Copyright © 1999 by Theosophical University Press. All rights reserved.
EDITORS’ NOTE: This online version of the Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary is a work in progress. The manuscript, originally produced in the 1930s and ’40s, is currently being revised and expanded, and will be updated periodically. Comments, corrections, and suggestions are welcome; please send to email@example.com
For ease of searching, diacritical marks are omitted, with the exception of Hebrew and Sanskrit terms, where after the main head a current transliteration with accents is given.
Quick links: Aa-Adh | Adi-Ag | Ah-Al | Am-Ani | Anj-Arc | Ard-Asr | Ass-Atm | Ato-Az | Ba-Be | Bh-Bo | Br-Bz | Ca-Ce | Cha-Chy | Ci-Cz | Da-Der | Des-Dir | Dis-Dz | Ea-El | Em-Ez | F | Ga-Gl | Gn-Gz | Ha-Hh | Hi-Hz | I | J | Ka | Ke-Kz | La-Li | Lo-Lz | Ma-Mam | Man-Mar | Mas-Me | Mi-Mo | Mp-Mz | Na-Ne | Nf-Nz | O | Pa-Peq | Per-Pi | Pl-Pral | Pram-Prj | Pro-Pz | Q-Rec | Red-Roos | Root-Rz | Sa-Sal | Sam-Saq | Sar-Sec | Sed-Sez | Sh-Sir | Sis-Som | Son-Sq | Sr-Sum | Ta-Tel | Tem-Thn | Tho-Tre | Tri-Tz | U | Va-Vih | Vij-Vz | W-X | Y | Z
ETG Main Page
List of Abbreviations
Sun The central focus of radiating energy, physical and spiritual, of any solar system. In our solar system the sun is one of several suns subordinate to the more central sun of the universal solar system. In the solar cosmos as a whole it is the Logos, the head of the septenary hierarchy of creative forces, corresponding to the Christos, Abraxas, Mithras, Dionysos, etc., in man. Its names among the many peoples of the earth are countless: Osiris, Ormazd, Apollo, Phoebus, Ammon-Ra, Helios, Surya, etc. Symbolized by the circle with a central point, it is for its own system the All-Father. Sun worship, in the occult sense, was once the universal foundation of religion, but it has mostly given place to what is really lunar worship. The sun is often found contrasted with the moon as spiritual is with material; and solar magic means white magic as contrasted with the dark lunar magic. Thus we find deities classed as solar and lunar, or particular deities have both a solar and a lunar aspect. As Father and Son he is seen in Osiris and Horus, atman and buddhi-manas, God and Christos.
Our visible sun, though the center of its system, is not the father of the planets but their “co-uterine brother,” one of the “eight sons of Aditi.” It is not the creator of the fohatic forces, but their radiating focus. Nor is it an incandescent and cooling body; it is nature’s great laboratory of intelligently vital and electromagnetic forces for our system. “The Sun is the heart of the Solar World (System) and its brain is hidden behind the (visible) Sun. From thence, sensation is radiated into every nerve-centre of the great body, and the waves of the life-essence flow into each artery and vein. . . . The planets are its limbs and pulses” (SD 1:541). Physiologically, the sun pulsates life through the solar system, in connection with the 11 and 22 year sunspot phenomena — the solar spots being due to the contraction of the solar heart.
The sun is a vitally electric glowing sphere; what our eyes see is a reflection, the shell of the real sun, which is hidden behind this reflection. Further, the sun is the storehouse of the vital force of the solar system, which is the “Noumenon of Electricity”; it issues forth from the sun as life currents not only for the earth and every organism upon it, but for all the planets of the solar system (SD 1:531). The production of this vital energy will not cease until the end of the solar manvantara when the sun will instantaneously disappear, after certain long-standing premonitory symptoms.
The sun, like each of the planets, is a chain of globes, of which we see only the globe on the fourth cosmic plane — a highly ethereal body composed of the fifth, sixth, and seventh, states of matter (counting upwards) of the fourth cosmic plane.
Regarding the elements which scientists state are present in the sun, because such elements are present in spectroscopic observations, theosophy holds that no element on the earth is missing in the sun, and there are other elements there which are unknown to science, yet which are present in the sun.
In the enumeration of the seven sacred planets the sun is used as a substitute for an esoteric planet.
The enormous importance which the sun assumes in nature is based on its being the spiritual and intellectual head of solar system, as well as the general physical and psychological life-giver.
Sunahsepha (Sanskrit) Śunaḥśepha In ancient Hindu legend, for instance in the Ramayana, the son of the sage Richika, corresponding in some ways with the Hebrew Isaac. His father “sold him for one hundred cows to King Ambarisha, for a sacrifice and ‘burnt offering’ to Varuna, as a substitute for the kings’ son Rohita, devoted by his father to the god. When already stretched on the altar Sunasepha is saved by Rishi Visvamitra, who calls upon his own hundred sons to take the place of victim, and upon their refusal degrades them to the condition of Chandalas. After which the Sage teaches the victim a mantram the repetition of which brings the gods to his rescue; he then adopts Sunasepha for his elder son” (TG 313).
Sun-Force Adopted by Dr. B. W. Richardson (1828-96) from Metcalfe; also called caloric, to designate a universal active life principle. Starting with the generally held theory that nature results from the interaction of matter and force, Metcalfe denied that force is a mere mode of motion or a vibration in a mysterious fluid, and held that this force is itself a semi-material or ethereal agent, acting within the particles of physical matter. It is in its ultimate simply the universal life principle directed and governed by fohat.
In theosophy every body in space, whether nebula, sun, planet, or galaxy, is a focus or organ of universal life; every sun, as an instance, being the channel — having nevertheless an individuality of its own distinct from other similar individualities — through which pour various cosmic forces, combined with the individual jiva of each sun itself. The ancients used to speak of the sun as being seven-rayed — a forecast of the seven rays of the solar spectrum — or even ten- and twelve-rayed, the reference being to the septenary, denary, or duodenary forces pouring from it. See also CALORIC
Sung-ming-shu (Chinese) The Tree of Knowledge and of Life in China. Under this tree religious miracles were formerly stated to be performed by the high priest.
Sun God(s) Sometimes applied to the cosmic logoi, which collectively are not only symbolized, but actually are represented by and through the septenary sun. Deities of masculine character are often called sun gods. Like the sun, a sun god may be on various planes, from that of a Logos to that of the absolute in various subordinate hierarchies. Sun gods in mythology usually slay dragons, as Apollo slays Python, and often have serpents for their emblems, the serpent being dual in aspect — high and low, inner and outer, active and passive, positive and negative, spiritual and material. As in Egyptian mythology, Osiris the sun god manifests as Horus, his own son, who is also a sun god, in similar fashion sun gods are manifested in man and on the lower planes of nature; similar to the Egyptian Osiris we have Adonis, Bacchus, Krishna, Christ, etc., as the sun god or spiritual monad in man; and cosmically we find sun gods on various planes.
