CLASSIFICATION OF "PRINCIPLES HPB vs S R
Nov 27, 2004 04:58 PM
by W.Dallas TenBroeck
CLASSIFICATION OF "PRINCIPLES"
H. P. Blavatsky
IN a most admirable lecture by Mr. T. Subba Row on the Bhagavad-Gita,
published in the February number of the Theosophist, the lecturer deals,
incidentally as I believe, with the question of septenary "principles" in
the Kosmos and Man. The division is rather criticized, and the grouping
hitherto adopted and favoured in theosophical teachings is resolved into one
This criticism has already given rise to some misunderstanding, and it is
argued by some that a slur is thrown on the original teachings. This
apparent disagreement with one whose views are rightly held as almost
decisive on occult matters in our Society is certainly a dangerous handle to
give to opponents who are ever on the alert to detect and blazon forth
contradictions and inconsistencies in our philosophy.
Hence I feel it my duty to show that there is in reality no inconsistency
between Mr. Subba Row's views and our own in the question of the septenary
division; and to show
(a) that the lecturer was perfectly well acquainted with the septenary
division before he joined the Theosophical Society;
(b) that he knew it was the teaching of old "Aryan philosophers who have
associated seven occult powers with the seven principles" in the Macrocosm
and the Microcosm (see the end of this article); and
(c) that from the beginning he had objected--not to the classification but
to the form in which it was expressed. Therefore, now, when he calls the
division "unscientific and misleading," and adds that "this sevenfold
classification is almost conspicuous by its absence in many (not all?) of
our Hindu books," etc., and that it is better to adopt the time-honoured
classification of four principles, Mr. Subba Row must mean only some special
orthodox books, as it would be impossible for him to contradict himself in
such a conspicuous way.
A few words of explanation, therefore, will not be altogether out of place.
For the matter of being "conspicuous by its absence" in Hindu books, the
said classification is as conspicuous by its absence in Buddhist books.
This, for a reason transparently clear: it was always esoteric; and as such,
rather inferred than openly taught. That it is "misleading" is also
perfectly true; for the great feature of the day--materialism--has led the
minds of our Western theosophists into the prevalent habit of viewing the
seven principles as distinct and self-existing entities, instead of what
they are--namely, upadhis and correlating states--three upadhis, basic
groups, and four principles.
As to being "unscientific," the term can be only attributed to a lapsus
linguae, and in this relation let me quote what Mr. Subba Row wrote about a
year before he joined the Theosophical Society in one of his ablest
articles, "Brahmanism on the Sevenfold Principle in Man," the best review
that ever appeared of the Fragments of Occult Truth--since embodied in
Esoteric Buddhism. Says the author:--
"I have carefully examined it (the teaching) and find that the results
arrived at (in the Buddhist doctrine) do not differ much from the
conclusions of our Aryan philosophy, though our mode of stating the
arguments may differ in form." Having enumerated, after this, the "three
primary causes" which bring the human being into existence--i.e.,
Parabrahmam, Sakti and Prakriti--he explains:
"Now, according to the Adepts of ancient Aryavarta, seven principles are
evolved out of these three primary entities. Algebra teaches us that the
number of combinations of things, taken one at a time, two at a time, three
at a time, and so forth = 2n - 1. Applying this formula to the present case,
the number of entities evolved from different combinations of these three
primary causes amount to 23 - 1 = 8 - 1 = 7. As a general rule, whenever
seven entities are mentioned in the ancient occult sciences of India in any
connection whatsoever, you must suppose that these seven entities come into
existence from the three primary entities; and that these three entities,
again, are evolved out of a single entity or MONAD." (See Five Years of
Theosophy, p. 160.)
This is quite correct, from the occult standpoint, and also kabbalistically,
when one looks into the question of the seven and ten Sephiroths, and the
seven and ten Rishis, Manus, etc. It shows that in sober truth there is not,
nor can there be any fundamental disagreement between esoteric philosophy of
the Trans- and Cis-Himalayan Adepts.
