the system of religious doctrines, including elements of Gnosticism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity, Buddhism, etc, taught by the Persian prophet Mani about the 3rd century ad. It was based on a supposed primordial conflict between light and darkness or goodness and evil
(mainly RC Church) any similar heretical philosophy involving a radical dualism
C14: from Late Latin Manichaeus, from Late Greek Manikhaios of Mani
1550s, "the religion of the Manichees" (late 14c.) a Gnostic Christian sect named for its founder, Mani (L. Manichæus), c.215-275, Syriac-speaking apostle from a Jesus cult in Mesopotamia in 240s, who taught a universal religion. Vegetarian and visionary, they saw "particles of light and goodness" trapped in evil matter and regarded Satan as co-eternal with God. The universe was a scene of struggle between good and evil. The sect was characterized by dualism and a double-standard of perfectionist "elects" and a larger group of fellow travelers who would require several reincarnations before their particles of light would be liberated.