In Theosophy, the Sanskrit word “Dhyani” is a fairly generic term, applicable to any celestial or divine being, i.e. an entity who has passed beyond the human stage of evolution and become one of an immeasurably vast number of angelic beings, belonging to one of the many different Hierarchies or groups or levels or degrees of such beings. The word “angel” is not frequently used in Theosophy, since it can mislead us if we assume that the Dhyanis or Dhyan Chohans are more or less the same in character, nature, and function, as the angels found in the teachings of Christianity or other religions, for that is not the case.
But what, then, is a birthday of a Dhyani?
This expression appears a few times in “The Secret Doctrine” by H. P. Blavatsky. What it actually means is never explained, which usually indicates that it relates to a highly esoteric and thus very sacred subject, which the Masters – the great Teachers and Custodians of the Ageless Wisdom, the Theosophia or Gupta Vidya – do not permit to be disclosed any further to the public at this time.
The fact that in one of these references the term “birthdays” is put in inverted commas shows us that the phrase should not be taken literally or thought of as something comparable to human birthdays. How we are to take it is not revealed but we have compiled these passages together below, for careful reading and reflection by those who may wish to try to comprehend it further. We can certainly deduce from it that these particular dates of the year – of which only a few are named here – are sacred days, auspicious days, sacred and auspicious due – at least in part – to their astrological configurations. But the Esoteric Astrology relating to this is itself not public.
“The Secret Doctrine” Vol. 2, p. 179, has the words “THE BIRTH-DAYS OF THE DHYANIS” at the top of the page. Further down on that page, we read:
“Padmapani (Avalôkitêshwara) becomes, in China, in his female aspect, Kwan-yin, “who assumes any form, at pleasure, in order to save mankind.” The knowledge of the astrological aspect of the constellations on the respective “birth-days” of these Dhyanis – Amitâbha (the O-mi-to Fo, of China), included: e.g., on the 19th day of the second month, on the 17th day of the eleventh month, and on the 7th day of the third month, etc., etc. – gives the Occultist the greatest facilities for performing what are called “magic” feats. The future of an individual is seen, with all its coming events marshalled in order, in a magic mirror placed under the ray of certain constellations. But – beware of the reverse of the medal, SORCERY.”
So there we see three dates are indicated: 19th February, 7th March, 17th November.
It is possible that the following passage relates to what has just been described:
“The fact is that the rays of the four stars in the circle of perpetual apparition – the Agni, Mahendra, Kasyapa, and Dhruva, placed in the tail of Ursa Minor (Sisumâra) – focussed in a certain way and on a certain object produce extraordinary results. The astro-magians of India will understand what is meant.” (“The Secret Doctrine” Vol. 2, p. 612)
In Vol. 1, p. 470, is another reference to such “birthdays” of the Dhyanis and it again makes mention of Avalokiteshwara:
“Avalokiteshwara . . . As this Bodhisatva is said “to assume any form he pleases” from the beginning of a Manvantara to its end, though his special birthday (memorial day) is celebrated according to the Kin-kwang-ming-King (“Luminous Sutra of Golden Light”) in the second month on the nineteenth day, and that of “Maitreya Buddha” in the first month on the first day, yet the two are one. He [i.e. Avalokiteshwara] will appear as Maitreya Buddha, the last of the Avatars and Buddhas, in the seventh Race. This belief and expectation are universal throughout the East.”
The “Luminous Sutra of Golden Light” referred to above, which apparently contains references to at least two of the “birthdays” (there described as “memorial days,” whatever that may mean exactly) of the Dhyanis, is not a secret or unknown esoteric text. It is more commonly known as the Golden Light Sutra and its Sanskrit title is the Suvarnaprabhasa Sutra. It is a Mahayana Buddhist scripture, originally written in India and now most popular in Tibetan, Chinese, and Japanese Buddhism.
Avalokiteshwara, also written Avalokiteshvara and Avalokiteswara, is considered the Bodhisattva of Compassion in Tibetan Buddhism but has a still greater significance and deeper meaning esoterically.
In the Esoteric Philosophy presented in Theosophy, Avalokiteshwara – literally “the Ishwara, or Lord, who observes” or “the Ishwara who is the Witness (Avalokit)” – is a term applicable to the Logos and to Atman (our Higher Self) and also, it seems, to the Great Sacrifice or Maha-Guru, the Wondrous Being, the Initiator, that supreme incarnation on Earth of the Logos and who has been ever present, presiding over Shambhala and thus the entire Great Brotherhood of Masters, Adepts, and Initiates, since the Third (Lemurian) Root Race. He is thus the Supreme Avatar who, after descending to this Earth over 18 million years ago, has never left it. Called in “The Secret Doctrine” the “Nameless One,” many names have and can be applied to him, provided one remembers that any such names are merely descriptive and honorific.
In “The Secret Doctrine” Vol. 2, p. 178, we read that “Avalokiteswara is the great Logos in its higher aspect and in the divine regions. But in the manifested planes, he is . . . the progenitor (in a spiritual sense) of men.” In the “Theosophical Glossary” entry for “Avalokiteswara” (p. 44) HPB states that “in esoteric philosophy Avaloki, the “on-looker,” is the Higher Self,” and adds, “Avalokiteswara . . . the esoteric interpretation sees in him the LOGOS, both celestial and human.”
