Church – Connecting Member for Georgian Regions

წაკითხულ იქნა საქართველოს საპატრიარქოსა და ადენაუერის ფონდის ერთობლივ კონფერენციაზე – „საქართველოში არსებული კონფლიქტები და მშვიდობის პერსპექტივები“

სამების ტაძარი, 2 დეკემბერი, 2008 წელი

Saint Ilia the Righteous said –from the very establishment the holy Church of Georgia presented a strong force serving for consolidation of whole population of the country. It was not closed in narrow ethnic borders, but was a church of different origin people; according to Holy Writ, it did not differentiate Hellenist or Jew, Georgian or non-Georgian because its flock was children of Georgia with mutual responsibility to the country and citizenship. Even Saint Nino, founder of Georgian church, came from Kapadokia; Saint of Georgian church –martyr Razhden –from Persia; Saint Evstati Mtskheteli –was also from Persia; famous 12 fathers struggling against fire-worship and Monophysitism – were from Syria; Neopyth Urbani Episcope –from Arabia, also Arabian was famous saint Abo Tbileli; Armenian was Saint Queen Shushanik  etc. All the above obviously shows, that Georgian church unified all citizens of the country in spite of ethnic origin. Georgian church was creating united cultural space with one, united Georgian culture. It was connecting all corners of Georgia and different ethnic groups.

The main force of Georgian united Christian culture was Georgian language. From the very beginning, Georgian language supported by it Christian culture involved the whole Georgia, all its corners. Divine service, all church acts, in mountains and in lowlands from Black Sea to Armenia and Albania was only in Georgian language. Georgian language and Georgian culture was dominated everywhere. And just this differentiates the old Georgia from the present one.

It\’s evident, that main flock of Georgian church were Georgians of East and West Georgia, but all the above proves, that in flock there also were Persians, Arabians, Syrians, Armenians etc. dwelled in Georgia. How GeorgianChurch managed to unify so different ethnic population? – as we already mentioned it was service of Georgian language and Georgian culture. Georgian language –main arm of integration of Georgian population- was protected by God itself, as old fathers stated. For example, life of Syrian Fathers describes such a story: they were told from on high, that they would go for preaching to Georgia; they were astonished, because did not know Georgian language, some of them did not even heard about this country, but before leaving the Holy Spirit made for obtaining them Georgian language, like Apostles obtained different languages. And really, from the very arrival Syrian fathers were preaching in Georgian language throughout Georgia saving a number of people. Georgian language and culture was treated with special care by saint fathers from different regions. Saint Ilarion Georgian was from Kakheti region and he was praising the God in Greece in Georgian language and this was the reason that he was forbidden to conduct divine service by one preceptor of monastery, but the Blessed Virgin was shown to this Greek father and mentioned Georgian language as \”Language of Salvation\”.

Besides, the Blessed Virgin was shown to Ekvtime Mtatsmindeli from Tao, dying in one of the Greece monasteries and taught him Georgian language; previously he talked only in Greek.

In Abkhazia, Svaneti, Kaheti, Adjara, Meskheti, Tianeti, Argveti and Samegrelo divine service was always in Georgian language. There were not any regional cultures –in Georgia there was the only Georgian culture –one Georgian language. Georgian language was not a product of Christianity; Ivane Javakhishvili stated that even during paganism period Georgian was a language of paganism service in all the Georgia, including Samegrelo and Svaneti. According to this, Georgian language existed even before Christianity – in paganism period; so Georgian tribes had mutual culture and language far before Christianity.

From the epoch of Saint Nino till Russians appearance in the Caucasus i.e. from the ancient period to XIX century Georgian language unified people of different ethnic origin settling in Georgia. Generally, all Georgian residents spoke Georgian language, even Muslims. Moreover, Georgian language was used for relation between nations by Caucasian tribes. It\’s not an accident, that there are a lot of Georgian lapidar inscriptions even mountain regions of the Caucasus – Dagestan, Chechnya-Ingushetya and North Osetia, nothing to say about Abkhazia and Shida Kartli being a hearts of Georgian culture even during destruction of Georgian State Power. During Arabians domination (lasting 400 years) in Tbilisi, in VIII-XI centuries, Abkhazia and Tao-Klarjeti were a centers of Georgian national consolidation, Georgian culture and State power. Also afterwards, in XVII century, when East Georgia was conquered by Persians, Samegrelo assumed to be a center of GeorgianState system and culture, during Levan II Dadiani. The same was in other regions of Georgia. In none of Georgian regions never appeared local culture; culture of each region was a part of common Georgian culture.

