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Padhran religion

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The Padhran religion was a faith practiced in the Hordelands and by almost all of those living in the hidden realm of Ra-Khati.[2][3][4] Following the teachings of the Padhra, believers sought to achieve enlightenment and break a cycle of reincarnation by following a code of virtuous behavior.[3] They knew the Padhra as "the Great Teacher"[5] or as the "Enlightened One".[6]


As written in the religious books of the Padhran faith, around −1700 DR, an Ulgarian prince named Surtava gave up his crown, his power, and his wealth and voluntarily became a beggar to seek enlightenment and wisdom.[2][3][4][note 1]

After many years of wandering and meditation, Surtava achieved a state he called "Eaum", or enlightenment.[2][3] He spent his remaining years preaching what he had learned.[3] Surtava founded the Padhran religion,[2][3] with the aid of other founders, such as Monkey.[1] When Surtava died, he ascended to the heavens to become the Padhra.[3] The holy water buffalo Yampa carried the Enlightened One to "the realms of perfection".[7]

In time, his soul was joined by the souls of thousands of other beings who also attained Eaum. They became incarnations of the Padhra, called padhrasattvas.[3]


The Padhran religion could be broken down into two main philosophies called the "Four Baskets of Wisdom" and the "Sixfold Path", as outlined by the Padhra's two lectures. The Four Baskets of Wisdom summarized the Padhra's basic views on life and reincarnation. They held that:

  1. All life was suffering, because everything that was living was also dying.
  2. Death was no escape from suffering, because all beings had souls that never died.
  3. When a being's body died, its soul was reincarnated in another body. If the soul had been virtuous, then it would be reincarnated as a higher form of life. However, if it had been wicked, then it would be reincarnated as a lower form of life.
  4. A being could only escape this cycle of eternal suffering by living virtuous lives. Eventually, one would achieve a body of sufficiently high form that it could achieve "Eaum", or enlightenment. Eaum was a state of spiritual enlightenment. In this state, a soul became one with the Great Soul of Universe and enjoyed an eternity of bliss,[3] which they knew as "Nirvana".[8]

Meanwhile, the Sixfold Path was the set of principles by which a follower of the Padhra should live in order to advance to high forms of life and thereby achieve Eaum:

  1. Faith: One must have faith in oneself, their fellows, and in the Padhra's teachings.
  2. Resolve: One must resolve to live a virtuous life and resist urges and temptations to do otherwise.
  3. Speech: One must speak truthfully and never hide oneself with deceit.
  4. Action: One must act righteously and never do contemptible deeds.
  5. Endeavor: One must also strive to be more virtuous and oppose things that were sordid.
  6. Concentration: One must always follow these principles and never stray from the Sixfold Path, not even briefly.[3]

Thus, the Enlightened One taught how to achieve peace and attain "perfect oblivion"[9] and filled his followers with harmony and perfect understanding.[10] The force of the Enlightened One filled all things, whether alive or dead, organic or mineral. A simple stone might contain a fraction of this force, while people of great will shone with power to those who could read the auras. These auras indicated the state of balance and harmony of the world.[11]

Followers of the faith, particularly those of the Red Mountain Sect, endeavored to purify their minds and bodies and to control or even suppress their passions, as they believed passions clouded the mind and corrupted the spirit. They did this in order that they could better understand the Enlightened One's teachings, to achieve perfection in their thoughts and actions, and to attain enlightenment.[9][10] Koja explained it in simple terms: if one loved tea, then every day one would be dominated by thoughts and desires for tea, and one would miss other things. When one no longer savored life, they could they fully experience all life had to offer.[9] For this reason, Red Mountain priests were apparently celibate.[10]

Mercy was commendable in the faith and in the eyes of the Enlightened One.[12]

It was not the custom of the faith to sacrifice living creatures.[13]


Those souls that attained Eaum joined the Padhra's soul and in turn became incarnations of the Padhra, called padhrasattvas. Thousands of souls had achieved this status by the mid–14th century DR.[3] There were several especially important padhrasattvas who represented key concepts:

Mahavidi was considered to be the highest of the Padhra's incarnations and was the personal Padhrasattva of the Dalai Lama of Ra-Khati.[8]

In simple terms, padhrasattvas like Furo could be described as divine agents of the Enlightened One. Faithful therefore followed the Enlightened One's teachings, yet prayed to the padhrasattvas.[9] The padhrasattvas were commonly worshiped by the Padhran faithful in Ra-Khati. The Potala, the palace of the Dalai Lama in Saikhoi, held a great many temples to each of the padhrasattvas, and each Padhran monastery in Ra-Khati was dedicated to a certain padhrasattva, but all were worshiped by the monks.[18][19]


There were a number of sects and orders within the Padhran religion:


There were a number of religious works that told of the life of Prince Surtava, his teachings, and of the Padhran religion. Some in Ra-Khati were written in Susrit.[2][3] Some specific works included:


