The Great Sacrifice & The Mystery-Land of Shambhala

It is widely accepted by students of Theosophy that the real Founders of the modern Theosophical Movement were certain “advanced occultists” of the East; Adepts initiated into a hidden esoteric Brotherhood which guides and watches over the spiritual evolution and advancement of humanity.

In the early days of the Movement they were generally referred to as “The Brothers.” Later they were also called Mahatmas (meaning “Great Souls”) and Masters of Wisdom. H. P. Blavatsky was described by these Masters as Their “Direct Agent” and indeed there is plenty of evidence to show that she served as their public representative, spokesperson, and Messenger to the world at large, assisted most ably in this by William Q. Judge.

Hardly anything in the nature of personal details was ever divulged or published by HPB regarding the Masters. The mystic names of a few of them – primarily the two most closely and directly involved with HPB and the establishing of the Movement – were made public but usually they are referred to simply by their initials. As to their grades or degrees of initiation, their previous incarnations, their physical appearances, bodily features, and similar matters, it is unthinkable that such sacred details would or could ever be legitimately made public. What is known, however, is that the Masters are not “Ascended Masters” (as in popular “New Age” ideas) but are generally physically incarnated, right here on this plane, for they have important work to do in this world but tend to dwell in solitary locations away from the often toxic influences of modern everyday life.

Our Movement owes its original inspiration to the Masters known as M. and K.H., who are part of a Trans-Himalayan Buddhist Brotherhood presided over by one known as the Maha Chohan. Yet the Trans-Himalayan is not the whole of the GREAT BROTHERHOOD. How, where, and when did it begin? Who established it and what sort of Being is its Supreme Head? Where in the world is its central base? Perhaps surprisingly, this is something gone into to some extent by HPB, particularly in “The Secret Doctrine,” and this is what we will now explore.

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The “Sons of Wisdom” is a name given to a group who incarnated themselves in the early period of the Third Root Race (the Lemurian Epoch) as the very first group of self-conscious, spiritual, intellectually awakened human beings, prior to the awakening of consciousness in the general mass of humanity, which occurred later.

In this early Lemurian period, which we are told was millions of years ago, the “Sons of Wisdom” used Kriyashakti (the objectively creative power of thought and will) to produce the necessary physical vehicle for the embodiment of a great Being who was ready and waiting, destined according to the Law of Karma, to enter upon our globe in order to fulfill the most important and highest possible role and position here. In “The Secret Doctrine” Vol. 1, p. 207, we read:

“This “Wondrous Being” descended from a “high region,” they say, in the early part of the Third Age, before the separation of the sexes of the Third Race. . . . In the first or earlier portion of the existence of this third race, while it was yet in its state of purity, the “Sons of Wisdom,” who, as will be seen, incarnated in this Third Race, produced by Kriyashakti a progeny called the “Sons of Ad” or “of the Fire-Mist,” the “Sons of Will and Yoga,” etc. They were a conscious production, as a portion of the race was already animated with the divine spark of spiritual, superior intelligence. It was not a Race, this progeny. It was at first a wondrous Being, called the “Initiator,” and after him a group of semi-divine and semi-human beings. “Set apart” in Archaic genesis for certain purposes, they are those in whom are said to have incarnated the highest Dhyanis, “Munis and Rishis from previous Manvantaras” – to form the nursery for future adepts, on this earth and during the present cycle. These “Sons of Will and Yoga” born, so to speak, in an immaculate way, remained, it is explained, entirely apart from the rest of mankind.”

HPB later elucidates: “The Third Race had thus created the so-called SONS OF WILL AND YOGA, or the “ancestors” (the spiritual forefathers) of all the subsequent and present Arhats, or Mahatmas, in a truly immaculate way. They were indeed created, not begotten, . . . They were the “holy seed-grain” of the future Saviours of Humanity.” (S.D. 2:173)

Before these Great Ones had emerged on our Earth, that even Greater Being had appeared.

In “The Secret Doctrine” he is referred to in various ways, such as –

* The Wondrous Being
* The Nameless One
* The Initiator
* The Great Sacrifice
* The Solitary Watcher

– and it is he who “holds spiritual sway over the initiated Adepts throughout the whole world.” It is taught that he changes form from time to time, as evolution requires, but in his inner and real nature “remains ever the same.” He “has to remain nameless” although numerous names have been applied to him by different people. It is he who is the Supreme Head of the entire Great Brotherhood, sometimes also called the Great Lodge or Great White Lodge, “white” in the sense of light and goodness, as the antithesis to what is termed black magic.

In such books as “The Voice of the Silence” and “The Secret Doctrine” it is explained that there are four basic grades or degrees of initiation but that the fourth of these consists of four possible degrees in itself, thus making an actual total of seven degrees on the Path of Initiation. These are given, in Buddhist terminology, as:

#1. Srotapatti or Srotapanna
#2. Sakridagamin
#3. Anagamin
#4. Arhat or Arhan

[But, says S.D. 1:206, “The Arhan, though he can see the Past, the Present, and the Future, is not yet the highest Initiate. . . . Three further higher grades have to be conquered by the Arhan who would reach to the apex of the ladder of Arhatship.”]

