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 | Sun-Sz | Ta-Tel | Tem-Thn | Tho-Tre | Tri-Tz | U | Va-Vih | W-X | Y | Z
ETG Main Page
List of Abbreviations
Vijnana (Sanskrit) Vinnana (Pali) Vijñāna, Viññāṇa [from vi-jñā to know exactly, perceive clearly from the verbal root jñā to know] Mental powers; the perfect knowledge of every perceptible thing and of all objects in their concatenation and unity; the faculty of the higher manas. The tenth nidana or causes of existence; and the fifth skandha, “an amplification of the fourth — meaning the mental, physical and moral predispositions” (ML 111).
Vijnanamaya-kosa (Sanskrit) Vijñānamaya-kośa [from vijñāna intelligence, understanding, discernment + maya built of, formed of, illusory manifestation from the verbal root mā to measure, form + kośa sheath] The sheath formed of knowledge or discernment, the manasaputric soul. According to Vedantic classification of the human principles, the second of the panchakosa (five sheaths) which enwrap the divine monad or atman. This sheath corresponds to the higher manas.
Vikara (Sanskrit) Vikāra [from vi change + the verbal root kṛ to act, make] A change of form or nature, an alteration or deviation from any natural state. A change from the naturally quiescent and peaceful condition of the inner being to a worse state, thus signifying deterioration; hence, mental or other perturbation, emotion, or passionate feeling. In the Sankhya philosophy, vikara is a result or evolution of an entity from its source or prakriti. Thus, we have as the originants or sources one or other of the various prakritis, and then the vikara derivative from the former. On a cosmic scale, then, the manifested universe is a vikara in all its quasi-infinity of details from the originant seven or ten cosmic prakritis.
Vikartana (Sanskrit) Vikartana [from vi asunder + the verbal root kṛt to cut, divide] The one cutting asunder or dividing; a title of the sun as the divider or distributor of solar life, and in a more restricted sense the sun as conqueror of Rahu, the Dragon’s head (an eclipse). When taken in a passive sense, it signifies the sun when “shorn of his rays,” and hence a name given to an initiated neophyte in a certain stage of his spiritual training, when he is laid on the cross and must make the supreme conquest of the dragon or the influence of the moon.
Vikshepa (Sanskrit) Vikṣepa [from vi away, apart + kṣip to throw] The act of throwing away; dispersion, scattering; sometimes used as the opposite of samyama (contemplation or meditation) which collects or controls the activities and vagaries of the mind and rises above them; hence consequent bewilderment or perplexity bringing agitation.
In Vedantic philosophy, the projecting power of maya or avidya, the mental activity which brings upon the mirror of the soul enveloping illusions producing the apparently real appearance of an external world.
Vili, Vile (Icelandic, Scandinavian) Will, wish, desire; in Norse mythology, one of Odin’s two brother-creators. Together these three bring worlds into being at the beginning of a life cycle. The idea is reminiscent of that in the Rig-Veda: “Desire first arose in It,” when worlds were to emanate from the divine source of life.
In the Eddas, Odin (spirit), Vili (will), and Vi (sanctity or awe) are born from Bore and Bestla, the karmic residue carried over from the preceding world cycle. The present universe is thus the direct result of its predecessor. The triune creative deity slays the frostgiant Ymir and from his latent (frozen) body form the matter of worlds-to-be.
Vimana (Sanskrit) Vimāna A car or chariot of the gods, capable of traveling through the air. While Indian mythology speaks of the devas or gods as possessing rapid self-moving chariots or vehicles with which they traverse space, gods was often used by ancient Indians for their highly intellectual, extremely scientific forefathers of now forgotten antiquity. Thus, the vimanas which were used by the Atlanteans are spoken of as being self-moving and carrying their occupants through the air (cf SD 2:427-8).
In the Ramayana, aerial vehicles are also mentioned as being used by the rakshasas of Lanka (Ceylon); and Ravana’s vimana was called Pushpaka.
Vimoksha (Sanskrit) Vimokṣa Final emancipation, liberation; nirvana.
Vina (Sanskrit) Vīṇā An ancient musical instrument of the guitar family, still in use in India. Although generally termed a lute, its construction is quite different, having two gourds for its sounding boards rather than the single one used in the lute and modern musical instruments. In playing the vina, the performer places one gourd on the shoulder and the other on the hip. It usually has seven strings, and a long finger board containing 19 and occasionally 21 frets or supports. There are many varieties classed according to the number of strings. Its invention is attributed to Narada, one of the seven great rishis.
Vinata (Sanskrit) Vinatā A daughter of Daksha, and the consort of Kasyapa; hence one of the creators of our world. She brought forth an egg from which was born Garuda, the vehicle of Vishnu and, in our world, the symbol of the earth’s greatest time cycle.
Vinaya (Sanskrit) Vinaya [from vi-nī to lead towards, instruct, educate] Education, discipline, control; in Buddhism, the rules of discipline, with special application to monks.
Vinaya-pitaka (Sanskrit) Vinaya-piṭaka [from vinaya discipline + piṭaka basket] The second section of the Buddhist canon treating of the training and discipline of monks; Tripitaka (three baskets) is the name given to the Buddhist canon.
Vine A symbol of inspiration and of spiritual fertility, both as a tree with many branches and as the producer of grapes and wine. It was sacred to Dionysus-Bacchus when that god and his wine stood for spiritual inspiration and when the only kind of inspiration was artificial stimulation of the lower vital centers. It occurs frequently in the Old Testament, and in John (15:1, 5) we read: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandmen . . . I am the vine, ye are the branches.” Osiris-Isis is said to have taught humanity the use of the vine, music, astronomy, and geometry, as well as other sciences and arts.
Much could be said about the vine and the juice — fresh or fermented — of its fruit. Ancient peoples selected certain animals or plants as emblems of spiritual and mystical facts. Thus with the Mediterranean peoples the juice of grapes was chosen as an emblem of inspiration.
Vinnana. See VIJNANA
Viprachitti (Sanskrit) Vipracitti [from vi-pra-cit to distinguish through meditation from the verbal root cit to think] The chief of the danavas or Hindu titans, giants said to have warred against the gods.
Virabhadra (Sanskrit) Vīrabhadra Heroically beneficent or benevolent; an avatara of Siva, the patron of occult study and achievement. Ancient Indian myth represents him as a monster to human vision, being a thousand-headed and thousand-armed entity born of the breath of Siva-Rudra — Siva under his form of Rudra, and therefore the great destroyer because regenerator. In the Mahabharata, Siva commissions this entity “to destroy the sacrifice prepared by Daksha. Then Virabhadra, ‘abiding in the region of the ghosts (ethereal men). . . . created from the pores of the skin (Romakupas), powerful Raumas, (or Raumyas)’ ” (SD 2:182-3). This allegory refers in human history to the evolution of the “sweat-born” or second root-race and the destruction of the remnants of the first root-race.