Sunspots Astronomers describe the spots appearing upon the photosphere of the sun as irregularly ring-shaped penumbra enclosing a darker central umbra. Although the umbra looks black in comparison with the bright surrounding photosphere, it is actually quite brilliant. The spots have no permanence, either in time or shape: they often arise from combinations of contiguous smaller spots, or from no apparent cause on the sun’s face, within a short period (often about a day). Bridges may form across a spot and thus give shape to two spots. All spots are carried across the sun’s body by the sun’s rotation, very few being found near the equator nor at 45 or more degrees from the equator.
In theosophy the spots are due to the diastolic and systolic movements of the sun — which is the heart as well as the brain of the solar system — in its rhythmic pulsations, by which the life forces of the system are circulated in a period roughly ranging from ten to twelve years, and usually given as being eleven years — the sunspot cycle of astronomy. “Thus, there is a regular circulation of the vital fluid throughout our system, of which the Sun is the heart — the same as the circulation of the blood in the human body — during the manvantaric solar period, or life; the Sun contracting as rhythmically at every return of it, as the human heart does. Only, instead of performing the round in a second or so, it takes the solar blood ten of its years, and a whole year to pass through its auricles and ventricles before it washes the lungs and passes thence to the great veins and arteries of the system.
“ . . . It is similar to the regular and healthy pulsation of the heart, as the life fluid passes through its hollow muscles. Could the human heart be made luminous, and the living and throbbing organ be made visible, so as to have it reflected upon a screen, . . . then every one would see the Sun-spot phenomenon repeated every second — due to its contraction and the rushing of the blood” (SD 1:541-2). The sunspots serve not only as vents for egress and ingress of the steams of lives in constant circulation throughout this solar system, but such solar pulsations are cosmically rhythmic and the well-being of the entire solar system is controlled by the vital and intellectual energies constantly active in and through the sun, and whose functional operations are physically expressed by the appearance and disappearance of the sunspots.
Sun Worship All ancient pantheons contain a deity associated with the sun, so that the reverence and worship paid to the sun was ritually universal even where lunar worship may have predominated. With the Zoroastrians, sun worship was the dominant religious theme although a pantheon of other deities was not excluded.
It was not the visible orb which was worshiped as the solar divinity, but the spiritual power or being within or above the physical sun, which was but its reflection. The lord of the solar system sends its septenary forces and substances to all parts of the solar kingdom, thus binding it into a single organic individual.
Sunyata (Sanskrit) Śūnyatā A void, vacuum, emptiness; the Boundless or Void. In mystical philosophy, especially Mahayana Buddhism, illusory being or existence, the emptiness of cosmic manifestation when compared with the nonmanifest reality. This recognizes that all manifested existence, high or low, on whatever plane, as compared with essential reality is after all illusory deception and therefore relatively false by comparison. Being false and unreal it is therefore empty of essential significance, although possessing a very positive relative reality, so to speak.
In a still more profoundly mystical sense, the word by inversion has come to signify the utter fullness of cosmic reality, which is a seeming emptiness to our imperfect human vision, and yet is the only Real.
The objective idealism which the theosophic philosophy teaches when considering the noumena and phenomena of existence shows a fundamental reality behind these, above and beyond all manifestations whatsoever, as the root and basis of all entities and things, which although relatively unreal in themselves because products merely, or because based on the various prakritis, nevertheless because so based have a relative reality derivative from this basic root. See also FULLNESS; PLEROMA
Suoyatar (Finnish) One of the forces of evil in the Kalevala, who gives birth to the serpent of evil or death by means of her spittle. The origin of all serpents is attributed to Suoyatar. See also HISI
Superastral The Pymander of Hermes speaks of a sea of fire, which is the superastral, the noumenal light, mulaprakriti or undifferentiated matter, the first radiation from the root; afterwards it becomes astral matter (SD 1:75).
There are no absolute separations among the planes of the universe, because all of them, while existing distinctly from each other, on their frontiers blend insensibly with the contiguous planes. Thus the lower portions of the superastral blend insensibly with the higher portions of the astral. Astral in a general sense is equivalent to the cosmic astral light, itself composed of numerous subordinate planes ranging from the spiritual through the ethereal, until the lowest subplanes merge into and become the physical world. Thus the cosmic sea of fire spoken of by ancient mystics and philosophers is another way of speaking of pure spirit and the divine or superspirit; out to spirit and superspirit flows in emanational degrees what becomes through another unfolding the astral light.
Supernatural Beyond or above nature; but, as nature in its esse is space, the Boundless both inner and outer, the term is meaningless. Supernormal fits better the common usage for phenomena beyond the customary range of our experiences or not explainable by what we know of the laws of nature. In theology supernatural implies a separation between divine beings, spiritual beings, or human saints on the one hand, and nature on the other hand, in virtue of which the normal procedure of nature supposedly can be interfered with — a conception which is an absurdity from the standpoint of theosophy. Physical nature surrounding us is actually the least part of universal nature, as it is the invisible inner universes and spheres of being which are causal, and our physical universe merely the garment or effect of the invisible superior parts of universal nature.
Superspiritual Those realms and spheres of the cosmic being and life which are the causal noumena even of the spirit; and hence we may speak of the superspiritual as being the divine, out of which the spiritual flows during the course of cosmic evolution. The spheres of action of the combined forces of evolution and karma are the superspiritual or noumenal, the spiritual, the psychological, the astro-ethereal, the subastral, the vital, and the purely physical. Man in the first round and first root-race on globe D was a highly ethereal being, nonintelligent in our sense, but spiritual, and the offspring of superspiritual monadic essences; and the same rule applied, but less forcibly, in the first root-race of the fourth round.
Supporters The cosmocratores, rectores mundi, Pillars of the World, exemplifying the Scandinavian ases and the planetary spirits of certain Christian mystics. In Hinduism they are the guardian deities of the eight cardinal points, and are called loka-palas.
In theosophy, so far as our own solar universe is concerned, the supporting spiritual powers involved in the carpentry of the universe, referring to the rectors of the planets. Just as a human community is formed by individuals, just so is a solar system formed by the solar chief and the planetary individuals which not only by their life and energies and substances make such solar system, but continuously support it and keep it going as a cosmic individual throughout its entire life term.
Supralapsarians A class of Calvinists who believe that God’s decree of election determined that man should fall, so that by redemption part of the race could be saved. This decree of redemption was made before the Fall, hence supra-laps-arian. See also PREDESTINATION
Supreme Self Pramatman, the summit or hierarch of a cosmic hierarchy. To speak of one ultimate supreme self as infinite and eternal is a logical contradiction, although such paramatamans are virtually infinitely numerous in the frontierless ranges of the Boundless, parabrahman (beyond Brahman), or ’eyn soph (without bounds or limits).
Sura(s) (Sanskrit) Sura-s Used in the Vedas for gods in general, equivalent to devas; originally solar deities, as is shown by the name surya (sun), and correspond in many instances to the manasaputras and agnishvattas of theosophy. Later by the Indian exotericists the suras arbitrarily became asuras (not suras), yet “the ‘Ancestors’ breathed out the first man, as Brahma is explained to have breathed out the Suras (Gods), when they became ‘Asuras’ (from Asu, breath)” (SD 2:86). See also ASURA; MAHASURA
Surabhi (Sanskrit) Surabhi Sweetly-smelling, lovely, charming; a name for the earth, also for the mystical cow of plenty, Kamaduh, one of the 14 precious things yielded by the ocean of milk (space) when churned by the gods to produce the worlds. Among other meanings in all ancient lands, both bull and cow were emblems of the moon and of its manifold generative and productive influences.
