Entries from the Theosophical Glossary
Japan & Ancient China:
Shinto (Jap.) The ancient religion of Japan before Buddhism, based upon the worship of spirits and ancestors.
Yamabooshee, or Yamabusi (Jap.) A sect in Japan of very ancient and revered mystics. They are monks “militant” and warriors, if needed, as are certain Yogis in Rajputana and the Lamas in Tibet. This Mystic brotherhood dwell chiefly near Kioto, and are renowned for their healing powers, says the Encyclopœdia, which translates the name “Hermit Brothers”: “They pretend to magical arts, and live in the recesses of mountains and craggy steeps, whence they come forth to tell fortunes (?), write charms and sell amulets. They lead a mysterious life and admit no one to their secrets, except after a tedious and difficult preparation by fasting and a species of severe gymnastic exercise ! ”)
Bamboo Books. Most ancient and certainly pre-historic works in Chinese containing the antediluvian records of the Annals of China. They were found in the tomb of King Seang of Wai, who died 295 B.C., and claim to go back many centuries.
The Kabbalah of China. One of the oldest known Chinese books is the Yih King, or Book of Changes. It is reported to have been written 2850 B.C., in the dialect of the Accadian black races of Mesopotamia. It is a most abstruse system of Mental and Moral Philosophy, with a scheme of universal relation and divination. Abstract ideas are represented by lines, half lines, circle, and points. Thus a circle represents YIH, the Great Supreme; a line is referred to YIN, the Masculine Active Potency; two half lines are YANG, the Feminine Passive Potency. KWEI is the animal soul, SHAN intellect, KHIEN heaven or Father, KHWAN earth or Mother, KAN or QHIN is Son; male numbers are odd, represented by light circles, female numbers are even, by black circles. There are two most mysterious diagrams, one called “HO or the River Map”, and also associated with a Horse ; and the other called “The Writing of LO” ; these are formed of groups of white and black circles, arranged in a Kabbalistic manner. The text is by a King named Wan, and the commentary by Kan, his son ; the text is allowed to be older than the time of Confucius. [ w. w.w.]
Si-dzang (Chin.) The Chinese name for Tibet; mentioned in the Imperial Library of the capital of Fo Kien, as the “great seat of Occult learning”, 2,207 years B.c. (Secret Doctrine, I., p. 271.)
Hoang Ty (Chin.) “The Great Spirit.” His Sons are said to have acquired new wisdom, and imparted what they knew before to mortals, by falling—like the rebellious angels— into the “Valley of Pain”, which is allegorically our Earth. In other words they are identical with the “Fallen Angels” of exoteric religions, and with the reincarnating Egos, esoterically.
Kwan-shai-yîn (Chin.) The male logos of the Northern Buddhists and those of China; the “manifested god”.
Kwan-yin (Chin.) The female logos, the “Mother of Mercy”.
Kwan-yin-tien (Chin.) The heaven where Kwan-yin and the other logoi dwell.
Yi-King (Chin.) An ancient Chinese work, written by generations of sages.
See Also: Chubilgan, Hwun, In, Khi, Kiver-Shans, Nebban, Pho, Pûto, Shamans, Shien-Sien, Sung-Ming-Shu, Tien-Hoang, Tien-Sin, Tsien-Sin, Tsien-Tchan, Tsi-tsia, Yeu, etc.
See: Vedic India
Dabistan (Pers.) The land of Iran; ancient Persia.
Zarathustra (Zend.) The great lawgiver, and the founder of the religion variously called Mazdaism, Magism, Parseeїsm, Fire-Worship, and Zoroastrianism. The age of the last Zoroaster (for it is a generic name) is not known, and perhaps for that very reason. Xanthus of Lydia, the earliest Greek writer who mentions this great lawgiver and religious reformer, places him about six hundred years before the Trojan War. But where is the historian who can now tell when the latter took place? Aristotle and also Eudoxus assign him a date of no less than 6,000 years before the days of Plato, and Aristotle was not one to make a statement without a good reason for it. Berosus makes him a king of Babylon some 2,200 years B.C.; but then, how can one tell what were the original figures of Berosus, before his MSS. passed through the hands of Eusebius, whose fingers were so deft at altering figures, whether in Egyptian synchronistic tables or in Chaldean chronology? Haug refers Zoroaster to at least 1,000 years B.C.; and Bunsen (God in History, Vol. I., Book iii., ch. vi., p. 276) finds that Zarathustra Spitama lived under the King Vistaspa about 3,000 years B.C., and describes him as “one of the mightiest intellects and one of the greatest men of all time”. It is with such exact dates in hand, and with the utterly extinct language of the Zend, whose teachings are rendered, probably in the most desultory manner, by the Pahlavi translation—a tongue, as shown by Darmsteter, which was itself growing obsolete so far back as the Sassanides— that our scholars and Orientalists have presumed to monopolise to themselves the right of assigning hypothetical dates for the age of the holy prophet Zurthust. But the Occult records claim to have the correct dates of each of the thirteen Zoroasters mentioned in the Dabistan. Their doctrines, and especially those of the last (divine) Zoroaster, spread from Bactria to the Medes; thence, under the name of Magism, incorporated by the Adept-Astronomers in Chaldea, they greatly influenced the mystic teachings of the Mosaic doctrines, even before, perhaps, they had culminated into what is now known as the modern religion of the Parsis. Like Manu and Vyâsa in India, Zarathustra is a generic name for great reformers and law-givers. The hierarchy began with the divine Zarathustra in the Vendîdâd, and ended with the great, but mortal man, bearing that title, and now lost to history. There were, as shown by the Dabistan, many Zoroasters or Zarathustras. As related in the Secret Doctrine, Vol. II., the last Zoroaster was the founder of the Fire-temple of Azareksh, many ages before the historical era. Had not Alexander destroyed so many sacred and precious works of the Mazdeans, truth and philosophy would have been more inclined to agree with history, in bestowing upon that Greek Vandal the title of “the Great”.
Zoroaster. Greek form of Zarathustra (q.v.).
Magi (Lat.) The name of the ancient hereditary priests and learned adepts in Persia and Media, a word derived from Mâha great, which became later mog or mag, a priest in Pehlevi. Porphyry describes them (Abst. iv. 16) as “The learned men who are engaged among the Persians in the service of the Deity are called Magi”, and Suidas informs us that “among the Persians the lovers of wisdom (philalethai) are called Magi”. The Zendavesta (ii. 171, 261) divides them into three degrees : (1) The Herbeds or “ Noviciates” ; (2) Mobeds or “Masters” ; (3) Destur Mobeds, or Perfect Masters”. The Chaldees had similar colleges, as also the Egyptians, Destur Mobeds being identical with the Hierophants of the mysteries, as practised in Greece and Egypt.
Mazdeans. From (Ahura) Mazda. (See Spiegel’s Yasna, xl.) They were the ancient Persian nobles who worshipped Ormazd, and, rejecting images, inspired the Jews with the same horror for every concrete representation of the Deity. They seem in Herodotus’ time to have been superseded by the Magian religionists. The Parsis and Gebers, (geberim, mighty men, of Genesis vi. and x. 8) appear to be Magian religionists.
Mazdiasnian. Zoroastrian; lit., “worshipping god”.
Avesta (Zend.) Lit., “the Law”. From the old Persian Âbastâ, “the law”. The sacred Scriptures of the Zoroastrians. Zend means in the “Zend-Avesta”—a “commentary” or “interpretation”. It is an error to regard “ Zend” as a language, as “it was applied only to explanatory texts, to the translations of the Avesta”(Darmsteter).
Zend-Avesta (Pahl.) The general name for the sacred books of the Parsis, fire or sun worshippers, as they are ignorantly called. So little is understood of the grand doctrines which are still found in the various fragments that compose all that is now left of that collection of religious works, that Zoroastrianism is called indifferently Fire-worship, Mazdaism, or Magism, Dualism, Sun-worship, and what not. The Avesta has two parts as now collected together, the first portion containing the Vendîdâd, the Vispêrad and the Yasna; and the second portion, called the Khorda Avesta (Small Avesta), being composed of short prayers called Gâh, Nyâyish, etc. Zend means “a commentary or explanation”, and Avesta (from the old Persian âbashtâ, “the law”. (See Darmsteter.) As the translator of the Vendîdâd remarks in a foot note (see int. xxx.): “what it is customary to call ‘the Zend language’, ought to be named ‘the Avesta language’, the Zend being no language at all and if the word be used as the designation of one, it can be rightly applied only to the Pahlavi”. But then, the Pahlavi itself is only the language into which certain original portions of the Avesta are translated. What name should be given to the old Avesta language, and particularly to the “special dialect, older than the general language of the Avesta” (Darmst.), in which the five Ghthas in the Yasna are written? To this day the Orientalists are mute upon the subject. Why should not the Zend be of the same family, if not identical with the Zen-sar, meaning also the speech explaining the abstract symbol, or the “mystery language,” used by Initiates?
Vendîdâd (Pahl.) The first book (Nosk) in the collection of Zend fragments usually known as the Zend-Avesta. The Vendidâd is a corruption of the compound-word “Vidaêvo-dâtern”, meaning “the anti- demoniac law ”, and is full of teachings how to avoid sin and defilement by purification, moral and physical—each of which teachings is based on Occult laws. It is a pre-eminently occult treatise, full of symbolism and often of meaning quite the reverse of that which is expressed in its dead-letter text. The Vendîdâd, as claimed by tradition, is the only one of the twenty-one Nosks (works) that has escaped the auto-da-fé at the hands of the drunken Iskander the Rûmi, he whom posterity calls Alexander the Great— though the epithet is justifiable only when applied to the brutality, vices and cruelty of this conqueror. It is through the vandalism of this Greek that literature and knowledge have lost much priceless lore in the Nosks burnt by him. Even the Vendidâd has reached us in only a fragmentary state. The first chapters are very mystical, and therefore called “mythical” in the renderings of European Orientalists. The two “creators” of “spirit-matter” or the world of differentiation—Ahura- Mazda and Angra-Mainyu (Ahriman)—are introduced in them, and also Yima (the first man, or mankind personified). The work is divided into Fargards or chapters, and a portion of these is devoted to the formation of our globe, or terrestrial evolution. (See Zend-Avesta.)
Yasna, or Yacna (Pahl.) The third portion of the first of the two parts of the Avesta, the Scripture of the Zoroastrian Parsis. The Yasna is composed of litanies of the same kind as the Vispêrad (the second portion) and of five hymns or gâthas. These gâthas are the oldest fragments of Zoroastrian literature known to the Parsis, for they are written “in a special dialect, older than the general language of the Avesta” (Darmesteter). (See “ Zend ”.)
Ahura (Zend.) The same as Asura, the holy, the Breath-like. Ahura Mazda, the Ormuzd of the Zoroastrians or Parsis, is the Lord who bestows light and intelligence, whose symbol is the Sun (See “Ahura Mazda”), and of whom Ahriman, a European form of “Angra Mainyu” (q.v.), is the dark aspect.
Ahura Mazda (Zend.) The personified deity, the Principle of Universal Divine Light of the Parsis. From Ahura or Asura, breath, “spiritual, divine” in the oldest Rig Veda, degraded by the orthodox Brahmans into A -sura, “no gods”, just as the Mazdeans have degraded the Hindu Devas (Gods) into Dæva (Devils).
Asura Mazda (Sk.) In the Zend, Ahura Mazda. The same as Ormuzd or Mazdeô; the god of Zoroaster and the Parsis.
Ormazd or Ahura Mazda (Zend.) The god of the Zoroastrians or the modern Parsis. He is symbolized by the sun, as being the Light of Lights. Esoterically, he is the synthesis of his six Amshaspends or Elohim, and the creative Logos. In the Mazdean exoteric system, Ahura Mazda is the supreme god, and one with the supreme god of the Vedic age—Varuna, if we read the Vedas literally.
Amesha Spentas (Zend.) Amshaspends. The six angels or divine Forces personified as gods who attend upon Ahura Mazda, of which he is the synthesis and the seventh. They are one of the prototypes of the Roman Catholic “Seven Spirits” or Angels with Michael as chief, or the “Celestial Host”; the “ Seven Angels of the Presence”. They are the Builders, Cosmocratores, of the Gnostics and identical with the Seven Prajâpatis, the Sephiroth, etc. (q.v.).
Karshvare (Zend.) The “seven earths” (our septenary chain) over which rule the Amesha Spenta, the Archangels or Dhyan Chohans of the Parsis. The seven earths, of which one only, namely Hvanirata—our earth—is known to mortals. The Earths (esoterically), or seven divisions (exoterically), are our own planetary chain as in Esoteric Buddhism and the Secret Doctrine. The doctrine is plainly stated in Fargard XIX., 39, of the Vendidad.
Desatir. A very ancient Persian work called the Book of Shet. It speaks of the thirteen Zoroasters, and is very mystical.
Javidan Khirad (Pers.) A work on moral precepts.
See Also: Ab-i-hayat, Ahum, Airyamen Yaêgo, Airyana-ishejô, Angra Mainyus, Apâm Napât, Ashmog, Atash Behram, Azareksh, Azhi-Dahaka, Baresma, Borj, Dænam, Demrusch, Djin, Fargard, Farvarshi, Fravasham, Gehs, Gogar, Gyan-Ben-Giân, Honover, Hvanuatha, Kaimarath, Karshipta, Khoda, Machagistia, Meshia and Meshiane, Mitra, Mobeds, Niyashes, Oitzoe, Qaniratha, Sapta Simorgh, Sindhava, Sosiosh, Spenta Armaita, Sravah, Tahmurath, Thrætaona, Vara, Yazathas, Yima, Zervana Akarna, Zohak, Zumyad Yasht, etc
Edda (Iceland.) Lit., “great-grandmother” of the Scandinavian Lays. It was Bishop Brynjϋld Sveinsson, who collected them and brought them to light in 1643. There are two collections of Sagas, translated by the Northern Skalds, and there are two Eddas. The earliest is of unknown authorship and date and its antiquity is very great. These Sagas were collected in the XIth century by an Icelandic priest; the second is a collection of the history (or myths) of the gods spoken of in the first, which became the Germanic deities, giants, dwarfs and heroes.
Voluspa (Scand.) A poem called “The Song of the Prophetess”, or “Song of Wala ”.
Runes (Scand.) The Runic language and characters are the mystery or sacerdotal tongue and alphabet of the ancient Scandinavians. Runes are derived from the word rûna (secret). Therefore both language and character could neither be understood nor interpreted without having the key to it. Hence while the written runes consisting of sixteen letters are known, the ancient ones composed of marks and signs are indecipherable. They are called the magic characters. “It is clear”, says E. W. Anson, an authority on the folk-lore of the Norsemen, “that the runes were from various causes regarded even in Germany proper as full of mystery and endowed with supernatural power”. They are said to have been invented by Odin.
Asgard (Scand.) The kingdom and the habitat of the Norse gods, the Scandinavian Olympus ; situated “higher than the Home of the Light-Elves”, but on the same plane as Jotunheim, the home of the Jotuns, the wicked giants versed in magic, with whom the gods are at eternal war. It is evident that the gods of Asgard are the same as the Indian Suras (gods) and the Jotuns as the Asuras, both representing the conflicting powers of nature—beneficent and maleficent. They are the prototypes also of the Greek gods and the Titans.
Odin (Scand.) The god of battles, the old German Sabbaoth, the same as the Scandinavian Wodan. He is the great hero in the Edda and one of the creators of man. Roman antiquity regarded him as one with Hermes or Mercury (Budha), and modern Orientalism (Sir W. Jones) accordingly confused him with Buddha. In the Pantheon of the Norse men, he is the “father of the gods” and divine wisdom, and as such he is of course Hermes or the creative wisdom. Odin or Wodan in creating the first man from trees—the Ask (ash) and Embla (the alder) endowed them with life and soul, Honir with intellect, and Lodur with form and colour.
Wodan (Saxon) The Scandinavian Odin, Votan, or Wuotan.
Lodur (Scand.) The second personage in the trinity of gods in the Eddas of the Norsemen; and the father of the twelve great gods. It is Lodur who endows the first man—made of the ash-tree (Ask), with blood and colour.
Hahnir (Scand.), or Hönir. One of the three mighty gods (Odin, Hahnir and Lodur) who, while wandering on earth, found lying on the sea-shore two human forms, motionless, speechless, and senseless. Odin gave them souls; Hahnir, motion and senses; and Lodur, blooming complexions. Thus were men created.
Thor (Scand.) From Thonar to “thunder”. The son of Odin and Freya, and the chief of all Elemental Spirits. The god of thunder, Jupiter Tonans. The word Thursday is named after Thor. Among the Romans Thursday was the day of Jupiter, Jovis dies, Jeudi in French— the fifth day of the week, sacred also to the planet Jupiter.
Asathor (Scand.) The same as Thor. The god of storms and thunder, a hero who receives Miölnir, the “storm-hammer”, from its fabricators, the dwarfs. With it he conquer Alwin in a “battle of words” breaks the head of the giant Hrungir, chastises Loki for his magic; destroys the whole race of giants in Thrymheim; and, as a good and benevolent god, sets up therewith land-marks, sanctifies marriage bonds, blesses law and order, and produces every good and terrific feat with its help. A god in the Eddas, who is almost as great as Odin. (See “Miölnir” and “Thor’s Hammer”.)
Donar (Scand.), or Thunar, Thor. In the North the God of Thunder. He was the Jupiter Tonans of Scandinavia. Like as the oak was devoted to Jupiter so was it sacred to Thor, and his altars were over shadowed with oak trees. Thor, or Donar, was the offspring of Odin, “the omnipotent God of Heaven”, and of Mother Earth.
Okuthor (Scand.) The same as Thor, the “thunder god”.
Baldur (Scand.) The “Giver of all Good”. The bright God who is “the best and all mankind are loud in his praise; so fair and dazzling is he in form and features, that rays of light seem to issue from him (Edda). Such was the birth-song chanted to Baldur who resurrects as Wali, the spring Sun. Baldur is called the “well-beloved”, the “Holy one”, “who alone is without sin”. He is the “God of Goodness”, who
“shall be born again, when a new and purer world will have arisen from the ashes of the old, sin-laden world (Asgard)”. He is killed by the crafty Loki, because Frigga, the mother of the gods, “while entreating all creatures and all lifeless things to swear that they will not injure the well-beloved”, forgets to mention “the weak mistletoe bough”, just as the mother of Achilles forgot her son’s heel. A dart is made of it by Loki and he places it in the hands of blind Hödur who kills with it the sunny-hearted god of light. The Christmas misletoe is probably a reminiscence of the mistletoe that killed the Northern God of Goodness.
Bragi (Scand.) The god of New Life, of the re-incarnation of nature and man. He is called “the divine singer” without spot or blemish. He is represented as gliding in the ship of the Dwarfs of Death during the death of nature (pralaya), lying asleep on the deck with his golden stringed harp near him and dreaming the dream of life. When the vessel crosses the threshold of Nain, the Dwarf of Death, Bragi awakes and sweeping the strings of his harp, sings a song that echoes over all the worlds, a song describing the rapture of existence, and awakens dumb, sleeping nature out of her long death-like sleep.
Freya or Frigga (Scand.) In the Edda, Frigga is the mother of the gods like Aditi in the Vedas. She is identical with the Northern Frea of the Germans, and in her lowest aspect was worshipped as the all- nourishing Mother Earth. She was seated on her golden throne, formed of webs of golden light, with three divine virgins as her handmaidens and messengers, and was occupied with spinning golden threads with which to reward good men. She is Isis and Diana at the same time, for she is also Holda, the mighty huntress, and she is Ceres-Demeter, who protects agriculture—the moon and nature.
Jörd. In Northern Germany the goddess of the Earth, the same as Nerthus and the Scandinavian Freya or Frigg.
Nerthus (Old Sax.) The goddess of the earth, of love and beauty with the old Germans; the same as the Scandinavian Freya or Frigga. Tacitus mentions the great honours paid to Nerthus when her idol was carried on a car in triumph through several districts.
Saga (Scand.) The goddess “who sings of the deeds of gods and heroes ”, and to whom the black ravens of Odin reveal the history of the Past and of the Future in the Norsemen’s Edda.
