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Daily Theosophy Glossary – K

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Daily Theosophy Glossary


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Kabiri, Kabeiri, Kabeiroi, Kabarim, Kabirim, Kabiria

(Greek) Cabiri (Latin) Plural name of certain very mysterious divinities, revered in nearly all the countries of the Near East. They were worshiped as divinities in Samothrace and on Lemnos (the island sacred to Vulcan) and were popularly represented as cosmic dwarves, the sons of Vulcan (Hephaistos), and masters of the art of working metals. Kabiri was a generic title: as the mighty they were of both sexes, gods and mortals, terrestrial, celestial, and kosmic. Blavatsky describes the kabiri as the seven divine titans identical with the seven ṛṣis saved from the flood by VaivasvataManu (SD 2:142). The “mighty men of renown” (gibborim) who date from the days of the earliest Atlantean subraces while yet Lemuria had not wholly disappeared — became in the fifth root-race the teachers whom the Egyptians and Phoenicians called kabiri, the Greeks titans, and the Hindus rākṣasas and daityas.

In short, the kabeiroi, identical with the kumāras and rudras, classed with the dhyāni-buddhas and with the ’elohim of Jewish theology, directing “the mind with which they endued men” to the arts and sciences that build civilization, and closely linked with solar and earthly fires, are no other than the kumāraagniṣvāttamānasaputras of theosophy: kumāras in their unsoiled divinity; agniṣvāttas (those who have tasted the fire) or solar lhas; and mānasaputras (sons of mind) who in pity took upon themselves the heavy cross of incarnation that they might help struggling humanity to come up higher. They are classed as three, four, or seven; the names of four being Axieros, Axiokersa, Axiokersos, and Kadmilos.

These very mysterious and powerful divinities of the archaic ages, whatever name may be given to them, are in the cosmic hierarchies the same as the dhyāni-buddhas and the dhyānis of modern theosophy, equivalent to the archangels and angels of the Christian hierarchical scheme. Thus they are the children of cosmic spiritual fire, this fire in its turn being equivalent to the luminous and warming effulgence of action of the hierarchies of cosmic mind. They are the most occult divinities of the archaic wisdom-religion, and the worship of them under whatever name they were known was invariably marked by a high degree of spiritual and philosophic profundity and deep religious devotion.


(Sanskrit) The black; name of the seventh tongue of Agni, the fire god, which was a black fiery flame. Blackness and darkness have always been associated with the pre-cosmic night in its mystical sense, the pralaya preceding the awakening manifestations of life in the present universe. Hence kālī represents pre-cosmic wisdom. By that strange inversion of fact which nature manifests nearly everywhere, the highest is reflected in the lowest as in a mirror, so that in this sense the black fiery flame is the condensed fiery magnetic vitality of the lowest material worlds; therefore in this sense kālī often stands for wickedness and evil.

Later, Kālī or Kālī-devī became a title of the wife of Śiva, Pārvatī, because of her fierce and destructive nature.

Kali yuga

(Sanskrit) Kali Yuga Iron age or black age; the fourth and last of the four great yugas constituting a mahayuga (great age), the other three being the kṛta or satya yuga, tretā yuga, and dvāpara yuga. The kali yuga is the most material phase of a being’s or group’s evolutionary cycle. The fifth root-race is at present in its kali yuga, which is stated to have commenced at the moment of Kṛṣṇa’s death, usually given as 3102 BC. The Hindus also assert that at the first moment of kali yuga there was a conjunction of all the planets. Although the kali yuga is our present profoundly materialistic age, in which only one fourth of truth prevails among humanity, making a period often called an age black with horrors, its swift momentum permits one to do more with his energies, good or bad, in a shorter time than in any other yuga. This period will be followed by the kṛta yuga of the next root-race.

The Viṣṇu-Purāṇa says of the kali yuga that the barbarians will be masters of the banks of the Indus, of Chandrabhaga and Kasmira, that “there will be contemporary monarchs, reigning over the earth — kings of churlish spirit, violent temper, and ever addicted to falsehood and wickedness. They will inflict death on women, children, and cows; they will seize upon the property of their subjects, and be intent upon the wives of others; they will be of unlimited power, their lives will be short, their desires insatiable. . . . People of various countries intermingling with them, will follow their example; and the barbarians being powerful (in India) in the patronage of the princes, while purer tribes are neglected, the people will perish (or, as the Commentator has it, ‘The Mlechchhas will be in the centre and the Āryas in the end.’) Wealth and piety will decrease until the world will be wholly depraved. Property alone will confer rank; wealth will be the only source of devotion; passion will be the sole bond of union between the sexes; falsehood will be the only means of success in litigations; and women will be objects merely of sensual gratification. . . . a man if rich will be reputed pure; dishonesty (anyaya) will be the universal means of subsistence, weakness the cause of dependence, menace and presumption will be substituted for learning; liberality will be devotion; mutual assent, marriage; fine clothes, dignity. He who is the strongest will reign; the people, unable to bear the heavy burthen, Khara bhara (the load of taxes) will take refuge among the valleys. . . . Thus, in the Kali age will decay constantly proceed, until the human race approaches its annihilation (pralaya). . . . When the close of the Kali age shall be nigh, a portion of that divine being which exists, of its own spiritual nature . . . shall descend on Earth . . . (Kalki Avatāra) endowed with the eight superhuman faculties. . . . He will re-establish righteousness on earth, and the minds of those who live at the end of Kali Yuga shall be awakened and become as pellucid as crystal. The men who are thus changed . . . shall be the seeds of human beings, and shall give birth to a race who shall follow the laws of the Kṛta age, the age of purity. As it is said, ‘When the sun and moon and the lunar asterism Tishya and the planet Jupiter are in one mansion, the Kṛta (or Satya) age shall return’ ” (SD 1:377-8). (From: ETG)

