Secret Cycles


1. Yugas and root-races
2. Root-race divisions
3. Precessional cycle
4. Fifth root-race
5. Age of the earth
6. Twelve rounds and races
7. Planetary embodiments
8. Relative lengths of rounds and races
9. The unfinished article controversy

1. Dating the kali-yuga
2. Revati and the Hindu zodiac


... much was purposely made obscure ... (ML2 357, MLC 428)

The blinds which conceal the real mysteries of Esoteric philosophy are great and puzzling, and even now the last word cannot be given. The veil, however, may be a little more removed and some explanations, hitherto denied, may now be offered to the earnest student. (SD 2:310)

What the Masters are now imparting are, so to speak, elementary fragments of the Ancient Wisdom religion. Much of the teaching they are now giving us is in the form of problems for ourselves to solve ... (Echoes 2:439)

... solving [paradoxes] quickens our intuition, and that is one of the main aims and purposes of this system of teaching ... (FEP 339)

Refuse to take as the sole truth any isolated statement whatsoever, wherever you may find it. Take it, but not alone; contrast it, compare it, study it, and analyze it if you want the truth. Especially is this necessary when it is a question of cycles ... (FEP 282)

... no item of esoteric teaching is so carefully guarded as that dealing with numbers and time-periods ... (EST 4:80)

1. Yugas and root-races

Hindu philosophy refers to a series of four great cycles or yugas, whose lengths are 4000, 3000, 2000, and 1000 divine years respectively (1 divine year = 360 solar years). Each is introduced by a ‘dawn’ and concluded by a ‘twilight’ (known as ‘sandhi’ or ‘sandhya’ in Sanskrit), each equal in length to one-tenth of the yuga concerned. The four yugas together form a maha-yuga of 4,320,000 years, which is one thousandth of a day of Brahma (the total lifespan of the earth).1 We are currently in the kali-yuga, which began in 3102 BC. It is described as the harshest, most intense, and most challenging of the four yugas, but also ‘the age in which spiritual and intellectual advancement can be made most quickly’; in short, it is ‘the opportunity time’.2






Divine years






   Solar years






A sequence of four cycles in the ratio 4:3:2:1 is said to apply on various scales:

... as each of the seven races is divided into four ages – the Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Iron Age – so is every smallest division of such races.3

As the four yugas are a reflection in human history of what takes place in the evolution of the earth itself and of the planetary chain, therefore the same scheme of yugas applies also on a cosmic scale – there exist the four series of satya yuga, treta yuga, dvapara yuga, and kali yuga, in the evolution of the earth, and on a still larger scale in the evolution of a planetary chain. Of course these cosmic yugas are very much longer than the racial yugas, but the same general scheme of 4, 3, 2 applies throughout.4

‘The general rule,’ says G. de Purucker, ‘is ... that the small repeats the great, that little yugas are not only included in the greater yugas, but repeat them on their own little scales’. Our fifth (Aryan/Indo-European) root-race as a whole, including all its minor subraces, is some 5000 years into its kali-yuga.

Now some of the minor cycles or yugas of this fifth root-race will be rising, and some will be falling, yet all interworking with each other and subject to the great kali yuga of the root-race. Thus, a minor yuga or race may be in its youth and rising to its flowering, yet, because it is included in the over-all kali yuga, will be subject to the general decline of the major kali yuga.
    Every minor cycle, great or small, within the root-race is in its turn septenary and therefore has its own little kali yuga, and its numerical relations are about the same. Just as the great kali yuga is 432,000 years long, so a minor one may be only 432 years long, or 4320, or even 43,200. The Hindu or Aryan race, which was one of the very first subraces of our own fifth root-race, is now in its own racial kali yuga in addition to being in the longer kali yuga of the root-race. But it is striving to rise again, and will do so in the future. On a smaller scale, Spain is in its short kali yuga, as also Portugal. Italy has just ended a short kali yuga and is beginning to rise again.
    Unfortunately, because our fifth root-race is a very materialistic one, heavily sunken in matter due to our fourth round, these rises are mostly along the lines of materialisms.5

Yugas shorter than those in the above table could include cycles whose length is the same number of ordinary human years as the length given in the table in divine years. H.P. Blavatsky states: ‘one of the secret sub-cycles or “years of the Devas” lasts about 12,000 of our common years ...’6 She also writes:

... three yugas passed away during the time of the third root-race, i.e., the satya, the treta, and the dvapara yuga, answering to the golden age of its early innocence: to the silver – when it reached its maturity: and to the bronze age, when, separating into sexes, they became the mighty demi-gods of old.7

Since the third (Lemurian) root-race lived throughout the Mesozoic, which lasted from about 44 to 8 million years ago, the length of these yugas must be longer than those in the above table.8 There is also a reference to a satya-yuga prior to the earth’s formation, associated (to speak metaphorically) with the ‘churning of the ocean of milk’, the ‘war in heaven’, and the ‘fall of the angels’.9 This, too, is probably a satya-yuga on a larger scale than the standard yugas.

As a general rule, a root-race (or humanity) lasts for two maha-yugas (8.64 million years). During the first maha-yuga, it reaches its zenith. A new root-race then starts to emerge, and begins its satya-yuga as the old one is finishing its kali-yuga – a transition marked by geological cataclysms. During the second maha-yuga the old root-race slowly dies out while the new one evolves towards maturity.10


HPB writes:

... the fourth sub-race of the Atlanteans was in its kali-yug, when destroyed, whereas the fifth was in its satya or krita yuga. The Aryan race is now in its kali yuga, and will continue to be in it for 427,000 years longer, while various ‘family races,’ called the Semitic, Hamitic, etc., are in their own special cycles. The forthcoming 6th sub race – which may begin very soon – will be in its satya (golden) age while we reap the fruit of our iniquity in our kali yuga.12

GdeP explains what happens to the previously dominant race:

every root-race has its satya yuga, followed by its treta, dvapara, and kali yugas. Then comes a sandhya or rest period, a junction point, after which comes the birth of the new race. The seeds of the succeeding new root-race spring into being; but the old root-race continues along, although no longer having the mastery of the earth. The reason is that with the opening of the satya yuga of the succeeding root-race, all the stronger, more advanced egos of the race then in its kali yuga take imbodiment in the new race; whereas the bodies of the decaying race are given over to less developed egos which enter them. As these bodies of the old race continue living and propagating through several succeeding ages, egos of less and less degree of evolutionary advancement enter them, until finally these bodies through slow degeneration will house only the least developed egos of the human stock. But the dying-out root-race lasts almost as long as it takes the succeeding root-race to reach its kali yuga.13

In general, every root-race begins to sow the seeds of the next root-race at its midpoint, i.e. in its fourth main subrace. However, the next root-race does not develop into a race of a distinct type until the previous root-race is in the subrace of the same number as the root-race that follows it.

For instance, we in our fifth root-race will sow the seeds of the 6th root-race, and we are doing it now because we are in the 4th main sub-race ... Yet the succeeding 6th root-race will not actually be a race sui generis until we, the 5th root-race, have reached our 6th sub-race. ...
    Thus during the 4th root-race the seeds of the 5th root-race were sown during the 4th great sub-race. But those seeds did not actually collect together and begin to be the beginnings of a race sui generis until the 4th sub-sub-race of the 5th sub-race of the 4th root-race.14

Although one maha-yuga of four yugas is often said to be followed by another maha-yuga of four yugas, there are indications that there are actually seven yugas rather than four:

Since it is said that a Day of Brahma (representing or covering the totality of the seven rounds) – equals 14 manvantaras plus a satya yug; or 4,320,000,000; but as the kali yug covers only 4 yugas, whereas there are 7 – and therefore the correct sum ... [this unfinished manuscript breaks off here]15

‘As the krita, treta, dvapara, and kali (ages) have been each decreasing in excellence (physical as well as moral) so the ascending – dvapara, treta and krita will be increasing in every excellence.’16

The last quotation could mean that, for the dying-out race, the kali-yuga following the first three yugas is followed by the same three yugas in reverse order, giving the overall ratio 4:3:2:1:2:3:4, spanning a total of 8,208,000 years.17

The general rule about a root-race lasting for a total of two maha-yugas applies in particular to the fifth root-race. It is 4 or 5 million years old from its true birth at about the middle period of Atlantis, though its earliest beginnings go back 7 or 8 million years. It began becoming a race sui generis at the beginning of the satya-yuga, 3.89 million years ago, and became definitely a race sui generis about 1 million years ago in Central Asia.18

The fourth (Atlantean) root-race lasted longer than two maha-yugas. Its earliest beginnings could be placed some 18 million years ago in the middle of the third root-race, though GdeP also says that it originated in the later Cretaceous (10 to 12 million years ago). It attained its peak in the Eocene of the Tertiary, and was largely destroyed in the Miocene.19

The middle of the fourth root-race is sometimes said to have occured 8 to 9 million years ago.20 This is because 9 million years is half of the approx. 18 million years that have elapsed since the middle of the third root-race and the earliest origins of the fourth root-race. In the theosophical chronology this takes us back to the very end of the Cretaceous. However, the racial cataclysm of the fourth root-race took place in the middle of its fourth subrace some 4.5 million years ago,21 in the Oligocene/Miocene,22 when that root-race and the earth in general reached the lowest, most material point in their evolutionary cycle.

The first three root-races lasted considerably longer than two maha-yugas each; they spanned a total of up to 150 million years.23 One of the reasons the first two and a half races were so long is because they were practically astral and intellectually asleep, and ‘passed ages in a dreaming, intellectually unawakened state, like little children’.24 The sixth and seventh root-races, on the other hand, will last less than two maha-yugas. The sixth root-race will last for about a maha-yuga and a half, or somewhat over 6 million years, and the seventh will be even shorter.25

HPB writes:

The fifth will overlap the sixth race for many hundreds of millenniums, changing with it slower than its new successor, still changing in stature, general physique, and mentality, just as the fourth overlapped our Aryan race, and the third had overlapped the Atlanteans.26

It is because of the overlapping of the root-races that theosophical literature sometimes refers to Lemuro-Atlanteans and Aryo-Atlanteans. It is not just the root-races that overlap, but minor and branchlet races as well.27 HPB says:

It would only lead to hopeless confusion if any attempt were made to give accurate dates to a few [racial divisions]; for the races, sub-races, etc., etc., down to their smallest ramifications, overlap and are entangled with each other until it is nearly impossible to separate them.28

Lemurian and Atlantean influences are still discernible today, though in one sense all the present races are part of the fifth root-race since they are living in fifth-race times and conditions.29

Many of the tribes in the Pacific Ocean are Atlanteans with Atlantean-Lemurians still amongst them. But they are all dying out, and now dying out rapidly.
    The Chinese originally were the 7th and last sub-sub-race of the 7th sub-race of the 4th root-race. But they have today become so thoroughly amalgamated with our 5th root-race that they really belong to us ...30

HPB says that although the Atlantean root-race began many millions of years ago, ‘we find the last of the Atlanteans, still mixed up with the Aryan element, 11,000 years ago’ – a reference to the sinking of the Atlantean island of Poseidonis 11½ thousand years ago. She continues: ‘This shows the enormous overlapping of one race over the race which succeeds it, though in character and external type the elder loses its characteristics, and assumes the new features of the younger race.’31

Notes to section 1

1. E. Burgess and W.D. Whitney, Surya-Siddhanta (1860), Wizards Bookshelf, n.d., 1:14-17, pp. 152-4; OG 189-90; Isis 1:34.

2. FSO 168, SOP 77.

3. SD 2:198.

4. OG 190. ‘... the four yugas apply to any unitary period in the flow of time: to a planetary round, a globe-round, a root-race, or even to the period of a human life’ (FSO 164).

5. FSO 163, SOP 702; see also SOP 465-6.

6. BCW 12:386fn. GdeP refers to a cycle lasting 10-12,000 years, which began around the time of the sinking of Poseidonis in 9565 BC, and ended in the early 20th century; it was marked by an increase in materiality (FSO 8). The cycle in question could also be half the 21,000-year cycle generated by combining the precession of the equinoxes with apsidal precession (see Poleshifts, part 1, section 5). HPB makes several references to this cycle (SD 2:330fn; Isis 1:30-1; BCW 3:150).

7. SD 2:520fn.

8. See Root-race chronology, and Geochronology: theosophy and science, section 3.

9. SD 1:67-8.

10. SOP 42-3; FSO 165-6; OG 189-90.

11. FEP 294. This diagram can equally well represent the birth of subraces, family races, national races, tribal races, etc. (FEP 296).

12. SD 2:147fn.

13. FSO 165. ‘The only way to stop the dying-out of some of these races is intermarriage, miscegenation with higher races. Other egos of a stronger type then come in and keep the physical vehicles going on for a while’ (Dia 1:89).