#5. Arhat of the 2nd degree
#6. Arhat of the 3rd degree
#7. Arhat of the 4th degree

This “apex of the ladder of Arhatship” is referred to in the Stanzas from the Book of Dzyan (in S.D. 1:33) as “THE FOURTH “FRUIT” OF THE FOURTH PATH OF KNOWLEDGE THAT LEADS TO NIRVANA.” Referring to these very highest Initiates and how they stand in relation to the Wondrous Being, “The Secret Doctrine” says:

“The Arhats of the “fire-mist” of the 7th rung are but one remove from the Root-Base of their Hierarchy – the highest on Earth, and our Terrestrial chain. This “Root-Base” has a name which can only be translated by several compound words into English – “the ever-living-human-Banyan.” This “Wondrous Being” descended from a “high region,” they say, in the early part of the Third Age, before the separation of the sexes of the Third Race.” (Vol. 1, p. 206-207)

The symbolism of the Banyan tree is significant, as any Indian or Oriental knows. HPB also uses the phrase “THE TREE FROM WHICH THE ADEPTS GROW.” Also significant is the fact that the word “human” is used in his description and that further down on p. 207 it’s emphasised that despite his great spiritual and divine nature he is also “objective man.”

Let us reflect upon these beautiful and inspiring words:

“He is the “Initiator,” called the “GREAT SACRIFICE.” For, sitting at the threshold of LIGHT, he looks into it from within the circle of Darkness, which he will not cross; nor will he quit his post till the last day of this life-cycle. Why does the solitary Watcher remain at his self-chosen post? Why does he sit by the fountain of primeval Wisdom, of which he drinks no longer, as he has naught to learn which he does not know – aye, neither on this Earth, nor in its heaven? Because the lonely, sore-footed pilgrims on their way back to their home are never sure to the last moment of not losing their way in this limitless desert of illusion and matter called Earth-Life. Because he would fain show the way to that region of freedom and light, from which he is a voluntary exile himself, to every prisoner who has succeeded in liberating himself from the bonds of flesh and illusion. Because, in short, he has sacrificed himself for the sake of mankind, though but a few Elect may profit by the GREAT SACRIFICE.

“It is under the direct, silent guidance of this MAHA – (great) – GURU that all the other less divine Teachers and instructors of mankind became, from the first awakening of human consciousness, the guides of early Humanity. It is through these “Sons of God” that infant humanity got its first notions of all the arts and sciences, as well as of spiritual knowledge; and it is they who have laid the first foundation-stone of those ancient civilizations that puzzle so sorely our modern generation of students and scholars. . . .

“It was a child of pure Spirit, mentally unalloyed with any tincture of earthly element. Its physical frame alone was of time and of life, as it drew its intelligence direct from above. It was the living tree of divine wisdom; and may therefore be likened to the Mundane Tree of the Norse Legend; which cannot wither and die until the last battle of life shall be fought, while its roots are gnawed all the time by the dragon Nidhogg; for even so, the first and holy Son of Kriyashakti had his body gnawed by the tooth of time, but the roots of his inner being remained for ever undecaying and strong, because they grew and expanded in heaven not on earth. He was the first of the FIRST, and he was the seed of all the others. There were other “Sons of Kriyashakti” produced by a second Spiritual effort, but the first one has remained to this day the Seed of divine Knowledge, the One and the Supreme among the terrestrial “Sons of Wisdom.” Of this subject we can say no more, except to add that in every age – aye, even in our own – there have been great intellects who have understood the problem correctly.” (S.D. 1:208, 211)

It is then hinted at (p. 209) that this Great Being dwells at that “certain Sacred Island in Central Asia,” which is often known as Shamballa or Shambhala.


* “. . . the sacred Island (now the “fabled” Shamballah, in the Gobi Desert) . . .” (S.D. 2:319)

* “In the same manner and on the plan of the Zodiac in the upper Ocean or the heavens, a certain realm on Earth, an island sea, was consecrated and called “the Abyss of Learning”; twelve centres on it in the shape of twelve small islands representing the Zodiacal signs – two of which remained for ages the “mystery signs” and were the abodes of twelve Hierophants and masters of wisdom. This “sea of knowledge” or learning remained for ages there, where now stretches the Shamo or Gobi desert. It existed until the last great glacial period, when a local cataclysm, which swept the waters south and west and so formed the present great desolate desert, left only a certain oasis, with a lake and one island in the midst of it, as a relic of the Zodiacal Ring on Earth.” (S.D. 2:502-503)

* “What is claimed is simply the fact that the Wisdom imparted by the “Divine Ones” – born through the Kriyashakti powers of the Third Race before its Fall and Separation into sexes – to the adepts of the early Fourth Race, has remained in all its pristine purity in a certain Brotherhood. The said School or Fraternity being closely connected with a certain island of an inland sea, believed in by both Hindus and Buddhists, but called “mythical” by geographers and Orientalists, the less one talks of it, the wiser he will be.” (S.D. 2:636-637)

