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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Ardeshan Zoroastrian teacher who, according to the Christian Eutychius, was appointed by Nimrod to watch the sacred fire. A voice from the fire told him that priests of the Magians must commit incest, which Blavatsky explains as a misconstruction of the idea of uniting oneself to the earth, our mother; humanity, our sister; and science, our daughter. (BCW 3:459)

Ardhamatra (Sanskrit) Ardhamātra, Ardhamātrā [from ardha half + mātra or mātrā a metrical unit] Half a short syllable; the Nadabindu-Upanishad in speaking of Aum says that the syllable or character A is considered to be Kalahamsa’s right wing; U, the left wing; M, the tail of the Swan, and the ardhamatra its head (cf VS 5, 74-5). In the Mahabharata kalahamsa is the name of several species of the hamsa bird, a goose or swan. Ardhamatra is a mystical term for one of the portions of the swan of time — Brahma or the manifest or Third Logos of the universe, whose emanation or creative activity is hamsa-vahana (the vehicle or carrier of the swan). Ardhamatra, therefore, has reference to the egoic individuality of the cosmic Third Logos or Brahma (also called Purusha), considered to be “one-half the measure” of the eternal past and the eternal future — such egoic individuality being the product in space and time of the continuously reimbodying spirit of the universe, evolving and changing its nature by evolution as the cycles of time pass from the present into the past, and forwards into the future.

Ardhanari or Ardhanari-natesvara (Sanskrit) Ardhanārī, Ardhanārī-nāṭeśvara [from ardha half, middle + nārī woman; nāṭeśvara from nāṭa dancer + īśvara lord] Half-female; lord of dancers. The androgynous aspect of Siva cosmically, when bearing the duality of the polarized forces of nature — what is generally termed on lower planes masculine and feminine. Blavatsky depicts Ardhanari surrounded by the six-pointed star or seal of Vishnu and compares it to the wheel of Adonai of the Hebrew seer Ezekiel (IU 2:453). See also ARDHANARISA

Ardhanarisa or Ardhanarisvara (Sanskrit) Ardhanārīśa, Ardhanārīśvara [from ardha half + nārī woman + īśvara, īśa lord] Half-feminine lord; a form of Siva, also applied to the first cosmic androgyne, equivalent to the mystically androgynous Sephirah-’Adam Qadmon of the Qabbalah. Cosmic entities are not sexual or sexed in the human sense, for sex as known in the human and animal kingdoms is a transitory phase of evolution. The application of terms such as androgyne, masculine, or feminine to cosmic divinities has reference to states of cosmic force or energy and substance which may be polarized or unpolarized. Human energies and substances in our present evolutionary stage — and this applies likewise to the animal kingdom, and to a degree to the vegetable kingdom — are divided into opposites which bring about sex conditions. When the forces are partially polarized, the androgynous or hermaphroditic condition results. When the forces or substances are unpolarized during pralayas and at the beginnings and endings of manvantaras, then each entity contains within itself and manifests a state of undivided unity — a complete and perfect individual.

Ares, Areus (Greek) God of war, equivalent of the Latin Mars; commonly the god of battles, bloodshed, and strife. In a higher sense he is Migmar of the crimson veil, the light of daring burning in the heart, the dauntless energy that fights its way to supernal truth.

Paracelsus adopted Ares as signifying the power back of the differentiating forces in the kosmos, or those differentiated forces themselves, which Blavatsky equates with fohat.

Aretia Considered by some a female form of Artes (Egyptian Mars). Berosus states that Titaea Magna was called Aretia and worshiped with the earth, while Diodorus identifies Titaea with the mother of the Titans. In consequence Aretia represents earth considered as a source of being or the generative principle (SD 2:143-4&n).

Arets, Aretz (Hebrew) ’Erets With the definite article, ha-’arets. The earth, globe, ground, land, country; particularly dry land in contradistinction to water. In cosmogony the original veil or garment surroundings, as wrap or vehicle of expression, a cosmic monad within it; just as in India pradhana surrounds and manifests Brahman, or mulaprakriti with parabrahman.

Arg. See ARK

Argeak, Argenk A mythologic giant who, according to Persian traditions, built a gallery in the mountains of Kaf, in which there are statues called Sulimans (Solomon) or the “wise kings” of the East. These statues are said to depict ancient men in all their forms.

Argen. See ARGEAK

Argha (Sanskrit) Argha [from the verbal root arh to be worthy of, merit] Worth, value; respectful reception of a guest of distinction by various offerings, such as flowers, durva grass, or water in a small boat-shaped vessel or container; often confused with the Chaldean Argha. See also ARGHYA

Argha (Chaldean). See ARK

Arghya (Sanskrit) Arghya [from the verbal root arh to be worthy, deserve] Variant of argha. As an adjective, venerable, deserving; as a noun, an oblation reverently offered to gods or exceptionally worthy human beings and consisting of flowers, water, rice, and durva grass; also the container or vessel in which the libation is made.

Arghyanatha (Sanskrit) Arghyanātha [from arghya worthy + nātha lord, protector] Lord of libations, a title of the Mahachohan (SD 2:416n).

Arghyavarsha (Sanskrit) Arghyavarṣa [from arghya worthy, valuable + varṣa raining, cloud, division of the earth separated by a mountain range from vṛṣ to rain, bestow abundantly] Land of libations; “the mystery name of that region which extends from Kailas mountain nearly to the Schamo Desert — from within which the Kalki Avatar is expected” (SD 2:416n). See also AIRYANMEN VAEJA

Argonauts In Greek mythology, those who sailed in the ship Argos with Jason, a generation before the Trojan War, on his quest to retrieve the golden fleece from Aea or Colchis on the Black Sea. Besides Jason, among the fifty heroes were Hercules, Castor and Pollux, and Orpheus.

Argus, Argos (Greek) Shining, bright-eyed; a giant in Greek mythology also called Panoptes (the all-seeing) because he had a hundred eyes, so that they were never all closed at once. Hera appointed Argus to keep watch over Io in the form of a heifer, but Zeus sent Hermes, who managed to lull Argus to sleep and then slaid him. Hera collected the eyes and put them into the tail of the peacock.

Also a son of Phrixus and Chalciope, said to have built the Argo; or to have been shipwrecked and carried to Colchis by the Argonauts.

Argua. See ARK

Arhan. See ARHAT

Arhat (Sanskrit) Arhat [from the verbal root arh to be worthy, merit, be able] Worthy, deserving; also enemy slayer [from ari enemy + the verbal root han to slay, smite], an arhat being a slayer of the foe of craving, the entire range of passions and desires, mental, emotional, and physical. Buddhists in the Orient generally define arhat in this manner, while modern scholars derive the word from the verbal root arh. Both definitions are equally appropriate (Buddhist Catechism 93).

