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The Secret Doctrine, Volume 1:231-268

In the first and second sections of the Seventh Stanza, H.P. Blavatsky presented many themes to the reader in rapid-fire succession, but she picked up the thread on the Fourth Round in the third section of The Secret Doctrine 1:231. She provided an allegorical comparison of the Kosmic layering in the Universe to the Rounds on our Earth globe. The "One Eternal" drops a "Ray" into the "Chaos" to incubate the "Water of Space" through its light and produce the "three-fold being" as its "First-born." The "One Eternal" is the First Round, the "Chaos" is the Second Round, the "Water of Space" is the Third Round, and the "First-born" is the Fourth Round. In The Secret Doctrine 1:252, she outlined the corresponding esoteric characteristic for each of these Rounds: Fire, Air, Water, and Earth. Fire shoots through air, reflects itself in water, and produces earth (earth is considered three-fold for a variety of reasons). In The Secret Doctrine 1:250, she explained that initially there is "Fire, the hot flames," then there is "heat" and "moist vapor," subsequently a watery "liquid mist," and finally "solid watery wheels (MATTER globes)." She confirmed, "These four are the four lives of the first four periods (Rounds) of Manvantara." In the same way that Brahma creates his own secondary seven-fold Universe to "personify his phases," the Cosmic Entity overseeing all the Rounds of an Earth-chain establishes his phases through the seven Rounds.

In examining the first four Rounds, H.P. Blavatsky stated in Collected Writings 13:301 that the First Round on Earth globe A of the Earth-chain began around 1,955,884,685 years ago. The entire seven Rounds will last about 4,320,000,000 years. Since humanity already reached its mid-point in the Fourth Round many millions of years ago, this means humanity's general evolution is several hundreds of millions of years ahead of schedule in terms of the timeline on Earth globe D. In Collected Writings 13:303, she noted that the Fourth Round on Earth globe A began around 308,448,000 years ago. It takes about 308 million years for the human life wave of evolving entities to travel through the Earth globes and arrive at the mid-point of the Fourth Round on Earth globe D. It will take another 308 million years for the human life wave of evolving entities to to travel from the mid-point on Earth globe D to the close of Earth globe G. This makes a total of approximately 617 million years for the Fourth Round. In G. de Purucker's Studies on page 161, he elaborated on these numbers, pointing out that the mid-point of the Fourth Round in the Fourth Root-Race was about 9 million years ago. Therefore, the sedimentation of the Mineral life wave on our Earth globe D in the Fourth Round started some 318 million years ago. The origin of the human life wave on Earth globe D in its Fourth Round, First Root-Race, started some 130-150 million years ago, per Studies on page 165.

In her Collected Writings 13:303, H.P. Blavatsky referred to the initial 308 million years of the Fourth Round as a period of activity or a "Day of Brahma." She referred to the second 308 million years of the Fourth Round as a period of rest or a "Night of Brahma." That is, she loosely labelled (within a Round cycle or planetary Manvantara) the journey of evolving entities from Earth globe D to Earth globe G as "Night." In a general way, this smaller division reflects the greater division between the 4,320,000,000 year "Day of Brahma" and the 4,320,000,000 "Night of Brahma," or the total number of years for a complete planetary Manvantara: a planetary Maha-Manvantara and planetary Maha-Pralaya. This microcosmic planetary Maha-Manvantara is not the macrocosmic Maha-Manvantara of the Universe; the planetary Maha-Manvantara is 4,320,000,000 years while the universe Maha-Manvantara is 311,040,000,000,000 years. But a comparison does provide the answer for why H.P. Blavatsky in The Secret Doctrine 1:36 divided the 311 trillion years of a Great Age into "seven periods": a Maha-Manvanatara is defined by its division into seven phases. Each period is a universal "Manvantara," or a Round in the life of the Universe. Thus, seven Rounds in the life of a Universe equals a Maha-Manvantara of 311 trillion years, just as one planetary Manvantara, or a single Round, is 617 million years and a planetary Maha-Manvantara, or seven Rounds, is 4,320,000,000 years.