* “The “Island,” according to belief, exists to the present hour; now, as an oasis surrounded by the dreadful wildernesses of the great Desert, the Gobi.” (S.D. 2:220)

* ““Arghya in Sanskrit is the libation cup [i.e. the cup or chalice from which offering, tribute, sacrifice, etc. is poured out] . . . Arghyanath is a title of the Maha-Chohan, meaning “the Lord of Libations;” and Arghya Varsha – “the land of libations” – is the mystery name of that region which extends from Kailas mountain [i.e. Mount Kailash in Tibet] nearly to the Schamo Desert [i.e. the Gobi Desert, which is partly in Mongolia and partly in China] – from within which the Kalki Avatar is expected. The Airyâna-Varsedya [i.e. Airyanem Vaejah, often written “Airyana-Vaego” in Theosophical literature, a land usually equated by HPB to Shambhala] of the Zoroastrians, as a locality, is identical with it. It is now said to have been situated between the sea of Aral, Baltistan, and little Tibet; but in olden times its area was far larger, as it was the birth-place of physical humanity, . . . “Argos” is Arghya Varsha, the land of libation of the old Hierophants, whence the deliverer of Humanity will appear, a name which became ages later that of its neighbour, India – the Arya-varta of old.” (S.D. 2:416, 419)

* “What do they know of that mystical personage known to some adepts as the “venerable MAH,” or of the mysterious Eastern Brothers who obey him, whose name is abbreviated in the first syllable of the three which compose the Masonic substitute [Note: This appears to be a reference to the Masonic sacred word “Jahbulon,” the first syllable of that three-syllabled Word or Name being “Jah” or “Ja.” In SD 2:202 we read of “Aleim, or priests – the hierophants initiated into the good and evil of this world; for there was a college of priests called the Aleim, while the head of their caste, or the chief of the hierophants was known as Java-Aleim.” “Java Aleim” is “Maha Chohan in another tongue” says p. 220 of the same volume.] – The MAH, who lives at this very day in a spot unknown to all but initiates, and the approaches to which are through trackless wildernesses, untrodden by Jesuit or missionary foot, for it is beset by dangers fit to appall the most courageous explorers?” (“Isis Unveiled” 2:388)

* “. . . that Sacred Island – ‘from whence the last Saviour will come’ . . .” (A Commentary quoted in S.D. 2:350)

* “ . . . her [Mother Earth’s] heart – which beats under the foot of the sacred Shambalah . . .” (A Commentary quoted in S.D. 2:400)

* “Although these matters were barely hinted at in “Isis Unveiled,” it will be well to remind the reader of what was said in Vol. I., pp. 587 to 593, concerning a certain Sacred Island in Central Asia, and to refer him for further details to the chapter in Book II. on “The Sons of God and the Sacred Island”.” (S.D. 1:209)

* “. . . the “Sons of God,” of the island, and who were initiated in the divine doctrine of pure revelation, . . .” (“Isis Unveiled” 1:593)

* “S’ambhala (Sk.). A very mysterious locality on account of its future associations. A town or village mentioned in the Puranas, whence, it is prophesied, the Kalki Avatar will appear. The “Kalki” is Vishnu, the Messiah on the White Horse of the Brahmins; Maitreya Buddha of the Buddhists, Sosiosh of the Parsis, and Jesus of the Christians (See Revelations). All these “messengers” are to appear “before the destruction of the world”, says the one; before the end of Kali Yuga say the others. It is in S’ambhala that the future Messiah will be born. Some Orientalists make modern Muradabad in Rohilkhand (N.W.P.) identical with S’ambhala, while Occultism places it in the Himalayas. It is pronounced Shambhala.” (“The Theosophical Glossary” p. 287)

* “Every seventh year, these teachers are believed to assemble in SCHAM-CHA-LO, the “happy land.” According to the general belief it is situated in the north-west of Tibet. Some place it within the unexplored central regions, inaccessible even to the fearless nomadic tribes; others hem it in between the range of the Gangdisri Mountains and the northern edge of the Gobi Desert, South and North, and the more populated regions of Khoondooz and Kashmir, of the Gya-Pheling (British-India), and China, West and East, which affords to the curious mind a pretty large latitude to locate it in. Others still place it between Namur Nur and the Kuen-Lun Mountains – but one and all firmly believe in Scham-bha-la, and speak of it as a fertile, fairy-like land, once an island, now an oasis of incomparable beauty, the place of meeting of the inheritors of the esoteric wisdom of the god-like inhabitants of the legendary island.” (“Editorial Appendix,” “H. P. Blavatsky Theosophical Articles” 3:333)

* “Many are the names of that School and land, the name of the latter being now regarded by the Orientalists as the mythic name of a fabulous country. It is from this mysterious land, nevertheless, that the Hindu expects his Kalki Avatara, the Buddhist his Maitreya, the Parsi his Sosiosh, and the Jew his Messiah, and so would the Christian expect thence his Christ – if he only knew of it. There, and there alone, reigns Paranishpanna (Gunggrub), the absolutely perfect comprehension of Being and Non-Being, the changeless true Existence in Spirit, even while the latter is seemingly still in the body, every inhabitant thereof being a Non-Ego because he has become the Perfect Ego. Their voidness is “self-existent and perfect” – if there were profane eyes to sense and perceive it – because it has become absolute; the unreal being transformed into conditionless Reality, and the realities of this, our world, having vanished in their own nature into thin (non-existing) air.

