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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Brachmins. See BRAHMANA

Bragi (Icelandic) [from bragr best] One of the twelve aesir, gods of the Norse Eddas. Representing poetic inspiration of the highest order, he is called the divine singer. It is said he lay sleeping on the ship of the dwarfs (kingdoms of the elements — earth, water, air, fire, aether), and when the vessel crossed the threshold of death, he awoke and sang the worlds into life. The sound of his joyfilled song and golden harp reverberates through the nine worlds awakening the music of all the spheres.

Bragi is synonymous with spiritual intuition which, united with the mind (Loki), is the means of human liberation. His consort, the goddess Idun, daily gives the gods the apples of immortality.

Brahm, Brahma. See BRAHMAN

Brahma (Sanskrit) Brahmā [from the verbal root bṛh to expand, grow, fructify] The first god of the Hindu Trimurti or triad, consisting of Brahma, the emanator, evolver, and creator; Vishnu, the sustainer or preserver; and Siva, the regenerator or destroyer. Brahma is the vivifying expansive force of nature in its eternally periodic manvantaras. He stands for the spiritual evolving or developing energy-consciousness of a solar system which is also called the Egg of Brahma (brahmanda). Brahma is called the creator or Logos, but in the theosophic philosophy creator is simply an abstract term or idea, like army. In Burnouf’s words:

“Having evolved himself from the soul of the world, once separated from the first cause, he evaporates with, and emanates all nature out of himself. He does not stand above it, but is mixed up with it; Brahma and the universe form one Being, each particle of which is in its essence Brahma himself, who proceeded out of himself” (q SD 1:380n). The Vishnu-Purana explains that created beings “although they are destroyed (in their individual forms) at the periods of dissolution, yet being affected by the good or evil acts of former existences, are never exempted from their consequences. And when Brahma produces the world anew, they are the progeny of his will . . .” (q SD 1:456n).

Brahman is both masculine and neuter, and therefore has two meanings. In the masculine (Brahma) it is the evolving energy of the cosmic egg, as distinguished from the neuter (Brahman). Brahma is the vehicle or sheath of Brahman. The Vishnu-Purana says that Brahma in its totality has essentially the aspect of prakriti, both evolved and unevolved (mulaprakriti), and also the aspects of spirit and of time. “Brahma, as ‘the germ of unknown Darkness,’ is the material from which all evolves and develops ‘as the web from the spider, as foam from the water,’ etc. This is only graphic and true, if Brahma the ‘Creator’ is, as a term, derived from the root brih, to increase or expand. Brahma ‘expands’ and becomes the Universe woven out of his own substance” (SD 1:83). Again,

“Here we find, as in all genuine philosophical systems, even the ‘Egg’ or the Circle (or Zero), boundless Infinity, referred to as It, and Brahma, the first unit only, referred to as the male god, i.e., the fructifying Principle. It is symbol or 10 (ten) the Decade. On the plane of the Septenary or our World only, it is called Brahma. On that of the Unified Decade in the realm of Reality, this male Brahma is an illusion” (SD 1:333).

According to the Aitareya-Brahmana, Brahma as Prajapati (lord of beings) manifests himself first of all as twelve bodies or attributes, which are represented by the twelve gods, symbolizing 1) fire; 2) the sun; 3) soma, which gives omniscience; 4) all living beings; 5) vayu, or ether; 6) death, or breath of destruction — Siva; 7) earth; 8) heaven; 9) Agni, the immaterial fire; 10) Aditya, the immaterial and invisible sun; 11) mind; and 12) the great infinite cycle, “which is not to be stopped.” Brahma in one of his phases therefore is the visible universe, every atom of which is essentially himself.

Brahma “symbolizes personally the collective creators of the World and Men — the universe with all its numberless productions of things movable and (seemingly) immovable. He is collectively the Prajapatis, the Lords of Being; and the four bodies typify the four classes of creative powers or Dhyan Chohans . . .” (SD 2:60), these four bodies being ratri (night) associated with the creation of the asuras; ahan (day) associated with the gods; sandhya (evening twilight) associated with the pitris; and jyotsna (dawn or light) associated with the creation of men.

In the beginning Brahma was Purusha (spirit) and also prakriti (matter). It is later that he separated himself into two halves — Brahma-Vach (female) and Brahma-Viraj (male). The term Brahma is not found in the Vedas. Blavatsky correlates Adam-Qadmon, Brahma, and Mars as symbols for primitive or initial generative and creative powers typifying water and earth; also all three are associated with the color red (cf SD 2:43, 124-5). See also BRAHMA’s DAY

Brahma-bhashya. See SENZAR

Brahmacharin (Sanskrit) Brahmacārin [from brahman cosmic spirit, divine spiritual wisdom + cārin one practicing or performing] One who is devoted to the student life of a religious devotee involved in sacred study; a young Brahmin in the first period of life as observed in ancient times. The name likewise is given to one who practices rigorous self-control, abstinence, chastity, etc.

Brahmacharya (Sanskrit) Brahmacarya [from brahman cosmic spirit, divine wisdom + carya conduct, practicing from the verbal root car to perform, undergo] Following a life of philosophic and religious training; usually applicable to the first stage in the life of a Brahmin of ancient times, the state of an unmarried religious student of the Vedas.

Brahmadanda (Sanskrit) Brahmadaṇḍa Spinal column or sushumna; “the rod or stick of Brahma, . . . symbolized by the bamboo rod carried by ascetics, the seven-knotted wand of the Yogi. The seven knots are the seven Nadis along the spinal cord” (BCW 12:701). (BCW 12:616).

Brahmadevas (Sanskrit) Brahmadeva-s [from brahman cosmic spirit + deva god, spiritual being] Spiritual beings who act as guardians of the human race, entities directly emanating from Brahman as spiritual-intellectual energies. See also DHYANI-CHOHANS

Brahmadicas. See BRAHMADIKAS

Brahmadikas (Sanskrit) Brahmādika-s The earliest emanations from Brahman; also a general name for the higher solar pitris or dhyani-chohans, whether of the solar system, planetary chain, or even individual globes, who take charge of their respective spheres for the course of its life cycle. As spiritual prajapatis, producers or emanators of hierarchical classes or families, they in a sense are identified with the manus. (SD 1:442; 2:142)

Brahmajnana Brahmajñāna (Sanskrit) [from brahman cosmic spirit + jñāna knowledge from the verbal root jñā to know] Divine, sacred, or esoteric knowledge concerning the cosmic Brahman as taught, for instance, in Vedantic philosophy; also spiritual wisdom per se.

