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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Prama (Sanskrit) Pramā [from pra- to measure out correctly from the verbal root to measure] Basis, foundation; in Vedanta philosophy, true knowledge, right measure.

Pramana (Sanskrit) Pramāṇa [from pra- to measure out correctly from the verbal root to measure] Measure, a standard, hence authority; thus Vedah pramanah means “the Vedas are the standards.”

In Vedanta philosophy, pramana signifies a means of acquiring certain knowledge (prama), six branches being enumerated: pratyaksha (perception by the senses); anumana ( deduction or inference); upamana (analogy or comparison); sabda or aptavachana (trustworthy testimony or revelation); anupalabdhi or abhava-pratyaksha (proof by the negative method); and arthapatti (deduction or inference from circumstances). To these some schools add: sambhava (equivalence); aitihya (tradition); and cheshta (gesture).

Pramantha (Sanskrit) Pramantha [from pra-math to stir about violently] The upper stick used by the ancient Brahmins to kindle fire. By rubbing it against the arani or under stick, the friction produced the heat and subsequent flame. It would be wide of the inner significance of the pramantha and arani to concentrate attention upon their supposed phallic or sexual significance as these are described both pragmatically and mystically in ancient Hindu works, although unquestionably the language used is at times suggestive. Mystically, the pramantha stands for the will in man, whirling and unceasingly active in and upon the passive portion of the human constitution, arousing the latter into corresponding activity, bringing about there the fire and flame of animate life. When the will is stilled the being is dormant; when the will acts all portions of the constitution touched by the whirling activity of the will react and spring themselves into corresponding motion.

Pramatha (Sanskrit) Pramatha The tormentor; a class of daimones attendant upon Siva.

Pramati (Sanskrit) Pramati Providence, care, overseeing; described as a son of fohat (SD 2:414). That aspect of the fohatic hierarchy impulsed or inspired by, or contained in, pramati — as overseeing intelligence — directs the manifold cosmic operations of cosmic intelligent energy; the manifested intelligence active in manvantara, derivative from the latent intelligence inherent in fohat.

Prameya (Sanskrit) Prameya [from pra- to measure out from the verbal root ma to measure] An object of exact knowledge; hence a thing to be proved, a theorem to be established — used in Vedanta philosophy.

Pram-gimas (Lithuanian) Master of all; a title of deity.

Pramitabhas (Sanskrit) Pramitābhas [from pramita limited + ābhā splendor] Of limited splendor; a class of deities in the fifth manvantara.

Pramlocha (Sanskrit) Pramlocā [from pra forth + the verbal root mluc to go] One sent forth; one of the apsarasas or celestial nymphs sent on earth by Kamadeva or Indra to tempt the sage Kandu from his devotions and austerities. She succeeded in her unholy purpose, and according to the account stayed with him 907 years six months and three days, which were to the sage as one day. After this she flew away, wiping the perspiration from her body with the leaves of the trees as she passed through the air. The child she had conceived by the rishi came forth from the pores of her skin in drops of perspiration: the trees received the living dews, the winds collected them into one mass, Soma (the moon) matured them till they became the lovely girl Marisha. This story is an allegory founded on the physical mode of procreation of the second root-race or sweat-born.

“Pramlocha is the Hindu Lilith of the Aryan Adam; and Marisha, the daughter born of the perspiration of her pores, is the ‘sweat-born,’ and stands as a symbol for the Second Race of Mankind.” The figures 907 years six months and three days are but the “exoteric figures given in a purposely reversed and distorted way, being the figure of the duration of the cycle between the first and second human race.” The allegory “shows the psychic element developing the physiological, before the birth of Daksha, the progenitor of real physical men, made to be born from Marisha and before whose time living beings and men were procreated ‘by the will, by sight, by touch and by Yoga’ . . .” (SD 2:175-6).

Prana (Sanskrit) Prāṇa [from pra before + the verbal root an to breathe, live] In theosophy, the breath of life; the third principle in the ascending scale of the sevenfold human constitution. This life or prana works on, in, and around us, pulsating unceasingly during the term of physical existence. Prana is “the radiating force or Energy of Atma — as the Universal Life and the One Self, — Its lower or rather (in its effects) more physical, because manifesting, aspect. Prana or Life permeates the whole being of the objective Universe; and is called a ‘principle’ only because it is an indispensable factor and the deus ex machina of the living man” (Key 176).

In working upon the physical body, prana automatically uses the linga-sarira (model-body) as its vehicle of expression during earth-life. Prana may be said to be the psychoelectric veil or field manifesting in the individual as vitality. The life-atoms of prana fly instantly back, at the moment of physical dissolution, to the natural pranic reservoirs of the planet. Further, occultism teaches that “(a) the life-atoms of our (Prana) life-principle are never entirely lost when a man dies. That the atoms best impregnated with the life-principle (an independent, eternal, conscious factor) are partially transmitted from father to son by heredity, and partially are drawn once more together and become the animating principle of the new body in every new incarnation of the Monads. Because (b), as the individual Soul is even the same, so are the atoms of the lower principles (body, its astral, or life double, etc.), drawn as they are by affinity and Karmic law always to the same individuality in a series of various bodies, etc. . . .” (SD 2:671-2).

In Sanskrit it refers to the life currents or vital fluids, variously numbered as three, five, seven, twelve, and thirteen. The five life-winds mentioned are samana, vyana, prana, apana, and udana. In this classification prana represents the expirational breath.

Jiva is sometimes used similarly to prana, but strictly prana means outbreathing and jiva means life per se. There is a universal or cosmic jiva or life principle, just as there are innumerable hosts of individualized jivas, which are the atoms of the former, drops in the ocean of cosmic life. These individualized jivas are relatively eternal, and correspond exactly to the term monad. Jiva, without qualification, is of general application; when considered as individualized, these jivas are used in the sense of individual monads; contrariwise, prana is applied to the life-fluid or jivic aura when manifesting in the lower triad of the human constitution as prana-lingasarira-sthulasarira. Hence Blavatsky said that jiva becomes prana when the child is born and begins to breathe.

Pranagnihotra (Sanskrit) Prāṇāgnihotra [from prāṇa breath, life current + agni fire + hotra sacrifice] Sacrificing the fire of the vital currents; referring to one of the forms of yoga practiced by a Hindu sect. Also the name of a minor Upanishad.

Pranamaya-kosa (Sanskrit) Prāṇamaya-kośa [from prāṇa life, breath + maya built of, formed of from the verbal root to measure, form, with a consequent idea of illusion + kośa sheath] The sheath formed of life or breath, the vital-astral soul. According to the Vedantic classification of the human constitution, the fourth of the panchakosa (five sheaths) which enclose the atman or divine monad. It corresponds to prana and linga-sarira in the sevenfold human division.

