Anomai

Anomai, also Aga Ma'i or Maism, is a religion founded and first spread in Jashnagar. Maism is considered both a spiritual and philosophical practice by its followers, and is concerned with the uplifting and transcendence of the individual and soul.

Maism postulates that life and the universe itself is impermanent, but not capable of a true end. In Maist doctrine, every action lingers in some form eternally, connected to Dam. Maists view the universe as cyclical, with death and endings only illusion. This view is justified by the principle that existence begets existence, and that once started cannot be stopped. As a result, Maists reject ideas of heaven or a hell, and view the afterlife as existence beyond current existence. Maist cosmology accepts the idea of additional universes, all connected through Dam.

Maist practitioners are concerned with the lingering of action and the direct effect of choices on the self and on others. Exemplifying higher virtue established by doctrine will not only be beneficial to the self and others, but is what separates one's soul and existence from mindless creation. Anomai followers believe that humans are special by virtue of sapient choice, and must better exercise that in accordance with the faith to align themselves. An individual will pay for their negative actions eternally because the ripples from which are never destroyed, nor is the individual. Likewise, they will also reap the rewards of positive action eternally as well. As the individual receives the results from their conduct, so too will others benefit or suffer from the actions of fellow man.

Maism has no singular established scriptural text, but is instead spread out among a series of poems and epics that define doctrine. It follows heavily from monastic tradition, with teaching stemming down from monastic lineages. Three primary lineages exist in Maism: Jai, Kali. and Nuren. Both the Jai and Kali lineages are broken up into numerous schools, while the Nuren lineage has remained largely intact. The religion is notable for having a religious state in Jashnagar.

Etymology

History

Bankara Temple, a ruined Anomai temple from 25 BCE

The Anomai faith likely started as a temple sect in the lower Jash kingdoms sometime between 300 BCE and 140 BCE, originating from early Damic religious groups. While scholars believe the early ideals forming the basis of the faith were probably shared amongst multiple temples, Maist tradition states that the faith was organized and officiated at Kauloon Temple, by the legendary abbot Gana Rashin.

By around 100 BCE, Maist temples had cropped up in many coastal cities and gained a considerable lay following. Monks spread the faith southward to the Pa'ea peoples. There it gained easy traction among the chiefdoms. The Pa'ea further spread the religion to the islands of the Magnostrian Ocean. By 200 CE, temples could be found on all of Jashnagar's primary islands. Maist monks had begun to be employed by local rulers as elite military troops, bringing the faith directly into Jashnagari politics. By 600 CE it had become the dominant faith in the Jashnagari archipelago.

Kauloon Temple, the second most holy site in Anomai

During the late 12th century, an archipelago-wide religious conflict broke out between Maists and followers of other indigenous religions, termed the War of Flames. The Maist victory in the war firmly sealed Anomai as the primary faith in the region. Previously the abbot of Kauloon temple had acted as the de-facto leader of the Maist faith, with doctrinal authority over all temples. The War of Flames brought an end to this, with most temples becoming more organizationally independent. The importance of Kauloon temple waned, and the Bas'kan of Yuram overshadowed the Kauloon abbots due to a more central role in organizing Maist forces during the conflict.

The centuries following through to the 17th century saw an outward expansion of the religion. Anomai monks traveled throughout southeast Nori proselytizing. In addition, Maist forces launched many crusades to capture territory and spread the faith. Though numerous smaller crusades were launched, several large crusades, typically headed by the Bas'kan of Yuram, were organized against various polities in the region. The last great crusade was launched in 1644 by Rastan I against Sepura. Despite initial success, the last large crusading effort ultimately failed in 1647 after the Maists suffered a disastrous defeat at the Battle of Senengka.

The crusades had a lasting impact on politics in the Jashnagari archipelago. Religious unity, typically under the banner of Yuram paved the way for greater cooperation between Jashnagari polities that were otherwise separated by culture. When King Ilo'gnara unified Jashnagar in 1728, he declared the Bas'kan the official head of the faith, and in return, the Bas'kan anointed he and his heirs the rightful rulers of Jashnagar, creating a religiously sanctioned monarchy. Even after the overthrow of the Jashnagari monarchy in 1913, the Bas'kan would eventually be seated as ultimate leader of Jashnagar, creating the modern religious state.

Adherents of the faith continue to use missionary work as the primary form of conversion and as a result Anomai is a growing religion. Meanwhile, the Jashnagari military still hosts a "crusader" title for their armed forces, typically engaged in humanitarian aid where possible.

Beliefs

Anomai is made up of a variety of beliefs and doctrinal traditions, many of which have been added or expounded upon through time and encoded into monastic heritage. Anomai does not have a single scriptural text, but instead has its doctrine outlined by various poems, epics, and writings, which have changed in number over time. In 1366, Bas'kan Naramel I officiated the full list of works that would serve as the base guide to the faith. While the various orders of the faith have additional works that demonstrate their philosophy, the primary list has not changed since 1366.

