The Theosophical Forum – August 1940


[Some years ago The Theosophical Forum mentioned that preparations were under way for the publication of an Encyclopedic Glossary of Theosophical Terms. Our readers will be glad to know that this work has been steadily going forward during the ensuing years and is now nearing completion. The material, which will probably fill several volumes, covers the whole exoteric field of ancient and modern Occultism and Theosophy, including mythology, anthropology, cosmogony, symbolism, the ancient Mysteries and allied subjects, and will prove to be an exhaustive mine of philosophical, religious, and scientific information. The work of writing and compilation has been carried on by a group of students at the General Offices. Dr. de Purucker has then carefully checked the definitions and in many cases added new and valuable material.

It is too early to state when this Encyclopedic Glossary will be published, but the Forum Editors have obtained permission to share with readers of our magazine extracts from this forthcoming work. No effort has here been made to follow any special sequence of arrangement, but random pages have been purposely chosen. — Eds.]


(Tibetan) Adherents of the Buddhist religion of Tibet, previous to the reform by Tson-kha-pa in the fourteenth century, following sorcery and other more or less Tantrik practices, which latter are, nevertheless, entirely foreign to the pure teachings of Buddhism. In Theosophical literature the term "Dugpa" has been used as a synonym for "Brother of the Shadow" — especially in The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett.

The word is a compound: Dug, meaning "Thunder-Dragon," and the suffix pa, meaning "inhabitant," "man," or "son." Modern Orientalists have distinguished between the Dugpas and the Bons, as for instance the noted Theosophical Oriental scholar Dr. Evans-Wentz, who writes: "As Dr. Waddell has very wisely emphasized, "much confusion has been caused in European books by misusing the name Dug-pa, employing it as a synonym for the Red Cap Sect, which properly is the Ñingma' (The Buddhism of Tibet). Furthermore, to assume, as certain non-Tibetan critics of Padma Sambhava seem to assume, that all Red Caps are Dug-pas, is equally erroneous." (Milarepa, p. 13) The Thunder-Dragon School "consists of three branches: the Lower Dug-pa; the Middle and Southern Dug-pa (now the Established Church of Bhutan); and the Upper Dug-pa." (Ibid.)

It should be noted that the Dugpas are usually found in the frontiers and on the border lands of Tibet, as for instance in Bhutan, Sikkhim, etc. Most European Orientalists having little or no acquaintance with conditions in the interior of Tibet make the mistake of applying to conditions all over the Tibetan provinces what they find among the religiously and philosophically degenerate sects that they meet with on the Tibetan frontiers.


(Arabic) A Mohammedan religious mendicant. The word is derived from faqir, meaning "poor" in Arabic, and should be strictly applied only to Mohammedans, but the term has come to be used loosely to apply to any mendicant devotee or yogin in India. This was the case when using the word in Isis Unveiled, but H. P. B. herself later called attention to the fact that "only Mussulman ascetics are entitled" to the word fakir (Theosophical Glossary, p. 118).

"M. D'hosson in his celebrated work on the Ottoman empire traces the origin of the Faquirs to the time of Mohammed in the following manner: In the first year of the Hegira, forty-five citizens of Mecca joined themselves to many others from Medina. They took an oath of fidelity to the doctrines of their Prophet, and formed a sect or fraternity, the object of which was to establish among themselves a community of property, and to perform every day certain religious practices in a spirit of penitence and mortification. To distinguish themselves from other Mohammedans, they took the name of Sufis. This name, which later was attributed to the most zealous partizans of Islam, is the same still in use to indicate any Mussulman who retires from the world to study, to lead a life of pious contemplation, and to follow the most painful exercises of an exaggerated devotion. To the name of Sufi they added also that of Faquir, because their maxim was to renounce the goods of the earth, and to live in an entire abnegation of all worldly enjoyments, following thereby the words of the Prophet: "Poverty is my pride." Following their example, Abu Bakr and Ali established, even during the lifetime of the Prophet and under his own eyes, religious orders, over which each presided, with Zikrs or peculiar religious exercises, established by them separately, and a vow taken by each of the voluntary disciples forming them." (Quoted from an article by Bjerregaard, in The Path, I, 203-4)

According to T. P. Hughes, there are five principal orders of Fakirs in North India: the Naqshbandia, the Qadiria, the Chishtia, the Jalalia, the Sarwardia — all being ba-Shara Fakirs (Ibid.), i. e., "with the law" — those who govern their conduct according to the principles of Islam.

A synonymous term for a religious mendicant in Persia is Dervish. Fakirs should not be confounded with the Sannyasins or true Yogins of India.


