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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Red Caps, Red Hats, Red Hoods Often applied, especially by Europeans to the adherents of the Unreformed Buddhist sects, called in Tibet the Ning-ma-pas, who wear red robes and hoods. This sect was founded in Tibet in the latter part of the 8th century during the reign of the Tibetan king Ti-song De-tsen, who was so impressed with the precepts of Buddhism that he summoned Padmasambhava from Udyayana in Northwest India to spread the religion of the Buddha in Tibet. But by this time the Buddhism of Northwest India and Nepal had become infected with tantric practices, and these practices predominated in Tibet until the great reformer Tsong-kha-pa (born 1358) founded the order of the Gelukpas or Yellow Caps.

Padmasambhava, called in Tibet Guru Rimpoche or Padma-jungne, is even today one of the patron saints of Tibet and the chief guru of the Red Caps — his image occupying the place of honor on all the altars of this sect, which he founded in 749.

Mme. David-Neel writes: “the Lamas who belong to the Yellow Cap Sects acknowledge the superiority of their brethren in the various Red Cap Sects in all questions more or less connected with magic and occult science” (My Journey to Lhasa 181). This is a misinterpretation; there has always been a traditional antagonism between the reformed and unreformed sects, each sect having more or less contempt for the beliefs and practices of the other; yet each sect nevertheless holding the other in some respect and paying such deference as is in either case properly due. The Red Cap sects are very largely given over to tantric and other magical practices often partaking of sorcery. The tantric element predominating in this sect is wholly foreign to the pure teachings of Gautama Buddha. It is the higher, more educated, and the initiates of the Yellow Cap body who condemn these practices, although acknowledging their existence and efficacy in use: yet, it is the reformed body which is the true exponent of genuine occult sayings and spiritual magic, in no wise verging upon sorcery, necromancy, or similar modes of thought. Mme. David-Neel’s acquaintance was very largely among the frontier tribes and sects, where she would naturally have a better acquaintance with the practices of the Red Cap body than with those of the extremely reserved and reticent Yellow Caps. See also GELUKPAS

Redeemer [from Latin redimo buy back] Usually applied by Christians to Jesus Christ as the Son of God who came to earth and “sacrificed himself as a propitiation for our sins.” Prometheus, Dionysos, and other equivalents, are called redeemers; for they are types of the redeeming power in man himself. The good serpent Agathodaimon is another name for the cosmic redeemer; Lucifer the Light-bringer, our tempter and at the same time our illuminator, is our inner redeemer, as was the mystic serpent who withstood the Jewish Lord God in Eden.

In theosophy the redeemer or redemption is found within the person himself, for such redeemer is the spiritual monad, the highest part of the constitution, and the redemption consists in becoming progressively at one with the spiritual monad or inner god. The disciple or pilgrim has the constant spiritual and intellectual support of more advanced beings than himself, but the disciple must himself choose to turn toward the source whence such help comes, and to take it.

Redemption The Christian teaching that man may be delivered from sin and its consequences by the sacrifice allegedly made by Jesus Christ. It includes the ideas of atonement, justification, regeneration, sanctification, and salvation. See also REDEEMER

Regeneration [from Latin re again + generare to beget] Renewal, regrowth, spiritual rebirth; as rebirth follows upon death, regeneration follows upon destruction, hence it implies immortality. It is one meaning of the serpent or dragon symbol. The Holy of Holies of the Hebrews, and the King’s Chamber in the Egyptian pyramid of Cheops, were symbols of regeneration with the ancients, but in certain materializing interpretations became transformed into symbols of generation. Siva in the Hindu Trimurti, sometimes described as representing destruction, is better called the regenerator. The end of one cycle is the birth of another, as typified in the rebirth of the year, the festival of Easter, etc.

Regeneration is also often used in those cases where the lower through inner regeneration becomes transformed into the higher.

Regent [from Latin regens ruling] Ruler, rector; the divine-spiritual-intellectual ruler or cosmic spirit of any cosmic entity. Equivalent to the ’elohim, kabiri, rays of the Logos, the four Maharajas, the genii of the seven sacred planets, of the twelve zodiacal constellations, or of stars, worlds, etc.

Regimen Ignis (Latin) The dominion of fire; the realm of the first group of dhyan-chohans, which is divided into three classes synthesized by the first, thus making a tetraktys.

Reimbodiment One of the fundamental propositions of the ancient wisdom. It may include reincarnation, metensomatosis, rebirth, etc. It means that a living entity or life-center takes a new imbodiment, not necessarily physical or on earth, and does so repeatedly. Nearly the same as metensomatosis, but the latter by convention refers to human imbodiments on earth. See also REINCARNATION

Reincarnating Ego In the intermediate aspect of man’s being, manas-kama is the ordinary seat of human imbodied consciousness; the upper or aspiring part is buddhi-manas, the reincarnating ego, “that which undergoes periodical incarnation is the Sutratma, which means literally the ‘Thread Soul.’ It is a synonym of the reincarnating Ego — Manas conjoined with Buddhi — which absorbs the Manasic recollections of all our preceding lives” (Key 163). At death the lower part sinks into oblivion, and the reincarnating ego passes into devachan, carrying with it the noblest aspects of the person that was. In this state it remains within the monad, while the monad peregrinates from sphere to sphere, until the time comes for reincarnation on earth. When the monad, passing through the spheres, approaches the earth, the reincarnating ego slowly reawakes to self-conscious activity, and is drawn by the karmic seeds of affinity within itself to the earth, attracting itself to the human seed whereby it builds its coming physical imbodiment.

