Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Messiahs-So Many Others

          Nearly every religion on the planet seems to have messiahs. Hinduism has its own particular variant of the messiah.

    In Hinduism, Kalki is the tenth and final Avatar (great incarnation) of Vishnu who will come to end the present age of darkness and destruction known as Kali Yuga. The name Kalki is often a metaphor for eternity or time. The origins of the name probably lie in the Sanskrit word ‘kalka’ which refers to dirt, filth, or foulness and hence denotes the ‘destroyer of foulness’ or ‘annihilator of ignorance’.
   Kalki is expected to establish a new era based on truth, righteousness, humanism and goodness, called Satya Yuga.

     Ismaili Khojas, a Shia Muslim group from Gujarat and Sindh and followers of Aga Khan, believe in the 10 incarnations of Vishnu and, according to their tradition, Imam Ali, the son-in-law of prophet Muhammad was Kalki.

     Members of the Bahá'í Faith have interpreted the prophecies of Kalki's arrival as being references to the arrival of Bah’u’llah which has played a major role in the growth of this religion in India.
Members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community believe their founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to be the Kalki Avatar.
     In Buddhism, Maitreya (Metteyya, Jampa), is foretold as a future Buddha of this world in Buddhist eschatology. In some Buddhist literature, such as the Amitabha Sutra and the Lotus Sutra, he (or she) is referred to as Ajita Bodhisattva. Ajita Bodhisattva is either an enlightened (bodhi) existence (sattva) or an enlightenment-being or sometimes a ‘heroic-minded one’ (satva) who in the Buddhist tradition is to appear on Earth, achieve complete enlightenment, and teach the pure dharma (natural law).
 Lotus Sutra

     According to some, Maitreya to Christians is known as the Christ, and expect his imminent return. Jews await him as the Messiah. Hindus look for the coming of Krishna (a "complete avatar (incarnation) of the preserver-god, Vishnu. Buddhists expect him as Maitreya Buddha, and Muslims anticipate the Imam Mahdi or Messiah.
     There are variations on the Buddhist Maitreya. In ‘mainstream’ Buddhism, the Messiah is Maitreya, meaning either 'The World Unifier' or simply 'The Friend.' A very human God-Man whom Buddha predicted will be a greater Buddha than himself.
     In the Mahayanan school of Buddhism, the Messiah is Amida, great Christ - like Bodhisattva.
Several sects of Japanese Buddhism and Shintoism foresee a variant of the Buddhist Maitreya appearing after 8 August 1988 (8/8/88).

     The origins of Taoism (Daoism) can be traced back to the 3rd or 4th century BC and, like many religions, it has its own set of scriptures, the main one simply referred to as the ‘Tao’. Along with other texts, the full spectrum of Taoist canon is known as the Daozang.
     The word ‘Tao’ comes from the character in the Chinese alphabet of the same name, meaning ‘way’ or ‘path’. Almost from its beginning, Taoism developed eschatological ideas and a number of its scriptures predict the end of the world cycle, the deluge, epidemics, and coming of the savior/messiah Li Hong.
     Taoism has never been a unified religion and it is often difficult to be precise as to exactly what Taoists believe. Generally, Tao deals with the flow of the universe, or the force behind natural order that keeps all things balanced and in order. Some Eastern religions refer to this as the ‘yin and yang’ of the universe, which can also express itself as the equal forces of ‘good’ and ‘evil’.

     Messianic Taoist texts mention the Divine King known as Qingtong whose island of Fangzhu was the location of the Hot Water Valley and the fabled Fusang Tree.
     Qingtong plays an important role in Taoist millenarian texts through his connection with Li Hong, the end-times savior believed by some sects to be an avatar or reincarnation of the sage Laozi. Especially associated with the Liu Song Dynasty (420-479 AD), Li Hong was said to ‘govern a kingdom of absolute equality, peace and happiness…available to all the virtuous survivors of the apocalypse’.

     This Taoist messianism traces its roots back to the earliest sages, Confucius, Laozi and Mencius who all believed in a type of savior king who would rule in the ‘the age of perfect virtue’. A new savior sage or king was expected to appear cyclically every 500 years.

    Li Hong is the messianic figure in religious Taoism prophesied to appear at the end of the world cycle to rescue the ‘chosen people’ (see post: The Chosen Ones) who would be distinguished by certain talismans, practices and virtues.
     Myths surrounding Li Hong took shape in literature during the Han dynasty and he is depicted in the Taoist ‘Divine Incantations Scripture’ as an ideal leader who would reappear to set right heaven (tian) and earth (dì) at a time of upheaval and chaos.
     Over the years, prophesies concerning Li Hong's appearance have been used to legitimize numerous rebellions and insurgencies, all of which rallied around a Li Hong. Several prophets began to call themselves Li Hong and were executed by the authorities for ‘deceiving the masses’. Eventually, the figure of Li Hong was usurped by those in power and called the ‘Imperial Messiah’.

