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The Secret Doctrine, Volume 1:368-378

In Chapter VII, H.P. Blavatsky discussed the Days and Nights of Brahma in their relation to the Life of Brahma in a Great Age.

  1. (Chapter VII). THE DAYS AND NIGHTS OF BRAHMA: In theosophical literature, the seven Rounds of a planetary chain are often referred to as a planetary Manvantara, or Day of Brahma. A planetary Pralaya, or Night of Brahma, follows a planetary Manvantara. A Day of Brahma is 4,320,000,000 years and a Night of Brahma is 4,320,000,000 years. Together, they total 8,640,000,000 years, a number which represents the birth and death of a planetary chain. When a planetary chain has died seven times, the cycle is often referred to as a solar Manvantara. This solar Manvantara endures for some "60 billions of years," as G. de Purucker clarified in Studies on page 175. While G. de Purucker repeatedly used these terms for the planetary and solar cycles, he also acknowledged that there was an alternate terminology that could be used. This commentary prefers the alternate terminology because it allows the Great Age to be formulated from within the framework of three types of Maha-Manvantaras, two for which definite time periods have been provided: a planetary Maha-Manvantara (4,320,000,000 years), a solar Maha-Manvatara, and a universe Maha-Manvantara (311,040,000,000,000 years). After all, G. de Purucker defined a Great Age in his "Mahamanvantara" sub-heading in the Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary in relation to a "universe, solar system, or planet." Thus, these three should be considered in the same way. On the alternate usage of the term planetary Maha-Manvantara, G. de Purucker wrote under the "Manvantara" sub-heading, "When speaking of a manvantara of our planet, a period of one round of the planetary chain is usually meant . . . Seven rounds of the planetary chain make a mahamanvantara of a planet, a Day of Brahma." In this scenario, one Round of a planetary chain is a planetary Manvantara, and seven Rounds of a planetary chain is a planetary Maha-Manvantara. Seven of these planetary Maha-Manvantaras is equal to what is typically referred to as a solar Manvantara (approximately 60 billion years), but in this alternate terminology it is a solar Maha-Manvantara as the seven Rounds of a solar Sun. Similarly, if the analogy holds, a Great Age is a universe Maha-Manvantara of 311 trillion years, which can be divided into seven Rounds of approximately 44 trillion years each. A Great Age can now be viewed in a consistent manner in terms of three cycles: a planetary Maha-Manvantara consisting of seven Rounds, a solar Maha-Manvantara consisting of seven Rounds, and a universe Maha-Manvantara consisting of seven Rounds. These three Maha-Manvantaras correlate with the three "manwantaras" (universal, solar, and minor) in The Mahatma Letters on page 93. Of course, there are many planetary and solar Maha-Manvantaras in a single universe Maha-Manvantara. As already noted in Fundamentals on page 115, there are 36,000 Earth lives or planetary Maha-Manvantaras. As already suggested in The Secret Doctrine 1:135, there may be 3,000 solar Sun lives or solar Maha-Manvantaras. When the cosmic manifestation of a Great Age ends, there is a conjunction between the close of the lives of a planetary chain, a solar system, and a universe. But the conjunction does not affect everything in the universe equally. The figurative "waters" that rain down onto the solar Sun "stop" when the "Solar System" is "one ocean," per The Secret Doctrine 1:371. The solar Sun and the planets represent the lower four principles of the Life of Brahma. This means that they correspond to the personal aspect of the universe, just as the Kama principle corresponds to the personal aspect of a man. T. Subba Row wrote in Collected Writings 2:455 that the "consciousness" of an evolving entity, when separated from its upadhi or vehicle, becomes a "thing utterly inconceivable to us, not only to us but to any other intelligence which has the notion of self or ego in it, or which has a distinct individualized existence." The situation is the same, whether looking at a human being or a universe. The individualized existence of the secondary Universe is tied into the continued personalized intelligence of its solar systems. As T. Subba Row noted in Collected Writings 2:453, the "fourth principle" (the solar system) separates from the "fifth" and soon disintegrates. The "so-called fourth principle is almost lifeless unless combined with the fifth." But when it is still combined with the fifth principle (the Kama principle, whether cosmic or human), it possesses, being "composed of finer materials than the physical body," such "powers of action and thought" that are considerably "greater than those found in the physical organism," per T. Subba Row in Collected Writings 2:466. Whether for a man or a universe, Kama is the last refuge of individualized existence as the entity knew it during life. In our contemporary society, a human being is considered "dead" when he no longer embodies the type of individualized existence that we once knew. The higher Reimbodying Ego (in its flight to Buddhi and Atman) of that human being is still very much alive, and yet we talk about him as deceased. The same goes for our secondary Universe at the close of a Great Age. Its solar systems are dead in each "universal system," as G. de Purucker stated in Fundamentals on page 115. The secondary Universe has lost its personal identity. But as G. de Purucker wrote in Fountain-Source on page 627, the higher cosmic suns as its "higher principles" fly away from the devastated solar Suns and into cosmic Alaya. Then Alaya "folds itself inwards surrounding the spiritual identity" (the Central Sun) as its "sheath" (thereby separating and protecting the 7th cosmical principle of Paramatman from the destruction experienced by the lower gods) and all that remains is Space. The Central Suns, who ruled over the universal solar systems, unite with the central point as the 3rd Logos and continue their journeys into other universes and galaxies into a bigger "Galactic Manvantara," per Studies 92. As G. de Purucker explained in Fountain-Source on page 268, the Paramatman of "our solar system is universal in extent, interwebbing it with the entire galaxy." This is the reason why the author of this commentary has previously written in such articles as "Cosmic Life" in TheosophyDownunder (September 2018) that the higher principles of a universal solar system may survive into the Maha-Pralaya after the destruction of a Great Age; however, H.P. Blavatsky reminded us in The Secret Doctrine 2:700 that we would act as "presumptuous fools" if we tried to follow their cycles into the darkness. Thus, the Life of Brahma, as G. de Purucker defined in his sub-heading "Maha-Kalpa" in the Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary, is the "entire lifetime of our solar system" or the individualized existence of the personal aspect of the secondary Universe.


A. Trevor Barker, trans., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett (Pasadena: Theosophical University Press, 1975).

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

G. de Purucker, Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary. Retrieved from

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).

G. de Purucker, Studies in Occult Philosophy (Pasadena: Theosophical University Press, 1973).

T. Subba Row, Collected Writings (San Diego: Point Loma Publications, Inc., 2001).

Don Shepherd, "Cosmic Life: The 'Great Age,'" TheosophyDownunder (September 2018). Retrieved from

(Photo by Peter John Maridable on Unsplash)

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