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Mani and his Heavenly Journey (Manichaean Choka Poem)

In an grand empire

The grand Sassanid Empire

Rival of great Rome

Controlled by Shapur I

The benevolent

Lived a prophet named Mani

Raised isolated

In the middle of nowhere

Under the harsh sun

Until his angelic twin

A gleaming mirror

Rode down from the soothing moon

And came to Mani

To reveal the mysteries

And guide Mani’s soul

In all the divine precepts

Mani taught these things

To his religious brethren

To help them grow fruit

Fruit that gives eternal life

In their barren world

He was beaten and kicked out

For quaking their world

So Mani came out bleeding

But filled with new blood

Bringing hope into his heart

After some long weeks

Mani got ready to pray

In a rented room

Facing the east and waiting

Waiting for sunrise

Waiting for light to banish

The darkness of night

As he stood with his head down

He heard galloping

Coming from outside the house

The approaching sound

Sounded like soothing music

As it grew louder

He heard it was from above

Not from rocky ground

Soon it was above his head

And then behind him

Filled with curiosity

Mani turned and looked

And saw a great, holy beast

Shining and serene

With the wings of a phoenix

Flaming and spitting

With a serpent’s neck and head

Whose scales were feathers

Pearly feathers of a dove

But his large body

Was of a humble donkey

For Mani to ride

Ride to the holy city

Of the great Father

He said “My name is Gnosis

From the House of Light

From the Eternal Kingdom”

The beast bowed his head

“Why have you come?” Said Mani

The beast looked behind

At a pouch with a letter

Mani gently walked

And opened the red letter

Encrusted with gold

“From us, your kingly Father

Your kindly Mother

Whose the Queen of the Dawn-land

And from your wise Twin

To you, Apostle of Christ

We give our greetings

Arise from your sleep again

Get up from your bed

Get up on your holy beast

And ride to our House of Light

Become swift lightning

Shattering through the heavens

Come and remember

Why you were sent down to flesh

Remember the pearls

That you came to liberate”

He looked at Gnosis

And his thought separated

From his human flesh

From his body of darkness

And so, his thought climbed

Onto Gnosis looking up

When Mani sat tall

The heavens were ripped open

All the world lit up

And the cosmos and stars quaked

The beast took Mani

To the top of the whole world

Above birds and clouds

He shot through that rented room

Without a hindrance

As if the world was a dream

He sat in darkness

With only the world and stars

Giving any light

In the empty, cold darkness

As Mani looked down

Filled with wonder like a child

And filled with slight fear

Light shone on him to his right

Mani turned his head

He saw his bright Twin and said

“Praise be to you, Twin

You are the Mirror of Light

My moon in this dark”

His Twin smiled, bowed and proclaimed

“Praise be to Mani

Seal of the Luminaries

The gift of the air”

His Twin then pointed upwards

And just disappeared

Mani knew this was the start

Of his long journey

Mani rode even higher

With the galloping

Creating a holy tune

After much thinking

After flying beyond stars

He saw the Just Judge

Sitting on a small island

Holding weighing scales

In the middle of a pond

Surrounded by stone

Mani disembarked the beast

And stood on the stone

The Just Judge remained unmoved

The beast then proclaimed

“This is Mani, the Prophet

The Prophet of Light”

The Just Judge remained unmoved

His face was plain stone

Two eagles came with two cups

One silver, one gold

Mani was given these cups

One filled with white milk

One cup filled with purple wine

The Just Judge told him

“Great thinker, choose what to drink”

After some seconds

Mani knelt down to the pond

And began to drink

The clear pond with his bare hands

So the Just Judge laughed

With much kindness and wonder

And so he chuckled

“Well done noble messenger

You have exceeded

This test of wine and white milk

You may pass through now”

As Mani boarded the beast

Zoroaster shone

Behind the Judge of Justice

Mani’s face shone bright

And Mani loudly exclaimed

“Praise Zoroaster

Divider of light and dark

Fountain of good deeds”

Zoroaster responded

“Praise Manichaeus

Saviour and Shepherd of Light

Redeemer of souls”