     Zoroastrianism (Mazdaism, Magianism) is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of the prophet Zoroaster (Zarathustra) and was formerly among the world's largest religions. The religion was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in the eastern part of ancient Persia.
        In Zoroastrian eschatology, Saoshvant (he ‘one who brings benefit’) brings about the final renovation of the world, the Frashokereti. Saoshvant, the Man of Peace, battles the forces of evil. In the final battle with evil, the metal in the hills and mountains will melt and it will be upon the earth like a river but the righteous will not be harmed.
         According to Zoroastrian tradition, three future saviours will appear, one for the end of each 1,000-year period that comprise the last 3,000 years of the world. All three will be born of maidens, conceived while their mothers bathed in a lake that miraculously preserved the seed of the prophet Zoroaster himself. The first will be named Hushedar, the second Hushedarmah, and the third will be Saoshyant who will lead humanity in the final battle against falsehood.
       Eventually, Ahura Mazda will triumph, and his agent Saoshyant will resurrect the dead, their bodies will be restored to eternal perfection and their souls will be cleansed and reunited with God. Time will end and truth/righteousness and immortality will thereafter be everlasting.
There are some messianic beliefs which, to most, seem quite peculiar.

     The Rastafari movement (Rasta) is a spiritual movement which began in the 1930s in Jamaica (see post: The Chosen Ones). Adherents worship Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia (1930–1974), as Jesus incarnate, the Second Advent, or the reincarnation of Jesus. Members of the Rastafari believe that Emperor Haile Selassie was not killed in the Ethiopian civil war but will return to save Earth (and in particular, people of African descent).

     The Cargo Cult believes in a messiah figure called John Frum on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu. The religion center began in the late 1930s at the time when Vanuatu was known as the New Hebrides. The origins of the belief is unclear but in some versions of the story, a native named Manehivi, under the alias John Frum, began appearing among the native people of Tanna while dressed in a Western coat, making promises of houses, clothes, food, and transport. Another story suggests that John Frum was a kava-induced spirit vision.
John Frum Cross

     He is often depicted as an American World War II serviceman who will bring wealth and prosperity to the people if they follow him. He is sometimes portrayed as black, other times as white. One reporter was told, ‘'E look like you. 'E got white face. 'E tall man. 'E live 'long South America’. When asked if it was rational for them to be still waiting for Frum to re-appear after 50 years, one adherent said that Christianity had been waiting 2,000 years, so waiting for Frum was much more rational than that.
     The movement gained popularity in the early 1940s when 300,000 American troops were stationed in the New Hebrides during the Second World War, bringing with them large amounts of supplies, or ‘cargo’. After the war, and the departure of the Americans, followers of John Frum built symbolic landing strips to encourage American airplanes to once again land and bring them ‘cargo’.
     The cult is still active today. The followers believe that John Frum will come back on a February 15 (the year of his return is not known), a date which is observed as "John Frum Day" in Vanuatu.

     The Prince Philip Movement is a religious sect followed by the Yaohnanen tribe also on the southern island of Tanna in Vanuatu. The Yaohnanen believe that Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the consort to Queen Elizabeth II, is a divine being. a pale-skinned son of a mountain spirit and brother of John Frum.
     According to ancient tales, the son travelled over the seas to a distant land, married a powerful lady and would in time return. The villagers had observed the respect accorded to Queen Elizabeth II by colonial officials and concluded that her husband, Prince Philip, must be the son from their legends.
    When the cult formed is unclear, but it is likely that it was sometime in the 1950s or 1960s. Its beliefs were strengthened by the royal couple's official visit to Vanuatu in 1974, when a few villagers had the opportunity to observe the Prince from afar.

     Messianism in native Africa has been seen beginning mostly in the 19th century and have generally been associated with a desire to seek modifications, through spiritual agencies, in the social structure that has usually been imposed onto the group. The loss of tribal land has been a significant predisposing factor in the origin of some of these movements. The goal in most of these movements was to restore to its followers a stable orientation, sense of satisfaction and relief, and abundant meaningfulness of life.
An African god of Lightening and Thunder
   In South Africa, one of the first recorded movements advocated the reversal of social roles by a return to the past. It was centered around a Xsosa tribe member called Mukana or Nxele, during the fifth Kaffir war of l8l8-1819. Mukana promoted the notion of an African God, Dalidipu, who was claimed to be stronger than the white man's God.
     The leader taught that the African God would punish the white God and all Christians, and that he, the leader, was the instrument of the native God (that is, he was the messiah) to destroy all the Europeans, and to bring back to life all Africans who had been killed in the wars with the Europeans. Many followers flocked to the movement but the early death of the leader led to the disintegration of the specific idea of an almighty African God and the movement died.