Cosmically Siva-Rudra is the active force of mahat (cosmic mind), both regenerative and destructive; and following the same line of thought Virabhadra in his human application has reference to the incessant effort of the manasaputras to break forth through the veils of maya to bring mind to the mentally somnolent or imperfectly awakened earliest human races. Hence, the reference to Virabhadra as thousand-headed, -eyed, or -armed may likewise be applied to mind — for mind is not only all seeing but all performing and all wise.
Viracocha (Peruvian) Foam of the sea; the supreme being or cosmic hierarch of the ancient Peruvians. It brings to mind Venus and other divinities mythologically alleged to have been born of the sea foam or of the waters of cosmic space.
Viraga (Sanskrit) Virāga [from vi without + rāga passion, desire, color] Absence of desire, indifference to pleasure and pain.
Viraj (Sanskrit) Virāj Sovereign, splendid; in Hindu mythology, the son of Brahma who on analogical lines becomes Manu. In the Laws of Manu Brahma divides his body into male and female parts and in the female part (Vach) creates Viraj, who is also Brahma, the type of all male beings, as Vach is the type of female beings. “Manu declares himself created by Viraj, or Vaiswanara, (the Spirit of Humanity), which means that his Monad emanates from the never resting Principle in the beginning of every new Cosmic activity: that Logos or Universal Monad (collective Elohim) that radiates from within himself all those Cosmic Monads that become the centres of activity — progenitors of the numberless Solar systems as well as of the yet undifferentiated human monads of planetary chains as well as of every being thereon” (SD 2:311). A verse in the Rig-Veda (10:205) has Viraj spring from Purusha, and Purusha spring from Viraj.
Viraj is comparable in some aspects to the Egyptian Horus and equivalent to the Third Logos.
Viraja-loka. See VAIRAJA-LOKA
Virasvamin (Sanskrit) Vīrasvāmin The father of Medhatithi, the author of the Manubhashya, the commentary on the Laws of Manu.
Virgin In ancient mystic philosophy the feminine potency of nature as well as cosmic space which is often referred to as the immaculate celestial virgin (cosmogonically undifferentiated cosmic matter, alaya, mahabuddhi, etc.), or the astral light which is sometimes called the celestial virgin. Again, it refers to the numerous Queens of Heaven, such as Isis, Moon, Ashtoreth, Nuah (the Chaldean feminine Noah considered as one with the cosmic arc), Belita, Diana, Artemis, Ark, etc. — most of these names having reference to the moon. However, a sharp distinction should be made between the idea of the virgin connected with the lower planes of matter, including celestial bodies such as the moon, and the immaculate or undifferentiated cosmic virgin which is the immaculate spatial mother of the cosmic deep. On lower planes the Mother-Virgin is the various wombs of hierarchies, a feminine Manu or Prajapati, through whom pour the seeds of life from higher cosmic planes. The cosmic virgin is immaculate, and the zodiacal sign Virgo is her emblem; in human affairs she represents the nature of humanity before the division into sexes, in commemoration of which the sign Virgo became divided into Virgo and Scorpio. The name may also be used of a virgin male such as a kumara.
The ideas of the Virgin Mary in orthodox Christianity have been taken over from the pagans, as for example from the mother in the triad which heads all cosmogonies of the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea (Isis, Juno, etc.). The word Mary from the Hebrew would seem etymologically cognate with the Latin mare (sea); the Hebrew word meaning bitter, and the sea likewise being bitter it is also cognate with other words meaning water, as in the Jewish expression, the waters of space, or the feminine productive principle. See also IMMACULATE CONCEPTION; VIRGIN BIRTH
Virgin Birth Often applied to any kind of reproduction which is not sexual, including that of human races before the separation of the sexes. In a mystical sense, it applies to some of the rites of initiation, where the candidate has to go through by an anticipatory process the experiences which mankind will live through in the course of the next two root-races. Among these was the experience of the mystical virgin birth. The corresponding fact concerning mankind of the future is, that there will be in due course of evolutionary time no more sexual birth, which will then have run its course and will have disappeared, but instead, reproduction will be by the power of kriyasakti: by thought and will.
The mystic Christ, by whatever name, is said to be virgin-born, as emanating from the higher nature of the individual, not engendered by the terrestrial nature. The symbol has often been materialized, so that the divine quickening or overshadowing of a human virgin, whether man or woman, is spoken of as being a virgin-born.
Virgin Men, Virgin Youths. See KUMARAS
Virgo The virgin; the sixth zodiacal sign, an earthy, feminine, common or mutable sign, the house and exaltation of Mercury. Its bodily correspondence is the abdomen.
In an older zodiac, which had only ten signs exoterically (though there were two other secret signs), the three present signs of Virgo, Libra, and Scorpio were combined in a single sign between Leo and Sagittarius, representing a stage of evolution before the separation of the sexes. When Eve, according to the Hebrew story, was drawn out of the “side of Adam,” and the human race fell into generation, the sign then representationally was split into two, Virgo and Scorpio, and the balancing sign Libra was added.
In following the Hebrew system of assigning the twelve sons of Jacob to the zodiac, if Gemini represents Simeon and Levi conjoined, there is one son too few for the signs; and this may be adjusted by putting Jacob’s daughter Dinah for Virgo.
In the Hindu zodiac the sixth sign is also named the Virgin, Kanya and is presided over by Karttikeya, the god of war. Subba Row says that Kanya represents Sakti or Mahamaya, and its number six indicates that there are six primary forces in nature, which in their unity represent the astral light, this unity thus making a seventh (Theosophist Nov 1881, p. 43). To this Blavatsky added: “Even the very name of Kanya (Virgin) shows how all the ancient esoteric systems agreed in all their fundamental doctrines. The Kabalists and the Hermetic philosophers call the Astral Light the ‘heavenly or celestial Virgin.’ The Astral Light in its unity is the 7th. Hence the seven principles diffused in every unity or the 6 and one — two triangles and a crown.”
The Dendara zodiac in Egypt, circular in form, has three Virgins, showing that three precessional cycles had elapsed and that this length of time had been recorded. Virgo is assimilated to Astraea, goddess of justice.
