Introduction: The Spiritual movement referred to as Manichaeism was a Gnostic Religious School of Thought that became exceedingly pervasive being promulgated successfully all across the world and initially established by the Iranian Prophetic visionary Mani, an individual who resided within the Sasanian Empire. The Manichaean Gnostic Religion is known to have postulated and disseminated an exceedingly elaborate Dualistic Cosmology and Metaphysically Binary System of spiritual thought which was predicated upon the intrinsic struggle between a positive or good principle existing within a Spiritual Light World and a negative or evil principle that existed within a materialistic World of Darkness.
The Manichaeans also postulated that during the passage of Mankind's History over the ages, there exists a continuous process whereby the spiritual light trapped in the dark world of gross matter is successively extricated from that realm of materiality and subsequently reintegrated back into the spiritual World of Light. The Manichaean Religious belief structure is an amalgamation of local Mesopotamian religious beliefs systems and certain fundamental Gnostic beliefs. Thus, this form of Gnosticism is really an aggregation of several spiritual conceptualizations that are integrated and syncretized into a unified spiritual system different than those it drew from.
The Manichaean Gnostic movement was expeditiously promulgated and permeated into the world in a tremendously efficacious manner being disseminated far and wide throughout the linguistically Aramaic regions. It was a religious movement which flourished and highly prospered between the third and seventh centuries AD, and with the height of Manichaean spiritualism becoming one of the most highly successful and proliferated religions in the world during those times. This significant point is accentuated by the fact that Manichaean churches and scriptural texts were found to exist as far West as the Roman Empire and as far East as China making it one of the most notable and prolific Gnostic religious movements to have existed in terms of wide proliferation as well as number of adherents.
Additionally, the Manichaean Gnostic movement was at one time, albeit briefly, the undisputed rival of Christianity before the subsequent propagation of Islam entered the competition for replacements of Classical Paganism, after its religious destruction and disintegration by Christian fanatics. It has been reported that the Manichaean Gnostic sect was able to subsist and survive its many religious adversaries far longer in the Eastern world than it did in the Western world, and yet it was ultimately and finally extinguished after the 14th century in South China with it fading away contemporaneously to the decline and fall of the Church of The East within Ming China. Though the majority of original Manichaean scriptures and textual writings have unfortunately been lost or destroyed, there still exist a plethora of fragmentary codices and translations that have survived the passage of time and attempts at destruction.
History, Influences, and the Life of Mani: The preeminent Manichaean prophet and founder was the Iranian Mani who is postulated to have been born during the year 216 in the vicinity of Seleucia-Ctesiphon or within its actual borders which were inside the Parthian Empire at that time. It has also been attested by delineations derived from the Cologne Mani-Codex, that the parents of Mani were constituents of a Judeo-Christian Gnostic sect called the Elcesaites. The Manichaean Prophet Mani is postulated to have authored and formulated seven scriptural works with six of them have been written in the Syriac language, a late variant of the Aramaic dialect.
The Seventh composition, titled the Shabuhragan, was produced by Mani in the linguistic dialect of Middle Persian and he subsequently proffered it to the Sasanian Emperor Shapur I. Nonetheless, there is no readily available evidence to postulate that the Emperor SHapur I was or became a Manichaean convert at any time, but Shapur I is apparently reported to have exhibited a high propensity for tolerating the promulgation and dissemination of Manichaeism within his Empire's boundaries as well as abstaining from undertaking oppressive measure against their religious inclinations.
It has been delineated by a certain tradition that it was Mani himself who originated the idiosyncratic variant of the Syriac textual script referred to as the Manichaean Alphabet, which was subsequently utilized in every single one of the Manichaean works produced within the Sasanian Empire, regardless of if they were in Syriac or Middle Persian and was also utilized to produce most of the written textual works within the Uyghur Khaganate. It must also be duly noted and delineated that the principle language of Babylon, which is also the gubernatorial and societal language used by the Sassanid Empire, during that era was known as Eastern Middle Aramaic, which was subdivided into three predominant and distinct dialects which were Jewish Babylonian Aramaic (the language of the Babylonian Talmud), Mandaean (the language of Mandaeism), and Syriac, which was the principle language of Mani himself as well as that utilized by Syriac Christians.
