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Tengriism and Heavenly Hierarchy
Religion And Society
 
The idea that the religious hierarchy is a reflection of the terrestrial society has been formulated, advocated, and proven centuries ago. The idea was entirely Western creation, it was propagated in the West, and it reflected the Western society and extent of knowledge. The analysis centered on the Greek and Roman religions. It was a child of Renaissance, when the thinking became a sign of the times, and blind belief has shifted a tiny notch aside. The idea of faith still stood unperturbed, and the faith meant a blind faith. Inquisitive faith was not a faith at all, it was an aberration uniformly stifled by all organized religions independent of denomination. The cast-off Judaism did not have schisms yet, it had to unite to survive, but the Christianity and Islam have already fractured into numerous denominations, and had millennium-old continuum of internecine catfights. That did not prevent all of them from forming a solid front of ideological stifling that crossed borders and domains. The idea of blind faith could not be infringed upon, and although the methods and prohibitions varied with locality and authority, the unthinking blind faith was being defended at all costs.

Like any other endeavor, the first insights evolved within the reigning theological systems, without any intention for conflict with doctrines, and their first separation from the reigning institutions was a result of condemnation by vigilant clergy. With all gravity appropriate for the offence, the masses of flock were instructed on the dangers of behavioral deviations, and their personal eternal perils. The results were the opposite, the higher the barriers were raised, the more energy accumulated behind them. At some moment, the barriers collapsed, the heretics were admitted back into the bosom of the institutions without any preconditions, but the damage was irreversible. The point that the religious hierarchy, under cover of whatever titles, is a reflection of the terrestrial society, took hold. Since the analysis delved into historical past, not much damage was done for the present. It was natural in various kingdoms that there is a king in the Heaven, and a king on the Earth. In both spheres, a king represents a supreme power, a power over his subjects, and the power means force to punish and force to pardon. With the development of the democratic institutions, the roles have shifted. The heavenly king of repression lost much of his punitive potency, but gained a proportionate love potency, in a precipice-free process becoming a center radiating love and understanding. The process was not a result of rebellious analyses, it went on naturally, or stochastically, gradually evolving a new paradigm of the heavenly power. That process could not have been predicted by the dissident scholars, who studied the transition from the religions of the egalitarian societies to the religions of the centralized societies, from the democratic institutions of the Classical societies to the unrestrained institutions of the Middle Age Europe.

A new step in the analysis was made with the development of the political economy. The nature of the study required a deeper look. The departure point was the primitive society of hunter-gatherers, analysis of its economy and analysis of its social institutions. That development could not rise without a concept of evolution. Within the scope of the political economy, analysis of its religions was not needed, a basic postulate that the religion was a side product of the social organization was more than enough to define largely unknown early religions. The next social stage was the early producing society, it has developed its social institutions reflecting the societal needs, and formed a constellation of local democracies, loosely connected along ethnic, political, or economic ties. Those were religions of the Classical times, with a pantheon of societies on the Earth, and a pantheon of autonomous deities in the heaven. Both pantheons allowed a high degree of social, political, and ethnic mobility, they were wide open for newcomers and innovations. Contrasts were unknown, somehow the deities supplemented each other, the deities had their own jurisdictions, and did not aspire to interfere with other jurisdictions. A deity of hunting did not aspire to get in the middle of agriculture, and deity of waters was independent of the deity of forests where the waters run. Their function was utterly limited, they were good will patrons, and like between any good neighbors, respect and good will were enough to keep them to benevolently patronize their jurisdictions.

