Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary

editors’ note: This online version of the Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary is a work in progress. For ease of searching, diacritical marks are omitted, with the exception of Hebrew and Sanskrit terms, where after the main heading a current transliteration with accents is given.

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Am (Hebrew) ’Ēm Mother; occasionally any female ancestor; also a mother-city, and by the same metaphor occasionally the earth as the common mother of all. See also AIMA; ’IMMA’ ‘ILLA’AH

Amaltheia, Amalthea (Greek) In Greek mythology a nymph who cared for the infant Zeus when his mother Rhea concealed him in a cave in Crete to keep him from being devoured by his father Kronos. Another legend credits the nymphs Ida and Adrastea with his care, but names the goat which suckled him Amaltheia. Amaltheia is associated with the cornucopis, the broken-off horn of the goat. As the horn of Amaltheia it became a symbol of inexhaustible abundance and was adopted as a favored attribute by various divinities, among them Hermes, Demeter, Gaia, Pluto, and Cybele.

In Roman legend, Amalthea is the Sibyl, the Cumaean, who offered the Sibylline Books to Tarquin.

Amanasa (Sanskrit) Amānasa [from a not + mānasa from manas mind from the verbal root man to think, perceive, reflect upon] Without mind, want of perception or intellect; applied to the early races of humanity before the manasaputras (sons of mind) had incarnated in them and effected the enlightening of manas (mind).

Amarakosa (Sanskrit) Amarakośa [from a not + mara dying from the verbal root mṛ to die + kośa treasury, sheath, dictionary] Also Amarakosha. Immortal treasury; a dictionary written by Amara or Amara-Simha, sage, scholar, and Buddhist, about whom not very much is definitely known. Orientalists place him anywhere between the 2nd and 6th centuries. They are unanimous, however, in rating the Amarakosa as equal in quality and importance for the Sanskrit language as is Panini’s grammar.

Amarakosa is also sometimes applied to the highest of the kosas (sheaths).

Amata-yana (Pali) Amata-yāna [from a not + mata dead, from the verbal root mṛ to die + yāna leading, going, vehicle, from the verbal root ya to go, proceed, advance] Immortal vehicle or way; equivalent to the Sanskrit amrita-yana, the immortal vehicle or individuality in contradistinction to the personal vehicle or ego (pachcheka-yana). It is, therefore, the immortal part of the human being, “a combination of the fifth, sixth, and seventh” principles — atman, buddhi, and manas (cf ML 114).

Amazarak In the Book of Enoch, one of the seven first instructors of the fourth root-race (SD 2:376).

Amba (Sanskrit) Ambā, Amba Mother; a woman of respect or distinction. A name of Durga, consort of Siva; in the Mahabharata the eldest of the three daughters of the King of Kasi who were abducted by Bhishma to become the wives of his brother Vichitravirya. When Bhishma learned that Amba was already pledged to the Raja of Salva, he sent her to him. The Raja, however, rejected her because she had been in another man’s house. Deeply hurt, Amba retired to the forest to practice extreme austerities in order that she might gain the power to avenge the wrong done to her by Bhishma. She ended her life voluntarily on a funeral pyre and was reborn as Sikhandin, who eventually, in the great battle between the Kauravas and Pandavas, slew Bhishma. Her sisters, Ambika and Ambalika, became respectively the mothers of the blind king Dhritarashtra and of Pandu, father of Arjuna.

Amba likewise is the eldest of the seven Krittikas (Pleiades), represented as being the consorts of the Saptarshis (seven rishis) or Saptarkshas of the Great Bear. From immortal antiquity the mystical mythology of many ancient peoples, including the Hindus, has connected the constellation of the Great Bear with the Pleiades, implying an intimate bond of some kind. It is of interest, therefore, to note that astronomers have discovered a family connection between the stars of these two groups.

In The Secret Doctrine Amba is a term of mystical reverence applied to Aditi and akasa, “the celestial Virgin-Mother of the visible universe” (1:460).

Ambamata (Sanskrit) Aṃbāmātā Mother of the mountain; Rajastani aspect of Kali or Durga, the great mother, “patroness and guardian of boys, the future warriors” (Caves and Jungles 623). Equivalent to mater montana, a title of Cybele or Vesta as guardian of children. ( )

Ambarvales, Ambarvalia (Latin) Italian festivals in honor of Ceres held at Rome on May 29, when the fields were blessed; in rural areas, the people walked three times round their fields following a hog, ram, and bull which were then sacrificed after a prayer for fruitfulness to Ceres (originally to Mars). Its rituals with cake, wine, water, and chalice were identical with and the origin of those of the Christian mass (BCW 11:100).

Amber Pale yellow, brown, or reddish fossilized resin, capable of a negative electric charge by friction. In Greek mythology amber was formed from the tears of Meleager’s sisters, or alternately of Phaeton’s sisters dropped into the Eridan after he was killed trying to drive the chariot of the sun. While the Eridan is usually identified with the Po River in Italy, Blavatsky holds that it was a northern sea (SD 2:770n). In Scandinavian myths it was attributed to the tears of Freya. In China amber was said to be the soul of the tiger transformed into a mineral after its death. It has been used widely for medicinal, religious, and decorative purpose.

Ambhamsi (Sanskrit) Ambhāṃsi [from ambhas water, from the verbal root bhā to shine] Water; in the Vedas the celestial waters and also a synonym for gods, but in the Brahmanas and Puranas the four orders of beings that variously “shine” or flourish: deva-manushyah (gods and men), pitris (fathers or manes), and asuras (demons, not-gods). This is “because they are all the product of waters (mystically), of the Akasic Ocean . . . If the student of Esoteric philosophy thinks deeply over the subject he is sure to find out all the suggestiveness of the term Ambhamsi, in its manifold relations to the Virgin in Heaven, to the Celestial Virgin of the Alchemists, and even to the ‘Waters of Grace’ of the modern Baptist” (SD 1:458n).

Ambrosia (Greek) [from ambrotos immortal from a not + mortos or brotos mortal; cf Sanskrit amṛta from a not + the verbal root mṛ to die; Latin immortalus from in not + mors death] In Classical myths variously the food, drink, or unguent of the gods or divine wisdom, connected with nectar; anything that confers or promotes immortality. Equivalent to the Sanskrit amrita and soma and the northern European mead. In a Chinese allegory, the flying Dragon drinks of ambrosia and falls to earth with his host. The laws of evolution entail a so-called curse or fall upon virtually all the hosts of monads frequently called angels, whereby they are cast down to the nether pole and undergo peregrinations in the realms of matter; in the case of many such “fallen angels,” this involves imbodiment or incarnation on earth. Man himself at a stage of his evolution experiences a similar “descent” and speeding-up, due to the impulses of the immortal urge within his breast to grow, progress, evolve, and become cognizant of larger reaches of truth. This is evident in the highly mystical Hebrew story of the forbidden Tree and in the various legends pertaining to soma in Hindu literature.

Yet on the upward arc of an evolutionary cycle, partaking of this sacred ambrosial food signifies initiation, the partaking by the initiant in the Mysteries of the “drink” of spiritual immortality. This drink is symbolized by the cup and its contained liquid, but actually is the receiving into the consciousness from the inner nature of the life-giving streams, the draught of everlasting life, or the elixir of life. After partaking of this ambrosial elixir, brought about by lives of selflessness and by final initiation, the adept learns to live in the minor and intermediate spheres of the solar system as a fully self-conscious co-laborer with the gods in their cosmic work. Such are the higher nirmanakayas, true buddhas, etc.

Amdo (Tibetan) a mdo. The northeastern-most region of the Tibetan cultural area, roughly equivalent to the northeastern quarter of the present Chinese province of Tsinghai (Qinghai), including the area around the Koko Nor. Tsong-kha-pa was born here, in the locality of Tsong-kha, southeast of the Koko Nor. In the time of the third Dalai Lama the great monastery of Kumbum (Tibetan shu ’bum) was founded at Tsong-kha-pa’s birthplace.

