A term and concept which appears throughout “The Secret Doctrine” by H. P. Blavatsky – and especially in the first volume titled “Cosmogenesis” – is FOHAT.
What is this mysterious yet vitally important thing called Fohat which happens to be “the key in Occultism which opens and unriddles the multiform symbols and respective allegories in the so-called mythology of every nation”? Those are HPB’s words on p. 673 of the first volume.
The word itself has been identified as ’phro-wa (verb form) and spros-pa (noun form) in Tibetan transliteration.
In the Eastern Esoteric Science taught in Theosophy, Fohat is always spoken of in terms of cosmic or universal electricity, vitality, energy, and life force. Just as every living human being is animated, vitalised, and held together by the principle of Prana within them, as explained further in the article The Sevenfold Nature of Man, so the Universe itself is animated, vitalised, and powered from within by Fohat, which in one sense is Prana on the macrocosmic level (see “The Secret Doctrine” Vol. 1, p. 525) although it is also linked with the Fourth Principle called Kama, the creative desire energy (Vol. 2, p. 596).
HPB states that it is “the active force in Universal Life” and “the personified electric vital power, the transcendental binding Unity of all Cosmic Energies, on the unseen as on the manifested planes, the action of which resembles – on an immense scale – that of a living Force created by WILL, in those phenomena where the seemingly subjective acts on the seemingly objective and propels it to action.” (Vol. 1, p. 111)
If we go to HPB’s “Theosophical Glossary” (a valuable book for all students of the Philosophy) and turn to the entry for “Fohat” on p. 120-121 we find it described and defined as:
“ . . . the active (male) potency of the Shakti (female reproductive power) in nature. The essence of cosmic electricity. An occult Tibetan term for Daiviprakriti, primordial light: and in the universe of manifestation the ever-present electrical energy and ceaseless destructive and formative power. Esoterically, it is the same, Fohat being the universal propelling Vital Force, at once the propeller and the resultant.” (bold added for emphasis in this article)
If we then turn to the entry for “Daiviprakriti” (p. 94) we find this: “Primordial, homogeneous light, called by some Indian Occultists “the Light of the Logos”; when differentiated this light becomes FOHAT.”
One of the Indian occultists (i.e. esotericists) we know of who used the term “Daiviprakriti” in this way was T. Subba Row, HPB’s highly gifted and erudite friend and associate during the time she lived in India in the 1880s. He was known to have been an initiated disciple of the Master M., who was also the Guru of HPB herself, and the nature and content of many of his writings indicate a close acquaintance with the Secret Doctrine itself, the Esoteric Doctrine preserved, guarded, and taught by the Masters and Adepts.
A few so-called scholars and academic researchers in today’s Theosophical world have asserted in confident – if not perhaps conceited – tones that no such term as “Daiviprakriti” actually exists and that it therefore must have been either an invention of HPB and T. Subba Row or a mistaken term used by them in ignorance. One such scholar has also informed Theosophists that the Sanskrit term “Mulaprakriti,” which is used frequently by HPB and Subba Row and said by them to be a technical term used in the Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism, is in fact never used at all in Vedanta or by any Vedantins and that thus they are again mistaken.
It would not be out of place here to mention that these individuals are themselves mistaken on both grounds. There are plenty of Hindus who are familiar with the term “Daiviprakriti.” Some spell it as “Deviprakriti,” which is pronounced in exactly the same way, whilst most write it as “Daivi Prakriti” or “Daivim Prakritim.” Any student of Sanskrit ought to know that the term is found in the Bhagavad Gita, in the thirteenth verse of the ninth chapter. HPB’s, Subba Row’s, and other Theosophists’ only “mistake” was to write “Daiviprakriti” as one single word instead of two. But as there are Hindus who also write it as one word, this can barely be considered a mistake, let alone a justification for saying that the word does not exist.
