The thikratta were a loosely-associated group of ascetics, mystics, and magicians which existed from the earliest days of Amur. The thikratta sought to distance themselves both from the wealth and decadence of the cities, and the corruption and avarice of the dhorsha. The name thikratta derives from the root thaikir meaning "to be still", a reference to the thikratta habit of meditation.
Origins and history
The origins of the thikratta are unclear and have been subject to a number of differing mythological and legendary treatments. The earliest historical references to thikratta arose around the time of the fall of the Kingdom of Manjur, and they appear as an alternative spiritual practice competing with the orthodox teaching of dhaur. In contrast with the hierarchical and ritualistic practices of the dhorsha, the thikratta focused on mysticism, asceticism, and direct experience of the divine.
The earliest thikratta were wandering renunciates who retired from public life to practice meditation and self-denial in the wildernesses of Amur. The most prominent of these ascetics attracted disciples and formed monastic communities, many of which eventually built permanent structures that became monasteries and temples. These thikratta masters were known as lama, a word which eventually was modified to refer to the leader of any monastery.
Whereas the dhorsha propitiated the Powers with their ritual supplications, the thikratta claimed to have direct communion with the Powers through their ascetic disciplines and so to acquire some of their nature. This allowed them to develop the techniques of farsight and the mastery of the elements, which was impressive enough to earn the thikratta a significant popular following and the patronage of many aristocrats and merchants throughout Amur.
The thikratta were never a competitor to the dhorsha orthodoxy, in that they never demanded separation from the worship of dhorsha deities (in contrast with the Uluriya), and they made no particular theological claims that were in conflict with those of the dhorsha. But they offered an alternative school of practice which could grant remarkable spiritual power, which was both attractive and frightening to the masses of Amur. By the beginning of the imperial period, the thikratta were an established parallel to dhorsha orthodoxy, with a presence throughout Amur and significant material holdings, though their very success appears to be what caused them trouble once imperial unification began.
After Aidasa unified Amur, he wished to unite all Amuran forms of worship under the cult of Am and Ashti, which required him to eliminate or subjugate the thikratta. He pursued a policy of seizing the thikratta monasteries and giving them to the dhorsha, but the landless ascetics he did not initially persecute. His son Cupta, however, intensified this policy and sought to drive out every form of religious observance which couldn't be brought into line with the official cult of Am and Ashti. This policy was retained for most of the imperial period, though it would ultimately fail, since the popular support for the thikratta was too great, and there were too many nobles who depended on thikratta advisors for their gift of farsight. A compromised was eventually reached in which all thikratta monasteries were shut down or destroyed except for Ternas, a remote and originally insignificant outpost, which was allowed to operate with imperial supervision as a training ground for the arts of fire mastery and farsight.
Schools of thought
They was never a unified organization to the thikratta, and any lama could (and did) teach his own variant. However, there were three broad schools.
- Acakta, the Way of Power - This was the most radical school of the thikratta, teaching a philosophy which was both atheistic and materialistic. They disbelieved in the Powers, believing that all things existed and derived their properties from the natures of the elements which composed them. (Note, however, that their "elements" included things like breath and will.) They further believed that man could assume mastery of the world through discipline and understanding of elemental forces. The Acakta were the first to achieve the mastery of fire, a practice which they understood as the mind (which was composed partially of elemental fire) assuming mastery over its elements and directing them according to its will. Thus their "magical" practice of fire-mastery did not contradict their materialism, but was an expression of it. Unlike most of the other thikratta, many acakta promoted both asceticism and hedonism as paths to empowerment, and some schools included sexual ecstasies and hallucinogenic drugs in their practices.
- Linjanya, the Way of Being - The middle school, the linjanya were materialistic but not atheistic. That is, they accepted the materialist philosophy of the acakta, but they accounted for the existence of the Powers within that philosophy by describing them as beings composed of the elements of fire, breath, and will, but without the elements of earth and water which were ordinarily perceptible to the senses. They furthermore taught that humans could achieve this condition through ascetic disciplines which purged the lower elements from the person leaving only the higher elements, and thereby could ascend to the level of the Powers as permanently disembodied spirits. This was the largest and most popular school.
- Damana, the Way of Submission - The most orthodox school, the damana fully accepted the cosmology and philosophy of the dhorsha, but offered the practice of asceticism as an alternate kind of dhaur which did not depend on the ritualistic practices of the dhorsha orthodoxy. They did not generally teach the ascent of humans into equality with the Powers, as the linjanya did, but rather the gradual union of the human person with the divine unity through asceticism and purging of the base desires.
In Aidasa's suppression of the thikratta, at first only the acakta and linjanya were suppressed, though eventually even the damana were consolidated to the single monastery of Ternas. However, the lama of Ternas, being aware of their unique position, deliberately preserved acakta and linjanya teachings, and students were allowed or even encouraged to identify with any of the schools privately (although officially all thikratta were damana).
Gocam - an elder of Ternas at the time of, extremely advanced in the Linjanya.
Ruyam - a student of Gocam, he rose to become the Emperor's Lotus (the official thikratta of the imperial court), and eventually let a pogrom against the Uluriya.
Khaldi - a woman in Davrakhanda, founded a colony of female ascetics following the way of Linjanya. Taught the mastery of the water. Supposedly learned to walk on the water and became one of the Powers.
Thuram - an advisor to the king of Sravi, prophesied that the Dhigvaditya would not be captured until a particular stone had been possessed.
Garattu - a thikratta in the region of Gumadha, learned how to climb the air. Similar to Khaldi, he founded a school teaching the way of Linjanya. At the end of his life he climbed a banyan tree and ascended into the clouds.
Ajuman - founder of the way of Acakta, first of the thikratta to master fire.