THE COSMIC BRAHMA Don Shepherd

In The Secret Doctrine, H.P. Blavatsky wrote: “Osiris was, like Brahma-Prajapti, Adam Kadmon, Ormazd, and so many other Logoi, the chief and synthesis of the group of ‘Creators’ or Builders.”1 In my September 2019 article, The Cosmic Osiris, I investigated how the combination of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Logos in a ten-fold world system operated as the “Great Breath” to transfer its pre-cosmic energies into the Central Spiritual Sun as its “head” and manifest those energies into the cosmic Daiviprakritic emanations of our Sun in the solar system.2 Since Osiris symbolized the Central Spiritual Sun as the 3rd Logos which tinctured our Sun with the Great Breath, he was the Creator and Builder of the seven manifest worlds and referred to as the Cosmic Osiris; he linked the pre-cosmic worlds of the three logoi to the seven cosmic worlds ruled over by our Sun during the 311 trillion-year cycle of a Great Age. But the Egyptian religion was not the only religion constructed on this framework. In Hinduism, Brahma, both in his pre-cosmic origins and in his cosmic outcome, corresponded to the 3rd Logos who collected the potentialities of the Universe in its eternity to transform them into the active potencies of the manifested realm. In reconciling ancient Hindu literature with the writings of H.P. Blavatsky, the Cosmic Brahma is appropriated his proper place not merely as our Sun but the Central Spiritual Sun enlivening it.

The investigation of the Cosmic Brahma begins with a study of the Hindu Trimurti of Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva but not in the order that one would expect since H.P. Blavatsky made it clear that Vishnu and Shiva transcended Brahma.3 This may appear strange at first for those used to the idea of Brahma jump-starting the Universe, but this role actually belongs to Vishnu. If one reviews my previous work in Theosophy Downunder on the three logoi, the 1st Logos corresponds to the immaculate white disk or “Kosmos in Eternity,” but to be more precise:

  • the 1st Logos is really the pre-cosmic potential point in that immaculate white disk that retains its Individuality but not its function, thereby presenting the appearance of indeterminability and Absolute negation to cosmic senses.4
  • The 2nd Logos corresponds to the “hazy comprehension” of that Supreme Light which, “inaccessible to human intellect,” can only appear as Darkness falling “like a shadow” into the objective from its subjective base.5
  • The 3rd Logos is the potentiality of that point now centralized in manifestation in all its active potency as a beacon of light breaking through the Darkness, a moment in which “the creative Logoi have their understanding opened, and they see in the ideal world (hitherto concealed in the divine light) the archetypal forms of all.”6 The 3rd Logos becomes the Demiurge or Architect—a Creator and Builder from pre-cosmic origins—for the manifested Universe subsequent to this stage.

Within this structural framework, Vishnu is the potential point in the immaculate white disk. H.P. Blavatsky concurred, designating the symbolism of the lotus flower growing out of Vishnu’s navel as the “most graphic allegory ever made: the Universe evolving from the central Sun, the POINT, the ever-concealed germ.”7 But this is the Central Spiritual Sun before manifesting its central point of light, as Brahma, for the seven lower worlds. H.P. Blavatsky recognized the distinction by indicating that Vishnu was a first Logos and Brahma a subsequent Logos, or “ideal and practical creators” who are “respectively represented, one as manifesting the lotus, the other as issuing from it.”8 The logoic light existed in two senses:

1) “eternal, absolute light, in potentia, ever present in the bosom of the unknown Darkness, coexistent and coeval with the latter in Eternity” and

