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Daily Theosophy Glossary – B

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Daily Theosophy Glossary


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Ba’al, Baal, Bel

[from Semitic ba‘al chief, lord] Bel (Greek, Latin)  Lord, chief; one of the supreme gods of the Chaldeo- or Assyro-Babylonian pantheon: the second of the triad composed of Anu, Bel, and Ea. Assyriologists have assumed that Bel was simply the title of a deity, which they have designated as En-lil (the mighty lord). In the division of the universe into heaven, earth, and water, Bel was considered as the lord of the land, and his temple at Nippur was called E-kur (the mountain house), just as Ea’s was the watery house.

There have been many Bels, which may be one of the reasons that in The Secret Doctrine Bel is made equivalent to the Sun, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mercury. As Bel or Ba‘al means Lord, the title becomes applicable to any of the important celestial bodies.

According to one account, the creation of the world and especially of mankind is ascribed to Bel. He is also called father of the gods; and his consort, Belit, is called mother of the gods. His eldest son in Sin, god of the Moon. Bel also brings about the deluge which destroys humanity, showing his dual aspect of evolver and destroyer.

Bel has been associated with the Phoenician Baal, the supreme god of the Canaanites, conceived also as the protective power of generation and fertility, connected with the moon. His female counterpart, Ashtoreth (Astarte, Ishtar) was considered as the receptive goddess, also a lunar divinity. In later times the rites connected with these deities became degraded into licentious orgies; sacrifices were made, apparently even human sacrifices, but at one time Ba‘al was worshiped as a sun god.

His various names in the Old and New Testaments demonstrate the various aspects in which he was regarded. Thus in Exodus he was named Ba‘al-Tsephon, the god of the crypt. He was likewise named Seth or Sheth, signifying a pillar (phallus); and it was owing to these associations that he was considered a hid god, similar to Ammon of Egypt. Among the Ammonites, a people of East Palestine, he was known as Moloch (the king); at Tyre he was called Melcarth. The worship of Ba‘al was introduced into Israel under Ahab, his wife being a Phoenician princess.

“Typhon, called Set, who was a great god in Egypt during the early dynasties, is an aspect of Baal and Ammon as also of Siva, Jehovah and other gods. Baal is the all-devouring Sun, in one sense, the fiery Moloch” (TG 47). As to the leaping of the prophets of Ba‘al, mentioned in the Bible (1 Kings 18:26), Blavatsky writes: “It was simply a characteristic of the Sabean worship, for it denoted the motion of the planets round the sun. That the dance was a Bacchic frenzy is apparent. Sistra were used on the occasion” (IU 2:45).

Bel is also the name for the sun with the Gauls.


(Greek) or Bacchus (Latin) Used by both Greeks and Romans, also called Dionysos by the Greeks, Liber by the Romans, Zagreus in the Orphic mysteries, Sabazius in Phrygia and Thrace; the same as Iacchus (connected with Iao and Jehovah). Generally represented as the son of Zeus and Semele, he is spoken of sometimes as a solar and sometimes as a lunar deity; for, like many other personifications of cosmic powers, he has both a solar and lunar (masculine or feminine) aspect. As a solar deity he has a serpent for his symbol and is a man-savior, parallel with Adonis, Osiris, Kṛṣṇa (Krishna), Buddha, and Christos. He is often called the god of wine, natural fertility, etc.

The original, pure Bacchic rites pertained to high initiation, in which the candidate becomes conscious of his oneness with divinity. Thus Bacchus, with his symbolic serpent and wine, stands for divine inspiration. But when the keys of the sacred science were lost and symbols were interpreted literally, the rites degenerated and often became profligate. Bacchus-Dionysos also figures as the inspirer of dramatic and representative art, inspiring the individual with the divine afflatus or mystic frenzy. Originally this meant the inner communion of the candidate with his own inner god and the consequent inspiration; on a lower plane it signifies the fleeting inspiration of poet and artist, and finally it degenerated into hysteria and morbid psychic states.


(Tibetan) [from bar between + do two] Between two; generally a gap, interval, or intermediate state, especially the state between two births. The term has become known in the West through the Bar do thos sgrol (bar-do tho-dol), “Liberation through Hearing in the Bardo,” translated by W. Y. Evans-Wentz as The Tibetan Book of the Dead. According to the Bardo Thödol, there are six such “intervals”: the bardo of birth, the bardo of dreams, the bardo of samādhi (meditation), the bardo of the moment before death, the bardo of dharmatā, i.e the naked, unconditioned truth, the nature of reality, or the true nature of phenomenal existence1 and the bardo of becoming. The Bardo Thödol describes the last three of these, and is recited in the presence of the deceased believed to be experiencing these states, usually for a total period of 49 days. It is believed that the teaching contained in the text can enable the deceased to attain liberation while in the bardo states, or at least to attain the best possible rebirth.

