Charity Concept as An Individual Salvation Method in Old Uyghurs

Isi H.

MILLI FOLKLOR, vol.17, no.131, pp.141-150, 2021 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 17 Issue: 131
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Journal Name: MILLI FOLKLOR
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, Linguistics & Language Behavior Abstracts, MLA - Modern Language Association Database, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.141-150
  • Keywords: Manichaeism, Buddhism, Uyghurs, charity, individual salvation
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


The Uyghurs, who demolished the II. Kokturk Khaganate and established an independent government under the name Otuken Uyghur State, are known for their cultural and religious systems developed within the history of Central Asian Turks. As a result of the trade-based relations with Sogdian, Toharian and the Chinese over the geography, changes have occurred in the Uyghur society structure. Among the innovations that took place in the Turkish society specifically for the Uyghurs, there are changes such as living in settled life, adopting Manichaeism and Buddhism, religions specific to Central Asia, and alphabet change. The most important innovation in the social life of Uyghurs, a warrior and nomadic community, is religious change. Manichaeism, which was made systematic in the founding of Mani in the 3rd century, was accepted as a state religion during the period of Uyghurs by Bogu Khan. This doctrine, which is based on dualities such as light-dark and good-evil, is a belief system that bases its salvation on abiding the Five Commandments and the Three Seals. This doctrine, which prohibits eating meat, killing creatures was adopted by the ruling class in a religious character that was originally adopted by Bogu Khan and his family members, despite the fact that they were in stark contrast with the Turkish social structure. Manichaeism, which is a state religious identity with Uyghurs for the first time, has been an indication of religious freedom in Uyghurs as a belief system that progresses side by side with Buddhism, although it was initially trapped in the Uyghur dynasty. Manichaeism, which developed under the political protection of the Otuken Uyghur State, continued until the destruction of the Uyghurs by the Kyrgyz. The Uyghurs, destroyed by the Kyrgyz in 840, turned to the Tarim Basin and established the Khotco Uyghur State. This period, in which the Buddha religion was built on solid foundations, is seen as a peak period in terms of Turkish Buddhism. Although the period when Buddhism started to be seen among Turks, the adoption of the Buddha religion by the Uyghurs in mass, is dated to the 9th century. The Uyghurs, who preferred the Mahayana Buddhism aimed at the liberation of society, learned the belief systems of this doctrine, especially with the help of Sogd and Chinese, and revealed religious works with the Uyghur Alphabet, whose origins were based on the Sogd script. Experiencing the thought systems of these teachings on the basis of Manichaeism and Buddhism, Uyghurs have created a developed social structure especially at the level of these belief systems based on individual and social liberation. Charity culture, which is one of the practices that this religion commands to the civilian people outside the monastery in both Manichaeism and Buddhism, has a conceptual richness on the basis of these teachings. The concept of charity, which ranks first among the Five Commandments, known as the virtues such as not killing living things, not drinking, not adulterous, and righteousness in Manichaeism, is one of the concepts that the Society emphasizes in two groups: Elects and Hearers. The concept of charity, which is also expressed as material aid to the clergy of the civilian people, known as the Hearers class, appears as a tradition in this doctrine, which has been skillfully theorized by the Elects and has promises to attract civilians to religious practices.