Otoman Zar-Adusht Ha'nish

From Kook Science

O. Z. A. Hanish
Otoman Zar-Adusht Ha'nish - press photo.jpg

Undated photo of O. Z. A. Hanish

Alias(es) Ernst Otto Haenisch, Otto Zachariah Hanisch, Ken Wilson
Born 19 December 1856(1856-12-19)
Leipzig, Kingdom of Saxony, German Confederation
Died 29 February 1936 (79)
Los Angeles, California

Otoman Zar-Adusht Ha'nish (December 19, 1856 - February 29, 1936) was the founder of Mazdaznan, a religious movement that has an emphasis on breath work and dietetics with elements of New Thought incorporated.

Selected Bibliography


Press Coverage


  • "PRIEST OF SUN WORSHIP MAKES CONVERTS IN CHICAGO", Inter Ocean (Chicago, IL): 33, 29 Dec. 1901, 

    Sun-worshiping, the oldest form of religion known to history, is being revived in Chicago. From the temple of El Kharman, in Persian, a Parsee priest has come here to tell Christians of the so-called barbaric beliefs. He has established headquarters in one of the most fashionable portions of Prairie avenue, near the handsome residences of John G. Shortall, Charles E. Brown, William Morton Payne, Howard E. Perry, and John H. Hamline.

    In the front parlor of his dwelling he has fitted up an altar, which contains a weird assortment of relics and idols. He holds services every Sunday at Handel hall, 40 Randolph street, and on week days he conducts classes where his prehistoric beliefs are expounded. His chief doctrine is that the spinal cord is the human soul, and that the principle of life is embodied in the human breath. He says that if people would breathe properly they could subsist on a very small amount of food. His tenets are wholly at variance with science as well as Christianity. He accounts for the discrepancies by declaring that Christian teachings and scientific beliefs have always been at fault in a great many respects.

    This strange Iranic priest is the Rev. Dr. Otoman Zar-Adusht-Hanish and he has a string of titles long enough to fly a kite with. Some of these are: The Rab-Magi of Mathel-Kharman, or the minister of El-Kharman temple; the manthra for the Communion of Universal Friends; the Apta-Perest of the Mazdaznan philosophy (sun-worship), and the Dashtur of the Ben-Din science of Breath of Life. His employes call him Dr. Hanish.

    Parsee Colony in Chicago. The Parsee priest made his first trip to the United States eleven years ago, and at that time he says cultured persons evinced such an interest in the teachings of his religion that he decided to return and instruct them. At first he settled in New York and after remaining there for several years he came to Chicago. He says his followers here now number 600, all of these persons belonging to his sun-worship organization, which is called the St. Omar Club.

    At the start, the Parsee priest says, his religion did not attract much attention in Chicago. He had only a handful of pupils and as the Parsees are not permitted to proselyte the prospects for bringing in more were not encouraging. Dr. Hanish began sending out circulars telling of the objects of his club, but he did not request the recipients to attend his meetings. Nevertheless they did attend, and in this way the sun worshiper succeeded in building up the membership to the number he now claims.

    Dr. Hanish says the philosophy he is teaching is precisely the same as the doctrines of the original sunworshippers. The fundamental principle of this religion is that no two things are alike, and consequently no two beings can think alike. Following this belief he says every human being shoudl try to develop his own soul and body without trying to convince others that they should believe as he does. In other words, the whole theory of sun worshiping, Dr. Hanish says, is based upon the first law of nature, self-preservation. "Help your brother if he calls you," is a maxim, "but see that you have helped yourself first." In prehistoric times, according to Dr. Hanish, this principle was carried out literally, but the sun worshipers of today apply the maxim only in a moral sense.

