In 1882, Master K.H. wrote to A.O. Hume that there were three types of “pralayas and manwantara.”1 The two less significant types included minor planetary and solar cycles, but the primary type was a “universal or Maha pralaya and manwantara.”2 The succession from a Maha-Manvantara to a Maha-Pralaya signified a period “when even Brahm the creative architect of the world is said to have merged into non-being.”3 After all these years, we still only hold the barest conception of what Master K.H. meant by this statement. H.P. Blavatsky concealed the sacred cycles associated with it, but G. de Purucker teased his readers a bit and suggested that by making the necessary adjustments one could “come to very clear conclusions as to the time-periods of the Solar System and of the Galaxy.”4 While no one has presented such “very clear conclusions,” there is so much already given in H.P. Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine that still needs to be investigated. One of the themes that needs to be explored is the relationship of a Maha-Manvantara, as a “Great Age” of 311,040,000,000,000 years, to the complete lifespan of our solar system.5 Thus, the starting point for understanding Cosmic Life is with a study of the Great Age.

 

In The Secret Doctrine, H.P. Blavatsky equated a Maha-Manvantara with the Great Age or one hundred year Life of Brahma. She spoke of this Great Age in terms of the evolution of our solar system, “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.”6 With her characteristic aplomb, she admonished that if we extend “our speculations beyond our planetary chain” to “cross the limits of the solar system,” then indeed “we act as do presumptuous fools.”7 Fortunately, there is no danger of being a presumptuous fool since the Great Age can be defined in terms of two cosmic events: 1) the complete period of the solar system in all its cycles 2) the death of Brahma in his manifested existence with the dissolution of the materials that built the solar system. To reiterate, our sun in its earliest cycles is coeval with the manifested life of Brahma. H.P. Blavatsky chose Slokas to include in The Secret Doctrine because they pertained to the “fifteen-figure manvantaric cycle” of 311,040,000,000,000 years that applied to our “solar system” as opposed to an even larger cycle for the “whole of the objective universe.”8 The whole of the objective universe concerned our Milky Way Galaxy and its complete period far exceeded 311 trillion years. Therefore, her commentary in the first Sloka on the first Stanza of The Secret Doctrine—“THE ETERNAL PARENT (Space), WRAPPED IN HER EVER INVISIBLE ROBES, HAD SLUMBERED ONCE AGAIN FOR SEVEN ETERNITIES”—addressed the last Maha-Pralaya prior to the first fluttering of the new Great Age as a Maha-Manvantara for the complete lifespan of the solar system.9 For H.P. Blavatsky, the beginning of our sun as a comet “once upon a time” inaugurated “Brahma’s Age.”10 The ever-invisible robes of Space were the “non-differentiated” substances that our solar comet within its manifesting nebula had to break through in order to arrive at objective existence.11

 

This focus on our solar system was in keeping with her other statements that the key to the cycles beyond our sun could not be given because they involved the “Evolution of the Universal Kosmos.”12 The grander cycles of the Universal Kosmos included the complete period for the lifespan of our “Central Sun,” but it was separated from “milliards of solar systems” due to its vastness in time, its current transcendence of place, and its omnipresence of consciousness.13 Actually, the Central Sun from its etheric fields emanated our sun and its various companion suns at the “Manvantaric Dawn.”14 As such, The Secret Doctrine approached the study of Cosmic Life from the perspective of our solar system throughout its 311 trillion year Maha-Manvantara after it emerged from the invisible robes that veiled it during an equally long 311 trillion year Maha-Pralaya. Thus, Master K.H.’s allusion to a universal Maha-Manvantara and Maha-Pralaya referred to two cycles of the sun—meaning the birth of the solar materials that constructed its principles at the start of a Great Age to carry it through all its minor solar cycles into the finality of a magnificent demise and subsequent rebirth in the next Great Age—that endured over some 622 trillion years in total, minus a few trillion years to account for the transition between the two ages.15

 