Surarani (Sanskrit) Surāraṇi [from sura god, divinity + araṇi the disk in which fire is kindled] The matrix of the gods; applied to Aditi, the mother of the gods. A somewhat similar term, Suravani [from avani the earth, whether as the cosmic element or our grossly material globe] is applied to the earth as the mother of the gods or Aditi. The term sura, equivalent to deva, shows that these beings are in intimate connection with Surya (the sun), and thus are solar entities.
Surasa (Sanskrit) Surasā Sweet, lovely, charming; a daughter of Daksha who became one of Kasyapa’s wives, and was the mother of a thousand multi-headed mystical serpents and dragons.
Surpa (Sanskrit) Śūrpa, Sūrpa A winnowing basket.
Surplus of Life Used in theosophy to express the original processes building the globes of a planetary chain, as well as the living beings forming the hierarchies of the chain. Applying the Christian analogy of the unrolling of a scroll to the manifestation of the globes of a chain, when the first globe (globe A) has come into manifestation, only 1/7th of the scroll has been unrolled or opened out, leaving 6/7ths of the scroll intact or unopened. The surplus of life applies to the 6/7ths still not manifested — which would be globes B, C, D, E, F, and G. After the appearance of globe A, the surplus of life moves down a plane in order to develop globe B, and thus the scroll is opened another seventh, leaving 5/7ths intact; and so the process continues until all the seven globes of the planetary chain have appeared.
The analogy may also be applied to the seven principles composing the human being. Atman is the first principle to be unrolled, the other six principles (buddhi, manas, kama, prana, linga-sarira, and sthula-sarira) remaining infolded or involved. The surplus of life of the human constitution then unrolls another principle to manifest buddhi, the other five still being infolded, and so the process continues until all seven principles are unrolled or emanated.
Surt (Scandinavian) Surtr (Icelandic) [from svartr the black] Also Surtur, Surter. A Norse fire giant, the world-destroyer in the Edda. In the Norse myths Surt will lead the hosts of Muspellsheim (home of fire) at Ragnarok, when the gods depart the realms of life, and the worlds perish in universal conflagration. Surt himself will slay Frey, the bright god, and when all the combatants are slain, Surt will fling his firebrand, and everything animate or inanimate will be plunged into an ocean of fire, and the nine homes will be no more. Surtarlogi (flame of Surt) represents the volcanic and cosmic forces which will cause the destruction of our world when its life is over. The world, universe, or solar system becoming an ocean of cosmic flame or light refers to the ending of a manvantara and the opening of pralaya. The ocean of fire is the passing of matter back into its primordial fiery spiritual nature and the nine homes are the nine or ten cosmic planes, the nine grades or divisions of the cosmic hierarchy.
Surtarbrandr (brand of Surt) is the common word for black jet.
Surukaya (Sanskrit) Surukāya [from svar the sun + kāya robe, vesture] The sun-robe; one of the seven buddhas (sapta-tathagatas), also equivalent to “clothed with the sun.” Likewise a consequence of one phase in the initiatory cycle.
Survival of the Fittest According to Darwin, the most important factor in organic evolution was natural selection, operating on small casual variations in the organisms whose peculiarities were best adapted to their environment would have the best chance of surviving and, their superiority being transmitted to their offspring, the net result would be a survival of the fittest and an elimination of the unfit.
Modern biologists attach much less importance to this principle as a factor in evolution, cite facts which cannot be explained by it, and dispute whether acquired characteristics are transmitted. The general tendency is to attach more importance to hereditary influences than to environment. In any case, environment could produce no effect except in response to an urge arising within the organism itself: the phrase is descriptive of a process and does not stand for an agent. Again, the theory of the survival of the fittest by no means signifies the survival of the best or most evolved.
Surya (Sanskrit) Sūrya The sun, its regent or informing divinity; in the Vedas, the sun god, the most concrete of the solar gods, generally distinguished, at least in name, from Savitri and Aditya. He was regarded as one of the original Vedic triad: Indra or Vayu presiding over the atmosphere; Agni, over the earth; and Surya, over the space of the solar system. In Vedic literature, Surya is also called Loka-chakshuh (eye of the world). He is considered the son of Dyaus, the cosmic spirit — pictured as the spatial extent of cosmic mind — and of Aditi (space). He is represented as moving through the celestial sphere in a chariot drawn by seven ruddy horses or by one horse with seven heads, referring to the seven principles or elements of the solar system, or to his own seven principles as a unit with their seven different logoi or heads; or the former refers to the seven logoi as manifested in the regents of the seven sacred planets, the latter to their common origin from the one cosmic element, often figuratively called fire (SD 1:101).
In later mythology Surya is particularly identified with Savitri as one of the twelve adityas of the sun in the twelve months of the year, and his seven-horsed chariot is described as driven by Aruna (dawn). Surya was represented also as the husband of Sanjna (spiritual consciousness, cosmic or human), and the offspring of Aditi (space), mother of all the gods. One legend represents Surya as crucified on a lathe by Visvakarman — his father-in-law, the creator of gods and men, and their carpenter — and having an eighth part of his rays cut off, which deprives his head of its effulgency, creating round it a dark aureole — “a mystery of the last initiation, and an allegorical representation of it” (TG 313).
Sanjna is the sakti of Surya, just as a human spiritual consciousness or buddhi is the sakti of atman, at once its vehicle, its manifestation, and itself in action. This is the reason the sun is considered the patron, parent, and governor of all the manasaputras, and therefore in a generalized sense the source of mind — sanjna, spiritual intellect or consciousness.
The names of the seven principal rays of the sun are: Sushumna, Harikesa, Visvakarman, Visvatryarchas, Sannaddha, Sarvavsu, and Svaraj. “These seven rays are the entire gamut of the seven occult forces (or gods) of nature, as their respective names well prove. . . . As each stands for one of the creative gods or Forces, it is easy to see how important were the functions of the sun in the eyes of antiquity, and why it was deified by the profane” (TG 315). These principal rays of Surya are from another standpoint the seven solar logoi, each one of the seven having its respective home in the seven sacred planets; equally, there may be said to be twelve rays of the sun, and twelve sacred planets, each one a home or mansion of one of the solar logoi.
Surya is only the appearance on this cosmic plane of the solar heart or central spiritual sun; although in a more mystical sense, Surya, our sun, is one of the reflections of a galactic center, which astronomically is the prototype, albeit far more advanced in cosmic evolution than is the sun itself. The visible reflection of the sun is composed of highly ethereal matter belonging to the fifth, sixth, and seventh substrates of the lowest cosmic plane or prithivi. Within and above all these rise in ever more sublime steps six other cosmic planes, on and in which are the other globes of the solar chain. The sun’s primary essence belongs to the highest division of the seventh state of mother-substance (adi-tattva). This primary sun, of which our visible sun is the reflection, is concealed from the gaze of all but the very highest dhyani-chohans.