Brahmajnanin (Sanskrit) Brahmajñānin [from brahman cosmic spirit + jñānin knower from the verbal root jñā to know] One who possesses sacred knowledge; spiritually wise or holy.

Brahman (Sanskrit) Brahman [from bṛh to expand] Sometimes Brahma or Brahm. The one reality, “the impersonal, supreme and uncognizable Principle of the Universe from the essence of which all emanates, and into which all returns, which is incorporeal, immaterial, unborn, eternal, beginningless and endless. It is all-pervading, animating the highest god as well as the smallest mineral atom” (TG 62). It involves both essential consciousness and substance, and is the spiritual background of the kosmos, the Cause of all Causes, what is commonly called the Unmanifest Logos: “Brahma, the Noumenon, never rests, as IT never changes and ever IS, though IT cannot be said to be anywhere” (SD 1:374). As the fundamental cosmic fountain of consciousness and spiritual substance, Brahman is the fundamental or cosmic self which, in the case of an individual being, becomes the kshetrajna, the spiritual sun within the individual. Thus the essential self of every being or entity from cosmos to physical atom is this Brahman itself, which is the cause of the familiar saying “tat tvam asi” (you are that).

Through and from Brahman derive the various cosmic Brahmas, the expansion of the One into the many. Brahman does not put forth evolution itself nor create, but exhibits various aspects of itself by means of emanative evolution. The Hindu Puranas say that Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva are the primordial energies of Brahman, the divine neuter. There is a clear distinction between the impersonal, supreme, all-pervading, immanent, beginningless, and endless cosmic principle, whose essence is consciousness-life-substance, and the various Brahmas; for these latter are the periodic manifestations of the highest energies flowing forth at the beginning of each manvantara from the neuter Brahman, and into which these various Brahmas are ingathered again when the cosmic cycle reaches its close and pralaya ensues.

Philosophically, as the supreme cosmic principle of any universe, Brahman is enclosed within its veil or sakti, called pradhana; just as Brahma is similarly infolded within its inseparable sakti called prakriti, and on a still vaster plane mulaprakriti enfolds parabrahman. We have thus: parabrahman-mulaprakriti, Brahman-pradhana, and Brahma- or Purusha-prakriti.

Brahmana (Sanskrit) Brāhmaṇa Also Brahman, Brahmin. As a noun, a member of the highest of the four orthodox Hindu castes during the Vedic and post-Vedic periods. The other three Hindu castes are Kshattriya, Vaisya, and Sudra. Originally an individual became a Brahmana through personal merit and initiation, but gradually priestcraft by degrees entered in, so that the son of a Brahmana became a Brahmana by right or family protection first, then by that of descent. The rights of blood-descent in time replaced the nobler rights of genuine merit, and thus arose the rigid cast of the Brahmanas. Blavatsky says that a true Brahmana is one who has become a dvija (twice-born or initiate) and one “ ‘whose seven forefathers have drunk the juice of the moon-plant (Soma),’ and who is a ‘Trisuparna’ [“three-leaved or -winged” or active in the highest three principles], for he has understood the secret of the Vedas” (SD 1:209-10). Dvija and trisuparna, although still used in India, are used merely by courtesy and ancient custom; in archaic ages the titles were properly borne, because merited, and were descriptive rather than complimentary.

A second meaning as a noun is one of the portions of Vedic literature containing rules for the proper chanting and usage of the mantras or hymns at sacrifices, and explanations in detail of what these sacrifices are, illustrated by legends and old stories. These Brahmanas are “pre-eminently occult works, hence used purposely as blinds. They were allowed to survive for public use and property only because they were and are absolutely unintelligible to the masses. Otherwise they would have disappeared from circulation as long ago as the days of Akbar” (SD 1:68). Though the Brahmanas are the oldest scholastic treatises on the primitive hymns, they themselves require a key for a proper understanding of them which Orientalists have hitherto failed to secure. Since the time of Gautama Buddha, the keys to the Brahmanical secret code have been in the possession of initiates alone, who guard their treasure with extreme and jealous care. There are indeed few, if any, individuals of the present-day Brahmanical cast in India who are even conscious that such keys exists; although no small number of them, possibly, have intimations or intuitions that a secret wisdom has been lost which is uniformly understood to have been in the possession of the ancient Indian rishis.

Brahmana is also the adjectival form for the two uses given above. See also CHATUR-VARNA

Brahmana Period One of the four periods into which Vedic literature has been divided by Orientalists.

Brahmanaspati. See BRIHASPATI

Brahmanda (Sanskrit) Brahmāṇḍa [from brahma + aṇḍa egg, Egg of Brahmā] The imbodiment of Brahma, particularly the solar system, physical, psychological, and spiritual. The ancient Hindus “called Brahma . . . the kosmic atom. The idea is that this kosmic atom is ‘Brahma’s Egg,’ from which the universe shall spring into manifested being, as from the egg the chick comes forth, in its turn to lay another egg. Each of these kosmic eggs or universes gives birth, after its rest period has ended, to its own offspring, each of the former derived in similar manner from its own former manvantaric egg” (Fund 494). This cosmic egg was sometimes said to be dropped by the mystic bird kalahamsa, the swan of eternity; or to be the result of Brahman’s ideation (FSO 97). See also HIRANYAGARBA

Brahmanda Purana (Sanskrit) Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa One of the 18 principal Hindu Puranas, so named because it contains an account of Brahmanda (the Egg of Brahma), and therefore of future cosmic ages as revealed by Brahma. It consists of 12,200 slokas.

Brahman-yogins. See YOGI

Brahma-Prajapati (Sanskrit) Brahmā-prajāpati [brahmā as prajāpati] Progenitor or lord of beings, synthesis of all the cosmic prajapati or formative forces, which infill, make, and in a sense are the visible universe, every atom of which is essentially Brahman.

Brahma-Prakriti (Sanskrit) Brahmā-prakṛti [brahmā as prakṛti] The material or vehicular aspect of Brahma’s nature in contradistinction to Brahma-Purusha, his spiritual aspect.

Brahma Pralaya, Brahma Manvantara (Sanskrit) Brahmā-pralaya, -manvantara The death (or life) of Brahma, which takes place at the close of the Life or Age of Brahma, a period of 311,040,000,000,000 years; also called a mahapralaya or prakritika pralaya. One must ascertain whether the Brahma refers to a solar system or a smaller period of time, such as the life of a planetary chain.