While the key to the grander cycles in the Universal Kosmos could not be given, H.P. Blavatsky did contextualize the Great Age within the Universal Kosmos. Since the first Stanzas in The Secret Doctrine treated of the “awakening from Pralaya” and were not “concerned with the Solar system alone,” she acknowledged that the sun participated in grander cycles.16 She confirmed there were several Great Ages mentioned by the “ancients,” thereby implying that a Great Age was merely one in a successive series of lives of Brahma.17 Certain remarks by H.P. Blavatsky, however, have led many researchers to miss the possibility that the Great Age is not the consummate dissolution of a grander cycle such as a universal solar system with its Central Spiritual Sun, but only the consummate dissolution of the solar system with our sun. For example, in The Key to Theosophy, she remarked that the “dissolution of the universe becomes universal” after this 311 trillion year period.18 What readers miss is that this “Universe” is evolved from the “Central Sun, the POINT, the ever-concealed germ” which is thereby beyond the universal dissolution in its inner aspects.19 In The Secret Doctrine, she stated, “these Stanzas refer to the whole Universe after a Mahapralaya (universal destruction)” and this universal destruction was a Prakritika-Pralaya “at the end of the Age or Life of Brahma, when everything that exists is resolved into the primal element.”20 Since a Prakritika-Pralaya is only “partial,” these statements may have only described a distinct part of the Universal Kosmos.21 The Maha-Pralaya after a Great Age is a universal dissolution for the principles of the solar system but only a partial dissolution for Brahma the Creator—as the Central Sun or the “Blazing Dragon of Wisdom”—in so far as the close of the Maha-Manvantara refers to his manifested existence in the fields of his respective solar systems.22 In her description of the Maha-Pralaya at the end of the Great Age, our solar system dies and disappears along with the manifested Brahma, leading to a condition where “NO-THING reigns supreme and alone in Boundless Infinitude and that No-thing is non-differentiated space which is no space, and the ABSOLUTE.”23 Elsewhere, she noted that the Maha-Pralaya or “Universal destruction” only swept “out of Space every differentiated thing.”24 In light of these statements, the Maha-Pralaya may be a partial dissolution after the Maha-Manvantara that separates the differentiated from the non-differentiated. Non-differentiated existence in its own state of activity still exists in the Universal Kosmos and it is in this non-differentiated existence that the “lucky Jivanmukti” who “reaches Nirvana at an early period of a Manvantara” enjoys, and nearly doubles to 622 trillion years, his paradisiacal experience.25 The lucky Jivanmukti has soared to the highest reaches of the solar system, dropped the solar principles, and gone beyond into the unmanifested life of Brahma—a condition equivalent to the Maha-Pralaya.

 

To understand the nuances in H.P. Blavatsky’s exposition, it is necessary to turn to G. de Purucker’s writings. In Studies in Occult Philosophy, he established the complete lifespan of our solar system as a Saurya Manvantara of “some three hundreds of trillions of human years.”26 He added that there were figures beyond these 311 trillion years that pertained to the “Manvantara of our entire Galaxy,” but it would be “perfectly futile to talk about because we could not understand them.”27 In the Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary, he defined a Maha-Manvantara as a cycle of a “solar system or Life of Brahma” which lasts 311,040,000,000,000 years.28 Likewise, he defined a Maha-Kalpa, or the equivalent of a Maha-Manvantara, as the “time period between the beginning and end of a complete solar manvantara—the entire lifetime of our solar system.”29 If the entire lifespan of our solar system is 311 trillion years, then the entire lifespan of a universal solar system with a Central Spiritual Sun, or a Raja Sun, must be trillions of years longer since our solar system has “many embodiments within the universal manvantara” of that grander cycle. 30 And if the complete lifespan of a universal solar system were trillions of years longer, then the complete lifespan of the galactic Monad at the heart of the Milky Way Galaxy would presumably stretch to thousands of trillions of years. But the enormous extent of these cycles is mind-boggling and only the field of discovery for those eminently presumptuous fools or those who know.*

 

Fortunately, G. de Purucker explained this process of Cosmic Life in his article, “The Sevenfold Seven Principles,” in the October 1943 magazine The Theosophical Forum. In this article, G. de Purucker gave out the key to H.P. Blavatsky’s teaching on the solar system and the Great Age. He drew a comparison between what happens at the death of a human being as opposed to a planet or a solar system. For a human being, death means that his “four lowest principles” disappear and he is “attracted” up into the Manas by the Atman and the Buddhi.31 The man, from being sevenfold, “has become a triad, a threefold being.”32 G. de Purucker then continued to explain that when a planet dies the only principles left of a human being are his Atman and Buddhi. Finally, when a solar system disappears, the only principle remaining “either of the solar system or of any man” is the Atman.33 That is, the human being and the solar system are indrawn into the Atman—the link between non-differentiated and differentiated existence—at the close of the Great Age. In Fountain-Source of Occultism, he confirmed that Atman is “appurtenant to the solar system.”34 Since the principle of Atman corresponds to the sun, the 311 trillion year period is a Saurya Manvantara for the solar system, not a Maha-Saurya Manvantara for the universal solar system. Since the principle of Atman is universal for the manifested existence of the six lower principles, the Great Age is presented as a universal dissolution.