Hel or Hela (Scand.) The Goddess-Queen of the Land of the Dead; the inscrutable and direful Being who reigns over the depths of Helheim and Nifelheim. In the earlier mythology, Hel was the earth-goddess, the good and beneficent mother, nourisher of the weary and the hungry. But in the later Skalds she became the female Pluto, the dark Queen of the Kingdom of Shades, she who brought death into this world, and sorrow afterwards.
Wanes (Scand.) A race of gods of great antiquity, worshipped at the dawn of time by the Norsemen, and later by the Teutonic races.
Ash Yggdrasil (Scand.) The “Mundane Tree”, the Symbol of the World with the old Norsemen, the “tree of the universe, of time and of life”. It is ever green, for the Norns of Fate sprinkle It daily with the water of life from the fountain of Urd, which flows in Midgard. The dragon Nidhogg gnaws its roots incessantly, the dragon of Evil and Sin; but the Ash Yggdrasil cannot wither, until the Last Battle (the Seventh Race in the Seventh Round) is fought, when life, time, and the world will all vanish and disappear.
Yggdrasil (Scand.) The “World Tree of the Norse Cosmogony; the ash Yggdrasil ; the tree of the Universe, of time and of life”. It has three roots, which reach down to cold Hel, and spread thence to Jotun heim, the land of the Hrimthurses, or “ Frost Giants ”, and to Midgard, the earth and dwelling of the children of men. Its upper boughs stretch out into heaven, and its highest branch overshadows Waihalla, the Devachan of the fallen heroes. The Yggdrasil is ever fresh and green, as it is daily sprinkled by the Norns, the three fateful sisters, the Past, the Present, and the Future, with the waters of life from the fountain of Urd that flows on our earth. It will wither and disappear only on the day when the last battle between good and evil is fought ; when, the former prevailing, life, time and space pass out of life and space and time. Every ancient people had their world-tree. The Babylonians had their “tree of life”, which was the world-tree, whose roots penetrated into the great lower deep or Hades, whose trunk was on the earth, and whose upper boughs reached Zikum, the highest heaven above. Instead of in Walhalla, they placed its upper foliage in the holy house of Davkina, the “great mother” of Tammuz, the Saviour of the world—the Sun-god put to death by the enemies of light.
See Also: Æsir, Ahti, Ahu, Alswider, Audumla, Arwaker, Ases, Ask, Audlang, Audumla, Bergelmir, Bestla, Bifröst, Burî, Cheru, Dises, Draupnir, Dwarf of Death, Easter, Elivagar, Fafnir, Farbauti, Frost Giants, Fylfot, Gambatrin, Garm, Gimil, Ginnungagap, Giöl, Gna, Gnypa, Gullweig, Helheim, Hler, Honir, Hrimthurses, Hwergelmir, Ida, Idises, Iduna, Ifing, Iwaldi, Jotunheim, Jotuns, Jul, Lif, Logi, Loki, Loreley, Midgard, Mimir, Miölner, Muspel, Naїn, Nanna, Nidhogg, Nifiheim, Norns, Number Nip, Odur, Ogir, Örgelmir, Orlog, Ragnarök, Rings, Magic, Sigurd, Skrymir, Surtur, Uller, Ulphilas, Urlak, Wala, Walhalla, Wali, Walkyries, Wara, We, Werdandi, Wili, Ymir, Yürmungander, Zio, etc.
Druids. A sacerdotal caste which flourished in Britain and Gaul. They were Initiates who admitted females into their sacred order, and initiated them into the mysteries of their religion. They never entrusted their sacred verses and scriptures to writing, but, like the Brahmans of old, committed them to memory; a feat which, according to the statement of Cæsar took twenty years to accomplish. Like the Parsis they had no images or statues of their gods. The Celtic religion considered it blasphemy to represent any god, even of a minor character, under a human figure. It would have been well if the Greek and Roman Christians had learnt this lesson from the “pagan” Druids. The three chief commandments of their religion were:—“Obedience to divine laws; concern for the welfare of mankind; suffering with fortitude all the evils of life”.
Ogham (Celtic). A mystery language belonging to the early Celtic races, and used by the Druids. One form of this language consisted in the association of the leaves of certain trees with the letters, this was called Beth-luis-nion Ogham, and to form words and sentences the leaves were strung on a cord in the proper order. Godfrey Higgins suggests that to complete the mystification certain other leaves which meant nothing were interspersed. [w.w.w.]
Ogmius. The god of wisdom and eloquence of the Druids, hence Hermes in a sense.
See Also: Mistletoe, Oak, etc.
Kalevala. The Finnish Epic of Creation.
Hisi (Fin.) The “Principle of Evil ”in the Kalevala, the epic poem of Finland.
Ilmatar (Finn.) The Virgin who falls from heaven into the sea before creation. She is the “daughter of the air” and the mother of seven Sons (the seven forces in nature). (See Kalevala, the epic poem of Finland.)
Suoyator (Fin.) In the epic poem of the Finns, the Kalevala, the name for the primordial Spirit of Evil, from whose saliva the serpent of sin was born.
See: The Americas
Artufas. A generic name in South America and the islands for temples of nagalism or serpent worship.
Incas (Peruvian) The name given to the creative gods in the Peruvian theogony, and later to the rulers of the country. “The Incas, seven in number have repeopled the earth after the Deluge”, Coste makes them say (I. iv., p.19). They belonged at the beginning of the fifth Root-race to a dynasty of divine kings, such as those of Egypt, India and Chaldea.
Kauravya (Sk.) The King of the Nagas (Serpents) in Patala, exoterically a hall. But esoterically it means something very different. There is a tribe of the Nagas in Upper India; Nagal is the name in Mexico of the chief medicine men to this day, and was that of the chief adepts in the twilight of history; and finally Patal means the Antipodes and is a name of America. Hence the story that Arjuna travelled to Patala, and married Ulupi, the daughter of the King Kauravya, may be as historical as many others regarded first as fabled and then found out to be true.
Nagal. The title of the chief Sorcerer or “medicine man” of some tribes of Mexican Indians. These keep always a daimon or god, in the shape of a serpent—and sometimes some other sacred animal—who is said to inspire them.
Pachacamac (Peruv.) The name given by the Peruvians to the Creator of the Universe, represented as a host of creators. On his altar only the first-fruits and flowers were laid by the pious.
Pâtâla (Sk) The nether world, the antipodes; hence in popular superstition the infernal regions, and philosophically the two Americas, which are antipodal to India. Also, the South Pole as standing opposite to Meru, the North Pole.
Popol Vuh. The Sacred Books of the Guatemalians. Quiché MSS., discovered by Brasseur de Bourbourg.
Quetzo-Cohuatl (Mex.) The serpent-god in the Mexican Scriptures and legends. His wand and other “land-marks” show him to be some great Initiate of antiquity, who received the name of “Serpent” on account of his wisdom, long life and powers. To this day the aboriginal tribes of Mexico call themselves by the names of various reptiles, animals and birds.
Quiche Cosmogony. Called Popol Vuh; discovered by the Abbé Brasseur de Bourbourg. (See “Popol Vuh”.)
Quinanes. A very ancient race of giants, of whom there are many traditions, not only in the folk-lore but in the history of Central America. Occult science teaches that the race which preceded our own human race was one of giants, which gradually decreased, after the Atlantean deluge had almost swept them off the face of the earth, to the present size of man.
Sibac (Quiché) The reed from the pith of which the third race of men was created, according to the scripture of the Guatemalians, called the Popol Vuh.
Tanga-Tango (Peruv.) An idol much reverenced by the Peruvians. It is the symbol of the Triune or the Trinity, “One in three, and three in One”, and existed before our era.
Tia-Huanaco (Peruv.) Most magnificent ruins of a pre-historic city in Peru.
Ulûpî (Sk.) A daughter of Kauravya, King of the Nâgas in Pâtâla (the nether world, or more correctly, the Antipodes, America). Exoterically, she was the daughter of a king or chief of an aboriginal tribe of the Nâgas, or Nagals (ancient adepts) in pre-historic America—Mexico most likely, or Uruguay. She was married to Arjuna, the disciple of Krishna, whom every tradition, oral and written, shows travelling five thousand years ago to Pâtâla (the Antipodes). The Purânic tale is based on a historical fact. Moreover, Ulûpi, as a name, has a Mexican ring in it, like “ Atlan ”, “ Aclo ”, etc.
Uragas (Sk.) The Nâgas (serpents) dwelling in Pâtâla the nether world or hell, in popular thought ; the Adepts, High Priests and Initiates of Central and South America, known to the ancient Aryans; where Arjuna wedded the daughter of the king of the Nâgas—Ulûpî. Nagalism or Nâga-worship prevails to this day in Cuba and Hayti, and Voodooism, the chief branch of the former, has found its way into New Orleans. In Mexico the chief “sorcerers ”, the “ medicine men ”, are called Nagals to this day; just as thousands of years ago the Chaldean and Assyrian High Priests were called Nargals, they being chiefs of the Magi (Rab.Mag), the office held at one time by the prophet Daniel. The word Nâga, “ wise serpent ”, has become universal, because it is one of the few words that have survived the wreck of the first universal language. In South as well as in Central and North America, the aborigines use the word, from Behring Straits down to Uruguay, where it means a “chief”, a “teacher and a “ serpent ”. The very word Uraga may have reached India and been adopted through its connection, in prehistoric times, with South America and Uruguay itself, for the name belongs to the American Indian vernacular. The origin of the Uragas, for all that the Orientalists know, may have been in Uruguai, as there are legends about them which locate their ancestors the Nâgas in Pâtâla, the antipodes, or America.
Votan (Mex.) The deified hero of the Mexicans, and probably the same as Quetzal-Coatl; a “son of the snakes”, one admitted “to the snake’s hole”, which means an Adept admitted to the Initiation in the secret chamber of the Temple. The missionary Brasseur de Bourbourg, seeks to prove him a descendant of Ham, the accursed son of Noah. (See Isis Unveiled, I., pp. 545 et seq.)
Zuni. The name of a certain tribe of Western American Indians, a very ancient remnant of a still more ancient race. (Secret Doctrine, II., p. 628.)
See Also: Hivim or Chivim, Kuklos Anagkes, etc.
The Kalevala: The Epic Poem of Finland
Epic Poem of Finland
John Martin Crawford
The Hymns of Orpheus
The Homeric Works
The Epics of India
of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa
translated by Kisari Mohan Ganguli
The Bhagavad Gita
Translated in Verse by Sir Edwin Arnold,
Recension By William Quan Judge, and
The Gita According to Gandhi
Being a Translation of Sanscrit Manuscripts from the Asvamedha Parvan of the
A Natural Adjunct to the
KASHINATH TRIMBAK TELANG, MA, LL.B.
RÁMÁYAN OF VÁLMÍKI
Translated into English Verse
RALPH T. H. GRIFFITH, M. A.
See Also: Vedic India
The Vedas and Upanishads
The Eddas and Sagas
The Zend Avesta
The Zend Avesta
Part I: Vendîdâd
translated by James Darmesteter
Part II: The Sîrôzahs, Yasts and Nyâyis
translated by James Darmesteter
Part III: The Yasna, Visparad, Âfrînagân, Gâhs and Miscellaneous Fragments
translated by L.H. Mills
See Also: Zoroastrianism
Per-M-Rhu: The Egyptian Book of the Dead
The Kings of China
The Kings of China
IN his Ocean of Theosophy William Q. Judge speaks of “ancient and honorable China” — ancient it is, for as the Secret Doctrine tells us, the Chinese reached their highest civilization when the fifth Aryan race had hardly appeared in Asia. The original Chinese belong to the seventh sub-race of the Atlantean Race, and from them branched off not only the Malayans, Mongolians and Tibetans, but also Hungarians, Finns and even the Esquimaux. These true Chinamen are of the inland, the aborigines who, in their purity, form the highest and last branch of the fourth Race, whose headquarters are in the province of Fo-kien where H.P.B. reports the existence of a “sacred library” which contains some most ancient Mss. in the Lolo language. The other Chinese are one of the oldest nations of our fifth race, whose latter-day Emperors are the degenerate successors of the Dragons or Initiates who ruled the early races of that fifth humanity. As to China being honorable, who has not heard of the integrity of the Chinese? In such spheres as commerce and politics they have a reputation for honesty and honor worthy of emulation by the modern world. Ancient and honorable China is dying, but her spiritual resources will be inherited by those who evolve out of that branch race.
The wisdom of China comes to us in certain great books, withstanding the ravages of time. In spite of changes and more omissions than interpolations, these texts are not so fragmentary and disconnected as those of Zoroastrianism, examined in previous articles. We are indebted to Confucius for this.
The Chinese divide their eras into three antiquities — the most recent commences with the period of Confucius, who was contemporary with the great Buddha; the second, called the middle antiquity, goes back from Confucius to about 1200 B.C.; while the highest covers a period of 2200 years, commencing with Fu-hsi 5000 years ago. It will not be far wrong to regard Fu-hsi, as the Krishna of China, the opener of its Kali Yuga, first in the line of earthly rulers who “broke up the Primal Unity,” of the preceding age.
Beyond the three antiquities is the “fabulous” and “mythological” era. It covers millions of years. Beginning with the epoch of Pan-ku in whose time “heaven and earth were first separated,” we come to the 12 Tien-hoang, Kings of Heaven, 12 To-hoang, Kings of Earth, and 9 Gin-hoang or Kings’ men, who ruled for some 500,000 years. These 12 Tien-hoang are “the twelve hierarchies of Dhyanis or Angels, with human Faces and Dragon bodies; the dragon standing for Divine Wisdom or Spirit; and they create men by incarnating themselves in seven figures of clay — earth and water — made in the shape of those Tien-hoang, a third allegory.” (S.D. II, 26-7.) Among these mythical beings is one Sui-zan, “The Man of the Burning Speculum,” the Fire-Producer, the Prometheus of China. Superb culture, heavenly knowledge and high civilization are reported in these prehistoric eras. Very scanty is the information about them available to the non-Chinese. These mythical figures, truer than their historical counterparts, remain unknown and unappreciated by the modern world, whose culture is too gross and narrow to grasp the meaning of the cosmic and evolutionary events which they embody.
Fu-hsi, also called Po-hsi, the first Human Ruler of the Chinese people, is even today regarded as a superhuman being. To his credit stands the task of recording the Eight Kwa or Trigrams. In the Yi King, an ancient work “written by generations of Sages” says H.P.B., which the Theosophical Glossary describes as the Kabbalah of China, it is said:
Anciently, when Pao-hsi had come to the rule of all under heaven, looking up, he contemplated the brilliant forms exhibited in the sky, and looking down he surveyed the patterns shown on the earth. He contemplated the ornamental appearances of birds and beasts and the (different) suitabilities of the soil. Near at hand, in his own person, he found things for consideration, and the same at a distance, in things in general. On this he devised the eight trigrams, to show fully the attributes of the spirit-like and intelligent (operations working secretly), and to classify the qualities of the myriads of things.
These eight trigrams are lineal figures of great interest to the student of universal metaphysics and occultism, both of which form such an important part of H.P.B.’s Secret Doctrine. These figures are made up of three lines: the first is made up of three unbroken lines, and is followed by one broken and the remaining unbroken lines, till the eighth is evolved, which is composed of three broken ones. These represent (1) Heaven (2) Still Waters (3) fire (4) Thunder (5) Air (6) Running Waters (7) High land or mountains, and (8) Low land or earth — the eight-fold universe described by the Bhagavad-Gita. Each of these is representative of a material plane and a hierarchy of conscious beings who all play their shadow-game on the illusory eighth, the earth, this man-bearing globe. Therefore, each also has its corresponding virtue. These eight form a circle, the first at the South and the last at the North.
These eight result from Four Hsiang or Emblematic Symbols, which in their turn come from the Two Elementary Forms, and the two from the One, the Great Extreme. James Legge, the well-known Chinese authority asked in 1882: “Who will undertake to say what is meant by ‘the Great Extreme’ which produced the two elementary forms?” The Secret Doctrine did undertake to answer him, and the student will find an explanation in Vol. I, 440-41, and Vol. II, 554.
Further, to the credit of Fu-hsi stands the construction of musical instruments and the spread of the Science of Sociology; he was par excellence the advocate of a pure family life and the dignity of the home. His successor invented agricultural implements, and thus gained for himself the title of “the Divine Labourer.” Yi-King attributes the discovery of Agriculture to “the instruction given to men by celestial genii.” (S.D. II, 374.) Hwang-Ti, the third of the prehistoric, semi-divine emperors was the builder of sacred shrines and libraries. Under his influence arose a regular board of historians, the chief of whom was the reviser and amender of the hieroglyphic writing. Hwang-Ti also regulated the calendar, to which he added the intercalary month. His wife is credited with the invention of the several manipulations in the rearing of silkworms and the making of silk.
All this in the night of time. For thousands of years China has been famous for her discoveries — artesian-wells, compass, glass, gunpowder, paper, printing, porcelain, etc. Much of this knowledge has come down from these mythical periods. Most probably it is to the board of sage historians of the reign of Hwang-Ti that the Chinese owe their habit of preserving records and their custom of maintaining archives. Our knowledge of ancient China comes from certain great books which have been transmitted with faithful care down the generations.
The first of these ancient volumes is the Shu King, which is history with proper chronology, which chronology is based on a very accurate astronomical knowledge; their astronomical sphere is assigned an antiquity of 18,000 years (S.D. I, 658; also II, 620). The book acquired this title in 202 B.C., before which period it was known only as Shu — “the Pencil speaking.” A fourteenth century General Examination of Records and Scholars by Ma Twan-lin says that “the Pencil of the Recorders was busy from the time of Hwang-Ti” which is 2697 B.C. But the Secret Doctrine tells us that it was derived from the “very old Book” referred to in Isis Unveiled. Therefore it contains pointed references to events in the third and the fourth races. (S.D. Vol. II, 280-81; also Vol. II, 372.)
The first two books of the Shu King are regarded as legendary. They deal with the rules of Yaou and of Shun who had to contend against the floods and the deluge. Of Yaou, the ancient book narrates that when he found a handful of his subjects a little discontented, he said. “The fault is mine. I must study to increase my virtue and see wherein I have departed from the Way of Heaven.” And again on hearing some sage advice, thus:
“We come by many branching roads and devious ways to the understanding of wisdom … I perceive that the forest trees are of many sorts and sizes and that those which bear fruit do not put it all forth upon a single branch. I will think upon it.” And this was what he had heard from the Keeper of the Hwa Mountain: “If you have many sons and they be well occupied, what need is there to fear? If you are rich, you can distribute your wealth to others, and then what need is there for care? And if you live a long while and follow the true way, should the empire prosper you will flourish with the rest. But if you live a long while, and the world is filled with wickedness, you have only to retire into obscurity and cultivate your virtue, then when life is done and human ties are severed, you will go to join the gods. And thus transcending the clouds, you will attain the regions of the Supreme; so what occasion is there for decline?”
Of Shun it is written:
Wherever he ploughed the people forgot their landmarks, wherever he fished, the people took in their lines. He made pottery on the banks of the Hwang-Ho that was perfectly smooth and non-porous. He made implements at Show-shan. Wherever he lived for a year, the people formed a community; wherever he lived for two years they built a city; and wherever he resided for three years they erected a capital.
Then came Yu when the chronological accounts begin. Of this ruler H.P.B. writes:
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 in China ecclesiastical power with temporal 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 lndia, and to exist now in Tibet — namely, all the learning, power, the temporal as well as the secret wisdom were concentrated within the hierarchy of the priests and limited to their caste.
Yu was also the inspirer of nine urns with engravings on them which in a later age became the basis of Shan-Hai-King, i.e., Wonders by sea and land by Chung-Ku, B.C. 1818. H.P.B. adds that in the last quarter of the third century of our era Kwoh P’oh wrote a commentary on the same. Besides these historical records of Shu-King there are the Odes (Shi-King) and the Books of Rituals (Li-Chi).
To the Theosophical student of today what is of paramount interest in Chinese literature is the ethical philosophy of this ancient race. Our task is somewhat difficult but we will not lose our way in the labyrinthine maze of records if we keep these landmarks in mind. Three great rivers of religious, philosophic, and mystic tradition empty themselves in the ocean which today is China. Confucianism resulted from the activity of the sage who has played the most important role in Chinese history. He was the resuscitator of the Wisdom of his ancient people. He stitched the loose pages of old records in a coherent volume; he explained the metaphysics of Fu-hsi, of Yaou, of Yu; above all he taught noble ethics equal in rank to those of Jesus and even Gautama. The second is the Tao, the Path that Lao Tze and his school walked and advocated others to tread. The third influence is that of Buddhism, which took root in the Chinese soil in the first century of our era. Like three sacred rivers in a confluence, these meet reaching a profounder depth and become more inspiring. The three rivers lose their different courses and become one in the life of the people. The current gathering force becomes clear of dross and in it the whole past of this great people is mirrored. These rapid and engulfing waters contain for the daring soul an experience not to be met elsewhere in the ocean of worldly knowledge.
