THEOSOPHY, Vol. 43, No. 11, September, 1955
(Pages 500-506; Size: 20K)


HOWEVER unfamiliar, as yet, to the West, the freely used Sanskrit nomenclature of Theosophy -- the universal Wisdom-Religion -- contains for developing Aryan minds immense stores of intelligible truth. Within the terms used is said to be conveyed the hidden meaning, the undisclosed veda. This meaning the student is encouraged to get at, if he would apprehend the doctrine along its esoteric lines. For it is often declared that man epitomizes the universe in little, he copies the whole down to its finest detail, hence he will know himself in measure as he knows cosmic evolution. In this sense the greater will evidently contain the lesser, and "cosmic" Sanskrit thus embraces ideas which, when found, make for human progress.

One such term is Pradhana. Pradhana is defined as undifferentiated Substance. Manifestly it is a great deal more than the words imply, for it is called also Akasha, Alaya, and is even identified with Mulaprakriti -- all of which stand for the "root of Nature and Life." Pradhana or matter unmodified is "the first form of material nature (prakriti), as well as invisible nature. It and Purusha, spirit, are eternally one. They are without adventitious qualities or attributes only during Pralaya, and when beyond any of the planes of consciousness of existence." Vishnu Purana further states that "from Pradhana, primordial substance, presided over by embodied spirit (Kshetrajna) proceeds the evolution of ... qualities. From the great Principle Mahat (Universal Intellect, or mind) proceeds the origin of the subtle elements and from these the organs of sense."

The "qualities" are the Trigunas, the three divisions of the inherent attributes of differentiated matter, or nature. Prakriti is nature in general, as opposed to Purusha, the spiritual nature or spirit. Together the two -- Prakriti and Purusha -- are the "primeval aspects of the One Unknown Deity." Purusha is the basis of all manifested objects. Without it nothing could exist or cohere. It interpenetrates everything everywhere. It is the reality of which, or upon which, those things called real by us are mere images. As Purusha reaches to and embraces all beings, they are all connected together, and in or on that plane where that Purusha is, there is a perfect consciousness of every act, thought, object, and circumstance, whether supposed to occur there, or on this plane, or any other. In the Sankhya philosophy, Purusha, spirit, is spoken of as something impotent unless he mounts on the shoulders of Prakriti, matter, which left alone, is -- senseless. But in the secret philosophy the two are viewed as graduated. Though co-eternal and co-existent, one and the same in origin, Spirit and Matter, when once they are on the plane of differentiation, begin each of them their evolutionary progress in contrary directions -- Spirit falling gradually into matter, and the latter ascending to its original condition, that of a pure spiritual substance. Both are inseparable, yet ever separated. In polarity, on the physical plane, two like poles will always repel each other, while the negative and the positive are mutually attracted; so do Spirit and Matter stand to each other -- the two poles of the same homogeneous substance, the root-principle of the universe.

Yet Prakriti is ever called Maya, illusion, and is doomed to disappear with the rest, the gods included, at the hour of the Pralaya. The esoteric doctrine teaches that while Mulaprakriti, the noumenon, is self-existing and without any origin -- is, in short, parentless (Anupadaka) -- Prakriti, its phenomenon, is periodical and no better than a phantasm of the former. Thus the assertion: "There is a difference between manifested and unmanifested matter, between Pradhana, the beginningless and endless cause, and Prakriti, or the manifested effect." Pradhana is the noumenon of the seven-fold differentiated Prakriti. But in their origin Spirit and Matter, or Purusha and Prakriti, are but two primeval aspects of the One and Secondless. Matter or substance is septenary within our world, as it is so beyond it. Moreover, each of its states is graduated into seven degrees of density. "In the beginning were the seven forms of Prakriti reckoned from Mahat to earth. So at Pralaya these seven successively re-enter into each other. The primary Element, Consciousness, combined with tamasa (spiritual darkness) is itself disintegrated by Mahat. Prakriti and Purusha both finally resolve into Supreme Spirit...."