As a noun, originally one who had fully attained his spiritual ideals. In Buddhism arhat (Pali arahant) is the title generally given to those of Gautama Buddha’s disciples who had progressed the farthest during his lifetime and immediately thereafter; more specifically to those who had attained nirvana, emancipation from earthly fetters and the attainment of full enlightenment. Arhat is broadly equivalent to the Egyptian hierophant, the Chaldean magus, and Hindu rishi, as well as being generally applicable to ascetics. On occasion it is used for the loftiest beings in a hierarchy: “The Arhats of the ‘fire-mist’ of the 7th run are but one remove from the Root-base of their Hierarchy — the highest on Earth, and our Terrestrial chain” (SD 1:207).

Arhat is the highest of the four degrees of arhatship or the fourfold path to nirvana, of which the first three are srotapatti (he who has entered the stream), sakridagamin (he who returns to birth once more), and anagamin (the never returner who will have no further births on earth).

Arhat is both the way and the waygoer; and while the term is close philosophically to anagamin, the distinction between the two lies in their mystical connotations rather than in their etymological definitions. Arhat has a wider significance inasmuch as it applies to those noblest of the Buddha’s disciples who were “worthy” of receiving, because comprehending, the Tathagata’s heart doctrine, the more esoteric and mystical portions of his message.

As early as one hundred years after the Buddha died and had entered his parinirvana, differences in the doctrines and discipline of the Order become manifest. In the course of the centuries two basic trends developed into what has become popular to call the Hinayana (the lesser vehicle or path) or Theravada (doctrine of the elders), and Mahayana (the greater vehicle or path). The Theravada emphasized the fourfold path leading to nirvana, total liberation of the arhat from material concerns. The Mahayana held the bodhisattvayana as the ideal, the way of compassion for all sentient beings, culminating in renunciation of nirvana in order to return and inspire others “to awake and follow the dhamma.” It is this fundamental difference in goal that characterizes the Old Wisdom School (arhatship) from the New Wisdom School (bodhsattvahood). See also BUDDHA OF COMPASSION; PRATYEKA BUDDHA

Ariadne (Greek) In Greek mythology, the daughter of King Minos of Crete, who fell in love with Theseus when he came to kill the Minotaur confined in the labyrinth. She gave Theseus a clue of yarn or thread by means of which he found his way out of the labyrinth again. Ariadne fled with him, but he abandoned her on the Isle of Naxos at the request of Dionysos, who then married her and raised her to immortality. Ariadne was identified in Italy with Libera, goddess of wine. “Analogy is the guiding law in Nature, the only true Ariadne’s thread that can lead us, through the inextricable paths of her domain, toward her primal and final mysteries.” (SD 2:153)

Arian Heresy Originated by Arius (d. 336), a presbyter in Alexandria who did not confuse the cosmic Logos with its ray on earth, the Christ entity, whose human expression was called Jesus. Arius could not accept a consubstantial trinity with the human Son as the first or second remove from its Father aspect — he made a sharp distinction between the three Logoi and any human expression of such logoic triad manifesting on earth as an inspired man. Arius in consequence taught that God was alone, unknowable, and separate from every created being; that the Son, or creative Logos was created by God, who through this Logos brought forth the world and all that is in it. He held, therefore, that Christ was not God in the fullest sense and should be worshiped as a secondary deity, and that at the incarnation the Logos assumed a body but not a human soul. Arianism was condemned as heretical at the Councils of Nicaea (325) and Constantinople (381).

’Arikh ’Anpin (Aramaic) ’Arīkh ’Anpīn [’arīkh long, great + ’anpīn face, countenance] Long Face or the Great Visage; Qabbalistic term applied to Kether, the first emanation of the Sephirothal Tree, equivalent to the Greco-Latin Macroprosopus. Also called ’Arich ’Appayim, the latter word in the dual, so that the phrase means “long of faces” or “long of countenances”: duality or the upper and the lower being referred to. This first Sephirah is called by at least seven names, among them being Crown, Primordial, White Head, and Long Face. From Kether emanate the remaining nine Sephiroth. “The first emanation is the Ancient, beheld Face to Face, it is the Supreme Head, the Source of all Light, the Principle of all Wisdom, whose definition is, Unity” (Zohar iii, 292b).

Aries The ram; the first sign of zodiac, in astrology a masculine, cardinal, fiery sign which governs the eastern quarter and, in the human frame, the head. It is the positive house of Mars and the exaltation of the sun.

In Sanskrit it is called Mesha, presided over or dedicated to the Vedic divinity Varuna, one of the interpretations of the latter being the primeval ocean of galactic space. The twelve great gods of the ancients were equivalent to the celestial regents presiding over the twelve signs of the zodiac. Equating the sons of Jacob with the signs of the zodiac, Aries falls to Gad.

If we take 1897-8 as date of the approximate entry of the sun into Aquarius, the Aries cycle would then have begun about 2400 BC [[originally given as 2443 BC, Blavatsky gives 2410 BC in BCW 8:174n]] and closed around 263 BC when the Pisces cycle began. This agrees very well with other calculations based on the 25,920 years of the precessional cycle, and with very early Babylonian zodiacal records, making due allowance for the uncertainties inherent in the problem.

Arimaspi, Arimaspes (Greek) arimastioi. In Greek mythology, a one-eyed people of the extreme northeast of Scythia, perhaps near the region of eastern Altai, mentioned by Aristeas of Proconnesus, from whom Herodotus derives his account. They stole gold from the griffins who guarded it, and Apollo destroyed them with his shafts. The allegory, which is mixed up with history in Herodotus’ account, refers to the supersession of a degraded remnant of third-eye people by the coming fifth root-race, as in the case of the Cyclopes.

Arion (Greek) In Greek mythology, the first and fleetest horse, offspring of Poseidon or Neptune (god of the sea) and Ceres (goddess of the harvest). Also a Greek poet and musician of Lesbos (fl. 625 BC), best known for having been rescued on a dolphin’s back after an attempt was made to drown him at sea for his treasure. “Arion, their progeny, is one of the aspects of that ‘horse,’ which is a cycle.” (SD 2:399n)

Aristarchus of Samos (ca. 270 BC) Greek mathematician and astronomer. “The immobility of the Sun and the orbital rotation of the earth were shown by Aristarchus of Samos as early as 281 B.C.” (SD 1:117&n)

Arithmomancy Interpretation by means of numbers, or divination by means of numbers. The Pythagoreans and Plato used the numerical key in theogony and cosmogony, based on the science of correspondences as prevailing among gods, men, and numbers or numerical quantities. Hence, the numerical key to nature can be used as the basis of various methods of divination for the discovery of truth or error.