The influence of the “Brothers of the Sun”, as the Masters are called in the Chinese literature, has exerted an immemorial influence on the race and its achievements. Says H.P.B.:
The aphorisms in the oldest books of China, moreover, say plainly that the “Dragon” is a human, albeit divine Being. Speaking of the “yellow Dragon,” the chief of the others, the Twan-ying-T’u says: “His wisdom and virtue are unfathomable … he does not go in company and does not live in herds (he is an ascetic). He wanders in the wilds beyond the heavens. He goes and comes, fulfilling the decree (Karma); at the proper seasons if there is perfection he comes forth, if not he remains (invisible).” …. And Kon-fu-tyu is made to say by Lu-lan, “The Dragon feeds in the pure water of Wisdom and sports in the clear waters of life.”
— THEOSOPHY, Vol. 14, No. 7, May, 1926, Pages 308-312
I: The Eternal Religion
* Isis Unveiled, II, p. 30.
Forty years ago, expounding Theosophical tenets, W. Q. Judge called them “Echoes from the Orient.” His words convey a deeper truth than is generally understood: Modern Theosophy verily is but the echo of the Occult Voice of the Orient.
Time was when the ancient continent of Asia, from Fo-Kien to Baku, lived by the same religious truths which united tribes and races and nations into a harmonious whole. The universal Wisdom-Religion was the root of that mighty Tree on which in later times grew the branches of the Zoroastrian, the Chaldean, the Egyptian religions; this takes us back ages before Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad tried to teach the eternal truths. Before the Vedas existed, that Wisdom-Religion, the Bodhi-Dharma, the Source of Brahmanical lore, was.
Not without good reasons the Hindus call theirs the Eternal Religion, Sanatana Dharma. Properly speaking, that title by right can belong only to the Mother Source of all religions, viz., Theosophia or the Wisdom-Religion; but of all exoteric faiths the Brahmanical is the one which approximates most nearly to the original; the first-born of the Aryan family of religions, it bears a very close resemblance to the Mother.
First, of all Asiatic cultures only that of old India survives* as a living reality. Says Mr. Judge, “Of all the old races the Aryan Indian alone yet remains as the preserver of the old doctrine. It will one day rise again to its old heights of glory” (Ocean of Theosophy, p. 85). This is a striking fact, and its meaning becomes clearer when the student of H.P.B.’s Secret Doctrine notes that India became and still is the home of the parent-stock of the Aryan Root-Race which started on its eventful journey a million years ago. Four sub-races of the Fifth Root-Race, the Aryan, have run their course, and at present the fifth sub-race is in the ascendant. During these million years the root-stock has been the Foster Mother of the sub-races, nourishing with her hoary culture the daughter-races in many Western lands. It began with Egypt: “Egypt and India”, says H.P.B. (Isis Unveiled, I, p. 515), “were the oldest in the group of nations; and … the Eastern Ethiopians — the mighty builders — had come from India as a matured people.” The following is from the same book (II, p. 435):
…we are prepared to maintain that Egypt owes her civilization, commonwealth and arts — especially the art of building, to pre-Vedic India, and that it was a colony of the dark-skinned Aryans, or those whom Homer and Herodotus term the eastern Æthiopians, i.e., the inhabitants of Southern India, who brought to it their ready-made civilization in the ante-chronological ages, of what Bunsen calls pre-Menite, but nevertheless epochal history.
We must remember in this connection, that the peoples of Southwestern and Western Asia, including the Medes, were all Aryans. It is yet far from being proved who were the original and primitive masters of India. That this period is now beyond the reach of documentary history, does not preclude the probability of our theory that it was the mighty race of builders, whether we call them Eastern Æthiopians, or dark-skinned Aryans (the word meaning simply “noble warrior,” a “brave”). They ruled supreme at one time over the whole of ancient India, enumerated later by Manu as the possession of those whom our scientists term the Sanskrit-speaking people.
* Readers must bear in mind that archaic India was a far flung country; modern India has shrunk to its present proportions — wide and large as they are — from the geographical marvel that it was! Says H.P.B. in Isis Unveiled, I, p. 589: — “There was an Upper, a Lower, and a Western India, the latter of which is now Persia-Iran. The countries now named Thibet, Mongolia, and Great Tartary, were also considered by the ancient writers as India.”
Similarly “Babylonian civilization was neither born nor developed in that country. It was imported from India, and the importers were Brahmanical Hindus” (Isis Unveiled, I, p. 576). And again, “The Babylonians … got their wisdom and learning from India” (Secret Doctrine, II, p. 566). And so the deduction (Isis Unveiled, I, p. 584):
Can there be any absurdity in the suggestion that the India of 6,000 years ago, brilliant, civilized, overflowing with population, impressed upon Egypt, Persia, Judea, Greece, and Rome, a stamp as ineffaceable, impressions as profound, as these last have impressed upon us?
And again (Isis Unveiled, II, p. 361):
…all the knowledge possessed by these different schools, whether Magian, Egyptian, or Jewish, was derived from India, or rather from both sides of the Himalayas.
The process continues: in some few hundred years more the sixth sub-race will become the pioneer; it will flower in America from the seeds which have been, and are being, sown. Another 25,000 years and the seventh sub-race will come into being, when alone the Aryan Fifth Root-Race will have completed the great drama of its evolution (Secret Doctrine, II, p. 445). It is obvious that the cyclic rise of India is contemporaneous with the rise of each of its daughter sub-races. Every time India rises to the crest of the wave in grand creative activity, she radiates the energy of wisdom, which fructifies a new civilization; then follows the period of preservation, during which India guards her hoard of knowledge, waiting and watching for another hour of cyclic rising, while within her borders the struggle of existence goes on. Thus there are dynamic and static periods in Indian history, and of the latter Mr. Judge says this (Ocean, p. 9):
Turning to India, so long forgotten and ignored by the lusty and egotistical, the fighting and the trading West, we find her full of the lore relating to these wonderful men of whom Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Solomon are only examples. There the people are fitted by temperament and climate to be the preservers of the philosophical, ethical, and psychical jewels that would have been forever lost to us had they been left to the ravages of such Goths and Vandals as western nations were in the early days of their struggle for education and civilization.
Thus India will live fulfilling her mission till the whole of the Aryan Race has discharged its Dharma to the God of Time. In the fascinating story of India’s hoary past, which, says H.P.B., is part of the Great Record, her cyclic rise to eminence, her influence at the birth of new sub-races, etc., are all described. Allegorical reflections of that Record are to be found in what is called Sanatana Dharma, the Eternal Religion — which title is not altogether correctly understood by Hindus themselves. This is one real reason why that title belongs to the religious lore of old India: in the Occult History of Aryavarta is to be found the history of the entire Aryan Root-Race with its seven sub-races.
Secondly, it is a well-known fact that even in extant Hinduism, every soul finds its own especial nourishment. From fetishism, through polytheism and pantheism to the highest and the noblest concept of Deity and Man — in Hinduism the whole gamut of human thought and belief is to be found. For every class of worshiper and thinker Hinduism makes a provision; herein lies also its great power of assimilation and absorption of schools of philosophy and communities of people. And another aspect of this phase consists in the power old India wields in impressing the mind of distant countries, and moulding the heart of foreign cultures. To the real India there are no aliens, for whatever others believe and think is to be found in some phase of Hindu religious philosophy. Of her spiritual commonwealth it can truly be said that it encompasses the whole world. There is not a philosophy, a science or a magical art of Chaldea, Persia, or Greece whose original counterpart cannot be traced to some Sanskrit source. Says H.P.B. in Isis Unveiled, I, p. 620:
Name to us any modern discovery, and we venture to say, that Indian history need not long be searched before the prototype will be found of record.
Sanatana Dharma, the Eternal Religion, has narrowed down to a creed, because during the last many centuries this reality of its touching the wide spaces of earth and encompassing many cycles of time has not been rightly perceived. As genuine Theosophy gains ground in the world, this old and forgotten view of Sanatana Dharma will be more and more recognized. When in America the time arrives for the sixth sub-race to function as a race apart, her sustenance will come from India as in ages gone by it came thence to Egypt and Ethiopia and Babylonia and Greece and Rome. H.P.B. calls India “that old initiatrix” and bearing in mind the kinship between old Egypt and modern America, to which Mr. Judge makes more than one pointed reference, the student is called upon to ponder over this statement from Isis Unveiled, I, p. 589:
…we affirm that, if Egypt furnished Greece with her civilization, and the latter bequeathed hers to Rome, Egypt herself had, in those unknown ages when Menes reigned, received her laws, her social institutions, her arts and her sciences, from pre-Vedic India; and that therefore, it is in that old initiatrix of the priests — adepts of all the other countries — we must seek for the key to the great mysteries of humanity.
With all this in view Mr. Judge wrote in The Path for February, 1891:
If I were convinced by any reasonable proof or argument that Palestine was ever the cradle of our civilization or philosophy, or other than the seat of a people who are the true exponents of a fine social materialism, I would advocate great attention to her records. But it is not a single small nation we should look to. The fountain head is better than a secondary receptacle, a mere cistern that takes the overflow from the source. The fountain is old India, and to that the members of the Theosophical Society who are not only desirous of saving time but also of aiding the sages of the past in the evolution of doctrines which, applied to our great new civilization, can alone save it from failure, will bend themselves to the task of carrying out our second object — the investigation of Aryan literature, religion, and science.
We must prepare. There are men in India to-day who are qualified and willing to aid in translating works hitherto untranslated, in collecting that which shall enable us to disseminate and popularise true doctrines of man’s life and destiny. Time is very short and cannot be spent by all of us in learning Sanskrit… Let us then get ready to use the material in the ancient storehouse of India, treasures that no man can be called a thief for taking, since the truths acquired by the mind respecting man’s life, conduct, constitution, and destiny are the common property of the human race, a treasure that is lost by monopoly and expanded by dissemination.
How very close the mind of Judge was to the great mind of H.P.B. in all matters is once again to be seen by comparing the above with that which follows:
…it is to India, the country less explored, and less known than any other, that all the other great nations of the world are indebted for their languages, arts, legislature, and civilization (Isis, I, p. 585).
No wonder then why H.P.B. called India “The Alma-Mater, not only of the civilization, arts, and sciences, but also of all great religions of antiquity” (Isis, II, p. 30.)
Bearing this in mind let us see what we can learn from Aryavarta of old.
— THEOSOPHY, Vol. 19, No. 7, May, 1931, Pages 294-298
II: The Temple of Knowledge
What has India been preserving through the ages?
That science which is called in some places, the “seven-storied,” in others the “nine-storied” Temple. Every story answers allegorically to a degree of knowledge acquired. Says Isis Unveiled II, p. 392:
Throughout the countries of the Orient, wherever magic and the wisdom-religion are studied, its practitioners and students are known among their craft as Builders — for they build the temple of knowledge, of secret science.
India’s surviving rock-cut caves, her ancient shrines, her gopurams and mandapams are but concrete records of the Invisible Temple above referred to. The Temple Lore is therefore dual — exoteric and esoteric, the former but the shadow and reflection of the latter. The visible and tangible record of the Sanatana Dharma, the Eternal Religion, is but the garment of the true Wisdom-Religion which antedates the Vedas themselves.
The extant writings from Vedas to Puranas are like the numerous shrines of India; they are symbols of the Invisible Temple of Secret Knowledge. It is an awe-inspiring vision to behold the concrete record in its incomplete completeness. The plan of knowledge imparted by Living Divine Men is still available though but in silhouette form. What wealth of detailed information must have been the valued possession of generations of Aryans? What depth of pure and reverent perception must have been theirs to be worthy of such mines of Wisdom?
While the striking fact about other ancient religious philosophies is their fragmentary nature (for example the Zoroastrian), the most remarkable feature of the Brahmanical Shastras is their breadth as well as their depth. Almost every conceivable subject of enquiry meets with some treatment, and compared to our modern knowledge the ancient Indian views are certainly more profound, even though puzzling, than those of any other philosophy.
The first point to note is that while with the approach of Kali-Yuga, the cycle of shadows which darkens everything and blinds man’s moral perceptions, important information and practical instruction were withdrawn, we have still remaining with us most of the map of complete knowledge, which gives us some idea of how this complete knowledge was divided into schools of science and of philosophy, into myths and history, and into codes of laws. Thus, for example, the Upanishads give us an idea of the lofty concepts of Deity, Nature, the Human Soul, and their inter-relationship, which concepts still remain unrivalled; but they also show certain signs of careful withdrawal of important doctrines, which to the ordinary reader, however, appear but as gaps, as illogical sequences and uncalled for deductions. In every department of Aryan Knowledge these gaps are visible, and their true explanation is to be found in the introductory to the first volume of The Secret Doctrine.
Such gaps, due to withdrawal and other causes, notwithstanding, the Brahmanical religious-philosophy contains almost the whole doctrine which will ever become public on this globe in this round. Says Isis Unveiled, II, p. 535:
This creed has not decayed, and its hidden philosophy, as understood now by the initiated Hindus, is just as it was 10,000 years ago. But can our scholars seriously hope to have it delivered unto them upon their first demand? Or do they still expect to fathom the mysteries of the World-Religion in its popular exoteric rites?
One of the most important factors, often overlooked by Western students of Hinduism and more often by Hindus themselves, is that there are interpolations as well as gaps in the doctrine. Corruption of Hinduism is not so much due to what has been withdrawn as to what has been inserted and added. To buttress their own beliefs and attain ulterior purposes, men with vested interests have unscrupulously tampered with texts, while honest interpreters were writing commentaries on them, some of which are illuminating, yet most of which befog the vision. With this note of caution sounded let us draw pertinent attention to the following from Isis Unveiled, I, p. 583:
No people in the world have ever attained to such a grandeur of thought in ideal conceptions of the Deity and its offspring, MAN, as the Sanskrit metaphysicians and theologians.
All knowledge was divided into two divisions — Para-Vidya, the esoteric knowledge and Apara-Vidya, the exoteric. It must not be supposed that the former is distinct and separate from the latter; like the Soul and mind in man, the esoteric and exoteric are closely interknit. Within the exoteric lies hidden the esoteric, though it is true that the esoteric extends beyond the exoteric, just as soul vision transcends mind perception. The exoteric record is objective — in architecture, in amulets, in coins, in jewels, in Mss., in ritual, etc., it can be read. The esoteric record is subjective — it is made and retained in the volume of the brain, hidden in certain of its organs, whose functions and powers are unknown to modern anatomy and physiology; words of silence communicate it from Hierophant to neophyte, from Guru to chela. This Para-Vidya is also named Guhya-Vidya: the secret Art only to be learnt and practiced in the cave (guha) of the heart. This Gupta-Vidya, says H.P.B. (Secret Doctrine II, p. 565), is “the primeval and original Occultism of Aryavarta, brought into India by the primeval Brahmins, who had been initiated in Central Asia. And this is the Occultism we study and try to explain, as much as is possible in these pages.” And again (Ibid, p. 584), she speaks of “the one root, the root of wisdom, which grows and thrives on the Indian soil … the sacred land of Aryavarta.”
We must now survey Apara-Vidya, the exoteric knowledge — not as a field but as a veritable continent.
Before we name the contents of the exoteric knowledge let us dispose of the classification of Karma-Kanda and Gnyan-Kanda so often referred to. There is some confusion of thought and only the true Theosophic light dispels the surrounding fog.
Karma-Kanda is that part of Apara-Vidya or exoteric knowledge, which enables a man to act righteously, to practice Dharma-Religion. Every tome of the exoteric knowledge has this Karma-Kanda which tells the reader how to act, what to do, the way to avoid the sins of omission as well as those of commission. Much of ritualism, most of the laws and rules laid down, are accepted and believed in and practiced. The strong point and the virtuous aspect of this arrangement lies in the training which men and women get through methodic and regular religious exercises; repetitive acts of worship and sacrifice whereby people are made to remember (1) their own inner Divinity; (2) the grandeur of visible and invisible Nature which surrounds them; (3) the inter-relationship between them; and (4) the debt which men owe to the beings of the invisible worlds on whom they are dependent, as also their own dignity as beings on whom these invisible beings, in turn, rely for help and guidance of a particular kind. The weak point and vicious aspect of the arrangement is that people, not understanding the real meaning of these rituals, have come to perform them quite mechanically, and the energy of faith has evaporated leaving behind the scum of blind-belief. So to-day the religious actions and exercises are in greatest measure a farce, nay more, a blasphemy. This is one of the chief curses under which India of to-day is groaning. But for all that, the value of Karma-Kanda is very great and has served the people worthily for long centuries.
Gnyan-Kanda is supplementary to Karma-Kanda; it gives knowledge about why and how actions according to the Karma-Kanda should be performed. Study and practice went hand in hand and both, duly observed, led the students to the esoteric side of things. The glory of old Sanatana Dharma lay in the Gnyan-Kanda which explained Nature and Nature’s Laws and made the living of the life a noble process.
Another way to look at these two is to regard Gnyan-Kanda as the hidden esoteric soul of Karma-Kanda, the exoteric ritual or form side of religion.
Next, we will consider still another classification of knowledge which is recognized by Hinduism. These various classifications are instructive inasmuch as each of them reveals a fundamental and true aspect of the subject under review.
All knowledge was divided into four classes — (1) Science; (2) Philosophy; (3) Religion; (4) Esotericism. Science is the body, philosophy the mind, religion the soul, and esotericism the spirit of knowledge. Four great paths take the student to the end of the journey.
The Path of Practice, Abhayasa, is the path of the Scientist. By repeated experimentation, by observation checked and rechecked, by analysis and reiterated verification the scientist grows — learning and teaching. Treading this path, he develops patience, accuracy, and detachment for the results of his labours. The Path of Science must be valued in the light of the virtues it brings out in the practitioner; many Theosophical students are wrong in evincing a sneering or superior attitude to Modern Science. It is not what is said by the scientist that should be made the means of measuring his achievements; no doubt his theories change; but in evolving theories, qualities are unfolded, which are assets for the future collected in the present.
The Path of Knowledge, Gnyan, is the path of the philosopher. By the method of synthesizing the many theories and even speculations, he builds the power of abstract meditation. Removing his thinking from the field of objects he enters that of subjects, from the world of forms he goes inwards to formless worlds. Unlike his brother scientist, he is unconcerned about details and confines his reflections to underlying principles. He finds out the trinity of Gnyata, Gnyan and Gneyam — knower, knowledge and object known.
The Path of Devotion, Bhakti, is the path of the religious. Having seen with the mind’s eye the source of all which is freedom absolute — Sat, Chit, Ananda, the existence of bliss-full ideation; and also that the separated “I” or Ahamkara is the cause of bondage to Gnyan, Knowledge, and therefore to ignorance, Avidya; to Ichcha, the will to live, which implies the will to die; to kriya, action, which means also to fate, prarabdka Karma — the religious unfolds true fiery devotion as a means to a grand end, a sublime attainment. What is his objective? To reach that state of Compassion Absolute, Paramartha Satya, which enables him to love all creatures, the little selves, bound by the power of the One Great Self. As pure and powerful manifestations of the Great Self, in the world of men, he uses the life-work of the Incarnations, Avataras. To understand the mystery, the hidden reality, the Occultism of Life Incarnate, he perforce seeks Teachers, Gurus of the great knowledge, Maha-Vidya, which is secret-knowledge, Guhya-Vidya.
The Path of Yagna, Sacrificial Action or real magic is the path of the esotericist. The esotericist labours in full knowledge; performance of certain actions is undertaken, in definite manner, by deliberately planned method, according to what is learnt from the lips of Divine Men perfected. He alone knows what the devotee feels, what the philosopher thinks, what the scientist sees, without their limitations.
Thus the four categories of knowledge are practically utilized and the thread of evolution of the human being runs through them.