Technical development went at different clips among different populations, mainly predicated by the environment. Availability of fauna and flora for domestication, climate and suitable space for expansion gave advantage to some, and kept behind the others. The relative relation between predominantly gathering and predominantly hunting economies left a deep mark on the direction of economy. Neighboring people have developed different societies, and that equipped contemporaneous societies on the move through differing stages with structurally different etiologies. Groups with predominantly gathering economy had a better opportunity of domesticating plants, the groups with predominantly hunting economy had a better opportunity of domesticating animals. By the 9th mill. BC, some of the gatherers started using agricultural production, and by the 7th mill. BC, some of the hunters started domestication of the animals for productive use. The humanity stratified onto numerous specialized economic isles, with distinct hunter-gatherer, hunter, gatherer, agriculture, and animal husbandry economies. Each type of economy involved its own ranges and mobility, depending on the surrounding opportunities. The hunter-gatherers, hunters, and agriculturists could survive off the ranges in their immediate vicinity, while the economies of the gatherers and animal husbandry people needed a complement of seasonal ranges and transhumant migrations for their survival. The economy caused the separation of societies into sedentary and mobile types, the sedentary type distinct by concentration, mutual dependence, and stability, and the mobile type distinct by dispersion, autonomy, and fluidity. These traits, unappreciated by the early sedentary researchers, added to the factors that defined the respective societal structure, and were reflected in the religious etiology. In a feedback process, the religious etiology shaped the structure of the society, amplifying some aspects and diminishing the others.

The cardinal difference between the sedentary type religious etiology and the mobile type religious etiology lies in the dispersal of the population. Sedentary people constitute closed societies; dissemination of products, technology, and ideas within the closed societies is easy, while dissemination from the outside is limited. Within the closed societies the formation of a common language comes naturally, and a common culture is forged naturally. Marriages primarily occur between neighbors, the genetic picture is compact and stable. The mobile people constitute open societies; dissemination of products, technology, and ideas within the open societies is as easy as for the closed societies, while dissemination from the outside is not only wide open, but may be imposed against intentions of the receivers. In the open societies forming of a common language comes with numerous obstacles, and forging a common culture is encumbered with impediments, distractions, and distortions. Marriages occur primarily with outsiders, the genetic picture is complex and fluid. Territorial dispersion leaves individual members isolated for extended periods, when only multi-tasking and self-reliance are the available tools for survival. The vulnerability level of the isolated mobile people is much higher than of the sedentary population, which required a development of methods and traits for sustainability, such as military potency, marital unions, and skillful diplomacy. A rule may be imposed and enforced on the sedentary population, but may not be imposed and enforced on the mobile population. The concept of safety among the sedentary people is to stay in place, while the concept of safety among the mobile people is to escape. These cardinal differences shape theological distinctions, the religion of the mobile people is individual, non-codified and non-doctrinal, can't be imposed, can't be uniform, and allows a wide range of interpretations and outside influences. By its very nature, the religion is abstract and portable, the traits inherited from the hunter-gatherer times. The religion must be syncretic, diffuse, able to involve people from allied alien tribes, people with alien languages, and people with alien cultures. The cumulative impact of the diverse feedback on the societal organization is minimal, due to a non-directional white noise effect. In a nutshell, this is a description of the traits of the Tengriism.

We will never know what were etiological thoughts of the people in the pre-historic time. The artifacts dated from pre-historic time are described and interpreted; the expositions, descriptions, photographs, documentaries, and the like materials are tangible material witnesses. Witnesses of  what? Answers are given by interpretations based on our knowledge or absence thereof. We have legends that explain visible universe starting with most primitive versions. There was world without light, a giant tree grew in that word without photosynthesis, a river flowed by the tree without water circulation, giant divines called Alps (Giants) lived in the tree, they did not need light. But they all had elaborate and loaded names. Who gave them names, and why? Not their non-existing parents. River fed the tree, the tree was ever blooming, without light, without insects to pollinate the blooms, the tree produced fruits, without pollination and without photosynthesis. The all-powerful Tengri was a creator and a ruler of the world without light. Alps had their innate shapes and power, but Tengri could change them, split them, assigned their duties. The world without light had herds, one of the Alps was assigned to be a patron of the herds, and a keeper of fire. There was atmospheric air in the world, with oxygen to oxidize fuel, to keep the fire going. Then goes a scene of immaculate conception, Tengri enables a virgin female Alp to have milk and sickle her babies. An Alp gets an ax and produces iron. He became an Alp of smithery, to produce weapons. There are no ugly people in the world yet, no wars, and still the first production is weaponry. Then from a branch of a tree Tengri produced Earth, and the Earth's ocean. Still in the darkness, so no water circulation, and no photosynthesis. Tengri illuminated the ocean, and populated it with various creatures and underwater plants. Then Tengri turned one of the Alps into Sun, and his virgin female Alp wife into Moon, and appointed another Alp to supervise sunsets and sunrises. When the Sun is out of sync, the Alp-supervisor would swallow Sun as a punishment. Thus, the Almighty Tengri organized eclipses. Then Tengri created the Heavenly Dome of the visible sky, assigned various Alps to be stars, and then created birds. And only then, the virgin female Alp wife the Moon turned into a duck, and, diving into sea, began piling lumps, and formed the land. Alternatively, in the same breath, Tengri created land. Then Tengri created animals. And then after a a sequence of divine events in the Alps' society, filled with adultery, treachery, lust, and envy, one of the meaner Alps turns some Alps' offsprings into terrestrial people. Little is said about the nature of Tengri, its understanding is purely notional, abstracted from the omnipotence and fairness expressed in the details of the story.