Amen (Hebrew) ’Āmēn [from ’āman to be firm, faithful, trustworthy, sure] Firmness, permanency, durability, truth, fidelity; as an adverb truly, certainly, verily, so be it. The significance of amen is in many cases almost identic with that of the Sanskrit Aum (Om). For this reason in Christian prayers or church services it has been adopted as the final word closing a prayer — another usage closely similar to the way in which Om is used in Sanskrit writings. In later Gnostic times Amen was one of the angelic host.

In ancient Egypt one of the great gods was called Amen or Ammon. See also AMMON

Ame No Mi Naka Nushi No Kami (Japanese) Divine monarch of the central heaven; the first of three arupa (formless) spiritual beings to appear from kon-ton (chaos) in Japanese cosmogony (SD 1:214).

Amen-Ra. See AMMON-RA

Amenti, Amentet (Egyptian) Amenti, Ȧmentet. The underworld (Tuat), the hidden place or secret region. The 15th or last house (Aat) of the Tuat, called Amentet-nefert (beautiful Amenti) and described as the dwelling place of the gods, where they live upon cakes and ale — in this respect similar to the Scandinavian Valhalla, the heaven world or devachan. The afterworlds were also referred to as Sekhet-hetep or -hetepet (the fields of peace), called in Greece the Elysian Fields, under the dominion of Osiris, lord of Amenti. Some of the texts speak of Amenti as situated far to the north of Egypt, although it is more commonly referred to as the Silent Land of the West. Other texts place it either below or above the earth, and the deceased is pictured as needing a ladder to ascend to the region.

The deceased, entering the domain as a khu, performs the same activities that he did on earth: plowing, reaping, sailing his boat, and making love. On entering Amenti, Anubis conducts the soul to the hall of Osiris where it is judged by the 42 judges and its heart is weighed against the feather of truth. If the soul passes the test, it goes to the fields of Aalu. If the names of the 15 Aats, the 7 Arrets (circles), the 21 Pylons, as well as the gods and guardians of these domains are all known, the deceased is enabled to pass from one mansion to the other, and finally to enter the Night Boat of the Sun, which passes through the Tuat on its way to arise in the heavens. The shades who miss this boat, the unprogressed egos, must remain in the afterworld or kama-loka, while those who enter the boat are carried to the heaven world or devachan where they wander about until they return to earth for rebirth. This refers to the passing from world to world by the ego proficient in knowledge of the “names,” and thereafter entering the secret or invisible pathways to the sun. The knowledge of the names indicates spiritual, intellectual, and psychic development, by which the ego of the defunct is no longer attracted to the lower spheres, but having knowledge of them correctly answers the challenges and thereafter follows the attraction upwards and onwards.

Writing on the symbol of the egg which is often depicted as floating above a mummy, Blavatsky says: “This is the symbol of hope and the promise of a second birth for the Osirified dead; his Soul, after due purification in the Amenti, will gestate in this egg of immortality, to be reborn from it into a new life on earth. For this Egg, in the esoteric Doctrine, is the Devachan, the abode of Bliss; the winged scarabeus being alike a symbol of it” (SD 1:365).

The mystical and mythologic teachings concerning Amenti were all more or less symbolic descriptions of the series of afterdeath states and adventures experienced by the excarnate entity. Thus kama-loka, devachan, and the postmortem peregrinations of the excarnate monad are all combined under the one term Amenti.

Amers One of the “transgressing” angels in the Book of Enoch, who taught Fourth Race mankind the “solution of magic” (SD 2:376).

Amesha-Spentas (Avestan) Ameshā-Spentās [from a not + mesha, mara mortal, mutable + spenta benefactor, holy, soul-healing] Immortal benefactors; six in number: Vohu-Manah, Asha-Vahishta, Khshathra-Vayria, Spenta-Armaiti (love), Haurvatat (perfection), and Ameretat (immortality). The first three are attributes of Ahura-Mazda, abstractions without form. These male positive creative forces leave their impressions in the mental world and give birth to the second trinity, who lead man to freedom. “The Amshaspends, [are] our Dhyan-Chohans or the ‘Serpents of Wisdom.’ They are identical with, and yet separate from Ormazd (Ahura-Mazda). They are also the Angels of the Stars of the Christians — the Star-yazatas of the Zoroastrians — or again the seven planets (including the sun) of every religion. The epithet — ‘the shining having efficacious eyes’ — proves it. This on the physical and sidereal planes. On the spiritual, they are the divine powers of  Ahura-Mazda; but on the astral or psychic plane again, they are the ‘Builders,’ the ‘watchers,’ the Pitar (fathers), and the first Preceptors of mankind” (SD 2:358).

“Zarathushtra is the Divine Universal Force that directs everything within the universe towards perfection. This force is known as Amesha-Spenta” (Shahrestani, Al-Melal Va Al-Nehal). This force is equivalent to the Gnostic primeval ruler or governor, the closest being to the creator; the active mind or intellect which is the source of divine bliss and providence, with the Manichaen pure or holy spirits; the Hebrew elohim, the Arabic Malaeka (angels); the Koranic soul within the angels; and the theosophic dhyani-chohans or dhyani-buddhas. They are the rulers of the seven globes of the earth-chain.

A verse in the Ormazd Yasht (prayer to Ahura-Mazda) hints at another aspect of the Amesha-Spentas connected with the afterdeath state. Each one is named, and the verse ends: these “are the reward of the holy ones, when freed from their bodies, my creatures” (v 25).

Some consider Ahura-Mazda as the chief of the six Amesha-Spentas, but this is valid only when Ahura-Mazda is taken for the pure, unmanifested light and not as the father of all creation. See also AMSHASPANDS

Ameyatman (Sanskrit) Ameyātman [from ameya immeasurable from a not + the verbal root to measure, mark off + ātman self] Immeasurable soul or self; applied to Vishnu as one possessing extraordinary or immeasurable wisdom and magnanimity (VP 3:17; 5:9).

Amilakha (Mongolian) The state of those beings who entered or animated human forms; referring especially to the dhyani-buddhas and divine bodhisattvas.

Amitabha (Sanskrit) Amitābha [from a not + the verbal root to measure + ābhā (ābha) splendor, light from ā-bhā to shine, irradiate] Unmeasured splendor; mystically, as boundless light or boundless space, one of the five dhyani-buddhas of Tibetan Buddhism, more often referred to as the five tathagathas or jinas (victorious ones). Originally these dhyani-buddhas represented cosmic spiritual attributes and influences emanating from adi-buddhi, but they have become mythologized as gods, ruling over the central realm as well as the four cardinal directions.

Amitabha of the West, whose Tibetan name is Wod-pag-med (O-pa me) is the ruling deity of Sukhavati (the western paradise or pure land) and in China and Japan is universally worshiped as Amida-buddha. Esoterically, there are seven dhyani-buddhas (five only have manifested thus far) who represent “both cosmic entities and the rays or reflections of these cosmic originals which manifest in man as monads” (FSO 507; cf SD 1:108).

The Panchen Lama has been traditionally regarded as the tulku of Amitabha, and the Dalai Lama as the tulku of Avalokitesvara (Tibetan Chenrezi).

Amitabha corresponds to the First Logos, the Father in the Christian Trinity, the Pythagorean monad of monads, and in the human being to atman. From a philosophical-mystic standpoint, Amitabha also means “no color” or the “white glory,” the primal spiritual element-principle of the solar system, from which are born the seven differentiated “colors” of the manifested prismatic kosmic hierarchies.