Kalkī Avatāra (or Kalki Avatāra)

[Sanskrit, from kalkin white horse + avatāra divine descent] The white-horse avatāra, the 10th and last descent of Viṣṇu, in the form of a white horse at the end of kali yuga. “When the close of the Kali-age shall be nigh, a portion of that divine being which exists, of its own spiritual nature . . . shall descend on Earth . . . endowed with the eight superhuman faculties. . . . He will re-establish righteousness on earth, and the minds of those who live at the end of Kali-Yuga shall be awakened and become as pellucid as crystal. The men who are thus changed . . . shall be the seeds of human beings, and shall give birth to a race who shall follow the laws of the Kṛta-age [= Satya-yuga], the age of purity” (Vishnu Purana (Wilson) p. 4:24).

Equivalent to Maitreya-Buddha of Northern Buddhism, Sosiosh of the Zoroastrians, and the Faithful and True on the white horse of Revelations.


(Sanskrit) This word comes from a verb-root kḷṛp , meaning “to be in order”; hence a “period of time,” or a “cycle of time.” Sometimes a kalpa is called the period of a mahāmanvantara — or “great manvantara” — after which the globes of a planetary chain no longer go into obscuration or repose, as they periodically do, but die utterly. A kalpa is also called a Day of Brahmā, and its length is 4,320,000,000 years. Seven rounds form a Day of Brahmā, or a planetary manvantara. (See also Brahmā, Manvantara)

Seven planetary manvantaras (or planetary cycles, each cycle consisting of seven rounds) form one solar kalpa (or solar manvantara), or seven Days of Brahmā — a week of Brahmā.

The difficulty that many Western students have had in understanding this word lies in the fact that it is unavoidably a “blind,” because it does not apply with exclusive meaning to the length of one time period alone. Like the English word age, or the English phrase time period, the word kalpa may be used for several different cycles. There is likewise the mahā-kalpa or “great kalpa,” which frequently is the name given to the vast time period contained in a complete solar manvantara or complete solar pralaya.

Kāma [from the verbal root kam to desire] Desire; the fourth substance-principle of which the human constitution is composed: its desire principle or the driving, impelling force. Born from the interaction of ātman, buddhi, and manas, kāma per se is a colorless force, good or bad according to the way the mind and soul use it. It is the seat of the living electric impulses, desires, aspirations, considered in their energic aspect. When a person follows his lower impulses and centers his consciousness in the body and astral nature, he is directing that force downwards. When he aspires and opens his heart and mind to the influence of his higher manas and buddhi, he is directing that force upwards and thus progressing in evolution.

“This fourth principle is the balance principle of the whole seven. It stands in the middle, and from it the ways go up or down. It is the basis of action and the mover of the will. As the old Hermetists say: ‘Behind will stands desire.’ For whether we wish to do well or ill we have to first arouse within us the desire for either course. . . . On the material and scientific side of occultism, the use of the inner hidden powers of our nature, if this principle of desire be not strong the master power of imagination cannot do its work, because though it makes a mould or matrix the will cannot act unless it is moved, directed, and kept up to pitch by desire. . . .

“This fourth principle is like the sign Libra in the path of the Sun through the Zodiac; when the Sun (who is the real man) reaches that sign he trembles in the balance. Should he go back the worlds would be destroyed; he goes onward, and the whole human race is lifted up to perfection” (Ocean of Theosophy 45-7).

Cosmic kāma or desire, equivalent to the Greek eros, is the source of fohat, the driving intelligent energies of the universe. It is impersonal compassion and sympathy.


(Sanskrit) Desire world; first of the Buddhist trailokya (three regions), called kāma (desire), rūpa (form), and arūpa (formless). In the theosophic scheme, kāma-dhātu is composed of the seven manifested globes of the earth-chain on the four lowest cosmic planes. Rūpa-dhātu (form or image world) is composed of the five superior globes on the higher three cosmic planes. Arūpa-dhātu (formless or imageless world), composed of the three highest of the ten cosmic planes, is to us a purely subjective world, a state rather than a place. The dhātus correspond in meaning with the Hindu lokas.


(Sanskrit) A compound which can be translated as “desire world,” which is accurate enough, but only slightly descriptive. It is a semi-material plane or rather world or realm, subjective and invisible to human beings as a rule, which surrounds and also encloses our physical globe. It is the habitat or dwelling-place of the astral forms of dead men and other dead beings — the realm of the kāma-rūpas or desire-bodies of defunct humans. “It is the Hades,” as H. P. Blavatsky says, “of the ancient Greeks, and the Amenti of the Egyptians, the land of Silent Shadows.”

It is in the kāma-loka that the second death takes place, after which the freed upper duad of the human being that was enters the devachan. The highest regions of the kāma-loka blend insensibly into the lowest regions or realms of the devachan; and, conversely, the grossest and lowest regions of the kāma-loka blend insensibly into the highest regions of the avīci.