14. Dia 1:86.

15. BCW 13:301.

16. BCW 6:117; see also Isis 2:420-1.

17. See SOP 40-3.

18. SOP 18, 21, 638-40.

19. SD 2:717; SOP 164-5; ET 1044, 1046; Dia 2:162.

20. ET 326fn; SOP 20-1, 97, 161, 422, 465-6; MiE 152.

21. SOP 20-1, 638-40; ET 1046; Dia 1:88; SD 1:439fn, 2:147fn.

22. See Geochronology, section 3.

23. See Root-race chronology. ‘... the life-waves evolve through the maha-yugas, but are not closely geared into the maha-yugas, for they overlap in both directions very considerably. ... [R]oot-races 1 and 2 were not so to speak inflexibly and mechanically geared to the yugas and root-races 3, 4, and 5 more or less were’ (SOP 166).

24. SOP 162.

25. SOP 165-6.

26. SD 2:445.

27. OG 142-3.

28. SD 2:434.

29. Dia 2:157.

30. Dia 1:88.

31. SD 2:444.

2. Root-race divisions

The subdivisions of a root-race and their approximate lengths are as follows:1

Family race
National race
Tribal race
Tribal generation   
8,640,000 years (2 maha-yugas)
1¼ million years
180,000 years
25,920 years (1 precessional cycle)
3600 years
500 years
72 years

Starting from the ‘ideal’ lifetime of a human individual – 72 years – each successive figure is about 7 times the preceding one.

GdeP gives the following examples of some of these divisions:
• Tribal generation: Italians; Spaniards; French; English; Russians, etc.
• Tribal race: Slavs (Russians, Poles, Czechs, Bulgarians, etc.); Teutons (Germans, Scandinavians, English, etc.); Celts (Irish, Welsh, Scots, people of Brittany)
• National race: Europeans; peoples of the New World (original Americans: Redskins, Aztecs, Incas, etc.); Mongolians
• Family race: Caucasians (Europeans, Hindus); Mongolians on a larger scale (incl. Chinese, Manchus, Japanese, Lolos, Tibetans, Burmese, Thais, Malayans); Black Africans; original inhabitants of the New World on a larger scale

The word ‘subrace’ in its broadest sense can refer to any of the divisions of a root-race, and it therefore often requires interpretation.2 Although HPB, like GdeP, tends to define ‘family race’ as one of the seven divisions of a subrace (a subrace being one of the seven main divisions of a root-race),3 she often uses the term to refer to what GdeP usually (but not always4) calls a ‘national race’.

GdeP says that we are in the fourth main subrace of the fifth root-race.5 He does not specify which family race we are in, but says that Europeans are the fourth national race of our family race. HPB, too, says that we are in the fourth main subrace,6 and this is also implied when she writes: ‘we are in the mid-point of our sub-race of the Fifth Root Race – the acme of materiality in each’.7 GdeP comments:

The ‘acme of materiality in each’ means only one thing – the middle point of the fourth of any cyclical series: for instance, the fourth primary subrace; the fourth subrace of the fourth primary subrace of the fifth root-race, and so forth.8

HPB often says that we are in the fifth subrace9 – but what type of ‘subrace’ is she referring to? Consider the following passage:

Now our fifth root-race has already been in existence – as a race sui generis and quite free from its parent stem – about 1,000,000 years; therefore it must be inferred that each of the four preceding sub-races has lived approximately 210,000 years; thus each family-race has an average existence of about 30,000 years. Thus the European ‘family race’ has still a good many thousand years to run, although the nations or the innumerable spines upon it, vary with each succeeding ‘season’ of three or four thousand years. It is somewhat curious to mark the comparative approximation of duration between the lives of a ‘family-race’ and a ‘sidereal year.’10

The fact that our fifth root-race has existed as a distinct, separate race for about 1 million years is repeated on many occasions,11 though sometimes lower figures of 900,000 to about 700,000 years are given.12 In the above quotation, HPB then ‘infers’ that the four preceding ‘subraces’ lived about 210,000 years each, implying that we are now in the fifth ‘subrace’. The figure of 210,000 years clearly indicates that she is referring to the seven subdivisions of a main subrace, i.e. a ‘family race’ (to which GdeP assigns a length of 180,000 years). She then says that each ‘family race’ (or what GdeP usually calls a ‘national race’) has an average existence of about 30,000 years (= 1/7 of 210,000), and she notes that a ‘family race’ lasts for about the same amount of time as a ‘sidereal year’, i.e. a precessional cycle.13 HPB usually gives the length of a precessional cycle as 25,868 years, but she also says that 25,920 years is ‘the exact period of revolution of the heavens’14 – and this is the length GdeP assigns to both a precessional cycle and a national race. HPB then says that the ‘nations or innumerable spines’ last 3 or 4 thousand years – corresponding to the 3600 years that GdeP assigns to a ‘tribal race’ (for want of a better term).

Here is another passage from HPB, with comments in square brackets:

... the three zodiacs belong to three different epochs: namely, to the last three family races of the fourth sub-race of the fifth root-race, each of which must have lived approximately from 25 to 30,000 years [blind! If ‘family races’ refers to the seven divisions of a subrace, then the length is 210,000 years (HPB) or 180,000 years (GdeP)]. The first of these (the ‘Aryan-Asiatics’) [i.e. the ‘family race’ that appeared 1 million years ago] witnessed the doom of the last of the populations of the ‘giant Atlanteans’ who perished some 850,000 years ago (the Ruta and Daitya island-continents) toward the close of the Miocene Age [blind! For ‘Miocene’ read: Pliocene15]. The fourth sub-race witnessed the destruction of the last remnant of the Atlanteans – the Aryo-Atlanteans in the last island of Atlantis, namely, some 11,000 years ago [‘4th subrace’ could refer here to the 4th main subrace, but could also refer to the fourth family race (of 210,000 years) if we start counting from about 850,000 years ago instead of 1 million].16

Another quotation:

The archaic records show the initiates of the second sub-race of the Aryan family moving from one land to the other for the purpose of supervising the building of menhirs and dolmens, of colossal zodiacs in stone, and places of sepulchre to serve as receptacles for the ashes of generations to come.17

Fred Dick argues that ‘the second subrace of the Aryan family’ means the third subrace of our fifth root-race (in the sense explained above), since the first subrace of our root-race was ‘Atlanto-Aryan’ and ended its career when the cataclysm of a million to 870,000 years ended and the Aryan race proper took its rise.18 This would date the land journey to about 400,000 years ago – the time when Egypt was first settled.19

HPB also writes:

Cremation was universal till a comparatively recent period – some 80, or 100,000 years ago. The real giants, moreover, were nearly all drowned with Atlantis. ... [M]an’s size was reduced from 15 to 10 or 12 feet, ever since the third sub-race of the Aryan stock, which sub-race – born and developed in Europe and Asia Minor under new climates and conditions – had become European. Since then, as said, it has steadily been decreasing.20

Here, too, ‘third subrace’ could refer to the third family race (of 210,000 years) counting from 1 million years ago (which began 580,000 years ago), or the subsequent ‘subrace’, if we follow Dick in excluding the first because it was still heavily Atlantean.21

HPB sometimes makes it sound like we have already passed the midpoint of our fifth root-race. She says, for example: we have ‘passed the middle point of the fifth race’,22 and ‘we are in the 5th race and have already passed the turning or axial point of our “sub-race cycle” ’.23 Here, ‘race’ needs to be interpreted as the fifth ‘subrace’ (i.e. ‘family race’) in the sense explained above, i.e. the fifth ‘subrace’ of the fifth root-race since it became a race sui generis. And when she says ‘we are two-thirds through the 5th root-race’,24 this too needs to be seen as a reference to the fifth ‘subrace’ counting from 1 million years ago – it began 160,000 years ago and will end in 50,000 years, i.e. one third of its lifespan remains.

Thus, in the scheme represented by the above quotations from HPB, the time when the fifth root-race became a distinct racial stock is apparently taken as the beginning of a new main subrace, and on that basis we would be in the fifth family race of it. We will see below that this is certainly not the esoteric way of dividing up the fifth root-race. Bear in mind that we are said to be approaching the midpoint of the fifth root-race, which falls in the middle of the fourth national race of the fourth family race of the fourth subrace. So if we are in the fourth subrace, we cannot be in the fifth family race.

Notes to section 2

1. SOP 35-9; FEP 294-5. GdeP says that ‘stock-race’ or ‘body-race’ would be a better term than ‘root-race’, which ought to refer to the first primary subrace (sometimes called a ‘secondary’ subrace!), from which all the subsequent primary subraces originate (FEP 281, 294-5, 523-4; SOP 38; ET 1045fn).

2. ‘... one of the commonest “blinds” that a teacher is obligated to make when writing of esoteric matters in a public work is using the same word in varying senses’ (FEP 281).

3. ‘... the term root-race applies to one of the seven great races, sub-race to one of its great branches, and family-race to one of the sub-divisions, which include nations and large tribes’ (SD 2:198fn). ‘Each root-race has seven sub-races. Each sub-race has, in its turn, seven ramifications, which may be called branch or “family” races’ (SD 2:434).

4. E.g. SOP 35, 702; FSO 163.

5. FEP 280, 282, 293; SOP 41.

6. SD 2:433.

7. SD 1:610. The following also indicates that we are in the fourth subrace: ‘... each round being composed of the yugas of the seven periods [root-races] of humanity; four of which are now passed in our life cycle, the middle point of the 5th being nearly reached’ (SD 1:xliii). The masters say the same thing: ‘We men of the fourth round are already reaching the latter half of the fifth race of our fourth round humanity ...’ (ML2 95 / MLC 185).

8. FEP 281; SOP 485.

9. ‘The little Semitic tribe [is] one of the smallest branchlets from the commingling of the 4th and 5th sub-races (the Mongolo-Turanian and the Indo-European ...) ...’ (SD 1:319). ‘History – or what is called history – does not go further back than the fantastic origins of our fifth sub-race, a “few thousands” of years’ (SD 2:351). ‘... our race has reached its fifth sub-race ...’ (SD 2:471fn). ‘[The Americans are] the germs of the sixth sub-race, and in some few hundred years more, will become most decidedly the pioneers of that race which must succeed to the present European or fifth sub-race, in all its new characteristics ...’ (SD 2:444-5). ‘... the sense of taste is now fully developed in our fifth sub-race of the fifth root-race’ (LBS 258).

10. SD 2:435.

11. Echoes 3:19; FEP 351-2; SOP 21, 639, 671; MiE 113fn; HPBM 166. ‘... most of the later islander Atlanteans perished in the interval between 850,000 and 700,000 years ago, and ... the Aryans were 200,000 years old when the first great “island” or continent was submerged ...’ (SD 2:395). ‘... the fifth race headed by the Aryans began its evolution ... nearer one million than 900,000 years ago’ (BCW 5:223). The fifth root-race evolved in Asia a million years ago (ML2 150, MLC 309), more than one million years ago (ML2 121, MLC 161).

12. The Pliocene portions of the once great Atlantis began gradually sinking 900,000 years ago, at the time of the first appearance of the Aryan race, the main continent having perished in Miocene times (SD 2:395). ‘... our [5th race] humanity ... appeared toward the very end of the “treta-yuga” ’ (BCW 13:356), i.e. about 869,100 years ago. ‘The very commencement of the [fifth root-race] witnesses, during the dvapara yuga, the destruction of the accursed sorcerers ... [I]t is just 869,000 [years] since that destruction took place’ (SD 2:147). Nearly two-thirds of a million years/700,000 years have elapsed since the birth of the Aryan races in Central Asia (SD 2:425).

13. Other references: ‘... the weal and woe of nations is intimately connected with the beginning and close of this sidereal cycle’ (SD 2:330). ‘Climates will, and have already begun, to change, each tropical year after the other dropping one sub-race, but only to beget another higher race on the ascending cycle ...’ (SD 2:446).

14. SD 2:330fn; BCW 14:360; see Poleshifts, part 1, section 3.

15. SD 2:314fn; see Geochronology, section 3.

16. SD 2:433.

17. SD 2:750.

18. F.J. Dick, ‘Restoration of Stonehenge’, The Theosophical Path, Feb 1921, pp. 134-8.

19. SD 2:750.

20. SD 2:753.

21. F.J. Dick, ‘Studies in symbolism – II’, The Theosophical Path, July 1914, pp. 26-33.

22. SD 2:185.

23. BCW 7:68.

24. BCW 13:68.

3. Precessional cycle

HPB writes:

‘The MIGHTY ONES perform their great works, and leave behind them everlasting monuments to commemorate their visit, every time they penetrate within our mayavic veil (atmosphere),’ says a Commentary. Thus we are taught that the great Pyramids were built under their direct supervision, ‘when Dhruva (the then Pole-star) was at his lowest culmination, and the Krittika (Pleiades) looked over his head (were on the same meridian but above) to watch the work of the giants.’1

She adds that the first pyramids were built at the beginning of a precessional cycle, and that the polestar in question is Alpha Polaris (our present polestar).

