Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Váhedís: The Religion of the Vahed.

Vahed Mahmud was born in Masjuan, a village in the country of Gilan, which is a country between the Caspian and Euxme seas. He was learned, active, abstinent, austere, and eloquent; he appeared in the year of the Hejira 600 (AD. 1205-4). [Herbelot mentions (Giogathai Khan, p. 363) a Mahmud, surnamed Tarabi, from his native place Tarab, near Bokhara, as an impostor, who by tricks and false miracles gained so many followers as to be able to seize upon the town of Bokhara, and to make war upon the Moghuls, in the year AH 630 (AD 1232).

This date makes him a contemporary with the Mahmud of our text, in which, however, nothing more is to be found for enabling us to identify the one with the other. Such was the terror which the name of Mahmud Tarabi inspired, that the Tartars, being led against his camp, were seized by a panic, and look to flight, in which many thousands of them were slaughtered by the pursuing soldiers of Mahmud, whilst he himself had been tilled in his camp, by a landom shot of an arrow from the Tartarian army. But his death remained concealed, and his friends spread the rumor of his voluntary but temporary disappearance, His brothers, Muhammad and All, were put at the head of the party, which was soon after overthrown by the Moghuls.]

It is said that when Muhammad's body had attained a greater perfection, from it Mahmud arose: "We shall resuscitate thee in a place Mahmud 'praiseworthy.' "

The place where Vahedis lived in Iran
The meaning of it is this : When in an elemental matter, the energy conjoins in such a manner that by it an exuberance results in the composition of the mineral form ; then it may happen that it assumes such a superior aptness as to invest itself with a vegetable guise ; when its faculty and fitness gains a further increase, then the animal vest adapts itself to a suitable shape, and becomes worthy, that the elemental matter, fitted for the dignity of a human constitution, converges to such an excellence as to manifest itself in the perfection of mankind. In this manner, the parts of the human body from the appearance of Adam were progressing in purity, until they attained the dignity of a Muhammad, who is the top of the ladder. In this time, as the perfection and purity advanced , Mahmud appeared. On that account it was said:

"From Muhammad is the flight to Mahmud. As in the former there is less, and in the latter more (perfection)."

And the words which the lord of the prophetic asylum, Muhammad, addressed to Ali: "I and Ali proceed from one light, thy flesh is my flesh, and thy body is my body."

Meaning: The purity and energy of the bodily parts were collected in the prophets and the saints; and from them the bodies of Muhammad and Ali were kneaded, in such a manner that the chosen parts of Muhammad's and All's bodies being conjoined and mixed together, the person of Mahmud was formed.

When the people came to know that a person who was one of the safa, "pure" Darvishes, from the Darvish Bakai Vahed, from the Darvish Ismail, and from Mirza Taki, from Shaikh Latifulla, and Shaikh Shahab, who belonged to the Imana, what follows:

Any single person is a being which longs after earth; but other elements also exist with an abhorrence of earth. These sectaries consider the sun as the spirit of fire, and call it the Ka'ba of worship, the fire-temple of obedience to the holy being. Hakim Khakani says :

"O Kabah of the traveller of heaven,
O Zam-Zam, sacred well of fire to the world."

[Zam-Zam is the name ot a famous well at Mecca. Muslim believe, it was formed from the source which. God made appear in favor of Ismail and Hagar, his mother, whom Abraham drove from his house, and obliged to retire to Arabia When afterwards the patriarch came to visit his banished son Ismail, and built the square temple, called Ka'ba, he bestowed upon him the possession of it and the surrounding- country, since called Mecca. This place became an object of contest be- tween Ismail's posterity and the Arabian tribe of Jurhamides. The latter, after having possessed themselves of it, were attacked by the former, but before yielding it, they threw the sacred black stone, with the two gazelles of massive gold which an Arabian king had presented to the temple, into the well, and then completely filled it up.

So it remained until the time of an ancestor of Muhammad, called Abdul Muttaleb; he was admonished by an heavenly voice to clear the well, the situation of which was at the same time indicated to him. This was near the idols Assad and Neila, which were first to be removed, in spite of their adorers, the Quraishites. The latter, having ceded the well, claimed to share the treasure which Abdul Muttaleb had found in it. The new contest was to- be decided by Ebn Said, a famous prophet, who lived on the confines of Syria. Upon the way to him, through a desert, when both parties were dying of thirst, a fountain which sprung up beneath the foot of Abdul Muttaleb's camel brought about a reconciliation between them ; the well was cleared; the treasure found was conseciatcd to the temple, which in after times gained so much celebrity.-(Herbelot after Khondemir.)]

