Theosophy and the Number Seven
A selection of articles relating to the esoteric
significance of the Number 7 in Theosophy
Brahmanism on the
Sevenfold Principle in Man
T Subba Row
With notes by H P Blavatsky
It is now very difficult to say what was the real ancient Aryan
doctrine. If an inquirer were to attempt to answer it by an analysis
and comparison of all the various systems of esotericism prevailing in
comparison between our real Brahmanical and the Tibetan esoteric
doctrines will be possible unless one ascertains the teachings of that
so-called "Aryan doctrine," and fully comprehends the whole range of the
ancient Aryan philosophy. Kapila's "Sankhya," Patanjali's "Yog
philosophy," the different systems of "Saktaya" philosophy, the various
Agamas and Tantras are but branches of it. There is a doctrine, though,
which is their real foundation, and which is sufficient to explain the
secrets of these various systems of philosophy and harmonize their
teachings. It probably existed long before the Vedas were compiled, and
it was studied by our ancient Rishis in connection with the Hindu
scriptures. It is attributed to one mysterious personage called
* The very title of the present chief of the esoteric Himalayan
Brotherhood.--Editor, Theosophist Magazine.
The Upanishads and such portions of the Vedas as are not chiefly devoted
to the public ceremonials of the ancient Aryans are hardly intelligible
without some knowledge of that doctrine. Even the real significance of
the grand ceremonials referred to in the Vedas will not be perfectly
apprehended without its light being throw upon them. The Vedas were
perhaps compiled mainly for the use of the priests assisting at public
ceremonies, but the grandest conclusions of our real secret doctrine are
therein mentioned. I am informed by persons competent to judge of the
matter, that the Vedas have a distinct dual meaning--one expressed by
the literal sense of the words, the other indicated by the metre and the
swara (intonation), which are, as it were the life of the Vedas.
Learned Pundits and philologists of course deny that swara has anything
to do with philosophy or ancient esoteric doctrines; but the mysterious
connection between swara and light is one of its most profound secrets.
Now, it is extremely difficult to show whether the Tibetans derived
their doctrine from the ancient Rishis of India, or the ancient
their occult science from the adepts of
again, whether the adepts of both countries professed originally the
same doctrine and derived it from a common source.* If you were to go
to the Sramana Balagula, and question some of the Jain Pundits there
about the authorship of the Vedas and the origin of the Brahmanical
esoteric doctrine, they would probably tell you that the Vedas were
composed by Rakshasas** or Daityas, and that the Brahmans had derived
their secret knowledge from them.***
* See Appendix, Note I.
** A kind of demons-devil.
*** And so would the Christian padris. But they would never admit that
their "fallen angels" were borrowed from the Rakshasas; that their
"devil" is the illegitimate son of Dewel, the Sinhalese female demon;
or that the "war in heaven" of the Apocalypse--the foundation of the
Christian dogma of the "Fallen Angels" was copied from the Hindu story
about Siva hurling the Tarakasura who rebelled against the gods into
Andhahkara, the abode of Darkness, according to Brahmanical Shastras.
Do these assertions mean that the Vedas and the Brahmanical esoteric
teachings had their origin in the lost Atlantis--the continent that once
occupied a considerable portion of the expanse of the Southern and the
Pacific oceans? The assertion in "Isis Unveiled," that Sanskrit was the
language of the inhabitants of the said continent, may induce one to
suppose that the Vedas had probably their origin there, wherever else
might be the birthplace of the Aryan esotericism.* But the real
esoteric doctrine, as well as the mystic allegorical philosophy of the
Vedas, were derived from another source again, whatever that may be--
perchance from the divine inhabitants (gods) of the sacred island which
once existed in the sea that covered in days of old the sandy tract now
powers of Nature possessed by the inhabitants of the lost Atlantis was
learnt by the
ancient adepts of
esoteric doctrine taught by the residents of the sacred island.** The
Tibetan adepts, however, have not accepted this addition to their
esoteric doctrine; and it is in this respect that one should expect to
find a difference between the two doctrines.***
* Not necessarily. (See Appendix, Note II.) It is generally held by
Occultists that Sanskrit has been spoken in Java and adjacent islands
from remote antiquity.--Editor, Theosophist Magazine.
** A locality which is spoken of to this day by the Tibetans, and called
by them "Scham-bha-la," the
*** To comprehend this passage fully, the reader must turn to vol. I.
pp. 589-594 of
The Brahmanical occult doctrine probably contains everything that was
taught about the powers of Nature and their laws, either in the
mysterious island of the North or in the equally mysterious continent of
the South. And if you mean to compare the Aryan and the Tibetan
doctrines as regards their teachings about the occult powers of Nature,
you must beforehand examine all the classifications of these powers,
their laws and manifestations, and the real connotations of the various
names assigned to them in the Aryan doctrine. Here are some of the
classifications contained in the Brahmanical system:
II. As appertaining to man and existing in the MICROCOSM.
III. For the purposes of d Taraka Yog or Pranava Yog.
IV. For the purposes of Sankhya Yog (where they are, as it were,
the inherent attributes of Prakriti).
