THE SECRET DOCTRINE
H P Blavatsky
THE DAYS AND NIGHTS OF BRAHMA
THIS is the name given to the Periods called MANVANTARA (Manuantara, or between the Manus) and PRALAYA (Dissolution); one referring to the active periods of the Universe, the other to its times of relative and complete rest -- according to whether they occur at the end of a "Day," or an "Age" (a life) of Brahma. These periods, which follow each other in regular succession, are also called Kalpas, small and great, the minor and the Maha Kalpa; though, properly speaking, the Maha Kalpa is never a "day," but a whole life or age of Brahma, for it is said in the Brahma Vaivarta: "Chronologers compute a Kalpa by the Life of Brahma; minor Kalpas, as Samvarta and the rest, are numerous." In sober truth they are infinite; as they have never had a commencement, i.e., there never was a first Kalpa, nor will there ever be a last one, in Eternity.
One Parardha -- in the ordinary acceptation of this measure of time -- or half of the existence of Brahma (in the present Maha Kalpa) has already expired; the last Kalpa was the Padma, or that of the Golden Lotos; the present one being Varaha* (the "boar" incarnation, or Avatar).
* There is a curious
piece of information in the Buddhist esoteric traditions. The exoteric or
allegorical biography of Gautama Buddha shows this great Sage dying of an
indigestion of pork and rice, a very prosaic end, indeed, having little of the
solemn element in it. This is explained as an allegorical reference to his
having been born in the "Boar," or Varaha-Kalpa when Brahma assumed the
form of that animal to raise the Earth out of the "Waters of Space."
And as the Brahmins descend direct from Brahma and are, so to speak, identified
with him; and as they are at the same time the mortal enemies of Buddha and
Buddhism, we have the curious allegorical hint and combination. Brahminism (of
the Boar, or Varaha Kalpa) has slaughtered the religion of Buddha in
HUMAN GODS AND DIVINE MEN
By the scholar who studies the Hindu religion from the Puranas, one thing is to be especially noted. He must not take literally, and in one sense only, the statements therein found; since those which especially concern the Manvantaras or Kalpas have to be understood in their several references. So, for instance, these periods relate in the same language to both the great and the small periods, to Maha Kalpas and to minor Cycles. The Matsya, or Fish Avatar, happened before the Varaha or Boar Avatar; the allegories, therefore, must relate to both the Padma and the present manvantara, and also to the minor cycles which took place since the reappearance of our Chain of Worlds and Earth. And, as the Matsya Avatar of Vishnu and Vaivasvata's Deluge are correctly connected with an event that happened on our Earth during this Round, it is evident that while it may relate to pre-cosmic events (in the sense of our Kosmos or Solar system) it has reference in our case to a distant geological period. Not even Esoteric philosophy can claim to know, except by analogical inference, that which took place before the reappearance of our Solar System and previous to the last Maha Pralaya. But it teaches distinctly that after the first geological disturbance in the Earth's axis which ended in the sweeping down to the bottom of the Seas of the whole second Continent, with its primeval races -- of which successive "Earths" or Continents Atlantis was the fourth -- there came another disturbance by the axis resuming as rapidly its previous degree of inclination; when the Earth was indeed raised once more out of the Waters, and -- as above so it is below; and vice versa. There were "gods" on Earth in those days -- gods, and not men, as we know them now, says the tradition. As will be shown in Book II., the computation of periods in exoteric Hinduism refers to both the great cosmic and the small terrestrial events and cataclysms, and the same may be shown for names. For instance Yudishthira -- the first King of the Sacea, who opens the Kali Yuga era, which has to last 432,000 years -- "an actual King and man who lived 3,102 years B.C.," applies also, name and all, to the great Deluge at the time of the first sinking of Atlantis. He is the "Yudishthira* born on the mountain of the hundred peaks at the extremity of
* According to Colonel Wilford, the conclusion of the "Great War" was B.C. 1370. (See A. R., Vol.9, p. 116); according to Bentley, 575 B.C.!! We may hope, perhaps, that before the end of this century, the Mahabharatean epics will be found and proclaimed identical with the wars of the great Napoleon.
the world beyond which nobody can go" and "immediately after the flood." (See Royal Asiat. Soc., Vol. 9, p. 364.) We know of no "Flood" 3,102 years B.C. -- not even that of Noah, for, agreeably with Judaeo-Christian chronology, it took place 2,349 years B.C.