While the rise of Manichaeism was being prolifically disseminated, the other major existing religious movements of the time including Zoroastrianism retained their influential popularity and Christianity gained some prominence through garnering governmental and societal influence. Even though it attained sporadic and fewer votaries, the Manichaean Gnostic Religion exhibited the proclivity for acquiring the succor of many prominent, influential, and top-level political officials.
Accordingly, by garnering the cooperation and support of the Sasanian Empire, the Manichaean Prophet Mani was able to initiate missionary expeditions throughout the adjacent regions. However, unfortunately for Mani upon failing to attain the support of the subsequent generation of Persian royalty, and after arousing and provoking the ire of the Zoroastrian priestly class, Mani was reported to have suffered an ignoble death while awaiting execution in prison by the Persian Emperor Bahram I. His death is postulated as having roughly occurred between 276-277.
The Manichaean Prophet Mani is postulated to have maintained the notion that the spiritual teachings of Gautama Buddha, Zoroaster, and Jesus were inherently insufficient and unfinished, and intimated that his spiritual revelations were manifested for the totality of the world, referring to his Manichaean teachings as the "Religion of Light". The Manichaean writings are indicative of the notion that Mani acquired his initial revelations at the age of 12 and the again at the age of 24, and during this time period he became disaffected with the Elcesaite sect he was born into. Mani initiated his ministry at a young age being potentially influenced by contemporaneous Babylonian-Aramaic movements such as Mandaeism, Aramaic translations of Judaic Apocalyptic writings analogous and comparable to those discovered at Qumran ( such as the Book of Enoch), and the Syriac dualistic-Gnostic writer Bardaisan (who lived a generation before Mani).
Once the Mani-Codex was discovered, it became subsequently elucidated that Mani was brought up within a Jewish-Christian baptismal sect, the Elcesaites, and was substantially influenced by their textual writings as well. Accordingly, there are particular biographies that were readily preserved by Ibn Al-Nadim and the Persian polymath al-Biruni, which postulate that Mani received a revelation during his youth from encountering a spirit, whom he subsequently referred to as his Twin, his Syzygos (spiritual spouse or partner), his binary Double, his Guardian Angel or Divine Higher Self. This spirit Double thereafter educated Mani about certain spiritual truths which he proceeded to synthesize into a religion, and this Divine Self or spirit Double further shepherded Mani into a spiritual self-realization. Mani also proclaimed himself to be the Paraclete of the Truth which had been promised by Jesus in the New Testament.
The Manichaean Gnostic Theology has an extraordinarily disparate and distinct delineation about the Individual known as Jesus and his spiritual role, with their postulated concept of Jesus exhibiting three distinct personifications or identities which were titled Jesus the Luminous, Jesus the Messiah, and Jesus Patibilis (the suffering Jesus). The personification of Jesus the Luminous' demonstrated that his principle role was to be the ultimate illuminator, revealer, and spiritual Shepard and who was the person that awakened Adam from his deep slumber subsequently revealing to him the celestial and spiritual genesis of his soul along with its detrimental imprisonment by his physical form and entanglement with materiality. The personification referred to as Jesus the Messiah is more akin to the generally acclaimed biblical figure, and he was a historical individual that is acknowledged as being the Judaic Prophet and Mani's predecessor.
However, in contrast to the accepted Christian conceptualization of Jesus, the Manichaeans designated Jesus as being entirely Divine in nature, and further postulated that Jesus never underwent a physical birthing because they held such ideas as material conception to be horrendous as well as asserting that notions of immaculate conception to equally obscene. This ideation was predicated upon the question in which they asked, if he was the light of the world, where was this light, when he resided within the virgin's womb? This Manichaean concept of Jesus as the Messiah, according to them, did not truly emerge until his baptism because this is when the Primordial Father readily recognized his sonship.
Accordingly, the torment, demise, and Resurrection of this particular Jesus occurred solely in semblance due to these lacking any inherent redemptive value but were instead an exemplification of the tribulations or misery and ultimate salvation of the human spirit as well as an augury of Mani's own martyrdom. Additionally, the perturbation and torment inflicted by the immured Light-particles within the totality of the discernible universe was tangible and intrinsically ubiquitous, and this was exemplified by the mystical placement of the cross whereby the traumas of the ardor of the spirit are imputed.
According to the Manichaeans, upon this mystical Cross of Light was draped or suspended the Suffering Jesus (Jesus patibilis) who was the essence and deliverance of humanity. The Manichaeans further postulated that the mystica cruxificio was manifest in every tree, herb, fruit, vegetable, soil, and even stones.