V. For the purposes of Hata Yog.
VI. For the purposes of Koula Agama.
VII. For the purposes of Sakta Agama.
VIII. For the purposes of Siva Aqama.
IX. For the purposes of Sreechakram (the Sreechakram referred
to in "Isis Unveiled" is not the real esoteric Sreechakram
of the ancient adepts of Aryavarta).*
* Very true. But who would be allowed to give out the "real" esoteric
one?--Editor, Theosophist Magazine.
X. In Atharvena Veda, &c.
In all these classifications subdivisions have been multiplied
indefinitely by conceiving new combinations of the Primary Powers in
different proportions. But I must now drop this subject, and proceed to
consider the "Fragments of Occult Truth" (since embodied in "Esoteric
I have carefully examined it, and find that the results arrived at (in
the Buddhist doctrine) do not differ much from the conclusions of our
Aryan philosophy, though our mode of stating the arguments may differ in
form. I shall now discuss the question from my own standpoint, though,
following, for facility of comparison and convenience of discussion, the
sequence of classification of the sevenfold entities or principles
constituting man which is adopted in the "Fragments." The questions
raised for discussion are (1) whether the disembodied spirits of human
beings (as they are called by Spiritualists) appear in the seance-rooms
and elsewhere; and (2) whether the manifestations taking place are
produced wholly or partly through their agency.
It is hardly possible to answer these two questions satisfactorily
unless the meaning intended to be conveyed by the expression
"disembodied spirits of human beings" be accurately defined. The words
spiritualism and spirit are very misleading. Unless English writers in
general, and Spiritualists in particular, first ascertain clearly the
connotation they mean to assign to the word spirit, there will be no end
of confusion, and the real nature of these so-called spiritualistic
phenomena and their modus occurrendi can never be clearly defined.
Christian writers generally speak of only two entities in man--the body,
and the soul or spirit (both seeming to mean the same thing to them).
European philosophers generally speak of body and mind, and argue that
soul or spirit cannot be anything else than mind. They are of opinion
that any belief in lingasariram* is entirely unphilosophical. These
views are certainly incorrect, and are based on unwarranted assumptions
as to the possibilities of Nature, and on an imperfect understanding of
its laws. I shall now examine (from the standpoint of the Brahmanical
esoteric doctrine) the spiritual constitution of man, the various
entities or principles existing in him, and ascertain whether either of
those entities entering into his composition can appear on earth after
his death, and if so, what it is that so appears.
* The astral body, so called.
Professor Tyndall in his excellent papers on what he calls the "Germ
Theory," comes to the following conclusions as the result of a series of
well-planned experiments:--Even in a very small volume of space there
are myriads of protoplasmic germs floating in ether. If, for instance,
say water (clear water) is exposed to them, and if they fall into it,
some form of life or other will be evolved out of them. Now, what are
the agencies for the bringing of this life into existence? Evidently--
I. The water, which is the field, so to say, for the growth
II. The protoplasmic germ, out of which life or a living organism
is to be evolved or developed. And lastly--
III. The power, energy, force, or tendency which springs into activity
at the touch or combination of the protoplasmic germ and the water, and
which evolves or develops life and its natural attributes.
Similarly, there are three primary causes which bring the human being
into existence. I shall call them, for the purpose of discussion, by
the following names
(1) Parabrahmam, the Universal Spirit.
(2) Sakti, the crown of the astral light, combining in itself all the
powers of Nature.
(3) Prakriti, which in its original or primary shape is represented by
Akasa. (Really every form of matter is finally reducible to Akasa.)*
It is ordinarily stated that Prakriti or Akasa is the Kshetram, or the
basis which corresponds to water in the example we have taken Brahmam
the germ, and Sakti, the power or energy that comes into existence at
their union or contact.**
* The Tibetan esoteric Buddhist doctrine teaches that Prakriti is cosmic
matter, out of which all visible forms are produced; and Akasa, that
same cosmic matter, but still more subjective--its spirit, as it were.
Prakriti being the body or substance, and Akasa Sakti its soul or
** Or, in other words, "Prakriti, Swabhavat, or Akasa, is SPACE, as the
Tibetans have it; Space filled with whatsoever substance or no
substance at all--i.e., with substance so imperceptible as to be only
metaphysically conceivable. Brahman, then, would be the germ thrown
into the soil of that field, and Sakti, that mysterious energy or force
which develops it, and which is called by the Buddhist Arahat of Tibet,
FOHAT. That which we call form (rupa) is not different from that which
we call space (sunyata).... Space is not different from form. Form is
the same as space; space is the same as form. And so with the other
skandhas, whether vedana, or sanjna, or sanskara, or vijnana, they are
each the same as their opposite." .... (Book of Sin-king, or the "Heart
Sutra." Chinese translation of the "Maha-Prajna-Paramita-Hridaya-Sutra,"
chapter on the "Avalokiteshwara," or the manifested Buddha.) So that
the Aryan and Tibetan or Arhat doctrines agree perfectly in substance,
differing but in names given and the way of putting it.