Pranatma(n) (Sanskrit) Prāṇātman [from prāṇa life vital essence + ātman self] The vital spiritual field which unites the totality of the subtle bodies of man into a unity — hence in one sense equivalent to sutratman, although sutratman usually imbodies a higher conception than does pranatman.

Also the vital or animal soul — the third and lowest of the three souls of a human being: the personal ego in the human constitution. The vehicle of pranatman is the astral-vital monad in its turn working through the human body. The pranatman, so far as man is concerned, may otherwise be called the human soul, which comprises manas, kama, and prana. This ego or pranatman is mortal, being a composite, and hence endures only during the cycle of one earth-life; while its range of consciousness is restricted to globe D of the earth planetary chain. Nonetheless, the monadic point around which the pranatman reassembles for each incarnation is immortal as a monad, albeit this monad is still in a low degree of evolutionary unfoldment.

Pranava (Sanskrit) Praṇava [from pra-ṇu to utter a droning or humming sound, as during the proper pronunciation of the word Om or Aum] The mystical, sacred syllable Om or Aum, pronounced by Brahmins, Yogis, and others during meditation. In Vedanta philosophy and the Upanishads, used in another sense: “In one sense Pranava represents the macrocosm and in another sense the microcosm. . . . The reason why this Pranava is called Vach is this, that these four principles of the great cosmos correspond to these four forms of Vach” (N on G 25, 26) — vaikhari, madhyama, pasyanti, para. These are called the four matras of pranava.

It is also equivalent to the second sign of the zodiac, Rishabha (Taurus).

The fact that this term is given to the mystical sacred syllable, and that it signifies a droning or humming sound, shows that anciently the word was uttered aloud, although in secret whenever possible. Modern Brahmins, however, are apt to condemn the vocal utterance of their sacred syllable, and sometimes assert that it should be uttered in silence — i.e., in the mind.

Pranayama (Sanskrit) Prāṇāyāma [from prāṇa breath + āyāma restraining, stopping] The fourth of the eight states of yoga, consisting of various methods of regulating the breath. The three forms of pranayama are puraka (the inhaling); kumbhaka (the retaining); and rechaka (the exhaling).

Any practice of pranayama can be fraught with serious danger, not merely to physical health, but in extreme cases to mental balance or stability. Pranayama, when actually practiced according to the exoteric rules, is a very different thing from the excellent and common sense advice given by doctors to breathe deeply, and to fill the lungs with fresh air. Pranayama should never be practiced by anyone unless under the guidance of initiated teachers, and these never proclaim themselves as teachers of pranayama, for the adepts use it only in rarest cases for certain pupils who for karmic reasons can be helped in this unusual and extraordinary way.

Pranidhana (Sanskrit) Praṇidhāna [from pra-ni-dhā to place in front] Persevering ceaseless devotion, profound religious meditation. It refers to the processes which the mind follows in meditation, because then placing in front of itself the mental figurations or pictures of lofty spiritual and intellectual themes to be meditated upon or brooded over.

Prapti (Sanskrit) Prāpti [from pra-āp to attain] One of the eight superhuman faculties (siddhis) of raja yoga; the power of transporting oneself from one place to another instantaneously, by the force of will, not in the physical body, but in the inner self by means of the mayavi-rupa. In Tibet one of the phases of hpho-wa is that which allows the adept through the mayavi-rupa to appear elsewhere in the world at his wish.

Prapti sometimes also signifies “the faculty of divination, of healing, and of prophesying . . .” (TG 260).

Prarabhda (Sanskrit) Prārabhda [from pra-ā-rabh to begin, undertake] That which has commenced or been undertaken; that karma arising from the past which is already ripe and which begins to work itself out in the present incarnation. That class of karma which is in the making and will exhaust itself in the future is called sanchita-karma. Prarabhda-karma parallels the Greek idea of the Moira Lachesis; whereas sanchita-karma corresponds to Atropos; Clotho, third of the Moirae, is the spinner of the present, the karma or destiny which we are now spinning for ourselves. See also LIPIKA

Prasanga-madhyamika (Sanskrit) Prasaṅga-mādhyamika “A Buddhist school of philosophy in Tibet. It follows, like the Yogacharya system, the Mahayana or ‘Great Vehicle’ of precepts; but, having been founded far later than the Yogacharya, it is not half so rigid and severe. It is a semi-exoteric and very popular system among the literati and laymen” (TG 260).

Prashraya. See PRASRAYA

Prasraya (Sanskrit) Praśraya [from pra-śri to approach, defer to, show respect towards] Respectful demeanor, civility; synonymous with vinaya. It is the “ ‘progenetrix of affection.’ A title bestowed upon the Vedic Aditi, the ‘Mother of the Gods’ ” (TG 260).

Prasthanatraya (Sanskrit) Prasthānatraya [from prasthāna course, system + traya threefold] A collection composed of the Bhagavad-Gita, ten principal Upanishads, and the Brahmasutras, an authority upon which certain schools of ancient philosophy relied.

Pratibhasika (Sanskrit) Pratibhāsika [from prati-bhās to look like from the verbal root bhās to appear] Appearing as the similitude of something, hence illusory. In Vedanta philosophy, one of the three kinds of existence: the apparent or illusory life. See also PARAMARTHIKA; VYAVAHARIKA

Pratisamchara (Sanskrit) Pratisaṃcara [from prati-sam-car to move backwards together, return, dissolve, return to the originating source (prakriti or mulaprakriti) from the verbal root char to move] Returning; philosophically, reabsorption or resolution back again into prakriti — in this sense, a synonym of pralaya.

Pratisamvid (Sanskrit) Pratisaṃvid [from prati-sam-vid to recognize, attain knowledge by cognition or recognition] In Buddhism, “the four ‘unlimited forms of wisdom’ attained by an Arhat; the last of which is the absolute knowledge of and power over the twelve Nidanas,” the twelve causes of existence on earth (TG 260-1).

Pratisarga (Sanskrit) Pratisarga [from prati forwards, towards + the verbal root sṛj to flow forth, appear in manifestation] In Sankhya philosophy, the intellectual evolution of the universe; the secondary or continued creation out of primordial matter. In abstract philosophy, also applied to the portion of a Purana which treats of the opposite phase of cosmic rhythm, the destruction as well as the renovation of the universe. Pratisarga thus may be used both as a creation or dissolution.