Fred Dick interpreted this obscure passage to mean that the first pyramids were built when Polaris, the polestar at the time the Commentary was written, was furthest from the actual pole at the time the Pyramid was built, and was on the same meridian both with the latter and Alcyone (the chief star of the Pleiades), the latter being higher than the pole. He calculated that the last time such an event occurred was 86,960 years prior to 2000,2 during the Age of Cancer (the Crab).3 Dick’s calculation has been verified,4 and it matches HPB’s statement that ‘the Egyptians have on their Zodiacs irrefutable proofs of records having embraced more than three-and-a-half sidereal years [precessional cycles] – or about 87,000 years’.5

86,960 years ago, the vernal equinox was at 6.4° Cancer, and the summer solstice was at 6.4° Libra.6 In this connection, it is interesting to consider the following. At the start of the kali-yuga in 3102 BC, the first point of the Hindu zodiac was 54° west of the equinox, which approximately coincided with Aldebaran, the Eye of Taurus (the Bull).7 This means that the first point of the Hindu zodiac lay in the 6th degree of (the sign) Aquarius.8 In quoting J.-S. Bailly, HPB twice writes ‘Libra’ instead of ‘Aquarius’ – an allusion, perhaps, to the fact that recent (racial) precessional cycles have begun and ended when the summer solstice was at 6.4° Libra.

If a precessional cycle began about 86,960 years ago, then the present precessional cycle (the fourth since then) began about 9200 years ago. This matches GdeP’s statement that the fourth (European) national race began about 9000 years ago (distinct from the preceding national race), and has another 16,000 years to live, before a series of cataclysms cause the submergence of many parts of Europe and usher in the next cycle of civilization.9 HPB says that ‘our civilized races’ have ‘a reprieve of about 16,000 years’ before the next major cataclysm.10 This means that our present Caucasian family race began 86,960 years ago, the date marking the beginning of the precessional cycle in which the great pyramids were built.

GdeP describes the future of the European national race as follows:

[It] has been steadily rising since the downfall of the Roman Empire, and will continue to do so, with various smaller shocks and falls and risings again, for some six or seven or possibly eight thousand years more. And then there will be a rapid descent until its kali yuga is reached, a small kali yuga, when there will be a great European catastrophe of nature. This will be some sixteen to eighteen thousand years from now. This period will see the submersion of the British Isles. Most of France will be under water, also Holland, some of Spain, a good deal of Italy, and other places. Of course, all this won’t take place in a night, for there will be premonitory signs, such as slow sinkings of the coast, great earthquakes, etc.11

Notes to section 3

1. SD 1:434-5.

2. F.J. Dick, ‘Ancient astronomy in Egypt, and its significance’, The Theosophical Path, March 1916, pp. 287-303.
    Dick: ‘The meaning [of the passage] is a little obscure, as giants are also mentioned, and it may be suspected that we have here a reference to Atlantean times. Nevertheless it is not improbable, having regard to Egyptian procedure in these matters, that something corresponding was done there, and at a corresponding time. Now we find the latest prior time at which Alcyone and α Polaris were on the same meridian, the celestial pole being at the same time at nearly its furthest from α Polaris, was when the summer solstice occurred in the eighth degree of Libra, 86,860 years prior to 1898. The pole would then be near to the spear-head of Boötes, Alcyone being higher in the south, at Gizeh, than the pole in the north’ (p. 299).

3. The Crab is displayed very prominently in the two zodiacs in the Egyptian Temple of Dendera, in which it appears a total of three times (see Poleshifts, part 5, appendix 5). HPB says several times that the Great Pyramid and the Egyptian zodiac are about three precessional cycles old (SD 2:374fn, 432, 436, 750; BCW 11:7). The first settlers arrived in Egypt some 400,000 years ago (SD 2:750). GdeP says that the great pyramids were built following a second migration to Egypt some 80 to 100 thousand years ago (SOP 538-44; but see SOP 135). See The Great Pyramid.

4. Assuming an average rate of precession of 50"/year and an average change in the axial tilt of 4°/25,920 years, and taking account of transverse and radial proper motion, we find that 86,960 years prior to 2000:
- the polestar was Zeta Coronae Borealis;
- Alpha Ursae Minoris (Polaris) was at right ascension (α) = 292°, declination (δ) = +36°, i.e. nearly above the Great Pyramid when it crossed the meridian, since the Pyramid is at latitude 29°58'51" N;
- Alcyone was at α = 295°, δ = -29°, i.e. virtually on the same meridian as Polaris, and about 31° above the southern horizon.

5. SD 2:332.

6. 6.4° Cancer is the result obtained if we take 1898 as the beginning of the Aquarian Age (BCW 8:174fn; FEP 76), which in terms of the actual constellations it was not, and assume that all constellations are 30° wide (which they are not), and that the average rate of precession is 1° in 72 years (see Poleshifts, part 1, section 1, and part 5, appendix 1). If Alcyone is taken as 0° Taurus (as Fred Dick suggested), the equinox would have been at 7.8° Cancer (i.e. in the 8th degree).
    Note that when the vernal equinox is aligned with the sun and the first point of the constellation Aries as viewed from the earth, it is aligned with the earth and the first point of the constellation Libra as viewed from the sun (assuming an equal division of the zodiac into 12 constellations).

7. See Appendix 2.

8. SD 1:661, 663; see Boris de Zirkoff’s edition (Collected Writings series).

9. GdeP says that the European national race has completed about 9000 years of its 25,920 year cycle and still has another 16,000 years to grow old in (SOP 36, 38); that it will be overtaken by a cataclysm which will reach its maximum in 16,000 or more years (SOP 485-6); and that the European racial cataclysm will occur in 15-18,000 years (SOP 703), in 16-18,000 years (FSO 164), or in 16-20,000 years in the latter part of a precessional cycle (FEP 280, 282; OG 143). He adds that this will be ‘the racial cataclysm ... which will cut our own fifth root-race in two ... because we are nearing the middle point of the fourth subrace of this fifth root-race’ (OG 143). However, he presumably means that it will be the first/next in a long series of cataclysms in the kali-yuga, because we still have about 185,000 years to go before reaching the midpoint of our fifth root-race (see next section).

10. SD 2:331. HPB implies that the axis has to move another 2½° before the end of the present precessional cycle (‘sidereal year’). Since she says that the axis moves about 4° in each precessional cycle, this corresponds to 16,200 years, taking a precessional cycle to be 25,920 years. If this is a reference to our present national race (which lasts for a precessional cycle), then it must have begun over 9000 years ago.
    W.Q. Judge says that the last ‘sidereal year’ of 25,868 years ended about 9868 years ago (= 25,868 - 16,000) (Ocean 136).

11. FSO 163-4, SOP 702-3.

4. Fifth root-race

As explained in the previous two sections, the European nations are the fourth national race of the Caucasian family race of the fourth main subrace of the fifth root-race. The fourth national race originated about 9200 years ago. How can we determine which of the seven family races we are in? Since we have not yet reached the midpoint of the fifth root-race, and since its midpoint must fall within the kali-yuga,1 the options are limited. (The kali-yuga began in 3102 BC, will reach its midpoint in 212,899 AD, and will end in 428,899 AD.)

If we were in the fourth national race of the fourth family race, the midpoint of our root-race would be reached in: 25920/2 - 9200 = 3760 years’ time (from 2000). It does not seem likely that the midpoint of our root-race would occur so early in the kali-yuga. We certainly can’t be in the fifth national race of the fourth family race, since that would mean that the midpoint of our root-race was reached about 22,160 years ago – i.e. before the start of the kali-yuga!

If we are in the fourth national race of the third family race, the midpoint of our root-race will be reached in: (25920 - 9200) + (3 x 25920) + (7/2 x 25920) = 185,200 years’ time, i.e. 27,699 years before the middle of the kali-yuga.

If we were in the fourth national race of the second family race, the midpoint of our root-race would be reached 181,440 years later than the above date (= 7 national races of 25,920 years each), i.e. in 366,640 years’ time. The first family race is ruled out since this would place the midpoint of our root-race outside the kali-yuga.

The Secret Doctrine provides a piece of information which can be used to determine which family race we are in and which also confirms that we are in the fourth national race rather than the fifth, as GdeP says. HPB quotes a Commentary to the effect that Lemuria sank ‘twice eighty-two cyclic years ago’, and adds: ‘Now a cyclic year is what we call a sidereal year, and is founded on the precession of the equinoxes, or 25,868 years each, and this is equal, therefore, in all to 4,242,352 years.’2

To interpret this, we need to remember that the root-races – and continents – overlap in time. The ‘continent’ associated with each root-race refers to the entire land area of the globe during the period in question. Much of Lemuria sank in the Late Cretaceous, over 8 million years ago. Most of Atlantis – which included land areas that had also existed in the Lemurian age – had sunk by the end of the Miocene. The latter cataclysms marked the very end of the third root-race, the midpoint of the fourth root-race, and the true birth of our fifth root-race.

In other words, 164 precessional cycles have elapsed since the start of the fifth root-race. The rest is a question of simple arithmetic, since one precessional cycle equals one national race, seven national races equal one family race, and seven family races (49 precessional cycles) equal one subrace:
    164 = 49 + 49 + 49 + 7 + 7 + 3.
In other words, we are in the fourth national race of the third family race of the fourth subrace of the fifth root-race. This indicates that GdeP and HPB drew their teachings from the same source, even though their presentations differed in certain respects; as in many other areas, what GdeP gives out is generally less veiled than what HPB gave out.

Taking 25,920 years as the average length of a precessional cycle/national race yields the following table of dates for the subdivisions of the fifth root-race over the last 164 precessional cycles up to the year 2000 of the present 165th precessional cycle since the start of the 5th root-race / mid-4th root-race / end of the 3rd root-race, 4.26 million years ago. The figures are of course of purely indicative value.

(49 prec. cycles)   
began (years BP)       
Family race
(7 prec. cycles)
began (years BP)      
National race
(1 prec. cycle)
began (years BP)


We have seen in section 2 that when HPB says that we are in the fifth ‘subrace’, she is generally referring to the fifth family race since the fifth root-race became a race apart. GdeP’s explanation, however, is that HPB is referring to a sub-sub-subracelet.3 He says that we are nearing the end of the fifth sub-sub-subracelet (tribal race) of the fourth national race, which still has a few hundred years to live.4

Since the discovery of America [1492], we have been on the upward rise of a small minor cycle within the fourth sub-race; and this accounts for the great development in brain-mind intellectuality and for the flowering of material energies ... To speak more accurately, we are at the present time actually passing through a small fifth subordinate race, forming part of a family-race, which in its turn is part of the fourth sub-race, which is the lowest great sub-race of the fifth root-race.5

As regards the emergence of the sixth root-race, HPB writes:

... the Americans have become in only three centuries a ‘primary race,’ pro tem., before becoming a race apart, and strongly separated from all other now existing races. They are, in short, the germs of the sixth sub-race, and in some few hundred years more, will become most decidedly the pioneers of that race which must succeed to the present European or fifth sub-race, in all its new characteristics. After that, in about 25,000 years, they will launch into preparations for the seventh sub-race; until, in consequence of cataclysms – the first series of those which must one day destroy Europe, and still alter the whole Aryan race (and thus affect both Americas), as also most of the lands directly connected with the confines of our continent and isles – the sixth root-race will have appeared on the stage of our round. ...
    This process of preparation for the sixth great race must last throughout the whole sixth and seventh sub-races ...6

GdeP says that when HPB speaks of the ‘germs of the sixth subrace’, she is referring to the sixth national race, which, like the fifth national race, will be born in the USA, or in the Americas in general.7 The sixth national race will not appear for several tens of thousands of years, and GdeP dismisses Annie Besant’s assertion that it will appear in California in just 750 years.8

Clearly, HPB’s remarks should not be misinterpreted to mean that the sixth root-race will appear in 25,000 years. A vast period will elapse between the sixth national race and the definite emergence of the sixth root-race.9 The seeds of the sixth root-race will appear largely in the Americas, and will become fairly numerous only towards the end of our kali-yuga in several hundred thousand years.

... the new sixth root-race is already around us in millions of scattered individuals, beginning feebly to differentiate into the sixth root-race qualities; and in some three hundred thousand years from now, while we Aryans are ending our kali-yuga, the sixth root-race will be said to be definitely born as the sixth root-race, but will remain Aryanesque for millions of years yet, until our own Aryan race is represented only by degenerate remnants; at which time the new sixth root-race will be becoming typically a race sui generis itself.10

GdeP says that the seeds of the sixth root-race are being sown all over the world, but are being most carefully watched and guided in the Americas, especially North America. The first subrace of the sixth root-race will be born all along the Pacific coast of the Americas, and will have its home in North America.11

Notes to section 4

1. SOP 465.

2. SD 1:439fn.

3. This may be a blind. The context of HPB’s statements about us being in the fifth subrace tends to show that she is referring to a racial division on a far larger scale than a sub-sub-sub-subrace (i.e. a tribal race).

