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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Chackchuska. See CHAKSHUSHA

Chadayatana. See SHADAYATANA

Chaiah. See HAYYAH

Chain Used in modern theosophy to designate the visible and invisible globes which form the interior and exterior structure of any celestial body. The kosmos as a whole is a living organism, subdivided into almost innumerable subordinate series of hierarchical units; hence the kosmos is an assemblage of beings of many kinds, each of which is a compound unit, and in order to signify that the elements composing each such unit are linked together as an individual, the word chain is applied to celestial bodies. The teaching is that every celestial body whatever, visible or invisible, forms a unity with companion globes on invisible planes. When referring to the chains of globes forming a solar system, it is customary to call them planetary chains; thus we have the earth-chain, the lunar chain, the Mercury-chain, etc., each consisting of seven such globes on the manifested plane, to which the letters A, B, C, D, E, F, and G are applied.

The globes of a chain are said to be in coadunation but not in consubstantiality, which means that, though of different grades of materiality, they form a catenary unit. Although each chain consists of seven or twelve globes, the only one visible to the human eye on earth is that which is on the same plane of materiality. Of the twelve globes to each chain, seven belong to the manifested worlds and five to the unmanifested. The seven manifested globes are distributed on four planes, and the twelve globes on seven planes, as shown in the diagram.


The left-hand side of the diagram represents the descending or shadowy arc of evolution, the right side the ascending or luminous arc. Our universe is also described as one of a cosmic chain of universes.

In other particular uses of the word, the Hermetic Chain is the succession of teachers of the esoteric wisdom who preserve and pass on the sacred knowledge from generation to generation.

Chain-manvantara. See MANVANTARA

Chain of Causation. See NIDANA; KARMA

Chain-round. See ROUND

Chaitanya (Sanskrit) Caitanya [from cit to perceive, understand, be conscious] Consciousness, intelligence; the cosmic intelligence, hence also the light of the Logos. All individual egos in the universe are rooted in cosmic chaitanya as their universal source, and become individualized for experience and work in the material realms by means of the karanopadhi. Chaitanya is thus the invisible essence of human intelligence, the cosmic root of monadic individuality, and the cosmic intelligence-force which is the intrinsic or essential consciousness behind and within individuality.

As a proper name, a reformer of the Vaishnava sect in India (1485-1527), regarded in Bengal as an avatara of Krishna. One of his chief teachings was the duty of bhakti (attachment, devotion, or love) for Krishna so strong that no caste-feeling implying sectarian division could exist with it.

Chaitya (Sanskrit) Caitya [from the verbal root cit to think, perceive] The individual soul; also a funeral monument or memorial, often containing the ashes of the deceased. Sometimes with Buddhists, a sacred building containing a revered image.

Chakna-padma-karpo (Tibetan) phyag na padma dkar po (chag-na pe-ma kar-po) [from phyag na padmo (chag-na pe-mo) lotus holder (cf Sanskrit padmapāṇi) from phyag na in hand (cf Sanskrit pāṇi) + padma lotus + dkar po white (cf Sanskrit puṇḍarīka white lotus)] He who holds the white lotus; a title given to Chenresi (Sanskrit Avalokitesvara or Padmapani).

Chakra (Sanskrit) Cakra Wheel; cycle; the horizon, as being circular or of a wheel-form; likewise certain pranic centers of the body. “These physiological chakras, which are actually connected with the pranic circulations and ganglia of the Auric Egg, and therefore function in the physical body through the intermediary of the linga-sarira, or astral model-body, are located in different parts of the physical frame, reaching from the parts about the top of the skull to the parts about the pubis. . . . were this mystical knowledge broadcast, it would be sadly misused, leading not only in many cases to death or insanity, but to the violation of every moral instinct. Alone the high initiates, who as a matter of act have risen above the need of employing physiological chakras, can use them at will, and for holy purposes — which in fact is something that they rarely, if indeed they ever do” (OG 26-7).

In exoteric works six chakras are named. De Purucker lists seven: 1) muladhara, the parts about the pubis, ruled by Saturn; 2) svadhisthana, the umbilical region, ruled by Mars; 3) manipura, the pit of the stomach or epigastrium, ruled by Jupiter; 4) anahata, the root of the nose, ruled by Venus; 5) visuddha, the hollow between the frontal sinuses, ruled by Mercury; 6) ajnakhya, the fontenelle or union of the coronal and sagittal sutures, ruled by the Moon; and 7) sahasrara, the pineal gland in the skull, ruled by the Sun. “The human body as a microcosm may be looked upon as containing every power or attribute or energy in the solar system. . . . all the seven (or twelve) logoic forces that originally emanate from the sun, and pass in and through the various sacred planets, are transmitted to us as human beings and directly to the physical body. Thus each one of these solar logoic forces has its corresponding focus or organ in the human body, and these are the chakras” (FSO 459).

Chakravartin (Sanskrit) Cakravartin [from cakra wheel, cycle + vartin turning, one who governs] Sovereign of the world, universal ruler; a title applied to several Hindu emperors, but referring particularly to Vishnu, who in the treta yuga in the form of a universal monarch protected the three worlds. At the end of kali yuga, legend states that Vishnu will appear again under his form of the Kalki-avatara, or Maitreya as the Buddhists say, reforming or doing away with the wicked and inaugurating a realm of spirituality and righteousness.

Chakshu (Sanskrit) Cakṣu [from the verbal root cakṣ to become visible, see] The eye; “the faculty of sight, or rather, an occult perception of spiritual and subjective realities . . . ” (TG 323). Chakshus, in addition to meaning eye, as a neuter noun denotes the faculty of seeing, light, clearness. The compound loka-chakshus (eye of the world) is a title of the sun.

Chakshub. See CHAKSHU

Chakshusha (Sanskrit) Cākṣuṣa One of the 14 manus, the seed manu of the third round, and by analogy manu of the third root-race (SD 2:309, 615n).

Chaldeans, Chaldees To the seventh subrace of the third root-race belong the far-distant predecessors of the Mystery school; and to now forgotten geologic history the predecessors of those later called Chaldees, along with Hindu, Egyptian, Persian, and Phoenician sages. In their records are mentioned divine dynasties preceding the human kings, and the cycle of 432,000 years. From them came the origins of all such thoughts as are contained in the occult Nabathean Agriculture, and in their ancient records is found the source of the original Biblical cosmogonic allegories. The mathematical and astronomical lore of the Chaldeans was celebrated in all the ancient Mediterranean world: the word Chaldee often meant simply an adept, magician, or astrologer. In the Bible they are usually spoken of as Babylonians.

The racial origin of the Chaldeans, and the original source of their secret knowledge, is to be found in Central Asia, for there was a long period of time, not so many scores of thousands of years ago, when all this region enjoyed a genial climate and was covered with populous cities and vast tracts of intensely cultivated soil; and was inhabited by a people not inferior to ourselves today, and indeed in some respects superior in knowledge (cf SOPh 16-25).