But this is not the view which the Upanishads take of the question.
According to them, Brahamam* is the Kshetram or basis, Akasa or
Prakriti, the germ or seed, and Sakti, the power evolved by their union
or contact. And this is the real scientific, philosophical mode of
stating the case.
* See Appendix, Note IV.
Now, according to the adepts of ancient Aryavarta, seven principles are
evolved out of these three primary entities. Algebra teaches us that the
number of combinations of n things, taken one at a time, two at a time,
three at a time, and so forth = 2(n)-1.
Applying this formula to the present case, the number of entities
evolved from different combinations of these three primary causes
amounts to 2(3)-1 = 8-1 = 7.
As a general rule, whenever seven entities are mentioned in the ancient
occult science of
that those seven entities came into existence from three primary
entities; and that these three entities, again, are evolved out of a
single entity or MONAD. To take a familiar example, the seven coloured
rays in the solar ray are evolved out of three primary coloured rays;
and the three primary colours coexist with the four secondary colours in
the solar rays. Similarly, the three primary entities which brought man
into existence co-exist in him with the four secondary entities which
arose from different combinations of the three primary entities.
Now these seven entities, which in their totality constitute man, are as
follows. I shall enumerate them in the order adopted in the
"Fragments," as far as the two orders (the Brahmanical and the Tibetan)
Corresponding names in
I. Prakriti. Sthulasariram
II. The entity evolved
out of the combination Sukshmasariram or Lingasariram
of Prakriti and Sakti. (Astral Body).
III. Sakti. Kamarupa (the Perispirit).
IV. The entity evolved out
of the combination of Jiva (Life-Soul).
Brahmam, Sakti and
V. The entity evolved out
of the combination of Physical Intelligence (or
Brahmam and Prakriti. animal soul).
VI. The entity evolved
out of the combination of Spiritual Intelligence (or Soul).
Brahmam and Sakti.
VII. Brahmam. The emanation from the ABSOLUTE,
&c. (or pure spirit.)
Before proceeding to examine these nature of these seven entities, a few
general explanations are indispensably necessary.
I. The secondary principles arising out of the combination of primary
principles are quite different in their nature from the entities out of
whose combination they came into existence. The combinations in
question are not of the nature of mere mechanical juxtapositions, as it
were. They do not even correspond to chemical combinations.
Consequently no valid inferences as regards the nature of the
combinations in question can be drawn by analogy from the nature
[variety?] of these combinations.
II. The general proposition, that when once a cause is removed its
effect vanishes, is not universally applicable. Take, for instance, the
following example:--If you once communicate a certain amount of momentum
to a ball, velocity of a particular degree in a particular direction is
the result. Now, the cause of this motion ceases to exist when the
instantaneous sudden impact or blow which conveyed the momentum is
completed; but according to
continue to move on for ever and ever, with undiminished velocity in the
same direction, unless the said motion is altered, diminished,
neutralized, or counteracted by extraneous causes. Thus, if the ball
stop, it will not be on account of the absence of the cause of its
motion, but in consequence of the existence of extraneous causes which
produce the said result.
Again, take the instance of subjective phenomena.
Now the presence of this ink-bottle before me is producing in me, or in
my mind, a mental representation of its form, volume, colour and so
The bottle in question may be removed, but still its mental picture may
continue to exist. Here, again, you see, the effect survives the cause.
Moreover, the effect may at any subsequent time be called into conscious
existence, whether the original cause be present or not.
Now, in the ease of the filth principle above mentioned-the entity that
came into existence by the combination of Brahmam and Prakriti--if the
general proposition (in the "Fragments of Occult Truth") is correct,
this principle, which corresponds to the physical intelligence, must
cease to exist whenever the Brahmam or the seventh Principle should
cease to exist for the particular individual; but the fact is certainly
otherwise. The general proposition under consideration is adduced in
the "Fragments" in support of the assertion that whenever the seventh
principle ceases to exist for any particular individual, the sixth
principle also ceases to exist for him. The assertion is undoubtedly
true, though the mode of stating it and the reasons assigned for it, are
to my mind objectionable.
It is said that in cases where tendencies of a man's mind are entirely
material, and all spiritual aspirations and thoughts were altogether
absent from his mind, the seventh principle leaves him either before or
at the time of death, and the sixth principle disappears with it. Here,
the very proposition that the tendencies of the particular individual's
mind are entirely material, involves the assertion that there is no
spiritual intelligence or spiritual Ego in him, it should then have been
said that, whenever spiritual intelligence ceases to exist in any
particular individual, the seventh principle ceases to exist for that
particular individual for all purposes. Of course, it does not fly off
anywhere. There can never be any thing like a change of position in the
case of Brahmam.* The assertion merely means that when there is no
recognition whatever of Brahmam, or spirit, or spiritual life, or
spiritual consciousness, the seventh principle has ceased to exercise
any influence or control over the individual's destinies.