Bardo is used in Tibet to refer to the many events and experiences undergone by the excarnate human being after death, generally considered to last from physical death until the next rebirth or reincarnation, though it is somewhat shorter than this. Since this period “may last from a few years to a kalpa” (ML 105), the bardo has more than the meaning commonly understood by the Tibetan populace which includes the time passed by the excarnate entity in kāma-loka, in the intermediate or gestation period in which the entity is preparing for its birth into devachan, and the period of ineffable bliss and peace (illusory as it may be from the standpoint of reality) passed by the entity in the devachanic state itself. It also includes the later intermediate period — usually carefully veiled from common knowledge — existent between the ending of devachan and the rebirth of the reincarnating ego.


(Sanskrit) [from barhiṣ sacred kuśa grass, fire + the verbal root sad to sit] Mystically, those who attend to or who are engrossed in domestic affairs, material or merely pragmatical concerns; those pitṛs (fathers, ancestors) who evolved the human astral-physical form. These lunar ancestors — seven or ten classes — evolved forth their astral bodies or chhāyas (shadows), thus forming the first astral-physical races of humanity in which the higher classes of pits, the agnivāttas, incarnated, thus making out of a relatively intellectually senseless mankind, true thinking human beings.

“It thus becomes clear why the Agnivātta, devoid of the grosser creative fire, hence unable to create physical man, having no double, or astral body, to project, since they were without any form, are shown in exoteric allegories as Yogis, Kumāras (chaste youths), who became ‘rebels,’ Asuras, fighting and opposing gods . . . Yet it is they alone who could complete man, i.e., make of him a self-conscious, almost a divine being — a god on Earth. The Barhiad, though possessed of creative fire, were devoid of the higher mahātmic element. Being on a level with the lower principles — those which precede gross objective matter — they could only give birth to the outer man, or rather to the model of the physical, the astral man” (SD 2:78-9). The barhiads “could only create, or rather clothe, the human Monads with their own astral Selves, but they could not make man in their image and likeness. ‘Man must not be like one of us,’ say the creative gods, entrusted with the fabrication of the lower animal but higher; . . . Their creating the semblance of men out of their own divine Essence means, esoterically, that it is they who became the first Race, and thus shared its destiny and further evolution. They would not, simply because they could not, give to man that sacred spark which burns and expands into the flower of human reason and self-consciousness, for they had it not to give” (SD 2:94-5).


Berosus (3rd century BC)

A Chaldaean priest of Belus living in Babylon at the time of Alexander the Great, who translated the primeval traditions of the human race down nearly to his own times. Fragments of this work have been preserved by the historians and mythographers Apollodorus and Polyhistor, and also Josephus, of the 1st and 2nd centuries BC. His cosmogony shows that the Biblical stories of creation and deluge were derived from older sources, as since has been confirmed by Babylonian archaeology.


Bhagavad-Gītā [from bhagavat illustrious, sacred, holy, lord (one of Krishna’s titles) + gītā song] The noble song, the Lord’s song; a portion of the Bhagavad- Gītā Parvan, one subsection of the Bhishma Parvan, itself one of the principle sections of the Mahābhārata. The Bhagavad- Gītā consists of a dialogue in which Krishna and the warrior Arjuna have a discussion upon the highest spiritual philosophy. Krishna in this instance is the inner instructor or monitor, the higher self, advising the human self or Arjuna. See also Anugītā, a later discourse between Krishna and Arjuna.

Bhakti Yoga

(Sanskrit) A word derived from the verbal root bhaj. In connection with yoga and as being one of the recognized forms of it, the general signification of bhakti yoga is devotion, affectionate attachment. (See also Yoga)

Bhava (Sanskrit) Bhava [from the verbal root bhū to be, become] Being; coming into existence, birth, production, origin; worldly existence, the world. As used in Buddhist literature, the continuity of becoming, one of the links in the twelvefold chain of causation (nidānas), therefore also birth. As the third nidāna, bhava is the karmic agent which leads every new sentient being to be born in this or another mode of existence in the trailokya and gatis.


The wheel of becoming, of death and birth, of continued existence in the worlds of illusions. From bhava (Sanskrit) [from the verbal root bhū to be, become] Being; coming into existence, birth, production, origin; worldly existence, the world. As used in Buddhist literature, the continuity of becoming, one of the links in the twelvefold chain of causation (nidānas), therefore also birth. As the third nidāna, bhava is the karmic agent which leads every new sentient being to be born in this or another mode of existence in the trailokya and gatis.


(Sanskrit) The past participle of the verb-root bhū, meaning “to be,” or “to become”. Bhūta applies in a general way to reproductions in a new existence of entities which “have been” in a former existence. This is the reason cosmic elements are occasionally called bhūtas in their connection with the various tattvas, because the elements in any one manvantara are the derivatives or reproductions, and therefore the bhūtas, of the same elements in the previous manvantara.

Bhūtas are rudimentary substances or elements. The Vendāntists and Saṅkhyas, when speaking of the six original producers or elements of nature, called them bhūtas or prakṛtis. These are the bases of objective nature, the vehicular or substantial side of the tattvas (the principles of nature) and therefore inseparable from them. The ancients always reckoned four elements, and sometimes five, and called them aether, fire, air, water, and earth. But esoterically there are seven: ādi-bhūta (the primordial), anupapadaka-bhūta (aupapāduka-bhūta the unevolved or parentless), ākāsa-bhūta (aether), taijasa-bhūta (fire), vāyu-bhūta (air), apas-bhūta (water), and pṛthivī-bhūta (earth). These cosmic elements are not the familiar things which we know under these names, for the familiar physical substances were taken as symbols, through certain appropriate qualities which they possess, of the actual elements of cosmic being. These familiar physical substances of earth, water, air, and fire are the correspondences on earth, in a mystic sense, of the true cosmic elements.