Amita-buddha (Sanskrit) Amita-buddha Chinese and Tibetan Buddhist name for universal, primeval wisdom or soul, equivalent to adi-buddha. Also the celestial name of Gautama Buddha. Tsong-kha-pa is considered a direct incarnation of Amita-buddha (BCW 14:425-8; SD 1:108&n).

Amitayus (Sanskrit) Amitāyus Universal life or boundless vitality, “with distinct reference to that part of the cosmic hierarchy of our solar system which manifests itself throughout as intelligent, unifying, and all-encompassing vitality issuing from the heart of the sun” (FSO 508).

Ammon (Greek) Ámmōn Amen (Egyptian) Ȧmen. Also Amun, Amon. In the Egyptian 5th dynasty, Amen and his consort Ament were among the primeval gods, mentioned immediately after the deities connected with primeval matter, Nau and Nen (gods of the cosmic watery abyss). He was envisaged as “All-nature,” the universe itself, especially in its occult and secret aspects. After the 12th dynasty, however, this god additionally became looked upon as having solar attributes, and therefore was called Amen-Ra — the chief deity of the powerful priesthood of Thebes, whose sway encompassed the whole of Egypt. Ammon was identified particularly with the hidden aspect of the sun, for the hymns are addressed: “he who is hidden to gods and men,” “he who is unknown,” “thy name is hidden from thy children in thy name Amen.”

Ammon-Ra (Greek) Ámmōn-Rā Amen-Ra (Egyptian) Ȧmen-Rā. When the princes of Thebes had conquered all rival claimants to the sovereignty of Egypt and established themselves as rulers of the dual Empires, they followed in religious, mystical, and occult matters the thought of the powerful priesthood of Thebes. Thus after the 12th dynasty a new manner of visioning the ancient god Ammon came into prominence, under the name Ammon-Ra, although the latter’s preeminence as chief god of Egypt did not occur until the 17th dynasty. The attributes of the hidden deity Ammon were combined with the solar god Ra, and this deity was acclaimed by the priests as the chief of the gods of Egypt. Ammon-Ra seems to be devoid of most, at least, of the mystical symbols that are present in representations of the older deities, although the hymns to the god that were carefully prepared by the priests incorporated all the attributes and phraseology prevalent in the other scriptures.

Amon. See AMMON

Amorites (Hebrew) ’Emorī An Amorite; originally a mountaineer, but finally a Canaanite people living in the land east and west of the Jordan. Used in the Bible interchangeably with Canaanites (though the latter generally referred to people still living, while Amorites especially referred to the people of the past), the term is evidently connected with the Assyrian name Amurru, Egyptian Amar, and Babylonian Mar-tu, referring to the lands north of Palestine as far as Kadesh on the Orontes — although there was a district of the name Mar-tu in the neighborhood of Babylonia.

Amphain-Essumen (Gnostic) Also Amphian-Essumene. The sixth pair of aeons or emanations as given in the Valentinian scheme by the Christian Father Epiphanius.

Ampsiu-Ouraan or -Auraan (Gnostic) The sempiternal depth and silence; a pair of Aeons in the Valentinian system as given by Epiphanius, the first emanation of the eternal bythos (depth), from which the other 14 pairs of Aeons eminate, equivalent to the Second Logos (SD 2:569n).

Amrita (Sanskrit) Amṛta [from a not + mṛta dead from the verbal root mṛ to die] Immortality; the water of life or immortality, the ambrosial drink or spiritual food of the gods. According to the Puranas, Ramayana, and Mahabharata, amrita is the elixir of life produced during the contest between the devas and asuras when churning the “milky sea” (the waters of life). It has been stolen many times, but as often recovered, and it is still preserved carefully in devaloka.

In the Vedas, amrita is applied to the mystical soma juice, which makes a new man of the initiate and enables his spiritual nature to overcome and govern the lower elements of his nature. It is beyond any guna (quality), for it is unconditioned per se (cf SD 1:348). Mystically speaking, therefore, amrita is the “drinking” of the water of supernal wisdom and the spiritual bathing in its life-giving power. It means the rising above all the unawakened or prakritic elements of the constitution, and becoming at one with and thus living in the kosmic life-intelligence-substance.

Amrita-yana (Sanskrit) Amṛta-yāna [from a not + mṛta dead from the verbal root mṛ to die + yāna path, vehicle] The path of immortality; in The Voice of the Silence the path followed by the Buddhas of Compassion or of Perfection. It is the “secret path,” the arya (noble) path of the heart doctrine of esoteric wisdom. The Buddhas of Compassion instead of donning the dharmakaya vesture and then entering nirvana, as the Pratyeka Buddhas do, give up nirvana and assume the nirmanakaya robe, thus enabling them to work directly for all beings less evolved than they; and because of this great individual sacrifice, the nirmanakaya condition is in one sense the holiest of the trikaya (three vestures). The amrita-yana is thus a lofty spiritual pathway, and leads to the ineffable glories of self-conscious immortality in the cosmic manvantaric “eternity.”

The term may also refer to the “immortal vehicle” within each person, the individuality in contradistinction to the evanescent personality; that is, “the Spiritual Soul, or the Immortal monad — a combination of the fifth, sixth and seventh” principles (ML 114).

Amsa, Amsu (Sanskrit) Aṃśa, Aṃśu Fragment, particle, part; name of one of the adityas in the Mahabharata; also of Surya (the sun) whose solar energy was so tremendous that the divine architect Visvakarman cut off an eighth part of his glory. From the luminous fragments (amsa) which fell to earth, Visvakarman made a number of implements for the gods, including Vishnu’s discus and Siva’s trident. In the Bhagavad-Gita (15:7), Krishna emanates an amsa of himself which, becoming a jiva (monad) in the world of living beings, draws to itself manas (mind) and the five senses which originate in prakriti (nature).

Also, the tonic or predominant note in a raga, a Hindu mode of musical notes or melodic sounds so formulated as to arouse intensity of emotion, often of a high order, appropriate to the different portions of the day and night.

In theosophy amsa may be applied to particles of any kind: to a life-atom as well as to a monad as points or “fragments” of the cosmic consciousness-life-substance.

Amsamsavatara (Sanskrit) Aṃśāṃśāvatāra [from aṃśāṃśā (aṃśa + aṃśa) portion of a portion, fragment + avatāra descent from ava-tṝ to cross over down, descend] The descent of a part of a part; applied to the numerous manifestations of Vishnu and Brahma; in the Vishnu-Purana more particularly to Krishna and to the “actions he performed as a part of a part [amsamsavatara] of the Supreme, upon the earth” (5:1). An avatara or so-called divine descent is never a “descent” or incarnation of the wholeness or entirety of a divinity, but only of a part of it; so that every avatara involves a descent only of a part of a part, and hence, strictly speaking, may be called an amsamsavatara. Obviously, the greater the avatara, the greater in influence though not necessarily of form is the amsa or portion which descends (cf MB Adiparvan 7).

Amshaspands (Pahlavi) Also Amshaspends. The seven bright and glorious ones, Pahlavi version of the Avestic Amesha-Spenta. They refer to the six attributes of Ahura-Mazda, both in the spiritual and mental worlds. The first three — Vohu-Man (Bahman), Asha-Vahishta (Ordibehesht), and Khshathra-Vayria (Shahrivar) — are the three aspects of truth. Spenta-Armaiti (Spandar-Maz or Esphand), Haurvata (Khordad), and Ameretat (Amordad) are reflections of the first male trinity in the mental world. The total sum of the six is kherad (intellect), man’s liberating force, which is not to be mistaken as Ahura-Mazda, the supreme creator.

The Amshaspands in ancient Persian theology bore the same general relation to the universe that the seven or ten prajapatis have in the Hindu scriptures, or that the seven or ten Sephiroth have in the Hebrew Qabbalah. See also Amesha-Spenta.