This poetic Creation story shows the extent of primordial knowledge that replaced the daily objects of light, water, land, atmosphere, oxygen, photosynthesis, and the like with giants and their miracles, covering the absence of substance with ornate marvels. From the presence of the herds, the earliest the story can be dated by the 6th mill. BC, with the flowery additions of the meteorite iron and smithery in the 4th mill. BC. The versions of the Creation story are clearly a folk art, with contributions from many overlapping cultures. They have survived into the Modern Era, and were numerously recorded by ethnographers. The ideas of the eternal life and reincarnation are already sowed in the most primitive Creation stories, and their development over millennia into formulated religions was a natural evolutionary process. The notions of good and evil appear in most utilitarian form, as what is good for us and what is bad for us, and have developed into abstract notions of good and evil of the formulated religions. The language of the story uses some late terms, like the Khan and Tarkhan, but the plot of the story does not employ these terms in their modern semantics, they are terms applied to the Alps, to highlight a superior position of some of them. People are depicted conceptually, as a type of the species, without any allusion to a structured society. In the story, the supernatural world and the terrestrial world are remarkable reflections of each other: both worlds are non-hierarchical, with amorphous ad hoc structure, busy with their own lives, and turning to each other only when an external involvement is needed. It is a real product of the early productive society, structurally egalitarian, and free-wheeling. The only difference lies in the type of the economy, instead of the land tillage and harvest of the sedentary farmers, the story mentions herds.

The Türkic mainstream economy was based on pastoralism, on the routine of tending to the animals. The technology of animal husbandry was developed by the 6th mill. BC, and descended into the present with relatively minor changes. The industrial-scale pastoralism required high mobility, high dispersion, high autonomy, minimal subordination, absence of forced labor, and military cooperation. Stability was provided by voluntary cooperation and a common law that respected private property of ancestral or traditional pasturing ranges and herds. Conflict resolution was conducted by elected Judges that occupied a position of a Khan, major issues were decided by the tribal Assembly called by the tribal elders or the Khan. In today's terminology, the society was democratic, egalitarian, parliamentary, and highly traditional. In the historical period, this model of societal organization is known from the Zhou times in China from the 1600 BC and into the modern times. That societal model was reflected in the hierarchy of the Tengriism. It was born non-hierarchical, and it remained non-hierarchical till its absorption into the organized religions, and finally physically decimated as Arianism and Catharism under Roman Catholicism in the west, Khudayar and Bogomil under the Greek Orthodox, and Jewdizers or Old Believers under the Russian Orthodox Church. In Islam, not much has changed substantially, Islam is also inherently non-hierarchical religion, with high role of the Ulema assembly, and the Türks fairly quickly dispatched Caliph to where he belonged. The post-Türkic Islam has little resemblance with the pre-Türkic Islam, except for the outer appearance. Neither Tengriism, nor Islam, no any religion other than a single but victorious section of Christianity, ever accepted a tri-polar novel concept of the Supreme God. They retained, defended, and were slaughtered  en mass holding to their personal belief in a monotheistic God. In the areas where the proselytization and forced conversions were not too ferocious, the Tengriism survived in a much atrophied form till the present, in its ultimate individual and unorganized form, as a system of popular beliefs.

