and Guest House in Cambodia, Peter in his magnanimity offered a 20 percent discount for believers dining or squatting at his restaurant. He lost out all benefits, including free medical treatments when he resigned from his prestigious post of Health Inspector in 1969. But whenever he visited Malaysia there were some Bahá’í doctors who, in appreciation of Peter’s sacrifice for the Cause, refused to take payments for treatments and medicine Peter received from them.

Peter developed a  unique art of teaching and consolidating individuals. Peter had within him a kind of irresistible inborn missionary zeal to teach the Faith. When meeting anyone for the first time, or when someone was introduced to him, Peter would make himself known as a Bahá’í and open conversation on the Faith, a habit that he consistently demonstrated in every phase of his life. And after teaching someone, he would not stop but would follow up. And upon acceptance of the Faith, he ensured the new Bahá’í was deepened until Peter noticed his firmness in the Cause. He would then go one step further to accompany the new Bahá’í until he was able to teach on his own. Whenever Peter was in the company of Bahá’ís, he somehow would start discussing some aspects of the Writings. And numerous were the friends he brought into the Faith or deepened in the Cause. Such was his practice that he carried to his tomb.

He was one of the few who could move and assimilate easily with all strata of society with genuine love and radiant spirit. His company would simply enhance the spirit, with his deliberately cultivated habit of relating numerous success stories and achievements of bygone ages.  There is no community or active family Malaysia or Cambodia that he had not visited. When visiting Malaysia from Cambodia, he would try to make visits to his friends, or at least make phone calls to touch base and reconnect. He had a sharp memory of his old friends.

One more greatness of the man was his utter and sincere humility. Whenever those who had seen or heard of his services praised him, he would simply shrug off or change the subject. Whenever he saw someone arising to serve, he would sit with them to give the best tips, and having been well-grounded in manifold areas of service, his advice and tips always carried weight and value.

History would always portray Peter as one who had kept Bahá’u’lláh in the center of his life, nay rather his own breath. He was aflame with limitless love for the Blessed Beauty and served all his life with no rest or comfort. Peter was one who would not sit in idleness and lament when there was work to be done for the Cause. He took ownership of the needs of the Faith. His was a long and thorny road less traveled, a life sustained with both crises and victories. In the last decade of his earthly life, Peter was declining in health but was still moving on with the love of Bahá’u’lláh burning in his innermost being. He passed away consumed by the fire of the love of Bahá’u’lláh, as a moth would in the fire. We are sure the Blessed Beauty would reward this God-intoxicated servant his full share of blessings for his relentless labors for the progress of the Faith, performed with so much devotion, zeal, and sincerity. He has left behind traces that time and history could never eclipse.

“Thy Trust hath been returned unto Thee. It behooveth Thy grace and Thy bounty…”           – Bahá’u’lláh

 

A. Manisegaran
31 August 2020

Copyright@bahairecollections.com

References:

1. A. Manisegaran, Jewel Among Nations, Splendour Publications, Malaysia, 2003
2. A. Manisegaran, DAWNINGS, An Account of the Early Days of the Bahá’í Faith in the State of  Malacca, Bahá’í Publishing Trust, Malaysia 2019
3. Bahá’í Pootstchi, Dawn of the Sun of Truth Tamil Nadu, India, Mirat Publications, New Delhi, 2011
4. Communications with the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Singapore
5. Personal notes Raymond Peter left with the author
6. Audio clipping of Raymond Perter: Courtesy of N. Nagendran, Kuala Lumpur

86 thoughts on “REMEMBERING RAYMOND PETER

  1. Dear Mr. Manisegaran,

    Today, the 31st August 2020 happens to be Uncle Raymond Peter’s 84th birthday. This eager and consecrated servant of the Blessed Beauty is not around to celebrate his birthday but called to the realms on high.

    I have known Uncle Raymond even before I pioneered to Cambodia in September 1994. It is while in Cambodia that I have known him even better and benefited amply from his loving-kindness, spiritual guidance, and reading habit. We used to meet in each other’s home for dinners and discussions. He had shared with me many private and privy information. It was to that extent that we were close to each other.

    I was greatly touched by his unbiased spirit and zeal to teaching the Faith, his profound knowledge of the Cause especially in subjects such as Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh, World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, Bahá’í Administration, Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá among others, and his creative way of inspiring and uplifting the spirit of fellow Bahá’ís. Above all, his charming smile, wittiness, and sense of humor! He taught me the importance of carrying a pocket-sized prayer book all the time. I had never understood the significance of his obsession giving away prayer books to whomever he speaks about the Faith until the time I have read the book Jewel Among Nations.

    Thus, each time I go home on leave, spending time with Uncle Raymond was always my first priority. I used to narrate certain episodes from the book Jewel Among Nations to him. When the book Dawnings was published in July 2019, I got him a copy of that book and he read it in a single sitting! It was so gratifying to see the man who was part of the Bahá’í history of Malaysia reading his own history with much affection.  

    He said that Mr. Manisegaran had indeed done a great job. I told him that if the all the names of “Raymond Peter” are gathered from the book, a tiny booklet can be produced. As always, he humbled himself smilingly and with deep thinking. Out of my personal admiration for Uncle Raymond, I had shared many of his remarkable spiritual services and achievements to the friends at various Bahá’í gatherings during his lifetime. Uncle Raymond proudly came to the front and said that he was an “unsullied” Health Officer who had not received or entertained any bribe ever!

    Uncle Raymond was also known as the man of ‘Remover of difficulties’! He taught me the importance of reciting 500 times of this wonderful prayer. In October 1996, I was blessed to represent Cambodia at the South-East Asia Bahá’í Consultative Conference held at the University of the Philippines, Manila with Uncle Raymond and several other Khmer friends including the late ABM Heng Eng Chheung and ABM Ens Sopheap. Being a courageous and prolific teacher, Uncle Raymond was very instrumental and became so famous overnight. He encouraged the friends to recite 500 times of the ‘Remover of difficulties’ in the dormitory every evening before bed for the success of the conference – to the extent the Filipino friends started calling him ‘Uncle Remover of Difficulties!’. His enchanting word was always, “Let’s recite a prayer!”.

    When comes to teaching the Faith, Uncle Raymond was always generous in sharing ideas and technique of teaching. He never undermines anyone’s approach for teaching but rather encourages and strengthens them along the way. In every possible way, Uncle Raymond was a great human being, so down to earth, a kind-hearted person to the core and generously hospitable. I still remember my first ‘teh tarik’ at his City Lotus Restaurant and Guest House the very next day of my arrival in the capital Phnom Penh. To my best possible knowledge, Uncle Raymond had never charged any pioneer for food or accommodation at his restaurant-guest house. He was way too generous and at times beyond belief! I remember vividly the remarks of aunty Kheurn saying, “Your uncle is a kindhearted man, but he is not a good businessman.”

    During my tenure with the United Nations Volunteers, I was blessed to introduce a handful of Bahá’í friends including Uncle Raymond Peter, among others. He worked as a Health Officer with the United Nations Assistance Mission in  East Timor (UNAMET) between 2001-2003, Provincial Field Coordinator with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMID) between 2004-2005. He is also a person who thinks outside of the box. For example, while working in East Timor, he had spent his own pocket money to supply valuable health posters which he brought from Malaysia to his section. During weekends, he used to cook for the UN colleagues and used the opportunity to teach them the Faith.

    The beauty of Uncle Raymond was, he never ceases to teach to Faith wherever he goes and to whomever, he meets. He always finds the opportunity to mingle with foreign colleagues and ended up teaching them the Faith during the discussion. Due to his vast knowledge of the Faith and especially within the contacts of Christianity, his arguments are well constructed. Being an easy-going person, Uncle Raymond is still remembered and admired for his extraordinary energy and power of speech by the United Nations friends whom they call a ‘great friend and family’ till to this day.

    My personal perception of Uncle Raymond Peter has totally changed after having read the book Jewel Among Nations and the Dawnings. Thus, each time I go home on leave I ensure to spend some qualitative time with Uncle Raymond to show my respect to him and discuss the books I am reading. I found him to be a jovial person, his jokes were amazing, and he was a fabulous storyteller. He is packed with stories for any occasion and any age group for that matter. One can never hold his or her laughter if Uncle Raymond started to laugh!

    My wife Ramani Devi says that whenever friends go to his place, he would not let them go away without reciting prayers. Uncle Raymond always opens his home for Bahá’í activities. Being an active teacher, he would often visit his neighborhood friends, teach them the Faith—and bring them along for activities. Even at an advanced age, one could count on his presence at any activity. I also found him to be very kind and generous beyond belief. Whenever we present him gifts, he would accept them with a big smile and happily give them away to others! Uncle Raymond was a food enthusiast. I am so pleased that Uncle Raymond loved my Indian curry—and from time to time he would lovingly request for his favourite pork and chicken curry. He loves to listen to the recital of Tablet of Ahmad in the Tamil language. During his ailing period, I had often recited for him this special prayer. Apart from that, I used to play from my mobile phone some other Tamil chanting during my visits. Uncle Raymond would show signs of response to the chanting and prayers. Therefore, I had also shared the Tamil chanting with his wife to be played regularly. It was really sad that though Uncle Raymond loved to have friends by his side but due to the Covid-19 and restrictions of movement, constant visits were not possible, unfortunately.

    His loving wife Kheurn really took great care of her beloved husband from the very beginning. When Uncle Raymond returned to Cambodia after his two important treatments–bypass surgery and kidney stone procedure, his wife started providing him with Khmer traditional herbal medicine and a healthy diet without oil. Being a professional chef herself (once worked at Raffles Hotel and at least two other internationally accredited 3-4 stars hotels) she used to feed him with pumpkin porridge, meshed avocado, brown rice, etc. She roasted Khmer herbs and made them into powder for his daily consumption. Carefully selected ready-made Western and Khmer food were stored in the fridge for him to choose from on any given day. In every possible way, aunty Kheurn had taken care of him more than a husband. She had personally mentioned it to both Vela and me that “Uncle Raymond is not my husband but my father.”

    Our eldest son Afshin has this to say:

    Beautiful memories dearer than gold
    Uncle Raymond’s worth can never be told
    There is a place in our hearts, no one can fill
    We miss you and always will

    I remember when I was younger, one day after lunch at Uncle Raymond’s – we had nothing else planned for the day, so my brother Abha and I planned to return home to play video games. Uncle Raymond overheard our conversation and said the only way you are leaving is if you can recite twenty prayers each by heart. At that time, we only knew around ten prayers by heart and most of them were chanting which made it easier to remember off the top of our heads. So, we sat for a couple of hours memorizing ten more prayers. Confident in ourselves, we attempted to recite them out loud to Uncle Raymond. We failed many times, but by the end after reciting and chanting the prayers over and over to get approval from Uncle Raymond, I still remember those prayers to this day. This memory with Uncle Raymond I will never forget. Further, Uncle Raymond possessed a marvelous public relations skill. A random person at any Bahá’í gathering would definitely be from the contact list of Uncle Raymond!

    Abha our second son said that Uncle Raymond was an integral member of the Bahá’í community not only in Cambodia but in those countries he had travelled and pioneered to. He tirelessly worked for the progression of the Faith every day since the very day he confirmed himself as a Bahá’í. He unfailingly shares the Bahá’í love to everyone who crosses his path – new faces, young or old. It is not a surprise that his charismatic charm would always attract new believers.

    When asked, our beloved daughter Anisha said that Uncle Raymond was a very kind man and a cheerful person. He had never shown me a sad face! She continued to say, “…let your heart burn with loving-kindness for all who may cross your path.”

    From the depth of my heart, I feel that Uncle Raymond is the personification of the following verse of the beloved Master, “The divine ideals are humility, submissiveness, the annihilation of self, perfect evanescence, charity, and loving-kindness.”

    Being the first Malaysian Bahá’í pioneer to the Kingdom of Cambodia, Uncle Raymond had last achieved his heart’s desire to get his bones buried in the soil of this blessed country. It was very unfortunate on my part not to be physically present and be part of his final journey. Nevertheless, our beloved brothers and sisters in Bahá’u’lláh had unitedly joined hands to give him a befitting Bahá’í burial. The Universal House of Justice has referred this wonderful soul as a “Devoted Servant of Bahá’u’lláh” — so befitting and a great honour for Uncle Raymond. He deserves it beyond any doubt. We earnestly pray that the radiant soul of this favoured servant is further nourished and empowered in all the worlds of God.

    With Prayers,
    Vela Gopal, Ramani, Afshin, Abha & Anisha
    Phnom Penh,  Cambodia

  2. Raymond is unique in the annals of the Baha’i Faith.

    In 1978, while visiting Venugopal Nambiar in Plymouth England, I was introduced to Raymond. A strong, definitive, fearless character. He plunged straight into telling me, an atheist then, about this New REVELATION. Of course, I wasn’t touched at all. But the stay was only for 2 days, so nothing much happened except that we ate his home cooked edible Malaysian style food.

    From that time, I keep hearing his name from my wife Lalitha, friends – Venugopal, Wong Meng Fook and others. They talked nothing else but his bravery and guts to go here and there on proclaiming this new Faith which he pursued till his last breadth. He seems to be everywhere when he is needed most. Talking about the Faith is in his flesh blood and bones. The number of people whom he touched and who affirmed their faith in this youngest religion is humongous.

    All the countries that he had been to, many would recall his endearment and personal touch to the Faith. His style and approach is typical of those who are the front line teachers of the faith of the Blessed Beauty. Nothing seem to stop them from resigning / stop their work and go when told to go.

    Nowadays, we meet different persona and different approaches to teach the Cause of God. Indeed he is one of the early heroes and may he now enjoy the company of the Concourse on High. Perhaps, still busy talking and talking about the Baha’i Faith to the popes, high priests, mujhtahids, ulamas. He knows not how to rest. God speed

    Merican
    Singapore

  3. Mani
    I have read your most impressive and great work on our good dear friend Mr. Raymond Peter. Eloquently portrays his relentless service to the Cause of God.
    Most impressive piece of historical work.

    God Bless you and all at home.

    Professor Dr. Aananthan Krishnan
    Kuala Lumpur
    Malaysia

  4. Manisegaran,
    I am in awe of the life of service to Bahá’u’lláh that Raymond Peter lived portrayed in your recent profile. I am equally amazed at the research and writing skills exhibited by you to make Raymond’s extraordinary efforts come to life.

    I was gladdened at the mention of my dear friend Bill Smit’s role in being “a motivator for Raymond Peter to take up deepening activities as a life-long activity” in 1958. I’d like to add, 62 years later, Bill Smit’s is still a motivator on not only the subjects of the “Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh” but many other aspects of the Bahá’í Faith here in Hawai’i where he now resides. Bill has been a Bahá’í 70 of the first 100 years of the Faith’s formative years.

    When reading of Raymond’s life, it inspires me to always be serving the faith, to constantly teach, to overcome the trials and tribulations that life presents. It also brings to mind the following quote…

    “Night hath succeeded day, and day hath succeeded night, and the hours and moments of your lives have come and gone, and yet none of you hath, for one instant, consented to detach himself from that which perisheth. Bestir yourselves, that the brief moments that are still yours may not be dissipated and lost. Even as the swiftness of lightning your days shall pass, and your bodies shall be laid to rest beneath a canopy of dust. What can ye then achieve? How can ye atone for your past failure?”
    -Bahá’u’lláh (Gleanings, p. 321)

    Your sharing the story of Raymond Peter’s life has inspired me to ask myself the question, “What more must I do to be worthy of calling myself a Bahá’í?” Raymond Peter was exceptional Baha’í .

    Lee Lewis
    Honololu
    Hawaii

  5. Read the story of Raymond Peter
    His great spiritual soul and his great services in cause of Bahaullah is very unique and won his great soul Abha kingdom

    Bayan Shahed
    Australia

  6. Dear Mani,
    many thanks for the well written story of a truly remarkable servant of the Cause of Baha’u’llah. Mr Raymond Peter, very much admired and honoured pioneer in many countries and was instrumental in opening many new Baha’i communities especially in Cambodia. Had the opportunity to meet him in Kuala Terengganu while he was serving with UN handling Vietnamese refugees in Pulau Bidong ( late 1980s). Once in awhile he will come onshore to Kuala Terengganu to meet Bahai friends and we really look forward to his jovial character and deepening sessions. One fine day in 2004, while chatting online , surprisingly to know that he was serving in Afghanistan on UN missions.!!! Pioneering is really in his blood, moving from place to place. Will pray for this lovely soul in the Abha Kingdom.

