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Daily Theosophy Glossary – P

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Daily Theosophy Glossary


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The lotus-bearer; one name in Tibetan mysticism of the bodhisattva Chenrezi, equivalent to the Sanskrit Avalokiteśvara. His female aspect is equivalent to the Chinese Kwan-yin. On the manifested planes Padmapāṇi is “the progenitor (in a spiritual sense) of men. . . . He is, evidently, like Dakṣa, the synthesis of all the preceding Races and the progenitor of all the human Races after the Third, the first complete one . . .” (SD 2:178). Thus Padmapāṇi has cosmic, terrestrial, and human meanings.


(Greek) A compound which means “coming again into being,” or “becoming again.” The meaning attached to this word is quite specific, although having a wide and general application. The idea included in it may be illustrated, as is found in the philosophical literature of the ancients who lived around the Mediterranean Sea, by the example of the oak which produces its seed, the acorn, the acorn in its turn producing a new oak containing the same life that was passed on to it from the mother oak — or the father oak. This transmission of an identic life in cyclical recurring phases is the specific meaning of the word palingenesis. Thus the thought is different from the respective ideas contained in the other words connected with the doctrine of reimbodiment. Perhaps another way of stating the specific meaning would be by stating that palingenesis signifies the continuous transmission of an identic life producing at each transformation a new manifestation or result, these several results being in each case a palingenesis or “new becoming” of the same life-stream. Its specific meaning is quite different from that imbodied in the word transmigration.
Pañca-śīlāni, Pañcaśīla, Pansil
The Pancha Śila are the ‘Five Precepts’ of compassion, honesty, purity, sincerity, and temperance, which every lay-disciple of Buddhism promises to endeavor to follow. Pansil is the Pali word for Pancha Śīla. See also: The Five Precepts
Panchen Lama, Panchen Rimpoche or Rimboche
(Tibetan) [from panchen abbreviation for pandita chenpo from Sanskrit pandita pundit + Tibetan chen po great + Tibetan rin po che precious one], also known as Tashi Lama. Precious great teacher; the title of the Tashi or Panchen Lama, the spiritual ruler of Tibet, who had his seat at the Tashi Lhunpo monastery in Shigatse, while the Dalai Lama was regarded as that King and worldly ruler of Tibet, who was seated in Lhasa. From the beginning of the institution of the successive incarnations of the Panchen and Dalai Lamas they have been closely associated. The second great incarnation (along with the Dalai Lama) of the Gelukpa sect founded by Tsongkhapa in the 14th Century CE.
[Sanskrit, from para beyond + brahman (neuter) universal self or spirit] That which is beyond Brahman; the self-enduring, eternal, self-sufficient cause of all, the one essence of everything in the kosmos. It is before all things in the kosmos, and is the one sole limitless life-consciousness-substance from which starts into existence a center of force which may be called the Logos. In the Vedic cycle of writing it is referred to as tat (that) as opposed to the world of manifestation called idam (this).“Parabrahman is intimately connected with Mūlaprakṛti. Their interaction and intermingling cause the first nebulous thrilling, if the words will pass, of the Universal Life when spiritual desire first arose in it in the beginnings of things. . . . Parabrahman is no entity, is no individual, or individualized being. It is a convenient technical word with conveniently vague philosophical significancy, implying whatever is beyond the Absolute or Brahman of any hierarchy. Just as Brahman is the summit of a kosmic Hierarchy, so, following the same line of thought, the Parabrahman is ‘whatever is beyond Brahman’ ” (OG 121).The parabrahman of the Vedantists is likewise conceived of as an eternal and periodical law which causes an active and creative force to emanate from the ever-concealed and incomprehensible one principle at the beginning of every mahamanvantara or new cycle of cosmic life.“Parabrahmam is an unconditioned and absolute reality, and Mūlaprakṛti is a sort of veil thrown over it. Parabrahmam by itself cannot be seen as it is. It is seen by the Logos with a veil thrown over it, and that veil is the mighty expanse of cosmic matter. It is the basis of material manifestations in the cosmos” (Notes on BG 21). Parabrahman has the same relation to the Logos as our atman does to our kāraṇa śarīra; and parabrahman is the very foundation of the highest self. Parabrahman is identical with the ’eyn-soph of the Chaldean Qabbalah.
[Sanskrt, from parama highest + ātman self] Supreme self; the self which is higher than the self of the human ego. In the human constitution, the paramātman is the three highest principles, with special emphasis on the ātman; hence this arūpa triad is collectively called the paramātman, the summit or flower of the hierarchy that is man. It is likewise the root-base or source of the ātman of the arūpa triad. Thus paramātman is that which is beyond or above even the ātman (highest self) of any hierarchy, the First or Unmanifest Logos.
The highest or supreme in any series or hierarchical division, while aṇu means atom.

[Sanskrit, from pāram beyond + ita gone from the verbal root i to go] Gone or crossed to the other shore; derivatively, virtue or perfection. The pāramitās vary in number according to the Buddhist school: some quoting six, others seven or ten; but they are the glorious or transcendental virtues — the keys to the portals of jñāna (wisdom). Blavatsky gives these seven keys as (VS 47-8): 1) dāna “the key of charity and love immortal”; 2) śila (good character), “the key of Harmony in word and act, the key that counterbalances the cause and the effect, and leaves no further room for Karmic action”; 3) kśanti, “patience sweet, that nought can ruffle”; 4) virāga, “indifference to pleasure and to pain, illusion conquered, truth alone perceived”; 5) vīrya (strength, power), “the dauntless energy that fights its way to the supernal TRUTH, out of the mire of lies terrestrial”; 6) dhyāna (profound spiritual-intellectual contemplation, with utter detachment from all objects of sense and of a lower mental character), human consciousness in the higher reaches of this state becomes purely buddhic, with the summit of the manas acting as vehicle for the retention of what the percipient consciousness experiences; once the golden gate of dhyāna is opened, the pathway stretching thence leads towards the realm of “Sat eternal”; and 7) prajnā (understanding, wisdom), that part of the mind that functions when active as the vehicle of the higher self; “the key to which makes of man a god, creating him a Bodhisattva, son of the Dhyānis.” The six, seven, or ten pāramitās have reference to the three fundamental grades of training in discipleship: six for the beginner, seven for the one who is more advanced, and ten which are practiced by the adept. A faithful following of these virtues is incumbent upon every disciple, and fidelity and perseverance in performance mark progress along the mystic way. The other three pāramitās, making ten, are adhiṣṭhāna (inflexible courage) that goes forward to meet danger or difficulty; upekṣa (discrimination) which seeks and finds the right way of applying the pāramitās; and prabodha (awakened inner consciousness) or sambuddhi (complete or perfect illumination).

Paranirvāṇa, Parinirvāṇa

[from para or pari + nirvāṇa blown out from nir out + the verbal root vā to blow] That which is beyond nirvāṇa; the period of kosmic rest (mahāpralaya or Great Night of Brahmā), lasting 311,040,000,000,000 terrestrial years. Likewise called the great Day Be-With-Us; the Egyptian Day of Come-To-Us; and the Christian Day of the Last Judgment which, however, has been materialized by modern dogmatism.

“The day when ‘the spark will re-become the Flame (man will merge into his Dhyān Chohan) myself and others, thyself and me,’ as the Stanza has it — means this: In Paranirvāṇa — when Pralaya will have reduced not only material and psychical bodies, but even the spiritual Ego(s) to their original principle — the Past, Present, and even Future Humanities, like all things, will be one and the same. Everything will have re-entered the Great Breath. In other words, everything will be ‘merged in Brahma’ or the divine unity” (SD 1:265-6).

The kosmic pralaya is analogous to the death of the human being. The spiritual monads are drawn into higher ranges of being, to live and evolve, while the lower elements or bodies of the universe disperse as does our physical and lower psychological vehicles after death. See also Paraniṣpanna

Paraniṣpanna, Pariniṣpanna

(Sanskrit) [from para or pari + niṣpanna finished, completed from nis + the verbal root pad to come forth, ripen, accomplish] The state of having gone forwards beyond; philosophically, the absolute perfection to which all existences attain at the close of a great period of activity (mahāmanvantara). It is identical in meaning with paranirvāṇa, and corresponds to the Tibetan yond-grub.

[Sanskrit, from para very highest or beyond + sam with, together + ā towards + the verbal root dhā to place, bring]. The highest form of complete abstraction of the percipient consciousness from all worldly, or exterior, or even mental concerns or attributes, and its . . . becoming the pure unadulterate, undilute super-consciousness of the god within.