Ariya Atthangika Magga (Pali) Ariya Aṭṭhaṅgika Magga [from ariya noble + aṭṭhaṅgika eight-limbed, eightfold from aṭṭha eight + aṇga limb, division + magga way, road from the verbal root mṛg to track, trace, investigate] Noble eightfold path; the fourth of the Four Noble Truths (chattari ariyasachchani) traditionally held to constitute the initial discourse of Gautama Buddha, comprising: 1) right insight (sammaditthi); 2) right resolve (sammasamkappa); 3) right speech (sammavacha); 4) right action (sammakammanta); 5) right living (sammajiva); 6) right effort (sammavayama); 7) right mindfulness, right recollection (sammasati); 8) right concentration (sammasamadhi). See also ARYASHTANGAMARGA (for Sanskrit equivalents).

Ariyasachcha (Pali) Ariyasacca [from ariya noble, distinguished, of high birth + sacca real, true] Noble truth; in the plural, the Four Noble Truths (chattari ariyasachchani) set forth by Gautama Buddha in his first sermon: 1) pain (duhkha); 2) cause, origin of pain (samudaya) is desire (panha); 3) destruction of desire eliminates pain (nirodha); and 4) the road or footpath (magga), the noble eightfold way (ariya atthangika magga). See also ARYASATYA (for Sanskrit equivalents)

Arjuna (Sanskrit) Arjuna White, clear; third of the Pandu princes, son of the god Indra by Kunti, also known as Pritha. During the fratricidal war between the Kauravas and the Pandavas which forms the bulk of the Mahabharata, Arjuna and his opponent, Duryodhana, seek Krishna’s aid. Krishna offers them a choice: his well-equipped army or himself, weaponless. According to protocol, Arjuna, being the younger of the two, was given first choice. To the immense delight of Duryodhana, Arjuna chose his brother-in-law, Krishna, who agreed to serve as his charioteer, i.e., his counselor and friend.

Mystically, Arjuna represents Everyman, the human ego, in contradistinction to Krishna, who stands for the spiritual monad as well as the avatara who comes forth from age to age in order to overthrow adharma (lawlessness) and restore dharma (respect for law, justice, and truth) in the land (BG 4:7-8).

The complete Bhagavad-Gita is a good deal longer than the 18 chapters that form the philosophical instruction imparted by Krishna to Arjuna on the eve of the 18-day contest that is to follow. While the preliminary portion lacks philosophic content, it gives the setting and background for the Gita.

Arjuna-misra (Sanskrit) Arjunamiśra A commentator on the Mahabharata.

Ark [from Latin arca chest] A chest, covered basket, or other closed receptacle; the womb of nature, wherein are preserved the seeds of preceding ages which at a later date inaugurate and unfold into a new system of evolutionary development. Thus reappears after its periodic rest a new universe, solar system, planet, or being such as man; each such entity being the reimbodiment of a previously living entity. The connection with sishtas is apparent.

The ark or argha was used by the high priests in ceremonials connected with nature goddesses such as Ishtar or Astarte: at such times the representative emblem or ark was shaped as an oblong vessel, and occasionally fish-shaped, the most familiar instance being the Ark of the Covenant. Oftentimes a mystical flame representing reproducing life was associated with the ark, which thus became a distinctly phallic emblem of maternal reproduction, and also referred to the spiritually and intellectually generative power of the upper triad working in and through the lower quaternary of the septenary principles of either nature or man.

The crescent moon, because of its curved form, either represented the mystic ark itself or was conjoined with it in various manners, for the moon in archaic teaching was the fecund yet presently dead mother of our earth, the latter being its reimbodiment. Thus the moon stood as an emblem of the cosmic matrix or ark floating in and on the watery abyss of space — just as the ark in the Jewish form of this cosmogonic legend was associated with the flood waters as the bearer of all the seeds of lives. In the view of the later rather materialistic Hebrew rabbis the human womb became the maqom or ark, the place representative on earth of what the moon was in the cosmic sphere.

It was natural in time to connect the ark with a ship, as in the symbolism of the ancient Egyptian boat, on which the chest or typical ark was so prominently placed as the repository or womb of the seeds of lives.

Thus the ark has both a cosmic and a human significance. In one sense it is man himself who is the ark; for, having appeared at the beginning of sentient life, man (as he then was) became the living and animal unit, whose cast-off clothes determined the shape of every life and animal in this round. In its widest sense the symbolism refers to the first cosmic flood, the primary creation, and so the ark also is Mother Nature; but it likewise refers to terrestrial deluges where its application is twofold, for it means the saving of mankind through physical generation, and also cyclic deluges, especially the Atlantean one. The ark is argha in Chaldean, vara in Persian, and is referred to in the stories about Noah, Deucalion, Xisuthrus, Yima, etc. The ark in which the infant Moses is saved is an instance of many similar legends conveying the same root idea. The ark, therefore, is the receptive aspect of the principle of reproduction and regeneration, ranging from the most fundamental Mother Nature to her every correspondence on the various planes.

Arka (Latin). See ARK

Arka (Sanskrit) Arka [from arc to shine, be brilliant, honor, praise] A ray, flash of lightning, hence a name for the sun; used in compounds, such as arkakara (sunbeam), arkagraha (solar eclipse), arkadina (solar day), arkaja (sunborn, coming from the sun), etc.; a name for Indra and for fire; also a hymn, song.

Arkites The priests who were associated with the ark, whether Egyptian or Hindu, seven in number, like the priests of the Egyptian Tet “or any other cruciform symbol of the three and the four, the combination of which gives a male-female number. The Argha (or ark) was the four-fold female principle, and the flame burning over it the triple lingham” (TG 31).

Ark of Isis In ancient Egypt deities were frequently associated with a boat in the temple ceremonies. “At the great Egyptian annual ceremony, which took place in the month of Athyr, the boat of Isis was borne in procession by the priests . . . This was in commemoration of the weeping of Isis for the loss of Osiris . . .” (TG 30). See also ARK

Ark of the Covenant The coffer or chest in the Holy of Holies of the Jewish synagogue. All ancient religions used the mystical ark, or something similar, in their respective ceremonial worships: “Every ark-shrine, whether with the Egyptians, Hindus, Chaldeans or Mexicans, was a phallic shrine, the symbol of the yoni or womb of nature. The seket [sektet-boat] of the Egyptians, the ark, or sacred chest, stood on the ara — its pedestal. The ark of Osiris, with the sacred relics of the god, was ‘of the same size as the Jewish ark,’ says S. Sharpe, the Egyptologist, carried by priests with staves passed through its rings in sacred procession, as the ark round which danced David, the King of Israel. . . . The ark was a boat — a vehicle in every case. ‘Thebes had a sacred ark 300 cubits long,’ and ‘the word Thebes is said to mean ark in Hebrew,’ which is but a natural recognition of the place to which the chosen people are indebted for their ark. Moreover, as Bauer writes, ‘the Cherub was not first used by Moses.’ The winged Isis was the cherub or Arieh in Egypt, centuries before the arrival there of even Abram or Sarai. ‘The external likeness of some of the Egyptian arks, surmounted by their two winged human figures, to the ark of the covenant, has often been noticed.’ (Bible Educator.) And not only the ‘external’ but the internal ‘likeness’ and sameness are now known to all ” (TG 30).

