The few remarks which I have made in my first lecture on the Bhagavad Gita published in the February issue of Theosophist, on the septenary classification of the various principles in man hitherto adopted in theosophical publications, have elicited a reply from Madame H. P. Blavatsky, which appeared in the last issue of this Journal under the heading of “Classification of Principles.” The reply was apparently intended to explain away the remarks which fell from my lips and justify the classification hitherto advocated. I feel extremely thankful to the writer for the friendly tone of criticism which she has adopted. I cannot, however, fail to see that the line of arguments which she had followed is likely to create a wrong impression in the minds of her readers regarding my real attitude in the matter without a few words of explanation on my part. And moreover the important question raised by the controversy which is set on foot by the article under consideration deserve a thorough investigation. I think it necessary therefore to define clearly the position taken up by me, and examine how far the arguments now advanced in defence of the septenary classification are calculated to remove the objections raised against the said classification and weaken the force of my criticism. Looking at the tenour of the reply it becomes necessary to decide at the outset whether my remarks were intentional or whether they were due to a lapsus linguæ as my critic is pleased to assert, and formulate the real question at issue in case there should be found a serious difference of opinion between us. I cannot but confess that my remarks were deliberate and intentional. I thought it fit to condemn the seven-fold classification after serious and anxious consideration, and I duly weighed my words in using them. It will be easily conceded that my evidence is the best and the most direct evidence available as regards my own states of consciousness which accompanied the expressions used. The term unscientific is characterized as a thoughtless expression. Whether the epithet was rightly or wrongly applied is the very issue to be settled between us; but it was certainly not due to any negligence or carelessness on my part. It is further alleged in the article under examination that when I said that the seven-fold classification was conspicuous by its absence in many Hindu books, I must have meant “some special orthodox.” This allegation has no foundation whatsoever. I was not speaking from the standpoint of any special orthodox system and could not have referred therefore to any special orthodox books. The word ‘many’ is taken advantage of by my critic for the purpose of attributing to me an intention which I never had I could not very well have said that the classification was absent in the whole range of Sanskrit mystic literature unless I had examined every book on the subject. I did not come across this classification in any book that I have read, though I have perused many of these books. If my learned critic means to assert that it would be found in some book which I have not read, she ought to name the book and the author. A classification like this should not be allowed to rest merely on the basis of a theoretically possible inference without some clear and definite proof of its existence. And, again, I really cannot see what authority my critic has for asserting that, in making the remarks commented upon, I desired to remain strictly “within theoretical and metaphysical and also orthodox computations” of the microcosmic principles. For the purposes of this controversy a distinction is drawn between occult theories which are theoretically and metaphysically good, and those which are good for “practical demonstration” whatever the expression may mean. This is simply absurd. Occultism is both a science and an art. Its scientific principles, if they are correct, must be consistent with the rules of their practical application which are, as it were, but matters of inference from the said principles. Any system of occultism which has got one set of principles for its theory, and another set of principles inconsistent with the former for its practice, would be but an empirical system which could hardly be called scientific.
Fortunately for the occult science of the ancients such a distinction does not exist. I am obliged therefore to repudiate the specific motives and intentions attributed to me and frankly confess that the difference of opinion between us is not merely apparent but real. Such being the case I am fully prepared to justify my assertions.
Any farther discussion of the subject will of course be out of the question if it is asserted that I am not at liberty to question the correctness of the so-called “original teachings.” Some have argued, it would appear, that a slur was thrown on “the original teachings” by my remarks, thereby implying that I had no business to make them and contradict these teachings. The author of the article probably endorses this view, as she virtually informs her readers in the footnote on page 450, that they must either adopt the seven-fold classification or give up their adherence “to the old School of Aryan and Arhat adepts.” I am indeed very sorry that she thought it proper to assume this uncompromising attitude.
It is now necessary to examine what these “original teachings” are and how far they mast be considered as conclusive on the subject. The “original teachings” on the subject in question first made their appearance in an editorial headed “Fragments of Occult Truth” published in the issue of the Theosophist for October 1881. They were subsequently referred to in various articles written by the Editor, and additional explanations have been given from time to time. These teachings were also embodied in Mr. Sinnett’s “Esoteric Buddhism,” which has been put forth as an authoritative book. They were farther alluded to in “Men,” which has been considered equally authoritative, but whose teachings are materially inconsistent with those of “Esoteric Buddhism.”
As far as I am in a position to see, these are the authorities on which these so-called “Original teachings” have their foundation.
