The Origins of Mankind on Earth -
The Theosophical View

An article by Geoffrey Farthing

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Light on the Waters

Picture: 'Light on the Waters', Susana Maxelon B.A.

Based upon H.P. Blavatsky's 'The Secret Doctrine', this article relates the origins of Cosmos and Man; Cosmogenesis & Anthropogenesis, from the perspecive of the Ancient Wisdom tradition.


The two volumes of The Secret Doctrine by H.P. Blavatsky are entitled Cosmogenesis and Anthropogenesis. The first deals with the origins of Cosmos, the universe in which we find ourselves - including particularly our earth, and the second, as its name implies, deals with the origins of man. The word ‘origins’ (plural) is used because man, as a whole complex being, derives from several sources. Both these genesis accounts derive from the occult point of view, and accord, only in certain respects, with the views of modern science. It does seem, however, that science is more and more justifying the occult statements, for example, concerning the ages of the earth and the moon. Science is moving towards the occult view.

There has recently been a revaluation of the age of the moon and there is now a view that it is older than the earth. In the last few decades, the age of the earth is, with considerable justification, said to be some hundreds of millions of years. Similarly, it is now acknowledged that man, more or less as we know him, has been on the earth a few millions of years. Not so long ago this was a ludicrous idea as there being no remains of man older than a few thousand years having been discovered.

The divergences, however, between occultism and science in certain areas are still very great and in the case of the origins of man they are virtually diametrically opposed.

The second volume of The Secret Doctrine starts with some preliminary statements:

"As regards the evolution of mankind; - the Secret Doctrine postulates three new propositions, which stand in direct antagonism to modern science as well as to current religious dogmas: it teaches (a) the simultaneous evolution of seven human groups on seven different portions of our globe; (b) the birth of the astral, before the physical body: the former being a model for the latter; and (c) that man, in this Round, preceded every mammalian - the Anthopoids included - in the animal kingdom "[1].

This is still not really the beginning of the story - because it does not explain the origins of the earth, what the human groups were, what the astral body is, nor what a Round is.

The full explanations are outside the scope of this paper but there are some principles upon which occultism or the Secret Doctrine (as a doctrine not a book) rest. One is that the Universe manifests a Unity in diversity. There is One Life expressing itself in an almost infinite number of ways in an infinite variety of substance, form and creature. Second the Universe operates according to One Law but with many aspects. One aspect is that Nature's processes are cyclical, cycles of coming and going, little things comprising bigger things; there are cycles of activity and rest, everything alternates in this sense. The total life of a world, which itself comes and goes, is made up of innumerable lives all of which in their turn come and go. Larger lives such as that expressed in a human body, consists of a multitude of lesser lives in its cells and organs. Another aspect of the law is development; there are smaller and larger cycles of development in each of which some particular aspect of the infinite potentialities of life are being brought to expression in the myriads of kinds of living things that there are at any time. A third important aspect of the Law is that everything is, and is as it is, as a result of what went before, in terms of action, i.e. what it did. Every event is the result of action. Every event modifies, be it ever so little, whatever was involved in it. We can call this modification experience.

Universes and the worlds that comprise them, obey the Law and all aspects of it. Worlds therefore come and go, and the life forms, including those of men, on our present globe, at the present time are the result of what went before. This is a simple statement but what went on is infinitely complicated. We cannot go into all the detail but everything, every function, and every faculty of every living thing (and in occultism nothing is not living in some way) had to be developed in aeons of evolutionary time in the process of the comings and goings of endless cycles of being. The cycles of being do not only apply to physical world things and creatures; they also apply in the invisible worlds. For example, nature had to evolve feeling, emotional feeling, and instruments to respond to it. She had to develop thinking as we know the process. These are said to be subjective faculties because they are not objective, i.e. to our physical senses.