    You deserve another accolade for a very well written story on Raymond Peter

    Dr. Leong Yow Peng
    Subang Jaya
    Malaysia

  7. Uncle Raymond had helped many people and spent his entire life for the Faith. He even helped my father the Late Mr. Maniam who is mentioned in the story, until he had to sell his radio. Through the years, my late father had always mentioned his name. Peter was supposed to come here to my hometown town in Serian to visit my late father’s resting place. Unfortunately he was not well that day. So he stayed back in Kuching for few days and flew back to Kuala Lumpur.

    When my late father pledged to pioneer to Borneo Island in 1963, Uncle Raymond gave my father a blanket and a mosquito net that is still kept well until today.

    They have one similarity. Both died on the day of the Martydom of the Bab.

    Uncle Raymond 9/07/2020
    My father 10/07/2008

    Finally they both meet each other in Abha Kingdom.

    Srimathy Maniam
    Sarawak
    Malaysia

  8. Dear Mani
    Read your story about Raymond. I must say it carries well researched information. Admittedly most are new to me. You have many detailed recollections about him and you have uploaded so many pictures that I had not seen before. Again it is nice of you to include his voice clippings as well.

    I did not know him well enough. I had known him to be a jovial person and always looking for ways to share the message of Baha’u’llah. But your story says all about this great soul.

    Thanks
    Arulnathan
    Kuala Lumpur

  9. Mani
    As usual a well-researched and well-presented story of yet one more servant of Bahaullah who has made us all proud through his exemplary services. This story is a banquet all right, written most professionally and illustrated with photographs that I never knew had existed. People say photos speak a thousand words. But the photos here seem to be speaking thousands and thousands of words!

    Hailing from Malaysia he has served in so many countries, meeting so many great souls across generations. Facing challenges and emerging victorious. HE has left his traces wherever he served. So much history is interwoven in his life Informative and inspiring! It is great that you unearthed all these gems as Peter himself would never prefer to talk about himself at all. His was really a life dedicated to service.

    I had met him a few times in Ipoh, Sitiawan and other places. Once I was in Phnom Penh for a few months and when I was packing to return to Malaysia, he urged me to stay on. I could not make a decision. Then we decided to recite the Remover of Difficulties prayers 500 times, with each saying ten times in turn. At the end of the prayers I was moved to extend my stay in Cambodia and went to his house where I was accommodated. In times of heedlessness Peter always resorted to prayers, as in the situation I just cited. He was a prayerful person, always connecting himself with His Creator. When I was in his house, I met his daughter Almira. Peter told me Almirah’s name means ‘Gift from God.’ Almirah seems to have inherited his sharp mind. She too is witty with humor and I marvel at her language skills. I told him that his daughter and wife are literally gifts from Baha’u’llah to care for him. God knows that our dearest Raymond too well and He decides only the best for him.

    Peter was a great motivator. Once he detected some talent in you, he would work on that talent to make you scale greater heights, which I myself had witnessed. He was equally frank in his comments all for the good of the listener. He was totally detached from earthly happiness and materialism.

    I always loved the company pf Peter as he loved laughter and would crack witty jokes to cheer you up. For Peter wittiness was not only a gift, but a good virtue as well. His jokes were full of wit and intelligence. Even in the most tensed situation he would diffuse the situation and make you at ease by his unexpected jokes and all would end up laughing together with him. This includes even when mitigating disagreements. I grew much through his guidance in difficult moments.

    After all I take pride in saying that I am his spiritual grandchild

    Ronnie Koh
    Kajang
    Malaysia

  10. I remember attending my first deepening class in the Yankee Leong Bahai Institute in Balakong conducted by Mr. Raymond Peter in 1983. It was small group. The one thing attracted me was his purity of spirit. It was a week-end class on “The Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh. “ The late Tamil schoolteacher Mr. Rajkrishnan encouraged me to go with him. I was just a one-year old Bahai. It was long journey then for us to come all the way from the northern town of Sungei Siput to Kuala Lumpur. We had to change buses to arrive at the venue. But after attending the class I felt it was worth all the pains and difficulties, because I really enjoyed the class. The class instilled so much knowledge on the station of the Central Figures of the Faith. Peter made the class lively through his enthusiasm and laughter.

    As I read the story, I can see that Peter never cared about worldly possessions but focusing on the service by disseminating the Faith to others.

    His has been a long journey from 1958 to 2020, with his services ranging from teaching in the aboriginal villages to pioneering in Sri Lanka, then to the United Kingdom, Tamilnadu, Singapore and finally Cambodia. And he has never been quiet even in the countries he covered when working under the United Nations system.

    I was very emotional to read that he had received accolades and appreciations from Hands of the Cause of God Amatul Baha and Dr. Muhajir and Adib Taherzadeh on his teaching secrets. The Universal House of Justice sent a good message of condolences on his passing. Admittedly not many get such messages, and Peter certainly has earned it, and deserved it. That message sums up his essence- DEVOTED SERVANT OF BAHAULLAH

    Truly thankful for this story. I will remember this great soul in my prayers. Thank you, Mr. Manisegaran, for your service.

    Nehru Arunachalam
    Chicago
    USA

  11. Brother Manisegaran,

    You have captured the life and legacies and services of Peter most befittingly.

    I have a prayer book signed by Peter, Joan, Shamina, Delshad and Riaz dated 3 January 1977 in Kuala Lumpur.

    It says,

    Dear Mohan,
    Wishing you every success in your teaching endeavors.

    That’s the first and only prayer book I carry with me till today in Macau.

    I remember his many deepening sessions and visits to my family home in Sentul area in Kuala Lumpur. I did not see him for 40 odd years, though I was in Cambodia last January with my family from Malaysia visiting the Temple and niece Prema who lives in Battambang.

    His son, Riaz, was passing through Macau on his way to Korea some 10 years ago and we caught up with news etc.

    It is a long gap, but this story has provoked my fondest memories of Peter. Thanks Manisegaran!

    V. Morgan
    Macau

  12. Dear Uncle Manisegaran,

    What a wonderful and inspiring story of our late uncle Raymond Peter. It was full of information and inspiration.

    Thank you so much for all beautiful recollections of marvelous souls who had done so much for the Faith. They are our exemplary elders.

    Seran Murugan
    Johor
    Malaysia

  13. Dear Brother Manisegaran
    Though I have not met Raymond personally, I have heard about his many sacrificial services in the Cause of God. Only tears of joy can flow to anyone after reading the story of Raymond.

    His total dependence on prayers attracted many who came into the Cause of God. And Raymond always followed it up by deepening these friends in the Holy Writings. May we all be inspired by Raymond’s life of ceaseless service.

    Santhanasamy
    Kuala Terengganu,
    Terengganu
    Malaysia

  14. The story of uncle Raymond Peter is very special in the history of the Faith and very memorable for me too. I too had played a small part in my own small way in assisting the Cause in Cambodia

    It was the call by the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia for volunteer from the Malaysian Bahais to help in the formation of the first National Spiritual Assembly of Cambodia .

    I was at that time in the Local Spiritual Assembly of Kemaman town. I joined hands with Rajeswary Doraisamy from the Local Spiritual Assembly of Klang town to answer the call of the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia

    We traveled to Phnom Penn in April 1994 and went to the City Lotus Restaurant and Guest House owned by Raymond Peter. We were accommodated on the top of the restaurant for a few days. Raymond Peter provided us very good hospitality when we were in Cambodia.

    We had a pleasant shock when Raymond Peter informed us that Amatul Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum will be in Phnom Penn for the Convention as representative of the Supreme Body and that she will be having lunch at his restaurant. He also informed that Amatul Baha had requested for special Indian food. He asked Rajes and me to prepare chapati for her and asked Mrs. Satanam to cook the chicken gravy to go with the chapati. We were all very excited.

    Raymond Peter specially requested me to go to the market with a local person to buy the chicken and vegetable for the the lunch. He joked that since I looked like a local Cambodian, it will be easier for me to negotiate the pricing in the market.

    I was further shocked when Raymond Peter handed over a plastic bag full of Cambodian currency to me. The bag was full of currency notes and when I looked at him he said the currency value was too low and that made me laugh. Once back from marketing we carefully washed all the vegetables and meat with mineral water, on the directive of Raymond Peter.

    We thought our job would end with preparing the meals. But he give us a priceless opportunity to serve lunch for Amatul Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum and her companion Violette Nakhjavani, since we were wearing the local costume.

    When lunch was served Raymond was very happy and kept mentioning to Amatul Baha that Rajes and I along with Mrs. Satanam were the cook for the day. Amatul Baha then touched the faces of Rajes and mine and mentioned the word ‘Angels” and Raymond Peter gave a big smile of fulfillment. Raymond was a man with a huge heart who believed in giving due credit to all who served and never stole the thunder for himself.

    I was told Amatul Baha did not want photos to be taken during the Convention. Surprisingly after the lunch was over she allowed Muthusamy of Batu Pahat town to take a group photo of us. That was so kind of her.

    We shall always thank Raymond Peter for his jovial character and cracking lots of joke and make others laugh all the time. He was a great story narrator and has many stories and lots of experience to share.

    Thank you for the wonderful work, which is also very special and memorable for me as well.

    Santhi Ram
    Kuala Lumpur

  15. I knew Raymond Peter from the very famous photograph of the National Spiritual Assembly of Sri Lanka taken in 1972 where he served with my grandfather Mr B. D. Saleh. He used to tell us stories on how Raymond Peter came to Sri Lanka and how he did the teaching work and how he was fearless to go and talk to anyone about the Faith. He had really taught many souls. I was always fascinated by such souls who can just get up and go anywhere for the sake of the Faith.

    After hearing for so many years about him since my childhood, I had the privilege to meet him in Cambodia in 2015. He was still that same person and was asking me about each and everyone whom he remembered in Sri Lanka. My meeting with him was a short one but with lot of insights and memories of what he did in Sri Lanka and especially initiating the new communities.

    Praise be to him and upon him shall be the choicest blessings of the Ancient Beauty.

    Nabil Hassim
    Sri Lanka

  16. Mani
    A well written story on Raymond Peter.
    Each time after reading the life stories of Bahais who had passed on I remind myself that I must be careful with my Bahai life and not waste it or be negligent about it. Baha’u’llah says the days of our life are less than a fleeting moment. How true !

    Yin Ting Shi
    Petaling Jaya
    Malaysia

  17. Dear Mani,
    Excellent account of the achievements and time of the great Raymond Peter which also chronicled the Growth of the Faith in Malaysia for which Peter was very much involved. Well done!

    I must comment on the picture of me with Peter Raymond starting his motorbike to go for a trip in Phnom Penh in February 1994. I recollected as I read the story in the PJ Newsletter, it was was a surveillance trip or doing “Recce”. The devastating war in Cambodia had just ended, remnants of the old Polpot regime were still not disarmed, UN peacekeeping forces were everywhere, roadblocks here and there. Local Baha’is were either still hiding, displaced or even dead. They were not around to show us the way. We literally had to start from ground zero. Peter had a unique advantage of getting protection from the UN Forces. They often had their meals in his restaurant. It was not entirely safe to venture far from base camp City Lotus Restaurant and Guest house. We came back to Malaysia inform the more than 50 friends who volunteered, amongst which were the entire members of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Petaling Jaya whose main task were to teach the Faith and commence the process of formation of the post war National Spiritual Assembly of Cambodia. Local Spiritual Assemblies must be formed at major cities and towns, at an unusual time . The only protection we had were the divine blessings and prayers from the Universal House of Justice under whose instructions we were there in the first place. Hence, fearless and armed with only with the power of prayers we went about doing what we were supposed to do. Peter Raymond, S Satanam, Joe Swaminathan and others played an indispensable role in reopening up Cambodia.

    I want to relate one frightful incident while travelling by “Tootoot” on untarred dusty road to Kampong Som some 250 Km away. Old Bomb craters decorated the road and perhaps land mines, at both sides of the road we saw barren treeless fields wiped out by Agent Orange during the war which went on for more than 10 years. We might have passed the “Killing Fields” on the way. All these thoughts of men, women and children, young and old ( entire populations of Phnom Pehn of 1 million inhabitants had been forcibly marched along this same road to their deaths) These images went through our minds and we (Ravichandran, my wife Shirley, Veronica, Anthony Wong and myself) said lots of prayers for their souls.

    Somewhere in the middle of the journey we were stopped by gun touting young remnants of The Khemer Rouge who commanded us to stop. They banged their rifle butts on the road making themselves look fierce. Stopped we did, we did not want trouble, everyone was nervous, Shirley was saying the powerful one word prayer for protection “Ya! Allah-al-mustagh” in rapid succession sounding very nervous, tears flowing, Veronica held her hands tightly. The men were on the lookout for any unpleasant but suspicious movements from these rouge soldiers. Sensing the nervousness from behind him, the driver motioned us to remain calm as he spoke to them. Lo and behold ! What they wanted were only cash and cigarettes ! The driver was ready for that, anything could have happened with loaded guns and he gave them a packet of cigarettes and away we went . We heaved a sign of great relief; divine protection was indeed promised and delivered! We stayed one week at the quarters of Uncle Satanam in Kampong Som spreading the Message of Baha’u’llah throughout the small town of Kg Som covering every street with no untoward incidents.

    Thank you.
    Lum Weng Hoe
    Subang Jaya
    Malaysia

  18. Raymond Peter, an amazing Baha’i! He did the service of hundreds of us!

    Now, more than ever in our history, we MUST take Raymond as our example of what we SHOULD be doing to serve our beloved Cause! How much more of a shaking awake must we be!

    Thank you God for creating such beautiful examples for which we can strive to serve. And thank you, Manisegaran, for assisting us to know some of them.

    Sharyn
    USA

  19. Thanks for sharing the wonderful story of this beautiful soul! Bless his legacy how he taught the Faith while still a seeker then becoming a Baha’i later!

    I know Betty who is also in one of the photos. She was a Counselor for Australasia and working for Tonga Island from Caroline Island.

    The world is small and we are all connected in some ways.

    Kalo Fakatou
    USA

  20. I read the touching story of Mr. Raymond Peter. He was a kind, loving, selfless and gentle soul. His unwavering dedication towards teaching the Faith will forever be etched in my family’s heart as well as the hearts of generations around the world. He and his wife had added luster to the spread of the Cause in Sri Lanka.

    Mr. Raymond Peter and his wife pioneered to Sri Lanka in 1969 and lived in the coastal region of Negambo. During his services to the Cause in Negambo, his love for the Mahamood family ran so deep that he named one of his daughters after Mrs. Mahamood- Shamina. Mr. Raymond Peter was so blessed to have Mr and Mrs. Mahamood’s daughter, Thanuja Mahamood serve with him in Cambodia and assist in performing his final rites. My niece, Nimmi was able to assist in performing his final rites on behalf of our family. Mr. Raymond is now laid to rest next to his dear friend, my father, Mr B.D. Saleh. Their friendship began during their services on the National Assembly of Sri Lanka and cemented when they pioneered together in Cambodia. I earnestly hope their souls have reunited in the realms on high.

    The wide-ranging services he undertook included his services as a member of the National Spiritual Assembly where he together with a group of early believers shouldered the role of registering the Baha’i Faith in Sri Lanka.
    He was further determined to spread the teachings of Baháʼu’lláh and spent several nights and days cultivating the seed of Baha in hearts of many souls. One such example was his determination to commemorate Human Rights Day and World Religion Day in Sri Lanka. These large-scale special events brought together several dignitaries, religious leaders and Heads of Government Agencies to generate awareness on the importance of establishing the oneness of humankind.