* True--from the standpoint of Aryan Exotericism and the Upanishads, not
quite so in the case of the Arahat or Tibetan esoteric doctrine; and it
is only on this one solitary point that the two teachings disagree, as
far as we know. The difference is very trifling, though, resting as it
does solely upon the two various methods of viewing the one and the same
thing from two different aspects. (See Appendix, Note IV.)
I shall now state what is meant (in the Aryan doctrine) by the seven
principles above enumerated.
I. Prakriti. This is the basis of Sthulasariram, and represents it in
the above-mentioned classification.
II. Prakriti and Sakti. This is the Lingasariram, or astral body.
III. Sukti. This principle corresponds to your Kamarupa. This power or
force is placed by ancient occultists in the Nabhichakram. This power
can gather akasa or prakriti, and mould it into any desired shape. It
has very great sympathy with the fifth principle, and can be made to act
by its influence or control.
IV. Brahmam and Sakti, and Prakriti. This again corresponds to your
second principle, Jiva.
This power represents the universal life-principle which exists in
Nature. Its seat is the Anahatachakram (heart). It is a force or power
which constitutes what is called Jiva, or life. It is, as you say,
indestructible, and its activity is merely transferred at the time of
death to another set of atoms, to form another organism.
V. Brahma and Prakriti. This, in our Aryan philosophy, corresponds to
your fifth principle, called the physical intelligence. According to
our philosophers, this is the entity in which what is called mind has
its seat or basis. This is the most difficult principle of all to
explain, and the present discussion entirely turns upon the view we take
Now, what is mind? It is a mysterious something, which is considered to
be the seat of consciousness--of sensations, emotions, volitions, and
thoughts. Psychological analysis shows it to be apparently a congeries
of mental states, and possibilities of mental states, connected by what
is called memory, and considered to have a distinct existence apart from
any of its particular states or ideas. Now in what entity has this
mysterious something its potential or actual existence? Memory and
expectation, which form, as it were, the real foundation of what is
called individuality, or Ahankaram, must have their seat of existence
somewhere. Modern psychologists of
material substance of brain is the seat of mind; and that past
subjective experiences, which can he recalled by memory, and which in
their totality constitute what is called individuality, exist therein in
the shape of certain unintelligible mysterious impressions and changes
in the nerves and nerve-centres of the cerebral hemispheres.
Consequently, they say, the mind--the individual mind--is destroyed when
the body is destroyed; so there is no possible existence after death.
But there are a few facts among those admitted by these philosophers
which are sufficient for us to demolish their theory. In every portion
of the human body a constant change goes on without intermission. Every
tissue, every muscular fibre and nerve-tube, and every ganglionic centre
in the brain, is undergoing an incessant change. In the course of a
man's lifetime there may be a series of complete tranformations of the
substance of his brain. Nevertheless, the memory of his past mental
states remains unaltered. There may be additions of new subjective
experiences and some mental states may be altogether forgotten, but no
individual mental state is altered. The person's sense of personal
identity remains the same throughout these constant alterations in the
brain substance.* It is able to survive all these changes, and it can
survive also the complete destruction of the material substance of the
* This is also sound Buddhist philosophy, the transformation in
question being known as the change of the skandhas.--Editor, Theosophist Magazine.
This individuality arising from mental consciousness has its seat of
existence, according to our philosophers, in an occult power or force,
which keeps a registry, as it were, of all our mental impressions. The
power itself is indestructible, though by the operation of certain
antagonistic causes its impressions may in course of time be effaced, in
part or wholly.
I may mention in this connection that our philosophers have
associated seven occult powers with the seven principles or entities
above-mentioned. These seven occult powers in the microcosm correspond
with, or are the counterparts of, the occult powers in the macrocosm.
The mental and spiritual consciousness of the individual becomes the
general consciousness of Brahmam, when the barrier of individuality is
wholly removed, and when the seven powers in the microcosm are placed
en rapport with the seven powers in the macrocosm.
There is nothing very strange in a power, or force, or sakti, carrying
with it impressions of sensations, ideas, thoughts, or other subjective
experiences. It is now a well-known fact, that an electric or magnetic
current can convey in some mysterious manner impressions of sound or
speech, with all their individual peculiarities; similarly, I can
convey my thoughts to you by a transmission of energy or power.
Now, this fifth principle represents in our philosophy the mind, or, to
speak more correctly, the power or force above described, the
impressions of the mental states therein, and the notion of
self-identity or Ahankaram generated by their collective operation.
This principle is called merely physical intelligence in the
"Fragments." I do not know what is really meant by this expression. It
may be taken to mean that intelligence which exists in a very low state
of development in the lower animals. Mind may exist in different stages
of development, from the very lowest forms of organic life, where the
signs of its existence or operation can hardly be distinctly realized,
up to man, in whom it reaches its highest state of development.
In fact, from the first appearance of life* up to Tureeya Avastha, or
the state of Nirvana, the progress is, as it were, continuous.