    Cult of Ancient Religion. Dr. Hanish says there are now 128,000 sun worshipers scattered throughout the world, most of them being in Persia. Despite the prosecution to which they have been subjected since the Mohammedans conquered their country in the seventh century, they have still preserved many of their temples and ancient records. The three principal temples in existence today are those of El-Kharman, which is 150 miles southwest of Teheran in northern Persia; Khaba, in Thibet, and Ghingham in Mongolia. In these places the oldest records of the sun worshipers are kept. Dr. Hanish says the Persian temple is 58,000 years olf, and contains writings which date back 142,000 years before Rome was built. Prince Ragatta, an ancient Parsee, collected the records several centuries before the Christian era, and the have since ben zealously guarded in the temple of El-Kharman, which is a huge cavern in the Kirman mountains. According to Dr. Hanish the records, covering a period of almost 200,000 years, do not throw any light on the origin of sun worshipers. But throughout that period, the missionary declares, the fundamental teachings have not changed.

    The prehistoric devotees are supposed to have received the name of sun worshipers because they arose and retired with the sun. Receptions, dances, and other social functions which have been a part of human existence from the period when fig leaves were in vogue to that of the dress suit were originally held while the sun was shining. The ancient guebres never needed a curfew law. When the sun went down they deemed it a part of their religion to retire. As to taking naps during the daytime the ancient records for not set for any details, but it is supposed that these luxuries were only permitted when there was an eclipse of the sun.

    Belief of Sun Worshipers. The teachings of sun worshiping as they are being set forth in Chicago divide the human race into three classes. The first is the animal class, which includes those who indulge in barbaric practices. The second is the moral class, including those who have a sense of responsibility for their actions and endeavor to improve themselves physically and mentally. The third is the intellectual class, which embraces all really good Parsees. They are the ones who have mastered the mental and physical passions and are in a sort of seventh heaven on earth. The ancient sun worshipers and fire worshipers who offered human sacrifices belonged to the animal class, while there were also among them those who refrained from the barbaric practices of the age and were, therefore, in the moral and intellectual classes.

    Following the classification comes the theory of existence, and with it the sensational beliefs of the Parsees, which have been adopted by many Chicagoans. Existence, according to the sun worshipers, was started by vibrations. Vibrations of air created the earth, vibrations of the earth created life, and then followed an evolution of these vibrations until the human being was produced. But all of this was done by means of reactionary vibrations. The sun, moon, and stars are supposed to be the focalizing points of terrestrial vibrations. Here is where the sun worshipers begin to differ with astronomers. They believe the sun is simply a ball of light produced by the focalization of vibrations. They do not recognize the moon and the stars as material matter, as they also are looked upon as the focal points of vibratory waves. The light that they give is said to be the result of refocalization of those vibratory waves. According to their theory the sun, moon, and stars are only a few hundred miles from the earth. The Parsees recognize the existence of millions of planets, but say that they are never visible, owing to the heavy atmospheric conditions around the sphere upon we live. Shooting stars and comets are accounted for by the dissolution of focalizing points. Eclipses of the sun and moon are ascribed to temporary cessation of focalizing conditions.

    Spinal Cord Controls Ideas. The spinal cord is considered the soul of the human being, because it is looked upon as the center of the nervous vibrations in the body. The brain is called the plate of the mind because it receives the vibrations frm the spinal cord, or soul, and thus produces thoughts. The sun worshipers lay great stress upon the difference between ideas and thoughts. Ideas are supposed to come direct from the supreme being of the Parsees. This being is the seat of all vibrations. Thoughts are classified as coming from an outward source, and therefore have no connection with the soul. Following out this theory the Parsees believe that a perfect human being, physically and mentally, can be produced by righteous ideas and thoughts. They aim to admire everything they see and to worship that which they admire. Death is looked upon as a return of the vibratory waves in the spinal cord to the supreme being, or the seat of all vibrations.

    Existence is divided by sun worshipers into cycles, each cycle covering a period of 2,000 years. Their present cycle, which is known as the Nitrogeneous era, ends in 1960, when the Phospheric era, or cycle of rest, begins. Dr. Hanish and his followers are optimists in every respect. They believe that the human race is progressing, that the burden of labor is becoming lighter, and that eventually all forms of exertion will be minimized so that they will become a pleasure.