The reader is referred, moreover, to the earlier pages of the above
mentioned article, in which it is stated that "the knowledge of the occult
powers of nature possessed by the inhabitants of the lost Atlantis was
learnt by the ancient Adepts of India, and was appended by them to the
esoteric doctrine taught by the residents of the sacred island (now the Gobi
1 The Tibetan Adepts, however (their precursors of Central Asia), have
not accepted the addition" (pp. 155-156). But this difference between the
two doctrines does not include the septenary division, as it was universal
after it had originated with the Atlanteans, who, as the Fourth Race, were
of course an earlier race than the Fifth--the Aryan.
Thus, from the purely metaphysical standpoint, the remarks made on the
Septenary Division in the "Bhagavad-Gita" Lecture hold good today, as they
did five or six years ago in the article, "Brahtnanism on the Sevenfold
Principle in Man," their apparent discrepancy notwithstanding. For purposes
of purely theoretical esotericism, they are as valid in Buddhist as they are
in Brahmanical philosophy.
Therefore, when Mr. Subba Row proposes to hold to "the time-honoured
classification of four principles" in a lecture on a Vedanta work--the
Vedantic classification, however, dividing man into five "kosas" (sheaths)
and the Atma (the sixth nominally, of course),
2 he simply shows thereby that he desires to remain strictly within
theoretical and metaphysical, and also orthodox computations of the same.
This is how I understand his words, at any rate. For the Taraka Raj-Yoga
classification is again three upadhis, the Atma being the fourth principle,
and no upadhi, of course, as it is one with Parabrahm. This is again shown
by himself in a little article called "Septenary Division in Different
3 Why then should not "Buddhist" Esotericism, so-called, resort to
such a division? It is perhaps "misleading"--that is admitted; but surely it
cannot be called "unscientific." I will even permit myself to call that
adjective a thoughtless expression, since it has been shown to be on the
contrary very "scientific" by Mr. Subba Row himself; and quite
mathematically so, as the afore-quoted algebraic demonstration of the same
proves it. I say that the division is due to nature herself pointing out its
necessity in kosmos and man; just because the number seven is "a power, and
a spiritual force" in its combination of three and four, of the triangle and
the quaternary. It is no doubt far more convenient to adhere to the fourfold
classification in a metaphysical and synthetical sense, just as I have
adhered to the threefold classification--of body, soul and spirit--in Isis
Unveiled, because had I then adopted the septenary division, as I have been
compelled to do later on for purposes of strict analysis, no one would have
understood it, and the multiplication of principles, instead of throwing
light upon the subject, would have introduced endless confusion. But now the
question has changed, and the position is different. We have
unfortunately--for it was premature--opened a chink in the Chinese wall of
esotericism, and we cannot now close it again, even if we would. I for one
had to pay a heavy price for the indiscretion, but I will not shrink from
I maintain then, that when once we pass from the plane of pure subjective
reasoning on esoteric matters to that of practical demonstration in
Occultism, wherein each principle and attribute has to be analysed and
defined in its application to the phenomena of daily and especially of
post-mortem life, the sevenfold classification is the right one. For it is
simply a convenient division which prevents in no wise the recognition of
but three groups--which Mr. Subba Row calls "four principles associated with
four upadhis, and which are associated in their turns with four distinct
states of consciousness."
4 This is the Bhagavad-Gita classification, it appears; but not that
of the Vedanta, nor--what the Raj-Yogis of the pre-Aryasanga schools and of
the Mahayana system held to, and still hold beyond the Himalayas, and their
system is almost identical with the Taraka Raj-Yoga,--the difference between
the latter and the Vedanta classification having been pointed out to us by
Mr. Subba Row in his little article on the "Septenary Division in Different
The Taraka Raj-Yogis recognize only three upadhis in which Atma may work,
which, in India, if I mistake not, are the Jagrata, or waking state of
consciousness (corresponding to Sthulopadhi); the Swapna, or dreaming state
(in Sukshmopadhi); and the Sushupti, or causal state, produced by, and
through Karanopadhi, or what we call Buddhi. But then, in transcendental
states of Samadhi, the body with its linga sarira, the vehicle of the
life-principle, is entirely left out of consideration: the three states of
consciousness are made to refer only to the three (with Atma the fourth)
principles which remain after death. And here lies the real key to the
septenary division of man, the three principles coming in as an addition
only during his life.