This relates to an esoteric division of time and a mystery explained elsewhere, and may therefore be left aside for the present. Suffice to remark at this juncture that all the efforts of imagination of the Wilfords, Bentleys, and other would-be OEdipuses of esoteric Hindu Chronology have sadly failed. No computation of either the Four Ages, or the Manvantaras, has ever been unriddled by our very learned Orientalists, who have therefore cut the Gordian Knot by proclaiming the whole "a figment of the Brahmanical brain." So be it, and may the great scholars rest in peace. This "figment" is given in the Preliminary Sections which preface Anthropogenesis in Book II., and with esoteric additions.
Let us see, however, what were the three kinds of pralayas, and what is the popular belief about them. For once it agrees with Esotericism.
Of the pralaya before which fourteen Manvantaras elapse, having over them as many presiding Manus, and at whose close occurs the "incidental" or Brahma's dissolution, it is said in Vishnu Purana, in condensed form, that "at the end of a thousand periods of four ages, which complete a day of Brahma, the earth is almost exhausted. The eternal Avyaya (Vishnu) assumes then the character of Rudra (the destroyer, Siva) and re-unites all his creatures to himself. He enters the Seven rays of the Sun and drinks up all the waters of the globe; he causes the moisture to evaporate, thus drying up the whole Earth. Oceans and rivers, torrents and small streams, are all exhaled. Thus fed with abundant moisture the seven solar rays become sevens suns by dilation, and they finally set the world on fire. Hari, the destroyer of all things, who is 'the flame of time, Kalagni,' finally consumes the Earth. Then Rudra, becoming Janardana, breathes clouds and rain."
There are many kinds of Pralaya, but three chief ones are specially mentioned in old Hindu books; and of these, as Wilson shows:-- The first is called NAIMITTIKA* "occasional" or "incidental," caused by the intervals of "Brahma's Days;" it is the destruction of creatures, of all that lives and has a form, but not of the substance which remains in statu quo till the new DAWN in that "Night." The
* In the Vedanta and Nyaya "nimitta" (from which "Naimittika") is rendered as the efficient cause, when antithesized with upadana the physical or material cause. In the Sankhya pradhana is a cause inferior to Brahma, or rather Brahma being himself a cause, is superior to Pradhana. Hence "incidental" is wrongly translated, and ought to be translated, as shown by some scholars, "Ideal" cause, and even real cause would have been better.
THE RE-BIRTH OF GODS.
other is called PRAKRITIKA -- and occurs at the end of the Age or Life of Brahma, when everything that exists is resolved into the primal element, to be remodelled at the end of that longer night. But the third, Atyantika, does not concern the Worlds or the Universe, but only the individualities of some people; it is thus individual pralaya or NIRVANA; after having reached which, there is no more future existence possible, no rebirth till after the Maha Pralaya. The latter night, lasting as it does 311,040,000,000,000 years, and having the possibility of being almost doubled in case the lucky Jivanmukti reaches Nirvana at an early period of a Manvantara, is long enough to be regarded as eternal, if not endless. The Bhagavata (XII., iv, 35) speaks of a fourth kind of pralaya, the Nitya or constant dissolution, and explains it as the change which takes place imperceptibly in everything in this Universe from the globe down to the atom -- without cessation. It is growth and decay (life and death).
When the Maha Pralaya arrives, the inhabitants of Swar-loka (the upper sphere) disturbed by the conflagration, seek refuge "with the Pitris, their progenitors, the Manus, the Seven Rishis, the various orders of celestial Spirits and the Gods, in Maharloka." When the latter is reached also, the whole of the above enumerated beings migrate in their turn from Maharloka, and repair to Jana-loka in "their subtile forms, destined to become re-embodied, in similar capacities as their former, when the world is renewed at the beginning of the succeeding Kalpa;" (Vayu Purana).
