Abbreviations: BCW H.P. Blavatsky: Collected Writings, TPH, 1950-91 Dia Dialogues of G. de Purucker, TUP, 1948 EST Esoteric Teachings, G. de Purucker, PLP, 1987 ET The Esoteric Tradition, G. de Purucker, TUP, 2nd ed., 1940 FEP Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, G. de Purucker, TUP, 2nd ed., 1979 FSO Fountain-Source of Occultism, G. de Purucker, TUP, 1974 Key The Key to Theosophy, H.P. Blavatsky, TUP, 1972 (1889) LMW Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, C. Jinarajadasa (comp.), TPH, 1973/77 ML2 The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, A. Trevor Barker (comp.), TUP, 2nd rev. ed., 2021 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, 1945 WoS Wind of the Spirit, G. de Purucker, TUP, 2nd ed., 1984
‘Mahatma (Mahatman, Sanskrit) “Great soul” or “great self” is the meaning of this compound word (maha, “great”; atman, “self”). The mahatmas are perfected men, relatively speaking, known in theosophical literature as teachers, elder brothers, masters, sages, seers, and by other names. ... They are men, not spirits – men who have evolved through self-devised efforts in individual evolution, always advancing forwards and upwards until they have now attained the lofty spiritual and intellectual human supremacy that now they hold. ... They possess knowledge of nature’s secret processes, and of hid mysteries, which to the average man may seem to be little short of the marvelous ...
‘Especially are they called teachers because they are occupied in the noble duty of instructing mankind, in inspiring elevating thoughts, and in instilling impulses of forgetfulness of self into the hearts of men. Also are they sometimes called the guardians, because they are, in very truth, the guardians of the race and of the records – natural, racial, national – of past ages, portions of which they give out from time to time as fragments of a now long-forgotten wisdom, when the world is ready to listen to them; and they do this in order to advance the cause of truth and of genuine civilization founded on wisdom and brotherhood.
‘Never – such is the teaching – since the human race first attained self-consciousness has this ... brotherhood of exalted men been without its representatives on our earth. It was the mahatmas who founded the modern Theosophical Society through their envoy or messenger, H.P. Blavatsky, in New York, in 1875.’ (OG 94-5)
‘Man’s ordinary consciousness in life in his present stage of evolution is almost wholly in the lower or intermediate duad (manas-kama) of his constitution; when he raises his consciousness through personal effort to become permanently one with the higher duad (atma-buddhi), he becomes a mahatma, a master.’ (OG 25)
‘A MAHATMA is a personage, who, by special training and education, has evolved those higher faculties and has attained that spiritual knowledge, which ordinary humanity will acquire after passing through numberless series of re-incarnations during the process of cosmic evolution ... [A]n entity, that is passing through the occult training in its successive births, gradually has less and less (in each incarnation) of [the] lower manas until there arrives a time when its whole manas, being of an entirely elevated character, is centred in the higher individuality, when such a person may be said to have become a MAHATMA. ... The real MAHATMA is then not his physical body but that higher manas which is inseparably linked to the atma and its vehicle [buddhi] – a union effected by him in a comparatively very short period by passing through the process of self-evolution laid down by the occult philosophy. ... [A]lthough the whole of humanity is within the mental vision of the MAHATMA, they cannot be expected to take special note of every human being, unless that being by his special acts draws their particular attention to himself. The highest interest of humanity, as a whole, is their special concern, for they have identified themselves with that Universal Soul which runs through humanity ...’ (BCW 6:239-40)
‘Our MASTERS ... are simply holy mortals, ... higher than any in this world, morally, intellectually and spiritually.’ (BCW 7:242) ‘[A]deptship is a logical necessity in the natural order of human development.’ (BCW 11:399)
‘Great are the desecrations to which the names of two of the masters have been subjected. There is hardly a medium who has not claimed to have seen them. Every bogus swindling Society, for commercial purposes, now claims to be guided and directed by “masters,” often supposed to be far higher than ours! ...