This is a term coined by Bulwer Lytton in his romantic story, Zanoni, wherein he represents under this phrase a malevolent entity of awful and terrifying aspect waiting to menace and to tempt the aspirant to Occultism. There is no such individual malevolent entity in reality, but the author, by means of this vivid portrayal, has expressed the well-known mystical fact that when one has taken a stand to overcome a certain weakness in one's nature, or be it even a habit, such resolution seems to array all the opposing forces against the aspirant. Thus, it may readily be understood that when one seeks to enter the domain of the "occult," a similar experience awaits the candidate: but the forces or energies thus aroused are of one's own making, and they must be met and conquered by their originator before progress may be successfully made. This has been well expressed by the well-known Hindu Theosophist and philosopher Subba Row. After commenting upon Bulwer Lytton's "Dweller on the Threshold," he says: "But nevertheless there is a Dweller on the Threshold, whose influence on the mental plane is far more trying than any physical terror can be. The real Dweller on the Threshold is formed of the despair and despondency of the neophyte, who is called upon to give up all his old affections for kindred, parents and children, as well as his aspirations for objects of worldly ambition, which have perhaps been his associates for many incarnations. When called upon to give up these things, the neophyte feels a kind of blank, before he realises his higher possibilities. . . ." (The Theosophist, VII, 284)

Yet, to one who rushes heedlessly into the psychic world, there are dangers fully as menacing as Lytton's Dweller on the Threshold, for in The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, on page 42, the Master K. H. outlines certain experiences undergone by the medium, Stainton Moses, which were far worse than Glyndon's in Lytton's Zanoni.

Generally speaking, because of their menacing and forbidding aspects, the term Dweller on the Threshold might be applied to some of the denizens of the Kama-loka, although specific Theosophical terms are available for every class of entities in that domain. This term, however, has a technical meaning, signifying past kama-lokic or astral remnants of a former incarnation which haunt the new imbodiment of the Reincarnating Ego. In other and clearer words, a man of strongly material impulse and desires and who gives way to them, thus forms for himself a kama-rupa, which, when the man dies, can even persist without undergoing complete dissolution until the quick return of such materially-minded human soul to reincarnation, when the kama-rupa is then and there strongly attracted to the man thus reimbodied and haunts him as an evil genius, continually instilling by automatic psycho-magnetic action thoughts and impulses of evil and temptations and suggestions of fear and terror — all of which the man himself was responsible for in his last life.

There is even such a "Dweller" for globes of a Planetary Chain in the cases of such Planetary Chain being of strongly material characteristic. In fact our own Moon is such a Dweller to the Earth, the reason being that our Planetary Chain is by no means a spiritual one. All Planetary Chains in the Solar System probably have or have had their Moons, in fact must have had each one its Moon, because such Moon was its cosmic parent, but not in all have such Moon-Dwellers lasted long after the Planetary Chain undergoes imbodiment anew.


A disorder recognised in antiquity as an "obsession" or "possession" by an Elementary which ousts — at least temporarily — the astral-vital soul from the physical body and for the time being assumes control of the bodily mechanism. The mind thereby loses direct connexion with its physical vehicle and unconsciousness results. This true diagnosis has filtered down the ages in the so-called superstitions of the epileptic being possessed of a "devil." The attacks begin with sudden onset of muscular rigidity in tonic spasm, and, with unconsciousness, the person drops to the floor, if standing, hence the popular term of "falling sickness." Next follows the clonic stage of tumultuous spasms contorting the whole body in unnatural, unseemly, attitudes and motions. These typical attacks of grand mal (as the French call it, or "great sickness'), usually end in a sleep from which the victim awakens dulled, confused, and exhausted. Less severe cases are seen in many various degrees up to the transient forms of petit mal, or "small sickness," and the psychic equivalent types of continued unrest and disturbance which indicate that the astral body of the sufferer is at such times more or less affected by astral influences. "Jacksonian epilepsy," due to tumors or other mechanical pressure on motor areas of the brain, while having many of the classical symptoms, has a more tangible cause than the typical idiopathic cases.

The Theosophical teaching about the Elementaries — those kamic astral entities whose intense desires draw them to neurotic, mediumistic, and negatively sensitive natures — gives the key to the injurious, purposeless explosions of force in the man who has been dissociated from his body and brain. Of the various "aurae" of bizarre sensations or emotions which usher in many typical attacks, one of the most common is the sudden look of fear or even terror with which the sufferer stares fixedly as if held in thrall by some gruesome astral sight. The frequent hallucinations of sight, sound, smell, etc., are, as a rule, of the same low morbid quality which the alcohol-addict senses in delirium tremens. The epileptic, naturally, is very susceptible to alcohols which, in themselves, strengthen the kamic influence. H. P. Blavatsky says in The Key to Theosophy (page 195) that epileptic fits are "the first and strongest symptom of genuine mediumship," and cites several outstanding examples.

Modern medicine, after all its searching analyses of the body, reports that some cases of "essential" or "idiopathic" epilepsy at times are normal individuals between attacks, and also that many autopsies reveal no organic disease to account for such marked disorder. The psychiatrists agree that the basic cause is not yet known. Of course, the predisposing neurotic constitution which succumbs to extreme fright, anxiety, or debauchery, is a karmic heritage from the afflicted one's past life when he cultivated abnormal psychic conditions and thus weakened his spiritual will.

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