On The Bank Of The Tigris: Dissection Of A Religion

The deluge of Euphrates, Nile, Tigris have been being the lifeline of the diversity of livings by creating an affectionate environment for them to live in the region from the very beginning of history itself. They are the same still now. But there is another aspect of these rivers which attracts me most. These rivers cherished and fomented thousands of religious and philosophical ideas and helped them to flourish by connecting different cultures. The birthplaces of Abrahamic religions are mostly the banks of these rivers. Probably, many roads had the connectivity with these rivers. But nothing had the ability to shape our history like “Silk Road”. This road has been being used to export ideas and philosophy from the very beginning. This is the road through which Jews were outcasted, Christianity spread, Buddhism felt the dominance of Zarathustrian.1

Silk Road

In such a place a man came into earth who brought a thinking, an ideology, a religion. It is thought, that the founder of religion Manichaeism, Mani came to this earth with Persian blood in his vein. The last Persian empire Sasanian. The major religion of this empire was Manichaeism which was Gnostic in nature like so many other ancient religions. Mani was born in a village near Ctesiphon. In childhood, he used to participate in a baptism like rituals with his father. This group maintained the belief which was a combination of Zionism and Christianity. They were known as Elkesaites. Even they connived the idea of Paul. The ideology rose around 100 AD.

Sassanid Empire

In 228 AD, when a noteworthy change is about to occur in the throne of Sasanian empire, then prophet Mani was only thirteen. It is assumed soon afterward he was bestowed upon mercy from God. But the scriptures was not well preserved. Now we only have a few translated copy of Manichaeism scriptures in different languages.2

Prophet Mani believed in Dualistic Cosmology and he preached his idea in this cover. He always saw two shadows in his surroundings. He believed that - Jesus, Buddha, Zoroaster; none of them could fulfill their teaching. His preaching was the light for the whole humankind. The following may help to understand Dualistic Cosmology -

Babylonian Prophet Mani had a simple philosophy in which he finds the secret of this world in two opposite energy- the empire of light and the empire of dark. Soul, which is actually part of the light world, is jailed in the dark(our body). Souls seek freedom from this every moment. And only death can fulfill its destiny. Mani believed, in this mortal world the livings can free themselves through knowledge which is the touch of immortality.

It seemed to me, in Manichaeism the difference between good and evil is much better represented. Unlike Islam, Christianity and many other Abrahamic religions, the devil was not a represented as an entity. Which is very similar to Augustinian Christianity. Prophet Mani represented God and Devil in two different creationism. He traveled to the far lands possible to preach his words. It is assumed he visited India, even Turkey with his words of God. His persistence was not in vain. Syria, Egypt, and people from many more places started to follow this spiritual leader. Even Rome heard his voices. But this religion caused his death too. His death was a catalyst to the preaching of Manichaeism. The Zoroastrian religious leader couldn’t accept him as a prophet, he was a blasphemer.

Manichaeism was in different regions of the earth for more than thousand years. In Mesopotamia, Syria, Egypt, France, Balkan, North India, West China, near Xinxian; it was like the state religion. We didn’t know much about it before the 18th century. Manichaeism had to face the fast spreading Christianity and Islam. Not long before we knew little about it from the writings of Islam, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism. These religions always used Mani as the standard of their purity. In the beginning of last century, German scientists found some writings about Manichaeism from Egypt.3

The words of Mani is in Syrian Aramean(an Arabic dialect). Seven of eight scriptures of Mani is in Aramean. The rest is in Persian.The last was dedicated to Persian emperor.

If Romans didn’t embrace Christianity for the sustenance of empire, then we could see the existence of another religion on earth. And that is Manichaeism. Manichaeism had to face the march of both Christianity and Islam. Manichaeism, a religion from the museum, what message is it delivering? Human always tried to define infinity in terms of definitive knowledge. Which resulted in the oblivion of nothing. To fill up the gap of knowledge made it happen for us to march this far, we cannot deny it.


Shah Shajedur Rahman

Chemical Engineer || Freelance Writer at Upwork & Fiverr || Keen Learner of Evolution, Philosophy, History || Love Cycling, Hiking, Visiting, Reading, Writing