‘We theosophists were, unfortunately, the first to talk of these things, to make the fact of the existence in the East of “adepts” and “masters” and occult knowledge known ... [W]e can only suffer in the hope that our indiscretions may have made it a little easier for others to find the way to these masters ...’ (Key 301-3)
Mahatma KH: ‘[W]e (or most of us) are far from being the heartless, morally dried up mummies some would fancy us to be. ... [F]ew of us (except such as have attained the final negation of moksha) can so far enfranchise ourselves from the influence of our earthly connection as to be insusceptible in various degrees to the higher pleasures, emotions, and interests of the common run of humanity. Until final emancipation reabsorbs the Ego, it must be conscious of the purest sympathies called out by the esthetic effects of high art, its tenderest cords respond to the call of the holier and nobler human attachments. Of course, the greater the progress towards deliverance, the less this will be the case, until, to crown all, human and purely individual personal feelings – blood-ties and friendship, patriotism and race predilection – all will give away, to become blended into one universal feeling, ... an immense love for humanity – as a whole!’ (ML2 32 / MLC 48-9)
‘The term “universal brotherhood” is no idle phrase. Humanity in the mass has a paramount claim upon us ... It is the only secure foundation for universal morality. If it be a dream, it is at least a noble one for mankind: and it is the aspiration of the true adept.’ (ML2 17 / MLC 20)
‘[Do you think that] we have broken the silence of centuries for the profit of a handful of dreamers only?’ (LMW 1:20) ‘[Our cause] is the cause of humanity, of true religion, of education, of enlightenment and spiritual elevation ...’ (LMW 2:97-8)
‘It is he alone who has the love of humanity at heart, who is capable of grasping thoroughly the idea of a regenerating practical brotherhood who is entitled to the possession of our secrets. He alone ... will never misuse his powers, as there will be no fear that he should turn them to selfish ends. A man who places not the good of mankind above his own good is not worthy of becoming our chela – he is not worthy of becoming higher in knowledge than his neighbour.’ (ML2 252 / MLC 100-1)
‘The relationship of teacher and disciple is infinitely more sacred even than that of parent and child; because, while the parents give the body to the incoming soul, the teacher brings forth that soul itself ... The chela life or chela path is a beautiful one, full of joy to its very end, but also it calls forth and needs everything noble and high in the learner or disciple; for the powers or faculties of the higher self must be brought into activity in order to attain and to hold those summits of intellectual and spiritual grandeur where the masters themselves live.’ (OG 28)
Brothers of the shadow: ‘A term given in occultism ... to individuals, whether men or women, who follow ... the path of matter or of the shadows. ... They are the so-called black magicians of the Occident, and stand in sharp and notable contrast with the white magicians or the sons of light who follow the pathway of self-renunciation, self-sacrifice, self-conquest, perfect self-control, and ... service for all that lives.
‘The existence and aims of the brothers of the shadow are essentially selfish. ... Multitudes of human beings are unconsciously treading the path of the shadows and, in comparison with these multitudes, it is relatively only a few who self-consciously lead and guide with subtle and nefast intelligence this army of unsuspecting victims of maya. The brothers of the shadow are often highly intellectual men and women, frequently individuals with apparent great personal charm ...’ (OG 21-3)
‘[They] work by temptation, by mental pictures, by suggestion, by quoting scripture, by appealing to their victims’ vanity as if their plea were made to the high virtues, by playing upon their egoism, and by arousing ignoble passions.’ (FSO 456)
‘There is a law that if a white magician uses his occult power an equal amount of power may be used by the black one.’ (BCW 10:270)
‘For countless generations hath the adept builded a fane of imperishable rocks, a giant’s Tower of INFINITE THOUGHT, wherein the Titan dwelt, and will yet, if need be, dwell alone, emerging from it but at the end of every cycle, to invite the elect of mankind to co-operate with him and help in his turn enlighten superstitious man. And we will go on in that periodical work of ours; we will not allow ourselves to be baffled in our philanthropic attempts until that day when the foundations of a new continent of thought are so firmly built that no amount of opposition and ignorant malice guided by the Brethren of the Shadow will be found to prevail.’ (ML2 51 / MLC 68)
* * *
In reply to A.O. Hume’s question about the mahatmas’ alleged failure to leave any mark on world history, KH writes:
‘How do you know they have made no such mark? Are you acquainted with their efforts, successes, and failures? ... How could your world collect proofs of the doings of men who have sedulously kept closed every possible door of approach by which the inquisitive could spy upon them? The prime condition of their success was that they should never be surprised or obstructed. What they have done they know; all those outside their circle could perceive was the results, the causes of which were masked from view. To account for these results, many have in different ages invented theories of the interposition of “Gods,” special providences, fates, and the benign or hostile influences of the stars.