Cham. See HAM


Cha-na Dorje, Chagna Dorje (Tibetan) phyag na rdo rje (chag-na dorje) Holder of the thunderbolt-diamond; translation of Sanskrit vajrapani.

Chandala (Sanskrit) Caṇḍāla A member of a mixed caste, or people without caste, an outcaste. Especially in ancient India the term applied to one of the lowest and most despised status (sometimes described as being born from a Sudra father and a Brahmin mother). Commonly applied now to anyone of mixed caste “but in antiquity it was applied to a certain class of men, who, having forfeited their right to any of the four castes — Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, and Sudras — were expelled from cities and sought refuge in the forests. Then they became ‘bricklayers,’ until finally expelled they left the country, some 4,000 years before our era. Some see in them the ancestors of the earlier Jews, whose tribes began with A-brahm or ‘No-Brahm.’ To this day it is the class most despised by the Brahmins in India” (TG 323-4).

Chandaja. See CHHANDAJA

Chanda-riddhi-pada. See CHHANDA-RIDDHI-PADA

Chandra (Sanskrit) Candra [from the verbal root cand to shine] The moon; as an adjective, shining, glittering, having the brilliancy of light. Sometimes synonymous with Soma.

Chandrabhaga (Sanskrit) Candrabhāgā The ancient name for the Chenab River in the Punjab.

Chandragupta (Sanskrit) Candragupta The invisible moon, the secret or concealed moon, moon-protected. The name of a celebrated king regarded as the founder of the Maurya dynasty of Magadha, and grandfather of the famous Buddhist king Asoka.

Chandrakanta (Sanskrit) Candrakānta [from candra moon + kānta desired, loved from the verbal root kam to desire] Lovely as the moon, moon-loved; the moonstone, a gem popularly believed to be formed by the congelation of the moon’s rays, and also supposed to be dissolved by the moon’s light, hence magical properties are attributed to it. “It has a very cooling influence in fever if applied to both temples” (TG 76).

Chandrakanti means moonlight; and chandrakanta, the supposed wife of the moon.

Chandramana (Sanskrit) Candramāna [from candra moon + the verbal root to measure] Moon’s measure; one of several methods of reckoning time in India, the year consisting of 360 days, the other two methods being the suryamana and barhaspatyamana.

Chandramanas is one of the ten horses which in Hindu mythology draw the chariot of the moon.

Chandramasanjyotis (Sanskrit) Candramasañjyotis [from candramas moon + sam with + jyotis light] Having the same light as the moon; according to Subba Row, a symbol of the devachanic existence, for just as the moon shines by the reflected light of the sun, so does the ego in devachan shine by the light emanating from the atma-buddhi or monadic portion of any entity’s being. The word was probably coined by Subba Row.

Chandravansa (Sanskrit) Candravaṃśa [from candra moon + vaṃśa lineage, race] Also Chandravamsa. The lunar race; one of the two great royal dynasties of ancient India. As related in the Vishnu-Purana, Soma (the moon), the child of the rishi Atri, gave birth to Budha (Mercury) who married Ila, daughter of the other great royal dynasty, the Suryavansa (solar race). Her descendants, Yadu and Puru, founded the two great branches of the Chandravansa (named respectively Yadava and Paurava). The last important scion of the race of Yadu was the avatara Krishna. In the race of Puru were born Pandu and Dhritarashtra — parents respectively of the Pandavas and Kurus, the heroes of the Mahabharata enumerated in the Bhagavad-Gita (ch 1). “In Occultism, man is called a solar-lunar being, solar in his higher triad, and lunar in his quaternary. Moreover, it is the Sun who imparts his light to the Moon, in the same way as the human triad sheds its divine light on the mortal shell of sinful man. Life celestial quickens life terrestrial” (TG 76).

Rama, the hero of the Ramayana, is born in the Suryavansa, while Gautama Buddha belonged to the Chandravansa (TG 314).

Chandrayana (Sanskrit) Cāndrāyaṇa [from candra moon + ayana advancing, course] The path or course of the moon.

Chang-chub (Tibetan) byang chub (jang-chub, chang-chub) Also Byang-tzyoobs, Tchang-chub. Translation for Sanskrit bodhi (enlightenment, awakening). Byang chub sems dpa’ (jang-chub-sem-pa) translates the Sanskrit bodhisattva, one who has attained a high degree of spiritual knowledge and mystic power; “An adept who has, by the power of his knowledge and soul enlightenment, become exempt from the curse of UNCONSCIOUS transmigration — may, at his will and desire, and instead of reincarnating himself only after bodily death, do so, and repeatedly — during his life if he chooses. He holds the power of choosing for himself new bodies whether on this or any other planet — while in possession of his old form, that he generally preserves for purposes of his own” (ML 285).

Chang Sham-ba-la. See SAMBHALA

Chang-ty. See HUANG TI

Chanmuka. See CHHANMUKA

Chantong (Tibetan) [from spyan (chen) eye + stong (tong) thousand] Thousand-eyed; applied to Chenresi, Tibetan equivalent of the Sanskrit Avalokitesvara or Padmapani. “Thousand-armed” is perhaps a more common epithet for Chenresi.

Chaos (Greek) [from chaino to gape, yawn open] “The earth was without form and void,” says Genesis in describing the first stages of cosmogony. In Greek mythology contains the same idea of the primordial emptiness and formlessness which precedes the rebirth of a universe after pralaya. It was the vacant and spiritual space which existed before the creation of the universe or of the world; from it proceeded Darkness and Night. Chaos is “chaotic” only in the sense that its constituents are unformed and unorganized; it is the kosmic storehouse of all the latent or resting seeds from former manvantaras. It means space — not the Boundless, parabrahman-mulaprakriti, but the space of any particular hierarchy descending into manifestation. In one sense it is the condition of a solar system or planetary chain during its pralaya, containing all the elements in an undifferentiated state. Aether and chaos are the two principles immediately posterior to the first principle.

Various terms more or less synonymous are akasa, the universal egg (from which Brahma issued as light), the virgin egg, the virgin mother, the immaculate root (fructified by the ray), the primeval deep, the abyss, the great mother. The divine ray and chaos are father-mother or cosmic fire and water. Chaos-Theos-Cosmos are the triple deity or all-in-all. Chaos was personified in Egypt by the goddess Neith, who is the Father-Mother of the Stanzas of Dzyan, the akasa of the Hindus, the svabhavat of the northern Buddhists, and the Icelandic ginnungagap.

Charachara (Sanskrit) Carācara [from cara moving + acara not moving] The aggregate of all beings and things whether moving or fixed. It includes all the kingdoms of nature, for the ancient Hindus considered the vegetable and mineral kingdoms to be endowed with inherent life, with relative and fitting souls, as well as the animal and human kingdoms.