Proceeding from the above, present situation completely differs from the old one.   Now, after 200 years of Russian domination, Georgian is no more a language of relation between different nations, but Russian is.   The same is regarding culture; if in old times Georgian culture served for unification of different regions, today Russian culture is mutual for different ethnic groups of Georgia (it means, that Tatars, Armenians, Osetians or Abkhazains and Georgian themselves  communicate in Russian language; Russian culture is common, and familiar for them). So, Russian language and culture not only limited Georgian language and culture in Georgia, but replaced it completely.

Russian language deprived Georgian language a function of people\’s unification, because a culture is a base and sign of unity.

So, as was mentioned above, from the ancient period to XIX century, main force and arm of Georgian nation was Georgian language and culture; it also served for inetgration of ethnic groups into united Georgian space.

Integrity of Christian Georgian culture is historic event; appears question –what provided for such achievement? How involved united Georgian culture politically so different regions? There are two answers on this question: according to first, in Apostles period, also in epoch of King Mirain and Saint Nino, Kartli involved all present Georgian territory, on which even during paganism Georgian culture was spread, i.e. Georgian regions, at the time of establishing Georgian church, were already unified under one language and culture. Indeed, according to episcope Leonti Mroveli 300 years earlier before Christ \”no language but Georgian was heard\”.  King Mirian, according to \”Kartlis Ckhovreba\” and \”Mokcevai Kartlisai\” was a king of united Georgia (from Egristskali to Albania) and Saint Nino according to Ruis-Urbnisi church meeting was an \”Enlightener of Georgians\” i.e. Georgian church from the very establishment involved both East and West Georgia.  Accordingly, Georgian language and culture were spread throughout the whole Georgian from the ancient period. This viewpoint was given in church inscriptions up to XIX century. But this viewpoint changed during Russians domination. According to so called \”Kartisation\” theory West Georgia quasi was under jurisdiction of Constantinople for 600 years; then, in IX-X Georgian church invaded into foreign jurisdiction and abolished Greek episcope facilities in West Georgia and established Georgians instead, what was resulted in spreading of Georgian language and culture in West Georgia, i.e. \”Kartisation\” of population. Such tribes are also mountaineers of East Georgia and even Her-Albanians. One might, could say that \”Kartisation Theory\” is continuation of Russian imperial politics of XIX century, aimed at separation of Georgian regions from integral Georgian culture. Introduction of foreign regional cultures was the way of achieving the above goal.

Historiography was used by Soviet government as ideological weapon. \”Kartisation Theory\” was also a weapon directed towards division of Georgia into separate regions.

In particular, if old Georgian historiography stated that integral Georgia was founded centuries far before Christ in the period of King Parnavaz, Soviet historiography stated the opposite –that integral Georgian State established only in XI century during Bagrat III. If old historiography stated that Saint Nino and Andrew First-Called were enlighters of Georgian population, new Georgian historiography stated that Saint Nino was enlighter only of East Georgia, while Andrew – of West one. According to old Georgian historiography Georgian culture and language involved the whole Georgia from the very period of King Parnavaz. The opposite was statement of new historiography –according to it Georgian language was spread in West Georgia only in IX-X centuries. According to old historiography Vakhtang Gorgasali and all his predecessors were also kings of West Georgia, but according to new studies – they were kings only of East Georgia. In the period of Bagrat III not the latter but Parnavaz was mentioned to be a first king of Georgia. New Georgian historiography destroyed the viewpoint of Georgians integrity – it stated that Parnavaz was a king only of \”Kartli\” i.e. East Georgia. If old Georgian historiography stated that West Georgia was under jurisdiction of Georgian church from Saint Nino period, according to new one it west Georgia was under jurisdiction of Constantinople.

In Soviet period everything was done for separation of Samegrelo, Svaneti and Abkhazia from Georgian history. The latter needed creation of strong historiographical base for proving that in west Georgia  existed Kolkheti (Colchis) and then Lazeti States with own language and culture, while sources indicate that Kolkheti culture was not a narrow local event, but general Georgian Colchis language. G. Melikishvili and other famous historians stated that base was close to Georgian, not yet divided so called Zanur-Georgian language; that Colchis culture involved together with South-West Georgia whole present Georgia and that in the heart of Colchis State established old Georgian Kartli State of Parnavaz (refer to History of Kartli of A. Japaridze).