The spell karma curse was only used by priests of the Padhran faith.[22]


In the Potala in the city of Saikhoi in Ra-Khati around 1359 DR, there was a group of one hundred priests who continually recited the names of the Padhra in front of ten thousand little idols. It was said that if ever they stopped, the world would come to an end. Meanwhile, a single priest had sat meditating and levitating without moving for thirty-four years; some wondered if he had found a shortcut to Nirvana.[8]



The Padhran religion was widely followed in Ra-Khati.[4] Indeed, the leader of the theocratic nation was the Dalai Lama, also known as the High One, a very powerful monk and cleric of the Padhra.[4][23] Each major town had a monastery, and monks governed the people there.[18]

It was also followed to some extent in the neighboring kingdom of Khazari, with members of the royal family having their bodies prepared for interment by Padhran priests.[6]

Padhran monasteries from Ra-Khati were found in Fatula Chupa, the City of Monasteries, on the Katakoro Plateau. Although all the sects in Fatula Chupa were independent and competing, the Padhrans there typically allied with the Red Mountain Sect (though such alliances shifted quickly according to current interpretations of doctrine) and bore an intense hatred for the Tabotan gompas (which followed the Path of Enlightenment).[24]

Holy SitesEdit

Zanda Tholing on the Katakoro Plateau was a site of great holiness dedicated to the Enlightened One. The bodies of deceased kings and princes of Khazari were taken here to be stripped of their flesh by the elements and their bones prepared for their later burial.[6]

The Horseshoe Temple in the Quoya Desert contained an immense statue of the Enlightened One in a reclining, sleeping pose. In other rooms, it also housed a statue of the water buffalo Yampa and statues of three of the incarnations of the Enlightened One.[7]

The Thousand Sacred Sources of the Gaya, that is, the rivers of the Hordelands that fed the Gaya—called the Sacred River or the River of Life—were considered sacred in the Padhran faith. There were a variety of sacred sites found on these rivers.[25][26][27]



Followers of the Padhra could choose to undertake a pilgrimage to the Thousand Sacred Sources of the Gaya and to the various sacred sites along them. They could choose which of the hundreds of rivers and sites they visited however.[25][26][27] Pilgrims could begin in the south, at the mouth of the Gaya.[27] Also known as the River Xon, it flowed between Durpar and Ulgarth (the land Prince Surtava had once hailed from[4]) and emptied into Xontuil Bay and the Golden Water,[28] and ultimately the Great Sea.[27]

The next sacred river was the Jumpa River, thanks to its impressive geographic features, status as one of the greatest rivers in the world, and its link to the Gaya (joining it through the Great Pass of the Yehimal in the Dustwall Mountains). All the other sacred rivers were mere tributaries of the Jumpa, so from its banks pilgrims could visit any one of the other sacred rivers.[26]

After it, some pilgrims went to the Gogrus River in Ra-Khati.[26] The first stop for these pilgrims was the Sacred Lake of Cherrapunni, where they had to drink the water and cleanse themselves of evil.[25][29]

Going further up the Gogrus, they came to where it joined the Dharbang River, at a place called the Bed of Two Lovers. Legend told that the Great Teacher meditated here for five weeks without eating or sleeping and obtained "the fifth key to enlightenment", coming closer to achieving ultimate harmony. When he finished, he broke his fast by eating a peach, and tossed the pit in the water. Thereafter, the water had a golden glow and was blessed with healing powers. Pilgrims were obliged to bath in the icy-cold water, but were in turn healed of all injuries, diseases, disabilities and impairments.[25][5]

After this junction, following the Gogrus, pilgrims came to Rainbow Falls, where the Gogrus met the Akundi River. Pilgrims had to climb a perilous and winding cliff-side path to reach the top of the falls, but the Order of Rainbow Monks operated six hospices here, catering to travelers and pilgrims.[25][27] Following the Akundi, pilgrims came to the Sacred Whispering Fall, which spilled from the lake Manasowar, which was also sacred. Pilgrims had to bathe in the waterfall under the moonlight.[27]

Following the Dharbang upstream was impossible, as it flowed through a steep-walled and jagged canyon. Therefore, pilgrims continued up the Gogrus and then the Akundi River, before cutting over land back to the Dharbang and the next sacred site, Norasil, or the Lake of Dreams. Pilgrims camped on the shore until they had a vision that would guide them further.[5]

The final stop on the Dharbang was its source at a glacier in the Katakoro Shan. Reaching it was a difficult journey through freezing temperatures. At the snowfield, pilgrims scrubbed themselves with snow, figuratively remove their outer selves. After this, the majority of pilgrims traveled back down the Dharbang and returned home or went onto other sacred rivers. However, a few followed some guiding vision and went on up the glacier. Although they were never seen again, the faithful held that they had been blessed and did not die.[5]