The Manichaean Gnostic tradition is known to have readily engaged in integrative and syncretic activities when they utilized the scriptural doctrines and symbolic emblems of quiescent spiritual traditions. Furthermore, the Manichaeans also subsumed and assimilated the symbols and divinities of autochthonous traditions, yet more specifically they did so with the Hindu divinity Ganesha into its theology which is denoted in the article, "Manichaean Art and Calligraphy" by Hans-Joachim Klimkeit. It has also been reported that the Iranian Prophet Mani proclaimed himself to be the subsequent reincarnation of the master-teachers Buddha, Zoroaster, Krishna, and Jesus contingent upon the milieu in which Mani was administering his teachings.
Accordingly, promulgating such sagacious and provident asservations cultivated a spirit of clemency and liberality within the Manichaeans and the other religious communities, with this specific component substantially availing them in procuring the approbation and acquiescence of prominent dignitaries to practice within a myriad of provinces contiguous to the Silk Road.
There also many scholars intimating that the bulk of what is ascribed to Manichaeism originates from later 10th and 11th century Islamic historians such as Al-Biruni and specifically Ibn al-Nadim. in his Fihrist, which is stated "Islamic authors ascribed to Mani the claim to be the Seal of the Prophets".In actuality, for Mani the expression "seal of prophecy" is referencing his disciples, whom attest upon the verity of his message, like a seal does. Additionally, another accessible documented account of Mani's textual scriptures was the initial Aramaic compositions corresponding to the Book of Enoch literature along with an otherwise obscure and unknown portion of the Book of Enoch titled The Book of Giants.
This elucidating yet exceedingly mysterious section of the Book of Enoch was greatly extrapolated upon and further developed by Mani, even becoming distinctly referenced and quoted by him, which lead to it becoming one among many of the initial six Syriac textual writings accepted by the Manichaean church. Moreover, in addition to becoming concisely referenced by non-Manichaean writers throughout the centuries, there existed no original sources of The Book of Giants were accessible until the 1900's.
Fragmented and splintered pieces of the Aramaic Original of the "Book of Giants", deciphered and disseminated by Josef Milik in 1976, and of the Manichaean account with the same title, translated and printed by Walter Henning in 1943, were both subsequently discovered within the Dead Sea Scrolls cache during the 20th century in the Judean Desert as well as discovered along with the Manichaean texts of the Uyghur Manichaean Kingdom in Turpan. When the cosmological renditions of both the Book of Giants and the Book of Enoch have readily been juxtaposed in parallel to the narrative of the Manichaean Myth, there have been many academics that have perceived and highlighted the apparent similitudes existing between the Manichaean Cosmology and the aforementioned texts, which has generated the hypothesis that the Manichaean myth is potentially based upon the literature found in mysterious Book of Enoch.
This literary text delineates upon an entity or being readily observed by the prophets during their heavenly ascent, as a lord or king who sits upon a throne within the highest celestial realms. This regal entity rendered within the Manichaean version as the "Great King of Honor" is described as transforming into a divinity that protects and guards the entryway that allows one to traverse into the Light World, which is located in the seventh heaven out of the ten existing heavenly realms. In correlation to this delineation, within the Aramaic rendition of the Book of Enoch, the general writings within the Qumran, and within the initial Syriac portion of the Manichaean textual scriptures subsequently quoted by Theodore Konai, this heavenly entity or divinity is referred to as "malka raba de-ikara" which also translates to The Great King of Honor.
The Iranian Prophet Mani was further influenced by several other spiritual sects and personages worthy of being noted. The Iranian Prophet is known to have read the writings of the Assyrian Gnostic Bardaisan (154-222) who also wrote in Syriac and similarly postulated a dualistic exposition of the terrestrial plane in the terminology of light and darkness combining aspects of Christianity, which readily engenders the notion that Mani was perhaps heavily influenced by him along with the other ones previously mentioned.
Moreover, Richard Fultz, having highlighted the fact that Mani's journeys within the Kushan Empire during the initial start of his preaching career, makes the supposition of Manichaeism being influenced by Buddhist spiritual teachings, "Buddhist influences were significant in the formation of Mani's religious thought. The transmigration of souls became a Manichaean belief, and the quadripartite structure of the Manichaean community, divided between male and female monks (the "elect") and lay followers (the "hearers") who supported them, appears to be based on that of the Buddhist sangha".
