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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Da‘ath (Hebrew) Da‘ath Knowledge or science, frequently insight or wisdom; in the Qabbalah of Luriah, a triad is made of Hochmah (Father), Binah (Mother), and Da‘ath (Son). This emanation does not occur in the ancient Qabbalah, nor is it one of the Sephiroth there.

Dabar (Hebrew) Dābār, plural Dĕbārīm. Word, speech, frequently a cosmic spiritual conscious energy, thus equivalent to the Greek logos or cosmic spirit; also, an oracle or divine communication; cause, reason. In the Chaldean Qabbalah, equivalent to the Logos, “which Word, though it becomes in fact a plural number, or ‘Words’ — D(a)B(a)RIM, when it reflects itself, or falls into the aspect of a Host (of angels, or Sephiroth, ‘numbers’) is still collectively One, and on the ideal plane a nought — 0, a ‘No-thing’ ” (SD 1:350).

Dabistan, Dadistan (Persian) Dabistān, Dadistān [from dab from dip script + stān suffix of place] A name of ancient Persia; also a book, Dabistan-i-Madhahib (school of sects), written in about the mid-17th century by a Moslem traveler, Mohsan Fani, a native of Kashmir. It deals with 12 different religions, the first that of Hushang, supposed to be before the time of Zarathustra (Zoroaster).

Dache-Dachus (Chaldean) “The dual emanation of Moymis, the progeny of the dual or androgynous World-Principle, the male Apason and female Tauthe. Like all theocratic nations possessing Temple mysteries, the Babylonians never mentioned the ‘One’ Principle of the Universe, nor did they give it a name. This made Damascius (Theogonies) remark that like the rest of ‘barbarians’ the Babylonians passed it over in silence. Tauthe was the mother of the gods, while Apason was her self-generating male power, Moymis, the ideal universe, being her only-begotten son, and emanating in his turn Dache-Dachus, and at last Belus, the Demiurge of the objective Universe” (TG 93).

Dactyli, Dactyls (Greek) [from daktylos finger] Fingers; in Greek mythology, the smith said to have first discovered and worked copper and iron, and to have introduced music and rhythm into Greece. Also a name for the Phrygian Hierophants of Rhea Cybele, said to be magicians, exorcists, and healers. Five or ten in number, as the number of the fingers, they have been identified with the Corybantes — priests of Atys, the youth beloved by Cybele — with the Curetes, Telchines, and others, all of which have also been connected with the kabiri. But the kabiri were the manus, rishis, and dhyani-chohans who incarnated in the elect of the third root-race and earliest part of the fourth root-race. Since the structure of the higher planes is reflected in the lower, all these names can also stand for terrestrial powers and their hierophants, according to the rites peculiar to various countries. They have been connected with the Pelasgian masonry (SD 2:345); but, like the cyclopes they were masons in more senses than one.

Dad-Dugpa (Tibetan) Identified by Blavatsky with the Brothers of the Shadow, “the murderers of their Souls” (VS 51).

Daduchus (Greek) dadouchos. A torch-bearer; one of the four celebrants in the Eleusinian Mysteries, preceding the Mystae in the procession to the temple of Demeter on the fifth day of the celebration of those rites.

Daemon or Demon [from Greek daimon, Latin daemon] A god, angel, or celestial power or spirit, of varying degrees of ethereality, and ranging from the supreme deity of the hierarchy, through the greater gods, down to mere genii and lemures. Originally the term applied to deity in general, but later it usually was referred to beings intermediate between the gods and mankind, representing the powers and functions of gods. The Greeks and Romans sometimes used the term for the human divine egos. Philsophers such as Plato divided the daemons into three classes, “the first two are invisible; their bodies are pure ether and fire (Planetary Spirits); the Daimons of the third class are clothed with vapoury bodies; they are usually invisible, but sometimes, making themselves concrete, become visible for a few seconds. These are the earthly spirits, or our astral souls” (BCW 6:187).

The daemon of Socrates stood for his higher and spiritual self, and parallels in this sense the Christian idea of the Guardian Angel. Hesiod designated them as spirits of the golden age appointed to watch over and guard mankind. We often find two daemones accompanying the individual, one prompting to good, the other to evil; while again it may be the same genius, whose influence is defined as at one time good, at another evil.

As with so many cosmic powers and their symbols, these other gods have been relegated in Judaism and Christianity to the position of evil powers hostile to mankind, to be fled from instead of revered, or ruled as obedient helpers when inferior to the human status. The whole idea of the Adversary or Devil is enshrined in the word daemones. But fallen angels, represented as rebels against God, were merely performing their natural duty in evolution by forming the lower worlds. As personification of evil, the word can only be truthfully applied to those beings that man himself, by his evil thoughts and passions, has generated to hover in the lowest strata of the astral light or haunt kama-loka. However, the ancient Greeks and Romans themselves drew a sharp distinction between the daemones of more ethereal type, truly spiritual beings, and the lower earth-haunting daemones who were distinctly denizens of the lower astral and physical realms, and which the ancients dreaded — with reason — far more than modern Christians have ever done. See also AGATHODAEMON

Daemon Est Deus Inversus (Latin) Daemon is divinity inverted; more commonly, the Devil is God inverted. An ancient Hermetic, and later Qabbalistic, aphorism referring to that polar power which is required by the equilibrium and harmony in nature. The One, when manifested, becomes Two, and from the Two are unfolded or evolved all the sequence of manifest existence. Spirit and matter, good and evil, as distinct conceptions exist only by their mutual contrast. There is no evil per se, but the human notion of essential evil arises from our inability to take in the whole at a single glance.

Daemon is applicable in general to all formative power, from the highest to the lowest; in this aphorism it denotes the formative rays in their manifestation in and on the lower planes of prakriti, called by contrast the nether pole. Western monotheism, having anthropomorphized the higher creative powers into a personal God, personified the lower powers into a Devil and demons. But Satan or the Adversary is only God’s messenger, because what is below reflects what is above. This aphorism, then, states that all the manifested universe is the representation or material inversion or reflection of the divine essence and its emanations which in their aggregate compose the spiritual background and causal forces of the universe. Furthermore, a reflected image reverses.

Finally, the aphorism denotes the astral light, represented by a black triangle inverted on a white (SD 1:424).

Daena (Avestan) [from da, day to look, see, know] The personification of the Zoroastrian law or religion, presiding over the 24th day of the month, and giving to that day her name. Together with Khista (religious knowledge, the knowledge of what leads to bliss) she forms the subject of the 16th Yasht, Din Yasht, Din being Pahlavi for Daena. Christi (knowledge) was used in Mithraic circles in the same sense as Daena in Zoroastrianism.

It is the human principle of understanding paralleling manas (TG 94); also the fourth of the five inner faculties. On the Chinvat Bridge after death the soul meets its daena in the form of a maiden whose appearance varies according to the soul’s deeds on earth.