The term is used particularly amongst certain sects and groups of Vaishnavas, devotees of Vishnu, just as the term “Mulaprakriti” is used freely by all types of Vedantins, followers of both the Advaita and Vishistadvaita philosophies included. It would certainly have been a surprise to the late Swami Sivananda – a famous Advaitee still revered today all across India as one of the greatest scholars, experts, and teachers of Vedanta – to be informed by our self-styled scholars that he had been mistaken and ignorant all his life in quite frequently speaking of Mulaprakriti in his writings.
But with that, and with Madame Blavatsky vindicated yet again of yet another false charge, we will let the matter drop and go back to Fohat.
Whenever a new universal life cycle, or Maha-Manvantara, begins, the ONE Absolute Infinite Divine Principle (most frequently referred to as Parabrahm or Parabrahman in Theosophy) radiates forth from Itself the Logos, which proceeds to emanate, energise, and bring into manifestation, the living Universe itself. But the Universe doesn’t just appear full and complete all at once. It is an extremely gradual and meticulous process of evolution, from universals to particulars, from the macrocosmic level down to the microcosmic level.
The way this all comes about is with the help and assistance of Fohat, which is the direct manifestation or emanation of the Universal Logos itself. (See Understanding the Logos) The Logos is the all-ensouling Light and Life of the Universe. The way the body of the universe – and everything in it – is brought into existence, enlivened, vitalised, and sustained, is by the work of Fohat, the nature and activity of which can only really be described as Universal Electricity.
“From the purely occult and Cosmical” perspective, writes HPB, Fohat is “the “Son of the Son,” the androgynous energy resulting from this “Light of the Logos,” and which manifests in the plane of the objective Universe as the hidden, as much as the revealed, Electricity – which is LIFE.” (Vol. 1, p. 136-137)
Fohat is described as “the Son of the Son” because it is the direct offspring, so to speak, of the Logos, which is itself the direct radiation from the Absolute. In his “Notes on the Bhagavad Gita,” T. Subba Row speaks of Fohat as being “the one instrument with which the Logos works.”
This is further expanded upon throughout “The Secret Doctrine” with such explanations as, “Fohat, running along the Seven Principles of Akasha, acts upon manifested substance or the One Element . . . and by differentiating it into various centres of Energy, sets in motion the law of Cosmic Evolution, which, in obedience to the Ideation of the Universal Mind, brings into existence all the various states of being in the manifested Solar System” (Vol. 1, p. 110) and the statement on p. 109 that in the objective or manifested universe Fohat “is that Occult, electric, vital power, which, under the Will of the Creative Logos, unites and brings together all forms, giving them the first impulse which becomes in time law.”
* “When the “Divine Son” breaks forth, then Fohat becomes the propelling force, the active Power which causes the ONE to become TWO and THREE – on the Cosmic plane of manifestation. The triple One differentiates into the many, and then Fohat is transformed into that force which brings together the elemental atoms and makes them aggregate and combine.” (Vol. 1, p. 109)
* “In the manifested Universe, there is “that” which links spirit to matter, subject to object. This something, at present unknown to Western speculation, is called by the occultists Fohat.” (Vol. 1, p. 16)
* “It is the “bridge” by which the “Ideas” existing in the “Divine Thought” are impressed on Cosmic substance as the “laws of Nature.” Fohat is thus the dynamic energy of Cosmic Ideation; or, regarded from the other side, it is the intelligent medium, the guiding power of all manifestation, the “Thought Divine” transmitted and made manifest through the Dhyan Chohans, the Architects of the visible World.” (p. 16)
* “Fohat, in its various manifestations, is the mysterious link between Mind and Matter, the animating principle electrifying every atom into life.” (p. 16)
From a geographical perspective, it is interesting to learn from “The Secret Doctrine” that the work of Fohat as regards our own planet is closely linked – via “his four fiery (electro-positive) Sons” – with the Equator, the Ecliptic, and the climates of the two Tropics, i.e. the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
Also, the North Pole and South Pole – “the two ends of the Egg of Matter” and also referred to esoterically as the head and the feet of Mother Earth – “are said to be the store-houses, the receptacles and liberators, at the same time, of Cosmic and terrestrial Vitality (Electricity); from the surplus of which the Earth, had it not been for these two natural “safety-valves,” would have been rent to pieces long ago.”