Reincarnation Reimbodiment; specifically reinfleshment, the repeated imbodiment of the reincarnating ego in vehicles of human flesh on this earth. The unexhausted desire for earth-life draws the ego back to this globe, where it gathers to itself the material for a reincarnation and thus is finally born from a human womb. The process is repeated almost numberless times until the evolution of the inspiriting monad has reached a stage when reincarnation is no longer required. The interval between successive incarnations may be roughly estimated at 100 times the length of the preceding earth-life — a rule obviously subject to many exceptions.

Relativity Associated with Einsteinian physics; the first postulate of the theory of relativity is the relativity of all motion, a return to the idea of Newton, which holds that there is no stationary ether or any fixed system of coordinates in space, with regard to which motion can be measured. The second postulate states that the velocity of light in free space appears the same to all observers regardless of the relative motion of the source of light and of the observer. A well-known feature of the theory is that by which space and time are no longer treated as independent, but as component elements of a four-dimensional continuum, space-time, and in which the objects whose position and motion are measured are called events. This is a movement in the direction of simplification, since it economizes the number of separate data which we must assume in order to build up our system of interpretation. Einstein also postulates the relativity of the force concept, thus obviating the objection that the Ptolemaic system is dynamically inadequate as compared with the Copernican.

Apart from this scientific use of relativity, its wider meaning is of prime importance in theosophy. Though we may say, in a general way, that all things are relative to each other, yet for purposes of reasoning or calculation it is necessary to assume certain things as constant; as for instance, in measuring velocities on the earth, we may assume that the earth is motionless; though when we enter the field of astronomy, we regard the earth as in motion with regard to the sun, and again may regard the sun as in motion relatively to some other position assumed as at rest. By applying this principle we arrive at the conclusion that nothing in the universe, whether physical, astral, mental, or spiritual, is completely specified to our human mind except by its relations to other things. This principle is expressed by such sayings as that all objects are manifestations of a universal principle or that there are no absolutes.

Thus the word immortality, for example, does not refer to a particular state of existence for the liberated soul, for the various elements of our complex nature have varying degrees of immortality. Each has its own cycle of existence, longer or shorter; and “absolute immortality” can apply only to the ultimate essence of man. In the same way good and bad are regarded as relative terms. This does not mean, however, that good and bad differ from each other solely in being relative to each other; but that what is good from one point of view may be bad from another.

Religion [from Latin religare to bind back, implying obligation; or from relegere to select, distinguish among various elements for the choosing of the best; ponder] In theosophy individual religion of conduct means faith in his own essential divinity as a source of wisdom and an unerring and infallible guide in conduct; an ever-growing realization of that truth, an ever-growing consciousness of one’s spiritual identity with the divine in nature; and constant devotion to the ideals thus inspired. Religion means a self-sacrificing devotion to truth, a resolve to live in harmony with all other lives, a sacrificing of the personal self to the greater self.

In theosophy there is no divorce between the devotional and speculative functions of the mind; science and philosophy do not conflict with the innate sense of rectitude. Ethics are not based on expediency, a social compact, or a special revelation, but are inherent in the laws of the universe.

The ancient wisdom is the quintessence of all religions, the universal parent-source of all faiths; and in proportion as each great world religion rises to the height of its own possibilities, so will the external divergences among the different faiths of mankind blend into the original fundamental unity.

Reliquiae (Latin) Leavings; the astral shells or spooks of human beings and animals which are left in the lower strata of the astral light after death. Equivalent to the Sanskrit bhuta.

Remission of Sins Remission in the New Testament (Greek aphesis, Latin remissio) means sending away, discharge. The original meaning of remission of sins was the sending away of sinfulness from one’s heart, the purification of one’s nature, resulting from pledging oneself to a new way of life, undergoing initiation, passing through the second birth. In Christianity remission of sins has come to imply the action of deity through a divine agent, as is supposed to have been the case in Jesus. Jesus’ statement at the Last Supper: “This is my blood of the new testament (covenant, dispensation), which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt 26:28), echoes the initiatory rites of the ancient Mysteries, the remission of sins here meaning that when the vitality (blood) of the immanent Christ in the individual becomes the directing influence in his life, there is then no room for sins, which thereafter are discharged, sent away, refused. The karmic consequence, however, of previous sin must in all cases be worked out.

In Mark 1:4, John is said to preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; repentance being the Greek metanoia, a radical change of heart or mind, of feeling and understanding. The Christian teaching easily slips into the mistaken doctrine that the consequences of wrongdoing can be escaped by some especial intercession of a personal savior or by some ecclesiastical agent and/or ceremony, just as remission has come to mean a letting-off, excusing, or escaping. Thus in the case of a debt, the debtor may remit (wrongly escape) the amount owed, but the creditor may truly remit or discharge the debt. Theosophy accepts the doctrine in the sense that sinfulness can be banished from the nature by self-purification; but not the notion that we can escape the results of our acts — past, present, or future.