Parsi (or Parsee)

One of two Zoroastrian communities (the other being Iranis) originally from Persia/Iran currently primarily located in Pakistan and India. According to the Qissa-i Sanjan, Parsis migrated from Iran to Sindh and Gujarat between the 8th and 10th century CE to avoid the persecution following the Arab conquest of Persia. From (Wikipedia)

The Hindu goddess of fertility, love and devotion; as well as of divine strength and power, and has many attributes and aspects. She is the wife of Śiva Each of her aspects is expressed with a different name, giving her over 100 names in regional Hindu stories of India. Pārvatī is the daughter of the Himalayas, i.e. of the mountain king Himavan wife of the Hindu god Śiva – the protector and regenerator of universe and all life. She is the daughter of the mountain king Himavan and mother Mena. Pārvatī is the mother of Hindu deities Ganea (The elephant-headed god of Hinduism, the son of Pārvatī alone, begot from Śiva mystically from the ointment on het skin – i.e. without actual involvement, either sexually or otherwise, but only through her mental wish, of Śiva himself, who was a meditating yogi in the Himalayas.) and Kartikeya (The god of war, Mars.)
(Sanskrit) [possibly from the verbal root pat to sink, fly down or alight] Nethermost, farthest underneath; the reference being not so much to locality or position in space, as to quality — grossness, heaviness, or material substance. The seventh, lowest, and most material tāla. It is used in Hindu literature to signify the hells, underworlds, or infernal regions, or the antipodes or Myalba. The corresponding loka or pole is bhūrloka. “Meru — the abode of the gods — was placed . . . in the North Pole, while Pātāla, the nether region, was supposed to lie in the South. As each symbol in esoteric philosophy has seven keys, geographically, Meru and Pātāla have one significance and represent localities; while astronomically, they have another, and mean ‘the two poles,’ which meaning ended by their being often rendered in exoteric sectarianism — the ‘Mountain’ and the ‘Pit,’ or Heaven or Hell” (SD 2:357). Pātāla, from one aspect, corresponds to the lower hierarchies of the Gandha, elementals ruling the sense and organ of smell. This lowest tāla is the sphere of irrational beings, including animals, having little or no sense or feeling save that of self-preservation and the gratification of the senses — attributes of materiality which might include a vast number of the human species. Pātāla is also the sphere of intensely human as contrasted with human-spiritual beings, and is likewise the abode of the animal dugpas, elementals of animals, and multitudes of nature spirits, all belonging to the bipolar planes of bhūrloka-pātāla. In Atlantean times, America was the pātāla or antipodes of Jambu-dvīpa, geographically. In the Mahābhārata, Arjuna as Krishna’s chela is said to have descended into Pātāla, the antipodes, and there married Ulupi, the daughter of the King of the Nāgas or initiates. The Hindu ṛṣi Pātāla [possibly from the verbal root pat to sink, fly down or alight] Nethermost, farthest underneath; the reference being not so much to locality or position in space, as to quality — grossness, heaviness, or material substance. The seventh, lowest, and most material tāla. It is used in Hindu literature to signify the hells, underworlds, or infernal regions, or the antipodes or Myalba. The corresponding loka or pole is bhūrloka. “Meru — the abode of the gods — was placed . . . in the North Pole, while Pātāla, the nether region, was supposed to lie in the South. As each symbol in esoteric philosophy has seven keys, geographically, Meru and Pātāla have one significance and represent localities; while astronomically, they have another, and mean ‘the two poles,’ which meaning ended by their being often rendered in exoteric sectarianism — the ‘Mountain’ and the ‘Pit,’ or Heaven or Hell” (SD 2:357).The Hindu ṛṣi Nārada, representing one of the most recondite and still living spiritual influences on earth, is said to have descended in bygone times into the regions of Pātāla, and to have been delighted with what he found there. On his return to the celestial regions, he gave to the gods a glowing account of the beauties of the hells, stating that they abounded in everything ministering to luxury and sensuous delight. For precisely these reasons, Pātāla as the lowest of the tālas, has been called the infernal regions or hell. To beings evolving in the spheres of matter, these spheres are extremely pleasant despite the pain and suffering that invariably accompany sojourn in all astral spheres, which the tālas are. What the evolving entities lose in spiritual power, intellectual bliss, and higher faculty, is compensated for by the attachments and bonds of a sensuous character, tying them temporarily to these realms.
Path, The
Universal nature, our great parent, exists inseparably in each one of us, in each entity everywhere, and no separation of the part from the whole, of the individual from the kosmos, is possible in any other than a purely illusory sense. This points out to us with unerring definiteness and also directs us to the sublime path to utter reality. It is the path inwards, ever onwards within, which is endless and which leads into vast inner realms of wisdom and knowledge; for, as all the great world philosophies tell us so truly, if you know yourself you then know the universe, because each one of you is an inseparable part of it and it is all in you, its child. It is obvious from this last reflection that the sole essential difference between any two grades of the evolving entities which infill and compose the kosmos is a difference of consciousness, of understanding; and this consciousness and understanding come to the evolving entity in only one way — by unwrapping or unfolding the intrinsic faculties or powers of that entity’s own inner being. This is the path, as the mystics of all ages have put it.
The pathway is within yourself. There is no other pathway for you individually than the pathway leading ever inwards towards your own inner god. The pathway of another is the same pathway for that other; but it is not your pathway, because your pathway is your Self, as it is for that other one his Self — and yet, wonder of wonders, mystery of mysteries, the Self is the same in all. All tread the same pathway, but each man must tread it himself, and no one can tread it for another; and this pathway leads to unutterable splendor, to unutterable expansion of consciousness, to unthinkable bliss, to perfect peace.

(Greek) Proserpina (Latin) The daughter of Zeus and Demeter who became queen of the Underworld, after being carried off by Hades or Pluto, god of the Underworld. As Kore-Persephone, she becomes one of the great Eleusinian divinities, the Divine Maid. The role played by Persephone, Demeter, or Kore (“maiden,” a title applicable to both) is part of a profound allegory in which is found a great deal of occult truth. Persephone or Demeter has a cosmic significance, as well as one applicable to the human race, for in the cosmic meaning the legend involves what the Hindus refer to under the various manifestations of prakṛti running throughout manifested nature as a veil or garment of the indwelling cosmic consciousness; and the various permutations under which Kore-Persephone or Demeter is presented, show the various allegorical stages or modifications which the cosmic prakṛtis undergo. In the application of the legend to man, Kore-Persephone stands for both the spiritual soul and its child, the human soul, which in one manner of envisioning the facts are two; and in another manner, are one.

Theosophists draw a clear and sharp distinction, not of essence but of quality, between personality and individuality. Personality comes from the Latin word persona, which means a mask, through which the actor, the spiritual individuality, speaks. The personality is all the lower man: all the psychical and astral and physical impulses and thoughts and tendencies, and what not. It is the reflection in matter of the individuality; but being a material thing it can lead us downwards, although it is in essence a reflection of the highest. Freeing ourselves from the domination of the person, the mask, the veil, through which the individuality acts, then we show forth all the spiritual and so-called superhuman qualities; and this will happen in the future, in the far distant aeons of the future, when every human being shall have become a buddha, a christ. Such is the destiny of the human race. In occultism the distinction between the personality and the immortal individuality is that drawn between the lower quaternary or four lower principles of the human constitution and the three higher principles of the constitution or higher triad. The higher triad is the individuality; the personality is the lower quaternary. The combination of these two into a unity during a lifetime on earth produces what we now call the human being. The personality comprises within its range all the characteristics and memories and impulses and karmic attributes of one physical life; whereas the individuality is the aeonic ego, imperishable and deathless for the period of a solar manvantara. It is the individuality through its ray or human astral-vital monad which reincarnates time after time and thus clothes itself in one personality after another personality.
Nārada as the Messenger, see Nārada
An operation of the human spirit-mind in its endeavor to understand not merely the how of things, but the why of things — why and how things are as they are. Philosophy is one phase of a triform method of understanding the nature of nature, of universal nature, and of its multiform and multifold workings, and philosophy cannot be separated from the other two phases (science and religion), if we wish to gain a true and complete picture of things as they are in themselves. It is a capital mistake of Western thought to suppose that science, religion, and philosophy are three separate and unrelated operations of thought. The idea when pondered upon is immediately seen to be ludicrously false, because all these three are but phases of operations of human consciousness. Not one of these three — philosophy, religion, or science — can be divorced from the other two, and if the attempt be made so to divorce them, the result is spiritual and intellectual dissatisfaction, and the mind senses an incompleteness. Consequently any philosophy which is unscientific and irreligious, or any religion which is unscientific and unphilosophical, and any science which is unphilosophical and unreligious, is de facto erroneous because incomplete. These three are simply three aspects or phases of a fundamental reality which is consciousness. Philosophy is that aspect of the human consciousness which is correlative, and which seeks the bonds of union among things and exposes them, when found, as existing in the manifold and diverse forms of natural processes and the so-called laws which demonstrate their existence. (See also Religion, Science)



(Sanskrit) Shades, fading remnants or shells of human beings in kāma-loka, which become elementaries, or malevolent astral beings, in the cases of people who live a consistently evil life while in incarnation. In southern Indian folklore the piśācas are ghosts, demons, larvae, and vampires — generally female — who haunt men. In the Purāṇas, they are goblins or demons created by Brahmā.