Brahmapura (Sanskrit) Brahmapura [from brahma + pura city, abode] The abode or city of Brahmā, the creative or Third Logos. “The inmost chamber, the chamber of the Heart, and the abode of the World’s Mother” (VS 9), one of the mystic powers latent in all human beings, but called into activity by advanced yogis. Brahmapura can signify the heart or indeed the entire body. It is also the name of the so-called capital of Brahma on Mt. Kailasa in the Himalayas or on Mount Meru.

Brahma-Purusha (Sanskrit) Brahmā-puruṣa [brahmā as puruṣa] The spiritual aspect of Brahma’s nature in contradistinction to Brahma-prakriti, the material aspect.

Brahmaputra (Sanskrit) Brahmaputra [from brahman + putra son] In the Vedas, the son of a Brahmin, a member of the priestly caste. Also a son of Brahma, applied particularly to the prajapatis, the mind-born sons of Brahma, usually enumerated as seven. Blavatsky uses the term in a slightly different sense, referring to the Sons of God in connection with a certain Sacred Island in Central Asia (SD 1:209).

Also the name of one of the large rivers of India.

Brahmarandhra (Sanskrit) Brahmarandhra [from brahman cosmic spirit + randhra opening, fissure, cavity] Brahman’s crevice; a mystical suture or opening in the crown of the head, through which a person leaves his body at death. Connected with the heart by means of the sushumna-nadi, a psychovital channel in the spinal column. “A mystic term having its significance only in mysticism” (TG 63). Anatomically the fontanel is a soft, pulsating, unossified area in the skull of an infant, which hardens as the child develops.

Brahmarshi or Brahma-rishi, (Sanskrit) Brahmarṣi [from brahman + ṛṣi sage] A class of sages, commonly regarded as being of the Brahmanical or priestly class and associated with the prajapatis or mind-born sons of Brahma. Strictly speaking, the “descendants of those Rishis who were the founders of gotras of Brahmans, or caste-races” (SD 2:502). Used interchangeably with prajapati.

Brahma-Rudra (Sanskrit) Brahmā-Rudra A title of Siva as the terrific destroyer of the evil in human passions and of evil in a physical sense. See also RUDRA

Brahma-Samaj, Brahmo-Samaj A religious and theistic movement in India, originating with Raja Ram Mohan Roy, who began teaching and writing in Calcutta soon after 1800. Instituted as a reform movement working against idolatry, the degenerations of orthodox Brahmanism, the perversions and corruptions of popular Hinduism, as well as against Christian missionaries. Baboo Keshub Chunder Sen became its leader in 1858. This movement did not become as popular as the Arya-Samaj, but it became conspicuous for its work in the cause of literary culture and social reform. Its some 4,000 adherents are mostly found in Calcutta and its neighborhood.

“While the members of the Brahmo Samaj may be designated as the Lutheran Protestants of orthodox Brahmanism, the disciples of the Swami Dyanand [the Arya-Samaj] should be compared to those learned mystics, the Gnostics, who had the key to those earlier writings which, later, were worked over into the Christian gospels and various patristic literature” (BCW 1:382).

Brahma-Savarna (Sanskrit) Brahmasāvarṇa One of the 14 manus of our planetary chain, the seed manu of the fifth round. (SD 2:309).

Brahma’s Day, Night, Age, Year, Life A Day of Brahma, a cosmic manvantara or out-breathing of Brahma, represents a period where worlds are evolved and pass through their allotted ages of manvantaric existence. Each Day of Brahma consists of 1,000 aggregates of four yugas or 1,000 mahayugas (great ages). In a smaller sense it is also a mahamanvantara or kalpa of a planetary chain, composed of seven rounds, a period of 4,320,000,000 terrestrial years. A Night of Brahma, a cosmic pralaya, inbreathing of Brahma, or planetary paranirvana, is of equal length.

Seven Days of Brahma or seven planetary cycles make one solar kalpa. One Year of Brahma consists of 360 Divine Days and Nights, each Day of which is the duration of the imbodiment of a planetary chain, with Nights of equal length.

The Life of Brahma or of the solar system consists of 100 Divine Years (311,040,000,000,000 terrestrial years). The current Life of Brahma is about half completed — a period of about 155,520,000,000,000 of our years having passed away since our solar system first began its mahamanvantara. There remain, therefore, fifty more Years of Brahma before the system sinks into cosmic pralaya. As only half the grand evolutionary period is accomplished, we are at the bottom of the cosmic cycle, i.e., on the lowest plane. See also FOUR

Brahmasrama (Sanskrit) Brahmāśrama [from brahman the supreme principle + āśrama sacred building, hermitage] Mystically, an esoteric seat, an initiation chamber, or secret room where the initiant strives to attain union with Brahman or the inner god. Also a temple, in which the sacred mysteries of the wisdom-religion are taught. Used as well to signify the headquarters of an esoteric school.

Brahmasutras (Sanskrit) Brahmasūtra-s Aphorisms on the Vedanta philosophy, ascribed to Vyasa, treating of the knowledge of Brahman.

Brahmatma (Sanskrit) Brahmātmā The chief Brahmin initiates;

“the Supreme Chief of all those Mahatmans. This pontificate could be exercised only by a Brahman who had reached a certain age, and he it was who was the sole guardian of the mystic formula, and he was the Hierophant who created great Adepts. He alone could explain the meaning of the sacred word, AUM, and of all the religious symbols and rites. . . .
“But there existed, and still exists to this day, a Word far surpassing the mysterious monosyllable, and which renders him who comes into possession of its key nearly the equal of Brahman. The Brahmatmans alone possess this key, and we know that to this day there are two great Initiates in Southern India who possess it” (BCW 14:430; 14:152)

Brahma-Vach (Sanskrit) Brahmā-Vāc [brahmā as vāc] The female aspect of Brahma; in another sense, the two aspects of the manifested Brahma working in union or conjointly, the energic and the vehicular, constantly interblending and cooperating. The Vach aspect therefore may be considered the female side of the cosmic Logos. See also BRAHMA-VIRAJ

Brahma-Vach-Viraj (Sanskrit) Brahmā-Vāc-Virāj Brahma in both his feminine and masculine aspects; the manifested Logos or hermaphrodite creative deity. See also BRAHMA-VIRAJ (SD 2:125-7; BCW 10:351)

Brahma-Vaivarta Purana (Sanskrit) Brahma-Vaivarta Purāṇa The metamorphosis of Brahma; one of the 18 principal Hindu Puranas, dealing with Brahma in the form of the avatara Krishna and containing prayers and invocations addressed to Krishna, with narratives about his love for Radha, the gopis, etc.