    Priest Uses Gas Stove. The home of the Parsee missionary is at 1613 Prairie avenue, where he lives with Adolph Dittmann, the general secretary of the St. Omar club. In the basement of the building there is a printing plant, where literature pertaining to the sun worshipers is prepared. Dr. Hanish's altar is in the front parlor, on the first floor. The central figure on the altar is a piece of carved ivory consisting of three images, which represent the three classes of human beings — the animal, moral, and intellectual. A gas stove stands in front of the mantelpiece and pictures of Dr. Hanish and Mr. Dittman are distributed about the room in profusion, in compliance, probably, with the law of admiration which the sun worshipers teach. In this parlor the Parsee missionary received a reporter for The Sunday Inter Ocean. He came into the room attired in a frock suit and wearing a pair of Persian slippers.

    "Am I a sun worshiper?" he said in response to a question. "Yes, I have the honor of belonging to that ancient cult, and it also includes the followers of Zoroaster and the old fire worshipers. By the way, it is fearfully cold here. I believe I'll light the gas stove."

    When he applied a match to the burner there was a loud report, and the priest sprang back in alarm, as though he expected to see the spirit of a departed Guebre come out of the stove.

    "Seems rather strange to be making fire in a second, without falling down and worshiping such a miracle," he continued, after the gas had begun burning. "But we don't do any of that kind of business nowadays. True, we worship, but we don't build fires and go into convulsions over them. When we see anything beautiful we worship it with our eyes. While I look at a pretty flame in the stove I am worshiping it. When I look at the sun I worship its radiance. I also worship the moon.

    Salvation Lies in Ambition. "But the basis of the modern theory of sun-worshiping is the future. In order to accomplish anything, every human being must have an ambition. He must center all of his vibratory waves upon his ambition. His ambition, or the object which he wishes to obtain, then becomes his sun, for it is the focalizing point for the vibratory waves of the earth. We modern sun worshipers, then, in reality, worship our ideals. If these ideal are high our souls are elevated. If they are not, we become debased.

    "Now, if we are able to focalize our soul vibrations upon some material end, it stands to reason that we can also direct them at some ailment. For instance, suppose that I am ill. I immediately centralize my vibratory waves upon the portion of my body where the evil lies and proceed to drive it out.

    "We believe that the best way to fight sickness is not to allow it to get a hold on our bodies. Our object is to develop ourselves physically as well as morally. Breathing property is of the best means for curing an ailment. The breath is all-powerful, and we should pay more attention to our breathing than to the food we eat. Air gives us strength. It is the chief of our existence. Regular exercises in breathing should be taken daily and when one learns how to inhale the invisible food of life properly he has solved the secret of a long existence.

    Dr. Hanish is the fourth Parsee that has visited this country. Zardaba, the first one to come here twenty years ago, is now in Jerusalem with Abu Khara, who also visited America. Zaranda, the third priest, is at present in Paris.

  • "EAT VIOLETS AND SO LIVE FOREVER - Shun Baths and Excitement, but Breathe, Breathe, Breathe, Says Inspired One", Minneapolis Journal (Minneapolis, MN): 14, 27 Mar. 1905, 

    Disciples of Dr. Otoman Zar-Adusht Hanish thronged Carnegie hall to hear his final Sunday lecture in New York on the hidden mysteries of Mazdaznanism. There were baldheaded men who expected to learn how to grow hair in a night, women who wanted to drink of the fountain of perpetual youth. Everybody was assured that sickness and death are entirely unnecessary.

    "What are we here for? Where did we come from? Where are we going?" asked the master, dramatically. "We are here so that we may be happy and have just what we want in the world and the next. And it is our own fault if we don't have things just our way." It was a nice, comfortable sort of doctrine. Everybody liked it. The only trouble was, the adept was not specific enough.

    "You must live for health and peace and comfort," declared Dr. Hanish from his armchair on the platform, "and according to the laws of nature. Remember that breathing is life. If you know how to breathe you can do anything and live forever. Never get excited. Look out for yourself first. You will get it in the neck if you don't. Take everything that is coming to you.

    "Bathing is the curse of the earth. Cleanse the body by rubbing. You wash away all the oils and secretions of the body when you bathe."

    Among foods the inspired one recommends violets.



on Trial in Los Angeles (1920)

Lecture in Sacramento (1921)


Obituary Notes (1936)