" . . . . These clouds, mighty in size, and loud in thunder, fill up all space (Nabhas-tala)," goes on Vishnu Purana. -- (Book VI., ch. iii.) "Showering down torrents of water, these clouds quench the dreadful fires, and then they rain uninterruptedly for a hundred (divine) years, and deluge the whole world (Solar System). Pouring down, in drops as large as dice, these rains overspread the earth, and fill the middle region (Bhuvaloka) and inundate heaven. The world is now enveloped in darkness, and all things animate, or inanimate, having perished, the clouds continue to pour down their waters" . . . "and the Night of Brahma reigns supreme over the scene of desolation . . . . ."
This is what we call in the Esoteric Doctrine a "Solar Pralaya" . . . When the waters have reached the region of the Seven Rishis, and the world (our Solar System) is one ocean, they stop. The breath of Vishnu becomes a strong wind, which blows for another hundred (divine) years until all clouds are dispersed. The wind is then reabsorbed: and "THAT, of which all things are made, the Lord by whom all things exist, He who is inconceivable, without beginning, the beginning of the universe, reposes, sleeping upon Sesha (the Serpent of Infinity) in the midst of the deep. The Adikrit (Creator?) Hari, sleeps upon the ocean of Space in the form of Brahma -- glorified by Sanaka* and the Siddha (Saints) of Jana-loka, and contemplated by the holy denizens of Brahma-loka, anxious for final liberation, involved in mystic slumber, the celestial personification of his own illusions. . . ." This is the Pratisanchara (dissolution?) termed incidental because Hari is its incidental (ideal) Cause. . . . .** When the Universal Spirit wakes, the world revives; when he closes his eyes, all things fall upon the bed of mystic slumber. In like manner, as 1,000 great ages constitute a Day of Brahma (in the original it is Padma-yoni, the same as Abjayoni -- "lotos-born," not Brahma), so his Night consists of the same period. "Awaking at the end of his night, the unborn . . . creates the Universe anew. . . ." (Vishnu Purana.)
This is "incidental" pralaya; what is the Elemental Dissolution? "When by dearth and fire," says Parasara to Maitreya, "all the worlds and Patalas (hells) are withered up . . .*** the progress of elemental dissolution is begun. Then, first the waters swallow up the property of Earth (which is the rudiment of smell), and earth deprived of this property proceeds to destruction -- and becomes one with water . . . . when the Universe is thus pervaded by the waves of the watery Element, its rudimentary flavour is locked up by the elements of fire . . . on account of which the waters themselves are destroyed . . . and become one with fire; and the Universe is therefore, entirely filled with flame (ethereal) which gradually overspreads the whole world. While Space is one flame, the element of wind seizes upon the rudimental property or form, which is the cause of light, and that being withdrawn (pralina) all becomes of the nature of air. The rudiment of form being destroyed, and Vibhavasu (fire?) deprived of its rudiment, air extinguishes fire and spreads over space, which is deprived of light when fire merges into air. Air, then, accompanied by sound, which is the source of Ether, extends everywhere throughout the ten regions . . . . until Ether seizes upon cohesion (Sparsa -- Touch?) its rudimental property, by the loss of which, air is destroyed, and KHA remains unmodified; devoid of form, flavour, touch (Sparsa), and smell, it exists, embodied (murttimat) and vast, and pervades the whole Space. Akasa, whose characteristic property and rudiment is sound (the "Word"), occupies the whole containment of Space. Then the origin (Noumenon?) of the Elements (Bhutadi), devours sound (collective Demiurgos); and the hosts of Dhyan Chohans, and all the existing
* The chief Kumara or Virgin-god (a Dhyan Chohan) who refuses to create. A prototype of St. Michael, who refuses to do the same.