Bhūtas literally means “has beens” — entities that have lived and passed on. The bhūtas are “shells” from which all that is spiritual and intellectual has fled: all that was the real entity has fled from this shell, and naught is left but a decaying astral corpse. The bhūtas are the spooks, ghosts, simulacra, reliquiae, of dead men; in other words, the astral dregs and remnants of human beings. They are the “shades” of the ancients, the pale and ghostly phantoms living in the astral world, or the astral copies of the men that were; and the distinction between the bhūta and the kāma-rūpa is very slight.

Bereft of all that pertains to the real entity, the genuine man, the bhūta is as much a corpse in the astral realms as is the decaying physical body left behind at physical death; and consequently, astral or psychical intercourse of any kind with these shells is productive only of evil. The bhūtas, although belonging in the astral world, are magnetically attracted to physical localities similar in type to the remnants of impulses still inhering in them. The bhūta of a drunkard is attracted to wine cellars and taverns; the bhūta of one who has lived a lewd life is attracted to localities sympathetic to it; the thin and tenuous bhūta of a good man is similarly attracted to less obnoxious and evil places. All over the ancient world and throughout most of even the modern world these eidola or “images” of dead men have been feared and dreaded, and relations of any kind with them have been consistently and universally avoided. (See also Eidolon)


[from bhūta has been + ātman self] The “self of that which has been,” the reincarnating ego. Composed of lower buddhi and higher manas, its range of consciousness is over the earth planetary chain and its vehicle is the higher human soul. In a more restricted sense Bhūtātman could logically be applied to the human ego, which makes its various reappearances as a new personality in each earth incarnation.


Bīja (sometimes Vīja)

(Sanskrit) This word signifies “seed” or “life-germ,” whether of animals or of plants. But esoterically its signification is far wider and incomparably more abstruse, and therefore difficult to understand without proper study. The term is used in esotericism to designate the original or causal source and vāhana or “vehicle” of the mystic impulse or urge of life, or of lives, to express itself or themselves when the time for such self-expression arrives after a pralaya, or after an obscuration, or again, indeed, during manvantara. Whether it be a kosmos or universe, or the reappearance of god, deva, man, animal, plant, mineral, or elemental, the seed or life-germ from and out of which any one of these arises is technically called bīja, and the reference here is almost as much to the life-germ or vehicle itself as it is to the self-urge for manifestation working through the seed or life-germ. Mystically and psychologically, the appearance of an avatāra, for instance, is due to an impulse arising in MahāŚiva, or in MahāViṣṇu (according to circumstances), to manifest a portion of the divine essence, in either case, when the appropriate world period arrives for the appearance of an avatāra. Or again, when from the chela is born the initiate during the dread trials of initiation, the newly-arisen Master is said to have been born from the mystic bīja or seed within his own being. The doctrine connected with this word bīja in its occult and esoteric aspects is far too profound to receive more than a cursory and superficial treatment.


Bodhi (enlightenment)

A particular state of samādhi, during which the subject reaches the culmination of spiritual knowledge. Samādhi is the highest state on earth that can be reached while in the body; its highest stage or degree is called tūriya. To attain beyond this, the initiate must have become a nirmāṇakāya. (From ETG)

Bodhicitta, Bodhichitta

(from Bodhi, wisdom and C(h)itta pondering mind; C(h)it = thought). The mind continuously directed towards the highest wisdom; in Buddhism, the mind always residing in the active wish that all living beings may reach liberation, or the wish to reach enlightenment for the sake of being able to guide all living beings towards liberation from the illusion and delusion the cycle of rebirth.


[from bodhi wisdom + sattva essence] He whose essence has become intelligence; exoterically, one who in one or a few more incarnations will become a Buddha. Occultly, when:

“a human being, has reached the state where his ego becomes conscious, fully so, of its inner divinity, becomes clothed with the buddhic ray; where, so to say, the personal man has put on the garments of inner immortality in actuality, on this earth, here and now — that man is a Bodhisattva. His higher principles have nearly reached Nirvāṇa. When they do so finally, such a man is a Buddha, a human Buddha, a Manuṣya-Buddha. Obviously, if such a Bodhisattva were to reincarnate, in the next incarnation or in a very few future incarnations thereafter, he would be a Manuṣya-Buddha. A Buddha, in the esoteric teaching, is one whose higher principles can learn nothing more. They have reached Nirvāṇa and remain there; but the spiritually awakened personal man, the Bodhisattva, the person made semi-divine to use popular language, instead of choosing his reward in the Nirvāṇa of a less degree, remains on earth out of pity and compassion for inferior beings, and becomes what is called a Nirmāṇakāya . . . a Bodhisattva is the representative on earth of a Dhyāni-Buddha or Celestial Buddha — in other words one who has become an incarnation or expression of his own Divine Monad” (Occult Glossary 19).