Pratishtha (Sanskrit) Pratiṣṭhā [from prati-sthā to stand towards, stay from prati towards, upon, in the direction of + the verbal root sthā to stand] Dwelling place, residence, receptacle; preeminence, superiority. In the Bhagavad-Gita Krishna refers to himself as a pratishtha of Brahman or parabrahman; an image or manifestation of parabrahman or a hypostasis or representation of the divine in the worlds of manifestation. Thus the hierarch or manifested divinity in any world system is a pratishtha of the surrounding invisible life or Brahman, Brahman again being one of the infinitely numerous channels or pratishthas of parabrahman.

Pratyabhava (Sanskrit) Pratyābhava [from prati-ā-bhū to continue existence forwards] The continuance in repetitive existences or imbodiments in the rupa worlds.

Pratyagatman (Sanskrit) Pratyagātman [from pratyak interior, inner + ātman self] Jivatman or the spiritual monad; sometimes equivalent to the Logos.

Pratyahara (Sanskrit) Pratyāhāra [from ā-prati-hṛ to bring back, recover, withdraw, reabsorb] Withdrawals; the fifth state of yoga: the withdrawal of the consciousness from sensual or sensuous concerns, or from external objects, and the placing of the consciousness in the spiritual monad of the human constitution.

Also frequently a synonym for the processes eventuating in pralaya, the withdrawal or reabsorption of the world into cosmic spirit.

Pratyaharana (Sanskrit) Pratyāharaṇa [from prati-ā-hṛ to draw back, recover] The withdrawing of the senses from external objects; one of the preliminary exercises in practical raja yoga.

Pratyaksha (Sanskrit) Pratyakṣa [from prati against, in front of + akṣa eye] As an adjective, present before the eyes, perceptible, cognizable by any of the sense organs; also clear, manifest. As a noun, ocular evidence, direct perception — one of the four pramanas (modes of proof).

Pratyayasarga (Sanskrit) Pratyayasarga [from pratyaya understanding, discriminative comprehension, equivalent to buddhi + sarga that which is produced or brought forth, creation] Used especially in Sankhya philosophy for the evolutionary formation or development from buddhi, commonly rendered as intellectual creation, equivalent to the eighth (or fifth) evolutional stage in development or creation in the Vishnu-Purana, called anugraha.

Pratyeka Buddha (Sanskrit) Pratyeka Buddha [from prati towards, for + eka one] Each one for himself; exalted and in one sense holy beings who crave spiritual enlightenment for themselves alone. They “are those Bodhisattvas who strive after and often reach the Dharmakaya robe after a series of lives. Caring nothing for the woes of mankind or to help it, but only for this own bliss, they enter Nirvana and — disappear from the sight and the hearts of men. In Northern Buddhism a ‘Pratyeka Buddha’ is a synonym of spiritual Selfishness”; “He, who becomes Pratyeka-Buddha, makes his obeisance but to his Self ” (VS 86, 43).

They achieve nirvana automatically as it were, and leave the world in its misery behind. Though exalted, nevertheless they do not rank with the unutterable sublimity, wisdom, and pity of the Buddhas of Compassion.

“The Pratyeka Buddha is a degree which belongs exclusively to the Yogacharya school, yet it is only one of high intellectual development with no true spirituality. It is the dead-letter of the Yoga laws, in which intellect and comprehension play the greatest part, added to the strict carrying out of the rules of the inner development. It is one of the three paths to Nirvana, and the lowest, in which a Yogi — ‘without teacher and without saving others’ — by the mere force of will and technical observances, attains to a kind of nominal Buddhaship individually; doing no good to anyone, but working selfishly for his own salvation and himself alone. The Pratyekas are respected outwardly but are despised inwardly by those of keen or spiritual appreciation. A Pratyeka is generally compared to a ‘Khadga’ or solitary rhinoceros and called Ekashringa Rishi, a selfish solitary Rishi (or saint)” (TG 261).

Pratyeka-yana (Sanskrit) Pratyeka-yāna [from prati towards, for + eka one + yāna vehicle, path] The path of each one for himself, or the personal vehicle or ego, equivalent to the Pali pachcheka. Fully self-conscious being cannot ever be achieved by following the path for oneself, but solely by following the amrita-yana (immortal vehicle) or the path of self-consciousness in immortality, the spiritual path to a nirvana of high degree, the secret path as taught by the heart doctrine. The pratyeka-yana is the pathway of the personality, the vegetative or material path to a nirvana of a low degree, the open path, as taught by the eye doctrine. These two terms describe two kinds of advancement towards more spiritual things, and the two ultimate goals thereof: the amrita-yana of the Buddhas of Compassion, and the pratyeka-yana of the Pratyeka Buddhas.

Although advancing steadily in spirituality and upwards towards a lower nirvana, and therefore evolving on a path which is not only not harmful to humanity and others, but in a sense is even passively beneficial, the Pratyeka Buddha, precisely because his thoughts are involved in spiritual freedom and benefits for himself, is really enwrapped in a spiritual selfishness; and hence in the intuitive, albeit popular, consideration of Northern Buddhism is called by such names as the Solitary or the Rhinoceros — applied in contrast to the Buddhas of Compassion, whose entire effort is to merge the individual into the universal, to expand their sympathies to include all that is, to follow the path of immortality (amrita), which is self-identification without loss of individuality with all that is. When the sacrifice of the lower personal and inferior self, with all its hoard of selfish thought and impulses, for the sake of bringing into full and unfettered activity the ineffable glorious faculties and powers and functions of the higher nature — not for the purpose of selfish personal advancement, but in order to become a helper of all that is — the consequence is that as time passes, the disciple so living and dedicating himself finds himself becoming the very incarnation of his inner divinity. He becomes, as it were, a man-god on earth. This, however, is not the objective, for holding such an objective as the goal to be attained would be in itself a proof that selfishness still abides in the nature.

Abstractly, of course, pratyeka-yana can be used for sorcerers and the path of the Brothers of the Shadow, but such is not usual. Obviously the path of sorcery is a pratyeka path in the strictly logical sense. The path of the sorcerers is called the left-hand path, the path of darkness or of the shadows, the downward path, and is sometimes described by the term pratyeka-yana.

Actually, the path of the shadows and the path towards the light stretch in opposite directions; yet the ultimate goal of both is a nirvana. The path upwards, whether of the amrita or of the pratyeka, leads to the nirvana of spirit — the amrita ultimately being far higher than that of the pratyeka; whereas the downward path of the Brothers of the Shadow leads also to a nirvana, but to enchainment in the avichi-nirvana of absolute matter for that hierarchy.