     There have been many more messiahs in different cultures over the years.

     The Aztec/Mayan Messiah is called Quetzalcoatl - an olive-skinned man with a white beard and followers in red. Quetzalcoatl is one of the four sons of Ometecuhtli and Omecihuatl, the four Tezcatlipocas, who each preside over one of the four cardinal directions. Over the West presides the White Tezcatlipoca, Quetzalcoatl, the god of light, mercy and wind.

     Some Mormons believe that Quetzalcoatl, who has been described as a white, bearded god who came from the sky and promised to return, was actually Jesus Christ. According to the Book of Mormon, Jesus visited the American natives after his resurrection.

     A controversial theory suggests that Quetzalcoatl is a being that is shared across many cultures including Egyptian, Aztec, Mayan and Olmec. The stories of a bearded white man bringing ‘knowledge’ are alleged to be common and originating from a central source or ‘master’ culture. (Fingerprints of the Gods, Graham Hancock, 1995).

     In the North American native Sioux mythology, the Messiah would be a man in a red cloak coming from the East. But in 1890, a different messiah appeared. Confined to reservations and in a desperate attempt to return to the days of their glory, many Sioux sought salvation in a new mysticism preached by a Paiute shaman called Wovoka.

     Emissaries from the Sioux in South Dakota traveled to Nevada to hear his words. Wovoka called himself the Messiah and prophesied that the dead would soon join the living in a world in which the Indians could live in the old way surrounded by plentiful game. A tidal wave of new soil would cover the earth, bury the whites, and restore the prairie.

     To hasten the event, the Indians were to dance the Ghost Dance. Many dancers wore brightly colored shirts emblazoned with images of eagles and buffaloes. These ‘Ghost Shirts’ they believed would protect them from the bluecoats' bullets. During the fall of 1890, the Ghost Dance spread through the Sioux villages of the Dakota reservations, revitalizing the Indians and bringing fear to the whites. What resulted was a massacre of the natives by the panicked soldiers – The Massacre at Wounded Knee of 1890.
Mass Grave at Wounded Knee-1890
     The Indonesian Messiah has been said to be the twelfth-century Indonesian prophet, Djojobojo, sometimes called the ‘Nostradamus of Indonesia’, who foresaw the coming of a great Spiritual King from the West to come after the Dutch and Japanese occupations, and possibly end of the rule of Indonesian dictators, Sukarno and Suharto.

     Another native North American tribal group, the Hopi, call their Messiah Pahana, the 'true white brother' from the East will wear a red cap and cloak and bring two helpers holding the sacred symbols - the swastika, the cross and the power symbol of the Sun. He will restore the Hopi Indian version of the Dharma. The true Pahana is the Lost White Brother of the Hopi.
Hopi Kachinas
     Most versions have it that the Pahana or Elder Brother left for the east at the time that the Hopi entered the Fourth World and began their migrations. However, the Hopi say that he will return again and at his coming the wicked will be destroyed and a new age of peace, the Fifth World, will be ushered in. Pahana will bring with him a missing section of a sacred Hopi stone in the possession of the Fire Clan and he will come wearing red.

     Traditionally, Hopis are buried facing eastward in expectation of the Pahana who will come from that direction. The legend of the Pahana seems intimately connected with the Aztec/Mayan story of Quetzalcoatl.
New Zealand Maori
     In New Zealand, over a dozen Maori chieftains from the nineteenth through the early twentieth centuries have laid claim to the title of ‘Maori Messiah’.
     Some nomads of Central Asian call their messiah the White Burkhan. One of the Burkhanist deities is Ak-Burkhan, or ‘White Burkhan’." Burkhan means ‘god’ or ‘buddha’ in Mongolic languages, yet Burkhanism is not considered Buddhist, as the term is also used in shamanistic nomenclature.

He will come when the people of the steppes have abandoned their ancient gods. He will come to offer them and the entire human race a spiritual rebirth. Ak-Burkhan (White Burkhan) is depicted as an old man with white hair, a white coat, and white headgear, who rides a white horse. Possibly analogous to the Mongolian ‘white old man’ Tsagan Ebugen, symbol of good fortune.

     The Eskimo (Inuit) Messiah is described by the prophets of the Arctic as an olive-skinned man with long beard and white hair who comes from the East. Is this Quetzalcoatl (now far from Mesoamerica) once again?
Stone Bust of Quetzalcoatl
     All these messiahs have one thing in common. They arrive in times of trouble to ‘set right’ what is wrong in the world. It is such a common theme, a man (most often) who is a bringer of knowledge, olive-skinned and bearded, who arrives ‘from the east’.
     Perhaps there once was a real messiah and the legend lives on, often inspiring others and often being usurped by religious leaders or politicians who follow their own special agenda.