Suryamana (Sanskrit) Sūryamāna [from sūrya sun + māna from the verbal root mā to measure] The sun’s measure; the method of reckoning time in which the year consists of 365 days, 15 ghadias, and 31 vighadias. One of several methods of calculating time in India, two others being chandramana (moon measure) and barhaspatysmana (Jupiter measure).
Surya-mandala (Sanskrit) Sūrya-maṇḍala Orb or globe of the sun; the sun’s circle, all included within the frontiers of the sun’s power or range of action, and hence both astronomically and mystically the solar kingdom or solar system. This kingdom is not merely the visible matter, but the entire Brahmanda (solar egg of Brahma) and therefore the solar system in its septenary range from paramatman to sthula-sarira.
Surya-Siddhanta (Sanskrit) Sūrya-Siddhānta A celebrated astronomical and cosmogonical work of ancient India of enormous antiquity. This work shows marvelous mathematical skill and comes very close to the modern time periods of astronomy that the most skilled mathematicians and astronomers have determined. It also deals with yugas in their various lengths, divisions of time itself into infinitesimal quantities, and general astronomical subjects, including not only the time periods of the sun, moon, and planets, but also eclipses, seasons of the year, etc.
The Surya-Siddhanta states that it was dictated more than two million years ago, towards the end of the krita yuga (golden age) by the sun himself, through a projected solar representative, to the great sage Asuramaya who wrote down the revelation. From the commencement of our kali yuga to the end of the satya yuga is 2,164,965 years ago. The Surya-Siddanta was therefore a very late Atlantean work or an early work of the fifth root-race, for though the so-called Aryan or fifth root-race was already nearly 1,728,000 years old at the time of the writing of this work, the race was still in its early periods, and was still practically a part of the Atlantean civilization; hence Asuramaya has been called an Atlantean astronomer. The fifth root-race has been a race sui generis for only about a million years from our present time.
Suryavansa (Sanskrit) Sūryavaṃśa [from sūrya sun + vaṃśa race, lineage] The solar race; the race or lineage whose founder was said to be descended from the sun, just as the origin of the other great lineage, the Chandravansa, was attributed to the moon. The king who founded the suryavansa, Ikshvaku, was the son of Vaivasvata-Manu who sprang from the sun; he reigned at Ayodhya at the beginning of the second or treta yuga. The two branches of the suryavansa were the dynasty of Mithila, founded by a younger son of Ikshvaku, and that of Ayodhya, in which branch the avatara Rama was born, whose exploits are recounted in the Ramayana. The Vishnu-Purana enumerates the members of the Ayodhya dynasty, which amounts to about a hundred rulers. Several Rajput tribes still claim to belong to this race.
Suryavarta (Sanskrit) Sūryāvarta Sun revolution; a degree or stage of samadhi.
Sushumna (Sanskrit) Suṣumṇa, Suṣumna Astronomically, the highest of the seven principal rays or Logoi of the sun, the others being Harikesa, Visvakarman, Visvatryarchas, Sannaddha, Sarvavasu, and Svaraj. These rays “are all mystical, and each has its distinct application in a distinct state of consciousness, for occult purposes. The Sushumna, which, as said in the Nirukta (II, 6), is only to light up the moon, is the ray nevertheless cherished by the initiated Yogis. The totality of the Seven Rays spread through the Solar system constitute, so to say, the physical Upadhi (basis) of the Ether of Science; in which Upadhi, light, heat, electricity, etc., etc., — the forces of orthodox science — correlate to produce their terrestrial effects. As psychic and spiritual effects, they emanate from, and have their origin in, the supra-soar Upadhi, in the ether of the Occultist — or Akasa” (SD 1:515n).
Sushumna (Sanskrit) Suṣumṇā, Suṣumnā [probably from su excellent, excellence, excelling + sumna musical hymn, happiness, joy] Perfect harmony; one of the three channels forming the spinal column of the body. These three channels are the main avenues not only for the psychovital economy of the body, but for spiritual and intellectual currents between the head and the body. In occultism the spinal column plays many physiological roles, but is especially threefold in its functions. The central channel or nadi, the sushumna-nadi, is the especial carrier of the “solar ray,” which comprises not merely physiological forces and attributes, but the spiritual and intellectual qualities and powers. The two other channels are the ida and pingala; exoteric Hindu works vary in regard to the positions of these, some place the pingala on the left and the ida on the right, and others the reverse. The sushumna connects the heart with the brahmarandhra and plays an important part in yoga practices.
Sushupti (Sanskrit) Suṣupti [from su well, good, fine + supti sleep] Fast asleep, deep sleep; the deep sleeping state when human consciousness is plunged into profound self-oblivion, “when the percipient consciousness enters into the purely manasic condition . . .” (OG 72). Sushupti is the third of the four states of consciousness mentioned in yoga philosophy, the others being jagrat, svapna, and turiya.
Sushuptyavastha is the sleeping state or condition.
Suspended Animation Cases of extreme insensibility where the vital activity has temporarily ceased, and the person appears to be dead. Outstanding examples are seen in persons resuscitated from drowning; in cases of those Oriental fakirs who are revived after being buried alive for days or weeks; and in those spiritual adepts who leave their body at will, and consciously go thousands of miles in their mayavi-rupa (thought-body). In the higher degrees of initiation, the trained initiant leaves his protected body while, in his higher nature, he traverses extraterrestrial spheres of existence. The adept comes and goes when the occasion justifies the effort, because his lives of training and aspiration have made him master of his lower nature, and enabled him to live and act in his liberated spiritual principle. These and other states of suspended animation show that the conscious existence of the inner man is not dependent upon his physical body.
Susruta (Sanskrit) Suśruta Very famous; the author of a system of Hindu medicine, with Charaka considered the two leaders of Hindu medicine and medical practice, their work being still held in great esteem. They laid down the system of medicine which some scholars believe Hippocrates followed later.
Sutala (Sanskrit) Sutala [from su good, excellent + tala sphere, place] Good place, i.e., still better for matter; the third counting downwards of the seven talas. Its corresponding loka or pole is janarloka. Sutala is a differentiated state of highly ethereal astral substance, corresponding with sabda (sound) and with the higher manas in man, and therefore with the higher ego; likewise with the Manushya-buddha state, like that of Gautama on earth. Sutala is the abode of the hierarchies of some of the manasaputras, every one in this series of seven talas having its own respective inhabitants; and due to the evolutionary ascents and descents that take place through the ages, there is a more or less continual intercourse between tala and tala.
Sutra (Sanskrit) Sūtra [from siv to sew] A string, thread; the sutras are strings of rules or aphorisms written in serve form, composed in terse and symbolic language with the obvious intention of their being committed to memory. This was a favorite form among the Hindus, as among all ancient peoples, of imbodying and transmitting rules of ancient religious and philosophic thought. There are sutras written upon almost every subject, but the sutras commonly signify those connected with the Vedas, of which there are three kinds: the Kalpa-sutras (rules of ritual); the grihya-sutras (domestic rules) treating of ordinary family rites such as marriage, birth, name-giving, etc.; and the Samayacharika-sutras which treat of customs and temporal duties. The Kalpa-sutras belong to the class of writings called Srutis (heard or revealed); while the other two types of sutras belong to the Smritis (remembered), carried traditionally from generation to generation by word of mouth.