Daeva (Avestan) Daēva, Dev (Pahlavi), Div (Persian) Dīv. In the Avesta, beings of malicious intent popularly regarded as fiends or demons under the sway of Angra-Mainyu. It is a generalizing name for the class of spiritual, quasi-spiritual, and ethereal beings recognized in the mystical literatures of other countries as daimones, devas, spirits, etc. They range thus from self-conscious beings of relatively high evolutionary grade through intermediate stages down to what in theosophy are called elementals.

“In the Vendidad the Daevas are called ‘evil-doing,’ and shown to rush away ‘into the depths of the world of hell,’ or matter. . . . This is an allegory showing the Devas compelled to incarnate, once that they have separated themselves from their parent essence, or, in other words, after the unit had become a multiple, after differentiation and manifestation” (SD 2:516). In another sense, Blavatsky interprets the daevas as referring to the Atlantean giants (SD 2:772).

In Persian, the divs are wicked, powerful beings who oppose the rule of just kings of Iran.

Dag, Dagon (Hebrew, Phoenician) Dāg, Dāgōn [from dāg fish + ōn diminutive; or from dāgān grain] Fish or a little fish; a Philistine god, at Ashod and Gaza, mentioned several places in the Bible (e.g. Judges 16). He was more than a local deity, however, as place-names called after him are widespread. Some scholars assert there was an ancient Canaanite deity of similar name, and also associate this Shemitic god with the Babylonian Dagan. It is commonly believed that Dagon was represented as half-man half-fish and identified with Oannes, though no such early representations bear his name. Some scholars cite Philo Byblius as making Dagon the discoverer of grain and the inventor of the plow, an earth god parallel with Bel.

The fish as a mystic emblem was perhaps more familiar to the primitive Christian sects than to the Hebrews. Primitive and even later Christian iconography show many examples of the fish symbolizing the Logos and its incarnation as the Messiah. Likewise, the early Christians called themselves pisciculi (Latin, “little fish”) and spoke of Christ as the Great Fish, figurating the Logos as manifesting itself in the waters of space and living there somewhat as fish live in water.

Dagoba (Singhalese) A dome-shaped structure (stupa) built over relics of Buddha or Buddhist saints.

Dagon. See DAG

Daimon(es), Daimonia. See DAEMON

Daimonion (Greek) Diminutive of daimon; the name given by Socrates to the warning voice which watched over him and checked his actions, never telling him what to do, but what not to do. In practical effect, it is equivalent to conscience, or the voice of the reimbodying ego, aroused in human life to an extraordinary degree.

Dainn (Icelandic) [from deyja to swoon] A dwarf in the Norse Edda who represents unconsciousness. Dainn awakens when worlds pass into rest, and goes to sleep when they awaken. Dainn is also the name of one of the four stags that nibble the leaves of the world tree Yggdrasil.

Daiteyi (Sanskrit) Daiteyī Proceeding from or belonging to the daiteyas or daityas.

Daitya (Sanskrit) Daitya A large Atlantean island-continent; Blavatsky allows “about 850,000 years since the submersion of the last large island (part of the Continent), the Ruta of the Fourth Race, or the Atlanteans; while Daitya, a small island inhabited by a mixed race, was destroyed about 270,000 years ago, during the glacial period or thereabouts . . .” (SD 1:651). (SD 2:141, 314n, 433, 710) See also RUTA

Daitya(s), Daiteya(s) (Sanskrit) Daitya-s, Daiteya-s Descendants of Diti. If Aditi is understood as mulaprakriti, or virtually cosmic space, so Diti, the nether pole of the former, may be understood as the aggregate of the prakritis. Cosmically, daityas are titans, often called asuras, whose role is that of urgers of evolutionary progress for all things, as contrasted with the incomparably slower, but unceasing, evolutionary inertia of the vast cosmic powers. Terrestrially, they are the titans and giants of the fourth root-race. According to the Hindu Puranas, these daityas are demons and enemies of the ceremonial sacrifice and ritualistic ceremonies; but according to the secret meaning hid under these stories, some of the daityas were the forwards-looking and impulse-providing intellectual entities striving against the inertia or deadweight of human nature.

“The Demons, so called in the Puranas, are very extraordinary devils when judged from the standpoint of European and orthodox views about these creatures, since all of them — Danavas, Daityas, Pisachas, and the Rakshasas — are represented as extremely pious, following the precepts of the Vedas, some of them even being great Yogis. But they oppose the clergy and Ritualism, sacrifices and forms — just what the full-blown Yogins do to this day in India — and are no less respected for it, though they are allowed to follow neither caste nor ritual; hence all those Puranic giants and Titans are called Devils” (SD 1:415).

Daitya Guru (Sanskrit) Daityaguru Preceptor of the daityas; a name of Sukra, regent of the planet Venus.

“ ‘The Guru of the Daityas is the Guardian Spirit of the Earth and Men. Every change on Sukra is felt on, and reflected by, the Earth.’
“Sukra, or Venus, is thus represented as the preceptor of the Daityas, the giants of the Fourth Race, who, in the Hindu allegory, obtained at one time the sovereignty of all the Earth, and defeated the minor gods” (SD 2:31).

Daiviprakriti (Sanskrit) Daivīprakṛti [from daivī divine from the verbal root div to shine + prakṛti original substance or nature] Divine or original evolver; original source; divine matter or original substance. “As original substance manifests itself in the kosmic spaces as primordial kosmic Light . . . many mystics have referred to Daiviprakriti under the phrase ‘the Light of the Logos.’ Daiviprakriti is, in fact, the first veil or sheath or ethereal body surrounding the Logos, as Pradhana or Prakriti surrounds Purusha or Brahman in the Sankhya philosophy, and as, on a scale incomparably more vast, Mulaprakriti surrounds Parabrahman. As Daiviprakriti, therefore, is elemental matter, . . . matter in its first and second stages of its evolution from above, we may accurately enough speak of those filmy ethereal wisps of light seen in the midnight skies as a physical manifestation of Daiviprakriti, because when they are not actually resolvable nebulae, they are worlds, or rather systems of worlds, in the making.

“When Daiviprakriti has reached a certain state or condition of evolutionary manifestation, we may properly speak of it under the Tibetan term Fohat. . . . although Fohat is the energizing power working in and upon manifested Daiviprakriti, or primordial substance, as the rider rides the steed, it is the kosmic Intelligence, or kosmic Monad as Pythagoras would say, working through both Daiviprakriti and its differentiated energy called Fohat, which is the guiding and controlling principle, not only in the Kosmos, but in every one of the subordinate elements and beings of the hosts of multitudes of them infilling the Kosmos. The heart or essence of the sun is Daiviprakriti working as itself, and also in its manifestation called Fohat, but through the Daiviprakriti and the fohatic aspect of it runs the all-permeant and directive Intelligence of the solar divinity. The student should never make the mistake, however, of divorcing this guiding solar Intelligence from its veils or vehicles, one of the highest of which is Daiviprakriti-Fohat” (OG 32-3).