When the physical body breaks up at death, the astral elements of the excarnate entity remain in the kāma-loka or “shadow world,” with the same vital centers as in physical life clinging within them, still vitalizing them; and here certain processes take place. The lower human soul that is befouled with earth-thought and the lower instincts cannot easily rise out of the kāma-loka, because it is foul, it is heavy; and its tendency is consequently downwards. It is in the kāma-loka that the processes of separation of the monad from the kāma-rūpic spook or phantom take place; and when this separation is complete, which is the second death above spoken of, then the monad receives the reincarnating ego within its bosom, wherein it enjoys its long rest of bliss and recuperation. If, contrariwise, the entity in the kāma-loka is so heavy with evil and is so strongly attracted to earth spheres that the influence of the monad cannot withdraw the reincarnating ego from the kāma-rūpa, then the latter with its befouled soul sinks lower and lower and may even enter the avīci. If the influence of the monad succeeds, as it usually does, in bringing about the second death, then the kāma-rūpa becomes a mere phantom or kāma-rūpic spook, and begins instantly to decay and finally vanishes away, its component life-atoms pursuing each one the road whither its attractions draw it.

Kāma-manas [from kāma desire + manas mind] The lower or intermediate duad, the human soul or personal ego. In our present state of evolution, human consciousness is almost wholly in this intermediate duad, one part of which consists of the upward-aspiring manas which in connection with its parent buddhi is called the reincarnating ego. The lower part of manas in conjunction with kāma is attracted below to material things, and in human life is commonly called the personal ego. This personal ego is mortal, although the monad of which it is the expression lasts through the ages.

Kāma-manas in the human constitution is conditionally immortal or mortal: if the kāma-manas aspires successfully upwards and makes intellectual and emotional union with the buddhi over-enlightening it, the immortality for the manvantara is relatively certain. If, however, the kāma-manas is insufficiently illuminated to withstand successfully the attractions of the lower astral and material realms of feeling and thought, it is attracted downwards and becomes enchained in these lower realms, and immortality in this case is lost, for the time being at least.


(Sanskrit) A compound word signifying “desire body” (Rūpa = form, body). It is that part of man’s inner constitution in which dwell or inhere the various desires, affections, hates, loves — in short, the various mental and psychical energies. After death it becomes the vehicle in the astral worlds of the higher principles of the man that was. But these higher principles are nevertheless scarcely conscious of the fact, because the rupture of the golden cord of life at the moment of the physical death plunges the cognizing personal entity into a merciful stupor of unconsciousness, in which stupor it remains a longer or shorter period depending upon its qualities of spirituality or materiality. The more spiritual the man was the longer the period of merciful unconsciousness lasts, and vice versa.

After death, as has been frequently stated elsewhere, there occurs what is called the second death, which is the separation of the immortal part of the second or intermediate duad from the lower portions of this duad, which lower portions remain as the kāma-rūpa in the etheric or higher astral spheres which are intermediate between the devachanic and the earthly spheres. In time this kāma-rūpa gradually fades out in its turn, its life-atoms at such dissolution passing on to their various and unceasing peregrinations.

It is this kāma-rūpa which legend and story in the various ancient world religions or philosophies speak of as the shade, and which it has been customary in the Occident to call the spook or ghost. It is, in short, all the mortal elements of the human soul that was. The kāma-rūpa is an exact astral duplicate, in appearance and mannerism, of the man who died; it is his eidolon or “image.” (See also Second Death)

Kanjur bka’ ’gyur (kang-gyur, kan-jur) (Tibetan) [from bka’ sacred word + ’gyur translation] The portion of the Tibetan Buddhist canon containing the sutras, the texts ascribed to the Buddha himself and called the “Buddha Word” (Sanskrit buddha-vācana). The second part of the Tibetan Buddhist cannon, the Tanjur, contains śastras or commentaries and other scholastic works. The Kanjur consists almost entirely of works translated from Sanskrit or other Indian languages. Although the texts contained in the Kanjur are overwhelmingly of Indian origin, the compilation of the Kanjur was done in Tibet, and in structure it differs greatly from the old Indian Tripitakas. Four more or less complete recensions of the Buddhist canon survive: the Pali, the Chinese, the Tibetan, and the Mongolian, this last, however, being a translation of the Tibetan. The first three recensions differ from each other in content and arrangement. The overall arrangement of the Kanjur is in three sections, giving the Sanskrit names: Vināya (monastic discipline), Sūtra (discourses of the Buddha), and Tantra (esoteric and ritual texts). The sūtra section is divided into several subsections. Each section or subsection contains numerous individual texts.

The Tibetan Kanjur was originally collected in manuscript, perhaps in the early 14th century. Beginning in 1410, the Kanjur has been published in numerous editions printed from woodblocks. Over twenty manuscript and blockprint editions are known to have existed. The following five blockprint editions are the best known in the West, and can give an idea of the immense extent of the Kanjur: 1) The Peking editions of 1700-37 — about 1055 texts in 106 volumes; 2) The Narthang edition of 1730-32 — about 761 texts in 100 volumes; 3) The Derge editon of 1729-33 — about 1108 texts in 102 volumes; 4) the Cone (cho-ne) edition of 1721-31 — 1055 texts in 107 volumes; and 5) The Lhasa edition of 1934 — 808 texts in 99 volumes.


(Sanskrit) Cause, metaphysically speaking, invariably associated with intelligence. There are various kinds of kāraṇas, all closely similar in type and attributes, such as kāraṇa-śarīra and kāraṇopādhi.