Virtues One degree in the celestial hierarchy of Dionysius the pseudo-Areopagite, whose doctrines, arising about the 4th or 5th century, have exercised a great influence on Christian thought. He divides the heavenly host into three triads: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones; Dominations, Virtues, Powers; Principalities, Archangels, Angels. As a hierarchy of emanating powers, this system is allied to, and in large part derivative from, Neoplatonic teachings of the time, as well as having strong elements of Pythagorean thought. The Virtues correspond to the planet Mars, according to the hierarchical scheme of the Syrians. See also ANGELOLOGY
Virya (Sanskrit) Vīrya Strength, dauntless energy, fortitude and firmness in thought and conduct; one of the Buddhist paramitas.
Vis (Latin) Force, energy; synonymous with energia naturae (energy of nature). According to ancient thought all the various forms of vis — vis formativa (formative force), vis generatrix (force that brings forth or generates), vis viva (living force) — are inherently living, so that vis viva means not so much living force as live in active rather than passive manifestation.
Viscid Earth Applied principally to the semi-astral material of our earth globe during the third round, and likewise to our earth during the first part of the present fourth round and during the first, second, and early third root-races of mankind when the earth, although quasi-astral and nearly compact, was nevertheless more concrete and solid than were the earliest root-races of mankind. Because the first and second root-races were far more ethereal or astral than the earth was, it is almost hopeless to expect to find fossils of these earliest humanities at the present time; they were too ethereal in their earliest portions to leave fossil remains in the earth which was more solid in consistency than they.
Visesha (Sanskrit) Viśeṣa [from the verbal root śiṣ to distinguish, particularize] Distinction, characteristic difference or property. In the Vaiseshika system used as the fifth padartha (logical category), visesha belonging to the nine substances (dravyas) of the Nyaya philosophy. Used in the Nyaya to signify the everlasting distinctions characterizing the primary substances or elements (mahabhutas).
Visha (Sanskrit) Viṣa Poison, death, evil.
Vishnavites. See VAISHNAVA
Vishnu (Sanskrit) Viṣṇu [from the verbal root viṣ to enter, pervade] The sustainer or preserver; the second of the three gods of the Hindu Trimurti or Triad. Brahma, Siva, and Vishnu together are infinite space, of which the gods, rishis, manus, and all in the universe are simply the manifestations, qualities, and potencies. Vishnu is called the eternal deity, and in the Mahabharata and the Puranas he is declared to be the imbodiment of sattva-guna, the quality of mercy and goodness, which displays itself as the preserving power in the self-existent, all-pervading spirit. His symbol is the chakra (circle). He is identical with the Hindu Idaspati (master of the waters) and with the Greek Poseidon and Latin Neptune.
Blavatsky gives a passage about Vishnu from the Laws of Manu, with interpolated remarks (SD 1:333): ” ‘Removing the darkness, the Self-existent Lord’ (Vishnu, Narayana, etc.) becoming manifest, and ‘wishing to produce beings from his Essence, created, in the beginning, water alone. In that he cast seed . . . That became a Golden Egg.’ (V.6, 7, 8, 9) Whence this Self-existent Lord? It is called this, and is spoken of as ‘Darkness, imperceptible, without definite qualities, undiscoverable as if wholly in sleep.’ (V.5) Having dwelt in that Egg for a whole divine year, he ‘who is called in the world Brahma,’ splits that Egg in two, and from the upper portion he forms the heaven, from the lower the earth, and from the middle the sky and ‘the perpetual place of waters.’ (12, 13.)”
In the Mahabharata (3:189:3) Vishnu says: “ ‘I called the name of water nara in ancient times, and am hence called Narayana, for that was always the abode I moved in’ (Ayana). It is into the water (or chaos, the ‘moist principle’ of the Greeks and Hermes), that the first seed of the Universe is thrown. ‘The “Spirit of God” moves on the dark waters of Space’; hence Thales makes of it the primordial element and prior to Fire, which was yet latent in that Spirit” (SD 2:591).
Vishnu has many names and is presented in many different forms in Hindu writings. Riding on Garuda, the allegorical monstrous half-man and half-bird, Vishnu is the symbol of Kala (duration), and Garuda the emblem of cyclic and periodical time. Vishnu as the sun represents the male principle, which vivifies and fructifies all things. The Puranas call Ananta- Sesha a form of Vishnu on which the universe sleeps during pralaya. In the allegorical Vaivasvata-Manu deluge, Vishnu in the shape of a fish towing the ark of salvation represents the divine spirit as a concrete cosmic principle and also as the preserver and generator, or giver of life. In the Rig-Veda Vishnu is a manifestation of the solar energy and strides through the seven regions of the universe in three steps. The Vedic Vishnu is not the prominent god of later times.
Vishnu as the giver of life is the source of one line of avataras. The ten mythical avataras of Vishnu are: Matsya, the Fish; Kurma, the Tortoise; Varaha, the Boar; Narasimha, the Man-lion (last animal stage); Vamana, the Dwarf (first step toward the human form); Parasu-rama, Rama with the axe (a hero); Rama-chandra, the hero of the Ramayana; Krishna, son of Devaki; Gautama Buddha; and finally, Kalki, the avatara who is to appear at the end of the Kali yuga “mounted on a white horse” and inaugurate a new reign of righteousness upon earth.
” ‘In the Krita age, Vishnu, in the form of Kapila and other (inspired sages) . . . imparts to the world true wisdom as Enoch did. In the Treta age he restrains the wicked, in the form of a universal monarch (the Chakravartin or the ‘Everlasting King’ of Enoch) and protects the three worlds (or races). In the Dwapara age, in the person of Veda-Vyasa, he divides the one Veda into four, and distributes it into hundreds (Sata) of branches.’ Truly so; the Veda of the earliest Aryans, before it was written, went forth into every nation of the Atlanto-Lemurians, and sowed the first seeds of all the now existing old religions. The off-shoots of the never dying tree of wisdom have scattered their dead leaves even on Judeo-Christianity. And at the end of the Kali, our present age, Vishnu, or the ‘Everlasting King’ will appear as Kalki, and re-establish righteousness upon earth. The minds of those who live at that time shall be awakened, and become as pellucid as crystal” (SD 2:483).
“If we only search for the true essence of the philosophy of both Manu and the Kabala, we will find that Vishnu is, as well as Adam Kadmon, the expression of the universe itself; and that his incarnations are but concrete and various embodiments of the manifestations of this ‘Stupendous Whole.’ ‘I am the Soul, O, Arjuna. I am the Soul which exists in the heart of all beings; and I am the beginning and the middle, and also the end of existing things,’ says Vishnu to his disciple, in the Bhagavad-Gita (ch. x)” (IU 2:277).