As in the Macrocosm, so in the Microcosm: analogies hold good throughout
nature. Thus the universe, our solar system, our earth down to man, are to
be regarded as all equally possessing a septenary constitution--four
super-terrestrial and superhuman, so to say;--three objective and astral. In
dealing with the special case of man, only, there are two standpoints from
which the question may be considered.
Man in incarnation is certainly made up of seven principles, if we so term
the seven states of his material, astral, and spiritual framework, which are
all on different planes. But if we classify the principles according to the
seat of the four degrees of consciousness, these upadhis may be reduced to
5 Thus his consciousness, never being centered in the second or third
principles--both of which are composed of states of matter (or rather of
"substance") on different planes, each corresponding on one of the planes
and principles in kosmos--is necessary to form links between the first,
fourth and fifth principles, as well as subserving certain vital and psychic
phenomena. These latter may be conveniently classified with the physical
body under one head, and laid aside during trance (Samadhi), as after death,
thus leaving only the traditional exoteric and metaphysical four. Any charge
of contradictory teaching, therefore, based on this simple fact, would
obviously be wholly invalid; the classification of principles as septenary
or quaternary depending wholly on the stand-point from which they are
regarded, as said. It is purely a matter of choice which classification we
adopt. Strictly speaking, however, occult--as also profane--physics would
favour the septenary one for these reasons.
6 There are six Forces in nature: this in Buddhism as in Brahmanism,
whether exoteric or esoteric, and the seventh--the all-Force, or the
absolute Force, which is the synthesis of all. Nature again in her
constructive activity strikes the key-note to this classification in more
than one way. As stated in the third aphorism of "Sankhya karika" of
Prakriti--"the root and substance of all things," she (Prakriti, or nature)
is no production, but herself a producer of seven things, "which, produced
by her, become all in their turn producers." Thus all the liquids in nature
begin, when separated from their parent mass, by becoming a spheroid (a
drop); and when the globule is formed, and it falls, the impulse given to it
transforms it, when it touches ground, almost invariably into an equilateral
triangle (or three), and then into an hexagon, after which out of the
corners of the latter begin to be formed squares or cubes as plane figures.
Look at the natural work of nature, so to speak, her artificial, or helped
production--the prying into her occult work-shop by science. Behold the
coloured rings of a soap-bubble, and those produced by polarized light. The
rings obtained, whether in Newton's soap-bubble, or in the crystal through
the polarizer, will exhibit invariably, six or seven rings--"a black spot
surrounded by six rings, or a circle with a plane cube inside, circumscribed
with six distinct rings," the circle itself the seventh. The "Noremberg"
polarizing apparatus throws into objectivity almost all our occult
geometrical symbols, though physicists are none the wiser for it. (See
Newton's and Tyndall's experiments.
7. The number seven is at the very root of occult Cosmogony and
Anthropogony. No symbol to express evolution from its starting to its
completion points would be possible without it. For the circle produces the
point; the point expands into a triangle, returning after two angles upon
itself, and then forms the mystical Tetraktis--the plane cube; which three
when passing into the manifested world of effects, differentiated nature,
become geometrically and numerically 3 + 4 = 7. The best kabbalists have
been demonstrating this for ages ever since Pythagoras, and down to the
modern mathematicians and symbologists, one of whom has succeeded in
wrenching forever one of the seven occult keys, and has proven his victory
by a volume of figures. Set any of our theosophists interested in the
question to read the wonderful work called "The Hebrew Egyptian Mystery, the
Source of Measures"; and those of them who are good mathematicians will
remain aghast before the revelations contained in it.