The pilgrimage could be quite dangerous, as some pilgrims fell victim to marauders on the trails or to the hazards of mountain travel. The journey was made much worse when the realm of Ra-Khati, which held much of the Gogrus, Dharbang, and Akundi rivers, entered a deeply isolationist and xenophobic phase in the mid–14th century DR. Pilgrims were permitted to enter in respect for their shared faith, but were then forbidden to leave, and some were killed trying to escape. The alternative was to have their tongues cut out, so they could never speak of what they saw in Ra-Khati. Some pilgrims chose this mutilation in order to continue, while some tried to sneak past Ra-Khatian authorities with their tongues. When caught, rather than be executed, they were forced to cut out their own tongues.[27][18] In a particularly hazardous period in 1359 DR, a band of pilgrims numbering over a hundred was decimated to only twelve, who then lost their tongues in Ra-Khati.[27]


The Padhran religion was often treated as merely a sect of the Path of Enlightenment, a faith that was widespread across Kara-Tur. The Padhrans were seen as adding the padhrasattvas to the Path as guardian gods or protective gods.[24][18] The padhrasattvas were assumed to be the same as the sages or boddas of the Path and the Celestial Empire.[30][31]

Notable FollowersEdit

See also: Followers of the Padhran religion



First detailed in the adventure module Storm Riders, the Padhran religion is clearly inspired by Buddhism, with a similar doctrine and similar central figures in the Buddha and bodhisattvas, as well as having similar names.


Although Storm Riders presents the Padhran religion as a Buddhism-inspired faith dominant in Ra-Khati, The Horde merges the Padhran religion with the Path of Enlightenment, a Confucianism-inspired faith (with Buddhism-like elements) presented earlier in Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms, and even says that Ra-Khati follows "a version of the Path of Enlightenment". Page 39 of The Horde refers to "the Great Teacher, founder of the Path", in events strongly reminiscent of the Padhra's quest for enlightenment, but the Path was already specifically established as the creation of the Celestial Emperor in a very different way. Furthermore, The Horde equates the padhrasattvas with the sages of the Path and the Celestial Empire (these sages are also known as buddas, boddas, or boddhas, which are taken more directly from Buddhism), but these are also created in a very different way. Both Storm Riders and The Horde were published in 1990, so it is not clear which source is retconning or contradicting which. This merger or confusion of the Path and the Padhran faith may be in error, be due to a misunderstanding of the Path, or be for in-universe syncretism (a merger or correlation of religions).

The Great Teacher can be assumed to be the Padhra, owing to the strong connection to the rivers of the Thousand Sacred Sources of the Gaya (the Gaya lies in Ulgarth, where Surtava likely originated) and the pilgrimage route along them is identical to that of the Padhran religion in Storm Riders. Other references to the Path in The Horde are assumed to be to the Path of Enlightenment where possible, but should be treated as ambiguous.

To further confuse matters, The Horde also refers to "the Enlightened One" as the deity of Zanda Tholing and the (multi-faith) Horseshoe Temple Oasis, but this deity is connected to no particular religion. The novel Horselords (1990) has the Enlightened One as the supreme being of the Red Mountain Sect of Khazari, but also connected to no other religion. Horselords also places Furo below the Enlightened One in the Red Mountain faith, while the module Blood Charge (1990) establishes Furo as the Padhrasattva of Knowledge, connecting Furo to the Padhran religion, and by extension the Enlightened One. Finally, in the real world, "Buddha" can be translated to "Enlightened One", suggesting that in the Realms the Enlightened One is the Padhra and that these are of the Padhran faith.

In The Horde, page 46, the Red Mountain Sect and its rival the Yellow Mountain Sect are implied to be sects or branches of the Path of Enlightenment, but, as argued above, this should be considered ambiguous. Both sects are based in Khazari, where the Path of Enlightenment is expressly followed by most of the monks and monasteries (page 69). The card for Manass confirms the Yellow Mountain Sect as following the Path of Enlightenment and that it is the dominant sect. Taken with the above connection to the Padhran religion, it appears the Red Mountain Sect is the lesser, Padhra-following religion of Khazari. This is corroborated by events at Fatula Chupa, where the Padhrans and Red Mountain Sect habitually ally against the Yellow Mountain Sect and gompas from Tabot (where the Path of Enlightenment is followed). In addition, Blood Charge page 17 describes the Red Mountain Sect as enemies of the Yellow Mountain Sect, who "follow a strange religion from Tabot" (the Path of Enlightenment). Thus, the Red Mountain Sect must follow the Padhra and the Padhran religion.

However, the short story "Patronage" in Realms of Valor (1993), page 131, has Koja, a member of the Red Mountain Sect, wonder if he had strayed from the Path of Enlightenment.