Awareness itself, whilst it has its seat during man's physical life in his brain, is said to arise in the inner realms of his being, the so-called spiritual ones where man's essential being is said to be. All these inner faculties had to be developed and developed by beings subjected to the necessary experience in the right circumstances, to call them forth and to develop the means of their expression. Now these means of expression in the physical world are, as bodies, obvious but not so in the invisible subjective realms. This means that we have vehicles, bodies or organs of perception and action, which although they are not physical, nevertheless are substantial. They are not 'nothing'. These inner vehicles are those of a man's soul or psyche.

Similarly in a mysterious way life as a life-force plays through or operates in our physical bodies. It is the presence of this vital factor which distinguishes a live body from a dead one. It is said that this life fluid is collected and stored by a body of subtle 'etheric' substance immediately surrounding our physical body. This subtle body is the astral one referred to in postulate (b) at the beginning.

There is another fundamental principle in Nature or Cosmos. The fruit of a period of activity becomes or begets the seed of the next. Worlds are as they are because of the nature of previous ones. The seed of one kind of plant begets the same kind. The types of human being we now have, as to physical structure, characteristic and psychic make-up, were developed slowly, way back on other worlds. Life using forms slowly modifies those forms as we have seen; perpetual change is the order of things.

Just as man has several vehicles or bodies, one objective and the others subjective, so has a man-bearing globe. Each of these principles, so far as a planet like ours is concerned, is represented as a globe. It is said again that a total planetary system or unit, has seven such globes, one physical and visible and six invisible ones. In Theosophical parlance these seven globes constitute a 'chain'.

[Editor: The following diagram, taken from ‘Deity, Cosmos and Man’, by Geoffrey Farthing, illustrates - as best it can - the 7 globes of this, our ‘Earth Chain’, though is important to form a mental picture of the 7 Globes all occupying the same space i.e. that of the physical globe, around us, as recognised by our physical senses.]


Planetary Chain of seven globes

We saw earlier that life as a unity manifests in diversity, in great streams at different stages of development. These are typified in the great kingdoms of nature, mineral, vegetable, animal and human. There is, so to speak, a life wave for each of these. During the total life cycle of a planet, from its 'birth' to its death, these life waves pass in turn round each of its constituent globes seven times. A round of all the seven globes constitutes what is called a 'Round'. During the life of the planet there are seven such complete Rounds.

There is a further complication. During the stay of a life wave at a globe, it has to pass through seven distinct evolutionary stages. It would be far too much to attempt a full explanation of this process here and we are concerned anyway with the origins of man, particularly on our physical planet.

In the case of man, as was said in the postulates, he develops seven groups simultaneously. These groups are essentially character types reflecting the spiritual nature of the other planets (not globes) of our solar system. These are the fundamental astrological character types.
Humanity however, develops during a Round seven root Race types, as opposed to the groups mentioned above, more or less seriatim, i.e. one after another. [Editor: The term ‘race’ as it is applied in the Theosophical doctrine of ‘The Seven Root Races’ described in Theosophy, should not be confused with the term ‘race’ as used in current parlance. Note that Theosophy postulates that the 3rd Root Race was the Lemurian, the 4th the Atlantean, and the 5th - the current - is the Aryan]

According to the Secret Doctrine we are half-way through the fourth Round and the bulk of humanity has reached the development stage we call the Fifth root-Race. During these evolutionary circuits round the series of globes of a chain humanity develops its inner faculties, and, corresponding to the stages of major racial development, its physical senses. This is an elaborate process but the principle is as stated.

As to origins, it will now be apparent that occultism sees no absolute beginnings. Creation, if that word can be used at all, is a process of transformation: a continual development of what already exists. There is a dual aspect to this process. The changes become apparent during periods of objective existence so far as forms in nature are concerned, but the assimilated experience which modifies the ideal patterns is in the inner subjective realms. Creative transformation, to use the expression, is from within outwards. Even when things are not in a state of objectivity visible to us, something of their essential qualities remains in the inner worlds.

