In the light of the concepts, structure and religious ideas promoted by the three great Abrahamic religions, the end of the world can be announced in two ways: messianically and prophetically. In addition to these, the end can be determined or announced from a secular (scientific) point of view through prediction. Together, when they refer to the end of the world, messianism, prophetism and predictionism are generically called “apocalyptic manifestations.”
From the Abrahamic point of view, the proclamation of the Messiah or the assignation to an individual the title of messiah automatically involves the proclamation of the imminent end of the world. Jews expect the Messiah to bring the Messianic Age, Christians believe that Jesus Christ will bring the Millennium or Judgment Day, while Muslims believe that Isa will establish an era of peace of prosperity. In all cases, the Messiah can only be one (or two individuals in the case of the Shiite Islam). Hence, all the other false messianic manifestations are generically called “messianisms,” while their central figures are known as “false messiahs,” “pseudo-messiahs” or simply “messiahs.”
The belief in the advent of a savior with supernatural powers who dramatically alters the course of history is not an exclusive feature of the Abrahamic religions. Almost all religions state the existence of a superior being that must come in order to fulfill a divine and global mission. In Buddhism, Maitreya is an illuminated being that will reintroduce the pure dharma (the universal law of nature and the path to illumination) to the world. He will be a successor of the historical Sakyamuni Buddha, the founder of the Buddhist religion, and he will reveal himself at a time of great trial, when the teachings of Buddhism will be about to be abandoned.45
In Hinduism, Kalki (which means the “Destroyer of Evil” or the “Annihilator of Ignorance”) is the tenth and the last Great Incarnation of Vishnu, the supreme god in the Vaishnavite Hindu tradition. Kalki will come to put an end to the present era of darkness and destruction dominated by the male demon Kali. Kalki is also perceived as a metaphor for the eternity of time, while the end of the world is seen as a depletion of an era and the start of a new one, in an endlessly repeating cycle.46
A messianic image is also present in Zoroastrianism (Mazdaism), the ancient religion of Persia. Saoshyant (which means the “Benefactor”) is the empowered messenger of Ahura Mazda, the supreme deity, and he will show himself at the end of times in order to fight with the forces of evil and defeat them. In the final battle the gods Airyman and Atar will lead a “river-like” army, but the righteous will not be touched. In the end, Ahura Mazda will triumph through his agent Saoshyant, who will resurrect the dead, will remake their bodies for eternal perfection and their souls will be cleansed and reunited with Ahura Mazda. Time will end and truth, justice and immortality will be forever.47
Each messianic manifestation is unique and can occur by appointment or self-appointment. In most of the cases the role of the Messiah is assumed by a single person of male gender. Messiahs have always been characterized by charisma, apostolic poverty, alleged supernatural powers, popularity among those without education and conflict with the dominant religions. They use the altruistic message of salvation to feed their selfish need of being worshiped. Similarly to political dictators, messiahs suffer from personality disorders such as sadism, schizoidism, paranoia, narcissism and anti-social behavior. Haunted by a traumatizing childhood, messiahs are in fact revenging on the society that rejected them, made them feel small and insignificant and caused them sufferings. Accordingly, they inspire to violence and separation from the “degenerate” society, at the same time depicting themselves as important people, divine messengers and spiritual saviors.
Messianic manifestations usually rise at times of great distress: disasters, wars, famine, pandemics or a so-called apostasy. The frightened people become attracted by eccentric leaders and this is how apocalyptic expectations can bring remarkable powers to unremarkable people. Messiahs manage to gain fame and power by satisfying certain expectations of the others. Although they promote an egocentric doctrine that literally calls to spiritual and material slavery, messiahs show how easy and fast an individual who connects to the people in the right way may access power. With the exception of madmen, who honestly believe in their divine mission, messiahs are skilled manipulators who pursue only their own interests. They hide their real and undeclared personal greed behind religious propaganda. History is full of hypocrite messiahs who preached the apostolic life to their adepts, but they themselves lived largely. In public they take the image of victims, but in private they behave like tyrants. Some aspects related to their person can easily be perceived as miracles by their adepts, while the horrible sins they commit are conveniently absolved by their divine mission. In this way, messiahs permanently have an immaculate image.
When they manifest themselves, messiahs challenge both the social and religious order. This is why they build their cult of personality in remote areas or behind closed doors, hiding from the hand of the authorities. But, due to the fact that they are based on lies and temporary euphoria, the messianic manifestations are short-lived. They usually end in bloodshed, caused by a clash with the “decayed” society, lynching of the leader or mass suicide.
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