    My wife and I also recall one of our fondest memories with Mr. Raymond Peter and all of our fellow Baha’i friends coming together, indulging in traditional, spicy Sri Lankan food and also discussing the principles of the Faith. These consultations would go on for a long period of time, each of us gaining more knowledge on the Faith.

    Mr. Raymond Peter played an instrumental role in encouraging all the young pioneers in Cambodia by sharing his experiences in the field of service. He was a mentor and confidante to my wife, Niroshani, my niece, Nimmi and my nephews. He was a fatherly figure to my brother, Tony and I, encouraging us throughout our service in the fields and in the National Assembly of Cambodia.

    Our family is blessed to have known Mr. Raymond Peter.

    Iqbal Saleh and Family
    Colombo
    Sri Lanka

  21. When I was awarded a UN Fellowship to study in England in 1978, I was in Plymouth. One morning, when I was having breakfast someone approached me and asked if he could sit with me. I thought that will be nice to meet new people in a new place. The person was a bit elder to me. From the very beginning, I found this person very friendly because he asked me how I was doing and how he could help if I needed some assistance. I felt that this was in a real true sense. He was sharing so much about Nepal and India that made me happier because I found someone in so distant a place interested on me. I started to listen to him, more attentively and lovingly though he used to speak so fast and my English was not good.

    From then onward, we started meeting in the evening after we both returned from work. The real session had already started. He used to talk about the purpose of life, and how the Manifestations of God could purify the hearts that makes ready for accepting the new Message. Discussion on this new Manifestation and the new Message made it more meaningful. Our disucssions brought more interesting facts day by day. I was given a few pamphlets and books to read.

    Raymond started to take me to his friend’s house where they would talk and share about many spiritual aspects of life. Later, I came to know these were called home firesides. After four months of getting together we became very close and at one point Raymond asked me whether I was ready to accept the new Message. I requested for few more days and at the end, I accepted Bahaullah as the Manifestation for this age.

    Later, I was introduced in the Feast and was happier to meet new friends from the new Faith. I was able to attend my first National Convention in London in 1978, together with four from the Plymouth. We traveled in a Citroen car. It was a long drive and we reached there in the middle of the night at some friend’s house. We were greeted and provided food at the late hours of the night. It was a great occasion to see and meet the Baha’is from different areas with a different perspective in the Convention. All these happenings in UK brought a profound change in me.

    I returned to Nepal and received my Baha’i Identification card from National Spiritual Assembly of United Kingdom by mail. I was privileged and blessed to meet devoted and dedicated Baha’i friends like Ron and Thelma Bachelor who were in Nepal at that time.

    I also received a gift from Raymond (Prayer Book) which will be treasured for the whole of my life. In Nepal I served on the Local Spiritual Assembly of Kathmandu, Auxilary Board member, on the Training Institute and on the National Spiritual Assembly of Nepal. The seed for all my future services was planted by Raymond Peter.

    Raymond Peter had truly transformed my life. He was a spiritual counselor, and a true mentor to me who was always concerned on what was happening to me and the Faith in Nepal.To me, Raymond Peter was, is, and shall always be remembered as one of the virtuous believers of Baha’i Faith Although he is no more with us, his words, actions and detached services will be the exemplary to us.

    Narendra Pande
    Kathmandu
    Nepal

  22. Thank you Manisegaran for this heartwarming account of the life and services of Raymond Peter.

    I remember him well from those early days in the late 1950s in Malacca when he would come to the Baha’i Centre which was our family home then. My parents would welcome him to join us for lunch or dinner and we would engage in animated conversations on the teachings of the Faith.

    It was an interesting time, with lots of teaching activities in the small community and there was an almost messianic zeal, as it were, to go out and teach, virtually every weekend and even during weekdays after work. Such was the fervor and enthusiasm that brought many people into the Community of the Most Great Name!

    I went with Raymond on many a teaching project on his trusted motorbike, going to outlying centres and rubber estates, One time we even went to St. Peters Church, the oldest Catholic Church in the country, and engaged with the Portuguese priest on the teachings and how Baha’u’llah fulfilled the Christian prophecies of the the Return of Christ!

    Raymond had a bright cheerful personality, full of laughter and had always an interesting joke to share, but he had a serious nature too when it came to talks and presentations on the Writings of the Faith – he knew his stuff for sure!

    Over the years since we had become good friends. When he lived in Cambodia we managed to meet him, his wife and daughter in their home in Phnom Penh, and another time about 3 years later, when we were visiting the Temple he specially came to see us in Siem Reap.

    The last time we caught up with each other was at the Ipoh winter school in December 2018. He was looking frail then and had health issues, but he was his usual self, full of spirit, happy and detached with of his life. He still had that sparkle in his eyes!

    God bless his dedicated services in the annals of the Faith in Malaysia and other countries.

    Leong Ho San
    Wollongong
    AUSTRALIA

  23. Dear Raymond was truly a faithful servant of Baha’u’llah – always enthusiastic, ever unwavering.

    Bless you dear Mani for dedicating your time and effort to document for posterity the lives of these wonderful souls on this plane.

    Yuet Mee Nambiar
    Kuala Lumpur
    Malaysia

  24. I read the story on Raymond Peter. It was long, but I could not resist reading the story in one sitting. Each sentence was so moving.

    I remember Raymond Peter and I are of the same age. I know I am older. He was born a Catholic, but once he knew of the Bahai Faith, he studied the Bahai Writings carefully. He was very close to my father. Everywhere my father went he took Raymond with him- to the estates and new Raymond was always in my house. And it was so much fun to see Raymond entering into jovial and strong discussions with my father and brothers Leong Ho Chiew and Leong Ho San. He was like our family member. My father and Raymond were working in the same Malacca Municipal Council at one time. Raymond Peter was a very good speaker and he spoke very well on the Faith. He was a fantastic Bahai and when he walked by people would say, “There goes a fantastic Bahai!” Raymond was well liked by anyone who came to know him.

    I enjoyed organizing activities in the National Bahai Institute in Bukit Baru. Raymond was always a permanent speaker and he spoke very well, with notes and sketches. The photos speak well of his activities. When I heard the voice of Raymond, I cannot believe he is no more with us. He seems to have returned to be in our midst. What a dynamism and life in his commanding voice.

    He finally settled in Phenom Penh, Cambodia and I seldom met this dearest friend after that. But I knew his final days in this world were HAPPY. He had married a good wife who took good care of him till he passed on. I remember he was very proud of his daughter by his Cambodian wife. He always spoke so proudly of his daughter. Poor Raymond he did not see his daughter grow up to be successful in this world!

    Mani, thank you for sharing this inspiring story of Raymond Peter. You have done it again, and only too well, as always.

    Lily Chinniah
    Kuala Lumpur

  25. I read the story not once, but twice. There were we four musketeers. Leong Ho Chiew, Tushar-Kanti Paul, Raymond Peter and I who started off the community in Jasin. Time rolled by and now three have left me and I am the last soldier still around.

    I knew Peter even before he accepted the Faith and was fully involved in almost all activities he undertook in Malaysia until he went pioneering to Sri Lanka in 1969. After his return we were no more in the same community. But we were constantly in touch.

    Reading the story brought fondest memories of the Peter’s challenges, tests, struggles, victories and achievements for the Cause. There were paragraphs and sentences that brought tears to me. I broke down when I saw the condolence message from the Universal House of Justice which addressed him as a devoted servant of Bahá’u’lláh. What else would a true believer want? He has served to earn this praiseworthy accolade.

    His laughter, jokes and sense of humor are unique to himself. He could be jovial and yet serious. He was a man of many ideas who wanted to do great things for the Cause. He discussed some grand projects for the Faith. But he did not have the means. Yet what he had achieved on this earthly life is as a believer is quite unbelievable, He could have done so only with the blessings of God. He was prayerful, resigned to the will of God even when he fell down. But he still rose up and went on with life. That militant kind of zeal – he certainly had. We have to learn from the man. There was a class written all over him, as testified by his indelible services wherever he resided.

    Mani, you have made so much research quoting instances with year, date and even time, and the right photos with the right captions. And you have been honest, truthful and professional in presenting the life and legacies of our dear Raymond Peter to the world.

    May God grant you good health and long life to write many more stories of many more heroes of the Cause.

    Anthony C. Louis
    Malacca Town

  26. Perhaps volumes could be written on the vast and wide services of Raymond Peter. Being a blog, I understand there is limitation of space. Yet I am tempted to post here another unforgettable episode with the great Raymond Peter, something that I would not be able to forgive myself if I failed to make mention of it in his legacy.

    Raymond Peter was the first Baha’i friend from Kuala Lumpur to visit me during my first year of home-front pioneering to Kuantan town in 1975. The Company I worked with considered Kuantan Branch as unproductive and dead, and the person in charge was retiring and they were looking for someone to replace him. My colleagues and friends cautioned me that I will be committing suicide by going there. But I took the challenge nevertheless, as Kuantan happened to be a goal area for the Petaling Jaya Baha’i Community.

    On the way to Kuantan I stopped for a night at Mentakab town which was at mid- point, stayed in a hotel, decided to say prayers from beginning of the prayer book to the last page, and from back to the front again. My good friend Peter had taught me the power of prayers. Committing suicide ? I was going to prove my skeptics wrong. The next morning, I continued the journey to Kuantan feeling confident that divine assistance would assuredly come. I was still a bachelor boy of age 26, and had nothing to lose. I knew if I fell, I would have the tenacity to rise again.

    I arrived at Kuantan just before noon and found Kuantan to be a sleepy hollow with three main roads! I said to myself, my skeptics might be right after all. I nervously checked into a hotel on my first day, and again I remembered what Peter told me … Pray, pray, pray hard, focus to the task at hand and do pray like never before. I did what he said and started praying again from front to back and back to front of the prayer book.

    Knowing nobody there except the Armed Forces believer Captain Munusamy and his wife Theresa, and the Telecommunications man Marriappan, I rented a room somewhere for a start. Thus, begun an adventure of my lifetime ….

    Before long, I received a call from Peter, my mentor good friend, saying that he was coming to help me settle down. He took a good look at my room and with keen spiritual intuition said, “Move out of this place, think big, rent a house, use it as the Baha’i Centre.” Again he repeated “Pray, Pray and Pray – focus, pray”.

    I was hesitant at first, I was still a bachelor, why do I need a house for? He said “You are here for a purpose. It was not too much of the job you are plunged into. It is to serve the Faith. Have no more doubts. Just focus and pray, focus and pray. Other obstacles bothering you would soon come to pass. Do not be surprised when it comes and remember me when it comes.” I cannot remember how many times I said the “Tablet of Ahmad” It could be a hundred times! Thanks to Peter.

    Together we found a house at Taman Kubang Buaya off the road leading to Telok Chempedak Beach. Then Peter went with me to search for the rest of the friends starting from the Armed Forces Barracks to a gardener’s quarters in a school compound which had been standing in as the Baha’i Centre of Kuantan for many years. Great things had emerged from this little gardener’s house – a testimony to sacrifices made in service to the Cause.

    But I saw the prophetic advice of Peter in action. The house that I rented in Taman Kubang Buaya, which was more spacious became the next Bahai center with a hive of activities.

    After two years the owner wants it back. I rented another one at Jalan Mahmud quite close to the previous one, this time a Semi-Detached house which also became the Baha’i center for the next three years. A pair of devoted tenants moved into this house, that was none other than Francis Singam and his wife Usha.

    As predicted by the great Peter, the Kuantan Baha’i Community grew from sleepy hollow to a vibrant one in the East Coast of Peninsula Malaysia. And together with that came my own prosperity. My business also grew four folds in the first year and by the end of my stint in Kuantan for 5 years, sales grew by an unbelievable 10 fold. What is the secret?
    “PRAY-FOCUS, PRAY-FOCUS” … this has resonated in my mind whenever I think of the great Raymond Peter. He had taught me the power of Divine Assistance. May his soul rest in peace forever.

    Lum Weng Hoe
    Subang Jaya
    Malaysia

  27. This is such an excellent, most touching and comprehensive write up on our dear Raymond Peter whose life was intertwined with serving the Cause of God from the inception of the Faith in Malaysia since the fifties. He was one of those belonging to the Heroic Age of the Cause in Malaysia. His life has covered a vast and wide range of activities and services that very could rival. What a path of service and what a legacy he has left behind for history itself to feel proud!

    I had the great privilege of serving with Peter on some occasions throughout the fifty-five years of my association and friendship in countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, India, and Australia.

    In 1966 I met Raymond Peter at the Summer School held at the beach Youth Hostel in Malacca. He was the first person to greet and welcome me as I entered the Hostel. We got right away engaged in a warm and happy conversation and that was the beginning of our fifty odd years of unshakable bond of friendship. He said that he had heard about me coming from Laos through a friend in Penang that phoned him. He then asked me about the progress of the Faith in Laos that was experiencing mass-teaching in rural communities. He said that the Summer School Committee on which he was a member was thinking of asking me to talk on the topic of mass-teaching in Laos. But I confessed that I was not a good speaker to which he replied that I need not to worry but just to tell my story in simple words about how the mass-teaching was proceeding in Laos. I did speak on this subject and Peter told me I did well. On the evening of the following day seven members of the National Spiritual Assembly met me and asked me to spend a month in to initiate mass-teaching activities in Masjid Tanah area. Auxiliary Board member Leong Tat Chee, Raymond Peter and Sathasivam were playing a key role. Within 25 days of teaching many communities were opened to the Faith, indicating the possibility of entry by the troops.

    During that period, the four members of the teaching team stayed at Peter’s home as his guest and had daily breakfast and occasional dinners at Raymond’s loving and generous hospitality. Peter, who was five years older than me and well older than the other team members still treated everyone with humility, love and respect and made us feel comfortable and happy. Peter had a 200-cc motorcycle that he did not use anymore since he had just bought a brand-new Volkswagen Beetle. He offered the motorcycle to me to be taken to Laos and use it for teaching. I hesitated in accepting such a gift, but he convinced me to take it along for teaching. So, we proceeded with upgrading the motorcycle and at the same time obtained its export documents. But I suddenly fell sick and decided to take it later on my next visit. But the occasion did not arise, and it remained in Masjid Tanah. That was the heart of Peter.

    On another occasion when we were attending the Inter-Continental Conference in New Delhi in October 1967, I met Peter who had come with a group of believers from Malaysia. On learning that I stayed with a group of friends at a dorm he insisted I moved out and joined him in his spacious star hotel where he shared his big room with two other friends. I accepted the offer and enjoyed the conversation with all the roommates. This was the kind of loving and generous person that he was. Everyone knew that Peter was a humble but well-informed and excellent teacher of the Faith. In every town that we went together after the Conference for teaching and proclamation it was in the company of Dr. Vasudevan who was pioneering in India. Peter served everyone with devotion and love and took part in all the teaching activities with zeal.

    Those were two of my several activities with Peter. As I look back it is so refreshing to collect memories of joy, service and humor. The stories and the memories of those occasions are too many to recall. In my own words I would sum him as a crazy lover of Baha’u’llah, dedicated teacher and promoter of the Faith, obedient and steadfast servant of the Cause. He had many tests, but each time he fell, he rose up and went on with life. He had so much faith in His Creator who ultimately guided him to serve His Cause most effectively to be etched in the history of the Cause in countries he served. When writing the history of the Faith in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, India, Australia, Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, Afghanistan and East Timor, his name will appear in small or big ways. What a service of achievements!

    Early incidents in his life indicate that Peter has been created on this earthly plane during the Dispensation of Bahaullah, during the King of Days to serve His Cause. He got the job in Malacca though things were with odds. And then he gets transferred to Jasin town. Even not yet a declared Baha’i, he goes on motorcycle with Tushar Kanti-Paul to estates and teaches the Faith. With he accepting the Faith in 1958 a new chapter starts for him, and by extension to the Cause in Malaysia, which later took him to several other countries. His whole life had been programmed!