Renunciation Not a painful obligation, but the result of a free choice; nor the giving up of an object of desire in favor of another object of desire. The question of advantage or disadvantage does not enter into it; these are delusions of the personal ego. The one who truly renounces abandons the acquisitiveness and desire for personal advantage which are the law of the lower nature, and follows the law of the higher nature, which is the law of love and harmony. The question as to whether he gains or loses is then relatively meaningless for him, for he has forgotten himself, because he has found his greater self.

Repentance In theology, a change of mental and spiritual habit respecting sin, involving a hatred of and sorrow because of it, and a genuine abandonment of it in conduct of life. The frequent reference made by Christians with regard to death-bed repentance, however distorted, nevertheless is based upon a truth. However, a person must always face the causes he has set in motion — which will appear as effects in some subsequent life, these lives being linked together with the present one by and through the skandhas.

Repercussion Striking back, as when a wave rebounds from a surface. In theosophical literature, applied to the phenomenon in which a blow aimed at the phantom of a living person takes effect on the person himself, as though it rebounded. It can occur in spiritualistic seances, when something done to a materialized form takes effect on the body of the medium. It is one of the secrets of black magical practices, such as that where a wax image of a person is made, and objects stuck into it, thus causing equivalent injury to the living person aimed at.

A similar effect may be produced in an unborn child by something which happens to the mother. A mental picture, an astral form, and a physical form are three linked stages in a series; which explains how a sorcerer can use his imagination for his evil purposes, and how the imagination of a mother can affect the body of the unborn child.

Rephaim (Hebrew) Rĕfā’īm The sons of Raphah, a Canaanite race of giants; also the weak ones, shades or specters, the quiet and wan inhabitants of Hades or the Underworld, which were nevertheless considered beings of gigantic size, and hence the collocation of the meanings of gigantic magnitude coupled with intrinsic weakness. This last refers to the phantom or astral races of early mankind: the first, second, and early third root-races before they were illuminated and inspired by the manasaputric descent (SD 2:279).

The passage in Job (26:5) translated “Dead things are formed from under the waters, and the inhabitants thereof,” should be “dead rephaim.”

Reproduction In theosophical writing, usually confined to the various modes of physical procreation and excluding the production of offspring by kriyasakti. The essential principle in natural reproduction is that an individual separates a portion of itself, which then evolves independently into a similar individual. This may occur by fission, as in the amoeba and other unicellular forms, the mode of the first root-race of humanity. Or by budding, as in the sea anemone and many plants, and in the second root-race. By the throwing off of spores, as occurs in mosses and fungi. By the production of an egg, hatched within or without the body; the egg may contain the so-called positive and negative reproductive elements, and so be self-fertilizing; or it may contain only the negative element and so require fertilizing. The positive element may be contributed by the same individual as supplies the negative element; and then we have hermaphroditism. Or the positive and negative elements may be in different individuals, and we have the present usual mode of reproduction. The human body has at one time or another passed through all these states. Part of the second and the earlier third root-race were hermaphroditic, and the later third practiced ordinary sexual reproduction. Mankind is destined to transcend the present mode, which is but a passing phase in evolutionary history, and then pass to modes analogous to the modes which obtain on the descending arc.


Resha Trivrah. See RE’SH HIWWAR

Re’sh Hiwwar (Hebrew) Rē’sh Ḥiwwār Reisha’ Hiwwara’ (Aramaic) Rēishā’ Ḥiwwārā’ [from Hebrew rē’sh head, beginning, chief, supremacy + ḥiwwār white, colorless purity, the colorless compound glory emanating forth from the Rootless Root, the Qabbalistic Concealed of the Concealed] Beginning of purity, head of purity, White Head; a Qabbalistic term applied to the first emanation of the Sephirothal Tree, Kether (the Crown). Through this first Sephirah or Head flows the white hid fire (or colorless glory of the spirit) in 370 streams in all directions of the universe. This number means the 360 occult points of consciousness each emanating its own fiery energy, in addition to the ten basic hierarchical roots or fountains, thus forming 370. “But indeed it is not fire, but that splendor which is included in the subtile air” (Zohar, ’Idra’ Rabba’, col. 256). This fire is termed the Living Fire or Spirit of Light (SD 1:338). It is the full aggregate of the entire stream of consciousness-life-substance emanating from the ever Concealed of the Concealed and flowing forth in 360 streams, from ten hierarchical fountains or roots, and thus building up the full hierarchical structure of our universe. See also ANCIENT OF THE ANCIENT; FACE; HEAD OF ALL HEADS

Re’shith (Hebrew) Rē’shīth [from rosh head, chief, principal, first, beginning] Beginning, headship, the most excellent or highest of a series; wisdom. The first word in the Bible (prefixed by the prepositional letter B, meaning in, through, or by means of). “The fathers . . . dreaded above all to have the esoteric and true meaning of the word Rasit [re’shith] unveiled to the multitudes; for if once the true sense of this sentence, as well as that of the Hebrew word asdt . . . were understood rightly, the mystery of the Christian trinity would have crumbled, carrying in its downfall the new religion into the same heap of ruins with the ancient Mysteries”; “Origen, Clemens Alexandrinus, Chalcidius, Methodius, and Maimonides, on the authority of the Targum of Jerusalem, the orthodox and greatest authority of the Jews, held that the first two words in the book of Genesis — b-rasit, mean Wisdom, or the Principle. And that the idea of these words meaning “in the beginning” was never shared but by the profane, who were not allowed to penetrate any deeper into the esoteric sense of the sentence” (IU 2:34, 35). The beginning of Genesis is quite correctly translated “by wisdom,” or “by means of wisdom,” (cf Fund 98-102). See also BERE’SHITH