The dhyāni-buddhas who each watch over one of the rounds and the great root-races on the different globes of our planetary chain, are said to send their bodhisattvas, their spiritual or human correspondents, during every round and race.

“These Dhyāni Buddhas emanate, or create from themselves, by virtue of Dhyāna, celestial Selves — the super-human Bodhisattvas. These incarnating at the beginning of every human cycle on earth as mortal men, become occasionally, owing to their personal merit, Bodhisattvas among the Sons of Humanity, after which they may re-appear as Manuṣi (human) Buddhas” (SD 1:571).

“The exoteric teaching which says that every Dhyāni-Buddha has the faculty of creating from himself, an equally celestial son — a Dhyāni-Bodhisattva — who, after the decease of the Manuṣi (human) Buddha, has to carry out the work of the latter, rests on the fact that owing to the highest initiation performed by one overshadowed by the ‘Spirit of Buddha’ . . . a candidate becomes virtually a Bodhisattva, created such by the High Initiator” (SD 1:109). (From ETG)


(Tibetan) [possible variation of bod Tibet, or an ancient word meaning invoker] Also pon and bhon. The Tibetan religion before the introduction of Buddhism in the latter half of the 8th century. The priest and adherents of Bon are called Bonpos (bon po), the ancient invokers for the pre-Buddhist and non-Buddhist kings and nobles of Tibet. The Bon religion, which survives today, seems based on at least four sources: 1) the ancient folk religions of the Tibetan people; 2) the tradition of the ancient “invokers”; 3) a conscious competition with Buddhism in terms of doctrine, texts, institutions, pantheon, and ritual; and 4) a number of non-Tibetan influences, including Hindu, Iranian, Central Asian, and other elements. Bon has been influenced by Buddhism to the extent that it has its own Kanjur and Tanjur, its own monks and monasteries, and its own “Buddha,” Shen-rab (gshen rab). All existing Bon literature was produced after the introduction of Buddhism, and shows the influence of and competition with Buddhism. Bon has also influenced Tibetan Buddhism, especially the older Nyingmapa and Kargyupa sects, later purified and reformed by Tsongkhapa, who founded the Gelukpa or Order of the Virtuous (‘Yellowcaps’).



(Sanskrit) [from the verbal root bṛh to expand, grow, fructify] The first god of the Hindu Trimurti or triad, consisting of Brahmā, the emanator, evolver, and creator; Viṇu, the sustainer or preserver; and Śiva, the regenerator or destroyer. Brahmā is the vivifying expansive force of nature in its eternally periodic manvantaras. He stands for the spiritual evolving or developing energy-consciousness of a solar system which is also called the Egg of Brahmā (brahmānda). Brahmā is called the creator or Logos, but in the theosophic philosophy creator is simply an abstract term or idea, like army. In Burnouf’s words:

“Having evolved himself from the soul of the world, once separated from the first cause, he evaporates with, and emanates all nature out of himself. He does not stand above it, but is mixed up with it; Brahm and the universe form one Being, each particle of which is in its essence Brahm himself, who proceeded out of himself” (The Secret Doctrine 1:380n). The Viṇu-Purāṇa explains that created beings “although they are destroyed (in their individual forms) at the periods of dissolution, yet being affected by the good or evil acts of former existences, are never exempted from their consequences. And when Brahmā produces the world anew, they are the progeny of his will . . .” (q SD 1:456n).

Brahman is both masculine and neuter, and therefore has two meanings. In the masculine (Brahmā) it is the evolving energy of the cosmic egg, as distinguished from the neuter (Brahman). Brahmā is the vehicle or sheath of Brahman. The Viu-Purāna says that Brahmā in its totality has essentially the aspect of prakti, both evolved and unevolved (mulaprakti), and also the aspects of spirit and of time. “Brahmā, as ‘the germ of unknown Darkness,’ is the material from which all evolves and develops ‘as the web from the spider, as foam from the water,’ etc. This is only graphic and true, if Brahmā the ‘Creator’ is, as a term, derived from the root bh, to increase or expand. Brahmā ‘expands’ and becomes the Universe woven out of his own substance” (SD 1:83). Again,

“Here we find, as in all genuine philosophical systems, even the ‘Egg’ or the Circle (or Zero), boundless Infinity, referred to as It, and Brahmā, the first unit only, referred to as the male god, i.e., the fructifying Principle. It is symbol or 10 (ten) the Decade. On the plane of the Septenary or our World only, it is called Brahmā. On that of the Unified Decade in the realm of Reality, this male Brahmā is an illusion” (SD 1:333).

According to the Aitareya-Brāhmana, Brahmā as Prajāpati (lord of beings) manifests himself first of all as twelve bodies or attributes, which are represented by the twelve gods, symbolizing 1) fire; 2) the sun; 3) soma, which gives omniscience; 4) all living beings; 5) vāyu, or ether; 6) death, or breath of destruction — Śiva; 7) earth; 8) heaven; 9) agni, the immaterial fire; 10) āditya, the immaterial and invisible sun; 11) mind; and 12) the great infinite cycle, “which is not to be stopped.” Brahmā in one of his phases therefore is the visible universe, every atom of which is essentially himself.

