The Shabuhragan (Persian: شاپورگانShāpuragān), which means “dedicated to Šābuhr”, also translated in Chinese as the Erzongjing or Text of Two Principles was a sacred book of the Manichaean religion, written by the founder Mani (c. 210–276 CE) himself, originally in Middle Persian, and dedicated to Shapur I (c. 215–272 CE), the contemporary king of the Sassanid Persian Empire. This book is listed as one of the seven treatises of Manichaeism in Arabic historical sources, but it is not among the seven treatises in the Manichaean account itself. The book was designed to present to Shapur an outline of Mani’s new religion, which united elements from Zoroastrianism, Christianity, and Buddhism.
The Middle Persian word for “Shabuhragan” is “dw bwn wzrg’y š’bwhrg’n”, meaning “the two sutras dedicated to Shabur “The Chinese translation is abbreviated as “two sutras”. Mani wrote this book in Middle Persian and presented it to Shabur I, the king of Persia, as an outline of the teachings of Manichaeism. In this book, Mani described his religion as the perfection and continuation of other existing religions, and called himself the “Sealed Prophet”: “Throughout the generations, the apostles of God have never ceased to bring wisdom and work here. Thus, they came in one age through the Apostle Buddha into the countries of India; in another, through the Apostle Zoroaster into Persia; and in another, through Jesus Christ into the West. After that, in this last age, the revelation came, which was prophesied to come to Babylon through Myself, Mani, the apostle of the true God.”
- From aeon to aeon the apostles of God did not cease to bring here the Wisdom and the Works. Thus in one age their coming was into the countries of India through the apostle that was the Buddha; in another age, into the land of Persia through Zoroaster; in another, into the land of the West through Jesus. After that, in this last age, this revelation came down and this prophethood arrived through myself, Mani, the apostle of the true God, into the land of Babel (Babylonia – then a province of the Sasanian Empire).
The surviving fragments of the Shabrakan focus on eschatology. When the end of the world comes, the God of the wise world (Jesus) comes and performs the final judgment, separating the sinners from the righteous. The angels go and seize the sinners and cast them into hell. The dead will rise, the righteous will ascend to heaven, and all other beings will fall into hell with them. The gods who support the world depart and the world collapses, and the fire of judgment enters from outside the universe and burns up the world, which will last for 1468 years. The evil-doers suffer in this fire, but the righteous are unharmed. The evil-doers ask for forgiveness, but will only be condemned. Finally, the sinners will be thrown into eternal prison along with the devil.
According to the Chronicle of the Buddha, in the first year of Yanzai of the Tang Dynasty, the Persian Fudodan introduced the Erzongjing into China.
- Reck, Christiane (2000). “ŠĀBUHRAGĀN”. In Yarshater, Ehsan (ed.). Encyclopædia Iranica, Online Edition. New York: Encyclopædia Iranica Foundation.
- Chronology of Ancient Nations; ed. and trans. by A. Brinkmann; Leipzig, 1895
- Feaver, J. C.; Jonas, Hans (1959). “The Gnostic Religion”. Books Abroad. 33 (4): 471. doi:10.2307/40096960. ISSN 0006-7431.
- In the first year of the reign of Yanzai …… a native of the Persian state of Fudodan (original note: a native of the Western Sea state of Daqin) came to the dynasty with the false teachings of the Two Sutras.” (The Unified Chronicle of the Buddha – Volume 39)
- Manicheism English translations of portions of the Shabuhragan can be found here.
- Middle Persian Sources: D. N. MacKenzie, “Mani’s Šābuhragān,” pt. 1 (text and translation), BSOAS 42/3, 1979, pp. 500-34,, copy at the Internet Archive. pt. 2 (glossary and plates), BSOAS 43/2, 1980, pp. 288-310 , copy at the Internet Archive.