The Theosophical Forum – November 1948

ROUNDS AND RACES (1) — F. Chapman Clemeshaw

Many students have tried to "tidy-up" this question of the Root-Races, but as G. de Purucker has said, "It is very tempting to try to collate the figures . . . about root-races and life-waves and to try to make these figures run with regularity through all the seven root-races, yet it just simply can't be done." (p. 166) (2) There is no claim to finality about this effort, but it does bring together a number of teachings that will help us to get some sort of a picture. Generally one fails to take into account the fact that the Root-Races differ greatly in length; and the teachings about the germinal period were little known before the publication of Studies in Occult Philosophy.

First, let us consider the matter of the relative length of the Root-Races: on p. 162 we find it stated that the 1st and 2nd Races are much longer and the 6th and 7th are shorter. Such being the case, there must be some harmonious rhythm in nature that determines their respective lengths. This I believe would be the Yugas; so for the purpose of this diagram the ratios of 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, are used. Each Root-Race is divided into Sub-Races on the same system.

Root Races

The germinal period: This teaching makes it easier to understand how a race merges into the succeeding one (p. 639). Information about its duration is not specific; it is stated to last about three million years, and that the germinal period of the Aryan Race can be traced almost to the beginning of the Atlantean Race. I have judged that the first two Sub-Races of each Root-Race would correspond to the first two Root-Races of the Round. In other words, the germinal period would be included in the life-cycle of the Root-Race and would be the 1st and 2nd Sub-Races, these being in their Satya Yuga (pp. 41-2) and irresponsible in the sense of still "living with their Parents"; nevertheless they are the more advanced egos and thus fit seeds for the succeeding Race.

We are all familiar with the statement that a Root-Race, at least ours, endures for 8,640,000 years from its beginning to its end: but on page 162 we read: "9 million years back brings us to the middle of the Fourth Root-Race." This apparent contradiction could probably be reconciled in the following manner: Since a Root-Race (or a human being) enters its Kali-Yuga and dying-out period at midlife that would be the end of that Root-Race (or that person so far as the continuity of the human race is concerned). Of course there is a tremendous overlap, yet it is the next Root-Race which takes over. This view is confirmed by two other statements (pp. 42, 639): the new race is "distinctly differentiated" at the beginning of the Kali-Yuga of the parent race and enters the heyday of its power at the end of the Kali-Yuga of the parent race; or it might be phrased thus: the new race is distinctly differentiated at the middle period of the parent race and enters the heyday of its power during the age of the parent race. The reason why the new race is distinctly differentiated at the beginning of the Kali-Yuga of the parent race is that the new race has been developing alongside the parent race, during the long germinal period. There is one blessing in this recent statement that it is 9,000,000 years back to the middle of the 4th Root-Race, and that is that it is now possible to make a diagram in which the familiar 18,000,000 comes somewhere near the midpoint of the 3rd Root-Race. It would appear that all previous references to the duration of Root-Races were systematically halved. This may seem an extraordinary statement to make. However if you will read pages 395 and 396 in the second volume of The Secret Doctrine, you will find that such procedure would be strictly in line with ancient usage.

The present writer, and no doubt other students have heretofore taken it for granted that the Kali-Yuga begins in the middle of the 4th Sub-Race; not that there is any statement to this effect in our literature, but simply because a line divided into seven equal parts brings the center in the middle of the 4th part. For reasons already explained, this diagram does not make all Root-Races and Sub-Races the same length; so, if the Kali-Yuga comes at the end of the 4th Sub-Race, as the diagram shows, it is more likely to be correct than if it came in the middle.

The best assurance that this is substantially correct is the statement found in S. D. II, 197 to the effect that "by the end of the 5th [Sub-Race], mankind was born under the same conditions and by the same identical process as our historical generations." In other words, man entered the Human Kingdom (S.D. II, 69), and the time when this came about is given as 18,618,788 years ago.

On the diagram the 18,000,000 year point does not exactly hit the end of the 5th Sub-Race. This is not so important, as the process of the dividing into two sexes took several million years; so the expression "by the end of the 5th" Sub-Race may be interpreted to mean that by that time it had become the rule.

Referring again to S. D. II, 197, we read: "towards the end of the 4th sub-race [of the 3rd Root Race], the babe lost its faculty of walking as soon as liberated from its shell." Here is the picture: At the end of the 4th Sub-Race man is still androgynous and egg-born; at the end of the 5th Sub-Race the separation of the sexes is complete, a period of about 5,000,000 years. This is fully explained in S. D. II, 132-3.