** See concluding lines in Section, "Chaos, Theos, Kosmos."
*** This prospect would hardly suit Christian theology, which prefers an eternal, everlasting hell for its followers.
THE DISSOLUTION OF THE EGG
Elements* are at once merged into their original. The primary Element, Consciousness, combined with tamasa (spiritual darkness) is itself disintegrated by MAHAT (the Universal Intellect), whose characteristic property is Buddhi, and earth and Mahat are the inner and outer boundaries of the Universe." Thus as (in the beginning) "were the seven forms of Prakriti (nature) reckoned from Mahat to earth, so these seven successively re-enter into each other."**
Egg of Brahma (Sarva-mandala) is dissolved in the waters that surround it, with
its seven zones (dwipas) seven oceans, seven regions, and their mountains; the
investure of water is drunk by the fire; the (stratum of) fire is absorbed by
(that of) air; air blends itself with ether (Akasa); the Bhutadi (the origin,
or rather the cause, of the primary element) devours the ether and is (itself)
destroyed by Mahat (the Great, the Universal mind), which along with all these
is seized upon by Prakriti and disappears. The Prakriti is essentially the
same, whether discrete or indiscrete; only that which is discrete is finally
absorbed by and lost in the indiscrete. PUMS (Spirit) also, which is one, pure,
imperishable, eternal, all-pervading, is a portion of that Supreme spirit which
is all things. That Spirit (Sarvesa) which is other than (embodied) Spirit, and
in which there are no attributes of name, species (naman and jati, or rupa,
hence body rather than species), or the like -- remains as the sole existence
(SATTA). . . Prakriti and Purusha both resolving finally into SUPREME SPIRIT. .
. ." (From Vishnu Purana,
This is the final PRALAYA*** -- the Death of Kosmos -- after which its Spirit rests in Nirvana, or in THAT for which there is neither Day nor Night. All the other pralayas are periodical and follow, in regular succession, the Manvantaras, as the night follows the day of every human creature, animal, and plant. The cycle of creation of the lives of Kosmos is run down, the energy of the manifested "Word" having
* The term
"Elements" must be understood here to mean not only the visible and
physical Elements, but also that which
** When this description is correctly understood by Orientalists in its esoteric significance then it will be found that this Cosmic correlation of World-Elements may explain the correlation of physical forces better than those now known. At any rate, theosophists will perceive that Prakriti has seven forms, or principles, "reckoned from Mahat to Earth." The "Waters" mean here the Mystic "mother"; the Womb of abstract nature, in which the manifested Universe is conceived. The Seven "zones" have reference to the Seven Divisions of that Universe, or the Noumena of the Forces that bring it into being. It is all allegorical.
*** As it is the Maha, the Great, or so-called final PRALAYA which is here described, every thing is re-absorbed into its original ONE Element -- the "Gods themselves, Brahma and the rest" being said to die and disappear during that long NIGHT.
its growth, culmination, and decrease, as have all things temporary, however long their duration. The Creative Force is Eternal as Noumenon; as a phenomenal manifestation in its aspects, it has a beginning and must, therefore, have an end. During that interval it has its periods of activity and its periods of rest. And these are the "Days and the nights of Brahma." But Brahma, the Noumenon, never rests, as IT never changes and ever IS, though IT cannot be said to be anywhere. . . . .
The Jewish Kabalists felt this necessity of immutability in an eternal, infinite Deity, and therefore applied the same thought to the anthropomorphic god. The idea is poetical and very appropriate in its application. In the Zohar we read as follows:--
Moses was keeping a vigil on
"Before my time" is very suggestive. It shows the God of Moses to be only a temporary substitute, like Brahma the male, a substitute and an aspect of THAT which is immutable, and which therefore can take no part in the "days," or in the "nights," nor have any concern whatever with reaction or dissolution.
While the Eastern Occultists have seven modes of interpretation, the Jews have only four -- namely, the real-mystical; the allegorical; the moral; and the literal or Pashut. The latter is the key of the exoteric Churches and not worth discussion. Read in the first, or mystical key, here are several sentences which show the identity of the foundations of construction in every Scripture. It is given in Mr. T. Myer's excellent book on the Kabalistic works he seems to have well studied. I quote verbatim. "B'raisheeth barah elohim ath hash ama yem v'ath haa'retz -- i.e., 'In the beginning the God(s) created the heavens and the earth;" (the meaning of which is:) the six Sephiroth of Construction,* over which B'raisheeth stands, all belong Below. It created six (and) on these stand all Things. And those depend upon the seven forms of the Cranium up to the Dignity of all Dignities. And the second 'Earth' does not come into calculation, therefore it has been said: 'And from it (that Earth) which underwent the curse, came it forth.' . . . . 'It (the Earth) was without form and void; and darkness was over the face of the Abyss, and the Spirit of elohim . . . . was breathing (me' racha 'phath) -- i.e., hovering, brooding over, moving. . . . . Thirteen depend on thirteen
* The "Builders" of the Stanzas.
