The Manichaean Faith in History
Based on Augustine of Hippo’s blatant lies, the Catholic church has relentlessly attacked the Manichaean religion and its people for centuries; the Protestants have followed the same path as their mother church in Rome. Various other religions are also guilty of persecuting and even murdering the adherents of this Faith.
Manichaeism is not a dead religion. Due to persecution Manichaeans have had to flee their homes and religious centers in ancient times, many times being forced to practice their faith underground or within other religious groups to avoid being persecuted by their neighbors.
The Faith spread from its homeland of Persia to India, China, Turkey, Tibet and as far as Western Europe in ancient times.
“The Sogdian community in Mongolia had not been exclusively Buddhist. The majority, in fact, followed Manichaeism. This Iranian religion, founded in Babylon by Mani (217 – 276 CE), was an eclectic faith that adopted many features of the local beliefs that it encountered as it spread. It had two major forms — a western one in Asia Minor … and a later eastern one along the Silk Route that adopted strong Buddhist elements. Syriac and then Parthian were the official languages of the former, while Sogdian played a similar role for the latter. (The Historical Interaction Between the Buddhist and Islamic Cultures Before the Mongol Empire, Alexander Berzin, 1996, 2003, 2006)
“Between 1902 and 1907, Berlin fur Volkerkunde sent three successive archaeological expeditions to Eastern Turkestan (Xinjiang), where they investigated the ruins and ancient grottoes of Turfan. Around Turfan, they discovered numerous ancient manuscripts and other relics. In 1909, the Science Academy of Russia also sent an archaeological expedtion to Xinjiang that was mainly dedicated to the investigation of the Turfan grottoes. Between 1905 and 1913, the German expedition published expedition reports and pictures proposing that among the ruins of the ancient cities of Harahoja and Gaochang there was a Manichaean temple as well as another temple which originally may have been Manichaean. In 1914, the Russian expedition published a report that mentioned that a Manichaean grotto possibly also existed in Bazaklik. In 1931, an archaeologist from the Academie Francaise also investigated this cave and, apart from confirming that it was a Manichaean religious grotto, proposed that another cave was also a Manichaean grotto.
In 1988, Takao Moriyasu from Japan’s Osaka University investigated the Bazaklik grotto with the assistance of the Xinjiang authorities. In 1991, he published a monograph which pointed to another Manichaean grotto with inscriptions in the Uighur language.
The Manichaean religion was founded in Iran by Mani in the third century A.D., later spreading West to Western Asia, the Mediterranean coast and Europe. It also continued to extend Eastward into Eastern Asia, Xinjiang, China’s Central Plains, the Northern deserts, and the Southeast Chinese coast. In the East and the West, the Manichaean religion was an ascendant world religion….In recent years, the author has led teams of research students to investigate the grottoes of Turfan. In three complexes of grottoes, these teams have succeed in identifying dozens of Manichaean grottoes. Some of these grottoes remain structurally complete, while others have retained many of their frescoes. These grottoes are extremely important for enhancing our understanding of the ancient Manichaean religion.” (New Evidence of Manichaeism in Asia: A Description of Some Recently Discovered Manichaean Temples in Turfan, Monumenta Serica, 44 (1996): 267-315, Chao Huashan)
“From its beginning through the fourth century it was most successful in spreading deep into Central Asia as far as Chinese Turkestan and establishing itself in many places of the West to Rome and especially Carthaga. Manichaeism retained a large following in the East, even under Mohammedan rule…Though banned from Persia, Manichaeism was soon disseminated westward through Central Asia, reaching ultimately as far as China….Manichaeism for a long time was known exclusively from non-Manichaean sources, from Syrian, Mohammedan, and Western Christian writings against Manichaeism. At the end of the nineteenth century, however, various fragments of Manichaean literature were found in Chinese Tukestan, Turfan.” (Manichaesm, article by Irma Marx)
Today the Manichaean Faith can be found practiced in small groups and by individuals in China, India, Spain, Syria, Iran, Tibet, the United States and other areas of the globe.
The Manichaean Faith, also known as the Religion of Light, is based on the teachings that were divinely revealed to the Prophet Mani. In China, the religion is known as “Mingjiao,” (Monijiao) also meaning “Religion of Light” or “Pure Teaching.”