‘There never was a time within or before the so-called historical period when our predecessors were not moulding events and “making history,” the facts of which were subsequently and invariably distorted by “historians” to suit contemporary prejudices. Are you quite sure that the visible heroic figures in the successive dramas were not often but their puppets? We never pretended to be able to draw nations in the mass to this or that crisis in spite of the general drift of the world’s cosmic relations. The cycles must run their rounds. Periods of mental and moral light and darkness succeed each other, as day does night. The major and minor yugas must be accomplished according to the established order of things. And we, borne along on the mighty tide, can only modify and direct some of its minor currents. ...
‘There have been times when “a considerable portion of enlightened minds” were taught in our schools. Such times there were in India, Persia, Egypt, Greece and Rome. But ... the adept is the efflorescence of his age, and comparatively few ever appear in a single century. Earth is the battle ground of moral no less than of physical forces; and the boisterousness of animal passions under the stimulus of the rude energies of the lower group of etheric agents, always tends to quench spirituality. ...
‘True also, our numbers are just now diminishing but this is because, as I have said, we are of the human race, subject to its cyclic impulses and powerless to turn that back upon itself. Can you turn the Gunga [Ganges] or the Brahmapura back to its sources; can you even dam it so that its piled up waters will not overflow the banks? No, but you may draw the stream partly into canals and utilize its hydraulic powers for the good of mankind. So we, who can not stop the world from going in its destined direction, are yet able to divert some part of its energy into useful channels.’ (ML2 500-1 / MLC 473-4)
‘[T]he members of the Great Brotherhood ... are continuously acting as a Guardian Wall ... around mankind, shielding and protecting it against dangers both of a cosmic and terrestrial character, of which the multitudes know less than nothing.’ (ET 1058-9) ‘What are these evils? They are simply entities and powers and influences and forces which, were they to enter our human sphere, would wreak evil upon us because they are not ... in sympathy with us, though in ... their own spheres, in their own lands, they are no more evil than we are.’ (Dia 3:293)
‘[If the mahatmas] exerted their spiritual and intellectual and psychical powers ... merely in order to force men and women to follow paths which mankind have not themselves chosen by deliberate choice, [they] would be enacting the part of drivers of dumbly driven human cattle, with consequent spiritual-intellectual good and benefit neither to the drivers nor to the driven. ... They guide humanity spiritually and intellectually; they instil lessons of mercy and of pity... It is their sublime duty always to work to restore and preserve peace and harmony and brotherly love among men. Should such exalted individuals ever concern themselves with the political turmoils of any age, ... they do so only as peace-makers.’ (ET 1068-9)
‘[The elder brothers] have always existed as a body, all knowing each other, no matter in what part of the world they may be, and all working for the race in many different ways. In some periods they are well known to the people and move among ordinary men whenever the social organization, the virtue, and the development of the nations permit it. For if they were to come out openly and be heard of everywhere, they would be worshipped as gods by some and hunted as devils by others. In those periods when they do come out some of their number are rulers of men, some teachers, a few great philosophers, while others remain still unknown except to the most advanced of the body.’ (Ocean 3-4)
‘The exact extent, depth, breadth, and length of the mysteries of nature are to be found only in Eastern esoteric sciences. So vast and so profound are these that hardly a few, a very few of the highest initiates – those whose very existence is known but to a small number of adepts – are capable of assimilating the knowledge. Yet it is all there, and one by one facts and processes in nature’s workshops are permitted to find their way into the exact sciences, while mysterious help is given to rare individuals in unravelling its arcana.’ (SD 1:611-12)
Master M to A.P. Sinnett: ‘There is more of this movement than you have yet had an inkling of, and the work of the T.S. is linked in with similar work that is secretly going on in all parts of the world.’ (ML2 271 / MLC 133)
‘The esoteric groups of Mystery-Schools are perhaps more numerous today than they have been for thousands of years, but they are more secretly conducted and more carefully hid. ... [E]very single national unit of the globe, has its own secret spiritual protectors, who as a body form a true esoteric center. ... These national guardians never interfere in politics. ... Their work is purely spiritual, moral, intellectual, and wholly benevolent ...