4. SOP 39.

5. SOP 485. Taking the length of a tribal race and tribal generation as 1/7th and 1/49th of 25,920 years respectively, and assuming that our national race began 9200 years ago, we would now be in the middle of the fourth tribal generation of the third tribal race, of which about 1790 years would have elapsed; in reality, things are undoubtedly not as linear and simplistic as this, as the subdivisions of a root-race overlap, just as do the root-races (FEP 296).

6. SD 2:444-5; also BCW 13:173.

7. SOP 39. ‘Sixth subrace’ could also refer to the sixth family race since the fifth root-race became a race sui generis.

8. Dia 2:161-2.

9. FEP 282.

10. SOP 639-40; FSO 165.

11. Dia 2:216-7.

5. Age of the earth

In Hindu philosophy, a day of Brahma or planetary manvantara – the lifespan of one embodiment of a planetary chain – lasts 4.32 billion years, and is followed by a night of Brahma of the same length, after which the planet reembodies. A day of Brahma consists of 14 manvantaras of 306,720,000 years each, framed by 15 sandhis (a ‘dawn’ or ‘twilight’) of 1,728,000 years each. Each manvantara of 306,720,000 years consists of 71 maha-yugas (also known as divya-yugas or chatur-yugas) of 4,320,000 years. The length of a manvantara is sometimes given as 308,448,000 years (i.e. 306,720,000 years plus a dawn and twilight, each of 864,000 years). In theosophy, a round consists of two manvantaras in the above sense, and lasts a total of 616,896,000 years.1

According to the Surya-Siddhanta, we are in the 28th maha-yuga of the 7th manvantara.2 Since the kali-yuga began in February 3102 BC, the time that has elapsed since the beginning of the present day of Brahma up to February 2000 is therefore:

6 manvantaras (1,840,320,000) + 7 sandhis (12,096,000) + 27 maha-yugas (116,640,000) + 1 krita-yuga (1,728,000) + 1 treta-yuga (1,296,000) + 1 dvapara-yuga (864,000) + the time from the beginning of kali-yuga (3102 + 2000 - 1)3 = 1,972,949,101 years.4

This is 187 million years less than half the allotted lifespan of the earth (half of 4.32 billion is 2.16 billion). It is possible that this exoteric figure is too low, as our own globe has already begun the ascending arc of etherealization.5 Since there are two manvantaras (in the above sense) to each round, the six completed manvantaras and seven sandhis – a total of 1,852,416,000 years – correspond to the first three rounds. The remainder – 120,533,101 years – is the period that has elapsed during the current fourth round. But according to the geochronology given in the SD, this takes us back only as far as the Devonian, whereas the fourth round began in the late Precambrian, some 320 million years ago.6

A reference to the figure of 320 million years is contained in a quotation from a Commentary, which states that during the present ‘kalpa’ (here interpreted to mean the fourth round), geological convulsions continued uninterruptedly until the earth’s 20th crore of years, after which they took place only at long intervals, with the last one occurring nearly 12 crores of years ago (1 crore = 10 million).7 Adding these figures together gives a total of up to 320 million years. It is interesting that the figure of 120 million years (12 crores) is about the same as the period of nearly 28 full maha-yugas given in the above calculation. As said, this date takes us back to the late Devonian, and it covers most of the first root-race, which is variously said to have appeared in the Silurian/Devonian/Carboniferous.8 Nevertheless, it does not cover the entire period since the beginning of the fourth round.

If we use the figure of 320 million years instead of 120.5 million years for the duration of the fourth round to date, the age of the earth works out at 2,172,416,000 years, or slightly more than half its total lifespan. A further problem with the above calculation is that each round is assumed to be the same length. As shown in section 8, this is not the case.

The figure of 120.5 million years seems to be a blind in so far as it does not cover the entire period since the start of the fourth round. According to the Surya-Siddhanta, it is the period that has so far elapsed of Vaivasvata Manu, or the ‘Vaivasvata manvantara’, a term with several meanings. A round is said to consist of two manvantaras, each of them associated with a manu or dhyani-chohan.9 Vaivasvata, the seventh manu, is the root-manu of the first (‘preseptenary’) manvantara of the fourth round, and Savarna is the manu of the second (‘postseptenary’) manvantara. But Vaivasvata manvantara often refers purely to the ‘human period’ of our fourth round. This could mean the period since the beginning of the first root-race, but more commonly it refers to the period since the latter half of the third root-race, after humans had become almost physical, had separated into distinct sexes, and had developed an awakened, selfconscious mind.10 The latter period covers 18,618,841 years (up to 2000).11

After saying that Vaivasvata is the seventh manu because our fourth round is in its preseptenary manvantara, HPB adds:

The close of its middle racial point occurred during the fourth root race, when man and all nature reached their lowest state of gross matter. From that time, i.e., from the end of the three and a half races, humanity and nature entered on the ascending arc of their racial cycle.12

This implies that the preseptenary manvantara has already finished. GdeP confirms this:

... Vaivasvata-manu has ended. But as this is a little point of very private teaching, H.P.B. merely says our progenitor was Vaivasvata, the 7th manu. We are now beginning the next manvantara leading us up to what will be the seeds for the future round, the fifth round, and that seed manu’s name is Savarna ... So we are actually in the beginning of Savarna, the 8th manu’s beginning.13

When asked how the 71 to 72 maha-yugas of a manvantara, as referred to by HPB, could be reconciled with the 27 to 28 maha-yugas that are sometimes said to have elapsed since the start of the fourth round, GdeP replied:

The 27 or 28 maha-yugas refers to the Vaivasvata manu in so far as it concerns globe D only. ... In one manvantara of 306,720,000 years there are 71 maha-yugas. This manvantara of Vaivasvata began on globe A in this round, then finished there and passed to globe B; finished there and passed on to globe C; and reached its end at the middle point of the fourth root-race on our globe D, making therefore 71 maha-yugas.14

However, he is clearly using ‘Vaivasvata manu’ here to refer to the period since the approximate beginning of the human life-wave on globe D, i.e. the first root-race. There is no doubt that mineral activity in the fourth round goes back up to 320 million years, and elemental activity is said to go back even further.15

Nevertheless, 320 million years appears to be just be a general, rounded figure. Indeed, it is sometimes given as the time that has passed since the beginning of the fourth round on globe A, and sometimes as the time that has passed since the beginning of the fourth round on globe D.16 At one point GdeP says that sedimentation on globe D began 300 to 320 million years ago.17 He also says that nearly two maha-yugas, or about 9 million years, have passed since the middle of the fourth root-race, and that if we add this to 306,720,000 years (bringing the total number of yugas since the start of the fourth round to nearly 73), ‘you come very close to the 319,000,000 or 320,000,000 years as estimated by H.P.B.’18

Elsewhere he says that the fourth round began 308+ million years prior to the middle of the fourth root-race.19 Adding 8,640,000 years to 308,448,000 years gives 317,088,000 years. However although 9 million years is half of the approx. 18 million years that have elapsed since the middle of the third root-race, and the fourth root-race’s first beginnings, the midpoint of the fourth subrace of the fourth root-race – and the lowest, most material point of the fourth round – was reached about 4½ million years ago.

If we use the figure of 308,448,000 years for half a round, and assume that the midpoint of the 4th root-race marked the middle of the fourth round, and that 4,260,080 years have elapsed since then (to 2000), the fourth round on our globe has lasted 312,708,080 years. This would put the age of the earth at 2,165,124,080 years, or some 5 million years more than half its total lifespan.20

Notes to section 5

1. SD 2:68-70; SOP 160-1; FSO 159-62.

2. E. Burgess and W.D. Whitney, Surya-Siddhanta (1860), Wizards Bookshelf, n.d., 1:22-23, pp. 155-6; Chaitanya-Charitamrita: see Richard L. Thompson, Vedic Cosmography and Astronomy, Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1989, p. 19; Isis 1:32; BCW 14:247.
    ‘The Surya-Siddhanta states in its picturesque and metaphoric way, that it was dictated by the Sun himself, through a projected solar representative, to the great sage Asuramaya, ... just at the end of the satya-age of our present maha-yuga [i.e. over 2,165,100 years ago] ... Asuramaya, the Atlantean astronomer and scientist, could with almost equal right be considered as appertaining to the first beginnings of the Aryan race’ (SOP 669-70; FSO 654-5). The present version is commonly believed to have been edited after about 400 AD.
    For evidence of the Surya-Siddhanta’s advanced scientific knowledge, see: Fred J. Dick, The Theosophical Path, July 1911, pp. 64-8, and March 1916, pp. 287-303; Richard L. Thompson, Mysteries of the Sacred Universe, Govardhan Hill Publishing, 2000, pp. 285-94; Richard Thompson, ‘Planetary diameters in the Surya-Siddhanta’, Journal of Scientific Exploration, vol. 11, no. 2, 1997, pp. 193-200; Vedic Cosmography and Astronomy, pp. 10-15; Dwight William Johnson, ‘Exegesis of Hindu cosmological time cycles’,

3. The date of 3102 BC for the start of the kali-yuga is a chronological date rather than an astronomical date; in chronological dating there is no year zero between 1 BC and 1 AD, whereas in astronomical dating there is. See Geochronology, section 4.

4. Multiplying the length of a manvantara (306,720,000 + 1,728,000 = 308,448,000 years) by 14 leaves us one satya-yuga short of 4.32 billion years. According to the Surya-Siddhanta (1:19), this extra sandhi has to be added at the start of the planetary manvantara or day of Brahma, as is done in the above calculation. This would put the length of 7 manvantaras (3.5 rounds) at 2,160,864,000 years, which is one dvapara-yuga more than half a day of Brahma. It may be that the extra satya-yuga needed to make up a day of Brahma should really be distributed more evenly over the planetary manvantara, and that the calculation given above is not strictly accurate (even assuming that the length of a day of Brahma is correctly given – which HPB assures us it is not!). If we divide 4.32 billion by 7 we get 617,142,857.14 – but this can obviously not be built up neatly out of the yugas!

5. SD 2:68fn, 250, 308fn; FEP 112; ET 325-7, 453-4, 760.

6. SD 2:710, 715fn; ET 323; SOP 288, 422; Dia 3:181-2.

7. SD 2:312. The 20th crore of years means greater than 19 crores and less than or equal to 20 crores. So the total number of years being referred to is between 310 and 320 million.

8. See Root-race chronology.

9. ‘... a Manu-antaric period means, as the term implies, the time between the appearance of two manus or dhyan chohans’ (SD 2:308-9). ‘... Manu is the synthesis of the manasa, and he is a single consciousness in the same sense that while all the different cells of which the human body is composed are different and varying consciousnesses, there is still a unit of consciousness which is the man. ... But manu is not really an individuality, it is the whole of mankind. You may say that manu is a generic name for the pitris, the progenitors of mankind’ (BCW 10:364). ‘There is a root-manu at the beginning of every evolutionary period, whether it be of a planet, a planetary chain, or a race of mankind. ... Applied to human beings it means the originators of a human race’ (Dia 2:475).

10. SD 2:72, 148-9, 250-1, 307-9; ET 324. See also SD 2:146-7. For further meanings of Vaivasvata manvantara see SD 2:310.

11. SD 2:69, 1:150fn. This information is given in the Tiru-ganita Pañchanga, a Tamil calendar (SD 2:67-9), which attributes it to the Surya-Siddhanta. But it is not to be found in the publicly available version of the latter (see
      Another reference to the time elapsed since the start of the fourth round: ‘we are taught that it took 300,000,000 of years for the two lower kingdoms to evolve, and that our humanity is just 18 and some odd millions old’ (SD 2:308fn). This gives a total of 318.6 million years, but 300,000,000 years is probably just a rounded figure. We are also told that the astral prototypes of the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms up to man took 300,000,000 to evolve and re-form out of the cast-off materials of the preceding round (SD 2:68fn). The same figure appears in the Stanzas of Dzyan (SD 2:52).

12. SD 2:308fn.

13. SOP 359-60.

14. SOP 422.

15. SD 2:715fn; ET 323. This contradicts Hans Malmstedt’s assertion that the Brahmanical figure of 1,972,949,101 years (which assumes that the fourth round began less than 28 maha-yugas ago) refers to the age of our globe D, whereas the first round on globe A started hundreds of millions of years earlier (‘Our position in time on globe D’, The Theosophical Path, Oct 1933, pp. 226-35). The time that elapsed between the beginning of the fourth round on globes A and D has not been specified but must be far less than hundreds of millions of years.

16. SD 2:710, 715fn; ET 323; SOP 288, 422; FSO 161; see Geochronology, section 1.

17. Dia 3:181-2. ‘[I]t has taken some 320,000,000 years, in round numbers, ... since the first geological sedimentary deposits were made on our globe Earth since the beginning of this fourth round ...’ (EST 4:76).

18. SOP 422.

19. SOP 161. Referring to HPB’s statement that sedimentation, or evolutionary work, in the fourth round began some 320 million years go, GdeP comments: ‘Now as a round is 308,000,000, how about the difference between 308 and 320? There are some 12 or more million years to go. Just think these things out. They are all keys’ (SOP 360).