Mai and Rasa

The central concept to Maism is that of Mai, or the world of dependent phenomena. Mai has been represented by various concepts within Maism, particularly personified as a kind of deity, often being what Maists refer to when using the term "god". Within Anomai, Mai is considered a transcendental by-product of sapient existence, opposite to but not separated from Dam. Mankind lives in an interconnected bubble of sapient cause and effect where both this bubble, Mai, and the objective reality outside of it, Dam, can be impacted outside of pure Damic fate. As a result, Mai is the lens in which man both experiences and impacts Dam in a relationship between the two known as Aremasa.

Rasa, often translated as "virtue", "duty", or "dignity" is behavior and insight considered to separate humanity from bestial creation. It is the actions, decisions, intentions, and knowledge considered to impart a positive effect on Dam, and is the greater aspect of Mai. Rasa is the first step in the relationship of Aremasa and the one that humans have control over. Though Rasa is the best way to benefit others, it is also considered vital for one to cultivate Rasa for the self. To do this, one would not only take actions that support the individual's health, but also strive to achieve happiness, contentment, and accomplishment. It is considered appropriate, especially in Kali Maism to pursue these things, especially in the four areas of duty, love, prosperity, and enlightenment so long as this pursuit does not impede the others.

Dam

Dam is a key concept in Damic religions, though there are differences in its interpretation and meaning among them. In Anomai, Dam is an omnipresent, immutable, eternal energy that sits at the core of all existence. Dam is deeply linked with physical creation, but extends inconceivably beyond it. It is describe as the "everywhen" and is considered the past, present, future, all three at once, and yet beyond any. For Maists, Dam has no beginning and will have no end.

The eternal nature of Dam sets the groundwork for the cyclical nature of existence in Maist view. Because Dam will never end, it inherently carries the prints of everything that was and will be with it. These prints are called Damic ripples, and creating positive ripples through Rasa becomes the ultimate focus behind Maism, as all Damic ripples will forever be felt through Dam.


Aremasa

A Mahkeen Bukara diagram

Aremasa describes the relationship between Dam, Mai, and Rasa that exists due to the latter two. Happenings without them are considered simply Damic fate, where choice either does not exist, or is made mindlessly without any consciously created ripples. The world of nature, being inseparably connected to Dam, is a prime example of Damic fate in action. The existence of Mai creates the ability for sapient beings to make decisions that directly impact each other, Dam, and create permanently lasting ripples in it. This ability is the basis of Anomai as a faith and the critical factor in Aremasa. Rasa is simply those actions, thoughts, and words that leave positive ripples on the flow of Dam, while Gata are the negative ones. Both Rasa and Gata are the first of the three steps in Aremasa and those that humans use to impact those steps above them.

Aremasa is described the Rambuto palm leaf manuscripts as following:

"A young man slays his enemy out of jealousy, fear, anger. He has robbed a wife of her husband, children of their father, parents of their son, servants of their master, a village of its member, a kingdom of its subject, the world of a person. This will be forever felt. Grandchildren will have no grandfather, no great-grandfather, and so on. The importance of this may fade, but will never extinguish. So too may it impact the killer in ten-fold ways. In the next life, all will remember. In this life, they will not forget.

The killing is Gata, what is felt from it is Mai, the eternity of it is Dam."

Aremasa is traditionally presented as a diagram, the Bukara, to help lay Maists understand the concept. Within it, a large circle represents the cyclical nature of existence and all the space within is Mai. The backdrop, often a sky, or blank range, represents Dam as it is beyond but containing everything within it. A moon is often suspended, denoting positive (illuminating) ripples of Dam as the moonbeams would bring light to shapeless void. The twelve outer sections of the Mai circle represent the cycle of life for a person, showing both literal and allegorical scenes of love, joy, sorrow, illness, birth, death, consciousness and so on. The six inner circles represent the worlds created by people for others through Mai, symbolizing the positive and negative impacts one has on others. The split circle near the center shows people the choices of Rasa or Gata, typically by one white or bright side with content, moving, happy people and one black or red side with tormented, desperate creatures. The most inner circle has three animals representing the primary movers of action: bird (attachment), snake (desire), pig (instinct). The fearsome figure holding the Mai wheel represents fear, fear of permanence, fear of time, fear of lost opportunity. Its three eyes represent Rasa, Mai, and Dam with one eye (rasa) cast towards the light from the moon. The tigerskin that the creature wears is a symbol of resistance that people will exhibit against their fear. Nuren Maists interpret the Bukara in an attachment-suffering mindset.