Aroeris, Haroiri (Greek) Heru-ur (Egyptian) Ḥeru-ur [from ḥeru he who is above + ur the aged] Horus the elder, as distinguished from Heru-pa-khart (Horus the younger) — these two gods are often confused because there are the cosmic Osiris and Isis known as Ra (the sun god) and Hathor, whose son was the Older Horus, and there are likewise the more commonly known Osiris and Isis of our own globe, whose son was the Younger Horus. Aroeris is a deity associated with the sun, and the head of a triad of deities, the other two members being his consort Ta-sent-nefert and their son P-neb-taui (the child). His principal seats of worship were at Sekhemet (Latopolis) and at Ombos where Heru-ur absorbed all the characteristics and qualities of Shu, while his consort took on the characteristics of Tefnut. Heru-ur is depicted in the form of a man (or lion) with the head of a hawk, wearing the crowns of the South and North Egypt united — meaning cosmogonically, the material and the spiritual universes — surmounted by a crown of plumes, uraei, and the disk of the sun.

Plutarch designates Aroeris as the son of Kronos and Rhea (i.e., Seb and Nut), which would make him the brother of Osiris, also the son of Nut. Originally Heru-ur was the twin god of Set, being the Face of the Sun by day, while Set was the Face by night. One representation of him is with the horns and the solar disk, similar to Khnemu or Khnum, with whom he is equivalent.

“If we bear in mind the definition of the chief Egyptian gods by Plutarch, these myths will become more comprehensible; as he well says: ‘Osiris represents the beginning and principle; Isis, that which receives; and Horus, the compound of both. Horus engendered between them, is not eternal nor incorruptible, but, being always in generation, he endeavours by vicissitudes of imitations, and by periodical passion (yearly re-awakening to life) to continue always young, as if he should never die.’ Thus, since Horus is the personified physical world, Aroueris, or the ‘elder Horus,’ is the ideal Universe; and this accounts for the saying that ‘he was begotten by Osiris and Isis when these were still in the bosom of their mother’ — Space” (TG 31). See also HORUS

Arrhetos (Gnostic) Ineffable, unspeakable or, as used in Greek mystical philosophy, not to be divulged. Connected with the Greek Mysteries and of constant occurrence in Greek mystical literature dating from earliest times. Whatever was considered too holy, too sacred, or improper from every aspect to divulge to the public whether in speech or writing, was called arrheton (neuter). The word was taken over by the Gnostic sects and signified among other matters the sevenfold nature of the one formative Logos, the first cosmic hebdomad or septenary (this name of the ineffable is composed of seven letters in the Greek).

Artemis (Greek) Greek divinity, commonly identified with the Roman Diana, daughter of Leto and Zeus, twin of Apollo. Goddess of chastity and protectress of youths and maidens against the wiles of Aphrodite, she is celebrated in Arcadian rites and legends which are older than those of Homer. These show her to be a nature goddess, patroness of fields and forests, goddess of life-giving waters, marshes, rivers, and springs. As goddess of agriculture, she brings increase to the fields, drives away mice and pests, and is the friend of the sower and reaper. The legend of the Calydonian boar shows her to have been worshiped as a harvest goddess. She was also called the tamer, the goddess of the chase, and the healer. She is the protector of the beasts, rather than their persecutor in the chase.

Artemis was also the protectress of mankind and was specially active in regard to the education of the child and youth. Boys and girls were consecrated to her in the temples. She was goddess of marriage and presided over births. Her chief festival, that of Ephesia or Artemisia, was held in the spring.

The connections of various kinds between Aphrodite (or Venus) and the moon, represented under various names, were numerous and highly suggestive. In fact, the Aphrodite Pandemos (the common and popular) was more intimately connected with the lunar powers and attributes than even with Venus. The moon, for instance, under the name Lucina, presided over births; under the name Diana was referred to as being the giver of life and lives, of abounding vitality; and under the name Hecate was the goddess of the underworld because the bringer of disease, decrepitude, and death.

Artes. See ARETIA

Arthur, King (Welsh) A dual figure: historical ruler who held up for forty years or so the Saxon incursions; said to have passed (not died) at or after the Battle of Camlan (540 AD). The mythological Arthur was the son of Uther Pendragon, or Uthr Ben, the Wonderful Head. In Prydwen, his Ship of Glass, he made an expedition into Annwn (the underworld) to obtain the Pair Dadeni, or cauldron of reincarnation, the symbol of initiation. As the king that was and shall be, he appears in the Welsh version of the coming of the Kalki-avatara, which will come to pass at the end of the present yuga. After Camlan he was taken to Ynys Afallen (Apple-tree Island), to be healed of his wounds and to await his return. But the apple tree of the island, as we see in the 6th-century poem “Afallenan” by Myrddin Gwyllt, is the Tree of Wisdom. The poem tells how the tree had to be hidden and guarded, but the time would come when it should be known again: then Arthur would return, and Cadwalaor, and then “shall Wales rejoice; bright shall be her dragon (leader). The horns of joy shall sound the Song of Peace and serenity. Before the Child of the Sun, bold in his courses, evil shall be rooted out. Bards shall triumph.”

Artufas, Estufas Initiation caves or the underground secret temples of the Central American Indians, called kivas by the Indians of the southwestern United States.

Arudha (Sanskrit) Ārūḍha [from ā-ruh to mount, rise up] Mounted, ascended, raised up, attained; attainment. Used in compounds, such as indriyarudha (perceived, brought under the cognizance of the senses); yogarudha (absorbed in profound meditation, attainment of yoga or union).

Aruna (Sanskrit) Aruṇa [from the verbal root to move, rise, tend towards] Reddish-brown, ruddy (the color of morning as opposed to the darkness of night); dawn personified, sometimes represented as the charioteer of the sun. In the Ramayana, Aruna is the father of the fabulous bird Jatayu, king of the vultures, slain by Ravana. In the Vishnu-Purana, Aruna is one of the two sons of Kasyapa by Vinata; called Suparna, he is “king of the feathered tribes, and the remorseless enemy of the serpent race” (1:21).