Charaka (Sanskrit) Caraka [from the verbal root car to wander, roam about] Wanderer; a branch or school following the practices enjoined in the Yajur-Veda; in the plural, the teachings as well as the followers of the doctrine taught in a branch of the black Yajur-Veda.

Also the name of a legendary muni and physician, born in Panchanada, Kashmir, said to have been the physician of Indo-Scythian King Kanishka (1st or 2nd century). Once Sesha, the King of the Serpents, visiting the earth, found only sickness and suffering everywhere. Being the recipient from a divine source of the Ayur Veda and having knowledge of all cures, he became filled with pity and determined to incarnate as the son of a muni in order to alleviate the ills of mankind. Named Charaka, as he had come to the earth as a wanderer, he then composed a new work on medicine based on the older works of Agnivesa. He is commonly accepted as an avatara of the Serpent Sesha, “an embodiment of divine Wisdom, since Sesha-Naga, the King of the ‘Serpent’ race, is synonymous with Ananta, the seven-headed Serpent, on which Vishnu sleeps during the pralayas. Ananta is the ‘endless’ and the symbol of eternity, and as such, one with Space, while Sesha is only periodical in his manifestations. Hence while Vishnu is identified with Ananta, Charaka is only the Avatar of Sesha” (TG 78).

Chariot Vehicle (cf Sanskrit vahana, Hebrew merkhabah). The Zohar states that ’eyn soph uses the One, the manifested Heavenly Man, as its chariot; but, as ’eyn soph is the Boundless, it cannot come into individual relation with any thing; it is the depth or bythos of ’eyn soph whose ray uses the Heavenly Man as a chariot. It is the unmanifested Logos or Brahman which uses the manifested Logos or Brahma as its vehicle. Chariot is also used to refer to the visible planets as vehicles of the planetary deities, as for instance in the chariot of Apollo or Phoebus and in the nine chariots of the stars around Dhruva the pole star. In similar fashion, the human body is often called the chariot of the inner charioteer, the real person or true ego.

Charity [from French charite from Latin caritas] Used in some parts of the New Testament to translate the Greek agape, which is oftener translated “love” or “affection.” Agape with the early Christians meant that inner bond of blessed union which united the individual with divinity, and mankind with their fellowmen. Till our eyes are fully opened, “there abideth faith, hope, and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity” (1 Cor 13). This use of the word is to be distinguished from its meaning of almsgiving.

Charon (Greek) Ferryman of the Styx in Hades, the son of Erebos (darkness) and either Nux (night) or the Styx; equivalent to the Egyptian Khu-en-ua, the hawk-headed steersman who conveys souls across the black waters that separate life from death. Originally Mercury guided the souls to the underworld, but later Charon was said to ferry souls across who had a coin, put in their mouth at death by their relatives, and who had been properly buried. Hades is kama-loka, entered not only by the shades of the departed but by candidates for initiation, and by high adepts who enter the underworld at certain times on missions of compassion, as Jesus is stated to have descended into Hell.

Charvaka (Sanskrit) Cārvāka A rakshasa (demon) who in the Mahabharata was a friend of Duryodhana, chief of the Kurus, and hence an enemy of the Pandavas. When, at the conclusion of the great battle in which the Kurus were defeated, King Yudhishthira entered Hastinapura in triumph, Charvaka assumed the form of a Brahmin and reviled the king. Yudhishthira’s Brahmins discovered the imposture and reduced Charvaka to ashes with the fire of their eyes, “i.e., magnetically by means of what is called in Occultism the ‘black glance’ or evil eye” (TG 79).

Also a materialistic philosopher whose doctrines are said to be imbodied in the Barhaspatya-sutras; a “denier of all but matter, who if he could come back to life, would put shame to all the ‘Free thinkers’ and ‘Agnostics’ of the day. He lived before the Ramayanic period, but his teachings and school have survived to this day, and he has even now followers, who are mostly to be found in Bengal” (ibid.).

Chassed. See HESED

Chat. See KHAT

Chatur (Sanskrit) Catur The numeral adjective four.

Chaturdasa (Sanskrit) Caturdaśa [from catur four + daśa ten] The numeral adjective fourteen; as a feminine noun (chaturdasi), the fourteenth day in a lunar fortnight. Chaturdasaka and chaturdasan mean fourteenth.

Chaturdasa-bhuvana (Sanskrit) Caturdaśa-bhuvana The 14 lokas and talas, or spiritual and material worlds of existence.

Chatur-maharajas (Sanskrit) Catur-mahārāja [from catur four + mahā great + rājan king] Four great kings; exoterically guardians of the four quarters of the lowest of the six sensuous worlds; esoterically the four spiritual regents in and of our solar system, mystically intimately connected with karma. See also MAHARAJA

Chatur-mukha (Sanskrit) Caturmukha [from catur four + mukha face] Four faces, four-faced; applied to each member of the Trimurti (Brahma, Vishnu, Siva), each being represented as four-faced. Also applicable to the side or face of a square.

Chaturthasrama (Sanskrit) Caturthāśrama The fourth stage of sannyasa, complete renunciation of the world. (BCW 2:118)

Chatur-varna (Sanskrit) Caturvarṇa [from catur four + varṇa a caste, color, form, appearance] The Hindu four castes as presented in the Laws of Manu: the Brahmana or priest, Kshatriya or warrior and administrator, Vaisya or merchant, and Sudra or agriculturalist and servant. These four castes, while very ancient, belonged to the archaic civilization. In the Hindu view karmic merit and demerit work to place a person in his position in life in repetitive incarnations on earth. Thus a person might be a Brahmin, the highest of the castes, but if his life were such as to bring about a change in him, some subsequent incarnation would place him either in a higher or a lower position in life. A person might be a slave or beggar in one life, but if he lives in the higher part of his nature his next imbodiment might be that of a prince; or a prince in his palace might for karmic demerit, in his next life be born a slave.

The real person is the reimbodying ego, who carves its own destiny as and how it chooses, and its imbodiments correspond. It might readily happen that for the purposes of discipline and improvement of soul, a reimbodying ego might deliberately choose a body in which it would have to face, meet, and overcome a great many of what the world calls misfortunes. It is not always therefore in the best interests of a learning and evolving soul to be born “with a silver spoon in its mouth,” because with such surroundings as wealth and social position might bring, a weak soul could easily receive tendencies downwards because lacking the stern discipline urging it upwards and awakening the transcendent powers of the spirit within. Luxury, ease, power, and wealth are by no means always unmixed blessings, but quite frequently become positive misfortunes to weak souls.

Also, the four principal colors.

