Theosophy and the Number Seven
A selection of articles relating to the esoteric
significance of the Number 7 in Theosophy
Zoroastrianism on the
Septenary Constitution of Man
Article by a Parsee member of
The Theosophical Society
Many of the esoteric doctrines given out through the Theosophical
Society reveal a spirit akin to that of the older religions of the East,
especially the Vedic and the Zendic. Leaving aside the former, I
propose to point out by a few instances the close resemblance which the
doctrines of the old Zendic Scriptures, as far as they are now
preserved, bear to these recent teachings.
Any ordinary Parsi, while reciting his daily Niyashes, Gehs and Yashts,
provided he yields to the curiosity of looking into the meanings of what
he recites, will, with a little exertion, perceive how the same ideas,
only clothed in a more intelligible and comprehensive garb, are
reflected in these teachings. The description of the septenary
constitution of man found in the 54th chapter of the Yasna, one of the
most authoritative books of the Mazdiasnian religion, shows the identity
of the doctrines of Avesta and the esoteric philosophy. Indeed, as a
Mazdiasnian, I felt quite ashamed that, having such undeniable and
unmistakable evidence before their eyes, the Zoroastrians of the present
day should not avail themselves of the opportunity offered of throwing
light upon their now entirely misunderstood and misinterpreted
Scriptures by the assistance and under the guidance of the Theosophical
Society. If Zend scholars and students of Avesta would only care to
study and search for themselves, they would, perhaps, find to assist
them, men who are in possession of the right and only key to the true
esoteric wisdom; men, who would be willing to guide and help them to
reach the true and hidden meaning, and to supply them with the missing
links that have resulted in such painful gaps as to leave the meaning
meaningless, and to create in the mind of the perplexed student doubts
that finally culminate in a thorough unbelief in his own religion. Who
knows but they may find some of their own co-religionists, who, aloof
from the world, have to this day preserved the glorious truths of their
once mighty religion, and who, hidden in the recesses of solitary
mountains and unknown silent caves, are still in possession of; and
exercising, mighty powers, the heirloom of the ancient Magi. Our
Scriptures say that ancient Mobeds were Yogis, who had the power of
making themselves simultaneously visible at different places, even
though hundreds of miles apart, and also that they could heal the sick
and work that which would now appear to us miraculous. All this was
considered facts but two or three centuries back, as no reader of old
books (mostly Persian) is unacquainted with, or will disbelieve a priori
unless his mind is irretrievably biassed by modern secular education.
The story about the Mobed and Emperor Akbar and of the latter's
conversion, is a well-known historical fact, requiring no proof.
I will first of all quote side by side the two passages referring to the
septenary nature of man as I find them in our Scriptures and the
Sub-divisions of septenary Sub-divisions of septenary
man according to the man according to Yasna
Occultists. (chap.54, para. I).
1. The Physical body, com- 1. Tanwas-i.e., body(the
posed wholly of matter in its self ) that consists of bones
grossest and most tangible -grossest form of matter.
2. The Vital principle-(or Jiva)- 2. Ushtanas-Vital heat
a form of force indestructible, (or force).
and when disconnected with
one set of atoms, becoming
attracted immediately by others.
3. The Astral body (Linga- 3. Keherpas Aerial form,
sharira) composed of highly the airy mould, (Per. Kaleb).
etherealized matter; in its
habitual passive state, the
perfect but very shadowy
duplicate of the body; its
activity, consolidation and
form depending entirely on
4. The Astral shape (
rupa or body of desire, a sentient consciousness is
principle defining the con- formed, also fore-knowledge.
5. The animal or Physical 5. Baodhas (in Sanskrit,
intelligence or Conscious- Buddhi)-Body of physical
ness or Ego, analogous to, consciousness, perception by
though proportionally higher the senses or animal soul.
in the senses or the animal
degree than the reason,
instinct, memory, imagination
&c., existing in the higher
6. The Higher or Spiritual 6. Urawanem (Per. Rawan)
intelligence or consciousness, -Soul, that which gets its
spiritual Ego, in which or reward or punishment
mainly resides the sense of after death.
consciousness in the perfect
man, though the lower dimmer
animal consciousness co-exists
in No. 5.
7. The Spirit-an emanation from 7. Frawashem or Farohar-
the ABSOLUTE uncreated; eternal; Spirit (the guiding energy
a state rather than a being. which is with every man,
is absolutely independent,
and, without mixing with
any worldly object, leads
man to good. The spark
of divinity in every being).
The above is given in the Avesta as follows:--
"We declare and positively make known this (that) we offer (our) entire
property (which is) the body (the self consisting of) bones (tanwas),
vital heat (ushtanas), aerial form (keherpas), knowledge (tevishis),
consciousness (baodhas), soul (urwanem), and spirit (frawashem), to the
prosperous, truth-coherent (and) pure Gathas (prayers)."
The ordinary Gujarathi translation differs from Spiegel's, and this
latter differs very slightly from what is here given. Yet in the
present translation there has been made no addition to, or omission
from, the original wording of the Zend text. The grammatical
construction also has been preserved intact. The only difference,
therefore, between the current translations and the one here given is
that ours is in accordance with the modern corrections of philological
research which make it more intelligible, and the idea perfectly clear
to the reader.
