Ula'ikism, also known as Ulaikianism and Alva Lamaism, is the dominant religion of the Mari'im islands. It is the state relgion of Mari'im, and plays a role in the country's government.
The Mari'im word for their religion is Ula'iki, from which the terms Ula'ikism and Ulaikianism both originate (the former being more common). The religion is also known as Alva Lamaism, a foreign term based on a misunderstanding. When Tandro Amarito and his fleet first discovered Mari'im, there was some confusion in his homeland, Lendia as to where the islands actually were — for a time, it was thought that Amarito had circumnavigated the globe, therefore placing Mari'im just off the eastern coast of Eras. Knowing of the monks called "lamas" in Chungxipang, scholars applied the term to Mari'im monks as well. Although it was soon determined that Mari'im was not near Chakrazipang, the term nevertheless persisted. The current government frowns on the use of the term "Lamaism", but it is still relatively common.
(The origin of the word "Alva", meanwhile, is discussed in the section regarding sects.)
Ula'ikism was created by the philosopher Akinui, who was born around 700 BP. At this time, Mari'im was divided into eight major states: Nuku'a, Rakanu'a, La'a'ilu, Su'a'iti, Vaha'ai, Mu'o'ana, Tika, and Rihu. Each of these states was constantly warring with the other, both at sea and in raids against coastal villages. Much damage and destruction was caused, and Akinui, a fisherman living on an island under La'a'ilu control, had seen his wife and children killed by a Su'a'iti raiding party. The constant death and destruction that surrounded him, brought home to him by the murder of his own family, caused Akinui to formulate a code of belief which he hoped would halt the warfare, and promote a respect for life. He based this code around elements of religious and spiritual beliefs from all the islands of Mari'im, drawing many different codes and faiths into a single framework.
In 743 AP, Akinui began to travel around his island, spreading his belief. A convincing speaker, Akinui found many people eager to follow his philosophy. Ula'ikism, still in its formative stages, was quickly adopted by a population weary of war and constant raids. Traders soon brought the beliefs to other islands, where they became popular. Upon Arinui's death, the religion continued to grow, spread by his followers. Soon, his beliefs were followed by the majority of the Maritim population.
Code of ethicsEdit
Akinui derived his views on ethics mainly from the code of beliefs begun by I'aki Ora'u, a philosopher from the northern kingdom of Nuku'a. Ora'u'ati, as the philosophy was known, set down a number of guidelines concerning morality, ethics, and the proper order of society and the state.
There are five basic components to Ora'u'ati.
- Benevolence and compassion towards others. We should never under any circumstances wish ill on another — if someone does wrong, we should hope for their redemption, not their punishment. We should seek to give without thought of reward or repayment.
- Fairness in all matters. We should always treat people fairly and equally, and should keep ourselves free from bias and prejudice.
- Honesty and trustworthiness. We should always tell the truth as best we know it, and nor should we conceal information from those that need it. We should always uphold the trust placed in us.
- Peace and non-violence. We should always take the path of least violence, never seeking to harm others or cause destruction. Violence is acceptable only when there is no other choice, and even then, should only be carried out with a heavy heart. We should not celebrate victory in war — rather, we should mourn that the war was ever necessary.
- Duty and loyalty. We should always ensure that we fulfil our obligations, doing what our duty requires of us. We should not avoid our responsibilities, or try to make other people take them from us. We should remain true to our beliefs.
Each of these five things forms an important part of the Ula'ikist religion, although they are not always expressed in five definite points as they were in the Ora'u'ati philosophy.
Souls and reincarnationEdit
Ula'ikism believes in the existence of things which might be thought of as souls. Ula'ikism teaches that our souls are essentially pure versions of ourselves, without any taint or blemish. If we refrain from doing wrong, we are being true to our inner self. If we commit evils, however, we are betraying our inner self, and cease to resemble our pure soul. We thereby distance ourselves from it, and should our evil become too great, we will become completely detatched — our soul will be lost.
Ula'ikism teaches that it is of vital importance to us that this does not happen. When we die, our physical self ceases to exist, leaving only the spiritual self, as represented by our soul. We then remain in the spirit world until we may be reborn in a new body. Our soul, in essence, is a bridge between the old life and the new. But if, in the course of our lives, we have parted company with our soul, we have no bridge. When we die, we cease to exist completely.
The parts of Ula'ikism which are concerned not with people but with the world itself mostly originate from the various tribal beliefs of historic northern Mari'im, although some elements originate with the Rihu people. Ula'ikism teaches that the world consists of five basic concepts or ideas. These five concepts are represented by five common things which exist in our world, being Water, Light, Wood, Metal, and Stone.
- Light represents power and energy.
- Water represents purity and calmness.
- Wood represents growth and development.
- Metal represents strength and force.
- Stone represents endurance and stability.
These five things are often used in important Ula'ikist rituals and traditions. For example, Ula'ikist monks drink only water due to the attributes associated with it — drinking anything else is interpreted as turning from those attributes. These ideas are also important in Mari'im society at large, even where there is no direct invocation of Ula'ikism — newborn babies will be given toys made out of wood (not plastic) to encourage their growth, and weddings are held only in stone buildings in the hope that the marriage will endure.