Brahmā “symbolizes personally the collective creators of the World and Men — the universe with all its numberless productions of things movable and (seemingly) immovable. He is collectively the Prajāpatis, the Lords of Being; and the four bodies typify the four classes of creative powers or Dhyāni Chohans . . .” (SD 2:60), these four bodies being ratri (night) associated with the creation of the asuras; ahan (day) associated with the gods; sandhyā (evening twilight) associated with the pits; and jyotsna (dawn or light) associated with the creation of men.

In the beginning Brahmā was Purua (spirit) and also prakti (matter). It is later that he separated himself into two halves — Brahmā-Vāc (female) and Brahmā-Virāj (male). The term Brahmā is not found in the Vedas. Blavatsky correlates Adam-Qadmon, Brahmā, and Mars as symbols for primitive or initial generative and creative powers typifying water and earth; also all three are associated with the color red (cf SD 2:43, 124-5). From ETG

Brahmā stands for the spiritual energy-consciousness side of our solar universe, i.e., our solar system, and the Egg of Brahmā is that solar system.

A Day of Brahmā or a māhā-manvantara is composed of seven rounds, a period of 4,320,000,000 terrestrial years; this period is also called a kalpa. A Night of Brahmā, the planetary rest period, which is also called the paranirvānic period, is of equal length.

Seven Days of Brahmā make one solar kalpa; or, in other words, seven planetary cycles, each cycle consisting of seven rounds (or seven planetary manvantaras), form one solar manvantara.

One Year of Brahmā consists of 360 Divine Days, each day being the duration of a planet’s life, i.e., of a planetary chain of seven globes. The Life of Brahmā (or the life of the universal system) consists of one hundred Divine Years, i.e., 4,320,000,000 years times 36,000 x 2.

The Life of Brahmā is half ended: that is, fifty of his years are gone — a period of 155,520,000,000,000 of our years have passed away since our solar system, with its sun, first began its manvantaric course. There remain, therefore, fifty more such Years of Brahmā before the system sinks into rest or pralaya. As only half of the evolutionary journey is accomplished, we are, therefore, at the bottom of the kosmic cycle, i.e., on the lowest plane.


(Sanskrit) A word of which the root, brih, means “expansion.” It is that part of the celestial being which first initiates manifestation through the various Brahmās, the expansion of the one into the many. It is what is called the unmanifest Logos. It may also be called the impersonal and uncognizable principle of the universe, and must be sharply distinguished from the masculine Brahmā of which there are many in a universe.

Note: In early theosophical literature, as well as in translations of the Hindu writings, Brahman is sometimes spelled Brahma or even Brahm; but this should not be confused with Brahmā. (See also Parabrahman, Brahmā)


(Sanskrit) A word having several meanings in Hindu sacred literature. Brahmana is both noun and adjective, as noun signifying a member of the first of the four Vedic classes, and as adjective signifying what belongs to a Brahmana or what is Brahmanical. Secondly, it signifies one of the portions of the Vedic literature, containing rules for the proper usage of the mantras or hymns at sacrifices, explanations in detail of what these sacrifices are, illustrated by legends and old stories.

An old-fashioned English way of spelling Brahmana is Brahmin.


(Sanskrit) [from brahma + aṇḍa egg, Egg of Brahmā] The imbodiment of Brahmā, particularly the solar system, physical, psychological, and spiritual. The ancient Hindus “called Brahmā . . . the kosmic atom. The idea is that this kosmic atom is ‘Brahmā’s Egg,’ from which the universe shall spring into manifested being, as from the egg the chick comes forth, in its turn to lay another egg. Each of these kosmic eggs or universes gives birth, after its rest period has ended, to its own offspring, each of the former derived in similar manner from its own former manvantaric egg” (Fund 494). This cosmic egg was sometimes said to be dropped by the mystic bird kalahamsa, the swan of eternity; or to be the result of Brahman’s ideation (FSO 97)


(Sanskrit) [brahmā as prakṛti] The material or vehicular aspect of Brahmā’s nature in contradistinction to Brahmā-Purua, his spiritual aspect.

Brahmā Pralaya, Brahmā Manvantara

(Sanskrit). The death (or life) of Brahmā, which takes place at the close of the Life or Age of Brahmā, a period of 311,040,000,000,000 years; also called a mahāpralaya or prakṛtika pralaya. One must ascertain whether the Brahmā refers to a solar system or a smaller period of time, such as the life of a planetary chain.


(sanskrit) [from brahma + pura city, abode] The abode or city of Brahmā, the creative or Third Logos. “The inmost chamber, the chamber of the Heart, and the abode of the World’s Mother” (VS 9), one of the mystic powers latent in all human beings, but called into activity by advanced yogis. Brahmapura can signify the heart or indeed the entire body. It is also the name of the so-called capital of Brahmā on Mt. Kailasa in the Himalayas or on Mount Meru.


(Sanskrit) [brahmā as puruṣa] The spiritual aspect of Brahmā’s nature in contradistinction to Brahmā-prakṛti, the material aspect.