Vishnu Purana (Sanskrit) Viṣṇu Purāṇa One of the most celebrated of the 18 principal Puranas, conforming more than any other to the definition of pancha-lakshana (five distinguishing marks) assigned as being the character of a complete Purana by Amara-Simha, an ancient Sanskrit lexicographer. It consists of six books: the first treats of the creation of the universe from cosmic prakriti, and the peopling of the world by the prajapatis or spiritual ancestors; the second book gives a list of kings with many geographical and astronomical details; the third treats of the Vedas and caste; the fourth continues the chronicle of dynasties; the fifth gives the life of Krishna; and the sixth book describes the dissolution of the world, and the future re-issuing of the world after pralaya.
Visishtadvaita (Sanskrit) Viśiṣṭādvaita [from viśiṣṭa distinguished, particular + advaita nonduality] Qualified nonduality; the Vedantic school founded by Vaishnava teacher Ramanuja, intermediate between the Advaita (nondualistic) Vedanta of Sankaracharya and the Dvaita (dualistic) Vedanta.
Just as the Advaita teaches that essentially there is an absolute reality, and that all things issue forth from the incomprehensible womb of cosmic life — which therefore is the only abstract as well as substantial reality of all beings — so the Dvaita teaches the opposite: that while all beneath the abstract reality issue forth from it, they do so rather as creations than as essences, parts, or portions of the eternal reality. The Visishtavaita school straddles these philosophical views, asserting with the Advaita that all are at one in essence, yet holding that the distinctions during manifestation between the eternal reality and all its offspring are relatively real. This stand is little favored by either of the other schools.
The Visishtadvaita school teaches that the human spirit is separate and different from the one supreme spirit, though dependent on it and ultimately to be united with it, as well as originally in some manner springing forth from it. The Visishtadvaita speaks of the supreme spirit almost as monists do, because apparently ascribing to it a type of individuality, which is as offensive to the rigid logical impersonal eternal All of the Advaita as is the franker dualism of the Dvaitins. This arises from the fact that the Advaitins claim that it is utterly improper to ascribe individuality, personality, or monadism of any kind to the infinite — a claim which is precisely that of modern theosophy. However, “Dualistic and anthropomorphic as may be the philosophy of the Visishtadwaita, when compared with that of the Adwaita — the non-dualists, — it is yet supremely higher in logic and philosophy than the cosmogony accepted by either Christianity, or its great opponent, modern Science” (SD 1:522).
Visva (Sanskrit) Viśva [from the verbal root viś to pervade] All, every, all-pervading; a title applied, for example, to Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita. As a neuter or feminine noun, the universe; as a masculine noun, the intellectual faculty in Vedantic philosophy.
Visva-deva(s) (Sanskrit) Viśva-deva-s The all-divine; also a class of deities, usually given as ten.
Visvakarman (Sanskrit) Viśvakarman The omnificent, the all-worker; in the Rig-Veda, the highest and oldest of the cosmic architects, and hence the father, initiator, or teacher of the hierarchies of later gods under him. As a collective name, he corresponds in many respects to the Greek cosmocratores, in some to the Third Logos. He is spoken of as the divine artist and carpenter, the architect of the universe, the creative god, father of the creative fire, the builder and artificer of the gods, and the great patron of initiates.
“The Secret Doctrine teaches that ‘He who is the first to appear at Renovation will be the last to come before Re-absorption (pralaya).’ Thus the logoi of all nations, from the Vedic Visvakarma of the Mysteries down to the Saviour of the present civilised nations, are the ‘Word’ who was ‘in the beginning’ (or the reawakening of the energising powers of Nature) with the One Absolute. Born of Fire and Water, before these became distinct elements, It was the ‘Maker’ (fashioner or modeller) of all things . . . who finally may be called, as he ever has been, the Alpha and the Omega of manifested Nature” (SD 1:470).
In the Rig-Veda, Visvakarman is said to sacrifice himself to himself. This refers, among other things, to the fact that when manvantara opens, in order for its vast content of worlds and hierarchies to appear, the originating entities must — because of karmic mandate or impulse — themselves form the beginnings of things from themselves, thus sacrificing themselves to themselves so that the cosmos may appear in manifestation. Another significance of the statement is the reference to the spiritual resurrection at the end of the manvantara or, in the case of man, to the choice to be spiritual rather than material, to rise self-consciously from material existence into the one Life. “Then he ascends into heaven indeed; where, plunged into the incomprehensible absolute Being and Bliss of Paranirvana, he reigns unconditionally, and whence he will re-descend again at the next ‘coming,’ which one portion of humanity expects in its dead-letter sense as the second advent, and the other as the last ‘Kalki Avatar’ ” (SD 1:268).
His mother Yoga-Siddha (striving to become one with the inner god) and his daughter Sanjna (spiritual consciousness) show his mystic character, for no actual mother or daughter is here intended, but the ideas of human spiritual and intellectual reformation taking place within himself from yoga-siddha, from which is brought forth the spiritual consciousness which is the fruit or daughter of perfect achievement.
From another viewpoint, he represents spiritual humanity collectively and is equivalent to Purusha, synonymous in the Epic and Puranic period with Tvashtri, he is also called Karu (worker, builder) or Takshaka (carpenter, etc.).
Visvamitra (Sanskrit) Viśvāmitra Friend of all; a celebrated rishi (sage), famed for his contests with the sage Vasishtha. By birth a Kshattriya of the lineage of Pururavas of the lunar dynasty, he was employed at the court of Raja Sudas of the Tritsus, as was Vasishtha. Visvamitra was constantly worsted in his struggles for supremacy over the great Brahmin Vasishtha, and determined to elevate himself to the rank of a Brahmin, which he succeeded in doing after many strenuous austerities. Many verses of the Rig-Veda are said to have been written by him, and he is also credited with authorship of a law book.
In the Ramayana, Visvamitra is stated to be a counselor of Ramachandra.
Visvanara (Sanskrit) Viśvānara Benefiting all creatures; another name for Savitri, the sun, and also of the father of Agni (fire). Visvanara is the physical basis from which the objective world begins its existence, corresponding closely to the European protyle. True cosmic protyle, however, is the cosmic Duad or Second Logos, a cosmically androgynous spirit-substance one step more inward than Visvanara or the Third Logos. Because of the close interrelationship between Visvanara and the cosmic Duad, they are frequently cited as being the same.
