by Geoffrey Farthing


Original EditionDeity Cosmos and Man Centenary Edition



This glossary deals only with those words used in the text which may require some explanation. For some, literal meanings are given; for others some further explanation to indicate the meaning in which they are used in the book is added. These meanings may not be those of common use nor those of classical scholars. The books used as references in compiling this glossary are: The Key to Theosophy, The Theosophical Glossary, The Secret Doctrine, Glossary of Sanskrit Terms (G.A. Barborka) and Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary. Grateful acknowledgements are made to all these.




More properly just absoluteness. The One Everlasting Reality, never itself manifesting but underlying all manifestation. Parabrahman (lit. beyond Brahman). From The Secret Doctrine (Proem), "An Omnipresent, Eternal; Boundless, and Immutable PRINCIPLE on which all speculation is impossible, since it transcends the power of human conception .... [It] is the rootless root of 'all that was, is, or ever shall be' " Secret Doctrine (I 14, I 42, I 79)

Adi (Ádi)

Original, the first, supreme; 7th (highest) Tattva.




In The Secret Doctrine the equivalent of Akasha, the primeval manifested 'substance,' undifferentiated divine and luminiferous, which pervades the whole universe. (See Akasha and Ether.)


"... the collective hosts of spiritual beings ... Intelligent Forces that give to and enact in Nature her 'laws' Secret Doctrine (I 38, I 70, I 111)

Ahamkara (Aharnkara)

The egotistical, I - making principle in man.

Akasha (Ākāśa)
adj Akashic (Ākāśic)

Primordial spacial substance (Aether)


See Elohim

Antahkarana (Antaĥkāraňa)

(lit. intermediate instrument) regarded as the bridge between Lower and Higher Manas in HPB'S works.


From anthropos (Greek), man, and genesis, origins or beginnings.

Anu (Ańu)

(lit. infinitessimsal Atom.

Anupapadaka [Anupapādaka]

Usually taken to mean "parentless" in theosophical writings; 6th Tattva.

Astral Body

(or Astral Double). Astral is from the Latin word for star: shining body surrounding and interpenetrating the physical. The model in the inner world around which the physical body is formed. The vehicle of prana, the life-principle.

Astral Light

The lower levels of Akasha; lasts for a Manvantara while Akasha is everlasting. The realm of powers, energies, and qualities that show forth in manifest existence. The inner seat of all memory, a record of all that has happened.

Atma (Ātma)

See Atman.

Atman (Ātman)

The Supreme Universal Self: the seventh Principle of Cosmos and correspondingly the divine aspect in Man's constitution, (as the latter it is usually spelled Atma).


In neuter form "is the impersonal supreme, uncognizable but all- pervading son of the universe," from "the essence of which all emanates and into which all returns."


With an accent over the second 'a' is male and regarded as the Creator aspect of the trinity of which Vishnu is the preserver and Shiva the destroyer aspects.


Illumination, spiritual wisdom, receptive intelligence.


The vehicle of Atma; the potentiality of intelligence, 6th principle in Cosmos, and in man's constitution; often signifies intuition (direct perception).

Causal Body

Name given to Manas (higher) in conjunction with Buddhi. Sometimes the incarnating Entity or Ego.

Chain (Planetary)

In Occultism a series of seven globes, usually six subjective, and one objective (physical),as is our Earth with its six companion globes, three preceding and three succeeding it in evolutionary development. The Chain preceding the Earth Chain is said to have been the Lunar (or Moon) Chain.

Chhaya (Chhāyā)

(lit. a shadow) The rudiment of form, projected by the Lunar ancestors, of terrestrial man to become that of his astral model body.


(or co-adunition) United or combined with.


The beginnings or origins of Cosmos.


(Greek Kosmos) The world or universe as an orderly or systematic whole. The word is sometimes used in Esoteric Science to connote the immediate visible universe or even the solar system. (web: Kosmos refers to the Universe but not Boundless Space in which the Universe manifests. Cosmos is used to mean attaching to the world, the world, or the solar system)


(Greek Kyklos, a circle) A period of time in which events happen in a certain order, and which constantly repeats itself; a necessary series of changes. In Occultism the whole process of universal becoming is regarded as cyclical and is itself seen as composed of an infinite series of cycles within cycles.