    He had demonstrated his firm belief by staunchly and patiently withstanding the tests of oppositions that surrounded him from the church, family and friends. With every transfer to the new places he had made his marks by serving relentlessly and with a great tenacity. The word rest does not belong to his dictionary. Teaching the Faith became the dominant passion of his life. He was known as a highly resourceful person and the recipient of honors and accolades. He becomes proficient in organizing events, in training, administration and deepening the believers in the essential verities of the Faith. He became a pioneer, in foreign countries. He had served in numerous capacities all those countries. His home was a Baha’i Center that accommodated visiting friends and teachers. He sacrificed everything in his life for the sole promotion and exaltation of the Faith. The list of service and achievements goes on and on.

    Listening to his voice through the audio clipping does not allow me to believe that Peter is no more with us. He has been brought back to life through the audio clipping and preserved in history through this write up. Thank you Manisegaran.

    The one aspect that is so magnanimous of Peter was his willingness to forgive his colleague who stabbed him in his back. Not only forgiving, but he even prayed for his soul when he breathed last. Peter seems to be one who would forgive even the most grievous of sinners. It is such believers who add fragrance to our beloved Faith. Every person who had known or associated with Peter would have every reason to be proud of his friendship. I thank Bahaullah, honestly sincerely and with all my heart for having brought me in contact with Peter- one of the greatest teachers of the Cause.

    What more can be said about the man who died in his pioneering post, lived a martyred life and served the Faith honorably to his last breath.

    The Universal House of Justice in its condolence message has described Peter as a DEVOTED SERVANT OF BAHAULLAH. What a befitting description by the Supreme Body of a man who deserves this. Should a biography be written on Peter, which he again more than deserves, the best title is already here.

    Dr. Firaydun Mithaq
    Chieng Mai
    Thailand

    ‘Let your vision be world-embracing…’

  28. Dear Manisegaran,

    I am a constant reader of each posting in this addictive and contagious historical blog.

    I have read your recent story about Raymond Peter fully. The word “very nice” would not be good enough. I am simply lost in words to describe the resistless feelings of emotions that came upon me. In the close to two years I moved with Peter in Chennai, Tamilnadu, not even once he mentioned all his achievements, never once did he blow his trumpet. He was a simple most person I had seen. Much news to me of a friend with whom I moved so closely. I did no know he had been trained by Dr. Muhajir and had met several Hands of the Cause including Amatul Baha on a few occasions. I did not know that he met Adib Taherzadeh. I did not know of the countries he had served, including Sri Lanka. He was so close and yet so far from me, to say. Neither did Counselor Nagaratnam who knew his talents and abilities only too well mention it to me.

    The story brought to the fore and to the public domain, perhaps for the first time the full range of his services which were untold before. Now everything is laid before us. I can only bow down in respect for this man.

    Counselor Nagaratnam once requested me to approach Peter to take class on “The Dispensation of Bahaullah.” He took classes for us in the Chennai Bahai Centre. That single class instilled so much firmness in the mission of the Cause of Bahaullah. I have to thank Counselor Nagaratnam and Peter for this.

    He taught me to resort to reading the Writings, especially the Gleanings from the Writings of Bahaullah each time I was down in spirit or facing problems. And since then I had always resorted to Writings and prayers for my spiritual sustenance. I was in a dilemma for sometime and when Peter was in Chennai in 1984 I had a job offer from the state government of Tamilnadu. I was reluctant to go as I could not make up my mind. I wanted to stay in the centre to serve Counselor S. Nagaratnam which I was already doing. I asked Peter what I should do. Without any hesitation he said to go and join duty. Correct and sincere advice. I joined duty the very next day. I still remember this gratefully.

    Many of us in Chennai remember the knowledge, joy and laughter he brought to us. We miss him really and very dearly.

    May his pure soul rest in peace.

    Kalidoss Narayanasamy
    Chennai
    India

  29. Manisegaran
    Thank you very much for the enlightening and inspiring write-up on Mr. Raymond Peter. While reading I could feel his tremendous love and devotion towards the Faith and his leadership qualities wherever he went.

    I was blessed to have him and Mr. Inbum Chinniah as my mentors while I was a secondary school student in Jasin in the mid-1960s. We, the secondary school students, used to go to Peter’s quarters for Baha’i deepening classes and study of the Baha’i writings. His favourite book for study would be The Dispensation of Baha’u’llah and subjects related to Christianity. We used to enjoy his loving and jovial nature.
    I used to attend the pioneering courses he conducted at the Baha’i Institute in Bukit Baru, Malacca from 1967 onwards. The courses gave me the much needed confidence in teaching the Faith that finally lead to pioneering to Sabah in 1971.

    Whenever there were summer or winter schools at our famous Sunshine Camp in Port Dickson or Baha’i conferences, he would encourage us to attend. Some of us as students at that time could not afford the expenses for the travels to attend these activities. He suggested and encouraged to hitch-hike to safe cost. I was able to attended quite a number of summer schools in Port Dickson and the South East Regional Bahai Youth Conference at the Malayan Teachers College in December 1968. This is where I was privileged to meet any Hand of the Cause of God for the first time- Mr. A.Q Faizi. I also met many Baha’is from other communities and countries.

    Hitch-hiking was an experience itself to me as coming from a rubber estate environment without much experience in the outside world. Apart from having a better understanding of the Faith and further inspired by meeting so many was an eye-opener of the world at large.

    In November 1991 I was delighted to meet Peter in Sabah. He came to Sabah at the invitation of the State Baha’i Council of Sabah to give a talk at the Sabah Unity Camp held at Hotel Perkasa, Kundasang. He gave a talk on Kitab-i-Iqan. After that he came to Sandakan on a visit. I was privileged to be of service to him this time. The late Mr. Chin Kah Thing and I introduced him our Rotarian friends who in turn arranged for a talk during the Rotarian luncheon. I was a pleasure to enjoy his hospitality again when I went to Phnom Penh after attending the Huquq’u’llah Conference in Siem Reap, Cambodia in 2010.

    Raymond Peter and Inbum Chinniah had played an important part in mentoring me to be a steadfast believer in the teachings of Baha’u’llah and be of continuous serve to the Blessed Beauty. His kindness, love and hospitality will always remain in my memory.

    Paramasivan @ Param
    Sabah

  30. What a moving story!

    I was acquaintance with Mr. Peter since 1974. We had a Youth camp in Batu Bersawah Division of the Jeram Padang Estate near Bahau town. Peter was our guest from the National Spiritual Assembly. Others were Dr. Singaraveloo, Mr. Kanagaratnam, Mr. Kantha Kumar, Isaac D’Cruz, Rama Naidu and G. Appala Naidu. Peter was relating stories of Abdul Baha. His talk was superb with a high sense of humour, and full of laughter, and yet drove home the pints he wanted us to remember.

    I met him again at the Winter School held in Johor Baru in December 1974, that was one year after he had returned from his pioneering in Sri Lanka.

    Mr Peter’s deepening materials were of high value and demand everywhere. In the 1970, the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia sent out many different deepening materials to the Local Spiritual Assemblies and isolated centers where there were no Assemblies. Those materials were in the files of our Local Spiritual Assembly, but not for removal. They were for reading alone. I could not take them along.

    In May 1977, I left for Orissa state in India via Madras city in Tamilnadu. I first went to the national Bahai center in Setapak before boarding the Air Ceylon to Madras. At the national center I collected some deepening materials. Then I asked Rama Rao, the Administrative Assistant if there were any such deepening materials in the Centre. There were a lot and he gave me some materials on the Dispensation of Bahaullah and the World Order of Bahaullah with diagrams, for easy understanding. Raymond Peter prepared them. Those materials were very useful for me in my teaching trips and launching mass teaching projects.The English-speaking friends in Orissa found them so useful that I gave them away. They were so useful that when I came to Malaysia for a visit in 1980, I dropped in to the national Centre and collected more of them.

    I met Peter in India in 1983. I met him at a one month long Bahai Academy Course held in Panchgani. We were putting up at the hotel of Mr. Jawan Mardi. We a group of friends could not sleep early because of the most interesting stories that Peter used to relate. We slept at dawn and get up at early morning. Those nights in Panchgani I related to Peter that I had taken his deepening materials from our National Hazira in Kuala Lumpur. He just smiled.

    Once Mr. Afshin who was at the Academy had gone to Bombay for some important work. Peter stepped in and conducted and completed a book on the Tablets of the Divine Plan. Well researched, well presented and well received by all of us. That incident is still raw in my mind.

    There was another memorable occasion. In the week ends evening, there will be get together with special food at the Hotel. During a song session the Malaysians were called to perform. The three Malaysians were Peter, Dr. Vasudevan and me. Dr. Vasudevan was reluctant. Peter and I took to the stage and sang the “Rasa Sayang” Malay song on the request of Mr. Afshin. Mr. Afshin had gone to Malaysia and heard believers singing it at some conference. We then continued to sing the “Burong Kaka Tua” song. We received rousing applause and had a lot of fun. Dr. Vasudevan was seated in the front row and Mr. Afshin had heard of the talents of Dr. Vasudevan. So Mr. Afshin told me to pull him up the stage. That did not work.

    Peter and I were in Chennai towards the end of 1984 when I was coming to Malaysia for a short visit.Manisegaran was also there having radio and TV programmes and meeting up with topmost officers, editors of papers and cinema icons, with Peter following him at times.

    That much I had known Peter. But this story has opened the flood gates. Unbelievable! What an outstanding record of non-stop services in so many countries since acceptance of the Faith till his last breath. Peter has made history and is forever in history

    Pitamboro
    Batang Berjuntai
    Malaysia

    pitam@hartalega.com.my

  31. Thank you Mr. Manisegaran for the story. It was a beautiful reading.

    I had profound love and admiration for Uncle Raymond. He was full of life and his jokes in mimicking voices, is something I will always remember fondly of him. His serves for the Cause are well recorded in this story.

    Banu Singaraveloo
    Johor Baru
    Malaysia

  32. Dear Mr. Manisegaran
    Thank you for this wonderful story.

    My Local Spiritual Assembly too sent out this story to my email and to several others.Thanks a lot!

    The story of Raymond Peter is very inspiring.

    May his gentle soul progress in the Abha Kingdom!

    Massa Keita
    Philadelphia
    Pennsylvania
    USA

  33. I read this story not once, but twice, all because it is so inspiring. I got to know so much about this great soul. But never did I know so much about him earlier. I only heard one or two things

    Now I can see how dedicated he was in the Faith. I had a chance to be with him during a Winter School held in Ipoh in 2018. After the Winter school I drove him to Seremban. I was sad to observe that his health was down by the time. Yet he tried to share much on the Faith. But his failing health prevented him from talking much. Because of his health he was also very forgetful. Upon reaching Seremban he realized he forgot his medication. It was 1.30 am. I got some medication and rushed him to his hotel.

    I will be reading the story the third time.

    Santhira Karappan
    Mantin
    Malaysia

  34. Thank you Mr. Manisegaran for this touching story that brought tears to me.

    I first met Mr. Raymond Peter in the house of Mr. Jami Subramaniam in Kajang town, after a Youth Academy event in the Yankee Leong Bahai Institute in Balakong. I always addressed them as Uncles. After the academy we continued on a 4 day course on the Dispensation of Baha’u’llah conducted by Mr. Peter. He had some well prepared concise notes on this topic. The notes are still in my possession till today.

    Since we were more in East Malaysia and Taiping before settling in Ipoh town, I have never seen him before in the Bahai Centre in Taiping where we used to live. But after this encounter I would say, I have seen him at my dad’s place in Ipoh town, even in his very last visit to Malaysia. My dad and Mr. Peter happened to be very good friends and shared the same passion of this ‘ in-depth knowledge’ of the Faith and discussed things intellectually which were way beyond the comprehension of young people like me then. While my dad dwelved into a lot of things very intellectually, in their conversations I have observed Mr. Raymond would give short, precise and simple answers to understand a topic discussed or the Writings. I used to term such encounters as meetings of the ‘Baha’i Mullahs’!

    Mr. Peter was a unique individual, whom most would love. I have not seen someone who enthusiastically teaches the Faith to every stranger met along the way of the travels I undertook. From young my dad has thought me to respect the pioneers of the Faith and do whatever I could for them. Though sometimes I must say I do get irritated with Mr. Peter for dragging me everywhere and stopping in 5 or 6 stops along the way to get out from the car and talk to someone about the Faith.

    This what he use to tell “look at that fellow, I think we can teach him the Faith.” Then he will go out from the car, approach a total stranger and teach the Faith. Most of the time I must say that I have stayed in the car while he without fear and with full of courage taught the Faith to a complete stranger. We even once prayed on the road side with a complete stranger, because he was having some health problems. So we said healing prayers for him.

    I must quote an unforgettable incident for which I am obliged to remember Mr. Peter forever. Sometimes he used to come to Malaysia and stay in my house. My wife who was not a believer at that time was not so comfortable having him around. She used to wonder why I was accommodating this man who has no blood ties with me. So I had this long discussion to explain that it’s a blessing and honour to serve a pioneer in whatever ways we can. Eventually she herself was more accommodating on his subsequent stays. And Mr. Peter being from Christian background shared with my wife, a Christian herself, quotes from the Bible pertaining the return of Christ. My wife long after have become a Bahai and now runs her own Children Classes. I am proud to sat it was Mr. Peter who planted the seed of the Faith for her spiritual germination.

    Very often he also visited my parents at their place in Ipoh town. He loves the Tosai (pan cake made of rice flour) that my late mother made for him. He enjoyed the Tosai so much that he wanted the same for dinner. And told her to come to Cambodia during the time he had his restaurant.

    I could not visit him on his last visit here, he was at my dad’s place during the Winter school, while I was in midst of traveling to India. We spoke on the phone.

    I remember this beloved soul as one who was like a father figure to me. I know he is in a beautiful and blissful place now and knowing this man, he will be praying for us from there!

    Let us remember him from here in our prayers.

    I earnestly request Mr. Manisegaran to immortalize the legacy of Mr. Raymond Peter by penning a book on him.

    Vijay Saravanan
    Subang Jaya
    Malaysia

  35. This is one of the most moving stories I have read in this blog. I had moved with Mr. Raymond Peter on a few occasions. But reading this story I see so much details that I just could not believe. He had done so much for the Faith in Malaysia and abroad. He is remembered wherever he went for good reasons- service to the Cause. I must say that Peter has made the Malaysian Bahá’í community very proud as a true Bahá’í and a true servant. Certainly, he is a great teacher.

    He had lived up to a rich 84 years, while many pass away earlier than that age. It shows His Creator wanted to keep him longer on this planet for a long life to serve the Cause.

    Peter is one who saw a meteoric rise from the day he accepted the Faith. He had been constant and consistent in serving in many capacities. He had been very firm like a rock throughout his life. His life is an example and lesson to many. The number of friends he brought into the Cause and the numerous believers he consolidated are truly amazing. He is one of those who had earned the greatest number of friends in this country and abroad.

    With the publishing of his story in this blog, the whole world is now able to see what a gem that Bahá’u’lláh has created in the Malaysian Bahai community.

    I pray for his soul to rest in peace
    Subba Rao
    Seremban
    Malaysia

  36. Dear Manisegaran,
    Thank you so much for the wonderful recollection of dear Raymond Peter and also the Baha’i heroes and heroines of Malaysia! The recollections with photos and history are so inspiring.

    I think I have met dear Raymond Peter only once in a Conference in Kuching (2008). He had so much excitement and enthusiasm and I felt it radiating from his inner being! It was a joy to be with him.

    I wish I had more time to be with him but as you know in a Baha’i Conference time is limited to meet and talk to friends.

    So many seeds planted and so many fruits harvested! Your talent in gathering historical facts is unprecedented.

    The wonderful spirit generated by the early believers of the Faith in Malaysia with the loving guidance of the Hands of the Cause of God has somehow infused so much energy into the Malaysian Bahá’í Community.

    Great heroes like Raymond Peter have spread this love to so many regions and countries. As you had mentioned their history is truly an inspiration to all and a guidance to the younger generation.

    Thanks to you and others involved in recollecting the past for advancement to the future!

    Dr. Janardanan
    Wake
    Okayama
    Japan

  37. RAYMOND PETER- Just mention this name and everyone in the past few generations and even the current generation would fondly remember him only too well. He was everywhere and, in every activity, in many hearts.He is no more with us, and the vacuum will never be filled forever.