Mani rode even higher

With the galloping

Creating a holy tune

After a long while

He and his beast saw a cloud

Of black amethyst

Mani quickly got closer

Till he reached the top

And saw the Light Mind sitting

In eternal prayer

The Great Mind meditating

Totally at peace

While holding a two-edged axe

To cut bitter roots

That ties the hearts of mankind

That double-edged axe

Used by the first warrior

The ancient First Man

Who fought the Prince of Darkness

The amethyst cloud

Was an everlasting boat

A long battleship

That took the first warrior

To the thieves of pearls

Who served the Prince of Darkness

In the cosmic seas

In those dead primeval seas

When the sun first rose

The Light Mind sat on a box

A medicine box

For healing wounded fighters

Those brave warriors

Who went down to fight darkness

And are still fighting

He also had five faces

They were named Reason

And Mind, Intelligence, Thought

And Understanding

The Light Mind gave a black robe

For Mani to wear

He said “Wear this sacred robe

It is my spirit

My power made manifest

My soul from my soul

My spirit from my spirit”

Mani wore the robe

And bowed to the great Light Mind

Gnosis smiled at them

Happy that there will be three

Traveling higher

So Mani prepared to go

With excited haste

Mani rode even higher

With the galloping

Creating a holy tune

In the dark expanse

Mani saw a long light stream

Made of endless pearls

Clothed in multi-coloured clouds

Within this tower

It appeared like a column

But in divine eyes

It was a spiralling disk

Where every white pearl

Spirals into the centre

Where the Father’s love

Rests in its infinite depth

So Mani proclaimed

“Blessings be upon us all

The shining elect

And for those who hear my song

All praise be to you

The glorious Perfect Man

The abode of pearls

The garment of every soul

The narrow pathway

For every angel of light

And the purified

May your infinite splendour

Full of endless life

Shine upon the reborn Church

So peace and gnosis

May shine in all fertile lands

May you protect us

May you accept this clean prayer

This small holy song

This melody galloping

To your unseen ears”

This tower from divine hands

This tower of pearls

Allowed Mani and his beast

To ride within it

So he journeyed in the light

Seeing every pearl

After some time galloping

Mani saw a soul

It was Seth, the son of Eve

“Praise be to you, Seth

Father of the kingless race

Holder of secrets”

Seth replied to Mani’s praise

“Praise be to Mani

The New Apostle of Light

The Spirit of Truth”

Mani quickly bowed his head

And galloped away

Soon the beast motioned to him

To soon leave this stream

And visit the great angels

Waiting for his heart

Mani sad he had to leave

Still agreed and left

Mani rode even higher

With the galloping

Creating a holy tune

He saw twelve grey clouds

Small and humble

Heard a holy song

Being sung in the same tune

As the galloping

And sung by many women

As Mani approached

He saw twelve virgins of light

Six on the left side

The other six on the right

They noticed Mani

And laid down their palm branches

From their robes of green

For him to gallop above

As Mani galloped

Showing gratitude to them

By bowing his head

They lifted their hands and sang

“Praise be to Mani

Blessed is the Apostle

The Servant of Christ

The Apostle of Jesus”

They sang this short song

As he rode slightly nearer

To heaven’s city

Before he left however

One of them gave him

A palm branch to take with him

He bowed and thanked her

Mani rode even higher

With the galloping

Creating a holy tune

As he galloped on

Mani saw a silver cloud

Heard holy chanting

In the exact tune

Of the previous great song

And the galloping

But with a singular voice

As Mani approached

He met the Maiden of Light

Serene and singing

While making lightning and rain

She made their loud sounds

In tune with her long singing

She was clothed in blue

With the brown wings of an owl

She said “I was sent

To those who study my soul

I am the treasure

To those who seek my spirit”

Mani bowed his head

And gave his precious palm branch

To the bright maiden

Saying “I am unworthy

To keep this palm branch

To keep this wonderful gift

But you are worthy”

She set a garland of green

Filled with holy grace

A living crown of beauty

On Mani’s bowed head

After she took Mani’s gift

As Mani prepared

Prepared to quickly depart

The Great Buddha shone

Behind the Maiden of Light

Mani’s face shone bright

And Mani loudly exclaimed

“Praise to the Buddha

The Dispeller of Darkness

Kinsman of the Sun”

The Great Buddha responded

“Praise be to Mani

Beloved of all the Lights

Gatherer of souls”

Mani then bowed his wreathed head

And quickly went off

Mani rode even higher

With the galloping

Creating a holy tune

Mani saw a cross

Shining with golden sunlight

Twinkling with moonlight

Clothed in swirling clouds of white

As they both approached

Jesus the Splendour shined through

Christ the Son shined through

Through the veil of those white clouds

Mani’s face shone bright

And Mani loudly exclaimed

“Praise to the Bright Son

Lamb of God, the New Adam

The Sheperd of Man”