On p. 163 of Studies we find that it is 18,000,000 years back to the middle of the 3rd Root-Race, but this occurs because nine million years is used as a factor in computing the time that the human life-wave has been on Globe D. This would make the life span of Root-Races 3, 4, and 5 the same length; whereas we find later that they are only "pretty much the same length"; so it may just as well be 21,000,000 as shown.

About the Kali-Yuga: as already suggested, it starts somewhere near the end of the 4th Sub-Race of any Root-Race, and in the case of the 5th Root-Race it started 3102 b.c. or 5050 years ago, at the death of Krishna. As we are from 16 to 20,000 years from the midpoint of the 5 th Root-Race, it follows that the Kali-Yuga starts from 21 to 25,000 years before the midpoint. We are told that it lasts for 432,000 years.

This is the time of the heyday and achievement for the 5th Root-Race. Slowly after that the more progressed Egos begin to reincarnate in greater numbers in the already forming 6th Root-Race, and that will constitute the decline of the 5th. Therefore when we use the expression, "Kali-Yuga and dying-out period," this does not mean that the Egos degenerate and die out, but rather that they reincarnate in the new race.

The Seeds of the 6th sub-race as well as certain seeds of the 6th Root-Race are already amongst us, not noticeably different from their fellows as yet, but possessing qualities in advance of the average humanity of today. We are told that the American continent in long ages to come is to be the home of the bulk of the 6th Root-Race.

There is, of course, a correspondence between the life of an individual and the life of a Root-Race, so we may say that man enters his Kali-Yuga at midlife at which time and thereafter he probably makes his greatest contribution to the progress and welfare of the human race. Midlife is a dying-out period only in the sense that the continuity of the mundane responsibilities of the world has passed into the hands of the younger generation. The older generation gradually withdraws from business, political or professional activities and if they have lived aright they become a benediction to their younger brothers.

From my studies of architecture I have come to the conclusion that a nation produces its greatest works during its Kali-Yuga. If you examine the buildings of Egypt and Greece, for instance, you will find that they were all built within a relatively short period of time. In Greece we call it the Periclean Age; in Egypt the Dynastic period. Slowly thereafter each loses its leadership among the nations. Kali-Yuga is also a time of strife; everything is speeded up and becomes intense. Nevertheless, the chela considers it good karman to be bornin the Kali-Yuga. All nations are warlike in their 4th period. G. de Purucker discusses this in Questions We All Ask, II, 204-5. Is war an unmixed evil? We would appear to get rid of a lot of national karman thereby. G. de Purucker says: "Let us never forget that mighty and strong minds are behind the spiritual government of the world and sooner or later karman adjusts all things to its majestic purposes."

The Aryan Race entered its Kali-Yuga 5050 years ago, but the seeds of the 6th Race among us are in their Satya-Yuga, albeit within the encompassing Kali-Yuga of the 5th Race. Kali must have a meaning other than "black." Monier William's Sanskrit Dictionary gives the following: "An unblown flower or bud." This is evidently what the Tamil mothers have in mind when they call their daughters, Kali. It also connotes the idea of Satya-Yuga: "A class of mythic being." Maybe the Tamil Goddess, Kali, is one such. Judging by the little figures representing her, she is Mother and Sustainer of the World. It is interesting to note that Kali is another name for Binah of the Sephirothal Tree. "Name of Siva" — this is especially interesting as Siva is both Destroyer and Regenerator.

Now about the so-called "Remnants": The parent race during its Kali-Yuga and period of decline reincarnates in the new race, or as has been very beautifully said, "The Old Waters mingle with the New." At the conclusion of this mingling period the new race becomes a race sui generis.

The Aryan Race became a race sui generis one million years ago. Looking at the diagram, the reader will notice that the cross-hatched areas do not reach the midpoint of the new race. This is intended to call attention to the fact that a race does not become a race sui generis until shortly before its culmination.