Pravaha (Sanskrit) Pravaha [from pra forwards, onwards + the verbal root vah to carry] Carrying forwards; one of the seven winds or cosmic spirits — mystic, occult forces which give the impulse to, and regulate the course of, the stars and planets.

Pravritti (Sanskrit) Pravṛtti [from pra forth, forwards + the verbal root vṛt to roll, turn, unfold] Evolution or emanation; the process of unwrapping or unfolding-forth, as of spirit entities into matter or, conversely, of matter-lives back into spirit entities. It is usually restricted to the process by which spirit descends into matter or the passage of the monads down the shadowy arc. See also NIVRITTI

Pravritti-marga (Sanskrit) Pravṛtti-mārga [from pra forth, forwards + the verbal root vṛt to roll, turn, unfold + mārga path] The path of evolution into matter, the way which leads to imbodied existence in the material worlds; the shadowy arc. In Hindu literature it is frequently employed to signify the path of activity in worldly or religious affairs, enabling a person to show what he can do. Such usage is a transference of the original mystical thought to mundane affairs. See also NIVRITTI-MARGA

Prayer As usually understood in the West, prayer implies the existence — whether actually so in nature or not — of a divine entity, such as God, Christ, an angel or saint, to whom petitions may be addressed and by whose favor benefits may be obtained, a view of prayer held in nearly all exoteric religious systems. Yet even among those who believe in personal divinities, some take a higher view of prayer than that of asking for special favors, rather looking upon it as an act of resignation to the divine will: “Not my will, but thine, be done.” Theosophy speaks of this as the endeavor of the aspiring human mind to establish individual communion between the personal man and his spiritual counterpart or inner god, the true meaning of the injunction to pray to our Father which is in secret. Thus prayer takes the form of aspiration combined with deep meditation, as has been the case with mystics, Eastern and Western. This involves a laying aside of personal wishes and a conscious desire for intuitive perception of the truth and for the power to follow it. If a personal wish is present, precisely because all personal wishes in the last analysis are restricted, and hence either physically or spiritually selfish, the act becomes one of black magic, for the person is seeking to evoke interior powers in furtherance of his own purposes, which in such cases are usually founded in self-seeking of some kind. Also, a well-intentioned person, praying on behalf of another, may unwittingly exercise on that other an interference with the latter’s will, similar in many respects to that of hypnotism.

The absurdity of warring nations praying to the same God for victory over each other is often commented on; and the practice of many people combining together to pray for the conversion of people of another sect, or even for worse objects, is equally open to reprobation. This kind of prayer is merely a survival of one of the lower magic arts, where religious practice consists mainly in the invocation of tribal and local deities.

Precambrian Era. See GEOLOGICAL ERAS

Precession of the Equinox. See EQUINOX

Precious Things, Fourteen. See KURMA-AVATARA

Precipitation A process essentially founded in the formation of a visual image of some object in the mind, and the transferring of that image in visible form to some receptacle, such as paper. Usually used in theosophical history in reference to the precipitation of writing in messages from the Masters. The messages were transmitted by will power as mental pictures to a chela at a distance; and the chela receiving these telepathic impacts or mental images, understood them in whole or in part, according to his skill, and then and there, either himself wrote down the message thus received for transmission to the addressee, or if a chela of advanced degree, materialized them into visible writing. Usually the messages thus mentally received were written down by the chela, and often in a handwriting closely similar to that of the Master, and then the message was transferred through the mail or otherwise to the addressee.

A mental image is a reality, and in materializing it the operator merely copies natural processes, since everything in the physical world is a materialization of something in the inner worlds working through the astral world into the physical. It is done by the use of psychic or psychophysiological faculties which have to be acquired by training, for even in the cases of those born with these powers, they exist because of training in previous lives. Some spiritistic mediums instinctively possess the power of precipitation, but use it ignorant of its causes and rationale, and hence without conscious control. Were the adept or mahatma himself to employ precipitation for the conveying of intelligence to others, something which is very rarely done, the precipitation would be achieved by the will of the adept gathering astral and ethereal substance from the surrounding atmosphere by the power of his will and condensing it onto the paper.

Predestination The doctrine that God has foreordained everything; specifically, that God has foreordained what people shall be saved and what damned. Reprobation is used in reference to those foreordained to be damned, and election is used for those who are to be saved. Endless sectarian disputes have prevailed as to whether or not the salvation offered by Christ provides a way of escape from the doom of reprobation; and the eternal dilemma as to free will has never ceased to perplex the minds of theologians. How to permit free will to enter into the picture without derogating from the authority of God, how to attribute plenary power to God without destroying free will; how to find a modus vivendi or ingenious sophism by which the contraries may be reconciled — these matters may be found discussed in theological treatises on the subject.

The problem of cosmic law or processes in connection with the existence of human free will arises in the form of the apparent antagonism of free will with law, but in the theosophical view, free will is an intrinsic example of cosmic law in the particular, and hence there is no possibility of alleging any antagonism with one part of nature, man, with another part of nature, the remainder to the universe, for the twain are throughout but one. What rules the whole must necessarily rule the part; and what the part contains as an individual in nature must be found likewise in nature.

If one bear in mind the hierarchical system on which nature is constructed — one life, one intelligence, and hence one plan ruling throughout all the hierarchical branches, and yet every hierarchical branch containing in its inmost essence all free action within the confines of its field — one sees that there is no reconciliation needed between free will of individuals in any part of boundless nature and the common life, vitality, or intelligence which permeate the All. The difficulty arises in exoteric theological systems which from the beginning envisage a will in man wrongly supposed to be disjunct or different from the spiritual cosmic laws founded in the cosmic intelligence. A person uses his free will as much in refraining as acting — in other words, we cannot help using our free will. Neither can we help acting in accordance with the laws of our own nature and the laws of the universe in which we find ourselves.

The difficulty lies in the misuse of the adjective free, which is apparently understood to mean a will free from the cosmic unity, and all too often envisaged as running more or less wild if not contrary to the cosmic structure. Man is but a child of the universe, and is so in all his parts, but precisely because the part must contain everything that exists in the whole, therefore there is in man and in every other entity, an inseparable union with the cosmic root. Reluctance by man to acknowledge and to perform in his life the silent mandates of cosmic law induces the varieties of evil, disharmony, and even disease with which human life is all too often cursed; and the way to freedom, spiritual peace, wisdom, and love is by subordinating the individual human will to harmony with the divine. In such cases man becomes a Buddha or Christ, a conscious and willing instrument of divinity.