‘There are actually groups whose sole business is forming occult centers of initiation, preparation of students for esoteric work in the world, and for the safeguarding of priceless treasures, the heirlooms of the human race, treasures both intellectual and material. The chief of such groups lives in what theosophists call Shambhala. ... There is another branch brotherhood, affiliated with the Chief Brotherhood of Tibet in Syria, still another one in Egypt, still another one in South America. There is one in Mexico and there is one in the United States. There is likewise one in Europe. All these smaller groups are affiliates or subordinate to the mother-group of the Occult Hierarchy in Shambhala.’ (SOP 637-8)
‘Shambhala is the secret home of the great Brotherhood of mahatmas and their chiefs, from which center at certain times in the history of our fifth root-race come forth mandates for spiritual and intellectual work among men. It is an actual district ... surrounded by a range of the majestic Himalaya mountains. No force engendered by human genius can penetrate into this spiritual center, for it is protected by akashic barriers. From the end of the fourth root-race of mankind it has been held inviolate against aggression of any kind.’ (FSO 529) ‘There, surrounded by the greatest and most evolved human beings, the silent watcher of the earth has his invisible abode.’ (Dia 1:146-7)
‘[D]uring the last quarter of every hundred years an attempt is made by [the masters] to help on the spiritual progress of humanity in a marked and definite way. Towards the close of each century you will invariably find that an outpouring or upheaval of spirituality – or call it mysticism if you prefer – has taken place. Some one or more persons have appeared in the world as their agents, and a greater or less amount of occult knowledge and teaching has been given out.’ (Key 306)
‘It is not infrequently stated that the stream of inspiration from the Lodge of the Great Teachers ceased with the passing of H.P. Blavatsky, and that there will be no recurrence of the flow of that stream of inspiration and light until the teacher comes whom she spoke of as coming about the beginning of the last quarter of the [20th] century. That idea is entirely erroneous. ...
‘The masters of wisdom and compassion are always ready and always waiting and always working. The door is never shut against those whose feet are on the pathway. The Great Ones work among men continuously, uninterruptedly; and have done so for ages. Anyone whose feet are on the path, who shows even the smallest glimmer of the buddhic splendor, is watched, guided, helped; and if he succeeds, he finally is openly received into the Brotherhood.’ (FSO 682/4)
‘The masters of wisdom and compassion and peace send their envoys continuously into the world of men, one after the other ... The messengers do not always do public work before the world, but frequently work in the silences and unknown of men, or relatively unknown. At certain times, however, they are commissioned and empowered and directed to do their work publicly and to make public announcement of their mission. Such, for instance, was the case of H.P. Blavatsky.’ (OG 107)
‘She came ... at the beginning of one messianic cycle of 2,160 years ... She was the messenger for her age, that is, for the age to come – the one who was to sound a new keynote, which yet, mystically speaking, is as old as the ages ... Just as Jesus called the Christ was an avatara of one kind for his age, so was H.P. Blavatsky an avatara of another kind for her age. ...
‘[I]t is the duty of theosophists ... to see to it that the message which she brought and gave into our hands as a holy charge shall be kept pure and unadulterated, and shall be passed on to our descendants of succeeding generations just as we have received it.’ (WoS 140-1)
* * *
‘The Secret Doctrine is the accumulated wisdom of the ages, ... the uninterrupted record covering thousands of generations of seers ... [F]or long ages, the “wise men” of the fifth race ... passed their lives in learning, not teaching ... by checking, testing, and verifying in every department of nature the traditions of old by the independent visions of great adepts; i.e., men who have developed and perfected their physical, mental, psychic, and spiritual organisations to the utmost possible degree.’ (SD 1:272)
‘For thousands of years, one initiate after another, one great hierophant succeeded by other hierophants, has explored and re-explored the invisible universe, the worlds of the interplanetary regions, during long periods when his conscious soul, united to the spiritual soul and to the ALL, free and almost omnipotent, left his body. ...