Amsumat, Amsuman (Sanskrit) Aṃśumat, Aṃśumān [from aṃśu filament, ray of light] As an adjective, threadlike or filamentoid, luminous as the sun and moon; also rich in soma plants and soma juice. As a noun, Amsuman is a prince of the solar race, son of Asamanjas, and grandson of King Sagara whose 60,000 sons were consumed by the glance of Kapila’s “eye.” Their remains were discovered by Amsuman who brought back to earth the horse which had been abducted from Sagara during the Asvamedha sacrifice (cf SD 2:570).

Amula-mula (Sanskrit) Amūla-mūla [from a not + mūla root, basis] The Rootless Root; used by Blavatsky for mulaprakriti (TG 20), the spiritual root or essence of nature, the spiritually substantial originant of all, because the veil or garment of parabrahman, the boundless.

Amun (Coptic) The god of hidden or secret wisdom, equivalent to the Egyptian Ammon or Amen. See also POT AMUN

Ana (Chaldean) The invisible heaven; the astral light, the heavenly mother of the terrestrial sea. One of the triad comprising the goddesses Ana, Belita, and Damkina. As mother of the sea, a likely origin of the Christian symbology of the Virgin Mary standing on the crescent moon and of her connection with the sea. “Anna (the name of the Mother of the Virgin Mary) . . . is derived from the Chaldean Ana” (SD 1:91).

In the Hindu pantheon a cognate is Annapurna (a name of Devi-Durga, wife of Siva), meaning “full of food” — the fecund mother, the “Astral Light in one of its multitudinous aspects” (SD 1:92). See also ANAITIS; MARY

Anaces, Anactes. See ANAKTES

Anaerobes. See AEROBES

Anagamin (Sanskrit) Anāgāmin [from a not + āgāmin from ā-gam to come, proceed toward] One who does not come; in Southern or Theravada Buddhism, a “never returner,” one who will not be reborn on earth again — “unless he so desires in order to help mankind” (VS 88). The third stage of the fourfold path that leads to nirvana, the path of arhatship. See also ARHAT

Anagnidagdha. See AGNIDAGDHA

Anagraniyam (Sanskrit) Anagrāṇīyam [possibly anagrāṇīya from an not + agra beginning, point + aṇīyas exceedingly minute from aṇu atom] Used in The Secret Doctrine (1:357) with reference to parabrahman as being “smaller than the smallest atom, and greater than the greatest sphere or universe: Anagraniyam and Mahatorvavat.” It is possible that the Sanskrit phrase for “smaller than the small, and greater than the great” (anor aniyan mahato mahiyan) was meant. The salient point is that the heart of parabrahman (or Brahman) is identic in essence with the heart of an anu (atom). See also Aniyamsam aniyasam

Anahata-sabda (Sanskrit) Anāhata-śabda [from an not + ā-han to beat, strike + śabda sound from the verbal root śabd to make noise, cry out, invoke] Unstruck circle of sound; the immaterial sound produced by no form of material substance; a mystical bell-like sound at times heard by the dying which slowly lessens in intensity until the moment of death. Also heard by the yogi or contemplative at certain stages of his meditation. The Theravada Buddhists speak of this inner signal as the voice of devas which resemble the “sound of a golden bell” (Digha-nikaya 1:152). The anahata-sabda is, in reality, a reflection of the inherent sound-characteristic of akasa (cf VS 18, 78).

Anahita (Avestan) Anāhita, Nahid (Persian) Nāhīd [earlier form in full Arədvī Sūrā Anāhitā, from ared to grow straight or high, expand + sūra strong, powerful + anāhīta undefilable from a not + ahit unclean] The Avestan goddess of the waters dwelling in the region of the stars; similar to the Hindu Ganga, she is described as “the large river, known afar, that is as large as the whole of the waters that run along the earth; that runs powerfully from the height Hukairya down to the sea Vouru-Kasha [the waters of space]. All the shores of the sea Vouru-Kasha are boiling over, all the middle of it is boiling over, when she runs down there, when she streams down there, she, Ardvi Sura Anahita, who has a thousand cells and a thousand channels: the extent of each of those cells, of each of those channels is as much as a man can ride in forty days, riding on a good horse. From this river of mine [Ahura-Mazda’s] alone flow all the waters that spread all over the seven Karshvares [the seven globes of the earth-chain]; this river of mine alone goes on bringing waters, both in summer and in winter” (Aban Yasht 3-5).

According to Berosus, it was Artaxerxes Mnemon (404-361 BC) who first instituted formal worship of a divinity hitherto held too holy and sacred for public adoration, erecting statues under the name of Venus-Anahita — thus she became the Anaitis of the Greeks. Blavatsky equates her with the Hindu Sarasvati.

In the old Persian Language Aredvi-Sur-Nahid has been used in the sense of powerful and unblemished water; Nahid is also the name of Venus. Anahita represents the water of life or the primordial substance in which the life-giving Mithra penetrates and creates light. Mehr-Ab [Mithra + water] is the name given to the most sacred place of worship or altar in all mosques, usually represented with a triangle over a square, geometrically pertaining to the number seven. This symbol can also be seen in some carpet designs and many Persian artifacts of different periods, both Islamic and pre-Islamic.

Anaitis, Anait (Chaldean) Also Anaitia, Aneitis, Tanais, Nanaea. A goddess whose worship was widespread over large portions of the Near East; “identical with the Hindu Annapurna, one of the names of Kali — the female aspect of Siva — at her best” (TG 21). Identified with the Greek Artemis and Aphrodite. “Anna (the name of the Mother of the Virgin Mary) . . . is derived from the Chaldean Ana, heaven, or Astral Light, Anima Mundi; whence Anaitia, Devi-durga, the wife of Siva, is also called Annapurna, and Kanya, the Virgin; ‘Uma-Kanya’ being her esoteric name, and meaning the ‘Virgin of light,’ Astral Light in one of its multitudinous aspects” (SD 1:91-2).

Anak, Sons of; Anakim (Hebrew) ‘Ānāq, ‘Ānāqīm An ancient race of giants in the Bible. When Moses sent Joshua to spy out the land of Canaan, the people seen were “men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight” (Numbers 13:32-3). Blavatsky comments that the giants of antiquity “lived and flourished one million rather than between three and four thousand years ago. The Anakim of Joshua . . . are thus a piece of Israelite fancy, unless indeed the people of Israel claim for Joshua an antiquity and origin in the Eocene, or at any rate in the Miocene age, and change the millenniums of their chronology into millions of years” (SD 2:340).

Anaktes, Anakes (Greek) Also Anactes, Anaces. Kings, chiefs; applied by Homer and other Greeks to the gods, as for instance the Dioscuri. When used of creative powers, they are identified with the kabeiroi, corybantes, curetes, etc.

Analogeticists Name for the disciples of Ammonius Saccas, from their use of analogy and correspondence in the interpretation of myths and symbolic legends.

Anamnesis (Greek) [from ana back again + mimnesco remember] Recollection; used by Plato in his theory of knowledge. He taught that the human elements of consciousness sprang from seeds of inherent knowledge in the soul, present in the mind as the result of past experiences of the egoic center or reincarnating ego. Thus the acquisition of knowledge is a process of reminiscence or recollection of former experiences.

Ananda (Sanskrit) Ānanda [from ā-nand to rejoice, be delighted] Bliss, joy, happiness; the favorite disciple of Gautama Buddha, who served his teacher with utmost devotion for twenty years and is credited with having recited, shortly after the Buddha’s parinibbana (great passing away), the entire buddhavachana (word of Buddha).

In Vedantic philosophy, the third word of the phrase sat-chit-ananda (sachchidananda): the three attributes given to atman or Brahman, or the cosmic Logos. See also CHIT; SAT.