Those Egos who have not mingled or reincarnated in the new race by that time are called "Remnants." They are the backward and "savage" peoples scattered over the world today (pp. 44-8). The Eskimos and Andaman Islanders are remnants of the 3rd Root-Race; the Blackfellows of Australia and Tasmania, also the Maoris, are remnants of the 4th; others are 5th Root-Race branchlets; most of them are degenerate, not necessarily in a moral sense but evolutionally so. By their speech and traditions they will be recognized as a part of an old civilization. They are remnants not on account of being the unfortunate or the wicked, but for the reason that they are the "Last Comers" into the human family. When we remember that the "Door into the human kingdom" closed only at the midpoint of the Round, that is at the midpoint of the 4th or Atlantean Race, we can hardly expect them immediately to catch up with those who entered the human kingdom millions of years earlier (S. D. II, 168).

The most material point was reached 9,000,000 years ago; we of the Fifth Root-Race are on the "Ascending Arc"; Spirit is slowly disentangling itself from matter. Even our bodies are less gross than they were at the midpoint of the Fourth Root-Race. We can picture to ourselves men 27 feet high with gross solid flesh, even pebbly. The stature of man has diminished even as has that of the animals. The earth itself is less solid; it is now radio-active.

The teaching is that man's stature will grow less, but the distinctive thing about the Sixth Root-Race is that our bodies will be luminous. In the Seventh Root-Race we shall be more like bodies of light and again we shall be androgynous. Another point is that there were seven Gardens of Eden; simultaneously seven races came into being, not all of the same evolutionary status. They are described as being of different colors — some moon-colored, golden, brown, and so on. These seven races mingled together down to the midpoint of the Round. Thereafter they slowly separated into groups again, thus being ready to repeat the process in the next Round.

This diagram makes it possible to date the "Garden of Eden." How long is it since Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden? The answer is "about 18,000,000 years ago."

The identity of the Theosophical teachings about the descent of the Manasaputras and the allegory set forth in the early chapters of Genesis has not been sufficiently stressed. We shall find, perhaps, that the one illumines the other. An outline of the teachings of the Ancient Wisdom might be made as follows:

The human race was at first ethereal; we call this the 1st Root-Race. It became less ethereal or astral; this is the 2nd Root-Race.

In the 3rd Root-Race it becomes a more dense form of Astral or ethereally physical. At this stage man is sweat-born; later, egg-born from androgynous parents. At first the "chick" was itself androgynous; later, some were born female and others male. This gives us at least some idea of how the separation of the sexes took place. In Genesis the androgynous state is indicated in the words: "male and female created he them."

The time had come to enter the material plane, the ethereally physical becomes physical. This sounds mysterious, but at least it is no more mysterious than the materializations that can be made to take place in the seance room, or by an Adept. Mankind thus far is the product of a creative hierarchy called the Lunar Pitris. He is still an animal albeit slowly becoming sufficiently perfected to be the vehicle for the manifestation of higher faculties. He is said to be "mindless," guided by instinct, unselfconscious and irresponsible. At this stage occurs what is called the "sin of the mindless." Apes were produced by crossing with some species not destined to become human in this manvantara. In S. D. II, p. 185 it is shown that the responsibility for this rests with those "Sons of Wisdom" who refused to incarnate in the early 3rd Race.

To become truly human requires the assistance of the more evolved. These more evolved ones we call the Manasaputras, a word that means literally sons of mind or mind-born sons. It is a name given to our higher Egos before their incarnation in mankind. (See Glossary of The Key to Theosophy). For a time before incarnating, the Manasaputras are said to overshadow nascent humanity. This illustration may help: The human infant would remain mindless were it to survive on some island surrounded by animals only. It needs the care and mental stimulus provided by its parents and fellows. The role of the parent is that of the Manasaputras, a role undertaken willingly in both cases. There is a karmic obligation in both cases. This is a difficult subject to summarize, but to continue — after studying the sources given and S. D. II, 197-8 — after the separation man was able to create creatures like unto himself, but not Man the Thinker: "An act which forced the creative gods, compelled by Karmic law, to incarnate in mindless men." This is the descent of the Manasaputras mentioned at the beginning. The same facts bunderlie the story of the theft of the creative fire from Heaven by Prometheus.

With this picture in mind, let us see how the same facts are concealed in the story of the Garden of Eden. Not that one can feel competent to elucidate all the meanings, but one can at least point out some aspects. The whole story is often referred to as "The Fall," and to the student of occultism it is part of a greater drama called "The Fall of the Angels." In Christendom Satan and his hosts are "Fallen Angels" who rebelled and were cast out of Heaven.

