The Xanians believe that mankind was created by a singular, living god, known as Zhauti, who created their species to serve him and spread their civilization across the universe as a way of showing their gratitude to Zhauti, part of the so-called "universal cycle". The Xanians are guided by the ionaki, or the priest caste, which handles all religious functions associated with Zheani. Xanians also believe that they also exist to live and experience the joys and hardships of life as a way of expressing their love for their creator, and their free will in line with the will of Zhauti. In this way, Zheani also serves as a guide on the ethical and social behavior Zhauti found appropriate for his creations.
Zheani is a generally unique religion, as there exist no deviations from the original teachings of its founder, and where the followers of the faith are totally united in their doctrine and teachings. There are no other branches, schools of thought, or heresies within Zheani, thanks to the unified teachings of the priest caste, and according to the Xanians, the percieved careful eye of Zhauti himself. No other religion is accepted according to the tenants of Zheani, and such has that system remained within the Xanian civilization for millennia. With hundreds of millions of adherents spread across the planet, Zheani is the single largest religion known to the Xanians.
The word Zheani is the Xanian word for "faithful ones", with its roots "zhe-" and "-ani", both having two separate meanings. "Zhe-" means "faith" in the Xanian language, and is itself is a diminutive of the Xanian word zhauta, meaning "god" in their language. Likewise, "-ani" is a simple plural marker for the diminutive, and is attached to the first half of the word to create the whole. Together, the literal meaning of Zheani is "children of the faith", or more more simply "faithful ones" or "faithful children. In Xanian documentation, Xanians will often refer to their religion in its singular form as Ja-Zhean, or "The Faith". Thus, the word Zheani is used by the Xanians use to denote the followers of Ja-Zhean. However, in human circles, given the Xanians total adherence to their native religion, the faith is referred to as Zheani and its followers simply as "Xanians", as both the religion and its followers are considered inseparable units, much the same way followers of Shinto are simply referred to as "Japanese" given that the religion's followers predominately originate from Japan.
The god of Zheani is known as Zhauti, or "God Supreme", being above all other men and gods be they real or fictional. The monotheistic aspect of Zheani is a strong, vigorous one, in which any religion with more than one deity is regarded with disdain, and placed on a level inferior to that awarded to faiths which believe in but a singular god, even if they are not of the Zheanic faith. This is exemplified in the Zhantana, where in verse 22 of book 16 it reads: "Know my faithful believers, that God; Zhauti the Wise, the Benevolent, and the Most Faithful of All; is but one God, true and enduring throughout the time of times and the age of ages." As such, Xanians regard many doctrines such as the many human doctrines of the Trinity, to be equal to that of polytheism, placing such human faiths as Catholicism and Orthodoxy on a level below that of Islam and Judaism. Within Zheani, followers are taught that Zhauti is beyond reproach, and that as a spirit being, he is invisible to fleshly beings such as humans, meaning that adherents of Zheani are expected to worship Zhauti in spirit, not with idols or carvings as in other religions. Also, Zheani teaches that Zhauti is a personal god, and that Xanians need no intermediary, such as clergy, to reach him and contact him personally.
Adherents of the Zheanic faith view Zhauti, not as a distance being unconcerned with the plights of the Xanians, but as a living person who cares enough about them that he does not interfere in their lives, and instead hopes that they make the right, mature decisions expected of anyone else in the faith, and guided by the principles of the Zhantana. This manifests itself in the way in which they view Zhauti. By blaming Zhauti for one's problems, the Xanians contend, one effectively seeks to exonerate themselves of their mistakes or their poor decisions, and put Zhauti at fault for not having prevented the issue in the first place. To say that Zhauti is uncaring or non-existent for not having saved the person for their woes would be the equivalent of saying your neighbor is an irresponsible person for not looking after your children. In the end, it is the responsibility of the parent to watch after their own children the same way it is the responsibility of every god-fearing, free-willed individual to look after themselves and accept responsibility for their decisions, whether they are good or bad. To say anything else or blame Zhauti for their problems would be petty and self-righteous.