Relegating all things to Brahman. The cognition, after true discrimination of the identity of the universe and ‘I’ with Brahman is Brahmārpaṇa. The giving up of the conception of duality through the idea that there is one only Īśvara in all our thoughts is Īśvarārpaṇa (or Brahmārpaṇa)

Kṛṣṇa replied: “The wise say that the Brahmic Principle is ‘That’ which is devoid of Saṁkalpas, pains or thoughts. The efforts at attaining the non-dual Brahman is Jñāna. Such efforts are also termed Yoga by the wise.  The renunciation of the fruits of Karmas (actions) is Sannyāsa. The destruction of the painful Saṁkalpa of the mind is the destruction of Saṅga in the eyes of the great. The giving up of the conception of duality through the idea that there is one only Īśvara in all our thoughts is Īśvarārpaṇa (or Brahmārparṇa)

Brother of the Shadow

A term given in occultism and especially in modern esotericism to individuals, whether men or women, who follow the path of the shadows, the left-hand path. The term “shadow” is a technical expression and signifies more than appears on the surface: i.e., the expression is not to be understood of individuals who live in actual physical obscurity or actual physical shadows, which literalism would be simply absurd; but applies to those who follow the path of matter, which from time immemorial in the esoteric schools in both Orient and Occident has frequently been called shadow or shadows. The term originally arose, without doubt, in the philosophical conception of the word māyā, for in early Oriental esotericism māyā, and more especially māhā-māyā, was a term applied in one of its many philosophical meanings to that which was contrary to and, indeed, in one sense a reflection of, light. Just as spirit may be considered to be pure energy, and matter, although essentially crystallized spirit, may be looked upon as the shadow world or vehicular world in which the energy or spirit or pure light works, just so is māyā, as the garment or expression or sakti of the divine energy, the vehicle or shadow of the divine side of nature, in other words its negative or nether pole, as light is the upper or positive pole.

The Brothers of the Shadow are therefore those who, being essentially of the nature of matter, instinctively choose and follow the path along which they are most strongly drawn, that is, the path of matter or of the shadows. When it is recollected that matter is but a generalizing term, and that what this term comprises actually includes an almost infinite number of degrees of increasing ethereality from the grossest physical substance, or absolute matter, up to the most ethereal or spiritualized substance, we immediately see the subtle logic of this technical term — shadows or, more fully, the Path of the Shadows, hence the Brothers of the Shadow.

They are the so-called black magicians of the Occident, and stand in sharp and notable contrast with the white magicians or the Sons of Light who follow the pathway of self-renunciation, self-sacrifice, self-conquest, perfect self-control, and an expansion of the heart and mind and consciousness in love and service for all that lives. (See also Right-hand Path)

The existence and aims of the Brothers of the Shadow are essentially selfish. It is commonly, but erroneously, supposed that the Brothers of the Shadow are men and women always of unpleasant or displeasing personal appearance, and no greater error than this could possibly be made. Multitudes of human beings are unconsciously treading the path of the shadows and, in comparison with these multitudes, it is relatively only a few who self-consciously lead and guide with subtle and fast intelligence this army of unsuspecting victims of māyā. The Brothers of the Shadow are often highly intellectual men and women, frequently individuals with apparent great personal charm, and to the ordinary observer, judging from their conversation and daily works, are fully as well able to “quote scripture” as are the Angels of Light!

Bṛhaspati (Brihaspati)

(Sanskrit) [from bṛh prayer + pati lord] Sometimes Vhaspati. A Vedic deity, corresponding to the planet Jupiter, commonly translated lord of prayer, the personification of exoteric piety and religion, but mystically the name signifies lord of increase, of expansion, growth. He is frequently called Brahmanaspati, both names having a direct significance with the power of sound as uttered in mantras or prayer united with positive will. He is regarded in Hindu mythology as the chief offerer of prayers and sacrifices, thus representing the Brahmin or priestly caste, being the Purohita (family priest) of the gods, among other things interceding with them for mankind. He has many titles and attributes, being frequently designated as Jīva (the living), Didivis (the bright or golden-colored). In later times he became the god of exoteric knowledge and eloquence — Dhishana (the intelligent), Gish-pati (lord of invocations). In this aspect he is regarded as the son of the i Angiras, and hence bears the patronymic Angirasa, and the husband of Tara, who was carried off by Soma (the moon). Tāra is

“the personification of the powers of one initiated into Gupta Vidyā (secret knowledge) . . .

Soma is the moon astronomically; but in mystical phraseology, it is also the name of the sacred beverage drunk by the Brahmins and the Initiates during their mysteries and sacrificial rites. . . .

Soma was never given in days of old to the non-initiated Brahman — the simple Ghasta, or priest of the exoteric ritual. Thus Bṛhaspati — ‘guru of the gods’ though he was — still represented the dead-letter form of worship. It is Tāra his wife — the symbol of one who, though wedded to dogmatic worship, longs for true wisdom — who is shown as initiated into his mysteries by King Soma, the giver of that Wisdom. Soma is thus made in the allegory to carry her away. The result of this is the birth of Budhaesoteric Wisdom — (Mercury, or Hermes in Greece and Egypt). He is represented as ‘so beautiful,’ that even the husband, though well aware that Budha is not the progeny of his dead-letter worship — claims the ‘new-born’ as his Son, the fruit of his ritualistic and meaningless forms. Such is, in brief, one of the meanings of the allegory” (SD 2:498-9).