20. Since we have passed the midpoint of the fourth round, we cannot be in the 28th maha-yuga of the 7th manvantara (see calculation at the start of this section). If we assume that we are in the 1st maha-yuga of the 8th manvantara, the age of the earth (to 2000) would be: (7 x 306,720,000) + (8 x 1,728,000) + 3,893,101 = 2,164,757,101 years.

6. Twelve rounds and races

The teachings given out by HPB highlight the number 7: e.g. 7 cosmic and human principles, 7 root-races, subraces etc., 7 rounds, 7 globes, 7 sacred planets.1 In elucidating and expanding upon HPB’s teachings, GdeP largely shifted the emphasis to the number 12 (or sometimes 10).

GdeP says that there are three elemental rounds before the seven ‘manifest’ rounds and two rounds after them. The elemental rounds take place on ‘the three archetypal planes above the seven’.

This period is not yet really ethereal manifestation: it is the first descent of the arupa (or bodiless) beings of spiritual nature into subspiritual manifestation; but when the third or lowest of the three archetypal planes has been traversed, by that time the life-wave or life-essence has consolidated sufficiently in ethereal matter to form an airy shape or ethereal globe. This globe thence starts on the manvantaric cycle down into matter, a cycle which proceeds in seven stages, actually seven, and upon and in seven globes ...2

... before the first of what are called by H.P.B. the seven rounds, there are three elementary rounds. ... They are the rounds in which the elemental activities needed for the beginnings of the formation of the globes take place. This makes ten rounds. Then counting after this way, there are two rounds after the ten, making the twelve or closing out rounds before the chain dies; as the Moon had died. Thus there are actually twelve rounds. The main or the most important to us at present are the seven manifest rounds, as we may call them ...3

HPB may be hinting at the two rounds following the seven when she writes:

As the seven months old unborn baby, though quite ready, yet needs two months more in which to acquire strength and consolidate; so man, having perfected his evolution during seven rounds, remains two periods more in the womb of mother-nature before he is born, or rather reborn a dhyani ...4

GdeP says: ‘we shall become dhyan-chohans when this chain reaches the end of the 7th round, or 12th, the concluding round’.5

These quotations seem to imply that the five additional rounds are part of the planetary manvantara, and do not refer to processes taking place during the planetary rest period or pralaya (lit. ‘dissolution’). However, if we define a planetary manvantara as the period covered by the seven rounds, then the five additional rounds would have to encompass at least part of what is normally regarded as the ‘pralaya’. We should bear in mind that it is only the lower element-principles of each globe of a planetary chain that disintegrate and disperse during the pralaya.6

HPB draws an analogy between the after-death processes in the case of a planet and those that apply to each human individual:

The latter lives through his life-cycle, and dies. His ‘higher principles,’ corresponding in the development of a planetary chain to the cycling monads, pass into devachan, which corresponds to the ‘nirvana’ and states of rest intervening between two chains. The man’s lower ‘principles’ are disintegrated in time and are used by nature again for the formation of new human principles, and the same process takes place in the disintegration and formation of worlds.7

When a planetary chain is in its last round, each globe, before dying, sends all its life-energies and ‘principles’ into a laya-centre or ‘sleeping centre’, ‘a neutral centre of latent force’.8 Such a laya-centre – ‘the spiritual-psychomagnetic vital essences of any globe of the planetary chain’ – is located outside our solar system. It lies dormant until the time for a new manifestation arrives, when it reawakens to activity and begins to move and wander as a comet until it is eventually drawn back its former home in space.9

GdeP elaborates on this process:

First of all we have the aetheric awakening into life of a laya-center, which, starting to move in its wanderings through space, gradually accretes to itself aetheric and etheric matter and thus slowly enters upon its second stage, the etheric; and when this stage is ended, the laya-center which is now manifesting as an ethereal comet, has just about become a member of the solar system to which its karmic destiny has inevitably drawn it back to imbodiment as a planetary chain-to-be. Once the comet is settled in its orbit around the sun as a highly ethereal globe in the first, or first and second states, of the matter of the physical cosmic plane, the three kingdoms of the elementals in serial order begin their characteristic activities, and so gradually build a luminous and glowing or ‘cloudy’ body, of very slight physical density ... When this stage has been finished the ‘first round’ starts ...10

GdeP says that all planets, moons, stars, comets, and nebulae consist of 12 globes rather than 7.11 There are two possible ways of numbering them in relation to the sevenfold scheme emphasized by HPB:

(a)             (b)      
  2   12   1   11
  3   11   2   10
  4 (1)   10 (7)   3 (1)   9 (7)
  5 (2)   9  (6)   4 (2)   8 (6)
  6 (3)   8  (5)   5 (3)   7 (5)
    7 (4)       6 (4)  

If we start counting from the topmost globe (diagram a), there are three globes on the arc of descent before the first of the seven manifest globes, and two on the arc of ascent after the last of the manifest seven, just as there are (in one method of counting) three rounds before the manifest seven, and two after. However, while globe D is the middle (and lowest) globe in the sevenfold scheme, there is no middle globe in the twelvefold scheme, since 12 is an even number. D would only be the middle globe if a round both begins and ends on the topmost globe. According to GdeP:

... no round of the seven begins with globe A of the seven and ends with globe G of the seven, according to the exoteric teaching. That is correct as far as it goes. Every round whatsoever begins with the first or topmost globe, runs through all the globes of the descending arc to our Earth or globe D, then ascends through all the globes of the ascending arc until the first is reached again, which we can call the first or the twelfth.12

GdeP refers to ‘seven or ten root-races’ in the human kingdom.13 By analogy, there are presumably 12 root-races – perhaps with three of them coming before the ‘first’ root-race and two after the ‘seventh’. The five extra root-races may be connected with the development of the shishtas.14 GdeP gives the following explanation of the great length of the first root-race:

It was because root-race 1, in the manner in which H.P.B. speaks of it, was not only astral, but as she describes it, really represented the shishtas from the preceding round, the third. This root-race 1, beginning with shishtas, took ages before actually settling down into a root-race, that is, typically a root-race of the new round, no longer merely shishtas. The cause of the awakening and slow evolutionary processes was that the forerunners of the life-wave began coming in millions and millions of years before the first root-race as a race apart so to speak could be said actually to have begun.15

Notes to section 6

1. HPB calls 10 the ‘sacred number’ or ‘perfect number’ (SD 1:98, 360, 362; BCW 12:58-9, 525, 14:112-3fn ; see FEP 88-91). She describes 12 in the same way (SD 1:649, 2:36).

2. FEP 111.

3. Dia 3:441.

4. SD 2:257.

5. Dia 3:169.

6. GdeP points out that the terms manvantara and pralaya are relative:
    ‘In the case of man, the incarnation of the spiritual ego is a relative “death” for that ego; and similarly the ending of the imbodiment in the worlds of matter is a reawakening of the spiritual ego to a wider range of self-consciousness in and on its own planes and worlds. In identical fashion, and following always the master key of analogy, what we call manvantara is a death of the cosmic spirit – is, in a paradoxical sense, a sort of devachan or even a kama-loka of the cosmic spirit or mind; and it is only when manvantara ends and pralaya begins that these dreams and visions of the cosmic spirit fade away, and its vast consciousness awakens once more to the full reality of its own sublime Selfhood’ (FSO 96).
    ‘So we see that manvantara is a kind of death to the cosmic monad expressing itself through its beclouding veils of the anima mundi. It is a kind of deprivation, a sinking into the maya of cosmic dreams; whereas pralaya is really the spirit of the universe fully awake on its own plane, because all is ingathered into it, and it is freely active in its own ineffably spiritual realms’ (FSO 180).

7. SD 1:173.

8. SD 1:147, 155-6. GdeP says that when a planetary chain goes into pralaya, its monads and life-atoms remain in space as cosmic dust on the physical plane, and as corresponding life-atoms on the astral, psychic, intellectual, quasi-spiritual, spiritual, and divine planes (FEP 592; FSO 122-3). ‘The cosmic dust resulting from the dissolution of a former world rests in a laya-center; while the highest principles of that world or planetary chain are in their paranirvana ...’ (FEP 60). The chain laya-centre contains within itself the globe laya-centres, and when the thrill of life again runs through the laya-centres they begin to differentiate and condense (FSO 136; FEP 551).

9. FSO 136-7.

10. FSO 197. A planet does not reembody as a comet at the very beginning of a new solar manvantara; instead, the planets condense within the solar nebula (‘comet’) from which the sun itself is born (FEP 59-63; ET 193).

11. ET 172; OG 52, 130. KH hints at the existence of more than 7 globes when he calls a round ‘the passage of a monad from globe “A” to globe “Z” (or “G”)’ (ML2 80, MLC 173; FSO 352, EST 7:96fn).
    ‘... the seven globes of the twelve are for convenience called the manifest globes or the globes of the rupa worlds, and the five upper globes are called arupa, not because they have no form, but to us in our present cognitional development they seem formless much in the same way as a thought is formless to us, and yet we know that thoughts are beings of form and that each thought imbodies an elemental’ (Dia 3:440).
    Our own globe is the lowest of our own planetary chain, but GdeP describes the highest and lowest globes of a planetary chain as polar links, junction globes, or transition globes (FEP 599; FSO 186; Dia 2:385).

12. Dia 3:440. ‘A round begins in the highest of the twelve globes and proceeds regularly from globe to globe around the chain’ (FSO 197). ‘... when the life-waves have reached the highest globe of our chain, the first round is ended. After the nirvana at the end of the first round, the second round begins’ (FSO 248). See also FSO 361, 364, 366.
    Although 616,896,000 years is often represented as the average length of a round from globe A to G (SOP 160-1, FSO 160), it must really cover the passage of all the life-waves from the topmost globe and back to that globe, including all the interglobe nirvanas and also the inter-round nirvana, which, for the human monads, coincides with the passage through the five upper globes (FSO 363).

13. Dia 3:203. Another hint that there are more than seven races: ‘So in the last root-race of the present fourth round, the one we popularly call the seventh ...’ (EST 4:84).

14. See Shishtas: seeds of life.

15. SOP 162.

7. Planetary embodiments

A maha-manvantara or universal manvantara – also called a life or age of Brahma – lasts 100 divine years, a divine year being equal to 360 of Brahma’s days and nights. The maha-manvantara therefore comprises 36,000 planetary embodiments, and lasts 36,000 x 8,640,000,000 = 311,040,000,000,000 years. It is followed by a maha-pralaya. A minor solar manvantara comprises not 7 but 12 planetary embodiments, since 7 is not a factor of 36,000 while 12 is; a maha-manvantara consists of 3000 minor solar manvantaras of 12 embodiments each.1

During each embodiment of a planetary chain, the globes (including all the kingdoms that compose and inhabit them) gradually materialize during the first half of the life cycle (the descending arc), and then slowly etherealize and spiritualize during the second half-cycle (the ascending arc).2 By analogy, the same general pattern is followed in a minor solar manvantara.3 In the sevenfold scheme, the globes of a planetary chain successively embody one subplane lower in the second, third, and fourth embodiments, then one subplane higher in each of the last three embodiments.4 After seven embodiments a planetary chain therefore enters a new cosmic plane and a new sun dawns for the next planetary chain manvantara.5

A globe does not actually ‘move’ from subplane to subplane or plane to plane; rather, all the globes of a chain are evolving, i.e. materializing on a descending arc, or etherealizing on an ascending arc. The globes therefore become different subplanes (loka-talas) according to the changes in the rate of vibration of their energy-substances. All other microcosmic and macrocosmic bodies and entities vibrating within the same range of frequencies, and therefore falling within the same range of perception, can be regarded as belonging to the same plane or subplane.

According to ancient Hindu works such as the Surya-Siddhanta, the moon-chain was the 18,000th embodiment of what we now call the earth planetary chain in the present maha-manvantara; it therefore marked the end of the first half of the life of Brahma. The earth-chain is the 18,001st embodiment,6 and each globe is one subplane higher than the corresponding globe of the moon-chain; the moon we see is therefore not the former physical globe D of the moon-chain but the astral shell or kama-rupa of its globe D.7 The previous planetary manvantara is known as the padma (lotus) kalpa, and the present one is known as the varaha (boar) kalpa.8

GdeP says that the lowest point of the maha-manvantaric cycle was reached when the moon-chain reached the middle of its fourth round. We have been cycling down our hierarchy for 50 divine years (over 155 trillion and 520 billion years) to the lowest point of it on the moon, and since then we have begun the slow climb back to the summit of our hierarchy. Instead of the first 18,000 embodiments taking place successively one subplane lower, there are smaller descending and ascending arcs during each minor solar manvantara, with the overall trend being downward.