Blavatsky explains various meanings of daiviprakriti:

“Thus in the Esotericism of the Vedantins, Daiviprakriti, the Light manifested through Eswara, the Logos, is at one and the same time the Mother and also the Daughter of the Logos or Verbum of Parabrahmam; while in that of the trans-Himalayan teachings it is — in the hierarchy of allegorical and metaphysical theogony — ‘the Mother’ or abstract, ideal matter, Mulaprakriti, the Root of Nature; — from the metaphysical standpoint, a correlation of Adi-Bhuta, manifested in the Logos, Avalokiteshwara; — and from the purely occult and Cosmical, Fohat, the ‘Son of the Son,’ the androgynous energy resulting from this ‘Light of the Logos,’ and which manifests in the plane of the objective Universe as the hidden, as much as the revealed, Electricity — which is Life” (SD 1:136).

Further she says that theosophy “teaches that it is this original, primordial prima materia, divine and intelligent, the direct emanation of the Universal Mind — the Daiviprakriti (the divine light emanating from the Logos) — which formed the nuclei of all the ‘self-moving’ orbs in Kosmos. It is the informing, ever-present moving-power and life-principle, the vital soul of the suns, moons, planets, and even of our Earth” (SD 1:602).

Dakhma (Avestan) [from dag to burn, cremate, brand] A funeral or cremation building of the Parsis; the Tower of Silence.

Dakini (Sanskrit) Ḍākinī Female demons, vampires, and blood-drinkers, feeding on human flesh, attendant upon Kali, the consort of Siva; a type of evil elemental. Outside of mythologic explanations, the dakinis may be said to be one type of advanced elemental beings. “But with the Fourth Race we reach the purely human period. Those who were hitherto semi-divine Beings, self-imprisoned in bodies which were human only in appearance, became physiologically changed and took unto themselves wives who were entirely human and fair to look at, but in whom lower, more material, though sidereal, beings had incarnated. These beings in female forms (Lilith is the prototype of these in the Jewish traditions) are called in the esoteric accounts ‘Khado’ (Dakini, in Sanskrit). Allegorical legends call the chief of these Liliths, Sangye Khado (Buddha Dakini, in Sanskrit); all are credited with the art of ‘walking in the air,’ and the greatest kindness to mortals; but no mind — only animal instinct” (SD 2:284-5). See also LILITH

Daksha (Sanskrit) Dakṣa [from dakṣ to be able, strong] Adroit, able, intelligent, clever; used as a proper noun, intelligent power or ability. One of the chief prajapatis, cosmic creative intelligences, spiritual entities; the synthesis or aggregate of the terrestrial progenitors, including the pitris.

Daksha signifies the intelligent or competent, but usually carries with it the idea of creative or evolving power. “He is a son of Brahma, and of Aditi, and agreeably to other versions, a self-born power, which, like Minerva, sprang from his father’s body. . . . the Rig-Veda says that ‘Daksha sprang from Aditi and Aditi from Daksha,’ a reference to the eternal cyclic re-birth of the same divine Essence” (SD 2:247n).

As the progenitor of real physical man, Daksha was son of the Prachetasas and Marisha, the first of the “egg-born.” He “establishes the era of men engendered by sexual intercourse. But this mode of procreation did not occur suddenly, as one may think, and required long ages before it became the one ‘natural’ way. Therefore, his sacrifice to the gods is shown as interfered with by Siva, the destroying deity, evolution and progress personified, . . . Virabhadra, ‘abiding in the region of the ghosts (etherial men). . . . created from the pores of the skin (Romakupas), powerful Raumas, (or Raumyas).’ Now, however mythical the allegory, the Mahabharata, which is history as much as is the Iliad, shows the Raumyas [hairy ones] and other races, as springing in the same manner from the Romakupas, hair or skin pores. . . .

“In the Vayu Purana’s account of Daksha’s sacrifice, moreover, it is said to have taken place in the presence of creatures born from the egg, from the vapour, vegetation, pores of the skin, and, finally only, from the womb.
“Daksha typifies the early Third Race, holy and pure, still devoid of an individual Ego, and having merely the passive capacities. Brahma, therefore, commands him to create (in the exoteric texts; when, obeying the command, he made ‘inferior and superior’ (avara and vara) progeny (putra), Bipeds and quadrupeds; and by his will gave birth to females. . . . to the gods, the Daityas (giants of the Fourth Race), the snake-gods, animals, cattle and the Danavas (Titans and demon Magicians) and other beings.
“ . . . ‘From that period forward, living creatures were engendered by sexual intercourse. Before the time of Daksha, they were variously propagated — by the will, by sight, by touch, and by Yoga-power’ ” [quotes from the Vishnu-Purana] (SD 2:182-3).

Daksha-Savarna (Sanskrit) Dakṣasāvarṇa One of the 14 manus, the root-manu of the fifth round (SD 2:309).

Dakshinayana (Sanskrit) Dakṣiṇāyana [from dakṣiṇa southern + ayana road, path] The southward way, the way to Yama’s quarter, the sun’s progress south of the equator, the winter half-year.

In mystic Hindu philosophy, dakshinayanam anuya (to follow along the southward way) is used to describe dying.

Dalada (Sanskrit) Daladā A relic of Gautama Buddha, his supposed left canine tooth, preserved at Kandy, Ceylon. “Unfortunately, the relic shown is not genuine. The latter has been securely secreted for several hundred years, ever since the shameful and bigoted attempt by the Portuguese (the then ruling power in Ceylon) to steal and make away with the real relic. That which is shown in the place of the real thing is the monstrous tooth of some animal” (TG 95).

Dalai Lama [from Mongolian ta-le ocean] The title of the Great Lama or abbot of the Gedun Dubpa Monastery situated at Lhasa, Tibet; used mainly by the Chinese and Mongols. One key to the Dalai Lama’s symbolical name, ocean-lama meaning wisdom-ocean, is found in the tradition of the great sea of knowledge or learning which remained for ages where now stretches the Shamo or Gobi Desert (SD 2:502). The Tibetans call him rgyal be rinpoche (precious victor) or often simply Kun-dun (the Presence). Popularly believed to be an incarnation of Chenresi (Avalokitesvara), he is regarded as the temporal ruler of Tibet.