They hold the heaven to be air, and the moon to he the spirit of water. They agree upon transmigration in die following manner : when a man dies and is buried, the component parts of his body manifest themselves in the shape of minerals or vegetables, until the latter become the food of animals, or serve as element to mankind. These sectaries subjoin:

In the food may reside intelligence and action; for the dispersed ingredients of a body are in the food; intelligence and action collect all in one place, where they experience no dispersion, although the conformation of the body may be disjoined ; whether in the producing of a mineral, a vegetable, an animal, or a man.
They do not agree upon the existence of a rational unsubstantial soul. They know of no heaven without the elements, and believe the necessary original principle to be a point of earth. Instead of "Bismilla hirrehma nirrehim," in the name of the bountiful and merciful God," they write "illazi la illah hú", “I assist myself of thy essence which alone is God;” and instead of "láysa kamsil­lah shaya", “nothing is like it;” they say "Ana Merkeb Almabin", “I am the vehicle of him who explains the truth.”

The Mizan, "balance," is a book which Vahed composed with many others; it is distinguished by the word naskh and "treatise;" and each naskh and treatise has a particular name. In the Mízán, which is reputed among the naskhs, it is stated, that the materials of the world existed from the very begin­ning, which signifies from the first appearance of afrád, “rudimental units (monades?),” which are primordial, that is to say, the root of the before-said state, until the time when these rudimental units, tempered together, became vegetables; thence rose animals, which are called "Dabtah ul-Ares", “the rep­tiles of the world.” Thus it existed until man was formed. 
The first mentioned state might have extended to sixteen thousand years; so that eight thousand years of the said number may be the period of Arabia, which is the superior, and eight thousand years the period of Ajem (Persia), which is the infe­rior period. In the sequel, when the said world, which is the era of the first mentioned rudimental units, had been so constituted as to admit the formation of man; then the duration of life, comprising the period of man, was to be also sixteen thousand years; of which eight thousand years should revolve for eight perfect prophets of Arabia, and other eight thousand years for eight perfect teachers of Ajem. 
Further, when the cycle of the two formations shall be completed, then the turn of the fundamental units is to reappear. After twice the said eight thousand, that is, sixteen thousand years, according to simple computation, when a perfect cycle of mankind and the world, in sixty-four thousand years, on condi­tions exterior and interior, manifest and hidden, shall have been completed, then an entire period shall have received the seal.

Mahmúd has treatises and rules conformable to the law of the prophet; but he interpreted the Qur'an according to his own creed. Of his established customs are the following: 
One living in solitude is called váhed, “recluse.” Praises are due to the man devoted to this state, whose whole life is spent in holiness, poverty, and retirement; who feels no inclination for connexion; takes little, and no more than necessary, food; such a man will rise to perfection, and become a “váhed,” attaining the divine dignity which leads to that of a “teacher.” If the pious person feels himself inclined to connexion with a woman, let him enjoy her once in his whole life; if he cannot otherwise, once in one year; if he requires more, once in forty days; if this be not enough, once in a month; if still more, once in a week.

According to váhedia, when one descends from the state of a man to the state of an irrational animal, or from that to a vegetable, or from a vegetable becomes a mineral; in this manner, by reaction of impressions and dispositions, he receives in each state a mark (mahs), which he bears from formation to forma­tion:
“Fear the intelligence of the believer, because he sees by the light of God.”

Mahs in the dictionary is interpreted “a com­puter,” but in the idiom of this tribe it signifies (as just said) that every individual, in his disposition and action, bears a vestige of the disposition of a former state. It is a part of their persuasion, that, when an individual enters for the first time in a society, the name of whatever in the three kingdoms of nature he first brings upon his tongue, is sup­posed to be the ihśa, or “mark,” that in a former state he had been the very thing the name of which had fallen from his tongue.

These sectaries hold, that pilgrims exercise the profession of cheats, wearing a garment marked with stripes, which they call the vest of Karbála; and that they practise but hypocrisy and deceit. When, according to their low disposition, they descend to the state of brutes, they become animals, which the Hindus call Galharí, “squirrel;” and when transformed into vegetables, they become striped pumpkins, or weak jujube-trees; when they undergo the transformation into minerals, they are onyxes. In this sense this sect interprets the mahs, or “mark.” 
Lawyers and governors, who wash hands and mouth, friends of white garments, become geese, which at every moment plunge their head into water; in the state of vegetables, they assume the form of sticks for rubbing teeth, of reading-sticks, and of mats to cover the place of prayer; and in the state of minerals, they figure as hard stones, stones of sepulchres, and magnets. The glow-worms are torch-bearers, who, descending by degrees, came to take this shape. 
A dog, having been in his former state a Turk of the tribe Kazel­básh  and his crooked sword having become his tail, betrays his Turkish origin by coming forth at the call khach: which in Turkish means “forth.” These sectaries further say, that the iron by which a prophet or a saint has been killed, is that which acquires excellence.

“Saints, when they desire the voyage to the eternal kingdom,
Desire from the edge of thy blade the takbír, ‘magnifying exclamation,’ of death.”