Brahmavidya (Sanskrit) Brahmavidyā Brahma-knowledge, divine knowledge; equivalent to theosophia, the wisdom of the gods. The secret or esoteric science or wisdom about the universe, its nature, laws, structure, and operations.

Brahma-Viraj (Sanskrit) Brahmā-virāj [brahmā as virāj] The energic aspect of Brahma; for when Brahma separates himself into male and female halves, this androgynous or semi-androgynous cosmic power produces Vach and Viraj. Now as Vach, although feminine in gender, as a noun really represents the logoic aspect of Brahma, Viraj, although masculine in gender, as a noun represents the perpetually active and energic forces of manifested nature in and through which vibrates the unceasing activity of the logoic Vach.

Brahma-Vishnu-Siva. See TRIMURTI

Brahmin. See BRAHMANA

Brahmo-Samaj. See BRAHMA-SAMAJ

Brain The anatomy of the brain is very complex, and the organ as a whole can be considered under two main aspects: 1) in relation to consciousness, thought, and memory; and 2) in relation to functional activities stimulated by nerve currents to the various organs, muscles, etc. It is in reference to consciousness that Blavatsky states that “Occultism tells us that every atom, like the monad of Leibnitz, is a little universe in itself; and that every organ and cell in the human body is endowed with a brain of its own, with memory, therefore, experience and discriminative powers” (Studies in Occultism 100; BCW 12:134). Pirogoff, Liebig, and others are quoted in support of the view that memory is related to the bodily organs in general and not wholly to the brain. The brain is the registering organ of memory, not memory itself. The memories of terrestrial experiences — those pertaining to the lower mind — arise in the bodily organs pertaining to it, and are transmitted to the structure of the brain, where they are registered in the kama-manasic consciousness. But the finer particles of the brain cannot be so reached, for the brain in this sense is the organ of a higher noetic mind. The higher mind does not act directly on the bodily organs, but through the mediation of the lower mind. Thus it is the personal ego “catches occasional glimpses of that which is beyond the senses of man, and transmits them to certain brain cells (unknown to science in their functions), thus making of man a Seer, a soothsayer, and a prophet . . .” (Studies in Occultism 89; BCW 12:367). The brain and heart are special organs through which the higher mind acting through the personal mind can stimulate the finer particles of the body to a representation of spiritual ideas.

More particularly the brain may be described as the organ of the lower manasic activities through the manasic fluid flowing forth from the inner constitution; whereas the heart is the organ — as yet only slightly evolved to its high purposes — for the buddhic or buddhi-manasic parts of the invisible human constitution. Thus when the brain is trained to receive the inflow of the current arising in the higher portion of the fluid which bathes the heart, then the individual lives for the time at least in the highest portions of his constitution, and temporarily becomes a demigod on earth.

Brain-mind Used by theosophists for the astral mind of the personal ego, the pale and too often distorted reflection of the intellection of the reincarnating ego. It is, in fact, the representative in the physical world of kama-manas, mind conditioned by materiality. The lower mind or psycho-nervous effluvia of the brain acts through the nervous ganglia in the kamic centers, such as the liver, stomach, and spleen, though the central ganglia of this nervous system are situated in the base of the skull. The brain, and with it the heart, however, are likewise the organs of spiritual and intellectual powers far higher than those represented by the merely human personality working through the brain-mind; hence the higher forms of thought, supersensuous, superconscious, correlate with the cerebral and cardiac centers.

The body in general and the brain in particular are compact of finer and grosser elements, the former responsive only to the breath of divine wisdom, out of reach of the winds from the passion-laden lower mind, whose function is to act on and arouse the grosser elements of the nervous system. The brain, therefore, is a kind of reflector of thought-currents and emotional tides which arise in the kamic centers of the inner self, and are distributed through the nervous ganglia in the skull to the physical kamic reflection centers in the trunk. Thus we scarcely use at all the brain itself in the true sense, or at any rate only in its lowest aspects or functions; and it is only in rare moments that the brain tissues are suffused with the glory emanating directly from the higher nature and working through the pineal and pituitary glands in the skull and through the secret center in the heart.

B’raisheeth, Brashith. See BERE’SHITH

Brazen Serpent As related in the Bible, when the Jews in the wilderness complained to Moses, “the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died” (Num 21:6); wherefore “Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent has bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived” (21:9).

As the Hebrew words for serpent and brass are the same when the Massoretic points are omitted (N H SH), some have sought for an interpretation by referring to the Evil One, called by the later Jews and Qabbalaistic Christians the Deprived (Nahash), but the fiery serpents “were the Seraphim, each one of which, as Isaiah shows (vi. 2), ‘had six wings’; they are the symbols of Jehovah, and of all the other Demiurgi who produce out of themselves six sons or likenesses — Seven with their Creator. Thus, the Brazen Serpent is Jehovah, the chief of the ‘fiery serpents’ ” (SD 2:387n).

Again, “both the heathen wand and the Jewish ‘serpent’ are one and the same, namely, the Caduceus of Mercury, son of Apollo-python. It is easy to comprehend why the Jews adopted the ophidian shape for their ‘seducer.’ With them it was purely physiological and phallic” (SD 2:208).

Just as the serpent is connected with knowledge, wisdom, and magic, whether of the right- or left-hand path, so likewise has copper or brass since immemorial time in all mystic schools been a metallic compound supposed to be under the particular governance of the planet Venus, which is the ruler or controller of the human higher manas — manas being at once the savior as well as the tempter of mankind, for it is in the mind where temptation and sin or evildoing ultimately arise. See also SERPENT.

Bread and Wine “The outward and visible signs of an inward and spiritual grace,” bread and wine stand at once for the actual elements used in initiation ceremonies and for the attainments of which they are symbolic. Taking the Bacchic Mysteries as an example, wine was given as the blood of the grape and of Bacchus, blood signifying life, and Bacchus representing the mystic Logos which “was made flesh.” So the whole rite means the imparting to the candidate of the divine life by conscious union of his lower self with the god within — a union brought about by the self-devised efforts of the lower self. In the same way, bread or grain symbolized the intellectual aspect of the attainment, intellect being the “body” of the spiritual influx.