Visvarupa (Sanskrit) Viśvarūpa [from viśva all + rūpa form] Having all forms, manifold, omnipresent; often applied to Vishnu and at times to Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita; likewise to Siva.
Visvatryarchas (Sanskrit) Viśvatryarcas [from viśva all + tri three + arcas shining] The triple ray shining everywhere; the fourth of the seven principal mystical rays of the sun (SD 1:515n). See also SURYA
Visvavedas (Sanskrit) Viśvavedas [from viśva all + veda knowledge] The all-knowing or omniscient one; a name given to the supreme hierarch of any cosmic hierarchy.
Vitala (Sanskrit) Vitala Better place, i.e., better for matter, in that its substance is more material or differentiated than atala which precedes it; the second on the descending scale of the seven talas, corresponding to taparloka. Vitala is related on earth to the state of samadhi, and in one sense also to human buddhic consciousness. No adept, save one, can be higher than this in the tala side of his consciousness and continue living on earth. All the different talas and their corresponding lokas are connected both with states of consciousness and with varieties of vehicles on which these various consciousnesses work. Every tala with its respective loka forms a bipolar sphere containing its own hosts of conscious entities imbodied in vehicles appropriate to the loka-tala or tala-loka in which they are.
Vital Fluid, Force. See VITAL PRINCIPLE
Vitalism The theory that the phenomena of organic life cannot be explained by the properties of physical matter alone, and that consequently they must be due to some nonphysical vital principle. Attempts to define such a principle have been vague and various. If it is spirit, then what can spirit be, apart from matter, or how can it act on matter? Perhaps it is another kind of matter — an aether, fluid, or what not.
The theory amounts to trying to correct one error by means of another. If we suppose the physical universe to be composed of inert particles, how can we explain their activity? Materialistic science has simply shelved the difficulty. It is necessary to postulate an immaterial force, which in its origin is immaterial and in its manifestations substantial or material, but materialistic science does not recognize anything basically immaterial. It speaks of energy and matter as twin in destructibles, but merely assumes the former without explaining its nature. Moreover the words force and energy are used by science to denote effects occurring in matter. Are these effects without causes?
The difficulty encountered by vitalists, as regards the nature of the vital principle and its power of acting upon matter, is fundamental in the entire materialistic philosophy. The matter and force of materialistic science are highly metaphysical abstractions. No such thing as an inert material particle exists or can exist, for all such inert matter is but life or force in one of its multiform phases of quiescence or equilibrium. Nor can there be an absolutely immaterial force, without relation of function or action in the material worlds. The universe consists of living beings, whose activities may be expressed collectively by the word life. The term matter has been applied to the static aspect of life, and the term force to the dynamic aspect. No distinction valid for this purpose can be drawn between organic and inorganic beings. If there is need of a vital principle for animals and plants, working upon yet other than essential stuff or substance, there is equal need in the case of minerals; but there is no need to postulate such divorce between force and matter in either case.
The jiva or prana of theosophy is not an immaterial spirit different from matter acting on a lifeless body; it is itself substantial, consisting in fact of streams of living beings, life-atoms; and so far from acting on something other than itself called the body, it actually composes the body. The minute analysis to which science is now able to subject physical matter has not succeeded in finding anything more rudimentary than living, moving fire, light, and electricity — in short, the ocean of jiva.
Vitalis Vitalia (Latin) Life of life; Gerald Massey gives it as a translation of the Greek inscription zotiko zotike (“the (feminine) living being in the (masculine) living being”) — the feminine or passive aspect of life inherent in the masculine, active, or manifested form of life (SD 2:586). The correct Latin translation is vitali vitalis (the alive within the living). This highly mystical and profound phrase has both a cosmic and human significance: thus we have mahabuddhi in the universal and buddhi in the human constitution, as being the feminine aspect of the precedaneous atman, and likewise as containing the inherent life of the offspring of such feminine aspect which is the cosmic mahat or the human manas. In iconographical mysticism this can be represented by the cross, whether in the ordinary Latin form, or the more mystical svastika. Here also is an indication of the mystical significance of a Christos crucified.
Vitality The jiva or life-force which manifests through the different principles of the human septenary being, as well as through the multiform hierarchies of nature. It animates the cosmic entity in which we live as vital monadic units and in man manifests as the pranas: “there is a regular circulation of the vital fluid throughout our [solar] system, of which the Sun is the heart — the same as the circulation of the blood in the human body . . .” (SD 1:541). The lowest principle of cosmic jiva is diffused through all nature and, among its innumerable activities on all the cosmic planes, on our plane produces all living beings and entities — man, beast, plant, mineral, and the three kingdoms of the elemental world. “The animal tissues only absorb it according to their more or less morbid or healthy state,” matter being the necessary vehicle for its manifestation on this plane (SD 1:537). On cosmic planes of consciousness, the corresponding aspects of jiva are the vehicles of cosmic thought or ideation which manifest more or less consciously in entities, and automatically as the laws of nature. Likewise, in the human being the psychoelectric field of life-currents, vital fluids, or pranas provides the vehicles or avenues for transmitting his thought, feeling, emotion, and instincts. The tension of this life principle — in one sense the liquor vitae of Paracelsus — may be too high or too low, owing to the nervous changes in the matter it invests. Thus, an equilibrium of the vital currents of the body means a state of health, as disturbed or disordered conditions make for disease.
Vitality is not created by the nutrition and functional activities which afford conditions for its play in the body. Too much or too little of the lifestream may produce fatal convulsions or collapse, it being a neutral force with a potential action for both life and death — for death is but a manifestation of life, and can as easily supervene from a vital excess which tears the body to pieces in time, as through a pranic defect therein. When its cohesive role is neutralized after death, it begins its dispersive “work on the atoms chemically” (SD 1:538).
The source of jiva manifesting as the human pranas is in the divine monad or atman, a reflection of the same fact on the cosmic scale where cosmic jiva originates in Brahman or paramatman.
Vital Principle, Fluid, or Force Synonyms for life or jiva, for in theosophy life is not only a force or principle which is an entity, but actually a fluid — not a mere abstraction signifying haphazard results from natural forces. It is the universal activity of spirit in matter: Purusha-prakriti, consciousness-substance, the First and Second Logos. Cosmically, life is in essence one of the spiritual-substantial aspects of Brahman or paramatman, guided by cosmic intelligence; and this cosmic vital fluid or principle, sometimes called fohat, is the universal source of both energy and matter, the carrier of consciousness.