In Buddhist writings Aruna is the name of 1) a Kshattriya king who sired Sikhi Buddha; 2) a class of gods; 3) a naga or serpent-king; 4) a king of Potali in Assaka who, being victorious in battle against the Kalinga king, won the latter’s four daughters; and 5) a pleasure ground near Anupama where the Buddha Vessabhu, a week after attaining enlightenment, delivered his first discourse.

Arundhati (Sanskrit) Arundhatī [probably from a not + the verbal root rudh to check, restrain, bind] One who releases, frees, unbinds; a medicinal climber, with power to heal severe wounds; consort of the sage Vasishtha; consort of Dharma, meaning established law, procedure, truth, referring in this case to the cosmos; from Arundhati were born “the divisions of earth” (VP 1:15); personification of the morning star, Phosphoros or Lucifer-Venus of the ancient Greeks and Latins, one of the seven stars of Ursa Major; power invoked by the bridegroom for conjugal excellence; name of kundalini, the occult energy in humanity symbolized by a coiled serpent said to lie latent at the base of the spinal column until energized into activity by strenuous yoga exercises.

Arundhati is one of the most mystical terms in ancient Hindu mythology. The congruence of attributes suggests that Arundhati is the cosmic sakti or power stimulating, generating, and bringing to birth what would otherwise lie latent or relatively inactive in the abysses of cosmic force or energy. In her role of Lucifer-Venus, Arundahati may be mystically connected with the hierarchies of the manasaputras, the sons of mind, who quickened dormant mind in the early humanities.

Arupa (Sanskrit) Arūpa [from a not + rūpa form, body probably from the verbal root rūp to form, figure, represent] Formless, bodiless; in Buddhism, used in a number of compounds, such as arupa-dhatu (the formless element), arupa-loka (world of the formless), and arupa-tanha (desire for rebirth in the formless sphere). Arupa, however, does not mean there is no form of any kind, but that the forms in the spiritual worlds are nonmaterial, highly ethereal and spiritual in type.

In the theosophic scheme of the septenary cosmos, the three higher planes are termed arupa planes, formless worlds, where form as we humans perceive it ceases to exist on our objective planes, while the four lower cosmic planes are called rupa-lokas or manifested planes (OG 6, 149). If the cosmos is viewed as a denary, then the three highest planes may be called arupa, while the seven manifested planes are the rupa worlds (Fund 240).

“The Formless (‘Arupa’) Radiations, existing in the harmony of Universal Will, and being what we term the collective or the aggregate of Cosmic Will on the plane of the subjective Universe, unite together an infinitude of monads — each the mirror of its own Universe — and thus individualize for the time being an independent mind, omniscient and universal; and by the same process of magnetic aggregation they create for themselves objective, visible bodies, out of the interstellar atoms” (SD 1:632-3). See also DHATU; LOKA; RUPA

Arupa-devas (Sanskrit) Arūpa-deva-s [from a not + rūpa form, body + deva divine being] Formless celestial beings; suggested in The Mahatma Letters (p. 107) to refer to beings who were once men as we now are, but who have graduated out of the human sage into one of the two main classes of dhyani-chohans. According to this scheme, there are men; those superior to men who nevertheless were formerly men, divided into the rupa and arupa; and beneath men two classes who will be men in the future, such as asuras (elementals having a more or less human form) and beasts or elementals of a less advanced class which can be called animal elementals.

When used alone, deva is vague and indefinite, as there are celestial beings named devas who are neither ex-men, asuras, nor beasts, but may be looked upon as celestial spirit-elementals.

Arvakr (Icelandic) Early awake; in Norse mythology, one of two horses that draw the sun across the sky in the Elder Edda (Grimnismal). He is said to have the runes of Odin in his ear, while his companion Alsvinnr (or Alsvidr) has them inscribed on his hoof.

Arvaksrotas (Sanskrit) Arvāksrotas [from arvāk downwards + srotas stream] Those beings in which the current or stream of nutriment tends downwards. The creation of man, the seventh creation of Brahma in the Vishnu-Purana. These seven creations, which “did not occur on this globe, wherever else they may have taken place” (SD 2:162), refer to different stages of evolution in the earlier periods of a globe-manvantara, as well as of a chain-manvantara. See also TIRYAKSROTAS

Arya (Sanskrit) Ārya [from the verbal root to rise, tend upward] Holy, hallowed, highly evolved or especially trained; a title of the Hindu rishis. Originally a term of ethical as well as intellectual and spiritual excellence, belonging to those who had completely mastered the aryasatyani (holy truths) and who had entered upon the aryamarga (path leading to moksha or nirvana). It was originally applicable only to the initiates or adepts of the ancient Aryan peoples, but today Aryan has become the name of a race of the human family in its various branches. All ancient peoples had their own term for initiates or adepts, as for instance among the ancient Hebrews the generic name Israel, or Sons of Israel.

Also applied as a title by the ancient Hindus to themselves in distinction from the peoples whom they had conquered.

Aryabhata (Sanskrit) Āryabhaṭa An ancient Hindu writer on algebra and astronomy, born in Kusuma-Pura (modern Patma). His most famous astrological work is the Arya-Siddhanta. “The earliest Hindu algebraic and astronomer with the exception of Asura-Maya” (TG 32).

A later astronomer of the same name is known as Arya-bhatta the Less.

Aryachatta. See ARYABHATTA

Arya-Dasa (Sanskrit) Ārya-Dāsa [from ārya noble + dāsa man of knowledge, barbarian, slave, servitor] A great sage and arhat of the Mahasamghika school (cf TG 32).

Aryaman (Sanskrit) Aryaman The chief of the pitris or manes, one of the principle adityas (solar divinities) commonly invoked in conjunction with Varuna and Mitra. The Milky Way is called Aryamanah panthah (Aryaman’s path); and Aryaman is said to preside over one of the lunar mansions (nakshatra uttaraphalguni). As a masculine noun, bosom friend, companion.

Aryans. See ARYA

Aryan Doctrine Used by Subba Row to designate the foundation doctrine from which were derived the Sankhya and Yoga philosophies, and other ancient Hindu systems of thought (Theosophist 3:93).

Arya Samaj (Sanskrit) Ārya Samāja A movement started in India during the 19th century by Swami Dayanand Sarasvati in order to lead his countrymen back to the pristine purity of their Vedic religion, although under the form of a theistic philosophy, and to free them from the degenerations and demoralizations of the orthodox Brahmanism of the time. It was affiliated for a short time with the Theosophical Society, but the union was soon dissolved because it became evident that the Samaj was not in harmony with the universality of the aims and purposes of the Theosophical Society as had previously been understood. The Samaj gradually spread throughout Northern India to the extent of two or three hundred branches.

