Uluriya


The Uluriya were a minority sect found within the continent of Amur. They were notable for having a monotheistic (or at least henotheistic) religious practice in contrast to the polytheistic majority religion of Amur (see Dhaur). Their religious practice placed a large emphasis on ritual purity and abstention from practices and places considered unclean.

Origin

The Uluriya trace their origins back to the Kingdom of Manjur, the earliest organized kingdom which arose on the sub-continent of Amur. According to legends preserved by the Uluriya, the king Manjur was blessed by Ulaur by finding the stone which was cast down from the heavens to destroy the word-devouring serpent, and Manjur forged a set of six rings from the iron of the stone which were preserved by his descendants. (There were no natural sources of iron ore in Amur, so the only source of iron on the continent was fallen meteorites such as the one which Manjur found.) In recognition of Ulaur's blessing, Manjur and his descendants dedicated themselves to the sole worship of Ulaur.

The Kingdom of Manjur dominated southern Amur from its capital Virnas for about three hundred years. At the end of that period the city was overrun by the forces of the city of Jaitha, and the descendants of Manjur were forced off the throne.

This was not the end of the lineage, however, for the last Manjur king Kushmata escaped with his household to the mountain fortress of Sarpandu, which had long been used by the Manjur kings as a retreat and military outpost. The Jaitha alliance did not immediately pursue them, considering their continuing existence a minor nuisance. However, four years later they were able to foment a revolt among the population of Virnas with the help of the Uluriya priesthood, and they successfully drove out the governor installed by Jaitha, which prompted a major counterattack from the Jaitha alliance. Sarpandu was destroyed, and in retaliation against the Uluriya priests who had supported the revolt, most of the temples of Ulaur were seized and turned over to other cults, with the resisting priests either cast out or killed.

Kushmata was killed in the failed revolt, but his child Jhuma survived, and the remnants of the house of Manjur took up refuge in Virnas in secret with a branch of the Uluriya dhorsha, where the lineage was carefully maintained---without any immediate hope of returning to power. Instead, the last descendants of Manjur were absorbed into the Uluriya priestly caste, where the secret persistence of the Heir of Manjur was added to the list of Uluriya distinctives.

Sacred Books

The Law of Ghuptashya

Ghuptashya was an influential Uluriya priest who lived about forty years after the fall of the Kingdom of Manjur. He is known for having compiled all existing Uluriya customs, texts, and practices into a single volume, which quickly became the definitive volume of Uluriya doctrine and worship.

His compilation was actually quite innovative, because by Ghuptashya's time the context of Uluriya practice had changed drastically. There were no more temples and no royal patronage for the Uluriya, and in the aftermath of the persecution under Jaitha, there were barely any laity. By Ghuptashya's time effectively all Uluriya were of priestly descent and would theoretically be bound by the purity strictures of the priesthood; at the same time only a minority of "priests" could actually carry out any sacrificial role. Ghuptashya therefore allowed for a lower tier of purity which would be respected by the Uluriya who were engaged in secular work, with the highest levels of purity reserved for the saghada, the "holy ones" who performed the new moon sacrifices.

As a result, today all Uluriya follow a relaxed version of the priestly purity rules, and the rules which all Uluriya follow are very similar to those of the dhorsha priestly caste.

Ghuptashya's books consisted of three parts:

  • Chronicles, a history of Manjur and the Uluriya up to Ghuptashya's time
  • Precepts, a compendium of religious regulations and moral injunctions
  • Songs, a book of prayers, liturgical texts, and rubrics

The saghada were required to commit the entirety of the Law of Ghuptashya to memory, and large portions of it were recited as part of the new moon sacrifice. Laity would not remember the whole book, but had significant daily prayers committed to memory.

Keshkama's "Customs"

After the Law of Ghuptashya, the next most important Uluriya text were the Customs compiled by Keshkama. Customs dates from a century or so after Ghuptashya, and it attempted to formalize some of the oral practices and traditions of the saghada. Written originally following a liturgical controversy whose details have been forgotten, it attempted to set down aspects of the Uluriya practice which weren't specified in Ghuptashya in order to forestall further controversies. In this regard it was rather successful since the Customs were soon regarded as authoritative across Amur and further liturgical controversies were rare.

Other texts

In the centuries after the fall of the Kingdom of Manjur, a number of legendary histories of Manjur and the Heirs who reigned in Virnas circulated among the Uluriya. These were of dubious historical value, but were popular reading among the people.

Some common prayers

I bow my head

The prayer was most common prayer, used as a formula in all sorts of longer rituals, and was generally learned by heart from a young age. In terms of its importance to Uluriya practice it's comparable to the Christian "Our Father" or the Zoroastrian "Ashem Vohu".

I bow my head to Ulaur, the unborn light, the word unspoken, the fire of ages, who overthrew the serpent, who drives off the unclean powers, who keeps Manjur and his children in purity and the good.

Prayers of purification

The following prayer was used when washing the hands:

I will wash my hands in purity. A clean face and clean hands I will present unto Ulaur, who alone is worshipped, with the amashi and the righteous among the stars. The unclean Powers will perish, and defilement will depart from me.

(continue with I bow my head)

The following prayer was used when washing the feet:

My foot stands firm on the good, treading the serpent. I walk in the way of the amashi, who are valiant against the scorpion and all unclean things. I will abhor the way of the wicked, but my steps will ascend to Ulaur.

(continue with I bow my head)

The following prayer was used before eating:

No unclean thing will touch my lips, nor will I utter an unclean word. Depart, impurity.

The prayer at sundown

I bow my head to Ulaur at the setting of the sun. Now the souls of the pure ones are revealed as stars. I bow down even as the sun bows down in the west, for fearsome is the Power of the heavens.