There are no deities as such in the Ula'ikist religion. However, it does not prohibit the worship of such deities, and some followers of Ula'ikism also worship traditional gods or goddesses. The number of people who do so, however, is decreasing, and few remain.
The exact nature of Ula'ikism sects is somewhat complicated. When Akinui was spreading his new religion, there was no organized component to the belief at all. Because he died before his religion gained pre-eminence in the islands, a good deal of its expansion may be attributed to his followers, but his followers did not always agree with each other. Furthermore, the lack of good communications tended to mean that followers of Akinui's religion usually operated independently of other followers on different islands. Over time, a number of different sects developed in the religion. These sects were originally based on geographic area, and to an extent, still are, although they have now diffused enough that all major sects can be found in any part of the country.
The largest sect is the Lai'a Sect, based on the island of Su'a'iti but also covering the islands of Mua'anta and Da'iliau'ia, the island of Aka'ami'ia, and the southern third of the island of Mo'i'a. The term Lai'a comes from a word meaning "lily", and is taken from the sect's emblem. In the rest of the world, the Lai'a Sect is often known as the Alva Sect, as this is the name given to it by the Lendians when they arrived ("alva" is a Lendian word meaning "white", referring to the white robes worn by the monks). It is lead by a monk called the Lai'a Ari'a, sometimes rendered as Alva Lama (although word "lama" is not a good translation of "ari'a", since this word specifically relates to the head of a sect).
The next most prominent sect is known as the Vaha Sect. It is based around the island of Vaha'ai and the western half of the Arcania peninsula, but has a large number of followers spread throughout other islands as well. It was first codified by the King of Vaha'ai, hence its name. It is lead by the Vaha Ari'a, recognised as the holiest figure in the islands after the Lai'a Ari'a. In the past, there have been major disputes between the Lai'a Ari'a and the Vaha Ari'a as to the overall leadership of the religion. Now, however, the Vaha Ari'a recognises the primacy of the Lai'a Ari'a, although the sect conducts its own business independently of the Lai'a Ari'a administration.
The other two major sects are the To'iri Sect and the Kokoru Sect, both of which are based mainly on the island of Mo'i'a. They are both named after their principle founders, who were devotees of the religion in early times, and who journeyed northwards to spread the faith. Like the Vaha Sect, the To'iri Sect and the Kokoru Sect did not originally recognise the Lai'a Ari'a as being any more important than the others sect leaders, but have since recognised the Lai'a Ari'a as having a higher standing with respect to religious matters.
The last sect of any significance is the Sharha Sect. This is not based in ethnically Mari'im regions, instead being practiced by the Rihu people of the central Arcania peninsula. While it is not a major sect in terms of the number of people who follow it, it is the only sect with a significant number of believers in Rihu.
There are a number of smaller sects in existance, but these have less than three percent of the population following them. Examples of smaller sects include the Ta'i'i'ma Sect, the Hu'ama Sect, and the Ko'uku'a Sect. Another group worth noting is the Meko'u Sect, located in the neighbouring Theocracy of Xochimechatl (now an independent country, but once a part of Mari'im).
It is important to note when looking at these sects that they are only weakly linked. Initially, they were completely independent, each recognising their own Ari'a as the highest authority. Now, however, the vast majority of sects recognise the superiority in religion of the Lai'a Ari'a. This does not mean, however, that they will take orders from the Lai'a Ari'a, or that that the Lai'a Ari'a is directly above them in some sort of hierarchy. Rather, it is simply an acknowledgement that the Lai'a Ari'a is the most important of a set of independent leaders. The less important Ari'as will often "defer to the wise advice of the Lai'a Ari'a" on religious matters, but not on organisational or political issues.
The monastery may be thought of as the basic unit of organized religion in the Ula'ikist faith. There are around three hundred monasteries throughout the islands, and they are divided into two categories — the Lesser Monasteries and the twenty-one High Monasteries.
All monasteries are basically independent, run by the monks that inhabit them, but they will also have an affiliation to a particular group. Lesser Monasteries are attached to one of the twenty-one High Monasteries, meaning that they accept religious direction from that High Monastery's leaders (they retain their autonomy as far as other policy goes, however, and may act as they see fit in all temporal matters). All High Monasteries, moreover, have an affiliation to one of the sects that Ula'ikism is divided into. This indicates their recognition of that sect's Ari'a as their overall spiritual leader. Of the twenty-one High Monasteries, ten are linked to the Lai'a Sect, four to the Vaha Sect, three to the To'iri Sect, three to the Kokoru Sect, and one to the Sharha Sect. The Ari'a of a sect will be based at one of the High Monasteries loyal to that sect.
Monasteries may change their affiliations should they wish to. In modern times, this is rare, but in the days when the Lai'a Sect and the Vaha Sect were still competing for dominance, the key to victory was regarded as being found in the number of monateries answering to each sect. Eventually, the Lai'a Sect gained the support of more monasteries than the Vaha Sect, establishing its dominance.