     *Messiahs: subject of research for the novel The Tao of the Thirteenth God - Amazon Kindle

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Messiahs-Christianity and Islam

     For most Christians, Jesus is the ‘Messiah’. ‘Christ’ is simply the Greek translation of the Hebrew word’ messiah’, meaning the ‘anointed one’. In Christianity, the list of those claiming to be the ‘messiah’ is even longer than that in the Jewish faith and many more date to much more recent times.
Jesus Christ

     The Christian Bible suggests that Jesus will come again in one way or another and various people have claimed that they are indeed the second coming of Jesus while others have been presented themselves as a new messiah under the umbrella of Christianity.

     Simon Magus (see post: The Pointed Finger of Heresy) was a Samaritan (an Abrahamic religion closely related to Judaism claimed to be the ancient religion of the Israelites prior to the Babylonian Exile) in the early 1st century and was considered a god in Simonianism
     The Simonians were a Gnostic Christian sect of the 2nd century, a group which regarded Simon magus as its founder and traced its doctrines back to him. The sect flourished in Syria, in various districts of Asia Minor and Rome and survived until the 4th century. Magus was said to have ‘hinted’ that he himself was Christ, calling himself the 'Standing One'.
Death of Simon Magus

     Dositheos (another Samaritan) was one of the founders of Mandaeanism (another gnostic religion with a dualistic (2 (?) gods-one good, one evil), sometimes identified with mentions in the Koran of the (now non-existent) Sabian religion) in the mid-1st century. Dositheos claimed to be the Messiah prophesied by Moses.
     Among the Christian ‘messiahs’, there are the ‘strange and unusual’ and some very controversial such as the following:
Arnold Potter (1804–1872) was a Latter Day Saint (Mormon) leader of a ‘breakaway’ sect who was a self-declared ‘messiah’. During a trip to Australia, he claimed to have undergone a ‘purifying, quickening change’ whereby the spirit of Christ entered into his body and he became ‘Potter Christ, Son of the living God’. 
     While in Australia, Potter wrote a book which he said was dictated to him by angels. In 1857, upon his return to California, appeared in the streets with an Indian ink  brand on his forehead, inscribed with the words ‘Potter Christ—The Living God—Morning Star’. 
Present-Day Samaritan Priest
     In 1861, Potter and his followers left California and eventually settled in Council Bluffs, Iowa. In 1872 Potter announced that it was the time for his ascent to heaven. Potter rode a donkey to the edge of the bluffs then leapt off the edge. His body was collected and buried by his followers.

     Father Divine whose real name was George Baker (1880 – 1965) was an African American spiritual leader who believed that he was more than just a messiah and actually claimed to be God.

     Claude Vorilhon (known as Rael,‘messenger of the Elohim’ (born 1946) was a French national and professional test driver who founded the UFO religion, the Rael Movement in 1972 (see post: The Chosen Ones). The movement teaches that life on Earth was scientifically created by a species of extraterrestrials, called Elohim
     Vorilhon claimed that he met an extraterrestrial humanoid in 1973 and became the Messiah then devoted himself to the task he said was given by his biological father, an extraterrestrial named Yahweh.
Raelian Cosmology

     Sergei Torop (born 1961), calling himself ‘Vissarion’, founded the Church of the Last Testament and the spiritual community Ecopolis Tiberkul in Southern Siberia. Vissarion claims to be the reincarnation of Jesus and teaches reincarnation, veganism, and the impending end of the world.

     David Shayler (born December 24, 1965), is a former British MI5 agent and whistleblower who declared himself the Messiah on 7 July 2007. Shayler was prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act 1989 for his passing secret documents to the newspaper in August 1997. After the release of the Commission report on the September 11, 2001 attacks, David Shayler joined the 9/11 Truth Movement which holds ‘no planes were involved in 9/11’ and that the apparent planes were missiles camouflaged by holograms. Shayler later claimed that he was the son of God stating, ‘I am the messiah and hold the secret of eternal life’.
David Michael Shayler

     On his official website, he notes that ‘David Michael Shayler (‘Sheylr’ in Hebrew) was anointed Messiah on 2 July 2007 and proclaimed on 07.07.07, in line with ancient prophecies’. He also claims to have divine powers which allow him to influence the weather, prevent terror attacks and predict football scores.
     In a later newspaper article, Shayler revealed that he was now living as a woman. And that his transvestite alter ego' is called 'Delores Kane’: "I don't give a fuck what other people think of me. A bloke in a frock is whole lot less offensive than blowing up innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan’.

     Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835–1908) of India, claimed to be the awaited Mahdi (in Islamic eschatology, the prophesied redeemer of Islam who will rule before the Day of Judgement and will rid the world of wrongdoing, injustice and tyranny-see post: Invisible/Hidden Gods) as well as the second coming of Jesus. He is the only person in Islamic history who claimed to be both Mahdi and Jesus.
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad

     Sun Myung Moon (1920–2012) was founder and leader of the Unification Church established in South Korea. Moon considered himself the ‘Second Coming of Christ’ and was regarded by Unification Church members (‘Moonies’) as the Messiah, anointed to fulfill Jesus' unfinished mission.

     There have been few female messiahs:
     Ann Lee (1736–1784), an important figure to the Shakers, claimed she was the ‘embodied all the perfections of God’ in female form and considered herself to be Christ’s female counterpart in 1772. The Shakers were a religious group that formed in eighteenth-century England, also known as the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing (USBCSA). The first members of the group were known as ‘Shaking Quakers’ because of the ecstatic nature of their worship services.
Sun Myung Moon

     Jacobina Mentz Maurer (1842-1874) was a German-Brazilian woman who lived in the state of Rio Grande do Sul who was declared the very reincarnation of Jesus Christ on earth by her German-speaking community called Die Muckers (the false saints) by her enemies. 
     Jacobina was eventually shot to death together with many of her followers by the Brazilian Imperial Army.

     Mabel Barltrop claimed to be the Shiloh from the Book of Genesis and founded the Panacea Society in 1919 at 12 Albany Road, Bedford, UK. The teachings of the society were based on those of the Devonshire prophetess Joanna Southcott (1750 - 1814). Barltrop took the name Octavia and believed herself to be Southcott's child, the Shiloh of her prophecies. The ‘Society’ (also known as the Community of the Holy Ghost) began, symbolically, with 12 apostles.
Jacobina Mentz Maurer
     When Octavia died, in 1934, there were 2,000 members of the society, many of whom lived in and around Albany Road, their homes backing on to a shared communal area, which they believed was the site of the original Garden of Eden
     A further 75,000 followers worldwide were convinced that water and linen squares that Barltrop had breathed on and which were then posted to them, contained miraculous healing powers. The Panacea Society blossomed briefly but could not survive the death (and non-resurrection) of its anointed messiah.

     Other ‘messiahs’ have been dangerous and murderous.
     Charles Manson (born 1934 and still alive, in prison) was leader of the ‘Manson family’ ordering his followers to kill in preparation for the end of the world (see post: Death Cults). 
 Charles Manson

     Manson claimed he was a prophet for the Son of Man, the ‘Second Coming of Jesus Christ’, opening the seven seal mentioned in the New Testament ‘Book of Revelation’. Manson was an admirer of Adolf Hitler and tatooed a swastika (see post: Symbols of the Sun) onto his forehead purportedly because he was angry at Jews who refused to believe that he was a prophet for the ‘Second Coming of Christ’. He also claimed to be Satan.

     Yahweh ben Yahweh (1935–2007) was born Hulon Mitchell, Jr. Mitchell was a black nationalist and separatist who founded the Nation of Yahweh and orchestrated the murder of dozens of people. Mitchell emphasized that God and all the prophets of the Bible were black and blacks would gain the knowledge of their true history through him. 
     He also called whites (and particularly Jews) as infidels and oppressors. He emphasized loyalty to himself as the son of God YHWH and became the ‘living’ Messiah of the Nation of Yahweh. In 1991, Mitchell was convicted of conspiring to murder white people as an initiation rite to his cult. He was released on parole in 2001 on the condition of not reconnecting with his old congregation and died of prostate cancer in 2007.
David Koresh

     David Koresh (born, Vernon Wayne Howell; 1959–1993), leader of the Branch Davidians (see post: Death Cults) proclaimed himself Messiah and was killed in an assault on his compound by federal authorities in Waco, Texas.

     The ‘Reverend’ Jim Jones led over 900 of his followers to their deaths by suicide in Jonestown, Guyana in 1978 (see posts: Death Cults and The Reverend Jim Jones).

     Two messiahs perhaps deserve special mention as they did change the course of history to some extent in their respective regions.
Baha ‘u’llah (1817–1864) was born Mirza Husayn-Ali Nuri into the Shiite sect of Islam and claimed to be the promised one of all religions, a messenger from God, the most recent Manifestation of God, that he was the Promised One of all religions, fulfilling the messianic prophecies found in world religions.
Baha ‘u’llah