* In the Aryan doctrine, which blends Brahmam, Sakti, and Prakriti in
one, it is the fourth principle then, in the Buddhist esotericisms the
second in combination with the first.
We ascend from that principle up to the seventh by almost imperceptible
gradations. But four stages are recognized in the progress where the
change is of a peculiar kind, and is such as to arrest an observer's
attention. These four stages are as follows:--
(1) Where life (fourth principle) makes its appearance.
(2) Where the existence of mind becomes perceptible in conjunction with
(3) Where the highest state of mental abstraction ends, and spiritual
(4) Where spiritual consciousness disappears, leaving the seventh
principle in a complete state of Nirvana, or nakedness.
According to our philosophers, the fifth principle under consideration
is intended to represent the mind in every possible state of
development, from the second stage up to the third stage.
IV. Brahmam and Sakti. This principle corresponds to your "spiritual
intelligence." It is, in fact, Buddhi (I use the word Buddhi not in the
ordinary sense, but in the sense in which it is used by our ancient
philosophers); in other words, it is the seat of Bodha or Atmabodha.
One who has Atmabodha in its completeness is a Buddha. Buddhists know
very well what this term signifies. This principle is described in the
"Fragments" as an entity coming into existence by the combination of
Brahmam and Prakriti. I do not again know in what particular sense the
word Prakriti is used in this connection. According to our philosophers
it is an entity arising from the union of Brahmam and Sakti. I have
already explained the connotation attached by our philosophers to the
words Prakriti and Sakti.
I stated that Prakriti in its primary state is Akasa.*
If Akasa be considered to be Sakti or power** then my statement as
regards the ultimate state of Prakriti is likely to give rise to
confusion and misapprehension unless I explain the distinction between
Akasa and Sakti. Akasa is not, properly speaking, the crown of the
astral light, nor does it by itself constitute any of the six primary
forces. But, generally speaking, whenever any phenomenal result is
produced, Sakti acts in conjunction with Akasa. And, moreover, Akasa
serves as a basis or Adhishthanum for the transmission of force currents
and for the formation or generation of force or power correlations.***
* According to the Buddhists, in Akasa lies that eternal, potential
energy whose function it is to evolve all visible things out of
itself.--Editor, Theosophist Magazine.
** It was never so considered, as we have shown it. But as the
"Fragments" are written in English, a language lacking such an abundance
of metaphysical terms to express ever minute change of form, substance
and state as are found in the Sanskrit, it was deemed useless to confuse
the Western reader, untrained in the methods of Eastern expression, more
than is necessary, with a too nice distinctions of proper technical
terms. As "Prakriti in its primary state is Akasa," and Sakti "is an
attribute AKASA," it becomes evident that for the uninitiated it is all
one. Indeed, to speak of the "union of Brahmam and Prakriti" instead of
"Brahmam and Sakti" is no worse than for a theist to write that "That
man has come into existence by the combination of spirit and matter,"
whereas, his word, framed in an orthodox shape, ought to read "man is a
living soul was created by the power (or breath) of God over matter."
*** That is to say, the Aryan Akasa is another word for Buddhist SPACE
(in its metaphysical meaning).--Editor, Theosophist Magazine.
In Mantrasastra the letter Ha represents Akasa, and you will find that
this syllable enters into most of the sacred formula intended to be used
in producing phenomenal results. But by itself it does not represent
any Sakti. You may, if you please, call Sakti an attribute of Akasa.
I do not think that, as regards the nature of this principle, there can
in reality exist any difference of opinion between the Buddhist and
Buddhist and Brahmanical initiates know very well that mysterious
circular mirror composed of two hemispheres which reflects as it were
the rays emanating from the "burning bush" and the blazing star--the
spiritual sun Shining in CHIDAKASAM.
The spiritual impressions constituting this principle have their
existence in an occult power associated with the entity in question.
The successive incarnations of Buddha, in fact, mean the successive
transfers of this mysterious power, or the impressions thereof. The
transfer is only possible when the Mahatma* who transfers it has
completely identified himself with his seventh principle, has
annihilated his Ahankaram, and reduced it to ashes in CHIDAGNIKUNDUM,
and has succeeded in making his thoughts correspond with the eternal
laws of Nature and in becoming a co-worker with Nature. Or, to put the
same thing in other words, when he has attained the state of Nirvana,
the condition of final negation, negation of individual, or separate
* The highest adept.
* In the words of Agatha in the "Maha-pari-Nirvana Sutra,"
"We reach a condition of rest
Beyond the limit of any human knowledge"
--Editor, Theosophist Magazine.
