Tuesday, November 29, 2022

The Light of Kulvu

Kulvu is a word in the ancient Onha language with many meanings: balance, harmony, law, nature, order, and reason. Some three centuries before the commencement of the First Cycle, the sage Urkuten used the word to describe the underlying principle of reality. Urkuten taught that happiness consists in understanding and conforming oneself to that reality, which is rationally organized and thus evidence of the Divine. Urkuten sometimes used “the gods” as a synonym for the Divine but he is otherwise silent on the matter of what, if any, deities exist. It is precisely for this reason that his doctrines, called in later ages the Light of Kulvu, achieved such wide acceptance, as they were metaphysically flexible and, therefore, compatible with many pre-existing religious practices.

The Light of Kulvu spread across sha-Arthan along with the empire that would bear its name. Over the course of the empire’s 1229 years of existence, schools dedicated to Urkuten’s teachings were founded on every continent but Alakun-Tenu (where the god, da-Ten, brooks no rivals, even non-dogmatic ones), establishing itself as one of the most widespread and enduring belief systems of the last ten cycles. Though rarely the dominant faith of any land at present, the Light of Kulvu nevertheless exercises great influence over the societies and cultures of many, including several in the Hashaya Peninsula, most importantly the Empire of Inba Iro.

The Mirror of Virtue

Sometime during the administration of the Archon Herekshumal (1:100–120), the text known today as Chunik Choredri ("The Mirror of Truth") first appeared. A product of the Ruketsa philosophical school of Kulvu, the book is a distillation of and commentary on Urkuten’s teachings. Chief among those teachings are eight axioms, collectively known as Unquestionable Precepts. The Precepts are:

  • Reality is ordered.
  • Order is evidence of reason.
  • Only the Divine possesses reason potent enough to order reality.
  • Being a product of the Divine, this order is inescapable.
  • Virtue consists in understanding order and conforming one’s actions to it.
  • Wisdom distinguishes between those actions that are in conformity with order, namely, courage, knowledge, restraint, and justice; and those that are opposed to it, namely, fear, ignorance, lawlessness, and license.
  • Therefore, avoid all that is irrational and disordered.
  • Accept that illness, pain, and death are no less ordered than health, pleasure, and life.  

Thanks to the fervent efforts of generations of sages, the Unquestionable Precepts have achieved wide dissemination, forming the basis of dozens of schools of the Light of Kulvu (the Bejandrai and Kamarjantil schools being notable exceptions), as well as at least one entirely distinct religion (Viruktiyel). Despite their differences, all share the belief that happiness can be achieved by acceptance of the Divine order and one’s place within it, including the duty to understand not only reality itself but one’s fellow creatures, so as to treat them fairly and justly. If there were a single creed one could call central to the diverse peoples of sha-Arthan, the Light of Kulvu probably comes closest to it.