2) “a Manifestation of heterogeneity and a contrast to it.”9

Vishnu represented the first light; Brahma the second light. Vishnu would necessarily have to be higher than Brahma because, when Shiva destroys the manifested Brahmanic energies of the 3rd Logos as that secondary light at the close of the Great Age after the 311 trillion-year Maha-Manvantara, there has to be a force or power preserving that Individuality, formerly an active potency but no longer, in the potentiality of its own being. Vishnu is that potential force beyond the productiveness of Brahma and the destructiveness of Shiva. So Brahma, after Shiva destroys the seven lower worlds to throw the Universe into the Darkness of Maha-Pralaya, re-emerges preserved as the manifested central point of light in a lower form of Vishnu, or the potential point within the Supreme Light of the immaculate white disk now extended as the Mulaprakritic Father-Mother “plane” of Darkness on which “lie crossways all the gods, creatures, and creations born in Space and Time.”10 This depicts H.P. Blavatsky’s cosmology for the immaculate white disk, the darkness of Space, and the central point of light emerging out from against the blackness of that Space in terms of the Hindu Trimurti, perhaps a more esoteric ordering of Vishnu, Shiva, and Brahma as the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Logos.

The cosmological role of Brahma as the 3rd Logos is to mirror himself in Space, a role we have already seen him performing in mirroring the primary light of Vishnu through his own secondary light. In this mirroring process, the 3rd Logos becomes “the definite and objective expression of that which has hitherto remained in the depths of the Concealed Thought.”11 This is why, despite all assertions of “Oneness” in theosophical writings, there is still a distinction between two “ONES” in The Secret Doctrine—Vishnu as the primary light on the “unreachable plane of Absoluteness” and Brahma as the secondary light on the “plane of Emanations.”12 Brahma, as a central point of light against a backdrop of Darkness, simply reflected the Supreme Light beyond that Darkness to shine interiorly in the seven lower worlds. Brahma, then, became identical with the Monad, viewed as “ONE” above the “seventh principle of Atman (the pinnacle of the lower worlds), and with Mahat, the “Synthesis of the Seven creative rays.”13

Subba Row, the Advaitee philosopher, explained that these “seven distinct rays” radiated from the Central Spiritual Sun.14 In this statement, we get a clear identification of Brahma and his Mahatic consciousness with the Central Sun, often referred to as a Raja Sun. For him, this Central Sun is the “Still Small Voice,” the “Voice of the Silence” that has within itself the “whole plan of Life-Evolution.”15 This “Still Small Voice” emanating from the central point of light of the Central Sun merely expresses in an objective manner the plan of Life-Evolution deeper in the unknown “bare subjectivity” of its parent Darkness, or Mulaprakriti.16 Figuratively, H.P. Blavatsky depicted Mulaprakriti as the horizontal line bisecting the diameter of the circle and the Central Sun as the manifesting point on that line.17 Thus, a man “digging into himself can find the centre of the Universe” and put himself in rapport with the Monad and its “universal mind” to “see the whole Cosmos.”18 It is a cosmic view; it is the view of the Cosmic Brahma who, with his understanding opened, envisions the archetypal form of all and re-creates it in the realms below. This archetypal form is the “circle of Vishnu,” a shape with such a curve that whatever proceeds from it will “finally re-enter upon itself.”19 The process of such a curve is necessarily reflexive, otherwise the distance on the curve from the re-entry position could never be measured.

Therefore, H.P. Blavatsky described Vishnu, originally a potential point outside Space and Time, becoming embroiled in Space and Time as the “Solar active energy,” the “sevenfold Sun” (though always “distinct” from the potential point) being the “visible symbol of the impersonal deity.”20 In this manner, Brahma mirrors Vishnu (as the potential point) through his own manifestation as the Central Sun and then transfers that original, pre-cosmic, ideal form of Vishnu onto the practical, observable, circular motions of the Sun to impress the rotational nature of the circle of Vishnu. As illustrated in the Satapatha- Brahmana, the rays of the “setting of the sun” were equated with the “highest light” of either Prajapti or Indra, both names being equivalent to Brahma (Prajapti being the plurality of divine hosts in Brahma) or Mahat (Indra being the Mind).21 In Sri Sankaracarya’s Brahma-Sutra-Bhasya, he distinguished the Sun from Brahman, confessing that transcendent ideals were “superimposed on the sun” so that the Sun “will come to be looked upon as raised in status” because of the superimposition of such an “exalted idea.”22 Treating the Sun as something superior to what it actually is could develop a sense of reverence in the worshipper and accelerate the cultivation of his faculties. Worship of the Sun is actually about worship of what is internal to the Sun, turning our attention to the “Still Small Voice” of the Central Spiritual Sun mirroring the nature of the 1st Logos through its own 3rd logoic identity.  