The Christian sacrament was adopted from the pagan rite. The Protestant Churches administer the sacrament in both bread and wine as the symbol of a divine grace received by the devout participant. The Catholic Church teaches that the sacred elements are actually transubstantiated by miraculous means into the blood and body of Christ, denying the cup or the wine to the laity, and regarding the rite as propitiatory for the sins of the participants and of mankind in general. The old pagan rite contained the idea that partaking of the wine meant allying oneself with the vital energy of the spiritual divinity within the neophyte, and the partaking of the bread was symbolic of a similar union of the neophyte’s mentality with the cosmic mind for which the bread stood. See also SOMA; WINE

Breath In the astral-vital organisms of living beings the breath is called prana, which also means “life.” This is not limited to the respiratory functions, but includes what physiologists might call nerve currents operating in all parts of the body, of which the pulmonary diastole and systole is only a particular manifestation. Hatha yoga deals with the study and use of these functions, but before such aspects of the lower knowledge can be profitably or even safely used, the learner must have acquired self-mastery, stability, and disinterestedness of motive.

The ceaseless alternate outflowing and inflowing of cosmic life or hierarchies of lives of the one manifest reality is called the Great Breath from its analogy to physiological breathing, which implies incessant alternating motion, expansion and contraction, of life, air, wind, or spirit. The sevenfold word symbolizing the logos is said to be the evolution of the breath. Though the alternation of manvantara and pralaya conjoined are the Great Breath, the alternating motion does not cease even during the long pralayic ages.

Breath is often used in the same sense as ray, wind, spirit, pneuma, to denote an active emanation which is at once active and passive, positive and negative, donative and receptive, the principle of polarity later in cosmic evolution becoming pronounced. An instance is when the divine breath incubates the waters of space, and worlds are produced. Absolute perpetual motion is the breath of life of the one element, and is applied to fohat. In Sanskrit it is expressed among other words by asu, the true root of asura (a living or spiritual being). In Hebrew several words express it, varying according to the spiritual or grosser meaning: neshamah, ruah, or nephesh. In Greek philosophy perhaps the main word used in this sense in pneuma, equally well translated as spirit.

The plural “breaths” is used to denote spirits or forces, such as the Ah-hi, dhyani-chohans, asuras, the holy circumgyrating breaths, and the seven breaths or divisions of the Logos. There may also be right- and left-hand breaths, or breaths (winds) from the four, six, or eight directions, each having its own specific quality and functions. In general, breath stands for the air element.

Breathing Exercises. See HATHA YOGA; PRANAYAMA

Brhad-aranyaka. See BRIHAD-ARANYAKA

Brhaspati. See BRIHASPATI

Briah, Briatic World. See BERI’AH

Briareus (Greek) One of three giants, sons of Ouranos and Gaia, the others being Kottos and Gyges, each with 50 heads and 100 arms or hands. They were imprisoned by Kronos, but liberated by Zeus to help him in his war against the Titans. One interpretation links these brothers with Lemuria (SD 2:775-6).

Bride In the Qabbalah used in connection with Malchuth, the tenth or lowest of the Sephiroth; however, the full realization of the Bride’s marriage will occur only at the end of the seventh root-race and the seventh round of this planetary chain, when everything will be united to its parent source.

The Roman Catholic Church has also adopted the term, speaking of itself as the Bride of Christ. Explaining the passage in Revelation (19:7-9) referring to the marriage of the Lamb to his bride, Blavatsky writes: “ ‘The Logos is passive Wisdom in Heaven and Conscious, Self-Active Wisdom on Earth,’ we are taught. It is the Marriage of ‘Heavenly man’ with the ‘Virgin of the World’ — Nature, as described in Pymander, the result of which is their progeny — immortal man” (SD 2:231).

The bride’s position in the marriage sacrament is also explained: as forming the left side of a triangle, the groom forming the right side, and the assistants the base line.

Bride is used in the Qabbalah as the terms sheath, veil, or garment are used in other mystical systems, the meaning being that spirit always has its lining or expression in manifestation. Thus the veil of Purusha is prakriti, that of Brahman is pradhana, that of parabrahman is mulaprakriti.

Brigu, Brighou. See BHRIGU

Brihad-aranyaka or -aranya Upanishad (Sanskrit) Bṛhad-āraṇyaka, -āraṇya Upaniṣad [from bṛhad great + āraṇyaka produced in a forest] A celebrated Upanishad, forming the last five prapathakas (sections) of the Satapatha-Brahmana — one of the most important of the Brahmanas — attributed to Yajnavalkya. The title refers to this class of highly mystical and metaphysical literary work supposed to have been thought out by sages while retired in the solitudes of mountain and forest. Aranyaka is closely associated with Upanishad, and often used interchangeably with it; thus this work is often called Brihad-Upanishad or Brihad-aranyaka-upanishad.

Brihaspati (Sanskrit) Bṛhaspati [from bṛh prayer + pati lord] Sometimes Vrihaspati. A Vedic deity, corresponding to the planet Jupiter, commonly translated lord of prayer, the personification of exoteric piety and religion, but mystically the name signifies lord of increase, of expansion, growth. He is frequently called Brahmanaspati, both names having a direct significance with the power of sound as uttered in mantras or prayer united with positive will. He is regarded in Hindu mythology as the chief offerer of prayers and sacrifices, thus representing the Brahmin or priestly caste, being the Purohita (family priest) of the gods, among other things interceding with them for mankind. He has many titles and attributes, being frequently designated as Jiva (the living), Didivis (the bright or golden-colored). In later times he became the god of exoteric knowledge and eloquence — Dhishana (the intelligent), Gish-pati (lord of invocations). In this aspect he is regarded as the son of the rishi Angiras, and hence bears the patronymic Angirasa, and the husband of Tara, who was carried off by Soma (the moon). Tara is

“the personification of the powers of one initiated into Gupta Vidya (secret knowledge) . . .
“Soma is the moon astronomically; but in mystical phraseology, it is also the name of the sacred beverage drunk by the Brahmins and the Initiates during their mysteries and sacrificial rites. . . .
“Soma was never given in days of old to the non-initiated Brahman — the simple Grihasta, or priest of the exoteric ritual. Thus Brihaspati — ‘guru of the gods’ though he was — still represented the dead-letter form of worship. It is Tara his wife — the symbol of one who, though wedded to dogmatic worship, longs for true wisdom — who is shown as initiated into his mysteries by King Soma, the giver of that Wisdom. Soma is thus made in the allegory to carry her away. The result of this is the birth of Budha — esoteric Wisdom — (Mercury, or Hermes in Greece and Egypt). He is represented as ‘so beautiful,’ that even the husband, though well aware that Budha is not the progeny of his dead-letter worship — claims the ‘new-born’ as his Son, the fruit of his ritualistic and meaningless forms. Such is, in brief, one of the meanings of the allegory” (SD 2:498-9).