For it shows indeed the occult source of the measure by which were built
kosmos and man, and then by the latter the great Pyramid of Egypt, as all
the towers, mounds, obelisks, cave-temples of India, and pyramids in Peru
and Mexico, and all the archaic monuments; symbols in stone of Chaldea, both
Americas, and even of the Eastern Islands--the living and solitary witness
of a submerged prehistoric continent in the midst of the Pacific Ocean. It
shows that the same figures and measures for the same esoteric symbology
existed throughout the world; it shows in the words of the author that the
kabbala is a "whole series of developments based upon the use of geometrical
elements; giving expression in numerical values, founded on integral values
of the circle" (one of the seven keys hitherto known but to the Initiates),
discovered by Peter Metius in the 16th century, and re-discovered by the
late John A Parker.
8 Moreover, that the system from whence all these developments were
derived "was anciently considered to be one resting in nature (or God), as
the basis or law of the exertions practically of creative design"; and that
it also underlies the Biblical structures, being found in the measurements
given for Solomon's temple, the ark of the Covenant, Noah's ark, etc.,
etc.,--in all the symbolical myths, in short, of the Bible.
And what are the figures, the measure in which the sacred Cubit is derived
from the esoteric Quadrature, which the Initiates know to have been
contained in the Tetraktis of Pythagoras? Why, it is the universal
primordial symbol. The figures found in the Ansated Cross of Egypt, as (I
maintain) in the Indian Swastika, "the sacred sign" which embellishes the
thousand heads of Sesha, the Serpent-cycle of eternity, on which rests
Vishnu, the deity in Infinitude; and which also may be pointed out in the
threefold (treta) fire of Pururavas, the first fire in the present
Manvantara, out of the forty-nine (7 x 7) mystic fires. It may be absent
from many of the Hindu books, but the Vishnu and other Puranas teem with
this symbol and figure under every possible form, which I mean to prove in
"THE SECRET DOCTRINE."
The author of the Source of Measures does not, of course, himself know as
yet, the whole scope of what he has discovered. He applies his key, so far,
only to the esoteric language and the symbology in the Bible, and the Books
of Moses especially.
The great error of the able author, in my opinion, is, that he applies the
key discovered by him chiefly to post-Atlantean and quasi-historical phallic
elements in the world religions; feeling, intuitionally, a nobler, a higher,
a more transcendental meaning in all this--only in the Bible,--and a mere
sexual worship in all other religions. This phallic element, however, in the
older pagan worship related, in truth, to the physiological evolution of the
human races, something that could not be discovered in the Bible, as it is
absent from it (the Pentateuch being the latest of all the old Scriptures).
Nevertheless, what the learned author has discovered and proved
mathematically, is wonderful enough, and sufficient to make our claim good:
namely, that the figures )ÿ and 3 + 4 = 7, are at the very basis, and are
the soul of cosmogony and the evolution of mankind.
To whosoever desires to display this process by way of symbol, says the
author speaking of the ansated cross, the Tau of the Egyptians and the
Christian cross--"it would be by the figure of the cube unfolded in
connection with the circle whose measure is taken off on to the edges of the
cube. The cube unfolded becomes in superficial display a cross proper, or of
the tau form, and the attachment of the circle to this last, gives the
ansated cross of the Egyptians with its obvious meaning of the Origin of
9 Because this kind of measure was also made to co-ordinate with the
idea of the origin of life, it was made to assume the type of the
hermaphrodite, and in fact it is placed by representation to cover this part
of the human person in the Hindu form. . . ." [It is "the hermaphrodite
Indranse Indra, the nature goddess, the Issa of the Hebrews, and the Isis of
the Egyptians," as the author calls them in another place.]". . . It is very
observable, that while there are but six faces to a cube, the representation
of the cross as the cube unfolded as to the cross bars displays one face of
the cube as common to two bars, counted as belonging to either; then, while
the faces originally represented are but six, the use of the two bars counts
the square as four for the upright and three for the cross bar, making seven
in all. Here we have the famous four, three and seven again, the four and
three on the factor members of the Parker (quadrature and of the 'three
revolving bodies') problem". . . . (pp. 50 and 51).