Technical details like this help the reader understand difficult passages in The Secret Doctrine, such as on 1:135 in the Fifth Stanza. The descent and ascent of globes can be considered day and night, life and death. When H.P. Blavatsky wrote on ancient Egypt and the "Osirification" of the "Monad" after "3,000 cycles of Existences" in a passage relating to the Great Age of 311 trillion years, she was referring to the 18,000 Earth embodiments (seven Rounds each) in their descent through the Kosmic planes and the beginning of their ascent in the 18,001st re-embodiment. The "Osirification" of the "Monad" began with this ascent--a Night of Brahma from a certain perspective--but which Monad? The solar Monad. One solar Manvantara lasts for seven Earth-chain re-embodiments, per G. de Purucker's Fundamentals on page 510 and Dialogues 1:13-17. Then the solar Sun explodes (only in terms of its lower matter). Its exploded fragmentary comets are used to build the next system of planets. In this example, she is referring to the solar Sun as "Buddhi" or the "6th principle," born from the "nature and the very Essence of the 'Seven'" in The Secret Doctrine 1:527. Therefore, the 18,000 Earth embodiments can be divided by 6 to get an estimated number of solar Manvantaras (figurative Days of Brahma measured in weeks) on the descent in a Great Age. This produces the "3,000 cycles of Existences" for the solar Monad leading to Osirification, meaning that the solar Sun and its planetary chains have begun their ascent (figurative Nights of Brahma measured in weeks) in the Great Age. Of course, from the broader perspective, the 311 trillion years of Kosmic activity is the Life of Brahma and the 311 trillion years of Kosmic rest is the Death of Brahma.

In theosophical literature, the four Rounds of Fire, Air, Water, and Earth are usually discussed in context of a seven-Round cycle. But there are twelve Rounds. G. de Purucker provided a diagram of these twelve Rounds (in relation to the twelve Earth-chain globes) in Fountain-Source on page 196. While G. de Purucker often spoke of the first two Rounds as the culmination of the previous twelve-Round cycle, we will, for the moment, follow his diagram and place these two Rounds at the beginning of the current twelve-Round cycle. Since the "fiery," "aery," "watery," and "solid or earthy" Rounds are preceded by five preliminary Rounds, they are really the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th Rounds of Earth's planetary chain. Each Round corresponds with a specific class of evolving entities who enter it as the dominant life wave. In a twelve-Round cycle 1) the "Aetheric" kingdom corresponds to a Laya-center into which the Dhyani-Chohans of the previous planetary chain enter 2) the "Etheric" kingdom corresponds to the Cometary matter on which the Dhyani-Chohans from the previous planetary chain awaken 3-5) the first, second, and third "Elemental" kingdoms build the upper and lower components of each globe in coordination with these Dhyani-Chohans 6) the "fiery" kingdom corresponds to the Mineral life wave 7) the "aery" kingdom corresponds to the Plant life wave 8) the "watery" kingdom corresponds to the Animal life wave 9) the "solid or earthy" kingdom corresponds to the Human life wave 10-12) the "ethereal," "ethereal-spiritual," and "quasi-spiritual" kingdoms corresponds to the three classes of Dhyani-Chohans (which loosely follow the progression from Chohan to Maha-Chohan to Dhyani-Chohan in Fundamentals on page 386 and "human dhyani-chohans" to "dhyani-chohanic entities" in Fountain-Source on page 356). At the end of the twelfth Round, these Dhyani-Chohans progress into a Laya-center, where they become solar (as opposed to planetary). Therefore, the planets begin their journeys in the new series of twelve Rounds as comets and then suns (though inferior to true solar Suns).