Jesus the Sun responded

“Praise be to Mani

The Paraclete of Comfort

Messenger of Joy”

And the clouds sang in whispers

“Jesus is the light

The light above everything

Wearing a great mask

Made of swirling clouds of white

Jesus is the breath

Of all the seen and unseen

Who greets all people

Who return to his warm arms

Split a piece of wood

Here his own heart pulsating

Lift a rock of grey

Smell precious incense burning

See a flower bud

Watch his threads interlacing”

Mani gently wept

His tears becoming raindrops

From the blue heavens

Caused by those whispering clouds

Jesus the Christ smiled

And gave a lily flower

To Mani weeping

And tied it to his green crown

Mani bowed his head

And prepared to quickly leave

On the holy beast

Mani rode even higher

With the galloping

Creating a holy tune

Mani and the beast

Finally saw a huge cloud

Of many colours

The great cloud looked like a web

Hanging on nothing

They got nearer and nearer

Until they saw him

The Third Messenger floating

He had many wings

And a thousand eyes looking

He was radiant

Holding a banner of white

To shine through twelve gates

He himself shined as the sun

As the bright sovereign

Holding pearls in his left hand

To send higher up

To the grand Empire of Light

These purified pearls

Were from the depths of darkness

He rescued them all

From the imprisoned demons

Mani sang to him

“Great is the shining shepherd

The judge and the king

The powerful one of life

The Lord of the strong

We praise his one righteous throne

King of the chieftains

Lord of the holy prophets”

The Third Messenger

Shined on Mani’s crown of green

And made it bloom much

With colourful dates and grapes

Mani bowed his head

And quickly began to leave

With his holy beast

Mani rode even higher

With the galloping

Creating a holy tune

After great Mani

Passed through the ten firmaments

And met the Prophets

And the aeons of light

Tiredness set in

Gnosis exclaimed “Do not sleep

The strings of dark night

Still allure your holy heart

So keep up the fight

And you will see the morning”

After a long while

They saw a cloudy mountain

Tall and resplendent

They went to the very peak

And saw a giant

It was the Living Spirit

Watching in gladness

Watching his deep craftmanship

Turning and changing

He smiled at his firstborn son

Whose title is this

The Keeper of the Splendour

Who holds up the skies

Those colossal firmaments

Mani got higher

He did not have enough time

To go that far down

So, he went to the Spirit

And praised the craftsman

“You carried the First Man up

From the first battle

You crucified the darkness

That Prince of Darkness

And you trampled and pierced

The natures of death

Your soul crafted and lifted

The sun and the moon

And you evoked your five sons

To hold the cosmos

You sent forth countless angels

To bound the circuit

Until you finished your work

And then set a few

As watchers for the cosmos

You established gods

When light shone on the darkness

You are the craftsman

You are greater than Saklas

That lesser craftsman

That lion-headed serpent

Who made man’s world

Within your glorious work”

When Mani finished

The Living Spirit crouched down

And gave him a staff

That had an orb on its peak

Smooth and beautiful

An orb of the whole cosmos

Held up by a snake

A gold cobra to be held

The Spirit declared

“This is my cosmic power

My eternal might

You can choose to offer it

To the Great Builder

Or to keep it for yourself

If your will says so”

Mani bowed in gratitude

And left that mountain

Mani rode even higher

With the galloping

Creating a holy tune

After a long while

He saw a flaming mountain

With fire rivers

And some sparks of creation

The beast said to him

“Do not fear Prophet Mani

These flames do not harm

They harm only the darkness”

So Mani approached

And saw another giant

Near the flaming peak

Crafting with a large hammer

Making clear diamonds

That man was the Great Builder

Crafting the new world

For the end of the cosmos

When all will dissolve

Except the remnants of light

Who followed the way

The narrow bridge bathed in light

A stream filled with pearls

Which leads to the Father’s love

An infinite deep

Mani approached the Builder

And gave him the staff

The Living Spirit’s power

The Great Builder smiled

And said “Thank you for this staff

You have passed the test

Please take this pen I crafted

To not give away

But to keep close forever”

Mani gave the staff

And received a precious pen

Made of sodalite

Grateful Mani bowed his head

And quickly set off

Mani rode even higher

With the pen of blue

Twirling in his long, right hand

He and Gnosis saw

A mountain filled with green life

With crickets singing

And birds tweeting united

They saw a giant

Caring for every creature

With large, tender hands

Mani proclaimed with great joy

“The Friend of the Lights

The Beloved of the Lights

Sublime of the Lights”