Ananda-lahari (Sanskrit) Ānanda-lahari [from ānanda joy, bliss + lahari a large wave] A poem attributed to Sankaracharya, written in the guise of a hymn of praise to Parvati, consort of Siva, and containing highly mystical teaching (TG 21).

Anandamayakosa (Sanskrit) Ānandamayakośa [from ānanda bliss, joy + maya built of, formed of from the verbal root to measure, form + kośa sheath] Bliss-built sheath; in the Vedantic classification, the first of the panchakosa (five sheaths) of the human constitution which enclose the divine monad (atman); it corresponds to the spiritual soul (buddhi). Anandamayakosa is sometimes mystically referred to as the sheath of the sun. See also KOSA

Ananga (Sanskrit) Anaṅga [from an not + aṅga limb, member, division] Without limbs or parts; hence bodiless, incorporeal. Name of the god Kama (Kamadeva) because as Puranic legend has it he was made bodiless by a flash from Siva’s third eye when attempting to disturb Siva’s life of austerity (cf also Ramayana, Balakanda 23). Siva is the patron of esotericists, and what is represented by the Eye of Siva “mystically, must be acquired by the ascetic before he becomes an adept” (SD 2:282, 615). By extension, precisely because ananga means without limbs or parts, it is a graphic and suggestive title of all spiritual potencies, qualities, or attributes; also a title of akasa, the sky or cosmic ether, and of manas (mind). Thus not only is the god Kama bodiless, but every distinct portion of the human spiritual nature is equally so.

Anagna is also the name of the main sacred writings of the Jains.

Ananta-sesha (Sanskrit) Ananta-śeṣa [from an not + anta end + the verbal root śiṣ to leave remainders] Endless sishtas or remainders; name of the serpent of eternity described in the Puranas as the seat or carrier of the divine Vishnu during the periodical pralayas of the universe. It is thus infinite time itself, figurated as the great seven-headed serpent on which rests Vishnu, the manvantaric Logos when the Logos sinks into pralayic inactivity. This compound signifies the ever-continuing sishtas (spiritual cosmic seeds or residues) carried over from manvantara to manvantara through the intervening pralaya, and thus through eternity. It is on this endless aggregate of cosmic sishtas that Vishnu the cosmic Logos reclines, the thread of logoic consciousness being thus passed from manvantara to manvantara through the pralaya. Just as Vishnu in theosophy is a generalizing term for all the innumerable interblending hierarchies of beings and things which are unfolded during manvantara, so during pralaya Vishnu stands for the same aggregate of hierarchies conceived of as resting on the karmic remainders or “sleeping” webs of substance left over from the previous manvantara. See also SESHA

Anastasis (Greek) Rising up; used in referring to the dead and to resurrection. However, this ancient mystical term was originally used for the rising of the initiant when, having completed the dread trials of initiation, he rose a new man, one who was reborn, or what in India was called a dvija (twice-born). Another significance belonging from earliest times to the cycle of initiation is that when a person through severe training, initiation, and a complete turning away from things of matter to things of spirit, had succeeded in becoming at one with his inner god at least on occasions, he was then considered to have arisen or to have become resurrected out of all the lower ranges of kosmic life, and to have attained self-conscious existence in the spirit. Having attained anastasis, he took his place in the hierarchy of light or compassion as one of the co-laborers with the gods.

Anatman (Sanskrit) Anātman [from an not, non + ātman soul, self, variously derived from the verbal root at to move, the verbal root an to breathe, the verbal root va to blow] Non-self, non-spirit; as an adjective, destitute of mind or spirit, corporeal. Used of the cosmos it signifies, in contrast to atman which is absolute spirit, its shadow or non-spirit, the corporeal or vehicular side of the universe, often mystically spoken of as the cosmic shadow. See also ANATTA

Anatta (Pali) Anattā [from an not + attā self, soul] Non-self, nonegoity; a Buddhist doctrine postulating that there is no unchanging, permanent self (atta, Sanskrit atman) in the human being, in contrast to the Upanishad view that the atman or inner essence of a human being is identic with Brahman, the Supreme, which pervades and is the universe. While Gautama Buddha stresses the nonreality of self, regarding as continuous only its attributes (the five khandas; Sanskrit skandhas) which return at rebirth, there is scriptural testimony in both Southern and Northern Schools that the Buddha recognized a fundamental selfhood in the human constitution (ET 593-4 3rd & rev ed).

In the Dhammapada, one of the most respected texts of the Southern Buddhists, we read: “The self is the master of the self [atta hi attano natho], for who else could be its master?” (12:160); in the Mahaparinibbana-sutta (2:33, 35): attadipa attasarana, “be ye as those who have the self [atta] as their light [diva, also translated as island]; be ye as those who have the self [atta] as their refuge [sarana]” (cf RK Dh. 12, 45). Also we find Nagarjuna stating in his commentary on the Prajna-paramita: “Sometimes the Tathagata taught that the Atman verily exists, and yet at other times he taught that the Atman does not exist” (Chinese recension of Yuan Chung).

Anatum or Antum (Chaldean) Consort of the god of heaven, Anu, supreme god of the Assyro-Babylonian pantheon. Whereas Anu represented heaven and height, Anatum represented the earth and depth. She was regarded as the mother of the gods, as well as being the mother of the god Ea or Hea. “Astronomically she is Ishtar, Venus, the Ashtoreth of the Jews” (TG 21). Anu and Anatum correspond to Ouranos and Gaia in Hesiod, and therefore in one of her mystical significances Anatum corresponds with the Hindu prakriti.

Anaxagoras of Clazomenae (500?-428 BC) A Greek scientific philosopher who lived in Athens and associated with the distinguished men of the Periclean era. Like Parmenides he denied the existence of birth or death, seeing the two processes as a mingling and unmingling. The ultimate elements of this process are the infinite number of indivisible, imperishable particles (atoms or homoeomere), acted on and ordered by spirit or pure cosmic reason (nous, equivalent to the Hindu mahat). He openly taught the Pythagorean astronomical ideas concerning the movement and nature of the planets, moon, sun, stars, etc., and attempted to explain all phenomena by natural causes. He “firmly believed that the spiritual prototypes of all things, as well as their elements, were to be found in the boundless ether, where they were generated, whence they evolved, and whither they returned from earth” (IU 1:158).

Anaximenes of Miletus (611-547 BC) Ionian Greek philosopher, pupil of Anaximander, who held air to be the fundamental principle from which fire arose through rarefaction and water and solids arose through condensation. He also held that the universe was alive, and that the individual soul was a small portion of the most rarefied “air” or ultimate world-substance, trapped within the individual being (cf Guthrie, Greek Philosophers 80). He taught that mankind had evolved from the animals, though not in the Darwinian sense. (BCW 6:204) (BCW 11:270; IU 1:238, SD 1:77, 590)

Ancestors. See PITRIS

Ancestor Worship A cult variously observed around the world and usually defined as the cult of the spirits of parents and forefathers. It implies belief in the continued existence of the deceased and in certain cases in their power of being interested in and affected by the fortunes of their living descendants; the sense of a perpetual spiritual unity and moral reciprocity in obligations and services; and a dependence of the fortunes of the living on the fulfillment of these obligations. This can be seen from the ancient Roman ideas portrayed in the Aeneid, where the household gods (lares and penates) are so carefully preserved through all vicissitudes. This belief and practice point to times when death was regarded as merely an event in a continuous life. With the ancient cults, the sense of personal separateness seems merged in the more vivid sense of family unity, from whose privileges and obligations death is no discharge.

The basic idea behind ancestor worship seems to be that its holders envisaged unity in a continuous and never-ending stream of lives, perpetuating itself in succession through the ages, and out of which and back into which individuals arise and sink, an idea in direct contrast to the modern view that the individual is the most important factor in life.