‘The mysteries of life as well as of death, of the visible and invisible worlds, have been fathomed and observed by initiated adepts in all epochs and in all nations. They have studied these during the solemn moments of union of their divine monad with the universal Spirit, and they have recorded their experiences. ... A definite science, based on personal observation and experience, corroborated by continuous demonstrations, containing irrefutable proofs, for those who study it, has thus been established.’ (BCW 5:50-1)
‘[T]he range of consciousness of the human ego is over this globe D. The range of consciousness of the bodhisattva, and most of the mahatmas, is over the planetary chain. The range of consciousness of the highest bodhisattvas and of the buddhas is in the spiritual monad whose consciousness-sweep covers the solar system, whereas he who has raised himself into the divine consciousness of the divine monad within him, his highest self, has a consciousness-reach ... which covers the galaxy.’ (Dia 3:433)
‘[Through] study and training ... neophytes become finally able to remain fully self-conscious while the body is in sleep; and the adept or high chela, through the same training pushed to a still greater length, is able to remain fully aware and active on inner planes after the body dies. The man who has thus made himself more or less fully acquainted with the functions and characteristics of his own nature can, during his lifetime, travel self-consciously out of his body to other parts of the earth and, with increased power, even to other planets. But greater than this is the power to visit self-consciously the inner worlds which environ us, and to bring back a relatively complete recollection of the experiences and knowledge so gained.’ (FSO 536)
‘[T]here comes a moment in the life of an adept, when the hardships he has passed through are a thousandfold rewarded. In order to acquire further knowledge, he has no more to go through a minute and slow process of investigation and comparison of various objects, but is accorded an instantaneous, implicit insight into every first truth.’ (ML2 241 / MLC 55)
‘Eastern initiates maintain that they have preserved records of the racial development and of events of universal import ever since the beginning of the fourth race – that which preceded being traditional.’ (SD 1:646)
‘[T]he teachers have access to the lost treasures of the immemorial ages of the past. Only they know how many countless millions they can use at will. [T]hese treasures are held for their work in the future. [This] applies equally to invaluable historical records. The Great Ones know of the existence, and are protectors, of vast underground libraries, depositories, existing from very ancient times, and containing still, in catalogued form, all literary records of value dating doubtless from the beginning of the present great fifth root-race of mankind.
‘It is also quite true that everything which has ever had existence is indelibly recorded in the astral records, in the astral light. But while this is so, the records in the astral light would not be especially useful to human beings unless those human beings had been trained to read these records ... There do however exist physical depositories, not merely of all literary works but also of all inventions tending to ennoble and benefit mankind.
‘To disciples, to chelas, to students, of a thoughtful bent of mind, I know no more fascinating and delightfully interesting hours than those passed in wandering under competent guidance through some of these underground corridors, many of them connecting with deep caves in the profound recesses of which there remain even today gathered together and carefully watched over and preserved, among many other things, even the bones of inhabitants of the earth and of animals of the earth of long past ages.
‘There you will find skeletons of the giants of Atlantean days. There you will find some of their handiwork preserved for the instruction, and it may be for the edification, of future generations of men when the proper time comes to bring these to public knowledge.
‘The scientists of the future, if they are as dogmatic as some of the scientists of today are, are going to receive some very unpleasant surprises, for one day these records of the past will be brought forth, and positive proof given of the teachings of the wisdom-religion regarding the nature, characteristics, and handiwork of the ancient mankinds.’ (EST 2:113-4)
* * *
‘The advanced fifth rounders are the mahatmas; the less advanced fifth rounders are their chelas; the least advanced fifth rounders are the unusually evolved people amongst us today. [R]eal theosophists are fifth rounders [though perhaps] only beginning the fifth round ...’ (Dia 3:285) ‘Even among the mahatmas, seventh-degree sixth rounders are rare. There are some who are in the earlier stages of the sixth-round period; but the Lord Buddha was one who might be called a sixth rounder in the seventh or last stage of the sixth round, therefore almost a god incarnate in flesh.’ (Dia 2:204)
‘Gautama the Buddha was a man. He is at present a nirmanakaya. The higher ego of the entity which last manifested itself as Gautama the Buddha works through this nirmanakaya; and this higher ego is the Buddha, the transmitter of the spiritual intelligence of the Great Initiator.