Tāra’s abduction gave rise to the Tārakāmaya — the first war in heaven. The earth was shaken to its very center and turned to Brahmā requesting him to restore Tāra to her husband, which request was granted. Soma had for his allies the Daityas and Dānavas, whose leader is Uśanas (Venus) and Rudra (Śiva), while the gods who sided with Bhaspati were led by Indra.



(Sanskrit) The past participle of the root budh, meaning “to perceive,” “to become cognizant of,” also “to awaken,” and “to recover consciousness.” It signifies one who is spiritually awakened, no longer living “the living death” of ordinary men, but awakened to the spiritual influence from within or from “above.” When man has awakened from the living death in which ordinary mortals live, when he has cast off the toils of both mind and flesh and, to use the old Christian term, has put on the garments of eternity, then he has awakened, he is a buddha. He has become one with — not “absorbed” as is constantly translated but has become one with — the Self of selves, with the paramātman, the Supreme Self. (See also Bodhi, Buddhi)

A buddha in the esoteric teaching is one whose higher principles can learn nothing more in this manvantara; they have reached nirvāna and remain there. This does not mean, however, that the lower centers of consciousness of a buddha are in nirvāna, for the contrary is true; and it is this fact that enables a Buddha of Compassion to remain in the lower realms of being as mankind’s supreme guide and instructor, living usually as a nirmāṇakāya.


(Sanskrit) [from buddha awakened + kṣetra field, sphere of action] The sphere of action of an enlightened one. According to theosophy, there are four (or seven) buddhakṣetras or fields in which the buddhas manifest and do their sublime work of benevolence which, counting from above, are: 1) the realms in which the dhyāni-buddhas live and work; 2) the realms in which the dhyāni-bodhisattvas live and work, called by Blavatsky “the domain of ideation”; 3) the realms of the manuṣya-buddhas, in which these work as nirmāṇakāyas; and 4) the field of action in which the human buddhas work, the ordinary human world — our physical globe.

Every incarnate buddha lives and works in the fourth or lowest buddhakṣetra, as Gautama Buddha did; but at the same time, and more particularly when he has laid aside the physical body, he can live and work at will in the next higher Buddhakṣetra as a nirmānakāya; again as a dhyāni-bodhisattva in his higher intermediate spiritual-psychological principle, he can at will function in the next higher Buddhakṣetra ; while last, the dhyāni-buddha within him lives and does its own sublime labor on the highest buddhakṣetras as a dhyāni-buddha. Here lies the true explanation of the many apparently conflicting statements made about the various kinds of buddhas and their various duties or functions, as found in the Buddhist scriptures, especially in the Mahāyāna writings of Central and Northern Asia.

Each one of the trikāya (three bodies or vehicles) — the dharmakāya, sambhogakāya, and nirmāṇakāya — has its respective place and function on and in the three highest of the buddhakṣetra: the dharmakāya is the luminous or spiritual body or vehicle in which the dhyāni-buddha lives and works on the first and highest buddhakṣetra; the dhyāni-bodhisattva similarly lives and works in the spiritual-intellectual body or vehicle called the sambhogakāya, on the second of the buddhakṣetras; while the manuṣya-buddha, when working in the third buddhakṣetra, does so in his nirmāṇakāya vesture or robe, vehicle, or body. The lowest buddhakṣetra is the one in which the human buddha is found clothed in his body of flesh as an incarnate being.

Buddha of Compassion

One who, having won all, gained all — gained the right to kosmic peace and bliss — renounces it so that he may return as a Son of Light in order to help humanity, and indeed all that is.

The Buddhas of Compassion are the noblest flowers of the human race. They are men who have raised themselves from humanity into quasi-divinity; and this is done by letting the light imprisoned within, the light of the inner god, pour forth and manifest itself through the humanity of the man, through the human soul of the man. Through sacrifice and abandoning of all that is mean and wrong, ignoble and paltry and selfish; through opening up the inner nature so that the god within may shine forth; in other words, through self-directed evolution, they have raised themselves from mere manhood into becoming god-men, man-gods — human divinities.

They are called Buddhas of Compassion because they feel their unity with all that is, and therefore feel intimate magnetic sympathy with all that is, and this is more and more the case as they evolve, until finally their consciousness blends with that of the universe and lives eternally and immortally, because it is at one with the universe. “The dewdrop slips into the shining sea” — its origin.

Feeling the urge of almighty love in their hearts, the Buddhas of Compassion advance forever steadily towards still greater heights of spiritual achievement; and the reason is that they have become the vehicles of universal love and universal wisdom. As impersonal love is universal, their whole nature expands consequently with the universal powers that are working through them. The Buddhas of Compassion, existing in their various degrees of evolution, form a sublime hierarchy extending from the Silent Watcher on our planet downwards through these various degrees unto themselves, and even beyond themselves to their chelas or disciples. Spiritually and mystically they contrast strongly with what Asiatic occultism, through the medium of Buddhism, has called the Pratyeka Buddhas.