In my humble opinion it would be highly dangerous for the future well-being and prosperity of the Theosophical Society, if it were to evolve, so early in its career, an orthodox creed from the materials supplied by the above mentioned sources and raise the publications above named to the dignity of an originally revelation. Most of the members of Theosophical Society know full well the circumstances under which these teachings were given. Their fragmentary character has been repeatedly acknowledged. Their defective exposition is apparent an their very face; and their imperfection can be easily detected by a careful examination. It was also pointed out, I believe, that these teachings were derived from teachers who could not and would not reveal their real secrets, and fully explain their doctrines except to real initiates. The writers of these various publications had to work according to their own lights on a few hints thrown out to them. It was often pointed out that the real teachings of the ancient Arcane Science had to be approached very gradually and that the line of exposition followed was of a tentative character. It will be found on examination that the teachings connected with the seven-fold classification have gone through various changes since the appearance of the first article on the subject; and it is in my humble opinion premature to say that we have arrived at the end of our labours in this direction and ascertained the true constitution of the Microcosm. Under these circumstances it will be inconsistent with the policy which has been hitherto adopted to declare now that these “original teachings,” which have already gone through so many transformations, should be accepted as an infallible revelation. Such a declaration will effectually prevent all further progress in the work of investigation which the Society has undertaken and perpetuate the blunders already committed. The introduction of anything like an orthodox dogmatic creed at this stage of our progress will simply be ruinous to the cause of our Society. It is submitted that under such circumstances it will be no crime on my part to maintain the correctness of my remarks regarding the unsatisfactory nature of this seven-fold classification, and I am not in the least afraid that by doing so I shall forfeit my right to follow the teachings of “the old school of Aryan and Arhat adepts.” I am yet to be convinced that the seven-fold classification we have adopted was the real seven-fold classification of this ancient school of occultism.
I have characterized this seven-fold classification as misleading and unscientific. It is admitted in the reply that the classification is really misleading, but the blame is thrown on Western Materilaism. This is putting the blame on the wrong party. If the classification has misled no less a person than its original exponent herself, and made her change her conceptions about the nature of the various principles from time to time, it is pretty nearly certain that the classification itself must be held responsible for all the confusion it has created.
I must now invite the attention of my readers to the “Fragments of Occult Truth” (p. 17, Theosophist, Oct. 1881) which contains the “original teaching” on the subject, and the other articles and publications herein referred to. I shall take up principle after principle in the order of enunciation, and point out what new ideas have subsequently been introduced into the conception of these various principles.
The first principle is here described as the physical body. It is made to correspond to Rupa or form in “Esoteric Buddism” (p. 21). It will perhaps be said that both mean the same thing. But a distinction is drawn in the original article between the astral body and the astral shape. They are counted as two distinct principles.
The second principle is here called the vital principle or Jiva-Atma. It is differentiated from the astral elements in the human constitution and is described as a “form of force.” It is however identified in an article headed “Transmigrations of Life Atoms” (p. 535, “Five Years of Theosophy”) written by the same auther, with anima mundi which is equivalent to astral light (See p. 301, Vol. I, Isis Unveiled). And again the same author has identified this very principle with karana sarira in an article on “The Septenary Principle in Esotericism” (p. 193, “Five Years of Theosophy”). Here then we have a mysterious principle which was at first described as an indestructible force different from astral light, which was afterwards identified with the astral light itself, and which was ultimately transformed into karana sarira. And yet we are bound to accept the classification, it would appear, as thoroughly scientific and correct.
The third principle of the original classification is stated to be the astral body, otherwise called therein Linga Sarira. It is considered as sukshma sarira in “The Septenary Principle in Esotericism” above referred to; in another place (p. 197), however, in the same article, it is considered as a part of the manomaya kosa. The “original teaching” places this principle in the second group which represents the Perisprit of man. It is apparently transferred to the first group representing the physical man in the “Transmigrations of life Atoms” (p. 538). It is brought back into the second group subsequently (see p. 235, The Path, November 1886, and p. 70, The Theosophist, Nov. 1886). In the present article it is again retransferred to the first group (p. 451, 1. 23). It will be interesting to notice further in this connection that this principle is described as something difierent from the astral body in “Esoteric Buddhism.” More than five years have elapsed since the appearance of the “original teachings,” and yet we are not quite certain whether this third principle is a part of the physical man or of the astral man. Moreover the “original teaching” says that this principle dies with the body. “Esoteric Buddhism” repeats the same lesson. But this principle is made to survive the dissolution of the physical body in “The Theories about Reincarnation and Spirits” (paras. 3 and 4, p. 235, The Path, Nov. 1886). My critic, however, reverts to the original view in her present article (p. 451, lines 3, 4, 5). In spite of all these contradictions we are assured that thus seven-fold classification is the right one for explaining the phenomena “especially of post-mortem life”.