Aryasangha (Sanskrit) Āryasaṃgha Founder of the first Yogacharya school, a direct disciple of Gautama Buddha; also a sage who lived in about the 5th or 6th century, who mixed Tantric worship with the Yogacharya system. The followers of the latter “claimed that he was the same Aryasangha, that had been a follower of Sakyamuni, and that he was 1,000 years old. Internal evidence alone is sufficient to show that the works written by him and translated about the year 600 of our era, works full of Tantra worship, ritualism, and tenets followed now considerably by the ‘red-cap’ sects in Sikhim, Bhutan, and Little Tibet, cannot be the same as the lofty system of the early Yogacharya school of pure Buddhism, which is neither northern or southern, but absolutely esoteric. Though none of the genuine Yogacharya books (the Narjol chodpa) have ever been made public or marketable, yet one finds in the Yogacharya Bhumi Shastra of the pseudo-Aryasangha a great deal from the older system, into the tenets of which he may have been initiated. It is, however, so mixed up with Sivaism and Tantrika magic and superstitions, that the work defeats its own end, notwithstanding its remarkable dialectical subtilty” (TG 323).

Aryasatya (Sanskrit) Āryasatya [from ārya holy, noble from the verbal root to move, arise, attain + satya true, real from the verbal root as to be] Noble truth; in the plural, the four great truths of Buddhism — chatvari aryasatyani (Pali, chattari ariyasachchani): 1) duhkha — life is suffering; 2) samudaya — origin, cause, craving, egoistic desire (tanha) is the cause of suffering; 3) nirodha — destruction, extinction of desire brings cessation of suffering; and 4) aryashtangamarga — the eightfold path leads to extinction of suffering. See also ARIYASACHCHA (for Pali equivalents)

Aryashtangamarga (Sanskrit) Āryāṣṭāṅgamārga [from ārya holy, noble + aṣṭa eight + aṅga limb, division + mārga path, way from the verbal root mṛg to seek, strive to attain, investigate] Holy eight-limbed way; in Buddhism the Noble Eightfold Path enunciated by Gautama Buddha as the fourth of the Four Noble Truths (chattari aryasatyani). Consistent practice of aryashtangamarga leads the disciple ultimately to perfect wisdom, love, and liberation from samsara (the round of repetitive births and deaths). The Eightfold Path is enumerated as: 1) samyagdrishti (right insight); 2) samyaksamkalpa (right resolve); 3) samyagvach (right speech); 4) samyakkarmantra (right action); 5) samyagajiva (right living); 6) samyagvyayama (right exertion); 7) samyaksmriti (right recollection); and 8) samyaksamadhi (right concentration). See also ARIYA ATTHANGIKA MAGGA (for Pali equivalents)

Aryavarta (Sanskrit) Āryāvarta Abode of the noble or excellent ones or the sacred land of the Aryans; the ancient name for northern and central India. It extended from the eastern to the western sea and was bounded on the north and south by the Himalaya and Vindhya mountains respectively.


Asakrit Samadhi (Sanskrit) Asakṛtsamādhi [from a-sakṛt not once, repeatedly + samādhi meditation] In Buddhism, repeated spiritual and intellectual meditation of the highest kind.

Asaloki. See LOKI

Asana (Sanskrit) Āsana [from the verbal root as to sit quietly] One of the postures adopted by Hindu ascetics; five are usually enumerated, although nearly ninety have been noted. However, they are not of deep spiritual value or meaning: “Providing that the position of the body be comfortable so that the mind is least distracted, genuine meditation and spiritual and actual introspection can be readily and successfully attained by any earnest student without the slightest attention being paid to these various postures. A man may be sitting quietly in his arm-chair, or lying in his bed at night, or sitting or lying on the grass in a forest, and can more readily enter the inner worlds than by adopting and following any one or more of these various Asanas, which at the best are physiological aids of relatively small value” (OG 7).


Asaradel One of the seven transgressing angels given in the Book of Enoch, a Promethean figure who taught fourth root-race mankind “the motion of the moon” (SD 2:376).

Asat (Sanskrit) Asat [from a not + sat being from the verbal root as to be] Not being, non-being; used in the Indian philosophies with two meanings almost diametrically opposed: firstly, as the false, the unreal, or the manifested universe, in contrast with sat, the real; secondly, in a profoundly mystical sense, as all that is beyond or higher than sat. “Sat is born from Asat, and Asat is begotten by Sat: the perpetual motion in a circle, truly; yet a circle that can be squared only at the supreme Initiation, at the threshold of Paranirvana” (SD 2:449-50). In its lower sense, asat signifies the realms of objective nature built out of and from the various prakritis, and therefore regarded as illusory in contrast to the enduring Be-ness or sat. In its higher sense asat is that boundless and eternal metaphysical essence of space out of which, in which, and from which even sat or Be-ness itself is and endures. Asat here is parabrahman-mulaprakriti in its most abstract meaning.

Asathor. See THOR

Asava (Sanskrit, Pali) Āsava [from the verbal root su to distill, make a decoction] A distilling or a decoction; a Buddhist term, difficult to render in European languages, signifying the distillation or decoction which the mind makes or produces from the impact upon it of outside energies or substances, whether these latter be thoughts or suggestions automatically arising and acting from outside upon us, or such as impinge upon the human consciousness from another consciousness striving to affect the former. Thus it corresponds in some respects to the Christian idea of temptation. Asava signifies attachments rising in the mind from the impact upon it of outside influences, and the ideas born of outside influences which intoxicate the mind, born in the mind or flowing into it and preventing its being held upon higher lines. Freedom from the asavas constitutes the essential of arhatship, which involves self-mastery in all its phases. The four asavas are enumerated in Southern Buddhism as 1) sensuousness and sensuality (kama); 2) hunger for life (bhava); 3) dreamy speculation (dittha); and 4) nescience (avijja).

Asava-samkhaya (Pali) Āsava-saṃkhaya [from the verbal root su to distill + sam-khi to destroy completely] Destruction of the mental defilements of asavas.

Asburj. See BORJ


Ascension Christian doctrine of the physical ascension of the resurrected body of Jesus Christ to heaven to be with his Father, celebrated 40 days after Easter; the prophet Elijah and the Virgin Mary are also asserted by dogma of the Roman Catholic Church to have ascended bodily to heaven. The ascension is an allegory of the rebirth, resurrection, and union of the personality or ego with the inner god or Father in Heaven (BCW 5:389).

Ascetic, Asceticism Originally exercise, practice, applied to monastic discipline and self-mortification, very much as was the Sanskrit tapas. But the true ascetic is not one who mortifies his passions, abuses his body, or suppresses his instincts, but one whose earthly desires have been consumed or transformed in the fire of devotion and knowledge. It is used in The Secret Doctrine with special reference to Siva, the “Great Ascetic,” and to kumaras who have maintained their purity by refusing to create.