The giant heard Mani’s praise

And gave papyrus

Woven by the blowing wind

To Mani’s kind hands

Mani bowed his long-crowned head

And quickly went off

Mani rode even higher

With the pen of blue

With the tender papyrus

To make some doodles

On the things his soul witnessed

As he was drawing

He and Gnosis saw a square

Made out of clear glass

They galloped towards the sight

And saw vast tree roots

Reaching to each point and side

They soon saw a tree

Larger than any great tree

Or Babel’s Tower

Or Holy Mother Mountain

Its crown of vastness

Was a cosmos in itself

Filled with all creatures

Whether those seen by mankind

And those yet to be

And those forever unseen

Filled with every fruit

Whether living or extinct

In the tree’s centre

Shined forth a colossal cross

A cross of white light

It was the Living Spirit

Mani bowed and prayed

“Praise be to you, the Spirit

You are courageous

You sacrificed your high self

To the demon beasts

For light to defeat darkness

You was life to them

But the beasts were death for you

You bore beneath them

They wore you like fishing nets

You are in the all

You hold up the ten heavens

You are the world’s life

The sweet water in the pit

The joy of all souls

The honey milk in all trees

You hold up the worlds

All to do your one mission

To trick and poison

All the demon beasts below

So the last battle

Will see the Prince of Darkness

Weak and imprisoned”

A branch gently came closer

To Mani and gave

A box of brushes and paints

From every kingdom

“This will give life to your art

Fruit for men to taste

As I have given my life

To the world below”

Mani bowed with excitement

Ran towards Gnosis

And began his living art

While still travelling

Mani rode even higher

With the pen of blue

With precious paints and brushes

To make living art

On the things his soul witnessed

After some paintings

Mani saw a larger square

Made of clear crystal

Mani quickly came to it

And saw a giant

Wearing a tunic of wool

Curly wool from lambs

Holding the great shield of faith

Wearing a breastplate

The breastplate of righteousness

With a lengthy sword

Inscribed with the words of God

Wearing a helmet

The helmet of salvation

He was the First Man

Mani gazed, and then proclaimed

“Songs filled the clear air

Tambourines and harps praised you

The mountains and trees

Were filled with rivers of joy

When your soul returned

To the Paradise of Light

From seas of darkness

From the primeval battle

Against the tyrant

The Prince of Endless Darkness

Your soul destroyed death

Slayed the demons by a shield

Strong and razor-sharp

You protected paradise

And sealed the dark Prince

Within the eternal pit”

As Mani finished

The First Man leaned over him

And drops of blood rained

On Mani’s black robe

From an everlasting wound

That the Man received

From the primeval battle

From a flying lance

That flew like a shooting star

In the void of night

The black robe turned into white

A glimmering white

“This is my blood of hardship

Of my sacrifice

Of my plight before glory

Of my endurance”

Mani slowly bowed his head

And gracefully walked

To his one glimmering beast

Waiting patiently

Mani rode even higher

With the pen of blue

With precious paints and brushes

To make living art

On the things his soul witnessed

After Mani painted

A few colourful paintings

He finally saw

An endless expanse above

Made of clear diamond

The beast guided the Prophet

Through an opening

Small and difficult to see

A perfect circle

They both slowly went through it

And saw two angels

Bigger than any mountain

Though looked more gentle

One a top another one

The first great angel

Flew with huge butterfly wings

Wearing daffodils

And shined as the morning sun

The second angel

Masked himself with grey dove wings

Mani met the first

And the first angel announced

"We are the Mother

We are the Mother of Life

We are her two limbs

I am “First-Appearing One”

Her majestic hands

Her mouth, opened to birth words"

The first great angel

Analysed Mani’s body

He saw the green crown

From the Maiden of Light’s hands

Blooming with much life

The lily from Christ himself

The robe from the Mind

The robe of black turned pure white

And said to Mani

“You are worthy to pass me”

Mani went higher

To meet the second angel

“I am known as “Hidden One”

Her eyes veiled from sight

Her womb forever shrouded”

Mani went higher

And saw the Mother of Life

Wearing green clothing

With a purple and gold robe

Decked with five jewels

And wearing a crown of white

Rings of white fire

Mani bowed down and proclaimed

“The Mother of Life

You’re the universal womb

The Mother-Father

You’re the Excellent Mother

The Holy Spirit

You’re the Mother of the Just

The Joyous Mother

You’re Holy Primal Spirit

Joyous Barbelo”