 

Using G. de Purucker’s model, the structure of Cosmic Life for our ten-fold system of worlds can be extrapolated. It can be extrapolated downwards through animal, plant, mineral and elemental life. With the death of 1) an animal, its life merges into the principle of Kama 2) a plant, its life merges into the principle of Prana 3) a mineral, its life merges into the principle of Linga 4) an elemental, and its life merges into the principle of Sthula. But more importantly, the structure of Cosmic Life can be extrapolated upwards. With the death of 1) a Raja Sun and its universal solar system, its life merges into Mahat as the 3rd Logos 2) an Emperor Sun and its super-universal solar system, its life merges into Mulaprakriti as the 2nd Logos 3) a Galactic Monad and the Milky Way Galaxy, its life merges into Parabrahman as the 1st Logos. In short, G. de Puruckers’ model clarifies that the complete periods for a Raja Sun, an Emperor Sun, and the Galactic Monad stretch far beyond a Great Age.**

 

When the differentiated energies of the solar system disappear into Atman at the close of the Maha-Manvantara, they return to their source in the non-differentiated energies of the three logoic classes beyond them: the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Logos. This clearly places our sun as Daiviprakriti, the light of these logoi, which transforms into Fohat in a “more developed state of manifestation.”35 In a general way, G. de Purucker diagrammed this relation between Mahat and Fohat in Fountain-Source of Occultism.36*** Once again, G. de Purucker affirmed H.P. Blavatsky’s original teachings. For her, Fohat “is the light (Daiviprakriti) of all the three logoi—the personified symbols of the three spiritual stages of Evolution.”37 When we return to our parent source at the close of the Great Age in 155 trillion years—since “half of the existence of Brahma (in the present Maha Kalpa) has already expired”—with the disintegration of the fohatic forces of Daiviprakriti, we are actually returning to the non-differentiated energies (all very much incorporeally alive) of the 3rd Logos.38 The Lipikas of our solar system “make an impassable barrier between the personal EGO” of the seven principles and the “impersonal SELF ” of the three logoi, circumscribing “the manifested world of matter within the RING ‘Pass-Not.”39 As H.P. Blavatsky warned, “No principles can cross the ring ‘pass not,’ only the memory of these in the eternal divine ideation, which ideation itself from something manifested becomes the Absolute on that ‘Day Be-With-Us.’”40 Beyond this barrier within the highest principle of Atman in the seven-fold universe where the “Ah-hi” ultimately emerge from the “Universal Mind” of the logoic triad as the “primordial seven rays” is the “One” (but only a secondary “One”) who is the “collective aggregate, or totality, of the principle Creators or Architects of this visible universe.”41 This Architect is the Cosmic Mind of the 3rd Logos; this is Brahma, the “symbol of the Universe.”42 His one hundred year life represents the duration of his manifested existence. He is the “impersonal SELF” of Mahat who as the pilgrim Monad—one of the “manifesting stars” or “sparks of Eternity”—periodically manifests the “playground” of a seven-fold universe to play within.43 The Great Age begins and ends with him; he is the “noumenal germ” that produces the “phenomenal germ” and that “germ” becomes the “acorn” as our physical universe.44 As H.P. Blavatsky made clear, “Mahat and matter are the inner and outer boundaries of the Universe.”45

 

When it is time to withdraw the universe back into himself, then Mahat as the “cosmic spirit” is for his “own universe one and sole” during the Maha-Pralaya.46 But that universe only refers to the “lower cosmic planes of manifested life.”47 At its end, the universe, as the entire solar system that is indrawn into Atman as the “one universal principle” which is simply a “ray” that figuratively re-enters Mahat as its Nirvana and then ascends to its Paranirvana in Parabrahman, engages in an “intense spiritual and superintellectual activity characteristic of the highest planes of the cosmic essence.”48 Atman is the “all absolute” in which we “live and breathe and have our being” in the “whole universe and during the whole Manvantaric period.”49 With the close of the whole Manvantaric period, Cosmic Pralaya ensues, but “Cosmic Pralaya is for things visible, not for the Arupa, formless, world.”50 This “Cosmic or Universal Pralaya” comes at the “end of one hundred years of Brahma” and it is said to be a “Universal dissolution” because Mahat is “Universal Intelligence limited by Manvantaric duration.”51 For H.P. Blavatsky, Mahat is the “universal memory” of the “whole Manvantara.”52 But this assimilation of memory into the 3rd Logos is only such for a solar system since life, as “Avyaya,” enters the “Seven Rays of the Sun”—the “Rays” belonging to the Atman principle of our sun and being produced by the “Third Creation” or Mahat—to thereby drink up “all the waters of the Universe.”53 When the universe of “Manvantaric duration” ends, the “seven solar Rays” (having already assimilated the planetary chains) then dilate to “seven suns and set fire to the whole Cosmos.”54 Nothing differentiated from the seven-fold universe survives this conflagration. H.P. Blavatsky made it clear that “every atom of the seven principles” and “even the refulgence of Atma-Buddhi” must “remain outside the portal of Nirvana.”55 Only “divine ideation” as Mahat—the “consciousness, the bearer of Absolute memory, of its personalities now merged into the one impersonal—can cross the threshold of the Laya point, which lies at the very gate of manifestation, of the human soul and mind in which facts and events, past, present and future, were alike fixed during the joint pilgrimage.”56 This joint pilgrimage that a human being takes into the solar system  is initiated from the depths of divine ideation in Mahat and we are accompanied in some mysterious way by the pilgrim Monad itself who walks with each one of us through the different and unique stages of our individual cosmic lives.