Preexistence Existence in a former state: the soul may preexist the body; Christ preexisted as divinity before incarnation. The doctrine of the preexistence of the soul was once part of Christianity, being held as early as the 2nd century and including Justin Martyr, Origen, and many other then eminent Christians among its adherents; but it was formally condemned and anathematized by the Home-Synod held under Mennas at Constantinople around the year 540. The early Christian doctrine was that God emanated all souls of men, but afterwards incarnated them repetitively on earth as a punishment and probation.

Prehuman Races In a physical sense, the races from the first root-race to about the middle of the third, before man had a physical form similar to his present one; these races may be called prehuman since they were astral or semi-astral or ethereal. Again, it may refer to abortive attempts to produce beings on their way to future humanity. In another and far higher sense the prehuman races are the seeds of future humanity, these seeds being really lofty spiritual intellectual beings who had been men in a previous manvantara. These seeds have been called Sons of God, mind-born progeny of Brahma, rishis, prajapatis, manus, etc.

The Bible speaks of there having been giants in an early period in the earth’s history, and theology speaks of these as pre-Adamite races.

Premonition, Presentiment A warning of an impending event, used mostly for warnings of danger or misfortune; a prophetic feeling that some calamity is about to happen. It differs from prevision in that it is a feeling rather than a picture.

An event on the physical plane may be preceded by causes not perceptible to our physical senses, yet of which our more subtle inner senses are aware. Some people and many animals may have a presentiment of an earthquake, through sensitiveness to certain astral and physical conditions which precede the actual earth-shock. Explaining such a case as that of avoiding a doomed train brings up the general question of prediction and the problem of time. In these cases the inner sense may perceive an event before it has happened on the physical plane, and such cases are too numerous for them to be lightly dismissed as imaginary or mere coincidences. See also PROPHECY

Pretas (Sanskrit) Preta-s [from pra away + the verbal root i to go] Gone ahead, departed; the remains in the astral light of the human dead, popularly called spooks or ghosts, and commonly in India signifying evil astral entities. In theosophy, the astral shells of human beings, especially of avaricious and selfish people, and more generally of those who have lived evil lives on earth. Pretas also can be the elementaries reborn as such in the kama-loka. See also BHUTA

Pretyabhava (Sanskrit) Pretyabhāva [from pretya having died, having departed + bhāva existence] The state after death; hence the future state. A very general term, referring in a vague way to the future after death, or more particularly to the temporary sojourn of a departed being in the astral light.

Prevision Foresight, seeing an event with the inner eye before or at the time of its occurrence. As the inner eye is independent of the time sequence on which our physical eyes and minds act, it is aware of things which to our physical perceptions belong to the future. Hence, if a contact is established between our consciousness and this inner sense, we may obtain a picture of events which have not yet come into the present. Events on the physical plane are the effects of causes which are preparing on invisible planes. The effect follows the cause — not infallibly, but with varying degrees of probability. Theosophy teaches an objective idealism, that while the universe in its phenomenal or manifested attributes is a product of maya, yet for all beings within such universe and subject to the sway of maya, events, manifestations, and similar things which occur are relatively real to their consciousness. Thus to the eye of the spirit — the awakened eye of Siva as it is called in the Orient — all events whatsoever, past, present, or future, appear as in an eternal Now, a shadow cast up from the waves of maya to the consciousness of the said seeing eye, and it is this underlying fact which gives the power of prevision, true premonition, foresight, etc. See also PROPHECY; PREMONITION

Priapus (Greek) A Greek god of fertility, worshiped as a protector of flocks, of the vine, and of other produce. His cult appeared on the coasts of Asia Minor, especially at Lampsacus, and he was undoubtedly well known and accepted as a member of the mythological hierarchy from a date long antedating both Homer and Hesiod. He is variously made the son of Dionysos and Aphrodite, of Adonis and Aphrodite, and of Hermes and Chione. The word also signified the phallus or phallic.

Priapus was the personification of the generative and productive fertility evident throughout all nature, on all planes of being. There was a divine or spiritual as well as a purely material Priapus, although the Priapus of the masses was always the lower or gross Priapus. Similarly with the goddess Aphrodite or Venus: there was Venus Urania, the celestial or heavenly Venus, and Venus Pandemus, the vulgar or popular goddess of generative production and vulgar love. The celestial Priapus was born of Venus and Bacchus, for they are post-types of Aditi and the spirit; while the later Priapus is no longer the symbol of abstract generative power, but symbolizes the four Adamic races (SD 2:458).

Prima Materia (Latin) First matter; the substantial basis of the physical universe, cosmic matter. See also PRIMEVAL MATTER


Primary Creation Used in theosophy for the openings of the different dramas of life, as opposed to the secondary creation, their more or less present conditions and appearances. Yet primary creation in strict logic appertains to those primordial beginnings of manifested life which precede the operations of nature when it has once entered into its established habits due to past karma, these established habits or courses of action being the karmic results of precedaneous causes. For example, the creation of the hierarchies of the gods or dhyani-chohanic hosts, and of their various worlds and activities, belong to the so-called primary creation; and at the close of this creation opens the drama of established nature and of the hierarchies and their respective operations beneath those hierarchies of gods.

Ancient cosmogonies begin with the secondary creation in cosmic things; hence, before the creation of light, they postulated darkness. But this darkness is the eternal light shining through and guiding the primary cosmogonical creation, and it was called darkness only by contrast with the manifested light of the secondary creation.

In the beginning of the primary creation the world, and on a smaller scale the earth, was in the possession of the three elemental kingdoms, and its three elements were fire, air, and water. It is the evolution of worlds from primordial atoms and from the pre-primordial atom; yet in the subsequent portions of primordial creation came forth into active manifestation the various hierarchies called angelic or dhyani-chohanic. Mahat, called lord in the primary cosmogonical creation, is universal cognition, thought divine; but in the secondary creation that which was mahat becomes the vast range of hierarchical manases which construct, inhabit, develop, and even emanate, manifested worlds.


Primates In modern zoology, the highest order of mammalia, which includes man, apes, monkeys, and lemurs. Divided by some scientists into bimana (man) and quadrumana (the others); or again into the suborders of simiae (man, apes, and monkeys) and prosimiae (lemurs).

Theosophy does not admit the foregoing classification, for the reason that man comprises a kingdom by himself. The confusion arises because of the similarity of the apes and certain others of the higher mammalia with man’s physical structure, explained theosophically by the fact that in former ages the originants of the apes as well as of the monkeys and lemurs sprang from man. While the human kingdom, among its other physical bodily characteristics, belongs to the mammalia, this is not enough to classify man as belonging to the same kingdom as that of the beasts.