     He was the founder of the Bahá'í Faith. His claims include six distinctive messianic identifications: from Judaism, the incarnation of the ‘Everlasting Father’ from the Yuletide prophecy of Isaiah 9:6, the ‘Lord of Hosts’; from Christianity, the ‘Spirit of Truth’ or Comforter predicted by Jesus in his farewell discourse of John 14-17 and the return of Christ ‘in the glory of the Father’; from Zoroastrianism, the return of Shah Bahram Varjavand, a Zoroastrian messiah predicted in various texts; from Shi’a Islam, the return of the Third Imam, Imama Husayn; from Sunni Islam, the return of Jesus (Isa); and from Babism, He whom god shall make manifest.
     In 1892, Bahá'u'lláh contracted a fever and died on 29 May 1892. He was buried in the shrine located next to the Mansion of Bahjí in Acre, a city in the Western Galilee region of northern Israel.
Shrine to Baha ‘u’llah, Acre

     The Baha’i are considered heretics by many in Shiite Islam and have been persecuted in Iran, the country of birth of Baha‘u’llah. Many have fled Iran and emigrated to various countries throughout the globe, taking their faith with them.

     Hong Xiuquan (1814–1864), born Hong Renkun was a Hakka Chinese who led the Taiping Rebellion against the Qing Dynasty. The Hakka (also called Hakka Han) are Han Chinese who speak the Hakka language and have links to the Chinese provinces of Guangdong, Jiangxi, Guangxi, Sichuan, Hunan and Fujian. 
     The Hakka have often migrated overseas to various countries throughout the World and have had a significant influence on the course of Chinese and world history with leaders in China as well as many other parts of the world. Hong Xiuquan is regarded by many Hakka as an important ancestral tie between Hakka of many modern political stripes and many modern nationalities.
Hong Xiuquan

     Hong was bright and the pride of his clan. Social betterment was usually achieved through the Qing civil service and Hong sat for the civil service examinations for the first time in 1836. He was first exposed to Christianity in the city of Guangzhou where he took the civil service examination in 1836. He listened to an Evangelical Christian missionary preaching about his religion received translations and summaries of the Bible written by the Christian missionaries Edwin Stevens and his assistant, Liang Fa
     He failed the exam that year and once again in 1837. Hong returned to his village and likely suffered a psychotic depression. During his recovery, he had a number of vivid dreams, interpreted by him as mystical visions.
     In his dreams, Hong was visited by an old, paternal figure and an elder brother-figure. The old man complained to Hong about men worshipping demons rather than him and in a second dream, Hong saw Confucius being punished for his faithlessness, after which he repented. 
     Hong dreamt of angels carrying him to heaven, where he met the elder-brother figure wearing in a black dragon robe with a long golden beard who gave him a sword and a magic seal and told him to purge China of demons. Hong interpreted these dreams to mean that God the Heavenly Father (identified by him as Shangdi from Chinese tradition) wanted him to rid the world of demon worship and, in order to complete this mission of ridding the world of demons, the elder brother-figure changed Hong's name to Hong Xiuquan. 
     Hong concluded that the old man was God and the elder brother that he had seen was Jesus Christ, making him a Chinese son of God and the younger brother of Jesus.
Hong began by burning all Confucian and Buddhist statues as well as books in his house and preaching to his community about his visions. His earliest converts were relatives of his who had also failed their examinations and belonged to the Hakka minority. 
Taiping Rebellion

     Destruction of holy statues angered the local citizens and officials and Hong fled the district in 1844 Guangxii, where the large Hakka population was more open to his teachings. Guangxi was a dangerous area at this time with bandit groups in the mountains and pirates on the rivers and Hong's followers were drawn into conflict with other groups. The rising tension between the sect and the authorities was probably the most important factor in Hong's eventual decision to rebel.
     Qing authorities tried to arrest Hong on several occasions but were driven away by his ever-increasing number of followers. By 1850, Hong had mobilized over 20,000 men and began to lay siege to cities in south-central China. In 1851, Hong announced the formation of the Christian state he called the ‘Heavenly Kingdom (Taiping Tianguo) of Great Peace’ and declared himself Heavenly King. This resulted in 13 years of conflict with 20 million lives lost and devastation to large areas of south, central and eastern China.
Throne in the Heavenly Kingdom, Nanjing