This is the case with our earth; its inner subjective globes come into being before our physical one. They determine its essential nature.

The principles of man and Cosmos, and of worlds, are as follows: (a) the purely spiritual (b) that through which Spirit, as a dynamic, operates or expresses itself universally; (c) that which corresponds to universal Mind, the basis of consciousness, of all animation, intelligence and all the mental functions. The latter operate at two distinct levels, one orientated towards spirit and the other towards the principles of manifest existence the grosser and materialistic elements of being; (d) the principle of feeling, of emotion and desire, so strong in man and closely associated with his lower mind principle; (e) the life force, the vitalising factor in all living things; (f) the vehicle of subtle matter, (the astral body) which collects, stores and distributes the life force about the physical body; and lastly (g) the physical body itself.

[Editor: it may be useful, for study purposes, to set out the above - as far as the Human Principles are concerned - in tabular form:]

Human Principles

No. Description
(as above)
Sanskrit Name
7 (a) the purely spiritual ATMA
6 (b) that through which Spirit, as a dynamic, operates or expresses itself universally BUDDHI
5 (c) that which corresponds to universal Mind, the basis of consciousness MANAS Higher
4 (d) the principle of feeling, of emotion and desire KAMA
3 (e) the life force PRANA
2 (f) the vehicle of subtle matter LINGA SARIRA
1 (g) the physical body STHULA SARIRA


The numbering applied is that used in the classical literature. The divide between Higher and Lower Manas is named the 'Antahkarana' (Skt.)  or 'bridge' between lower and higher. It is a source of confusion that later Theosophical writers adopted different schemes; in particular, erroneously placing principles above Atma. [Editor: Geoffrey argued in his article on The Etheric Double (link to article) that this is a grave error.]

Items (a) to (c) are formless and not of time and space, as we know them and so far as man is concerned constitute a virtually immortal 'soul'. This is the reincarnating entity, an Ego which slowly gathers spiritual content from the experience of each of the successive personalities that it inhabits one after another, at long intervals (some centuries normally). [Editor: in Theosophy it is necessary to distinguish between Ego and ego, as the former relates only to those principles as identified by Geoffrey as (i, below)]

Items (d) to (g) are the principles of the mortal man, the personality which we see and know, wherein some part of the mind principle (c) becomes very closely linked with the feeling principle.

For evolutionary purposes we regard man as threefold (i) Spiritual; items (a) + (b) + part of (c); (ii) psychic, (d) + part of (c)): and (iii) physical, (e) + (f) + (g).

The life waves represented by the kingdoms of nature and indicating large evolutionary stages of development of form, had by correspondence similar stages of development on the previous chain of globes to ours. This is said to have been a chain of which the moon, then a living planet, was the physical globe.

We now have enough postulated data to have an understanding of the process whereby man comes to the earth and how he develops on it.

We have said that at present he is in the Fifth root Race, of the Fourth Round. This means there have been four root-Races so far on our planet. Two of these have entirely passed away but there are many representatives of the remaining physical body types of the last two still on earth.

Remembering our second fundamental postulate that the astral preceded, as a model for it, the physical body, we can now say something of how the First Race arose in this our fourth Round. What happened before this Round we can only surmise from what we know of this one. The law of correspondences applies always but this is not simple because of the operation of the Law of cycles - cycles within cycles - larger or smaller in terms of creatures or phases of development, all interrelated.

The stages of development of creatures - with their forms and faculties, are paralleled in the inner worlds. Groups of entities, whether materialised or not, comprise hierarchies of beings. Humanity, as a whole is such a hierarchy.There are others above, i.e. further developed than man, and others below man, down to rudimentary beings that are virtually without form. These are often referred to as gods and angels on the one hand, and nature spirits, elementals etc. on the other.