We are also told that the phenomenon of the Northern Lights, called Aurora Borealis, as well as the Aurora Australis or Southern Lights, are intimately connected with Fohat. (See Vol. 1, p. 204-205 and Vol. 2, p. 400)
It would seem strange to think of or look upon something as presumably impersonal as Universal Electricity as a type of Entity, yet “Fohat is not only the living Symbol and Container of that Force, but is looked upon by the Occultists as an Entity – the forces he acts upon being cosmic, human and terrestrial, and exercising their influence on all those planes respectively . . . the primordial Electric Entity – for the Eastern Occultists insist that Electricity is an Entity – electrifies into life, and separates primordial stuff or pregenetic matter into atoms, themselves the source of all life and consciousness.” (Vol. 1, p. 111, 76)
The mystery deepens when we are reminded that “It is through Fohat that the ideas of the Universal Mind are impressed upon matter,” only to then read in the next sentence that “Some faint idea of the nature of Fohat may be gathered from the appellation “Cosmic Electricity” sometimes applied to it; but to the commonly known properties of electricity must, in this case, be added others, including intelligence. It is of interest to note that modern science has come to the conclusion, that all cerebration and brain-activity are attended by electrical phenomena.” (Vol. 1, p. 85)
Then further on we discover that “Each world has its Fohat, who is omnipresent in his own sphere of action. But there are as many Fohats as there are worlds, each varying in power and degree of manifestations. The individual Fohats make one Universal, Collective Fohat – the aspect-Entity of the one absolute Non-Entity, which is absolute Be-Ness, “SAT.” Millions and billions of worlds are produced at every Manvantara – it is said. Therefore there must be many Fohats, whom we consider as conscious and intelligent Forces. This, no doubt, to the disgust of scientific minds.” (Vol. 1, p. 143)
It must be remembered though that although being imbued with and expressing sufficient intelligence and power as to be considered an Entity, Fohat is most definitely not some type of anthropomorphic deity or personal spiritual being.
“While science speaks of its evolution through brute matter, blind force, and senseless motion, the Occultists point to intelligent LAW and sentient LIFE, and add that Fohat is the guiding Spirit of all this. Yet he is no personal god at all, but the emanation of those other Powers behind him whom the Christians call the “Messengers” of their God . . . and we, the “. . . primordial Sons of Life and Light.””
We said earlier that Fohat is the direct manifestation or resultant emanation of the one Universal Logos. Then how can it also be said that Fohat is the emanation of Powers (plural) who are the “primordial Sons of Life and Light”?
The answer is this: the one Logos is in fact the unified and collective aggregate of Seven Primordial Rays, called “the Primordial Seven” in the Stanzas of Dzyan on which the teaching in “The Secret Doctrine” is based. This is symbolised as the Central Spiritual Sun being comprised of Seven Rays which radiate forth from it in order to make the universe what it is. The Primordial Seven are also called the seven Dhyani Buddhas or seven chief Dhyan Chohans. Admittedly such things are almost entirely beyond our proper comprehension but if we can at least grasp the basics of them at a simple level we may be able to eventually get somewhere with the help of our applied spiritual intuition and elevated thought.
This explains why on p. 649 of the second volume (“Anthropogenesis”) of “The Secret Doctrine” we read of the fact that the Logos “acts only mediately through FOHAT, or Dhyan-Chohanic energy” and of “the universal guiding FOHAT, rich with the Divine and Dhyan-Chohanic thought.”
The fifth Stanza from the Secret Book of Dzyan in the first volume of “The Secret Doctrine” is almost entirely about Fohat. Following on from the fourth Stanza which is titled “The Septenary Hierarchies” it is in its turn titled “Fohat: The Child of the Septenary Hierarchies.” We quote its first five shlokas or verses below. Some of it will now make sense in light of what we’ve already looked at in this article and the understanding of the rest of it can be gained from personally reading and studying the book, which is always the best way of acquiring knowledge and understanding, rather than depending on others.