In Buddhist writings, the Sutras are the second division of sacred works, generally known under the equivalent Pali term Suttas.
Sutrantaka (Sanskrit) Sūtrāntaka [from sūtra maxim, precept + anta inner meaning, final meaning] One who follows the inner and spiritual meaning of the Buddhist Sutras or teachings. Everywhere Buddhism predominates, there are two distinct classes of Buddhists: those who adhere closely to the spirit of the Buddha’s original teachings, and those who not only make the teaching popular, but who perhaps also are followers of their letter. These are another phase of the two methods said to have been taught by the Buddha, called the heart doctrine and the eye doctrine: the former was the doctrine of occult wisdom and deep mystery; the latter, containing the same teaching but expressed in such a way as to be more easily understood, was the outer teaching, and came to be called the doctrine of the Buddha’s eye. Likewise these two aspects might be called the doctrine of the spirit, and the doctrine of the intellect. To one who understands both, and coalesces the two into a single unity, full illumination comes regarding the complete content of the archaic wisdom-religion which Gautama Buddha taught.
Sutratma-buddhi (Sanskrit) Sūtrātma-buddhi [from sūtrātman thread-self + buddhi human spiritual soul] The buddhic monad passing from life to life as the thread-self or spiritual thread of self, and hence the spiritual essence of all past incarnations, the higher self in each person. See also BUDDHI
Sutratman (Sanskrit) Sūtrātman [from sūtra thread + ātman self] The thread-self; the golden thread of self-conscious individuality, the stream of egoic self-consciousness, on which all the substance-principles are strung like pearls on a golden chain. It is this sutratman, or stream of egoic consciousness-life, “which is the fundamental Selfhood in all beings, and which, reflected in and through the several intermediate vehicles or veils or sheaths or garments of the invisible constitution of man, or of any other being in which the Monad enshrouds itself, produces the egoic enters of self-conscious existence.
“The Sutratman, therefore, is rooted in the Monad, the monadic essence, but its stream is colored by the individuality of the Reincarnating Ego hitherto sleeping in the bosom of the Monad, which now after Reincarnation is awakened into self-conscious activity; and this ‘colored stream’ working through the appropriate vehicles of man’s inner constitution, in other words, through his mind and through his emotions, his aspirations, his intellect and so forth, produces the individual consciousness which man recognises in himself” (“H. B. P.: The Mystery,” Theosophical Path, October 1930, p. 329). Vedanta philosophy also teaches that atman passes like a thread through the five subtle bodies or kosas, and therefore is called sutratman.
In a more relative sense the sutratman is the egoic pilgrim, the immortal individuality, or that thread of being which animates a person and passes through all the countless personalities which he uses during the course of his manvantara-long evolutionary progress. “In each of us that golden thread of continuous life — periodically broken into active and passive cycles of sensuous existence on Earth, and super-sensuous in Devachan — is from the beginning of our appearance upon this earth. It is the Sutratma, the luminous thread of immortal impersonal monadship, on which our earth lives or evanescent Egos are strung as so many beads . . .” (SD 2:513).
In the latter sense sutratman is a synonym of the reincarnating ego, manas conjoined with buddhi which absorbs the manasic recollections of all and each of our preceding lives. It is so called, because, like the pearls on a thread, so is the long series of human lives strung together on that one thread-stream of self-conscious being. The cosmic sutratman bears the same relation to the universe that ours does to the human constitution, being the cosmic hierarch of a galaxy, solar system, or planetary chain.
Sutta-pitaka (Pali) Sutta-piṭaka [from sutta (Sanskrit sūtra) dialogue, originally a thread + piṭaka basket] The third section of the Buddhist canon (the Tripita or Three Baskets) treating on the dialogs (suttas) of the Buddha and his disciples, especially those in the style of discourses and narratives.
Suttee [from Sanskrit satī faithful wife, one who burns herself on a funeral pyre, either on the same pyre as her husbands corpse or at a distance] The practice of voluntary self-immolation by widows was prohibited by the British in India and finally abolished. When its cessation was first commanded, the Brahmins — who were principally responsible for the continuance of this dreadful custom — maintained that their sacred scriptures approved of the practice, but Orientalists have demonstrated that the texts so cited had been altered. “Professor Wilson was the first to point out the falsification of the text and the change of ‘yonim agre’ into ‘yonim agneh’ [womb of fire] . . . According to the hymns of the ‘Rig-Veda,’ and the Vaidic ceremonial contained in the ‘Grihya-Sutras,’ the wife accompanies the corpse of her husband to the funeral pile, but she is there addressed with a verse taken from the ‘Rig-Veda,’ and ordered to leave her husband, and to return to the world of the living” (Max Muller, Chips from a German Workshop 2:35).
The original Sanskrit of the Rig-Veda, supported by the Commentaries and the ceremonials without variation of text or meaning, is: a rohantu janayo yonim agre, “the wives (or mothers, i.e., women) may first ascend to the sacred place.” These words finally were misread by the Brahmins as: a rohantu janayo yonim agneh, “wives (mothers, women) may or should ascend to the sacred place of fire” i.e., womb of fire — construed as the funeral pyre).
Suttee therefore has been confused by the West as the custom of the burning of widows itself; but the word really means the widow herself who, because of her great virtue in unfailing fidelity to her one husband, prefers to sacrifice her life on the funeral pyre rather than to live on earth alone after his death. The custom is not commanded or even approved by Vedic or other Hindu scriptural authority, but on the contrary is, indirectly if not directly, forbidden. How the custom ever arose is still obscure, but may be ascribed to a mixture of priestcraft and unreasoning sentimental and religious devotion on the part of the ignorant masses.
Suttung, Suttungr (Icelandic) In the Norse Edda, a giant who guards the mead (of experience) in the depths of matter, where the gods must find it and raise it to higher levels. Odin is said to have enlisted the aid of a squirrel or bore to penetrate the mountain in which the mead was hidden, and to have entered through the borehole in the guise of a serpent. Once in, he seduced Suttung’s daughter into giving him a draft of the precious mead.
Symbolically, Odin (the divine consciousness) enters the mountain (material world) with the aid of the squirrel that runs in the Tree of Life (human intelligence) to seek the mead (experience in life). Suttung, the matter giant, represents a cycle or lifetime, and his daughter a subordinate cycle of somewhat less materialistic bent.
Sva (Sanskrit) Sva As a noun, oneself; as an adjective, one’s own.
Svabhava, Swabhava (Sanskrit) Svabhāva [from sva self + bhū to become, grow into] Self-becoming, self-generation, self-growing into something; the unfolding of the self or monadic essence by inner impulse, rather than by merely mechanical activity in nature — self-becoming or self-directed evolution. Each entity is the result of what it is in its own higher nature. “Its Swabhava can bring forth only that which itself is, its essential characteristic, its own inner nature. Swabhava, in short, may be called the essential Individuality of any monad, expressing its own characteristics, qualities, and type, by self-urged evolution. . . . Consequently, each individual Swabhava brings forth and expresses as its own particular vehicles its various swarupas, signifying characteristic bodies or images or forms” (OG 166-7). The essential self, like a sun, sends a ray from itself into manifestation, and the vehicles formed by this ray express its own unique individual essence and path of evolutionary growth and experience. Every entity, in all ranges of its being, reflects its own essential individuality which is stamped on its inmost essence.