Also, the Xanians do not view Zhauti in the same negative light as many other religious believers who have not seen their faith and prayers to their own gods answered or rewarded. While many might come to believe that Zhauti must not exist because evil exists, or that he is uncaring because he allows evil to exist, Zheani instead teaches that Zhauti is indeed caring because of the very fact that he allows evil to exist. Under Zheani, it is held that it would be unjust on Zhauti's part to control every aspect of mankind's life, or to protect them from themselves by so-called "infantilizing" the Xanians, babying them and their every step to protect them from harm. By preventing evil, mankind would be stopped from experiencing pain, but would not be free but would not be good either. It would also blind man from the reality that bad things can and do happen, and prevent the Xanians from developing appropriate coping responses to it. Thus, Zheani teaches that Zhauti allows bad things to happen because he wishes for true love for fellow man to bloom from it. By permitting the possibility of evil, Zhauti gives the concept of good meaningfulness to the Xanians, making it something mankind wishes to strive for rather than take for granted in a completely infantilized environment. Evil's existence ultimately produces a form righteousness that is truly capable of resisting and overcoming hate and evil.
Angels play an important role in the teachings of Zheani. The Zhantana states that angels serve as Zhauti's messengers and observers, keeping watch over his creations and reporting to him on the actions of his followers. Angels, like the Xanians they watch, have free will but are intensely loyal to their creator in all things. The Zhantana teaches that upon death, an angel is responsible for guiding the life force of a Xanian into the second life or punishing the Xanian with death-like sleep on Zhauti's command. Angels in Zheani are described as being made up of three groups; the highest-ranking male and female angels known as the n/a (keepers) with six wings, who serve as the masters of their peers, Zhauti's angelic warriors, and direct their fellow angels in Zhauti's commands; the all-male n/a (overseers) with four wings, who command the low-ranking angels in their tasks and report to the custodians; and then the all-female n/a (observers) with two wings, who serve as the messengers and guardians to the Xanian followers. Angels in general are described as wearing black garments with golden linings, black wings of a raven, and fiery blue auras that surround their head and body.
The Xanians adhere to moral code outlined within the Zhantana (which means the "Book of God"), and teaches Xanians "not to succumb to the vulgar ways of the misguided ones". The Zhantana is the entire law of Zhauti written down for the sake of those who practice Zheani, and serves as a temporary guide for those who live in the "first life". The principles written within the Zhantana serve as the code to which all Xanians are to adhere until the time that they die, afterwhich they are no longer held to its teachings. Xanians believe that the world they live in is a temporary destination which serves as stepping stone to eventual eternal life in a spiritual realm free of those who practice the "foul teachings". Thus, the purpose of the Zhantana is to direct Xanians in life, and who to remain on the path Zhauti has approved for them to enter into the second life, which is eternal life in a spiritual realm free of the misguided ways which surrounded them in the first life.
The Zhantana is broken down into 22 tanaki, or books, and 856 tanavik, or verses. The Zhantana covers virtually every part of life, spiritual and physical, and outlines the way of life Zhauti deems acceptable to him. The first tanaki covers the creation of man and the will of Zhauti, which the next third of the Zhantana covers the spiritual aspects of life of followers, and the rest covers the social and moral areas of life of followers. The Zhantana covers legal areas of life as well, spelling out in no uncertain terms what Zhauti deems acceptable and unacceptable, and the way of life a Xanian is expected to maintain during their first life. Xanians naturally regard the Zhantana as holy, as it was sourced from Zhauti himself, and because of the fact that it was originally written in Xanian, any other translations are deemed inherently deficient and without any backing within Zheani. Also, because of the holiness of the Zhantana, the book remains unchanged from the time it was written, with the only alterations to it being a revision of the ancient wording into that of the modern Xanian language.