In archaic Hindu literature, the piśācas are connected with the daityas, dānavas, etc. Here they are no longer mere astral shells, but represent evolving beings of the earlier races of man: “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, Piśācas, 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).

Pistis Sophia An important treatise on Gnostic teachings, discovered in a Coptic manuscript in the British Museum by the Orientalist Schwartze, who rendered it into Latin and published the original text and his translation in 1851. It was translated into English by G. R. S. Mead and annotated by Blavatsky. The original version contains many Greek technical terms having no Coptic equivalents and preserved also in the later translations. The tile itself is two such words, the names of two principal Aeons in the Gnostic system. Sophia means wisdom, enlightenment; pistis means intuitive trust, firm belief based on inner conviction, ardent devotion, that quality in the disciple which corresponds to the heart, as wisdom relates to his understanding — rather than merely faith. As the opening verses show, these are the esoteric teachings said in the treatise itself to have been given by Jesus to his disciples, when he was rising from the dead and teaching them for eleven years. This means that the teacher had passed eleven degrees of initiation, awaiting only the final degree. The work is a highly veiled version of some of the teachings of the archaic wisdom; it quotes abundantly from the Book of Enoch, and the doctrines of the Upaniṣads have, at least in degree, passed into it.


(Sanskrit) A word meaning “father.” There are seven (or ten) classes of pitṛs. They are called “fathers” because they are more particularly the actual progenitors of our lower principles; whereas 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.

The pitṛs, for easy understanding, may be divided into two great groups, the solar and lunar. The lunar pitṛs or barhiṣads, as the name implies, came from the moon-chain; while the solar pitṛs whom we may group under the expressive name agniṣvātta-pitṛs are those dhyān-chohans which have not the physical “creative fire,” because they belong to a much superior sphere of being, but they have all the fires of the spiritual-intellectual realms active or latent within them as the case may be. In preceding manvantaras they had finished their evolution so far as the realms of astral and physical matter were concerned, and when the proper time came in the cycling ages, the agniṣvātta-pitṛs came to the rescue of those who had only the physical creative fire, or barhiṣad-pitṛs, the lunar pitṛs, inspiring and enlightening these lower pitṛs with the spiritual and intellectual energies or “fires.”

In other words, the lunar pitṛs may briefly be said to be those consciousness centers in the human constitution which feel humanly, which feel instinctually, and which possess the brain-mind mentality. The agniṣvatta-pitṛs are those monadic centers of the human constitution which are of a purely spiritual type. (See also Agniṣvattas, Lunar Pi)



This is a word used in theosophy for the various ranges or steps of the hierarchical ladder of lives which blend into each other. There are no solutions of continuity in space, either in inner and invisible space or in outward and visible space. The physical world grades off into the astral world, which grades off again into a world higher than it, the world which is superior to the astral world; and so it continues throughout the series of hierarchical steps which compose a universe such as our universe. Remember also that the boundless All is filled full with universes, some so much greater than ours that the utmost reach of our imagination cannot conceive of them.

To quote H. P. Blavatsky in this connection, in her Theosophical Glossary under this same head:

As used in Occultism, the term denotes the range or extent of some state of consciousness, or of the perceptive power of a particular set of senses, or the action of a particular force, or the state of matter corresponding to any of the above. (See also Hierarchy)

Planetary Chain

Every kosmic body or globe, be it sun or planet, nebula or comet, atom or electron, is a composite entity formed of or comprised of inner and invisible energies and substances and of an outer, to us, and often visible, to us, physical vehicle or body. These elements all together number seven (or twelve), being what is called in theosophy the seven principles or elements of every self-contained entity; in other words, of every individual life-center.

Thus every one of the physical globes that we see scattered over the fields of space is accompanied by six invisible and superior globes, forming what in theosophy is called a chain. This is the case with every sun or star, with every planet, and with every moon of every planet. It is likewise the case with the nebulae and the comets as above stated: all are septiform entities, all have a sevenfold constitution, even as man has, who is a copy in the little of what the universe is in the great, there being for us one life in that universe, one natural system of “laws” in that universe. Every entity in the universe is an inseparable part of it; therefore what is in the whole is in every part, because the part cannot contain anything that the whole does not contain, the part cannot be greater than the whole.

Our own earth-chain is composed of seven (or twelve) globes, of which only one, our earth, is visible on this our earth plane to our physical sense apparatus, because that apparatus is builded or rather evolved to cognize this earth plane and none other. But the populations of all the seven (or twelve) globes of this earth-chain pass in succession, and following each other, from globe to globe, thus gaining experience of energy and matter and consciousness on all the various planes and spheres that this chain comprises.

The other six (or eleven) globes of our earth-chain are invisible to our physical sense, of course; and, limiting our explanation only to the manifest seven globes of the complete chain of twelve globes, the six globes other and higher than the earth exist two by two, on three planes of the solar system superior to our physical plane where our earth-globe is — this our earth. These three superior planes or worlds are each one superior to the world or plane immediately beneath or inferior to it.

Our earth-globe is the fourth and lowest of all the manifest seven globes of our earth-chain. Three globes precede it on the descending or shadowy arc, and three globes follow it on the ascending or luminous arc of evolution. The Secret Doctrine by H. P. Blavatsky and the more recent work, Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy (1932), contain most suggestive material for the student interested in this phase of the esoteric philosophy. (See also Ascending Arc)

Planetary Spirit

Every celestial body in space, of whatever kind or type, is under the overseeing and directing influence of a hierarchy of spiritual and quasi-spiritual and astral beings, who in their aggregate are generalized under the name of celestial spirits. These celestial spirits exist therefore in various stages or degrees of evolution; but the term planetary spirits is usually restricted to the highest class of these beings when referring to a planet.

In every case, and whatever the celestial body may be, such a hierarchy of ethereal beings, when the most advanced in evolution of them are considered, in long past cycles of kosmic evolution had evolved through a stage of development corresponding to the humanity of earth. Every planetary spirit therefore, wherever existent, in those far past aeons of kosmic time was a man or a being equivalent to what we humans on earth call man. The planetary spirits of earth, for instance, are intimately linked with the origin and destiny of our present humanity, for not only are they our predecessors along the evolutionary path, but certain classes of them are actually the spiritual guides and instructors of mankind. We humans, in far distant aeons of the future, on a planetary chain which will be the child or grandchild of the present earth-chain, will be the planetary spirits of that future planetary chain. It is obvious that as H. P. Blavatsky says: “Our Earth, being as yet only in its Fourth Round, is far too young to have produced high Planetary Spirits”; but when the seventh round of this earth planetary chain shall have reached its end, our present humanity will then have become dhyān-chohans of various grades, planetary spirits of one group or class, with necessary evolutionary differences as among themselves. The planetary spirits watch over, guide, and lead the hosts of evolving entities inferior to themselves during the various rounds of a planetary chain. Finally, every celestial globe, whether sun or planet or other celestial body, has as the summit or acme of its spiritual hierarchy a supreme celestial spirit who is the hierarch of its own hierarchy. It should not be forgotten that the humanity of today forms a component element or stage or degree in the hierarchy of this (our) planetary chain.

