Remembering a Messiah of a Defunct Religion: Mani and Manichaeism

M G Singh By M G Singh, 9th Apr 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Philosophy>History of Philosophy

Mani was a prophet who lived during the 3rd century BC. He founded a new religion which however did not survive him. Mani was born in Persia and travelled to India where was influenced by Buddhism. Mani wished to combine the teachings of Christianity and Buddha. He was persecuted by the Iranians who were followers of Zoroaster and crucified

A Man who Founded a New Religious Order

The world has seen many religions and most of them have survived the ravages of time. However one religion from Iran and Central Asia did not survive and died away. The religion is Manichaeism and its founder was Mani. From accounts available with us it appears Mani was an Iranian and he came on the scene when entire Iran followed Zoroaster.

What is Manichaeism? It was a Gnostic religion which at one time had many followers. This was during the 3rd century AD. Mani himself lived from 216-276 AD in Iran. Mani is supposed to have had a spiritual revelation when he was very young. In that revelation he saw his heavenly twin who asked him to leave his fathers house and sect and preach the true message of Jesus Christ.
Early Life
Mani left his fathers house and as per reports that are available now he travelled to India in 241 AD. Historians concede that he may have travelled to Afghanistan where the Sakhas ruled at that time. The Sakhas professed the Buddhist faith, but perhaps he did not reach the Indo-Gangetic plain. When in ‘India ‘he appears to have been influenced by Greco- Buddhism. He imbibed the culture and philosophy of Buddha and returned back to Iran in 242 AD. Mani now claimed himself as a direct descendent of Christ and the Buddha and began to preach his message in Iran.

When in Iran he composed a book in honor of the Persian ruler Shahpur I, but despite this Shapur remained a staunch follower of Zoroaster. Shapur tolerated Mani, but his followers began a systematic persecution of Mani. The Manichaeists were persecuted by Balram I and a Zoroaster reformer Kartir. Mani was arrested and imprisoned by the Persian rulers who felt his teachings were a threat to the teachings of Zoroaster.
A decision was taken to execute Mani. It appears he was cut up into two and crucified. After his death the religion founded by Mani died away. Mani’s teachings encompassed the teachings of Christianity, Buddhism and Zoroastrianism. He claimed he was the last prophet after Buddha and Christ or the Paraclete which is part of the New Testament.

No much was known about Mani till the 20th century, but now some of his writings are available and historians can get a glimpse of a religion that is now extinct. Mani had organized his religion as a church and he believed in reincarnation.


Buddhism, India, Iran, Mani, New Religion, Zoroaster

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author avatar M G Singh
A man who spent his early years in Air Force. An avid writer with over 6000 articles and 60 short stories published.Two novels on the anvil for publication.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
9th Apr 2014 (#)

There were many such prophets dotted around history, thanks for this nugget.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
9th Apr 2014 (#)

how fascinating this and am glad you shared it here...

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author avatar Ptrikha
11th Apr 2014 (#)

Great share. Did you read this in a book, or through some Online source?

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author avatar Kingwell
22nd Apr 2014 (#)

Amazing share. I'd never heard of this man.

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