VII. Atma.--The emanation from the absolute, corresponding to the
seventh principle. As regards this entity there exists positively no
real difference of opinion between the Tibetan Buddhist adepts and our
We must now consider which of these entities can appear after the
individual's death in seance-rooms and produce the so-called
Now, the assertion of the Spiritualists, that the "disembodied spirits"
of particular human beings appear in seance-rooms, necessarily implies
that the entity that so appears bears the stamp of some particular
So, we have to ascertain beforehand in what entity or entities
personality has its seat of existence. Apparently it exists in the
person's particular formation of body, and in his subjective experiences
(called his mind in their totality). On the death of the individual his
body is destroyed; his lingasariram being decomposed, the power
associated with it becomes mingled in the current of the corresponding
power in the macrocosm. Similarly, the third and fourth principles are
mingled with their corresponding powers. These entities may again enter
into the composition of other organisms. As these entities bear no
impression of personality, the Spiritualists have no right to say that
the disembodied spirit of the human being has appeared in the
seance-room whenever any of these entities may appear there. In fact,
they have no means of ascertaining that they belonged to any particular
Therefore, we must only consider whether any of the last three entities
appear in seance-rooms to amuse or to instruct Spiritualists. Let us
take three particular examples of individuals, and see what becomes of
these three principles after death.
I. One in whom spiritual attachments have greater force than terrestrial
II. One in whom spiritual aspirations do exist, but are merely of
secondary importance to him, his terrestrial interests occupying the
greater share of his attention.
III. One in whom there exists no spiritual aspirations whatsoever, one
whose spiritual Ego is dead or non-existent to his apprehension.
We need not consider the case of a complete adept in this connection.
In the first two cases, according to our supposition, spiritual and
mental experiences exist together; when spiritual consciousness exists,
the existence of the seventh principle being recognized, it maintains
its connection with the fifth and sixth principles. But the existence
of terrestrial attachments creates the necessity of Punarjanmam
(re-birth), the latter signifying the evolution of a new set of
objective and subjective experiences, constituting a new combination of
surrounding circumstances, or, in other words, a new world. The period
between death and the next subsequent birth is occupied with the
preparation required for the evolution of these new experiences. During
the period of incubation, as you call it, the spirit will never of its
own accord appear in this world, nor can it so appear.
There is a great law in this universe which consists in the reduction of
subjective experiences to objective phenomena, and the evolution of the
former from the latter. This is otherwise called "cyclic necessity."
Man is subjected to this law if he do not check and counterbalance the
usual destiny or fate, and he can only escape its control by subduing
all his terrestrial attachments completely. The new combination of
circumstances under which he will then be placed may be better or worse
than the terrestrial conditions under which he lived; but in his
progress to a new world, you may be sure he will never turn around to
have a look at his spiritualistic friends.
In the third of the above three cases there is, by our supposition, no
recognition of spiritual consciousness or of spirits; so they are
non-existing so far as he is concerned. The case is similar to that of
an organ or faculty which remains unused for a long time. It then
practically ceases to exist.
These entities, as it were, remain his, or in his possession, when they
are stamped with the stamp of recognition. When such is not the case,
the whole of his individuality is centred in his fifth principle. And
after death this fifth principle is the only representative of the
individual in question.
By itself it cannot evolve for itself a new set of objective
experiences, or, to say the same thing in other words, it has no
punarjanmam. It is such an entity that can appear in seance-rooms; but
it is absurd to call it a disembodied spirit.* It is merely a power or
force retaining the impressions of the thoughts or ideas of the
individual into whose composition it originally entered. It sometimes
summons to its aid the Kamarupa power, and creates for itself some
particular ethereal form (not necessarily human).
* It is especially on this point that the Aryan and Arahat doctrines
quite agree. The teaching and argument that follow are in every respect
those of the Buddhist Himalayan Brotherhood.--Editor, Theosophist Magazine.
Its tendencies of action will be similar to those of the individual's
mind when he was living. This entity maintains its existence so long as
the impressions on the power associated with the fifth principle remain
intact. In course of time they are effaced, and the power in question
is then mixed up in the current of its corresponding power in the
MACROCOSM, as the river loses itself in the sea. Entities like these
may afford signs of there having been considerable intellectual power in
the individuals to which they belonged; because very high intellectual
power may co-exist with utter absence of spiritual consciousness. But
from this circumstance it cannot be argued that either the spirits or
the spiritual Egos of deceased individuals appear in seance-rooms.
There are some people in
such entities (called Pisacham). I do not know much about them
experimentally, as I have never meddled with this disgusting,
profitless, and dangerous branch of investigation.
The Spiritualists do not know what they are really doing. Their
investigations are likely to result in course of time either in wicked
sorcery or in the utter spiritual ruin of thousands of men and women.*
* We share entirely in this idea.--Editor, Theosophist Magazineophist.
The views I have herein expressed have been often illustrated by our
ancient writers by comparing the course of a man's life or existence to
the orbital motion of a planet round the sun. Centripetal force is
spiritual attraction, and centrifugal terrestrial attraction. As the
centripetal force increases in magnitude in comparison with the
centrifugal force, the planet approaches the sun--the individual reaches
a higher plane of existence. If, on the other hand, the centrifugal
force becomes greater than the centripetal force, the planet is removed
to a greater distance from the sun, and moves in a new orbit at that
distance--the individual comes to a lower level of existence. These are
illustrated in the first two instances I have noticed above.
We have only to consider the two extreme cases.
