Theosophical University Press Online Edition
Studies in Occult Philosophy  —  by G. de Purucker

Transactions of the Headquarters Lodge  (part 4)

After the Kali-Yuga — ?
Elemental Kingdoms and Cosmic Elements

After the Kali-Yuga — ?

The following question in regard to the four Yugas has been sent to me for comment and elucidation.

“We are told in the Occult Glossary that the four Yugas, with their respective time-periods of 4, 3, 2, 1, take up just half of the duration of a Root-Race.  I have been wondering in what order the Yugas follow after Kali-Yuga, in which we now are, because by analogy it might mean that they would go in the reverse order, so that after Kali-Yuga there would be Dvapara-Yuga, and then Treta-Yuga, and then Satya; but reasoning from another standpoint, it seems we merge into the Golden Age, at least that is what it seems to say in the Vedas.  Then from another standpoint, when a Race is dying out, as some of the primitive Races that we now know of, some of the aboriginal Races, they might be said to be in a Golden Age in one way, because they have no responsibilities, they are childlike, and in that sense might be said to be in the Golden Age to the end.  So my question is: In what order do the Yugas in a Root-Race come after the Kali-Yuga?”

I think I can best answer this very interesting question in a public gathering by pointing to the history of our own present or Fifth Root-Race.  We are all at present, as you know, part of the Fifth Root-Race on this Globe D in this Fourth Round.  Now then, it was a legend among the Greeks that the childhood of mankind was happy, that it was peaceful, blessed with plenty, with abundance, that there were no wars and harassing anxieties in those halcyon days of the childhood of man.  They called it the Saturnian Age, the Age of Saturn, mainly, I think, because there were no real responsibilities, as the questioner has correctly stated.  I question very much, however, whether I for one would like to live the life of a babe unborn, in the womb, without responsibilities, a mere human lump.  No!

About the middle point of the Fourth Root-Race, our Fifth Root-Race began to take form, which merely means that certain individuals who had passed through the Fourth Root-Race incarnations up to that time on the Earth, made among themselves a society, not organized, but the mere fact of their being and having more or less arrived at similar mental and spiritual outlooks made them in the middle part of the Fourth Root-Race to be as it were a people apart.  Do you catch my thought?  It was not an organized Society, an organization, a brotherhood, at first.  It was simply that at about the middle point of the Fourth Root-Race certain individuals were born, which means that they had reached a time when Fifth Root-Race qualities and attributes were to begin to appear in them; just as in our present Fifth Root-Race we have almost reached its middle point, we are in its fourth Sub-Race, and the forerunners of the Sixth Root-Race are just beginning to appear amongst us here and there over the world.  Sporadically they appear, forming no definite body, organization, society, or brotherhood; but nevertheless beginning to imbody, to incarnate.

Now, as time went on, the Fourth Root-Race, which was then in its Kali-Yuga, began to descend the facilis descensus averno, the easy descent to Hell more and more; but at the same time a greater number of more advanced human monads were incarnating, thus constantly increasing the number of the then Fifth Root-Race in the throes of its birth.  These individuals were for the Fourth Root-Race set apart.  Nature favored them, which does not mean that they necessarily had a very easy time, but Nature favored them.  They were fortune’s favored pupils; they were receiving, because they had won all these benefits, special guidance, special help, special instruction, mostly unconscious except for the highest among them.  Why?  Because they needed it.  The balance of the Fourth Root-Race was simply running down-hill, and with each thousand years going faster down.  But these favored individuals, fortune’s favored sons, were helped, guided, protected, sheltered — sheltered as far as it could be done — because they had merited it on account of their previous evolutionary strivings to ascend; and because they were the seeds of the Fifth Root-Race to come, our present one.  They were in their Satya-Yuga, the first and the longest.