    He was an old friend of my husband Mariappan in Seremban. In the 1970 I was a youth and a new Bahai. I listened to his beautiful talks that he delivered with his magnetic and magnificent voice at during conferences. His talks always attracted large crowds not only for the substance but the humorous way by which he presented his thoughts.

    He truly dedicated his time and life to promote the cause of Baha’u’llah by traveling to many countries as a pioneer. All these countries speak of him so well, from what I had read in the story.

    The last I met him was in 2018 when he was in Seremban after the Winter School for some time. He did come for Feasts and other activities and I was longing to listen to his dynamic talks. Sadly, he could not talk as before owing to his health problems. That really plunged me into sadness.

    His was a unique chapter in the history of the Cause in Malaysia- unique and in many ways unparalleled.

    I will always remember him in my prayers for the sacrifice and remarkable works he has rendered the Faith.

    May his soul rest in peace.

    Thanks again Manisegeran for authoring beautiful stories for us to remember all these wonderful souls who have adorned our history.

    Jenny Wong
    Seremban

  38. I read this most beautiful and touching story a few days ago and was just reflecting the kind of gems that Baha’u’llah has created. It is such heroes of the Faith that make the difference in the world. Mr. Peter is a man who has achieved so much and put the Faith before his everything else. No words can adequately describe the wide range of services he has rendered in Malaysia and abroad. He was known to the people of the countries he went to and also to the Bahais abroad were also in close contact to him.

    And what an honour for him to have earned the appreciation from hands of the Cause of God. Despite the several challenges he had the fighting spirit to stand up tall and ride the tide till his very end and he passed away in his pioneering post. And the Supreme Body has glorified him as a Devoted Servant of Bahaullah. That infallible body has described him very appropriately. Mr. Manisegaran’s detailed story explains all. Looks like a book could and should be written on Mr. Peter.

    Blessed…blessed is this pure soul.

    Geeti Yaganegi
    BHUTAN

  39. Brother Manisegaran
    Just managed to read your post on Raymond as well as all the comments and sharing by others. Brought many fond memories. Thanks brother, once again for capturing the brightness of a believer’s life for all to cherish.

    Doraisamy Suppiah
    National Bahai Office
    Kuala Lumpur
    Malaysia

  40. The story on Raymond Peter has covered part of his life and yet complete in covering the most important aspects of his services. He has done so much for the Faith, quite a task to emulate. The few times I met him at winter schools, he was always jovial. The many tests he faced never showed up on his face.

    May his soul rest in peace in the Abha Kingom under the sheltering care and mercy of God.

    Boon Kun Tan
    Kota Kemuning
    Malaysia

  41. I read this story in full and was overcome with so much emotions. In 1996 went to Cambodia from my hometown in Sivakasi in India and there I met Mr. Raymond Peter. The late Dr. Chandrasekaran and I ventured to open a multi-specialty hospital in Phnom Penh. Mr. Toni of Colombo was also with us. I was there for two months. Unfortunately, a civil war broke out and I returned to Sivakasi.

    It was during these two months that I came in contact with Peter, who ensured we were well taken care. We were staying in a bungalow and Peter sent all our meals to the bungalow without fail and on time.

    During these two months I saw Peter as a great spiritual giant. I had heard he was in India from 1983 to 1985 but I did not meet him at that time. Yet I felt so happy to have met him in Cambodia. Each time he met me, he would talk about some aspects of the Faith and take my soul into lofty heights. He would go deep into the writings and make me discover gems hidden in the teachings. He had a very deep understanding of the Faith and to be associated with him naturally elevated my own knowledge and passion for the Faith. He had developed an art of keeping people attentive by speaking with humor and yet not compromising the point he wanted to make. I saw him as a God- fearing man and always praying or in a prayerful mood. The two months I basked under his knowledge had so much impact on me. I am sure I am not speaking for myself

    Since my return to India, I often remember and recall my association with him and the guidance and love he showered upon me. Peter was a rare kind of believer who certainly had a role to play in our midst. And the story of Mr. Manisegaran echoes very much of this.

    Dr. Selvasegaran
    Bangalore
    India

  42. Dear Manisegaran
    Thank you so much for another moving recollection, this time on Raymond Peter, a member of the fast dwindling batch of Ten-Year Crusade Baha’is in Malaysia. I learnt so much about uncle Raymond, as I used to address him, from your story. The voice recording was so touching as one could feel his sincere love for the Faith and also brought back memories of his baritone voice.

    As you pointed out in your story, uncle Raymond’s life revolved around his passion for teaching and serving the Faith. I recall when he came to visit us one day after he returned from the UK and I was still quite young, he told me that I should make it a point to carry Baha’i pamphlets with me so that I could immediately give it out if I come across an interested person, you must not wait to give the message to a waiting soul! He told me that when he was in the UK, the town he lived in, the Baha’is had not had any new declarations in years. However, just by taking the bus, he could give the message and on one bus trip, he gave the message to three people. He was very knowledgeable about the Faith and I recall he would look through our bookshelf whenever he visited to see if there were any Baha’i books he had not yet read and asked to borrow it if so.

    The numerous heartwarming episodes in your story and comments from readers are a reflection of his life of audacious teaching and life-long service. How numerous those who learnt of the Faith through his efforts! They and their generations yet unborn shall have the bounty to traverse this amazing spiritual journey because of his efforts. The dream of his dear wife in which Raymond was standing under a bright light, with brighter light radiating from him, is so meaningful to me as it showed firstly the Tabernacle of Glory in which he is residing and secondly, the radiance emanating from his heart.

    Thank you.
    Soheil Chinniah
    Perth
    AUSRALIA

  43. This story by Mr. manisegaran carries so much details and has flooded me with the fondest and emotional memories of one I shall never forget.

    I know Mr.Raymond Peter since the time he attended my Baha’i wedding which was held in a hotel in Kuantan,Pahang in 1973. He came with a carload of Baha’i friends, among them the late Captain Choo Yeok Boon.
    In later years I continued meeting him during summer schools, winter schools and other Bahai meetings and conferences. His strict, devoted and radiant personality can never be forgotten. He became close to me while I was in Puchong town in the state of Selangor. I remember Mr. Peter following us to attend a winter school in Port Dickson town in Negeri Sembilan. He also used to join us in our local activities whenever he got the opportunity.

    He used to come from Cambodia to meet his long-time friend, my husband’s younger brother Professor Dr. Ananthan Krishnan. Dr. Ananthan Krishnan was running a naturopathy clinic in Puchong and Mr.Raymond Peter had taken this natural medicine to treat his ailment. This medicine worked well for him and he used to come regularly to see Dr. Ananthan for this medicine. While he was with Dr. Ananthan in Puchong he placed a lot of effort in acquiring knowledge on the natural medicine his friend had formulated. We used to converse during such visits and he always had so much encouraging words to motivate us.

    When his health deteriorated, he stopped traveling and I did not hear from him from then onward until his passing.

    Kunja Balan
    Kuala Lumpur
    Malaysia

  44. This is the story of the hand that fed me, the boss who employed me in the mid 1970s in his Peter Typewriter Services business as a Sales Representative.

    I accepted the Faith in Alor Star in 1963 through the blind believer Luke Sum Poi. In 1967 Mr. Nagaratnam, member of the national Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia asked me to go to Kuala Lumpur to start my life. When I arrived at the National Bahai Center in Kuala Lumpur. Mr. Peter, who was on the national institution, took me along to his hometown of Jasin and accommodated him in his spacious quarters for some 6 months. I involved in teaching activities in the town in the day time and in the evenings, he would take me for teaching in the rural places. And at night he would give deepening on several aspects of the Faith. In the six months I stayed in Jasin, he gave instructions to the restaurant to provide me free flow of any amount of food any time of the day.

    After six months, I came to Kuala Lumpur and tried my luck by working in a few places, but were disappointing. Then I started a tailoring business taking orders for coat and suit. I named the company “SUN SHELL ENTERPRISES”, but could not register the business as I was only 18 years old. One had to be above 18 to register business. I felt dejected and much down in spirit. When I met Peter I told him my sad story. Here comes Peter who allowed his name to be used to register the business- a true helping heart. This was the time when Peter’s father had just passed away, and he managed his father’s typewriter business for some time. The father’s business was at that time at the back of the Indian Overseas Agency shop in Leboh Ampang. Peter shifted the business premises to the Pudu area. I deposited the earnings from my tailoring business into Peter’s business account, and he allowed me to issue cheques from his business account- another unexpected great gesture. Then he suddenly decided to go to Sri Lanka for pioneering and handed over the business to Mr. Jami Subramaniam. Peter took me to the National Bahai center and introduced me to Mr. Tony Fernandez, Chairman of the National Spiritual Assembly and his wife Betty and requested them to give all the care for me in his absence- what a great caring soul. When he left, I lost my strength to proceed with my business. I had to wind up my business and work in the National Bahai center. I missed Peter and prayed his success in the pioneering field.

    When he and his wife came back to Kuala Lumpur after pioneering in Sri Lanka, I was the happiest man. As a token of eternal gratitude, I threw a dinner for the couple at my uncle’s house at the 4th mile Ipoh Road in Kuala Lumpur. Peter then took over the business from Jami Subramaniam which had grown well. Peter then employed Mr. Machamboo, another believer for a short while as a Manager. Machamboo left when Peter employed one more person as Assistant Manager. Peter employed me as a Sales Representative to sell typewriter accessories, and I was earning well for the first time. The handicapped person he employed as described in the story is none other than me. I became his very trusted and loyal worker, and he used to share many confidential things with me. On many occasions he took me to his house during lunch and I used to play with his three very young children.

    Peter himself was enterprising and ventured into many areas of making the business work. Peter worked very hard and secured so many government contracts from the earlier contacts established by his late father. I could see Bahaullah blessing him for all the services he had done for the Cause. I witnessed the business was at its peak and he was minting money, and was about to become a millionaire. Out of a sudden he decided to go to the UK to take up studies in Public Health. He missed becoming a millionaire, but passed away as a multi-billionaire with the love of Bahaullah in his heart, which is true and everlasting wealth He made it bigger in the service to the Cause of God. God has made full use of Peter who has earned God’s good pleasure as in the message from the Supreme Body, that infallible and august institution, describing him a Devoted Servant of Bahaullah..

    Since Peter returned, we were closely in touch. When he passed away, I was so sad. Here is Peter who was the hand that fed me, trained me and employed me. The story of Peter that Mr. Manisegaran has written is so detailed. All I can say is that if a book is written on Peter as suggested in a comment, I would be mentioned. And one day if something is written on my Bahai life, Peter’s name can never be omitted.

    Owing to my own health situation, I had to struggle to write this comment, with tearful eyes. Nothing is too much trouble for my best friend and the best boss.

    May Bahaullah bless the soul of this greatest soul I had met

    Sandrakasan
    Jenjarom
    Malaysia

  45. Reading the recollections and the comments made by friends made me realize the number of hearts Raymond has touched in this mortal life. I am seeing comments coming from well-known Bahais as well as those of whom I had not heard for some time.
    I was in Form 4 in 1967 when Jami Subramaniam and G.A. Naidu arranged for me to spend 3 weeks of my school holidays with Raymond in Jasin. I was nervous as I have not met him before and arrived at this big government bungalow and immediately Raymond made me comfortable. That was his big strength – easy going, down to earth, joking and laughing always. The next day, he took me to the restaurant that Sandrakasan mentioned above and introduced me to the owner for unlimited breakfasts, lunches and dinners during my stay. He told me there were three objectives: in the mornings, teach in the town: in the afternoon teach in the estates: and then in the evenings attend his deepening sessions in his quarters. And he also gave me comfortable amount of pocket money for me to spend.

    During the weekends, he will take me to visit Bahai friends. It was during this period that I met Inbum Chinniah, his wife Lily, S. Sathasivam, K. Somu, Anthony Louis many others. It was Raymond, who according to my capacity as a youth, introduced the Baha’i Administration, The Covenant and Nabil’s Narrative. I also became aware of what I call Baha’i vocabulary, terms that has become second nature now.

    After the South East Asia Regional Bahai Youth Conference held in 1968, when many of the youths volunteered to travel teach and pioneer, we were sent to the National Bahai Institute in Malacca for a special training course. Here again I had the opportunity to be with him during the duration of the course. He was the Program Manager which included preparing and delivering the courses, arranging speakers, food and taking care of our well-being. His organizing capability was beyond excellence and those who attended this course were ready to soar into the fields with the message of the Blessed Beauty.
    Thereafter, when I moved work in the National Bahai Center in Kuala Lumpur as Administrative Assistant we met very often. Raymond loves food and there was a particular Indian Muslim restaurant in Chow Kit in Kuala Lumpur that we used to go for lunch.

    When Raymond left for Sri Lanka for pioneering, he handed over the business to Jami Subramaniam who also resigned his government job to make way for Raymond to go pioneering. The business was soaring, and Jami needed more manpower. When he approached me to suggest some friends to join his business, I recommended some youth from Bahau area who joined the business.

    When I moved to Muar town, Raymond used to visit Dato Dr. Singaraveloo for his regular medical checkups, and we met up in the evenings. He loves to sing, particularly the evergreens of the 1950s and 1960s. Mona, my wife and he will sing duets and we can see him happy and smiling and it was a lot of fun.

    There are many Baha’is in Malaysia who had great influence on my life and Raymond Peter is definitely one of them whose steadfastness in the Faith and love for Baha’u’llah was un-wavered during good and under extremely challenging times.

    “O Son of Being!
    Busy not thyself with this world, for with fire We test the gold, and with gold We test Our servants”
    -Baha’u’llah-

    C. Kanagaratnam
    Scottsdale
    Arizona
    USA

  46. Dear Uncle Manisegaran

    Thank you for showing us how selfless and devoted Mr. Raymond Peter was in the Faith. He had lived his life for the main purpose of spreading teaching the Bahai Faith. I remember father Mr. Nagendran has a passion for recording videos on any Bahai events. One day when he was editing a video on a special someone, my father told me that this noble man Raymond Peter is an example of a selfless servant in teaching the Cause and was truly a humble person. And while reading story on Mr. Raymond Peter something that struck me was he refusing to accept bribes or misuse his position. I am now working as a government servant in the Royal Malaysian Police Force. I will always look upon him and take him as an example. His character, virtue and values as a Bahai has impressed me much. I am sure many in my generation will find him exemplary

    Thank you again for sharing a brief biography of great Bahai who has lived his life for Bahaullah

    Shoghi Rajan
    Sabah
    Malaysia

  47. Dear Brother Manisegaran,

    What a wonderful story on Raymond Peter, with so much details and great photographs.

    Baha’u’llah really chose Mr. Peter to serve His Cause. He accepted the Faith in Jasin and spread his wings to serve in many parts of the world. His life is so rich with events, and activities, attracting many into the Cause. Seldom we find such believers who do not rest till their last breath. From what I have read, he was an asset wherever he served.

    I have not met Mr. Peter in person. This write up, photographs and his voice clipping connected me to him. I wonder how you managed to get all these historical events in his life. Apart from the reference sources you have listed, you must have moved closely with him. And with the flow of the story you are definitely guided to write about Peter.

    My family and I wish to convey our deepest condolences to the family members of Mr. Peter. May Baha’u’llah shower His choicest blessings upon Mr. Peter for his sincere, dedicated, selfless and meritorious services rendered for the Cause of Baha’u’llah.

    Jaya Raju Thota
    Greater Visakhapatnam
    Andhra Pradesh
    INDIA

  48. Mr. Raymond Peter has always had a special quality. Even in his childhood years he had a big heart in helping people. This virtue has remained with him till the end of his life. This spiritual person has become a true legend of sacrifice in the path of Bahaullah. He has left a strong trace of beautiful memories in Bahai history. His life makes us ponder on how one could sacrifice everything and dedicate ourselves for the love of mankind and Bahaullah. His examples and qualities are worth emulating.