And they are the factor members in the building of the Universe and MAN.
Wittoba--an aspect of Krishna and Vishnu--is therefore the "man crucified in
space," or the "cube unfolded," as explained (see Moore's Pantheon, for
Wittoba). It is the oldest symbol in India, now nearly lost, as the real
meaning of Vishvakarina and Vikkarttana (the "sun shorn of his beams") is
also lost. It is the Egyptian ansated cross, and vice versa, and the
latter--even the sistrum, with its cross bars--is simply the symbol of the
Deity as man--however phallic it may have become later, after the submersion
of Atlantis. The ansated cross is of course, as Professor Seyfforth has
shown--again the six with its head--the seventh. Seyfforth says "It is the
skull with the brains, the seat of the soul with the nerves extending to the
spine, back, and eyes and ears. For the Tanis stone thus translates it
repeatedly by anthropos (man); and we have the Coptic ank, (vita, life)
properly anima, which corresponds with the Hebrew anosh, properly meaning
anima. The Egyptian anki signifies "my soul."
10 It means in its synthesis, the seven principles, the details coming
later. Now the ansated cross, as given above, having been discovered on the
backs of the gigantic statues found on the Easter Isles (mid-Pacific Ocean)
which is a part of the submerged continent; this remnant being described as
"thickly studded with cyclopean statues, remnants of the civilization of a
dense and cultivated people",--and Mr. Subba Row having told us what he had
found in the old Hindu books, namely, that the ancient Adepts of India had
learned occult powers from the Atlanteans (vide supra)--the logical
inference is that they had their septenary division from them, just as our
Adepts from the "Sacred Island" had.
This ought to settle the question.
And this Tau cross is ever septenary, under whatever form--it has many
forms, though the main idea is always one. What are the Egyptian oozas (the
eyes), the amulets called the "mystic eye," but symbols of the same? There
are the four eyes in the upper row and the three smaller ones in the lower.
Or again, the ooza with the seven luths hanging from it, "the combined
melody of which creates one man," say the hieroglyphics. Or again, the
hexagon formed of six triangles, whose apices converge to a point--thus the
symbol of the Universal creation, which Kenneth Mackenzie tells us "was worn
as a ring by the Sovereign Princes of the Royal Secret"--which they never
knew by the bye. If seven has nought to do with the mysteries of the
universe and men, then indeed from the Vedas down to the Bible all the
archaic Scriptures--the Puranas, the Avesta and all the fragments that have
reached us--have no esoteric meaning, and must be regarded as the
orientalists regard them--as a farrago of childish tales.
It is quite true that the three upadhis of the Taraka Raj Yoga are, as Mr.
Subba Row explains in his little article, "The Septenary Division in
Different Indian Systems," "the best and the simplest"--but only in purely
contemplative Yoga. And he adds: "Though there are seven principles in man
there are but three distinct upadhis, in each of which his Atma may work
independently of the rest. These three upadhis can be separated by the Adept
without killing himself. He cannot separate the seven principles from each
other without destroying his constitution" (Five Years of Theosophy, p.
185). Most decidedly he cannot.
But this again holds good only with regard to his lower three
principles--the body and its (in life) inseparable prana and linga sarira.
The rest can be separated, as they constitute no vital, but rather a mental
and spiritual necessity. As to the remark in the same article objecting to
the fourth principle being "included in the third kosa, as the said
principle is but a vehicle of will-power, which is but an energy of the
mind," I answer, Just so!
But as the higher attributes of the fifth (Manas), go to make up the
original triad, and it is just the terrestrial energies, feelings and
volitions which remain in the Kama loka, what, is the vehicle, the astral
form, to carry them about as bhoota until they fade out--which may take
centuries to accomplish? Can the "false" personality, or the pisacha, whose
ego is made up precisely of all those terrestrial passions and feelings,
remain in Kama loka, and occasionally appear, without a substantial vehicle,
however ethereal? Or are we to give up the seven principles, and the belief
that there is such a thing as an astral body, and a bhoot, or spook?