The first three successors to Tsong-kha-pa as leaders of the Gelukpa school were his foremost disciples Gyel-tshab-je (Rgyal tshab rje), Khe-dub-je (Mkhas grub rje), and his nephew Gen-dun-dub (Dge ’dun grub). Gendundub, who founded the monastery of Tashi-Lhunpo and built up the Gelukpa order, was subsequently recognized as the first Dalai Lama. He was succeeded by Gen-dun Gya-tsho (Dge ’dun rgya mtsho), who was recognized as the reincarnation of Gendundub. Gendun Gyatsho was, in turn, succeeded by his reincarnation, Sonam Gyatsho (Bsod nams Rgya mstho). In 1578 Sonam Gyatsho received the patronage of Altan Khan, leader of the Tumed Mongols, who conferred on him the honorific title of Ta-le Lama, which was posthumously conferred on Sonam Gyatsho’s predecessors. From this time on the Gelukpas received Mongol patronage and spread their school among the Mongols — in fact, the fourth Dalai Lama was a great-grandson of Altan Khan. It was the fifth Dalai Lama who commissioned the building of the Potala palace and, with the aid of the Mongol leader Gushri Khan, established the Gelukpa order as the dominant power in Tibet and the Dalai Lama in Lhasa as the temporal ruler of the country.

List of Dalai Lamas:

1. Gendundub (Dge ’dun grub) 1391-1474
2. Gendun Gyatsho (dge ’dun rgya mtsho) 1475-1542
3. Sonam Gyatsho (Bsod nams rgya mtsho) 1543-88
4. Yonten Gyatsho (Yon tan rgya mtsho) 1589-1616
5. Ngawang Lobsang Gyatsho (Ngag dbang blo bzang rgya mtsho) 1617-82
6. Tsangyang Gyatsho (Tshangs dbyangs rgya mtsho) 1683-1706
7. Kelsang Gyatsho (Bskal bzang rgya mtsho) 1708-57
8. Jampel Gyatsho (’Jam dpal rgya mtsho) 1758-1804
9. Lungtog Gyatsho (Lung rtogs rgya mtsho) 1806-15
10. Tsultrim Gyatsho (Tshul khrims rgya mtsho) 1816-37
11. Khedub Gyatsho (Mkhas grub rgya mtsho) 1838-56
12. Thinle Gyatsho (’Phrin las rgya mtsho) 1856-75
13. Thubten Gyatsho (Thub bstan rgya mtsho) 1876-1933
14. Tendzin Gyatsho (Bstan ’dzin rgya mtsho) 1935-

Dama (Sanskrit) Dama [from the verbal root dam to subdue, conquer] Self-restraint, self-control.

Damaghosha (Sanskrit) Damaghoṣa King of Chedi and father of Sisupala, the demon-reincarnation of Ravana who was killed by the avatara Krishna.

Dambhobhi, Dambholi. See DATTOLI

Dambulla A huge rock in Ceylon, with several large, ancient cave-temples (viharas) cut in it. The Maharaja Vihara (172 by 75 ft) contains upwards of 50 figures of Buddha, most larger than life, formed from the solid rock. At the Mahadewiyo Vihara is a figure of the dead Gautama Buddha 47 feet long, reclining on a couch and pillow cut out of solid rock.

Damkina (Chaldean, Babylonian) Sometimes Davkina. Consort of Ea or Hea, god of the watery regions, partaking of Ea’s characteristics, hence named Damgal-nunna (great lady of the waters), likewise Nin-Ki (lady of that which is below, i.e., the watery deeps or underworld). Mother of Marduk (or Merodach).

Damti. See TAMTI


Dana (Sanskrit) Dāna [from the verbal root to give] The act of giving; gift, donation; in Buddhism the first of the paramitas: “the key of charity and love immortal” (VS 47).

Danava(s) (Sanskrit) Dānava-s Children of Danu (or Danayu) and Kasyapa, often identified with the daityas and asuras, and held to be enemies of the gods or devas. The titans and demon-magicians of the fourth root-race, almost identical with the daityas or giants and irreconcilable opponents of those groups of the fourth root-race who were the upholders of ritualism and idol-worship.

Dand, Danda (Sanskrit) Daṇḍa “The three and seven-knotted bamboo of Sannyasis given to them as a sign of power, after their initiation” (BCW 2:119). Used by raja yogis to store the essence of the yogi’s power: “recognizing this power in himself, he endows the given object with it and concentrates it in the object, . . . Then, when occasion arises, using his own will and discretion, he aims, in one direction or another, this power, the twofold quality of which is attraction and repulsion. . . . By such means he transforms also the wand or danda into a vahana, filling it with his own power and spirit and giving it for the time being his own properties” (Caves and Jungles 594; also 596-8)

Dangma (Senzar-Tibetan) Purified soul; used north of the Himalayas for one in whom the spiritual eye is active and who therefore is a jivanmukta or high mahatma. “The opened eye of the dangma” is used in the Stanzas of Dzyan for the awakened, active faculty of spiritual vision and intuition, through which direct, certain knowledge is obtainable of whatever thing or subject the initiate directs his attention to. It is called in India the Eye of Siva and by theosophists, the spiritual third eye.

Daniel (Hebrew) Dāniyyē’l The Book of Daniel in the Old Testament has twelve chapters, the first six a historical narrative, the last six prophetic. According to the former, Daniel flourished about 600 b.c., was taken captive with the other Jews to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, and became a Magus. His skill in interpreting dreams procured him favor and the governorship of the province of Babylon. Later he became the first president of the whole Medo-Persian empire. Scholarship, however, finds difficulties in reconciling biblical data with information from other sources.

Danu (Sanskrit) Danu A daughter of Daksha; by Kasyapa, mother of the danavas, often called in Hindu story demons, giants, or titans because almost the same as the daityas. Opponents of the gods of mere ritual or ritualistic ceremonies.

Daos (Chaldean) Sixth King (Shepherd) of the Babylonian Divine Dynasty who reigned for the 36,000 years. “In his time four Annedoti, or Men-fishes (Dagons) made their appearance” (TG 96).

Darasta (Kolarian) “Ceremonial magic practiced by the central Indian tribes, especially among the Kolarians” (TG 96).

Dardanus (Greek) One of the demigods or divine instructors, the son of Zeus and Electra, the daughter of Oceanus and Tethys. He was king in Arcadia, whence he transferred the kabiri-gods to Samothrace and afterwards to Asia, where he became the ancestor of the royal house of Troy.

Darem, Daren. See DAROM

Darha (Kolarian) Ancestral spirits of the Kolarians (TG 96).