As the cosmic stuff from which spring in their manifestations the living beings which constitute the universe, it is omnipresent, nor can there be anything without life. But there are many grades or conditions of life, just as there are many orders of living beings who are its aggregate expressions. Thus we can speak of the relatively animate and inanimate, as when comparing a mineral with a plant or a corpse with a living body. But the mineral has life of its own kind, and what has left the corpse is one kind of life, but the life in the physical atoms remains. Materialistic philosophy, for the purposes of its own analysis, has sought to separate life into two independent elements — an inert mass or particles, and more or less theoretical forces which actuate them. Unfortunately these forces are defined as functions of the movements of the particles themselves, which is a logical confusion. Others more logically have supposed a vital fluid; but if this fluid is entirely distinct in nature from the dead matter it is supposed to actuate, we cannot explain how the one can come into relation with the other. More recent advances in physics have shown the futility of trying to separate matter from motion or mass from energy.
An example of the dual aspect of substance and force underlies to some extent Weismann’s biological analysis of the fertilized cell. Add to his description the directing influence of the dhyani-chohanic astral fluid which on the physical plane is a vital force, i.e., the astral fluid of the reimbodying ego, and this illustrates the vital action of matter-force. See also JIVA; LIFE-ATOMS; PRANA
Vitatha (Sanskrit) Vitatha In the Harivansa (generally regarded as an addition to the Mahabharata), one name of the rishi Bharadvaja, regarded as the author of many Vedic hymns.
Vithala, Vithoba. See VITTHALA
Viththala. See VITTHALA
Viti Chorea Sancti (Latin) St. Vitus’ Dance, one name for the dancing epidemics which prevailed in Germany and other parts of Europe during the Middle Ages. These epidemics in general have been called tarantism because they were believed to be started by a tarantula bite; the name St. Vitus’ Dance was given to a particular outbreak in Germany for it was to his shrine that the patients repaired for a cure. The name has passed into medicine, where it is often used for chorea, which applies to isolated cases. Pathology refers it to a disorder of the nervous system, but such disorder can be but a secondary cause or symptom, though doubtless certain pathological conditions render the patient susceptible to the disease. It is of the nature of a psychic obsession, as shown by its epidemic character, and is of the same character, but apparently on a lower psychic plane, and without the voluntary element in it, as is found among dancing manias among dervishes, shamans, Shakers, bacchanals, etc. See also CHOREA
Vitthala (Sanskrit) Viṭṭhala also written Viṭhala, Viṭhṭhala, Viḍhḍhala. A god worshiped at Pandharpur in the Deccan and considered an incarnation of Krishna, commonly called Vithoba.
Vivanghat (Avestan) Vivanghan (Pahlavi) [cf Sanskrit Vivasvat] One name of the Zoroastrian cosmic hierarch; in the Avesta, the parent of Yima, the first man.
Vivasvat (Sanskrit) Vivasvat The brilliant one; a name for the sun.
Viwan. See VIMANA
Vodhu (Sanskrit) Voḍhu The sixth of the seven kumaras as enumerated in the Uttara-kanda of the Padma-Purana. The seven are Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana, Sanat-kumara, Jata, Vodhu, and Pancha-sikha.
Vohu-Mano, Vohu-Mana (Avestan) Vahman (Pahlavi) Bahman (Persian) [from Avestan vohu goodness from the verbal root vah to love cf Sanskrit verbal root vas + the verbal root man to think, be aware] In the Gathas, Vangaheush Manangho, Vohu-Manangha. Good thoughts, good state of being, which is pure consciousness and the most exalted state of existence. It is only through Vohuman, as said in the Gathas, that the laws of life are fulfilled and ever renewed. In Mazdean literature, white is the color of Vohu-Mano. In later mystic Persian literature, it has been regarded as the first intellect, homogeneously in harmony with the totality of life.
Bahman is the name of the 11th month of the Iranian calendar (Aquarius) and the ancient feast of Sadeh (fire celebration) is held on the 10th of this month.
Voice The concrete expression of an abstract thought; a creative power that has quality besides energy, given as a septenate of logoi represented by seven mysterious vowels, uttered vocally, as in the Gnostic Pistis Sophia and the Christian Revelation. Abstract thought and concrete voice together make the Word (SD 1:99). The Qabbalistic Sepher Yetsirah says that the Holy Spirit is Voice-Spirit-Word. The gandharvas in India are (physically) the noumenal causes of sound and the voices of nature (SD 1:523), i.e., the seven tones of Pythagoras and his music of the spheres. In Simon Magus’ teachings the six radicals are given as mind, intelligence, voice, name, reason, thought — all emanating from the seventh or highest, spiritual fire. Synonymous are Vach in India and Kwan-yin in China.
At a certain stage of initiation a voice speaks audibly to the candidate, as discussed in The Voice of the Silence. The Bath Qol (daughter of the voice) of the Qabbalah is a spiritual communication of somewhat the same kind; and Deity often communicates in a voice in the Old Testament. Voice is one way in which a divine presence manifests itself to a mind, as when, according to the Bible, the Lord manifested himself to Elijah in a still small voice.
The Army of the Voice of The Secret Doctrine is the prototype of the Host of the Logos, or the logoi, the sevenfold expression of divine thought. See also LOGOS; VACH; VERBUM
Void. See SUNYATA
Volcano [It from Latin Vulcanus the fire god] Small special manifestations of the general, large-scale phenomenon of volcanism, by which the continents are cyclically subjected to catastrophes, alternatively with the cyclic cataclysmal deluges. The geological record contains proofs of volcanism in the vast outpourings of lava-sheets now found interstratified with the sedimentary rocks. It is the physical manifestation of the work of the kabeiroi, whose father was Vulcan or Hephaestos.
From another standpoint, volcanic phenomena are outlets of energy of various kinds which accumulate under the surface of the globe, dissipating the dangerous accumulations. But for these outlets, the earth would be subjected to far more severe catastrophic changes than those now known to have occurred, and which to a certain extent are still occurring.
Volsung(ar) (Icelandic, Scandinavian) [from volsi phallus + unge child] In Norse mythology, an early race of humanity, the first to reproduce by sexual means, remote descendants of the Niflungar (children of the mist), who represent humanity before the globe had condensed from the primordial nebula. The tale of Sigurd the Volsung is one of the classic stories in the younger or prose Edda.
Volundr (Icelandic) In Norse mythology, the hero of “Volundarkvida” or “Volundskvadet”; in German tales he is named Wieland, in English Wayland. In all versions he is a smith, a legendary artisan who was captured and imprisoned by King Nidud (an evil age) and forced to forge treasures of gold and silver for the king.
