Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mani & the Manichaeans (216-274 AD)


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"Mani (216-274 AD)....was born near Seleucia-Ctesiphon, perhaps in the town Mardinu in the Babylonian district of Nahr Kutha, according to other accounts in the town Abrumya. Mani's father Pātik (Middle Persian Pattūg; Greek Παττικιος, Arabic Futtuq), a native of Ecbatana (modern Hamadan, Iran),.... At ages 12 and 24, Mani had visionary experiences of a heavenly twin of his, calling him to leave his father's sect and teach the true message of Christ. In 240–41, Mani travelled to "India" (i.e. to the Sakhas in modern-day Afghanistan), where he studied Hinduism and was probably influenced by Greco-Buddhism. Al-Biruni says Mani traveled to India after being banished from Persia. Returning in 242, he joined the court of Shapur I, to whom he dedicated his only work written in Persian, known as the Shabuhragan. Shapur was not converted to Manichaeanism and remained Zoroastrian."

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MANICHEAN TERMA...."A treasure text discovered in Tibet in the 12th century called "The 100,000 Words of Mani"...(Lopez: 1997)...

Chogyam Trungpa...."NYIDA: The vegetarian diet of Shambhala. Nyi stands for yellow and green foods, primarily vegetables and fruits, and da for white foods such as milk, yogurt, cheese and tofu...."

One of the main principles of the Manichaeans was a vegetarian diet of mainly green and yellow foods. Supposedly, light was concentrated in these foods and their bodies served as filters for the particles of light contained in the plants. (Litvinsky: 1992...Pg 414)

Historical Tengrism surrounded the cult of the sky god and chief deity Tengri and incorporated elements of shamanism, animism, totemism and ancestor worship. It was brought into Eastern Europe by the Huns and early Bulgars. It lost its importance when the Uighuric kagans proclaimed Manichaeism the state religion in the 8th century.

Khagan Tengri Bögü met with Manichaean priests from Iran while on campaign, and was converted to Manicheism, adopting it as the official religion of the Uyghur Empire in 763. One effect of this conversion was the increase in influence of the Sogdians in the Uyghur court. In 779 Tengri Bögü, incited by his Sogdian advisers, planned an invasion of China to take advantage of the accession of a new Emperor Dezong

"In 242 e.v., he proclaimed a new, universal religion at the Persian court of Shapur I, proclaiming himself to be Mani, "The Vessel," the prophesied Paraclete, the divine helper of mankind, and the last of the great prophets. In his new religion, he consciously sought to reconcile the great religions of redemption, Christianity (Gnostic), Zoroastrianism (Zurvanite) and Buddhism (Mahayana), in a new Syncretism which also incorporated elements of Greek philosophy and Indian Jainism; while refuting patriarchal Judaism. He was not, at first, well received, and was forced to flee the country. He travelled to Trans-Oxiana (modern Uzbekistan), India and Western China, making converts wherever he went. He intended that his religion be a world-religion, in fact the first world-religion, and he consciously adapted his teaching to accommodate local beliefs and customs. He was regarded by his Christian adherents as the Paraclete, by his Persian followers as the Zoroastrian redeemer Saoshyant, and by his Buddhist disciples as the Buddha of Light.

"Mani eventually returned to Persia, where his following had greatly increased. This time, he was favorably received by Shapur and by his successor, Hormisdas I. He was allowed to preach freely, and was even given a city in Khuzistan for his residence. He finally fell victim to the established Zoroastrian priesthood during the reign of Bahram I, the successor of Hormisdas. He was arrested at Gundev Shapur in 276 e.v. and thrown into prison in chains, where he died after 26 days. His corpse was flayed, and his skin was stuffed with straw and nailed to the gate of the city. His Persian followers were then subjected to severe persecution, but Manichaeism outside Persia flourished.