We must leave here, for the time being, Para-Vidya, the esoteric soul of knowledge and confine our attention to exoteric or Apara-Vidya. And at the very start we will request the reader to keep in mind that in ancient India exoteric knowledge was not what learning is to-day — materialistic, speculative, hesitant, changing, giving a dozen theories for one fact. Then, even exoteric knowledge was classified on principles; what was taught were provable facts, and theories were working hypotheses which the pupil was called upon to accept, not to abandon after a while for new ones, but to transform them one by one into proven facts.
All knowledge was divided into three main compartments: (1) Sruti — revelation; (2) Smriti — Laws and Tradition; (3) Itihasa-Purana — History and Mythology. They are numbered in the order of their value and importance and to their examination we must now turn.
— THEOSOPHY, Vol. 19, No. 8, June, 1931, Pages 347-351
III: History and Myths
WE must start with the primary division of all knowledge into three compartments: (1) Sruti — Revelation; (2) Smriti — Laws and Tradition; (3) Itihasa and Purana — History and Mythology. Sruti contains the Vedic lore; Smriti is composed of codes of laws; the third consists of the Epics and the Puranas. However, it will facilitate our work to survey them in the reverse order, beginning with the third compartment.
The main divisions of this third class are two: (a) Itihasa — History; (b) Puranas — Myths; both contain stories innumerable. These are mostly allegories of cosmical and psychological facts especially meant for the less educated portion of the community unable to read the Sruti (Vedas, etc.), or the Smriti (Law-Codes). In every Indian village, even to-day, stories are told under the shady tree. Many are the favourite tales of the peerless Sita, of the devoted Savitri, of the sin of Kaikeyi, heard by the girls, while their brothers enjoy tales of the playfulness of Krishna, the Divine Cowherd, the prowess of Arjuna, the degrading destruction of the evil-minded Duryodhana.
The art of story-telling (actually telling by word of mouth) is almost perfect among the illiterate, but by no means uncultured, villagers, and especially among the women-folk. This has given rise to a very rich folk-lore, and there are stories short and long which give not only mundane but also spiritual knowledge — every one of them is aptly adorned with a moral. In these folk-lore tales Indian proverb-stories should be included. All of these are full of wit, humor and charm and have proven a veritable grace which purifies and uplifts the heart of the simple men and women. A special department of this should also be referred to in passing. Wandering Sadhus and others, especially those gifted with a voice for song and a quick wit perform kalakshepams and Hari-Kathas — speak of Hari the Great Lord in story and song. This is the only form of drama and concert which Indian villagers in their millions ever hear or know about. Their educative value is greater than is ordinarily suspected, for among such workers are sometimes servant-chelas of Great Masters.
(a) Itihasa or History consists of epics in which are narrated actual historical events and happenings and in which also, the psychological, the mythical, and the philosophical moral of each is well and carefully drawn. The epics are the well-known Ramayana and Mahabharata, most likely the originals of the Iliad and the Odyssey. Myths represent the living soul of history; the former help men to image forth the future, as history enables them to visualize the past. Myths deal with the whole man, history only with the visible part of him. Therefore has Myth the power to prognosticate. Myths may be rightly regarded as records of souls, and in India their practical application is constantly sought and made.
The Ramayana deals with the historical period of the first King of the Divine Dynasty. Says the Secret Doctrine (II, p. 495):
The whole History of that period is allegorized in the Ramayana, which is the mystic narrative in epic form of the struggle between Rama — the first King of the divine dynasty of the early Aryans — and Ravana, the symbolical personation of the Atlantean (Lanka) race. The former were the incarnations of the Solar Gods; the latter, of the lunar Devas. This was the great battle between Good and Evil, between white and black magic, for the supremacy of the divine forces, or of the lower terrestrial, or cosmic powers.
But both history and myth are intermingled and the latter aspect also is dealt with in the Secret Doctrine (II, p. 163):
In the Ramâyana, when Hanuman is reconnoitering the enemy in Lanka, he finds there Rakshasas, some hideous, “while some were beautiful to look upon,” and, in Vishnu Purâna, there is a direct reference to their becoming the Saviours of “Humanity,” or of Brahmâ.
The allegory is very ingenious. Great intellect and too much knowledge are a two-edged weapon in life, and instruments for evil as well as for good. When combined with Selfishness, they will make of the whole of Humanity a footstool for the elevation of him who possesses them, and a means for the attainment of his objects; while, applied to altruistic humanitarian purposes, they may become the means of the salvation of many. At all events, the absence of self-consciousness and intellect will make of man an idiot, a brute in human form. Brahmâ is Mahat — the universal Mind — hence the too-selfish among the Rakshasas showing the desire to become possessed of it all — to “devour” Mahat. The allegory is transparent.
Similarly, the Mahabharata deals with the historical event of the Great War on the battle-field of Kurukshetra, which event is allegorized as the Psychological War on Dharmakshetra, the field of Duty. This Mahabharata War marked the closing epoch which the Ramayana War opened, for “the Aryan races had never ceased to fight with the descendants of the first giant races.” This last war coincided with Kaliyuga which began 5,000 years ago.
Both these Epics are wonderful spiritual treatises — “every line of which has to be read esoterically” says the Secret Doctrine. They disclose “in magnificent symbolism and allegory the tribulations of both man and soul.” (Secret Doctrine, II, p. 496.) But let them not be regarded as unscientific; says the Secret Doctrine (II, p. 680):
The Evolutionists stand firm as a rock on the evidence of similarity of structure between the ape and the man. The anatomical evidence, it is urged, is quite overpowering in this case; it is bone for bone, and muscle for muscle, even the brain conformation being very much the same.
Well, what of it? All this was known before King Herod; and the writers of the Ramayana, the poets who sang the prowess and valour of Hanuman, the monkey-God, “whose feats were great and Wisdom never rivalled,” must have known as much about his anatomy and brain as does any Haeckel or Huxley in our modern day. Volumes upon volumes were written upon this similarity, in antiquity as in more modern times.
Whence all this knowledge of physiology, psychology and anthropology, not to mention astronomy, mechanics and mathematics? The Secret Doctrine tells us (II, p. 426):
It is from the Fourth Race that the early Aryans got their knowledge of “the bundle of wonderful things,” the Sabha and Mayasabha, mentioned in the Mahabhârata, the gift of Mayâsur to the Pándavas. It is from them that they learnt aëronautics, Viwán Vidya (the “knowledge of flying in air-vehicles”), and, therefore, their great arts of meteorography and meteorology. It is from them, again, that the Aryans inherited their most valuable science of the hidden virtues of precious and other stones, of chemistry, or rather alchemy, of mineralogy, geology, physics and astronomy.
(b) The Puranas are eighteen in number. The attention of the student of Occultism may once more be drawn to this oft-recurring number — 18 Chapters of the Gita, 18 days of the Great War, both of which form part of the 18 books of the Mahabharata, etc., and now the 18 Puranas. The name Purana means “Ancient”* signifying that it is the ancient lore which is re-told in a new form. The birth and dissolution of the Cosmos with its many systems; the numerous marvels of anthropogenesis; the appearance and actions of Great Incarnations, Avataras; the intimate relation between the Invisible worlds of Devas and Dhyan-Chohans and their creatures the Devatas or Elementals on the one hand, and the visible earth on which men live and labour affecting and affected by crystals and metals, by giant trees and flowering shrubs, by the bird, the beast, the reptile, on the other; the sage advice of Deva-Rishis, the example of sacrifice of the Raja-Rishis — all this and more is to be found in the Puranas. These Chronicles are certainly more valuable than they are given credit for, generally speaking.
* Midrashim of the Hebrews, who in so many respects, especially in mystical and ritualistic, have copied ancient Brahmanas, but invariably corrupting and animalizing them.
H. P. Blavatsky reiterates the value of the Puranas to the student of esoteric science, pointing out that they are but attempts at the repetition of the tenets of the esoteric doctrine under exoteric form of national symbols, for the purpose of cloaking these tenets. (S.D. II, p. 455.) We cannot do better than give her own words, selecting only a few from the many passages on the subject:
By the scholar who studies the Hindu religion from the Purânas, one thing is to be especially noted. He must not take literally, and in one sense only, the statements therein found; since those which especially concern the Manvantaras or Kalpas have to be understood in their several references. (I. p. 369).
It is evident that, taken in their dead letter, the Purânas read as an absurd tissue of fairy tales and no better. But if one reads chapters I., II. and III. from Book II. (Vol. II.) of Vishnu Purâna and accepts verbatim its geography, geodesy, and ethnology, in the matter of Priyavrata’s seven sons, among whom the father divides the seven Dwipas (Continental Islands); and then proceeds to study how the eldest son, the King of Jambu-dwipa, Agnidhra, apportioned Jambu-dwipa among his nine sons; and then how Nabhi his son, who had a hundred sons and apportioned all these in his turn — then the reader is likely to throw the book away and pronounce it a farrago of nonsense. But the esoteric student will understand that, in the days when the Purânas were written, the true meaning was clear only to the Initiated Brahmins, who wrote those works allegorically and would not give the whole truth to the masses. (II, p. 320).
…in the Purânas one may find the most scientific and philosophical “dawn of creation,” which, if impartially analyzed and rendered into plain language from its fairy tale-like allegories, would show that modern zoology, geology, astronomy, and nearly all the branches of modern knowledge, have been anticipated in the ancient Science, and were known to the philosophers in their general features, if not in such detail as at present!
Purânic astronomy, with all its deliberate concealment and confusion for the purpose of leading the profane off the real track, was shown even by Bentley to be a real science; and those who are versed in the mysteries of Hindu astronomical treatises, will prove that the modern theories of the progressive condensation of nebulae, nebulous stars and suns, with the most minute details about the cyclic progress of asterisms — far more correct than Europeans have even now — for chronological and other purposes, were known in India to perfection.
If we turn to geology and zoology we find the same. What are all the myths and endless genealogies of the seven Prajâpati, and their sons, the seven Rishis or Manus, and of their wives, sons and progeny, but a vast detailed account of the progressive development and evolution of animal creation, one species after the other? Were the highly philosophical and metaphysical Aryans — the authors of the most perfect philosophical systems of transcendental psychology, of Codes of Ethics, and such a grammar as Pânini’s, of the Sankhya and Vedanta systems, and a moral code (Buddhism), proclaimed by Max Müller the most perfect on earth — such fools, or children, as to lose their time in writing fairy tales; such tales as the Purânas now seem to be in the eyes of those who have not the remotest idea of their secret meaning? What is the fable, the genealogy and origin of Kasyapa, with his twelve wives, by whom he had a numerous and diversified progeny of nagas (serpents), reptiles, birds, and all kinds of living things, and who was thus the father of all kinds of animals, but a veiled record of the order of evolution in this round? So far, we do not see that any Orientalist ever had the remotest conception of the truths concealed under the allegories and personifications. (II, p. 253.)
Just as in old alchemical works the real meaning of the substances and elements meant are concealed under the most ridiculous metaphors, so are the physical, psychic, and spiritual natures of the Elements (say of fire) concealed in the Vedas, and especially in the Purânas, under allegories comprehensible only to the Initiates. Had they no meaning, then indeed all those long legends and allegories about the sacredness of the three types of fire, and the forty-nine original fires — personified by the Sons of Daksha’s daughters and the Rishis, their husbands, “who with the first son of Brahmâ and his three descendants constitute the forty-nine fires” — would be idiotic verbiage and no more. But it is not so…. Science has no speculations to offer on fire per se; Occultism and ancient religious science have. This is shown even in the meagre and purposely veiled phraseology of the Purânas, where (as in the Vâyu Purâna) many of the qualities of the personified fires are explained….the writers of the Purânas were perfectly conversant with the “Forces” of Science and their correlations; moreover, with the various qualities of the latter in their bearing upon those psychic and physical phenomena which receive no credit and are unknown to physical science now. Very naturally, when an Orientalist, — especially one with materialistic tendencies — reads that these are only appellations of fire employed in the invocations and rituals, he calls this “Tantrika superstition and mystification”; and he becomes more careful to avoid errors in spelling, than to give attention to the secret meaning attached to the personifications, or to seek their explanation in the physical correlations of forces, so far as known. So little credit, indeed, is given to the ancient Aryans for knowledge, that even such glaring passages as in Book I, chap. ii, Vishnu Purâna, are left without any notice. (I, p. 520-21.)
…the Hindu Purânas give a description of wars on continents and islands situated beyond Western Africa in the Atlantic Ocean; if their writers speak of Barbaras and other people such as Arabs — they who were never known to navigate, or cross the Kala pani (the black waters of the Ocean) in the days of Phoenician navigation — then their Purânas must be older than those Phoenicians…. (II, p. 406.)
The Puranic lore has remained unexplored. However late the era in which they were transcribed to writing, the Puranas are ancient historical records which deal with the “story of creation” of stars and souls, of gods and demons, and finally of humans, separating into men and women. We cannot close this instalment more fitly than by repeating the advice H. P. Blavatsky gave to young Indians, which has not yet been accepted. She wrote (I, p. 522-3):
Truly the young Brahmin who graduates in the universities and colleges of India with the highest honours; who starts in life as an M.A. and an LL.B., with a tail initialed from Alpha to Omega after his name, and a contempt for his national gods proportioned to the honours received in his education in physical sciences; truly he has but to read in the light of the latter, and with an eye to the correlation of physical Forces, certain passages in his Purânas, if he would learn how much more his ancestors knew than he will ever know — unless he becomes an occultist.
— THEOSOPHY, Vol. 19, No. 9, July, 1931, Pages 392-397
IV: Odes Of Duty
SMRITIS are traditions imparted orally; the word Smriti means Memory. The occult origin is obvious: facts which could not be transcribed were passed on orally; also the cultural value of memory was so fully recognized that the ear was regarded as more important than the eye and the spoken word came into greater educational use than the written word. Their other name is Dharma-Shastra — Codes of Law, or the Lore of the Laws of Duty. There are four great Codes recognized, even by the British Government Courts, and these are constantly used to seek for precedents, etc. Just as the Itihasa-Puranas are living realities in Indian homes, so are the Smritis vital and essential in statecraft and civic administration. They are: (1) Manu Smriti, about which one of the great Theosophical Mahatmas wrote to H.P.B. to advise students of esotericism “to study Manu;” (2) Yagnavalkaya Smriti; (3) Shankha Likhita Smriti; (4) Parashara Smriti. There are also others, some of which contain rules and laws for special occasions and precedents for untoward and not ordinary cases.
Of all the Smritis the Manu Smriti is the most important. It is also known as the Manava Dharma Shastra. Like other authentic texts it begins with universals from which it proceeds to particulars. Why ethics and rites of a particular description should be practised is demonstrated by the fact that these rest on, and have their origin in, philosophical and metaphysical truth. Therefore the Code of Manu begins with the story of Svayambhu, the Self-Existent which shines forth of Its own Will and which can be perceived by subtle sight only. Then follows the manifestation of all else — human principles, spirit, mind, body and their cosmic correspondences and sources. In short compass but without lacunae the Code lays the foundation, cosmic and universal, for human conduct. It advises all men to learn the Sacred Law which is fully known by the Enlightened Ones; but to which an intuitive assent is given by virtuous mortals who then follow it; it imparts to those who practise it the power of powers — to become exempt from hatred and inordinate affection (II, 1). If the learner, because of the intuitive urge, is intent on the performance of his own Duty according to the teachings of this great Code, he finds that in him opens the eye of discernment (II, 8). And as not a single act performed by mortals on earth is free from desire (II, 4) the Code essays the task of teaching how to perform congenital duties.
Now the whole struggle of human existence lies in the struggle of duty. Man discards his proper duty because it is unpleasant and through attachment he assumes duties which are not his, and thus forges links of future bondage. He rushes to perform actions which are not his duties and runs away from their legitimate reactions when these have to be faced. What then is congenital duty? As an ordinary mortal is not capable of determining by his own unaided effort, the Master-Codifiers give indications, signs and tokens. How shall a man know what his duty is? By following the instruction imparted in the Codes, where different stages of human evolution, each with its appropriate qualities and attributes, are described. Just as in a new city with the help of a map the traveller finds out in what particular street of the city he is, and where that street leads to, so also with the aid of the Codes a soul born in a new environment can learn his place and position in the scheme of things. For this reason are rites and sacraments laid down, and castes and states detailed. From birth to death, life is one long ritual and the life-thread, sutra-atma, is Duty.
It would be impossible to give in full what the Code of Manu offers. Moreover, we must guard against interpolations by priests and others with vested interests. Once again, the key of Theosophy, the religion of common sense par excellence, must be applied. According to the Bhagavata Purana, far back in the mists of a forgotten past, time was when there was among the Hindus only “One Veda, One Deity, One Caste.” Then came the cycle of natural divisions into four castes, which later were degraded into the tyrannical institution which the system now is. We will here examine the two principal teachings about Caste (Varna) and State (Ashrama) especially as they have a practical bearing on, and can be of service to, our modern civilization.
The origin of Caste is said to be Brahma Himself; to make the earth prosper He caused the Brahamana to be born of his mouth, the Kshatriya of his arms, the Vaisha of his thighs and the Shudra of his feet. The significant point to note is that they are all born of Brahma, and that really in their original forms no distinction of superiority or inferiority is made. These castes are universal and the Code of Manu applies to the entire human kingdom. “In order to protect the universe, He the most resplendent one assigned separate occupations to those who sprang from his mouth, arms, thighs, and feet” (I, 87), and it is said that “there is no fifth caste” (X, 4). Those that are not born from Brahma are named Dasyus. Much misrepresentation and misunderstanding exists in this matter, because in reality the four castes have an esoteric significance and represent the work of four classes of super-physical, but all the same corporeal beings (S.D. II, 89) who are devoid of intellect (S.D. II, 91). The Secret Doctrine contains the real key to the solution of this problem. First, it must be clearly grasped that, however important a part birth may play in it, the institution of caste is determined by the inner birth marks. In earlier Yugas when the swing of evolution was rhythmic, physically and super-physically, materially and spiritually, caste laws worked infallibly, i.e., only an appropriate soul incarnated in the caste body. But in this Kali-Yuga, the caste-confusion feared by Arjuna in the Bhagavad-Gita has taken place. Nowadays in exceedingly rare cases do soul virtues find virtuous vehicles in which to incarnate. All over the world caste-confusion prevails, causing innumerable problems — among them, the problem of Varna, colour. The colour problem in America, in India and elsewhere will find its true meaning and solution when Manu’s Code is really understood, and for that the key of the Esoteric Philosophy has to be applied.
The Code of Manu says: “Behaviour unworthy of an Aryan, hardness, cruelty and habitual neglect of prescribed duties, betray in this world a man of impure origin” (X, 58). By this criterion there are but few caste-men in existence! Again there is much in this paradoxical statement: “Having considered the case of a non-Aryan who acts like an Aryan, and that of an Aryan who acts like a non-Aryan, the creator declared — ‘Those two are neither equal nor unequal.'”
The Gita defines the virtues and attributes of each caste. His own Karma determines the caste into which a soul is born, as by his past Karma he attracts to himself his instruments which possess Gunas or attributes. Karma and Guna — actions and qualities — determine the caste of a man. We must note the dual element of forces, spiritual and material. Caste is not of the Soul, nor of the body, but arises out of the conjoint action of the two. Krishna is the “author” of these (Gita IV, 13). The natural duties of the four castes are defined (Gita XVIII, 41-44).
Each and every human being belongs to one of the four castes: He whose natural bent is to study and to teach, to sacrifice his self to Self and his self for other selves, to be generous in giving and to humbly accept gifts, he is a Brahmana, whatever his walk in life. He whose natural bent is to offer protection to all, to bestow gifts, to offer sacrifice, to study and to fight against sensuous life, he is a Kshattriya, whatever his status in life. He whose natural bent is to amass wealth by agriculture or trade, to borrow and lend money, is a Vaishya, whatever his place in life. He whose natural inclination is to be dependent on others and to labour for them is a Shudra, whatever position he occupies in life. These natural bents expressing qualities show what vices one should avoid and what virtues one should cultivate.
Still more practical is the division of a single life into four compartments called Ashramas or states to which also the Smritis make pointed and repeated reference. Let us glance at them.
The Caste institution depicts the larger circle of the steady and rhythmic unfoldment of the man through many lives. The colours of his qualities from that of dark Inertia, through the green of Mobility, to the golden lustre of Truth and the radiance of the white Purity of the One Self, mark the steady and long progress achieved. Esoteric science teaches that this change of colours of the inner astral man verily does take place. Shades of colour in the Astral Man are as real as pigmentation of the skin, colour of the eye, lustre of the hair, etc., in his physical body. These developments represent a long line of evolution through the round of many births and deaths, and belong to the entire human kingdom.
