Seven Principles

By Dewald Bester on at

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    Dewald Bester

    I came across this in HBP’s complete works – edited by A. Trevor Barker – vol. iv. 1882 – 1883. Article – The septenary principle in esotericism’. This is also in the BCW. She writes, “The Atma Boddhi or ‘knowledge of soul’, a tract written by the great Sankaracharya, speaks distinctly of the seven principles in man (see fourteenth verse).” She goes on to mention the 5 ‘sheaths’ and then the ‘divine monad’ – the Atman and Buddhi – 6th and 7th principles. (This is an important article and there is quite a bit here. But what interested me now was just this short section as an illustration of how HPB engages a text). I am not a sanskritist.

    5 sheaths, and Buddhi and Atman (the monad) = 7 principles.
    She says the text ‘speaks distinctly”.

    This is the Atmabodha (Self-Knowledge) – I referenced the translation by Swami Nihkilananda – Sri Ramakrishana Math, n.d. The fourteenth verse reads(I dont offer the sanskrit) – “On account of union with the five sheaths, the pure Atman appears to be like them, as is the case with a crystal, which appears to be endowed with such colours as blue or red when in contact with a blue or red cloth”.

    At a quick glance I did not notice this verse discussed in Spierenburg’s – The Vedanta Commentaries of HP Blavatsky.

    I just dont see here the text speaking distinctly of 7 principles. I see 5 and Atman. I can see how HPB gets 7, but this appears to be an ‘insertion’ or interpretation of what is there. It is the word ‘distinctly’ which throws me. I am otherwise happy for HPB to interpret a text according to her school.

    On page 157 of SDI (the table), HPB unfolds or obtains the 7 principles from the 6 in different way to the text above.

    I have become a little obsessed with structural patterns in HPB. In the SD table HPB equates the Anandamaya kosa with Buddi. The translators of the Atmabodha text seem to equate vijnanamaya kosa with buddhi. (not the same equivalencies as HPB is presenting).

    My question really is:
    The principles are not distinctly stated in the text. Is there something in the sanskrit?
    HPB ‘obtain’ the 7 principles from the 6 stated, but in 2 different ways in 2 different places in her works. Is this a concern?

    Does anyone have a good reference to a discussion of the constitution of the human being in Vedanta philosophy? Has this been discussed in a Theosophical source?

    These little ambiguities bother me somehow and I think consistency is called for somehow. If the TS is going to present itself as an interpretive school of religion we are going to have to work through this type of thing.



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