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Daily Theosophy Glossary – D

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Daily Theosophy Glossary



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Daitya, Daiteya.

They are the descendants of Diti. If Aditi is understood as mūlaprakṛti, or virtually cosmic space, so Diti, the nether pole of the former, may be understood as the aggregate of the praktis. Cosmically, daityas are titans, often called asuras, whose role is that of urgers of evolutionary progress for all things, as contrasted with the incomparably slower, but unceasing, evolutionary inertia of the vast cosmic powers. Terrestrially, they are the titans and giants of the fourth root-race. According to the Hindu Purāṇas, these daityas are demons and enemies of the ceremonial sacrifice and ritualistic ceremonies; but according to the secret meaning hid under these stories, some of the daityas were the forwards-looking and impulse-providing intellectual entities striving against the inertia or deadweight of human nature.

“The Demons, so called in the Purāṇas, are very extraordinary devils when judged from the standpoint of European and orthodox views about these creatures, since all of them — Dānavas, Daityas, Piśacas, and the Rākṣasas — are represented as extremely pious, following the precepts of the Vedas, some of them even being great Yogis. But they oppose the clergy and Ritualism, sacrifices and forms — just what the full-blown Yogins do to this day in India — and are no less respected for it, though they are allowed to follow neither caste nor ritual; hence all those Purāṇic giants and Titans are called Devils” (SD 1:415).


A compound signifying “divine” or “original evolver,” or “original source,” of the universe or of any self-contained or hierarchical portion of such universe, such as a solar system. Briefly, therefore, daiviprakṛti may be called “divine matter,” matter here being used in its original sense of “divine mother-evolver” or “divine original substance.”

Now, as original substance manifests itself in the kosmic spaces as primordial kosmic light — light in occult esoteric theosophical philosophy being a form of original matter or substance — many mystics have referred to daiviprakṛti under the phrase “the Light of the Logos.” Daiviprakṛti is, in fact, the first veil or sheath or ethereal body surrounding the Logos, as pradhāna or prakṛti surrounds Purua or Brahman in the Sakhya philosophy, and as, on a scale incomparably more vast, mūlaprakṛti surrounds parabrahman. As daiviprakṛti, therefore, is elemental matter, or matter in its sixth and seventh stages counting from physical matter upwards or, what comes to the same thing, matter in its first and second stages of its evolution from above, we may accurately enough speak of those filmy ethereal wisps of light seen in the midnight skies as a physical manifestation of daiviprakṛti, because when they are not actually resolvable nebulae, they are worlds, or rather systems of worlds, in the making.

When daiviprakṛti has reached a certain state or condition of evolutionary manifestation, we may properly speak of it under the term fohat. Fohat, in H. P. Blavatsky’s words, is

“The essence of cosmic electricity. An occult Tibetan term for Daivi-prakṛti, primordial light: and in the universe of manifestation the ever-present electrical energy and ceaseless destructive and formative power. Esoterically, it is the same, Fohat being the universal propelling Vital Force, at once the propeller and the resultant.” — Theosophical Glossary, p. 121

All this is extremely well put, but it must be remembered that although fohat is the energizing power working in and upon manifested daiviprakṛti, or primordial substance, as the rider rides the steed, it is the kosmic intelligence, or kosmic monad as Pythagoras would say, working through both daiviprakṛti and its differentiated energy called fohat, which is the guiding and controlling principle, not only in the kosmos but in every one of the subordinate elements and beings of the hosts of multitudes of them infilling the kosmos. The heart or essence of the sun is daiviprakṛti working as itself, and also in its manifestation called fohat, but through the daiviprakṛti and the fohatic aspect of it runs the all-permeant and directive intelligence of the solar divinity. The student should never make the mistake, however, of divorcing this guiding solar intelligence from its veils or vehicles, one of the highest of which is daiviprakṛti-fohat.

Dākas and Dākinīs

[Sanskrit] Male and Female demons, vampires, and blood-drinkers, feeding on human flesh, attendant upon Kali, the consort of Śiva; a type of evil elemental. Outside of mythologic explanations, the dākinīs may be said to be one type of advanced elemental beings. “But with the Fourth Race we reach the purely human period. Those who were hitherto semi-divine Beings, self-imprisoned in bodies which were human only in appearance, became physiologically changed and took unto themselves wives who were entirely human and fair to look at, but in whom lower, more material, though sidereal, beings had incarnated. These beings in female forms (Lilith is the prototype of these in the Jewish traditions) are called in the esoteric accounts ‘Khado’ (Dākinī, in Sanskrit). Allegorical legends call the chief of these Liliths, Sangye Khado (Buddha Dākinī, in Sanskrit); all are credited with the art of ‘walking in the air,’ and the greatest kindness to mortals; but no mind — only animal instinct” (The Secret Doctrine 2:284-5). (From: ETG)

Dakṣa [from dakṣ to be able, strong] Adroit, able, intelligent, clever; used as a proper noun, intelligent power or ability. One of the chief prajāpatis, cosmic creative intelligences, spiritual entities; the synthesis or aggregate of the terrestrial progenitors, including the pitris.

Dakṣa signifies the intelligent or competent, but usually carries with it the idea of creative or evolving power. “He is a son of Brahmā, and of Aditi, and agreeably to other versions, a self-born power, which, like Minerva, sprang from his father’s body. . . . the g-Veda says that ‘Dakṣa sprang from Aditi and Aditi from Dakṣa,’ a reference to the eternal cyclic re-birth of the same divine Essence” (SD 2:247).