Ancient of Days [translation of Chaldean ’Attīq Yōmīn] Used by Qabbalists to designate the first or primeval Ancient, equivalent to Adi-sanat. In one aspect it is the third of the Qabbalistic trinity of ’eyn soph, Shechinah, and the Ancient of Days. One passage in the Chaldean Book of Numbers says: “The first triad of the body of Adam Kadmon (the three upper planes of the seven) cannot be seen before the soul stands in the presence of the Ancient of Days” (SD 1:239).

Ancient of the Ancient [translation of Chaldean ‘Attīqā’ dĕ‘attīqīn] Qabbalistic term referring to the primordial aspect of the first Sephirah: “He is formed and yet is not formed. He is formed to sustain All and not formed because He is not found. When He is formed nine flaming Lights go out from Him; and from these Lights are emitted flames and they expand themselves out to all directions, like a lamp which spreads light to all sides” (Zohar iii 288a). The nine flaming lights refer to the nine consequential emanations of the Sephirothal Tree.

The Qabbalah here uses “He” to describe one of the mostl profound and mystical — because purely impersonal — conceptions in cosmogony; because the first Sephirah is Kether the Crown and hence the first of the cosmic rays emanating from the abysmal cosmic deep. From this Crown, called Ancient of the Ancient, flowed forth in emanational procession all the other developments of the cosmic Tree of Life or cosmic hierarchy.

Anda (Sanskrit) Aṇḍa An egg; a name of Siva, because of his connection and identification with brahmanda, the egg or world of Brahma. Just as a bird’s egg contains the seed of the chick to be, just so a globe, planet, universe, or any other brahmanda is the world egg containing the seeds of what later in cosmic time will develop forth its essential life powers, whether as a planetary chain, solar system, galaxy, or cluster of galaxies. Each is an anda of Brahma.

Also used for “the central hemispherical dome of solid earth, brick, or stone which forms the core of the Buddhist stupa”.

Andaja (Sanskrit) Aṇḍaja [from aṇḍa egg + ja, from the verbal root jan to be born] Egg-born, oviparous; the mode of reproduction of birds, reptiles, and fish. In theosophical writings the androgynous human creatures of the early and middle third root-race reproduced themselves by means of huge eggs dropped from the parent-body during the proper season of the year; and that these eggs after a period of incubation in the open air broke, thus freeing the human young, much after the fashion that prevails today among birds and certain reptiles.

Anda-kataha (Sanskrit) Aṇḍa-kaṭāha [from aṇḍa egg + kaṭāha cauldron, semi-spheroidal container, from the verbal root kaṭ to rain, encompass] Shell of an egg; in the Vishnu-Purana (2:4, 7) used for the encompassing shell of the world egg.

Andarah [possibly Sanskrit andhakāra darkness, blindness from andha blind, dark, turbid from the verbal root andh to make blind + kāra making from the verbal root kṛ to do, make; or possibly Sanskrit antarāla midway, intermediate space from antar internal, intermediate + āla probably for ālaya dwelling, asylum] Possibly darkness or intermediate space; used in The Mahatma Letters: “(remember the Hindu allegory of the Fallen Devas hurled by Siva into Andarah who are allowed by Parabrahm to consider it as an intermediate state where they may prepare themselves by a series of rebirths in that sphere for a higher state — a new regeneration) . . .” (p. 87).

Andhakara. See ANDARAH

Androgyne [from Greek androgynos man-woman] Hermaphrodite; applied to a dual principle containing both the active and passive powers of nature, as the androgyne ray, the Second Logos, Purusha-prakriti, spirit-matter; to a race, such as the second root-race, whose members are physiologically of both sexes; and in biology to certain animals which have dual sex. Bipolarity, the contrast and interaction between the energic and formative sides of nature, is universally prevalent. Sex is merely a particular and, evolutionally speaking, passing phase of this universal law, and its terms are often used in a purely symbolic sense to define these two sides of nature. We should be careful not to take the symbols literally and ascribe physiological attributes to higher powers.

When androgynous or hermaphrodite is used in philosophy, it does not mean physically or ethereally double-sexed — except when physical dual-sexed beings are distinctly referred to — but means the dual characteristic of nature in manifestation. Very often this duality is separated into “masculine” and “feminine,” using the words familiar to human life, although this duality is perhaps more accurately described by the words positive and negative, or by spirit and matter, or again by consciousness and vehicle. Here we have the reason for the separation of the deities in ancient pantheons into gods and goddesses, although occasionally in the mythological tales deities are represented as dual sexed. This androgynous or dual character of all the manifested worlds commenced with cosmic buddhi, or mahabuddhi, although the first more defined manifestations of individualized duality began on the plane of cosmic kama where fohat especially works. Above that the two rays from the One ascend again to reunite.

Androgyne Ray An expression for the second stage of manifestation — the Second Logos in the system of emanations of the logoi; the Father-Mother in the cosmic conception adopted by Blavatsky; and the Sanskrit Brahma-prakriti or Purusha-prakriti. Each is the producing cause of manifestation through its son, the manifested Third Logos, which in a planetary chain is designated as the primordial or originate in Manu Svayambhuva. “These two, Brahma and Prakriti, are really one, yet they are also the two aspects of the one Life-ray acting and reacting upon itself” (OG 97).

Andvari (Icelandic) [from and spirit + vari watcher, guardian] In Norse mythology, a dwarf, owner of the treasure around which center the complex events related in the Nibelungen cycle. This gold has a twofold meaning and a markedly twofold effect on the various protagonists who covet it. See also FAFNIR

Anedots. See ANNEDOTUS

Anemos (Greek) [cf Latin animus, anima] Wind, spirit.

Anesthesia [from Greek anaisthesia no feeling] Want of feeling; a condition of total or partial insensibility, particularly to touch. The many classical references to anesthetics indicate that the ancients knew much about the subject that has not been rediscovered. Blavatsky refers to the sacred beverage used by the hierophants in ceremonies to free the astral soul from the bonds of matter, so that the inner man might rise to the level of spirit (IU 2:117, 1:540).

Surgical patients suffering from fright and fear before or during the induction of an anesthetic take it with more difficulty, and feel more aftereffects, than those who meet it without anxiety. The first stage of general anesthesia, usually not unpleasant, ends with the loss of physical consciousness. Then begins the second, or stage of struggling more or less vigorously, evidently due to the automatic reaction of the physical body, from which its conscious astral soul is being dissociated. In the third stage, the muscles relax and the disturbed heart and lungs settle down to regular rhythm, controlled by the sympathetic nervous system, as in a deep, dreamless sleep. The self-conscious ego, thus withdrawing from its ordinary state of being, enters more or less deeply into the subjective realm of its inner life. It is in a state of what has been called, paradoxically, conscious unconsciousness. The danger here is that the soul may become so far separated from its body that it does not come back again, and then death results.

However insensible the person is of externals, he is conscious in some part of his composite nature, just as each principle of his being has its own range of awareness after death. Some people have brought back a more or less clear memory of a state of being transcending anything they had ever imagined on earth. Their first feeling is one of a delicious peace and liberation; then comes a mental clearness with majestic visions of perfect truth, and a realization of a self-existent “I” as a part of a universal whole. The spiritually-minded person may attain to an instant and complete buddhi-manasic vision of “things as they are.” Such a one, at the moment of recovery, is often vividly sensible of being aroused from a state of superior existence, but is unable to recall what it was. Again, any gleams of knowledge that do survive the transit may be misinterpreted by the brain-mind from its preconceived philosophical or religious ideas. The average person, however, brings back little if any remembrance of his experience.