If the moon marked the lowest point, that would imply that it was the 4th in a series of seven embodiments, since ‘the fourth in any series of planes or principles is always the grossest of the series’.9 The earth-chain must therefore be the 5th embodiment.10 But if the moon was the 18,000th embodiment, that would make it the last (12th) embodiment of the 1500th minor solar manvantara, and the earth-chain would be the first in the next series of twelve embodiments. But this would place both the moon embodiment and the present earth embodiment outside the seven ‘manifest’ embodiments considered in the simplified sevenfold scheme. Moreover, if in each minor solar manvantara, a globe first moves down a subplane with each embodiment on the descending arc and then up a subplane with each embodiment on the ascending arc, that would imply that the moon embodiment (the 12th) would have taken place on one of the highest subplanes and could not have marked the lowest point.

Before examining this problem further, consider the following diagrams, which show a series of five minor solar manvantaras. The numbers 1 to 12 represent the subplane on which any particular one of the 12 globes (e.g. our own globe D) reembodies during 12 successive embodiments, each embodiment taking place one subplane higher or lower than the last.

(a) Overall ascending arc
1                                 1     11  
2   12                        12    2   10  
3   11   1                 1     11   3   9  
4   10   2   12        12   2   10   4   8  
5   9   3   11   1   11   3   9   5   7  
6   8   4   10   2   10   4   8    
    5   9   3 (1)   9 (7)   5   7          
        6   8   4 (2)     8 (6)    
    5 (3)   7 (5)                  
6 (4*)
no. of solar manvantara:
7-fold scheme
12-fold scheme
3000 12-fold sol manvs

(b) Overall descending arc
2   12                                12   
3   11   1                         1     11  
4   10   2   12                12    2   10  
5   9   3   11   1         1     11   3   9  
6   8   4   10   2   12    2   10   4   8  
    5   9   3   11   3   9   5   7  
        6   8   4 (1)   10 (7)   4   8    
    5 (2)     9  (6)   5   7          
                6 (3)   8  (5)    
7 (4*)
no. of solar manvantara:
  7-fold scheme
  12-fold scheme
3000 12-fold sol manvs

These 5 minor solar manvantaras could be part of a series of 7 or 12 (or 3000), with 4* marking the lowest point. Diagram (a) shows an overall upward arc, while (b) shows an overall downward arc, since in (a) the finishing point is higher than the starting point, and in (b) it is lower than the starting point. Whether the most material of the 12 embodiments of a globe is the 7th or 6th embodiment therefore depends on whether the solar manvantara concerned is part of a descending arc or ascending arc on a larger scale, since this determines whether the overall tendency is towards matter or spirit. Embodiment 4* corresponds to the 6th embodiment in an overall ascending arc and the 7th in an overall descending arc.

As already said, if the first minor manvantara of the maha-manvantara begins with a downward arc, and the moon was the 18,000th embodiment (the 12th embodiment of the 1500th minor solar manvantara), the moon embodiment would have fallen outside the seven ‘manifest’ embodiments and could not have marked the lowest point (4*). The moon embodiment would be either the 17,994th embodiment (in a) or the 18,007th embodiment (in b).

One way in which the moon could be both the 12th embodiment of a minor solar manvantara and the 18,000th in the maha-manvantara, and yet the lowest, would be for the first minor manvantara of the maha-manvantara to begin with an upward arc rather than a downward arc; the 7th embodiment would then become the 1st, and the 6th would become the 12th. But the maha-manvantara would have to be part of an overall ascending arc. However, representing a minor solar manvantara as an upward arc followed by a downward arc would be very odd. Whatever the truth, we clearly have far more to learn about this subject.

Notes to section 7

1. Just as a planetary manvantara is said to be followed by a planetary pralaya of the same length, and a maha-manvantara is said to be followed by a maha-pralaya of the same length, so a minor solar manvantara is said to be followed by a minor solar pralaya (presumably of the same length) (FEP 510; SOP 391; Dia 3:378-9). But if that were the case, a maha-manvantara would not comprise 3000 minor solar manvantaras of 12 embodiments each, but only 1500! Unless, that is, the five additional embodiments in the twelvefold scheme refer to processes taking place during the pralaya. A minor solar manvantara is not always explicitly said to be followed by a minor solar pralaya (FEP 296).

2. SD1:159, 2:68fn; ET 325-7, 453-4; FEP 112.

3. FEP 345.

4. FSO 246-7; FEP 512-4; ET 447-8fn; SOP 389, 391.

5. SOP 391; FSO 160, 235fn.

6. Surya-Siddhanta, 1:21; OG 20-1; SOP 358; FEP 145, 184, 468.

7. FEP 548-50; Dia 2:139; SD 2:45, 115, 611.

8. SD 1:368, 2:179.

9. FSO 246.

10. Echoes 2:405-6; FEP 184, 468; Dia 1:17-8.

8. Relative lengths of rounds and races

GdeP writes:

the time-periods passed by any life-wave on the more ethereal globes on the descending and ascending arcs respectively, are much longer than the time-periods passed by such a life-wave on the more material globes, such as is our Earth.1

This could imply a progression in the ratio of 4:3:2:1:2:3:4. Elsewhere, he says that the situation depends on how material or ethereal each life-wave is:

The lower the globe is, the longer is the time-period passed on it by the life-waves which are material or materialized; and the shorter are the time-periods passed on it by those life-waves which are spiritual, or spiritualized. Conversely, the higher the globe is, the shorter is the time-period passed by the material life-waves in and on it; and the longer the time-period passed by the ethereal and spiritual life-waves in and on it.
    Thus the mineral life-wave has a very short manvantaric time-period on the higher and highest globes of our planetary chain, and a very long time-period on the lowest globe of our planetary chain, globe D. Conversely, the dhyan-chohanic life-waves and the human have a relatively short life-period on globe D, the lowest of the globes, and a correspondingly longer time-period on the higher and highest globes.2

The lower kingdoms, such as the mineral and elemental kingdoms, run down the downward arc (globes A to D) more quickly than the higher kingdoms, such as the human kingdom, while the higher kingdoms accomplish the upward arc (globes D to G) more quickly than the inferior kingdoms. In other words, for the younger kingdoms the law of acceleration operates on the downward arc, and the law of retardation on the upward arc, while the converse applies to the older, more evolved kingdoms.3

A further qualification is given in this passage:

a life-wave does not remain the same length of time on every globe, for not only do the life-waves differ in spirituality and materiality, but the higher the globe the shorter the imbodiment period upon it. The reason for this is that the spiritual and intellectual faculties are then more strongly aroused and do not yearn for material things or imbodied existence. It is the same rule which applies to the devachanic interludes: the more spiritual and intellectual the ego, the longer is its devachan – so long as the devachan is needed; the grosser and more materialistic the individual, the shorter is the devachan, and hence the more numerous are the imbodiments on a globe during the passage of the life-wave to which it belongs.4

HPB writes:

The seven rounds decrease and increase in their respective durations, as well as the seven races in each. Thus the 4th round as well as every 4th race are the shortest, while the 1st and 7th round as the 1st and 7th root races are the longest.5

This may imply a regular progression in the ratio 4:3:2:1:2:3:4. In any event, HPB gives no indication elsewhere that the fifth root-race will last longer than the fourth, and even as long as the third. GdeP indicates that the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh root-races become progressively shorter.6

HPB also writes: ‘The fourth round is the longest in the kali yuga, then the fifth, then the sixth, and the seventh will be very short.’7 This could imply a 1:2:3:4:3:2:1 progression, though the reference appears to be to the (relative) length of the kali-yuga in each round (which is presumably proportional to the degree of materiality) rather than to the overall length of the rounds.

In the following passage GdeP suggests that something more akin to a 7:6:5:4:3:2:1 progression applies to the rounds:

each round is a little shorter than the preceding round, and the seventh round is the shortest of all, the reason being that the entity is approaching graduation from that school-house which is the planetary chain. Having studied as in a school-room for so many aeons of years, having become proficient in the lessons learned there, the entity takes its last and final examinations with relative ease and quickness, and passes through the last or seventh phase of learning much more quickly and easily than it did in the preceding times.8

In other words, later rounds are shorter because they increasingly consist of recapitulation.

There could be several progressions operating simultaneously:

Ethereality: 4, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4
Recapitulation:   7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

In an unfinished article not published in her lifetime, HPB suggested that the ratio applicable to the seven root-races, the seven rounds, and the period on each globe during a round is 1:2:3:4:5:6:7.9 The next section looks at the nonsense to which this gives rise.

Notes to section 8

1. ET 195.

2. Dia 3:348-9.

3. FEP 595-7; ML2 95-6, MLC 186.

4. FSO 362.

5. BCW 6:117fn.

6. SOP 165-6; Dia 2:162.

7. IGT 86

8. Dia 2:260.

9. BCW 13:301-6.

9. The unfinished article controversy

The manuscript of an unfinished essay on cosmic cycles and manvantaras, in HPB’s handwriting, exists in the archives of the Adyar Theosophical Society.1 Some of its pages are missing and some of the sentences are broken off. A curious feature is that the handwriting shows two variants, one of which is larger and more rounded than HPB’s ordinary one – this may be connected with the way in which the article was written or transmitted. The article probably dates from 1884.2

The article claims to provide ‘the key of the septenary arithmetical progression series’, which – we’re told – is not to be found in ‘exoteric’ works:

The duration of the existence of humanity during the seven rounds is 1:2:3:4:5:6:7. In each round, the duration of the existence of humanity, on the seven planets [i.e. globes] of our chain is 1:2:3:4:5:6:7. The period of human existence in seven races, on one planet, is again 1:2:3:4:5:6:7. Now, as the planet evolves the 7 races in succession, before humanity can pass on to the next planet, the interval between the disappearance of humanity from one planet and its reappearance on the next, is equal to its existence on the planet which it is has just left.3

Applying this ‘key’ yields the following figures for the lengths of the seven rounds (half of each figure is said to represent planetary activity, and the other half the planetary rest periods):4

First round
Second round
Third round


Fourth round
Fifth round
Sixth round
Seventh round   

The total is 8 years short of 4,320,000,000, due to rounding.

The article works out that the human period of activity on our globe D in the fourth round is 44,081,632 years. The figures given for the length of each root-race are:

First race
Second race
Third race
Fourth race
Fifth race
Sixth race
Seventh race  

The article concludes:

... the above figures are exact, if the exoteric calculations of the Brahmins about the day of Brahma be correct. But we may again state here that that figure is not correctly given out in exoteric numbers. We may, however, add that the explanations given by us about the progressions, etc., are facts and can be faithfully utilized when any one of the above described figures are correctly known – in calculating all the rest of the figures.5

Since acceptance of the figures given above would require us to throw the chronology presented in the SD out of the window, the word ‘facts’ in the above quotation should perhaps be changed to ‘blinds’!

Geoffrey Barborka, however, believed that this unfinished article really did present the esoteric keys.6 He stated that ‘after several efforts’ he discovered that the numerical progression given by HPB ‘may likewise be applied to the subraces’. This is an odd statement, since applying the progression 1:2:3:4:5:6:7 to the subraces requires no effort at all – it is simply a matter of dividing by 28 (=1+2+3+4+5+6+7) and then multiplying by 1 to 7 in turn. What Barborka actually did was invent a brand-new scheme of his very own (without openly saying so) – for reasons we will try to deduce in a moment.

Instead of subraces 2 to 7 of any root-race being multiples of the first, in accordance with the system presented in the article, Barborka clearly decided that they should all differ from the length of the preceding subrace by a fixed number, which he set at 1/49 of the length of the root-race in question.

Taking the fifth root-race as an example: Its total length is supposedly 7,871,720 years. Dividing by 49 gives 160,647.3. Barborka rounds this off to 160,645 years. Therefore:
    7,871,720 = (7 x length of first subrace) + ([1+2+3+4+5+6] x 160,645)
Hence the duration of the first subrace is 642,596 years. Here is Barborka’s complete table:7

First subrace
Second subrace
Third subrace
Fourth subrace
Fifth subrace
Sixth subrace
Seventh subrace  

In other words, instead of the progression 1:2:3:4:5:6:7, Barborka substitutes 1 : 1.25 : 1.50 : 1.75 : 2.00 : 2.25 : 2.50! But why?

According to the figures given in the unfinished article, the duration of the first four root-races is 15,743,440 years. The article states: ‘The number of years that elapsed since the beginning of Vaivasvata Manvantara equals 18,618,725 years’ (up to 1884). So assuming that ‘Vaivasvata manvantara’ refers to the period since the start of the first root-race, Barborka concludes that the duration of the fifth root-race must have been 2,875,285 years (up to 1884).8 Since, according to Barborka’s calculation, the first three subraces lived 2,409,723 years, that would mean that we are currently in the fourth subrace, which has existed 465,678 years (up to 2000) and still has 658,853 years to live.