(Sanskrit) [from the verbal root budh to awaken, enlighten, know] The spiritual soul, the faculty of discriminating, the channel through which streams divine inspiration from the atman to the ego, and therefore that faculty which enables us to discern between good and evil — spiritual conscience. The qualities of the buddhic principle when awakened are higher judgment, instant understanding, discrimination, intuition, love that has no bounds, and consequent universal forgiveness.

In the theosophical scheme, it is the sixth principle counting upwards in the human constitution: the vehicle of pure, universal spirit, hence an inseparable garment or vehicle of ātman. In its essence of the highest plane of ākāśa or ālaya, buddhi stands in the same relation to ātman as, on the cosmic scale, mūlaprakti does to parabrahman.

Buddhi uses manas as its garment, and in the former are likewise stored the fruitages of the many incarnations on earth; hence buddhi is often called both the seed and flower of manas. Buddhi is truly the center of spiritual consciousness and therefore its qualities are enduring. The purer and higher part of manas must awaken, by rising to it, this essential energy that inherently resides in buddhi so that the latter may become active in a person’s life. Buddha and Christ are examples of sages who had become human imbodiments of the usually latent qualities of buddhi. Buddhi becomes more or less conscious on this plane by the flowerings it draws from manas after every incarnation of the ego. “Buddhi would remain only an impersonal spirit without this element which it borrows from the human soul, which conditions and makes of it, in this illusive Universe, as it were something separate from the universal soul for the whole period of the cycle of incarnation” (Key to Theosophy 159-60).

“No purely spiritual Buddhi (divine Soul) can have an independent (conscious) existence before the spark which issued from the pure Essence of the Universal Sixth principle, — or the over-soul, — has (a) passed through every elemental form of the phenomenal world of that Manvantara, and (b) acquired individuality, first by natural impulse, and then by self-induced and self-devised efforts (checked by its Karma), thus ascending through all the degrees of intelligence, from the lowest to the highest Manas, from mineral and plant, up to the holiest archangel (Dhyāni-Buddha)” (The Secret Doctrine 1:17).

In the human constitution buddhi is a ray from the cosmic principle mahābuddhi or ādi-buddhi, a synonym for ālaya, pradhāna, or the Second Logos, while ākāśa in its higher reaches is identic with ālaya. (From: ETG)


(Sanskrit) Buddhi-manas [from buddhi spiritual soul + manas intellect] The higher ego, the principle of essential self-consciousness, especially when considered as over-enlightened by the ātman or self per se. Buddhi-manas is the kāraṇa-śarīra (causal body), hence the immortal or spiritual self which passes intact from one incarnation to another. This higher self or ego is formed of the indissoluble union of buddhi, the sixth principle counting upwards, and the spiritual efflorescence of manas, the fifth principle. Buddhi-manas is the divine individual soul infilled with the light of the ray from the ātman, and hence includes human intellect and egoic self-consciousness, in addition to all the spiritual faculties and powers inherent in the ray itself.


The teachings of Gautama the Buddha. Buddhism today is divided into two branches, the Northern and the Southern. The Southern still retains the teachings of the “Buddha’s brain,” the “eye doctrine,” that is to say his outer philosophy for the general world, sometimes inadequately called the doctrine of forms and ceremonies. The Northern still retains his “heart doctrine” — that which is hid, the inner life, the heart-blood, of the religion: the doctrine of the inner heart of the teaching.

The religious philosophy of the Buddha-Sakyamuni is incomparably nearer to the ancient wisdom, the esoteric philosophy of the archaic ages, than is Christianity. Its main fault today is that teachers later than the Buddha himself carried its doctrines too far along merely formal or exoteric lines; yet, with all that, to this day it remains the purest and holiest of the exoteric religions on earth, and its teachings even exoterically are true — once they are properly understood. They need but the esoteric key in interpretation of them. As a matter of fact, the same may be said of all the great ancient world religions. Christianity, Brahmanism, Taoism, and others all have the same esoteric wisdom behind the outward veil of the exoteric formal faith.


(Sanskrit) [from the verbal root budh to awake] As an adjective, intelligent, wise, clever, fully awake; hence a wise or instructed person, a sage. In mythology, Budha is represented as the son of Tara (or Rohini), the wife of Brihaspati (the planet Jupiter). Tara was carried off by Soma (the Moon), which led to the Tarakamaya — the war in svarga (heaven) — between the gods and asuras (the latter siding with Soma against the divinities). The gods were victorious and Tara was returned to Brihaspati, but the parentage of the son she gave birth to was claimed both by Brihapati and Soma: he was so beautiful he was named Budha (cf SD 2:498-9). Upon Brahma’s demand, Tara admitted that Budha was the offspring of Soma. Budha became the god of wisdom and the husband of Ila (or Ida), daughter of Manu Vaivasvata, and in one sense stands for esoteric wisdom.

Budha is also a name for the planet Mercury and its regent. Sirius was termed the star of Budha, “called the great instructor of mankind before other Buddhas” (SD 2:374).

  1. Source: Rigpawiki: http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Dharmata. []