(Sanskrit) A compound signifying “cause body” or “causal body,” the instrument or principle or causal element in man’s constitution, and inferentially in the constitution of any other reimbodying entity, which brings about not merely the reproduction in imbodied form of such entity, but likewise its evolution during a manvantara through an unending series of reimbodiments. (See also Kāranopādhi)


(Sanskrit) A compound meaning the “causal instrument” or “instrumental cause” in the long series of reimbodiments to which human and other reimbodying entities are subject. Upādhi, the second element of this compound, is often translated as “vehicle”; but while this definition is accurate enough for popular purposes, it fails to set forth the essential meaning of the word which is rather “disguise,” or certain natural properties or constitutional characteristics supposed to be the disguises or clothings or masks in and through which the spiritual monad of man works, bringing about the repetitive manifestations upon earth of certain functions and powers of this monad, and, indeed, upon the other globes of the planetary chain; and, furthermore, intimately connected with the peregrinations of the monad through the various spheres and realms of the solar kosmos. In one sense of the word, therefore, kāraṇopādhi is almost interchangeable with the thoughts set forth under the term māyā, or the illusory disguises through which spirit works, or rather through which spiritual monadic entities work and manifest themselves.

Kāraṇopādhi, as briefly explained under the term “causal body,” is dual in meaning. The first and more easily understood meaning of this term shows that the cause bringing about reimbodiment is avidyā, nescience rather than ignorance; because when a reimbodying entity through repeated reimbodiments in the spheres of matter has freed itself from the entangling chains of the latter, and has risen into self-conscious recognition of its own divine powers, it thereby shakes off the chains or disguises of māyā and becomes what is called a jīvanmukta. It is only imperfect souls, or rather monadic souls, speaking in a general way, which are obliged by nature’s cyclic operations and laws to undergo the repetitive reimbodiments on earth and elsewhere in order that the lessons of self-conquest and mastery over all the planes of nature may be achieved. As the entity advances in wisdom and knowledge, and in the acquiring of self-conscious sympathy for all that is, in other words, as it grows more and more like unto its divine-spiritual counterpart, the less is it subject to avidyā. It is, in a sense, the seeds of kāmamanas left in the fabric or being of the reincarnating entity, which act as the kāraṇa or reproducing cause, or instrumental cause, of such entity’s reincarnations on earth.

The higher kāraṇopādhi, however, although in operation similar to the lower kāraṇopādhi, or kāraṇa-śarīra just described, nevertheless belongs to the spiritual-intellectual part of man’s constitution, and is the reproductive energy inherent in the spiritual monad bringing about its re-emergence after the solar pralaya into the new activities and new series of imbodiments which open with the dawn of the solar manvantara following upon the solar pralaya just ended. This latter kāraṇopādhi or kāraṇa-śarīra, therefore, is directly related to the element-principle in man’s constitution called buddhi — a veil, as it were, drawn over the face or around the being of the monadic essence, much as prakti surrounds Puruṣa, or pradhāna surrounds Brahman, or mūlaprakṛti surrounds and is the veil or disguise or śakti of parabrahman. Hence, in the case of man, this kāraṇopādhi or causal disguise or vehicle corresponds in a general way to the buddhi-manas, or spiritual soul, in which the spiritual monad works and manifests itself.

It should be said in passing that the doctrine concerning the functions and operations of buddhi in the human constitution is extremely recondite, because in buddhi lie the causal impulses or urges bringing about the building of the constitution of man, and which, when the latter is completed, and when forming man as a septenary entity, express themselves as the various strata or qualities of the auric egg.

Finally, the kāraṇa-śarīra, the kāraṇopādhi or causal body, is the vehicular instrumental form or instrumental body-form, produced by the working of what is perhaps the most mysterious principle or element, mystically speaking, in the constitution not only of man, but of the universe — the very mysterious spiritual bīja.

The kāraṇopādhi, the kāraṇa-śarīra or causal body, is explained with minor differences of meaning in various works of Hindu philosophy; but all such works must be studied with the light thrown upon them by the great wisdom-teaching of the archaic ages, esoteric theosophy. The student otherwise runs every risk of being led astray.

I might add that the suṣupti state or condition, which is that of deep dreamless sleep, involving entire insensibility of the human consciousness to all exterior impressions, is a phase of consciousness through which the adept must pass, although consciously pass in his case, before reaching the highest state of samādhi, which is the turiya state. According to the Vedānta philosophy, the turiya (meaning “fourth”) is the fourth state of consciousness into which the full adept can self-consciously enter and wherein he becomes one with the kosmic Brahman. The Vedāntists likewise speak of the anandamaya-kosa, which they describe as being the innermost disguise or frame or vehicle surrounding the ātmic consciousness. Thus we see that the anandamaya-kosa and the kāraṇa-śarīra, or kāraṇopādhi, and the buddhi in conjunction with the manasic ego, are virtually identical.

The author has been at some pains to set forth and briefly to develop the various phases of occult and esoteric theosophical thought given in this article, because of the many and various misunderstandings and misconceptions concerning the nature, characteristics, and functions of the kāraṇa-śarīra or causal body.


(Karman, Sanskrit) This is a noun-form coming from the root kṛ, meaning “to do,” “to make.” Literally karma means “doing,” “making,” action. But when used in a philosophical sense, it has a technical meaning, and this technical meaning can best be translated into English by the word consequence. The idea is this: When an entity acts, he acts from within; he acts through an expenditure in greater or less degree of his own native energy. This expenditure of energy, this outflowing of energy, as it impacts upon the surrounding milieu, the nature around us, brings forth from the latter perhaps an instantaneous or perhaps a delayed reaction or rebound. Nature, in other words, reacts against the impact; and the combination of these two — of energy acting upon nature and nature reacting against the impact of that energy — is what is called karma, being a combination of the two factors. Karma is, in other words, essentially a chain of causation, stretching back into the infinity of the past and therefore necessarily destined to stretch into the infinity of the future. It is unescapable, because it is in universal nature, which is infinite and therefore everywhere and timeless; and sooner or later the reaction will inevitably be felt by the entity which aroused it.