A parallel thought is the Stoic spermatikoi logoi (seed-reasons or -causes), “which were the fruits or results, the karmas, of former periods of activity. Having attained a certain stage of evolution or development, or quality, or characteristic, or individuality in the preceding manvantara, when the next period of evolution came, they could produce nothing else but that which they were themselves, their own inner natures, as seeds do. The seed can produce nothing but what it itself is, what is in it; and this is the heart and essence of the doctrine of swabhava” (Fund 149).
Svabhavat, Swabhavat (Sanskrit) Svabhavat [from sva self + the verbal root bhū to become, to be] That which becomes itself, self-existent, self-becoming, that which develops from within outwardly its essential self by emanation or evolution. Svabhavat is the essence of cosmic world-stuff,
“a state or condition of cosmic consciousness-substance, where spirit and matter, which are fundamentally one, no longer are dual as in manifestation, but one: that which is neither manifested matter, nor manifested spirit, alone, but both are the primeval Unity; spiritual Akasa; where matter merges into spirit, and both now being really one, are called ‘Father-Mother’ — spirit-substance. Swabhavat never descends from its own state or condition, or from its own plane, but is the cosmic reservoir of Being, as well as of beings, therefore of consciousness, of intellectual light, of life; and it is the ultimate source of what science . . . calls the ‘energies’ of Nature Universal. . . .
“Swabhava is the characteristic nature, the type-essence, the individuality, of Swabhavat — of any Swabhavat, each such Swabhavat having its own Swabhava. Swabhavat, therefore, is really . . . the plastic essence of matter, both manifest and unmanifest” (OG 167-8).
Svabhavat may be considered as parabrahman-mulaprakriti (superspirit-rootmatter), the one underlying cosmic being or substance, the divine source; the self-existent and, to our as yet undeveloped minds, the great vacuity — mahasunya. It is equivalent to the Northern Buddhist adi-buddhi (primordial buddhi), the Brahmanical akasa, and the Hebrew cosmic waters.
Svabhavika (Sanskrit) Svābhāvika [from svabhāva self-becoming] The Svabhavika school, perhaps the oldest existing school of Buddhism, is one of the principal Buddhist philosophical system and is still prevalent in Nepal. Its teachings are highly mystical, and when properly understood may be said to have remained faithful in large degree to the esoteric teachings of Gautama Buddha. The Svabhavika philosophers teach the becoming or unfolding of the self by inner impulse or evolution of the inherent seeds of individuality lying latent in every monad or jiva.
Like all other profound philosophic systems, the Svabhavika has been subjected to misinterpretation, in this case taking the form of a somewhat materialistic framework of thought. The inner essential teaching, however, is identic with the more spiritual outlook of Mahayana systems of Northern Asia.
Svadha (Sanskrit) Svadhā [from sva self, oneself + the verbal root dhā to place, fix, constitute, sustain, maintain] In Hinduism the essential individuality or individual nature of a being, whether man, god, or other entity; almost a synonym for svabhava, yet signifying the entity’s individuality as manifested through the vehicles which contain it, rather than the intrinsic characteristic of the egoity itself. This is the reason svadha is often used as a name for maya or prakriti as the source of the universe.
In a more restricted sense, svadha is also the sacrificial offering or oblation made to each god, and is thus allegorically represented as a daughter of Daksha and wife of at least one class of the pitris, the agnishvattas and the kumaras. A svadha was therefore considered the highest form of benediction at a sacrifice, the inmost meaning being that one’s own essence is laid on the altar of self-abnegations to the good of all. The inmost self is “placed” or “fixed” in its own vitality, which becomes the carrier, supporter, and maintainer of the inner spiritual power.
Svaha (Sanskrit) Svāhā [from su good, excellent, virtuous + the verbal root ah to speak, say] One of the daughters of Daksha and consort of Agni; also an exclamation used in making oblations to the gods, meaning Hail! May a blessing rest on! or So be it!
Svamin. See SWAMI
Svapna (Sanskrit) Svapna [from the verbal root svap to sleep] The dreaming-sleeping state of consciousness, “the state of consciousness more or less freed from the sheath of the body and partially awake in the astral realms, higher or lower as the case may be” (OG 72).
The second of the four states of consciousness mentioned in Yoga philosophy, the others being jagrat, sushupti, and turiya. Svapnavastha is the dreaming-sleeping state.
Svar, Svah (Sanskrit) Svar, Svaḥ Heaven, the ethery spaces, or the sky, popularly supposed to be the cosmic space between the sun and the polar star, also in the Veda signifying the sun. It is likewise the last of the four sacred words uttered by every orthodox Brahmin when beginning his daily devotions: Om vyahritis, bhur, bhuvas, svar.
Svara (Sanskrit) Svara [from the verbal root svṛ to utter sound] Sound, tone, voice, noise; tone in recitation, a note of the musical scale (seven tones being enumerated: nishada, rishabha, gandhara, shadja, madhyama, dhaivata, panchama). “I am informed by persons competent to judge of the matter, that the Vedas have a distinct dual meaning — one expressed by the literal sense of the words, the other indicated by the metre and the swara (intonation), which are, as it were, the life of the Vedas. . . . Learned Pundits and philologists of course deny that swara has anything to do with philosophy or ancient esoteric doctrines; but the mysterious connection between swara and light is one of its most profound secrets” (Subba Row, Five Years of Theosophy 154).
While this is true enough, it is more important to understand that everything great or small, high or low, has its own keynote of sound, its mathematical number, so to speak. Hence every atom has its own particular characteristic sound or note; and it is possible to control such atom, or any other entity, provided one knows the characteristic sound which mathematically represents such entity. We see here one reason the mysteries of sound have been so carefully guarded, because “control” combined with knowledge would throw wide open the door to black magic of the worst kind, were such knowledge and power to fall into the hands of those morally unfit to possess it. The secret of all mantras, from the standpoint of practical magic, is not so much the words themselves or the letters they hold, although these latter have a certain meaning, but rather the finding of the keynote and chanting it. Rhythm, of course, is of the very essence of harmonic sympathy.
Svaraj (Sanskrit) Svarāj The self-ruling, the self-resplendent; one of the seven principal rays of the sun, “the last or seventh (synthetical) ray of the seven solar rays; the same as Brahma” (TG 315). These seven are really the entire range of the seven occult forces, or divinities, of the solar system; hence the names of these seven rays are names given to them in Hindu semi-occult philosophical literature as Sushumna, Harikesa, Visvakarman, Visvatryarchas, Samnaddhas, Sarvavasu, and Svaraj. Otherwise these seven rays are the seven solar logoi whose functions in the solar system are at once creative — or the intelligent impulses behind cosmic evolution — and supportive of the solar system, in addition to bringing about the various regenerating changes. The seven rays are elaborations of the Hindu Trimurti of Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva. See also SURYA
Svarga (Sanskrit) Svarga In Hindu philosophy, a heavenly abode — also often called Indraloka, or Svarloka, said to be situated on Mount Meru. It corresponds in theosophical writings to devachan.