Chatur-yoni (Sanskrit) Catur-yoni Four wombs; the four modes of birth; the four ways of entering on the path of birth as decided by karma. These four ways as described in ancient books are: 1) birth from the womb, as men and mammalia; 2) birth from an egg, as birds and reptiles; 3) birth from moisture and air-germs, as insects; and 4) by sudden self-transformation, as bodhisattvas and gods (anupapadaka — “parentless”). The anupapadaka birth is brought about by the intrinsic energy and karmic merit of the individual, thus transforming himself into a nobler being.

Chatvaras or Chatvarah (Sanskrit) Catvāras, Catvāraḥ [nominative plural of catur four] The four; frequently used to represent the four kumaras usually mentioned in Hindu scriptures: Sanatkumara, Sananda, Sanaka, and Sanatana.

Chaya, Chhaya-birth, Chayaloka. See CHHAYA, CHHAYA-BIRTH, CHHAYALOKA

Chayah. See HAYYAH

Che-ba (Tibetan) Great, often used to translate the Sanskrit maha.

Chebel. See HEBEL

Chela (Hindi) Celā. Archaic spelling cheta (ceta) or cheda (ceda). Servant, disciple.

“a disciple, a pupil, a learner or hearer. The relationship of teacher and disciple is infinitely more sacred even than that of parent and child; because, while the parents give the body to the incoming soul, the teacher brings forth that soul itself and teaches it to be and therefore to see, teaches it to know and to become what it is in its inmost being — that is, a divine thing.
The chela life or chela path is a beautiful one, full of joy to its very end, but also it calls forth and needs everything noble and high in the learner or disciple; for the powers or faculties of the higher self must be brought into activity in order to attain and to hold those summits of intellectual and spiritual grandeur where the Masters themselves live. For that, masterhood, is the end of discipleship — not, however, that this ideal should be set before us merely as an end to attain to as something of benefit for one’s own self, because that very thought is a selfish one and therefore a stumbling in the path. It is for the individual’s benefit, of course; yet the true idea is that everything and every faculty that is in the soul shall be brought out in the service of all humanity, for this is the royal road, the great royal thoroughfare, of self-conquest” (OG 27-8).

“From Book IV of Kui-ti, chapter on ‘the Laws of Upasans,’ we learn that the qualifications expected in a Chela were:

1. Perfect physical health;
2. Absolute mental and physical purity;
3. Unselfishness of purpose; universal charity; pity for all animate beings;
4. Truthfulness and unswerving faith in the law of Karma, independent of any power in nature that could interfere: a law whose course is not to be obstructed by any agency, not to be caused to deviate by prayer or propitiatory exoteric ceremonies;
5. A courage undaunted in every emergency, even by peril to life;
6. An intuitional perception of one’s being the vehicle of the manifested Avalokitesvara or Divine Atman (Spirit);
7. Calm indifference for, but a just appreciation of everything that constitutes the objective and transitory world, in its relation with, and to, the invisible regions.

“Such, at the least, must have been the recommendations of one aspiring to perfect Chelaship. With the sole exception of the first, which in rare and exceptional cases might have been modified, each one of these points has been invariably insisted upon, and all must have been more or less developed in the inner nature by the Chela’s unhelped exertions, before he could be actually put to the test” (BCW 4:607-8).

Chemi or Kemi Black land; the native name of Egypt in ancient times, so called because of the blackness of its soil due to the deposits made by the river Nile. In some poetical inscriptions Kemi is placed in contrast to Toshri (the red land) — referring to the suggestive color of the sandy deserts.

Chemis (Greek) chemmis, chemi. “According to the Greeks, the phantom form of the Chemis (Chemi, ancient Egypt) which floats on the ethereal waves of the Empyrean Sphere, was called into being by Horus-Apollo, the Sun god, who caused it to evolve out of the Mundane egg” (SD 1:367).

Chemistry [from Greek chemeia] An ancient art or science relating to the extraction of medicinal juices from plants, or of metals from their earths, or the transmutation of physical elements, as of base metals into gold, the preparation of elixirs, and other things usually connected with alchemy, from which modern chemistry is a derivative along specialized line.

In The Secret Doctrine chemistry is mentioned as being, together with biology, one of the magicians of the future, especially in its form of chemical physics, when it is no longer the mechanistic science into which it has degenerated. “In Esoteric Philosophy, every physical particle corresponds to and depends on its higher noumenon — the Being to whose essence it belongs; and above as below, the Spiritual evolves from the Divine, the psycho-mental from the Spiritual — tainted from its lower plane by the astral — the whole animate and (seemingly) inanimate Nature evolving on parallel lines, and drawing its attributes from above as well as from below” (SD 1:218).

Chen (Chinese) Taoist term for reality; according to Chuang: “Chen is the highest degree of vitality or spirituality; the man who does not possess such spirituality cannot possibly stir or propel others” (bk 10, ch 31). Again, “if one cultivates the Tao in himself, his virtue (teh) will become chen (reality)” (Tao teh ching, sec 54).

Chenresi (Tibetan) spyan ras gzigs (chen-re-zi, or chen-re-si) [short for spyan ras gzigs dbang phyug (chen-re-zi-wang-chung) from spyan ras penetrating vision (cf Sanskrit avalokita) + gzigs forms (cf Sanskrit rūpa) + dbang phyug lord (cf Sanskrit īśvara)] The Lord who sees forms with his penetrating vision; translation of Sanskrit Avalokitesvara. Exoterically Chenresi is the greatest protector of Asia in general and Tibet in particular, mystically considered to have eleven heads and a thousand arms, each with an eye in the palm of the hand, these arms radiating from his body like a forest of rays: the thousand eyes representing him as on the outlook to discover distress and to succor the troubled. In this form his name is Chantong (he of the thousand eyes) and Jigtengonpo (protector and savior against evil). “Even the exoteric appearance of Dhyani Chenresi is suggestive of the esoteric teaching. He is evidently, like Daksha, the synthesis of all the preceding Races and the progenitor of all the human Races after the Third, the first complete one, and thus is represented as the culmination of the four primeval races in his eleven-faced form. It is a column built in four rows, each series having three faces or heads of different complexions: the three faces for each race being typical of its three fundamental physiological transformations. The first is white (moon-coloured); the second is yellow, the third, red-brown; the fourth, in which are only two faces — the third face being left a blank — (a reference to the untimely end of the Atlanteans) is brown-black. Padmapani (Daksha) is seated on the column, and forms the apex” (SD 2:178).

Exoterically the Dalai Lama is often regarded as an incarnation of Chenresi, as a popular legend says that whenever faith begins to die out in the world, Padmapani-Chenresi emits a brilliant ray of light, and forthwith incarnates himself in one of the two great Lamas — the Dalai and Tashi Lamas. Esoterically he is called Bodhisattva Chenresi Vanchug (the powerful and all-seeing). Chenresi or Avalokitesvara “is the great Logos in its higher aspect and in the divine regions. But in the manifested planes, he is, like Daksha, the progenitor (in a spiritual sense) of men” (ibid.). In China, Chenresi becomes the great goddess of mercy, Kwan-yin, represented by a female figure bearing a child in her arms.