The fourth principle is described as the astral shape in the “Fragments” and as something different from the astral body. The reason for this distinction is not yet clear. It has subsequently usurped the place of the astral body. The original teaching seems to imply that it is astral in its constitution. Curiously enough, however, the present article divides the seven principles into two groups; the three principles of the first group are described as “objective and astral,” and the four principles of the second group as “Superterrestrial and Superhuman.” Is this fourth principle then to be removed from the plane of astral light? If not, what is the reason for drawing a line of demarcation between the third principle and the fourth principle which are so intimately connected with each other according to the “Fragments”? In this connection a strange blunder has been committed by my critic. The following statement occurs in an article by me published in “Five Years of Theosophy” (p. 185):—”It will also be seen that the fourth principle is included in the third Kosa (sheath) as the said principle is but the vehicle of will-power, which is but an energy of the mind. Now see what my critic says in present article: “As to the remark in the same article (the one above referred to) objecting to the fourth principle being included in the third Kosa, as the said principle is but a vehicle of will-power which is but an energy of the mind, I answer: Just so.” In saying so, she is misquoting my statement and contradicting the assertion which she made in her article on “The Septenary Principle in Esotericism” (p. 19, “Five Years of Theosophy”) to the effect that this fourth principle was a part of the third Kosa. This is sufficient to show how ready she is to change her opinions about these “original teachings” which are declared to be almost infallible.
The fifth principle of the classification originally occupied but a very humble position. It was nothing more than the animal or physical intelligence of man not far removed from “reason instinct, memory, imagination, &c.,” of the brute creation. No part of it was then allowed to go to Devachan. It was simply a part of the animal soul which was ultimately dissolved in Kamaloka (See Fragments, pp. 18, 19 and 20). The real ego of man—the permanent element in him which runs through the various incarnations,—had not its basis in this principle originally or any part of it. The “Elixir of Life” assigns to it more or less the same position as the following passage shows:—”Each of these (seven principles) has in turn to survive the preceding and more dense one and then die. The exception is the 6th when absorbed into and blended with the 7th.” It is partly mixed up with Ananda-Maya Kosa and partly with Vignanamaya Kosa according to the “Septenary Principle” (p. 197, Five Years of Theosophy), these two Kosas being described as the “illusion of supreme bliss” and the “envelope of self-delusion” respectively. It is also to be inferred from the “Replies to an English F. T.S.” (p. 274, “Five Years of Theosophy”) that it is not the ego or the human monad. It is further declared in the Transmigrarion of Life-atoms (p. 539, “Five Years of Theosophy”) that the particles composing this principle disperse after death and “reform after going through various transmigrations to constitute over again” the fifth principle of the next incarnation. The nature of this principle has gradually changed. Though originally it was but the animal consciousness of man, it has subsequently been represented as the fully developed human mind. The whole of it used to perish originally, but subsequently a part of it has been allowed to remain in existence. The whole of it was originally destined for Kamaloka, but a portion has been subsequently lifted up to Devachan. In this connection it must be noticed that it has not up to this time been explained whether after death this principle is physically split up into two parts, or whether the principle merely leaves impressions of its mental activity on the fourth principle taking its physical constitution to Devachan, or whether the sixth principle in conjunction with the 7th takes with it to Devachan the mere vasana (aroma) of this fifth principle leaving its material constitation behind with the fourth principle in Kamaloka. If the first view is accepted it must be admitted that the material constitution of this principle is something peculiar and unintelligible. No other similar phenomenon is presented to us by Natare. In case we accept the second view, we shall be placing the Devachanee in a very uncomfortable position as, according to “The Transmigrations of Life-atoms,” the particles composing his fifth principle will have to undergo the process of disintegration before the next incarnation. The third view will require us to have the sixth principle for the real seat of the Ego. But it has been declared in an article published in The Path (p. 235 November 1886) that Manas or the fifth principle should be considered as the seat of the Ego. The first view is inconsistent with the original teaching, the second view with the philosophy of “Esoteric Buddhism,” and third view with the later developments of the occult theory. And to make our difficulties worse there is no other view possible. The latest change in the doctrine is yet to be noticed. According to the present article this principle is a mere “correlating state“—a condition of existence—and not a physical upadhi. It will be very interesting to enquire whether “correlating state” or composed of particles which disperse and reform as originally taught. It is further declared in this article that this principle is in its nature “superterrestrial and superhuman.” The change from animal consciousness to something that is superhuman is indeed very vast; but it has queitly been effected within the last five years.
Now taking the whole of this teaching into account this principle may be described as follows:
The fifth principle of man is his “animal or physical consciousness” composed of particles subject to post-mortem disintegration which is under certain conditions “the illusion of supreme bliss” and under other conditions the “envelope of self-delusion,” but which must be conceived as the seat of the Ego, and “a superterrestrial and superhuman” “correlating state” corresponding to the dreamy condition.