In correspondence to this idea of Buddhist influence within Manichaeism, it has further been noted that the Kushan Monk Lokaksema had initiated his rendering of the Pure Land Buddhist scriptures into the Chinese language almost exactly a century preceding Mani's arriving there, and interestingly the Chinese scriptures of Manichaeism are readily chalked full of specifically Buddhist terminology which are clearly garnered from the Pure Land Buddhist texts. However, it should be duly noted that the preeminent object of reverence within Pure Land Buddhism, which is Amitabha meaning the Buddha of Infinite Light, in no way is manifest or acknowledged within Chinese Manichaeism becoming seemingly substituted by some other divinity.
The Promulgation and Proliferation of Manichaeism: The promulgation and dissemination of Manichaeism was done with exceeding alacrity and efficacy throughout both the Western and Eastern world. Its proliferation reached the city of Rome through the Apostle Psattiq by 280 AD and was also thriving in the Faiyum by 290 AD. The establishment of Manichaean monasteries can be confirmed to have existed inside Rome by the time of Pope Miltiades in 312 AD.
However, Manichaeism became overtly subjected to persecution within the Sasanian Empire beginning with the murder of apostle Sisin by the Emperor Bahram II along with the massacre of multitudes of Manichaeans. The Roman Emperor Diocletian passed decrees against the Manichaean Religion during the year of 296. One of the decrees is stated as follows, "We order that their organizers and leaders be subject to the final penalties and condemned to the fire with their abominable scriptures."
Consequently, this royal decree instigated and caused exceedingly large numbers of people to become martyrs in Egypt as well as North Africa. St. Augustine is said to have been converted to Christianity from Manichaeism in 387 AD, and thus some academics have intimated the notion that Manichaean spiritual and cosmological thought potentially influenced the progression and development of certain ideas ascribed to Augustine including his concepts of good and evil, the conceptualization of a Hell, the division of sects into the elect, hearers, and sinners, the antipathy to biological intercourse and the material body, and lastly his dualistic theological concepts.
Accordingly, the subsequent impactful influences attributed to Manichaeism within St. Augustine's Christian theological concepts could have potentially contributed to the dispute that occurred between Augustine and Pelagius, who was a British monk that postulated a Spiritual Theology which was one of non-duality and one that perceived the established order, with humanity specifically, as possessing a Divine core rather than one of Darkness.
Nonetheless, the plethora of ways in which the Manichaean religion might have possibly influenced Christianity is still hotly debated by academics. It is also within the realm of possibility that Manichaeism could have influenced subsequent religious movements including the Bogomils, Paulicians, and even the Cathars, but unfortunately these religious sects left few records causing the link between them to be nebulous at best. However, regardless of its authenticity or veracity, the allegation of constituting Manichaeans was asserted upon these groups by contemporary, orthodox adversaries, who readily and regularly attempted to instigate upon their religious opponents' heresies formerly assaulted by the church fathers in antiquity and do so in a setting current to their contextual time period.
It is impossible to ascertain whether or not the ascribed dualistic cosmology and theology of the Bogomils, Cathars, and Paulicians , which postulated the terrestrial realm as being manifested by a Demonic Demiurge, was generated by a Manichaean affinity or influence, but it is able to be affirmed that Catharism conformed to and utilized the Manichaean features of Church organization.
The Manichaean Gnostic Religion was able to retain a periodic and recurrent existence within the Western Hemisphere in regions such as Mesopotamia, Africa, Spain, France, Northern Italy, and the Balkans for roughly one thousand years, and they even thrived within Persia for some time as well as in distant Eastern areas such as Northern India, Western China, and Tibet. Though it had for a long time been postulated that the arrival of Manichaeism to China had transpired at the end of the 7th century, with the recent uncovering of differing archaeological evidence it has now been demonstrated that Manichaeism was already present there by the second half of the sixth century AD. Moreover, it has been intimated that certain Sogdians within Central Asia followed Manichaean spiritual and religious thought.