When the planet in its approach to the sun passes over the line where
the centripetal and centrifugal force completely neutralize each other,
and is only acted on by the centripetal force, it rushes towards the sun
with a gradually increasing velocity, and is finally mixed up with the
mass of the sun's body. This is the case of a complete adept.
Again, when the planet in its retreat from the sun reaches a point where
the centrifugal force becomes all-powerful, it flies off in a tangential
direction from its orbit, and goes into the depths of void space. When
it ceases to be under the control of the sun, it gradually gives up its
generative heat, and the creative energy that it originally derived from
the sun, and remains a cold mass of material particles wandering through
space until the mass is completely decomposed into atoms. This cold
mass is compared to the fifth principle under the conditions above
noticed, and the heat, light, and energy that left it are compared to
the sixth and seventh principles.
Either after assuming a new orbit or in its course of deviation from the
old orbit to the new, the planet can never go back to any point in its
old orbit, as the various orbits lying in different planes never
intersect each other.
This figurative representation correctly explains the ancient
Brahmanical theory on the subject. It is merely a branch of what is
called the Great Law of the Universe by the ancient mystics.
--T. Subba Row
In this connection it will be well to draw the reader's attention to the
fact that the
country called "Si-dzang" by the Chinese,
Western geographers, is mentioned in the oldest books preserved in the
great seat of occult learning in the archaic ages. According to these
records, it was inhabited by the "Teachers of Light," the "Sons of
Wisdom" and the "Brothers of the Sun." The Emperor Yu the "Great" (2207
B.C.), a pious mystic, is credited with having obtained his occult
wisdom and the system of theocracy established by him--for he was the
first one to unite
authority--from Si-dzang. That system was the same as with the old
Egyptians and the Chaldees; that which we know to have existed in the
Brahmanical period in
learning, power, the temporal as well as the secret wisdom were
concentrated within the hierarchy of the priests and limited to their
caste. Who were the aborigines of
ethnographer is able to answer correctly at present. They practice the
Bhon religion, their sect is a pre-and anti-Buddhistic one, and they
are to be found
mostly in the
known of them. But even that would justify the supposition that they
are the greatly degenerated descendants of mighty and wise forefathers.
Their ethnical type shows that they are not pure Turanians, and their
rites--now those of sorcery, incantations, and Nature-worship--remind
one far more of the popular rites of the Babylonians, as found in the
records preserved on the excavated cylinders, than of the religious
practices of the Chinese sect of Tao-sse (a religion based upon pure
reason and spirituality), as alleged by some. Generally, little or no
difference is made, even by the Kyelang missionaries, who mix greatly
with these people on the borders of British Lahoul and ought to know
better, between the Bhons and the two rival Buddhist sects, the Yellow
Caps and the Red Caps. The latter of these have opposed the reform of
Tzong-ka-pa from the first, and have always adhered to old Buddhism, so
greatly mixed up now with the practices of the Bhons. Were our
Orientalists to know more of them, and compare the ancient Babylonian
Bel or Baal worship with the rites of the Bhons, they would find an
undeniable connection between the two. To begin an argument here,
proving the origin
of the aborigines of
the three great
races which superseded each other in
we call them the Akkadians (a name invented by F. Lenormant), or the
primitive Turanians, Chaldees, and Assyrians, is out of the question.
Be it as it may, there is reason to call the trans-Himalayan esoteric
doctrine Chaldeo-Tibetan. And when we remember that the Vedas came,
agreeably to all
traditions, from the
Brahmins themselves from the far North, we are justified in looking on
the esoteric doctrines of every people who once had or still has it, as
having proceeded from one and the same source; and to thus call it the
"Aryan-Chaldeo-Tibetan" doctrine, or Universal Wisdom-Religion. "Seek
for the Lost
Word among the hierophants of
was the advice of Swedenborg the seer.
Not necessarily, we say. The Vedas, Brahmanism, and along with these,
Sanskrit, were importations into what we now regard as
never indigenous to its soil. There was a time when the ancient nations
of the West
included under the generic name of
a Lower, and a
countries now named
by them as forming part of
civilizations, arts, and sciences of all other nations (
and perhaps even
formed part of an
unbroken continent which began at the
ran down over
To ascertain such disputed questions, one has to look into and study
well the Chinese sacred and historical records--a people whose era
begins nearly 4,600 years back (2697 B.C.). A people so accurate, and
by whom some of
the most important inventions of modern
so much boasted modern science were anticipated--such as the compass,
gunpowder, porcelain, paper, printing, &c.--known and practiced
thousands of years before these were rediscovered by the Europeans,
ought to receive some trust for their records. And from Lao-tze down to
Hiouen-Thsang their literature is filled with allusions and references
to that island and the wisdom of the Himalayan adepts. In the "Catena
of Buddhist Scriptures from the Chinese," by the Rev. Samuel Beal, there
is a chapter "On the TIAN-TA'I School of Buddhism" (pp. 244-258) which
our opponents ought to read. Translating the rules of that most
celebrated and holy
school and sect in
called Che-chay (the Wise One), in the year 575 of our era, when coming
to the sentence which reads "That which relates to the one garment
(seamless) worn by the GREAT TEACHERS OF THE SNOWY MOUNTAINS, the schoolof the Haimavatas" (p.