Let us now turn our attention to the sixth principle. It was originally described as the higher or spiritual intelligence or consciousness in man, and the main seat of consciousness in the “perfect man” (“Fragments,” p. 19, Theos., Oct. 1881). It must be noticed that the expression “perfect man” used in this connection does not mean the perfected man or an adept, but a human being who has fully reached the level of humanity in the course of evolutionary progress from the animal kingdom.
According to the original teaching of the “Fragments” the post-mortem career of this principle is something very peculiar. It is stated that if this principle—”spiritual ego”—”has been in life material in its tendencies,” it clings blindly to the lower principles and severs its connection with the 7th (p. 19, para. 3). It is further stated that its severance from the 7th principle brings about its dissolution. The author of the “Fragments” writes thus on the subject, “Withdraw the oxygen and the flame ceases. Withdraw the spirit and the spiritual Ego disappears.” It is further declared that in such cases the 7th principle passes away “taking with it no fragment of the individual consciousness of the man with which it was temporarily associated.” It is also pointed out on the next page that under certain peculiar conditions this principle may remain in combination with the fifth as an elementary. Is Madame H P. Blavatsky prepared to adhere to this original view at present? If so a considerable portion of the subsequent theosophical literature will have to be thrown to the winds. If the spiritual ego, the main seat of consciousness in the so-called “perfect man,” is liable to be destroyed whenever the man’s tendencies in life happen to be material; if the fifth principle is likewise to be dissolved in Kamaloka, and if the 7th principle carries nothing connected with the individual with it, how is the chain of incarnations kept up and sustained?
What becomes of the doctrine of karma then? Now see what changes have been introduced into the conception of this principle by subsequent articles and other publications. According to “The Elixir of Life” the 6th principle does not perish in the manner stated. “The Replies to an English F. T. S.” speak of it in conjunction with the 7th principle as the permanent monad which rnns through the whole series of incarnations. The teachings of “Esoteric Buddhism” are utterly inconsistent with the original view as may be easily perceived. In the present article my critic identifies it with Karanopadhi and calls it at the same time a “correlating state.” This very Karanopadhi she has some time ago identified with the 2nd principle, as above shown. She has thus contradicted the original teaching any number of times in her subsequent writings. It must also be remembered that in writing these “Fragments” she has made the following distinct declaration: “These are no speculations—we speak what we do know.” And yet she herself has treated them as if they were something worse than mere speculations. Nevertheless with all these contradictions and all this confusion people must accept, it would appear, these teachings as gospel truths, and not utter a single word to criticize them.
There is not much difficulty perhaps about the 7th principle as nothing very definite has ever been said about it. One fact about it is pretty nearly certain. It must be considered as the Logos, there being no other entity in the Cosmos which possesses the attributes assigned to it. It has been often declared, as far as my recollection goes, that the ancient occultists regarded this principle as something existing out of the body and not in the body. It was once loosely stated that this principle should be considered as a principle running through the other principles (p. 197, “Five Years of Theosophy”). This might be true as regards its light or aura; but the Logos itself is never present in the microcosm except when it finally enters into a man before his final emancipation from the trammels of incarnate existence. It is erroneous in my humble opinion to name the Logos as a principle in man. It will be quite as proper to name Parabrahmam itself as a principle in man.
In tracing the course of evolution it is stated in “Esoteric Buddhism” and some other writings, that each succeeding planetary roand is calculated to bring about the development of one of the seven principles. But to avoid certain difficulties which are obvious, it is further asserted that the germs of the higher principles in man are present in him at every stage of his evolutionary progress. These various statements when put together are apt to give rise to the belief that the 7th principle is subject to a course of evolutionary development. This difficulty has long ago been pointed out by one or two writers, but received no consideration from the propounders of the original doctrine. My critic calls even this principle “a correlating state.” There is no use quarrelling about the nature of this principle when so little has been or can be said about it.
From the foregoing remarks it will be seen that this unfortunate seven-fold classification is misleading, not on account of western materialism as my critic asserts, but on account of its own inherent defects. Its unscientific nature is equally clear from all that has been said about it. A Classification which has brought about such a state of things, and required so many alterations in the conceptions associated with it to keep it in existence, must be supported, if it can be supported at all, by clear definitions and powerful arguments. On the other hand my critic virtually evades the real question at issue and undertakes to establish a proposition which I have never denied.
[Note: following the above article, H. P. Blavatsky replied with an article titled “Re-Classification of Principles”; this should be read prior to the following continuation by T. Subba Row, which addresses Blavatsky’s reply.—Ed.]