Pleroma (Greek) Fullness, completion, entirety; used by the Gnostics, as for instance by Valentinus in the Pistis Sophia, to denote the fullness of the manifested universe as a whole; hence, space and its contents. In a more spiritual and accurate sense, it is absolute space with its seven, ten, or twelve planes or degrees of consciousness-substance. Evolution starts from a primal point and is fulfilled in the pleroma or manifested sum total of a manifested universe, with especial emphasis on its inner and invisible ranges and planes. Therefore, it is the kosmic abode of the invisible gods or divinities in all their many ranges and ranks, together with the planes, worlds, and spheres composing the fullness; the whole elaborately divided and subdivided into planes and hierarchies of emanations, one manner of treatment being geometrically symbolized by squares, circles, points, etc. For convenience’ sake, pleroma is usually divided into three degrees, the highest, the intermediate, and the lowest. It was converted by the Christian Church into an abode for Fallen Angels, Principalities, and Powers.


(Latin) [from Greek ploutos wealth, bounty of the earth] The Roman god of the Underworld, the same as the Greek Hades, Dis, and Orcus. The name Plutus, with which Pluto was sometimes confounded, is that of another deity, the god of wealth per se.


Popol Vuh

(Quiche) An ancient scripture of the Mayas of Guatemala. The manuscript which has come down to our day was discovered by Ximenez, a Dominican missionary in the 17th century, near Guatemala City, and translated by him into Spanish. Later, Brasseur de Bourbourg translated the manuscript from the original Quiche into French. But this manuscript was written or dictated by a native in the Quiche tongue and is not the original, for as the writer himself says in his preface: “This is the beginning of the ancient history of the country here called Quiche . . . We will publish it in the world of Christendom, because this National Book, the Popol Vuh, is seen no more, . . . This is the first book written in times of old, but it is hidden from the sight of him who sees and thinks.”

In addition to a historical account of the Quiche nation, the first portion of the scripture deals with cosmogony and the birth of humanity. The opening lines are similar in conception to the book of Genesis: “Here is the narrative of how all was in suspense, all was calm, all silent, all was motionless, all was peaceful, and empty was the immensity of the heavens. . . . The face of the Earth was not yet visible. Only the sea was, and all the space of the heavens.”

The first race of men mentioned in the Popol Vuh are described as “a race ‘whose sight was unlimited, and who knew all things at once’: thus showing the divine knowledge of Gods, not mortals” (SD 2:96). “In other words, they were the Lemuro-Atlanteans, the first who had a dynasty of Spirit-Kings, . . . actual living Devas (or demi-gods or Angels, again) who had assumed bodies to rule over them, and who, in their turn, instructed them in arts and sciences” (SD 2:221-2). And referring to the Lemurian or third root-race, the Popol Vuh describes their race as being fashioned out of the Tzite tree — very similar in this regard to the ancient Scandinavian mythology, where Odin fashions man out of the ash tree. The early race of mankind mentioned in the Popol Vuh as able to live with equal ease under ground and water as upon the earth answers to the second and early third root-races (SD 2:160).



(Sanskrit) [from pra before + the verbal root dhā to place] That which is first placed, or primal position, in a philosophical sequence of cosmic emanations. Undifferentiated cosmic substance; that which is the root of and first originant of prakṛti (nature visible and invisible). Some philosophical schools in India use ākāśa as a synonym of pradhāna, and one might even say that pradhāna is mūlaprakṛti, taken in the literal sense of “root of prakṛti.” Strictly speaking, pradhāna is mūlaprakṛti in the latter’s lower ranges, and thus pradhāna in its lower ranges becomes ākāśa. Philosophically it is the first filmy appearance of root-matter “placed before” or around Brahman. It is spoken of as the cosmic veil of Brahman, the unmanifest or First Logos.

“That which is the unevolved cause is emphatically called by the most eminent sages, pradhāna, original base, which is subtile prakṛti, viz., that which is eternal, and which at once is, and is not, a mere process” (VP 1:2).


(Sanskrit) A word meaning “governor” or “lord” or “master” of “progeny.” The word is applied to several of the Vedic gods, but in particular to Brahmā — that is to say the second step from parabrahman — the evolver-creator, the first and most recondite figure of the Hindu triad, consisting of Brahmā, Viṣṇu, and Śiva. Brahmā is the emanator or evolver, Viṣṇu the sustainer or preserver, and Śiva, a name which may be translated euphemistically perhaps as “beneficent,” the regenerator. Prajāpati is a name which is often used in the plural, and refers to seven and also to ten different beings. They are the producers and givers of life of all on earth and, indeed, on the earth’s planetary chain.


[Sanskrit; from pra before + the verbal root jñā to know] To know through clear perception, to discern clearly; wisdom, intellectual perception or knowledge as contrasted with mere brain-mind ratiocination. Its cultivation is one of the Buddhist pāramitās (see below): the highest of ultimate perfection is the practice of wisdom.


[from prajñā wisdom + pāramitā transcendental virtue] the wisdom transcendental virtue; one of the principal mystical works of the Mahāyāna school of Buddhism, supposedly written in the 2nd century BC. For more information see Wikipedia: Prajñāpāramitā. It is also the highest (sixth or seventh or tenth) stage or aspect of the Buddhist Path of Perfections: the perfection of wisdom. For the other stages see Pāramitā.



(Sanskrit) A compound consisting of the prepositional prefix pra, meaning “forwards” or “progression,” and kṛti, a noun-form from the verbal root kṛ, “to make” or “to do.” Therefore prakṛti means literally “production” or “bringing forth,” “originating,” and by an extension of meaning it also signifies the primordial or original state or condition or form of anything: primary, original substance. The root or parent of prakṛti is mūla-prakṛti or root of prakṛti. Prakṛti is to be considered with vikṛti vikṛti signifying change or an alteration of some kind, or a production or evolution from the prakṛti which precedes it.

As an illustration, the chemical elements hydrogen and oxygen combine in the proportion H2O, producing thus a substance known in its most common form as water; but this same H2O can appear as ice as well as vapor-gas; hence the vapor, the water, and the ice may be called the vikṛtis of the original prakṛti which is the originating hydrogen and oxygen. The illustration is perhaps not a very good one but is suggestive.

In common usage prakṛti may be called nature in general, as the great producer of entities or things, and through this nature acts the ever-active Brahmā or Purua. Purua, therefore, is spirit, and prakriti is its productive veil or sheath. Essentially or fundamentally the two are one, and whatever prakriti through and by the influence of Purua produces is the multitudinous and multiform vikṛtis which make the immense variety and diversity in the universe around us.

In one or more of the Hindu philosophies, prakṛti is the same as śakti, and therefore prakṛti and śakti are virtually interchangeable with māyā or mahā-māyā or so-called illusion. Prakṛti is often spoken of as matter, but this is inexact although a very common usage; matter is rather the “productions” or phases that prakṛti brings about, the vikṛtis. In the Indian Sānkhya philosophy pradhāna is virtually identical with prakṛti , and both are often used to signify the producing element from and out of which all illusory material manifestations or appearances are evolved.

Pralaya (Sanskrit) [from pra away + the verbal root to dissolve] Dissolving away, death, dissolution, as when one pours water upon a cube of salt or sugar: the cube of salt or sugar vanishes in the water, dissolves, and changes its form. So during a pralaya, matter crumbles or vanishes away into something else which is yet in it, surrounds it, and interpenetrates it. Pralaya is often defined as the state of latency or rest between two manvantaras of great life cycles. During pralaya, everything differentiated, every unit, disappears from the phenomenal universe and is transferred into the noumenal essence which periodically throughout eternity gives birth to all the phenomena of nature. Pralaya is dissolution of the visible into the invisible, the heterogeneous into the homogeneous, relatively or absolutely — the objective universe returns into its one primal and eternally productive Cause, to reappear at the following cosmic dawn. To our finite minds, pralaya is like a state of nonbeing — and so it is for all existences and beings on the lower material planes.

A mahāpralaya (great pralaya) is an absolute pralaya of a solar system or kosmos; a minor pralaya is a partial dissolution of some part of the solar system or cosmos, such as a planetary chain or a globe. After an absolute pralaya, when the preexisting manifested material consists of but one element, and breath “is everywhere,” the creation process acts from without inwardly; but after a minor pralaya, which involves the destruction of the corporeal vehicles of things, the inner vital essences remaining untouched, the celestial bodies begin at the first flutter of manvantara their resurrection to manifested cosmic life from within outwardly.

A pralaya is not the same as an obscuration, because an obscuration means the passage of a life-wave from a globe or equivalent celestial body to a globe on another plane. During such an obscuration the globe thus abandoned by the life-wave remains in statu quo — in a refrigerated condition, so to say — awaiting the influx of the succeeding life-wave. In the case of obscuration the vehicle remains dormant; yet this does not signify that the body is without movement, vital or psychic, of any kind. A person, for instance, when asleep is in obscuration, and it is obvious that his physical body is still alive and active after the manner of sleeping organisms.