 

Notes and Sources:

 

*In the June 2017 Theosophy Downunder newsletter, I provided some brief suggestions for understanding the length of theosophical cycles in “How Long are the Cycles Mentioned in Theosophy?” The solar chain Brahma, in all his minor cycles, extends throughout the 311 trillion years of the Great Age. While the manifested aspect of a universal solar chain Brahma in his grand seven-fold cycle ends at the close of the Great Age, his unmanifested Mahatic energies continue to operate during the Maha-Pralaya. In this sense, among others, the life of the universal solar chain Brahma extends beyond 311 trillion years. Since there are multiple Great Ages and each Great Age comprises some 622 trillion years when both the Maha-Manvantara and Maha-Pralaya are included, the entire lifespan of a galactic Brahman presumably stretches into the thousands of trillions of years.

 

**G. de Purucker mentioned Emperor Suns, or Maharaja Suns, in his Dialogues.57 Though it is open to debate, it is a logical deduction to place G. de Purucker’s “Emperor Sun” in this position.

 

***G. de Purucker acknowledged that his two diagrams in Fountain-Source of Occultism differed “enormously in particulars.”58 It is not the purpose of this article to harmonize the two diagrams. G. de Purucker’s model for the unfolding of the solar system is based on the first diagram on page 435. His second diagram on page 437 relating Fohat to Mahat corresponds to H.P. Blavatsky’s Kabbalistic explanation in the second volume of The Secret Doctrine.59

 

1(ML93) 2(ML93) 3(ML60) 4(ST465) 5(SD1-36) 6(SD1-369) 7(SD2-700) 8(CW10-321) 9(SD1-35) 10(CW10-402) 11(CW10-304) 12(SD1-13) 13(SD1-13) 14(SD1-527) 15(SD1-206) 16(CW10-354) 17(KY334) 18(KY334) 19(SD1-379) 20(SD1-140,371) 21(ENC-PP) 22(SD1-71) 23(CW10-44) 24(SD1-151) 25(SD1-371) 26(ST464) 27(ST464) 28(ENC-MM) 29(ENC-MK) 30(FS131) 31(TF444 & ST61) 32(TF444 & ST61) 33(TF444 & ST61) 34(FS434) 35(FS191) 36(FS437) 37(CW10-334) 38(SD1-368) 39(SD1-129) 40(SDD375) 41(CW10-317 & SD1-27,129,130 &  SDD28,35,100) 42(SD1-41) 43(SD1-16) 44(SDD165) 45(SD1-257) 46(FS178) 47(FS178) 48(FS178 & SDD550) 49(SDD592) 50(SD2-69) 51(SD1-62,2-69) 52(SDD594) 53(CW10-394 & SD2-69) 54(SD2-69) 55(SDD372) 56(SDD372) 57(DIA1-341) 58(FS-436) 59(SD2-241)

 

CW = Blavatsky, H.P. Collected Writings. Vol. 10.  Wheaton: The Theosophical

Publishing House, 1974.

 

DIA = Purucker, G. de. The Dialogues of G. de Purucker. Pasadena:

Theosophical University Press, 1948.

 

ENC = Purucker, Gottfried de. Editor-in-Chief. Encyclopedic Theosophical 

                  Glossary. (1999). See terms including Prakritika-Pralaya, Maha-

Manvantara, and Maha-Kalpa. Retrieved from theosociety.org.

 

FS = Purucker, Gottfried de. Fountain-Source of Occultism. Pasadena:

Theosophical University Press, 1974.

 

KY = Blavatsky, H.P. The Key to Theosophy. Pasadena: Theosophical University

Press,1995.

 

ML = Barker, A.T., comp. The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett. Pasadena:

Theosophical University Press, 1975.

SD = Blavatsky, H.P. The Secret Doctrine. Pasadena: Theosophical University

Press,1999.

 

SDD = Blavatsky, H.P. The Secret Doctrine Dialogues. Los Angeles: The

Theosophy Company, 2014.

 

ST = Purucker, Gottfried de. Studies in Occult Philosophy. Pasadena:

Theosophical University Press, 1973.

 

TF = Purucker, Gottfried de. “The Sevenfold Seven Principles.” The

                  Theosophical Forum. Vol. 21, No.10. Covina: Theosophical University

Press, October 1943.