Thus the yugas begin with the longest, next the next long, third the next long, and finally comes the culmination of wickedness and evil-doing in the Kali-Yuga, which we of the Fifth Root-Race have just begun.  How many among us, I ask the question right here, are to be among the ‘favored’ to form the seed of the Sixth Root-Race now already beginning on this continent and elsewhere, but more particularly perhaps in the Americas?  We have reached our Kali-Yuga; it will last more than four hundred thousand years, and we are only some five thousand years gone in it, barely entering upon it!  And as the majority in the future days of the Fifth Root-Race will be growing worse and worse, and going steadily faster and faster down the relatively steep descent, the individuals of the forthcoming Sixth Root-Race will contemporaneously grow more numerous and will be in their Satya-Yuga, their highest.

I have given in Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy a diagram (p. 294) in which the birth of each Race is shown as beginning at about the middle part of the preceding one.  There you have the picture.  Each Race begins with its Satya-Yuga, its longest; passes from that into the next, the Treta; then into the third, the Dvapara; and then into the fourth and shortest and most intensely individual, the Kali-Yuga.  And just about that time the seeds of the Race to follow are in their throes of birth.

I might add this — although I hope that it won’t complicate your understanding — that these wonderful figures, 4, 3, 2, followed by one or two or more zeros, are key-numbers in Nature, and they are computed by means of the six, commonly called the senary, or again the duo-decimal, system of reckoning either by six, or twelve which is twice six; and hence there are the same yugas but with more zeros added — for globes as well as for Races; for Chains as well as for globes, and so forth.

Thus it is that the hey-day of civilization and progress of a Root-Race lasts through the four yugas from beginning to end; during its Kali-Yuga and towards the beginning of it, the seeds of the new succeeding Race begin to appear, and these seeds are in the beginning of their Satya-Yuga.  As the centuries and the millennia roll slowly by, the scepter of dominion and of empire, of progress and advancing intelligence and wisdom, slowly passes from the former Race to the latter Race; so that when the former Race is finishing its Kali-Yuga, the succeeding Race is already beginning the hey-day of its halcyon times of progress and power and civilization.

Meanwhile, even after the Kali-Yuga of the former Race is ended, the remnants of the former Race continue in existence, and these descendants, although slowly through the ages growing constantly fewer and fewer, nevertheless last on until the succeeding Race in its turn has run through its three yugas and is entering its fourth or Kali-Yuga.

Elemental Kingdoms and Cosmic Elements

The question has been asked: just what are the Three Elemental Kingdoms and have they any special relation to the Cosmic Elements of the Ancients?

Elemental Kingdoms, as all the others are, are aggregates or groups of evolving monads; whereas the so-called elements of the ancients, or the principles, were so phrased by them to describe more what we today would call the seven principles or elements of the universe, as a man has seven principles or elements.  It is their way of describing it.  The Hindus have the same way, only in that case the Sanskrit name is tattvas: prithivi-tattva, apas-tattva, vayu-tattva, taijasa-tattva, akasa-tattva, and so forth.

Now then, these groups or aggregates of monads, each group being a kingdom, or in their Rounds what we call a Life-wave — each such group of monads, which means all groups, live in and work through these tattvas or cosmic elements, which the Greeks and Romans called Earth, Water, Air, and Fire.  Some, like the Pythagoreans, said there was a fifth, Aether, but actually in the occult schools the teaching was that there were seven, of which only four were popularly known, and the Pythagoreans and some others in Europe openly declared the existence of a fifth.  The Greek aether or the Pythagorean aether properly understood, was what the Hindus meant when they said akasa.

Thus then, these cosmic elements are the different stuffs of the universe, the different substances out of which the universe is builded.  We can call them the various prakritis of the universe, although of course each one of these different names has its own sublime of thought connected with it.  They are therefore not absolutely interchangeable.  Consequently, the cosmic elements or these prakritis belong to all the kingdoms because all the kingdoms, as I have just stated, are living in and working through them.