Primeval Instructors. See DYNASTIES; ROOT-RACE, THIRD

Primeval Man In anthropology, a man which science is still looking for, christened homo primigenius; but in The Secret Doctrine it usually refers to the astral or ethereal man of the third round, as also of the latter part of the third root-race of this fourth round. This primeval man issued as chhayas (astral shadows) from the highly ethereal frames of his dhyani-chohanic progenitors. He was man in form only, because for ages he was “mindless”: between his huge ethereal and uncompacted body and the spiritual-intellectual spark within, there was as yet no active link, no active middle principle.

Primeval Matter The negative pole of that cosmic duality of which spirit is the positive pole: homogeneous, undifferentiated substance, the noumenon of all known matter, called pradhana, mulaprakriti, akasa, the Logos. “Primeval matter — i.e, as it appeared even in its first differentiation from its laya condition — is yet to this day homogeneous, at immense distances, in the depths of infinitude, and likewise at points not far removed from the outskirts of our solar system” (SD 1:589). We must try to divest ourselves of notions derived from experience of physical matter only — even electromagnetic waves are beyond our normal perceptions. “That matter, which is truly homogeneous, is beyond human perceptions, if perception is tied down merely to the five senses. We feel its effects through those intelligences which are the results of its primeval differentiation, whom we name Dhyan-Chohans” (SD 1:601).

Primeval or primordial matter is one of the primary spiritual hypostases, eternally coexistent with space, duration, and absolute motion. See also CHAOS; SVABHAVAT

Primordial Era. See GEOLOGICAL ERAS

Primordial Light The first-born of eternal divine and cosmic substance (Chaos), proceeding from celestial darkness. In its unity it is the seventh or highest principle, manifesting as daiviprakriti or primordial light; but in its differentiations it becomes the development of daiviprakriti, commonly fohat, this again manifesting as the seven primordial forces of nature. It is the Shechinah of the Qabbalah. Cosmic formation is the result of cosmic will and intelligence acting in primordial substance and calling out from it primordial light and the organizing life of the universe. See also LIGHT

Primordial Matter. See PRIMEVAL MATTER

Primordial Point, First Point A widespread idea, notably mentioned in the Hebrew Qabbalah, which postulates that when the Concealed of the Concealed wished to manifest itself, it did so by first making a point which became the first Sephirah, Kether the Crown. From this primordial point all invisible and visible celestial bodies came into being. This point is commonly represented in archaic symbology by a point within a circle, the circle representing the expanse of the spatial deeps of a hierarchy entering manvantara, and the point in the center of the circle representing the awakening into such manvantaric manifestation of the Monas monadum or monad of monads of that hierarchy, otherwise called the unmanifest or First Logos.

The Orphic cosmogony has a similar idea: Phanes (First or unmanifest Logos), Chaos (considered feminine because the container; the manifest-unmanifest or Second Logos); and Chronos (the actively creative or Third Logos) are the three cooperating principles, one in essence, which emanate from the Concealed Point, a mathematical center of boundless space (Hindu parabrahman, Hebrew eyn soph), and through their interaction the work of emanation proceeds.

In the mythos of the Hindu emanator, Brahma is represented as evolved as and from a lotus which grows out of the navel of Vishnu the sustainer. The dual divinity rests on the waters of space with Ananta-Sesha — the serpent of infinity — which can also be read as the unmanifested coils of cyclic time. It is “the most graphic allegory ever made: the Universe evolving from the central Sun, the point, the ever-concealed germ” (SD 1:379). Blavatsky defines the term as “Metaphysically the first point of manifestation, the germ of primeval differentiation, or the point in the infinite Circle ‘whose centre is everywhere, and circumference nowhere.’ The point is the Logos” (TG 119).

Primordial Water Chaos, “the great green one,” the Egyptian Nu, the waters of space; a graphic descriptive term of cosmic space before manvantara begins.

Primum Mobile (Latin) The first movable, signifying the first or original movement or motion; the tenth and outermost of the crystalline spheres which surround the earth in the Ptolemaic cosmic system — a system common to nearly all the peoples surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, and which Ptolemy copied in his own cosmographic description. It answers to Plato’s and Aristotle’s aeikinetos (the evermoving), that which is perpetually in motion; but beyond this, Aristotle and Plato have an “unmoving motion,” the inherent motion or life and intelligence of boundless space, comparable to the svabhavat of Mahayana Buddhism, which as the cosmic womb of all hierarchies in being, and as their periodic producer, seems to answer to the arche kineseos (beginning or origin of motion), the nous of Anaxagoras (Key sec 6).

According to the popular enumeration of the crystalline spheres, they begin with the first sphere surrounding the earth, and count outwards towards the fixed stars and the vastness beyond; but it would perhaps be better to invert this system of counting, making the primum mobile, or the first movement of a system, the originator, and all within it its descending scale of enumerated spheres.

Principes (Latin) Chiefs; an order of genii or Sons of Light in the Codex Nazaraeus.

Principium (Latin) Beginning, first or primordial principle.

Principalities The seventh order of angels in the celestial hierarchy of the pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. This hierarchy is recognized in the New Testament: “I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, . . . shall be able to separate us from the love of God” (Rom 8:38-9). Principality here translates the Greek arche (beginning, first principle, province ruled over, ruler, and rule in the abstract); the Latin version gives principatus (beginning, sovereignty). The allusion is to recognized names in the Gnostic hierarchical systems of aeons or emanations. “From Mind proceeded the word, Logos, from the word, Providence [Divine Light, rather], then from it Virtue and Wisdom in Principalities, Power, Angels, etc.” (Basilidean teaching). All these various denizens of the sidereal world are copies of archaic prototypes.

In a passage relating to the ancient Syrian scheme of hierarchies, the lowest or sublunary world — Earth — is ruled by Angels; the sphere of Mercury by Archangels; that of Venus by Principalities; that of the Sun by solar gods termed Powers; that of Mars by Virtues; Jupiter, Dominions; Saturn, Thrones.

The ninefold hierarchy divided into three triads, as given by Dionysius the Areopagite, is but a Christianized copy of ancient occult teaching taken over from Neoplatonic and Neopythagorean thought so widely current in the countries around the Mediterranean around the beginning of the Christian era and for some centuries afterwards. The ancient wisdom, from which all these various systems of thought originally sprang, likewise has its system of hierarchies which falls naturally into a similar range of nine, ten, or even twelve grades or divisions of cosmic power and substance. These different classes of celestial or angelic beings are the various grades of entities which infill and indeed make our solar system, and to which theosophy gives other titles than those used by Dionysius.