Dark Epaphos. See EPAPHOS

Darkness In theosophical philosophy light is not regarded as self-existent, but as primordially the spiritual effect of a spiritual cause, the emanation from something grander and more radical beyond it. This unknown divine substratum, the original superspiritual intelligence-substance of the universe, is sometimes called darkness; likewise, it is spoken of as absolute light. Thus absolute light and absolute darkness are the same, so that manifested light sprang from unmanifested light or darkness. Philosophically, non-ego — which is freedom from the limitations of egoity and manifested particularities — voidness, and darkness are a three-in-one, darkness being Father-Mother and light, their Son. Night or darkness preceded day and light in cosmogony, as is recognized in Genesis, where darkness broods over the face of the deep. The creation of light, or the emanation of light from darkness, is the first step in cosmic manifestation. Light thus is truly called original substance or spiritual matter; darkness, purest spirit. Synonymous with this darkness are ’eyn soph, the Boundless, the bridgeless abyss, the unmanifest, the ever-invisible robes of the eternal parent.

Light and darkness on manifested planes constitute a duality, correlative and interdependent, neither conceivable without the other. But what is darkness to our physical senses may be light to our inner senses.

Darkness is also used to denote the shadow side of things, and hence in popular speech evil as opposed to good, ignorance to knowledge. See also DAWN; LIGHT; USHAS

Darom (Hebrew) Dārōm The south, or south country; also applied to the south wind.

Darsana (Sanskrit) Darśana [from the verbal root dṛs to see, perceive] Seeing, vision, view, doctrine, philosophical opinion. In the plural, it refers particularly to the six schools (Shad-darsana) of ancient Hindu philosophy: 1) the Nyaya (Logical School); 2) the Vaiseshika (Atomistic School); 3) the Sankhya; 4) the Yoga; 5) the Purva-Mimamsa (First Vedantic School); and 6) the Uttara-Mimamsa (Latter or Superior Vedantic School). These are connected together by intimate links of philosophical principles and postulates, so that to understand accurately the full nature of the universe and of the entire human constitution as an entity, as elaborated by the great Indian thinkers who founded these six schools, one should study all six. The different systems of these schools comprise expositions, according to the ideas of the respective founders, of the mysteries of cosmic and human nature, from the spiritual to the physical, explained and philosophically illustrated.

Darvish. See DERVISH

Darwinism The school of scientific thought arising out of Charles Darwin’s theory of the origin and propagation of species in the animal and plant kingdoms by natural selection, resulting in the survival of the fittest. It was popularized by Thomas Huxley and Ernst Haeckel in the 19th century, and in the 20th century Neo-Darwinism has incorporated knowledge of genetics and mutation into the Darwinian framework.

While Darwinism helped bring about the widespread acceptance of the concept of evolutionary development, theosophical writers often take exception to its exclusive emphasis on an uninterrupted, end-on evolution through the transformation of physical bodies, its reliance solely on chance and physical causes, and the absence of spirit or consciousness in the evolutionary process. Darwinism holds that the simplest chemical compounds gradually through random physical processes eventually produce simple organic entities, and then these natural, material forces produce by accretion of environmental experience ever more complex and evolved structures forming a continuum of physical evolution, until consciousness results. By this method humankind has evolved most recently from the anthropoids. By contrast, theosophy begins with the most spiritual, highly evolved entities working with the least evolved kingdoms at the opening of planetary manifestation to gradually build up the inner and outer vehicles necessary for the expression of the innate consciousness of the variety of entities making up the kingdoms of nature. The lower kingdoms find manifestation through the more evolved, so that the human kingdom is the root or origin of all the kingdoms of nature below it, which came to birth through the proto-human stock in earlier evolutionary periods.

Thus, theosophy holds that all evolution lies latent within the essence of each entity, “that the evolution of man and of the beings below him, and of the universe itself, cannot be logically and completely explained on accepted scientific lines, or by the alleged facts of science depending solely upon physical and chemical agencies. These are not the only factors working in the evolution of beings; and the main divergence . . . between the theosophical view of evolution and those theories hitherto current in the world, is that the latter refuse to admit a psycho-vital engine or motor behind and within the running physical machine — or rather engineers, call them spiritual entities if you like.” (MEI 103-4) See also ANTHROPOIDS; EVOLUTION

Dasa (Sanskrit) Daśa The numerical adjective ten.

Dasadis (Sanskrit) Daśadiś [from daśa ten + diś to point out, designate] A region, part, or direction of space. Dasadisas (pl) means the ten regions: the eight cardinal points of the compass with above and below; applied by ancient Sanskrit writers to the ten faces or sides of the universe. Such terms refer not so much to the points of the compass, although these are included, as to the actual ancient esoteric division of space considered as the incomprehensibly immense pleroma or fullness of the All. See also ASHTADISAS

Dasa-sila (Pali) Dasasīla The ten moral applications and their accompanying practices comprising the code of morality binding upon Buddhist priests; otherwise the ten items of good character and behavior which are abstinence from: 1) panatipata veramani (taking life); 2) adinnadana (taking what is not given to one); 3) abrahmachariya (adultery) otherwise called kamesu michchha-chara; 4) musavada (telling lies); 5) pisunavachaya (slander); 6) pharusa-vachaya (harsh or impolite speech); 7) samphappalapa (frivolous and senseless talk); 8) abhijjhaya (covetousness); 9) byapada (malevolence); 10) michchhaditthiya (heretical views). The first four, with the addition of abstinence from the use of intoxicants, comprise the Pansil (Pancha-sila in Sanskrit) or obligations undertaken when a new follower enters into and accepts Buddhism.

Dasein, formerly Daseyn (German) [from da there + Sein being] Becoming; differs from Sein as the Latin existere differs from esse. Used by Fichte to denote the manifold as distinguished from the One: we know the Sein only through the Dasein. The unmanifest is, and becomes when it is manifest. See also BEING AND NON-BEING

Dastur(s) (Persian) Minister, authority, counselor, Zoroastrian priest; the highest class of the Parsi priests, the second class being the Mobeds. While the son of a Dastur need not be a Dastur, no one who is not the son of a Dastur can become one.

Dattali, Dattobhri. See DATTOLI

Dattatraya (Sanskrit) Dattātreya The universal lord; popularly, “the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, incarnate in an Avatara — of course as a triple essence. The esoteric, and true meaning is the adept’s own trinity of body, soul, and spirit; the three being all realized by him as real, existent, and potential. By Yoga training, the body becomes pure as a crystal casket, the soul purged of all its grossness, and the spirit which, before the beginning of his course of self-purification and development, was to him but a dream, has now become a reality — the man has become a demi-god” (BCW 2:160).

Dattoli (Sanskrit) Dattoli One name of Agastya, a sage of the first manvantara, in his former birth as the son of the progenitor of the rakshasas. Variants are Dattotti, Dattoi, Dattali, Dattotri, Dattobhri, Dambhobhi, and Dhambholi. These “seven variants have each a secret sense, and refer in the esoteric comments to various ethnological classifications, and also to physiological and anthropological mysteries of the primitive races. For, surely, the Rakshasas are not demons, but simply the primitive and ferocious giants, the Atlanteans, who were scattered on the face of the globe as the Fifth Race is now. Vasishta is a warrant to this, if his words addressed to Parasara, who attempted a bit of jadoo (sorcery), which he calls ‘sacrifice,’ for the destruction of the Rakshasas, mean anything. For he says, ‘Let no more of these unoffending “Spirits of Darkness” be destroyed’ . . .” (SD 2:232n).