(forms) of the most worthy Dignity. Six thousand years hang (are referred to) in the first six words. The seventh (thousand, the millennium) above it (the cursed Earth) is that which is strong by Itself. And it was rendered entirely desolate during twelve hours (one . . . . Day) as is written. . . . . In the thirteenth, It (the Deity) shall restore all . . . . and everything shall be renewed as before; and all those six shall continue . . . . etc." (Qabbalah, p. 233, from Siphrah Dzeniuta, c. i., § 16, s. 9.)
"Sephiroth of Construction" are the six Dhyan Chohans, or Manus, or
Prajapati, synthesized by the seventh "B'raisheeth (the First Emanation or
Logos), and who are called, therefore, the Builders of the Lower or physical
Universe" all belong Below. These six [[diagram]] whose essence is of the
Seventh -- are the Upadhi, the base or fundamental stone on which the objective
Universe is built, the noumenoi of all things. Hence they are, at the same
time, the Forces of nature, the Seven Angels of the Presence, the sixth and
seventh principles in man; the spirito-psycho-physical spheres of the Septenary
chain, the Root Races, etc., etc. They all "depend upon the Seven forms of
the Cranium" up to the highest. The "second Earth" "does
not come into calculation" because it is no Earth, but the Chaos or Abyss
of Space in which rested the paradigmatic, or model universe in ideation of the
OVER-SOUL brooding over it. The term "Curse" is here very misleading,
for it means simply doom or destiny, or that fatality which sent it forth into
the objective state. This is shown by that "Earth" under the
"Curse" being described as "without form and void," in
whose abysmal depths the "Breath" of the Elohim (collective Logoi)
produced or photographed the first divine IDEATION of the things to be. This
process is repeated after every Pralaya before the beginnings of a new
Manvantara, or period of sentient individual being. "Thirteen depend on
thirteen forms," refers to the thirteen periods personified by the
thirteen Manus, with Swayambhuva the fourteenth (13, instead of 14, being an
additional veil): those fourteen Manus who reign within the term of a Mahayuga,
a "Day" of Brahma. These (thirteen-fourteen) of the objective
Universe depend on the paradigmatic, ideal
forms. The meaning of the "Six thousand years" which "hang in
the first six words," has again to be sought in the Indian Wisdom. They
refer to the primordial six (seven) "Kings of Edom" who typify the
worlds (or spheres) of our chain during the first Round, as well as the
primordial men of this Round. They are the septenary pre-Adamic (or before the
Third, Separated Race) first Root-race. As they were shadows, and senseless
(they had not eaten yet of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge), they could not
see the Parguphim, or "Face could not see Face" (primeval men were
unconscious), "therefore, the primordial (seven) Kings died," i.e.,
were destroyed (vide Sepherah Djenioutha). Now, who are they? They are the
Kings who are "the Seven Rishis, certain (secondary) divinities, Sakra
(Indra), Manu, and the Kings his Sons, who are created and perish at one
period," as said in Vishnu Purana (
Thus the author of the Qabbalah remarks quite truly that "Long before his (Ibn Gebirol's) time . . . many centuries before the Christian era, there was in Central Asia a 'Wisdom Religion;' fragments of which subsequently existed among the learned men of the archaic Egyptians, the ancient Chinese, Hindus, etc. . . ." and that . . . . . "The Qabbalah most likely originally came from Aryan sources, through Central Asia, Persia, India and Mesopotamia, for from Ur and Haran came Abraham and many others into Palestine" (p. 221). And such was the firm conviction of C. W. King, the author of "The Gnostics and their Remains."
