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


Number 7 Index



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

the Kama-rupa.


4. The Astral shape (Kama-        4. Tevishis-Will, or where

rupa or body of desire, a             sentient consciousness is

principle defining the con-          formed, also fore-knowledge.

figuration of--


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

                                                        intelligence or

                                                        consciousness or Ego.


4. Urwanem-Soul.                        6. The Higher or Spiritual

                                                       intelligence or

                                                       consciousness, or

                                                       Spiritual Ego.


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


Number 7 Index



Theosophical Society, Cardiff Lodge,

206 Newport Road, Cardiff, CF24 -1DL


Theosophy in Wales


Cardiff Lodge’s Instant Guide to Theosophy


Cardiff Theosophical Archive


Cardiff Blavatsky Archive


Cardiff Lodge’s Gallery of Great Theosophists