Fohat is spoken of several times in the stanzas we have from the Book of Dzyan. The term fohat has not yet been identified, nor can the idea that it represents be readily identified in extant cosmogonic texts. We were therefore happy to find that, after T. Subba Row in his lectures on the Bhagavad-gītā equated fohat with daivī prakṛti (which he called the light of the Logos), the hitherto secret Praṇava-vāda emerged giving a full explanation of devī prakṛti. This book was dictated from memory by the blind pandit Dhanarāja to Bhagavan Das and two associates in 1900-1901. In 1910 to 1913 a summarized English translation of the Praṇava-vāda made by Bhagavan Das was published in three volumes, and in 1915 and 1919 two volumes of the Sanskrit text were published (we still await the third). While the term daivī prakṛti can be found in the Bhagavad-gītā (chapter 9, verse 13), it is not there used in a cosmogonic sense, as it is used in the Praṇava-vāda, and as fohat is used in the Book of Dzyan. A full translation of the explanation of devī prakṛti from the Praṇava-vāda will be of considerable use in understanding fohat in the Book of Dzyan.
Bhagavan Das, in his preface to his summarized translation of the Praṇava-vāda, tells us that this book was written in an obscure and archaic form of Sanskrit. Referring to the blind pandit Dhanarāja who later dictated this book from memory to Bhagavan Das and his two associates, he writes: “At my further request, he repeated a paragraph in the middle of which occurred, like an islet in a stream, the four words recognisable to me [aham etan nāsmi], while on both sides thereof were masses of what was to me then entirely unintelligible language.” (vol. 1, p. lii). “As the writing proceeded my understanding of the archaic Samskṛt improved, . . .” (p. liv). “Although, on repeated reading, the language of the work becomes, generally speaking, intelligible, yet the precise sense remains often obscure and indefinable.” (p. lvii). For obvious reasons, then, my full translation of the Sanskrit text of the passage on devī prakṛti draws heavily on the summarized translation by Bhagavan Das. Because of the unique value of this material, it was thought worthwhile to provide a complete translation of it, following the Sanskrit as closely as English would allow.
As may be seen, the explanation of devī prakṛti in the Praṇava-vāda closely matches Blavatsky’s explanation of fohat in The Secret Doctrine. Blavatsky refers to fohat as dynamic energy and as guiding power. Both energy and power are common translations of the Sanskrit word śakti, used to define devī prakṛti in the Praṇava-vāda. I have chosen “power” to translate śakti throughout, while Bhagavan Das more often translates it as “energy.” I have usually translated the same Sanskrit word with the same English word. So virodha is always “opposition” in my full translation, while in the summarized translation by Bhagavan Das he has the freedom to use “contradiction” or “opposition” in different settings. Blavatsky speaks of the opposite poles of spirit and matter, linked by fohat, as aspects of the one unity. For the one unity, the Praṇava-vāda uses the term aikya, which is translated by both Bhagavan Das and myself as “unity.” For spirit and matter, the Praṇava-vāda here uses the terms pratyag-ātman, “inner self,” and mūla-prakṛti, “root substance,” respectively. These are identified with aham, “I,” and etat, “this,” respectively, of the mahā-vākya or great saying, aham etan na, “I this not.” The na, “not,” refers to the relation between the “I” and the “this,” which is one of negation. These three words correspond to the “a,” “u,” and “m” that make up the sacred syllable “om,” the praṇava. This brief saying describes the entire world-process, and its three elements are the three aspects found in many cosmogonies. The idea of devī prakṛti is something in addition to these three, resulting from the necessity (āvaśyaka) of the opposition or contrast between the two poles of the one unity when the universe comes into manifestation.
The Secret Doctrine on Fohat
[The Secret Doctrine, 1888, vol. 1, p. 16.]
But just as the opposite poles of subject and object, spirit and matter, are but aspects of the One Unity in which they are synthesized, so, 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. 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. Thus from Spirit, or Cosmic Ideation, comes our consciousness; from Cosmic Substance the several vehicles in which that consciousness is individualised and attains to self—or reflective—consciousness; while Fohat, in its various manifestations, is the mysterious link between Mind and Matter, the animating principle electrifying every atom into life.
The Praṇava-vāda on Devī Prakṛti
[Note: All five published volumes of the Praṇava-vāda, the three volumes of the summarized English translation and the two very rare volumes of the Sanskrit edition, have been scanned by me and posted here with the Sanskrit Texts, under Suddha Dharma Mandala Texts. The following is translated from the Sanskrit volume 2, pp. 210-211, with reference to the summarized English volume 2, pp. 234-235.]
. . . Thus, everything is to be understood as included in the letter “a,” the letter “u,” and the letter “m,” which are conjoined with “I,” “this,” “not.”
So also, as the necessity of the opposition of the unity of “I” and “this,” there is devī prakṛti (the “shining nature”). This is the power (śakti) described as the letter “i” dwelling between the letter “a” and the letter “u” [of aum]. It may be seen that the opposition of two things rooted in one is a matter of necessity, because the unnecessary is non-existent; and because this is non-existent, all is necessity. In accordance with this explanation, therefore opposition comes into existence, and this coming into existence is necessity. As thus indicated, the power in the form of the opposition of those two is devī prakṛti. In that is the manifestation/light (prakāśa) of the inner self (pratyag-ātman) and of root substance (mūla-prakṛti). Therefore:
“Included in deva-prakṛti is root substance, and included in that is the inner self; and that [deva-prakṛti] is the necessity of the two in the form of the power manifesting/illumining everything.”
. . . and so on goes the traditional statement. Devī is the power by which [something] is illumined (dīvyate). Prakṛti is inherent nature (svabhāva). Prakṛti is that by which coming-into-existence (bhavana) is very much by its own effort. Prakṛti is doing/acting (prakaraṇa), its own doing/acting (svakaraṇa). It is from the verb-root “kṛ” plus the affix “ti.” An action (karaṇa) for all is an action for itself (svakaraṇa). This is in accordance with the explanation that, due to the unity of all, itself is all. Because it is a necessity for all, its name is devī prakṛti. Therefore it is said:
“Prakṛti is twofold. Of these, one is devī prakṛti, and the second is mūla-prakṛti (root substance). The nature of mūla-prakṛti is the subject-matter of ‘this’ [etat, in the great saying, aham etan na, ‘I, this, not.’].”
. . . and so on. The double nature of devī prakṛti is to be known as necessity. It is the conjunction (yoga) of the inner self and root substance. This [conjunction] is the result of the opposition of the unity. From the Yoga-sūtra:
“In unity there is no manifestation/illumination (prakāśa) of the conjunction, etc., the conjunction being the illumining (avabhāsamāna) of object and subject, like darkness and light (prakāśa).”
As being the necessity of that conjunction, it is yoga-māyā (conjunction-illusion). As being the necessity of the manifestation/illumination of that opposition, it is māyā (illusion). That is devī prakṛti, which lights up (abhidyotayati) the inner self and root substance. Devī prakṛti is to be understood as dwelling between the two in the form of the letter “i.” That by which the manifestation/light (prakāśa) of the inner self (pratyag-ātman) and of root substance (mūla-prakṛti) occurs, the experience of the many, is to be known under the name “devī.” This devī prakṛti is māyā. Of them, the difference is as follows: When speaking of the transcendent and universal, it is māyā. When speaking of saṃsāra, the world-process, as the necessity of the opposition of the unity of “I” and “this,” and as the necessity of the opposition of the unity of “this” and “I,” it is devī prakṛti.