I shall now proceed with the continuation of my article on the Constitution of the Microcosm. Madame H. P. Blavatsky has sent a reply to the previous portion of my article for publication in this issue, and to avoid the necessity of writing another article on the subject, I find it necessary to take this reply also into consideration in this very article.
The real question at issue between us is after all a very simple one; but it has been obscured and unnecessarily complicated by the line of argument which Madame H. P. Blavatsky has chosen to adopt. I have nowhere denied the importance of number seven in the processes of natural evolution or the interpretation of cosmic phenomena. On the other hand it will be clearly seen from my first lecture that I fully admitted its importance while rejecting the seven-fold classification hitherto adopted as unsound and unscientific. I have not even denied the possibility of a seven-fold classification in the case of the microcosmic principles, or the existence of a seven-fold classification recognized by the ancient occult science. My remarks and criticism were strictly confined to the particular classification which has hitherto been explained and commented upon in Theosophical publications. It must further be noted in this connection that my criticism did not proceed from the necessity of maintaining any orthodox Brahminical dogma. I found it necessary to condemn this classification on account of its own inherent defects, and not because it emanated from a trans-Himalayan source. I found fault, not with Madame H. P. Blavatsky, or her use of Sanskrit terms, or her exposition of Brahminical philosophy, but with the incorrect and misleading classification which has introduced so many contradictions and so much confusion into Theosophical writings. If these few facts are borne in mind, it will be found that a considerable portion of Madame H. P. Blavatsky’s argument is altogether irrelevant to the real question at issue. The whole argument, from the commencement of page 452 to the end of the second paragraph on page 455, can only establish the fact that the number seven is of great importance in nature and the arrangements of occult symbology. Even if this fact is admitted, it does no necessarily follow that in every case we are bound to adopt a seven-fold classification. The only inference that can fairly be drawn from it is, that in all probability there are seven principles which enter into the composition of a human being. But this inference can by no means establish the correctness of the particular classification under consideration. Otherwise the truth of any seven-fold classification we may choose to adopt can be equally proved by this process of reasoning. Any person can name any seven principles in the complex structure of man and claim the sanction of nature for his classification, as is now done by my critic.
It is pointed out in the reply that the seven-fold classification is essential for “practical demonstration in Occultism,” and that the four-fold classification, though “metaphysically” and “theoretically” sound, is incapable of any practical application to “the phenomena of daily and especially of post-mortem life.” The same argument is repeated in various forms throughout the reply. This is one of those vague general arguments which seem to mean a good deal, and which take easy possession of the minds of people who are not generally in the habit of scrutinizing or analyzing their own ideas. I fail to understand what kind of pratical demonstration it is which necessitates the adoption of this classification. My critic is silent on the point. I know for certain that this seven-fold classification will be an obstacle in the way in a considerable number of occult process which an initiate has to pass through in seeking that final union with the Logos, which is to be the ultimate result of his labours. This inconvenience results from the fact that the mystic constitution of the Logos itself, as represented by the sacred Tetragram, has not a septenary basis. If the assertion, however, does not mean anything more than that the septenary classification is required for explaining the so-called spiritualistic phenomena, I am fully prepared to account for everyone of these phenomena from the stand-point of the classification I have adopted. I have in fact dealt with the general aspects of spiritualism in my lectures from this very stand-point. The very fact that this four-fold classification was found sufficient for all practical purposes by occultists who investigated these phenomena for thousands of years and examined the workings of nature on all its planes of activity, will be an unanswerable reply to this argument. I am quite certain that Pisachas and Bhutas will never succeed in disproving my classification. I think that this defect is the result of a serious misapprehension in my critic’s mind regarding the nature of this four-fold classification. At the end of page 450, Madame H. P. Blavatsky points out that the three Upadhis of the Raja-yoga classification are Jagrata, Swapna and Sushupti, and continues as follows:—”But then, in transcendental states of Samadhi, the body with its linga sarira, the vehicle of the life principle, is entirely left out of consideration; the three states of consciousness are made to refer only to the three (with Atma the fourth) principles which remain after death. And here lies the real key to the septenary division of man, the three principles coming in as an addition only during his life.” This real key unfortunately breaks in our hands the moment we begin to apply it. The whole mistake has arisen from confounding Upadhi with the state of Pragna associated with it. Upadhi is the physical organism. The first Upadhi is the physical body itself, and not merely Jagrata Avastha. And again how is Jagrata to be identified with the fourth principle? If, as my critic says, the three states of consciousness—Jagrata, Swapna and Sushupti—are made to refer only to the three principles which remain after death in addition to Atma, Jagrata must necessarily be identified with the fourth principle. But sure enough the fourth principle is not the physical body. The four principles of my classification can by no means be superadded to the first three principles of the seven-fold classification, seeing that the physical body is the first principle of the four-fold classification. Even if Upadhi is mistaken for a state of consciousness, the seven-fold classification cannot be deduced from the Raja-yoga classification. Jagrata Avastha is not the condition of Pragna associated with the fourth principle. The whole argument thus ends in nothing; and yet on the basis of this argument Madame H. P. Blavatsky has thought it proper, in the fourth argument of her present reply, to pronounce an opinion to the effect that the Vedantins have denied the objective reality and the importance of the physical body, and overlooked its existence in their classification, which has thereby been rendered unfit for practical purposes. My critic would have done better if she had paused to ascertain the real meaning of Upadhi and of Jagrata before using such a worthless argument in defence of her own classification and giving expression to such an erroneous view regarding the Vedantic theory.