Mahat is the "creator." It is the first principle of Universal Intelligence and Consciousness, and means literally "the great one." Mahat is the producer of Manas the thinking principle, and of Ahankara, egotism or the feeling of "I am I" (in the lower manas). Mahat is said to be the first production of Pradhana, and is that "Universal Intelligence whose characteristic property is Buddhi." He is the "first-born" or the Logos, of whom the Puranas tell us that "Mahat and matter are the inner and outer boundaries of the Universe," or, in our language, the negative and positive poles of dual nature (abstract and concrete) . He is, in short, the "creator" or the divine mind in creative operation, "the cause of all things." He is the "Son" of the ever-immaculate "Mother" on the plane of Cause, and becomes the "Father" on the lower manifested plane. Mahat is cosmic ideation, the Universal World Soul, the basis of the intelligent operations in and of Nature. The occultists would say that the awakened Mahat is the Universal Mind already projected into the phenomenal world, as the first aspect of the changeless ABSOLUTE. The esoteric doctrine teaches also that the Dhyan Chohans are the collective aggregate of divine Intelligence or primordial mind.

Thus Mahat is Cosmic Ideation, the Divine Thought, the Universal Mind in operation. Fohat, the dynamic energy of Cosmic Ideation, is the "child" of Mahat, as also is Manas in man. Fohat is thus in turn the guiding power of all manifestation, the "Thought Divine" (Mahat) transmitted and made manifest through the Dhyan Chohans, the architects of the visible world -- the "bridge" and link between Mind and Matter (Prakriti). The matter-moving Nous, the animating Soul, immanent in every atom, manifested in man, latent in the stone, has different degrees of power; and this pantheistic idea of a general Spirit-Soul pervading all Nature is the oldest of all the philosophical notions. It is, as said, the producer of Manas the thinking principle, and of Ahankara, egotism or the feeling of "I am I," self-consciousness or self-identity.

Ahankara is also universal Self-consciousness and has a triple aspect, as has Manas. This concept of "I," or one's Ego, is either Satva, "pure quietude," or appears as Rajas, "active," or remains Tamas, "stagnant," in darkness. It belongs to heaven and earth, and assumes the properties of either. These three great qualities, properties, or aspects of Nature in the active condition are also known under the names of Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva. "The fact is, that all the three 'persons' of the Trimurti are simply three qualificative gunas or attributes of the universe of differentiated Spirit-Matter; the self-formative, self-preserving, and self-destroying, for purposes of regeneration and perfectibility. This is the correct meaning."

Siva is described as a god of the first order, in the Hindu Pantheon; his character of Destroyer being higher than Vishnu, the Preserver, as he destroys only to regenerate on a higher plane. Siva is thus synonymous with Tamas. He is born as Rudra, the Kumara, and is the patron of all the Yogis, being called as such Maha-Yogi, the great ascetic. Vishnu is the embodied Satvaguna, the property of preservation arising from quietude and restful enjoyment, which characterizes the intermediate period between full grown and the beginning of decay; while Siva, being embodied Tamoguna, which is the attribute of stagnation and final decay, becomes of course the destroyer. This is as highly philosophical under its mask of anthropomorphism, as it is unphilosophical and absurd to hold and enforce on the world the dead letter of the original conception. As the Padma Purana has it: "In the beginning the great Vishnu, desirous of creating the whole world, became threefold (Pradhana, or Nature, following Pralaya), creator, preserver, destroyer. In order to produce the world, the Supreme Spirit emanated from the right side of his body, himself, as Brahma. Then, in order to preserve the world he produced from the left side of his body Vishnu. And in order to destroy the world he produced from the middle of his body the eternal Siva. Some worship Brahma, some Vishnu, others Siva; but Vishnu, one yet threefold, creates, preserves, and destroys. Therefore let the pious make no difference between the three."