As the progenitor of real physical man, Daka was son of the Pracetasas and Maria, the first of the “egg-born.” He “establishes the era of men engendered by sexual intercourse. But this mode of procreation did not occur suddenly, as one may think, and required long ages before it became the one ‘natural’ way. Therefore, his sacrifice to the gods is shown as interfered with by Siva, the destroying deity, evolution and progress personified, . . . Virabhadra, ‘abiding in the region of the ghosts (etherial men). . . . created from the pores of the skin (Romakupas), powerful Raumas, (or Raumyas).’ Now, however mythical the allegory, the Mahābhārata, which is history as much as is the Iliad, shows the Raumyas [hairy ones] and other races, as springing in the same manner from the Romakupas, hair or skin pores. . . .

“In the Vāyu Purāna’s account of Daka’s sacrifice, moreover, it is said to have taken place in the presence of creatures born from the egg, from the vapour, vegetation, pores of the skin, and, finally only, from the womb.

“Daka typifies the early Third Race, holy and pure, still devoid of an individual Ego, and having merely the passive capacities. Brahmā, therefore, commands him to create (in the exoteric texts; when, obeying the command, he made ‘inferior and superior’ (avara and vara) progeny (putra), Bipeds and quadrupeds; and by his will gave birth to females. . . . to the gods, the Daityas (giants of the Fourth Race), the snake-gods, animals, cattle and the Dānavas (Titans and demon Magicians) and other beings.

“ . . . ‘From that period forward, living creatures were engendered by sexual intercourse. Before the time of Daka, they were variously propagated — by the will, by sight, by touch, and by Yoga-power’ ” [quotes from the Viṣṇu-Purāna (Wilson)] (SD 2:182-3).

Dalai Lama

[from Mongolian ta-le ocean] The title of the Great Lama or abbot of the Gedun Dubpa Monastery situated at Lhasa, Tibet; used mainly by the Chinese and Mongols. One key to the Dalai Lama’s symbolical name, ocean-lama meaning wisdom-ocean, is found in the tradition of the great sea of knowledge or learning which remained for ages where now stretches the Shamo or Gobi Desert (SD 2:502). The Tibetans call him rgyal be rinpoche (precious victor) or often simply Kun-dun (the Presence). Popularly believed to be an incarnation of Chenresi (Avalokiteśvara), he is regarded as the temporal ruler of Tibet.

The first three successors to Tsong-kha-pa as leaders of the Gelukpa school were his foremost disciples Gyel-tshab-je (Rgyal tshab rje), Khe-dub-je (Mkhas grub rje), and his nephew Gen-dun-dub (Dge ’dun grub). Gendundub, who founded the monastery of Tashi-Lhunpo and built up the Gelukpa order, was subsequently recognized as the first Dalai Lama. He was succeeded by Gen-dun Gya-tsho (Dge ’dun rgya mtsho), who was recognized as the reincarnation of Gendundub. Gendun Gyatsho was, in turn, succeeded by his reincarnation, Sonam Gyatsho (Bsod nams Rgya mstho). In 1578 Sonam Gyatsho received the patronage of Altan Khan, leader of the Tumed Mongols, who conferred on him the honorific title of Ta-le Lama, which was posthumously conferred on Sonam Gyatsho’s predecessors. From this time on the Gelukpas received Mongol patronage and spread their school among the Mongols — in fact, the fourth Dalai Lama was a great-grandson of Altan Khan. It was the fifth Dalai Lama who commissioned the building of the Potala palace and, with the aid of the Mongol leader Gushri Khan, established the Gelukpa order as the dominant power in Tibet and the Dalai Lama in Lhasa as the temporal ruler of the country.

List of Dalai Lamas:

1. Gendundub (Dge ’dun grub) 1391-1474
2. Gendun Gyatsho (dge ’dun rgya mtsho) 1475-1542
3. Sonam Gyatsho (Bsod nams rgya mtsho) 1543-88
4. Yonten Gyatsho (Yon tan rgya mtsho) 1589-1616
5. Ngawang Lobsang Gyatsho (Ngag dbang blo bzang rgya mtsho) 1617-82
6. Tsangyang Gyatsho (Tshangs dbyangs rgya mtsho) 1683-1706
7. Kelsang Gyatsho (Bskal bzang rgya mtsho) 1708-57
8. Jampel Gyatsho (’Jam dpal rgya mtsho) 1758-1804
9. Lungtog Gyatsho (Lung rtogs rgya mtsho) 1806-15
10. Tsultrim Gyatsho (Tshul khrims rgya mtsho) 1816-37
11. Khedub Gyatsho (Mkhas grub rgya mtsho) 1838-56
12. Thinle Gyatsho (’Phrin las rgya mtsho) 1856-75
13. Thubten Gyatsho (Thub bstan rgya mtsho) 1876-1933
14. Tendzin Gyatsho (Bstan ’dzin rgya mtsho) 1935-


(Sanskrit) The children of Danu (or Danayu) and Kaśyapa, often identified with the daityas and asuras, and held to be enemies of the gods or devas. The titans and demon-magicians of the fourth root-race, almost identical with the daityas or giants and irreconcilable opponents of those groups of the fourth root-race who were the upholders of ritualism and idol-worship.