“It is not the physical organisms that remain in statu quo, least of all their psychical principles, during the great Cosmic or even Solar pralayas, but only their Ākāsic or astral ‘photographs.’ But during the minor pralayas, once over-taken by ‘Night,’ the planets remain intact, though dead, as a huge animal, caught and embedded in the polar ice, remains the same for ages” (SD 1:18n).

Theosophy divides the pralayas into several kinds: the pauruṣa pralaya (dissolution or death of an individual person); the atyantika pralaya (nirvana of a jīvanmukta); the obscuration or individual pralaya of each globe, as a life-wave passes on to the next globe; the round-obscurations or minor pralayas of the planetary chain after each round; the bhaumika pralaya (planetary pralaya) which occurs when the seven rounds of our earth-chain are completed, also called the naimittika pralaya (dissolution during the Night of Brahmā); the saurya pralaya (solar pralaya) when the whole solar system is at an end; the universal mahāpralaya or Brahmā pralaya, usually called the prakṛtika pralaya or dissolution of the cosmos at the close of an Age or Life of Brahmā; and the nitya pralaya or constant, incessant evolutionary changes that take place throughout the universe and therefore affect all its parts.

“When the great period of the universal kosmic pralaya occurs, and the universe is indrawn (following the Oriental metaphor) into the bosom of Parabrahman, what then happens? The spiritual entities then enter into their paranirvāṇa, which means exactly for them what is meant for us when we speak of the death of the human being. They are drawn by their spiritual gravitational attractions into still higher hierarchies of being, into still higher spiritual realms, therein still higher rising and growing and learning and living; while the lower elements of the kosmos, the body of the universe (even as does our physical body when the change called death comes . . .), follow their own particular gravitational attractions: the physical body to dust; the vital breath to the vital breath of the kosmos; dust to dust, breath to breath. So with the other kosmic principles, as with man’s principles at his decease: the kāma of our nature to the universal reservoir of the kāmic organism; our manas into its dhyān-chohanic rest; our monads into their own higher life. Then when the clock of eternity points once again for the kosmos to the hour of ‘coming forth into light’ — which is ‘death’ for the spiritual being, as death for us is life for the inner man — when the manvantara of material life comes around again (the period of spiritual death for the kosmos is the material life of manifestation), then in the distant abysms of space and time the kosmic life-centers are aroused into activity once more . . .” (Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy 183). (From ETG)


(Sanskrit) [from pra before + the verbal root an to breathe, live] In theosophy, the breath of life; the third principle in the ascending scale of the sevenfold human constitution. This life or prāṇa works on, in, and around us, pulsating unceasingly during the term of physical existence. Prāṇa is “the radiating force or Energy of Ātma — as the Universal Life and the One Self, — Its lower or rather (in its effects) more physical, because manifesting, aspect. Prāṇa or Life permeates the whole being of the objective Universe; and is called a ‘principle’ only because it is an indispensable factor and the deus ex machina of the living man” (Key 176).

In working upon the physical body, prāṇa automatically uses the liṅga-sarīra (model-body) as its vehicle of expression during earth-life. Prāṇa may be said to be the psychoelectric veil or field manifesting in the individual as vitality. The life-atoms of prāṇa fly instantly back, at the moment of physical dissolution, to the natural prāṇic reservoirs of the planet. Further, occultism teaches that “(a) the life-atoms of our (Prāṇa) life-principle are never entirely lost when a man dies. That the atoms best impregnated with the life-principle (an independent, eternal, conscious factor) are partially transmitted from father to son by heredity, and partially are drawn once more together and become the animating principle of the new body in every new incarnation of the Monads. Because (b), as the individual Soul is even the same, so are the atoms of the lower principles (body, its astral, or life double, etc.), drawn as they are by affinity and Karmic law always to the same individuality in a series of various bodies, etc. . . .” (SD 2:671-2).

In Sanskrit it refers to the life currents or vital fluids, variously numbered as three, five, seven, twelve, and thirteen. The five life-winds mentioned are samana, vyana, prāṇa, apana, and udana. In this classification prana represents the expirational breath.

Jīva is sometimes used similarly to prāṇa, but strictly prāṇa means outbreathing and jīva means life per se. There is a universal or cosmic jīva or life principle, just as there are innumerable hosts of individualized jīvas, which are the atoms of the former, drops in the ocean of cosmic life. These individualized jīvas are relatively eternal, and correspond exactly to the term monad. Jīva, without qualification, is of general application; when considered as individualized, these jīvas are used in the sense of individual monads; contrariwise, prāṇa is applied to the life-fluid or jīvic aura when manifesting in the lower triad of the human constitution as prāṇa-liṅgasarīrasthūlasarīra. Hence Blavatsky said that jīva becomes prāṇa when the child is born and begins to breathe.

The life-atoms of the prāṇa, or psychoelectrical field, ‘fly’ instantly back at the moment of physical dissolution to the natural prāṇic reservoirs of the planet.


(Sanskrit) [from prāṇa life vital essence + ātman, self] The vital spiritual field which unites the totality of the subtle bodies of man into a unity — hence in one sense equivalent to sūtrātman, although sūtrātman usually imbodies a higher conception than does prāṇātman.

Also the vital or animal soul — the third and lowest of the three souls of a human being: the personal ego in the human constitution. The vehicle of prāṇātman is the astral-vital monad in its turn working through the human body. The prāṇātman, so far as man is concerned, may otherwise be called the human soul, which comprises manas, kāma, and prāṇa. This ego or Prāṇātman is mortal, being a composite, and hence endures only during the cycle of one earth-life; while its range of consciousness is restricted to globe D of the earth planetary chain. Nonetheless, the monadic point around which the Prāṇātman reassembles for each incarnation is immortal as a monad, albeit this monad is still in a low degree of evolutionary unfoldment.


(Sanskrit) [from pra-ṇu to utter a droning or humming sound, as during the proper pronunciation of the word Om or Aum] The mystical, sacred syllable Om or Aum, pronounced by Brahmins, Yogīs, and others during meditation. In Vedānta philosophy and the Upaniṣads, used in another sense: “In one sense Praṇava represents the macrocosm and in another sense the microcosm. . . . The reason why this Praṇava is called Vāc (Vāch) is this, that these four principles of the great cosmos correspond to these four forms of Vāc” (From: T Subba Row: Notes on the Gītā, 25, 26) — vaikhari, madhyama, pasyanti, para. These are called the four matras [metres] of praṇava.

It is also equivalent to the second sign of the zodiac, Ṛṣabha (Rishabha) (Taurus).

The fact that this term is given to the mystical sacred syllable, and that it signifies a droning or humming sound, shows that anciently the word was uttered aloud, although in secret whenever possible. Modern Brahmins, however, are apt to condemn the vocal utterance of their sacred syllable, and sometimes assert that it should be uttered in silence — i.e., in the mind.


(Sanskrit) prāṇāyāma [from prāṇa breath + āyāma restraining, stopping] The fourth of the eight states of yoga, consisting of various methods of regulating the breath. The three forms of prāṇāyāma are puraka (the inhaling); kumbhaka (the retaining); and rechaka (the exhaling).

Any practice of prāṇāyāma can be fraught with serious danger, not merely to physical health, but in extreme cases to mental balance or stability. prāṇāyāma, when actually practiced according to the exoteric rules, is a very different thing from the excellent and common sense advice given by doctors to breathe deeply, and to fill the lungs with fresh air. Prāṇāyāma should never be practiced by anyone unless under the guidance of initiated teachers, and these never proclaim themselves as teachers of prāṇāyāma, for the adepts use it only in rarest cases for certain pupils who for karmic reasons can be helped in this unusual and extraordinary way.


(Sanskrit, from Prati, ‘towards,’ and mokṣa, ‘liberation from cyclic existence (saṃsāra)’. A list of rules contained within the vinaya – the regulatory framework for the Buddhist monastic community – governing the behavior of Buddhist monks and nuns.


(Sanskrit) Buddhist term, commonly translated as dependent origination, or dependent arising, states that all dharmas (“things”) arise in dependence upon other dharmas: “if this exists, that exists; if this ceases to exist, that also ceases to exist.” It is a pragmatic teaching, which is applied to suffering or unease and the cessation of it.