256), the European translator places after thelast
sentence a sign of interrogation, as well he may. The statisticsof
the school of the "Haimavatas," or of our
Himalayan Brotherhood, arenot to be found in the
general census records of
Beal translates a rule relating to "the great professors of the higher
order who live in mountain depths remote from men," the Aranyakas, or
So, with respect to the traditions concerning this island, and apart
from the (to them) historical records of this preserved in the Chinese
and Tibetan sacred books, the legend is alive to this day among the
once bloomed remains there still, and the spot is well known to some of
teachers of the
changed its topography by the awful cataclysm. Every seventh year these
teachers are believed
to assemble in SCHAM-BHA-LA, the "
According to the general belief it is situated in the north-west of
inaccessible even to the fearless nomadic tribes; others hem it in
between the range of
west and east, which affords to the curious mind a pretty large latitude
to locate it in. Others still place it between Namur Nur and the
speak of it as a fertile fairy-like land once an island, now an oasis of
incomparable beauty, the place of meeting of the inheritors of the
esoteric wisdom of the god-like inhabitants of the legendary island.
In connection with the archaic legend of the
Continent, is it not profitable to note a fact known to all modern
geologists-that the Himalayan slopes afford geological proof that the
substance of those lofty peaks was once a part of an ocean floor?
We have already pointed out that, in our opinion, the whole difference
between Buddhistic and Vedantic philosophies was that the former was a
kind of Rationalistic Vedantism, while the latter might be regarded as
transcendental Buddhism. If the Aryan esotericism applies the term
jivatma to the seventh principle--the pure and per se unconscious
spirit--it is because the Vedanta, postulating three kinds of
existence--(1) the paramarthika (the true, the only real one), (2) the
vyavaharika (the practical), and (3) the pratibhasika (the apparent or
illusory life)--makes the first life or jiva, the only truly existent
one. Brahma, or the ONE'S SELF, is its only representative in the
universe, as it is the universal Life in toto, while the other two are
but its "phenomenal appearances," imagined and created by ignorance, and
complete illusions suggested to us by our blind senses. The Buddhists,
on the other hand, deny either subjective or objective reality even to
that one Self-Existence. Buddha declares that there is neither Creator
nor an Absolute Being. Buddhist rationalism was ever too alive to the
insuperable difficulty of admitting one absolute consciousness, as in
the words of
and wherever there is relation there is dualism." The ONE LIFE is
either "MUKTA" (absolute and unconditioned), and can have no relation to
anything nor to any one; or it is "BADDHA" (bound and conditioned), and
then it cannot be called the absolute; the limitation, moreover,
necessitating another deity as powerful as the first to account for all
the evil in this world. Hence, the Arahat secret doctrine on cosmogony
admits but of one absolute, indestructible, eternal, and uncreated
UNCONSCIOUSNESS (so to translate) of an element (the word being used for
want of a better term) absolutely independent of everything else in the
universe; a something ever present or ubiquitous, a Presence which ever
was, is, and will be, whether there is a God, gods, or none, whether
there is a universe, or no universe, existing during the eternal cycles
of Maha Yugs, during the Pralayas as during the periods of Manvantara,
and this is SPACE, the field for the operation of the eternal Forces and
natural Law, the basis (as Mr. Subba Row rightly calls it) upon which
take place the eternal intercorrelations of Akasa-Prakriti; guided by
the unconscious regular pulsations of Sakti, the breath or power of a
conscious deity, the theists would say; the eternal energy of an
eternal, unconscious Law, say the Buddhists. Space, then, or "Fan,
Bar-nang" (Maha Sunyata) or, as it is called by Lao-tze, the "Emptiness,"
is the nature of the Buddhist Absolute. (See Confucius' "Praise of the
Abyss.") The word jiva, then, could never be applied by the Arahats to
the Seventh Principle, since it is only through its correlation or
contact with matter that Fo-hat (the Buddhist active energy) can
develop active conscious life; and that to the question "how can
unconsciousness generate consciousness?" the answer would be: "Was the
generated a Bacon or a
To our European readers, deceived by the phonetic similarity, it must
not be thought that the name "Brahman" is identical in this connection
with Brahma or Iswara, the personal God. The Upanishads--the Vedanta
Scriptures--mention no such God, and one would vainly seek in them any
allusions to a conscious deity. The Brahman, or Parabrahm, the absolute
of the Vedantins, is neuter and unconscious, and has no connection with
the masculine Brahma of the Hindu Triad, or Trimurti. Some Orientalists
rightly believe the name derived from the verb "Brih," to grow or
increase, and to be in this sense the universal expansive force of
Nature, the vivifying and spiritual principle or power spread throughout
the universe, and which, in its collectivity, is the one Absoluteness,
the one Life and the only Reality.
Theosophical Society, Cardiff Lodge,