In Collected Writings 3:269, H.P. Blavatsky discussed this transition of the "Planetary Spirits" (as Dhyani-Chohans or Dhyani-Bodhisattvas, since they correspond to planetary globes and chains) into the "Pralaya" or "the periodical resurrection to objective and subjective life of our universe--limited of course, to our planetary System." The "Compiler" of her Collected Writings thought that H.P. Blavatsky had "unquestionably" made a "slip of the pen" when using the term "Pralaya," suggesting that the word "resurrection" pointed to the fact that she meant to use the word "Manvantara." But the Compiler is mistaken. He did not understand the significance of the twelve-Round cycle. As mentioned before, G. de Purucker sometimes placed the "Aetheric" and "Etheric" Rounds at the end of the previous twelve-Round cycle. In Dialogues 3:441, he ordered the ten kingdoms from Elemental to Dhyani-Chohanic and then added, "This makes ten Rounds. Then counting after this way, there are two Rounds after the ten, making the twelve or closing out Rounds before the Chain dies." Thus, the "Aetheric" and "Etheric" Rounds are really the 11th and 12th Rounds in the life of a planetary chain. In the 11th Round, the Dhyani-Chohans enter their Pralaya in the Laya-center and in the 12th Round they re-emerge as Cometary matter for the three Elemental kingdoms to gain a foothold in the new series of twelve Rounds. Thus, the Planetary Spirits are resurrected to objective and subjective life during the Pralaya. In this case, H.P. Blavatsky's work did not need to be corrected.

Further, in Collected Writings 3:269, these Planetary Spirits in the Pralaya ascend to the "first starting point"--that "junction in the Infinity where Spirit or Purusha first falls into Prakriti (plastic matter)" or "that primordial and yet formless cosmic matter which is the first out-breathing of the Infinite and Changeless Universal Soul (the Parabrahm of the Vedantins)." That is, they ascend to the 3rd Logos at the close of a Great Age. Then they re-descend to commingle with the waiting Elementals in the 1st preliminary Round of the new Maha-Manvantara. The three Elemental kingdoms, with the aid of the Dhyani-Chohans, create the Heavens and the Earth, the "light" and the "darkness," per Verse 1:4 of Genesis. Fabre d' Olivet (perhaps the best translator of the Bible) demonstrated in his 1815 exegesis The Hebraic Tongue Restored 2:31 that the "light" is "intellectual elementizing" and the "darkness" is "hard-making power." This serves as the perfect description for the meeting of the Dhyani-Chohans and the Elementals in the preliminary Rounds of our Earth's twelve-fold Round cycle. As G. de Purucker explained in Fountain-Source on page 197, H.P. Blavatsky began her "marvelous exposition" in The Secret Doctrine after this coalescing between these two groups, thereby setting the stage at the close of the Seventh Stanza with Rounds One through Four on our Earth globe D, where Round One is the fiery Mineral phase, Round Two is the aery Plant phase, Round Three is the watery Animal phase, and Round Four is the solid Human phase. With the close of the Seventh Stanza in "Cosmogenesis" in The Secret Doctrine 1:268, H.P. Blavatsky had prepared for the ascendancy of the human life wave--on a "weary 'Road' hedged in by thorns that 'goes down first,'" then"'Winds up hill all the way'" to the "'very end'"--in the upcoming twelve Stanzas of "Anthropogenesis."


H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine (Pasadena: Theosophical University Press, 2019).

H.P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings, Vol. 3 (Wheaton: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1968).

H.P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings, Vol. 13 (Wheaton: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1982).

Fabre d' Olivet, The Hebraic Tongue Restored, trans. Nayan Louise Redfield (York Beach: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1991).

G. de Purucker, The Dialogues of G. de Purucker (Pasadena: Theosophical University Press, 1948).

G. de Purucker, Fountain-Source of Occultism (Pasadena: Theosophical University Press, 1974).

G. de Purucker, Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy (Pasadena: Theosophical University Press, 1979).

(Photo by Lyle Hastie on Unsplash)

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