The whole argument about the comparative merits of the two classifications rests on a series of misconceptions, or arbitrary assumptions. The first Upadhi is identified with Jagratavastha, and then it is assumed that the latter is the same as the fourth principle of the septenary classification. I must here call the reader’s attention to another curious mistake in the reply. It is stated in the second para, on page 456, that the four-fold classification is the “Bhagavad Gita classification,” “but not that of the Vedanta.” This statement is apparently made for the purpose of somehow or other discrediting the four-fold classification. It has, however, no real foundation in fact, and is altogether misleading. Madame H. P. Blavatsky has probably ventured to make this assertion on account of the headings given to the five-fold and the four-fold classifications in my note on the “Septenary Division in different Indian Systems.” I called the five-fold classification, the Vedantic classification, and the four-fold classification the Raja-Yoga classification, merely for convenience of reference and not because the two classifications refer to two different systems of philosophy. Though both the classifications are used in Vedantic philosophy, the four-fold classification is the one frequently referred to. Tharaka Raja-Yoga is, as it were, the centre and the heart of Vedantic philosophy, as it is decidedly, in its higher aspects, the most important portion of the ancient Wisdom-Religion. Very little of it is known at present in India. What is generally seen of it in the books ordinarily read, gives but a very inadequate idea of its scope or importance. In truth, however, it is one of the seven main branches into which the whole of the occult science is divided, and is derived according to all accounts from the “children of the fire-mist” of the mysterious land of Shamballah.
It is necessary to state further in this connection that the four-fold classification I have used is not the only classification to be found in this magnificent system of philosophy. It has also a seven-fold classification, which will hereafter be noticed.
Attention has been called to some of my former articles in the Theosophist, and it is argued that I have already admitted the truth and the correctness of the classification which I am now criticizing, and that I am now estopped from denying the same. This kind of argument is altogether out of place in the present case. The only article in which I had seriously considered the question, is the one referred to as the article on “Brahminism on the Seven-fold principles in man.” I must explain the circumstances under which this so-called article was written. While yet an utter stranger to me, Madame H. P. Blavatsky, after seeing my article on the Zodiac, asked me certain questions by letter about the classification of the various powers and forces recognised by occultism, and further, calling my attention to the “Fragments of Occult Truth,” enquired of me whether as regards spiritualistic phenomena my views harmonized with those put forward in the said article. I sent her a letter in reply, not having the slightest notion at the time of writing the same that it would ever be published as an article for the information of the public. This fact was acknowledged by the editor in her preface to the said article, when it was originally published in the columns of the Theosophist, and it was the editor who selected the title. It will be clearly seen that the article is divided into two parts. The first part is confined to the questions put regarding the classification of the “powers of nature,” while the second part deals with the spiritualistic phenomena. Madame H. P. Blavatsky has, however, thought it proper to quote a passage from the first part, which has nothing to do with the classification of the microcosmic principles, or the spiritualistic phenomena, for the purpose of drawing an unwarranted inference in support of her contention, and for the purpose of making a disagreeable insinuation against the ancient occult science of India.
The passage in question is as follows:
“However that may be, the knowledge of the occult powers of nature (the italics are in the original, see p. 155, “five Years of Theosophy“) possessed by the inhabitants of the lost Atlantis was learnt by the ancient adepts of India, and was appended by them to the esoteric doctrine taught by the residence of the sacred island. The Tibetan adepts, however, have not accepted this addition to their esoteric doctrine; and it is in this respect that one should expect to find a difference between the two doctrines.”