The word Vishnu is from the root vish, "to pervade"; thus his universal character. In the Rig Veda, Vishnu is no high god, but simply a manifestation of solar energy, described as "striding through the seven regions of the Universe in three steps and enveloping all things with the dust (of his beams)." Whatever may be the six other occult significances of the statement, this is related to the same class of types as the seven and ten Sephiroth, and the seven and three orifices of the perfect Adam Kadmon, as the seven "principles" and the higher triad in man, etc. Later on this mystic type becomes a great god, the preserver and the renovator, he "of a thousand names -- Sahasranama."

Brahma is made the personified embodiment of Rajoguna, the attribute or quality of activity, of desire for procreation, that desire owing to which the universe and everything in it is called into being. Brahma the "Creator" is, as a term, derived from the root brih, to increase or expand. Brahma (Mahat?) "expands" and becomes the Universe woven out of his own substance (Prakriti?). As "the germ of the unknown Darkness," Brahma is the material from which all evolves and develops "as the web from the spider, as foam from the water," etc.

The student must distinguish between Brahma the neuter, or Brahman, SAT; and Brahmâ the male creator of the Hindu Pantheon. The former (Brahman) is the impersonal and uncognizable Principle of the Universe from the essence of which all emanates, and into which all returns, which is incorporeal, immaterial, unborn, eternal, beginningless and endless. It is all-pervading, animating the highest god as well as the smallest mineral atom. Likewise it is taught that both Purusha and Pradhana are immutable and unconsumable in eternity; during Mayavic (manvantaric, active) periods both may be referred to as that which can expand, pass away and disappear, and is "modifiable." The principle Mahat, esoteric philosophy explains as "the manifested Omniscience" -- the first Cosmic aspect of Parabrahm or the esoteric SAT, the Universal Soul, at the root of SELF-Consciousness. The "Triad of Nature" is thus seen to be both periodical and eternal. It is "the root and the flower."

SAT, absolute self-existing Being, develops in itself self-consciousness (Ahankara); instinctive Being (or LIFE) becomes THOUGHT, or Reason reflecting its own nature -- the internal Word or Logos which says, "I am Brahm or the Self-existence." From the self-conscious Thought contemplating its own eternal Being, from the eternal Being developing into perpetual self-consciousness, Thought, or Reason, is an eternal breathing forth of Ananda, Joy, or Love, and these three are in one Knowledge or SOLIDARITY (Jnana). Expressed in more modern Secret Doctrine language the foregoing would be phrased: Manvantaric impulse (consciousness) commences with the reawakening of Cosmic Ideation (Thought, Mahat) concurrently with, and parallel to the primary emergence of Cosmic Substance (Prakriti) -- the latter being the manvantaric vehicle of the former -- from its undifferentiated pralayic state. Then, absolute wisdom (SAT) mirrors itself in its Ideation; which, by a transcendental process, superior to and incomprehensible by human consciousness, results in Cosmic Energy (Breath). Thrilling through the bosom of inert Substance, Cosmic Energy (Fohat) impels it to activity, and guides its primary differentiations on all the seven planes of Cosmic Consciousness.

The Universe, including the visible and the invisible, the essential nature of which is compounded of purity, action, and rest, and which consists of the elements and the organs of action, exists for the sake of the soul's experience. Hence (says Krishna, addressing Arjuna), "there are three gunas or qualities arising from Nature. They are Satva, truth, Rajas, passion, and Tamas, darkness, and each of them confineth the incorruptible spirit in the body." Satva is the name given among occult students of the Aryasanga School to the dual Monad or Atma-Buddhi, and Atma-Buddhi on this plane corresponds to Parabrahm and Mulaprakriti on the higher plane. The "Root" (of Nature) means pure knowledge (Satva), eternal unconditioned reality or SAT, whether we call it Parabrahm or Mulaprakriti, for these are the two aspects of the ONE. On the manifested plane also "Satva is the characteristic of spirit; spirit indeed still in antithesis to body and soul (the other two aspects of the triad, correlating with Rajas and Tamas), to matter and life; therefore, though bright, luminous, and glorious, still partaking of distinction, and bound in the chains of individuality and limitation."