Dattotri, Dattotti. See DATTOLI

Dava (Tibetan) zla ba (da-wa) The moon.

Davamata. See DEVAMATA

Davikina, Davkina. See DAMKINA

Dawn Frequently denotes the beginning of a new cycle, of greater or less extent. Venus-Lucifer is called the luminous son of morning or of manvantaric dawn; and the builders are the luminous sons of manvantaric dawn. In Greek mythology Apollo (the sun) has two daughters, Hilaira and Phoebe (evening twilight and dawn); Eos is the dawn, as is Aurora in Latin. In Hindu mythology, the wife of Surya (the sun) is Ushas (dawn), and she is also his mother. In the Vishnu-Purana, Brahma, for purposes of world formation, assumes four bodies — dawn, night, day, and evening twilight. Man is said to come from the body of dawn, for dawn signifies light, the intelligence of the intellect of the universe often called mahat, the ultimate progenitor, and indeed the final cosmic goal, of the Hierarchy of Light of which the human hierarchy is a small portion. See also SANDHI

Dayanisi. See DAYYAN’ISHI

Day Be With Us, Great The lipikas, karmic recorders of the universe, make a barrier — the so-called ring pass-not — impassable during its existence but passable through evolution, between the personal ego and the impersonal or cosmic self. The incarnating monads cannot pass this “ring” until they have through evolutionary risings and development become merged once more in the universal or cosmic soul. The lipikas “are directly connected with Karma and what the Christians call the Day of Judgment; in the East it was called the Day after Mahamanvantara, or the ‘Day-Be-With-Us.’ Then everything becomes one, all individualities are merged into one, yet each knowing itself . . . then, that which to us now is non-consciousness or the unconscious, will then be absolute consciousness” (TBL 112). This is called with the Egyptians the Day of Come-to-Us and refers to what the Hindus call the paranirvana or great night of union in Brahman.

Day of Brahma. See BRAHMA’s DAY

Day of Judgment. See JUDGMENT, DAY OF

Days of Week. See WEEK

Dayus. See DYAUS

Dayyan’ishi (Hebrew) Dayyan’īshī [from dayyān judge, advocate + ’īshī my man, my self, everybody] Judge or advocate of all. “The god worshipped by the Jews along with other Semites, as the ‘Ruler of men’; Dionysos — the Sun; whence Jehovah-Nissi, or Iao-Nisi, the same as Dio-nysos or Jove of Nyssa . . .” (TG 97).

Dbrim. See DABAR

Death Death is not a thing in itself, but one of the phases or temporary events in the unending dramas of life, so that the opposite of death is birth rather than life. In other words, the opposite of manifested life is unmanifest life, pralaya and its aeonic rest. Manvantara and pralaya are phases in the endless flow of the alternating current of cosmic motion, which is the immediate result of the life-breath of the spiritual essence at the heart of everything in manifestation. The same eternal motion which brings everything into objective existence has thereby caused the death of the same entity on the previous subjective plane of life. Then, when the lifetime of this manifestation ends, the reverse of this rhythmic motion causes the death of the entity from objective existence, and carries it back to be reborn into its subjective life.

This law applies universally to solar systems, planets, human beings, atoms, etc. The reincarnating ego is born and dies on each of the successive planes of existence through which it descends from spiritual realms to be reborn again on earth. The same rhythmic motion reversed spells death here, with the same repeated births and deaths on its ascending journey to its spiritual home.

Death occurs not from a lack of life, but because the ceaseless motion of the vital essence is wearing out the body. The senility of old age means that certain elements are already drifting in the reverse current that is setting towards the other side of the veil. With the last heartbeat, the dying person is vitally aware of a detailed panorama of his passing life as the field of experience which he is to harvest in the inner world he is about to be born into. The atoms of his body, freed from his spiritual cohering force, separate actively, each to find its appropriate field of action in nature’s kingdoms. The adept, while still living in the world, has so far conquered death by self-conquest that he can use his developed spiritual will to enter into and consciously function in the realms of spiritual beings. Paul’s mystical saying “I die daily,” is true of the initiate who steadily transmutes some degree of his selfish personality to vitalize his higher nature.

There is a close connection between death, sleep, and initiation, sleep being an incomplete death and initiation being a conscious experience of the afterdeath states. See also DEVACHAN; KAMA-LOKA; PRALAYA; REIMBODIMENT; SECOND DEATH

Deathless Watcher. See HIGHER SELF

Debarim. See DABAR

Decad (sometimes decade) Ten, or a group of ten; a sacred number because the universe is built on the model of the decad, the individual and the universe as a whole being tenfold though septenary in manifestation. The One or cosmic monad is sometimes spoken of as emanating the nine, and by including the One itself we get the ten rays of the Logos, the Sephiroth, etc., which are spoken of as seven in the manifested universe. The decad may be considered as a double five or as three triangles and a unity. It is represented in ancient Greece by the Pythagorean tetraktys, of which the three upper dots represent the unmanifest universe, and the lower seven the manifest.


The decad is the radix of the denary scale of notation derived from ancient India. See also TEN

Decussated Crossed at an acute angle like the letter X; the decussated cross in a circle was used by Plato to symbolize “the Second God who impressed himself on the Universe in the form of the Cross,” the cosmic Man “crucified” in space.


Deist Usually a believer in natural religion, who admits the existence of deity, but denies that the latter has revealed himself through the usual religious channels. Particularly identified with the 18th century, it is a type of rationalism and reaction against dogmatic theology in favor of the free use of the intellect.

Dei Termini (Latin) Terminal gods; the Hermae or statues of Hermes placed by the Greeks at crossroads. Likewise a general name for divinities presiding over frontiers and boundaries.

Deity Intelligence and will superior to the human, forming the intelligent and vital governing essence of the universe, whether this universe be large or small. The principal views as to the nature of deity may be classed as 1) pantheistic, 2) polytheistic, 3) henotheistic, and 4) monotheistic. Pantheism, which views the divine as immanent in all nature and yet transcendent in its higher parts, is characteristic of certain Occidental philosophical systems and of all Oriental systems. Polytheism implies the recognition of an indefinite number of deific powers in the universe, the plural manifestations of the ever immanent, ever perduring, and manifest-unmanifest One. Polytheism is thus a logical development of pantheism. Henotheism is the belief in one god, but not the exclusion of others, such as is found in the Jewish scriptures, where the ancient Hebrews frankly worshiped a tribal deity and fully recognized the existence of other tribal deities. Monotheism is the belief in only one god, as is found in Christianity and Islam. These religions, in inheriting the Jewish tradition, have confounded this merely personal and local conception with the First Cause of the universe, which in theosophy would be called the formative cosmic Third Logos, thus producing an inconsistent idea of a God who is both infinite, delimited, and personal in character, with an intuition, however, of the necessarily impersonal cosmic intelligent root of all.