Coming at last to man in the First root Race (4th Round) on our globe, we read;

"Subservient to eternal law, the pure gods could only project out of themselves shadowy men, a little less ethereal and spiritual, less divine and perfect than themselves - shadows still. The first humanity, therefore, was a pale copy of its progenitors; too material, even in its ethereality, to be a hierarchy of gods; too spiritual and pure to be MEN, endowed as it is with every negative (Nirguna) perfection."[2]

A little previously we read:

"Each class of creators endows man with what it has to give. The one builds the external form; the other gives him its essence, which later on becomes the Human Higher Self (principles (a) (b) and upper (c) ) owing to personal exertion of the individual.”

"It is from the material Worlds that descend they, who fashion physical man at the new Manvantavas (periods of world activity). They are inferior Lha (spirits) possessed of a dual body (an astral within our ethereal, form); They are the fashioners and creators of our body of illusion"[3]

In these quoted passages we have reference to the beings from the moon that transferred to earth at an appropriate time to give man his form. In this first Race it [form] was ethereal. It is explained in The Secret Doctrine (Vol.II p.737) how the astral can become merged with the ethereal to produce a form, as in spiritualistic materialisations.

It is also explained (Vol.II p.45) how it is that men, produced from lunar ‘ancestors’ must be mortal. They cannot be otherwise without the redemptive faculties of mind, which to begin with they lacked. The first Race men were - so to say - overshadowed by their Spiritual principles (a) and (b) but (c), the mind, was lacking.

The First Race, we are told never came to an end as such. Its individuals merged into and became those of the Second Race:

"This is the mysterious process of transformation and evolution of mankind. The material of the first forms - shadowy, ethereal, and negative - was drawn or absorbed into, and thus became the complement of the forms of the Second Race. ... its "men" (of the first Race) melted gradually away, becoming absorbed in the bodies of their own 'sweat-born’ progeny, more solid than their own. ... the new form, more human and physical ... the first or parent material was used for the formation of the new being, its form the body, and even the inner or lower principles ... of the progeny.”[4]

The First Race was then mindless and ethereal on an astral pattern as regards form. It was said to be possessed of the sense of hearing.

The Second Race were also mindless, boneless, moon-coloured and they were described as "composed of the most heterogeneous gigantic semi-human monsters - the first attempts of material nature at building human bodies.”[5]

They had hearing and developed touch - they reproduced themselves by a process analogous to cell division, fission, at first and then by one like budding. The later Second Race individuals were referred to as sweat-born exuded out of their parents.

Each of these first two Root Races had its seven sub races - and the Racial development was exceedingly slow. Speech had its very early origins in the Second Race[6]

With the coming of the Third Race, individuals were still sweat-born, but later a bone structure was developed and the method of reproduction was by eggs. They became egg-born and the individuals became androgynous or hermaphrodite. At a later stage still, about half-way through the life of the Race - some 18 million years ago, it is said: - the sexes divided. These methods of reproduction are still reflected in the formation of a human embryo.[7]

Early Third Race man is described as a "Titan of the secondary age" ... "a being fit to fight as successfully with the then gigantic monsters of the air, sea and land, as his forefathers, the ethereal prototype of the Atlantean (Fourth Race) - had little need to fear that which could not hurt him."[8] "This race could live with equal ease in water, air or fire, for it had unlimited control over the elements."[9]

By far the most important event that took place in the Third Race was the advent of mind. Just as man's form came from the projected shadows (astral double) of the Lunar Pitris (progenitors) so his mind had to come from entities who had developed it in previous planetary chains. These beings have many names, Sons of Mind, Sons of Wisdom, Sons of Mahat (Universal Mind), Solar Pitris (as distinct from Lunar Pitris who give form), Manasaputras (from manas, mind).

The coming of mind coincided with the separation of the sexes. The story of Adam and Eve may refer to both events. They acquired the knowledge of good and evil.

The Secret Doctrine also says:

"The legend of the 'Fallen Angels' in its esoteric signification, contains the key to the manifold contradictions of human character: it points to the secret of man's self-consciousness; it is the angle-iron on which hinges his entire life-cycle; - the history of his evolution and growth.