The word translated "aerial form" has come down to us without undergoing
any change in the meaning. It is the modern Persian word kaleb, which
means a mould, a shape into which a thing is cast, to take a certain
form and features. The next word is one about which there is a great
difference of opinion. It is by some called strength, durability, i.e.,
that power which gives tenacity to and sustains the nerves. Others
explain it as that quality in a man of rank and position which makes him
perceive the result of certain events (causes), and thus helps him in
being prepared to meet them. This meaning is suggestive, though we
translate it as knowledge, or foreknowledge rather, with the greatest
diffidence. The eighth word is quite clear. That inward feeling which
tells a man that he knows this or that, that he has or can do certain
things--is perception and consciousness. It is the inner conviction,
knowledge and its possession. The ninth word is again one which has
retained its meaning and has been in use up to the present day. The
reader will at once recognize that it is the origin of the modern word
Rawan. It is (metaphorically) the king, the conscious motor or agent in
man. It is that something which depends upon and is benefited or injured
by the foregoing attributes. We say depends upon, because its progress
entirely consists in the development of those attributes. If they are
neglected, it becomes weak and degenerated, and disappears. If they
ascend on the moral and spiritual scale, it gains strength and vigour
and becomes more blended than ever to the Divine essence--the seventh
principle. But how does it become attracted toward its monad? The tenth
word answers the question. This is the Divine essence in man. But this
is only the irresponsible minister (this completes the metaphor). The
real master is the king, the spiritual soul. It must have the
willingness and power to see and follow the course pointed out by the
pure spirit. The vizir's business is only to represent a point of
attraction, towards which the king should turn. It is for the king to
see and act accordingly for the glory of his own self. The minister or
spirit can neither compel nor constrain. It inspires and electrifies
into action; but to benefit by the inspiration, to take advantage of
it, is left to the option of the spiritual soul.
If, then, the Avesta contains such a passage, it must fairly be admitted
that its writers knew the whole doctrine concerning spiritual man. We
cannot suppose that the ancient Mazdiasnians, the Magi, wrote this short
passage, without inferring from it, at the same time, that they were
thoroughly conversant with the whole of the occult theory about man.
And it looks very strange indeed, that modern Theosophists should now
preach to us the very same doctrines that must have been known and
taught thousands of years ago by the Mazdiasnians,--the passage is
quoted from one of their oldest writings. And since they propound the
very same ideas, the meaning of which has well-nigh been lost even to
our most learned Mobeds, they ought to be credited at least with some
possession of a knowledge, the key to which has been revealed to them,
and lost to us, and which opens the door to the meaning of those
hitherto inexplicable sentences and doctrines in our old writings, about
which we are still, and will go on, groping in the dark, unless we
listen to what they have to tell us about them.
To show that the above is not a solitary instance, but that the Avesta
contains this idea in many other places, I will give another paragraph
which contains the same doctrine, though in a more condensed form than
the one just given. Let the Parsi reader turn to Yasna, chapter 26, and
read the sixth paragraph, which runs as follows:--
We praise the life (ahum), knowledge (daenam), consciousness (baodhas),
soul (urwanem), and spirit (frawashem) of the first in religion, the
first teachers and hearers (learners), the holy men and holy women who
were the protectors of purity here (in this world).
Here the whole man is spoken of as composed of five parts, as under:--
1. The Physical Body.
1. Ahum-Existence, Life. 2. The Vital Principle.
It includes: 3. The Astral Body.
2. Daenam-Knowledge. 4. The Astral shape or
body of desire.
3. Baodhas-Consciousness. 5. The Animal or physical
consciousness or Ego.
4. Urwanem-Soul. 6. The Higher or Spiritual
5. Frawashem-Spirit. 7. The Spirit.
In this description the first triple group--viz., the bones (or the
gross matter), the vital force which keeps them together, and the
ethereal body, are included in one and called Existence, Life. The
second part stands for the fourth principle of the septenary man, as
denoting the configuration of his knowledge or desires.* Then the
three, consciousness (or animal soul), (spiritual) soul, and the pure
Spirit are the same as in the first quoted passage. Why are these four
mentioned as distinct from each other and not consolidated like the
first part? The sacred writings explain this by saying that on death
the first of these five parts disappears and perishes sooner or later in
the earth's atmosphere. The gross elementary matter (the shell) has to
run within the earth's attraction; so the ahum separates from the
higher portions and is lost.
* Modern science also teaches that certain characteristics of features
indicate the possession of certain qualities in a man. The whole science
of physiognomy is founded on it. One can predict the disposition of a
man from his features,--i.e., the features develop in accordance with
the idiosyncrasies, qualities and vices, knowledge or the ignorance of
The second (i.e., the fourth of the septenary group) remains, but not
with the spiritual soul. It continues to hold its place in the vast
storehouse of the universe. And it is this second daenam which stands
before the (spiritual) soul in the form of a beautiful maiden or an ugly
hag. That which brings this daenam within the sight of the (spiritual)
soul is the third part (i.e., the fifth of the septenary group), the
baodhas. Or in other words, the (spiritual) soul has with it, or in it,
the true consciousness by which it can view the experiences of its
physical career. So this consciousness, this power or faculty which
brings the recollection, is always with, in other words, is a part and
parcel of, the soul itself; hence, its not mixing with any other part,
and hence its existence after the physical death of man.*
A Parsi Memeber of the Theosophical Society
Theosophical Society, Cardiff Lodge,