Resurrection A rising again, implying a previous descent; a rebirth after death. In its widest sense, the universal law of cyclic renewal manifested in cosmic, solar, terrestrial, and human phenomena, applying to manvantaras, and to reawakenings of the earth and of man — whether humanity as a whole, races, or individuals. In the last case it means regeneration, the second birth, initiation, symbolized by the resurrection of the mystic Christ enacted in the Mysteries, when the candidate rose from that cruciform couch which he had undergone the experiences of death. In Christianity this has become an actual physical or bodily resurrection of Jesus, supported by the stories of the empty tomb and the appearances to the disciples. The dogma of the resurrection of the body, however, is pointedly related to the teaching of the migration of the life-atoms, whereby the reincarnating entity draws together the elements which it had previously discarded. There is an Arabic legend of the bone Luz, said to be one of the bones at the bottom of the spinal column, the os coccygis, as indestructible and forming the nucleus of the resurrection body. In the adytum or Holy of Holies of ancient temples was found a sarcophagus symbolizing the universal process of resurrection, but in degenerate times it was occasionally turned by ignorance into a symbol of physical procreation. Other emblems of resurrection are the frog, phoenix, and egg.

Retardation and Acceleration, Law of The working of the inherent law of progressive development in every entity is modified by this law. When an entity occupies a dominant place in the evolutionary scale, the inferior and subordinate entities under its sway can no longer find a fully free field for their own self-expression, and consequently their evolution is said to be retarded. Thus the hosts of subordinate entities which compose the human body are retarded because their activities must be coordinated with that of the dominating human; while the evolution of the latter is unimpeded except for higher retardative elements, and at certain periods has its own phases of acceleration. This is part of the give-and-take policy by which corporate action among individuals of all hierarchical classes is rendered not only possible, but necessary.

The law of retardation means that certain individuals or groups are from time to time retarded in their forward development because the field of evolution immediately before them is already occupied by a superior aggregate group of evolving entities, which superior group exercises upon the inferior group an influence retarding the full expression of the evolving faculties of the individuals of the lower group. This can be illustrated by considering the evolution of the life-waves, or kingdoms, which run the rounds on our own planetary chain. The beasts are thus subject to a very definite law of retardation, because their immediate and future field of evolutionary unfolding is occupied by the evolving human kingdom, although it is equally true that the human kingdom exercises upon the beast kingdom beneath it a stimulating and elevating power. In the kingdoms of the planetary chain, if one such kingdom has not already reached a certain evolutionary standing on the ladder of life, it will have to wait in a more or less inactive or dormant evolutionary condition until room is made for its further progress by the passing ahead of the kingdom preceding it.

The beasts, for instance, as indeed all other kingdoms in similar circumstances, are undergoing retardation at the present time in another slightly different sense: because they have not as yet evolved forth human qualities and powers. They will not make the grade into the human kingdom on the ascending arc for all the remainder of the present chain-manvantara, and this is the meaning of the phrase frequently found in theosophical writings that the door into the human kingdom closed at about the midpoint of the fourth root-race.

Contrariwise, when an individual, group, life-wave, or kingdom has been thus retarded because of karmic necessity, when the way is finally opened for them to progress forwards, and if they are ready to do so, there is an immediate acceleration, a quickening or vivifying of the entire life-stream, so that their progress from the beginning of such acceleration is quick and runs rapidly on. Such individuals are prepared, and unfold or develop rapidly when the time comes — the law of acceleration, just the contrary of the law of retardation.

Retribution Repayment, fiscal or moral; often used as a synonym for karma in human affairs. A tendency exists to apply the word specially to the seemingly bitter aspects of karma, as being the so-called punishment for evildoing; and reward is commonly applied to that aspect of karma which brings forth happy, pleasurable, and elevating factors in human life. See also KARMA

Reuel-Jethro (Hebrew) Rĕ‘ū’ēl Yityrō In the Bible a priest of Midian having seven daughters and giving one of them (Zipporah) in marriage to Moses (Ex 2:16). “Jethro is called the ‘father-in-law’ of Moses; not because Moses was really married to one of his seven daughters. Moses was an Initiate, if he ever existed, and as such an ascetic, a nazar, and could never be married. It is an allegory like everything else. Zipporah (the shining) is one of the personified Occult Sciences given by Revel-Jethro, the Midian priest Initiator, to Moses, his Egyptian pupil. The ‘well’ by which Moses sat down in his flight from the Pharaoh symbolizes the ‘well of Knowledge’ ” (SD 2:465n).

That an initiate could never be married is true of the highest class of adepts, but history shows that both men and women initiates, although very rarely of the highest rank, have been married. It is likewise to be remembered that one of the grandest initiates known to human history, Gautama Buddha, married and had a child.