The main artifact left for us for the last 7 millenniums is a kurgan, a major evidence of the Tengrian burial ritual. The Tengrian burial rite follows the Tengrian theology, where a deceased returns to Tengri for physical reincarnation. A return trip is a necessary condition and a required path to reincarnation (corresponding Buddhist term is sangivars). A deceased is supplied with travel inventory to reach Tengri; kurgan is a pasture, horses and carts are travel utensils, vessels with food are travel provisions; the early travelers carried stone axes, bows, and whetstones, indispensable in a far travel. The first travel inventory deposited in the first kurgans indicates a concept of a travel to Tengri for reincarnation, archeologically dated to the 6th mill. BC. The notion of personal reincarnation was a direct relationship of an individual with the Almighty Tengri, it did not involve any middleman's help, mediation by clergy, or following any doctrinal tenets. The duty to equip a deceased for the travel laid on the close relatives and close associates of the deceased; if the deceased were not properly equipped for travel, they lingered around and harassed the living folks responsible for their proper departure. The absence of inscriptions on the memorial stelas, which in some Tengrian cultures were traditional signs of respect to the Almighty, with a raised drinking cup, survived the establishment of hierarchical religious institutions and the rise of religious intolerance well into the Late Middle Ages, providing an uninterrupted chain of monuments from the Early Scythians to the Late Kipchaks and into the Modern Age. The epitaphic inscriptions stating the name of the deceased were not needed, the omniscient Almighty knew who is coming, and the whole people carried the memory of who is buried where for dozens of generations on.  Apparently following the Central Asian Greek tradition, the first known nomadic epitaphs appeared in the 2nd c. BC, with the arrival of the Saka tribes to India, and in the 6th c. AD with the rise to power of the Saka offspring tribe of the Türks (Ashina and Ashide).

The Tengriist notion of reincarnation survived in Europe to the Late Middle Ages with the theology of Pythagoreans, Bulgarian Hudayars/Bogomils, and Burgundian Cathars, until their physical extermination by the Christian Catholic and Orthodox church establishments. In Asia, away from the Russian Orthodox church and Russian civilization, the Tengriism and kurgan burial rites survived into the Modern Age. No Classical sources ever recorded a role of clergy or a presence of clergy among the Scythians; the notion on clergy among the Scythians is a novel invention to recast them into Avesta's social mold.

 The first explorers followed in the steps of the millennia-old tradition of the grave robbers. They were miners, in search for museum exhibits, and they were discarding anything that was not to be a museum exhibit, including the burial kurgans themselves. They also were religious people, and they tended to see all artifacts in a religious aspect of their own religions. They shaped a track for the later explorers, inventing a religious significance as a first option everywhere they stepped. Archeology became a scrap pile of conjectured old religious artifacts, with deep significance ascribed to the most minor details. Ironically, very few perceived the religious substance of the kurgan burials, and none of them knew of the potential for inscriptions in a runiform alphabet. The grave goods were a collection of gifts, not travel utensils. The refuse of the funeral feasts were signs of enjoyment, not a part of equipment for a far travel. Orientation of the grave became a miracle of astronomical acumen, not a part of the funeral ritual related to the deceased's facing the Almighty according to the local tradition. It took two centuries and a fall of the FSU for the descendents of the surviving Tengriists to get educated and be able to start explaining the significance of the ritual so important for reincarnation of their parents and ancestors.

In the New Age, the democratic social structure of the Tengriism has lost its religious significance, it became a relict of the past, attesting that for seven millenniums it was a reflection of the stable nomadic terrestrial world. It was frozen in time because the economy of the animal husbandry was frozen in time, repeating the cycle of the animals' and humans' life over and over again, for 280 generations. In the Eurasian steppe belt, the nomadic economy suffered decimation for the past 500 years, with a last major strike inflicted in the middle of the 20th c. to the last remaining remnants. At any time during the past seven millenniums people were the carriers of the Tengriism, and with the decimation of the people as a social nomadic organization, both the people and their beliefs dissolved in the flood of social transformations.

 
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