So we have now seen the following dates mentioned in connection with “birthdays” of the Dhyanis:
1st January – Maitreya (Avalokiteshwara)
19th February – Avalokiteshwara
7th March – ?
17th November – ?
Since, as we have seen, Avalokiteshwara is the name (certainly not the only applicable name but the most fitting name from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition) for the Universal Logos, one could see these various dates, plus all the other such dates which have not been revealed, as all relating to Avalokiteshwara. In his article “Dhyana Marga” Raghavan Iyer describes them as “a series of occult points in the year that may be thought of as birthdays of the Dhyanis, points of intersection in cyclic time of aspects of Avalokiteshvara with manifested humanity.”
The date of 19th February is very closely interconnected with that of 18th February, which in Hinduism is viewed as the date on which, in 3102 BCE, Krishna – the Avataric Teacher of the Bhagavad Gita – died and the Kali Yuga – the present “Age of Darkness” – began. Although that might appear to make it an ominous date, it is not as “black and white” as that. 18th February was in fact the date chosen by Robert Crosbie for the official founding of the United Lodge of Theosophists in 1909. In one place in “The Secret Doctrine,” HPB clarifies that “the instant of the beginning of Kali-Yuga” was actually “2h. 27m. 30s. a.m. of February 16th.” But generally it is said to have begun on either 17th or 18th February. On p. 97 of “Letters That Have Helped Me,” William Q. Judge states that “Nov. 17th, 1897 – Feb. 18th, 1898” would be the period in which the cycle of the first 5,000 years of the Kali Yuga would draw to a close.
The date of 17th November is extremely significant. Although the Theosophical Movement of our era had begun, to a certain small extent, prior to that date, it was 17th November which was chosen to be the official founding date in 1875. Ever since, many new Theosophical endeavours and efforts – such as the founding of new Lodges or beginning of publication of new magazines, etc. – have been planned to take place on either 17th November or 18th/19th February.
But it is not only from the Theosophical literature that we can gain clues and hints about the importance of this particular day of the year.
As said in another article: “It may also be of interest to note that the date of 17th November, stated by H. P. Blavatsky in “The Secret Doctrine” Vol. 2, p. 179, to be of great esoteric significance, and which was the founding date in 1875 of the modern Theosophical Movement, was also the date chosen (in 1950) for the Dalai Lama’s enthronement as full leader of Tibet. In Tibetan tradition, the dates of such events are not chosen randomly or out of mere convenience. Tibetan Buddhism remains silent about the significance of 17th November but it seems safe to say that the Dalai Lama and/or his tutors and guardians knew something from their own esotericism of what is briefly hinted at in “The Secret Doctrine.””
And from another article: “Students of Theosophy who know from “The Secret Doctrine” of the occult significance of the date 17th November (and which was chosen as the date for the official founding of the modern Theosophical Movement) may be interested to learn that “The Mother,” Mirra Alfassa, Sri Aurobindo’s wholly trusted and beloved colleague and spiritual co-worker, who he viewed as his equal in all things – and who, although quite different from him in some respects, was his perfect complement in their joint work – passed away on that date, 17th November, in 1973. Significant or just coincidence? It may be a long time before we are in a position to know for sure but in the meantime it provides some interesting food for thought, especially as her death was also said to have been a conscious death, as we earlier mentioned Aurobindo’s had been. This is the reason why both Theosophists and followers of Integral Yoga commemorate 17th November each year.”
It is perhaps also notable that Pico della Mirandola, a very important figure in late medieval esotericism in Europe, died – albeit probably through poisoning! – on 17th November in 1494. And, some time before 25th December was ever settled upon as the purported birthday of Jesus, the early church father Clement of Alexandria, who was also a Neoplatonic initiate, proposed that 17th November in 3 BCE was the real birthdate of Jesus.
Although 4th January is not expressly described by H. P. Blavatsky as a “birthday of the Dhyanis” it may well be that this term is indeed appropriate to it.
She writes: “To be brief, it is January the 4th which ought to be selected by the Theosophists – the Esotericists especially – as their New Year. January is under the sign of Capricornus, the mysterious Makara of the Hindu mystics – the “Kumaras,” it being stated, having incarnated in mankind under the 10th sign of the Zodiac. For ages the 4th of January has been sacred to Mercury-Budha, or Thoth-Hermes. Thus everything combines to make of it a festival to be held by those who study ancient Wisdom.” (“1890! On The New Year’s Morrow”) That date is therefore often described by associates of the United Lodge of Theosophists as the Esoteric New Year or the Theosophical New Year.
It is possible that some Eastern systems of esoterically inclined astrology, such as Vedic astrology and Tibetan astrology, would be able to shed some light on the significance of the dates we have referred to. But it seems safe to say that the truest and deepest explanations of these matters will remain hidden and secret for quite some time to come.
Nonetheless, the very little that has been divulged regarding the “birthdays” of the Dhyanis serves as a potent and memorable reminder of the great sacredness and divinity of every aspect of life and of the inseparable, unbreakable connection that always exists between the Gods and Man, between the macrocosm and the microcosm, between the whole Cosmos and our little Earth.
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