The Mother gave a sweet smile

And gave a white veil

“Dear Mani, cover your face

Before you meet him

The King and Father of Light

For no mortal eye

Can see the infinite light

The splendid Gnosis

Will guide your path without sight”

Mani obeyed her

He got on his splendid beast

And put on the veil

Mani rode even higher

With the veil of white

Blinding his eyes from all sight

He entered his world

The world of endless colours

And every figure

Of the things his soul hopes for

Of the war long past

On the things his soul witnessed

Mani’s sight was blank

But he felt beams of warm light

Penetrate his heart

He heard massive doors creaking

The beast’s galloping

Became a loud heart beating

A love filled Mani

He trembled and bowed his head

Feeling endless joy

He could not have stopped himself

From praising the One:

“Great Invisible Spirit

Father of Greatness

King of the Gardens of Light

The Father of Light

Unknown Silent One of Light

Yes you, Lord of All

The Sovereign of Paradise

Yes you, King of Truth

The King of the World of Light

Yes you, First Father

Yes you, Virginal Spirit”

Mani paused and thought

“Silent One of Light

You are complete in your light

Silent One of Light

You are above perfection

Silent One of Light

You are above blessedness

Silent One of Light

You are not a deity

Silent One of Light

You’re above divinity

Silent One of Light”

Mani finished his praising

He felt the Light’s love

Even though there was silence

Mani bowed his head

And felt moved to ask questions

About everything

His heart journeyed to now know

From the God of Truth

“Why have you brought me up here?”

“Compassion” he said

“Why have you made this heaven?”

“Compassion” he said

“Why did light come to darkness?”

“Compassion” he said

“Why does the moon wax and wane?

“Compassion” he said

“Why does the shining sun rise?”

There was brief silence

The Father stopped the heavens

To announce his speech

He summoned angels to hear

The sun looked up high

Mani leaned closer to hear

“Compassion” he said

The sun rose even higher

The angels bowed down

Mani got down from his beast

And stepped on the ground

Mani bowed his whole head down

To the diamond ground

Now knowing why he was sent

As he stood back up

His tiredness left his soul

All of a sudden

He felt his feet on soft ground

The beams of warm light

Have now faded from his skin

Even the clear air

Now smelled of fragrant flowers

He heard a voice say

“Manichaeus, take it off”

He took off the veil

He felt a tap on his side

Manichaeus turned

And saw his twin shining bright

“You have been refreshed

Now you journey has ended”

Manichaeus smiled

He followed his shining twin

To a massive pit

The twin said “Gaze at Hades”

Manichaeus looked

He saw a swarm of serpents

Deep down in the dark

Swallowing pearls of starlight

In a knotted mess

There were seven bright angels

Made of the moon’s light

As stranglers for the six snakes

Among the star signs

Manichaeus looked deeper

And saw long rivers

Rivers of bright red fire

Where the white pearls go

When the snakes vomit them up

With Mount Sumeru

At peace in the world’s centre

And the sea giant

Swam in the ocean of black

Swirling and foaming

Manichaeus looked deeper

And saw dark layers

Of foul beast-headed demons

All held up by strength

By the praiseworthy Porter

He saw more layers

Of smoke, water, red fire

Cold darkness and wind

Manichaeus looked deeper

And saw the plain void

Which underpins mankind's world

“You must go back there

To the earthly world of plight”

Much fear and trembling

Filled Manichaeus’s mind

He took a step back

Like a lamb near a lion

His twin advised him

“To be a light in the dark

Is your grand mission

You must sow the holy seed

From the Light Gardens

Of the great Holy Spirit

To make life-filled fruit

In the green flower garden

The whole world’s tyrants

Will hate your mission and soul

You will suffer death

From an emperor’s decree

To be crucified

By the whole world of mankind

So the Church of Life

May resurrect in the tomb

The First Man’s tomb”

Filled with the good medicine

Of a joyful heart

Manichaeus took a step

And a leap of faith

And fell through serpents and flames

Fell through beast demons

Till all he could see was void

Then his room appeared

Unchanged since the long journey

Except for paintings

Filled with memories and life

On his humble bed

He could see the sun rising

So, he went outside

Travelled to the four corners

Of the world of night

With his colour filled paintings

Under his white robe

Teaching in the grand empire

Preaching the word “Compassion”


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1 Comment


Paulo Cruz
Paulo Cruz
Jan 16

What is the source of this text? Let ever Roshan Pidar bless you!

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