    Gurubalan JFK Balan
    Ipoh
    Malaysia

  49. I had known Raymond Peter for many years. He was indeed a dynamic figure. He had been involved in many areas of service. The one area that is outstanding as I have personally witnessed is his boundless passion for teaching the Cause. At the slightest opportunity he would talk about the Faith to any stranger. He had come to my former hometown in Sitiawan in the state of Perak and I took him to conduct deepening classes in a few communities. The friends were so impressed.

    The last I saw him was after the Winter School held in Ipoh town in 2018. This time he was not well and yet he came for the Winter School. After the Winter School I took him to my place in Batu Gajah town and got him involved in conducting deepening sessions. Peter related so many stories of the early days and quoted from the Writings, that kept the believers glued to their seats in pin drop silence. Although he was physically unwell, he became a transformed person the moment he started to talk on the Faith. I could see so much energy, strength and power emanating from Peter. Nobody would believe that a sick man was talking. I could see the what the Power of Divine Assistance could do to a person when he or she opens the mouth to utter the name of Bahaullah.

    I could see that Peter wanted to serve the Cause until his very last breath. And true enough, even when he was bedridden, he kept serving in his own ways.

    Krishnan Sinniah
    Batu Gajah
    Malaysia

  50. Dear Mr. Manisegaran,

    Thank you for this beautiful story of our beloved uncle Raymond Peter. A truly amazing soul that dedicated his life to the service of the Cause.

    The first time I had the pleasure to meet Uncle Raymond was during his visit to our home in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I remember he had a cold and as my mother was a homeopathy practitioner, I had a stock of medication at home and I found out that uncle Raymond not only had a great knowledge of the Faith but also a profound insight into homeopathy and natural medicine. I was also inspired by uncle Raymond’s pioneering in Cambodia to serve the Faith where I had the pleasure to visit his Lotus restaurant where I always felt welcome.

    Thank you again for yet another inspiring story of such a beautiful soul.

    Nemat Sabapathy
    Australia

  51. Mani,
    I read your article about Raymond Peter. How much he had done throughout his life, and so little we knew.

    Raymond was very helpful in accompanying me to Raub for a day, after the passing of my husband, Francis.
    Raub had been Francis’ last work post and there were matters to be sorted. That is something I am very grateful for.

    When Raymond met my 2 young toddlers, he had a box of chocolates for them. He was a very thoughtful person by all accounts.

    Raymond was deeply shocked and saddened at the passing of Francis at such a young age.

    Thank you again for the account of his services.

    Usha Cheryan
    Melbourne
    Australia

  52. Thank you Mr. Manisegaran for the detailed recollection on uncle Raymond Peter.

    One thing you cannot miss about uncle Raymond Peter in all the photographs is that he is always smiling and has a posture of ready for action.

    I remember uncle Raymond coming to Seremban with folders full of papers for weekend deepening sessions. He was thorough, well-read and had lots of knowledge to share.

    I got to know him much better when I was in Cambodia in the early 1990s. Buzzing with energy, easy to get along and a brilliant servant of the Cause.

    Sathiavarqa
    Singapopre

  53. Dear Manisegaran
    You brought back to life the very inspiring and heartwarming service of Raymond Peter – an outstanding and devoted servant of the Cause in such intricate details that it is as we got to know him personally.

    The life of such heroic souls will be of much admiration for generations to come. Thank you once again for shinning a light on this wonderful miracle worker of the Blessed Beauty.

    Alex Jacob
    Seychelles

  54. I first came to know Raymond Peter when I was serving at the National Bahá’í Centre, through Jami Subramaniam.

    In 1975 when I came for a visit to Malaysia from my pioneering post in Africa, I stayed about a week with Peter. Like many friends have commented before me, Raymond, was indeed a jovial person, he makes jokes and makes you feel comfortable and at home. My stay at Peters home was my last time of seeing him.

    In 2014 I visited Malaysia and that coincided with visiting Grace in Battambang, Cambodia, Raymond learned of my presence in Cambodia and he phoned Grace and talked with me. I do not recall any details of our chat, it went on and on, more than half an hour I remember. I mentioned that my husband Pierre would join me in Malaysia and after visiting my family and that we will attend the Summer School in Singapore in July 2014 where Mr. Hooper Dunbar was the main speaker. That was my last contact with Raymond.

    Love and greetings,

    Kamachee.
    Lesotho
    AFRICA

  55. Dearly loved Mani,
    I wish to record my appreciation for the voluminous and profound account of late Raymond Peter’s spiritual undertakings and his sacrifices in the path of service in the immortal Cause of Bahá’u’lláh. He has chosen to take solace in the loving arms of Bahá’u’lláh and till this day remains a true source of inspiration to many of us.

    In the early days I have often heard of him and his services before he went for pioneering. It was only in the early 1980s I had an eventful association with him during the Muhajir Teaching Project, at Kluang, Johor, Malaysia, when he was serving the Singapore/ Malaysia Border Teaching Committee. At the time there were influx of travel teachers coming all over the country to join the teaching campaign, organized by the National Teaching Committee of Malaysia. The bungalow house Bahai Centre that was hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Ramachandran of the Royal Malaysian Air Force has thousands of valuable memories. It was a well-organized Teaching campaign which was also a great center of learning.

    Raymond played an important role with his vast experiences in the teaching field. I personally found him to be a unique person portraying several wonderful qualities and immense knowledge of the Faith. His favorite subject was Covenant. During a personal conversation I asked him, if Covenant was established in previous dispensations and I was puzzled at his in-depth reply. One of his qualities, I admired was his magnanimity to forget and forgive others and leave them in the hands of God, the best of all judges. I have so much to say about this wonderful soul.

    In 1994 I had the opportunity to meet him in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. He and Joseph Swaminathan were running a restaurant/ lodge in the city area, catering for the public as well as Bahai travel teachers who were preparing for the first National Convention. I met several travel teachers from all over the South East Asian countries. Hand of the Cause Amatul Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum was the official representative representing the Supreme Body. The late Mr. Satanam and I got some Irish cheese she wanted in that war-torn country. I had the privilege to escort Amatul Baha from the hotel to Convention hall. A lunch gathering was organized for Amatul Baha at the restaurant of Raymond Joseph Swaminathan. It was here I took the courage to ask Amatul Baha, whether I could photograph her. I was warned earlier that she would not consent to be photographed. Surprisingly, she consented. Before pressing the snap button, ‘I said ready and steady.’ Amatul Baha remarked ‘Here comes the 20th century photographer, all smile.” She herself gave a warm pose. After the photography session, Raymond jumped with joy as if he has attained the presence of God Himself.

    Truly there are no words to adequately express the gigantic tasks he has undertaken for progress of the Cause in Cambodia and in other countries where he served. Seldom we find believers welcomed, appreciated and admired wherever they went. Raymond was one of those who can never be easily rivaled.

    May his soul rejoice in the Abha Kingdom for all the sacrificial services rendered.

    Muthusamy
    Batu Pahat
    Malaysia

  56. Dear Mani,
    I read your moving story on Raymond Peter. I had heard so much from my husband Kanagaratnam, when we were courting, of this great man with great services. That was when I used to frequent the National Bahai Center in Kuala Lumpur, where Kanagaratnam was serving as Administrative Assistant in 1971. I was longing to meet him, but he was away to Sri Lanka for pioneering. Then he appeared in the National Bahai center at Bahai gatherings when he had already settled in Kuala Lumpur. The first impression I had of Peter was that he was a man of business, with a mission and purpose in life. I was not wrong as days went by, my impression was very correct. The in-depth knowledge of the Faith, his sincerity in guiding friends into the Faith and deepening them and above all, instilling the love for the Cause and Bahaullah were traits I always admired in him. It did not take long before he became our very close friend.

    When Kana and I got married on 14th Sept 1974, we made sure Raymond was at our wedding and reception. Auxiliary Board member Inbum Chinniah, another important person in our lives was the Master of Ceremonies, with Yin Hong Shuen and A.P. Arumugam coming along to grace the wedding. Time rolled by and Raymond was traveling places all on service.

    We moved to Muar town in 1980 when Kanagaratnam started work with ST Microelectronics , an European Company. In 1987, Raymond made a short visit to Muar town and stayed with Dato Dr. Singaraveloo and Kan Hoe. Dato Dr. Singaraveloo was a Consultant Physician with the Muar Government hospital. When I knew Raymond was staying at Dato Dr. Singaraveloo’s home, Kanagaratnam, I and the children went to visit him. We started talking about the early days of the Faith in Malaysia and then decided to do some singing. I wonder how many of us know that Raymond can sing! We started singing some evergreens and then Raymond and I sang a duet of Pat Booone’s song “Love letters in the sand”. Every time I hear this song, I think of Raymond. He was a person of many talents.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ENzT9k1LRs&feature=youtu.be

    Raymond has moved with almost all active believers in Malaysia, and there is nobody who has not been impressed by this simple and sincere lover of God

    Mona Kanagaratnam
    Arizona
    USA

  57. Dear Manisegaran,

    That was a long essay! It captures highlights of Raymond’s life as a Baha’i. What made Raymond different is he had with him the habit of finding anyone to teach the Faith at any time and at every place. It was his persistent effort in persuading me to study the Writings that I found the Truth after initially rejecting the Faith out of hand. I regard him as my teacher for that reason alone.

    Thanks for your unstinting effort in bringing his memories to the old and the young.

    Bhaskaran Sanggaran Nair
    Muar
    Malaysia

  58. Dear Brother Manisegaran

    Your story on Mr. Raymond Peter is truly inspiring. No words to describe the excellence with which his story has been described. There is so much information, inspiration and spirit in the story. I felt the presence of Peter as I read it. It is so difficult to believe he is no more with us, especially when I heard his voice.

    My first experience with Raymond was in Taiping town when attending a teaching conference. He spoke in simple words which moved the friends to go teaching.

    In one of the conversations he had in Taiping town with Sukumaran Sangaran Nair, brother of Bhaskaran, we discussed on the tests and sufferings of believers in the path of God. Sukumaran asked how Peter was able to go on with life after having met so many tests in his life. The answer from Peter came as a shock to me as I could see how he viewed tests. Peter said to this effect, “When you have problems in your life, just leave the problems in the Hands of Bahaullah and live with Bahaullah. Take care of His Cause and He will take care of your cause.” How true and how mature was his approach to life.

    Later I met him at Summer and Winter Schools and at conferences in Port Dickson. He was always neatly dressed and very neat in his conversation with people. He always had numerous stories about teaching to motivate and move us.

    Again, I was privileged to meet him in Cambodia while a group of us were there as travel teachers. We stayed in his City Lotus restaurant and Guest House. Each evening he conducted deepening classes for travel teachers.

    After his heart operation in Malaysia in about 2004, he stayed with a friend in Kuala Lumpur and came over to stay in my house for some days in Sungai Petani town. Each evening we had gatherings where he shared his experience as a travel teacher and pioneer. His exiting stories were well appreciated by friends.

    One day he took me to the town to buy beads and upon return to my house gathered my family members and got them to make prayer beads with 95 beads in each string. WE presented them to the friends at the evening gatherings and he stressed on the importance of reciting Allah-u-Abha 95 times each day, in accordance with the Most Holy Book.

    His passing was a loss for many, and I am one who truly miss him, his wisdom and example he has set. I say constant prayers for the progress for this great soul, whose life on this earth has been meaningful and invaluable for the Cause -and for those who moved with him. I thank Bahaullah for creating this great teacher of the Cause as a gift to the Malaysian Bahai community.

    R. Gopal
    Sungei Petani
    Malaysia

  59. I read the story of Raymond Peter and got to know he had done so much for the Faith from the time he accepted the Faith in 1958. He and his name are permanently preservd in the history of the Faith in many countries. He has earned the appreciation of the Supreme Body for his services

    I was travel teaching in Cambodia in 1993 with Madhu (Madhenjit Singh) and stayed in his City Lotus Restaurant and Guest House for two days. He gave us good deepening and moved our hearts. He taught us how to invoke the power of Divine Assistance in the teaching field. Then we moved on to Battambang and stayed in Rose Hotel. We were involved in aggressive teaching and hundreds used to visit us in our hotel. The deepening and words of encouragement from Peter was very useful.

    I am very sure Peter was a very sincere, pure hearted and spotless soul. His smile I still remember. He had a warm and sincere smile. There was no hypocrisy in his smile. He never minced his words and never spoke with honey-coated tongue to please anyone. He was very straight in dealing with people. His heart was as white as snow and his heart was of gold. That sincerity has brought him this high in the Faith.

    This is my personal impression of this great man. I hope I could be like him

    Karthigeyam
    Subang
    Malaysia

  60. This is a very well-written and comprehensive life story of this God-intoxicated servant. Very seldom we find people rising to such lofty height in the Cause. Peter is one of those who has scaled great heights in the Cause. His whole life has been immersed in the service for the Cause, undertaken with so much love, sincerity, devotion and commitment.

    I accepted the Faith in Segamat in 1963 and became active when I went to work in Kuala Pilah town in 1965. That was where I first met Peter. He was of great driving force in his words and deeds for the Cause. All his talks were motivating and set the urgency of the needs of the Cause. He could simply move hearts. Was well deepened in the Faith. I loved his talks which were witty and highly humorous. That was a gift God had given him. Under even the most stressing moments he would crack jokes.

    What Peter has done for the Cause is what many of us may not be able to do. A dedicated life from 1958 to 2020. A record by all accounts. He shall be remembered, admired and admired so long as history itself is alive.

    N. Nagendran
    Kuala Lumpur

  61. Dear Mr. Manisegaran
    Thank you for writing about my Bahai friend Raymond Peter.
    It is a well written story of Raymond Peter. Congratulations for putting together a hard work in documenting his services. My time while serving in Cambodia was an interesting time with a lot of fun and laughter. Being a very new Bahai, there were thousand and one worries and questions in my heart when I landed in Cambodia in 1994.
    I was worried because I did not know much about Bahais and the Bahai Faith. As a believer of one-month old Mr. Raymond planted the seed of joy and happiness in my heart with pleasant hospitality and hilarious jokes, and deepening sessions. Whenever we were with him my heart jumped with joy. His company was very encouraging. Slowly I started to mingle comfortably with everyone, with the guidance and assistance given by Mr. Raymond Peter. I was happy to have received my training and guidance as a new Bahai from Mr. Raymond Peter.
    May you rest in peace in the Abha Kingdom. May more believers follow the path of Raymond Peter.

    With a lot of love,
    Rajeswary
    Puchong
    Malaysia

  62. Dear Manisegaran,

    I read the story of Raymond Peter with great interest. It was just after Naw Ruz in 1975 I left Masai town in Johor state after my 2 years of contractor was over.

    Borno Dass, another believer and I were gainfully employed in the Sungkai Estate with the help of Mr. Ramu Naidu the Assistant Manager of this Estate. He had a large and beautiful Estate bungalow overlooking the estate and the greenery of the Rubber plantation and the trunk road to KL and Ipoh.

    During the August school holidays of 1975 Mr. Rama Naidu invited Raymond Peter to conduct a study class on The Covenant at this bungalow for two and half days. Peter brought along some youths form Kuala Lumpur to study along. That was the first time I had heard seen someone presenting a subject on the Covenant. And Peter had done so much research to compile the notes. I was amazed at the meticulous preparations Peter had done for the study class. Till this day each time I hear the word covenant, my memory goes back to the study class by Peter. It was to that extent that he conquered my heart through this very weighty document.

    Suddenly he disappeared from the Malaysian landscape for some time. But reading this story, I am simply awe-struck to see how one could rise up so high to serve the Cause in various capacities in many countries and covering so many areas of service. I was again touched to read the message from the Universal House of Justice that described him as a Devoted Servant of Bahaullah. Coming from this infallible body, nothing could be a better accolade on Peter.

    Y. Mari
    Ipoh
    Malaysia

  63. Manisegaran,
    Beautiful tribute to a wonderful soul. Well written piece to remember our deeply cherished friend who captured the hearts of thousands of friends in Asia, United Kingdom, Australia, India, Singapore and Cambodia.

    The time I spent with Raymond is still fresh in my mind. My last visit with him was in 2011 in Cambodia where I met him and his lovely family.