Principles A beginning, foundation, source, or essence from which things proceed; principles are thus the fundamental essences out of which and from which all things are and exist, usually enumerated as seven in theosophical writings. These kosmic principles, corresponding to the seven planes of the kosmos — the seven basic types of consciousness-substance of which the universe is formed — are manifested in the human being, so that we speak of the seven human principles, copies in the small of the seven principles of the universe.

The seven human principles are not a confederation of distinct entities, for man himself is essentially a unit, a monad, expressing his potentialities through a series of vehicles or vestures. The seven principles severally exist as aspects of human consciousness. Whether kosmic or human, they are usually divided into a higher triad and a lower quaternary, these being the numbers of the spiritual and material side of nature respectively. The higher triad is atman, buddhi, and manas (or, more correctly expressed, atman, atma-buddhi, and atma-buddhi-manas); the quaternary was originally given as kama-rupa, prana, linga-sarira, and sthula-sarira. In a later enumeration sthula-sarira was omitted from the list as not being a principle in itself but the vehicle of the other principles, and the quaternary was made up by adding the lower aspect of manas. The septenate may also be regarded as a higher and lower triad united by manas, which can attach itself to either and in our present stage of evolution is oscillating between the two. Since these seven rudimentary principles are omnipresent, they give rise to subordinate septenates within the larger septenates, so that each principle is itself subdivided into seven, repeating nature’s fundamental structure indefinitely. This becomes clearer when we bear in mind that the universe in all its parts is composed of monads, and that every monad in manifestation expresses itself as a septenate. Though principles and elements are essentially the same, it is convenient to make a distinction whereby the term principle is used for the force or spirit aspect, and element for the vehicular aspect; the principle being the inner, and the element the outer aspect, flowing forth from the principle as its vital vehicle or clothing.

Basically, these human principles are the original essences or elements in the constitution of any entity, macrocosmic or microcosmic, when these elements or essences are integrated into a unit by the power inherent in the essential self of such an entity. Thus there are principles of a cosmos or universe, of a sun, a globe, a man, beast, plant, mineral and of an elemental. All religions and philosophies in all times have taught, albeit after various manners, that man or world or any other being is much more than the physical body. The physical bodies or vehicles are but the outer shells or carriers of inward invisible, ethereal, and spiritual potencies or essences. In attempting to define the various parts of which our being is composed, many methods of dividing the human constitution have been adopted by different schools following different ways. The theosophic system is a division into seven principles or ultimate elements or essences; and everything within the cosmos is built of the same fundamental spiritual essence or substance and after the same general pattern. Other systems of division are possible, for instance the Christian threefold division of spirit, soul, and body. But the septenary classification is the most ancient one, and it is the common inheritance of all the esoteric schools “left to the sages of the Fifth Root-Race by the great Siddhas [Nirmanakayas] of the Fourth” (SD 2:636). The following table (cf SD 2:596) shows the analogy between the seven human aspects and the cosmic aspects:

Human Aspects
Cosmic Aspects
Atman, Spirit,
    Essential Self
Unmanifested Logos,
    Essential Self
    Cosmic Monad, Self
    Spiritual Soul
Universal Ideation,
    Second Logos
Alaya, Adi-Buddhi,
Manas (Mind),
    Human Soul
Universal Intelligence,
    Third Logos
    Cosmic Mind
Kama (Desire),
    Animal Soul
Cosmic Energy (Chaotic)
Cosmic Kama,
    Womb of Fohat
Prana, Life-essence,
Cosmic Life-Essence
    or Energy
Cosmic Jiva
Astral Ideation,
    reflecting terrestrial things
Cosmic Ether,
    Astral Light
    Physical body
    Physical universe
Sthura- or Sthula-sarira

In this classification atman is enumerated first of the human principles in order to convey the idea that all the other six principles emanate or unroll forth from it. Thus buddhi is emanated first and two portions of the scroll are unrolled, to adopt a Christian metaphor; then from buddhi is emanated manas (the other four principles being still infolded) and three portions of the scroll are unrolled; then from manas is emanated kama — and so forth until all seven principles are unfolded.

The ancient Persians also had a sevenfold division of man’s aspects (Theos 4:21):

Physical Body
Tanwas (bones)
Keherpas (aerial form), Persian kaleb
Ushtanas (vital heat)
Desire Principle
Tevishis (conscious will)
Mind (Human Soul)
Baodhas (perception through senses)
Spiritual Soul
Urvanem (Soul), Persian rawan
Universal Spirit
Fravashem or Farohar (Spirit)

In the ancient Chinese I Ching a seven fold classification is also given; and Gerald Massey stated that the Egyptian text often mention “seven souls of the Pharaoh,” which he enumerated as follows (with Blavatsky’s correction in SD 2:632):

Physical Body
Kha soul of blood
Kwei shan vital soul
Khaba, the shade covering soul
Life Essence
Shan vital principle
Ba soul of breath
Desire Principle
Zhing or Zing Essence of Will
Akhu, intelligence soul of perception
Seb ancestral soul
Spiritual Soul
Putah, first intellectual father
    intellectual soul
Universal Spirit
Hwun pure spirit
Atmu divine or eternal soul

Lao-tzu in his Tao-Teh-Ching mentions five principles, pure spirit and the body being taken for granted therein (Key 117).

Adapting the classification of Egyptologist Franz Lambert who tabulated a Qabbalistic classification alongside a hieroglyphic division:

Chat: The Elementary Body
Ka: Astral Body, Evestrum, Sidereal Man
Khoah hag-Guph
Anch: Vital Force, Archaeus, Mumia
Ab Hati: Heart, Feeling, Animal Soul
Bai: Intellectual Soul, Intelligence
Cheybi: Spiritual Soul
Chu: Divine Spirit

The classification usually met with in the Qabbalah is a fourfold division: 1) neshamah, the most spiritual principle, the breath of being; 2) ruah, the spiritual soul; 3) nephesh, the vital soul; and 4) guph, the physical vehicle.

A sevenfold classification is stated to have been taught by the Gnostics, presented in the Pistis Sophia. “The Inner Man is similarly made up of four constituents, but these are supplied by the rebellious AEons of the Spheres, being the Power — a particle of the Divine light (’Divinae particula aurae’) yet left in themselves; the Soul (the fifth) ‘formed out of the tears of their eyes, and the sweat of their torments; . . . The Counterfeit of the Spirit (seemingly answering to our Conscience), (the sixth); and lastly the [Greek moira], Fate (Karmic Ego), whose business it is to lead the man to the end appointed for him . . .’ — the seventh!” (SD 2:604-5).