[Sanskrit, from the verbal root dṛs to see, perceive] Seeing, vision, view, doctrine, philosophical opinion. In the plural, it refers particularly to the six schools (Ṣad-darśana) of ancient Hindu philosophy: 1) the Nyāya (Logical School); 2) the Vaiśeṣika (Atomistic School); 3) the Saṅkhyā; 4) the Yoga; 5) the Purva-Mimaṁsa (First Vedāntic School); and 6) the Uttara-Mimaṁsa (Later or Superior Vedantic School). These are connected together by intimate links of philosophical principles and postulates, so that to understand accurately the full nature of the universe and of the entire human constitution as an entity, as elaborated by the great Indian thinkers who founded these six schools, one should study all six. The different systems of these schools comprise expositions, according to the ideas of the respective founders, of the mysteries of cosmic and human nature, from the spiritual to the physical, explained and philosophically illustrated.

Day Be With Us, Great The lipikas, karmic recorders of the universe, make a barrier – the so-called ring-pass-not — impassable during its existence but passable through evolution, between the personal ego and the impersonal or cosmic self. The incarnating monads cannot pass this “ring” until they have through evolutionary risings and development become merged once more in the universal or cosmic soul. The lipikas “are directly connected with Karma and what the Christians call the Day of Judgment; in the East it was called the Day after Mahāmanvantara, or the ‘Day-Be-With-Us.’ Then everything becomes one, all individualities are merged into one, yet each knowing itself . . . then, that which to us now is non-consciousness or the unconscious, will then be absolute consciousness” (Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge p. 112). This is called with the Egyptians the Day of Come-to-Us and refers to what the Hindus call the paranirvāṇa or great night of union in Brahman.



Death occurs when a general break-up of the constitution of man takes place; nor is this break-up a matter of sudden occurrence, with the exceptions of course of such cases as mortal accidents or suicides. Death is always preceded, varying in each individual case, by a certain time spent in the withdrawal of the monadic individuality from an incarnation, and this withdrawal of course takes place coincidently with a decay of the seven-principle being which man is in physical incarnation. This decay precedes physical dissolution, and is a preparation of and by the consciousness-center for the forthcoming existence in the invisible realms. This withdrawal actually is a preparation for the life to come in invisible realms, and as the septenary entity on this earth so decays, it may truly be said to be approaching rebirth in the next sphere.

Death occurs, physically speaking, with the cessation of activity of the pulsating heart. There is the last beat, and this is followed by immediate, instantaneous unconsciousness, for nature is very merciful in these things. But death is not yet complete, for the brain is the last organ of the physical body really to die, and for some time after the heart has ceased beating, the brain and its memory still remain active and, although unconsciously so, the human ego for this short length of time, passes in review every event of the preceding life. This great or small panoramic picture of the past is purely automatic, so to say; yet the soul-consciousness of the reincarnating ego watches this wonderful review incident by incident, a review which includes the entire course of thought and action of the life just closed. The entity is, for the time being, entirely unconscious of everything else except this. Temporarily it lives in the past, and memory dislodges from the ākāśic record, so to speak, event after event, to the smallest detail: passes them all in review, and in regular order from the beginning to the end, and thus sees all its past life as an all-inclusive panorama of picture succeeding picture.

There are very definite ethical and psychological reasons inhering in this process, for this process forms a reconstruction of both the good and the evil done in the past life, and imprints this strongly as a record on the fabric of the spiritual memory of the passing being. Then the mortal and material portions sink into oblivion, while the reincarnating ego carries the best and noblest parts of these memories into the devachan or heaven-world of postmortem rest and recuperation. Thus comes the end called death; and unconsciousness, complete and undisturbed, succeeds, until there occurs what the ancients called the second death.

The lower triad (prāṇa, liṅga-śarīra, sthūla-śarīra) is now definitely cast off, and the remaining quaternary is free. The physical body of the lower triad follows the course of natural decay, and its various hosts of life-atoms proceed whither their natural attractions draw them. The liṅga-śarīra or model-body remains in the astral realms, and finally fades out. The life-atoms of the prāṇa, or electrical field, fly instantly back at the moment of physical dissolution to the natural pranic reservoirs of the planet.

This leaves man, therefore, no longer a heptad or septenary entity, but a quaternary consisting of the upper duad (ātmabuddhi) and the intermediate duad (manaskāma). The second death then takes place.

Death and the adjective dead are mere words by which the human mind seeks to express thoughts which it gathers from a more or less consistent observation of the phenomena of the material world. Death is dissolution of a component entity or thing. The dead, therefore, are merely dissolving bodies — entities which have reached their term on this our physical plane. Dissolution is common to all things, because all physical things are composite: they are not absolute things. They are born; they grow; they reach maturity; they enjoy, as the expression runs, a certain term of life in the full bloom of their powers; then they “die.” That is the ordinary way of expressing what men call death; and the corresponding adjective is dead, when we say that such things or entities are dead.

Do you find death per se anywhere? No. You find nothing but action; you find nothing but movement; you find nothing but change. Nothing stands still or is annihilated. What is called death itself shouts forth to us the fact of movement and change. Absolute inertia is unknown in nature or in the human mind; it does not exist.


(Greek) [possibly from Doric da earth + meter mother] The Earth-Mother; one of the great Olympian deities, in popular mythology specially associated with the earth and its products, patron of agriculture, goddess of law and order, and protector of marriage and the birth of offspring. As the grain goddess, counterpart of the Egyptian Isis, Roman Ceres, and corn mothers, corn maidens, and harvest goddesses of the various native cultures of the Americas today, and of the early Teutonic and Scandinavian races of central and northern Europe.