In understanding how the Central Spiritual Sun speaks to us as the “Still Small Voice,” one can turn to Utpaladeva’s Isvarapratyabhijnakarika. First, objects can be “manifested as external only if they reside within.”23 The definitions for the names Vishnu and Brahma are helpful here. Vishnu means “to pervade” and Brahma “to expand.” In the Vishnu Purana, the “indiscreet Principle” (Mulaprakritic) and the “Intellect” (Mahatic) united with ether, air, light, water, earth, and sound “formed an egg” and gradually expanded “like a bubble of water” that served as the spiritual “abode of Vishnu in the form of Brahma.”24 So the quality of this egg was both pervasive and expansive. The egg was “externally invested” with a series of “natural envelopes” that culminated in the “principle of Intelligence” (Brahma) and, finally, the “indiscreet Principle” (Vishnu) surrounded the whole like a “cocoa-nut, filled interiorly with pulp and exteriorly covered by husk and rind.”25 The husk and rind symbolized the darkness of Space while the interior pulp symbolized the light of the logoi that expands throughout—a most beautiful Hindu metaphor that combined the pervasiveness of Vishnu with the expansiveness of Brahma to explain exoterically an esoteric mystery for the simultaneity of transcendence and immanence.

All the gods, creatures, and creations born in Space and Time exist as objects within the purview of the Central Spiritual Sun in its potential and manifest aspects. Second, if an object were not “essentially light” it would be external to consciousness and thus not exist at all; however, there are no non-existent objects and so any object that is “illuminated” must itself be light.26 In my December 2015 article, The Inner Cosmos, I developed this scenario where Brahma “like a bright pearl” appeared as an “ovum of fullness in the womb of emptiness” and from his light swirled “specks of life” (shards of light illuminating the cosmos in their own right) straining to see into the Darkness, activating within themselves the perceptive faculty of Mind, and displaying the dualism inherent in the circular rotation—the circle of Vishnu re-entering upon itself—of the activity of life felt as “tension (separation) and resolution (union).”27 This tension and resolution, separation and union, is the energy of Mahatic consciousness or the “essence of light” as reflexive awareness distinguishing differences as each shard spirals away into the outer reaches of the cosmos and then again towards the fullness of the light of Brahma, all the while, as light itself, carrying the “Still Small Voice” of the Central Spiritual Sun.28

In our daily lives, there may come a time, as recounted by Subba Row, that we hear the “infallible voice” of the Central Sun that “must be obeyed.”29 It “comes but once and gives directions,” points “out the path,” and then “goes away,” tincturing the human consciousness now in the present just as it tinctured the solar orb trillions of years ago.30 The Central Sun “throws out a kind of feeler” of its “own light” into various organisms and, when the union takes place after the “light vibrates along a series” of human incarnations, the individual “at once feels that he is himself the Logos, the Monad formed from whose light has been going through all experiences which he has now added to his individuality.”31 Since the function of the Central Spiritual Sun is to mirror itself in our experience, Subba Row explained that the Masters, in reflecting the light of that Central Sun, “never teach us as our English school masters” but “simply impress in our minds and help us develop the higher fifth rounder’s faculty.”32  He continued, insisting that we must “bring our brain to the clear level of the Adept, by banishing from us any feeling for anything worldly, love, hatred, anger, avarice, or any absorbing passion” in order to “carry a brain which can be impressed.”33