On a firm grasp of this doctrine depends the correct understanding of esoteric anthropogenesis. It gives a clue to the vexed question of the Origin of Evil; and shows how man himself is the separator of the ONE in various contrasted aspects."[10]

"Living Fire was needed, that fire which gives the human mind its self-perception and self-consciousness, or Manas"[11].

It is the mind that gives man his true individuality.

It is at this point that we should note our third postulate (c) that man in this Round preceded every mammalian in the animal kingdom. He was on this globe first in this Round as an etheric shell surrounding an Astral model. It must be said, however, that animal forms including mammalian, had been generated during previous Rounds. Man's form does derive from them but his physical lineage is not from the anthropoid apes. Rather it is they who descend from him. It is said that during the Fourth Race, men mated with females of the mindless races who gave birth to monsters. Some of these were fair but still mindless. Again Fourth Race men mated with them. It is from the descendents of these matings that the present anthropoids have come.

It is explained concerning the move up from animals to men that whereas the door to the human kingdom shut in the middle of the Third Race, the dumb races so-called may still become men on this planet because they are already half human.[12]

Another point of interest is that the early Third Race was cyclopean. It had one central eye. For a time later it had three eyes; then the third eye atrophied. It is said that our pineal gland is the vestigial remains of it. Its quickening by occult training bestows clairvoyance of a high order. It is man's spiritual eye, the organ of his spiritual perception.

The Third Race developed speech[13] and sight, adding that sense to hearing and touch. Towards the end of the Third Race man's stature lessened but it was still huge compared with modern man.

The Fourth Race is spoken of as coming into being as follows:

"Thus two by two, on the seven zones, the Third Race gave birth to the Fourth (Race men). ... Thus the Fourth Race Atlanteans were developed from a nucleus of Northern Lemurian Third Race Men, centred, roughly speaking, toward a point of land in what is now mid-Atlantic Ocean."[14]

Lemuria was the name given to a vast continental land mass that occupied generally a large part of the Indian and parts of the Pacific Oceans, and was the home of most of the Third Race, Atlantis was a continental land mass which occupied much of the Atlantic Ocean and was the home of the Fourth Race. Lemuria was said to have been destroyed by fire. Atlantis was destroyed by flood, the main part according to the occult records disappearing 850,000 years ago.[15]

During the Fourth Race man's stature decreased as the sub races came and went. The sense of taste was developed and sight by means of two eyes refined.[16]

" ... it was the Fourth Race only which was the first completely human species, however, much larger in size than we are now."[17]

The development of the human body reached its zenith in the Fourth Race[18] Their civilisation reached great heights.

The Atlanteans however, abused their powers and many became sorcerers[19] their continent was destroyed, but not before a nucleus of good men had escaped with their great initiate leaders.[20] Of the Atlantians some were yellow, some brown, some black and some red - some of all of these remained.[21]

"All holy saved, the unholy destroyed. With them most of the huge animals produced from the sweat of the earth."[22]

"The Fifth Race produced from Holy Stock (remained). It was ruled by Her First Divine Kings."[23]

"Our Fifth Root-Race has already been in existence - as a race sui generis and quite free from its parent stem - about 1,000,000 years."[24]

"The Aryan (first sub-race of the Fifth Race) race was born and developed in the far north, though after the sinking of the continent of Atlantis its tribes emigrated farther south into Asia"[25]

The earth has moved several times on its axis, so that the far north as it is now did not then suffer the present rigorous climate.

In our classification of the principles of man, principles (a) and (b), Spirit and its Vehicle, constitute together what is referred to as Monad, the one life essence pervading everything in the universe. For purposes of manifestation it becomes "the lives". These lives move up in great waves, in the scale of being. Individually they are referred to as Monads, particularly is this the case with man when his higher mental principle individualises, so to speak, something of principle (b), (technically referred to as Buddhi. Principle (a) is Atma).