They also hold, that the Imám Hossain from state to state descended from Moses, and that Yezíd, his murderer descended from Pharaoh. Moses, in his time, drowned Pharaoh in the waters of the Nile, and obtained the victory over him; but in the latter state Moses, having become Hossain, and Pha­raoh, Yezíd, the latter did not give to Hossain the water of the Forát, “Euphrates,” but with the water of the sharp steel, deprived his body of life.

These men further assert that, whatever sorts of minerals, vegetables, and animals are black, were formerly black-faced men, and whatever are white, were men with a white skin.

These sectaries all venerate the sun, and profess that he is the Kíblah; and the door of the Kâba facing the sun refers to this meaning, that the sun is the true Kíblah; they have a prayer which they chant with their face turned towards the sun.

They maintain that, when the period of Ajem takes place, men will direct their road to God, and they venerate these men, and hold human nature to be divine. Their salutation is: Alla, alla. When the period of Ajem is completed, men will remain, and they think that the men whom we venerate were superior in rank to those who now exist; on which account the latter continue to form idols similar to men, and worship them. The worship of idols will prevail, until the period of Ajem returns, and this will be its mode of continuance.

Mahmúd called himself a Váhed, and declared himself to be the Mahdy promised, whose appear­ance was predicted by the prophet; he said, that the religion of Muhammed is cancelled, and that now the true faith is that of Mahmúd: as was said:

“The time is come; the accomplishment of sayings is Mahmúd;
Whatever reproach the Arab threw upon Ajem, it is over.”

His disciples are dispersed in the four quarters of the world, and in the whole country of Iran a great number of them resides, but they dare not make themselves known, because the King, now the inhabitant of heaven, Shah Abás, son of Shah Khodábandah Sáfaví, put many of them to death. The belief of the Mahmúdíán is, that Shah Abás, when he had met Taráb and Kamál, who were per­fect Váhadis, and taken information from them, wanted to publish them as his own, and on that account killed them both. They subjoin that, although he had great pretensions, yet he never attained perfection; because, on account of the world and ostentation, he had destroyed the perfect. 
An Amín: said, “Shah Abás was a perfect Amín, and killed whom­ever he did not find well founded in this creed. Thus, he admitted me to his society, and desired me to remain in Iśfahán; when I did not consent to it, he granted me the expenses of my journey to India.”
It is said, that in these times Shah Abás came on foot to visit the place of Hossein's martyr­dom, that is, Karhála, where he said to Taráb: “I feel pain from my foot journey.” 
Taráb answered: “This is owing to the inconsistency of thy natural intellect; for if the Imám for whose sake thou hast performed the journey joined God, why seekest thou the nether place of his martyr­dom; and if he has not joined God, what hast thou to hope from him? Find thou a living Imám.” 
The Shah asked: “Who is the living Imám?” 
The saint answered: “I.” 
The king replied: “Well, I shall fire a ball from a gun upon thee; if it takes no effect, I will follow thee.” 
Taráb gave this answer: “Your Imám, Rizá, died by the grain of a grape; how shall I resist the ball of a gun?” 
At last the Shah fired upon and killed him. As Kamál openly professed the creed of Taráb, the king associated him with the latter.

It is reported, that one of the Imanás came to Hosséin Khan, of Shám, and having converted him to his creed, he heard the following speech from him: “One day, when during the Maharam they read the history of the martyrdom of Hossein, and he too (Hossein Khan) was weeping, Shah Abás said: ‘You, why do you cry, as if it were the Shámlús (that is to say, the natives of Shám) who did the action?’ The answer was: ‘We do not cry on account of Hossein: but because from our number also fine youths were killed.’”

“With the same eyes with which you look on us,
With the same eyes is it, that we look on you.”

The Duníahs, a particular sect, so called in the language of the Imanahs, think slightly of Hossein. On account of their meanness, they made no progress in the religion of Mahmúd. Azízí, one of the Muslims of Shiráz, told the auth: or of this book in Lahore: “I once reviled Mahmúd; at night I saw him in a dream; he approached me with a light­ning-flashing face, and said: ‘Hast thou perused my works?’ 
I answered, ‘I have.’ 
He sub­joined: ‘Why dost thou speak abusively of me? If thou perseverest in this manner, I will chas­tise thee.’”

It is reported by the Váhedís, that Khaja Háfiz of Shíráz professed also this creed. As Mahmúd dwelt a long time upon the border of the river Rúdáres, the Khájah said:

“O Jafar! when thou passest over the border of Rúdáres,
Imprint kisses upon the ground of that river, and perfume the air with musk.”

A person called Fakhruddin, who was one of this sect, gave the information that, according to the report of the Duníah, Mahmud threw himself into aqua fortis; but this rumor is false, and proceeded from rancor. A great number of learned and pious persons, who were contemporaries of the founder of this sect, or lived soon after him, followed and professed his doctrine.

The End.
Not Yet Verified.

Source: Dhabistan

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