Similarly, the Codes of Duty lay down the rhythm of progress in the smaller circle of a single incarnation. If there is caste-confusion, and its sequence, non-recognition of the fact that man’s evolution can be made to proceed along harmonious lines, so also is there confusion in this Kali-Yuga, when youths who ought to be learning are wage-slaves, when men and women who ought to be building homes are utilizing demoniac devices to shatter the dignity of parenthood, and when old men are clinging to worldly possessions or have to cling to worldly avocations, and die in harness with their minds fixed on earth instead of in the quietude of spiritual contemplation. It may take a longer time for the modern man to see the wisdom of the ancient teaching about caste, than to understand the four stages through which each one passes in a single life. Once the latter scheme of rhythmic progress is perceived, however, it will not be very difficult to see the truth underlying the former.
What is the teaching about the four ashramas or orders?
Each human being should pass through (1) studentship, (2) family life, (3) non-worldly contemplation, (4) service of his fellow men.
I. Studentship is named Brahmacharya — service of Brahman, i.e., the student is acquiring knowledge now for the service of omnipresent Deity or Nature, to last for the rest of his life. The term is translated as continence, celibacy, because sex-purity is the centre-virtue, the foundation of the life of the learner — “let him never waste his manhood” (II, 180). Also, learning, which is regarded as an accumulating process, has as its bodily counterpart the preservation of the creative forces, the gathering in of the forces which, in the next stage only, should be used. The relation between these two is to be seen in this verse: “Those organs which are strongly attached to sensual pleasures, cannot so effectually be restrained by abstinence as by a constant pursuit of knowledge” (II, 96). Therefore has the term Brahmacharya this dual meaning — celibacy and service: creating bodily and intellectual progeny follows the gathering in of seminal powers of both types.
Wisdom is the goal of the learner and whatever branch of knowledge he may be engaged in acquiring he is called upon to observe the following general rules:
A wise man should strive to restrain his organs which run wild among alluring sensual objects, like a charioteer his horses. Those eleven organs which former sages have named, I will properly (and) precisely enumerate in due order, (Viz.) the ear, the skin, the eyes, the tongue, and the nose as the fifth, the anus, the organ of generation, hands and feet, and the (organ of) speech, named as the tenth. Five of them, the ear and the rest according to their order, they call organs of sense, and five of them, the anus and the rest, organs of action. Know that the internal organ (manas) is the eleventh, which by its quality belongs to both (sets); when that has been subdued, both those sets of five have been conquered. Through the attachment of his organs (to sensual pleasure) a man doubtlessly will incur guilt; but if he keep them under complete control, he will obtain success (in gaining all his aims). (II, 88-93).
Rules of life are stressed much more than the subjects of study. What would an undergraduate of to-day say to this:
Let him abstain from meat, perfumes, flavouring substances, and doing injury to living creatures. Let him abstain from anointing his body, applying collyrium to his eyes, as from desire, dancing, singing, gambling, looking at or touching women; also from idle disputes, backbiting and seducing or being seduced.
II. The Householder stage unfolds out of the student stage. The student lived in his teacher’s home, which was like unto a boarding school. Grihastha ashram is the stage of home-building which follows marriage. This stage is considered to be the highest of the four, for from it the other three spring. (VI, 87).
As all living creatures subsist by receiving support from air, even so all orders subsist by receiving support from the householder. (III, 77).
Elaborate and detailed rules and regulations for this stage are given — beginning with marriage. Our modern students of Eugenics who are groping in the dark will gain much by a careful and discriminative study of these sections of the Code of Manu. To those who believe that the Laws of Manu hold woman’s estate to be low the following may be cited:
Women must be honoured and adorned by their fathers, brothers, husbands, and brothers-in-law if they desire their own welfare. Where women are honoured, there the gods are pleased; but where they are not honoured, no sacred rite yields reward. (III, 55-56).
It would be impossible to go into details and so we will permit ourselves one more quotation which sums up the vocation of a Grihastha, a gentleman:
Let him not, out of desire attach himself to sensual pleasures, and let him carefully obviate an excessive attachment to them, by reflecting on their worthlessness in his heart. Let him avoid all means of acquiring wealth which impede the study of the Veda; let him maintain himself somehow but let him maintain study because through study he secures the realization of his aims. Let him walk the way of life bringing his dress, speech and thoughts to a conformity with his age, his occupation, his wealth, his sacred learning and his race. (IV, 16-19).
III. Vanaprastha, the Forest-dwelling stage follows. When a man is beginning to become wrinkled, when grey hairs are turning white, when he sees his grandchildren around him, then is his time for the contemplative life, to practise which he must seek retirement, either committing his wife to the care of his sons, or accompanied by her, if she be willing. The industry of the forest-dweller is reciting the sacred texts; his independence is not receiving gifts; his ritual is with the three sacred fires. The Code describes what he should eat and how he should live and in order to attain union with the Supreme Soul he must study the Upanishads.
IV. Just as the student stage is the preparatory stage for that of the householder, so also the forest-dwelling stage precedes the fourth, that of Sannyasa, complete Renunciation. In this, a man comes in contact with his fellow-men and lives for them:
Let him not desire to die, let him not desire to live; let him wait his hour, as a servant for his wages. Against an angry man let him not be angry; let him bless when he is cursed; let him not utter speech, devoid of truth, scattered at the seven gates. Neither by explaining prodigies and omens, nor by skill in astrology and palmistry, nor by giving advice, let him ever seek to obtain alms. By deep meditation let him recognize the subtile nature of the Supreme Soul, and its presence in all organisms, both the highest and the lowest. Let him recognize by the practice of meditation the progress of the individual soul through beings of various kinds, a process hard to understand for unregenerate man.
The student of Theosophy will recognize in all this much of his own instructions and in his sincere effort to change the mind of the race will find these ancient ideals of profound significance and great value. Both simplicity and beauty have gone out of life. Ugly complexities have imprisoned the Soul and have produced wickedness. Unrighteousness prevails because Dharma, the Law of Duty, is not practised. Its knowledge will help us to bring the world to Duty and with Duty simplicity of life as well as its beauty will come to abide.
— THEOSOPHY, Vol. 19, No. 11, September, 1931, Pages 495-501
V: On Revelation
SRUTI means Revelation. Smriti results from remembrance of “what is heard,” i.e., Sruti. In the Western religions, both in modern Christianity and in its parent Judaism, Revelation connotes that which is revealed by God to his chosen Prophets. In Hinduism it does not mean that at all. By purity of life, study, and meditation the human soul becomes capable of hearing the Song of Life which Mother Nature chants in the Voice of the Silence; such highly evolved souls repeat in the language of words what is heard; that repetition is Sruti or Revelation. On the banks of the sacred rivers, in the heart of the living forests, wise ones heard by the soul what the Mahatmas and Nirmanakayas and Devas said and sang; they saw by the Soul what the “upholders of the universe” who are “the knowers of the essence of things” were doing by way of duty and of sacrifice; what they heard and saw they described and that faithful description is the Sruti. This is not the work of one or several isolated individuals, but is the great record of Truth made by checking, testing and verifying the work of each with that of all others and by centuries of experience.
The Sruti is composed of the Four Vedas. Occultism teaches that these were delivered by Primeval Sages on Lake Manasa-Sarovar beyond the Himalayas, tens of thousands of years ago.
It is, comparatively speaking, not important to argue out the exact era in which the Vedas were first transcribed, or subsequently arranged. The stages seem to be, first, the age when they were heard and remembered; second, the age when they were fully transcribed; and third, the age when they were rearranged till their present form was reached. H.P.B. says, “They are the most ancient as well as the most sacred of the Sanskrit works.”
There exist to-day four Vedas: Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva. Whether or not the Vedas known to-day retain their Original Impulse and their Original Vision is doubtful; this, however, may be taken as certain, that the efficacy of even what exists does not consist in their surface-meaning, but in their correct chanting. Originally there were three classes of priests, learned and holy, Hotri, Adhvaryu, and Udgatri; the first used the Rig, the second the Yajur, and the third the Sama. The use of the fourth or Atharva Veda was confined to a few versed in the esotericism of the three.
The Hymns of the Rig Veda are highly philosophical and describe the processes of visible and invisible Nature and name the Presiding Genius over every such process. Even to-day by right repetition pure minds can understand the plan of action in Nature which is a Living Whole.
The Chants of the Sama Veda are songs of peace and praise which unveil the Powers and Potencies of that Living Nature; even to-day rightly sung they produce results.
The Rites of the Yajur Veda detail the performance of all sacrifices; why, where, when and how these rituals should be performed is taught. The real knowledge is mostly lost, for it rests on that Faith or Will which is so rare, and so even the intellectual understanding of what is meant and implied has become difficult. With the rise of Spiritual Knowledge, which strengthens Spiritual Will, the effective art of pure ritual will again become known — first in India, and then in the world.
The sacred incantations, formulas and aphorisms which cure all diseases, bodily, mental and moral, and also by which magical phenomena can be performed, are given in the fourth or Atharva Veda.
These four make the foundation of Sruti or Revelation, on which a majestic edifice stands.
Each Veda is divided into three parts: Mantras or Samhitas, Brahamanas and Aranyakas. Mantras are verses used as charms and made up of sounds of power. Samhita means collection. In each Veda there are verses of sound power, and all these as a collection are known as the Mantra Samhita of the Veda. They make majestic poetry addressed to the Devas and sing their glory. In days of old these Mantras were practically efficacious in their use. At present all recognize them to be mystical and powerful but the knowledge and their practical use are confined to the charmed circle of Mahatmas and Their disciples; but their mere repetition is very general and while people do not know how to use them they are aware because of tradition that a certain Mantra is meant to produce certain definite results. Their occult power, however, does not reside in the words but in the inflexion or accent given, and the necessary sound originated thereby. Among very orthodox Brahamanas even to-day, there are a few who have acquired by heredity-osmosis the correct intonation and their automatic repetition is not altogether fruitless.
There is, however, an extended meaning which should be given to the institution of Mantra to understand fully all that this section of the four Vedas stands for. Every letter of the alphabet represents a Number, has a form and colour, besides a sound. In the Sanskrit alphabet there are forty-nine letters, each a number with a colour, sound and form, and each is representative of a hidden Power in Nature, of a Force of the invisible universe, called a Deva, a Shining One, a Resplendent God. Deva-Nagari is the name of the characters of the Sanskrit alphabet.
There are therefore Words of Power like Aum, Sat, Tat; or phrases and sentences like the Gayatri. Thus to give an example of these words lit by and born of fire: Manu records that Prajapati milked from the Vedas three fiery words — Bhur from the Rig, Bhuvah from the Yajur, and Swar from the Sama. All three are creative potencies. The Satapatha Brahamana explains that they are “the three luminous essences” extracted from the Vedas through heat by Praja-patis, Progenitors. Brahmá uttered Bhur, and lo! the earth; Bhuvah, and thereupon materialized the firmament of Astral Light; Swar, and there was the Heaven of Ideation. It is said, and truly indeed, that Atharva-Veda yielded the fourth luminous essence and the word Mahar, but it is so purely magical that its very intonation cannot be even taught, but results from the purification of the lower triad in man.
Brahamanas are distinct from Mantras. They are authentic commentaries on those portions of the Vedas which were intended for the ritualistic use and guidance of the caste of Brahamanas, and include prayers. The real Brahamana caste (not the one of Census reports) is composed of men and women who are all twice-born, Dwijas, born in the Occult World, of the Race of the Deathless Ones, in the Home or Lodge of the Parentless — Anupadaka. Real Brahamanas are the Sons of the Fire Mist. The numbers of that Deathless Race were and are recruited from the races of men, which live and die. Time was when the institution of caste (Varna or colour) was real and was known and recognized; to-day it is real in process and operation, because it is a fact in Nature, but is unknown and unrecognized. In modern India, however, caste has become a corrupt and degrading superstition and Brahamanas, lawyers, clerks or cooks, are no more twice-born than the most despised chandâla. These latter are known sometimes as those who eat the flesh of dogs, behind which also there is a mystic meaning. Now alas! most Hindus, though strict vegetarians on the physical plane, eat, metaphorically and metaphysically speaking, dog’s flesh. The untouchable caste, the Pariah or Panchama, is really not only the one-sixth of the Indian people who are submerged and depressed from the socio-economic point of view; but from the inner and occult point of view most Hindus are black in colour (Varna) having polluted themselves with that which in our phrase is represented by “dog’s flesh.” Another graphic expression which is a metaphor is that the true Brahamana is the protector of the kine. Chapter after Chapter in the Mahabharata is devoted to the subject, but the modern Hindu, who is meticulous on the physical plane not to be cruel and who builds pinjra-pols where old animals are fed till they die, is not the protector of the kine in the real sense.
Now the Brahamana portion of the Vedas contains ceremonies and prayers which are efficacious only when performed or said by the real Brahamana — the dwija or twice-born. In the hands and on the lips of the ordinary temple-priest they are a farce, and worse than a farce. Millions superstitiously indulge in the second-hand performance of these ceremonies, and hope against hope that the purohit’s lips are still capable in some kind of a way of charming the inflexible gods of justice who are also merciful! Thus we have in India the ludicrous superstition, immoral and weakening, which is a variant of the laying on of hands by ordained priests of Roman and other Christian churches. The Brahamana priests’ “apostolic succession” is more clever, nearer to the base of truth, from which all priest-caste have strayed, and so more dangerous, more glamorous.
Aranyakas are books for forest dwellers — “meditation in the forest.” They were studied by holy hermits and sages endowed with great mystic powers. These were the Gymnosophists spoken of by Hellenic writers — “the air-clad” mendicants. Retiring into the forest they reach, through great austerities, superhuman knowledge and experience. The world famous Upanishads form part of the Aranyakas of the Vedas.
In addition to these three there are treatises on science and philosophy.
Shad Angani or Vedangas — Six Limbs, or Limbs of the Veda — may be said to be the complement of the Brahamana portion of the Vedas. They consist of very condensed aphorisms called Sutras and commentaries on them. They deal with some seventy sciences classified under six main heads:
(A) Shiksha (Phonetics), (B) Kalpa (Rituals), (C) Vyakarana (Grammar), (D) Niruktam (Etymology), (E) Chhandah (Prosody), and (F) Jyotisham (Astrology).
It is not possible in this series to deal with the science lore of ancient India. Interested readers should turn to the Positive Background of Hindu Sociology, by Prof. Benoy Kumar Sarkar, which deals with geography, ethnology, mineralogy, botany, zoology, physiology, biology and mechanics; also to The Positive Sciences of the Ancient Hindus, by Sir Brajendranath Seal; then to Hindu Chemistry, by Sir P. C. Roy.
In the closing article we will examine in outline the six schools of Indian philosophy known as Shad Darshanani.
— THEOSOPHY, Vol. 19, No. 12, October, 1931, Pages 535-539
VI: The Six Demonstrations
AS this is an age of logic and induction when analysis of beliefs and ideas is the natural method of approach to any subject, those Hindu systems of thought which utilize it are most popular among western scholars. More than any other, the six schools of Indian philosophy, as they are popularly called, are specially favoured by western investigators because they come closest to western ways of reasoning. The Vedas are mystical, the Puranas are folk-lore, even the six limbs of the Vedas offer but unproven statements — such is the general opinion. On the other hand, the six philosophical schools argue and explain propositions and something can be made of them — so say the philologist-philosophers. Hence their popularity.
It must, however, be pointed out that in spite of all the treatises written and lectures delivered on the six schools their soul has eluded the grasp of most of the western savants as of most of their Indian compeers. This is to be expected in the absence of the Theosophical Key which the Esoteric Philosophy provides.
H. P. Blavatsky calls these six schools six Demonstrations. They are like the six cardinal points; each of them presents but one view of truth; not one of them in itself is complete; even the six taken together are not complete; for there is still a seventh darshana known to genuine Chelas of the Masters or Rishis (see H.P.B.’s Glossary — “Occult Sciences”) which in Hindu terminology is Guhya or Gupta Vidya, i.e., the Esoteric Demonstration.
Each of these six schools demonstrates completely the whole of the world-process from one particular angle of vision. The same universe, the same world-process, the same panorama is looked at from one side and then another. Just as a building can be examined from the north and the east and the south and the west, then from above and then from the foundations below, and yet its real worth cannot be perceived unless one enters the building and looks at it from within, so also a philosophical proposition cannot fully and truly be demonstrated unless the seventh step of examination is taken.
Now, why is it that the seventh point of view is not presented, the seventh Demonstration is not made? Neither perverse reticence, nor even spiritual consideration of any kind whatever is responsible. The simple fact is that the seventh viewpoint may be likened to a kind of fourth-dimensional vision. No microscope, no telescope can uncover the fourth dimension; where observation fails, there mathematics steps in and can demonstrate the concept of the fourth dimension. It would be as absurd to refuse to listen to a mathematician because he can not by means of a microscope demonstrate to a man the fourth dimension of space as to say that because the esoteric is invisible to our mental perception therefore it does not exist. The scientist must turn mathematician; so also the ordinary intellectual enquirer must put away his familiar instruments of analysis, logic and inference and adopt a new mode of approach. Just as there are connecting links which bind, say the physicist to the mathematician, so also there are natural bridges which join the six schools of philosophy to their common but hidden spiritual soul, the Esoteric Science.
H.P.B. says that these six demonstrations “have all a starting point in common, and maintain that ex nihilo nihil fit” (Glossary under “Mimansa”).
All exoteric philosophies are concerned with the universe of Spirit-Matter, Purusha-Prakriti. Of the six viewpoints three are from the side of matter and the other three from the side of spirit. They are therefore interlaced. The seventh deals with that which links spirit to matter, and which also transcends both of them. Fohat, says The Secret Doctrine, is “at present unknown to Western speculation” (Secret Doctrine, I, 16). It is called Daivi-prakriti, the Light in and through which Krishna, the Unborn, takes name and form. The highest mystery of human consciousness, as also the grand and sacred mystery of Avataras or Incarnations, is hidden in this Light, which the Gita describes as Krishna’s superior nature (viii-5); again Krishna refers to it when He says, “I am born through my own maya, the mystic power of self-ideation, the eternal thought in the eternal mind.” The viewpoint or demonstration presented by this Light can only be acquired by first gathering the knowledge offered by the six schools; then, leaving the methods employed for that gathering, the seeker turns within and employs the only method recommended, that of self-energization, self-purification, and self-discipline. To speak of this seventh Demonstration falls outside of the scope of our article.
Turning then to the six exoteric Demonstrations, the first thing to note is that no single one of them will be found sufficient and that the thread binding them must be seen, especially because it is this thread which helps us to approach the shadowy traces of the seventh to be found in them.
The six Demonstrations are:
1. Vaisheshika, demonstrated by Rishi Kanada.
2. Nyaya, demonstrated by Rishi Gautama.
3. Purva Mimansa, demonstrated by Rishi Jaimini.
4. Sankhya, demonstrated by Rishi Kapila.
5. Yoga, demonstrated by Rishi Patanjali.
6. Vedanta, demonstrated by Rishi Badarayana.
The first three seem to present materialistic outlooks; really they examine the universe from the point of view of matter. The remaining three, however, deal primarily with the consciousness aspect. But each of them is regarded as an explanation of the world-process and as showing part of the way to the Emancipation from that world-process. If the student misses the synthetic viewpoint he will err, as so many others have done, and see one school as antagonistic to one or all of the others. Thus to take but an example — Vedanta-Sutras show the fallacies of the Vaisheshika system, not to overthrow but to supplement that system. In that connection we must also bear in mind that these six Demonstrations are age-old; they have passed through a long evolution; what is extant now is not the unaltered and unadulterated facts originally presented. Interpolation and withdrawal in no small measure have left their marks in each system. It is one of the tasks of the votary of the Second Object of our Theosophical Movement to remove the grain from the chaff and to show the unity underlying them, to show that they are but parts and phases of one whole.