The symbology suggests that the smith represents a race of humanity which had fallen prey to influences of a totally material age when human genius and craftsmanship were prostituted to unworthy ends. The tale ends with the artisan escaping in a flying device of his own making, leaving the evil king bereft of his sons, his daughter, and his smith.
Voluspa (Icelandic) [from volva, vala sibyl + spa see clairvoyantly] The foremost lay of the poetic or Elder Edda, sung by the “wise sibyl” in response to Odin’s quest for knowledge. The vala represents the indelible record of the past, which here is consulted by the god Odin. Odin Allfather is the central character in Norse myths, and represents evolving consciousness, whether human, solar, planetary, or cosmic. Odin questions the vala and she responds with an account of creation and foretells the future destiny of conscious beings. From this record of the past history of the world, Odin learns about our planet’s destiny and of nine former worlds that preceded the present one. The entire process of cosmic evolution is here comprised in a thumbnail sketch, which is all but incomprehensible unless amplified by the other lays of the Elder Edda.
The Wagner opera cycle “The Ring of the Nibelungen” is based on the Volsupa, which relates the beginning and end of the world, and the fresh, new creation to follow. The sibyl speaks of Ragnarok, when the gods retreat from existence into their own celestial spheres, presenting a grim and fearsome prospect, but the narrative ends with a note of hope for a serene future world to follow.
Volva, Volfa. See VALA
Voodoo or Voodooism [from Fongbe dialect vodunu from vodu moral and religious life of the Fons of Dahomey] A definite system of African black magic or sorcery, including various types of necromantic practice. It reached the Americas with the African slaves brought from the West Coast, and in and around the Caribbean various degrees of the cult persist and constitute a recognized if little understood social feature in the history and life of the people. Especially significant in the original Fon religion are the principal temples in the sacred forests, with symbolic hieroglyphics on the walls, depicting the exploits of their kings, voodoo legends, etc., and explaining their belief in the unknowable god Meru (Great Master); this unmanifest god, too far removed from men for them to give to him any form, dealt with them through lesser gods and nature spirit, i.e., voodoo; the priestesses serving the temple in a secret cult with four degrees of initiation, and having passwords unknown to laymen; the cult of the snake or adder as the most primitive form of the religion. Such findings in voodoo history, however degraded in course of time and overlaid by beliefs and customs of cruder native tribes, have the basic elements of a hierarchic religion so enveloped in mystery as to indicate an origin far beyond the creative imagination of any people. Rather, here in strange temples of dark mystery, were the lingering echoes of some ancient wisdom teaching of those who were truly “as wise as serpents.” The least altered of the original system is probably the voodoo music with its solemn, insistent rhythm in the mood of prayer or an invocation. This rhythm persists, even when the ritual songs in Haiti are composed entirely of Creole words, or of a series of unintelligible sounds.
Counterparts of the debasing and malign system of voodoo are found elsewhere under many different names, like the left-hand Tantrika of India, and the Dugpas of Tibet. In general, all of these unholy practices date back to the abuse of spiritual knowledge and power by the late Atlanteans.
Voordalak (Slavonic) A vampire, “a corpse informed by its lower principles, and maintaining a kind of semi-life in itself by raising itself during the night from the grave, fascinating its living victims and sucking out their blood” (TG 366). Many examples are given in Isis Unveiled, as well as the popularly accepted means for dealing with these beings and rendering them powerless.
The reality of these vampires has been known in all times and ages, and their existence is still firmly believed in, in all parts of the Orient, as for instance in India where one of their kinds, although in this case a purely astral entity, is called the pisacha.
Vortex-Atom Theory The theory devised by Kelvin (1824-1907), more or less copied after misunderstood teachings of the ancients, to represent the atoms of matter as vortices in a homogeneous, incompressible, and perfectly nonviscous fluid. It can be shown, both mathematically and by experiments with smoke rings, that such vortices would have many of the properties attributed to atoms — they are indestructible, when two meet they rebound and vibrate — but the property of mass is not sufficiently explained. A vortical motion in such a fluid should keep on forever, but the hypothesis supplies no explanation of how such a motion could ever have been started. Descartes propounded a vortical theory, relating however to the physical universe of stars and planets; but, in his theory, it was God who set his vortices in motion.
Voru Barshti, Vourubaresti. See KARSHVAR
Voru-Zarshti, Vouruzaresti. See KARSHVAR
Votan A legislator and deified hero of ancient America, regarded as the traditional founder of culture in Central America. The traditions of the people as recorded by Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg tell that he came across the waters in large ships, he and his companions wearing long flowing garments and speaking a language akin to the Nahuatl — which is similar to the story told about Quetzalcoatl. He found the people of Central America, from Darien to California, in a barbarous condition, living in rude huts or caverns, using skins of beasts for clothing. Votan instructed the people in the sciences and arts, such as in the use of agriculture and the art of weaving; established forms of government; and taught them the truth about the gods and their supreme head called the god of truth, who was at first worshiped without temples and without altars. According to legend he founded the city of Palenque, said to be the oldest city in Central America.
Votan is “probably the same as Quetzal-Coatl; a ‘son of the snakes,’ one admitted ‘to the snake’s hole,’ which means an Adept admitted to the Initiation in the secret chamber of the Temple” (TG 366).
Vourubaresti, Vouruzaresti. See KARSHVAR
Vowels [from Latin vocabilis pronounceable cf Greek phone vowel, voice] Largely synonymous with voice. Vowels are the most easily pronounced of speech sounds; no mute consonant can be pronounced without a vowel, and a liquid consonant is a type of vowel. Hence the subject connects with that of the power of sound.
Marcus, a Gnostic of early Christian days, speaks of a vision in which he saw seven heavens, each sounding one vowel as they pronounced the names of the angelic hierarchies, a typical Gnostic way of revealing — and hiding — under simple, popular expressions the existence of differentiated characteristics of the cosmic hierarchy. The seven mystic vowels are the same as the Hindu seven fires, three plus four. Brahma at creation utters five vowels. The Pistis Sophia speaks of IEOV as a four-voweled name, being the First Man. See also OEAOHOO
Vrata (Sanskrit) Vrata plural Vratani. [from the verbal root vṛ to select, choose] Power, law.
Vriddha-garga (Sanskrit) Vṛddha-garga Old Garga; an ancient sage who was one of the oldest writers on astronomy.
Vriddha-manu (Sanskrit) Vṛddha-manu [from vṛddha old + manu an ancient legislator] An ancient recension of The Laws of Manu, probably the original work, referred to in some Sanskrit writings, but not known to Orientalists.