Popular legend describes Demeter as mother of Persephone, who while gathering flowers on the Nysian plain was seized by Hades and carried to the Underworld. Searching disconsolate for her lost child, Demeter came to the dwelling of Celeus at Eleusis, where she was hospitably received although her identity was unknown. On condition of being given the sole care of the king’s son who was ill with fever, she remained and became the child’s nurse. Each night she placed the child on a bed of living coals, but the mother, discovering this, snatched the child away in alarm. Demeter then revealed herself as a goddess and, declaring that had she been left alone she would have made the child immortal, she relinquished her post in wrath. Before leaving Eleusis, however, she founded a mystical school or cult to keep alive certain otherwise secret teachings about human divinity and the life after death. The Eleusinian Mysteries, reputed to have sprung from this earlier effort, dealt particularly with the afterdeath states and the progress and experiences of the soul between earth lives.

The great Eleusinian divinities, as far as is known, were three: Demeter-Thesmophoros as goddess of law and order; Persephone-Kore the divine maid; and Iacchos the divine son (the divine man whom it was the object of the Mysteries to bring forth from the “tomb” of the human man). Probably because of her association with Persephone, Demeter was in one of her aspects a divinity of the underworld and was worshiped as such in Sparta and at Hermione at Argolis.

In the Orphic teachings Demeter is not only the earth goddess, but is also Demeter-Kore the divine maid. This aspect is twofold: as Persephone the Virgin-Queen of the Dead; and as the mortal maid Semele, mother of the mystic savior Dionysos, and later enthroned as Semele-Thyone (Semele the Inspiried). As both maid and mother she is the immortal wife of Zeus, and is also called the mother of Zeus, as an Orphic verse declares: “The goddess who was Rhea, when she bore Zeus became Demeter.” In one of her aspects, Demeter is the one to whom, in the Orphic legend, is given the still beating heart of the murdered Zagreus-Dionysus.

Demeter belongs to the class of the kabiria (kabir, kabiri): “beneficent Entities who, symbolized in Prometheus, brought light to the world, and endowed humanity with intellect and reason” (SD 2:363), great beings to whom are credited the invention of the arts of peace — letters and the alphabet, law, philosophy, science, art, architecture, music, spinning, weaving, and agriculture.


A being belonging to one of the orders of semi-divine instructors, spiritual beings in human form. Herodotus, among other Greek writers, speaks of humanity being ruled successively by gods, demigods, heroes, and men. The Lemuro-Atlanteans were among the first who had a dynasty of spirit-kings, highly evolved living devas or demigods. There are the Chinese demigods, Chin-nanga and Chan-gy, the Peruvian Manco-Capac, the Hindu ṛṣis, and the demigods popularized among the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians. In the Golden Age of Saturnus all people were said to have been demigods, and many of the figures in mythology who seem at one moment historical characters and at another gods or symbols, were actually demigods who once dwelt among mankind, founding new cultures, instructing and guiding humanity, and revealing all the arts and sciences. As examples of demigods who actually descended and taught the human race in historic and prehistoric times, one may cite the Egyptian Osiris, the first Zoroaster or Zarathustra of ancient Persia, the Indian avatāra Krishna, and the biblical Moses.

Demiurge, Demiourgos

(Greek) [from demos the people + ergon work] In Gnosticism, the deity as creator or cosmic artificer was a secondary or subordinate god, distinct from the supreme deity of the hierarchy, acting as creator or former of worlds, with which function the supreme is not directly concerned. Because of this seeming duality of rival gods, monotheistic Christian theology classed the demiurge among the powers hostile to God and mankind, as it did with Satan, the Serpent, Lucifer, and so many others. Marcion (2nd century) and his school attempted to reconcile these by equating the Demiourgos with the Jewish Jehovah.

The Demiourgos, however, is the deity in its creative aspect, the Second Logos — not a personal deity, but an abstract term denoting the host of creative powers. Later, the conception was anthropomorphized. It is the elohim of the Bible who make kosmos out of chaos; the universal mind, separated from its fountain-source; the four-faced Brahma; the seven principal dhyāni-chohans. In the Qabbalah, Hokhmah (wisdom) becomes united with Binah (intelligence), which latter is Jehovah or the Demiourgos. But the Demiourgos itself is dual in the same sense as are those formative powers for which the name stands: acting on all planes from the highest to the lowest, the contrast between above and below, light and its shadow, is shown; added to which, it includes potencies which are symbolized by human minds as masculine and feminine. There was plenty of scope, then, for confusion as to the meaning and application of the word. See also Dhyāni-chohans; Logos


(Sanskrit) A word meaning celestial being, of which there are various classes. This has been a great puzzle for most of our Occidental Orientalists. They cannot understand the distinctions that the wonderful old philosophers of the Orient make as regards the various classes of the devas. They say, in substance: “What funny contradictions there are in these teachings, which in many respects are profound and seem wonderful. Some of these devas or divine beings are said to be less than man; some of these writings even say that a good man is nobler than any god. And yet other parts of these teachings declare that there are gods higher even than the devas, and yet are called devas. What does this mean?”

The devas or celestial beings, one class of them, are the unself-conscious sparks of divinity, cycling down into matter in order to bring out from within themselves and to unfold or evolve self-consciousness, the svabhāva of divinity within. They then begin their reascent always on the luminous arc, which never ends, in a sense; and they are gods, self-conscious gods, henceforth taking a definite and divine part in the “great work,” as the mystics have said, of being builders, evolvers, leaders of hierarchies. In other words, they are monads which have become their own innermost selves, which have passed the ring-pass-not separating the spiritual from the divine.