The supernal power that built the universe and man.


A celestial being with many popular meanings from god to angel (from div, to shine).


(lit. the dwelling of the gods) The subjective, blissful state enjoyed by the Ego after death, where there is no sorrow.

Dhyani-Chohans (Dhyānl-Chohans)

(lit. Lords of Light) The entities comprising the post-human kingdoms. The divine intelligences that conduct the processes of Cosmos, ruling the lesser intelligences; the Elementals.


In Occultism usually spelt with a capital E, the higher trinity of aspects in the human constitution; the divinity within man; the persisting individuality as opposed to mortal, temporary personality, the ordinary ego (small 'e').


States or conditions of substance at all levels of being, reflecting into physical objective existence as the fiery; vaporous, airy, gaseous; watery, fluidic; and earthy, solid, states. To each of these states the medieval philosophers ascribed temperaments, viz., sanguine, phlegmatic, melancholy, and choleric (or bilious).


The spirits of the Elements; the invisible creatures usually associated with the medieval philosophers' Elements, viz., Earth, Water, Air, Fire, but there are other kinds; the living forces in Nature.


The karna-manasic reliquae of the dead in Kamaloka after the departure to Devachan of the higher trinity. Because of their separation from the Egoic influence, they tend to manifest only the baser, more depraved elements in the deceased's character. They can materialize at seances through a medium and can use elementals to produce phenomena.

Elohim (Elōhĭm)

In Occultism taken to mean a hierarchy of creators in the formation of Cosmos. It is a plural noun.


(Gk., lit. 'Being') The real Presence in Nature.


In Occultism an Element (corresponding to the 5th Tattva) which will become manifest in the 5th Round. It is not to be confused with the chemical ether and is not the ether of 19th century science, i.e., the medium in which electromagnetic waves were supposed to travel; this latter meaning would correspond to the non-physical Astral light.


The process of reproduction by division whereby a biological cell divides into two; as in nuclear fission, splitting an atom.


The primeval energy of Cosmos. Under its action the original homogeneous Substance Principle becomes atomic and differentiates; sometimes called cosmic electricity and like electricity at physical level is transformable into many forms of energy, viz., light, heat, etc.


Commonly Hermes Trismegistus, "thrice great," Egyptian or Greek. According to Plato, discovered numbers, geometry, astronomy, and letters. The author of the famous Hermetic axiom "As above, so below," etc.


From the Greek, hieros, sacred, and archein, to rule; a body classified in successively subordinate grades. In Occultism the body and grades are represented by collective hosts.

Jiva (Jĭva)

The general cosmic Life Principle.

Jivatma(n) (Jivātma(n))

The highest spiritual (Life) Principle especially when regarded as individualized, as in man.

Kama (Kāma)

The 4th principle in Cosmos and man. It is fohatic force regarded as expressing itself as desire, emotion, and passions, particularly in man.

Kamaloka (Kāmaloka)

That region of, or place in, the Astral Light where the kamic remains of defunct human beings exist for a while (maybe up to some years) and then dissipate.

Kama-rupa (Kāma-rūpa]

The kamic form of the defunct which takes form only after death and in which the deceased under some circumstances may retain some consciousness. It is this form which may manifest at seances.

Karana (Kārańa)

(lit. cause) Metaphysically, primal cause.


(lit. action) In one sense the total of the dynamic effects of all cosmic. processes. it has many aspects both cosmic and particular. It maintains, by its equilibrium (harmony) aspect, the universe as an orderly whole. For a fine definition see The Key to Theosophy Chap. XI, where it says that it is "the Ultimate Law of the Universe, the source, origin, and fount of all other laws which exist throughout Nature." Key to Theosophy, 201


The kingdoms of nature, but taken in Occultism to include three elemental ones below the mineral and three above the human, making ten in all.

Kriyashakti (Kriyāśakti)

The mysterious thought - (or will - ] directed power that enables a potent user of it to produce phenomenal effects.

Kumaras (Kumāras),
adj Kumaric (Kumārlc)

One class of Solar Pitris, closely concerned with humanity. In the formation of earth men they were said, because of their purity, to "refuse to create." They are sometimes referred to as "the mind-born Sons" and Agnishvattas, sometimes equated to Egos.