The true significance of Chenresi is the Third Logos of our solar system and the buddhi-manas of the individual human being, the active aspect of the human spiritual monad. The efflux or influence emanating from Chenresi and permeating the lower parts of the human constitution is Padmapani (the lotus-handed); Padmapani therefore is the bodhisattva of Avalokitesvara or Chenresi, and whether cosmically or psychologically the equivalent of the manifested potency of Brahma.

Cherchen An oasis in Central Asia, situated about 4,000 feet above the Cherchen-daria or Cheerchenghe River. This region is of great ethnological interest as it was once “the very hot-bed and centre of ancient civilization, surrounded on all sides by numberless ruins, above and below ground, of cities, towns, and burial-places of every description” (TG 324). Col. Prjevalski wrote years ago that “the oasis is inhabited by some 3,000 people ‘representing the relics of about a hundred nations and races now extinct, the very names of which are at present unknown to ethnologist’ ” (ibid.).

Cherno Bog (Slavic) The black deity; the chief deity of the ancient Slavonians.

Cheru (Germanic) Also Heru. The sword god of the Cherusci, an ancient Germanic tribe occupying the basin of the Weser, to the north of the Chatti. Cheru has been associated with the Scandinavian Tyr whose name in Germanic mythology is Tio or Zio. In legend the Sword of Cheru was fashioned by the sons of Ivaldi, the dwarfs who likewise fashioned Thor’s Hammer, Mjolnir. The sword of Cheru was a magical one; and in the Scandinavian mythology is described “as destroying its possessor, should he be unworthy of wielding it. It brings victory and fame only in the hands of a virtuous hero” (TG 80).

Cherub, Cherubim (Hebrew) Kĕrūb, Kĕrūbīm A celestial, sacred, occult being in Hebrew mythology; in the Old Testament various descriptions are given of the Cherubim, the prevailing one being that of winged entities with four faces, those respectively of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle. In Genesis, they are the guardians of Paradise; in Exodus (25:18-22) their images are to be placed in the mercy-seat and also in Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 6:23-35), but their most frequent association is with the throne or chariot of Yahweh (Jehovah). In Ezekiel and the Qabbalah the Cherubim are represented as the four holy living creatures. “These four animals are, in reality, the symbols of the four elements, and of the four lower principles in man. Nevertheless, they correspond physically and materially to the four constellations that form, so to speak, the suite or cortege of the Solar God, and occupy during the winter solstice the four cardinal points of the zodiacal circle” (SD 1:363).

In the ancient Syrian system of enumerating the hierarchies, the Cherubim were equivalent to the sphere of the Stars. In the Jewish Qabbalah a close association is made with them and the four letters of the Tetragrammaton, YHVH; and further with the world of ‘Asiyyah. In the system of hierarchies propounded by Dionysius the pseudo-Areopagite, the Cherubim rank second in the first trinity: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones. But the Cherubim have a still more mystical connection: “the four celestial beings are . . . the protectors of mankind and also the Agents of Karma on Earth” (SD 1:126).

In the Hebrew Qabbalah the Kerubim are the class of angels or quasi-spiritual beings corresponding with the lower Shechinah or Malchuth, the lowest or tenth of the Sephiroth. Again, “the word cherub also meant serpent, in one sense, though its direct meaning is different; because the Cherubim and the Persian winged [gryphes] ‘griffins’ — the guardians of the golden mountain — are the same, and their compound name shows their character, as it is formed of (kr) circle, and ‘aub,’ or ob — serpent — therefore, a ‘serpent in a circle’ ” (SD 1:364). The color blue is associated with the Cherubim, as the color red is with the Seraphim.

Chesed. See HESED

Cheta or Che-ti (Chinese) Used in Chinese Buddhist works in reference to the famous Saptaparna Cave mentioned by a number of Chinese Buddhist pilgrims and writers, such as Fa-hian and Hiuen-Tsang. This cave is supposed to be one of the spots where the brilliant shadow of Gautama Buddha may still be seen on the walls of the cave at certain times by those who are fit and ready to perceive it. It is stated that in this famous cave, Gautama Buddha used to meditate and teach his arhats and disciples.

Chetana (Sanskrit) Cetana As a noun, an intelligent being; the soul, the mind. As an adjective, especially in philosophy, percipient, conscious, sentient, intelligent.

The noun chetanā means consciousness, sense, intelligence.

Cheybi. See KHABA

Chhandaja (Sanskrit) Chandaja [from chanda will + the verbal root jan to be born] Will-born, self-produced. The kumaras and other divine beings such as the agnishvattas and manasaputras, are often spoken of in Hindu literature as being chhandajas.

The word can also be translated as pleasure-born, because chhanda often means joy or pleasure, since will and innate desire are different phases of the same fundamental fact.

Chhanda-riddhi-pada (Sanskrit) Chanda-ṛddhi-pāda [from chanda desire + ṛddhi supernormal power + pāda step, ray, beam] Pleasure-power-training; one of the steps enumerated in raja yoga: “the final renunciation of all desire as a sine qua non condition of phenomenal powers, and entrance on the direct path of Nirvana” (TG 324). The compound itself points out that by abandoning the lower desires and pleasures, one enters upon the path of obtaining the celestial joys and vast expansion of faculty and its spiritual use, although even this last is finally abandoned for a still higher stage.

Chhanmuka (Sanskrit) Chanmūka “A great Bodhisattva with the Northern Buddhists, famous for his ardent love of Humanity; regarded in the esoteric schools as a Nirmanakaya” (TG 80).

Chhannagarikah. See SHANNAGARIKAH

Chhaya (Sanskrit) Chāyā A shade, shadow, copy; esoterically, the astral image or body of a person. Besides referring to the human astral form, the term is usually applied to the shadows or copies — the astral body-projections — of the spiritual beings or pitris who played an important part in the early evolutionary development of humankind. In the first root-race, “the pure, celestial Being (Dhyan Chohan) and the great Pitris of various classes were commissioned — the one to evolve their images (Chhaya), and make of them physical man, the others to inform and thus endow him with divine intelligence and the comprehension of the Mysteries of Creation” (SD 2:233n). This idea also appears in the Zohar: “ ‘In the Tzalam (shadow image) of Elohim (the Pitris), was made Adam (man)’ ” (SD 2:137). See also SANJNA

Chhaya Birth The primeval mode of asexual procreation of the first root-race of mankind on this globe in this round. This first race, who were mere chhayas (astral forms or images), are said to have oozed out from the forms of the pitris. See also SANJNA

Chhinnamasta Tantrika (Sanskrit) Chinnamastā Tāntrika [from chinna severed + masta head] Buddhist tantric sect named for the goddess Chhinnamasta, represented with a decapitated head. In their highest initiation, the adept “must ‘cut off his own head with the right hand, holding it in the left.’ Three streams of blood gush out from the headless trunk. One of these is directed into the mouth of the decapitated head . . .; the other is directed toward the earth as an offering of the pure, sinless blood to mother Earth; and the third gushes toward heaven, as a witness for the sacrifice of ‘self-immolation.’ Now, this had a profound Occult significance which is known only to the initiated . . .” (BCW 4:265-6).