Vamadeva Modelyar (Modely) describes the coming "night" most poetically. Though it is given in Isis Unveiled, it is worthy of repetition.
"Strange noises are heard, proceeding from every point . . . These are the precursors of the Night of Brahma; dusk rises at the horizon, and the Sun passes away behind the thirteenth degree of Macara (sign of the Zodiac), and will reach no more the sign of the Minas (zodiacal pisces, or fish). The gurus of the pagodas appointed to watch the rasichakr (Zodiac), may now break their circle and instruments, for they are henceforth useless.
"Gradually light pales, heat diminishes, uninhabited spots multiply on the earth, the air becomes more and more rarified; the springs of waters dry up, the great rivers see their waves exhausted, the ocean shows its sandy bottom and plants die. Men and animals decrease in size daily. Life and motion lose their force, planets can hardly gravitate in space; they are extinguished one by one, like a lamp which the hand of the chokra (servant) neglects to replenish. Surya (the Sun) flickers and goes out, matter falls into dissolution (pralaya), and Brahma merges back into Dayus, the Unrevealed God, and, his task being
THE PURANIC PROPHECY.
accomplished, he falls asleep. Another day is passed, night sets in, and continues until the future dawn.
"And now again he re-enters into the golden egg of His Thought, the germs of all that exist, as the divine Manu tells us. During His peaceful rest, the animated beings, endowed with the principles of action, cease their functions, and all feeling (manas) becomes dormant. When they are all absorbed in the SUPREME SOUL, this Soul of all the beings sleeps in complete repose till the day when it resumes its form, and awakes again from its primitive darkness."*
the "Satya-yuga" is always the first in the series of the four ages
or Yugas, so the Kali ever comes the last. The Kali yuga reigns now supreme in
will be contemporary monarchs, reigning over the earth -- kings of churlish
spirit, violent temper, and ever addicted to falsehood and wickedness. They
will inflict death on women, children, and cows; they will seize upon the
property of their subjects, and be intent upon the wives of others; they will
be of unlimited power, their lives will be short, their desires insatiable. . .
. People of various countries intermingling with them, will follow their
example; and the barbarians being powerful (in
* See Jacquolliot's "Les Fils de Dieu"; l'Inde des Brahmes, p. 230.
** If this is not prophetic, what is?
the human race approaches its annihilation (pralaya) . . . . When the close of the Kali age shall be nigh, a portion of that divine being which exists, of its own spiritual nature . . . shall descend on Earth . . . (Kalki Avatar) endowed with the eight superhuman faculties. . . . He will re-establish righteousness on earth, and the minds of those who live at the end of Kali Yuga shall be awakened and become as pellucid as crystal. The men who are thus changed . . . shall be the seeds of human beings, and shall give birth to a race who shall follow the laws of the Krita age, the age of purity. As it is said, 'When the sun and moon and the lunar asterism Tishya and the planet Jupiter are in one mansion, the Krita (or Satya) age shall return.' "
". . . . Two persons, Devapi, of the race of Kuru and Moru, of the family of Ikshwaku, continue alive throughout the four ages, residing at Kalapa.* They will return hither in the beginning of the Krita age . . . Moru** the son of Sighru through the power of Yoga is still living . . . . and will be the restorer of the Kshattriya race of the Solar dynasty."*** (Vayu Purana, Vol. III, p. 197).
Whether right or wrong with regard to the latter prophecy, the blessings of Kali Yuga are well described, and fit in admirably even with that which one sees and hears in Europe and other civilized and Christian lands in full XIXth, and at the dawn of the XXth century of our great era of ENLIGHTENMENT.
* Matsya Purana gives Katapa.
** Max Muller translates
the name as Morya, of the Morya dynasty, to which Chandragupta belonged (see
Sanscrit Literature). In Matsya Purana, chapter cclxxii, the dynasty of ten Moryas
(or Maureyas) is spoken of. In the same chapter, cclxxii, it is stated that the
Moryas will one day reign over
*** The Vayu Purana declares that Moru will re-establish the Kshattriya in the Nineteenth coming Yuga. (See "Five years of Theosophy," p. 483. "The Moryas and Koothoomi.")