‘It is to Gautama the Buddha, thus considered, and the power working through him, that the teachers of H.P.B. referred when they used phrases such as “He to whom we owe allegiance,” “He whose word is our Law.” As one of the two racial buddhas of our fifth root-race – the second buddha being Maitreya, still to come millions of years hence – he will continue to watch over and protect this root-race. He is the origin, the founder, of every great spiritual religious or philosophical movement begun at any time during our root-race. ...
[H]e remains in mysterious seclusion in Shambhala, yet, as the chief of the Brotherhood of adepts, in constant spiritual and intellectual and psychical touch with mankind.’ (FSO 521/9)
‘A nirmanakaya is a complete man possessing all the principles of his constitution except the linga-sharira and its accompanying physical body. He is one who lives on the plane of being next superior to the physical plane, and his purpose in so doing is to save men from themselves by ... continuously instilling thoughts of self-sacrifice, of self-forgetfulness, of spiritual and moral beauty, of mutual help, of compassion, and of pity.
‘Nirmanakaya is the third or lowest, exoterically speaking, of what is called in Sanskrit trikaya or “three bodies.” The highest is the dharmakaya, in which state are the nirvanis and full pratyeka buddhas, etc.; the second state is the sambhogakaya, intermediate between the former and, thirdly, the nirmanakaya. The nirmanakaya vesture or condition enables one entering it to live in touch and sympathy with the world of men. The sambhogakaya enables one in that state to be conscious indeed to a certain extent of the world of men and its griefs and sorrows, but with little power or impulse to render aid. The dharmakaya vesture is so pure and holy, and indeed so high, that the one possessing the dharmakaya or who is in it, is virtually out of all touch with anything inferior to himself. It is, therefore, in the nirmanakaya vesture if not in physical form that live and work the buddhas of compassion, the greatest sages and seers, and all the superholy men who through striving through ages of evolution bring forth into manifestation and power and function the divinity within.’ (OG 117-8)
‘[In the fifth initiation] the man becomes a master of wisdom and compassion. In this degree there comes the final choice: whether, like the great buddhas of compassion, one will return to help the world, to live for it and not for self; or whether, like the pratyeka-buddhas, one will go forwards on the pathway of self – merely self-development.’ (FSO 59)
Bodhisattva: ‘A compound word: literally “he whose essence (sattva) has become intelligence (bodhi).” ... When a man, a human being, has reached the state where his ego becomes conscious, fully so, of its inner divinity, becomes clothed with the buddhic ray ... that man is a bodhisattva. His higher principles have nearly reached nirvana. When they do so finally, such a man is a buddha, a human buddha, a manushya-buddha. ... A buddha, in the esoteric teaching, is one whose higher principles can learn nothing more. They have reached nirvana and remain there; but the spiritually awakened personal man, the bodhisattva, ... instead of choosing his reward in the nirvana of a less degree, remains on earth out of pity and compassion for inferior beings, and becomes what is called a nirmanakaya.’ (OG 19-20)
‘It is the glorious line of bodhisattvas appearing frequently through the ages who largely form the noble Brotherhood of nirmanakayas of which the Brotherhood of adepts is partly composed, and of which the Buddha Gautama in his more human or bodhisattva aspect is a member.’ (FSO 509)
* * *
‘It was [the] Great Ones and their followers, many in the aggregate, but singularly few when compared with the Atlantean masses, who for the salvation of the many, and for the initiation of the chosen worthy few, finally during a period of culmination in evil-doing and spiritual wickedness, established the first genuine spiritual Mystery-Schools of the globe. This happened ... many hundreds of thousands of years before the great Atlantean Race sank into unregenerate weakness leading to its final disappearance; and these Mystery-Schools have thus existed for some four or five million years ...