Chhayaloka (Sanskrit) Chāyāloka [from chāyā shadow + loka world] Used in the Stanzas of Dzyan for the shadow of cosmic spirit, the first shadowy veil involving the origins of primal or intellectual forms: “the ‘Divine Arupa’ (the formless Universe of Thought) reflects itself in Chhayaloka (the shadowy world of primal form, or the intellectual) the first garment of (the) Anupadaka” (SD 1:118-19).

Also an equivalent of the Greek and Roman Hades, the world of shades, eidola, and umbrae, corresponding to kama-loka.

Ch’i. See KHI

Chiah. See HAYYAH

Chichchhakti (Sanskrit) Cicchakti [from cit thought + śakti power] Mental power, the power which generates thought.

Chichhakti. See CHICHCHHAKTI

Chidachit (Sanskrit) Cidacit [from cit pure thought, intelligence + acit non-thought, non-intelligence] Chit represents the intelligence side of nature, and its opposite, achit, is its vehicle, the substantial or matter side of nature. Chidachit refers to that which is neither the one nor the other, but the link or intermediate division between the mental form of the Logos and the manifested form in substance; hence it is equivalent to fohat.

Chidagnikunda (Sanskrit) Cidagnikuṇḍa [from cit thought, consciousness, spirit + agni fire + kuṇḍa receptacle for fire, hearth, a place in which fire may burn] The interior fire of the spirit or the mystical site in the human constitution in which the fire of spiritual thought burns. The mahatma is said to completely transmute his ahamkara (merely ego-consciousness) and elevate it to spiritual egoic universality in chidagnikunda.

Chid-akasa (Sanskrit) Cid-ākāśa [from cit consciousness + ākāśa ether, space] Abstract cosmic consciousness as active in spiritual cosmic substance or akasa; the infinite field of universal consciousness, pure cosmic intelligence in its union with abstract cosmic substance, the spiritual side of svabhavat. Because each universe in the Boundless is in itself a cosmic individual, having its own wide fields of spiritual egoity, the chit is the svabhava (intrinsic individuality) of said universe.

Chidrupa (Sanskrit) Cidrūpa [from cit pure thought, intelligence + rūpa form, body] The essence or form of intelligence; the logos of a hierarchy. See also ACHIDRUPA

Chiim. See HAYYIM

Chikitsa-vidya-sastra (Sanskrit) Cikitsā-vidyā-śāstra [from cikitsa the practice or science of medicine, particularly therapeutics + vidyā knowledge, science + śāstra scripture] A manual on the science of medicine “which contains a number of ‘magic’ prescriptions. It is one of the Pancha Vidya Shastras or Scriptures” (TG 324).

Chiliocosm (Greek) [from chilioi thousand + kosmos world] In Northern Buddhism, a world made up of a thousand regions; spoken of as equivalent to Sahalo-Kadhatu [Saha-lokadhatu] (ML 199), out of the many regions of which only three are named: kama-loka, rupa-loka, and arupa-loka. It is also stated that kama-loka has many subdivisions or subregions, so that the threefold enumeration is a rough summary of a manifold classification.

It might be said that the universe is infilled with chiliocosms, each one corresponding more or less to a hierarchy with its own integral system of worlds, regions, or divisions, each division again being subdivided to form the vast complexity of universal nature we see around us. Further, each such hierarchy from another standpoint consists of divine, spiritual, intellectual, astral, or astral-physical divisions running from the higher downwards to the lowest; and the three lowest of each such chiliocosm bear the names kama-loka (or kama-dhatu), rupa-loka (or rupa-dhatu), and arupa-loka (or arupa-dhatu), these three commonly spoken of as the trailokya, the name applying to whatever universe, hierarchy, or chiliocosm they may be in or belong to.

With regard to the trailokya, the lowest or kama-dhatu is generally the various subordinate or lowest regions of desire; the second or rupa-dhatu, while worlds of form, are of such ethereal and subtle character that they may be defined as worlds or regions of a purely intellectual or mental character; whereas the highest or arupa-dhatu comprises regions of so purely spiritual — not merely ethereal — character that the words states or divisions can alone give some idea of their character.

Chimah. See KIMAH

Ching-fa-yin-Tsang (Chinese) The mystery of the eye of the good doctrine; in Chinese Buddhism, the esoteric teaching or interpretation of Gautama Buddha. However, “To any student of Buddhist Esotericism the term, ‘the Mystery of the Eye,’ would show the absence of any Esotericism” (BCW 14:444).

Chinmatra (Sanskrit) Cinmātra [from cit thought + mātra elementary thought, intelligence] Essential thought, mind per se; used in Vedanta philosophy, particularly the Advaita, for the germ of cosmic ideation existing at every geometrical point of the infinite chidakasa (field of cosmic ideation). Not to be confused with collateral Vedantic terms mulaprakriti (undifferentiated elemental cosmic matter) or chidakasa. These three are considered from a subjective standpoint as aspects of parabrahman. In the human constitution it is the seventh principle or atman.

Chinva or Chinvat (Avestan), Chinvar (Pahlavi) [from Pahlavi chitan, Avest chinaeta to arrange or lay as in bricklaying, pick and choose + the verbal root vid knowledge, recognition] Alludes to the gradual attainment of knowledge of truth, hence the act of laying the path of knowledge brick by brick.

Chiram. See HIRAM

Chiromancy. See DIVINATION

Chit (Sanskrit) Cit Abstract thought, consciousness as contrasted with concrete or operative thought. According to Vedantic philosophy, chit is one of the three attributes (sat, chit, ananda) of atman or Brahman or, again, of the cosmic Logos.

Chiti (Sanskrit) Citi [from the verbal root cit to think] Understanding; “that by which the effects and consequences of actions and kinds of knowledge are selected for the use of the soul,” or “conscience the inner Voice in man” (SD 1:288n). Some yogis consider chiti as a synonym of mahat, but theosophic philosophy considers mahat the root and base as well as the germ of chiti. Chiti is manas functioning under the illumination of buddhi, and therefore becomes discriminative or intuitive understanding, an organic activity as contrasted with abstract or pure thought or consciousness. This function when developed makes of the human intermediate nature an entity virtually identic with a manasaputra, and thus attracts by spiritual affinity guardian spirits or chitkalas, synonymous themselves with manasaputras.