There is nothing ambiguous in this passage. It clearly refers to the Tantras and Agamas which were originally cultivated and developed by the Atlanteans. In course of time their doctrines and ritual gradually crept into the Brahminical doctrine, as the Dugpa doctrines crept into Tibetan Buddhism before the time of Song-ka-pa. And just as the last named adept undertook to weed out these doctrines from the Tibetan religion, Shankaracharya attempted to purify the Brahminical faith. The assertion made in the article does not in the least justify the assumption that the ancient Brahminical occult science was derived from the Atlantean. Tantras and Agamas have little or nothing to do with the classification of the microcosmic principles; and the statement quoted has not the remotest reference to the seven-fold or the four-fold classification. My critic was more or less of the same opinion when she wrote her first article on the “Classification of Principles,” published in the April issue of this Journal. After quoting the above-mentioned paragraph from my article, she makes the following observation on p. 442:—”But this difference between the two doctrines does not include the septenary division . . . ” But this poinion seems to have changed subsequently. For, in the present article, after citing the same passage, she makes the following remark: “Thus, the readers of the Theosophist were told from the first (in 1882) that they ‘should expect to to find a difference between the two doctrines; One of the said ‘differences’ is found in the Esoteric Exposition or form of presentation of the seven-fold principle in man. As might naturally be expected, this statement is a little obscure. This “Exoteric Exposition” cannot possibly refer to the seven-fold classification, because in her opinion this classification “was always esoteric” (p. 448). It must therefore refer to the four-fold classification which is looked upon as the exoteric form of the esoteric seven-fold classification. The statement now made amounts to this then. The seven-fold classification was esoteric and was derived by the Tibetan adepts from Shamballah; the four-fold classification was exoteric and was derived by the ancient adepts of India from the Atlanteans. This difference was noticed and admitted by the article on “Brahminism and the Seven-fold principles in man.”
This is the gist of the present agrument. This argument is sufficiently refuted by what she herself wrote in the April article. She then thought that my statement did not refer to the classifications, and alleged that both the parties derived the seven-fold classification from the Atlanteans (see page 449). It will be a mere waste of time to dissect this argument any further. I can only regret that my critic should stoop to such arguments and insinuations for the purpose of defending her position.
The second part of my article deals with the seven-fold classification only incidentally. It was not necessary to discuss the merits of the seven-fold classification of the “Fragments” in that article. And I did not think it proper to go out of my way and criticize the said classification. It would have been foolish on my part to have done so when my correspondent was a stranger to me, and when I was assured that in her opinion it was a correct classification. I therefore followed the classification of the “Fragments” as far as it was convenient, introducing such changes into it as were absolutely necessary. The following passage at the commencement of the second part of my article will show what I undertook to establish in the said article, and why I adopted the seven-fold classification:—”I have carefully examined it (The Fragments) and find that the results arrived at do not differ much from the conclusions of our Aryan philosophy, though our mode of stating the arguments may differ in form. I shall now discuss the question from my own stand-point though following, for facility of comparison and convenience of discussion, the sequence of classification of the seven-fold entities, or principles constituting man which is adopted in the ‘Fragments.’ The questions raised for discussion are—(1) whether the disembodied spirits of human beings appear in the seance rooms and elsewhere, and (2) whether the manifestations taking place are produced wholly or partly through their agency.” The conclusions referred to herein do not refer to the classification adopted, but to the views expressed on the questions raised. The reason given for following the seven-fold classification is clearly stated and cannot possibly mislead anybody. The so-called mathematical demonstration of the evolution of seven entities from three can only establish, if correct, the probability of a seven-fold classification, but is utterly insufficient to establish the truth of the seven-fold classification therein adopted. It will be further seen that the seven-fold classification I adopted in that article is different in many important respects, viz., the position of Prana and the nature and importance of the 5th and the 6th principles, from the classification of the “Fragments,” in which the so-called “original teachings” was embodied. Curiously enough my alterations were quietly accepted in subsequent expositions in spite of the “original teachings,” to which so much importance is now attached. I was not then pretending, and I have never pretended subsequently, that I was teaching occult wisdom to the members of the Theosophical Society. Under such circumstances it is altogether unreasonable to lay so much stress on the importance of my article in discussing the important question now formally raised for final decision. It is quite true that I refrained from pointing out fully the defects and the unsoundness of the seven-fold classification in my note on the various classifications while I was the acting editor of the Theosophist, though I stated that, in some respects, it would be more convenient to follow the four-fold classification. I did not then think it proper in the interests of theosophical investigation to raise an important issue about the correctness of the seven-fold classification, as I thought it would be premature to do so. The seven-fold classification, though incorrect, was a step in advance. It did serve some purpose in its own way towards the investigation of the ancient systems of occult psychology. And I did not think it prudent to disturb it when matters were hardly ripe for taking another step in the right direction. My article on the “Personal and Impersonal God” does not, in fact, touch the question at issue. It does speak no doubt of seven states of matter, of seven principles in man, and seven aspects of Pragna. But the article does not adopt the seven-fold classification under consideration. It is based on Mandukyopanishad which enumerates seven phases of consciousness, while it accepts the four-fold classification. These articles therefore do not settle the point in dispute, and there cannot be a better proof of the weakness of my critic’s position, than the fact that, instead of attempting to justify the seven-fold classification on its merits, she is trying to find a support for it in the articles above alluded to.