Death and afterlifeEdit
Within Zheani, it is held that mortality is but the first step in a person's life, and that it is one of two aspects of living. Upon birth, a Xanian only enters in the physical realm of life and living, and that this is the point of a Xanian's life that he or she undergoes what is deemed "The Divine Trial", where they are tested on their performance in life and their adherence to the moral teachings of the Zhantana. Their actions in life will determine whether or not they are permitted entry into the afterlife for eternal life, or punished with eternal death, a state of endless sleep without dream or nightmare, the ultimate punishment for disobedience against Zhauti and his commandments. As such, there is no concept of hell in Zheani, contradicting the loving and benevolent nature of Zhauti.
Upon dying, a Xanian, based on his actions in the first life, will enter into the second life to live forever, rewarded with life eternal in the manner they so wish to experience. Followers of Zheani are taught that families are reunited in the second life, though once united, they may choose to remain with their loved ones, or go on to live in their own paradise. Because this afterlife is deemed a "second life", it does not mean that one will be forever cut off from their relatives or loved ones to enjoy their own paradise, but that they may continue to return to each other as they please. In this life, Xanians remain in constant communion with Zhauti, and are guided and protected by him in the second life. Even with the fact that the Xanians are long-lived, the Xanians hold the belief that all those Xanians killed in battle exist within the second life.
Zheani teaches that Zhauti does not preordain one's existence long before they are even born, as it would run contrary to the free will gifted upon the Xanians. Instead, Zhauti can see the future freely, but does not use this power as it would prevent mankind from making their own decisions and their own mistakes. This is rather interesting for a species which maintains a biological caste system all are born into. However, it is accepted by all Xanians that the caste system is the result of biological, not divine will. Thus, Xanians believe that everything that happens, good or bad, is but a result of mortal engineering, and that Zhauti has no hand in the good or the bad that takes place as a result of Xanian action. According to that logic then, it is up to every man and woman to make their decisions wisely, contemplating all of the potential results that could happen as a result of their actions. Every mistake is a learning lesson, and every good thing a reward for thoroughly contemplating how one's actions could effect others out of respect for their fellow man and their love for Zhauti's gift of free will and mercy.
Practice and worshipEdit
Prayer is an important aspect of Zheanic worship, and a requirement of any followers of Zheani both young and old. Xanians must prayer three times a day; once when they wake up, another at the middle of the day, and another before they go to sleep. Other prayers such those before a meal and during a major event and so on are not required, but considered good form and etiquette by Xanian worshipers. All prayer made by a Zheani adherent must be done in the Xanian language, therefore requiring worshipers be fluent in the language if they wish to pray as part of their service. Before a ritual prayer, a Xanian must light an incense stick and recite a verse from the Zhantana known as the Zhautak, which reads: "Unto you my God, I send my prayer. Please hear me, and grant me your favor." For all other prayers, a Xanian need only open his or her prayer with the verse, "O Zhauti, please hear me." Generally, there is no rule to how many times a Xanian may prayer to Zhauti, and in fact, the Zhantana states that Zhauti enjoys listening to the prayers of his followers, and maintains a keen ear to hear them all.
Zheanic followers congregate at their local zhekara, which serves as their place of worship. Zhekara, meaning "refuge of faith" in the Xanian language, is a building completely devoted to the carrying out of prayer, religious study and teaching, and burial of deceased followers of Zheani. Such buildings are serve as important gathering centers for Xanians residing in the area, fostering a community spirit which thrives around the worship of their god within the zhekara. Zhekara serve as the places where information within a Xanian community is disseminated, and where deals are struck and plans made for the future. As for the building itself, all zhekara following the same architectural design. All must be constructed of black granite or ebony wood, contain enough space for no fewer than fifty individuals to worship together, and be well ventilated for the smoke produced from burning incenses to escape. Zhekara are not required to face any direction in particular, with the only requirement being that a zhekara be able to host a reasonable amount of people.