In theosophical philosophy, the cosmic divine in the hierarchical sense is both transcendent and immanent, during manifestation breaking as it were into innumerable rays which produce the various deific powers in inner and outer nature; each such immanent divinity, however, itself emanating from the all-encompassing and forever unmanifest Rootless Root or parabrahman. The various universes, sometimes referred to as sparks of eternity, spring from parabrahman at periodic intervals called manvantaras, and then resolve back into the pre-manvantaric condition or pralaya, only to issue forth again when the pralaya of whatever magnitude has run its course. Therefore, at one and the same time divinity is transcendent and immanent, eternal and unmanifest, while its rays or cosmic sparks of whatever magnitude are periodic and manifested. Hence from each such manifested One or cosmic hierarch proceed the multiple rays, to which in various theogonies are given names and attributes of superior deities. Thus the words god and deity become generic, and the general definition may be applied to the core of the core of any being, great or small, cosmic or human, for all are sparks of the cosmic flame of life.

The word deity, in the sense of beings which are more spiritual than the human being of today, may be applied to the divine rulers of human races before the times of the demigods and heroes; or more generally to an indefinite range of nonphysical beings, spiritual or ethereal in character, including among the latter the so-called “spirits of the elements.” See also GOD; GOD(S)

Dekad. See DECAD

Delios (Greek) Delian; in Greek mythology, a title of Apollo, who was born on the island of Delos. Also ta Delia, the festival of Apollo at Delos.

Delirium Tremens (Latin) [from delirare to rave + tremere to tremble] Trembling delirium; the delirium arising from alcoholic poisoning, characterized by constant tremor, insomnia, great exhaustion, distressing illusions, and hallucinations. The abnormal consciousness displayed in this condition is graphic evidence of the existence of the astral realm interpenetrating and influencing the physical world. The characteristic hallucinations are of grotesque, vicious enemies and of various horrible animals and insects actively seeking to terrify and injure the agitated, confused sufferer who is evidently conscious on the low levels of the astral plane. Here, among the dregs in the astral light, all the vile and cruel thoughts and deeds of human life, and the worst animal impulses, are reflected back upon the earth, mankind, and beasts. Here, also, the actively evil elementaries or kama-rupic entities are instinctively drawn to any human victim who unconsciously invades their realm, attracted and vitalized by the fumes of the alcoholic liquors with which the person has saturated his body.

As liquors deaden the higher mind and feelings, while arousing the lower nature, the victim is largely devoid of the ordinary self-protection of his judgment, will, and conscience, and has gravitated to his own animal level. That he is, for the time, living in the consciousness of his own astral body accounts for the extraordinary strength he often displays, for the disorientation where he “wants to go home,” for his forgetfulness of all this afterwards, and for the convulsions which, when present, are reported as indistinguishable from true epilepsy. To the depleting vital drain from the continued restlessness and violent activity of the attacks, is added the abnormal strain of obsession by one or another excarnate entity which has been vitalized in proportion as the sufferer is exhausted.

Delos (Greek) An island of the Cyclades group in the Greek Mediterranean. Called out of the deep by the trident of Neptune, it floated about until Zeus chained it down to be the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. In Homeric times it was a meeting place of Ionians for religious and political purposes.

Delos, the Asteria of mythology, was not really in Greece, which country did not yet exist at the time referred to in the myths; several writers have shown it to have been a far larger country or island than Greece. Diodorus Siculus calls it Basileia (island of divine kings), because the divine dynasties of Atlantis proceeded from it, and we are bidden to seek it among the islands discovered by Nordenskiold in the Arctic (SD 2:773).

Delphi (Greek) One of the most sacred spots of ancient Greece, renowned as the seat of the most famous of the ancient Greek oracles, often called by the Greeks themselves the center or navel of the earth, though these sacred centers, mountains, etc., are numerous and are localizations of a general idea. Delphi is situated in a kind of bowl on Mount Parnassus in Phocis; its original name as found in Homer was Pytho, which connects it with Apollo, whose temple and oracle were there. It was also the place where the Pythian games were celebrated and one of the two meeting places of the Amphictyonic Council.

The oracles delivered through many ages at Delphi were famous in both ancient history and legends. They were universally revered and were consulted by the ancient sages of many lands. The Oracle, having degenerated from various causes, gradually lost the unquestioning reverence of earlier ages, and finally vanished with the downfall of Greek civilization.

Deluge. See FLOOD

Demeter (Greek) [possibly from Doric da earth + meter mother] The Earth-Mother; one of the great Olympian deities, in popular mythology specially associated with the earth and its products, patron of agriculture, goddess of law and order, and protector of marriage and the birth of offspring. As the grain goddess, counterpart of the Egyptian Isis, Roman Ceres, and corn mothers, corn maidens, and harvest goddesses of the various native cultures of the Americas today, and of the early Teutonic and Scandinavian races of central and northern Europe.

Popular legend describes Demeter as mother of Persephone, who while gathering flowers on the Nysian plain was seized by Hades and carried to the Underworld. Searching disconsolate for her lost child, Demeter came to the dwelling of Celeus at Eleusis, where she was hospitably received although her identity was unknown. On condition of being given the sole care of the king’s son who was ill with fever, she remained and became the child’s nurse. Each night she placed the child on a bed of living coals, but the mother, discovering this, snatched the child away in alarm. Demeter then revealed herself as a goddess and, declaring that had she been left alone she would have made the child immortal, she relinquished her post in wrath. Before leaving Eleusis, however, she founded a mystical school or cult to keep alive certain otherwise secret teachings about human divinity and the life after death. The Eleusinian Mysteries, reputed to have sprung from this earlier effort, dealt particularly with the afterdeath states and the progress and experiences of the soul between earth lives.

The great Eleusinian divinities, as far as is known, were three: Demeter-Thesmophoros as goddess of law and order; Persephone-Kore the divine maid; and Iacchos the divine son (the divine man whom it was the object of the Mysteries to bring forth from the “tomb” of the human man). Probably because of her association with Persephone, Demeter was in one of her aspects a divinity of the underworld and was worshiped as such in Sparta and at Hermione at Argolis.