‘[T]his refers to the actual establishment of the ancient mysteries as schools or esoteric colleges, each one presided over by a hierarchy of initiates, in regular serial line of succession, this being the first instance of such serial successorship in the history of the globe during this fourth round. The foregoing must not be misunderstood to mean that it was only during the before-mentioned period of Atlantean degeneracy that the spiritual teachers and leaders of mankind first began their sublime work of assembling and instructing the multitudes of men, for this last work had actually been going on for millions of years, but dealing rather with individuals, numerous enough in the aggregate, than with actual established schools of secret and formal instruction. ...
‘[T]he silent watcher of the globe, through the spiritual-magnetic attraction of like to like, was enabled to attract to the path of light, even from the earliest times of the third root-race, certain unusual human individuals, early forerunners of the general manasaputric “descent,” and thus to form with these individuals a focus of spiritual and intellectual light on this earth ... Thus it is that the Great Brotherhood traces an unbroken and uninterrupted ancestry back to the original focus of light of the third root-race.’ (ET 1046-9)
‘The arhats of the “fire-mist” of the 7th rung are but one remove from the root-base of their hierarchy – the highest on earth, and our terrestrial chain. This “root-base” has a name which can only be translated by several compound words into English – “the ever-living-human-banyan.” This “wondrous being” descended from a “high region,” they say, in the early part of the third age, before the separation of the sexes of the third race. ...
‘In the first or earlier portion of the existence of this third race, while it was yet in its state of purity, the “sons of wisdom,” who ... incarnated in this third race, produced by kriyasakti a progeny called the “sons of Ad” or “of the fire-mist,” the “sons of will and yoga,” etc. They were a conscious production, as a portion of the race was already animated with the divine spark of spiritual, superior intelligence. It was not a race, this progeny. It was at first a wondrous being, called the “initiator,” and after him a group of semi-divine and semi-human beings. ”Set apart” in archaic genesis for certain purposes, they are those in whom are said to have incarnated the highest dhyanis ... – to form the nursery for future human adepts, on this earth and during the present cycle. ...
‘[This “being”] is the tree from which, in subsequent ages, all the great historically known sages and hierophants ... have branched off. As objective man, he is the mysterious (to the profane – the ever invisible) yet ever present personage about whom legends are rife in the East ... It is he who changes form, yet remains ever the same. And it is he again who holds spiritual sway over the initiated adepts throughout the whole world. He is ... the “nameless one” who has so many names, and yet whose names and whose very nature are unknown. He is the “initiator,” called the “GREAT SACRIFICE.” For, sitting at the threshold of LIGHT, he looks into it from within the circle of darkness, which he will not cross; nor will he quit his post till the last day of this life-cycle. ...
‘It is under the direct, silent guidance of this MAHA – (great) – GURU that all the other less divine teachers and instructors of mankind became, from the first awakening of human consciousness, the guides of early humanity.’ (SD 1:207-8)
‘At the summit of the hierarchy of compassion is the silent watcher. ... He is the chief of the spiritual-psychological hierarchy of which the masters form a part. He is the ever-living human banyan from which they – and we too – hang as leaves and fruit. From this wondrous being originally come our noblest impulses through our own higher selves ... [F]rom boundless compassion for those lower in the scale of evolution he has renounced all hope and opportunity of going higher in this manvantara. He can learn nothing more of this hierarchy, ... but he remains behind for aeons as the great inspirer and teacher. ...
‘The ever-living human banyan alluded to by H.P.B. is ... the mahachohan of this earth, an entity who was a man in far past ages, in former manvantaras in fact. He is the loftiest of the buddhas of compassion, the supreme guide and teacher of the hierarchy of the Great Ones at the present time ... [He is] a man and yet a demigod, because a god imbodied in a highly advanced man’s soul. He is an actual imbodied being, although not necessarily possessing a body of flesh. It may well be that he is imbodied as a nirmanakaya, ... a complete man minus the lower gross triad. This entity, the silent watcher of our globe and its humanity, is on earth.
‘This wondrous being is the hierarchical Brotherhood of adepts of our planetary chain, begun in the fourth round on our globe at about the middle period of the third root-race – which was the period when humanity was beginning to be self-conscious and ready for the receiving of light. The descent of this being from a high plane, from globe A by way of globes B and C, was rather a projection of energy than a descent of an imbodied entity downwards. It was a visitation in our underworld, undertaken for the sake of helping those beings living in its “shadows.”