By fashioning ourselves to be impressed, we too begin to mirror the worlds as the objective expression of the reflective nature of the Central Sun. In looking at this overview, the Hindus were no different than the Egyptians. As previously delineated in my article on The Cosmic Osiris, the First Degree of the Egyptian initiatory trials pertained to the “orb of light” in the Darkness but with no direct experience of the “inner vision.”34 The Second Degree pertained to the direct experience of the inner vision. The Third Degree pertained to the union with the radiance of light that shineth in Darkness. In the Third Degree, the Eye of Horus opened in the same manner that the understanding of Brahma opened, demonstrating a man’s ability, mirrored through the reality of Horus and Brahma as the 3rd Logos reflecting the divinity in them, to consciously enter and exit the plane of the immaculate white disk as the central point of light. In both cases, the Egyptians and the Hindus related the same story: man’s path along the circle of Vishnu transfigured on his return to the light of Brahma and his re-entry into the all-consuming absorption of Vishnu, the potential point in the immaculate white disk, without measure, without Time, yet residing as an Individuality on the coils of the serpent Ananta-Sesha until called forth once again.  

Notes:

     1H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vols. 1&2 (Pasadena: Theosophical University Press, 1999), 1:436-437.

     2Don Shepherd, “The Cosmic Osiris,” Theosophy Downunder (September 2019), 25-31.

     3H.P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings, Vol. 14 (Wheaton: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1985), 190.

     4In particular, see my article series including “The Secret Doctrine: The One Principle,” Theosophy Downunder (March 2018), 26-30 and “The Secret Doctrine: Playgrounds of the Soul,” Theosophy Downunder (June 2018), 19-23. Also, H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, 1:1.

     5H.P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings, Vol. 10 (Wheaton: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1974), 302.

     6H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, 1:380.

     7H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, 1:379.

     8H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, 1:381.

     9H.P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings, 10:331-332.

     10H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, 2:549.

     11H.P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings, 10:406.

     12H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, 1:130.

     13H.P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings, 10:313.

     14T. Subba Row, Collected Writings, Vols. 1&2, Comp. Henk J. Spierenburg (San Diego: Point Loma Publications, Inc., 2001), 2:406.

     15T. Subba Row, Collected Writings, 2:422-423.

     16H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, 1:14.

     17H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, 1:4.

     18T. Subba Row, Collected Writings, 2:412, 443.

     19H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, 1:114.

     20H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, 1:290 & 2:38, 307.

     21Julius Eggeling, trans., The Satapatha-Brahmana: According to the Text of the Madhyandina School (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 1993), 1:328.

     22Swami Gambhirananda, trans., Brahma-Sutra-Bhasya of Sri Sankaracarya (Kolkata: Advaita Ashrama, 2013), 823-824.

     23Raffaele Torella, trans., The Isvarapratyabhijnakarika of Utpaladeva with the Author’s Vrtti (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 2002), 111.

     24H.H. Wilson, trans., The Vishnu Purana: A System of Hindu Mythology and Tradition, Vol. 1 (originally published 1864; reprint, U.S.A.: Forgotten Books, 2015), 39.

     25H.H. Wilson, trans., The Vishnu Purana, 1:40.

     26Raffaele Torella, trans., Isvarapratyabhijnakarika, 111-112.

     27Don Shepherd, “An Inner Cosmos,” Theosophy Downunder (December 2015), 31-32.

     28Rafaele Torella, trans., The Isvarapratyabhijnakarika, 118.

     29T. Subba Row, Collected Writings, 2:419.

     30T. Subba Row, Collected Writings, 2:419.

     31T. Subba Row, Notes on the Bhagavad-Gita (Pasadena: Theosophical University Press, 1978), 79-80.

     32T. Subba Row, Collected Writings, 1:175.

     33T. Subba Row, Collected Writings, 1:180.

     34Don Shepherd, “The Cosmic Osiris,” Theosophy Downunder, 29.