The anesthetized person may also be conscious of standing aside or looking down upon his own body under operation, and retains a vague memory of the out-of-body experience. See also SOMA

Angara, Angaraka (Sanskrit) Aṅgāra, Aṅgāraka [from the verbal root ag to move tortuously, wind (cf agni); or from the verbal root aṅg to go] The planet Mars; also charcoal, as being a latent seat of fire. Ara is another name of the planet Mars (cf Greek Ares) as well as of the planet Saturn. In the Mahabharata Angaraka is variously listed as one of the world guardians; a planet; and one of the 108 names of the sun (vB 2:51, 228).

Angel(s) [from Greek angelos messenger, envoy, announcer] In the Old Testament, used to translate the Hebrew mal’ach (messenger); in Christian, Jewish, Moslem, and some other theologies, either a messenger of God or one of various hierarchies of celestial beings, the idea of a guardian angel also being familiar. However, the idea of hosts of formative powers, rectores mundi, or other beings between divinity and man, serving as intermediaries or means of communication between man and high spiritual entities has largely vanished from popular Christianity, though Angels, Principalities, and Powers are mentioned by Paul, and the archangel Michael by Jude; while the influence of the Gnostics, Neoplatonists, and Jews on early Christianity gives a wider meaning to the term.

Angels, then, are members of numerous hierarchies of celestial powers, from the septenary formative host that emanates from the formative Third Logos down to the presiding genius or spirit of an atom, acting as intermediaries or envoys between the divine and the human or terrestrial.

Angel of Death. See SAMAEL

Angelology A hierarchical system of angels, messengers, celestial powers or emanations, especially those of the Jews and Christians. The Jewish system is Qabbalistic; the Christian system, chiefly due to the Celestial Hierarchy and to the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy of Dionysius the pseudo-Aeropagite, was adopted from the 5th or 6th centuries and had an immense influence on later Christian theology. It was divided into a tenfold plan after the manner of Pythagoras and the Neoplatonists, the summit of this Christian hierarchy being the divine, termed God. The hierarchy includes: 1) Expanse of the Divine Presence; 2) Seraphim; 3) Cherubim; 4) Thrones; 5) Dominations or Dominions; 6) Virtues; 7) Powers; 8) Principalities; 9) Archangels; and 10) Angels.

The word may also mean a treatise on the subject, or a body of doctrine on it.

Angels of Darkness The fallen angels, corresponding to the Hindu asuras, whose darkness is that of absolute light. They are identified with the kumaras and other celestial entities who refused to create because they were too spiritual (SD 1:457; 2:489, 506).

Angels of the Presence In Christianity, the seven Virtues or personified attributes of God, which were created by him and became the archangels. Equivalent to the seven manus produced by the ten prajapatis created by Brahma. “As it is the Lipika who project into objectivity from the passive Universal Mind the ideal plan of the universe, upon which the ‘Builders’ reconstruct the Kosmos after every Pralaya, it is they who stand parallel to the Seven Angels of the Presence, whom the Christians recognise in the Seven ‘Planetary Spirits’ or the ‘Spirits of the Stars;’ for thus it is they who are the direct amanuenses of the Eternal Ideation” or of Plato’s divine thought (SD 1:104) (SD 2:237, 573).

Angels of the Stars. See ’OPHANIM

Angelus Rector (Latin) Ruling angel; according to Kepler, the angel or divine being who caused a planet to pursue its course around the sun; equivalent to the planetary rectors or spirits of theosophy (SD 1:479).

Angerboda (Icelandic) [from anger sorrow, regret + boda bode] In Norse mythology, the boder of regret is a giantess, wife of Loki; it is suggestive that the giantess wife (matter aspect) of Loki (human mind) should have produced the three offspring Hel (death), Iormungandr (the Midgard serpent or equator), and Fenris (the wolf who is to devour the sun when its life cycle is over).

Angha. See SIMORGH

Angiras (Sanskrit) Aṅgiras [from the verbal root aṅg to go, move tortuously (cf agni)] One of the Saptarshis (seven rishis) or manasaputras (mind-born sons of Brahma) of the first manvantara; a secondary projection of Brahma’s mind and will because his first “mind-engendered progeny . . . did not multiply themselves (VP 1:7; SD 2:78). Hence Angiras is one of the prajapatis or progenitors whose sons and daughters people the earth in succeeding manvantaras, mankind included in their progeny.

These progenitors are divided into two main classes: those which are incorporeal, such as the agnishvattas, and those which are corporeal, such as the angirasas, the descendants of Angiras (VP 3:14). Theosophically, angirasas are a class of manasaputras, the emanated offspring of the incorporeal agnishvattas or kumaras. In the Vaivasvata or seventh manvantara (our present one) Angiras is given as the son of Agni, though originally Agni was born from Angiras. In astronomy Angiras is both the father or regent of Brihaspati (the planet Jupiter) and the planet itself; also a star in Ursa Major, inasmuch as Angiras is one of the seven great rishis. As such the name of Angiras is linked with the bringing of light and associated with luminous bodies.

A number of hymns in the Rig-Veda are attributed to Angiras, and in one of his births he is famed for his supreme virtue and as an expounder of brahma-vidya (divine or transcendental wisdom). In the Vayu-Purana and elsewhere in Puranic literature some of the descendants of Angiras were said to be Kshattriya by birth and Brahmins by calling (VP 4:8n p.39).

Angirasas (Sanskrit) Aṅgirasa-s [from aṅg to go, move tortuously] The descendants of Angiras through his son, Agni; a name occurring in Vedic hymns addressed to luminous deities, and later extended to all phenomena connected with light. Specifically, the hymns of the Atharva-Veda are called Angirasa, as are those priests who recite them and perform the sacrifices according to the Atharva-vedic rules. “ ‘Angirases’ was one of the names of the Dhyanis, or Devas instructors (‘guru-deva’), of the late Third, the Fourth, and even of the Fifth Race Initiates” (SD 2:605n).

The name is also written in its adjectival form, angirasas, who are a class of pitris of the corporeal type.

Angra-Mainyu (Avestan) The personification of evil of the later Avesta. In the Gathas, Zarathustra speaks of two spirits that Mazda created who revealed themselves as twin co-workers, constantly at war with each other — one created life, the other nonlife; one truth, the other falsehood (druj). These opposing forces that maintain the visible universe are Spenta-Mainyu and Angra-Mainyu, the root cause respectively of all good and of all evil. Angra-Mainyu being taken for Ahriman has made some scholars arrive at the conclusion that Spenta-Mainyu must also represent  Ahura-Mazda. In Mazdean philosophy Ahura-Mazda is the supreme creator whereas Ahriman is a created being. In the Avesta, Angra-Mainyu is described as the fiendish Druj, the Daeva of the Daevas, the leader of the evil powers; he is all darkness and ignorance, dwelling in the infinite night.

Whatever the good spirit makes, the evil spirit mars, even though “the two Spirits created the world, the Good Spirit and the Evil One” (Yasht 13, 76). When the world was created, Angra-Mainyu broke into it, and for every creation of Ahura-Mazda’s, he counter-created by his witchcraft a plague; he killed the firstborn bull that had been the first offspring and source of life on earth, created 99,999 diseases, etc. “Ahriman destroys the bull created by Ormazd — which is the emblem of terrestrial illusive life, the ‘germ of sorrow’ — and, forgetting that the perishing finite seed must die, in order that the plant of immortality, the plant of spiritual, eternal life, should sprout and live, Ahriman is proclaimed the enemy, the opposing power, the devil”; “Terrestrially, all these allegories were connected with the trials of adeptship and initiation. Astronomically, they referred to the Solar and Lunar eclipses” (SD 2:93, 380).

Although Angra-Mainyu and his host of evil forces, personalized in the Avesta as daevas, seem to have their way in the world, the day will come when they shall be overcome by Ahura-Mazda — when the shining one shall send his Holy Word to incarnate in Sosiosh (Saoshyant), then shall he conquer Angra-Mainyu, bringing about the regeneration of the world. See also Ahriman; Ahura; Ahura-Mazda.