Chitkala (Sanskrit) Citkala [from cit abstract thought or consciousness + the verbal root kal to urge on, impel, stimulate] The inciters or stimulators of consciousness or intelligent thought; manasaputras. The spiritual beings who, during the course of the early and middle third root-race, furnished humanity with the higher manasic element from their own essence; hence one of the guardian spirits of the human race. Because the chitkalas or kaumarika manasaputras belong to the Hierarchy of Light or Compassion, they have frequently been allied with what the Chinese call Kwan-Yin, the goddess of mercy or pity, who may be called the feminine aspect of the cosmic Third Logos.

Chitkara (Sanskrit) Citkara [from cit thought, consciousness + the verbal root kṛ to do, make] The thought-worker; the guardian angel in human beings.

Chitragupta (Sanskrit) Citragupta [from citr to depict, color with various colors + gupta hidden] The secret recorder who paints the picture of the person’s life on the astral light; a deva-scribe in the abode of the dead, who records human virtues and vices and reads out the account of every soul’s life from his register when the excarnate soul arrives in the kingdom of Yama, the god of death; a variant of the lipikas.

Chitrasikhandin (Sanskrit) Citraśikhaṇḍin Bright-crested; a title given to the seven rishis (saptarshayas) who are the ensouling powers of the seven stars of the constellation of the Great Bear (Riksha). The mystical number seven was seen to be figured in heaven by the seven large stars of the constellation Great Bear, assigned by ancient Egyptians and Hindus to the Mother of Time, and of the seven elemental powers. See also BHUTASARGA

Chitra Sikkandinas. See CHITRASIKHANDIN

Chitta (Sanskrit) Citta [from the verbal root cit to fix the mind upon, design, be intent upon] Thinking, reflection, pondering; used for either the mind or the heart, as being considered respectively the seats of conscious or unconscious mentation. Also used for memory, intelligence, reason, while in astrology it is the name of the ninth mansion (Sagittarius).

Chitta-riddhi-pada (Sanskrit) Citta-ṛddhi-pāda [from citta intelligence, thought, memory + ṛddhi supernormal power + pāda step, inspiring ray] In raja yoga, the step of renunciation of the lower memory, in the attainment of supernormal faculty or power. “The third condition of the mystic series which leads to the acquirement of adeptship; i.e., the renunciation of physical memory, and of all thoughts connected with worldly or personal events in one’s life — benefits, personal pleasures or associations. Physical memory has to be sacrificed, and recalled by will power only when absolutely needed” (TG 324).

Chitta-smriti-upasthana (Sanskrit) Citta-smṛti-upasthāna [from citta intelligence, thought, knowledge + smṛti remembrance + upasthāna placing before oneself, a following after, pursuit] Placing before oneself the knowledge of remembrance; in Buddhist literature “keeping ever in mind the transitory character of man’s life, and the incessant revolution of the wheel of existence” (TG 324).

Chium, Chiun (Hebrew) Kiyyūn, Khiyūn A god worshiped by the Israelites in the desert: “ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god” (Amos 5:26). Said to be derived from the Chaldeans, it may have been the planet Saturn, and Blavatsky writes: “Kiyun, or the god Kivan, worshipped by the Hebrews in the wilderness, is Siva, the Hindu, as well as Saturn” (IU 1:570).

While there is an undoubted mystical and historic connection with the planet Saturn, there is evidence which would likewise point to the planet Venus as having been at times intended by the word Kiyyun, as was the opinion of the Church Father Jerome.

Chohan (Tibetan) [poss from chös law, dharma + Mong khan lord] “Lord of the dharma”; in The Mahatma Letters chohan is the title usually given to superiors among the Masters of the Great White Lodge, whose chief is called the Maha-chohan. Also a general term used for beings in several states of evolution higher than the human. “There are men who become such mighty beings, there are men among us who may become immortal during the remainder of the Rounds, and then take their appointed place among the highest Chohans, the Planetary conscious ‘Ego-Spirits’ ” (ML 130). Because chohan is used much as “chief” is used in English, the term does not signify one single degree in spiritual evolution.

Besides the chohans of light there are chohans of darkness who preside over pralayas, ruled by the Mamochohan. See also DHYANI-CHOHANS.

Choice, Moment of In theosophical literature, the point when the individual, on becoming a buddha, must decide either to renounce the world and its suffering and enter nirvana as a Pratyeka Buddha, or to return as a Buddha of Compassion to help others until all living beings reach nirvana. This decision will be determined by the aspirations and motives of the individual over many lives.

The phrase also refers to the period in the fifth round when human beings will find themselves either able to continue their evolution further up the luminous arc, developing their buddhic qualities; or, if unable to go beyond purely mental or manasic development, forced to enter paranirvana for the rest of the planetary manvantara. This period for the human kingdom corresponds to the period for the animal kingdom in the fourth round when the “door to the human kingdom” closed. At that time animals unable in this cycle to develop manas and enter the human kingdom reached the limit of their evolution for this planetary manvantara and, in the mass (excepting sishtas), had to enter paranirvana for the remainder of this planetary cycle.

Cho-khan. See CHOHAN

Chorea [from Greek choreia dancing] A disorder of the nervous system, characterized by a peculiar convulsive and irregular action of the voluntary muscles, especially those of the face and extremities. It has been called insanity of the muscles, since their action is without harmony or purpose, and each seems to have a will of its own. It is most common in the impressionable years of childhood and adolescence, though appearing at different ages and associated with other diseases which, as a rule, are free from choreic movements. All types have significant common features. First, that many cases are free from organic disease shows that this is a purely functional one; when it complicates other diseases, it retains the typical movements of essential chorea. Whether it develops after some infectious or exhausting condition or polluting experience, or after some mental or psychological strain or shock, like fright or fear, the choreiform reaction indicates the occurrence of an unstable balance between the physical and astral bodies and the inner and higher manasic in man. Persons who develop chorea share a common psychic susceptibility which marks those who are subject to disturbances like hysteria, mediumship, epilepsy, and other phases of obsession. In addition, there are similar signs of a besieging influence at first, as when the child grows peevish, capricious, and restless, wants improper food, is listless at school, suffers with disturbed sleep and night-terrors; and later begin the convulsive movements in the muscles which are naturally under the control of the conscious will. The individual will thus weakened and, in some cases, psychic changes like hallucinations and somnambulism, point to the characteristic action of some astral influence. Further evidence of this is seen in the danger of chorea developing into more serious nervous disorders; whereas, with proper mental, moral, and physical care, cure results when the spiritual will regains its rightful place in controlling the course of life.