Asch. See USHAS

Aschieros. See AXIEROS

Aschmogh. See ASHMOGH

Asclepias Acida. See SOMA

Asclepius, Asculapius, Asculapios. See AESCULAPIUS

Asdt (Hebrew) ’Ēshdāth [from ’ash, ’ēsh fire, lightning + dāth law, mandate, legal decree] Translated fiery law (Deut 33:2); in the Septuagint, translated as angels. It signifies the fiery spiritual beings or self-conscious spirits of cosmic character, emanating from the cosmic Logos.

Ases. See AESIR

Asgard, Asgard (Icelandic) [from ass god + gardr yard, home, stronghold] The home of the Aesir, creative deities in the Norse Eddas. The Aesir were ousted from their celestial abode by the Vanir (Swedish Vaner) who remain in divine spheres while the Aesir inspirit living worlds. Asgard is separated from Midgard (middle court, the home of humanity) by the rivers Ifing (doubt) and Tund (time) and by a wall of purging fire.

Within its sacred precincts, the Aesir and Asynjor (gods and goddesses) meet to assess the previous life of the world tree and to determine their course for the future. The Lay of Odin’s Corpse give insight into the gods’ council following the death of a planet, and their difficulty in extracting the essence of that experience.

The shelf (plane) called Gladsheim (gladhome), where Asgard is situated, is also the locale of Valhalla, where Odin’s “One-harriers” feast on the three boars and the mead of earth experience before returning to the fray against the powers of darkness and ignorance.

Ash (Hebrew) ‘Āsh [probably from nā‘ash to support, bear] In Job (9:9) wrongly translated as the star Arcturus; from the Arabic it is evident that Ursa Major is referred to. Different peoples consider the Great Bear as the vital support or carrier not only of destiny but of the heavens. Thus the Hindus speak of the Saptarshayah (seven rishis), who preside over this constellation and have our universe in karmic supervision.

Ash (Tree). See ASK

Asha. See ’ESH

Ashburj. See BORJ

Ashemogha, Ashemaogha (Pahlavi) Used with the adjective unholy, referring to religious teachers who mislead. In the Gathas, Zoroaster often refers to such teachers as false and deluding using terms such as a-debaoma, daevas, the blind and the deaf, aiming at Kavis and Karapans. See also ASHMOGH

Ashen and Langhan (Kolarian) Ceremonies for casting out evil spirits, similar to the Christian exorcism, used by the Kolarian tribes in India (TG 34).

’Asher (Hebrew) ’Asher Who, which, that; in The Secret Doctrine (2:468, 539), used in connection with the phrase ’ehyeh ’asher ’ehyeh (I am that I am — Exodus 3:14).

’Asher (happiness) was the second son of Jacob (Genesis 30:13).

Asherah (Hebrew) ’Ashērāh A Syrian goddess of fortune having close similarities with the Roman divinity Venus, and connected by analogy of attributes with Ashtoreth or Astarte, another Syrian divinity.

Also a sacred wooden pole or image standing close to the massebah and altar in early Shemitic sanctuaries, part of the equipment of the temple of Jehovah in Jerusalem till the Deuteronomic reformation of Josiah (2 Kings 23:6). The plural, ’asherim, denotes statues, images, columns, or pillars; translated in the Bible by “groves.” Maachah, the grandmother of Asa, King of Jerusalem, is accused of having made for herself such an idol, which was a lingham — for centuries a religious rite in Judaea. Sometimes called the Assyrian Tree of Life, “the original Asherah was a pillar with seven branches on each side surmounted by a globular flower with three projecting rays, and no phallic stone, as the Jews made of it, but a metaphysical symbol. ‘Merciful One, who dead to life raises!’ was the prayer uttered before the Asherah, on the banks of the Euphrates. The ‘Merciful One,’ was . . . the higher triad in man symbolized by the globular flower with its three rays” (TG 37). See also ASTARTE.

’Ashmedai. See ASMODEUS

Ashmogh (Pahlavi) Demon with disheveled hair of the race of wrath; Ahriman’s disciple who encourages Azhi-Dahak (Bevar-Aspa) to rise up in order to destroy mankind and shouts: “Now it is nine thousand years that Fereydun is not living; why do you not rise up, although thy fetters are not removed, when this world is full of people and they have brought them the enclosure which Yima formed?” (SBE 5:234).

Also a dragon or serpent in the Avesta, described as a huge monster with a camel’s neck, which after the Fall “lost its nature and its name”; similar to the flying camel of the Zohar — the serpent used by Shamael to seduce Eve (SD 2:205). See also Ashemogha

Ashta (Sanskrit) Aṣṭa The adjective eight.

Ashtadisas (Sanskrit) Aṣṭadiśas [sing aṣṭadiś from aṣṭa eight + diś to point out, designate] The eight cardinal points of the compass collectively; sometimes used for ashtapalas or dikpatis, the eight regents of the cardinal points of the compass. In connection with this and similar words dealing with space or spatial directions and their rulers, the great ancient religious and philosophical systems held that space is not mere emptiness or a mere container, but a vast and incomprehensibly immense plenum, pleroma, or fullness, divided into various departments, planes, spheres, or worlds, each with its controlling Maharaja. See also DASADIS

Ashtar, Ashtar-vidya [possibly from Sanskrit astra weapon, missile + vidyā knowledge] Used by Blavatsky for “the highest magical knowledge” (SD 2:427). Astra-vidya, the science of warfare, when transferred in usage to the everlasting struggle of the adepts of the right-hand with those of the left, would take the significance not so much of the science of missiles or weapons, but that of high and powerful magic forces. “The most ancient of the Hindu works on Magic. Though there is a claim that the entire work is in the hands of some Occultists, yet the Orientalists deem it lost. A very few fragments of it are now extant, and even these are very much disfigured” (TG 35).

Ashta-siddhis (Sanskrit) Aṣṭa-siddhi-s [from aṣṭa eight + siddhi supernormal powers] The eight supernormal powers or faculties innate in man but at present generally latent or undeveloped, although attainable when a person reaches the status of a buddha. See also IDDHI; SIDDHI

Ashta-vijnana (Sanskrit) Aṣṭa-vijñāna [from aṣṭa eight + vijñāna function of consciousness, discernment] Eight or eightfold faculties; used in mystical Mahayana Buddhist works to signify what in Hindu philosophy is called the jnanendriyas (organs of consciousness or of conscious existence in imbodied life). This group of inner faculties, functions, or powers of consciousness has direct reference to the skandhas of Brahmanical philosophy. While the skandhas range from the highest down to and including those of the astral-vital-physical vehicle, nevertheless when closely grouped together the ashta-vijnana may be considered as a unitary vehicle, the field of action of the spiritual ego; hence “One must see with his spiritual eye, hear with his Dharmakayic ear, feel with the sensations of his Ashta-vijnyana (spiritual ‘I’) before he can comprehend this doctrine fully . . .” (ML 200).

