[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next]

Theosophical Concept of a Mahatma

Nov 18, 2000 01:31 PM
by Peter Merriott


Article by H. P. Blavatsky

A MAHATMA is a personage, who, by special training and education, has
evolved those higher faculties and has attained that spiritual knowledge,
which ordinary humanity will acquire after passing through numberless series
of reincarnations during the process of cosmic evolution, provided, of
course, that they do not go, in the meanwhile, against the purposes of
Nature and thus bring on their own annihilation. This process of the
self-evolution of the MAHATMA extends over a number of "incarnations,"
although, comparatively speaking, they are very few.

Now, what is it that incarnates? The occult doctrine, so far as it is given
out, shows that the first three principles die more or less with what is
called the physical death. The fourth principle, together with the lower
portions of the fifth, in which reside the animal propensities, has Kama
Loka for its abode, where it suffers the throes of disintegration in
proportion to the intensity of those lower desires; while it is the higher
Manas, the pure man, which is associated with the sixth and seventh
principles, that goes into Devachan to enjoy there the effects of its good
Karma, and then to be reincarnated as a higher individuality.

Now, an entity, that is passing through the occult training in its
successive births, gradually has less and less (in each incarnation) of that
lower Manas until there arrives a time when its whole Manas, being of an
entirely elevated character, is centered in the higher individuality, when
such a person may be said to have become a MAHATMA. At the time of his
physical death, all the lower four principles perish without any suffering,
for these are, in fact, to him like a piece of wearing apparel which he puts
on and off at will.

The real MAHATMA is then not his physical body but that higher Manas which
is inseparably linked to the Atma and its vehicle (the sixth principle)-a
union effected by him in a comparatively very short period by passing
through the process of self-evolution laid down by the Occult Philosophy.
When, therefore, people express a desire to "see a MAHATMA," they really do
not seem to understand what it is they ask for. How can they, by their
physical eyes, hope to see that which transcends that sight? Is it the
body--a mere shell or mask-they crave or hunt after? And supposing they see
the body of a MAHATMA, how can they know that behind that mask is concealed
an exalted entity? By what standard are they to judge whether the Maya
before them reflects the image of a true MAHATMA or not? And who will say
that the physical is not a Maya? Higher things can be perceived only by a
sense pertaining to those higher things. And whoever therefore wants to see
the real MAHATMA, must use his intellectual sight. He must so elevate his
Manas that its perception will be clear and all mists created by Maya must
be dispelled. His vision will then be bright and he will see the MAHATMAS
wherever he may be, for, being merged into the sixth and the seventh
principles, which are ubiquitous and omnipresent, the MAHATMAS may be said
to be everywhere. But, at the same time, just as we may be standing on a
mountain top and have within our sight the whole plain, and yet not be
cognisant of any particular tree or spot, because from that elevated
position all below is nearly identical, and as our attention may be drawn to
something which may be dissimilar to its surroundings--so in the same
manner, although the whole of humanity is within the mental vision of the
MAHATMAS, they cannot be expected to take special note of every human being,
unless that being by his special acts draws their particular attention to

The highest interest of humanity, as a whole, is their special concern, for
they have identified themselves with that Universal Soul which runs through
Humanity, and he, who would draw their attention, must do so through that
Soul which pervades everywhere. This perception of the Manas may be called
"faith" which should not be confounded with blind belief. "Blind faith" is
an expression sometimes used to indicate belief without perception or
understanding; while the true perception of the Manas is that enlightened
belief, which is the real meaning of the word "faith." This belief should at
the same time be accompanied by knowledge, i.e., experience, for "true
knowledge brings with it faith." Faith is the perception of the Manas (the
fifth principle), while knowledge, in the true sense of the term, is the
capacity of the Intellect, i.e., it is spiritual perception. In short, the
higher individuality of man, composed of his higher Manas, the sixth and the
seventh principles, should work as a unity, and then only can it obtain
"divine wisdom," for divine things can be sensed only by divine faculties.
Thus the desire, which should prompt one to apply for chelaship, is to so
far understand the operations of the Law of Cosmic Evolution as will enable
him to work in harmonious accord with Nature, instead of going against its
purposes through ignorance.

Theosophist, July, 1884

[Back to Top]

Theosophy World: Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application