We can now begin to see why Barborka invented his new scheme for the subraces. Note what would have happened if he’d applied the straightforward 1:2:3:4:5:6:7 progression. The duration of the first subrace would simply have been 7,871,720 divided by 28:

First subrace
Second subrace
Third subrace
Fourth subrace
Fifth subrace
Sixth subrace
Seventh subrace  

In this table, the duration of the first four subraces is 2,811,329 years, so to account for the length of Vaivasvata manvantara, we would now have to be in the fifth subrace, which would have existed 64,072 years (up to 2000) and have another 1,341,592 years to live. But Barborka must have been convinced that we were in the fourth subrace of the fifth root-race – a statement widely found in theosophical literature. So while accepting the 1:2:3:4:5:6:7 ratio in the case of rounds and root-races, he resorted to an arbitrary and contrived scheme of his own for calculating the length of the subraces.

The fact is that the alternative scheme presented in the unfinished article is utterly at odds with the standard chronology found in the SD and all HPB’s other writings, and in the writings of GdeP. The alternative scheme destroys the correspondences between root-races and the geological ages. In the standard chronology, the fourth round began about 320 million years ago, and the first root-race goes back over 120 million years. In the alternative scheme the first root-race goes back just 18.6 million years, whereas in the standard chronology this number of years takes us back to the latter half of the third root-race.9 HPB states:

The Cis-Himalayan secret teachings differ from those of India in this respect. Hindu occultism teaches that Vaivasvata Manu Humanity is eighteen million and odd years old. We say, yes; but only so far as physical, or approximately physical, man is concerned, who dates from the close of the third root-race.10

In the standard chronology, the semi-astral late second and early third root-races ‘threw off’ in early Mesozoic times the astral prototypes of the later mammals, but in the alternative scheme these root-races originated millions of years after the first mammals. In the standard chronology, the root-races overlap – but there is no mention of this in the alternative scheme. In the alternative scheme the fifth root-race will live for 7.87 million years, the sixth root-race for 9.45 million years, and the seventh for 11.02 million years. So much for recapitulation! In the standard chronology, the sixth root-race will emerge during the next 400,000 years, will live for a total of just over 6 million years and will overlap the seventh root-race, which will live for a shorter period.11 This implies another 10.5 million years or so of human activity on this globe in the present round, as opposed to 25.5 million years in the alternative scheme.

Barborka does not bother to mention any of these contradictions. He even asserts that the SD fails to give time-periods for the first four root-races – a demonstrably false claim.12 What he should have said is that the SD chronology of the root-races bears no resemblance whatsoever to the figures given in the unfinished article.

What is the basis of the chronology presented in the SD? Some of the figures are taken from the Tiru-ganita Pañchanga, a Tamil calendar praised by the learned Brahmans of Southern India. It is said to be compiled from, and in full accordance with, secret fragments of Asuramaya’s data – Asuramaya being ‘the greatest astronomer of the islands of Atlantis’.13 We are told that the Brahmanical exoteric figures ‘dovetail pretty nearly with those of the secret works’ and ‘are approximately the basic calculations of our esoteric system’.14 The other key element of the SD chronology is the dating of the geological ages. The figures are derived by distributing the period of the fourth round – 320 million years, a number said to be ‘certain, on occult data’ – among the geological eras in proportion to the thickness of the relevant deposits. We are told that the resulting estimates ‘harmonise with the statements of the esoteric ethnology in almost every particular’.15

It would be perverse to overturn the SD chronology on the basis of an illogical scheme written down several years before the SD and never published by HPB. Most likely, the masters decided that, instead of giving out a bucketful of blinds, as found in the unfinished article, they would give out something rather closer to the truth in the SD several years later.

The figure of 308,448,000 years given in Hindu exoteric works for the period of a manvantara is about half that given for the fourth round in the unfinished article (i.e. 617,142,856 years). The articles states: ‘Our planet [globe] being the exactly middle period and we being in the middle of the seven rounds, our round period may have been taken to denote the average manvantaric period, thus at the same time giving a key in a veiled form to the mystery of the geometrical progression.’16 However, an easier way to derive the figure of 308+ million years is to take a day of Brahma of 4,320,000,000 years, subtract a satya-yuga17 – which is usually described as a ‘sandhi’,18 but which the unfinished article says the Brahmans added ‘for purposes of esoteric secrecy’19 – and divide by 14 to get 308,448,000, or by 7 to get 616,896,000, the full period of a round.

The lengths of the seven rounds given in the unfinished article imply that evolutionary activity on our planetary chain began less than 1.2 billion years ago, whereas the figure given in the SD, based on Brahmanical calculations, is about 1.9 billion years.20 Moreover, this same figure is given on the very first page of the unfinished manuscript, thereby contradicting what is stated later in that article.21 As indicated in section 5, the real figure may be a little higher than 1.9 billion years.

If we were to reverse the progression to read 7:6:5:4:3:2:1, the first three rounds alone would have lasted nearly 2.8 billion years, and the figure would rise to nearly 3.1 billion years if we add on 320 million years for the fourth round. This seems to depart too radically from the Brahmanical figure given in the SD. If we apply a progression of 4:3:2:1:2:3:4, the duration of the first three rounds together (as of rounds 5, 6 and 7 together) is just over 2.01 billion years but the total length of the fourth round would be only 227.4 million years – whereas we are told that it has already lasted for some 320 million years! So this doesn’t seem right either.

Since root-races overlap, it may be that rounds do too, but none of the figures we have been given explicitly take this into account. Using a 4:3:2:1:2:3:4 progression, and assuming each round begins in the middle of the preceding round, the earth would have formed some 2.1 billion years ago, and the fourth round would last for just over 682 million years – figures fairly close to those given in the SD.

We will have to await a further cycle of teachings from the Himalayan Brotherhood before learning more (facts and/or blinds) about this subject. In the meantime, we are free to ponder and speculate. It is probably best to approach the subject in the same playful spirit as that in which these fragmentary teachings about cycles seem to have been given to us. Otherwise we might find ourselves becoming frustrated with the masters for ‘wasting’ our time with their ‘silly blinds’, instead of giving out all their secrets to us ‘worthy’ westerners without further ado. Such a haughty and combative attitude was at times adopted by A.O. Hume back in the early 1880s – causing the masters to describe him as a ‘wild ass’!22

Notes to section 9

1. BCW 13:301-6.

2. The article states that 1,955,884,685 years have elapsed since the beginning of cosmic evolution on globe A. In the SD (2:68) the figure given is 1,955,884,687 years (to 1887); the last three digits should actually read 986 (see Geochronology, section 4). If the same errors were made in the unfinished article, it was written in 1885, and otherwise in 1884. The article also states that the time that has passed since Manu Vaivasvata inaugurated the human manvantara on globe D in the present round is 18,618,725 years. In the SD (2:69) the figure given is 18,618,728 years (to 1887). This suggests the article was written in 1884.

3. BCW 13:305.

4. The masters, however, say that obscurations ‘last in a proportion of 1 to 10’ (ML2 177, MLC 331-2). As GdeP explains, after each globe-round of any particular life-wave, the globe enters a period of obscuration or dormancy lasting about one tenth as long as the previous period of global activity, until the next life-wave enters the globe. The departing life-wave enters its interglobal period of rest/nirvana equal to one tenth of the length of the globe-round just ended, before commencing its evolution on the next globe (Dia 2:15, 264-5, 3:320-1; FSO 350, 361).

5. BCW 13:305-6.

6. Geoffrey Barborka, The Peopling of the Earth, Theosophical Publishing House, 1975, pp. 203-17.

7. Ibid., p. 215. An article that takes seriously the scheme given in the unfinished article, and Barborka’s weird ‘extension’ of it, is: Robert Bruce MacDonald, ‘The moon, the earth and racial pralayas’, Fohat, summer 2006, pp. 42-7.

8. The Peopling of the Earth, p. 209. Or 2,875,401 years to 2000. Note that this figure bears no resemblance to either the period since the start of current maha-yuga, i.e. 3,893,101 years (to 2000), or to the figure of 4,260,080 years since the start of the Aryan root-race (164 precessional cycles + 9200 years; see section 4). The period of 2,875,401 years began 1,017,700 years into the current maha-yuga.
    It would be interesting to know how the figure of 18,618,841 years (SD 2:69) for Vaivasvata manvantara (up to 2000) was calculated. The last digit (1) indicates that it could be based on the yugas, since the present maha-yuga began 3,893,101 years ago. The period of 18,618,841 years began 826,260 years after the start of the treta-yuga of the fourth maha-yuga prior to the current maha-yuga. The significance of the period of 826,260 years (= 13,771 x 60) is not immediately evident.
    Hans Malmstedt says that if we consider the period of 18,618,740 years preceding the present kali-yuga, and deduct 1075 periods of 1,728,000 years each (i.e. 18,576,000 years), we are left with 37,740 years. He adds: ‘This number of years has a certain relation to a far greater period, closely connected with the five globes above the seven manifested globes of our planetary chain’ (‘Our position in time on globe D’, The Theosophical Path, Oct 1933, pp. 226-35). Unfortunately, he does not expand on this bold assertion!

9. SD 2:156-7, 261; SOP 360. ‘... the figures 18,000,000 of years, which embrace the duration of sexual, physical, man, have to be enormously increased if the whole process of spiritual, astral and physical development is taken into account’ (SD 2:157).
    The later third root-race is in fact sometimes referred to as the ‘first’ (sexual, physical) human race – e.g. SD 2:46, 148-9, 290fn, 310, 312-3.

10. SD 2:251. HPB usually speaks of the Trans-Himalayan Brotherhood (i.e. on the other side of the Himalayas). The term ‘Cis-Himalayan’ (on this side) indicates that one of the masters wrote or dictated the above passage.

11. SOP 165-6.

12. The Peopling of the Earth, p. 206. See Root-race chronology.

13. SD 2:67. For more on the Tiru-ganita Pañchanga, see

14. SD 2:70.

15. SD 2:710. See Geochronology.

16. BCW 13:305.

17. SD 2:69.

18. Isis 1:32.

19. BCW 13:303.

20. SD 2:68.

21. BCW 13:301.

22. ML2 269, MLC 277.

Appendix 1. Dating the kali-yuga

The traditional Hindu date for the beginning of the kali-yuga is 18 February 3102 BC, which is also the date on which the avatar Krishna is said to have departed from the earth. According to the Brahmans of Tiruvarur, the astronomical epoch of kali-yuga began at sunrise on 18 February 3102 BC, and the civil era began at about 2.27 am on 16 February 3102 BC.1 The kali-yuga is also said to have begun at midnight between 17 and 18 February 3102 BC.2

J.-S. Bailly writes:

The Hindus assert that at the first moment of Kali-Yuga there was a conjunction of all the planets; and their tables show this conjunction while ours indicate that it might actually have occurred. Jupiter and Mercury were in exactly the same degree of the ecliptic; Mars being 8° and Saturn 17° distant from it. It follows that about this time, or some fourteen days after the commencement of Kali-Yuga ... the Hindus saw four planets emerge successively from the Sun’s rays; first Saturn, then Mars, then Jupiter and Mercury, and these planets appeared united in a somewhat small space. Although Venus was not among them, the taste for the marvellous caused it to be called a general conjunction of all the planets. The testimony of the Brahmans here coincides with that of our tables; and this evidence, the results of a tradition, must be founded on actual observation. ...
    We may remark that this phenomenon was visible about a fortnight after the epoch, and exactly at the time when the eclipse of the moon must have been observed, which served to fix the epoch. The two observations mutually confirm each other; whoever made the one must have made the other also.3

More recently, Richard Thompson has confirmed that ‘a near conjunction of all the planets did take place precisely on the Kali-yuga date of February 18, 3102 B.C.’ Using a modern ephemeris program (SkyGlobe), he examined the positions of the planets for every day from 1 January 4000 BC to 1 January 2000 AD.

In that entire period of time, there are no alignments of planets that come even close to being exact. But there are many approximate alignments, and one of the closest in this entire period occurs exactly on the Kali-yuga starting date.4

Here are the alignments he found for midnight on 17/18 February 3102 BC, on the meridian of Ujjain.5


Ecliptic longitude  
Difference from average
longitude of 306.42° (°)
Chitra + 180°       

- Ketu is the moon’s descending node, and lies opposite Rahu, the ascending node. These nodes mark the points on the celestial sphere where the plane of the ecliptic intersects the plane of the moon’s orbit, and are connected with solar and lunar eclipses.
- Ceres is the largest asteroid in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
- Chitra is the bright star Alpha Virginis (Spica). It is one of the 27 or 28 nakshatras, or lunar mansions, that mark the ecliptic in Indian astronomy.

If all these 13 astronomical objects are taken into account, the alignment covers about 90° of the sky. This is a large spread, but is nearly at a minimum for the entire 6000-year period from 4000 BC to 2000 AD. Omitting Uranus and Neptune, which (along with Pluto) do not belong to the seven sacred planets of the ancients, reduces the spread to 52°. The seven sacred planets (which include the sun and moon) are spread out over 40°. Thompson emphasizes that modern calculations are subject to error, but says that, given uniformitarian assumptions, the above results are probably not far wrong. We should not automatically assume, however, that they are more accurate than the Hindus’ own figures.