“The “Absolute Truth” (Dondam-pay-den-pa; Sanskrit: Paramarthasatya), having conquered “relative truth” (Kunza-bchi-den-pa; Sanskrit: Samvritisatya), the inhabitants of the mysterious region are thus supposed to have reached the state called in mystic phraseology Svasamvedana (“self-analyzing reflection”) and Paramartha, or that absolute consciousness of the personal merged into the impersonal Ego, which is above all, hence above illusion in every sense.

“Its “Perfect” Buddhas and Bodhisattvas may be on every nimble Buddhist tongue as celestial – therefore unreachable Beings, while these names may suggest and say nothing to the dull perceptions of the European profane. What matters it to Those who, being in this world, yet live outside and far beyond our illusive earth! Above Them there is but one class of Nirvanis, namely, the Chos-ku (Dharmakaya), or the Nirvanis “without remains” – the pure Arupa, the formless Breaths. Thence emerge occasionally the Bodhisattvas in their Prul-pai-ku (or Nirmanakaya) body and, assuming an ordinary appearance, they teach men. There are conscious, as well as unconscious, incarnations.” (“A Few More Misconceptions Corrected” posthumously published)

* “The “Western paradise,” [mentioned in some Buddhist scriptures, also called the “Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha”] or Western heaven, is no fiction located in transcendental space. It is a bona-fide locality in the mountains, or, to be more correct, one encircled in a desert within mountains. Hence it is assigned for the residence of those students of Esoteric Wisdom – disciples of Buddha – who have attained the rank of Lohans and Anagamins (Adepts). It is called “Western” simply from geographical considerations; and “the great iron mountain girdle” that surrounds the Avitchi, and the seven Lokas that encircle the “Western paradise” are a very exact representation of well-known localities and things to the Eastern student of Occultism.” (“The Doctrine of the Eye & The Doctrine of the Heart” posthumously published)

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Earlier we saw how the Wondrous Being was emphasised to nonetheless be “human,” “objective man,” and living in a body subject to being “gnawed by the tooth of time.” And now we have seen how Shambhala – apparently situated somewhere in the Gobi Desert or at least including part of the Gobi – is objective too. It is spiritual in nature, yet existing here on this physical plane, although none can ever find it or go there, except the very few who have earned the right and passed through the requisite initiations.

As was said in the “Glossary” quote, Hinduism, in the Vishnu Purana, declares that the tenth and “final” Avatar of Vishnu, called the Kalki Avatar, will be born in a town or village named Shambhala.

Tibetan Buddhism contains many more detailed references to Shambhala, mainly in the Kalachakra (literally “Time’s Circle” or “Wheel of Time”) system. This speaks of Shambhala as a Kingdom which has a capital city named Kalapa, where reside a succession of “Kings of Shambhala” also known as Kalki Kings/Emperors, who each reign for one century, each new “occult century” beginning with what in our calendar is the 27th year, i.e. 1827, 1927, 2027, etc.

Kalachakra teachings say that the current degeneration in the world will continue and worsen until 2424 (in our calendar) when the then Kalki King or Rigden, who will be named Rudra (one of the names of Shiva in Hinduism) and in some way an incarnation of the Panchen Lama (perhaps because the Panchen Lamas are considered incarnations or emanations of Amitabha Buddha, which in Theosophy is sometimes a synonym for the Maha-Guru or Lord of Shambhala) will “appear to humans all over the world” and “defeat the barbarians” whilst “establishing a worldwide Golden Age.” In the Kalachakra Tantra, this is the same as the Coming of the Buddha Maitreya, although it is around 2,000 years earlier than the period of 5,000 years which Gautama Buddha reportedly said must elapse before the next Buddha, his successor, would appear in the world. This is the last Kalki King prophesied. This closely echoes a prophecy asserted by HPB in her article “Tibetan Teachings” and which is almost certainly a reference to the Kalachakra doctrine:

“It is said that up to the time when Panchen Rimpoche (the Great Jewel of Wisdom) condescends to be reborn in the land of the P’helings (Westerners), and appearing as the Spiritual Conqueror (Chom-den-da), destroys the errors and ignorance of the age, it will be of little use to try to uproot the misconceptions of P’heling-pa (Europe): her sons will listen to no one.”

Interestingly, in 1775 the 6th Panchen Lama published a detailed guidebook of the way to Shambhala, titled “Shambhalai Lamyig.”