    He leaves behind a legacy of dedicated service of spreading this sacred Cause. A man, who always had a smile on his face, is now enjoying a world of peace and the spiritual graces in the Kingdom of God. I miss him. He was a good servant of the Faith.

    May his love for the Faith and dedication and hard work to serve the Cause of Baha’u’llah inspire young generations to come throughout Asia.

    Nat Yogachandra
    General Manager
    Bahai Publishing Trust
    Wilmette
    Chicago
    USA

  64. I have known Raymond Peter since my late teens in Malacca town. He used to visit our house which was the Bahá’í Centre. My late father Leong Tat Chee used to drive Raymond to the estates and outlying areas to teach the Faith.

    Mani, you are a great prolific writer. I do not know how you intelligently source out important and precious facts and present to we readers, following the middle path of fairness and wisdom.

    Raymond was a knowledgeable and spiritual Bahá’í who traveled far and wide. He was very humorous, caring and jovial. My late husband Dharmalingam was very fond of him and enjoyed his company. Once we had the pleasure of hosting him as a guest in our home in Ipoh town for a few days. It was fun having him with us. I introduced him to our tailor and had a few pairs of trousers made for him. He was pleased with the results and it was nice to have done something together.

    I admire him for being an honourable man. He went through some extremely difficult times. Yet he maintained his faith among all that happened in his lifetime, pursuing a path of constant and brave service, never faltering. He was like the Phoenix mythological bird that regenerates itself or born again.

    We will always miss him. He is in a better world, the Abha Kingdom, free from pain and suffering. I pray for the progress of his soul in the heavenly realms of God.

    Mary Dharmalingam
    Sydney
    AUSTRALIA

  65. I had the privilege to be in the same community as Raymond Peter for a number of years. He was always kind and considerate. I remembered traveling with him on a train. Sensing that something was troubling me, he started telling me jokes throughout the journey to lift up my spirits.

    Raymond was the ultimate optimist, an exemplary teacher of the Faith and an inspiration to those who also shared the same Faith.

    Mong Leng
    Perth
    Australia

  66. I had frequently seen Mr. Raymond Peter during my childhood days at Winter and Summer schools in Malaysia but never knew much about him until I went to Cambodia in 1993. My father, the late Mr. Rama Naidu would talk about him often but to me he sounded more like a hero in a movie.

    When I was 12 my sister Sujata and I participated in a Youth Camp at Malacca. We were received at the Pudu bus station by Mr. Ganasa Murthi and Mr. Raymond. We had lunch and Mr. Raymond started to ask about myself. I told a little and then asked him if he knew my father. He said, “No I don’t know him.” Then I asked, “His name is Rama Naidu and he is an Auxiliary Board member. How come you don’t know him”. He had a hearty laugh which he recalled each time he met me in later years. Apparently Raymond Peter and my father were very close friends, which I did not know then.

    His Lotus restaurant in Cambodia was a rallying point for the Baha’is. I did not go on teaching trips with him then but being young, I only observed. During quiet moments he would read books. His room was filled with novels, Bahá’i books, magazines etc. That was a source of knowledge for him. Whenever he spoke, I felt motivated. He was also the kind who makes friends instantly. His jokes were truly funny. He had that gift of attraction.

    I soon also learnt that he was a friend of everybody from the smallest child to the elderly.
    He knew how to motivate and talk to people. But then he would always blend his conversation with the teachings of the Faith. Much later after he got married to Ms. Sokkheourn and after Almirah was born, he would bring people to his home, cook for them and share the Message with them. All people he met knew him as a Baha’i.

    Being with him in Afghanistan he was instrumental in deepening me about the Faith. I had to read the Dispensation of Baha’u’llah because of the PowerPoint presentations I was constructing for him. It is one document that would really open up one’s mind and helps us to understand the greatness of the Revelation of Baha’u’llah.

    There was a certain Persian lady at Nimroz in Afghanistan who invited Mr. Raymond and I for dinner. She was so kind and hospitable. As we ate, we spoke about Malaysia, our work etc. Then she suddenly asked us our most dreaded question which we were hoping no one would ask at that place. “May I ask you what your religion is?”. I was alarmed and prayed silently. Mr. Raymond gave a very wise answer saying it does not matter which religion we belong to but must show love to humanity and so on. The lady was happy and satisfied. When we reached the place where we were staying, I asked him, “Mr. Raymond, that lady was so kind and nice. Do you think we should have told her we were Baha’is? ” He quickly snapped, “Wisdom.”

    Raymond was a man of deep thinking. For instance he would ask what we could observe in a forest fires. I thought why would anyone think of all that? His answer was in the forest fires the tough seeds will break from their shells through the heat process. There is crisis and victory in nature as well.

    The time spent with Raymond was well spent. Part of what I am today is because of him.

    Suresh Rama Naidu
    Sabah

  67. Just finished reading about this great person Mr. Raymond Peter who suffered so much to serve the beloved Cause. It was truly very amazing to read so many details of this dedicated soul. You have narrated his life story very beautifully. This story has touched my heart.

    Thank you so very much for giving us a chance to read about this great soul.

    I will surely pray for this wonderful soul

    Kumari Letchumanan
    Subang Jaya
    Malaysia

  68. Thank you Mani for providing us with these wonderful stories and memories of all of our dear friends.

    Raymond was special and I was fortunate to be his friend. His love of the Faith was exemplary and this was most evident in his ability to teach the Faith to everyone who crossed his path.

    Venugopal Nambiar
    Kuala Lumpur

  69. Dear Mr. Manisegeran,
    Thank you for a wonderful and an inspirational story on uncle Raymond Peter, which many in the young generations need to know how he have served and sacrificed his life for Baha‘u’llah and the Faith.

    Uncle Raymond Peter has been instrumental in inspiring my Baha’i life since my early days of being a youth. Having said that, I remember my first meeting with him was in the Bahai center of Taiping town, in the state of Perak, Malaysia. I was part of the youth joining the Army of Light teaching campaign in 1983. He taught us how to use the red teaching kit/booklet “The Baha’i Faith” to teach the Faith. This was my first experience on how to teach in a proper sequence using the Red Booklet. I thank Uncle Raymond for that. He also told us to recite The Remover Difficulties prayer 500 times before going out to teach.

    When I came to Cambodia in 1994, I again met Raymond Peter. He was like a father to me, and was always guiding me. He continuously taught me how to serve and teach the Faith. As mentioned by many friends, he was always eager to teach the Faith to anyone at any given time and day.

    During 1996/1997, when Dr. Suresh Ramanaidu and I were residing in Kampong Cham, Uncle Raymond will often visit and stay with us. After the teaching trip, we would spend time together in the evening, and say the Remover Difficulties prayer 500 times after dinner.

    He was also a helping hand to many Baha’i friends during the early days in Cambodia. I remember in 1997, there were long tensions between the two governing parties in Cambodia that broke into factional fighting. It was a Coup d’état. The place I was staying in was not far from the area where the actual fighting occurred. During that time, my rented house was partially damaged due the fight. Uncle Raymond immediately offered me shelter by allowing me to move into his City Lotus Restaurant and Guest House.

    Eventually due to the poor business arising out of the chaotic situation, he had to close down the restaurant and rented a flat next door. I was sharing the second floor with him.

    Uncle Raymond had developed good relationships with many people, including the people of higher capacity. One of them was Mr. Ly Sorsane who was previously the Cambodian Ambassador to an Eastern Europe country. When Uncle Raymond met him in Cambodiana Hotel in Phnom Penh in 1992, wherein Uncle Raymond was there as a speaker at a symposium on the subject of Hygiene and Health . Uncle Raymond eventually invited Mr. Ly Sorsane to his Lotus Restaurant and taught the Faith and Mr. Ly Sorsane accepted the Faith and remains a Baha’i until this day.

    Later, when I moved to Siem Reap, he continued to visit my family. He would encourage us all the time on how we should be serving the Faith.

    My children still remember and have fond memories of uncle Raymond including one of his famous jokes “I am Kambing back”.

    Uncle is loved by everyone – adults, youth and children. He was known for his humor, friendliness and deep knowledge in the Faith and his dedication for the Baha’i Faith and to Baha‘u’llah. We will continue to pray for the progress of his soul.

    Mario Mariapan Muniandy
    Siem Reap
    Cambodia

  70. I am touched by reading this beautiful description of our late dear Mr. Raymond Peter. It brings back a flood of memories of his time spent with my family in Sri Lanka.

    I recollect how devoted he was towards Baha’u’llah and His teachings and he was an ardent teacher of the Faith. When it came to teaching he was kindled with a fire of love and passion for it, regardless of where he maybe, on the street or bus or in any place. He would spread the fragrance of Baha’u’llah’s healing message. He was an inspiration for all and was constantly full of energy and joy.

    Another memory is during the fasting month, if by chance he wakes up a bit late and not have time to have breakfast, he will just take a piece of bread and fast. Such was his steadfastness and obedience to the Cause. We learnt a lot through him.

    Our prayers are that his soul progresses eternally in the Abha Kingdom. May his soul be filled with joy, radiance and peace.

    With fondest memories!

    Mrs Shamina Mahamood
    Sri Lanka

  71. I met Raymond Peter for the first time at the Seremban Bahai Center while I was a youth. On many Baha’i occasions, especially summer and winter schools and conferences he gave moving talks that have left lasting impressions in me.

    After five years of pioneering in the state of Sarawak, I wanted to return to Kuala Lumpur. The late Penghulu Maniam who pioneering in Sarawak told me to meet Raymond Peter for a job at his Peter’s Typewriter Services.

    I met Peter at his residence in Setapak and showed interest in joining his company. Not only Peter offered me a job, but also offered me to stay in his residence. That was so magnanimous of this great soul.

    When I joined the Peter Typewriter Services, I observed that the company had secured several government contracts, especially from the Ministry of Defense to repair and service the typewriters in the Ministry and in the army headquarters and its camps throughout Peninsula Malaysia. A number of workers busily traveled to the state of Perlis in the north to the state of Johor in the south. Peter employed a large pool of workers, including a number of Baha’i youths. There were also quite number of Malay youths employed there. Everyone was working harmoniously as members of one family. Peter was a fantastic boss to work with. Never a day passed without him cracking his jokes to make us laugh and be happy. Peter was very well blessed. His business was well established doing very well. All workers were paid well.

    I was involved in Bahai activities daily with encouragement coming from Peter. Each evening, I would follow Peter for teaching in the estates. Almost each evening Peter conducted deepening classes at the Bahai Center or at his residence. All youths rallied around Peter. He taught us to adore Bahaullah, love His Faith and serve the Cause with all our hearts. Many youths including me were fortunate to have been trained by Peter at the prime of our youth so much, so he permanently remains in our hearts.

    Upendra Ramoo
    Sabah

  72. Dear Mani,
    I heard of Raymond Peter since 1965 when I joined the Bahai Faith in Penang. Used to meet him occasionally at Bahai gatherings and summer schools. In 1977, we caught up again in the United Kingdom and he came and spent a week-end with us in Oxford. We had a fireside and Raymond was an enchanting teacher of the Faith. He impressed everyone. Recently met him at the Bahai winter school in Ipoh in 2018. When we visited the Cambodian Bahai Temple last year, we were able to speak by telephone.

    Raymond leaves behind a legacy and memorable events and episodes in the service of our beloved Faith in Malaysia and Cambodia. He seized every opportunity and made a lasting impression on one and all.

    Silan Nadarajah
    Sydney,
    Australia.

  73. The story on Raymond Peter is so good we can learn of the sacrifices and examples of our quiet heroes. Near the end of this wonderful chronicle of dedication and consecration there is reference to a Trust of God being returned to God.

    After reading the account of the remarkable services of Raymond Peter, the thought presents that his soul, his life, tenacity, service, and love were nothing less than a Trust from God. The fact that his soul returned means also it came from God. Further, the essence of his endless service will remain as a monument to the spiritual reality of selfless service as an attribute to be worthy of even before the service is offered.

    People of future generations have yet another standard to emulate in their lives because one man, Raymond Peter, gave his for the betterment of the world with no thought of thanks or praise. With feelings of awe, think now of the words whispered into our ear at birth and as a prayer at the end of earthly life. “Verily, we come from God, and unto Him we return.”

    Steve Sewell
    West Chester
    Pennsylvania
    USA

  74. I read this story of Raymond Peter with great interest. Raymond Peter has become a household name in the arena of service. As a Baha’i youth in the seventies, I had the opportunity to meet and be in functions where Raymond was either a speaker or participant. He had a profound effect on me especially when he related his own experiences in the teaching activities. He had a vast and deep knowledge of the Baha’i teachings. His sense of humor always made it interesting to hear him speak or being around him.

    May God bless his soul.

    Ashok
    Kuala Lumpur

  75. Dear Mani,
    The fact that I became a Baha’i only in December 1976 at the South East Asia Baha’i Conference in Port Dickson, so I missed out of knowing Raymond Peter, in his very interesting participation in the early history of the Faith’s humble beginnings in Malaysia. Although I must confess that there were no lacking of his legacy stories in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

    However in April 2002, during a visit my late wife, Margaret and I made to Cambodia, I did meet him in person at the National Baha’i Centre and thereafter a few times over breakfast at a popular Asian Cafe Phnom Penh. I recall his attractive and approachable personality and his unforgettable smile, something I observe his three (3) children have distinctly inherited, as I watched them grow in my neighborhood in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur.

    Now that I reside in Brisbane, Australia 2 (two) of these 3 (three) children, namely Delshad and Riaz are also residing in my current neighborhood, and I still see Raymond’s smile on them.

    So my friend Mani, its going to be hard to forget Raymond in my current life time.

    Thank you for a splendid job done in sharing his life with all of us.

    Baljit Singh
    Brisbane
    Australia

  76. Dear Mr. Mani,
    What an amazing story! So inspiring to read the life and services of uncle Raymond Peter.

    The greatness of a man is always discussed after his passing. In the case of uncle Raymond he was praised while on this earth, and after his passing as well. Certainly a rare kind of believer who had stolen the hearts of many. I can see the number of comments posted in the blog, which speak volumes of his great legacy. Perhaps the time has come for all of us to view him in all fairness as a DEVOTED SERVANT OF BAHAULLAH, as the Supreme Body has very rightly described him. What could be a greater honor than this!

    I used to hear many stories and fascinating events that took place during his pioneering days in Sri Lanka from my late grandfather B. D. Saleh and other old Baha’i friends who accompanied him in the path of service.

    Though his name was so familiar to me from my childhood days, it was not until the year 2000 that I actually got to meet him in person in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where I also went for travel teaching. I was very fortunate and lucky to have met him in person and was able to spend one great year in the same community in Phnom Penh with him.

    His contributions and services in this Mighty Cause are so profound and can inspire any soul anywhere instantly. Without a shadow of a doubt, his name is already well written in golden letters and scrolls of the history of the Baha’i Faith in Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Cambodia. A prolific servant of Baha, he indeed has cultivated throughout his travel teaching trips and pioneering fields many young Baha’is to take up daunting tasks to fulfill their duties and to spread the healing message of Baha’u’llah near and far.

    He was an individual with a great sense of humor, a passionate speaker, and a stalwart servant of Baha with great enthusiasm. He was able to get many tasks done and to achieve the plans of the Faith at hand, and usually will not rest until he had achieved the desired goals. Great indeed!

    Thank you so much for sharing many inspiring personalities in this Blog and truly thankful for your services too.

    I sincerely pray to Baha’u’llah to grant uncle Raymond Peter to behold His splendors in the loftiest mount in the spiritual realms.

    Allah’u’Abha!
    Shamilar Shammi
    Colombo
    Sri Lanka

  77. Mani

    I read the recollections of the life of our dear Peter. I can imagine how he would have reacted if he would have read his own story. He would have lowered his eyes and head and put on his most gentle and sweet smile and I believe he would not have made any comment. He was humble indeed. I remember once I joked with him and told him that I was jealous of his success in teaching. He said nothing and just smiled.

    Thank you so much for your efforts and the time you spent in order to put together all the pieces of his rich life. It wasn’t an easy task and you undertook it masterfully and with a high degree of commitment to render him justice.

    I wish the young generations of Cambodia will read these recollections and get inspiration.