Devachan bDe-ba-can de-wa-chen (Tibetan) [from bde-ba happiness + can possessing] The happy land; exoterically, a translation of the Sanskrit sukhavati, the happy Western Realm or Pure Land of the dhyāni-buddha Amitābha of East Asian Buddhism. Certain Tibetan books contain glowing descriptions of devachan, such as the Mani Kambum (or Kumbum) and the Odpagmed kyi shing kod. The term was first employed in theosophical literature by the Mahātmas in their letters to A. P. Sinnett.

In theosophy, devachan is the interlude between earth-lives during which the strictly higher human part of the human composite constitution, the reincarnating ego or higher manas, rests in perfect bliss. Recurring time periods of manifestation and quiescence are fundamental in nature, and devachan is the subjective part of the cyclic rhythm of human evolution on this globe. It corresponds, post-mortem, to the sleeping state of the imbodied, but the devachanic “dreams” are far more vivid and real than ordinary dreams; as a matter of fact, earth life is more truly a dream — to many oftentimes a nightmare.

Devachan commences after the “second death” has taken place, when the lower quaternary of human principles (sthūla-śarīra, liṅga-śarīra, prāṇa, and kāma) has separated from the reincarnating ego, which has drawn into itself the noblest thoughts, emotions, and the unrealized hopes of the past incarnation. Ātmabuddhi and the more spiritual part of manas — the reincarnating higher human ego — become the spiritual monad for the time being, so that the human ego takes its devachan within the monad. The devachanic state applies only to the middle human principles, the purified personality. It has many degrees, and the ego finds its proper place in harmony with its karmic evolutionary stage.

Devachan is a state of peace and happiness beyond ordinary mental cognizance, and no disturbing element can enter until the reincarnating ego has finished resting and recuperating its energy for a new sojourn on earth. Because the reincarnating ego builds its own paradise out of the materials it gathered in the last incarnation, there are great varieties in the devachanic state. It is the product of every individual’s unfulfilled spiritual yearnings, longings, and aspirations: since these were not fulfilled or only partly so in earth life, during the interval between earth-lives the ego seeks to fulfill them, rehearsing its spiritual yearnings which, being mental visions or pictures, are thus real in a far truer sense that anything possible on earth, where the consciousness is so thickly enshrouded with the obscuring veils of lower attractions. It is the quality of these aspirations, however, which determines the length of the devachanic state: the more lofty and spiritual the aspirations, the longer the stay. Devachan is not a state of positive action and responsibility, and therefore not a field of retribution for wrong done in the past.

The purified ego is far beyond the reach of ordinary mediums whose contact is confined to far grosser entities and planes. Occasionally a sensitive can rise to the devachanic plane and enter into a spiritual communion with an ego with whom there is close sympathy, but even this is rare, and to retain it in the memory is perhaps rarer.

In considering devachan and nirvana, devachan appertains to the higher human ego, however sublimated it may be, of any particular incarnation; whereas nirvana is a far higher state in which the personality is completely transcended and dropped, or has become so thoroughly purified that it is identified with the higher self. The devachanic state is of an illusory nature (although real enough to the devachani, just as earth life is to us); but the nirvāṇi has attained universal consciousness and experiences reality — sacchidānanda, as expressed by the Vedāntists.

Devachan and nirvāṇa are not localities, but the states of consciousness of the beings in those respective spiritual conditions. Nirvāṇa is the highest spiritual or superspiritual state; devachan is the intermediate or high psychological states; and avici, popularly called the lowest of the hells, is the nether pole of the spiritual condition. These three are states of beings existing in the lokas or talas, the worlds of the cosmic egg; whereas paranirvāṇa (“beyond nirvāṇa,” a super-nirvāṇa) is that divine state which is virtually identification with cosmic reality. (From ETG)



(Sanskrit) A state in the practice of yoga as taught in Hindustan when the mind or percipient intelligence is held with inflexible firmness, with fortitude of soul, and with indomitable resolution upon the object of investigation to be attained through this form of yoga practice. (See also Samādhi)

Dharma [Sanskrit, from the verbal root dhṛ to bear, support] Equity, justice, conduct, duty; right religion, philosophy, and science; the law per se; the rules of society, caste, and stage of life. Secondarily, an essential or characteristic quality or peculiarity, approaching closely to the meaning of svabhāva. (From: ETG). In Buddhism: the good or true doctrine, the Buddhist doctrine. In Jainism: motion (antonym of adharma: resistance to motion or non-motion).