Vril A tremendous magical force wielded by people in The Coming Race, a posthumous novel by Bulwer-Lytton. Blavatsky compared it with the Atlantean Mash-Mak, the vibratory force of J. W. Keely, the power of sound, Eliphas Levi’s astral light, akasa, etc.
Vrischika (Sanskrit) Vṛścika Scorpion; the eighth zodiacal sign, Scorpio. Some Hindu mystics say it represents Vishnu expanded as the universe: the expansion of the mystic bija (seed) of Vishnu into the universe, as a manifested emblem of creative activity.
Vritra (Sanskrit) Vṛtra The demon of drought in Vedic literature, the great foe of Indra, god of the firmament, with whom he is constantly at war. Vritra was finally mastered and slain by Indra, hence the latter was named Vritra-han (slayer of Vritra).
Vritra-han, Vritra-jit (Sanskrit) Vṛtra-han, Vṛtra-jit The destroyer of Vritra; a title of Indra, god of the firmament, who was in constant warfare with Vritra, the Vedic demon of drought.
Vriscika. See VRISCHIKA
Vul (Chaldean) The god of the atmosphere, equivalent to the Hindu Indra. He was superseded in later times by Anu, the god of heaven, who with Bel and Ea formed the great Babylonian triad.
Vulcan [from Latin Vulcanus] Astronomers at times have suspected the existence of a planet nearer the sun than Mercury, basing this upon perturbations of more than one kind observed in connection with Mercury and its orbit. Long ago the name Vulcan was suggested for this planet. It has been recorded that on March 26, 1859, a body was seen to be making a transit across the solar disk, yet nothing has been seen of this body since that time, although search has been made for it.
Theosophy teaches that there is a planet, at present generally invisible to human scrutiny, closer to the sun than Mercury, and that it became generally invisible to human sight during the third root-race, after the fall of mankind into physical generation. The ancients spoke of seven sacred planets, and the sun was often enumerated as a substitute or blind for this planet.
Also, the ancient Roman fire god, who has always been identified with the Greek Hephaestos, popularly regarded by the Latins as having his workshops under several volcanic islands, but especially under Mt. Aetna. The isle of Lemnos was always sacred to him. He is represented, as are similar divinities such as the Hindu Visvakarman or Tvashtri, as a fashioner, artificer, or architectural builder of the cosmic structure; and like his counterparts, the smith of the gods and maker of their divine weapons, lord of the constructive arts, master of a thousand handicrafts, etc. Not only was his forge in Olympus supplied with fire, anvils, and all the necessities of a blacksmith, according to the figurative stories of Greek and Latin mythology, but he was attended by automatic handmaidens whom Vulcan himself had fashioned. The deity is prominent in the Homeric poems, where he is represented as the son of Jupiter and Juno.
As the divine artificer, working both in a cosmic and microcosmic manner, legends tell that Vulcan assisted in the production of the human race. He also fashioned Pandora, and aided in the birth of Minerva — for he opened Jupiter’s head with an axe in order to allow the goddess to spring forth from the head of the father of both gods and men.
Vulcan corresponds to the theosophical fohat.
Vyahritis (Sanskrit) Vyāhṛti-s [from vi-ā-hṛ to utter] The mystical utterance of the names of the seven lokas (worlds): bhur, bhuvah, svar, mahar, janar, tapar, and satya. The three first are called the great vyahritis, and in the Laws of Manu (2:76) are said to have been milked by the prajapatis from the Vedas: bhur or bhuh from the Rig-Veda, bhuvar or bhuvah from the Yajur-Veda, and svar or svah from the Sama-Veda. These three mystical words “are said to possess creative powers. The Satapatha Brahmana explains that they are ‘the three luminous essences’ extracted from the Vedas by Prajapati (’lords of creation,’ progenitors), through heat. ‘He (Brahma) uttered the word bhur, and it became the earth; bhuvah, and it became the firmament; and swar, which became heaven.’ Mahar is the fourth ‘luminous essence,’ and was taken from the Atharva-Veda. But, as this word is purely mantric and magical, it is one, so to say, kept apart” (TG 367).
In mystical Hindu thought the seven vyahritis are words lighted by and born of the fire of mind, and their names suggest the respective characteristics of the seven lokas.
Vyakta (Sanskrit) Vyakta [from vi-añj to cause to appear, display, manifest, emanate] As an adjective, manifest, visible; hence when mulaprakriti (root-matter) becomes vyakta, it becomes differentiated and conditioned — it emanates from itself the seven prakritis, which in their turn produce the different vikritis. Thus the universe in all its multiform ranges of differentiated hierarchical being is manifested.
As a noun, the manifested one; a title of Vishnu.
Vyana (Sanskrit) Vyāna [from vi separation + the verbal root an to breathe, blow] One of the pranas or vital life-currents in the human or animal body, which vitalize, build, and sustain the manifested vehicle, being the vital “air” which is separative or disintegrative. Hence it is connected with the digestion and other functions implying separative or disintegrative action in the health of the body, and thus operates to maintain the body’s equilibrium. Vyana is said to have its physical action throughout the body. See also UDANA
Vyasa (Sanskrit) Vyāsa One who expands or amplifies, an interpreter or revealer;
“applied in days of old to the highest Gurus in India. There were many Vyasas in Aryavarta; one was the compiler and arranger of the Vedas; another, the author of the Mahabharata — the twenty-eighth Vyasa or revealer in the order of succession — and the last one of note was the author of Uttara Mimansa, the sixth school or system of Indian philosophy. He was also the founder of the Vedanta system. His date, as assigned by Orientalists . . . is 1,400 b.c., but this date is certainly too recent. The Puranas mention only twenty-eight Vyasas, who at various ages descended to the earth to promulgate Vedic truths — but there were many more” (TG 367).
Vyavaharika (Sanskrit) Vyavahārika [from vy-ava-hṛ to act or behave in affairs from the verbal root hṛ to carry, receive, obtain, hold] Relating to business or practice, hence practical. Pertaining to the ordinary pragmatic affairs of life or custom. In Vedantic philosophy one of the three forms of existence in human life in contradistinction to the only real life (paramarthika) and the illusory life (pratibhasika).
Vyaya (Sanskrit) Vyaya [from vi away + the verbal root i to go, change] Change, passing away, mutable; whatever is subject to change or decay, however long its duration may be, especially when used in opposition to avyaya (unchanging).
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
MU - Mundaka Upanishad
N on BG - Notes on the Bhagavad Gita, by T. Subba Row
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