As for Kalapa mentioned above, said in the known Kalachakra teachings to be the capital of Shambhala, HPB in “The Secret Doctrine” (Vol. 1, p. 378) quotes the Vishnu Purana, a celebrated Hindu scripture, as saying “Two persons, Devapi, of the race of Kuru and Moru, of the family of Ikshwaku, continue alive throughout the four ages, residing at Kalapa. They will return hither [i.e. to India] in the beginning of the Krita age [i.e. the Satya Yuga or Golden Age] . . . Moru the son of Sighru through the power of Yoga is still living . . . . and will be the restorer of the Kshattriya race of the Solar dynasty.” In the footnote, HPB explains that “Moru” is actually “Morya,” as most translators have noticed. It will be remembered that Morya is the name given to that great Mahatma or Master who was the Guru of H. P. Blavatsky and who was in one sense the real Founder of the Theosophical Movement of our times. If one takes the Hindu figures for the “four ages” or Yugas literally, that would mean the Master Morya has been alive and immortally conscious for just under 4-million years, if not – as would seem likely – since even long before the present Mahayuga (cycle of four Yugas) began. In that footnote, we see that the Matsya Purana also states “that the [dynasty of the] Moryas will one day reign over India, after restoring the Kshattriya race many thousand years hence.” But then a highly important clarification and occult disclosure is made by HPB: “Only that reign [i.e. of Morya] will be purely Spiritual and “not of this world.” It will be the kingdom of the next Avatar.”

Much is naturally kept shrouded in mystery but Theosophy, in contrast with the Kalachakra chronology, which speaks of the year 2424, states clearly, with regard to that occurrence, that “It is not in the Kali yug, our present terrifically materialistic age of Darkness, the “Black Age,” that a new Saviour of Humanity can ever appear” (S.D. 1:470) and also that the occurrence which some describe as the “Coming of Maitreya/Kalki” will thus not be until the close of the Kali Yuga which will correspond with the close of the Sixth Root Race and will not take the form which many might be inclined to expect, for “this will be the One Wisdom and will incarnate itself into the whole humanity collectively, not in a single individual.” (“Lamas and Druses,” “H. P. Blavatsky Theosophical Articles” 3:288) However, if one looks at everything HPB said on this subject, there appears to be more to it than that and we cannot deny that the Coming of Maitreya will also involve in some way a distinct Being, even if not physically publicly present on the world stage. Incidentally, the Esoteric Buddhism of the Trans-Himalayan Masters is the real, esoteric, secret Kalachakra system, as demonstrated in The REAL Esoteric Buddhism.

The close of the Sixth Root Race is undoubtedly very far away (that Root Race has not even begun yet!) and Theosophy usually puts the end of the Kali Yuga as 427,000 years in the future, as per the standard exoteric Hindu figures. It is true that HPB and the Masters usually speak as if those enormous ages are esoteric fact but there are enough hints from Them to suggest that they should not be taken literally and perhaps not even approximately. More can be read about this in the article The Seven Yugas. In “Isis Unveiled” Vol. 1, p. 587, when speaking about the Yugas, HPB readily acknowledges “the enormous exaggerations of Hindu chronology.” Not just slight exaggerations but “enormous exaggerations.” So, in short, we as students of Theosophy should be very careful to not make definitive, categorical, authoritative statements about such matters as these, about which none of us, or next to none of us, can claim to truly and directly KNOW anything. It is also important to remember that just as ancient esotericists sometimes used “blinds” to conceal, veil, or mask, the real details and data (something often pointed out by HPB), there are also likely to be numerous “blinds” employed by the great esotericists of recent times within the book “The Secret Doctrine.” It is also stated that even the Secret Book of Dzyan itself, on which “The Secret Doctrine” is based, contains “blinds”: “In the “Book of Dzyan,” as in the Kabala, there are two kinds of numerals to be studied – the figures, often simple blinds, and the Sacred Numbers, the values of which are all known to the Occultists through Initiation.” (S.D. 1:66)

Mention of Shambhala very often brings up mention of Agartha, Agarta, or Agartta, a supposed subterranean kingdom existing in “hollow Earth.” The name and its associated concept originate with a contemporary of HPB’s, who she occasionally refers to as Marquis St. Yves d’Alveydre. She describes him as “the hierophant and leader of a large party of French Kabalists” and on the few occasions when she does mention him it is to challenge or criticise some of his ideas. D’Alveydre said that Agartha is part of esoteric Tibetan Buddhist teachings but did not offer any evidence for that claim, nor has anyone since.

Those who subscribe strongly to the hollow Earth theory believe that Admiral Richard Byrd when flying over the North Pole noticed a massive opening in the ground and discovered inside a lush and mystical land, which enthusiasts have equated with Agartha. There is in fact no evidence of Byrd ever saying or writing any such thing. Several decades ago, after Byrd had died and was no longer around to comment on the matter, the story was first introduced in a book by a writer on sensationalist mystery themes and who claimed, without offering any evidence or references at all, that Byrd describes it all in a diary which is either “secret” or “missing.” No such diary has ever been found and there is nothing in Byrd’s actual and known diaries that even hints at such an experience or discovery. To this day, those who promote the idea base it solely on claims for which they cannot offer the slightest evidence.