It is also known that Uyghur Khagan Boku Tekin was converted to Manichaeism in 763, which proceeded from a three-day discussion with Manichaean proselytizers and resulted from the Babylonian headquarters sending clerics of high ranking to Uyghur. Thus, Manichaeism endured as the official state religion for nearly a century and until the disintegration of the Uyghur Khaganate in the year 840 AD. The Manichaean religion was disseminated along the trade routes in the East as far as the Capital Chang'an of Tang China. Following the demise of Tang Dynasty, certain Manichaean groups were recorded to have participated in peasant uprisings with the religion becoming utilized by many dissident leaders for the mobilization of adherents and followers, and even in the Song and Yuan dynasties of China there remained residual Manichaean religious groups that continued to exhibit a legacy of subscribing to and aiding sects such as the Red Turbans.
The Chinese people in the time of the Song Dynasty were recorded to have referred to the Manichaeans derisively as Chicai Simo, which translates to "those who abstain from meat and worship demons". A specific rendition in the Fozu Tongji, significant Buddhist literature compiled in China by Buddhist academics in the mid-13th century, asserted that the Manichaeans revered the 'White Buddha" with their religious pontiff donning a violet headpiece and the adherents wearing white outfits. The Manichaeans within China eventually engaged in open rebellion opposing the Song Dynasty and Government until they were readily squashed and suppressed by the Song. Consequently, once this rebellion transpired, all successive governments engaged in repressive activities against the Chinese Manichaeans and the persecution of their adherents, with religion ultimately becoming abolished and banned by the Ming Dynasty in 1370.
The Manichaeans residing within Persia made repeated attempts to reconcile and integrate their spiritual beliefs with Islam under the Muslim Caliphates. Unfortunately, there is only minuscule amounts of information known about Persian Manichaeism within the initial century of Islamic rule. However, it is known that during the period of the earliest caliphates, Manichaeism was able to entice a plethora of adherents to its religious belief structure with it attaining a significant following especially among the elites of Islamic society. Moreover, because of the manifest appeal inherent to its spiritual teachings, multitudes of Muslims ascribed to the Manichaean notions of Theology with portions of them even becoming cosmological dualists. There even exists an apologia that is attributed to Ibn al-Muqaffa whereby he defended the Manichaean cosmological phantasmagoria and subsequently assaulted Islamic fideism as well as other monotheistic religious movements.
It has also been recorded and asserted that during the ninth century, the Caliph al-Ma'mun exhibited tolerance and clemency towards a community of Manichaeans within his empire. It was reported that during the early period of the Abassid Empire, the Manichaeans began to be subject to repression and persecution. Accordingly, during the period of the third Abassid Caliphate under al-Mahdi, the Manichaeans underwent persecution with al-Mahdi initiating a religious inquisition against dualists, and during this inquisition if one was designated as guilty of heretical religious practices and subsequently refused to renounce their religious beliefs, they were summarily executed. Their religious persecution was ultimately terminated by Harun al-Rashud. However, during the rule of Caliph al-Muqtadir there existed multitudes of Manichaeans which absconded from Mesopotamia subsequently traveling to Khorasan out of fear of oppression with the religious base becoming eventually transferred to Samarkand.
Manichaean Teachings, Beliefs, and Cosmology: The spiritual teachings of Mani correspond to the questions that surround the Origins of Evil and confront a postulatory feature of the issue of Evil by negating the preeminence of God and positing the concept of two antithetical and oppugnant divine powers or entities existing in the universe. Thus, the Manichaean theological and cosmological conceptualization of the Cosmos was one which is intrinsically based in opposing polarities and the dualistic manifestation of good vs. evil. One of the most significant and preeminent concepts ascribed to Manichaeism is that the puissant, though not supreme or omnipotent benign force (God), was inherently in conflict with the abiding malevolent or evil power of the Devil.
Accordingly, the creation of Humanity, the terrestrial realm, and the soul was postulated as existing as a by-product of the struggle between the proxy of God, Primordial Man, and the evil Devil. Therefore, the material individual is as the battle ground for these antithetical forces with the soul defining the individual, yet existing under the influences of both light and dark forces. Furthermore, this dispute and conflict between light and dark unfolds throughout the material world as well as the individual's material form, and thus neither the terrestrial biosphere nor the physical body was depicted as being inherently negative or evil, but instead contains within it fragmentary aspects of both the light and dark forces of the Universe.
Interestingly, readily occurring terrestrial atmospherics displays such as the natural phenomenon of rain were perceived as the material manifestation of this spiritual contention. Consequently, the Manichaean perception delineated the existence of evil by postulating a defective, distorted manifestation in the creation of which the benign Divinity had no part and instead was constituted as a product derived out of the struggle by the Devil against God.