Ashtoreth. See ASTARTE

Asia(h), Asiatic World. See ‘ASIYYAH

Asideans. See KASDIM

Asiras (Sanskrit) Aśiras [from a not + śiras head] Headless; in the plural, headless beings. With particular reference to elementals not possessing what humans would call a head. Used also of the first two human races (TG 35), which means 1) that their mental powers had not yet come into function or been evolved forth, and 2) that in the first root-race, and largely in the second root-race, the then nascent human protoplasts had still a rather vague and globular form which caused Blavatsky to refer to them as pudding-bags.

Asita (Sanskrit) Asita Dark in color, hence often used of dark blue and even black; krishna has more or less the same reference to darkness of tint such as is seen in indigo. As a proper noun, a name of the planet Saturn; the dark or waning fortnight of a lunar month; the name of a descendant of Kasyapa, composer of several of the hymns of the Rig-Veda (9:5-24), also named Devala or Asita-Devala (and likewise the name of several other individuals); a generalizing name for a being presiding over magic and darkness. As an adjective, dark-colored, or black.

Asita may also signify unbound [from a not + sita from the verbal root si to bind].

‘Asiyyah (Hebrew) ‘Aśiyyāh [from ‘āśāh to form, fashion] Lowest of the four ‘olamim (worlds or spheres) which, according to the Qabbalah, are emanated during a period of world manifestation. This ‘olam is termed the ‘asiyyatic world (the world of matter, sphere of action), also called ‘olam qelippoth, being emanated from the third world or ‘olam yetsirah. This fourth world is represented as containing the actual physical matter of the planets or spheres (gilgulim), and is the abode of Sama’el (the Prince of Darkness) and his legions. In this sphere is situated the earth, which is subject to birth, change, dissolution, and rebirth of its matter-forms. In the ‘asiyyatic world all the potencies and functions of the preceding or superior worlds are operative, including the powers and functions of the ten Sephiroth, but all greatly diminished or weakened, as being the farthest tip or extremity of the descent of the Septhirothal ray. See also QELIPPOTH

Ask (Scandinavian) Askr (Icelandic) Ash tree; in Norse myths the first humanity was fashioned by the three creative gods using Askr and Embla (the ash and, probably, the alder) as a physical basis. Allfather Odin and his two brothers endow these vegetative beings with spirit, mind, and desire coupled with will.

The universe is depicted as an ash tree, Yggdrasil, within which every lesser being is an ash tree in its own right. A Tree of Life is part of the traditions in every part of the world. “The Norse Ask, the Hesiodic Ash-tree, whence issued the men of the generation of bronze, the Third Root-Race, and the Tzite tree of the Popol-Vuh, out of which the Mexican third race of men was created, are all one” (SD 2:97).

The Norse tree of life is said to be rooted in the divine “ground” and to spread through the shelves of space, bearing living worlds upon its branches. Where the ash tree refers to humanity on earth it is the subject of the tale called “Askungen” (ash child or Cinderella), using an intricate play on words. See also YGGDRASIL

Asklepios. See AESCULAPIUS

Asmegir (Icelandic) [from ass god + mega might, to be able] In Norse mythology, a god-maker — a human soul on its way to becoming divine in the course of evolution.

Asmodeus (Hebrew) ’Ashmĕdai Covetous; an evil demon in later Jewish tradition, son of Naamah (sister of Tubal-cain) and Shamdon. The spirit of lust and anger, he is king of demons, with Lilith as queen, and is sometimes associated with Beelzebub, Azrael (Angel of Death), and Abbadon. In the Talmud he is connected with the legends of Solomon, where he is the destroyer of matrimonial happiness and is forced to help in building the temple. But his description in the apocryphal book of Tobit (3:8), where he is rendered harmless by Tobias and captured by the angel Raphael, is most likely the basis for modern writers (cf IU 2:482). Possibly taken from Zend aeshma-daeva with daeva meaning ethereal being, cosmic spirit.

Asmonean, Hasmonean (Hebrew) “The Asmonean priest-kings promulgated the canon of the Old Testament in contradistinction to the Apocrypha or Secret Books of the Alexandrian Jews — kabalists. Till John Hyrcanus they were Asideans (Chasidim) and Pharisees (Parsees), but then they became Sadducees or Zadokites — asserters of sacerdotal rule as contradistinguished from rabbinical” (IU 2:135).

Asoka (Sanskrit) Aśoka The name of two celebrated kings of the Maurya dynasty of Magadha. According to the chronicles of Northern Buddhism there were two Asokas: King Chandragupta, named by Max Muller the Constantine of India, and his grandson King Asoka. King Chandragupta was called Piyadasi (beloved of us, benignant), Devanam-piya (beloved of the gods), and Kalasoka (the Asoka who has come in time). His grandson received the name of Dharmasoka (the asoka of the Good Law) because of his devotion to Buddhism, his zealous support of it and its spreading. The second Asoka had never followed the Brahmanical faith, but was a Buddhist born. It was his grandfather who had been converted to the new teaching, after which he had a number of edicts inscribed on pillars and rocks, a custom followed also by his grandson; but it was the second Asoka who was the more zealous supporter of Buddhism. He is said to have maintained in his palace from 60,000 to 70,000 monks and priests, and erected 84,000 topes or stupas throughout the world. The inscriptions of various edicts published by him display most noble ethical sentiments, especially the edict found at Allahabad on the so-called Asoka’s column in the Fort.

Asomatous [from Greek a not + soma body] Incorporeal; applied to beings having no physical or material body, corresponding to the Sanskrit arupa.

Asrama (Sanskrit) Āśrama [from the verbal root śram to exert oneself spiritually] A sacred building, a monastery or hermitage for ascetic purposes; likewise one of the four periods of effort or inner development in the religious life of a Brahmin in ancient times. These asramas were 1) the student or Brahmacharin; 2) the householder or grihastha, the period of married existence when the Brahmin played his due role in the affairs of the world; 3) the period of religious seclusion or vanaprastha, usually passed in a vana (forest), a period of inner spiritual recollection and meditation on philosophical and religious matters; and 4) the one who has renounced all the distractions of worldly life or bhikshu who has turned his attention wholly to spiritual affairs, although he may have returned to the world of men for purposes of aiding and teaching.

Top of File


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