Chos (cho) (Tibetan) Translation of the Sanskrit dharma, in four main senses: 1) the teaching of the Buddha; 2) the reality or truth which the teaching points at; 3) in the plural, individual truths, realities, facts, events, distinguishable qualities or properties; and 4) a teaching in general, a religion.

Chrestes, Chrestos, Chrestians (Greek) chrestos. Applied by the Greeks as a title of respect equivalent to “the worthy.” Chrestes meant an interpreter of oracles. In the language of the Mysteries, a chrestos was a candidate or neophyte, and a christos (anointed) was an initiate. Christ is a mystical expression for the human inner god, while chrest is the good but as yet unregenerated nature; using here the language of the Mysteries, Christ may be likened to Dionysos, Osiris, or Krishna, who will deliver the suffering Chrest, mankind or Prometheus, in its trial. It is Christos that incarnates in Chrestos. These usages were taken over by the Gnostic schools out of which Christianity largely sprang, and there is abundant evidence to be found among the early Christian writers and the Gnostics themselves that the adherents originally called themselves Chrestians.


Christmas Christmas Day and its festival are a curious blend of Christian, Jewish, Roman, Western pagan, and perhaps other institutions. It arose as a Christian festival as part of the adaptation of the early Christian Church to the world in which it grew up. The accounts given of the birth of Christ present obvious difficulties against regarding this date as that of his actual birth, and it was looked upon rather as a commemorative festival. Before the 5th century there cannot be said to have been any general consensus as to the date, the choice wavering between that of Epiphany on January 6th, the 25th of March, and the 25th of December.

The celebration of the winter solstice, often identified with that of the new year, is virtually universal and denotes among early Christians the mystic birth of the Christ; the significance has, however, with the Christian Church, been divided between Christmas and Easter. Besides its application to the death and rebirth of the year, and to death and regeneration both cosmic and human, the symbol has special reference to the esoteric rite and exoteric drama performed in the Mysteries at this epoch, where the candidate for initiation was placed in a tomb or coffin, or on a cruciform couch, where his body remained entranced during the experiences of his liberated self, until rebirth or resurrection on the third day.

Christmas customs likewise are derived from various sources: the exchange of gifts or sweets is a common accompaniment of new year celebrations; the tree is a universal symbol of manifested nature, and this appears again as the cross, which however is appropriated to the Friday before Easter. At the winter solstice, the sun enters Capricorn, a house of Saturn — who appears in such figures as Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, and Old Father Christmas; and the spirit of license and good cheer are more appropriate to the genius of Saturn, especially in the form of Silenus or a satyr, than to the mystic birth of the neophyte.

Christos (Greek) Anointed; applied in the Greek Mysteries to a candidate who had passed the last degree and become a full initiate. Also the immanent individual god in a person, equivalent in some respects to Dionysos, Krishna, etc. The Hebrew word for anointed (mashiah) is generally written in English as Messiah. What we know as Christianity is a syncretism of borrowings from Neoplatonism, neo-Pythagoreanism, Greek Gnosticism, and Hebrew religion. Christos was commonly used in the Greek translation of the Bible as a title of the Jewish Kings, those who had been anointed for reigning — a symbolic rite taken originally from the Mysteries. St. Paul’s use of the word shows that he understood its true mystical meaning, but spoke with precaution in his public epistles or writings.

The first two letters of the Greek word, symbol, superimposed in a monogram, were on the military standard of the later Christian emperors of Rome, probably dating from Constantine, and have a significance as geometrical symbols besides. See also CHRESTOS

Christna. See KRISHNA

Chronos (Greek) Time; in Orphism, Phanes (or Eros), Chaos, and Chronos constitute a triad which, emanating from the Unknowable, reproduces the worlds; essentially one, it acts on the plane of maya as three distinct things. Chronos was identified with the titan Kronos, who dethroned Ouranos and succeeded him as ruler of the world, himself being succeeded by Zeus. Kronos devours his own children, which is symbolic of time which both brings forth and destroys events.

Chroub. See CHERUB

Chthonia(n) [from Greek chthon earth] In or under the earth; applied to various divinities as gods of the underworld. In the system of Pherecydes, kosmos contains three higher principles, “Chthona (Chaos), Aether (Zeus), and Chronos (Time), and four lower principles, the elements of fire, water, aire and the earth” from which everything visible and invisible was formed (BCW 13:284). Also equated with chaotic earth (IU 1:156). See also INFERNAL DEITIES

Chuang Tzu (Chinese) Chinese philosopher (late 4th century b.c.) who, with Lao Tzu and Kuan Tzu, is regarded as one of the patriarchs of Taoism. He wrote a work under his name which treats of the tao and its relation to the universe and man, and gives directions for the conduct of human life.


Chupunika (Sanskrit) Cupuṇīkā One of the seven Pleiades.

Churning of the Ocean The agitation of milk, separating the uniform fluid into butter and buttermilk, is used as a figure with various applications, but chiefly to a stage in cosmogenesis when the one cosmic substance becomes differentiated into the “cosmic curds.” By this churning, according to the Hindu tale, is produced amrita, the cosmic soma, the fluid of immortality; but inevitably at the same time is produced visha (poison), this being the polar qualities in the cosmic forces, and likewise in ethics good and evil. The Ocean of Milk or Life, space, is churned by the gods; the radiant essence curdled and spread throughout the depths. It is said in the Satapatha-Brahmana that this took place in satya yuga, but the reference here is to cosmic yugas, a period before the earth’s earliest formation. The allegory however may apply to the initial stages of cycles of various magnitudes, and has also astronomical and geographical applications to the formation of world-stuff out of primary matter and to the dvipas or climatic zones, whether celestial or terrestrial, which are spoken of as seas of milk or of curds.

Chutuktu, Hutukhtu (Mongolian) Also Khutukhtu, Houtouktou, etc. Saintly; same as the Tibetan tulku or chutuktu and the Chinese huo-fo (living buddha), rendered into Chinese by the ideographs tsai lai jen (the man who comes again, the one who returns), identic in meaning with the Buddhist tathagata. A high initiate or adept; those individuals who are, or are supposed to be, incarnations of a bodhisattva or some lower buddha; although these so-called incarnations may be not actual reimbodiments in the strict sense, but rather what may be described as overshadowings by a buddhic or buddha-power. The chutuktu is able, upon leaving his body at death, consciously to seek reimbodiment almost immediately in some child newly born, or at the moment of birth. Blavatsky states that it is commonly believed that there are “generally five manifesting and two secret Chutuktus among the high lamas” (TG 85).

Chyuta (Sanskrit) Cyuta [from the verbal root cyu to move to and fro, fall, fade] The fallen; “the Dhyanis who incarnate in the human forms of the Third Root-Race and endow them with intellect (Manas) are called the chyuta, for they fall into generation” (SD 2:47n). See also ACHYUTA

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