Tara’s abduction gave rise to the Tarakamaya — the first war in heaven. The earth was shaken to its very center and turned to Brahma requesting him to restore Tara to her husband, which request was granted. Soma had for his allies the Daityas and Danavas, whose leader is Usanas (Venus) and Rudra (Siva), while the gods who sided with Brihaspati were led by Indra.

Brisingamen (Icelandic) [from brising fire + men jewel] In Norse myths the fire jewel represents the fire of enlightened intelligence in the human race, pictured as a gem which the goddess Freya wears on her bosom. She is the spiritual power imbodied in the planet Venus and the protectress of evolving, aspiring humanity. Her gem has on more than one occasion been stolen by Loki — the mischievous lower mind — which brought grief to the gods, who have the well-being of humanity at heart. Once the precious gem was in grave danger: the matter-giant Trym (our physical globe earth) stole Thor’s hammer of creation and destruction and hid it deep beneath the ground, and for its return he demanded that Freya become his wife. The story relates that she snorted with such fierce outrage that the gem was shattered.

Bronze Age. See DVAPARA YUGA

Brotherhood Human beings, in common with all other entities in the universe, are inseparable members of a spiritual unity; and the illusion of eternally separate selves, and therefore equally permanent individual and diverse interests, is due to an ignorance of fundamental facts in nature. “If the action of one reacts on the lives of all, and this is the true scientific idea, then it is only by all men becoming brothers and all women sisters, and by all practising in their daily lives true brotherhood and true sisterhood, that the real human solidarity, which lies at the root of the elevation of the race, can ever be attained” (Key 234).

Theosophical Society has always insisted on the formation of a nucleus of a universal brotherhood as its prime objective; and the teachings which it promulgates are aids subsidiary to this purpose. As one of Blavatsky’s teachers wrote: “The Chiefs want a ‘Brotherhood of Humanity,’ a real Universal Fraternity started; an institution which would make itself known throughout the world and arrest the attention of the highest minds” (ML 24). Again, “It is he alone who has the love of humanity at heart, who is capable of grasping thoroughly the idea of a regenerating practical Brotherhood who is entitled to the possession of our secrets. He alone, such a man — will never misuse his powers, as there will be no fear that he should turn them to selfish ends” (ML 252).

Brotherhood of Compassion. See HIERARCHY OF COMPASSION; MAHATMA

Brotherhood of Luxor The original brotherhood of this name is very ancient and most secret; but its name was used for a bogus society in the late 19th century, “born in Europe, only to be exposed and fly to America” (TG 193).

Brothers of Light. See RIGHT-HAND PATH

Brothers of the Shadow. See LEFT-HAND PATH

Brothers of the Sun. See RIGHT-HAND PATH

Bubastis, Bubaste. See BAST

Buddha (Sanskrit) Buddha [from the verbal root budh to perceive, awaken, recover consciousness] Awakened, enlightened; one who is spiritually awakened, who has become one with the supreme self (paramatman).

“To become a Buddha one has to break through the bondage of sense and personality; to acquire a complete perception of the real self and learn not to separate it from all other selves; to learn by experience the utter unreality of all phenomena of the visible Kosmos foremost of all; to reach a complete detachment from all that is evanescent and finite, and live while yet on Earth in the immortal and the everlasting alone, in a supreme state of holiness” (TG 64-5).
“A Buddha in the esoteric teaching is one whose higher principles can learn nothing more in this manvantara; they have reached Nirvana and remain there. This does not mean, however, that the lower centers of consciousness of a Buddha are in Nirvana, for the contrary is true; and it is this fact that enables a Buddha of Compassion to remain in the lower realms of being as mankind’s supreme Guide and Instructor, living usually as a Nirmanakaya” (OG 33-4).

See also GAUTAMA

Buddhachchhaya (Sanskrit) Buddhacchāyā [from buddha awakened one + chāyā shadow] The shadow of the Buddha; during certain commemorative Buddhist celebrations, an image said to have appeared in the temples and in a certain cave visited by Hiuen-Tsang (c. 602 – 664), the famous Chinese traveler (IU 1:600-01).

Buddha Gautama. See GAUTAMA

Buddhakshetra (Sanskrit) Buddhakṣetra [from buddha awakened + kṣetra field, sphere of action] The sphere of action of an enlightened one. According to theosophy, there are four (or seven) buddhakshetras or fields in which the buddhas manifest and do their sublime work of benevolence which, counting from above, are: 1) the realms in which the dhyani-buddhas live and work; 2) the realms in which the dhyani-bodhisttvas live and work, called by Blavatsky “the domain of ideation”; 3) the realms of the manushya-buddhas, in which these work as nirmanakayas; and 4) the field of action in which the human buddhas work, the ordinary human world — our physical globe.

Every incarnate buddha lives and works in the fourth or lowest buddhakshetra, as Gautama Buddha did; but at the same time, and more particularly when he has laid aside the physical body, he can live and work at will in the next higher buddhakshetra as a nirmanakaya; again as a dhyani-bodhisattva in his higher intermediate spiritual-psychological principle, he can at will function in the next higher buddhakshetra; while last, the dhyani-buddha within him lives and does its own sublime labor on the highest buddhakshetras as a dhyani-buddha. Here lies the true explanation of the many apparently conflicting statements made about the various kinds of buddhas and their various duties or functions, as found in the Buddhist scriptures, especially in the Mahayana writings of Central and Northern Asia.

Each one of the trikaya (three bodies or vehicles) — the dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, and nirmanakaya — has its respective place and function on and in the three highest of the buddhakshetra: the dharmakaya is the luminous or spiritual body or vehicle in which the dhyani-buddha lives and works on the first and highest buddhakshetra; the dhyani-bodhisattva similarly lives and works in the spiritual-intellectual body or vehicle called the sambhogakaya, on the second of the buddhakshetras; while the manushya-buddha, when working in the third buddhakshetras, does so in his nirmanakaya vesture or robe, vehicle, or body. The lowest buddhakshetra is the one in which the human buddha is found clothed in his body of flesh as an incarnate being.

Buddhangums (Sanskrit) Buddhāṅga [from buddha enlightened + aṅga limb, science] Buddha-science or the essence of occult wisdom and knowledge.

Buddha of Compassion One who, having gained the right to nirvana, renounces it to return to help all living beings. “They are men who have raised themselves from humanity into quasi-divinity; and this is done by letting the light imprisoned within, the light of the inner god, pour forth and manifest itself through the humanity of the man, through the human soul of the man. Through sacrifice and abandoning of all that is mean and wrong, ignoble and paltry and selfish: through opening up the inner nature so that the god within may shine forth; in other words, through self-directed evolution, they have raised themselves from mere manhood into becoming god-men, man-gods — human divinities.

