Rahkahnja is a monotheistic religion of the Continent based on a painting which today is known as "The Child". It's adherents, known as Rahkahns, believe that the Last World is defended by Rahkahnja, The Child Who Walks the Universe. Rahkahnja's history is traced back to the Dawn and became the main religion of Gantolia and Yammoe. Later it found its way to the Kwalee, Tarnaria and even as far as Darda due to missionary work. Rahkahnja is currently the Continent's largest religion and is practiced by over half a billion people.
Rahkahns differ wildly in their interpretation of the painting, but do share some basic tenets.
Rahkahnja generally postulates that the world is a garden which is created for Rahkahnja, The Child Who Walks the Universe, and that life is preparation for Rahkahnja's morning walk, known as Ahdahbija. Rahkahns are divided into classes of Servants, Flowers, Earth and Pebbles, with each class assigned their own rules of conduct and purpose in life. A special class of Gardners is reserved for leaders, prophets and saints of the religion. Classes rarely coincide with the political system of the countries that practice Rahkahnja and it is customary for Gardners to have little to no real political power.
Rahkahns also universally believe in the Bird, the Companion, but vast differences exist between the four branches as to what it is, if it is depicted on the painting and what its meaning is.
Areas of disagreement
Areas of disagreement are numerous and include, but are not limited, to:
- who drew the painting
- what, if anything, is depicted on the painting
- which painting out of the four existing variants is the original one
- which color is the background and which is the foreground
- how to interpret the image
- why the chalice?
The latter debate is a bizarre one, but it resulted in the Chalice Wars.
The four branches
Although to this day there are hundreds of branches and sects of Rahkahnja, there are four main branches: Savija, Mardaja, Tahmiss and Oaleen.
Rahkahnja Savija is the largest branch and also the youngest, but is considered to be the most orthodox reading of the tradition by modern theologians. It is practiced in Gantolia and Kwalee.
Rahkahnja Mardaja is the oldest and second largest branch that champions what is the original painting.
Tahmiss is the version of Rahkahnja practiced in Yammoe. It also uses a different version of the painting.
Oaleen started as a folk religion, but eventually grew in influence. It uses a re-colored version of the Savija painting. Today it is the third largest branch and its worldview is markedly different from the rest of the three branches, as it's the only branch that does not recognize the darker color as the leading one. It's practice is also very decentralized and spans across the whole Continent.
Talmaj is the non-mainstream branch which existed in the second half of SR in Western Dantria and was the fastest growing version of Rahkahnja by the beginning of TR. It has then begun missionary work in Gantolia. However, the fall of Western Dantria due to Lydian conquests has hindered the enthusiasm of Talmaj missionaries who managed to preserve copies of the painting and documented the main tenets, but were unable or unwilling to further propagate the religion. Most of them have opportunistically converted to Rahkahnja Savija.