     Hong eventually established a capital at Nanjing but the rebellion soon began to unravel. Yang Xiuqing (known as the ‘East King’) was a fellow Taiping leader who had directed successful military campaigns and who also claimed to speak with the voice of God. Hong became increasingly suspicious of Yang's ambitions and, in 1856, he had Yang and his family murdered.
     Hong died at 52 years of age on 1 June 1864, some claim by suicide with poison after Qing authorities had gained a decisive military advantage. Other sources claim that Hong died of ‘illness’ and others that his illness was caused by ‘eating manna’, a command taken from the Bible that Hong had given to his people as they starved. Hong's badly decomposed body was found in the palace of Nanjing.
     Hong was succeeded by his teenage son, Hong Tianguifu but the Taiping Rebellion was suppressed and finally destroyed by the Qing in 1864 with the help of French and British forces.
     The Taiping rebellion, with its 20 million dead, was one of the deadliest conflicts in history but its Hakka leader, Hong Xiuquan, is regarded by many modern Hakka as an inspiration. The Hakka constitute an overwhelmingly disproportionate number of important modern Chinese political leaders examples of whom are: Lee Kuan Yew (founding leader of independent Singapore), founding father of modern China; Sun Yatsen (Nationalist leader and ‘father’ of modern China); and Deng Xiaoping (communist leader of mainland China).
Deng Xiaoping
     There is a form of ‘messianism’ peculiar to Eastern Europe. It is often called Romantic Slavic messianism, a belief that the Slavs, especially the Russians, suffer in order that other European nations and eventually all of humanity, may be redeemed. 
     One example of this ‘Slavic messianism’ is that of Petăr Konstantinov Dănov who was born in 1864 near the port city of Varna. In 1897, Danov founded the ‘Society for the uplifting of the religious spirit of the Bulgarian people’ which was renamed as Synarchic Chain a number of years later. The name implies that it was actually a network of spiritists from different regions of Bulgaria. In the circles of this ‘chain’ Dănov acted on the one hand as a medium for spirits, angels and even Christ, on the other hand as a spiritual teacher and adviser of his followers. 
     In addition to these activities he published articles in journals and travelled throughout the country enlarging his network and giving lectures on heterodox scientific practices. In 1918 the movement was finally renamed as ‘Universal White Brotherhood’ or simply ‘White Brotherhood’.
     Danov’s messianic vision is summarized by his statement: ‘The Slavs have an important mission. Never before has there been such a huge mass of 200 million people gathered for one mission. The Slavs will be the forge of the new culture. The Slavic race will be the living center of the new culture but then comes the Sixth Race’
     Dănov believed in the existence of a hierarchy of illuminated beings called the ‘White Lodge’ or ‘White Brotherhood’ which advances the evolution of mankind by sending messengers into the world who teach the ancient divine wisdom. Dănov taught that Christ was the head of the ‘White Brotherhood’ and that the cosmic principle of love which unites everything in the universe to a living organism. The role of the “White Brotherhood” is to promote awareness of this universal unity and to advance the realization of love in the life of mankind.
     In the beginning, Danov acted as medium and mouthpiece of Christ but then started identifying himself more and more with this entity around 1912. This development probably has its roots in the alleged coming of the World Teacher or Buddha-Maitreya that had been announced by the Theosophical Society since 1910. 
Seal of the Theosophical Society
     Dănov was familiar with all the relevant literature of this society and many people who joined him after the First World War had even completed courses offered by the Theosophical Society in Bulgaria and projected their hope for a renewal of the world in love and harmony on the Bulgarian ‘Teacher’ Dănov. Not only did the latter see himself as a divine messenger, but also the circle of his followers. Dănov claimed that these followers were reincarnated sages and initiates, members of the White Lodge who had taught the divine wisdom in ancient Egypt, India, Persia and Greece.
     Dănov prophesied that 144.000 Ascended Masters or Adepts would incarnate world-wide throughout the 20th century to bring on the culture of the Sixth Race. Eight thousand of them were to manifest within Slavdom. Around the year 2000 Russia would ‘open up’, enter its golden age and finally fulfill the Slavic mission. 
     Another very important inspiration for Dănov’s conception of Slavic chosenness (see post: The Chosen Ones) is 19th century Polish messianism. The Polish poet and national hero Adam Mickiewicz for example had the vision of a mission of the Slavs (especially the Polish) to bring fraternity to the European nations under the auspices of Christianity. 
Adam Mickiewicz
     According to Mickiewicz the Slavs were not as materialistic as the Western peoples but were capable of self-sacrifice and devotion to the ‘spiritual world’. Adam Mickiewicz coined the expression ‘Polska Chrystusem narodów’ (‘Poland is the Christ of the nations’).

     In Islam, the Mahdi is the central messianic figure. The Mahdi, as in Jewish messianism, often represents resistance against perceived oppression.
     Islamic eschatology describes the Mahdi as a Messianic figure who will appear on Earth before the Day of Judgment and with Jesus (Isa), will rid the world of wrongdoing, injustice and tyranny. People claiming to be the Mahdi have appeared in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, throughout history since the birth of Islam in 610 AD. There are variants on the theme of the Mahdi, depending on the Muslim sect. 
Ali Husayn and Hasan in Paradise
     In Orthodox Sunni Islam, Muntazar is the ‘mahdi’, the successor to Mohammed who at the 'end of time' will unite the races of the world through understanding. The Sufi Messiah/Mahdi is called Khidr, the mysterious guide of the Islamic spiritual underground. In Sufi tradition, Khiḍr has come to be known as one of those who receive illumination directly from God without human mediation.
     In orthodox Islam, Isa (Jesus) is believed to hold the task of killing the false messiah al-Dajjal (the ‘Antichrist’ in Christianity). After he has destroyed al-Dajjal, his final task will be to become leader of the Muslims at which time, Isa will dispel Christian and Jewish claims about him.