The earliest use of the term "Uyghur" (Weihu), during the Northern Wei( 北魏) Dynasty (386-534 C.E.), in China, refers to them as part of the Gaoche , a group of Turkic tribes, which were later called Tiele people (or possibly Turan). From 745 to 840 C.E. the Uyghur Empire stretched from the Caspian Sea to Manchuria; during this time they converted from Buddhism to Manichaeanism under the influence of Sogdian refugees. After the collapse of the Uyghur Empire in 840 C.E., Uyghur refugees resettled to the Tarim Basin, intermarrying with the local people and becoming the ethnic group designated as "Uyghur" today.

As Chögyam Trungpa says in Great Eastern Sun, The Wisdom of Shambhala, p 133: "Shambhala vision applies to people of any faith, not just people who believe in Buddhism… the Shambhala vision does not distinguish a Buddhist from a Catholic, a Protestant, a Jew, a Moslem, a Hindu. That’s why we call it the Shambhala kingdom. A kingdom should have lots of spiritual disciplines in it. That’s why we are here."

Ardavarz has left a new comment on your post "Shamis en Balkh & FRAVASHIS": ........Avestan Fravashi etymologically corresponds to the Sanskrit word pravartī (f.) meaning something that flows or moves forward or causes such movement. It is interesting that its Middle Persian form "fravahr" is used by the Iranian Manicheans as designation of the first of the five elements of light - usually translated as "breeze" and associated with the ether and the golden colour. However I think that the actual correspondence of the ether is not this, but the third Manichean element - the light (white colour), while the first ("fravahr" - element of life/spirit) stands here instead of earth as complementary to the element of wind (air - blue), just as fire (red) is complementary to water (green). Those correspondendes were most likely derived from the laws of colour perception which Mani being himself a painter has known well.
The Mother of Life (Syriac: ima de-khaye)
The First Man (Syriac: Nāšā Qaḏmāyā; Middle Persian: Ohrmazd Bay, the Zoroastrian god of light and goodness; Latin: Primus Homo)
His five Sons (the Five Light Elements; Middle Persian: Amahrāspandan; Parthian: panj rošn)
Ether (Middle Persian: frâwahr, Parthian: ardâw)
Wind (Middle Persian and Parthian: wâd)
Light (Middle Persian and Parthian: rôšn)
Water (Middle Persian and Parthian: âb)
Fire (Middle Persian and Parthian: âdur)

The original, but now lost, six sacred books of Manichaeism were composed in Syriac Aramaic, and translated into other languages to help spread the religion. As they spread to the east, the Manichaean writings passed through Middle Persian, Parthian, Sogdian, Tocharian and ultimately Uyghur and Chinese translations. As they spread to the west, they were translated into Greek, Coptic, and Latin....In later centuries, as Manichaeism passed through eastern Persian speaking lands and arrived at the Uyghur Empire, and eventually the Uyghur kingdom of Turpan (destroyed around 1335), long hymn cycles and prayers were composed in Middle Persian and Parthian......In the early 1900s, original Manichaean writings started to come to light when German scholars led by Albert Grünwedel, and then by Albert von Le Coq, began excavating at Gaochang, the ancient site of the Manichaean Uyghur Kingdom near Turpan, in Chinese Turkestan (destroyed around AD 1300)....

"Manichaeism and Buddhism......Manichaeism was a very widespread religion from Iran to China, almost rivaling Christianity at one point of time. I had been recently reading about this religion and was surprised how "close" to Buddhism it was, especially after adopting many Buddhist ideas and terms in China (just like how Taoism was doing). The founder of White Lotus sect in China against the Qing dynasty was also a follower of Mani....there is also a Monijiao Buddhist sect in China....They do everything like normal Buddhists, which is pretty surprising for a religion originating in Iran!...Could it be that many Buddhist sects like "Pure Land" were influenced by Manichaeism? Could "Kingdom of light" be the same as Sukhavati? Or it is the other way round? Mani, the prophet, was known to have travelled to Afghanistan at one point of time, so it is pretty clear that he was aware of Buddhism.".....


John Hopkins.....Northern New Mexico….June 2014


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