Svarloka (Sanskrit) Svarloka [from svar heaven + loka world, place] Heaven-world; the fifth counting downwards of the seven lokas. The corresponding tala and nether pole is talatala. Svarloka is also exoterically said to be a paradise situated on Mount Meru, the abode of Brahma and Vishnu, and the Hindu Olympus, “described geographically as ‘passing through the middle of the earth-globe, and protruding on either side.’ On its upper station are the gods, on the nether (or South pole) is the abode of the demons (hells)” (SD 2:404). The sphere of influence of svarloka is said to reach to the pole star. See also JANARLOKA
Svarochisha (Sanskrit) Svārociṣa [from sva self + ruci light, splendor] Self-shining, brilliantly shining from inner power; the name of the second manu.
Svarupa (Sanskrit) Svarūpa [from sva own, characteristic + rūpa form] Characteristic form or body; every hierarchy, considered as an individual, whether it is sun, star, god, man, plant, or atom, under the stress of inherent evolutional urge brings forth its own characteristic individual vehicle or form, its svarupa, in which it encloses or imbodies itself. The svabhava of a sun brings forth is svarupa, a sun-body; the svabhava of a human being brings forth his characteristic svarupa, a human body, and so forth.
Therefore, any jiva or monad of necessity imbodies itself in vehicles or sheaths flowing forth from its own essence or vitality — for it can do nothing else. Such a sheath, vehicle, or body is the svarupa of the indwelling svabhava — character or individuality — of the jiva or monad.
Sva-samvedana (Sanskrit) Sva-saṃvedana Self-examination, self-knowledge; mystically regarded as self-analyzing reflection. The highest and purest form of knowledge, because essentially intuitive knowledge of the spiritual self. Consequently it is synonymous with paramartha. “The condition of Paranishpanna, without Paramartha, the Self-analysing consciousness (Svasamvedana), is no bliss, but simply extinction (for Seven Eternities). Thus, an iron ball placed under the scorching rays of the sun will get heated through, but will not feel or appreciate the warmth, while a man will” (SD 1:53-4).
Svasti (Sanskrit) Svasti Well, happily; a salutation meaning, may it be well with thee! Hail! So be it! Adieu! Amen! Also a noun meaning success, prosperity, fortune, health; a goddess so personified. Any particular auspicious object, supposed to denote good luck, is called svastika, among which is the familiar cross to which this name is given.
Svastika, Swastika (Sanskrit) Svastika An auspicious or lucky object; especially applied to the mystic symbol — a cross with four equal arms, the extremities of which are bent sharply at right angles, all in the same direction — marked upon persons and things in order to denote good luck, although originally the symbol had a far deeper significance. Sometimes the arms are bent to the left, sometimes to the right. The symbol is very widespread, and extremely ancient, engraved on every rock-temple and prehistoric building in India, and wherever Buddhists have flourished, as well as in Greece, among the ancient Scandinavians, and in ancient America. It has been called the Jaina Cross; Fylfot, Mjolnir, or Thor’s Hammer by the Scandinavian peoples; and in the Chaldean Book of Numbers the Worker’s Hammer.
One of the most comprehensive, important, and philosophically scientific symbols, it is a symbolic summary of the whole work of evolution in cosmos and man, from Brahman down to the smallest biological unit. “Few world-symbols are more pregnant with real occult meaning than the Svastika. It is symbolized by the figure 6; for, like that figure, it points in its concrete imagery, as the ideograph of the number does, to the Zenith and the Nadir, to North, South, West, and East; . . . It is the emblem of the activity of Fohat, of the continual revolution of the ‘wheels,’ and of the Four Elements, the ‘Sacred Four,’ in their mystical, and not alone in their cosmical meaning; further its four arms, bent at right angles, are intimately related . . . to the Pythagorean and Hermetic scales. One initiated into the mysteries of the meaning of the Svastika, say the Commentaries, ‘can trace on it, with mathematical precision, the evolution of Kosmos and the whole period of Sandhya.’ Also ‘the relation of the Seen to the Unseen,’ and ‘the first procreation of man and species’ ” (SD 2:587). The bent arms also signify the continual revolution of the invisible cosmos of forces, which on our plane becomes the revolution in time of the world’s axes and their equatorial belts. In alchemy its shows that by the unceasing revolution of the four elements, equilibrium about a stable center is attained, the circle is generated out of straight lines, the complex and changeful nature becomes one. The two crossed lines represent spirit and matter, male and female, positive and negative. It shows man to be a link between heaven and earth, for the horizontal arm having one hook pointing up, the other down. In its applicability to all planes it contains the key to the seven great mysteries of kosmos.
Svastikasana (Sanskrit) Svastikāsana [from svastika the four-footed cross + āsana sitting in a posture] A particular mode of sitting practiced in hatha yoga, in which the toes are placed in the inner hollow of the knees; “the second of the four principal postures of the eighty-four prescribed in Hatha Yoga practices” (TG 315).
Svayambhu, Swayambhuva (Sanskrit) Svayambhū, Svayambhuva Self-generating, self-evolving; in Hindu metaphysics the cosmic primordial beginnings of the solar system from the womb on Aditi, or the spatial Deeps. Less accurately, the Self-existent, or Self-manifesting. A name applied to Brahma, issuing from the still more abstract essence of Brahman, equivalent to universal spirit, not the Boundless or infinitude, but the self-manifesting spiritual essence in the beginnings of its cosmic appearance, which lies at the root of any solar system.
“Each Cosmic Monad is ‘Swayambhuva,’ the self-born, which becomes the Centre of Force, from within which emerges a planetary chain (of which chains there are seven in our system), and whose radiations become again so many Manus Swayambhuva (a generic name, mysterious and meaning far more than appears), each of these becoming, as a Host, the Creator of his own Humanity” (SD 2:311). Thus svayambhu means the primordial or self-evolving monad of a celestial entity, whether solar system or an individual body such as a planetary chain.
Not to be confused with Svayambhuva, a name of the first manu.
Svayambhu-sunyata (Sanskrit) Svayambhū-śūnyatā [from svayambhū self-becoming + śūnyatā void] The self-becoming void of infinitude; in Hindu and Buddhist metaphysics, sunyata means that which is empty or void to human eye or understanding because of feebleness of penetrating vision, but otherwise the absolute fullness of spirit. “Spontaneous self-evolution; self-existence of the real in the unreal, i.e., of the Eternal Sat in the periodical Asat” (TG 315).
Svayambhuva (Sanskrit) Svāyambhuva [from svayambhū self-becoming] The self-becoming one; a name of the first manu.
Svedaja (Sanskrit) Svedaja [from the verbal root svid to sweat, perspire, exude + the verbal root jan to be born] Sweat-born, born by exudation or gemmation; according to theosophy the second root-race reproduced its individuals by what today is called budding or gemmation — a swelling appeared on the outer surface of the body of one of these entities. This swelling then grew in size, and as it grew became constricted near the point of junction with the parent-body, until at length the bond of union became a mere filament, which finally broke, thus freeing the bud, which then grew into another entity in all respects like its parent. This method of reproduction is represented today both in the lower animal and vegetable kingdom and also in certain processes of cell division.