The principle is applied in the twelve links (twelve nidānas) of dependent origination doctrine in Buddhism, which describes the chain of causes which result in rebirth and dukkha. By breaking the chain, liberation from this endless cycles of rebirth and dukkha can be attained.[1] Everything except nirvāṇa (nibbana) are the consequence of Pratītyasamutpāda, the chain of the twelve nidānas of causality, asserts Buddhism.

Pratyeka Buddha

[Sanskrit, from prati towards, for + eka one] Each one for himself; exalted and in one sense holy beings who crave spiritual enlightenment for themselves alone. They “are those Bodhisattvas who strive after and often reach the Dharmakāya robe after a series of lives. Caring nothing for the woes of mankind or to help it, but only for this own bliss, they enter Nirvāṇa and — disappear from the sight and the hearts of men. In Northern Buddhism a ‘Pratyeka Buddha’ is a synonym of spiritual Selfishness”; “He, who becomes Pratyeka-Buddha, makes his obeisance but to his Self ” (The Voice of the Silence p. 86, 43).

They achieve nirvāṇa automatically as it were, and leave the world in its misery behind. Though exalted, nevertheless they do not rank with the unutterable sublimity, wisdom, and pity of the Buddhas of Compassion.

“The Pratyeka Buddha is a degree which belongs exclusively to the Yogācārya school, yet it is only one of high intellectual development with no true spirituality. It is the dead-letter of the Yoga laws, in which intellect and comprehension play the greatest part, added to the strict carrying out of the rules of the inner development. It is one of the three paths to Nirvāṇa, and the lowest, in which a Yogī — ‘without teacher and without saving others’ — by the mere force of will and technical observances, attains to a kind of nominal Buddhaship individually; doing no good to anyone, but working selfishly for his own salvation and himself alone. The Pratyekas are respected outwardly but are despised inwardly by those of keen or spiritual appreciation. A Pratyeka is generally compared to a ‘Khadga’ or solitary rhinoceros and called Ekaṣṛṅga Ṛṣi, a selfish solitary Ṛṣi (or saint)” (Theosophical Glossary p. 261).


[Sanskrit, from prati towards, for + eka one + yāna vehicle, path] The path of each one for himself, or the personal vehicle or ego, equivalent to the Pāli pachcheka. Fully self-conscious being cannot ever be achieved by following the path for oneself, but solely by following the amṛta-yāna (immortal vehicle) or the path of self-consciousness in immortality, the spiritual path to a nirvana of high degree, the secret path as taught by the heart doctrine. The pratyekayāna is the pathway of the personality, the vegetative or material path to a nirvana of a low degree, the open path, as taught by the eye doctrine. These two terms describe two kinds of advancement towards more spiritual things, and the two ultimate goals thereof: the amṛtayāna  of the Buddhas of Compassion, and the pratyekayāna  of the Pratyeka Buddhas.

Although advancing steadily in spirituality and upwards towards a lower nirvana, and therefore evolving on a path which is not only not harmful to humanity and others, but in a sense is even passively beneficial, the Pratyeka Buddha, precisely because his thoughts are involved in spiritual freedom and benefits for himself, is really enwrapped in a spiritual selfishness; and hence in the intuitive, albeit popular, consideration of Northern Buddhism is called by such names as the Solitary or the Rhinoceros — applied in contrast to the Buddhas of Compassion, whose entire effort is to merge the individual into the universal, to expand their sympathies to include all that is, to follow the path of immortality (amṛta), which is self-identification without loss of individuality with all that is. When the sacrifice of the lower personal and inferior self, with all its hoard of selfish thought and impulses, for the sake of bringing into full and unfettered activity the ineffable glorious faculties and powers and functions of the higher nature — not for the purpose of selfish personal advancement, but in order to become a helper of all that is — the consequence is that as time passes, the disciple so living and dedicating himself finds himself becoming the very incarnation of his inner divinity. He becomes, as it were, a man-god on earth. This, however, is not the objective, for holding such an objective as the goal to be attained would be in itself a proof that selfishness still abides in the nature. Abstractly, of course, pratyeka-yāna  can be used for sorcerers and the path of the Brothers of the Shadow, but such is not usual. Obviously the path of sorcery is a pratyeka path in the strictly logical sense. The path of the sorcerers is called the left-hand path, the path of darkness or of the shadows, the downward path, and is sometimes described by the term pratyeka-yāna. Actually, the path of the shadows and the path towards the light stretch in opposite directions; yet the ultimate goal of both is a nirvāṇa. The path upwards, whether of the amṛta or of the pratyeka, leads to the nirvāṇa of spirit — the amṛta ultimately being far higher than that of the pratyeka; whereas the downward path of the Brothers of the Shadow leads also to a nirvana, but to enchainment in the avīcinirvāṇa of absolute matter for that hierarchy.


[Sanskrit, from pra forth, forwards + the verbal root vṛt to roll, turn, unfold] Evolution or emanation; the process of unwrapping or unfolding-forth, as of spirit entities into matter or, conversely, of matter-lives back into spirit entities. It is usually restricted to the process by which spirit descends into matter or the passage of the monads down the shadowy arc. See also Nivṛtti

Pravṛtti-mārga [Sanskrit, from pra forth, forwards + the verbal root vṛt to roll, turn, unfold + mārga path] The path of evolution into matter, the way which leads to imbodied existence in the material worlds; the shadowy arc. In Hindu literature it is frequently employed to signify the path of activity in worldly or religious affairs, enabling a person to show what he can do. Such usage is a transference of the original mystical thought to mundane affairs. See also Nivṛtti-mārga (From ETG)


This term means that the human soul did not first come into being or existence with its present birth on earth; in other words, that it preexisted before it was born on earth.

This doctrine of preexistence is by no means typically theosophical, for it likewise was a part of the early teachings of Christianity, as is evidenced in the writings that remain to us of Origen, the great Alexandrian Church Father, and of his school. The theosophical student should be very careful in distinguishing the technical meanings that pertain to several words which in popular and mistaken usage are often employed interchangeably, as for example preexistence, metempsychosis, transmigration, reincarnation, reimbodiment, rebirth, metensomatosis, palingenesis. Each one of these words has a specific meaning typically its own, and describes or sets forth one phase of the destiny of a reimbodying and migrating entity. In popular usage, several of these words are used as synonyms, and this usage is wrong. Preexistence, for instance, does not necessarily signify the transmigration of an entity from plane to plane nor, indeed, does it signify as does reincarnation that a migrating monad reinfleshes or reincarnates itself through its ray on earth. Preexistence signifies only that a soul, be it human or other, preexisted before its birth on earth.

The doctrine of the great Origen, as found in his works that remain to us, was that the human soul preexisted in the spiritual world, or within the influence or range of the divine essence or “God,” before it began a series of reincarnations on earth. It is obvious that Origen’s manner of expressing his views is a more or less faithful but distorted reflection of the teaching of the esoteric philosophy. The teaching of preexistence as outlined by Origen and his school and followers, with others of his mystical quasi-theosophical doctrines, was formally condemned and anathematized at the Home Synod held under Mennas at Constantinople about 543 of the Christian era. Thus passed out of orthodox Christian theology as a “newly discovered heresy” what was a most important and mystical body of teaching of the early centuries of the new Christian religion — to the latter’s great loss, spiritual and intellectual. The doctrines of Origen and his school may be said to have formed an important part of original Christian theosophy, a form of universal theosophy of Christianized character. (See under their respective heads the various correlated doctrines mentioned above.)


(Sanskrit) [from pra away + the verbal root i to go] Gone ahead, departed; the remains in the astral light of the human dead, popularly called spooks or ghosts, and commonly in India signifying evil astral entities. In theosophy, the astral shells of human beings, especially of avaricious and selfish people, and more generally of those who have lived evil lives on earth. Pretas also can be the elementaries reborn as such in the kāma-loka. See also Bhūta

Principles of Man

The seven principles of man are a likeness or rather copy of the seven cosmic principles. They are actually the offspring or reflection of the seven cosmic principles, limited in their action in us by the workings of the law of karma, but running in their origin back into THAT which is beyond: into THAT which is the essence of the universe or the universal — above, beyond, within, to the unmanifest, to the unmanifestable, to that first principle which H. P. Blavatsky enunciates as the leading thought of the wisdom-philosophy of The Secret Doctrine.

These principles of man are reckoned as seven in the philosophy by which the human spiritual and psychical economy has been publicly explained to us in the present age. In other ages these principles or parts of man were differently reckoned — the Christian reckoned them as body, soul, and spirit, generalizing the seven under these three heads.