(Sanskrit, from dharma, Law. The first word comes from the root dhṛ, meaning “to support,” “to sustain,” “to carry,” “to bear,” hence “to continue”; also human laws are the agencies supposed to carry, support, sustain, civilization; the second element, kāya, means “body.” The noun thus formed may be rendered the “body of the Law,” but this phrase does not give the idea at all. It is that spiritual body or state of a high spiritual being in which the restricted sense of soulship and egoity has vanished into a universal (hierarchical) sense, and remains only in the seed, latent — if even so much. It is pure consciousness, pure bliss, pure intelligence, freed from all personalizing thought. This is a compound of two words meaning the “continuance body,” sometimes translated equally well (or ill) the “body of the Law” — both very inadequate expressions, for the difficulty in translating these extremely mystical terms is very great. A mere correct dictionary-translation often misses the esoteric meaning entirely, and just here is where Occidental scholars make such ludicrous errors at times. One of the trikāya of Buddhism, which consists of 1) nirmāṇakāya, 2) sambhogakāya, and 3) dharmakāya. “It is that spiritual body or state of a high spiritual being in which the restricted sense of soulship and egoity has vanished into a universal (hierarchical) sense, and remains only in the seed, latent — if even so much. It is pure consciousness, pure bliss, pure intelligence, freed from all personalizing thought” (Occult Glossary 38). In the dharmakāya vesture the initiate is on the threshold of nirvana or in the nirvāṇic state. Sometimes the dharmakāya is called the “nirvāṇa without remains,” for once having reached that state the buddha or bodhisattva remains entirely outside of every earthly condition; he will return no more until the commencement of a new manvantara, for he has crossed the cycle of births. Dharmakāya state is that of para-samādhi, where no progress is possible — at least as long as the entity remains in it. Such entities may be said to be for the time being crystallized in purity and homogeneity. This is, likewise, one of the states of ādi-buddha, and as such is called the mystic, universally diffused essence, the robe or vesture of luminous spirituality. See also Trikāya. (From: ETG)


(Sanskrit) Constituent part, ingredient; an equivalent to mahābhūta (element), the range or plane of primeval matter, five usually being reckoned: kha or ākāśa (ether); anila (wind); tejas (fire); jala (water); bhū (earth); but esoterically there are seven. “As there are seven Dhātu (principal substances in the human body) so there are seven Forces in Man and in all Nature” (SD 1:290).

In Southern Buddhism, the word also means residue, relics (that which remains after the body has been cremated), and applied especially to the relics of the Buddha’s body alleged to have been collected after its cremation.


(Sanskrit) A term signifying profound spiritual-intellectual contemplation with utter detachment from all objects of a sensuous and lower mental character. In Buddhism it is one of the six parāmitas of perfection. One who is adept or expert in the practice of dhyāna, which by the way is a wonderful spiritual exercise if the proper idea of it be grasped, is carried in thought entirely out of all relations with the material and merely psychological spheres of being and of consciousness, and into lofty spiritual planes. Instead of dhyāna being a subtraction from the elements of consciousness, it is rather a throwing off or casting aside of the crippling sheaths of ethereal matter which surround the consciousness, thus allowing the dhyānin, or practicer of this form of true yoga, to enter into the highest parts of his own constitution and temporarily to become at one with and, therefore, to commune with the gods. It is a temporary becoming at one with the upper triad of man considered as a septenary, in other words, with his monadic essence. Man’s consciousness in this state or condition becomes purely buddhi, or rather buddhic, with the highest parts of the manas acting as upādhi or vehicle for the retention of what the consciousness therein experiences. From this term is drawn the phrase dhyāni-chohans or dhyāni-buddhas — words so frequently used in theosophical literature and so frequently misconceived as to their real meaning. (See also Samādhi)

Dhyāni-bodhisattva (Sanskrit) [from the verbal root dhyai to meditate, contemplate + bodhisattva he whose essence is bodhi (wisdom)] A bodhisattva of meditation or contemplation; the sixth in the descending series of the Hierarchy of Compassion, the mind-born sons of the dhyāni-buddhas.

“There is a dhyāni-bodhisattva for this globe, and also for each of the three globes which precede this globe on the downward arc, and likewise a bodhisattva for each of the three globes which follow this globe on the upward arc — one bodhisattva for each. This dhyāni-bodhisattva is the spiritual head of the spiritual-psychological hierarchy of each globe. . . . Our dhyāni-bodhisattva is the Wondrous Being, the Great Initiator, the Silent Watcher of our globe . . .” (FEP 275).


[from the verbal root dhyai to meditate, contemplate + buddha awakened one] Buddhas of contemplation or meditation; the fifth in the descending series in the enumeration of the Hierarchy of Compassion. Two general hierarchies of spiritual beings brought forth our cosmos: the dhyāni-buddhas or architects who in their aggregate form the higher and more spiritual side, and actually compose the line of the luminous arc; and the dhyāni-chohans or the builders or constructors who form the lower and relatively more material side, the line (from this viewpoint only) of the shadowy arc. Often the term dhyāni-chohans is used for both these lines of beings.

There are seven dhyāni-buddhas, so that for each round of a septenary planetary chain there is a presiding dhyāni-buddha or causal buddha. Our present fourth round is under the care and supervision of the dhyāni-buddha belonging to the fourth degree of this celestial hierarchy. The dhyāni-bodhisattvas who watch over the globes of the planetary chain in each round are rays from the dhyāni-buddha of the round.

“It is this dhyāni-buddha of our fourth round, our Father in Heaven, who is the Wondrous Being, the Great Initiator, the Sacrifice, . . . The Ray running through all our individual being, from which we draw our spiritual life and spiritual sustenance, comes direct to us from this hierarchical Wondrous Being in whom we all are rooted. He to us, psychologically and spiritually, holds exactly the same place that the human ego, the man-ego, holds to the innumerable multitudes of elemental entities which compose his body . . .” (FEP 237-8).

These dhyāni-buddhas furnished humankind with divine kings and leaders, who taught humanity the arts and sciences, and who “revealed to the incarnated Monads that had just shaken off their vehicles of the lower Kingdoms — and who had, therefore, lost every recollection of their divine origin — the great spiritual truths of the transcendental worlds” (SD 1:267).