The Monads which now inform terrestrial humanity came (after a long period of blissful rest) from the moon. It is these Monads that have progressed through all the Races and sub-races on Earth, and now are the essential Selves, the Divine Units, of all present time humanity. The Race types provide them with bodies of various characteristics, and a collective and individual Karma, accordingly. Each individual’s Karma i.e. what he suffers or enjoys in life by way of his body, its original state and condition, his early circumstances in life, are all determined by unerring universal law in its aspects of action and reaction, cause and effect.

In cyclic development there are periods of descent, for example of Spirit into matter, and periods of ascent of the evolution of the potentialities of Spirit.

"In our present all-material Fifth Race, the earthly Spirit of the Fourth is still strong in us; but we are approaching the time when the pendulum of evolution will direct its swing decidedly upwards, bringing humanity back on a parallel line with the primitive third Root-Race in Spirituality. During its childhood, mankind was composed wholly of that Angelic Host, who were the indwelling Spirits that animated the monstrous and gigantic tabernacles of clay of the Fourth Race - built by (as they are now also) and composed of countless myriads of lives"[26]

Now earlier we said that mankind developed his faculties, not only his senses, as he journeys round the great cycles of earth life. In the Fourth Round, there is emphasis on his feeling (Kamic) development but in the Fifth Race, superimposed on that, emphasis is a secondary one of mind (manas), But note:-

"We are only in the Fourth Round, and it is in the Fifth Round that the full development of Manas, as a direct ray from the Universal MAHAT - a ray unimpeded by matter - will be finally reached."[27]

To keep the narrative as simple as possible we have not explained till now that each major plane of existence has seven sub-planes, each itself reflecting the characteristics of corresponding major plane. Similarly each Root-Race has seven-subraces. Each sub-race has a development programme to fulfil. The Anglo-Saxon peoples at present constitute the fifth sub-race of the Fifth Root Race. The emphasis therefore is again on mental (the fifth principle) development.

With the Fifth Race, the fifth sense, smell, has been developed, and our stature has reduced to its present levels. [Various racial colours are included in the fifth race].

What of the sixth sub-race and the Sixth Root Race? The Secret Doctrine says the sixth sub-race is already formed in America. It has yet of course to develop its characteristics. These will reflect something of the nature of man's 6th principle, the vehicle of spirit - (Buddhi) .Some prophecies concerning the Sixth Race and the Seventh are made in The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p.444-6.

What about man's future senses and faculties?

"The faculties, or what is perhaps the best available term, the characteristics of matter, must clearly bear a direct relation always to the senses of man. Matter has extension, colour, motion (molecular motion), taste and smell, corresponding to the existing senses of man, and by the time that it fully develops the next characteristic - let us call it for the moment PERMEABILITY - this will correspond to the next sense of man - let us call it 'NORMAL CLAIRVOYANCE' ."[28]

And so the story goes on - ever unfolding. Just as there are no absolute beginnings, so there are no endings. This paper obviously much uncompleted is just to whet the appetite of the student seeker after Truth.


^1 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p1
^2 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p.95
^3 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p.57
^4 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p.121
^5 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p.138
^6 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p.198
^7 There are references to the development of the reproductive process in humans in The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p.131/2 & 165-7.
^8 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p.9
^9 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p.220
^10 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p.274
^11 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p.102
^12 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p.182
^13 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p.198-200
^14 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p.333/4
^15 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p.332
^16 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p.769
^17 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p.227
^18 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p.319
^19 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p.762
^20 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p.423/4
^21 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p.351
^22 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p.349/50
^23 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p.351
^24 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p.435
^25 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p.768
^26 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p.224/5
^27 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p.300
^28 H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine Vol.II p.251


Previously unpublished, this 2012 web vesion is a full, slightly edited, version of an undated typed document originally given by the author, in the early 1970s, to the then President of Torbay Lodge of the Theosophical Society. The Blavatsky Trust 2012

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