Some of the Indian thinkers divided man into a basic fourfold entity, others into a fivefold. The Jewish philosophy, as found in the Qabbalah which is the esoteric tradition of the Jews, teaches that man is divided into four parts: neshamah, ruah, nefesh, and guf.

Theosophists for convenience often employ in their current literature a manner of viewing man’s composite constitution which is the dividing of his nature into a trichotomy, meaning a division into three, being spirit, soul, and body, which in this respect is identical with the generalized Christianized theosophical division. Following this trichotomy, man’s three parts, therefore, are: first and highest, the divine spirit or the divine monad of him, which is rooted in the universe, which spirit is linked with the All, being in a highly mystical sense a ray of the All; second, the intermediate part, or the spiritual monad, which in its higher and lower aspects is the spiritual and human souls; then, third, the lowest part of man’s composite constitution, the vital-astral-physical part of him, which is composed of material or quasi-material life-atoms. (See also Ātman, Buddhi, Manas, Kāma, Prāa, Liga-śarīra, Sthūla-śarīra).


(Sanskrit) The broad or extended one, commonly the earth; one of the mahābhūtas of the Saṅkhyā philosophy, or the lowest of the cosmic tattvas (cosmic elements or principles).


(Sanskrit) [from pṛthivī earth + bhūta element] The earth element, the seventh and lowest in the descending scale of the seven cosmic bhūtas of nature. This cosmic element has its corresponding analog in the human physical body, being in either case the general carrier of all the inner or hid substances and principles, whether of the universe or of any manifested entity therein. From the esoteric standpoint the physical universe or pṛthivī-bhūta is not larger in any sense than are the invisible planes or elements of being, but the opposite. The idea behind the term calls attention to the fact that pṛthivī-bhūta appears through its illusory effect upon our senses to be the universe of expanded or extended substances.


(Sanskrit) [from pṛthivī spacious, earth + tattva thatness, reality] The earth principle; the seventh in the descending scale of the seven tattvas.


(Sanskrit) A son of ManuSvayambhuva; the Bhāgavata Purāṇa states: “Priya-vrata being dissatisfied that only half the earth was illuminated at one time by the solar rays, followed the sun seven times round the earth in his own flaming car of equal velocity, like another celestial orb, resolved to turn night into day.” Brahmā stopped him and the ruts which were formed by the motion of his chariot wheels were the seven oceans. Thus the seven continents were made, which may also refer to the seven globes of our planetary chain.

As Priyavrata is one of the sons of Manu the self-generated — the first in serial order of the manus — it is evident that Priyavrata corresponds to one of the first or primordial human races referred to in theosophical literature.


(Greek) [from pro fore + metis counsel] The foreknower, he who knows beforehand, in contrast with his brother Epimetheus (the one who knows after, or when it is too late). Like other symbols, it has its seven keys of interpretation, which not merely reconciles but renders necessary the various versions of the story. Son of the titan Iapetos, Prometheus stole fire from heaven in a hollow tube (narthex) and brought it to mankind, who thereby was enlightened; for this Prometheus was chained by Zeus to a rock on Mt. Caucasus, where an eagle devours his liver by day, the liver being restored by night; until finally he is released by Hercules or Dionysos.

Ovid tells that after Deukalion’s flood, Zeus ordered Prometheus and Athene to create a new race of men out of mud; he made them in the image of the gods with an upright posture, after Epimetheus had succeeded in fashioning only mindless creatures. This represents a stage in the history of the downward arc of evolution, which may be interpreted cosmically, geographically, and in relation to man. It is in one sense the descent of the mānasaputras, agnivāttas, and other Sons of Flame, who endowed the mindless forms with the divine spark; so that Prometheus is Lucifer, Phosphoros, the Light-bringer, the serpent of Eden, etc.

In the antithesis between Zeus (here not the supreme Olympian lord) and Prometheus, is the antagonism between the Hebrew Lord God and the serpent. The so-called disobedience of these fallen angels is an act of spiritual chivalry, in which the divine prerogative of free will is exercised in the spirit of compassion, an old order is superseded, and a new chapter in evolution is begun. In both stories the deity invokes a curse upon the fallen angel and his new humanity; and this curse is fulfilled in the suffering caused by the conflict between the two natures in man thus awakened. Prometheus, who may also be taken as representing humanity, is fastened to a rock representing karmic destiny, while the vultures of new-born knowledge and self-consciousness gnaw at his inner being. But the curse ends in a blessing, and Hercules or Dionysos delivers the Chrestos or immanent Christ, enlightens and raises the neophyte.

The story is in one sense but another version of that of manas between kāma and buddhi. Zeus represents the host of primeval progenitors, pitṛs (fathers) who formed man without mind; and Prometheus symbolizes the host of spiritual creators who “fell” into matter — humanity — to enlighten the latter. The drama of Prometheus is thus still enacted through the ages — but man can rebecome the unfallen titan. Geographical allusions to the locations of the great root-races are seen in the mention of Mt. Caucasus, a name for the far north where the Āryan race, as an instance, was first developed.

Prophecy The power of predicting the future, either by mystic vision or by a knowledge of the laws of cycles. Those prophets who are versed in the latter can predict future cataclysms, racial events, etc., as surely as astronomers can predict eclipses, and astrology insofar as it concerns prediction, comes under this head.


Originally meant one who speaks for another, usually the deity, as in the view of the Hebrews expressed in the Old Testament.


(Latin) see Persephone (Greek)


(Sanskrit) The broad or extended one, commonly the earth; one of the mahā bhūtas of the Saṁkhya philosophy, or the lowest of the cosmic tattvas (cosmic elements or principles).


(Sanskrit)[from pṛthivī earth + bhūta element] The earth element, the seventh and lowest in the descending scale of the seven cosmic bhūta of nature. This cosmic element has its corresponding analog in the human physical body, being in either case the general carrier of all the inner or hid substances and principles, whether of the universe or of any manifested entity therein. From the esoteric standpoint the physical universe or pṛthivī-bhūta is not larger in any sense than are the invisible planes or elements of being, but the opposite. The idea behind the term calls attention to the fact that pṛthivī-bhūta appears through its illusory effect upon our senses to be the universe of expanded or extended substances. See also Bhūta; Element


(Sanskrit) [from pṛthivī spacious, earth + tattva thatness, reality] The earth principle; the seventh in the descending scale of the seven tattvas.


Psychic Powers

The lowest powers of the intermediate or soul-nature in the human being, and we are exercising and using them all the time — yes, and we cannot even control them properly! Men’s emotional thoughts are vagrant, wandering, uncertain, lacking precision, without positive direction, and feebly governed. The average man cannot even keep his emotions and thoughts in the grip of his self-conscious will. His weakest passions lead him astray. It is this part of his nature whence flow his “psychic powers.” It is man’s work to transmute them and to turn them to employment which is good and useful and holy. Indeed, the average man cannot control the ordinary psycho-astral-physical powers that he commonly uses; and when, forsooth, people talk about cultivating occult powers, by which they mean merely psychic powers, it simply shows that through ignorance they know not to what they refer. Their minds are clouded as regards the actual facts. Those who talk so glibly of cultivating occult powers are just the people who cannot be trusted as real guides, for before they themselves can crawl in these mysterious regions of life, they seem to desire to teach other people how to run and to leap. What most people really mean, apparently, when they speak of cultivating occult powers is “I want to get power over other people.” Such individuals are totally unfit to wield occult powers of any kind, for the motive is in most cases purely selfish, and their minds are beclouded and darkened with ignorance.

The so-called psychic powers have the same relation to genuine spiritual powers that baby-talk has to the discourse of a wise philosopher. Before occult powers of any kind can be cultivated safely, man must learn the first lesson of the mystic knowledge, which is to control himself; and all powers that later he gains must be laid on the altar of impersonal service — on the altar of service to mankind.

Psychic powers will come to men as a natural development of their inner faculties, as evolution performs its wonderful work in future ages. New senses, and new organs corresponding to these new senses, both interior and exterior, will come into active functioning in the distant future. But it is perilous both to sanity and to health to attempt to force the development of these prematurely, and unless the training and discipline be done under the watchful and compassionate eye of a genuine occult teacher who knows what he is about. The world even today contains hundreds of thousands of “sensitives” who are the first feeble forerunners of what future evolution will make common in the human race; but these sensitives are usually in a very unfortunate and trying situation, for they themselves misunderstand what is in them, and they are misunderstood by their fellows. (See also Occultism)


This word is ordinarily used to signify in our days, and in the seats of learning in the Occident, a study mostly beclouded with doubts and hypotheses, and often actual guesswork, meaning little more than a kind of mental physiology, practically nothing more than the working of the brain-mind in the lowest astral-psychical apparatus of the human constitution. But in the theosophical philosophy, the word psychology is used to mean something very different and of a far nobler character: we might call it pneumatology, or the science or the study of spirit and its rays, because all the inner faculties and powers of man ultimately spring from his spiritual nature. The term psychology ought really to connote the study of the inner intermediate economy of man, and the interconnection of his principles and elements or centers of energy or force — what the man really is inwardly.