Indeed, in ancient India, according to the laws of life then prevailing, all students, whether higher or lower, had to pass through the four stages of imbodied life on earth, and one of these was called grihastha — a man who had his home, wife, and children, as it was then a religious duty for everyone to carry on his own family line.

Revelation of John or Apocalypse The last book in the New Testament, a specimen of apocalyptic literature, which in Christianity consists of Jewish Christian mystical books of unknown authorship, attributed among others to Enoch, Ezra, and various apostles. John’s Apocalypse is in part based on the Book of Enoch, and is the work of a Jewish Qabbalist who adapted it to Judaean Christianity, and who had a hereditary aversion to the Greek Mysteries. Like apocalyptic literature in general, it takes the form of visions supposed to be seen by the alleged author, and its burden is the struggle between righteousness and evil, ending in the overthrow of the latter and the establishment of the kingdom of Christ. It marks a stage in the gradual adaption of the original esoteric Christianity to the demands of a creedal and worldly religion.

Several different keys are needed to interpret the Revelations of John: “no less that the Book of Job, the whole Revelation, is simply an allegorical narrative of the Mysteries and initiation therein of a candidate, who is John himself. . . . The numbers seven, twelve, and others are all so many lights thrown over the obscurity of the work” (IU 2:351; cf SD 2:93&n, 516).

Revel-Jethro. See REUEL-JETHRO

Reversion to Type. See ATAVISM

Rg-Veda. See RIG-VEDA

Rhea (Greek) Daughter of Ouranos and Gaia, sister and consort of Kronos, mother of Zeus and others of the principal divinities. Identified by the Homeric Greeks with Cybele, the Asiatic Magna Mater; also, as the mother of Zeus, with Demeter. An Orphic fragment reads: “When she bore Zeus she became Demeter.” The six sons and daughters — Vesta, Demeter, Hera, Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades — are symbols of the powers and elements of invisible, and the divisions of visible, nature. Rhea in one aspect is also Isis — nature, divine and human, bearing to Kronos (time) the elements and powers that in both invisible and visible form constitute nature, only to see them swallowed by Kronos in the end, drawn back into the inner worlds in due course by all-ingulfing time. See also ORPHISM

Rhemata (Greek) Sayings, especially oracular sayings, as the Rhemata of Jesus; equivalent to logia and dicta.

Rhianon (Welsh) Nymph, goddess; wife of Pwyll Pen Annwn in the first branch of the Mabinogi.

Rhinoceros Used in the mystical schools of Northern Buddhism to signify a pratyeka buddha, a translation of the Sanskrit khadga. The nature of the rhinoceros is to be alone, walk alone, live alone, intent on its own affairs and more or less oblivious of what does not concern these. Transferring the idea of the solitary individual intent upon his own purposes, however spiritually high, to the pratyeka buddhas gives an outline of the entire Mahayana Buddhist doctrine.

Instead of khadga, the ancient Buddhist writers frequently used eka-sringa (one-horned), likewise signifying rhinoceros with the reference to the one-pointed spiritual self-interest and spiritual selfishness, of the prayeka buddhas.

Eka-sringa-rishi is the rhinoceros-rishi.

Rhipaeus, Mount The Rhipaei Montes were said by the ancient Greeks and Latins to be a chain of mountains located somewhere in the northern parts of Europe and Asia; a true tradition of the formerly existing Hyperborean continent.

Rhizomata (Greek) [plural of rhizoma root, element] The four elements forming the second quaternary in the Pythagorean system, according to Plutarch, the first quaternary being purely spiritual.

Rhutaliai Derived from the huge, highly civilized island called Ruta, which perished many millennia ago and which was one of the last strongholds of Atlantean culture and civilization. This island existed in the Pacific Ocean, and from it as from a focus flowed forth civilizing colonies into what were then virgin or quasi-inhabited lands of the Far East, these colonies carrying with them their religions, philosophies, customs, habits, laws, languages, and forms of writing.

In the distant past the sacred and secret language possessed by all schools of occult philosophers was spoken all over the civilized portions of the globe. This language included not merely the speech but the various forms of the written alphabets employed to imbody it. The devanagari (god-city script), of which modern Hindu devanagari is the lineal descendant, was then the favorite alphabetic form, in which the sacred language was imbodied when used by initiates. It then was used almost exclusively by the central seat of occult learning of the time. (cf 5 Years of Theosophy 423).

Ribhu (Sanskrit) Ṛbhu Clever, skillful, inventive; applied to Indra, Agni, and the adityas in the Rig-Veda. As a noun, an artist, smith, builder. Also the name of three semi-divine beings, Ribhu, Vaja, and Vibhvan, the name of the first being applied to the three; “thought by some to represent the three seasons of the year, and celebrated for their skill as artists; they are supposed to dwell in the solar sphere, and are the artists who formed the horses of Indra, the carriage of the Asvins, and the miraculous cow of Brihaspati; they made their parents young, and performed other wonderful works; they are supposed to take their ease and remain idle for twelve days (the twelve intercalary days of the winter solstice) every year in the house of the Sun. (Agohya); after which they recommence working; when the gods heard of their skill, they sent Agni to them with the one cup of their rival Tvashtri, the artificer of the gods, bidding the Ribhus construct four cups from it; when they had successfully executed this task, the gods received the Ribhus amongst themselves and allowed them to partake of their sacrifices; they appear generally as accompanying Indra, especially at the evening sacrifice” (M-Wms Dict). In the Puranas, Ribhu is a son of Brahman, while Sankaracharya’s guru enumerates him as one of the seven kumaras (SD 1:457).