Law, The

A synonym for Karma in its broadest sense. It is the whole Cosmic operation. In The Secret Doctrine it says, "Deity is Law and vice versa." The Secret Doctrine (I 152, I 176, I 207) Because everything from the highest to the lowest in Cosmos is living and therefore sentient, it behaves in its characteristic way fulfilling its role in the grand scheme of things. This is how they are ordered. The Universe is self-regulating; there is no outside Lawgiver or Regulator.


A condition of dissolution, of rest, of non-activity. A laya center is a state of inactive neutrality, where substance ceases to be differentiated; sometimes likened to Nirvana.

Linga-sharira (Lińga-śarīra]

The model body, the Sanskrit name for the Astral Body, man's second principle, the vehicle of prana.


(lit. The 'Recorders') They are said to enter in the book of the unfading cosmic memory every detail of all that has happened during a Manvantara. The highest in the Hierarchy of Celestial Beings; they create a division between the arupa (spiritual) and the rupa (lower, form) levels of existence.


(lit. word or sound) The Collective Being of a system, i.e., Solar or Planetary. Usually represented as being threefold; unmanifest (first), manifest (second), intelligent (mind, Mahat, in action) (third).

Lunar Pitris

The beings who had reached the human stage in the Lunar (Moon) Chain who formed the chhayas (shadows} of the Astral bodies of the humanity to be on our planet.

Maha (Mahā)

Great, e.g., Mahatma, Great Soul.

Mahamaya (Mahāmāyā)

(lit. the great illusion) Cosmic Manifestation.


Cosmic Ideation, Divine Mind, Universal Mind principle, which reflected into and individualized in man, is his Manasic principle (5th). Regarded in The Secret Doctrine as an Entity, the highest in our scheme, a collectivity of divine beings.

Mahatmas (Mahātmas)

(lit. great souls) Title given: to high Adepts or Initiates.

adj Manasic (Mānasic)

(lit. mind)

Manasaputras (Mānasaputras)

(lit. the Sons of Mind) Solar Pitris who bestowed the spark of Mind upon the up-until-then otherwise 'mindless' man of the Third Root Race.


The great Regents of a planetary system; the collective beings who act as the progenitors of the successive Races of men on the planet.


The period of influence of the Manu; otherwise a period of activity always alternating with a period of rest-Pralaya.

Maya (Māyā)

(lit. subject to change) Illusion.

Mayavi-rupa (Māyāvi-rūpa)

An illusory, thought-projected form. The vehicle of so called 'astral' travel of any but a short distance from the physical body. Short distance travel may be in the Astral Body proper. The Mayavi-rupa is also sometimes projected when someone dying thinks of another to whom it then appears.

Modus Operandi

Latin, literally the way or manner of operating or working.


(lit. a unit) An ultimate unit of being; in Occultism the Unit Spirit in or overshadowing everything. In man the combination of Atma and Buddhi. A unit of life when in association with an entity. Regarded cosmically as the indivisible One, the Unit Life of the System in existence, whence all 'lives.'

Moon Chain

See Chain. The Moon or Lunar Chain is said to be the one that next preceded ours, the Earth Chain; regarded as its re-incarnation inheriting its principles, life energies, etc.

Mulaprakriti (Mūlapŕaktiti)

Root-matter, undifferentiated, the abstract Substance-principle unman- ifest; corresponds to Akasha as undifferentiated Substance in manifestation.

Nirvana (Nirvāńa)

A state of Egoic consciousness free of the limitations and conditioning of ordinary existence; the highest spiritual attainment. Not extinction but absolute existence and consciousness.


Restraint of the mind achieved by controlling one's thoughts.


The inner, invisible, essential nature behind all visible, objective phenomena or anything that can be an object of sense. Occult Ordinarily, simply 'hidden' from Latin 'to hide.' The doctrine or study of things hidden or mysterious-theosophy, etc. Occult Sciences, the Hermetic or Esoteric Sciences which explore the secrets of Nature.


(lit. beyond Brahman) The indescribable, unknowable, unvarying 'absolute' postulated as preceding and sustaining the manifest Universe.

Pari Passu

Latin, literally with equal pace; together.