Sveta (Sanskrit) Śveta The white; a word with many applications in Hindu religion and philosophy. Sveta, as son of Kasyapa, was a serpent-dragon or deity connected with the sun.
Sveta-dvipa (Sanskrit) Śveta-dvīpa The white island; the abode of the blessed in the Puranas, also called the abode of Vishnu, Mount Meru, and the island inhabited by the mahayogis. “All the Avatars of Vishnu are said to come originally from the White Island. According to Tibetan tradition the White Island is the only locality which escapes the general fate of other dwipas and can be destroyed by neither fire nor water, for — it is the ‘eternal land’ ” (SD 2:408n).
Sveta-dvipa is connected with the land of the first root-race, the Imperishable Sacred Land, which is around the north pole. Blavatsky calls Greenland and Eastern and Western Siberia, the lotus-leaves of Sveta-dvipa (SD 2:327), the reference being purely geographical. In more restricted sense, Sveta-dvipa is mystically used for Sambhala, the source of the great mahayogis of the human race as a whole, and hence called “the land of the ‘Gods’ under their chiefs the ‘Spirits of this Planet’ ” (SD 2:6). Instances are very numerous in ancient writings of names being used not only for one single person, entity, geographical locality, or thing, but on analogical principles for similar persons, entities, and so forth. See also DVIPA
Sveta-lohita (Sanskrit) Śvetalohita The white and red; a name of Siva “when he appears in the 29th Kalpa as ‘a moon-coloured Kumara’ ” (TG 316).
Svetasvatara Upanishad or Svetasvataropanishad (Sanskrit) Śvetāśvataropaniṣad The very white horse Upanishad; one of the Upanishads of the Yajur-Veda.
Svipdag (Icelandic, Scandinavian) [from svip, svep appearance + dag day] Appearing as day; in Norse mythology, the hero Svipdag seeks the hall of Menglad (Freya) hoping to win her hand. After receiving from his dead mother (his own past) all needful virtues and qualities, he succeeds in reaching the abode of his beloved, only to be stopped at the magic gate by Odin in the guise of Verywise. Here he must satisfactorily answer a number of testing questions before he is finally admitted to the hall of Menglad, who has been eagerly awaiting his arrival. She represents his own divine hamingja (higher self).
Swabhava. See SVABHAVA
Swabhavat. See SVABHAVAT
Swabhavika. See SVABHAVIKA
Swami (Sanskrit) Svāmin An owner, master; occasionally husband; also a spiritual preceptor, a learned Brahmin or pundit. Used as a title of honor at the end of names. In compounds the form svami is used.
Swar. See SVAR
Swara. See SVARA
Swarga. See SVARGA
Swarupa. See SVARUPA
Swastika. See SVASTIKA
Swastikasana. See SVASTIKASANA
Swayambhuva. See SVAYAMBHUVA
Sweat-born Used to describe the method of reproduction of the second root-race in this fourth round when the offspring were born by means of vital droplets issuing from the bodies of individuals. A formative energy-substance was exuded, which changed the drops of vital sweat into greater drops, which grew into ovoid bodies in which the human fetuses gestated for a year or more. See also ROOT-RACE, SECOND
Sybil. See SIBYL
Sydyk. See MELCHIZEDEK; TSADIQ
Sylph The nature sprites or elemental beings inhabiting the element air, defined by Paracelsus for instance as holding a place between immaterial and material beings. “In space there are millions of beings, not literally spiritual, for they have all, like the animalculae [animacula] unseen by the naked eye, certain forms of matter, though matter so delicate, air-drawn, and subtile, that it is, as it were, but a film, a gossamer, that clothes the spirit. . . . Yet, in truth, these races differ most widely . . . some of surpassing wisdom, some of horrible malignity; some hostile as fiends to men, others gentle as messengers between earth and heaven” (Bulwer-Lytton, Zanoni; italics Blavatsky’s).
Of the four classes of elementals, the sylphs are the most dangerous because of their affinity to mankind in his present evolutionary stage.
Synagog, Synagogue [from synagoge an assembly; translation of Hebrew khenesheth, Aramaic khenash a congregation] Originally a gathering of Jews for worship or religious instruction, but later applied to the building in which the gatherings were held. As a characteristic Jewish institution, the synagog rose to prominence after the reforms instituted by Ezra, for the gatherings were the means whereby the populace received instruction, especially in the reading of the law on every Sabbath. The rites on Sabbath morning as outlined in the Mishnah consisted of readings from the Old Testament (particularly from Deuteronomy and Numbers), followed by prayer, then the lessons from the law and the prophets, a sermon thereon, and finally the blessing.
The building was generally, in accordance with ancient mystery-habits, situated near a body of water and orientated from north to south, the synagog having three doors to the south; the interior was divided by columns into a nave and two aisles.
Synodial Months [from Greek syn together + hodos path] Also synodical, synodal. The month which is measured by the successive conjunctions of the sun and moon as seen from the earth, i.e., from one new moon to the next, the average time of which is 29.5306 days. Sometimes called a lunar month to distinguish it from a solar month which is one twelfth of a year. The number of synodical months in any period is equal to the difference between the number of revolutions of the moon and the number of years in that period.
Synya. See SUNYATA
Syzygy [from Greek syzygia conjunction] Used in reference to the geocentric conjunction of the Sun, Moon, Venus, and Mercury, or some of them, the occurrence being especially favorable for certain initiations, particularly at the time of the winter solstice, because at such periods the influences of these bodies cooperate in producing the necessary occult natural conditions. Astronomically syzygy refers to the union in a more or less straight line as seen from the earth, of any two or more bodies with the earth.
In quite a difference sense, a Gnostic term in connection with the aeons, meaning a couple: one being an active potency, the other passive.
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
BCW - H. P. Blavatsky: Collected Writings
BG - Bhagavad-Gita
BP - Bhagavata Purana
cf - confer
ChU - Chandogya Upanishad
Dial, Dialogues - The Dialogues of G. de Purucker, ed. A. L. Conger
Echoes - Echoes of the Orient, by William Q. Judge (comp. Dara Eklund)
ET - The Esoteric Tradition, by G. de Purucker
FSO - Fountain-Source of Occultism, by G. de Purucker
Fund - Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, by G. de Purucker
IU - Isis Unveiled, by H. P. Blavatsky
MB - Mahabharata
MIE - Man in Evolution, by G. de Purucker
ML - The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, ed. A. Trevor Barker
OG - Occult Glossary, by G. de Purucker
Rev - Revelations
RV - Rig Veda
SD - The Secret Doctrine, by H. P. Blavatsky
SOPh - Studies in Occult Philosophy, by G. de Purucker
TBL - Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge (Secret Doctrine Commentary), by H. P. Blavatsky
TG - Theosophical Glossary, by H. P. Blavatsky
Theos - The Theosophist (magazine)
VP - Vishnu Purana
VS - The Voice of the Silence, by H. P. Blavatsky
WG - Working Glossary, by William Q. Judge
ZA - Zend-Avesta
Theosophical Society Homepage