Let us now turn to a brief examination of these six Demonstrations:
I. Vaisheshika. The object of knowledge is Padarthas — Predicates of existing things. They are seven in number: (1) Dravya — Substance (metaphysically) which “is not destroyed either by its effect or by its cause,” — uncaused and eternal. Of these there are nine — five are atomic substances and four are pervasive; the former are earth, water, fire, air and manas, and the latter are time, space, akasha, and atma. Of these nine eternal and ultimate substances Atma is the most important, for by it all others are cognized. Thus arises an endless number of souls. (2) The second predicate is Guna or Gunatvam — Qualitativeness; there are 24 qualities enumerated of which five belong to all substances, viz., number, dimension, individuality, conjunction and disjunction. (3) Karma or better Karmatvam — Activity is five-fold and is described in terms of Motion: throwing up, throwing down, contracting, expanding and going. Cause-effect is examined under this category in a most interesting way. (4) The fourth predicate is Samanya, i.e., the unifying common basis, the relation of a thing to its genus, sometimes translated as Generality or Generalness. (5) Visesha is the opposite of the fourth and is called Particularity or what constitutes an entity or individuality; from this category the school derives its name and title. (6) Samvaya or Inherence, through which it is said of cause and effect that the one abides in the other and Karma and Karta, deed and doer in each other. (7) Lastly, Abhava — Non-existence, referring to the condition of a thing before its creation or manifestation and after its destruction and dissolution. The knowledge of these Predicates results ultimately in emancipation, for the universe comes into existence mechanically because of them, runs mechanically because of them, and dissolves mechanically because of them. Learn the mechanics of the universe and you are freeing yourself from the tyranny of that great machine.
II. Nyaya. To learn of the mechanics of the universe one must seek knowledge. The essence of knowledge lies in the proofs of cosmic ultimates, to obtain which one must learn about sixteen categories — (1) Pramana — Proofs, (2) Prameya — Objects of proof, (3) Samsaya — Doubt, (4) Prayojana — Purpose, (5) Drishtanta — Example, (6) Siddhanta — Proven knowledge, (7) Avayava — Premises, (8) Tarka — Logical reasoning, (9) Nirnaya — Conclusion, (10) Vada — Discussion, (11) Jalpa — Wrangling, (12) Vitanda — Caviling, (13) Hetvabhasa — Fallacies, (14) Chhala — Quibbles, (15) Jati — Futile analogies, and (16) Nigrahasthana — Unfitness for arguing, which is always to be regarded as an occasion for rebuke. An enquirer to turn student must first acquaint himself with these, to save his own time and that of those from whom he is learning.
Of these the first two are the most important and we shall have space to examine only these.
The ways of gaining proofs are four and they bring right knowledge about twelve things. We have to prove to ourselves the correct value of (1) Atma — the Self, (2) Sharira — Body, (3) Indriya — Senses, (4) Artha — Objects of sense, (5) Buddhi — Intuition, (6) Manas — Mind, (7) Pravriti — Going forth, (8) Dosha — Fault, (9) Pretya-bhava — Change of existing nature or Transmigration, (10) Phala — Fruit thereof, i.e., Karma, (11) Dukh — Suffering, (12) Apavarga — Emancipation therefrom.
By what means can these proofs be obtained? By (1) Pratyaksha — Perception, (2) Anuman — Inference, (3) Upamuna — Comparison, and (4) Shabda — Word, i.e., Recorded Knowledge.
Perception implies use of the senses which is to be aided by Inference, a mental process, in which the law of analogy or correspondence or comparison should be used, and in seeking this comparison the Record of Seers and Sages should be utilized. Shabda — Word, is described as the instructive assertion of a reliable person, i.e., One who Knows.
III. Purva Mimamsa is also called Karma-Mimamsa. It is the record of interpretation which must be examined and studied prior to turning to the spirit-defining schools which flower in Uttara Mimamsa, generally called Vedanta, end of knowledge. It is called Karma-Mimamsa because this record explains the method of rituals and the meaning of material events, etc. The Sutras of Jaimini enquire into and expound Dharma — Law and Duty of ordinary life. As Dharma cannot be fathomed by mere perception and inference, the use advocated by the previous school of applying the law of correspondence and of the study of the Record should be adopted. Therefore these Jaimini-Sutras deal with Adhikaranas or Topics of which there are nearly a thousand. For each topic a Vedic text is offered about which there is doubt. Then follows the setting down of the prima facie view and its refutation. The whole process yields the final proven view or Siddhanta. These are the five limbs of every topic. For living the ordinary life intelligently, not by fanciful thinking or isolated personal reasoning, this school provided a substantial basis. This brings us to the highest view of material life — world life according to religious injunctions, which must be followed intelligently and must not be merely believed in.
IV. Sankhya. The Philosophy of Numbers or the Numerical Demonstration. Much of the original philosophy is reported to be lost to the public world and what is extant is a system of analytical metaphysics. It discourses on twenty-five Tatvas — Forces of Nature in various degrees. Like the very first, the Vaisheshika School, this also is called the “atomistic school” and not without good reason; for in this Demonstration the point of view is of the Spirit, while in the first it was of Matter. It explains Nature by the interaction of twenty-four elements with Purusha (Spirit) modified by three Gunas; it teaches the eternity of Pradhana, primordial homogeneous matter, or the self-transformation of nature and the eternity of the human egos.
This school teaches the permanent prevention of the three-fold pain as the supreme purpose of life. The Purusha or Spirit is free from all association, is not bound by Karma, or by time, or by space; it seems so bound, but this is only verbal, not real, and it resides in human ideation; and the notion of bondage arises in Buddhi through A-viveka — Non-discrimination. The Purusha is felt by us to be bound because of His seeming indifference as a spectator of all the changes taking place in Prakriti, i.e., Buddhi, etc.; the bondage is but the reflection on Him or It of the impurities seen in matter. These three kinds of pain, spiritual, mental and bodily, produce three kinds of bondage, and therefore there are three ways of release, from Karma, from existence in form, and from repose in one’s own Self. The whole process of the Sankhya is to seek for the Number One — the One Purusha, who is at the core of every individual. The original treatise to be studied is Tattva-Samasa, a work of greater value even than Sankhya-Pravachana-Suttra.
V. Yoga of Patanjali is very well known to students of Theosophy. It carries on the thread of the Sankhya. Having found the Purusha behind the 24 tattvas the human spiritual Being must seek and find the union (Yoga) with the universal aspect. Much confusion exists and discussion takes place as to whether there are many Purushas or one Purusha. The Sankhya stops at the human spiritual individuality face to face with dangers and possibilities and Patanjali’s Yoga-Sutras continue the line of further advance, showing how man can become Super-Man, i.e., a Universal Potency. Such a Jivan-Mukta or Master is called Dharma-Megha, Cloud of Dharma. Just as rain comes from clouds so do Law, Virtue, Instruction descend from the Mahatma. Also, just as the cloud makes the vision of the sun possible for ordinary sight by standing between the sun and the eye, so also does the Jivan-Mukta, the great Guru, enable his disciple to catch a glimpse of the Universal Self — the Spiritual Universe, boundless and timeless.
VI. Vedanta — Summation of Knowledge. Just as the first two Demonstrations lead to their practice in Purva Mimamsa, so the Sankhya and the Yoga Demonstrations produce the practical code which earnest souls desiring to know the Truth may study so that practice and realization may result. That is why it is called Uttara Mimamsa. The reputed author of Vedanta-Sutras, Badarayana, is known as Vyasa. H.P.B. says that “there were many Vyasas in Aryavarata” and adds that “the Puranas mention only twenty-eight Vyasas, who at various ages descended to the earth to promulgate Vedic truths — but there were many more.”
In more recent centuries three principal schools of Vedanta have arisen. They are the well-known Dvaita, Vishishtadvaita and Advaita. Their equally well-known exponents are, respectively, Madhva, Ramanaja and Shankara.
The Dvaita School emphasizes the distinction between the Human-Spirit-Being and the Universal Self and shows the distinction between the spiritual and the carnal natures in man.
The Vishishtadvaita emphasizes the union between the Human-Spirit-Being and the Universal Self provided the former purifying himself of his carnal nature becomes a vehicle of that Supreme Self. It hints at the continuity of the Human-Spirit-Being in some state in unison with the Supreme Self.
The Advaita emphasizes the absolute identity of the Human-Spirit-Being and the Universal Self. Man in his innate Nature is the Indivisible Whole — all else being part and parcel of Himself in His ultimate aspect.
. . . . .
Not articles but volumes will have to be written to reveal in their pristine grandeur the Landmarks of Ancient India. Here are indicated but a very few sign-posts, each of which takes the active seeker on a different road of the Great Journey. For immemorial ages, yuga after yuga, on the mountain ridges and in the forests on the plains, India’s sons have struggled with the fogs of ignorance and the upas trees of superstition, gaining the vision splendid of which one here has sung, another there has spoken for the guidance of the weary-footed pilgrim of this Age of Darkness. If we humbly bow in devotion to the Ancient Seers and Sages we too may succeed in fully understanding the Mission of the Mighty Ones who have never ceased speaking the Word, the latest from whose ranks was our own teacher — H. P. Blavatsky.
— THEOSOPHY, Vol. 20, No. 1, November, 1931, Pages 19-25
The Prehistoric Greeks
The Prehistoric Greeks
On a blustery February afternoon in 1874 the German-American archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann climbed the hard steep road leading to the Cyclopean citadel of Mycenae, in the northeastern corner of the Peloponnesian peninsula. As he gazed upward at the grim outlines of the ancient fortress, sharply etched against the dull grey sky, his heart beat high with anticipation, for he knew that he was approaching the scene of one of the greatest tragedies of the heroic age of Greece. For in that citadel Agamemnon, after his return from the Trojan War, was slain by his wife Clytemnestra, who in turn was murdered by her children, Orestes and Electra.
Professor Schliemann had already begun to suspect that the stories of the Trojan War were limned upon an Atlantean background. While excavating in Troy he had found, in the treasure house of Priam, an exquisitely wrought bronze vase bearing the inscription: From King Chronos of Atlantis. Ten years later, while wandering through the Louvre in Paris, he came across its mate, which had come to light in Tiahuanaca, on the South American continent. If, before he died in 1890, this intuitive man had been fortunate enough to read Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine, he might have learned that the Trojan War coincided with the cycle of events described in the Mahabharata, and that Homer’s Iliad was but a copy of the Ramayana.
Homer declared that Agamemnon and Clytemnestra had lived in Mycenae, and, according to Pausanius, they were buried there. Armed with this information, Schliemann began his excavations. In the hillside tombs he found a number of skeletons wearing golden crowns, masks and girdles, and a vast treasure house filled with golden ornaments which, he believed, had once adorned fair Helen of Troy.
Scholars who had previously regarded the Iliad as a fairy tale now began to wonder if it could possibly be a record of some prehistoric race. When the Cyclopean fortress of Tiryns was excavated by Schliemann, Professor Sayce of Oxford suggested that the word Tiryns came from some pre-Aryan language spoken in the peninsula before the Greeks arrived.
The Greeks themselves called these prehistoric settlers Pelasgians. But who were the Pelasgians? Were they primitive Neolithic men, or did they belong to some mighty civilization of which the very name has been forgotten? What sort of people built the magnificent Lion Gate of Mycenae, with an enormous slab, weighing a hundred tons, poised a full twenty feet above the level of the ground? Who laid out the great hillside tombs of Mycenae, with their 45-foot domes built without a keystone? Professor Schliemann was convinced that “the architects who planned Mycenae and Tiryns certainly possessed an engineering and calculating skill which was not surpassed by the builders of the Pyramids.”
The excavations of Sir Arthur Evans in Crete proved that these early settlers belonged to a highly cultured race. They had built a road across the island upon which they travelled in wheeled chariots. Their palaces were equipped with bath-rooms, running water, drainage systems, heating devices, and even elevators! Their artificers in ivory and bronze “wrought masterpieces which remain today among the world’s greatest works of art.” (Breasted, The Conquest of Civilization.)
Who were these mighty builders? Pausanius said that “the walls of Tiryns were built by the Cyclopes,” and Euripides called the plain of Argos the “Cyclopean land.” The identity of the Cyclopes is shrouded in mystery. One might expect the Greeks would themselves have left a record of their forefathers. They did, but in a form unacceptable to modern scholars. The Greeks preserved the record of the races which preceded them in their myths.
The word myth in Greek means an oral tradition, one which was passed from generation to generation by word of mouth. Plato considered the myths as “vehicles of great truths well worth the seeking.” Even Ruskin declared that “to the mean person the myth always meant little; to the noble person, much.”
We of the present day are content to accept a monkey as our ancestor, but the proud Greeks traced their lineage to the Gods. These gods were divided into three distinct classes: the Immortals, who dwelt on Mount Olympus; the inferior gods, who animated Nature; and the demi-gods, half mortal and half immortal. Here we have the three lines of evolution — Monadic, physical, and intellectual.
The Gods of Olympus may be regarded in seven different ways. The meaning of the myths depends on the personification of the gods, which may be any of the following: of the noumena of the intelligent Powers of nature; of Cosmic Forces; of celestial bodies; of self-conscious gods; of psychic and spiritual powers; of Divine Kings on earth; and finally, as actual historical characters. If the Greek myths are interpreted from this last point of view, we will have a picture of the four races which preceded our own.
The Greeks allegorized the four Races as four Ages, using the four metals — gold, silver, bronze and iron — to symbolize the steps of descent into materiality.
The Golden Age was the period when the First Race lived in the “Sacred Imperishable Land” which capped the North Pole. The forms of this Race were ethereal. They could walk, run, fly, and see objects at a distance. They were sexless and the principle of Kama had not yet been developed. Thus it was said that in the Golden Age war was unknown and no one coveted the possessions of another.
The Second Race lived in the Age of Silver and occupied the Hyperborean Continent. The Greeks called it the “land of the gods,” for it was the favorite abode of Apollo, the god of light, and its inhabitants were his beloved priests. The story of this Race is contained in the myth of Uranos, the King of the Second Continent. He personified the creative forces of nature, while his wife Gaea represented matter, the basis of all forms. According to the legend, Uranos produced giants and nymphs from drops of his own blood, suggesting the method of reproduction in this Race. He is said to have devoured his own children and to have been devoured by his son, indicating the fruitless efforts of unaided nature to create real men of mind.
The Third Race, of the Age of Bronze, inhabited Lemuria. This Race was itself divided into three periods. The early Lemurians were sexless, producing their young by exuding drops of vital fluid, which formed an egg-shaped ball. The myth of Leda, whose twin sons were gestated in an egg, refers to this early method of procreation. Then came a cycle of bisexuality. Plato gives us a description of the Third Race at this point of its evolution. “Our nature of old,” he wrote, “was not the same as it now is. It was then androgynous. Our bodies were round, and the manner of their running was circular. Hence Zeus divided them into two.” Finally mankind became male and female, and since that time the reincarnating Ego has depended upon the union of the sexes for the production of its physical vehicle.
At the beginning of the Fourth Round on this globe, every class of being was one-eyed. The “one-eyed Cyclops” of Greek mythology, those giants fabled as sons of Coelus and Terra, three in number, represented the last three sub-races of the Lemurians, for the two front eyes, as physical organs, did not appear until the beginning of the Fourth Race. The myth of Ulysses, who visited the cave of the Cyclops Polyphemus and destroyed his vision by means of a fire-brand, symbolizes the atrophy of the “third eye.” The adventure of Ulysses with the pastoral Cyclops, a giant race, is an allegorical record of the gradual passing of the Cyclopean civilization of stone and gigantic buildings to the more physical and sensuous culture of the Atlanteans, which finally caused the “eye of wisdom” to disappear.
In the middle of the Third Race, the “lighting up of Manas” occurred. At the beginning of our evolution the Monad (the “vivifying agent” present in every atom in the universe) had been plunged first into the lowest form of matter, the mineral. Gradually, by the passage of the Life Wave through the vegetable and animal kingdoms, a superior form was evolved — ready at last for the Host of Manasaputra whose destiny it was to incarnate upon this globe. Some of these mindless human forms were neither ready nor suitable for occupancy and remained destitute of higher knowledge until the Fourth Race. Into those forms which were half ready, a spark of intelligence was infused. Into those forms which were ready, the “Lords of the Flame” entered, kindling the germ of mind in the “mindless men” and adding to them the flame of their own Manas.
The story of the “lighting up of Manas” is found in the myth of the Titan Prometheus, creator of men. He first moulded a form which could stand upright, so that, while the animals looked down to the earth, man could fix his gaze upon the stars. When the form was completed, Prometheus lighted a torch at the chariot of the sun and gave the fire of mind to men. Enraged because this made of man a God, Jupiter chained Prometheus to a rock and sent an eagle to tear at the vitals of the suffering Titan. His destined deliverer, Hercules, told him how he could free himself from his bondage–
The soul of man can never be enslaved
Save by its own infirmities; nor freed
Save by its own strength and own resolve
And constant vision and supreme endeavor.
The myth of Castor and Pollux, twin sons of Leda by a mortal and an immortal father, also shows the difference between the “mindless men” and the incarnating Egos who ensouled them. Castor was the son of a mortal while Pollux had Jupiter for his father. In a battle in which both engaged Pollux came out victorious, but Castor was stricken. In sorrow Pollux asked Jupiter to be allowed to die with his brother. Jupiter told him he could not die because he came of an immortal race, but that he might share his immortality with Castor by passing half his existence underground, the other half in the heavenly abodes. This semi-immortality was accepted by Pollux. The occult meaning of the allegory is given by H.P.B.:
Here we have an allusion to the “Egg-born,” Third Race; the first half of which is mortal, i.e., unconscious in its personality, and having nothing within itself to survive; and the latter half of which becomes immortal in its individuality, by reason of its fifth principle being called to life by the informing gods, and thus connecting the Monad with this earth. This is Pollux; while Castor represents the personal, mortal man, an animal of not even a superior kind, when unlinked from the divine individuality. “Twins” truly; yet divorced by death forever, unless Pollux, moved by the voice of twinship, bestows on his less favoured mortal brother a share of his own divine nature, thus associating him with his own immortality. (The Secret Doctrine II, 123.)
Practically all of the gods of Greece are of a northern origin, originating in Lemuria toward the end of the Third Race after its physical evolution was completed. The Fourth Race is, with Hesiod, that of the heroes who fell before Thebes, or under the walls of Troy. The Trojan War, therefore, although an historical event of some 6,000 years ago, was also a symbol of other events which took place upon the continent of Atlantis. The Atlanteans developed from a nucleus of northern Lemurian men, centered, roughly speaking, toward a point of land which is now in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The early Atlanteans were three-eyed, having two in front and a third eye at the back of the head. The Greeks preserved the record of this race in a statue of the three-eyed Zeus, discovered in the Acropolis of Argos and believed to be the oldest statue ever found in Greece.
At the height of their civilization the Atlanteans were giants both in body and in intellect, and were greater scientists than those of the present day. For one thing, they had aeroplanes which were operated by solar force. Homer’s vessels “going without sails or oars” refers to them, as does the myth of Icarus, who was warned by his father Daedalus to fly
…nor low, nor high,
If low, thy plumes may flag the ocean’s spray,
If high, the sun may dart his fiery ray.
Unfortunately for their own future, the Atlanteans turned their knowledge to evil uses. Many modern practices such as vivisection, blood transfusion, the transplanting of animal glands to human bodies — even the craze for personal wealth and power — are the Karmic product of the sins of the Atlanteans, a defiance of nature which caused their destruction as a race and the catastrophic submergence of their continent.
The Greeks preserved the tradition of the sinking of Atlantis in the myth of Deucalion. The legend says that after the fourth race had passed its apex of development, a change occurred in men. Modesty, truth and honor fled, and in their place came crime, fraud, cunning and the wicked love of gain. Seeing the condition into which the earth had fallen, Jupiter determined to destroy it and form a new land where men would have fresh opportunities to live a virtuous life. So the waters came and covered the land, leaving only Mount Olympus above the waves. There Deucalion and his wife Pyrrha found shelter, and from them sprang the new, fifth race.
Thousands of years after, Solon, the great Athenian law-giver and one of the Seven Wise Men of Greece, visited Egypt and recounted the myth of Deucalion to one of the priests of Saïs. The priest assured Solon that it was the record of an actual historical event which had occurred some 9,000 years before. He told the Greek sage of the last of the Atlantean Islands, which he called Atlantis, but which was really the Island of Poseidonis, picturing in detail its high mountains, canals, bridges, and harbors filled with vessels from foreign ports. He gave a full account of the inhabitants of the island and their customs, describing in particular the laws of the country and the method of their enforcement. On his return to Athens Solon wrote down the tale in epic form. Plato inherited his manuscript and repeated the story in the Timaeus and Critias. For more than 2,000 years the world regarded Plato’s story as a fable. But in the last quarter of last century Ignatius Donnelly and H. P. Blavatsky provided indisputable proofs of the existence of Atlantis.