Angula (Sanskrit) Aṅgula [from the verbal root ag or aṅg to move] A thumb or finger, a digit’s breadth, a measure equal to eight barley corns; 12 angulas make a vitasti (span), and 24 a hasta (cubit). In astronomy, a digit or 12th part. Anguli-panchaka is the five fingers.

Anhika The sections or chapters in the Mahabhashya, the great work of Patanjali.

Anima (Latin) Air, wind, breath; secondarily life, soul, spirit, mind. A distinction, not generally observed, has been made between anima and animus, where animus is very close to the mentality or manas of theosophical terminology and anima is equivalent to the theosophic usage of prana. Because equivalent to prana, it exists on seven planes, from the atman to the physical; and consequently there is an anima for every class of celestial being, anima not being limited only to human beings, beasts, and other beings having bodies of material substance. From anima came “animal,” a being with a living personal soul. The vegetable and mineral kingdoms do not have it; but the earth has, and the earth was called an animal in consequence.

There was in classical times a distinction between three souls of the defunct: anima (pure spirit) went to the heaven world, while manes went to the nether regions, and umbra hovered on earth (IU 1:37). Anima is spoken of as pure spirit because the essence of prana is indeed spirit, as it is derivative directly form the atma-buddhic monad, although colored on the lower planes by its intimate connection with the personal ego or manes.

Animalculists Thinkers of the 17th and 18th centuries who taught that the all future human offspring were carried in the male reproductive plasm of the earliest human ancestor or ancestors. The animalcule was the tiny human offspring thought to reside already completely formed in each human sperm. (MIE 213)

Anima Divina (Latin) Divine spirit or soul; in Rome and Greece, the human soul was presented as dual: the anima divina or immortal soul (Greek nous or logos) and the anima brutus or animal soul (Greek phren, thymos, or alogos). See also PRINCIPLES (BCW 7:205-6n, 228)

Animal Kingdom One of the main divisions or life-waves of entities on earth, separated from the human kingdom by its lack of the emanated or evolved self-conscious mind, a faculty which can be acquired only by the aid of beings already having it — the manasaputras. The entities now pursuing their evolution in the animal kingdom will in a future imbodiment of the planetary chain become human in the same way, although a certain number of the highest animal stocks now living, such as the apes and possibly some of the monkeys, may attain incipient humanity before the end of the seventh round in the present planetary manvantara.

The mammals in this fourth round came later in time than man, having arisen from germinal cells thrown off from the bodies of the individuals of the human racial stem millions and millions of years ago, when nature still allowed such a procedure. These early mammals have since become highly specialized. The animals below the mammals originated from the human stock in the preceding third round, and hence their ancestors or sishtas were on earth and provided the origins of the later widely disseminated sub-mammalian stocks in this round, even before the human sishtas felt the incoming human life-wave and multiplied over the earth.

Animal Magnetism. See MESMERISM


Animals, Sacred Many ancient peoples have attached great importance to animals in their rituals; and they may have had facts to support their theories. If the hierarchical system of the universe is a reality, it follows that every animal is a feeble representative on its plane of comic potencies that descend from lofty sources. Ceremonial magic, however, may be better suited to one age than to another; so that it may be better to explain than to attempt to reintroduce the ancient practices as to the use of sacred animals in ritual.

It is equally true that such words as lion, bull, and scorpion are often used in occult writings to denote, not the physical animals, but the potencies to which they correspond. Zodiac means the circle of (sacred) animals. As man himself is on this earth the model and storehouse of all forms, those as yet unexpressed as well as those which have already appeared, he had in his own composition the ideal forms and attributes of all the various animals who in eons of past history as stocks were derivatives from him as their superior. See also ZOOLATRY

Anima Mundi (Latin) World-soul, world-mother; the divine-spiritual-astral-physical source of emanations, the cosmic generative and animating principle of all beings, the creative Third Logos in its female aspect. In its highest and intermediate portions, it corresponds to the alaya of Northern Buddhism and hence to akasa. Identified variously with Isis, Sephira, Sophia, the Holy Ghost, mahat, mulaprakriti, etc., but used in a hazy and often materializing sense, so that it cannot be accurately regarded as a synonym for any one of these. “It is in a sense the ‘seven-skinned mother’ of the stanzas in the Secret Doctrine, the essence of seven planes of sentience, consciousness and differentiation, moral and physical. In its highest aspect it is Nirvana, in its lowest Astral Light. It was feminine with the Gnostics, the early Christians and the Nazarenes; bisexual with other sects, who considered it only in its four lower planes. Of igneous, ethereal nature in the objective world of form (and then ether), and divine and spiritual in its three higher planes. When it is said that every human soul was born by detaching itself form the Anima Mundi, it means, esoterically, that our higher Egos are of an essence identical with It, which is a radiation of the ever unknown Universal Absolute” (TG 22-3).

Theosophically, anima mundi may be regarded as a synonym of different other words, rather than as indicative of any definite entity or principle apart from others. The higher human egos or manasaputras are essentially identical with the higher portions of anima mundi; and similarly the various life-atoms in the lower spheres may be considered as in essence identical with the lower portions of the anima mundi. It is in short the life-consciousness-essence of the universe from the divine to the physical.

Animan (Sanskrit) Aṇiman [from aṇu atom] Minuteness, fineness, thinness; the condition of the infinitesimal or atomic, often used in the nominative form anima. The first of the eight mahasiddhis (great powers): that of making oneself infinitesimal, or as minute as an atom in size.

Anima Supra Mundi (Latin) The intelligent life above or within the world; the higher part of the anima mundi or cosmic intelligent akasa, hence in a sense the universal ego (SD 1:131).

Animism The name given by anthropologists to the attribution of life or mind to inanimate objects, such as trees, mountains, rivers, or images. This belief of the ancients and of many existing peoples was a recognition of the universal sentience of nature.

Also the doctrine of Georg Ernst Stahl (1660-1734) that the soul is the vital principle and responsible for organic functions in the body, and synonymous with Vitalism. This doctrine avoids the logical absurdity of making life at once the cause and the effect of the properties of matter; but it errs in making life something entirely distinct from matter, for such a separation reduces both to mere abstractions.

Animus (Latin) The rational soul, as opposed to anima (the vital or animal soul); though both words were often loosely used by the Romans, much as we use soul and mind. It corresponds with the theosophical kama-manas, and anima with prana-manas.

Aniyamsam Aniyasam (Sanskrit) Aṇīyāṃsam aṇīyasāṃ [from aṇu atom, minuteness; aṇīyāṃsam, accusative of aṇīyas, comparative of adjective aṇu + aṇīyasām genitive plural of aṇu] Philosophically, atomic of the atomic; otherwise the smallest of the small. A phrase lifted from one of the Hindu scriptures (cf VP 1:15n), without changing the first word to its nominative case. It is applied to the universal divinity whose vital intelligent essence is everywhere, to the absolutely spiritual atom which is the divine monad of every entity, great and small, in the cosmos. In Vedantic philosophy, often used as a name of Brahman, conceived as being smaller than the smallest atom and equivalently as greater than the greatest sphere or universe. The conception applies equally well to paramatman. This universality whether in infinitesimals or in cosmic reaches is expressed in the almost equivalent phrase anor aniyamsam (smaller than an atom) (BG 8:9); likewise, anor aniyan (smaller than the small) in combination with mahato mahiyan (greater than the great) in the Upanishads (Katha 1:2, 20; Svetasvatara 3:21).

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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

M-Wms Dict - Sanskrit-English Dictionary, by Monier Williams

N on BG - Notes on the Bhagavad Gita, by T. Subba Row

OG - Occult Glossary, by G. de Purucker

Rev - Revelations

RV - Rig Veda

SBE - Sacred Books of the East, ed. Max Müller

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 University Press Online Edition