The Fall of the Angels is a forceful and dramatic word picture of an incident in the great evolutionary drama. The Manasaputras are the Fallen Angels and so are we all. Those who rebelled were the Angels who delayed in fulfilling their karmic obligation to incarnate. They are satanic only in the sense that their descent inaugurated in man the battle between the Higher and the Lower Self.

The "Tree" is the symbol of the Sacred Knowledge, and is guarded by a dragon or serpent: that is by an Initiate or Hierophant.

The God of the first chapter of Genesis is the Logos. The Lord God of the second chapter is the Creative Elohim. (S. D. II, 1-2, footnote). It is only Adam Kadmon, the First Adam, who is made in the Image of God. The Adam of Chapter II, the Second Adam, is not so made until he eats of "The Fruit." The Third Adam is the Race separated, and his story begins with Chapter four (S. D. II, 46).

The Angels or Manasaputras "fell" or descended because they desired to acquire knowledge, to KNOW (S. D. I, 417). They preferred the "curse" of incarnation to seeing the misery of the beings below (even though unconscious) through the semi-passive energy of the too Spiritual Creators, for to become a God one must be born human, not angelic. Perhaps the foregoing explains the words: "They of the flaming sword (or animal passions) had put to flight the Spirits of Darkness." (S. D. II, 62) Not only is man more than an animal because there is a God in him, but he is more than a God because there is an animal in him. The mental torpor and unconsciousness of the first two races and the first half of the third, is symbolized in the second chapter of Genesis, by the deep sleep of Adam (S. D. II, 181). During this state the "rib" was taken from the side of Adam, with which the Lord God formed the woman. The story of Adam's rib may refer to the boneless becoming a Race with bones.

The "Sons of Will and Yoga" are born before the complete separation of the sexes, " "matured in the man-bearing eggs produced by the power (Kriyasakti) of the holy sages" of the early Third Race" (S. D. II, 181). They are the "Holy Seed grain" of the future Arhats, Mahatmans and Saviors of humanity, "who, at their zenith, were described as, "towering giants of godly strength and beauty, and the depositaries of all the mysteries of Heaven and Earth" " (S. D. II, 171-2). The Gods and Heroes of the Fourth and Fifth Races are "the deified images of these men of the Third" Race (S. D. II, 172). The reason for the expulsion from the Garden of Eden is said to be the jealousy of the Lord God (S. D. II, 282) at seeing the man of clay becoming a creator in his turn like the animals (S. D. I, 264). Another reason given is that in incarnating the Angels are accused of divulging the mysteries of heaven to the "daughters of men" and are therefore expelled. In trying to understand this we must remember that Adam and Eve in the Garden are not yet corporeal; they are in an intermediate state. It is only when they become corporeal and are "separated" that they are said to be expelled from the Celestial Eden.

With the foregoing to help us we may return to the story in Genesis: "And the Lord God [the creative Elohim or Jehovah] commanded the man saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." The Pitris feared lest they lose dominion over their creatures. "Now the serpent [the Manasaputra] was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God [the Pitris] had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? [or was it only the Pitris who said so?] Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat." This relates to the intermediate nature of man; the woman being later in the order of creation is the nascent soul. "And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked." In other words, they had become self-conscious. Whereafter: "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them." They became corporeal.

Here follow three verses telling of the curse and the expulsion from the garden. Even the Manasaputras or Sons of Will and Yoga are included in the Curse. We will recall the story of Prometheus who was also cursed and bound to a rock, and this may be interpreted to mean that thereafter he was karmically linked with those upon whom he had bestowed the heavenly fire. Just as in Genesis the Serpent (or Manasaputra) is karmically linked with those whom he had persuaded to eat of the Tree in the midst of the Garden.

The Curse against Adam and against Eve is that, now, being responsible beings with free will, they must learn by experience and abide the results of their mistakes, until they return to the Source from which they came "bringing their sheaves with them" or until the promise is fulfilled and they become Gods knowing Good and Evil.

Remembering that the role of the Manasaputra is the same as that of the Saviors of Mankind, the language of the New Testament takes on new meaning: "Who for us men and our salvation came down from heaven . . . and was made man and was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate" (i.e. the powers of this world). Both being karmically linked with those whom they have enlightened, they suffer vicariously until redemption or at-one-ment is achieved.


1. Prepared as an introductory lecture for the class in Architectural Appreciation, Theosophical University. (return to text)

2. Page numbers refer to Studies in Occult Philosophy unless otherwise noted. (return to text)

The Theosophical Forum