Ribhu thus is a generalizing term corresponding to one aspect of one of the manasaputras (sons of mind).

Rich (Sanskrit) Ṛc [from the verbal root ṛc to honor, praise, cover or hide from view] A verse of any of the Vedas; in the nominative case before a soft consonant it is euphonized to rig.

Riddhi (Sanskrit) Ṛddhi [from the verbal root ṛdh to increase, prosper] Increase, growth, good fortune, prosperity; also accomplishment, perfection, supernatural power.

Riddhi-pada (Sanskrit) Ṛddhi-pāda [from ṛddhi supernormal power + pāda step, way, ray, beam of light] The way or steps to the attainment of supernormal powers; four steps being enumerated in raja yoga. These “are the four modes of controlling and finally of annihilating desire, memory, and finally meditation itself — so far as these are connected with any effort of the physical brain — meditation then becomes absolutely spiritual” (TG 324).

Right-hand Path From time immemorial, in all countries and among all races, there have been recognized two antagonistic schools of occult training, known as the path of light and the path of darkness. They represent two fundamental courses in nature, and are more commonly called the right-hand path and the left-hand path, as in Greek, Latin, English, and many other languages the word for right-hand also means propitious or skilled, or right as opposed to wrong. Hence in symbology it implies goodness, rightness, light: solar as opposed to lunar, spiritual as opposed to material, etc.

The right-hand path is sometimes known as amrita-yana (the immortal vehicle or path of immortality) or as dakshina-marga (right path), and those who practice the rules of conduct and manner of life enjoined upon those who follow the right-hand path are known as dakshinacharins and their course of life is known as dakshinachara. It is a path leading to an ever wider consciousness, and those whose feet are firmly planted thereon are known as Masters of Wisdom and Compassion. See also LEFT-HAND PATH

Rig-Veda (Sanskrit) Ṛg-Veda [from ṛc verse, hymn of praise + veda knowledge] The first and most important of the four Vedas; so named because it is the Veda composed of 1,028 suktas or hymns of praise addressed to the various entities and powers of nature. To this Veda also belong various subordinate commentaries and treatises of different classes: the Brahmanas, Aranyakas, and Upanishads.

“Thus, the Rig-Veda, the oldest of all the known ancient records, may be shown to corroborate the occult teachings in almost every respect. Its hymns — the records written by the earliest Initiates of the Fifth (our race) concerning the primordial teachings — speak of the Seven Races (two still to come) allegorising them by the ‘seven streams’ (I, 35, 8); and of the Five Races (‘panca krishtayah’ [pancha-krishtayah]) which have already inhabited this world (ibid) on the five regions ‘panca pradicah’ [pancha-pradisah] (IX, 86, 29), as also of the three continents that were” (SD 2:606).

Riksha (Sanskrit) Ṛkṣa A bear; the seven rishis or seven stars of the Pleiades. Also a star or constellation in general, and hence of one of the 27 lunar mansions or constellations. In astrology, used for that particular star in one of the 27 mansions of the moon under which a human individual is born.

Rime-thurses. See FROST GIANTS

Rimmon (Hebrew) Rimmōn A pomegranate; used as an ornament in architecture and as a symbol in Syrian temples, standing for the generative and productive feminine principle in nature, its seeds especially being an allusion to fertility. Thus it is found on the pillar of Boaz and other similar representations (2 Kings 5:18).

The pomegranate appears also in the Mysteries of ancient Greece — particularly in the mythos of Persephone and Hades. By eating of this fruit of earth while in the Underworld Persephone was doomed to spend six months of the year in those gloomy regions. This emblem of feminine fertility was mystically applied both to the womb of cosmic space containing the innumerable seeds or germs of beings to be, and also to nature’s productive or generative fertility in all smaller things.

Ring Employed in the early days of the Theosophical Society, especially in connection with the correspondence held by the mahatmas with A. P. Sinnett and A. O. Hume, to signify any one of the many evolutionary cyclings followed by the monads in and through the different kingdoms of nature, such as the elemental, mineral, vegetable, etc. Any group of such monads thus collected together is called a life-wave. Every one of the seven, ten, or twelve classes of monads must follow every one of such rings in order to evolve the karmic and latent powers and capacities involved in the monad and held by it as evolutionary tendencies or urges.