     Ṣāliḥ ibn Tarīf was the king of the Berghouata Berber kingdom and proclaimed himself a prophet of a new religion. Islamic literature considers his belief heretical but some modern Berber activists regard him as a hero for his resistance to Arab conquest and his foundation of the Berghouata state.

     Muhammad ibn Hasan ibn Ali (869 AD-?) also called Muhammad al-Mahdi, is the twelfth imam of Twelver Shia Islam. He is believed by Twelver Shia Muslims to be the Mahdi, an ultimate savior of humankind and the final Imam of the Twelve Imams. Twelver Shia believe that al-Mahdī was born in 869 and did not die but rather was hidden by God (this is referred to as the Occultation- see post: Invisible/Hidden Gods) and will later emerge with Isa (Jesus) in order to fulfill their mission of bringing peace and justice to the world.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

     In 2008, Iran's president believes Allah has chosen him to prepare the world for the coming of the Islamic 'savior' called the Mahdi. But before the Mahdi's return, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad believes there must be global chaos - even if he has to create it himself. Since becoming the president of Iran in August 2005, Ahmadinejad has emerged as the Mahdi's most influential follower. 
     Ahmadinejad has stated that his mandate is to pave the way for the coming of this Islamic 'messiah'. In almost all his speeches, Ahmadinejad begs Allah to hasten the return of the Mahdi.

     Muhammad Jaunpuri (1443 – 1505) was born in northeastern India in Jaunpur (Uttar Pradesh) and was a descendant of the seventh imam, Musa Kadhim. He claimed to be the Mahdi on three occasions - first in Mecca, and later twice in India - attracting a large following and a lot of opposition from ‘mainstream’ Islam. Muhammad Jaunpuri died in 1505 at age 63 but his followers, (known as Mahdavis) continue to live mostly around the Indian city of Hyderabad.
Muhammad Ahmad

     Muhammad Ahmad also known as the ‘Mad Mahdi’ (1844–1885), who declared himself the Mahdi in 1881, defeated the Ottoman Egyptian authority, and founded a short-lived empire in Sudan. His proclamation came when there was already widespread resentment among the Sudanese population of the oppressive policies of the Turco-Egyptian rulers.

     Sayyid Mohammed Abdullah Hassan (1864–1920) was a self-declared messiah in Somaliland who engaged in military conflicts from 1900 to 1920. Referred to as the Mad Mullah by the British, he established the Dervish State in Somalia that fought an anti-imperial war for a period of over 20 years against British, Italian and Ethiopian forces.

     Rashad Khalifa (1935–1990) was an Egyptian-American biochemist. Starting in 1968, Khalifa used computers to analyze the frequency of letters and words in the Quran and in 1974, claimed that he had discovered a mathematical code in the text of the Qur'an involving the number 19. He claimed to be the ‘Messenger of the Covenant’ and founded the ‘Submitters International’.  
Sayyid Mohammed Abdullah Hassan

     Khalifa claimed that the Archangel Gabriel 'most assertively' told him that chapter 36, verse 3, of the Quran, 'specifically' referred to him. Because of Rashad Kahlifa's doctrine (which was contrary to some important tenets of Sunni Islam) a fatwa was issued on February 19, 1989, by the Islamic Legal Council of Saudi Arabia, decreeing Rashad Khalifa a heretic. 
     One year later on January 31, 1990, Khalifa was murdered in Tucson. He was stabbed multiple times and his body drenched in xylol (a flammable volatile liquid hydrocarbon used as a solvent) but not set alight.

     Juhayman al-Otaibi (1936–1980) declared his son-in-law the Mahdi. On November 20, 1979 (the first day of the Islamic year 1400) the Grand Mosque in Mecca was seized by a well-organized group of 400 to 500 men under al-Otaybi's leadership. 
     The Grand Mosque Seizure lasted three weeks before Saudi Special Forces with French Special Forces assistance broke into the Mosque using armored personnel carriers. The surviving militants were arrested and 68 executed within 10 days. Juhayman and 67 members of his group were subsequently beheaded by the Saudi Government.
Juhayman al-Otaibi

      Both Christianity and Islam have preserved their concepts of the redeeming messiah since their beginnings. Even today, messiahs appear (and disappear) when certain sects or groups perceive themselves as oppressed.

     *Messiahs: subject of research for the novel The Tao of the Thirteenth God - Amazon Kindle