“They are called ‘Buddhas of Compassion’ because they feel their unity with all that is, and therefore feel intimate magnetic sympathy with all that is, and this is more and more the case as they evolve, until finally their consciousness blends with that of the universe and lives eternally and immortally, because it is at one with the universe. ‘The dewdrop slips into the shining sea’ — its origin. . . . The Buddhas of Compassion, existing in their various degrees of evolution, form a sublime hierarchy extending from the Silent Watcher on our planet downwards through these various degrees unto themselves, and even beyond themselves to their chelas or disciples” (OG 23-4).

They are in contrast to the Pratyeka Buddhas, whose goal is to win spiritual liberation for themselves alone and who do not renounce nirvana.

Buddhas of Contemplation. See DHYANI-BUDDHA

Buddhaphala (Sanskrit) Buddhaphala [from buddha enlightened + phala fruit] The fruit of the Buddha, which is won when the arhat has attained the fruition of arhatship (arhattvaphala).

Buddha-Siddhartha. See GAUTAMA

Buddhi (Sanskrit) Buddhi [from the verbal root budh to awaken, enlighten, know] The spiritual soul, the faculty of discriminating, the channel through which streams divine inspiration from the atman to the ego, and therefore that faculty which enables us to discern between good and evil — spiritual conscience. The qualities of the buddhic principle when awakened are higher judgment, instant understanding, discrimination, intuition, love that has no bounds, and consequent universal forgiveness.

In the theosophical scheme, it is the sixth principle counting upwards in the human constitution: the vehicle of pure, universal spirit, hence an inseparable garment or vehicle of atman. In its essence of the highest plane of akasa or alaya, buddhi stands in the same relation to atman as, on the cosmic scale, mulaprakriti does to parabrahman.

Buddhi uses manas as its garment, and in the former are likewise stored the fruitages of the many incarnations on earth; hence buddhi is often called both the seed and flower of manas. Buddhi is truly the center of spiritual consciousness and therefore its qualities are enduring. The purer and higher part of manas must awaken, by rising to it, this essential energy that inherently resides in buddhi so that the latter may become active in a person’s life. Buddha and Christ are examples of sages who had become human imbodiments of the usually latent qualities of buddhi. Buddhi becomes more or less conscious on this plane by the flowerings it draws from manas after every incarnation of the ego. “Buddhi would remain only an impersonal spirit without this element which it borrows from the human soul, which conditions and makes of it, in this illusive Universe, as it were something separate from the universal soul for the whole period of the cycle of incarnation” (Key 159-60).

“No purely spiritual Buddhi (divine Soul) can have an independent (conscious) existence before the spark which issued from the pure Essence of the Universal Sixth principle, — or the over-soul, — has (a) passed through every elemental form of the phenomenal world of that Manvantara, and (b) acquired individuality, first by natural impulse, and then by self-induced and self-devised efforts (checked by its Karma), thus ascending through all the degrees of intelligence, from the lowest to the highest Manas, from mineral and plant, up to the holiest archangel (Dhyani-Buddha)” (SD 1:17).

In the human constitution buddhi is a ray from the cosmic principle mahabuddhi or adi-buddhi, a synonym for alaya, pradhana, or the Second Logos, while akasa in its higher reaches is identic with alaya.

Buddhi-manas (Sanskrit) Buddhi-manas [from buddhi spiritual soul + manas intellect] The higher ego, the principle of essential self-consciousness, especially when considered as over-enlightened by the atman or self per se. Buddhi-manas is the karana-sarira (causal body), hence the immortal or spiritual self which passes intact from one incarnation to another. This higher self or ego is formed of the indissoluble union of buddhi, the sixth principle counting upwards, and the spiritual efflorescence of manas, the fifth principle. Buddhi-manas is the divine individual soul infilled with the light of the ray from the atman, and hence includes human intellect and egoic self-consciousness, in addition to all the spiritual faculties and powers inherent in the ray itself. See also ATMA-BUDDHI-MANAS

Buddhindriyas (Sanskrit) Bhuddhīndriya-s In Hindu philosophy, one of the three main divisions of the human being according to the indriyas (instruments, organs); used in theosophy as “organs or means of spiritual consciousness, apperception, sense and action” (FSO 275). See also INDRIYA

Buddhi-taijasi (Sanskrit) Buddhi-taijasī In relation to the human principles, used to express the state of manas when it is bathed in the radiance of buddhi, the spiritual soul; yet its more exact significance is the radiance of buddhi itself: buddhi when actively radiating its own buddhic svabhava or characteristic. When manas becomes irradiated with buddhi-taijasi, then the human manasic faculty, the intellect, becomes suffused and infilled with spiritual discrimination and vision. It is the human soul “illuminated by the radiance of the divine soul. Therefore, Manas-taijasi may be described as radiant mind; the human reason lit by the light of the spirit; and Buddhi-Manas is the revelation of the divine plus human intellect and self-consciousness” (Key 159n). See also TAIJASA

Buddhochinga (Sanskrit) Buddhociṅga “The name of a great Indian Arhat who went to China in the 4th century to propagate Buddhism and converted masses of people by means of miracles and most wonderful magic feats” (TG 68).

Budding or Gemmation A form a asexual reproduction in which the new individual is developed from a protuberance on the body of the parent, the new individual either remaining attached, as in polyzoa and most corals, or separating, as in hydra. This process is used as an analogy to convey the method of reproduction followed by the humanity of the second root-race. The bodies were more ethereal and also differed in certain reproductive processes from what takes place in humans today, so that it is not now easy to give a complete picture of the process of budding as it then was. The development of the germ-cell and its extrusion of polar cells furnish additional clues, both to this process and the allied process of fission. Besides a survival of analogous methods of reproduction in some of the present lower forms of life, there are also similar instances in the power which some creatures have of reproducing lost limbs, and in the power of cicatrization of wounds in the higher mammalia.

Budha (Sanskrit) Budha [from the verbal root budh to awake] As an adjective, intelligent, wise, clever, fully awake; hence a wise or instructed person, a sage. In mythology, Budha is represented as the son of Tara (or Rohini), the wife of Brihaspati (the planet Jupiter). Tara was carried off by Soma (the Moon), which led to the Tarakamaya — the war in svarga (heaven) — between the gods and asuras (the latter siding with Soma against the divinities). The gods were victorious and Tara was returned to Brihaspati, but the parentage of the son she gave birth to was claimed both by Brihapati and Soma: he was so beautiful he was named Budha (cf SD 2:498-9). Upon Brahma’s demand, Tara admitted that Budha was the offspring of Soma. Budha became the god of wisdom and the husband of Ila (or Ida), daughter of Manu Vaivasvata, and in one sense stands for esoteric wisdom.