It is a very old doctrine, known to all religions and philosophies, and since the renascence of scientific study in the Occident has become one of the fundamental postulates of modern coordinated knowledge. If you toss a pebble into a pool, it causes ripples in the water, and these ripples spread and finally impact upon the bank surrounding the pool; and, so modern science tells us, the ripples are translated into vibrations, which are carried outward into infinity. But at every step of this natural process there is a corresponding reaction from every one and from all of the myriads of atomic particles affected by the spreading energy.

Karma is in no sense of the word fatalism on the one hand, nor what is popularly known as chance, on the other hand. It is essentially a doctrine of free will, for naturally the entity which initiates a movement or action — spiritual, mental, psychological, physical, or other — is responsible thereafter in the shape of consequences and effects that flow therefrom, and sooner or later recoil upon the actor or prime mover.

Since everything is interlocked and interlinked and interblended with everything else, and no thing and no being can live unto itself alone, other entities are of necessity, in smaller or larger degree, affected by the causes or motions initiated by any individual entity; but such effects or consequences on entities, other than the prime mover, are only indirectly a morally compelling power, in the true sense of the word moral.

An example of this is seen in what the theosophist means when he speaks of family karma as contrasted with one’s own individual karma; or national karma, the series of consequences pertaining to the nation of which he is an individual; or again, the racial karma pertaining to the race of which the individual is an integral member. Karma cannot be said either to punish or to reward in the ordinary meaning of these terms. Its action is unerringly just, for being a part of nature’s own operations, all karmic action ultimately can be traced back to the kosmic heart of harmony which is the same thing as saying pure consciousness-spirit. The doctrine is extremely comforting to human minds, inasmuch as man may carve his own destiny and indeed must do so. He can form it or deform it, shape it or misshape it, as he wills; and by acting with nature’s own great and underlying energies, he puts himself in unison or harmony therewith and therefore becomes a co-worker with nature as the gods are.

Karma Bhūmi

(Sanskrit) Literally work ground (bhūmi) or work planet or ‘Earth’ where active mental and psychological work can be performed that leads to spiritual progress or where karma can be produced that leads to results to be experienced later. Our material world is said to be the only causal sphere for us in our cycle of birth and death where we make conscious choices and perform activities that can have consequences. It is therefore the sphere of opportunity. This in contradistinction to other spheres of conscious awareness, like devachan, in which the results of action on the karma bhūmi are experienced and spiritually digested, leading to inner growth. In devachan or other localities where the reincarnating ego may reside, active causes can not be produced.


Sanskrit) [from kṛttikā the Pleiades] The ancient Hindu god of war, given the name Karttika or Kārttikeya because mythologically he is said to have been nursed and reared by the six Kṛttikas or Pleiades. Astronomically he is the planet Mars. He was born from fire and water out of a seed of RudraŚiva, a phase of the cosmic Logos, via Agni, who dropped the seed into the Ganga [the river Ganges). Like the Pleiades, he is represented with six heads, corresponding to the six visible stars of the constellation: Kārttikeya is said to be the seventh or hidden Pleiad.

Kārttikeyawas born for the purpose of killing Taraka, the too holy and wise deva-daimon, who had obtained through austerity all the knowledge and yoga powers of the gods. Kārttikeya is, according to H.P. Blavatsky, equivalent to Michael, Indra, and Apollo.




Kĕrūb, Kĕrūbīm (Cherub, Cherubim)

(Hebrew) Kĕrūb, Kĕrūbīm A celestial, sacred, occult being in Hebrew mythology; in the Old Testament various descriptions are given of the Cherubim, the prevailing one being that of winged entities with four faces, those respectively of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle. In Genesis, they are the guardians of Paradise; in Exodus (25:18-22) their images are to be placed in the mercy-seat and also in Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 6:23-35), but their most frequent association is with the throne or chariot of Yahweh (Jehovah). In Ezekiel and the Qabbalah the Cherubim are represented as the four holy living creatures. “These four animals are, in reality, the symbols of the four elements, and of the four lower principles in man. Nevertheless, they correspond physically and materially to the four constellations that form, so to speak, the suite or cortege of the Solar God, and occupy during the winter solstice the four cardinal points of the zodiacal circle” (SD 1:363).

In the ancient Syrian system of enumerating the hierarchies, the Cherubim were equivalent to the sphere of the Stars. In the Jewish Qabbalah a close association is made with them and the four letters of the Tetragrammaton, YHVH; and further with the world of ‘Asiyyah. In the system of hierarchies propounded by Dionysius the pseudo-Areopagite, the Cherubīm [Kĕrūbīm]rank second in the first trinity: Śĕrāfīm, Cherubīm, Thrones. But the Cherubīm have a still more mystical connection: “the four celestial beings are . . . the protectors of mankind and also the Agents of Karma on Earth” (SD 1:126).

In the Hebrew Qabbalah the Kĕrūbīm are the class of angels or quasi-spiritual beings corresponding with the lower Shechinah or Malchuth, the lowest or tenth of the Sephiroth. Again, “the word cherub also meant serpent, in one sense, though its direct meaning is different; because the Cherubim and the Persian winged [gryphes] ‘griffins’ — the guardians of the golden mountain — are the same, and their compound name shows their character, as it is formed of (kr) circle, and ‘aub,’ or ob — serpent — therefore, a ‘serpent in a circle’ ” (SD 1:364). The color blue is associated with the Cherubīm, as the color red is with the Śĕrāfīm.