Having said that, the North Pole is very significant esoterically, as “The Secret Doctrine” shows, and a few times HPB speaks of the North Pole, or rather the generally undiscoverable “imperishable sacred land” in the region of the North Pole in the same way as she speaks of Shambhala, despite the latter being indicated to be in Central Asia. This may be partly because what we now call Asia and the North Pole were originally one land, during the earliest Root Races on this Earth, “that part of the world now known as Asia being only cut off from it in a later age, and divided by the glacial waters.” (S.D. 2:401) Admittedly, the whole complete truth on the subject has not been revealed in Theosophy, nor will it for some time to come, but when it is referred to, there is never any mention of either Shambhala or the “imperishable sacred land” being subterranean or being an underground kingdoms. It is said, however, that “subterranean passages, known only to the chiefs, communicated with it in all directions.” (S.D. 2:220, Isis 1:590)

But who or what is the Great Sacrifice?

Adi Shankaracharya, the founder of the Advaita Vedanta school of Hinduism, was an extremely high Initiate himself and in a certain sense the reincarnation of Gautama Buddha. He wrote a mysterious hymn called the Dakshinamurti Stotra or Stotram, which many Theosophists believe (and Bhavani Shankar confirmed) is referring to the nature and the role of this Being:

“It is strange to see the very old disciples, sat around the Teacher of ever-youthful appearance, who sits beneath the Banyan Tree. The Teacher always teaches in silence, yet the disciples receive the answers to all their questions. Salutations to that Dakshinamurti, who is the meaning of the Pranava – OM – who is the personification of unalloyed Wisdom, who is crystal clear in his thought, and who is the epitome of peace. Salutations to that Dakshinamurti, who is the Teacher of the entire world, who is the doctor to those afflicted by the disease of birth and death, and who is the treasure house of all knowledge.”

Shankara said that this was the Adi-Guru, meaning the First Guru, the First of all Spiritual Teachers and he recognised him as an embodiment of Shiva. In one place where HPB talks about Shambhala (S.D. 2:502) she also makes mention of “Rudra Shiva, the great Yogi, the forefather of all the Adepts – in Esotericism one of the greatest Kings of the Divine Dynasties. Called “the Earliest” and the “Last,” he is the patron of the Third [i.e. Lemurian], Fourth [i.e. Atlantean], and the Fifth [i.e. ours] Root-Races.”

The full version of the Hymn to Dakshinamurti or the Dakshinamurti Stotram consists of ten paragraphs or stanzas. It can be read in full by clicking here. “Dakshinamurti” literally means “the one who faces south,” which suggests an image of a great Being who is sat at the top or very highest or uppermost point and embraces the entirety of the world within his far-reaching gaze. A short extract from it used to be included in every issue of “The Theosophical Movement” magazine, when B. P. Wadia was editor: “Ah! the wonder of the Banyan Tree. There sits the Guru Deva, a youth, and the disciples are elders; the teaching is silence, and still the disciples’ doubts are dispelled.”

T. Subba Row stated that the Masters teach that Amitabha Buddha (the Buddha of Infinite Light) himself dwelt at Shambhala and “established the Brotherhood” there. As we saw earlier, “the Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha” refers really to Shambhala. Deductions could also be made from “The Secret Doctrine” and elsewhere that he is Avalokiteshvara or Padmapani of Tibetan Buddhism or even the Vedic Vishvakarman, the one who sacrifices himself to himself, for the salvation of all. HPB has also suggested a link with the mysterious Biblical and Kabbalistic figure of Melchizedek, for in her commentary and notes on the Pistis Sophia, a Gnostic Gospel, she says: “For the occult significance of “Melchizedec” compare The Secret Doctrine, I, 208 and 265, on the “Great Sacrifice” and “Silent Watcher.””

The original Theosophical teachings do not state or affirm the now widespread and popularised notion that this Solitary Watcher came to Earth from Venus. Some later, and generally very distorted, versions of Theosophy greatly emphasised this notion but H. P. Blavatsky never says such a thing. This does not necessarily mean it is not so; all we can say on this point is that “The Secret Doctrine” asserts that Venus is the bearer or bringer of mystical Light (as well as physical light) on this Earth and that the Third (Lemurian) Root Race “received its light and life” mystically from the Dhyani who rules and presides over, or is the Regent of, the sacred planet Venus. It was the Light of Manas (Mind) that was most prominently received in that great Epoch (see Manas – The Mystery of Mind) but, earlier in the Lemurian Age, this Maha-Guru of whom we are speaking incarnated on Earth along with the Sons of Will and Yoga and established the Great Brotherhood at Shambhala. We also find these words in “The Secret Doctrine” Vol. 2, p. 32-33: “The Regent (of the planet) Sukra [i.e. a Sanskrit name for Venus] loved his adopted child [i.e. the Earth] so well that he incarnated as Usanas and gave it perfect laws, which were disregarded and rejected in later ages. . . . Venus . . . It is with its Regent, the informing Dhyan Chohan, that Occult mysticism has to deal.” And also (p. 31), “The Guru of the Daityas [i.e. “Venus or Sukra . . . is Daitya-Guru, or the priest-instructor of the primeval giants,” p. 30] is the Guardian Spirit of the Earth and Men.” So we can each reflect on that and make our own deductions about what the situation may be.