Further, each human monad has sprung from the essence of a dhyāni-buddha.

“The ‘triads’ born under the same Parent-planet, or rather the radiations of one and the same Planetary Spirit (Dhyāni Buddha) are, in all their after lives and rebirths, sister, or ‘twin-souls,’ on this Earth.

“This was known to every high Initiate in every age and in every country: ‘I and my Father are one,’ said Jesus (John x. 30). When He is made to say, elsewhere (xx. 17): ‘I ascend to my Father and your Father,’ . . . It was simply to show that the group of his disciples and followers attracted to Him belonged to the same Dhyāni Buddha, ‘Star,’ or ‘Father,’ again of the same planetary realm and division as He did” (SD 1:574). (From: ETG)

Dhyāni-chohan (Sanskrit-Tibetan) [from Sanskrit dhyāni contemplation + Tibetan chohan lord] Lords of meditation. In theosophical literature, dhyāni-buddhas are the intellectual architects, the higher and more spiritual beings of the god-world. Dhyāni-chohans, as a generalizing term, includes both the higher classes which take a self-conscious, active part in the architectural ideation of the universe, and the lower classes, some of which are self-conscious, but in their lower representations progressively less on on a descending scale. The lowest of these builders are little more than merely conscious or semi-conscious beings following almost servilely the ideation of the cosmic spirit transmitted to them by the higher class of the architects.

Dhyāni-chohan  is likewise synonymous in one sense with the Sanskrit manu. The seven principal classes of dhyāni-chohans are intimately connected, each to each, respectively, with the seven sacred planets of our solar system, and likewise with the globes of the earth planetary chain. Furthermore, there is a class of dhyāni-chohans at the head of every department of nature in our solar system. These dhyāni-chohans, as the summit of the Hierarchy of Light, imbody in themselves as individuals the ideation of the cosmic Logos, thus forming the laws according to which nature exists and works. These laws, therefore, are really the automatic spiritual activities of the highest classes of the dhyāni-chohans.

The dhyāni-chohans have their bodhisattvas, intellectual offspring, or representatives on and in each descending cosmic plane, so that every being has as its highest portion one such dhyāni-chohan as its egoic individuality. Hence, “the dhyāni-chohans are actually in one most important sense our own selves. We were born from them; we were the monads, we were the atoms, the souls, projected, sent forth, emanated, by the dhyānis. . .” (Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy (FEP) p. 407). (From: ETG)


Dionysius the pseudo-Areopagite (flourished 6th century) Author of the Celestial and Ecclesiastical Hierarchies, influential Neoplatonic, neo-Pythagorean texts attributed to Dionysius the Areopagite of the New Testament. The mystical hierarchical ideas imbodied in these texts exercised a profound spiritualizing influence on later Christian thought.

Dionysia Festivals sacred to Dionysos, especially those held in Attica and Attic-Ionic settlements. The inferior Dionysia were celebrated in December in country places where the vine was grown; the greater, in Athens for six days at the spring equinox. At this festival the new plays were performed for three consecutive days before immense number of citizens and strangers. The Lenaea (festival of vats) in February-March, the Oschophoria in October-November, and the Anthesteria for three days in February-March were also part of the Athenian cycle of Dionysia. The Dionysiac or Bacchic Mysteries became peculiarly liable to corruption in later times, owing to literal interpretation of the symbolism and the substitution of psychospiritual excitement for pure spiritual inspiration.


(Greek) [from dio from dis old form of Zeus + Nysa] Also Dionysius (not to be confounded with Dionysius the pseudo-Areopagite), Zeus of Nysa, a mountain variously placed in Thrace, Boeotia, Arabia, India, Asia Minor, and Libya; another name is Bacchos, a form of Iacchos [from ’iachein to shout] in allusion to the Bacchic invocation. Among the Romans he is called Liber, which some connect with liber (free), calling him the liberator (cf labarum, the later mystic emblem of the Christ). He was worshiped in Athens at the Dionysia, held a position at Delphi almost equal to Apollo, and appears in the Eleusinian Mysteries.

The son of Zeus and Semele, sun and moon — hence bisexual in character and so able to be regarded at different times as a solar or lunar deity. His meaning overlaps those of Kṛṣṇa, Brahmā, Christos, Adonai, Mithras, and Prometheus, for he is a savior, mediator between God and man, the celestial and the terrestrial. He was also the god who sprang from the world egg, and from whom mortals in their turn sprang, uniting in himself the nature of either sex.

The principal symbols of Dionysos are wine, the vine, and the grape which also typify the double meaning implied in the true Mysteries and their perversion. For wine is a symbol of the spirit of the Christ, as bread is of the body; and both were administered in the mystic rite from which the Christian sacrament is derived. When his inner god becomes manifest to the qualified initiate, his whole nature is illumined and vivified. But one who seeks the afflatus unprepared is driven mad or destroyed by his inner god. The Bacchic orgies and Dionysiac frenzy were a later profanation.