Long before the island of Poseidonis sank beneath the waves, one of the early sub-races of the Aryan stock descended from the high plateaux of Asia and emigrated to islands in the West. There they resided for some thousands of years, intermarrying with members of the last, or seventh sub-race of the Atlanteans. Ages later these people, called Atlantean Aeolians because of their long stay on the remnants of the lost continent, were to become the ancestors of the Greeks, for when some of the islands around Poseidonis showed signs of sinking, they had again to leave their homes. They built a flotilla of arks and sailed through the Pillars of Hercules (the Straits of Gibraltar) into the Mediterranean Sea. Some of them colonized the coasts of Italy and Spain. Others went on into the Aegean Sea and settled on the Greek Isles and in Thessaly, to which they gave the name of Aeolia. The Atlantean Aeolians were, therefore, the “autochthones” of Greece, the forefathers of the Hellenes, the builders of the Cyclopean citadels and fortresses which still puzzle the archaeologist.
Before Professor Schliemann died, he expressed his firm conviction that Atlantis had been the cradle of the human race. His son, devoting fifteen years to submarine exploration around the African coast, found many relics of Atlantis: wall-fragments, representing a ceremonial dance; a cave-temple of highly artistic construction; two great high-roads, and several unexplained lighthouses on the African coast which he believed were built by Atlantean navigators.
The objections to Professor Schliemann’s theory that the modern races of mankind came from Atlantis are based on the same blind negation which refuses a hearing to Theosophic philosophy: both contradict prevailing speculations, and must therefore be denied with little or no investigation. While interest in the subject of Atlantis grows yearly, not until the biological and anthropological significance of that continent are grasped by science can we say that its real existence has been admitted. For then, and only then, will modern civilization come into its heritage of the true, the secret knowledge of the ancient Greeks.
— THEOSOPHY, Vol. 27, No. 3, January, 1939, Pages 99-105
The Ancient Druids
The Ancient Druids I
Their History and Religion
The Science of Comparative Religion originating out of the philosophic spirit of the age, has already won for itself a recognized position in the domain of positive knowledge. By its patient investigations amongst the wrecks and fragments of past and almost forgotten religious systems, that have reached us, and by a careful and accurate comparison of them with present existing religions, our knowledge of them has been considerably enlarged, so that taking a retrospective glance, we are able to realize the inner life and comprehend the thoughts and ideas which have swayed the minds and moulded the characters of mankind in all ages of human history.
Availing itself of the doctrine of evolution and its teachings, Comparative Religion has been able to translate and express in scientific terms, the historical development, as also the laws of growth and decay which govern the religious principle in man’s nature. By the aid of Comparative philology it has tracked Religions in their migrations, followed them in their numerous ramifications and explained the causes of their chief distinctive features and even fixed the locality from which they first radiated as a common centre; so that the philosophic student, after a general review and calm consideration of the many interesting facts and data presented before him, arrives at this conclusion that the same fundamental truths and ideas lie at the basis of the many and diversified systems of religion; that all of them are but the reflections of man’s faith, the expressions of his spiritual growth; — that their differences are mainly due to the influences of environment, of climate and natural scenery — the chief instruments in exciting intellectual thought and meditation that have entered so largely as formative elements in religious development.
This is particularly noticeable and perceptible in the history of Ancient Druidism, one of those old-world religions whose origin is shrouded in mystery as dark and impenetrable as the groves and forest recesses in which its rites and ceremonies were celebrated and performed. Out of the dim and mystic Past, the Druid Bards loom up as beings of a commanding and awe-inspiring character, invested with tremendous powers and possessors of a secret knowledge of Nature and an occult philosophy which caused them to be regarded with sentiments of the deepest reverence. In the unfolding of the great panorama of History they suddenly appear begirt with a power and authority more than kingly in its extent and influence, majestic in form and feature, calm and self-contained in their deportment, with brows encircled with golden coronets, and arrayed in all the splendid robes and glittering insignia of a lofty and learned priesthood. Thus they appear on the stage of human life, and after discharging their functions and playing their parts in the world’s drama, they disappear, retiring into that dark oblivion, the grave and cemetery of all that is mutable and human and in the minds of posterity exist no more, save and except as umbra nominis magni shadows of a great past.
The history of the Ancient Druids owing to the scanty details and meagre imperfect traditions of their religious and philosophic teachings that have been handed down, becomes a subject requiring deep and prolonged research, a discriminating analysis, and a clear intuition in the separation of those incrustations of truth and error, fact and fiction which in the course of centuries, have gathered round them and which have hitherto hindered and prevented us from obtaining right and adequate conceptions and views of their character as elements and factors in the religious life and development of Humanity. But few writers and historians have directed their researches in a field of knowledge which though limited and contracted in area, is rich with the relics and fragments of a race, the knowledge and details of which constitute a most interesting chapter in the universal history of Nations.
In the collection and marshalling of these various details, as also in piecing together the scattered historical data and placing them in their natural relationship and order, we hope to present, inadequate though it may be, a somewhat clear and vivid outline of a subject which to the theosophical mind is fraught with great interest and at the same time is calculated to become to the general reader, a source of instructive knowledge.
In order to avoid confusion in treating of the Ancient Druids and that the reader may obtain a clearer idea and conception of the subject, we shall first sketch their history and then present an outline of our investigations into their religion, its similarities to and differences from old-world faiths and systems of belief. Thousands of years ago the country of Bactria situated to the east of the Caspian Sea and stretching to the borders of northern India, was inhabited by a large number of tribes of the same origin and united together by the same manners and customs and modes of religious worship. They were chiefly agriculturists and possessors of large herds of cattle. Living at peace amongst themselves, their numbers became so much increased that their territories were finally unable to supply them with the necessaries of life. Calling together a council, it was decided that certain numbers should emigrate and form settlements for themselves and their families in lands that lay toward the regions of the setting sun. Accordingly a large body consisting of those who were headstrong and of fiery temperament, left their homes and after wandering across the wide plains of Asia Minor, some of them settled in northern Germany; while others forced their way into Italy and Greece. The first were the ancestors of the Celts, whose descendants Julius Caesar found in Britain when he invaded it; the latter were the progenitors of the Greeks and Romans. The tribes that remained at home, through some unknown causes, probably on account of climatic changes and a consequent dearth of the means of subsistence, were compelled to relinquish their homes when part of them settled in Persia. The remainder proceeded southeast and entered that part of India known as the Punjaub.
These facts in the early history of the Aryans are beyond question and constitute what a learned German has described as “the discovery of a new world” and we now know that Icelander and Roman, Greek and German, Persian and Hindoo, Briton and Arab are all brethren, the descendants of a common ancestry, wanderers from the same homestead.
Though to acquaint ourselves with the history of the wanderings of these various tribes is a subject of great interest, we are compelled to limit and restrict our investigations and follow in the rear and wake of the Celts who were the first to leave their fatherland. It was an eventful period in their history when they went forth in quest of new homes; — a hazardous enterprise entailing upon them great privations. It involved the clearing a pathway through dense forests, the fording of broad rivers and rapid streams, and contests with foes ever on the alert to oppose their advance and thwart them in their enterprise.
They were a tall, muscular race of men, carrying stone battle-axes on their shoulders and horn bows at their backs. As they wended their way westward and traversed the extensive plains over which they had first to pass, and as the dim outlines of the mountain peaks and summits of their native country faded from view, their courage abated not, for they were buoyant with hope in the future. In their hearts was an innate love of liberty and freedom, whilst their natures vibrated with those religious sentiments which form the basis of all true manliness and earnestness of character, essential in the achievement of lofty aims and purposes. By their indomitable energy and ceaseless perseverance, they entered Europe at length, leaving traces of the route they took in the Celtic names of places where they settled and of the rivers on whose banks they dwelt.
Nowhere in the countries through which they passed could they settle for any length of time, for they were hurried forward by an ever-increasing wave of numerous hordes of emigrants who were on the same quest as themselves and never found rest until they reached Brittany, a province in the north of France. Here they found their home and also in the island of Britain. In process of time, becoming settled and established, the Celts formed amongst themselves for purposes of mutual defense vast confederations of warlike tribes. They became fond of hunting, expert and skillful agriculturists and dwelt in conical huts formed of the branches of trees, covered with the skins of animals slain in the chase. They painted their bodies with figures to distinguish their families and rank, of which they felt so proud that in the most inclement season they preferred the dispensing with any kind of clothing. Like the Persians, their distant relatives, they held idolatry in abhorrence and overturned and destroyed the images and temples of the vanquished.
Whilst in their native land, the heads of families discharged all priestly duties and were termed Rishis, by whom were composed most of the hymns forming the Rig Veda, but owing now to their altered conditions and circumstances of life, the Celts, in order that they might be better able to attend to the means of self-preservation and provide for their respective families, relegated and intrusted the discharge of all priestly functions to certain individuals who have become known to us as the Druids; the derivation and meaning of which name is still a matter of dispute and uncertainty. Pliny the Elder, a noted Roman author, derives it from the Greek word drus, an oak, but several Welsh scholars maintain that it comes from Derwyda, the old British form of the word, a compound of derw, a wise man, a vaticinator or prophet. However this may be, the word Druid was used to designate a class of priests and philosophers corresponding to the Brahmans of India, the Magi of the Persians, as also to the hierophants and scholars of ancient and modern people.
Amongst classical writers Caesar in the sixth book of his De bello Gallico, is the first who states that the Druids were the religious guides of the people as well as the chief expounders and guardians of the law. As, unlike the Brahmans in India, they were not an hereditary caste, and enjoyed exemption from military service as well as payment of taxes; admission to their order was eagerly sought after by the youth of Gaul. The course of training to which a novice had to submit was protracted, extending over twenty years, — resembling in this particular the system of education still in vogue in India. The office of Arch Druid was elective, extending over a lifetime, and involved supreme authority over all others. Desultory references and brief notices of the learning of the Druids are met with in the writings of Aristotle, Diogenes Laertius, the church fathers Origin, Clement of Alexandria and St. Augustine.
According to Pliny, the Druids held the mistletoe in the highest veneration. Groves of oak were their chosen retreat, esteeming as a gift from heaven whatever grew thereon, more especially the mistletoe. When thus found, it was cut with a golden knife by a priest clad in a white robe, two white bulls being sacrificed on the spot. The name given to the mistletoe signified in their language All-Heal, and its virtues were believed to be great. The Moon Plant was held in great reverence by the Druids, as also by the Hindoos, whose praises of its occult virtues are dwelt upon in many of their most ancient writings.
The Druids had schools in the forests, where youths committed to memory certain maxims in verse, inculcating the worship of the gods, bravery in battle, respect to chastity of women and implicit obedience to Druids, magistrates and parents. These verses sometimes contained an allegorical meaning which was explained under an oath of secrecy to those educated for the higher orders of the priesthood. They were divided into three classes, the Druids proper, who were the sole judges and legislators, presided at the sacrifices and were the instructors of the novitiates. They were dressed in white robes. The second class were the Bards, who accompanied chiefs to battle and sang hymns to the god of war. They had to undergo a novitiate-ship of twenty years, during which they committed to memory the traditionary songs, the exploits and deeds of daring and valor of past chiefs. After passing the customary ordeals and examinations, they were given to drink of the waters of inspiration, which we are inclined to think was the same as the juice of the soma plant amongst the Hindoos; after which, like the Brahmans, they were said to be twice born and were henceforth held in the highest respect and veneration by their countrymen. The color of their garb was green.
The third class was that of the Vates or Diviners of omens and all the phenomena of nature, the flight and song of birds. They were also skilful in compounding herbs, philtres and medicines, and wore a blue and white colored robe.
Such is a brief outline of the history of the Druids, their functions and duties. The subject of their religion and philosophy will receive a separate consideration when we come to deal with them. For the present we must leave them in the seclusion and silence of their forest groves, surrounded by admiring neophytes, and as the last echoes of their mystic teachings resound in our ears, we divine the reason of that reverence and veneration with which they were regarded by all nations, and why they were able to wield an influence which in its extent and power has never been paralleled, either in ancient or modern times.
The Ancient Druids II
Their History and Religion (Continued.)
In our preceding remarks on the Ancient Druids, we gave a short sketch of the wanderings and migrations of the Celts from their native land until their final settlement in the northwest of France and the neighboring island of Britain in which the system of Druidism attained to its highest development. Owing to freedom from the incursions of surrounding nations, their numbers increased to such an extent, that the country of Wales, the Isle of Mona, Ireland and part of Scotland became peopled by Celtic tribes who were accompanied by their Druid priests and bards and formed the great strongholds of Druidism, to the spread of which, their extensive forests with their leafy dells and shady groves mainly contributed.
The existing remains of such enormous structures as Stonehenge and Avebury, of huge cromlechs, dolmens and menhirs, in Cornwall, Wales and Ireland, have been we think erroneously attributed to the Druids. It is more probable that these megalithic temples and betylia were already in existence on the arrival of the Celts, and were made use of for their annual assemblies and the celebration of their sacrificial ceremonies with which they were inaugurated. The Celts were not builders like the Suryas or members of the Solar race. They were hunters and agriculturists and the exigencies of their modes of living, left them neither time nor leisure to attend to works of architecture, of which they had no need, as Nature herself had provided them with structures and temples fairer, more enduring and grander in their proportions than those upreared by human arts and skill.
“The groves were God’s first temples. Ere man learned
To hew the shaft and lay the architrave,
And spread the roof above them — ere he framed
The lofty vault, to gather and roll back
The sound of anthems; in the darkling wood
Amid the cool and silence, he knelt down
And offered to the Mightiest, solemn thanks
And supplication, for his simple heart
Could not resist the sacred influence
Which, from the stilly twilight of the place.
And from the gray old trunks that high in heaven
Mingled their mossy boughs, and from the sound
Of the Invisible Breath, that swayed at once
All their screen tops, stole over him and bowed
His spirit with the thought of boundless power
And inaccessible majesty.”
The existence in America and Africa of structures similar to those of Stonehenge tend to show that they were rather the erection of the Atlantean race, those Cyclops of Antiquity the wrecks and ruins of whose Architecture, fill the minds of all beholders with feelings of wonder and admiration.
It has been observed by students of Comparative Religion, that all systems of belief possess in common certain fundamental ideas and conceptions which according to the prominence given to them, become influential means and powerful agents in developing and moulding national character. Appealing to peculiar mental and spiritual faculties, they bring out and incite to activity latent powers and forces which result in the evolution of those religious systems which have prevailed from time immemorial throughout the world. Confirmatory evidences of this fact are amply furnished in the rise and progress of religion in Arabia, China, India and Christendom. The doctrine of the unity of the Divine Being lies at the basis of all their cosmogonies and systems of philosophy, to which become attached, in course of time, teachings of Metempsychosis or Reincarnation, of moral and physical causation and speculations which crystallize into dogmas on the nature and ultimate destiny of man. There is also an embryological law which governs their development by which we can account for the many and differing phases of growth which they exhibit, as also the causes of their decline and extinction. Those in which the principle of humanity has been the ruling element, have attained the greatest longevity and become the most active and universal agents in the progress of civilization and the advancement of the Arts and Sciences which ameliorate the conditions of life and enable man to utilize the forces of nature and make them subservient to his welfare and enjoyment.
Religions, like empires, upreared on any other principle than that of humanity, have been transient in duration, disastrous rather than beneficial to the human race, and contained within them the seeds and elements of their own decay and annihilation. Sporadic in origin, as luxuriant in growth as tropical plants, like these they were short-lived, and, having no root in human nature, withered away and became extinct. This, as we shall presently see was the case with Druidism, a graft from that old prehistoric Aryan Religion whose vigorous offshoots attained to marvellous developments under the influences of more southern climes.
The religion of the Celts, like all other ancient religions, was patriarchal in its character, until, as we have stated, their altered circumstances and newly acquired modes of life necessitated a change which resulted in the relegation of religious rites and ceremonies and their celebration to certain individuals characterized for their learning and holiness of life, who henceforth became known by the name of Druids. In silent forest glades and groves, they had ample opportunity, like the Aranyakas in India, for the development of those high spiritual states of ecstasy in which the whole realm of knowledge and the secrets of nature became unveiled and revealed to their wondering and inquiring gaze, and so long as they were unswayed by ambition and remained content to be advisers and teachers, the fame of their extensive learning and the vast stores of knowledge which they accumulated, caused them to become subjects of the highest reverence. The rumor of them spread throughout all lands, so that students from all parts of the world flocked to them for instruction, and tradition states that Pythagoras himself was indebted to them for the doctrine of Metempsychosis. It is admitted by Greek writers that he was a disciple of the Celtic sages and acquainted with Abaris, a great Druid adept, who instructed him in the doctrine of the Abred or Circle of Courses, which, like the Gilgal Nishmoth or revolutio animarum of the ancient Kabbala, is intimately connected with the doctrine of Reincarnation. Iamblichos, in his life of Pythagoras, informs us that it was the common opinion that he had been instructed by the Celts. Diogenes Laertius expressly states that the philosophy of Greece came originally from the Celts. Stephanus Byzantius relates that the name of Abaris belongs to the Cymry or ancient inhabitants of Wales, in whose language it is a familiar term meaning The Contemplative One, or as we would now say, The Philosopher. We gather from the fragments of Hecatoeus, an ancient Greek historian and traveller, that Abaris was a Hyperborean, which, taking into consideration the scattered notices of him in other Greek writers, clearly demonstrates that the Hyperboreans, to whom they frequently refer, were the Celtic inhabitants of Britain. This fact receives additional confirmation from the description which Hecatceus gives of the geography, climate, harvest capacity, temples, groves, priests and harpers or bards of the island of the Hyperboreans, which plainly indicate it to have been Britain and no other country. Polyhistor, a great authority with ancient historians, mentions in his book of Symbols, that Pythagoras had visited the Druids, as also the Brahmans, and Aristotle especially affirms that Grecian philosophy was not of indigenous growth, but derived its origin from Gaul, whilst the Roman poet Lucan goes so far as to declare that the Druids alone were acquainted with the true nature and character of the Gods. Herodotus relates that a deputation consisting of two young Hyperborean virgins visited Delos, where they were received and entertained with great honors, and who continued to reside there till their death, after which the young women, in honor of their memory, cut off their hair before marriage, and rolling it around a distaff, deposited it on their tombs, which were situated eastward behind the temple of Diana.
Taking a general review of all these scattered references we are able to form some idea of the widely prevalent influence of the Druids and the vast power they wielded over the popular mind. Arrogating to themselves like the Brahmans, the possession of all knowledge, human and divine, natural and supernatural, they ultimately aspired to become spiritual autocrats and reigned with absolute sway in the domain of conscience to which the impressive and imposing character of their religious rites and ceremonies, their august assemblies in the midst of deep forests together with their mysterious and secluded mode of living greatly contributed. The splendid spectacular display of their annual festivals, their stately processions accompanied with strains of awe-inspiring music, of priests and bards arrayed in magnificent robes and bedecked with the glittering insignia of their rank and office, their solemn invocations to the great Deity and invisible Gods, and their no less awful curses and dread anathemas and formulas of excommunication thundered forth against offenders, all these tended to invest them in the midst of spectators with the aureole of a regal majesty wielding mystic and direful powers. This was especially the case at the yearly festival of cutting the mistletoe which was celebrated in the depth of those sombre forests in which the Druids had their retreats and principal sanctuaries.