Original Theosophy does not say that the Great Sacrifice came here in a fiery chariot flying through the sky, as claimed by some later Theosophists (in fact, “the “Sons of Will and Yoga,” born before the complete separation of the sexes, “matured in the man-bearing eggs produced by the power (Kriyasakti) of the holy sages” of the early Third Race,” according to S.D. 2:181) and they do not say that he is Sanat Kumara or any of the Kumaras. The Sons of Will and Yoga (the Sons of the Fire-Mist, who “are certainly subdivisions of the Third Logos” according to HPB in “Transactions of The Blavatsky Lodge” p. 137) are, however, identified with the Seven Kumaras, in “The Secret Doctrine” Vol. 2, p. 281, but in endeavouring to comprehend this accurately, one must forget all ideas about the Kumaras derived from later Theosophical innovations. The original teachings also do not call the Solitary Watcher or Maha-Guru the incarnation of the “Planetary Logos” (a term not used in the original teachings of Theosophy) and they do not call him “God” although it is perhaps understandable why some might feel inclined to do so.

In fact, from “The Secret Doctrine” (Vol. 2, p. 282) we learn that “Out of the seven virgin-men (Kumara) [i.e. a reference to “the “Sons of Will and Yoga,” the immaculate progeny of the Androgynous Third Race,” according to the footnote] four sacrificed themselves for the sins of the world and the instruction of the ignorant, to remain till the end of the present Manvantara. . . . Higher than the “Four” is only ONE on Earth as in Heavens – that still more mysterious and Solitary Being described in Book I.” If this is so, it would certainly be correct to speak of this Maha-Guru as the one ever-present Supreme Avatar, the supreme and constant incarnation on Earth of the Universal Logos itself. In this connection, HPB’s otherwise enigmatic remark on p. 100 of the “Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge” may begin to make much more sense: “For all you know Vaivasvata Manu may be an Avatar or a personification of MAHAT, commissioned by the Universal Mind to lead and guide thinking Humanity onwards.”

Although, as mentioned, the authentic Theosophical teachings “do not say that he is Sanat Kumara or any of the Kumaras,” it is of course still possible that he might be capable of being described as a Kumara but if this is so, it would seemingly be Sanat Sujata, sometimes written Sanatsujata and Sanat-Sujata, since HPB has repeatedly spoken of the three higher or esoteric Kumaras, the chief of whom she identifies as the figure referred to in Hindu mythology and literature as Sanat Sujata, whilst Sanat Kumara is not counted among those three. For more on this, please see Understanding The Seven Kumaras.

“Chagpa-Thog-med is the Tibetan name of Aryasanga, the founder of the Yogacharya or Naljorchodpa School. This Sage and Initiate is said to have been taught “Wisdom” by Maitreya Buddha Himself, the Buddha of the Sixth Race, at Tushita (a celestial region presided over by Him), and as having received from Him the five books of Champai-chos-nga [i.e. the Tibetan name of Maitreya]. The Secret Doctrine teaches, however, that he came from Dejung, or Shambhala, called the “source of happiness” (“wisdom-acquired”) and declared by some Orientalists to be a “fabulous” place.” (HPB, “The Doctrine of the Eye and The Doctrine of the Heart”)

As the “he” in “he came from Dejung, or Shambhala” is uncapitalised in contrast with the “Him” used for Maitreya, this is saying that, according to the Esoteric Doctrine of the Masters, Aryasanga (who is very important in relation to the Trans-Himalayan Esoteric School; see The REAL Esoteric Buddhism) came from Shambhala and that this mysterious and mystical location on Earth was where he received the teaching that forms his “Five Books of Maitreya” which were considered so extremely important by the Yogacharya or Yogachara or Yogācāra School of Mahayana Buddhism. In that case, Maitreya is “merely” a synonym, yet another name, for that Nameless One, the Maha-Guru, the Initiator of all Initiates, the Guru of Gurus, the Lord of Shambhala, the Supreme Head of the School and Brotherhood of Adepts.