1. THE PRIMORDIAL SEVEN, THE FIRST SEVEN BREATHS OF THE DRAGON OF WISDOM, PRODUCE IN THEIR TURN FROM THEIR HOLY CIRCUMGYRATING BREATHS THE FIERY WHIRLWIND.
2. THEY MAKE OF HIM THE MESSENGER OF THEIR WILL. THE DZYU BECOMES FOHAT, THE SWIFT SON OF THE DIVINE SONS WHOSE SONS ARE THE LIPIKA, RUNS CIRCULAR ERRANDS. FOHAT IS THE STEED AND THE THOUGHT IS THE RIDER. HE PASSES LIKE LIGHTNING THROUGH THE FIERY CLOUDS; TAKES THREE, AND FIVE, AND SEVEN STRIDES THROUGH THE SEVEN REGIONS ABOVE, AND THE SEVEN BELOW. HE LIFTS HIS VOICE, AND CALLS THE INNUMERABLE SPARKS, AND JOINS THEM.
3. HE IS THEIR GUIDING SPIRIT AND LEADER. WHEN HE COMMENCES WORK, HE SEPARATES THE SPARKS OF THE LOWER KINGDOM THAT FLOAT AND THRILL WITH JOY IN THEIR RADIANT DWELLNGS, AND FORMS THEREWITH THE GERMS OF WHEELS. HE PLACES THEM IN THE SIX DIRECTIONS OF SPACE, AND ONE IN THE MIDDLE – THE CENTRAL WHEEL.
4. FOHAT TRACES SPIRAL LINES TO UNITE THE SIXTH TO THE SEVENTH – THE CROWN; AN ARMY OF THE SONS OF LIGHT STANDS AT EACH ANGLE, AND THE LIPIKA IN THE MIDDLE WHEEL. THEY SAY: THIS IS GOOD, THE FIRST DIVINE WORLD IS READY, THE FIRST IS NOW THE SECOND. THEN THE “DIVINE ARUPA” REFLECTS ITSELF IN CHHAYA LOKA, THE FIRST GARMENT OF THE ANUPADAKA.
5. FOHAT TAKES FIVE STRIDES AND BUILDS A WINGED WHEEL AT EACH CORNER OF THE SQUARE, FOR THE FOUR HOLY ONES AND THEIR ARMIES.
One thing which is always important to bear in mind, especially for those of us who have grown up with or acquired the habit of interpreting spiritual texts and phrases literally is that Eastern spiritual teachings are abundant with symbolic, allegorical, and figurative terms and illustrations. HPB always emphasised that we should be careful not to mistake the word for the thing. Thus the “Dragon of Wisdom” in no way means any type of actual dragon but rather is a special symbolic term for the Universal Logos. Similarly, Fohat (whose initial activity is akin to a “fiery whirlwind”) “lifting his voice” does not refer to Fohat as some type of anthropomorphic entity shouting out a command but has reference to the metaphysical power of sound in the construction of the universe . . . and so on.
Further esoteric terminology in “The Secret Doctrine” speaks of the Seven Brothers of Fohat who are also at the same time the Seven Sons of Fohat.
“Fohat, the constructive Force of Cosmic Electricity, is said, metaphorically, to have sprung like Rudra from Brahmā “from the brain of the Father and the bosom of the Mother,” and then to have metamorphosed himself into a male and a female, i.e., polarity, into positive and negative electricity,” says HPB, continuing, “He has seven sons who are his brothers; and Fohat is forced to be born time after time whenever any two of his son-brothers indulge in too close contact – whether an embrace or a fight.”
