It’s said by the time of the rise of Islam in the 7th Century, and from a singular major power centre, most rulers of Tokharistan (part of Kushan 1st-4th C., Hephthlites 4th-6th C., & Turkic Kaganate 6th-7th) were scions of western Turkic dynasties. The conquests of the Ptolemaic, Selucid, and Parthian Empires had originally beset the regions extremely prosperous ‘Bactrian empire’ - of one thousand cities. The Greeks of Bactria had been described as masters of the whole of modern-day Afghanistan, as well as the easternmost part of Iran and most of Pakistan. Apollodorus of Artemita recounted that more tribes were subdued by them than by Alexander, indeed the later Moghuls under Babur succeeded where he failed, in taking control over the Indian subcontinent. The regions Zoroastrian’s based in Khurasan for over one thousand years, practiced fire worship with special burial customs, and respectfully aside any other cults, as the official cult of the Sasanian dynasty of Iran. The culturally exclusive Tokharistan had been maintained as part of the eastern group of Indo-European languages called satem. Tokharian, the language spoken in the eastern part of Sinkiang, was Indo-European, but pertained to the kentum or western branch of this linguistic family (like Italo-Keltic and Germanic). Both the Iranian and Tokharian groups are familiar to the three other major regional lingual sets: Turkic, Sino-Tibetan, and Indian.
The Zoroastrianism religion central in Iran ceded its primacy to other faiths, especially Manichaeism in Transoxania (Modern Uzbekistan) and Buddhism in Sinkiang. Manichaeism was another dualistic religion founded by Mani (216–77) in Iraq, then a Persian possession, but subsequently all but extirpated in territories under Persian or Byzantine rule. The Prophet Mani, ‘Messenger of Light’, spoke the Semitic tongue related to Syriac, a later form of Aramaic. Transoxania and Sinkiang became the split-centre of Manichaeism, instilling foundational reforms with its Syriac alphabet, also adapted by the Sogdians later and becoming the Arabic script, crucially also Mongolian. To designate themselves, Egyptian and other Manichaeans preferred ‘church’ ( ἐκκλησία ), since they regarded their communities as veritable assemblies ( ἐκκλησίαι ) of saints. References to their church abound in Manichaean writings from all over the Roman Empire. Similarly as modern Christianity denotes, Mani’s followers identified as members of the holy church, children of the living kindred and children of God, as common epistolography. They promoted themselves collectively as the Church of the Paraclete and as such were described the Christians in the Dakhleh Oasis in Western Egypt (evidence discovered at the town site at Kellis proves the earliest known Christian liturgy is and a large fragment from the Acts of St. John found there; set by three small Kellis churches), where multi-faith communities were integral to the historical polytheist tradition.
Mani recounted that “Jesus chose his church in the west, but his church did not reach the east. Buddha chose his church in the east, and his choice did not reach the west”. Seeking to ensure his Church remain absolute and the figurative ‘last Church’, Mani stated;
“I arranged for my hope so that it reaches the west and is also carried to the east, and the sound of its preaching will be heard in every language and proclaimed in every town.” Successful by and by with Manichaean communities reaching as far as southern China, he was however ultimately not received by subsequent authorities of the State though after attaining permission to propagate his new syncretistic religion, within Shapur’s entourage (comitatus). Mani was imprisoned and executed, further galvanising his doctrine and becoming identified as Christ, though an acclaimed apostle to Jesus Christ. Having descended from the Baptismal traditions, the associative sects and coupled with Gnostic Christianity and Jewish Christianity, each forebode particular practice, virtues, prophets and writings, oft the cause of civil disturbance and escalating to heresy. In Rome this had invoked official anti-Christian legislation by Diocletian, eventually resulting in Constantine’s Nicene council. Mani uniquely had criticised the baptismal rituals after departing from the tradition in youth. He kept instead honor of the Sassanid Prophet Alchasaios with whom we identify with the Elcesaites. Such Jewish-Christian Baptists were known to have adapted the Kabbalah doctrines into ecclesial ritual, described in their revered book of Elchasai. Epiphanius of Salamis found the book in use among the Sampsæans, their descendants, and also among the Ossæns and many other Ebionite communities. Epiphanius accounted for the books strict code such as for Prayer, regarding congregation, the tabernacle, and Jerusalem, this and modern practices remain still in concerned differentiation of directives.
A History of Inner Asia ‘Soucek, Svatopluk’ 2000.
Manichaeism and Its Legacy 'Coyle, J. Kevin' 2009.