Finally, in Kozakura, the Path of Enlightenment is known as the Way of Enlightenment. As briefly described in Swords of the Daimyo (1986), the Way of Enlightenment shares some similarities with the later Padhran religion of the Hordelands: it also follows the life and lessons of a "great teacher" (a title of the Padhra) to achieve "spiritual perfection". This seems to be only a coincidence, as both are inspired by Buddhism. It may therefore be possible that the Way of Enlightenment is another name for the Padhran faith. However, Blood of the Yakuza (1987) introduced the Great Teacher Saizu as the founder of the Path of Enlightenment in Wa, suggesting he is also the founder or inspiration for the Way of Enlightenment in neighboring Kozakura. Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms goes further and declares the Way of Enlightenment is almost identical to the Path of Enlightenment. Nevertheless, the actual doctrine of the Kozakuran Way of Enlightenment remains little-known. This early merger may be the cause of the attempted merger of the Padhran religion with the Path of Enlightenment.

In any case, the Padhran religion presented in Storm Riders is very different in nature and origin from the Path of Enlightenment presented in Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms, so this wiki treats them as separate and distinct religions for clarity, and divides ambiguous references to either faith among these as appropriate.


  1. This was "over three thousand years" before the setting date of 1359 DR, i.e., sometime before −1641 DR. It is assumed that "Ulgarian" is another or older demonym for the realm of Ulgarth; this is supported by the central role of the river Xon/Gaya in the Padhran faith.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 David Cook (1990). The Horde (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 32. ISBN 978-0880388689.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Troy Denning (1990). Storm Riders. (TSR, Inc), p. 12. ISBN 0-88038-834-X.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 Troy Denning (1990). Storm Riders. (TSR, Inc), p. 37. ISBN 0-88038-834-X.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Troy Denning (1990). Storm Riders. (TSR, Inc), p. cards. ISBN 0-88038-834-X.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 David Cook (1990). The Horde (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 39. ISBN 978-0880388689.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 David Cook (1990). The Horde (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), p. 109. ISBN 978-0880388689.
  7. 7.0 7.1 David Cook (1990). The Horde (Cards). (TSR, Inc), p. 3b. ISBN 978-0880388689.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Troy Denning (1990). Storm Riders. (TSR, Inc), p. 15. ISBN 0-88038-834-X.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 David Cook (May 1990). Horselords. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 2, pp. 36–37. ISBN 0-8803-8904-4.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 David Cook (May 1990). Horselords. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 4, pp. 68–69. ISBN 0-8803-8904-4.
  11. David Cook (May 1990). Horselords. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 15, pp. 269–270. ISBN 0-8803-8904-4.
  12. David Cook (May 1990). Horselords. (TSR, Inc.), p. 311. ISBN 0-8803-8904-4.
  13. David Cook (May 1990). Horselords. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 16, p. 293. ISBN 0-8803-8904-4.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Troy Denning (1990). Storm Riders. (TSR, Inc), p. 27. ISBN 0-88038-834-X.
  15. David Cook (1990). The Horde (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), p. 74. ISBN 978-0880388689.
  16. Troy Denning (1990). Storm Riders. (TSR, Inc), p. 49. ISBN 0-88038-834-X.
  17. Troy Denning (1990). Storm Riders. (TSR, Inc), p. 23. ISBN 0-88038-834-X.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 David Cook (1990). The Horde (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), pp. 97–98. ISBN 978-0880388689.
  19. Troy Denning (1990). Storm Riders. (TSR, Inc), p. 18. ISBN 0-88038-834-X.
  20. James Lowder (January 1991). Crusade. (TSR, Inc), chap. 17, p. 302. ISBN 0-8803-8908-7.
  21. David Cook (February 1993). Realms of Valor ("Patronage"). (TSR, Inc), p. 129–130. ISBN 1-5607-6557-7.
  22. Troy Denning (1990). Storm Riders. (TSR, Inc), p. 4. ISBN 0-88038-834-X.
  23. Troy Denning (1990). Storm Riders. (TSR, Inc), p. 22. ISBN 0-88038-834-X.
  24. 24.0 24.1 David Cook (1990). The Horde (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 46. ISBN 978-0880388689.
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 25.4 David Cook (1990). The Horde (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 51. ISBN 978-0880388689.
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 David Cook (1990). The Horde (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), pp. 63–64. ISBN 978-0880388689.
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 27.4 27.5 27.6 27.7 Troy Denning (1990). Storm Riders. (TSR, Inc), pp. 25–26. ISBN 0-88038-834-X.
  28. Tom Prusa (1993). The Shining South. (TSR, Inc), pp. 53, 73. ISBN 1-56076-595-X.
  29. David Cook (1990). The Horde (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), pp. 34–35. ISBN 978-0880388689.
  30. David Cook (1990). The Horde (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 30. ISBN 978-0880388689.
  31. Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 25. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.

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