She adds that “The Seven “Sons-brothers,” however, represent and personify the seven forms of Cosmic magnetism called in practical Occultism the “Seven Radicals,” whose co-operative and active progeny are, among other energies, Electricity, Magnetism, Sound, Light, Heat, Cohesion, etc.” (Vol. 1, p. 145)
Just as the One Logos is actually the unified and collective aggregate of the Seven Primordial Rays, so Fohat is itself the unified and collective aggregate of the Seven Radicals. Thus in their noumenal state they are his Brothers and in their phenomenal state they are his Sons. The Seven Brothers are cosmic electricity as CAUSE; the Seven Sons are cosmic electricity as EFFECT.
Although the Tibetan term “Fohat” is the term used by the Masters and Their Messenger H. P. Blavatsky, nevertheless Fohat is seemingly the same Energy as Kundalini.
In her explanatory notes in “The Voice of the Silence,” HPB describes Kundalini as being “a fiery electro-spiritual force,” the “Fohatic power” which underlies everything visible and invisible. In the text of that book itself, it is called “The World’s Mother,” the Mother of the World and Mother of the Universe. T. Subba Row says of Kundalini that it is “the power or Force which moves in a curved path. It is the Universal Life-Principle manifesting everywhere in nature. This force includes the two great forces of attraction and repulsion. Electricity and magnetism are but manifestations of it.” (quoted in “The Secret Doctrine” Vol. 1, p. 293)
HPB says of Fohat that “The ancients represented it by a serpent, for “Fohat hisses as he glides hither and thither” (in zigzags).” And by what illustrative symbol has Kundalini always been represented? A serpent. “The Voice of the Silence” also calls Kundalini the “Serpent Power.”
Kundalini is the active power of the Universal Logos. It is the Mother of the manifested Universe. It is omnipresent universal Life, universal Fire, universal Electricity. Kundalini, it seems, is Fohat and Fohat is Kundalini.
It should be added here, however, that the practice known as Kundalini Yoga is potentially highly dangerous on all levels – physical, psychological, and spiritual – and that Theosophy always warns people against trying to do things to or with the power of the Kundalini within themselves. The Masters have stated emphatically that this Force can kill just as easily as it can create.
There is no need whatsoever for us to be messing about with our Kundalini and those who do so are almost always doing so with selfish motives such as attempting to acquire psychic or spiritual powers or to be able to have amazing spiritual experiences or sensations of bliss for themselves. Desire is the cause of all suffering, as the Lord Buddha always taught, and the desire for spiritual experiences is just as detrimental to the soul as the desire for sensual and carnal experiences. Even mainstream psychiatrists are now beginning to note the increasing number of people becoming seriously mentally ill, often with schizophrenia or similar conditions, as a result of trying to awaken their Kundalini. We have an explanatory article on the subject here.
It is almost impossible to adequately express in any way such lofty spiritual concepts in words and language which is no doubt one reason why many esoteric texts use symbols instead. “The Secret Doctrine” says far more about Fohat than can be expressed in an article like this but it is hoped that this attempt to provide a general overview of the topic has been interesting, inspiring, and thought provoking for you who have read it. Many more articles, on many more subjects, can be found listed on the Articles page.
“Manvantaric impulse commences with the re-awakening of Cosmic Ideation (the “Universal Mind”) concurrently with, and parallel to the primary emergence of Cosmic Substance – the latter being the manvantaric vehicle of the former – from its undifferentiated pralayic state. Then, absolute wisdom mirrors itself in its Ideation; which, by a transcendental process, superior to and incomprehensible by human Consciousness, results in Cosmic Energy (Fohat). Thrilling through the bosom of inert Substance, Fohat impels it to activity, and guides its primary differentiations on all the Seven planes of Cosmic Consciousness . . . Aryan antiquity called them the Seven Prakriti, or Natures, serving, severally, as the relatively homogeneous basis, which in the course of the increasing heterogeneity (in the evolution of the Universe) differentiate into the marvellous complexity presented by phenomena on the planes of perception.” (H. P. Blavatsky, “The Secret Doctrine” Vol. 1, p. 328)