According to T. Gamkrelidze and G.Machaavriani Zanur-Georgian language integrity did not existed in Apostles period, because this language began complete differentiation \”To the end of new era\”.

Unfortunately, recently, in volume 13 of \”Orthodox Encyclopedia\” issued in 2007 the only truth was declared to be the second viewpoint on being of West Georgia under jurisdiction of Greek church in IX-X centuries; accordingly, old Georgian church standpoint is rejected. In volume 13 of the same encyclopedia Saint Nino is mentioned to be enlighter only of Kartli, East Georgia  and the reader is assured, that it is the only viewpoint, while according to Ivane Javakhishvili :\”Georgians immediately considered Saint Nino to be  an enlighter of integral Georgia and not of its separate part\”. It\’s true that authors of \”Orthodox Encyclopedia\” mentioned shortage of sources of West Georgian church jurisdiction, but it\’s a pity that they say nothing about the fact that the issue was discussed by Ruis-Urbnisi church meeting and accepted appropriate definition; apparently, authors of \”Orthodox Encyclopedia\” did not consider writing of Ruis-Urbnisi church meeting to be a source in West Georgian jurisdiction investigation case.

In order to meet globalization process in a worthy manner  Georgian nation should strengthen its country, should manage to establish from different ethnic population devoted citizens of the country and use spreading of Georgian culture for the above goal.

Due to such situation it\’s obligatory to give to Georgian language and culture a priority in comparison with Russian. The government should lead appropriate language politics in the country; Georgian language should be real State language.

For implementation of the above, special attention should be given to the fact that all information means (TV, radio, internet) be in Georgian language. All broadcasting on Georgian channels should be in Georgian as it is in other countries. Its degrading for Georgian culture that great part of Georgian regions such as Kvemo Kartli, Samcxe-Javakheti, North Mtianeti etc presents foreign language TV and radio space (not Georgian). Even some Tbilisi radio and TV channels are of Russian language. Georgian children study Russian language by means of Television, adopt Russian culture. That\’s why a number of people being in Russia for work quite easily adopt to foreign situation. This is a reason for their quick assimilation when Georgian villages are empty.

Georgia, as small country, should be ready to meet globalization process with strengthening a centralized State. Accordingly, for territorial-administrative arrangement Georgia should not be divided into separate regions. This can be a dangerous for territorial integrity in future. Such division can provide for establishment and development of separatist tendencies by regional government (as in case of South Osetia). Federal arrangement can be fatal for Georgia; more dangerous is establishment of army (even reserve type), also of region prosecutor\’s office and other power facilities and educational system. Ivane Javakhishvili stated that communities always presented a danger for territorial integrity of Georgia; this was the reason for division of Georgia in XV-XVI centuries – communities won and the King was defeated. In Middle Ages Georgian territorial integrity was weakened by community properties existing in Georgians. Other countries, expecting globalization, already passed stages of feudal division (Turkey, Azerbaijan, Rumania etc) and established as centralized States. Now, according to medieval legal model division of Georgia into regions is a reanimation of ethnic state division. This will prevent consolidation of Georgian nation and integration of local ethnic groups as Georgian citizens what is a desire of our Empire neighbors and make Georgian leaders to establish Georgia as federal State.

Finally, we should conclude that before conquer of Georgia by Russia i.e. till XIX century, Georgian language and culture was a means of consolidation of Georgian population and of State integration; now, it\’s not like this and Georgian language is replaced with Russian one, but we hope that Georgian society will manage to solve this problem.



  1. Georgian Scripture, Tbilisi, 1975.
  2. Metropolitan Ananya Japaridze, Language and the State, Tbilisi,  2008.
  3. Metropolitan Ananya Japaridze, The Blessed Virgin – patroness of Georgian language, Tbilisi, 2008.
  4. Metropolitan Ananya Japaridze, Theory on Proletariat of GeorgianChurch and Its Critics, Tbilisi, 2007.
  5. Metropolitan Ananya Japaridze, Lazika Eparchy of Constantinople Patriarchy, Tbilisi, 2008.


Metropolitan Ananya Japaridze