In connection with the human kingdom or life-wave, ring or rings has been superseded by the term root-races. See also ROUND

Ring-pass-not The limit in spiritual, intellectual, or psychological power or consciousness, beyond which an individual is unable to pass until he evokes from within the strength and the vision to carry him forwards and over the circumscribing limits set by that individual’s own karma. In the Stanzas of Dzyan, the lipikas are said to circumscribe the triangle, the first one, the cube, the second one, and the pentacle within the egg, which is the ring called pass not for those who descend and ascend and for those who are progressing toward the great Day Be-With-Us. Also called the dhyanipasa (rope of the dhyanis or angels) that hedges off the phenomenal from the noumenal kosmos. The world circumscribed by this ring is signified mathematically by 31415 = 14 expressing hierarchies of dhyan-chohans. The imbodying monads, and men who are ascending towards purification but have not yet quite reached the goal, can cross the ring only on the Day Be-With-Us, the day when man will have freed himself from the trammels of ignorance and recognized fully the nonseparateness of his personal ego from the universal ego, and returns into conscious at-one-ness with Brahman.

These ring-pass-not are therefore obviously not actual rings of matter, but inabilities to pass beyond the limits set by one’s own strength. They refer to tangible and intangible, albeit temporarily impassible, frontiers or barriers raised by past karma and guarded by the lipikas, those cosmic spirits of extremely mystical character who are at the same time the guardians and agents of karma.

The term is variable, inasmuch as what would be the ring-pass-not for the human hierarchy would not be so to a superior hierarchy. Similarly the ring-pass-not for the beings below the human kingdom is not a boundary for humans. This has an especial reference to states of consciousness, and the majority of the human host is still unable to extend its consciousness beyond the sphere of man’s immediate activities — which thus at present form for humanity an intangible but very real ring-pass-not. There is a ring-pass-not surrounding globe D, this earth, and a ring of farther extension surrounding the earth planetary-chain, and beyond that still another surrounding the solar system, and a still larger one circumscribing the galaxy, etc.

Riphaeus. See RHIPAEUS

Rishabha (Sanskrit) Ṛṣabha Power, strength, excellence; the second zodiacal sign, Taurus the Bull; in the Vedas and Upanishads, often used to mean pranava or Aum. Abbreviated as rii, it is the second of the seven notes of the Hindu musical scale. According to the Bhagavata-Purana, the first teacher of the Jain doctrines in India; the first Jain Tirthakara (tirthankara) or arhat.

Rishi (Sanskrit) Ṛṣi An adept, seer, inspired person; in Vedic literature, used for the seers through whom the various mantras or hymns of the Veda were revealed. In later times the rishis were regarded as a particular class of beings, distinct from gods and men, the patriarchs or creators: thus there were the ten maharshis — the mind-born sons of Prajapati. In the Mahabharata, the seven rishis of the first manvantara are enumerated as Marichi, Atri, Angiras, Pulaha, Kratu, Pulastya, and Vasishtha. In Satapatha-Brahmana the Vedic rishis are named as: Gotama, Bharadvaja, Visvamitra, Jamadagni, Vasishtha, Kasyapa, and Atri. The seven rishis (saptarshis) are especially associated with the constellation of the Great Bear.

Rishi-manus, Rishi-prajapatis (Sanskrit) Ṛṣi-manu-s, Ṛṣi-prajāpati-s Equivalent terms for the far-seeing and enlightened manus or progenitors, or in certain relations the architects of our world, equivalent to the seven or ten: Ki-y of China; amshaspends of ancient Persia; annedoti of the Chaldeans; or Sephiroth of the Qabbalah. They are the inspired progenitors of all living beings and things, cosmic or on lower scales of nature. Both are more generally called dhyani-chohans, gods, or devas. It is only the very highest among them who can be called the architects or builders of the world, because the lower classes of them have as their particular labor the emanating and guidance of the various stocks or races of living beings, humans included.

Rishi-yogis (Sanskrit) Ṛṣi-yogin-s Adepts in yoga; these adepts of the Puranas acquired divine powers through self-exertion.

Ri-thlen (East Indian) Snake-keeping; “a terrible kind of sorcery practised at Cherrapoonjee in the Khasi-Hills. . . . As the legend tells us: ages ago a thlen (serpent-dragon) which inhabited a cavern and devoured men and cattle was put to death by a local St. George, and cut to pieces, every piece being sent out to a different district to be burnt. But the piece received by the Khasis was preserved by them and became a kind of household god, and their descendants developed into Ri-thlens or ‘snake-keepers,’ for the piece they preserved grew into a dragon (thlen) and ever since has obsessed certain Brahmin families of that district. To acquire the good grace of their thlen and save their own lives, these ‘keepers’ have often to commit murders of women and children, from whose bodies they cut out the toe and finger nails, which they bring to their thlen, and thus indulge in a number of black magic practices connected with sorcery and necromancy” (TG 278-9).

Ritu. See ROODOO

Rksa. See RIKSHA

Ro. See RU

Roc (Arabic) rukh. A giant bird, appearing in the Arabian Nights’; equivalent to the Arabian ’anka or phoenix, the Hindu Garuda, and the Persian Simorgh.

Rohanee (Arabic) Rūhānī. Used by the modern Sufis, in some senses equivalent to the Sanskrit gupta-vidya (secret knowledge); “the Magic of modern Egypt, supposed to proceed from Angels and Spirits, that is Genii, and by the use of the mystery names of Allah; they distinguish two forms — Ilwee, that is the Higher or White Magic; and Suflee and Sheytanee, the Lower or Black Demoniac Magic. There is also Es-Seemuja, which is deception or conjuring. Opinions differ as to the importance of a branch of Magic called Darb el Mendel, or as Barker calls it in English, the Mendal: by this is meant a form of artificial clairvoyance, exhibited by a young boy before puberty, or a virgin, who, as the result of self-fascination by gazing on a pool of ink in the hand, with coincident use of incense and incantation, sees certain scenes of real life passing over its surface” (TG 280).