The Manichaean Cosmology is illustrated by an elaborate delineation that corresponds to the inherent conflict existing between the spiritual realm of light and the material realm of darkness. Additionally, the entities that reside within the realm of darkness and realm of light have been ascribed names. There exist two sections of Manichaean scriptural literature which are likely the most accurate rendition which correlates to the original Manichaean writings in their original language that will presumably ever be accessible to us.
These Manichaean texts are the Syriac-Aramaic quotation written by the Nestorian Christian Theodore bar Konai, in his Syriac 'Book of Scholia' from the 8th century, and the Middle Persian portions of Mani's Shabuhragan uncovered at Turpan, which is a exposition of Manichaean beliefs created by Mani for Shapur I. Accordingly, by utilizing these two texts and other sources, it is possible to ascertain and delineate a nearly complete exposition of the intricate Manichaean cosmological narrative vision. The Iranian Prophet Mani postulated that manifestation of the Cosmos occurred through a triad of sequential Creations.
In the First Creation, there Universe initially existed as to binary and segregated realms, with one realm being the World of Light which was governed by the Father of Greatness in conjunction with his five Shekhinas, divine aspects of spiritual light, and the other antithetical World of Darkness was governed by the King of Darkness. Eventually, the Kingdom of Darkness recognizes and perceives the existence of the Realm of Light and subsequently becomes consumed by avarice for it and assaults the Light World.
Consequently, the Father of Greatness, in the first creation, summons the Mother of Life, who subsequently summons her son the Original Man, to engage in battle with the attacking forces of Darkness including the Arch Demon of Greed. The Original Man comes armed to the battle armed with five distinct and unique shields of light, corresponding to the five Shekhinas, which Original Man is deprived of by the forces of Darkness in the ensuing engagement. This is apparently a strategy postulated as a form of bait utilized to deceive the dark forces, whom consequently and avariciously consume as much light from them as is possible. Once the Original Man reawakens, he realizes that he has become ensnared and surrounded by the forces of darkness.
In the Second Creation, the Father of Greatness initiates the secondary formation by summoning the Living Spirit, who then calls to his five Sons and further generates a call to the Original Man. Subsequently, there is produced an Answer which returns from the Original Man and traverses to the Light World. Consequently, the Mother of Life, the Living Spirit, and his five Sons initiate a manifestation of the Universe out of the material forms of the malevolent entities existing in the Dark realm in conjunction with the shards of light they have consumed.
Out of this celestial event there is produced ten heavens and eight Earths which are readily constituted out of the various fusions of the evil material entities of the Dark World and the consumed Light fragments. Then the Sun, Moon, and Stars are manifested and derived from the shards of light reclaimed and salvaged from the World of Darkness. Additionally, the waxing and waning of the Lunar Orb is posited as moon filling with celestial Light with it traveling to the Sun through the Milky Way and eventually retrograding back to the World of Light.
In the Third Creation, there are Great Demons, called Archons, which are hung out and draped over the Heavens with this action signifying the Father of Greatness' initiation of the third celestial formation. The shards of Spiritual Light are retrieved from the physical forms of the masculine and feminine demons by instigating upon them avaricious sexual arousal through displaying before them the gorgeous bodies of Light Beings such as the Third Messengers and Virgins of Light. However, once the Light shards are expelled out of their material forms and subsequently fall to the terrestrial realm, with some constituting an abortion like form and correlating to the source of the Fallen Angels in the Manichaean Mythos, the entities of Darkness continued to engage in the consumption of the shards, as much as possible, to retain as much of the Light as the can.
Consequentially, this eventuality results in the dark entities consuming massive quantities of the Light fragments, copulating, and in consequence produce Adam and Eve. Then the Father of Greatness sends the Radiant Jesus to reawaken Adam, and he subsequently elucidate and enlightens Adam to the primordial source of the Spiritual Light that is imprisoned within his materially constructed form. However, Adam and Eve inevitably engage in intercourse producing many more humans, which invariably results in the further encasing of the Light shards within the bodies of humanity throughout the remainder of mankind's history. Accordingly, the manifestation of the Iranian Prophet Mani constitutes a subsequent attempt by the Light World to unveil to Humanity the Primal and Primordial source of the celestial, divine Light encased within their terrestrial and material forms.