Fig. The sun, moon, and planets are shown for midnight of 17/18 February 3102 BC (SkyGlobe).6

Fig. The sun, moon, major planets, and dwarf planets (Pluto and Ceres) at midnight on 17/18 February 3102 BC (Redshift 7). V = vernal equinoctial point.

The lunar months of the Indian calendar are named after the nakshatras; the first month of spring is traditionally Chaitra, named after Chitra. At the time of the kali-yuga conjunction, the moon was new and marked the beginning of the lunar month of Chaitra. Thompson found that the new moon occurred about 3 hours before midnight on 17/18 February.

At midnight in the beginning of March 5, the moon was full in close conjunction with the star Citra. Thus the Kali-yuga conjunction occurred on the first day of the beginning of Spring, according to the ancient Indian calendar.7

It is interesting to note that astronomical tables produced for Alfonso X of Castile in the 13th century list the date of Noah’s Flood as 17 February 3102 BC (the day before the start of the kali-yuga). This date can be traced back to a book written in the 9th century by Abu Ma’shar al-Balkhi, who said that the last deluge occurred on 17 February 3102 BC and was marked by a conjunction of all the planets in the beginning of Aries. Mathematician B.L. van der Waerden speculated that Hellenistic astronomers worked backwards using conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn, which repeat about once every 20 years. Three successive conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn mark out an equilateral triangle, which slowly rotates around the ecliptic. However, given that even very minor errors would add up to about 1.67 years over 31 centuries, if an ancient astronomer hit on the date of 17 February 3102, it would have required a great deal of luck.8 Moreover, according to modern calculations, Jupiter and Saturn were not in exact conjunction on the kali-yuga date.

Thompson believes the following to be a more likely explanation:

The conjunction of February 18, 3102 B.C. was observed, and the date was preserved in historical records up to the time of Aryabhata (about A.D. 500). At some point in this period, people forgot that an unusual partial alignment had occurred, and they imagined an exact alignment on this date.9

This would require the existence of a highly advanced ancient civilization – something modern Indologists refuse to accept.

Notes to appendix 1

1. SD 1:661-2. HPB quotes this information from J.-S. Bailly. In fact, the entire text from the last paragraph on p. 658 of SD vol. 1 to the end of the first paragraph on p. 667 is a translation of a long passage from Bailly’s Traité de l’Astronomie Indienne et Orientale (1787, pp. xx-xxxvii), but is not clearly indicated as such. See Boris de Zirkoff’s edition of the SD.
    HPB adds: ‘Bailly is referred to at such length, as he is one of the few scientific men who have tried to do full justice to the astronomy of the Aryans. From John Bentley down to Burgess’ “Surya-Siddhanta,” not one astronomer has been fair enough to the most learned people of antiquity’ (SD 1:667).

2. SD 2:435; BCW 5:58; Jyotisha Shastras – see Richard L. Thompson, Vedic Cosmography and Astronomy, Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1989, p. 19.

3. SD 1:662-3 (Boris de Zirkoff edition).

4. Richard L. Thompson, Mysteries of the Sacred Universe, Govardhan Hill Publishing, 2000, pp. 215-6.

5. The values previously calculated by Bailly, Bentley, Winlock, and by Hindu astronomical texts can be found in: E. Burgess and W.D. Whitney, Surya-Siddhanta (1860), Wizards Bookshelf, n.d., pp. 162, 425.
    According to the Hindus, the conjunction took place near the zero-point of their zodiac, a star known as Revati, often equated with Zeta Piscium (see Appendix 2). Zeta Piscium had a longitude of 320°37' at the start of the kali-yuga (Vedic Cosmography and Astronomy, p. 187).

6. Mysteries of the Sacred Universe, p. 217.

7. Ibid., p. 219.

8. Ibid., pp. 212-5.

9. Ibid., p. 222.

Appendix 2. Revati and the Hindu zodiac

The Hindus divided the ecliptic into 27 or 28 lunar mansions or asterisms (nakshatras), their boundaries being marked by junction stars.

Fig. The constellations (above) and nakshatras (below) along the ecliptic.1


The Surya-Siddhanta gives the ecliptic latitudes and longitudes (relative to the starting point of the Hindu zodiac) for 28 asterisms, distributed very unequally along the ecliptic.2 The 28th is called Revati, and ‘Revati’ is also the name given to its junction star. The latter’s ecliptic latitude and longitude are 0° and 359°50' respectively; in other words, it lies on the ecliptic, 10 minutes of arc west of the Hindu zero point for measuring longitude. According to virtually all other authorities, however, Revati itself marks the zero point.3

The Surya-Siddhanta (1:27) says: ‘By their [the planets’] movement, the revolution is accounted complete at the end of the asterism Revati.’ The Hindus regarded this point – the boundary between Revati and Ashvini – as the place where the motions of the planets commenced at the ‘creation’ and where their universal conjunction takes place at successive intervals.

In 560 AD the vernal equinox coincided with the ‘junction star’ Revati, which lay 10' east of Zeta Piscium, a faint star of the fifth magnitude situated in the band connecting the two Fishes, just below the ecliptic. However, there is no visible star marking the position of Revati. Most treatises and authorities appear to equate Revati with Zeta Piscium.4 Aries would then begin 10' east of Zeta Piscium,5 though this point actually lies in the constellation Pisces. N. Chidambarum Iyer, on the other hand, argued that the ‘fixed star’ Revati, which he considers the first point of Aries of the Hindu zodiac, cannot be identified with Zeta Piscium, as Revati lies on the ecliptic while Zeta Piscium is 10' south of it. He says that Revati is a star that ‘has somehow disappeared’. He determined that on 1 January 1883 the vernal equinox was 20°24'15" west of Revati.6

J.-S. Bailly wrote that, according to the Brahmans, in 3102 BC the first point of the Hindu zodiac was 54° behind the equinox, or in the 6th degree of Aquarius7 (he is referring of course to the sign Aquarius, not to the constellation of the same name,8 the vernal equinox being defined as the first point of the sign Aries), and that the first point of their zodiac coincided with the vernal equinox 20,400 years before the beginning of the kali-yuga.9

Assuming an average rate of precession of 50"/year, 20,400 years prior to 3102 BC the equinox was 2831/3° to the east of its position at the start of the kali-yuga, when it was 54° to the east of Revati. So for the equinox to have coincided with Revati, Revati must have a proper motion eastward of 4" per year,10 which is ‘of the same order of magnitude as that of many stars’.11 It would therefore make one complete circuit of the heavens in 324,000 years.

Fig. The zodiac of 3102 BC.12 The 12 signs of the zodiac are shown in the outer circle, while the limits of the actual zodiacal constellations are indicated in the inner circle. In 3102 BC the vernal equinox (the first point of the sign Aries) was in the constellation Taurus.

If Revati (whether it is an actual star or not) moves, then the Hindus also have a movable zodiac.13 Measured in relation to Revati, the precessional cycle would last 24,000 years, since the combined annual rate of precession would be 54" – a figure found in the Surya-Siddhanta.14 The equinox would therefore make 18 circuits of the zodiac in 432,000 years (which is equal to four apsidal revolutions of 108,000 years15).

GdeP stated that around 1935 the first point of the sign Aries was projected approximately against the 11th degree of the constellation Pisces,16 whereas elsewhere the Age of Aquarius is said to have begun at the end of the 19th century.17 GdeP’s statement appears to refer to the Hindu zodiac in which the first point of Aries (i.e. the boundary between Aries and Pisces) lies 10' east of Zeta Piscium. Using the ‘rigorous’ scientific formula for precession, the equinox would have been at 10.4° Pisces (i.e. in the 11th degree) in 1935.

Notes to appendix 2

1. Alaska Mark, ‘Surya Siddhanta, chapter I with commentary and illustrations’,

2. E. Burgess and W.D. Whitney, Surya-Siddhanta (1860), Wizards Bookshelf, n.d., ch. 8, pp. 319-56.

3. Ibid., pp. 158, 343.

4. Ibid., pp. 158, 323, 343, 355.

5. Richard L. Thompson, Mysteries of the Sacred Universe, Govardhan Hill Publishing, 2000, p. 218.
    Alaska Mark writes: ‘The constellation Revati (nakshatra) starts within Pisces (Mina) at 346 degrees 40' and stops at 360 degrees. The star Zeta Pisces (Revati) is at 359 degrees 50'. Indian astronomers say the start of Aries (Mesha) is 10' east of Zeta Pisces (Revati). Others say Aries (Mesha) ends 15 degrees west of Aldebaran (Agni); this latter is the more accepted arrangement’ (‘Surya Siddhanta, chapter I with commentary and illustrations’, The latter arrangement, with Aldebaran centred in Taurus, fits the constellations better, and is shown below.

6. N. Chidambarum Iyer, The Theosophist, April 1883, pp. 176-80; Dec 1885, pp. 184-90.

7. Traité de l’Astronomie Indienne et Orientale (1787), see SD 1:661, 663.

8. The constellations (or houses/mansions) of the zodiac are groups of stars encircling the earth at a distance of many light-years, while the signs of the zodiac are regions of space permeating and surrounding the earth, forming part of its auric egg (FSO 125, 139-42, 672). The vernal equinoctial point is the point on the celestial equator which the sun crosses at the vernal equinox, and the corresponding point on the earth’s equator is defined as the beginning of the sign Aries – whatever the constellation in which this occurs. As the vernal equinoctial point gradually shifts around the celestial equator during a precessional cycle, the signs shift around the earth’s equator accordingly. The signs are therefore not fixed, while the constellations (relatively speaking) are.

9. SD 1:665.

10. During the 20,400 years prior to 3102 BC, the equinox moved 2831/3° westward and Revati moved 222/3° eastward, making a total of 306°. Since the equinox was 54° east of Revati in 3102 BC, it would have coincided with Revati 20,400 years earlier.

11. Fred J. Dick, ‘Ancient astronomy’, The Theosophical Path, July 1911, pp. 64-8.

12. Fred. J. Dick, ‘Ancient astronomy – II’, The Theosophical Path, Jan 1912, pp. 19-20.

13. Many commentators insist that the Hindu zodiac is fixed; Iyer was one of them, and took issue with T. Subba Row on this point (The Theosophist, April 1883, p. 176). Richard Thompson writes: ‘traditional Indian astronomers used a sidereal zodiac, which is fixed relative to the stars. In contrast, Western astronomy has inherited the tropical zodiac from its Hellenistic forbears. In the tropical zodiac, Aries begins with the vernal equinox, and it shifts with the precession of the equinoxes’ (Mysteries of the Sacred Universe, p. 218). Strictly speaking, the first point of the constellation Aries always remains the first point of that constellation, but for most of a precessional cycle it does not coincide with the first point of the sign Aries, which is defined by the vernal equinox. In relation to Revati, the Hindus can be said to have a movable zodiac, as Fred Dick pointed out.

14. Surya-Siddhanta, 3:9-12, pp. 243-4. According to the Surya-Siddhanta, the sun’s position at the time of the equinoxes slowly shifts back and forth from Revati over a total angle of 54°, making one complete back-and-forth movement (2 x 54°) in 7200 years; the movement therefore occurs at a rate of 54"/year. This seems to be a veiled reference to precession.

15. See Poleshifts, part 1, section 5.

16. FSO 673.

17. BCW 8:174fn; FEP 76. See Poleshifts, part 5, appendix 1.


BCW H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, Theosophical Publishing House (TPH), 1950-91
Dia The Dialogues of G. de Purucker, A.L. Conger (ed.), Theosophical University Press (TUP), 1948
Echoes    Echoes of the Orient, W.Q. Judge, Point Loma Publications (PLP), 1975-87
EST Esoteric Teachings, G. de Purucker, PLP, 1987
ET The Esoteric Tradition, G. de Purucker, TUP, 2nd ed., 1973
FEP Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, G. de Purucker, TUP, 2nd ed., 1979
FSO Fountain-Source of Occultism, G. de Purucker, TUP, 1974
HPBM H.P. Blavatsky: The Mystery, G. de Purucker, PLP, 1974
IGT The Inner Group Teachings of H.P. Blavatsky, Henk J. Spierenburg (comp.), PLP, 2nd ed., 1995
Isis Isis Unveiled, H.P. Blavatsky, TUP, 1972 (1877)
LBS The Letters of H.P. Blavatsky to A.P. Sinnett, TUP, 1975 (1925)
MiE Man in Evolution, G. de Purucker, TUP, 2nd ed., 1977
ML2 The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, A.T. Barker (comp.), TUP, 2nd ed., 1975
MLC The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, TPH, chron. ed., 1993
Ocean The Ocean of Theosophy, W.Q. Judge, TUP, 1973 (1893)
OG Occult Glossary, G. de Purucker, TUP, 2nd ed., 1996
SD The Secret Doctrine, H.P. Blavatsky, TUP, 1977 (1888)
SOP Studies in Occult Philosophy, G. de Purucker, TUP, 1973

by David Pratt. Feb 2007. Last revised Aug 2012.

Root-race chronology

Rounds and manvantaras: an outline

Geochronology: theosophy and science

Evolution in the fourth round

Secret wisdom