Sevra

Relief of a Sevra, most likely Moru, fit with legendary club and two female companions.

In Maism, individuals who exhibit exceptional amounts of Rasa or exemplify a specific kind of Rasa are called Sevra. Sevra and Sevrahood are fundamental concepts in Maism, as they are chiefly used to demonstrate proper conduct and how to best exude Rasa. The Sevra are split broadly into two categories and while both are important across Maism, the two branches have differing significance and interpretation from the schools of Maism.

Kali Sevra are primordial beings, one of the ancestor races before humanity, that serve as the basis of Jashnagari mythology. Like their name suggests, they are critical to the Kali school of Maism, where tells of their exploits and heroics are considered canonical cosmology. These Sevra inhabited a mythical land known as Sevratan. Wars and strife between the Sevra and other primordial beings eventually lead to the departure of a number of them from Sevratan, and through these refugees many features of the world were formed. In Jai Maism, the Kali Sevra are considered important parable but not necessarily historical fact.

Jai Sevra are humans, many historical figures, who have exuded incredible amounts of Rasa and changed the world through that. In Jai Maism, these Sevra are to be emulated and standards for the highest spiritual conduct possible. They are viewed as human examples in the Kali school.

In Nuren Maism, the tragic and often flawed stories of the Sevra, especially the Kali ones, are used as examples of inherent suffering.

Below is a list of notable Sevra and their origin.

Sevar (Kali) - King of Sevratan and first leader of the Sevra. When he slayed the great serpent, Sorrow, he was bitten and infected with the venom. As a result, his presence on Sevratan became unbearable when he was aware of his own painful history with his fellow beings and he chose to leave to spare spreading his own pain to them and the land. His departure is the music basis for the Jashnagari national anthem. After leaving Sevratan, Sevar traveled the world by sea, stopping and marking several locations around the globe and beyond.

Moru (Kali) - Also known as Muro, Molu, and other names. Second King of Sevratan. Originally the lieutenant of Sevar and his closest friend, Moru has the most strength among the Sevra and was the most experienced warrior in their conflicts against the other races. After Sevar's departure, Moru assumes command of Sevratan. However, prone towards physical action and less cautious, Moru instead chooses to step down from his mantel and depart in search of Sevar in hopes to bring him back to Sevratan. Moru's journey across the physical world sees him encounter many beings, such as the Rakka Lanu, who he performs tasks for in order to continue his journey, such as pulling islands from the sea, slaying great beasts, and tricking nature. The Muroan ocean bears his name.

Mae (Kali) - Beloved of Sevar but not beloving of him, Mae once wielded influence over the other Sevra but never became queen. Her complicated relationship with Sevar contributed to his departure after he became ill. She followed Moru as the third Sevra to leave Sevratan, also in search of Sevar. She created the Mae island chain when she stepped off her ship and into the sea, where the land rose to create footpads for her.

Nofosina (Jai/Kali) - Nofosina was the legendary queen of Sa'pua circa 800 BCE. Culturally isolated and surrounded by non-Pa'ea kingdoms on Samratan, Nofosina decided to take many of her peoples west after several bloody wars against her Mahkeen and Jash neighbors. Legend tells how her fleet rode the wave of a great typhoon out into the Magnostrian ocean and from there she discovered and colonized the islands of Magnostria. She is also accredited with being the first Jashnagari to discover Tanaya, dubbing it "Fako'e". Her historical existence is in dispute by historians.

Rastan I (Jai) - Rastan I "the black" was Bas'kan of Yuram during the crusade against Sepura, since his was the last great military crusade and because he waged many smaller ones against neighboring kingdoms, he is considered the typical example of a warrior-monk and a Sevra in Jai Maism.

Gana Rashin (Jai) - Founder of Kauloon Temple and father of Jai Maism, Gana Rashin is responsible for the Maist faith in its current form and is akin to a religious founder.

King Ilo'gnara (Jai) - Uniter of Jashnagar, his military and diplomatic exploits brought peace to the archipelago and the official anecdotal accounts of his life see him change from proud warrior into wizened leader who valued peace and prosperity for his people. Dubbed "the Peacemaker" in Jashnagar, he is a beloved figure and founder in that country.

King Sevar II (Jai) - King of Jashnagar from 1884 til 1913, he is the most modern of the main canon Jai Sevra. Sevar II was a reformer and modernizer of Jashnagar who was greatly beloved by the populace. A bloodless coup saw him banished and the monarchy of Jashnagar extinguished. The tragedy around his personal life and ultimate exile see him viewed akin to his namesake.

Naramel I (Jai) - Bas'kan of Yuram, in 1366 he compiled and assembled the selection of holy works that became the scriptural basis of Maism. Seen as a great spiritual scholar, his efforts to define and distinguish doctrine has earned him a place as a Sevra of wisdom.