In these immense primeval forests existed vast openings, in the centre of which arose like rounded domes majestic oaks of great antiquity. As the time approached, bards were sent forth in all directions to summon the people to the great religious ceremony of the year. Vast multitudes from all quarters assembled at the appointed place where they stood waiting the commencement of the long looked for ceremony. A feeling of awe and dread seized hold of the vast crowd as the echo of a choral chant first resounded amidst the forest glades and the dim outline of white robed priests bearing lighted torches emerged from out of the darkness leading the sacrifices. Amidst a solemn silence unbroken by the rustle of a leaf, undisturbed by the flapping of the night bird’s wing, the august procession came slowly on, headed by three venerable Druids of highest rank and dignity and crowned with ivy, one carrying bread intended for offering, another bearing a vase filled with holy water, the third holding a sceptre of ivory the characteristic mark of the chief Druid. Then followed the high pontiff whose office it was to gather the sacred plant, crowned with a garland of oak leaves, and arrayed in a magnificently embroidered robe aglow with the lustrous emblazonry of mystic symbols. In his hand was a massive golden crosier and on his breast a large ruby flashing forth rays of a strange and wondrous light. Suspended from his girdle by a chain of precious metal hung a pruning knife of gold, having the form of a crescent. Behind him marched the nobility and others of inferior rank. On arriving at the centre of the grove, a triangular altar of wood was constructed around the oak from which it seemed to rise (unity in the circle and trinity in the altar). A circular tablet was then appended to the tree, on which were inscribed mystic letters signifying God the Father, Sovereign Light, Principle of Life to the World. Two white bulls were then offered, when a Druid cast upon a fire lighted at each of the angles of the altar a slice of bread on which some drops of wine had been poured and as the mystic flames serpent-like darted and flashed upwards, suddenly the weird stillness was broken by the choral strains of the Bards as they chanted a most impressive litany.
The smallest of the small,
Is Hu the Mighty, as the world judges.
But the greatest of the great to us.
And our mysterious God.
Light his course and active;
The glowing sun is his car.
Great on land and on the seas.
The greatest we can conceive.
Greater than the worlds.
Let us beware of mean indignity
To Him who deals in bounty.
Ere the strains had ceased to echo through the forest, the Arch Druid by means of a ladder ascended the tree and cut without touching it, the branch of mistletoe with his golden falchion, allowing it to fall upon a white linen cloth, which had never been used, the four corners of which were held by young Druidesses, great care being taken that it should not touch the ground. In profound silence portions of the sacred plant were distributed amongst the crowd of spectators. The ceremonies completed and the Druids returning again to their sombre retreats and sanctuaries, the remainder of the night was spent in feasting and revels.
Having now finished the sketch of the history, as also of the rites and ceremonies of the Druids we shall next deal with their Theology and review the causes which led to their final overthrow and extinction. We leave them in the possession of fame and power, renowned and respected for their learning, exercising a sovereignty and sway over the popular mind that brooked no dispute, that feared no rivalry. The cynosure of nations, centres of law and religion, hedged about with a sanctity and divinity greater than that of kings, they built up a system of Religion which with its stately priesthood, its magnificent rituals and imposing ceremonies aided by profound learning and occult knowledge appeared impregnable to the assaults and ravages of time, and proof against all the elements of decay, and thus we leave it, equalling in its grandeur and magnificence that famed city of which its monarch and founder said in his heart, “Is not this great Babylon that I have built by the might of my power and for the honor of my majesty.”
The Ancient Druids III
Their History and Religion (Continued.)
Though Druidism, with all its fame and prestige, had now passed away, yet the spirit of it survived in its order of Bards who, now scattered throughout Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and many parts of Britain, became wandering minstrels and sole depositories of Druidic philosophy and learning. There are clear evidences of their existence in all these countries. They were treated with the utmost respect and exempted from taxes and military service, and reverenced as the sole survivors of an age of freedom and liberty, the traditions of which are still cherished in the heart of every true Celt, for they gave poetic expression to the religious and national sentiments of the people which have never become entirely extinguished. It was, however, chiefly in Wales that Bardism attained its highest development and continued to exert a powerful influence even after the introduction of Christianity into that country. This was also the case through the middle ages, and after the conquest of Wales.
At stated intervals great festivals or Eisteddfodaw were held at which the most famous bards from various districts met and contended in song, the umpires being generally the most learned of the princes and nobles. To this day, these festivals are celebrated not only in Wales but in America, Australia, New Zealand and wherever Welshmen abound, who still cherish and retain many of the Druidic traditions, apothegms, symbols and emblems. In Brittany and other parts of France still exist ancient customs and superstitions of Druid origin which have utterly repelled the eradicating influence both of the Catholic and protestant clergy. Through these Bards has been handed down what knowledge we possess of the theology and philosophy of the ancient Druids. The Barddas one of the great occult books preserved in the bardic college in Glamorgan has been published, and contains a vein of teaching and thought clearly which may certainly be regarded as of Druidic origin. Editorial exigencies preclude us from pointing out at great length the many similarities and interesting analogies and correspondences with the religions and philosophy of the East which are presented in the above-named work. To do this in an adequate and satisfactory manner would swell our remarks into a volume, and we therefore most reluctantly limit ourselves to giving short extracts in which are expressed some of the chief teachings of the Druids and a translation of The Circles of Existence which we trust may not prove devoid of interest to the student and general reader. For the better understanding of them we would observe that the Bardic theology is expressed in tercets or verses consisting of three lines, the number three being held in great esteem by the ancient Druids.
Theology and Philosophy
Three are the Circles of Being.
Cyleh y Ceugant — The Circle of Space.
Cyleh y Abred — The Circle of Evolutions.
Cyleh y Gwynfyd — The Circle of Happiness.
Three are the successive states of animated beings.
The state of existence in Annouin,
The state of liberty in Abred,
The state of happiness in Gwynfyd.
Three are the phases of existence:
Commencement in the Abyss (Annou-for).
Transmigration in Abred.
Completion and perfection in Gwynfyd.
As supplementary and forming a commentary on these circles, we give the following extracts — Souls when purified ascend to still higher spheres from whence they can no more descend. Souls that are sullied with earthly impurities are refined by repeated changes (incarnations) and probations till the last stain of evil is worn away and they are ultimately ripened for immortal bliss in a higher sphere — the abode of the Blest — of the Sages — of the Friends of Humanity. With respect to the creation of the Universe we learn that this grand event took place “by the voice of the Divine energy, that is, by its melodious sweetness, which was scarcely heard when, lo! dead matter gleamed into life, and the non-entity which had neither place nor existence flashed like lightning into elementation, and rejoiced into life and the congealed, motionless shiver warmed into living existence, the destitute nothing rejoiced into being a thousand times more quickly than the lightning reaches its home.” One of the Masters being asked, with what material did God make all corporeal things endowed with life? replies, “With the particles of light, which are the smallest of all small things, and yet one particle of light is the greatest of all great things, being no less material for all materiality that can be understood and perceived as within the grasp of the power of God. And in every particle there is a place wholly commensurate with God; for there is not and cannot be less than God in every particle of light, and God in every particle; nevertheless, God is only one in number. On that account every light is one, and nothing is one imperfect co-existence but what cannot be two, when in or out of itself.”
How were animation and life obtained? “From God and in God they were found; that is from the fundamental and absolute life; that is from God uniting himself to the dead, or earthliness; hence motion and mind, that is, soul. And every animation and soul are from God, and their existence is in God, both their pre-existenceand derived existence; for there is no preexistence except in God, no coexistence except in God, and no derived existence except in God and from God.” 1 With reference to the evolution of men we give the following: “It is necessary that every living and animate being should traverse the circle of Abred from the depth Aunwn, that is, the extreme limit of what is low in every existence endowed with life, and they shall ascend higher and higher in the order of gradation or life, until they become man, and then there can be an end to the life in Abred, by union with goodness.”
“But no man at death shall go to Gwynfyd (Nirvana) except he who shall attach himself in life, whilst a man, to goodness and godliness. The man who does not thus attach himself in godliness shall fall in Abred to a corresponding form and species of existence of the same nature as himself, whence he shall return to the state of man as before. And then according as his attachment be either to godliness or ungodliness, shall he ascend to Gwynfyd (Nirvana), or fall in Abred when he dies. And thus shall he fall for ever, until he seeks godliness, and attaches himself to it, when there will be an end to the Abred of necessity and to every necessary suffering of evil and death.”
The Circle of Abred (Evolution)
Three necessary things are there in the circle of Abred, — the primordial origin of life, the protoplasm of all things, mortality and death.
Three things shared by every animated being whilst in Abred, Divine aid without which there could be no consciousness, the privilege of sharing in divine love, and harmonious action with the Divine in order to attain the end and object of their destiny.
Three necessary causes operate in the circle of Abred, that of the development of the bodily structure of every animated being, that of the attainment of universal knowledge, also that of moral growth in order to triumph over the spirit of evil (Cythraul) and obtain self-deliverance from evil (Droug) for without these there could be no progress.
Three essentials are there in order to obtain perfect knowledge, reincarnations in Abred, in Gwynfyd and reminiscence of past experiences.
Three are the things inevitable in Abred, the transgression of law (natural and spiritual), deliverance by death from Droug and Cythraul, growth of spiritual life.
Three are the essentials to man’s triumph over evil, — suffering, calm endurance of change, — liberty of choosing, by which he can determine his own destiny.
Three are the alternatives offered to man, Abred and Gwynfyd (heaven and hell) necessity and liberty, — good and evil, all in equal balance, man being able to attach himself to one or the other.
By three things man falls under the necessity of Abred; ceasing to strive after knowledge, refusing and resisting good — preferring the evil, in consequence of these he descends in Abred to the place for which he qualifies himself and begins again his pilgrimage through the circle of evolutions.
Three principal things to be acquired in the stage of humanity — knowledge — love — and moral power. These cannot be acquired anterior to the human stage but through the exercise of liberty and free choice. They are the three victories. They begin with humanity and attend it through all the cycles of the ages. Three are the privileges incident to humanity — the adjusting of evil and good, giving rise to comparison — liberty of choice giving rise to judgment and preference — increase of moral power. These are necessary in the working out and accomplishment of human destiny.
The Circle of Gwynfyd — (Happiness)
Three are the principal blessings in the circle of Gwynfyd, — freedom from evil, freedom from care, freedom from death.
Three things attainable by man in the circle of Gwynfyd, his primordial genius, — his primordial love and memory of past incarnations without which he cannot attain to perfect happiness.
Three are the Divine gifts to man, — a life complete in itself — an individuality absolutely distinct, — and natal genius. These constitute the personality of every animated being.
Three are essentials to universal knowledge — transmigration through the stages of being — the memory of each incarnation and its experience — the power of passing at will into previous states for the enlargement of knowledge and experience and these are attainable in the circle of Gwynfyd.
Three are the things of endless growth; fire or light, — intelligence or truth, — spirit or life; the ultimate result of which is the rule over all things when the circle of Abred (evolution) will terminate.
Three are the things continually decreasing, darkness, error and death.
Three are the things which ever become stronger, Love, Knowledge and Justice.
Three are the things which daily become weaker, Hate, Injustice, and Ignorance.
Three are the beatitudes in Gwynfyd, the reciprocal sharing of benefits, — the willing recognition and ready acknowledgment of individual genius and Universal Brotherhood based upon the love of God. Three are the prerogatives of the Divine, to be self infinite, to become finite in the finite and unification with all the various states of existence in the circle of Gwynfyd.
From this outline of Druidic teaching we learn: that in those remote ages, the doctrines of reincarnation and Karma, were understood and grasped with that clearness of apprehension so as to make them facts of the Universe. Its moral teachings were pure and healthy, inculcating chastity in all the relationships of life, the infringement of which was visited with the punishment of death. Druidism throughout its whole career kept itself perfectly pure and un-contaminated from those vices and phallic impurities which have so shamefully degraded most of the great religions of the world ancient and modern.
1. Barddas, p. 257
— Rev W. Williams, Universal Theosophy, May, June & November 1898
War-Cry of the Soul
War-Cry of the Soul
I will give you the story of Creation, as it was taught by the ancient Druids in Wales. It is to be taken as symbolical, because that high story cannot be expressed in any other way; you cannot put the vast facts of the life of the Soul in any other language than that of symbol or parable.
They taught that at the dawn of time and the Universe, the Lonely, the Spirit, God, awoke from Its sleep of ages in what is called Ceugant, the Cycle of Infinity. The Universal Night had ended, the Universal Day was to begin; there had been an endless series of Universal Days and Nights before. To call things out of latency into manifestation, That Lonely One chanted Its own name; whereupon, as it says, these worlds and systems “flashed into being more swiftly than the lightning reaches its home.”
Then the Blessed Ones, that we call in Welsh the Gwynfydolion, the Host of Souls, that had slept throughout the Night, awoke in Cylch y Gwynfyd, the Cycle of Bliss. And they looked out over the spaces, and beheld that there was a height they had not attained. They saw far off the Lonely in Ceugant; and it appeared to them that the bliss of their own cycle of existence could be nothing to them but worthlessness and bitter deprivement, while they were not in union with That.
So they took council together, and were for riding forth, and taking Infinity by storm. In their winged and flaming cars they rode: Dragons of Beauty, their bugles sounding the Grand Hai Atton, the war-cry of the Soul. The depths of space lay before and below them: the infinite darkness of the material world — Inchoation, the Cycle of Necessity; little they heeded its perils in their heroic pride, and with that Light shining above them. They declared war on God, not of hostility, but of compelling love.
But it was infinite darkness they had to traverse. Crossing that abysm, oblivion took hold on them; they were sloughed in the vast mires of matter; they forgot their origin and high purpose, and fell into incarnation. Through long cycles of time they climbed through the lower worlds — elemental, mineral, vegetable, and animal — till they reached the state of humanity.
Then it became always possible for them to remember: to don the grand armor again, and fight their way upwards. It became always possible for them, listening deeply, to hear in the silence within their own being the Grand Hai Atton that called them forth at first. And at last all shall hear it and remember, and rise up; and the war shall be carried to the Gates of Infinity; and triumphant at last we shall enter in.
— By Kenneth Morris, Sunrise magazine, August 1954
The Ancient Wisdom of the Maoris
The Ancient Wisdom of the Maoris
In his reports of the World’s parliament of religions at Chicago, Mr. Stead has a fine portrait of Tawhiao the late Maori King, but describes him as an “idol worshipper.” Never was man more misunderstood than my sacred old friend Tawhiao, that he should be described as an “idol worshipper.” He and his father, the great Potatau Te Wherowhero, before him were born mystics well versed in all the wisdom of the Wharekura — the school of initiation to the inner Mysteries. And his son the present King Mahuta Tawhiao, just emerging from “silence” possesses the wisdom of his illustrious ancestors. He looks with indifference, perhaps, with contempt on the slanderers of his father, and no doubt attributes their attitude to ignorance and the baneful influence of the missionary.
According to the Maori legends the ancestors of their race came to New Zealand in seven canoes, between five hundred and one thousand years ago from a mystic laud called Hawaiki, which scientists and western scholars try to fit in with Hawaii, one of the Sandwich Islands; but the Tohunga or Priest-Initiate, if you can get him to speak, will tell you that it is not so, but that Hawaiki was a large country swallowed up by the ocean long ago. The hidden meaning of references in many of their poems will show this to be the case.
When the Maoris came to these islands it was by direction of Kupe, the immortal, an all powerful Tohunga, who saw disaster approaching his race and wished to save all of it that he could. Kupe was a prophet, perhaps an adept; it is clear that he had the power of Matakite — clairvoyance — and could see both the past and the future. He also had the power of Moemoea — seeing visions — and could interpret them. He was a Tohunga Matau, or adept of the right hand path, as I hope to be able to show.
The Maoris in those days were guided in all they did by their Tohungas, who directed the welfare of the people and by powerful Karakias — incantations — warded off evil and influenced them for good. Tohungas were of two kinds, and the Tohunga Makutu, or black magician, by his spells and incantations could strike men dead from a distance. Makutu — witchcraft — is still dreaded by the Maoris. It is however of the Tohunga Matau and his ancient wisdom that we will first treat. This ancient wisdom is all but extinct, not more than perhaps some half dozen persons really know or retain the ancient lore and they, as born mystics, know well how to keep it concealed from the profane.
With the advent of the Missionary the Tokungas declined and retired into obscurity. They lost their power owing to the new teachers’ declaring that their old religion was very dreadful and wicked, and that the new gospel was the only way to salvation. The Maoris to use their own expression, became nui atu to matou raruraru, i.e., very much confused or perplexed. They lost heart when they saw that the missionary taught one thing and practiced another. And when they found they were losing their lands and contracting intemperance and other European vices, they became downcast and dejected and have passed through many sad experiences during the last fifty years.
The sacred flame of their ancestral wisdom, however, still flickers, carefully guarded by a small handful of trusty Tohungas who wait for the dawn of the coming day when they may rekindle the ancient fires for the upliftment of their fallen race. In the hearts of many of the most intelligent of the race is the desire to remember and restore their forgotten religion, though they fear the ridicule of the European; but if you speak to them in confidence of the wisdom of their ancestors you will note the beam of true gratitude which steals over their countenances in spite of the power they have of hiding their true feelings. This shows that the dawn of a new day is fast approaching; indeed, judging from the interest the average Maori is taking in Theosophy, which he claims as his own ancient birthright, that dawn is now at hand. The justice of the claim is what I propose to show.
If he take his most sacred Whakapapa or genealogical tree, known only to the Maori mystic, we find that he begins his ancestry with Aha — That or What — or, in other words, the “Absolute” of the Secret Doctrine. From this first emanated Ihu or the coming forth, the first manifestation, and so on through various mystic generations signifying dawns, days, twilights, nights, — the lesser Cycles, — till we come to Rangi-Raua-Ko-Papa, literally, Heaven and Earth, but mystically, the separation of the race into sexes. Wini Kerei Te Whetuiti stated that this was the real hidden meaning and that before the separation of Rangi and Papa the race was bisexual or rather hermaphrodite. In their sacred Waiatas, songs or laments, we have the story of the creation and of the building of the Kosmos told much as it is in the Secret -Doctrine. The legend of Whaitiri, the lightning, conceals with a thin veil the mysteries of the sacred land at the north pole.
The seven principles of man are known to all despite the confusion which the missionary caused when he called the soul, Wairuar, though Wairua is only a phantom shadow or ghost, i.e., the astral body. The correct terms for the seven principles as known to the Maoris are 1. Atua, pure spirit; 2. Hine Ngaio, the higher soul — literally, the hidden, or lost, or concealed woman; 3. Manawa ora, the upper, and Manawa, the lower, manas. The above three are immortal. 4. Hiahia, desire; 5. Oranga, vitality; 6. Wairua, the ghost or phantom body, the astral body; 7. Tinana, the gross physical body.
With the Maoris the lower four principles are perishable, the second and third are the immortal man and Atua is the God or All-Father overshadowing and permeating them all. When a man dies, at first only his Tinana or body decays, the other principles slowly depart to the Te Reinga, the under world, or temporary abode of Spirits. If the departed can resist the desire for food on his arrival at Te Reinga he can return and reoccupy his body or enter a fresh body if there is one available; but if he touches food then death is complete and he remains there until the Wairua, or astral, perishes and Hiahia and Oranga are set free and disperse into the elements. Then the immortal part is free and goes to rest till the time for rebirth arrives and he is born on earth again.
Under the head of Tangis, or weeping for the dead, I shall deal with the reason why the Maoris do not bury their dead for many days after death and the reason of their wailing and lamenting as far as can be given out though the whole truth could only be given to E. S. T. members under the pledge of secrecy. To the profane European the incantations and laments are meaningless but to those who know anything of the science of vibration and sound they open up a deep field for investigation. These matters are taught only in the Maori Wharekura, or Masonic School, and it is difficult to learn much of them except from their poems and allegories.
A Tohunga will not explain any mystic saying, but if one stumbles on the meaning and asks him if that is right he will tell you, and it is in giving him my ideas as a Theosophist of his symbols and mystic poems that I have gained the information which is now committed to paper. The missionary and the orthodox may dispute some of my renderings of meanings of words such as Wairua, or Astral, and say it means the soul but on the authority of several Tohungas I can say that I am right and that the missionary was purposely misled in his translation of the Bible. Reincarnation was universally accepted before the advent of the missionary and has a firm hold on the Maori of today as will be shown by ancient and modern Waiatas. Karma is also one of their doctrines as it was of the ancient Tohungas, the Maori equivalent being Te Putake me te whakaotinga, literally, the cause and the effect. There are many instances where chiefs living today claim to be reincarnations of ancestors who have had to come back and be reborn to expiate a wrong done in a past life, but they rarely speak of such things, especially to Europeans as they fear the ridicule of the profane, and to the Maori such things are very Tapu, sacred. I hope to show in future papers that the world may yet learn much from the ancient wisdom of the Tohungas and that the ancient Tohunga Matau, if not an adept, was at least an advanced chela, incarnated to help save his race.
— John St. Clair, Theosophy, April 1897