(Khecara, Sanskrit) “Ether-goer” or sometimes rendered as “sky-walker.” The name used in the mystical and philosophical literature of Hindustan to signify one of the siddhis or psychospiritual powers that belong to yogis of advanced grade, or to initiates. It is, in fact, nothing more than what in Tibet is called hpho-wa, the projection of the māyāvi-rūpa to any part of the earth’s surface or, indeed, farther than that, and the doing of this at will.


(Egyptian) The human spirit-soul, closely connected with the heart (ab), and considered to be everlasting; usually depicted in hieroglyphics in the form of a heron. Massey makes it equivalent with manas, but Lambert makes it equivalent to divine spirit (SD 2:632-3). Elsewhere Blavatsky emphasizes the duality of the khu: the “justified” khu, absolved of sin by Osiris after death, which continues to live a second life; and the khu “which died a second time,” doomed to wander about and torture the living, as they are able to assume any form and enter into living bodies. This first type is equivalent to the reincarnating ego or immortal human soul. The second type is identical with the Roman larvae, lares, simulacrum, or shade, the Chinese houen, the theosophical elementary, and the necromantic “spirit” (cf BCW 7:155-17, 190-3).


Kinnara, Kinara

(Sanskrit) [from kim what + nara man] “What sort of a man?” — a mythical being supposed to have a human figure with the head of a horse; or sometimes a horse’s body having the head of a man. In later times, like the naras, they are reckoned with the gandharvas (celestial choristers), and are likewise frequently connected with the kipuruas. Some accounts say that they sprang from the toe of Brahmā; but they were the product of the earth at the commencement of the kalpa, the early attempts of formation of quasi-conscious beings leading to self-conscious beings.

In a larger sense, the kinnaras, kipuruas, etc., are entities belonging to our planetary chain who partake partly of the nature of matter or form, and partly of spirit. They have a definite place in the economy of the planetary chain and perform their functions very much as the human hierarchy does. They are more advanced than the mere nature sprites or elementals, but yet are inferior to humankind, and are to be classed generally with the hosts of quasi-astral beings.


(Sanskrit) Also kipūruṣa. “What sort of a man?”; according to the Brahmanas, an evil being resembling a man. In later times, identified with kinnaras, beings in which the figure of a man and of an animal are combined. One class of celestial beings regarded as attendants of Kubera.

In the Viṣṇu-Purāna, Kipurua is one of the nine khandas (portions) into which the earth is divided, described as the region between the mountains Himachala and Hemakuta; occasionally therefore called Kipuruṣa-varśa.


Kleśa (Sanskrit)

[from the verbal root kliś to molest, torment, suffer] Pain, suffering, involving nevertheless love of physical existence. Philosophically, the love of life, the cleaving to existence, the love of pleasure or of worldly enjoyment, evil or good. In the Yoga philosophy there are five kleśa-karins (causes of pain): avidyā (ignorance or nescience); asmita (egoism); raga (passion); dvesha (hatred); and abhineveśa (attachment, devotion).

Klotho (Greek) The spinner; in Greek mythology, one of the three Moirae (Fates). Human life was mystically pictured as a thread of destiny overseen by three sisters, powers of nature, named Clotho, Lachesis (disposer of lots), and Atropos (inevitable). Clotho, represented as a maiden holding the distaff, spun the thread of life.



(Greek) [from kore maiden cf Ionic koure] The name under which Persephone was worshiped in Attica; one of the three aspects of the earth goddess Demeter, who appears as wife, mother, and daughter. Kore-Persephone was one of the three great Eleusianian deities, the other two being Demeter and ZagreusIacchos, her child. As one of the chief divinities in the Mysteries, Kore (as Demeter-Kore) was fit consort of the dragon god (Zeus who wooed her in the form of a dragon).

Proclus, quoting Orpheus, says that when Persephone is united with the celestial Zeus she is then Demeter-Kore, but that when united with Pluto or Hades she is Kore-Persephone.

It was by Kore as the spouse of Hades that the bright side of death was revealed. She thus belonged preeminently to the Eleusinian Mysteries and one of the mystical dramas enacted for the instruction of neophytes was the rape of Persephone in which she was represented as in possession of the third eye. Blavatsky places her among the kabiria (SD 2:363).

Kore is also symbolized as the celestial weaver, who when carried off to the underworld by Hades is said to have left her webs unfinished. Proclus speaks of her as “weaving the diacosm of life” (Cratylus), and Claudianus tells of her weaving a robe for Demeter in which “she marks out the procession of the elements and the paternal seats with her needle, according to the laws of Mother Nature.”

Kosmic Life

All the great religions and philosophies of past times, all the ancient sciences likewise, taught the fact of the existence of inner, invisible, intangible, but causal realms, as the foundation and background of these various systems. According to them all, our physical world is but the outer shell or garment or veil of other worlds which are inner, vital, alive, and causal, which in their aggregate imbody the kosmic life. This kosmic life is not a person, not an individualized entity. It is far, far different from any such merely human conception, because it is infinite, boundless, beginningless, endless, coextensive with infinity, coextensive with eternity. The kosmic life is in very truth the ultimate reality behind and within all that is.

All the energies and matters in our world are really only various and innumerable manifestations of the kosmic life existing in truly infinitely large variety. The kosmic life, therefore, is, as said, the reality behind all the infinitely varied hosts of entities and things. But this reality is no personal or individualized Deity. It is precisely what theosophy calls it: the boundless and, in its totality, incomprehensible life-substance-consciousness.