‘Now this wondrous being is a dhyani-buddha. Interlocked in his vital essence, streaming forth from him as from a sun, are innumerable rays, and these various children rays are human egos. Like the banyan tree, this wondrous being sends forth tendrils of the spirit which reach down into the substantial fabric of the universe in which he lives, and there take root; and because of receiving from him the life essence, they themselves become banyan trees, growing up in their turn. ...
‘One of the most beautiful teachings of theosophy is that this wondrous being came from a “high region” as a visitor to us, living in what was to him the underworld, and dwelling for a time among us as the primal master-spirit of the human race – a being at once one and many – a mystery.’ (FSO 468-73)
The wondrous being or silent watcher who is the head of the spiritual-psychological hierarchy of our globe is a dhyani-bodhisattva – an emanation, in one sense, from the dhyani-buddha of our fourth round, and yet an entity in his own right. Higher still stands adi-buddha, the wondrous being who is the logos of our planetary chain. (see FEP 274-6, 283)
‘Just as the hierarchies in the universe are virtually infinite in number, so are the wondrous beings or silent watchers ... There is ... one for our planetary chain, and one for each of its globes; there is likewise one for our solar system, whose habitat is the sun, and one for our own home-universe, and so forth forever.’ (FSO 469)
‘[T]he upper triad of man’s constitution, atma-buddhi-manas – call it the christ-monad or inner buddha, if you will – is his own individual silent watcher.’ (FSO 472)
‘Ages ago when the human race on this planet during this fourth round was still young, mind had not yet imbodied in the then intellectually senseless early third root-race ... There were nevertheless a few in whom the lamps of mind burned bright, the most advanced of the human race who had been intellectually enlightened by manasaputric descents before the vast majority of the new race. They were even in the early part of the third root-race fully self-conscious, intellectual and spiritual human beings ... [They] formed a group, a band, a brotherhood, of human guides. But yet something more was needed, something from a still higher sphere was required for the utter safety of all mankind ... [T]hese ethereal beings, through kriyashakti, through spiritual will-power and imagination, established contact with the waiting divinity, karmically waiting, ... and provided the physical vehicle for the imbodiment of this ... dhyani-chohan ...
‘At first it was a marvel-being, a very god who became their chief and leader, their inspirer and guide; and he by teaching and inspiration ... prepared the way for the general manasaputric descent ... And after him, a relatively short while after, this wondrous being ..., aided by those others in whom the flame of mind burned so bright, brought other similar descents into being, and they with their great spiritual powers were called the sons of will and yoga. ... This group became the first mystery-school. It still exists, ... and this being, the initiator, is the supreme head of all true occultists in all ages.’ (SOP 250-2; see also FEP 217-19)
‘[The teaching about the silent watcher involves] one of the most subtil of occult conceptions: unity in multiplicity. ... A single semi-divine human being at the head, the hierarch; and those beneath him being so close to him, karmically, spiritually, etc., that they are to him like his alter egos, as are the organs or limbs of a man to himself. Hence it is at times spoken of as the silent watcher, or again as the supreme school or occult body, the highest human stage on the planet ...
‘This wondrous being ... actually came into being as a divine body-corporate or multifold unit in the very first race of this round on our globe; and its seed was ... the shishtas of the highest humanized elements in our life-wave left on this globe when that life-wave during the third round passed onwards. When these shishtas felt the new incoming of the life-wave approaching globe D during this fourth round, ... they collected ... themselves into a unity, and formed the hierarchy preparatory for new increments to themselves coming with the human life-wave. ... From this original wondrous hierarch-hierarchy later on, in a later age during the third root-race, sprang forth or were born the first regularly formed occult schools for teaching and training ...
‘[T]his hierarch-hierarchy is formed of all the very highest, most evolved, most spiritual human beings belonging to our life-wave ... [They] refuse to pass on until those trailing behind them ... have had every help that can be given ...’ (SOP 247-8; see also FEP 585-6)
Compiled by David Pratt. Last updated June 2021.
Masters and chelas
The theosophical mahatmas
The mahatmas on spirit, matter, God