Manichaean Church Organizational Structure & Prayers: The Manichaean Church Structure was inherently organized into two categories of constituents being differentiated into the Elect and the Hearers, followed by the rest of Humanity referred to as simply Sinners. The difference between the Elect and the Hearers was intimated as the Elect being the ones who had taken upon themselves vows of Manichaeism, while the Hearers did not undertake these vows yet still participated in the Manichaean Church practices. Moreover, this religious terminology for Church body divisions was already habitual and prosaic since the time of Early Christianity. The Organizational schematic had at its head a Leader which constituted Mani's ordained successor and designated as the Patriarch, the preeminent head of the Manichaean Church.
The Patriarch was originally instituted in Ctesiphon and then during the Ninth Century within Samarkand. There existed two significant and noteworthy leaders which were Mar Sisin, or Sisinnois, who was the initial successor to Mani, and Abu Hilal al-Dayuri, an 8th century Patriarch Leader. The next subdivision of the Manichaen Church Hierarchy were the twelve Apostles with three of Mani's Apostles mentioned being Mar Patti (Pattikios, Mani's Father), Akouas, and Mar Ammo. The seventy-two Bishops were the next subdivision of the Church Hierarchy, and only one of Mani's original disciples was specifically mentioned as a Bishop and was Mar Adda. Lastly, there were 360 Presbyters, the common church body of the Elect, and these were followed by the Hearers, ones who had not taken Manichaean vows.
It has been intimated through Manichaean sources, that the Manichaean community performed daily prayers with four of them for the Hearers and seven of them for the Elects. However, it is evidenced that these sources readily diverge on the specific time of day the prayers were enacted. Accordingly, in the Fihrist by al-Nadim, it is posited that religious prayers were undertaken right after noon, mid-afternoon, immediately after sunset, and lastly at nightfall. Contradistinctively, Al-Biruni designates these daily prayers as being enacted at noon, nightfall, dawn, and sunrise.
Additionally, it has been reported that the Elect undertook prayer mid-afternoon, thirty minutes after nightfall, and then at midnight. Al-Nadim's exposition corresponding to the practice of daily prayer activities is in all likelihood modified and adapted to correlate with the public prayer structure ascribed to the Islamic community, while the exegesis attributed to Al-Biruni potentially corresponds to an earlier and older tradition unaffected by Islamic spiritual practices.
When the discourse attributed to Al-Nadim about the structure of Manichaean daily prayers had been the solely accessible and detailed source purported to exist on this religious matter, there readily manifested academic apprehension and solicitude, that these religious prayer practices had been only subsequently been embraced and appropriated by Islamic adherents during the Abassid Caliphate. Nonetheless, it is readily unambiguous and perspicuous that the Arabic text furnished by Al-Nadim inherently correlates to the delineated representations ascribed to certain Egyptian scriptural texts dating from the fourth century AD.
It has been illustrated that every single prayer was initiated with an ablution using water, and if water was unavailable, Manichaeans utilized substances similar and comparable to the Ablution practiced within Islam, which constituted performing several blessings to the apostles and spirits. These prayers of Ablutions comprised of and involved prostrating oneself upon the earth and was proceeded by rising again twelve times during every prayer. Additionally, during the daytime, the Manichaeans would turn towards the Sun's direction and during the nighttime turn towards the direction of the Moon, and if the Moon was not visible in the night sky, they would face towards the North.
It is further evidenced from the writings of Faustus of Mileve, the Celestial Planetary Bodies were not objects of veneration or worship in and of themselves but were posited as "ships or vessels" transporting the Light Shards of the terrestrial Realm to the Primordial, Supreme Divinity, inherently incapable of being perceived directly due to existing outside the space-time continuum. They were also posited as being the dwelling places for the spiritual emanations of the supreme divinity, such as Jesus the Splendor.
Also delineated within the writings attributed to St. Augustine of Hippo, was the religious activity of enacting ten prayers with the first one being attributed to the father of Greatness, and the subsequent prayers being attributed to lesser divinities, spirits and angelic entities, and lastly towards the Elect; these supplicatory prayers were performed in order for the Manichaean worshiper to be extricated from future rebirth and pain as well as to attain tranquility within the World of the Light. Lastly, this prayer practice is comparable to Uighur confession whereby four prayers are directed towards the Supreme Divinity (Azrua), the Gods of the Sun and Moon, the Five-fold Deity, and the Buddhas, respectively.