(Greek) A word meaning “arrangement”; that which was arranged and kept along the lines and rules of harmony, the arrangement of the universe. Kosmos, therefore, is virtually interchangeable with universe. It must be distinctly understood that kosmos and universe, when employed in the esoteric philosophy, signify above everything else the indwelling boundless life expressing itself in its multimyriad entities and forms producing the amazing variety, and unity in diversity, that we see around us. (See also Cosmos)


Kriyā-śakti [from kriyā action + śakti power] The power of action; mystically the power of active thought or spiritual will power,

“that mysterious and divine power latent in the will of every man, and which, if not called to life, quickened and developed by Yogi-training, remains dormant in 999,999 men out of a million, and gets atrophied. . . .

Kriyā-śakti— the mysterious power of thought which enables it to produce external, perceptible, phenomenal results by its own inherent energy. The ancients held that any idea will manifest itself externally if one’s attention (and Will) is deeply concentrated upon it; similarly, an intense volition will be followed by the desired result’ ” (SD 2:173).

In the early part of the third root-race before the complete separation of the sexes, certain holy sages who were the most intellectually evolved of the then humanity, produced the first nāgas, called the Sons of Will and Yoga, by the power of kriyā-śakti. In the distant future, human reproduction will be through this spiritual will power and imagination.


Kṛta or Satya Yuga

See Satya Yuga


(Sanskrit) Black, dark, dark blue; the most celebrated and eighth avatara of Vishnu. Hindus consider him their savior, and he is worshiped as the most popular of their gods. Kṛṣṇa was born some 5000 years ago, the incarnated human spiritual power that closed the dvapara yuga — his death in 3102 BC marked the beginning of kali yuga. He was the son of Devaki and the nephew of Kansa, who parallels King Herod.

The life of Krishna bears interesting and occasionally striking similarities to the legends of other spiritual teachers. The lives of all those great spiritual messengers were recorded by initiates in the language of symbol and allegory. Kṛṣṇa’s conception, birth, and childhood are in essentials a prototype of the New Testament story.

One portion of the Mahābhārata, the Bhagavad-Gītā, contains the teachings given by Krishna to Arjuna as his guide and spiritual instructor, teachings which are the quintessence of the highest yoga. The details of Kṛṣṇa’s life are symbolically given in the Purāṇas.


(Greek) In Greek mythology, the youngest of the titans, son of Ouranos (heaven) and Gaia (earth). His mother gave him a sickle, emblem of karmic reapings in the course of time, when he led the war against his father. After castrating his father, he became ruler of the gods and, so he would not suffer a similar fate, he swallowed all his children by his wife-sister, Rhea. Eventually, however, he was overthrown by his youngest son, Zeus. In some accounts he was imprisoned in Tartarus, in others he was reconciled with Zeus and reigned with Rhadamanthys on the Islands of the Blessed.

Considered originally a harvest god, his name became interpreted as equivalent to Chronos (time) and many of his characteristics imply this. He was pictured as an old man with a mantle over the back of his head, holding a sickle in his hand. The Romans identified him with Saturnus, a harvest god. He is also identified in various ways with Jehovah, Saturn, and Kāla, and sometimes made father of the seven titans. Blavatsky remarks that he personifies the Lemurians or third root-race humanity.


Kṣatriya, Kṣattriya

(Sanskrit) The warrior, administrator, ruler; the second of the four Hindu castes. grades or classes, social and political, of the early civilizations of Hindustan in the Vedic Period. (See also Brahmana, Vaisya, Sudra)


Kuan Yin see Kwanyin


[from ku with difficulty + māra mortal] Mortal with difficulty; often used for child or youth; and philosophically, pure spiritual beings, unself-conscious god-sparks uninvolved with matter who, destined by evolution to pass through the realms of matter, become mortal, i.e., material, only with difficulty because of their lofty spirituality. They are the classes of arūpa or solar pits, along with the agniṣvāttas and mānasaputras. Of all the seven great divisions of dhyāni-chohans, there is none with which humanity is more concerned than with the kumāras, the mind-born sons of BrahmāRudra or Śiva, the inveterate destroyer of human passions: “it is they who, by incarnating themselves within the senseless human shells of the two first Root-races, and a great portion of the Third Root-race — create, so to speak, a new race: that of thinking, self-conscious and divine men” (SD 1:456-7). In the Purāas their number varies, given as seven, four, and five. They are often called the Four, because Sanaka, Sanada, Sanatana, and Sanat-Kumāra are the names of four important groups of kumāras as they spring from the fourfold mystery. The three secret names of the seven are variously given: Sana, Sanat-Sujata, and Kapila; or Kapila, Ribhu, and Panchasikha; or Jata, Vodhu, and Pañchasikha, all of which are but aliases. The patronymic name of the kumāras is Vaidhatra [from vidhatri a title of Brahmā as creator of the universe].

These kumāras are sometimes also called rudras, ādityas, gandharvas, asuras, maruts, and vedhas. The seven kumāras — both as groups and as aggregated individuals — are intimately connected with the dhyāni-buddhas who watch over the seven rounds of our planetary chain. The four groups of kumāras generally spoken of are connected equally intimately with the four celestial bodhisattvas of the four globes of our round, and by correspondence with the four completed root-races of our earth. They are identical with the angels of the seven planets, and their name shows their connection with the constellation Makara or Capricorn. Makara is connected with the birth of the spiritual microcosm, and the death or dissolution of the physical universe (its passage into the realm of the spiritual) as are the kumāras. Māra is the god of darkness, the Fallen one, and death, i.e., death of every physical thing; but through the karmic lessons learned also the quickener of the birth of the spiritual. The kumāras are connected also with the sage Nārada. An allegory in the Puranas says that the kumāras, the first progeny of Brahmā, were without desire or passion, inspired with the holy wisdom, and undesirous of progeny. They refused to create, but were compelled later on to complete divine man by incarnating in him. The barhiṣads or lunar pits formed the “senseless” astral-physical humanity of the early root-races. Those beings possessing the living spiritual fire were the agniṣvāttas or solar pits. The sons of Brahmā, the kumāras, being originally themselves unconscious (in our sense) could be of no use in supplying the mental and kāmic principles, as they did not possess them: they had attained no individual karmic elevation in merit of their own as had the agniṣvāttas. The perfection of the kumāras was passive and negative (nirguna). The kumāras eventually “sacrifice” themselves by incarnating in mankind, thus corresponding to the mānasaputras and fallen angels cast into hell (material spheres, our earth). (From: ETG)


