Mani - portrait by Jan Valentin Sæther
were born in Babylonia, near Selecucia-Ctesiphon on the Tigris, April 25th 216CE, to pagan parents. A short time after he was born his father, Pattak, became a member of an obscure monastic community, which made him adopt away his son to the community. Mani grew up in this community, more or less assuming the position of servant to the somewhat ungratefull priests in it, Mani`s father had once been of a persian royal family which had been driven into exile from Persia by the Sassanids, and in him raged a somewhat unease at these proud men who for themselves could show nothing but the charity given them by others. The Elchesaites , which it is speculated upon where the community that adopted Mani into its fellowship, where strict ascetics, they forbade all displays of art , no music where allowed, no drawings or paintings, no laughter, they where extremely preoccupied with cleanliness and viewed the world from which they wilfully exiled themselves as very Hell. At the age of 12, Mani received an Angel by the name of El Tawam , which presented itself as his twin, this twin began to teach him about his origin, about his task on this earth, and about the message of the homecoming. At this time also, Mani began to paint in the village, for houseowners who wanted some kind of decoratory work done in their rooms, as well as befriending a young girl in the neighbourhood. Once this became known (that is, his artistry and girlfriend) the priests and elect in this community became even more cruel towards Mani, he , of all the monks in the community, became the most ascetic, because they wouldnt give him anything except the minimum upon which he could live. Mani where not a supporter of extreme ascetism himself, although he has been dubbed an extremist by many, bearing on the misunderstanding that he regarded matter itself to be evil. He did not, he states he (Jesus Christ) brought us a mirror, and in it we saw the world, the focus of Manichaean doctrine are the assault of dark forces who in the beginning of time were at rest in their own context, much like the Ego, it began to assault and assimilate the wealth of the unconscious, that is to say ; the Light in itself and challenged its place. According to Manichaean doctrine this conflict needed to be resolved for the sake of the original wholeness and unity, the first step in the redemptive process where an descent into the world , a direct confrontation with the powers that where seeking to take the place of Heaven , this happened in the shape of the first primeval man, the Adamas of Light. In the midst of the Elchesaite community Mani became involved in certain kinds of speculation that betrayed his involvement in another doctrine, which to the Elchesaite Elders spelled heresy, upon which he were even more badly treated untill he got expunged at the age of 24, at that time he were totally autonomous of the entire practice and teaching of the community, but following his excommunication many followers brave enough to make the shift, followed him out of its shelter and into the chaotic mess Babylon, the capitol, had become. Mani lived in the age of the Sassanid dynasty, being born short after its takeover of the Parthian Kingdom by the Persians. Mani himself, through his father Pattak, were of royal persian bloodline, which may or may not have saved him in confrontation with the mighty emperor King Shapur I many times. It belongs to the story that under a 100 year reign a colony of this once great power were in all manner Manichaean, under the reign of Mazdek and his successors, but this was way into the 6th centhury CE, when he himself were long gone. In the 8th century The Uyghurs, a proud people in Turkmenistan, adopted Manichaeism as well. Anyhow, after being excommunicated, Mani lived at the mercy of his friends in the city, which he had befriended during his extraculicular excursions to the capitol and the townships nearby - for about two or three years, keeping a low profile and waiting for a third call to move further where the Spirit and his twin angel bided him to move. Whereas other Gnostic teachers primarely moved west upon clarifying their goals, and settling in Rome, whether they were Egyptians , like Valentinus , or Syrians like Basilides - Mani took the opposite road ; he advanced the East, he traveled on ship and by foot to India, what is now Afghanistan, further up, all the way to China proper - during his lifetime, and consequently , wherever his doctrine became popular it were always seen in light of the prevailing eastern traditions of religion and philosophy - for instance , he became known as Moni Jiao by the Taoists , and he even is mentioned in the Chinese Taoists "canonical" writings to this day and age. Mani must have appreciated the figures of Zoroaster and Buddha, since he names them as examples of noble men of Light who transmitted the ways of salvation to mankind. His influence in the East increased greatly after his death reaching its peak just before the dawn of Islam and ending somewhere near the 15th century, although Manichaean monasteries are known to have been built as late as the 1750`s. We do not know for sure if there still exists a Manichaean tradition, either in China or on the Malabar coast of India, all I can say are that there have been rumours to that nature. The role received by Mani, at the insistence of his twin angel, El Tawam and his followers, where that of the comforter, Parakleiton, which Jesus had promised his disciples upon his ascent - he is often viewed as an incarnation of the Holy Spirit just as much as Jesus were the incarnation of the Son. This no doubt irritated Christians of his day since in many ways their own churches where supposed to fulfill that role. Mani were a celebrated poet of his time - he had written The Book of Giants, The Treasure of Life, The Living Gospel, The Book of Secrets, Shabuhragan and many more works allready during his youth, and he is known to have invented a lyre like instrument, upon which the priests of the Manichaean communities played, and which got adopted broadly into other circles, he where a physician, an astrologer and a miracle-worker, it is said. The hopes of entire peoples where put in Mani, so his untimely death March the 3rd 277, where a disappointment for many - he had gained, through the patronacy of Empress wife , Nadhira, protection from King Shapur I, and served as advisor for Bahram I, the son of Shapur I, when he succeeded his father, but Mani gained quickly enemies, and when the emperor son where poisoned by the Magi, the priesthood of the Zoroastrian faith at the court, Mani got the blame, where tortured over several weeks and at last died under very unworthy circumstances, his head were severed from the body and put on a pole near the entrance to the city, his body stuffed with grass and shown on display another place, to prove that Great Mani where dead.