What is the origin of these cosmic elements?  They are the essence-stuffs or substances out of which grow the more developed planes of the universe.  There being thus seven or twelve cosmic elements, when manvantara opens these seven cosmic elements begin from the top and unroll downwards, each one going down in its serial order, and each one giving birth to its first or essential stuff, its most spiritual aspects so to speak; and this last, its most spiritual aspect, is just what is meant by these cosmic elements.  Then each such cosmic element as it unrolls on its own plane before it gives birth to the cosmic elements beneath it, unrolls from itself all its own seven sub-planes, or sub-cosmic elements, so that each such cosmic element contains in itself all the other cosmic elements, but in less degree.  Thus the water cosmic element, to use Greek phrasing, has as its svabhava the water-element, but it likewise contains within itself the fire-element, the air-element, the earth-element, etc.

The kingdoms are aggregates or families or groups of monads.  The cosmic elements are the essential stuffs in which they live and move and have their being and evolve.

Now then, one final thought will connect everything up, I hope.  Spirit in its sevenfold aspects is the root of all these cosmic elements, or prakritis.  Just as all the prakritis unroll from mulaprakriti which is the veil of Brahman or pure cosmic Spirit, so do all the cosmic elements unroll from the primal substantial veil around cosmic Spirit, corresponding to mulaprakriti.  Thus out of Spirit comes everything, all the cosmic elements; and out of spirit likewise proceed the classes or families or groups or aggregates of monads forming the different kingdoms, from the Dhyani-Chohans down to the elementals.  And lastly, when we examine and penetrate to the very ultimate nature or stuff of the cosmic elements, we can see that every cosmic element is really a vast aggregate or group of monads or consciousness-centers not yet aroused into activity, and which are therefore dormant.  It is just like all the earth around us, which, representing the lowest of the cosmic elements on this plane, is nevertheless composed of simply innumerable multitudes of dormant monads which have not yet awakened to begin their evolutionary journeys and develop into self-conscious gods.  Or again, as the flesh of a man is composed of molecules, these of atoms, and these of life-atoms, or life-points, which are the effect on this plane of monads on their own plane.

It is of course understood that a monad never leaves its own plane; so when we say that the earth-element is composed of concreted or dormant monads, we do not mean the spiritual monads themselves; we mean the life-atoms, each life-atom being the representative of a monad on this cosmic plane.

What relation, then, have the three elemental kingdoms, kingdoms of the elementals, to the cosmic elements?  Now in the first place, I will say that this phrase ‘three elemental kingdoms’ is an easy and graphic way of saying the seven kingdoms of the elementals, or the seven sub-kingdoms of the generalized kingdom of elementals; just as in a man we often generalize his constitution by saying spirit, soul, body, knowing all the time that the constitution is divisible into seven parts.

The three kingdoms of elementals in their first or original appearance in manifested manvantara, spring forth from the stuffs of the original cosmic elements; and therefore these baby-entities, which are as it were ensouling parts of life-atoms, are called elementals.  This is the original and if you wish highest kingdom of the elementals, not highest here in the sense of evolution, but highest in schematic diagram.  The so-called lower kingdoms of elementals are lower merely because they are farther from the spiritual part or nature of the cosmic elements, but being more evolved in that sense they stand higher.  So that the lowest class of elementals, which is beneath the minerals, actually is the most evolved of all the elemental kingdoms.  But they have not yet even reached the point where they can be classed as minerals or pass into the mineral kingdom.

Now the reason why there are really seven elemental sub-kingdoms, is because each such elemental kingdom springs from its own particular cosmic element.  As there are seven cosmic elements, each cosmic element gives birth to its own elemental kingdom.  Thus when all these elemental kingdoms are classed together, we say seven elemental kingdoms, each one such coming from its own different cosmic element.

As a final thought, it is to be noted that in occult or esoteric phraseology, the elementals are so called because whatever their class and whatever the cosmic elements or tattva from which each elemental class springs, it springs directly from this tattva or cosmic element without intermediary.  Thus, the elementals are, as it were, the denizens or inhabitants of the cosmic elements, because they spring forth immediately and without intermediary from the latter.