In the Orphic teachings Demeter is not only the earth goddess, but is also Demeter-Kore the divine maid. This aspect is twofold: as Persephone the Virgin-Queen of the Dead; and as the mortal maid Semele, mother of the mystic savior Dionysos, and later enthroned as Semele-Thyone (Semele the Inspiried). As both maid and mother she is the immortal wife of Zeus, and is also called the mother of Zeus, as an Orphic verse declares: “The goddess who was Rhea, when she bore Zeus became Demeter.” In one of her aspects, Demeter is the one to whom, in the Orphic legend, is given the still beating heart of the murdered Zagreus-Dionysus.

Demeter belongs to the class of the kabiria (kabir, kabiri): “beneficent Entities who, symbolized in Prometheus, brought light to the world, and endowed humanity with intellect and reason” (SD 2:363), great beings to whom are credited the invention of the arts and sciences that make civilization — letters and the alphabet, law, philosophy, science, art, architecture, music, spinning, weaving, and agriculture.

Demigods One of the orders of semi-divine instructors, spiritual beings in human form. Herodotus, among other Greek writers, speaks of humanity being ruled successively by gods, demigods, heroes, and men. The Lemuro-Atlanteans were among the first who had a dynasty of spirit-kings, highly evolved living devas or demigods. There are the Chinese demigods, Chin-nanga and Chan-gy, the Peruvian Manco-Capac, the Hindu rishis, and the demigods popularized among the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians. In the Golden Age of Saturnus all people were said to have been demigods, and many of the figures in mythology who seem at one moment historical characters and at another gods or symbols, were actually demigods who once dwelt among mankind, founding new cultures, instructing and guiding humanity, and revealing all the arts and sciences. As examples of demigods who actually descended and taught the human race in historic and prehistoric times, one may cite Osiris, the first Zoroaster, Krishna, and Moses.

Demions (Hebrew) Dimyōn Spirits, demons; the Hebrews held “that there was a class of personating spirits which they designated demions, ‘personators.’ Admitting with Jehovah, who expressly asserts it, the existence of other gods, which were personators of the One God, were these other gods simply a higher class of personating spirits, which had acquired and exercised greater powers? . . . how are we to know that Jehovah was not a personating Spirit . . .” (SD 2:508-9).

Demiurge, Demiourgos (Greek) [from demos the people + ergon work] In Gnosticism, the deity as creator or cosmic artificer was a secondary or subordinate god, distinct from the supreme deity of the hierarchy, acting as creator or former of worlds, with which function the supreme is not directly concerned. Because of this seeming duality of rival gods, monotheistic Christian theology classed the demiurge among the powers hostile to God and mankind, as it did with Satan, the Serpent, Lucifer, and so many others. Marcion (2nd century) and his school attempted to reconcile these by equating the Demiourgos with the Jewish Jehovah.

The Demiourgos, however, is the deity in its creative aspect, the Second Logos — not a personal deity, but an abstract term denoting the host of creative powers. Later, the conception was anthropomorphized. It is the elohim of the Bible who make kosmos out of chaos; the universal mind, separated from its fountain-source; the four-faced Brahma; the seven principal dhyani-chohans. In the Qabbalah, Hokhmah (wisdom) becomes united with Binah (intelligence), which latter is Jehovah or the Demiourgos. But the Demiourgos itself is dual in the same sense as are those formative powers for which the name stands: acting on all planes from the highest to the lowest, the contrast between above and below, light and its shadow, is shown; added to which, it includes potencies which are symbolized by human minds as masculine and feminine. There was plenty of scope, then, for confusion as to the meaning and application of the word. See also ARCHITECTS; DHYANI-CHOHANS; LOGOS


Demon(s) [from Greek daimones, Latin daemons] In many of the later religions, such as Christianity, either the gods of rival religions, nature spirits of paganism, or the exuviae or shells of the dead. Actually demons are a relatively modern misapprehension of a large class of nature sprites which in ancient thought comprised a vast range of spiritual, semi-spiritual, and astral beings, existing in different degrees of evolutionary unfoldment, and therefore classified into groups from the fully self-conscious down to the only partly conscious elementals of the astral realms. The teaching regarding daimones was extremely recondite; the later medieval Christian Demonologies, however, dealt almost exclusively with beings of low grade and of an astral character lacking moral sense and self-consciousness, which for ages have been called in European countries by names such as fairies, sprites, goblins, hobgoblins, pixies, nixies, and brownies. See also DAEMON

Demon Est Deus Inversus. See DAEMON EST DEUS INVERSUS

Demonologia Neo-Grecism for demonologies, treatises on so-called demons (Greek daimones, Latin daemons).

Den-sa Sum (Tibetan) “The three pillars of the State”; the three great Gelukpa monasteries in the vicinity of Lhasa: Ganden (Dga’ldan, 1409), founded by Tsong-kha-pa; and Drepung (’Bras spung, 1416) and Sera (Se ra, 1419), founded by his disciples. A commonly used term for the three monasteries is Serdegasum [composed of abbreviations for the names of each + sum (gsum) three].


Deona Mati (Kolarian) One who exorcises evil spirits among the Kolarians of central India.

Depth. See BYTHOS

Dervish (Persian) Driyosh (Pahlavi) Drighu (Avestan) [from Pers darvīsh seeking doors from dar a door; i.e., those who seek from door to door, beggars] Poor one; an Islamic devotee, used in mystic Persian literature for one who shows his spiritual grandeur by turning away from the common norms of society and material wealth. Originally a mendicant, but now it generally indicates a member of a religious fraternity, whether mendicant or not, cloistered or lay. In Turkey and Persia it indicates a wandering, begging religious, called in Arabic-speaking countries a fakir. Those whose faith is so great that they have miraculous powers are termed walis.

The dervishes are the practical expounders of Islam. As with the fakirs and sufis, the origin of the dervish fraternities is assigned to either Ali or Abu Bekr. They are divided into two great classes, the ba-Shara (with the law), who govern their conduct according to the principles of Islam; and the be-Shara (without the law), who do not rule their lives according to the formal principles of any religious creed, although they call themselves Moslems. The sufis belong principally to the latter class. There are reckoned 32 different fraternities of dervishes, with innumerable suborders, but the two principal ones known in the West are the Mevlevits (whirling or dancing dervishes), an order founded by Jelal ud-Din ar-Rumi, author of the great Persian mystical poem the Mathnawi; and the Rifa’ites (howling dervishes), who in ecstasy cut themselves with knives, eat live coals and glass, handle red-hot iron, and devour serpents.

In the symbolism of Hafiz (14th-century mystic Persian poet) dervish is one who has reached the highest degree of spirituality by giving up worldly possessions and in a beggar-like appearance holds the secret of alchemy. In later times, people who did not understand the subtleties of mysticism took the symbolic rejection of the material world too literally and the attitude of certain dervishes also contributed to this misconception, particularly during the Safavids, who were themselves dervishes, followers of the Sharia or Shariat (the outward rituals of religion).

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