Secret Societies of All Ages - Charles Heckethorn




III. The Rosheniah

154. The Rosheniah Sect and its Founder.—Another sect which grew out of that of the Ishmaelites was that of the Rosheniah. It was founded by Bayezid Ansari, the son of Abdullah, an Ulema of the tribe of Vurmud in Afghanistan. This Bayezid, though his father wished to bring him up to the priesthood, preferred traffic to learning, and took to the business of a travelling dealer in horses. Once, when staying on business in the district of Calinjir, he fell in with a malhed, which is a common epithet by which Moslem writers denominate the Ishmaelites. From him Bayezid imbibed a new religious creed, and began to profess and inculcate it on his return home. But neither his father nor his neighbours favouring it, he left his native country, and found for a while a refuge with Ahmed, Sultan of Ningashar in Afghanistan. But meeting with much opposition on the part of the people, he left Ningashar, and took up his residence among the Afghans of Gharihel, in the vicinity of Peshawur, where he had little difficulty in gaining proselytes whom he initiated into his doctrines. They were graduated into eight degrees of knowledge, each of which are termed zeker, and his disciples were in the same manner arranged into eight classes, which he denominated Khilwat.

He composed for his followers formularies of instruction; to the Afghans he delivered his instructions in the Afghan, to the Hindoos in Hindi, and to the Persians in the Persian language; and such was the versatility of his genius, that even his enemies admit his writings to be composed in the most attractive style. When his disciples had reached the eighth mystic degree, he informed them that they had now attained perfection, and had nothing more to do with the ordinances or prohibitions of the law. He then collected his most trusty followers into a body, took up his residence in the steep mountains of Afghanistan, plundered merchants, levied contributions, and propagated his doctrines by force of arms.

It was said that the female sex were his most ardent votaries, and he employed them to seduce the young men of the Afghan tribes. In the first stages of their initiation the young men and young women were classed separately, but as they advanced in illumination these restrictions were removed, and they were allowed to mix in promiscuous assemblies. As his power increased the expression of his doctrines became more bold he totally denied the doctrine of a future state, and directed his most perfect disciples to follow their pleasures without reserve, and gratify their inclinations without scruple. He also inculcated on his followers an absolute right to dispose of the lives and properties of all who did not adhere to his sect. He eventually removed to the district of Hashtnagar, which the Afghans consider the region of their original settlement in Afghanistan, where he founded a city, and assumed the title of Pir Boshan, which may be translated the "Father of light," whence his followers took the name of Rosheniah, or the Enlightened.

155. Death of Bayezid.—The Moghul Government became alarmed at the spread of Bayezid's doctrines. Mahsan Khan Ghazi, an officer of great merit, who was then governor of Cabul, made a sudden irruption into the district of Hashtnagar, and having seized Bayezid, conducted him to Cabul, where he exhibited him as a spectacle to the populace, with his hair shaven on one side of the head, and left untouched on the other. But Bayezid is said to have bribed Mahsan Khan's religious instructor, whereby he regained his liberty. Bayezid then retreated with his followers to the almost inaccessible hill country of Tirah, where he set about retrieving his late disgrace, and prosecuted his plans with such vigour and policy, that his sect began to assume a national character, and his doctrines to be considered as the peculiar religion of the Afghans. Bayezid announced his design of conquering Khorasan and Hindustan, but on descending with that view into the plains of Ningashar, he was again met by Mahsan Khan Ghazi, who routed his irregular forces, and the leader himself with difficulty made his escape; but the fatigues he underwent and the distress he suffered within a few days put an end to his life.

156. Extinction of Sect.—But his followers were numerous and enthusiastic; on his death his eldest son addressed them thus: "Come on, my friends; your Pir is not dead, but has resigned his place to his son. Sheik Omar, and conferred on him and his followers the empire of the whole world." But Omar was soon after slain in a battle with the Tusefzei, the bravest and most powerful of all the Afghan tribes. Of his four brothers, Jalal-eddin, the youngest alone remained alive, and he also, after various changes of good and ill fortune, perished by the sword of a soldier of the Hazarah tribe. He was succeeded by Ahdad, his son; he perished by a musket-shot when besieged in his fortress of Meaghae by the Moghuls (about 1650). The Afghans, after his death, carried away Abdal Kader, his son, and betook themselves to the mountains. When the emperor's army entered the fortress, the daughter of Ahdad, who had found no opportunity of escape, was roaming about the walls, when one of the soldiers attempted to seize her. She threw her robe over her face, and flung herself down from the battlements and perished. The descendants of Ahdad continued to rule till about 1700, when Cerimdad was put to death by Said Khan of larakhan, after having surrendered up the government. His brother, Allah-da-Khani, was appointed a command of four thousand in the Dakhin. He died about 1730.