Most decidedly not. For Mr. Subba Row himself once more explains how, from
the Hindu stand-point, the lower fifth, or Manas can reappear after death,
remarking very justly, that it is absurd to call it a disembodied spirit.
(Five Years of Theosophy, p. 174.) As he says: "It is merely a power, or
force, retaining the impressions of the thoughts or ideas of the individual
into whose composition it originally entered. It sometimes summons to its
aid the Kamarupa power, and creates for itself some particular, ethereal
Now that which "sometimes summons" Kamarupa, and the "power" of that name
make already two principles, two "powers"--call them as you will. Then we
have Atma and its vehicle--Buddhi--which make four. With the three which
disappeared on earth this will be equivalent to seven. How can we, then,
speak of modern Spiritualism, of its materializations and other phenomena,
without resorting to the Septenary?
To quote our friend and much respected brother for the last time, since he
says that "our (Aryan) philosophers have associated seven occult powers with
the seven principles (in men and in the kosmos), which seven occult powers
correspond in the microcosm with, or are counterparts of, occult powers in
11 --quite an esoteric sentence,--it does seem almost a pity that words
pronounced in an extempore lecture, though such an able one, should have
been published without revision.
Theosophist, April, 1887
l See Isis Unveiled, Vol. 1, pp. 598-9, and the appendices by the Editor to
the above quoted article in Five Years of Theosophy.
2 This is the division given to us by Mr. Subba Row. See Five Years of
Theosophy, p. 136, article signed T.S.
3 Ibid., p. 185.
4 A crowning proof of the fact that the division is arbitrary and varies
with the schools it belongs to, is in the words published in "Personal and
Impersonal God" by Mr. Subba Row, where he states that "we have six states
of consciousness, either objective or subjective . . . and a perfect state
of unconsciousness, etc." (See Five Years of Theosophy pp. 200 and 201.) Of
course those who do not hold to the old school of Aryan and Arhat Adepts are
in no way bound to adopt the septenary classification.
5 Mr. Subba Row's argument that in the matter of the three divisions of the
body "we may make any number of divisions, and may as well enumerate
nerve-force, blood and bones," is not valid, I think. Nerve-force--well and
good, though it is one with the life-principle and proceeds from it: as to
blood, bones, etc., these are objective material things, and one with, and
inseparable from the human body; while ail the other six principles are in
their Seventh--the body--purely subjective principles, and therefore all
denied by material science, which ignores them.
6 In that most admirable article of his--"Personal and Impersonal God"--one
which has attracted much attention in the Western Theosophical circles, Mr.
Subba Row says. "Just as a human being is composed of seven principles,
differentiated matter in the solar system exists in seven different
conditions. These do not all come within the range of our present objective
consciousness, but they can be perceived by the spiritual ego in man.
Further, Pragna, or the capacity of perception, exists in seven different
aspects, corresponding to the seven conditions of matter. Strictly speaking
there are six states of differentiated pragna, the seventh state being a
condition of perfect unconsciousness (or absolute consciousness). By
differentiated pragna I mean the condition in which pragna is split up into
various states of consciousness. Thus we have six states of consciousness,
etc., etc." (Five Years of Theosophy, pp. 200 and 201.) This is precisely
our Trans-Himalayan Doctrine.
7 One need only open Webster's Dictionary and examine the snow flakes and
crystals at the word "Snow" to perceive nature's work. "God geometrizes,"
8 Of Newark in his work The Quadrature of the Circle, his "problem of the
three revolving bodies" (N.Y., John Wiley and Son).
9 And, by adding to the cross proper the symbol of the four cardinal points
and infinity at the same time, thus, , the arms pointing above. below, and
right, and left, making six in the circle--the Archaic sign of the Yomas--it
would make of it the Swastike, the "sacred sign" used by the order of
"Ishmael masons," which they call the Universal Hermetic Cross, and do not
understand its real wisdom, nor know its origin.
10 Quoted in "Source of Measures."
11 "Brahmanism on the Sevenfold Principle in Man."
[Back to Top]
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application