In a body of Theosophical teachings given during the closing quarter of the 20th century, Raghavan Iyer of the United Lodge of Theosophists repeatedly stated – just as HPB had herself indicated, albeit not as clearly or directly – that all Avatars, as also all great and divine Teachers and emissaries of the Masters’ Brotherhood – which is synonymous with emissaries of Shambhala – who appear on the world scene for a specific great purpose, are incarnations, emanations, reflections, or, in “lesser” cases, empowered representatives, of the Maha-Guru of whom we have been speaking:

“Soon after the descent of the gods, the pristine Sons of Wisdom who incarnated into the Third Race, they engendered through Kriyashakti the sacred progeny of the truly twice-born, the fabled Sons of Ad, the mythic “Sons of the Fire-Mist,” the immaculate Sons of Will and Yoga. What they emanated in unison was a wondrous collective being (Bodhisattvic Golden Egg), a mysterious Bodhi-Tree and deathless fountainhead, the Tree of Noetic Knowledge, from which arose all the initiated Adepts and god-men, gurus and sages of the human race in subsequent epochs of evolution. The arcane teachings affirm that Dakshinamurti, the Initiator of Initiates, was the original Jagadguru (Amitabha), Rishi Narayan or Shri Krishna, the Ancient of Days who stood as Shiva (Avalokiteshwara) behind Buddha, Shankara, Pythagoras and Plato, Confucius and Lao Tzu, Christ and Paul, Count St. Germain and Claude St. Martin, Cagliostro and Mesmer, H. P. Blavatsky and W. Q. Judge. There have always existed on earth the secret mystery-temples in which the whole life of the neophyte through a series of preparatory initiations must eventually lead to grateful prostration before the Great Sacrifice (Adhiyajna) and a Host of Hierophants, the Buddhas of Contemplation, silently sustaining the whole world, the Wheel of Samsara, the Great Chain of Being.” (“Between Heaven and Earth”)

“Again and again, under different names, it is the same being behind every divine incarnation, whether past or future. . . . As Dakshinamurti, the Initiator of Initiates, he is seated immovable above Mount Kailas, in mystic meditation since over eighteen million years ago from the time when there was no Mount Kailas and no Himalayas as presently understood. Coming down through all the subsequent recorded and unrecorded eras, he carries forth in unbroken continuity the onward spiritual current which is the irresistible, unconquerable, ineluctable forward march of humanity. . . . Attuned to the rhythms of the cosmic ocean of Divine Thought, he is the still motionless centre in its depths around which revolve, like myriad mathematical points in spinning circles, the scattered hosts of humanity.” (“The Rebirth of Humanity”)

“Perpetually sweeping away everything that is moribund and morbid in human nature, all the incrustations of falsehood and mummery stifling the human soul, the eternal Lord of the Mysteries, Dakshinamurti, Hari-Hara [i.e. Vishnu-Shiva], the True Saviour of Humanity and the Good Gardener of Nature, guides and nurtures with perfect gnosis and divine impartiality the potent seeds of human futurity, including all, excluding none except the self-excluded. Every sacred tradition revolves around the seminal utterances, the abounding grace and magnanimous benediction of God-men, all of whom are accredited reflections of Him who was in the beginning, the Ancient of Days and the Initiator of Initiates. Those who comprehend this central truth in their hearts and minds, to whatever degree, are able to come closer in consciousness to the Supreme Source of Divine Wisdom, to Brahma Vach.” (“Kalki Maitreya”)

Similarly, in “The Secret Doctrine,” when talking about Avalokiteshwara (called in Tibetan Buddhism the Bodhisattva of Compassion and, in “The Theosophical Glossary,” “the LOGOS, both celestial and human” as well as capable of being a name for Atman, the Higher Self of each and all) and Maitreya, HPB discloses that “the two [i.e. Avalokiteshwara and Maitreya] 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.” (Vol. 1, p. 470) With this being so, and remembering the earlier HPB quote about Maitreya being the great Teacher at Shambhala, it could be said that all true Avatars who may appear before then are also, in a sense, a “Coming of Maitreya” and also of Kalki.

It may be noticed that in the above quote from “Between Heaven and Earth,” that “ever-living-human-Banyan” was described as “a wondrous collective being.” At one point HPB speaks of Him as “The “BEING” just referred to,” i.e. “BEING” is in inverted commas, possibly a hint that what we are talking about is not actually a Being in the ordinary and typical sense of an individual entity. Could it be that what we have been speaking about as the Maha Guru is actually in some mysterious and indescribable way the synthesising source of the Sons of Will and Yoga and thus the synthesis of the Seven Kumaras?

Numerous names could be applied to this Nameless One but it ultimately only aids our understanding a little. Names sometimes get in the way and become self-imposed mental barriers and obstructions to comprehension. It may be noticed that comparatively little of a definite, detailed, and precise nature has been disclosed on these matters but what could we expect with regard to something so profoundly sacred? We should be grateful that even as much as this has been considered fit to be divulged to the world at large at this point in humanity’s evolution. As HPB said, “Of this subject we can say no more.” This greatness, this majesty, this love, this sacrifice, is barely within the realms of our comprehension anyway.

The divine love that blazes ever bright within the Silent Watcher’s heart will not allow him to pass onward into infinite peace and liberation because “he would fain show the way to that region of freedom and light, from which he is a voluntary exile himself, to every prisoner who has succeeded in liberating himself from the bonds of flesh and illusion. . . . in short, he has sacrificed himself for the sake of mankind, though but a few Elect may profit by the GREAT SACRIFICE.”

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