The Pymander of Hermes states that the self is clothed with 1) the blissful garment of conscious selfhood; 2) the garment of knowing or reason; 3) the garment of fancy, etc., spoken of as the soul; 4) the garment of life or breath; and 5) the gross body.

The Vedantic classification commonly uses a sixfold division, while other systems employed by the Brahmins, especially the Taraka-Raja-Yogins, is fourfold:

Theosophical Vedantic Taraka-Raja-Yoga
1. Sthula-sarira Annamaya-kosa Sthulopadhi
2. Linga-sarira Pranamaya-kosa         "
3. Prana
4. Kama  
5. Manas
      a) volitions, feelings Manomaya-kosa Sukshmopadhi
      b) vijnana Vijnanamaya-kosa         "
6. Buddhi Anandamaya-kosa Karanopadhi
7. Atman Atman Atman

The ancient Greek writers had their own terms for the aspects of the universe or of man, besides the familiar nous and psyche:

Phantasma or Phasma
Simulacrum or Imago
Higher Manas

In the human constitution the archaic Latins discovered almost as many different spiritual, psychic, and astral elements as the ancient Hindus did. Thus, for instance, there was in man the genius (called in women the juno), closely corresponding to the manasaputric element or higher manas; and when a man died the genius sought its own sphere. The other parts of the human constitution consisted of a member of the manes and a member of the lares, which two were probably closely identic with the lower human ego and the higher human ego; furthermore after the death of the man there appeared the lemur corresponding to the kama-rupa, shade, or specter; and the larva, which seems to have been identical with the lemur but with even less of the nobler human element in it; so that the lemur may be considered the kama-rupa in its early stages, and the larva when more greatly disintegrated. The physical body of course was considered simply to fall to pieces and to render its elements to the earth which gave it.

In the Scandinavian Eddas, Ask and Embla were two ash trees, and by means of the gifts bestowed upon them human beings were produced.

Another system of classification used in theosophical thought is the considering of the human constitution as composed of monads. The following table gives the monads and their relation to the principles.



Prithi or Prithu (Sanskrit) Pṛthī, Pṛthu A mythical person, son of one of the manus, said to have been the first king, to have ruled also over beings lower than men, and to have introduced the arts of husbandry into the world. One of the rishis and the author of at least one of the hymns of the Rig-Veda, he is likewise called Prithu, and in this connection is the father of the earth (Prithivi). Prithu is said to have milked the earth and made her bear all vegetation, including vegetables and the grains.

Prithivi (Sanskrit) Pṛthivī The broad or extended one, commonly the earth; one of the mahabhutas of the Sankhya philosophy, or the lowest of the cosmic tattvas (cosmic elements or principles).

Prithivi-bhuta (Sanskrit) Pṛthivī-bhūta [from pṛthivī earth + bhūta element] The earth element, the seventh and lowest in the descending scale of the seven cosmic bhutas of nature. This cosmic element has its corresponding analog in the human physical body, being in either case the general carrier of all the inner or hid substances and principles, whether of the universe or of any manifested entity therein. From the esoteric standpoint the physical universe or prithivi-bhuta is not larger in any sense than are the invisible planes or elements of being, but the opposite. The idea behind the term calls attention to the fact that prithivibhuta appears through its illusory effect upon our senses to be the universe of expanded or extended substances. See also BHUTA; ELEMENT

Prithivi-tattva (Sanskrit) Pṛthivī-tattva [from pṛthivī spacious, earth + tattva thatness, reality] The earth principle; the seventh in the descending scale of the seven tattvas.

Privations The ideal types of corporeal beings and things. These types are not abstractions, but actual entities or existences which are the causes of the corporeal beings and things that they produce or evolve forth from themselves. Privation is an ontological category used by Aristotle, its literal meaning implying that positive — material — attributes are absent (deprived). He says that in order that a natural body may become objective, three principles are necessary: privation, form, and matter. Blavatsky explains that “Privation meant in the mind of the great philosopher that which the Occultists call the prototypes impressed in the Astral Light — the lowest plane and world of Anima Mundi. The union of these three principles depends upon a fourth — the life which radiates from the summits of the Unreachable, to become an universally diffused Essence on the manifested planes of Existence” (SD 1:59).

Kanada, founder of the Vaiseshika school of philosophy — one of the six orthodox schools of ancient India — adds to his six categories (substance, quality, action, genus, individuality, and concretion or co-inherence) a seventh called privation. Plato speaks of to me on (that which is not), equivalent to non-being; and the same contrast is seen in the terms ego and non-ego. The idea conveyed in the word is similar to that expressed in the words unmanifest or latent as opposed to manifested.

Priyavrata (Sanskrit) Priyavrata A son of Manu-Svayambhuva; the Bhagavata-Purana states: “Priya-vrata being dissatisfied that only half the earth was illuminated at one time by the solar rays, followed the sun seven times round the earth in his own flaming car of equal velocity, like another celestial orb, resolved to turn night into day.” Brahma stopped him and the ruts which were formed by the motion of his chariot wheels were the seven oceans. Thus the seven continents were made, which may also refer to the seven globes of our planetary chain.

As Priyavrata is one of the sons of Manu the self-generated — the first in serial order of the manus — it is evident that Priyavrata corresponds to one of the first or primordial human races referred to in theosophical literature.

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BCW - H. P. Blavatsky: Collected Writings

BG - Bhagavad-Gita

BP - Bhagavata Purana

cf - confer

ChU - Chandogya Upanishad

Dial, Dialogues - The Dialogues of G. de Purucker, ed. A. L. Conger

Echoes - Echoes of the Orient, by William Q. Judge (comp. Dara Eklund)

ET - The Esoteric Tradition, by G. de Purucker

FSO - Fountain-Source of Occultism, by G. de Purucker

Fund - Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, by G. de Purucker

IU - Isis Unveiled, by H. P. Blavatsky

MB - Mahabharata

MIE - Man in Evolution, by G. de Purucker

ML - The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, ed. A. Trevor Barker

MU - Mundaka Upanishad

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

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

OG - Occult Glossary, by G. de Purucker

Rev - Revelations

RV - Rig Veda

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

SD - The Secret Doctrine, by H. P. Blavatsky

SOPh - Studies in Occult Philosophy, by G. de Purucker

TBL - Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge (Secret Doctrine Commentary), by H. P. Blavatsky

TG - Theosophical Glossary, by H. P. Blavatsky

Theos - The Theosophist (magazine)

VP - Vishnu Purana

VS - The Voice of the Silence, by H. P. Blavatsky

WG - Working Glossary, by William Q. Judge

ZA - Zend-Avesta

Theosophical University Press Online Edition