    I have nothing to add to your beautiful recollections. I think everything which could have been said was said by the long list of friends who dropped a comment. I only regret I did not know that Peter was so close to Dr Muhajir. I would have asked him so many questions about him and about all the other Hands of the Cause of God he met.

    I would like to praise you for your dedicated work despite your own suffering and tests.

    As a writer myself I feel deeply connected to you and will assure you of my prayers for you. I bet Peter is also praying for you wherever he is.

    Rajwantee Lakshman-Lepain
    Phnom Penh
    Cambodia

  78. Mani
    Read your detailed write up on Raymond Peter. I remember I have met Raymond Peter twice-once in Johor Baru and then in Cambodia.

    Raymond was a very devoted Bahai, humble and firm in his belief. As a pioneer he devoted his life to the service of the Faith. Before I could get to know him well in person he had pioneered to Sri Lanka.

    When I moved to Malacca in 1981 he had already left the state and his name was mentioned all over by the elder believers who had had known him.

    Tan Keat Fong
    AUSTRALIA

  79. Raymond was a man, full of spirit and enthusiasm as well as being wise and tactful in his approach. He was my first Bahá’í teacher. His spirit was most contagious. His sense of humor was inseparable from this spirit to give, to share, and attract souls into the fold. His simplicity of approach had a magnetic influence on the hearers. During my brief stay with him in January 1963 after my declaration, I saw in him some very exemplary deeds that touched me the most. One of them was the aloofness which Raymond and Uncle Leong Tat Chee, Auxiliary Board member in Malacca practiced when it came to receiving bribes, for giving their signatures, as Health Inspectors to approve Certificate of Fitness for new housing estates.
    Wherever he went, people had very high regard for this sense of uprightness and integrity in the way he did their job. When I returned to Kuala Lumpur, I still use to get reports of his steadfastness in his teaching activities to whoever he meets, and visit the estates as well as the Asli (aboriginal) teaching. In short, the spirit of dedication I saw in him had a strong pull on me to follow his ways. Many things happened between 1963 and 1992 period when he approached me to accompany him to Cambodia.

    I was then working in the Good Shepherd Vet Clinic in Damansara, Kuala Lumpur. Long story short I prayed and felt the call and decided to follow. He was the first Malaysian pioneer to Cambodia – on the special request of the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia. He had again transmitted his contagious spirit of a very positive outlook on the people in Cambodia. He regarded them as very receptive, welcoming and ever ready. On arrival, I too felt the same that Cambodia was ready for the seeds of the Bahá’í Faith to be planted.

    An unforgettable practice we all observed was the repetition of Remover of Difficulties 500 times daily. I am sure it had its effects. As finding affordable and tasty food was becoming increasingly difficult, Raymond suggested that an Indian Restaurant would be a good business. In this way we were able to serve both our personal needs as well as to serve the Faith better. This went on for some time bringing many blessings. When the expat army and police personnel left, the response to the restaurant began to shrink; at this time, I left and found another job while Raymond managed the restaurant by himself.

    During the period of “The Lotus Restaurant and Guest House”, many great things happened. The premises offered a place to serve as the Bahá’í Centre. Many Bahá’í activities were held. There was a constant flow of pioneers and travel teachers. The restaurant also served to proclaim the Faith to all its customers. It also was blessed as a rallying point for all activities that served to prepare Cambodia for its first National Convention in 1994. This historical event was graced by beloved Hand of the Cause of God Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum as the Representative of the Universal House of Justice .
    Among the many blessings Raymond received for his sacrificial activities for serving to establish the Faith in Cambodia was the gift of his beautiful wife Chheung Sokkheourn (Kheurn), who stood close to him through thick and thin, encouraging, inspiring, and accompanying him to live and to continue his spiritual journey in the next world as a steadfast pioneer of our beloved Faith in Cambodia. There is no doubt that their daughter Almirah Monineath, who is currently studying in South Korea will continue his legacy to carry the torch of servitude for all times to come. I pray for this wonderful soul to be always under the sheltering care and protection of Baháʼu’lláh in the Abhá Kingdom.

    Dr. Joseph Swaminathan
    Klang
    Malaysia

  80. What a excellent job you did on the biography of beloved Raymond Peter; my head was spinning at all the wonderful, sacrificial work he did for this most great Cause. He was definitely a spiritual giant as a Baha’i serving the Faith; exemplary in his virtues and faith. It reminds me of what was mentioned “Ours rather the duty, however confused the scene, however dismal the present outlook, however circumscribed the resources we dispose of, to labor serenely, confidently, and unremittingly, to lend our share of assistance, in whichever way circumstances may enable us, to the operation of the forces which, as marshaled and directed by Baha’u’llah, are leading humanity out of the valley of misery and shame to the loftiest summits of power and glory” and Raymond Peter embodied these valiant qualities.

    His soul is definitely soaring in the mysterious spiritual realm beyond.

    You are truly a prolific writer.

    May you always be blessed in all your undertakings. What talent!
    Evelyn Ng
    USA

  81. Dear Mani
    What a memorable read of the life of Raymond Peter! He was truly a colorful character of a man whom I actually got to know and interacted in some way in the early days of my student life in the U.K. Never got to know or had an opportunity to meet him in Malaysia when I became a Baha’i in the early 1970’s. I suppose this was this case of me not having an opportunity to meet some of the early spiritual mentors of the Faith residing in the Southern region of Malaysia then, me coming from the northern corner!

    As a young student in London, I met Raymond for the first time together with Ganavathi Naidu, who had brought him to introduce to some friends in North London where I was residing. He had come over from Plymouth over a weekend. I was amazed at the ease with which Raymond quickly broke the ice with the Baha’i friends present in the gathering with his witty remarks and his trademark laughter. On another occasion, he joined us for a Naw Ruz gathering at a home of a Persian family who admired his “easy approach” and in depth knowledge of the Faith. His adaptability to adjust and break into a conversation with anyone he crosses path with was an admirable trait in him. There was of course a serious side to Raymond too; especially when he was engaged or bantering with enquirers about the Faith. I recall an occasion in my rented accommodation in North West London then. I was staying with a few friends from Malaysia. It was a social occasion and I introduced him to some of the friends. The conversation quickly turned into a fireside. These flat mates of mine were awe struck by his rapid pace of the introduction to the Faith, but nonetheless enjoyed the talk interspersed with jokes and stories from his working days in the Government service in Malaysia.

    Raymond’s services to the Faith leave an impeccable record that those who knew him well to vouch for without hesitation. From his early days of accepting the Faith and to his final hours of his earthly life was consecrated to the Cause and to the various beloved institutions. One wonder how his simple and detached ways won the hearts of the thousands whom he had taught the Faith across the region.

    My last and perhaps in fondness remember him when he made a few trips to Malaysia to seek medical treatment about 5 years ago. He lived with whatever simple means he could and through occasional generous support of friends who knew his needs. He would call me like most other friends whenever he felt indisposed without transport to help him move around or to assist him with some chores. Wherever he went or whosoever he met, he will have something to mention of the Faith, even if it was strangers seated beside him whatever the situation!

    My ardent prayers for this blessed soul as he progresses in the spiritual realm. May the Blessed Beauty shower him with bountiful favors.

    Sandran Govindasamy
    Subang Jaya
    Malaysia

  82. Dear Manisegaran,
    I read with great interest and enthusiasm your story on Raymond Peter who shall always be considered one of the luminaries in the Cause in Malaysia.

    Raymond’s entry and progress in the Cause seem to coincide with key events in the early history of the Faith n Malaysia. I try to recall the reality that I experienced as a new believer in the years 1960 – 1963, the last years of the first epoch of the Formative Age. We need to bathe ourselves in the spirit of the times in Malaya that moved the believers like him.

    The passing of the Guardian in 1957 imparted a heart-rending poignancy to that period that saw “the spiritual conquest of the planet”. Every Baha’i I met during that time seemed as if he was carrying a time bomb in his hands, and there was no time to lose. Thus sense of urgency coupled with the increasing understanding of the unsurpassed greatness of the Cause sent a thrill that moved hearts and minds. Teaching was a natural outcome.

    The spiritual impact of Jeanne Frankel’s visit to Malacca and Jasin lit Raymond’s hearts and overwhelmed him – Jeanne was from Christian background, and that realization had a profound effect that Christ had indeed returned in the coming of Baha’u’llah. I heard from Raymond himself on a number of occasions on the effect of meeting Jeanne and the deepening that followed. They were magical moments. The new Baha’is of Jasin at this time included many who went on to perform remarkable services to the Faith: Tushar Kanti-Paul, the first Baha’i youth of Malaya; Tony and Betty Fernandez, stalwarts of the Faith, Anthony Louis, a powerful deepener; Arumugam Ramanan, Tamil school headmaster, and police inspector Leong Ho Chew, among others.

    Momentum for growth also came from the first Malayan Summer School, presided over by Dr Muhajir, and held in Malacca at the end of December 1957 and the over-flowing spirit of Baha’i fellowship was a factor for growth. Raymond’s mind must have focused, as his later activities showed, on two particular goals of the plan that Dr Muhajir inspired – the establishment of new Baha’i communities in Malaya and the teaching of Asli aborigines.

    An unexplainable Divine intervention seemed at work in shaping the Malayan Baha’i community- the Intercontinental Conference scheduled for Jakarta in 1958 was banned at the last moment. The entire gathering had to be airlifted to and staged in Singapore. Malacca greatly benefited by the infusion of spirit that came with the Singapore conference. Raymond often referred to the special effect on him by the study classes of Bill Smits, a pioneer from USA to Korea . The deepening focused on the Dispensation of Baha’u’llah and the Will and Testament of Abdul Baha. Needless to say this devoted study of these two documents, as well as the method of study, set the tone and pattern for the deepening classes that Raymond undertook from them on. Bill Smits was on his way to his Korea pioneering post and in those days there were few in Malaya who had an opportunity to reach certitude of faith by such a profound deepening. Raymond also referred to Professor Avaregan’s classes. One could see the influence in the profound deepening by Raymond and Anthony Louis that followed these visits.

    The Malacca Summer School in December 1957 and the first Baha’i wedding in the country- that of Betty and Tony became a public proclamation of the Faith. Such was the constellation of events that nurtured Raymond Peter and others during the early years of the Faith in Malaya.

    The movement to the rural rubber estates, inspired and led by Dr Muhajir, greatly expanded the community. Raymond joined Uncle Leong and an active group of youths in visiting rubber plantations and on occasion visited aboriginal villages. Raymond’s enthusiasm was great and if he had one common human failing it was the flitting from one plan to another, out of a heart brimming with enthusiasm for teaching new groups. He brought this same unbridled enthusiasm also to his work in the health department of Malacca during the Cholera epidemic of 1964. His untiring efforts, enthusiasm and devotion was sometimes misunderstood by his less fervent colleagues. Such dedication, however, brought good results and the epidemic was completely controlled within five months.
    It was in such social milieu that Raymond, a Tamil Catholic youth from an Indian settlement in Kuala Lumpur became totally identified with the Baha’i Faith.

    The Ten Year Crusade concluded gloriously for Malaysia and Raymond joined others in the Royal Albert Hall, London. The World Congress in London, 1963 lent an impetus to further growth. The experience led to a newer and greater vision of the Cause and commitment.

    By 1964 Malacca and Negri Sembilan had many new Baha’i Assemblies n their rural hinterland. For Raymond and other participants this must have been an eye opener to the potential that the estates held for the Faith.

    In 1965, Raymond was a Health Inspector in Masjid Tanah. This was the town that was first nurtured by Inbum and Lily before. Raymond was much liked by the local Chinese and he began to teach the Cause among them. A largely Chinese community began to take shape in Masjid Tanah and Raymond persuaded visiting Auxiliary Board member from Thailand, Orpha Dougherty to join him. Orpha produced excellent teaching aids and attractive stencilled posters to help the expansion work. This development will always be remembered as Raymond’s special contribution. Large scale declarations needed a reservoir of trained human resources that at that point in time the believers were not able to muster.

    Another indicator of the growing spiritual maturity of the friends in Malaysia showed in overseas pioneering and travel teaching. The family responsibility delayed Raymond’s pioneering but serving the Faith overseas began with five friends settling in Solomon Islands, India, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Sarawak. Two years later Raymond followed when he and his wife pioneered to Sri Lanka. Earlier in 1966 Yin Hong Shuen was a youth pioneer in that country.

    The early years of the Faith’s development saw many milestones of growth in a short period of time, and Raymond Peter’s left his mark in teaching, deepening, administering, pioneering and for me, his sense of amazement and infectious enthusiasm that lit the spark of faith in many others.

    Much more could be said on Raymond. Suffice to say Raymond certainly has a distinct and permanent place in the history of the Cause in Malaysia and other countries he served.

    Dr.S. Vasudevan
    Pune
    India

  83. Dear Manisegaran

    Your story on Raymond Peter was so inspiring and highly informative. I read from the beginning to the end. He was indeed one of the greatest teachers of our time. The one thing I vividly remember of him was, every word that came from him at any meeting was on some aspects of the Faith. All his conversations were of the Faith and just nothing else. Seldom had I come across one who was so obsessed with the love of the Faith. I remember the early days when he took the lead in mastering the books by the Guardian. He made booklets out of them and deepened a huge number of early believers. Many of those who were deepened by Raymond Peter grew to be giants of the Faith. I remember meeting him some time before he passed away. His body was weak, but his indomitable and irresistible spirit was still visible in him. He has made many individuals and the Malaysian community proud.

    May Bahaullah grant Raymond Peter all the love, blessings and bounties he rightly deserves for the selfless services and sacrifices he had done while on earth

    I have been reading with great interest all the stories of the early believers that you have been writing in your blog. I can see that you are rushing against time to cover as much as possible on those believers who deserve every mention.

    Dato. Dr. Singaravelu
    Johor Baru

  84. The story of Raymond Peter flooded my soul with so much feelings.

    I had heard of him from many friends when I became a believer. I first met him in December 1974 during my first winter school in Johor Bahru. We were staying in one of the school hostels. While introducing myself to him I mentioned I was from Mentakab town in Pahang. He was excited and informed that he did travel to Mentakab in 1969. He seemed to have detailed knowledge on many communities and many individual believers.
    I had attended talks during summer schools where Raymond’s explanation on various topics of the Faith were deep and yet simple to understand. His tone was always that of humility.

    I met him again in 1989 in Raub town along with the late Dr Chandrasekaran and friends. He was very witty. He would break the silence with humorous remarks.

    Whenever he visited Kuala Lumpur from Cambodia over the years, I had met him at Prof Ananthan’s clinic in Puchong. I last met him at the Winter School in Ipoh in 2018.

    Those are my personal recollections. But the story has tons of information on the services of Raymond Peter starting with the Ten-Year Crusade period. He has lived long to mingle with the next few generations and show them the way of serving the Faith tirelessly and with all the love.

    Raymond is certainly one of the luminaries of the Cause in Malaysia and his name can never be erased from the history of the Faith.

    Jeyandan
    Kuantan

  85. Indeed, I have no words to describe…..
    I am a regular reader of all the stories in this blog and I enjoy reading all of them, and yet do not comment. This is the first time I am commenting, as I find it too inspiring not to respond.

    After I read about Uncle Raymond Peter my heart melted away, with tears flowing down my cheeks. He is such an amazing soul. The example he had set gives me a new inspiration, more courage and confidence to arise to teach the Cause. I strongly feel that if only each of us could to follow his footstep, we could achieve so much in the community building process. His story truly creates love and thirst to serve even better.

    Uncle Raymond has been truly guided by a true Baha’i spirit flowing from the Blessed Beauty Himself. Otherwise how was Uncle Raymond able to achieve so much in the Faith. His story reminds me that never for a moment he rested without serving the Cause.

    Uncle Raymond is not one I would forget. He has a special place in our hearts and in the Bahai history.

    May Baha’u’llah shower His blessings in all the Abha Kingdom where I believe he must be serving the Cause in a different way.

    Thank you,
    Lots of Love for Uncle Raymond
    Esai Vaani Balaraman
    Ipoh
    Malaysia.

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