In days of the far bygone past, psychology was indeed what the word signifies: “the science of soul”; and upon this science was securely based the collateral and subordinate science of genuine physiology. Today, however, it is physiology which serves as the basis for psychology because of a mistaken view of man’s constitution. It is a case of hysteron proteron — putting the cart before the horse.



(Sanskrit) ancient, old, an ancient tale or legend. “of ancient times”). A genre of important Hindu, Jain and Buddhist religious texts, notably consisting of narratives of the history of the universe from creation to destruction, genealogies of kings, heroes, sages, and demigods, and descriptions of Hindu cosmology, philosophy, and geography.

Purāṇas usually give prominence to a particular deity, employing an abundance of religious and philosophical concepts. They are usually written in the form of stories related by one person to another. The Purāṇas are available in vernacular translations and are disseminated by Brahmin scholars, who read from them and tell their stories, usually in Kathā sessions (in which a traveling Brahmin settles for a few weeks in a temple and narrates parts of a Purāṇa, usually with a Bhakti [devotional] perspective) From Wikipedia. Read more ...

In India the word is especially used as a term comprehending certain well-known sacred scriptures, which popular and even scholarly authorities ascribe to the poet Vyāsa. The Purāṇas contain the entire body of ancient Indian mythology. They are usually considered to be eighteen in number, and each Purāṇa, to be complete, is supposed to consist of five topics or themes. These five topics or themes are commonly enumerated as follows: (1) the beginnings or “creation” of the universe; (2) its renewals and destructions, or manvantaras and pralayas; (3) the genealogies of the gods, other divine beings, heroes, and patriarchs; (4) the reigns of the various manus; and (5) a resume of the history of the solar and lunar races. Practically none of the Purāṇas as they stand in modern versions contains all these five topics, except perhaps the Viṣnu-Purāṇa, probably the most complete in this sense of the word; and even the Viṣnu-Purāṇa contains a great deal of matter not directly to be classed under these five topics. All the Purāṇas also contain a great deal of symbolical and allegorical writing.

The 18 Hindu Purāṇas known today as the Purāṇas are ancient legends of olden times, written in verse, partly in symbolical and allegorical and partly in quasi-historical language. They are supposed originally to have been composed by Vyāsa, the author of the Mahābhārata.

The invariable form of the Purāṇas is of a dialogue between an exponent or teacher and an inquirer or disciple, interspersed with the dialogues and observations of other individuals. In addition to the Purāṇas there are 18 subordinate Upa-purāṇas. The Purāṇas are popularly classified in India under three categories corresponding to the guṇas sattva, rajas, and tamas. Those in which the quality of sattva (purity) prevails are: the Viṣnu, Naradiya, Bhagavata, Garuḍa, Padma, and Vāraha Purāṇas, also called the Vaiṣnava-Purāṇas. Those in which rajas (passion) are said to prevail, relating chiefly to the god Brahma, are the Brahmā, Brahmānda, Brahma-vaivarta, Markandeya, Bhavishya, and Vāmana Purāṇas. Those in which tamas (inertia) is said to prevail, relating chiefly to the god Śiva, are the Matsya, Kūrma, Liga, Śiva, Skanda, and Agni Purāṇas.

The Purāṇas ingeniously interweave allegory with cosmic facts and far later human events. “Purāṇic astronomy, with all its deliberate concealment and confusion for the purpose of leading the profane off the real track, was shown even by Bentley to be a real science; and those who are versed in the mysteries of Hindu astronomical treatises, will prove that the modern theories of the progressive condensation of nebulae, nebulous stars and sun, with the most minute details about the cyclic progress of asterisms — far more correct than Europeans have even now — for chronological and other purposes, were known in India to perfection.

“If we turn to geology and zoology we find the same. What are all the myths and endless genealogies of the seven Prajāpati and their sons, the seven Ṛṣis or Manus, and of their wives, sons and progeny, but a vast detailed account of the progressive development and evolution of animal creation, one species after the other? . . .”

“ . . . the Purāṇic histories of all those men are those of our Monads, in their various and numberless incarnations on this and other spheres, events perceived by the ‘Śiva eye’ of the ancient Seers, (the ‘third eye’ of our Stanzas and described allegorically. Later on, they were disfigured for Sectarian purposes; mutilated, but still left with a considerable ground-work of truth in them. Nor is the philosophy less profound in such allegories for being so thickly veiled by the overgrowth of fancy” (The Secret Doctrine 2:253, 284). (From ETG)


(Sanskrit) A word meaning “man,” the Ideal Man, like the Qabbalistic Adam Qadmon, the primordial entity of space, containing with and in prakriti or nature all the septenary (or denary) scales of manifested being. More mystically Puruṣa has a number of different significancies. In addition to meaning the Heavenly Man or Ideal Man, it is frequently used for the spiritual man in each individual human being or, indeed, in every self-conscious entity — therefore a term for the spiritual self. Puruṣa also sometimes stands as an interchangeable term with Brahmā, the evolver or “creator.”

Probably the simplest and most inclusive significance of Puruṣa as properly used in the esoteric philosophy is expressed in the paraphrase “the entitative, individual, everlasting divine-spiritual self,” the spiritual monad, whether of a universe or of a solar system, or of an individual entity in manifested life, such as man.

Puryaṣṭaka body

The Puryaṣṭaka body is a body which which, like an image in a glass, creates this universe many times over and over again. Brahman which is without beginning or end and which is the seed of the universe, becoming differentiated, is Jīva; subjecting itself to the idea of separateness, it becomes Ahaṁkāra; with Manana (contemplation), it becomes Manas; with the certainty of intelligence, it becomes Buddhi; then the (five) objects (sound, etc.), through Indriyas (the organs). With the thought of the body, it becomes the body itself; with the thought of a vessel it becomes the vessel itself. A form (or subtle body), having such a nature, is called Puryaṣṭaka body (composed of the eight: Manas, Ahaṁkāra, Buddhi and the five objects of sense, sound, etc). The speedy transformation of the pure knower, or actor, or enjoyer and witness into the Jīva consciousness is called Puryaṣṭaka body. Through the newly engendered Puryaṣṭaka body, dreams upon dreams will pile up and this universe will appear (real) with the many creations of illusion, which, like an image in a glass, creates this universe many times over and over again.”

To which Vasiṣṭha replied: “Brahman which is without beginning or end and which is the seed of the universe, becoming differentiated, is Jīva; subjecting itself to the idea of separateness, it becomes Ahaṁkāra; with Manana (contemplation), it becomes Manas; with the certainty of intelligence, it becomes Buddhi; then the (five) objects (sound, etc.), through Indriyas (the organs). With the thought of the body, it becomes the body itself; with the thought of a vessel it becomes the vessel itself. A form (or subtle body), having such a nature, is called by the wise Puryaṣṭaka body (composed of the eight: Manas, Ahaṁkāra, Buddhi and the five objects of sense, sound, etc). The speedy transformation of the pure knower, or actor, or enjoyer and witness into the Jīva consciousness is called Puryaṣṭaka body. Through the newly engendered Puryaṣṭaka body, dreams upon dreams will pile up and this universe will appear (real) with the many creations of illusion. (From Laghu Yoga Vasishtha 6.5)


(Sanskrit) [from the verbal root puṣ to nourish, feed] The nourisher; a name of the sun, who nourishes and feeds all within his kingdom from his own vital substance and power. As one of the Vedic gods, the surveyor of all things, the conductor on journeys, and the guide on the way to the next world, functions reminiscent of Hermes or Mercury in classical thought.

The Taittirīya-Brahmana says that “when Prajāpati formed living beings, Pūṣan nourished them.” This Pūṣan is “the same mysterious force that nourishes the foetus and unborn babe, by Osmosis, and which is called the ‘atmospheric (or ākāśic) nurse,’ and the ‘father nourisher.’ When the lunar Pitṛs had evolved men, these remained senseless and helpless, and it is ‘Pūṣan who fed primeval man’ ” (TG 265).