Pitris (Pitŕis)

(lit. fathers) Ancestors.

Prajapati( s) (Prajāpati( s))

Progenitors, the givers of life to all on this Earth.

Prakriti (Prakŕiti)

The manifest substance aspect, as opposed to the spiritual (Purusha) aspect of the One, the material of the universe.


The period of rest or inactivity after a Manvantara, or period of activity. Literally meaning dissolution but often applying to a state of suspended being. Can apply variously to a universe, a solar system or a planet.

Prana (Prāńa)

The Life Principle (Jivatman) when associated with an individual, e.g., man. No body or even inner personal principle can live without it. The breath of life.

Prithivi (Pŕithivī)

(lit. the Earth) Sometimes the Element Earth, when regarded as a Tattva.

Puranas (Purāńas),
adj Puranic [Purānic]

Indian scriptural writings ascribed to Vyasa.


The fourfold constitution of'man in the rupa or form planes as distinct from the three arupa or spiritual planes. The quaternary is the Personality whereas the upper spiritual triad is the Individuality or Ego.


In Occultism, humanity is represented as passing through seven main development stages during one Round (q.v.); each such stage is a Root Race, which is divided in seven Sub races and each of these is further sub-divided.


A name given to the great (collective) Beings who initiate the cosmic 'creative' process after a Pralaya. They have other names, Maharajas, etc.

Rigveda (Ŕigveda)

(lit. The Hymn Veda) The first and most important of the four Vedas; the most ancient sacred book of the Hindus; said to be "dozens of thousands" of years old.


As a man's skin demarks him, as an entity, from his surroundings at physical level, so he is said in Occultism to be so 'entified' in the inner world by a ring-pass-not. Occultism also teaches that every manifest thing and creature has such a Ring.


In Occultism this word is used in a special way to denote the passage of the "Life Wave" round all the seven globes of a Chain once.

Rupa (Rūpa)

(lit. a form) This applies not only to the objective physical world but to inner worlds, normally invisible, but visible to clairvoyant sight. There even such normally subjective phenomena as feelings and thoughts become perceptible.

Sephiroth (Sephirōth)
singular (Sephira)

Kabalistic term meaning the ten emanations of Deity shown on the Tree of Life.

Shishta(s) (śishta(s))

(lit. remnant) Divine mortals providing the seed for a new humanity.

Shiva (śiva)

(lit. destroyer) Third person of the Hindu trinity.


The "dispositions and tendencies" which persist through the after death states and condition the new personality of a re-incarnating Ego. Exoterically there are five but esoterically seven.


An ancient Egyptian musical instrument of the rattle type.

Sthula-sharira [Sthūla-śarĭra)

Sanskrit for the physical body; the first principle in man's occult constitution. The body which gives expression in the physical world to all man's facilities.


The mystic Essence, equivalent to Mulaprakriti, Father-Mother, the primordial Spirit-Substance Principle from which all manifest existence, Nature, proceeds, and into which all returns at the end of the Mahamanvantara.

Sui Generis

Of its own kind, the only one of its kind.


From Tejas, fire; radiant, flaming. As a Tattva, the Element Fire.

Tanha (Tańhā)

The thirst for life, that which brings us back into incarnation according to the Buddhists.


From Tat, That, the original homogeneous Element of Life, in which the several basic qualities of things in Nature arise as the Elements or Tattvas.




From theos, god, and sophia, wisdom or knowledge. If God is regarded( as universal Deity with everything as a manifestation of the One, Theosophy can be taken to mean an inclusive knowledge of the whole Cosmic process. HPB has said, "It is the last word of possible human knowledge."


A threefold unity; a trinity taken as one. In Occultism the higher triad is the Atma-Buddhi-Manas combination. Its symbol is the upward facing triangle.

Upadhi (Upādhi)

(lit. substitute or disguise) Usually base or vehicle, through whicb/ something higher than itself is given expression. The physical body (vehicle) of man gives expression to his 'soul' principles.

Vayu (Vāyu)

Air, as such, and as a Tattva or Element.

Vidya (Vidyā), Avidya (Avidyā)

Vidya, Knowledge. Avidya, not knowing, ignorance.


(lit. God of the Dead) Unrestrained activities of the mind.


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