Madame H. P. Blavatsky says that she is certain that the claasification in dispute is the real esoteric seven-fold classification. I am very sorry she is so positive in her statements. In my humble opinion it is not the real esoteric classification. There is but one source from which all the various writers on occult science have derived their classification. It is one of the oldest directions of the ancient Wisdom-Religion that the macrocosm should be interpreted according to the plan revealed by Malchuth, and that Shechinah should be accepted as a guide to the interpretation of the constitution of the microcosm. I use the Kabbalistic names, though not precisely in the Kabbalistic sense, as I am not at liberty to use the Sanskrit equivalents. This Shechinah is an androgyne power, and is the Thureeya Chaitanyam of the cosmos. Its male form is the figure of man seen on the mysterious throne in the vision of Ezekiel. Its mystic constitution gives us, as it were, the equation to the microcosm. It is the eternal model of the perfected microcosm. The universal life copies this model in its work of evolutionary construction. This equation can be interpreted in nine ways, and it has been so interpreted by the ancient teachers. There are nine stand-points from which the microcosm can be looked at, and in nine ways has the constitution of the microcosm been explained. The real esoteric seven-fold classification is one of the most important, if not the most important classification, which has received its arrangement from the mysterious constitution of this eternal type. I may also mention in this connection that the four-fold classification claims the same origin. The light of life, as it were, seems to be refracted by the treble-faced prism of Prakriti, having three Gunams for its three faces, and divided into seven rays, which develop in course of time the seven principles of this classification. The progress of development presents some points of similarity of the gradual development of the rays of the spectrum. While the four-fold classification is amply sufficient for all practical purposes, this real seven-fold classification is of great theoretical and scientific importance. It will be necessary to adopt it to explain certain classes of phenomena noticed by occultists; and it is perhaps better fitted to be the basis of a perfect system of psychology. It is not the peculiar property of “the trans-Himalayan esoteric doctrine.” In fact it has a closer connection with the Brahminical Logos than with the Buddhist Logos. In order to make my meaning clear I may point out here that the Logos has seven forms. In other words, there are seven kinds of Logoi in the cosmos. Each of these has become the central figure of one of the seven main branches of the ancient Wisdom-Religion. This classification is not the seven-fold classification we have adopted. I make this assertion without the slightest fear of contradiction. The real classification has all the requisites of a scientific classification. It has seven distinct principles, which correspond with seven distinct states of Pragna or consciousness. It bridges the gulf between the objective and subjective, and indicates the mysterious circuit through which ideation passes. The seven principles are allied to seven states of matter, and to seven forms of force. These principles are harmoniously arranged between two poles, which define the limits of human conciousness. It is abundantly clear from all that has been said in this controversy, that the classification we have adopted does not possess these requisites. It is admitted by Madame H. P. Blavatsky, that in her classification there are not seven distinct seats of consciousness (see p. 451). The arrangement of the principles also is not regular. The life principle, for instance, which is alleged to have for its vehicle the linga sarira, is made to precede the latter instead of following it. Such defects show that the classification we have hitherto used is not quite sound and scientific. It was to pave the way for the adoption of the real classification that I ventured to criticize the old classification, and I hardly expected that my remarks would give rise to such a controversy. It will be a mere waste of time at present to explain the real seven-fold classification. There is not the slightest chance of my being heard. Time will show whether I was justified in my criticism or not. Personally I am not in the least interested whether the members of the Theosophical Society adhere to or reject the seven-fold classification. I have no desire of having a following of my own in the Society, or starting a separate branch for enforcing my own views on the matter. There is but one statement more in the reply to which it is necessary for me to advert. I have not held Madame H. P. Blavatsky responsible for the mistakes of “Man” and “Esoteric Buddhism,” as she and some of her friends seem to think. I merely grouped together all the various inconsistent statements found in prominent theosophical publications about the classification under enquiry, and in giving my quotations I referred to the various books and articles by name. I nowhere alleged or insinuated that Madame H. P. Blavatsky should be held responsible for the blunders committed by others. The scope of my argument will be clear if my article is carefully perused. But before the heat of advocacy subsides there is no chance of preventing people for raising unnecessary side issues for the purpose of quarrelling. I am extremely sorry that I have entered into this unpleasant controversy. I hope Madame H. P. Blavatsky will kindly excuse me if I have in any way wounded her feelings by my remarks or criticism.