Makunda Raja, in his relation of the order of creation, says: "Know the three-fold or self-consciousness (Ahankara) to be the Satvika, or self-consciousness of truth or goodness; the Rajasa, or self-consciousness of passion, and the Tamasa or self-consciousness of darkness; in each of which respectively a power or energy peculiar to it appears radiantly developed. In the self-consciousness of truth or goodness, is the power or energy of knowledge or wisdom (Purusha); in the self-consciousness of passion resideth the power or energy of action (Brahma); in the self-consciousness of darkness existeth incessantly the power or energy of substance or matter (Siva)."

The Tamas quality is the great characteristic of brute matter. It is insensibility, opacity, cold obstruction, immovability; in morals the sluggish, material, brutish tendency. In its highest form of organic development it does not go beyond the mere animal life and region of the sense. Rajas is the characteristic of moral life, or soul. The cold obstruction and insensibility of Tamas are wakened into pangs of painful movement; the sensational has struggled into the emotional; sentiment has supplanted sense and blind impulse. But Tamas too partakes of good. It contains within itself potentially both the Rajas and the Satva, which only require to be evolved from it. It is the necessary basis without which they could have no place. The problem to be solved in greater or less degree by every human soul, is, how shall the Tamas be changed into the Satva, or penetrated and ruled by it? How shall matter (Prakriti) reascend and become spirit (Purusha) -- how shall the gross darkness and stolid stupidity of the three or the animal be illuminated into self-consciousness, reflection, reason, knowledge; the brute self-concentration be kindled into universal sympathy and love; the blind instinct and coarse desires of the brutish nature be sublimed into the eternal conscious principles, self-renunciation, and pure ideality of the divine life?

This can be accomplished only in one way, and that way lies through Rajas (action, Mind) -- the life of passion, the life of suffering. The result of every passion of our nature, even love, nay, of love more than of all others, is suffering and sorrow. The first awakening of unconscious matter into the consciousness of mere animal life is through physical pain; and the process is carried still further by the mental suffering which is the very nature of the soul's emotional life. Through the anguish of the fire alone can the black coal of the mine become transmuted into light. And so the sorrow and anguish, which result inevitably from the passions in the Rajas, or emotional life, constitute the purifying fire designed to purge away the dross of the titanic (bestial) nature, and transmute it into pure Satva, where purity, goodness, and truth are predominant. Brute appetite and blind impulse are first superseded by passion. Passion working, through sorrow and the reflexion and sympathy which sorrow begets, its own extinction, finally merges in and is swallowed up in love and absolute resignation. The feeling soul compelled by suffering into a profounder self-consciousness and reflection, passion has risen into reason and knowledge. Self-knowledge, reasoning outward, progresses into universal sympathy. The life of emotion reaches the consummation, and all other passions expire in giving birth to an eternal sentiment of justice and love, which are ultimately one.

Beyond the isolated Satva quality, it is taught, is a sphere called pure Satva, which must be considered to denote essentia pura, pure Being, pure Truth, pure Goodness -- viewed as one simple Essence. It is attained when all isolation is renounced, when Satva, re-entering predominant into the Rajas and Tamas, and penetrating them with its influence, all three isolated rays coalesce into pure universal light and a consciousness of divine re-union. When man becomes a God -- when the plastic, and the emotional, and the ideal become absolutely ONE, and there is, properly speaking neither Matter, nor Spirit, nor Soul, but something which is all and yet none of these, it is called constant or eternal Life. Or, if you will, it is called the true Hindu trinity in unity -- Satchitananda, "Solidarity of Being, Thought, and Joy."

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(1) NOTE.--Collated from Theosophical sources.
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