[Sanskrit] The human buddhic or spiritual monad, mystically signifying utterly pure monadic wisdom, with all its lofty attributes. (From: ETG)


(Sanskrit) An extremely dangerous practice belonging to the hatha yoga system. It consists in retaining the breath by shutting the mouth and holding the nostrils closed with the fingers of the right hand. All these breathing exercises of whatever kind are attended with the utmost physiological danger to those who attempt to practice them, unless under the skilled guidance of a genuine Adept; and their practice is virtually forbidden, at least in the first few degrees, to all chelas of genuinely occult or esoteric schools. Indeed, except in rare instances, and for extraordinary reasons, the chela of a true Master of Wisdom will have no need to practice these hatha yoga exercises, for the whole purpose of esoteric training is to evolve forth the faculties and powers of the inner divinity, and not to gain minor and often misleading powers of small range which are occasionally acquired by following the hatha yoga physiologic and physical practices.

Kuṇḍalinī or Kuṇḍalinī-śakti

(Sanskrit) A term whose essential meaning is “circular” or “winding” or “spiral” or “coiling” action, or rather energy, and signifies a recondite power in the human constitution. Kuṇḍalinī-śakti is derivative of one of the elemental forces of nature. It works in and through, in the case of man, his auric egg, and expresses itself in continuous action in many of the most familiar phenomena of existence even when man himself is unconscious of it. In its higher aspect Kuṇḍalinī is a power or force following winding or circular pathways carrying or conveying thought and force originating in the higher triad. Abstractly, in the case of man it is of course one of the fundamental energies or qualities of the prāṇas. Unskilled or unwise attempts to interfere with its normal working in the human body may readily result in insanity or malignant or enfeebling disease.


(Sanskrit) The sacred grass (Poa cynosuroides, a grass with long pointed stalks) used in India at certain religious ceremonies, commonly called darbha by Brahmins.

Kuvera, Kubera

In Hindu mythology the regent of the north, also the chief of various spirits of nature whose abode is the underworld or Hades. Like the Greek Pluto-Plutus, he is said to be possessed of great wealth and to be the keeper of all the treasures on earth. Also know as the god of wealth or the treasurer of the gods.


Kwan-yin, Kuan-yin

 (Chinese) The Chinese Buddhist goddess of compassion, the female aspect of Kwan-shai-yin, referred to in the Stanzas of Dzyan as the triple of Kwan-shai-yin, residing in Kwan-yien-tien, “because in her correlations, metaphysical and cosmical, she is the ‘Mother, the Wife and the Daughter’ of the Logos, just as in the later theological translations she became ‘the Father, Son and (the female) Holy Ghost’ — the Śakti or Energy — the Essence of the three. Thus in the Esotericism of the Vedāntins, Daiviprakṛti, the Light manifested through Eśvara, the Logos, is at one and the same time the Mother and also the Daughter of the Logos or Verbum of Parabrahmam; while in that of the trans-Himalayan teachings it is — in the hierarchy of allegorical and metaphysical theogony — ‘the Mother’ or abstract, ideal matter, Mūlaprakṛti, the Root of Nature . . . a correlation of Ādi-Bhūta, manifested in the Logos, Avalokiteṣvara; and from the purely occult and Cosmical, Fohat, the ‘Son of the Son,’ the androgynous energy resulting from this ‘Light of the Logos’ ” (SD 1:136-7).

Kwan-yin is the Chinese counterpart from one point of view of the Egyptian Isis, the Hebrew Bath-Qol — the “daughter of the (Divine) Voice” — and of the Hindu Vāc. “She is male and female ad libitum, as Eve is with Adam. And she is a form of Aditi — the principle higher than Ether — in Ākāśa, the synthesis of all the forces in Nature; thus Vāc and Kwan-Yin are both the magic potency of Occult sound in Nature and Ether — which ‘Voice’ calls forth Sien-Tchan, the illusive form of the Universe out of Chaos and the Seven Elements” (SD 1:137).


Kybele (Cybele)

(Greek) A Phrygian goddess of caves and mountains, vines and agriculture, and town life, first worshiped at Pessinus; later throughout Asia Minor and in Greece. The equivalent in Phrygia and Crete of Rhea, the Magna Mater (great mother), wife of Kronos and mother of Zeus. Her worship was celebrated exoterically, especially in later degenerate times, by wild dances by her votaries. In one of her phases Cybele was closely connected with the moon and its extremely recondite functions. The moon is at once a sexless potency, to be well studied because to be dreaded, and a female deity for exoteric purposes. Cybele is “the personification and type of the vital essence, whose source was located by the ancients between the Earth and the starry sky, and who was regarded as the very fons vitae of all that lives and breathes” (BCW 12:214). The breath of Cybele, equivalent in its highest substance to ākāśatattva — “is the one chief agent, and it underlays the so-called ‘miracles’ and ‘supernatural’ phenomena in all ages, as in every clime” (BCW 12:215). See also CORYBANTES; CURETES