In his cosmic aspect, Dionysos is the demiourgos or world-former. As Dionysos Chthonios, he is the son of Demeter or Persephone, and one of his names is Zagreus; he was torn to pieces and devoured by titans, but his heart was saved and given to Zeus. The same chthonian aspect is seen in the Dionysios Sabazios of Thrace and Phrygia. This allegory parallels the Hindu Padmapani, and his dismemberment by the cosmic titans signifies the processes of evolutive cosmic differentiation into the main hierarchies of the universe. He was likewise a personification of the sun, in its spiritual and material aspects. The esoteric Greek significance of this was taught in the Orphic Mysteries. See also Zagreus

Divine Soul

In occultism the divine soul is the garment of the divine ego, as the divine ego is the garment or child of the divine monad. The divine monad we may call the inner god, and this would mean that the divine ego, its offspring, is the inner Buddha, or the inner Christ; and hence the divine soul is the expression of the inner Buddha or of the inner Christ in manifestation on earth as the manua-buddha or christ-man.

It should be stated here that of the several monads which in their combination form the entire septenary constitution of man each such monad has its own ego-child, and this latter has its own soul. It is this combination, mystic, wonderful, mysterious, which makes of man the complex entity he is, and which entitles him to the term which the occultism of the archaic ages has always given to him: the microcosm, a reflection or copy in the small of the macrocosm or kosmic entity.


Dvāpara yuga

[Sanskrit, from dvāpara twain, double + yuga age] The third of the four great yugas which constitute a mahāyuga (great age). Its duration is 864,000 human years. The Mahābhārata gives a description of the dvāpara yuga:

“In the Dvāpara Yuga righteousness was diminished by a half. The Veda became fourfold. Some men studied four Vedas, other three, others two, others one, and some none at all. Ceremonies were celebrated in a great variety of ways. From the decline of goodness only few men adhered to truth. When men had fallen away from goodness, many diseases, desires, and calamities, caused by destiny, assailed them, by which they were severely afflicted and driven to practise austerities. Others desiring heavenly bliss offered sacrifices. Thus men declined through unrighteousness” (abridged by Muir, 1:144) (From ETG)


(Sanskrit)[from dvi two + the verbal root jan to be born] Twice-born; nowadays in India used for any man of the first three of the four castes who has undergone a certain ceremony; specifically used of a Brahman (Dvija-Brahmana) [butalso other casts – Ed. DTh] who is said to be reborn after investiture with the sacred thread, but in older times this term was used only the initiated Brahmins.

In theosophical literature, generally used for an initiate in the original sense of the word: one who really and actually is twice-born — the first time physically, the second time spiritually and intellectually through initiation. The modern-day purely ceremonial and ritualistic observance of “passing through a silver or golden cow” (TG 107) is a faithful but purely physical emblematic ceremony of which even among most modern Brahmins the real and original meaning has been utterly forgotten. Just as in ancient Egypt, from archaic times in Hindustan the cow has always been considered the symbol of Mother Nature, who brings to birth all things out of her ever fertile and continuously productive womb; gold has always stood for the sun, the parent of the human spiritual and intellectual faculties, while silver stood for the moon, parent of the lower human mind. Thus, just as human beings through repeated rebirths through the womb of nature grows through evolution in all parts of their constitution, so through initiation does a person become a twice-born or dvija, by being reborn from either the sun or the moon — both of them organs of Mother Nature.


(Sanskrit) A zone, region, land, or continent; those in Hindu mythology refer esoterically to the seven globes of the earth’s planetary chain, as well as to the seven great continents which come successively into existence as the homes of the seven root-races. These seven dvīpas are given in Sanskrit works as Jambu, Plakṣa, Kuṣa, Krauñcha, Saka, Salmala, and Puṣkara.


Dweller on the Threshold

A literary invention of the English mystic and novelist Sir Bulwer Lytton, found in his romance Zanoni. The term has obtained wide currency and usage in theosophical circles. In occultism the word “dweller,” or some exactly equivalent phrase or expression, has been known and used during long ages past. It refers to several things, but more particularly has an application to what H. P. Blavatsky calls “certain maleficent astral Doubles of defunct persons.” This is exact. But there is another meaning of this phrase still more mystical and still more difficult to explain which refers to the imbodied karmic consequences or results of the man’s past, haunting the thresholds which the initiant or initiate must pass before he can advance or progress into a higher degree of initiation. These dwellers, in the significance of the word just last referred to are, as it were, the imbodied quasi-human astral haunting parts of the constitution thrown off in past incarnations by the man who now has to face them and overcome them — very real and living beings, parts of the “new” man’s haunting past. The initiant must face these old “selves” of himself and conquer or — fail, which failure may mean either insanity or death. They are verily ghosts of the dead men that the present man formerly was, now arising to dog his footsteps, and hence are very truly called Dwellers on the Threshold. In a specific sense they may be truly called the kāma-rūpas of the man’s past incarnations arising out of the records in the astral light left there by the “old” man of the “new” man who now is.


Dzyan (Senzar) Closely similar to the Tibetan dzin (learning, knowledge). Although Blavatsky states that dzyan is “a corruption of the Sanskrit Dhyan and Jnana . . . Wisdom, divine knowledge” (TG 107), there is also a Chinese equivalent dan or jan-na, which in “modern Chinese and Tibetan phonetics ch’an, is the general term for the esoteric schools, and their literature. In the old books, the word Janna is defined as ‘to reform one’s self by meditation and knowledge,’ a second inner birth. Hence Dzan, Djan phonetically, the ‘Book of Dzyan’ ” (SD 1:xx). This term then is connected directly with the ancient mystery-language called Senzar, with Tibetan and Chinese mystical Buddhism mostly of the Mahāyāna schools, and thirdly with the Sanskrit dhyāna of which indeed it was probably originally a corruption.