Rohini (Sanskrit) Rohiṇī [from rohita red] A red cow, represented as a daughter of Surabhi and mother of cattle, especially of Kamadhenu (the cow of plenty). Also the ninth lunar asterism, personified as a daughter of Daksha and favorite wife of the moon. Also one of Vasudeva’s wives and mother of Bala-Rama. Also one of Krishna’s wives. A common name for many personages of Hindu mythology.

Rohinila (Sanskrit) Rohiṇīlā [from rohiṇī red + nīlā blue] “The ancient name of a monastery visited by Buddha Sakyamuni, now called Roynallah, near Balgada, in Eastern Behar” (TG 279).

Rohit (Sanskrit) Rohit Red; a female deer, hind. In the Puranas Vach, the female aspect of Brahma, assumes the form of a rohit in order to escape the amorous pursuits of her father, Brahma, who nevertheless transformed himself for that purpose into a buck or red deer (rohita), Brahma’s color being red.

Events in cosmic evolution and emanation were told under the guise of fairy tales such as the above, in order to hide the meaning from those whose right to know had not yet been established through proper training, self-devotion to truth, and renunciation of the temptations of ordinary life. Here Vach is the feminine form of the Logos, and Brahma is the masculine form; the Logos is a unit, but when worlds are evolved it produces from itself its alter ego for the purpose of the ensuing manvantara, which is called the feminine Logos in which the masculine Logos of intelligence drops the seeds of thought, and from the spiritual matter or feminine Logos emanate the hierarchies of beings. The two aspects of the Logos are inseparable, but appear as a manifested duality only at the very beginnings of manvantaric time. It is thus seen that when Brahma emanates Vach as one half of his body or self, it means that for the purposes of manvantaric emanational productions, the Logos enters upon its creative activities. Brahma in this case becomes what would in the Christian Trinity be called the Father, Vach the Holy Spirit (always feminine among the early Christians), out of which comes forth the third aspect of the Logos, the manifested Logos. Brahma therefore is the First or Unmanifest Logos, Vach the Second or Manifest-unmanifest Logos; the intelligence creating the hierarchies of beings is the Third or Manifesting Logos. Thus the three Logoi are yet but one, as the Christian Trinity is said to be composed of three persons or masks philosophically, and yet to form one Godhead or Godhood.

Rohitaka-stupa (Sanskrit) Rohitaka-stūpa [from rohita red + stūpa a conical monument] The red stupa or dagoba built by King Asoka, and on which Maitribala-raja fed starving yakshas with his blood.

Romakapura (Sanskrit) Romakapura [from romaka hairy + pura city, fortified town] City of hairy ones; in the Surya-Siddhanta (1:6; 12:39), the birth place of Asuramaya, the putative author of the Surya-Siddhanta itself, who states that he received the knowledge which the scripture contains by dictation from the sun. It is stated to have been told to Asuramaya when but little of the krita yuga was left, making the work’s age at least 2,200,000 years. The “fact of ‘Romaka-pura in the West’ being named as the birth-place of this hero of the archaic ages, is the more interesting because it is so very suggestive of the esoteric teaching about the ‘Sweat-born’ Races, the men born from the pores of their parents. ‘Romakupas’ means ‘hair-pores’ in Sanskrit” (SD 2:68). Romakapura therefore has a vague allusion to the land and cradle of the sweat-born of the third root-race, but more particularly in this case to the early days of Atlantis. The figure of 2,200,000 years ago brings Asuramaya and his work into the first part of the present fifth root-race.

Romakupas (Sanskrit) Romakūpa-s Hair- or skin-pores; from hair pores of those of the late second root-race and the early third root-race the Raumas or sweat-born tribes of the early third root-race were issued. The sweat-born races were therefore individuals taking physiological birth from the pores of their parents.

Romulus (Latin) The traditional founder of Rome, belonging to the class of heroes or semi-divine ancestors. Such names as Romulus, Herakles, or Solomon denote the genii presiding over the respective races or civilizations which they have founded, the cycles of time during which those races flourished, and various individuals or even dynasties who imbodied the spirit of those genii. Romulus is of divine birth, and there are familiar stories also elsewhere of children to become heroes being cast away and found by a shepherd, nurtured by a wolf, etc. — a usual symbolic history of the founding of a new culture. Such a myth, especially in the hands of a hard-headed and pragmatic people like the Romans, would be likely to be tacked onto traditions about some particular person, and Livy’s story is doubtless the result of such an adaptation.

Nevertheless, the myth originally undoubtedly contained occult truths, for the wolf stands for a certain fostering or nutritive factor in the legend, and does not mean the actual animal; and similarly with the shepherd in such legends.

Roodoo, Ritu rtu (Tamil) A period of sixty days or two months; an ancient astronomical time period connected with the moon, used also by the Chinese, Egyptians, and ancient Arabs. Three Roodoos make an ayana, as it is found in Sanskrit, or half a year (SD 2:620-1).

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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