Rounds and Manvantaras: an outline[1]

1. There are 10 kingdoms / life-waves / classes of monads: three elemental kingdoms, the mineral kingdom, the vegetable kingdom, the animal kingdom, the human kingdom, and three dhyani-chohanic kingdoms.[2]

2. A planetary chain consists of 12 globes: there are seven lower or manifested globes (globes A to G) on the four lower planes, and five upper globes on the three higher planes.[3]

Schematic representation of the twelve globes of a planetary chain.

3. A planetary round[4] is the passage of a life-wave from globe A to globe G, and lasts, on average, 616,896,000 years.[5] On each globe each life-wave goes through seven stages of development (root-races); this is known as a globe-round.[6] A planetary round therefore consists of seven globe-rounds.

4. On leaving a globe, a life-wave enters an interglobal rest-period or (lower) nirvana before entering the next globe; the length of the rest-period is equal to one-tenth of the time spent on the globe just left. That globe then enters a period of obscuration or dormancy until the next life-wave arrives. After completing the globe-round on globe G, the life-waves enter an inter-round nirvana (during which they pass through the five upper globes), and a planetary obscuration or rest-period takes place, until the next planetary round begins on globe A.[7]

[1] General references: Occult Glossary [OG] (2nd ed.), 20-1, 52-3, 76, 101-2, 120-1, 133-4, 151-2; Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy [FEP] (2nd ed.), 111-6, 145, 295-6, 510; Studies in Occult Philosophy [SOP], 160-6, 357-60; Fountain-Source of Occultism [FSO], 159-62; Secret Doctrine [SD], 1:158-60, 2:68-70, 307-10; Mahatma Letters [ML] (2nd ed.), 80, 93-9.

[2] OG 89-90; SOP 161, 184, 194, 340-1; FSO 352-3, 615-6. There are really 12 kingdoms, the first being the root-manu and the twelfth the seed-manu (see SOP 170; Dialogues of G. de Purucker [Dia] 3:167-8).

[3] OG 129-31; FEP 533-5.

[4] Also called a chain-round, round-manvantara, or chain-round manvantara.

[5] SOP 160-1; SD 2:69.

[6] Also called a globe-manvantara.

[7] FSO 350, 361-8; FEP 112, 163, 171-2; OG 118-9. From another point of view, a round begins and ends on the topmost globe (FSO 197, 248, 361; Dia 3:440).

5. Seven planetary rounds = one planetary manvantara or kalpa, or day of Brahma,[8] equal to 4,320,000,000 years. It is followed by a planetary pralaya, or night of Brahma, a parinirvanic period of the same length. During the pralaya the lower principles of each globe of the planetary chain disintegrate. At the dawn of the next planetary manvantara the planetary chain reembodies.

6. The current planetary manvantara of the earth-chain began approximately 2 billion years ago.[9] The fourth round on globe D began about 320 million years ago.[10] The midpoint was reached in the middle of the fourth subrace of the fourth root-race, some 4.5 million years ago.[11]

7. Seven planetary manvantaras and pralayas (i.e. seven planetary embodiments) = one (minor) solar manvantara or solar kalpa, or week of Brahma. It is followed by a solar pralaya.

8. During a solar manvantara, the globes of a planetary chain successively embody one subplane lower in each of the first four embodiments, then one subplane higher in each of the last three embodiments. After seven embodiments a planetary chain enters a new cosmic plane. During each planetary embodiment, the globes materialize during the first three and a half rounds and then etherealize, thereby descending and ascending through seven sub-subplanes.[12]

[8] Also called a planetary-chain manvantara, and sometimes a maha-manvantara (OG 20, 76, 102; FEP 115), or a solar manvantara (FSO 160). A planetary round is sometimes called a minor manvantara (OG 118; FEP 172; Dia 3:409). ‘Minor manvantara’ can also refer to a globe-round, and ‘major manvantara’ to a planetary round (SD 2:308-9), while an obscuration is sometimes called a minor pralaya (SD 1:12fn, 18, 172n; Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge, 42). ‘Minor manvantara’ and ‘minor pralaya’ can also refer to a planetary manvantara and pralaya (ML 88, 93-4, 97-8). Note that there are really 12 rounds (FEP 111; Dia 2:260, 3:169, 281, 441-2; SD 2:257).

[9] SD 2:68; Isis Unveiled, 1:32.

[10] SD 2:710, 715fn; The Esoteric Tradition [ET], 323; SOP 360; FSO 161.

[11] SOP 20-1, 638-40; ET 1046; SD 1:439fn, 2:147fn. The middle of the fourth race is sometimes said to have occurred 8 to 9 million years ago (ET 326fn; SOP 20-1, 97, 161, 422; Man in Evolution, 152).

[12] FSO 246-7; SOP 391; ET 447-8fn; FEP 512-4.

9. The moon-chain is the former embodiment of the earth-chain. The moon-chain was the fourth and lowest embodiment in the current solar manvantara, and the earth-chain is the fifth embodiment.[13] The earth-chain embodied one subplane higher than the moon-chain and therefore the moon we see is not the former physical globe D of the moon-chain but the astral shell or kama-rupa of its globe D.[14]

10. The monads embodying in each kingdom take seven planetary rounds, or one planetary manvantara, to graduate to the next kingdom. For instance, the animal monads on the moon-chain became the human monads (i.e. ourselves) on the earth-chain, and the human monads on the moon-chain became the lowest class of dhyani-chohanic monads on the earth-chain. It therefore takes seven (or ten) planetary embodiments for an unselfconscious god-spark to evolve to selfconscious divinity.[15]

11. A maha-manvantara or universal manvantara[16] – 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. The moon-chain was the 18,000th embodiment and marked the end of the first half of the maha-manvantara. The earth-chain is the 18,001st embodiment.[17]

12. The inner rounds are the passage of the twelve life-waves or families of monads through the twelve globes of a planetary chain, while the outer rounds are the passage of the life-waves from planetary chain to planetary chain, or from solar system to solar system, etc. The inner and outer rounds are of two types: major and minor. The major (or grand) inner and outer rounds are made by the life-waves collectively, while the minor inner and outer rounds are made by individual monads during sleep, after death, and during initiation.[18]

[13] Echoes of the Orient, 2:405-6; FEP 184, 468; Dia 1:17-8.

[14] FEP 548-50; FSO 342; Dia 2:139, 142; SD 2:45, 115, 611.

[15] Dia 2:306, 3:167-8; SOP 167-92, 592; ML 76.

[16] Sometimes called a solar or cosmic maha-kalpa or a solar manvantara. ‘Solar manvantara’ can mean a day of Brahma (point 5), a week of Brahma (point 7), or an age of Brahma (FSO 160, 235fn). ‘Maha-manvantara’, too, can mean a day of Brahma (note 8), or a week or age of Brahma (Dia 2:305).

[17] OG 20-1; SOP 358; FEP 145, 184, 468; SD 1:368, 2:179.

[18] ET 839-78; OG 152; FEP 532-3; FSO 350-60, 599-603, 627-36; Dia 1:21, 72, 244-6, 3:275-85.

by David Pratt. January 1998. Last revised: Dec 2018.

Root-race chronology

Geochronology: theosophy and science

Evolution in the fourth round

Inner and outer rounds

Secret cycles