Budha is also a name for the planet Mercury and its regent. Sirius was termed the star of Budha, “called the great instructor of mankind before other Buddhas” (SD 2:374).

Budhaism or Budhism [from Sanskrit budha wisdom] The anglicized form of the term for the teachings of divine philosophy, called in India budha (esoteric wisdom). It is equivalent to the Greek term theosophia. It must be distinguished from Buddhism, the philosophy of Gautama Buddha, although this is a direct and pure derivative from budhaism.


Bull, Bull Worship The bull has been worshiped as a symbol of generative creation in its celestial or cosmic aspect — in contrast with the terrestrial and human aspect represented by the ram and sometimes the lamb. Generally the bull or cow was used as a symbol of the moon cosmogonically, although occasionally associated with solar deities. Sometimes a white bull is represented, as seen in the Egyptian Apis, who legendarily is Osiris “incarnate” in that form; with the Hindus the white bull Nandi was associated with Siva. However, the significance of the ram is terrestrial, usually phallic, and lunar in the productive sense. Thus the bull represents cosmic evolutionary power, while the ram symbolizes the terrestrial generative powers. The sacred bulls did not necessarily represent male animals, but were mystically considered to be hermaphrodite or even sexless: thus the Egyptian bull, Apis, was depicted as being hermaphrodite, which showed his cosmic character.

The bull was at times considered to be one of the four sacred animals, corresponding to the four points of the compass and other quaternaries, such as the four Maharajas. In Assyrian and other sculptures in Asia Minor we often see a king in the act of seizing a bull by the horns and stabbing it in the belly, the significance of which is reason prevailing over impulse, mind over generative power, or the solar over the lunar elements in mankind and nature. Frequently the bulls were carved as winged, implying the creative or productive nature of the cosmogonic spirit and its all-permeant power throughout nature. The entire series of ideas here was akin to the theme associated with the Mithraic Mysteries, in one stage of which the bull figured prominently.

The preponderance of bull symbols in ancient Assyrian and other sculptures was connected with a time when the zodiacal sign Taurus, due to the precession of the equinoxes, was ascendant: this would be approaching three precessional cycles ago (more than 75,000 years). Thus the bull would then naturally be a favorite emblem and would have featured very largely in association with the iconographical elements of exoteric worship.

Bumapa (Tibetan) [possibly dbu ma pa (u-ma-pa) translation of Sanskrit madhyamaka or madhyamika the school of Buddhist philosophy which follows Nagarjuna] “A school of men, usually a college of mystic students” (TG 69).

Bumi Haptaiti (Avestan) Būmi Haptāiti, Haft Keshvar (Persian) [from būmi earth (cf Sanskrit bhūmi) + haptāiti septempartite (cf Sanskrit sapta)] The septempartite or sevenfold earth, which indicates that the ancient Zoroastrians, like the ancient Hindus, taught of the seven manifest globes (keshvare) of the earth planetary chain.

In Persian literature both ancient and Islamic, apart from the seven keshvars, there are often references to seven seas and seven heavens. This term has been used in the Gathas in the sense of septenary spheres of life. In Pahlavi literature and in the introduction to the Abu Mansuri Shahnameh (the oldest version of Shahnameh and one of the main sources of Ferdowsi), we find Bumi Haptaiti in this setting. See also KARSHVAR

Bundahish or Bundahis (Pahlavi) [from bun root, origin + dah to create] Origin of creation; a Zoroastrian mythologico-theological work treating of cosmogony, the government of the world, and its end. Its present form is of later date than the Avesta, but the material contained in it is of distinctly archaic character and runs far back into the night of early Persian history.

Bur (Icelandic) [from burdr birth] Emanation of Buri, primeval root of being in the Norse Eddas. From Bur sprang the creative trinity: Odin (Allfather), Vile (divine will), and Vi or Ve (awe, sanctity). These three forces produce the systems of worlds where the gods feast at the stellar and planetary tables on mead (experience of life).

Buri, Bore (Icelandic, Swedish) [from burdr birth] Primeval progenitor of cosmic life in the Norse Eddas. During the “frost giant” (long ages of nonlife) the cow Audhumla (symbol of fertility) licked salt from the blocks of ice which were all that existed in the Great Void (Ginnungagap). She uncovered the head of Buri, first divine being. From him emanated Bur (which corresponds to the Second Logos of Greek thought), and he in turn gave rise to the trinity of creators — Odin, Vile, and Vi — who brought the worlds into being.

In Scandinavian lands King Bore or Buri still symbolizes the cold which reigns during the long winter.

Buru Bonga (Kolarian) “The ‘Spirit of the Hills.’ This Dryadic deity is worshipped by the Kolarian tribes of Central India with great ceremonies and magical display” (TG 69).

Buthon. See BYTHOS

Butterfly The butterfly, because of its short life, its physical beauty, and its fluttering from flower to flower seeking nectar, has among many ancient peoples been regarded as an emblem of the impermanent, unstable characteristics of the lower human soul. For it is through the merely human soul that the person learns and gathers into the reincarnating ego the nectar or honey of wisdom through experience. Likewise the psyche in occult Greek philosophy was the organ or vehicle of the nous, the higher ego or reimbodying monad. The caterpillar lives its period, making for itself a chrysalis, which after a stage of dormancy is broken by the emerging butterfly. This suggests the idea of the less becoming the greater, of an earthy entity becoming aerial. These thoughts led the ancient Greeks to use the butterfly as a symbol of the human soul (psyche); and in their mythology Psyche was in consequence represented in art with butterfly wings.

This process of nature is applied to humanity (SD 1:159): its peregrinations through the first three rounds is likened to a series of imbodiments through the caterpillar and chrysalis stages; only during the fourth round does mankind attain its first status of true humanity, more particularly during the latter part of the third root-race when human mind is enlightened by the manasaputras.

Byang-tzyoobs, Byang-tsiub, Byan-chub. See CHANG-CHUB

Bythos, Bythus (Greek) The depth; chaos, the primeval deep, frequently used by the Gnostics. For example, with Valentinus it was the cosmic source whence emanated two by two the series of aeons. Sometimes it was considered as one member of a primordial cosmic mystic square — sige (silence), bythos (depth), nous (intellect), and aletheia (truth); sometimes bythos was paired by Gnostics with sige as composing a primordial cosmic binary. See also ABYSS

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