Meditation forms the second pillar of the Zheanic faith. Xanians are encouraged to reflect upon the teachings of Xanus, and to strengthen their understanding of the Zhantana and its content so as to increase their respect and love for Zhauti. Meditation also helps an adherent look back on their behavior and obedience to the laws and regulations of their religion, and how they are progressing within the Divine Trial. Through such sustained mediation and self-reflection, a Xanian is expected to make many improvements to his or herself, adjusting their behavior and activities to more fit within the lines of their faith. Rigorous self-examination is encouraged by Zheani clerics, and is a major theme in the lectures given at zhekara throughout the globe, as such activity helps one improve their relationship with Zhauti as well as with their fellow Xanians. As written in verses 53 and 54 of book 12, Xanus states: "One should contemplate, with book in hand, the following; 'How do I fare in the Faith? What improvements can I make to myself and my well-being? Where do I stand in the Divine Trial? And what does God think of me?' The reflection of these and many other things is the marker of a true follower of God." Xanus also states that Xanians should read the Zhantana regularly, daily if possible, and reflect upon its teachings for their own benefit.
Zheani encourages giving to those in need within the faith, as part of one's desire to give rather than compulsion. All zhekara have a number of monetary offering areas where money can be given to clerics and nuns, so as to be dispensed to those in need as well as to help maintain the upkeep of the zhekara itself. There is no fixed percentage of one's income Xanians are required to give, but the Zhantana simply states that one give according to one's own means and love for fellow Xanians. It is believed that the annual contributions given by Xanians at their local zhekara exceed all the global humanitarian aid given six times over. The money itself goes into the construction of new zhekara, Xanian neighborhoods across the globe, and the upkeep of buildings constructed by the Xanians wherever they live. Additionally, it also helps to support Xanian families with little means as well as providing economic support to zhekara in regions where its members lack the ability to support the zhekara themselves.
Other kinds of offerings include spiritual offerings, such as incense-burning for Zhauti and deceased relatives. Incense-burning forms a great deal of Zheanic worship, with zhekara required to have proper ventilation for incense smoke to escape, as well as a platform on which incense is to be burned by worships and clerics. Small shrines at homes or apartment blocks built specifically for Xanians, may be used for daily incense-burning offerings as a sign of respect and remembrance of one's deceased relatives. The purpose of incense-burning within Zheani has to do with the belief that it is considered pleasing to Zhauti, increasing the fragrance of the second life, and signalling to one's ancestors and family members already there that they have not be forgotten in the first life. Food offerings and drink offerings are not performed by Xanians, as though they believe their fellow deceased Xanians still live, they cannot make use of food and drink within the first life, thereby wasting the products.
Zheani has a strong preference for hygienic behavior, encouraging the Xanians to kept themselves clean and healthy for their god, Zhauti. As he is regarded as the embodiment of purity, the Xanians as his children strive to remain pure and clean as a sign of their respect and devotion. Ritual purification ceremonies take place at zhekara once a year around New Year's Eve, to cleanse themselves for the start of the new year. Xanians attending the ceremony cleanse their bodies at the bathhouses maintained by the clerics of the zhekara, wearing all black undergarments, the color black described in the Zhantana as "pure and untouched by sin," as the color black cannot be "corrupted" by other colors and pigmentation, thereby signifying its purity in the eyes of Zhauti. This religious washing of the body is regarded as a sign to Zhauti that his followers value the purity of their flesh and the care that went into making them. On non-religious holidays, Xanians are encouraged to visit their zhekara once a month to ritually cleanse their body.
Before entering into a zhekara, Xanians clean their hands, feet, and head at a basin located outside of the zhekara entrance, doing so as a sign of their impurity and request to Zhauti to enter onto holy ground. Followers of Zheani visit one of the many basins outside of the zhekara, and proceed to cleanse their hands, feet and head by taking a scoop of water and rubbing their hands with it. They take some of the water and wash their face with it, and take additional water to clean their feet before drying them next to the basin. All those seeking to enter into a zhekara must follow this routine before doing walking inside. Footwear may not be worn inside the zhekara, though socks and stockings are acceptable. This is especially true for Xanian women, who's traditional dress places great emphasize on hosiery, which would be highly inconveniencing to remove regularly. However, many zhekara, such as those located in the major cities, often permit footwear as a manner of ease and simplicity, though men and women not wearing hosiery are still expected to wash their feet as a sign of respect.