The Nature of Pralaya

We can view pralaya as the work of “abstraction,” and as the method which brings the form under the Destroyer aspect of Spirit, working ever under the Law of Attraction, of which the Law of Synthesis is but a branch. The basic law of the system is that which governs the relation of all atoms to the aggregate of atoms, and of the Self to the Not-self. It is (from the occult standpoint) the most powerful force-demonstration in the system, and should the law inconceivably cease to work, instantaneously the system and all forms therein, planetary, human and other would cease to be. By an act of will the planetary schemes persist, by an act of will the system is; by an act of the egoic will man appears. When the Will of the Logos, of the Heavenly Man, and of the human divine Ego is turned to other ends, the substance of Their vehicles is affected, and disintegration sets in. The five types of pralaya which concern the human unit are as follows:

(1) The Period of Pralaya between two Incarnations

This is of a triple nature and affects the substance of the three vehicles, physical, astral and mental, reducing the form to its primitive substance, and dissipating its atomic structure. The energy of the second aspect (that of the form-builder) is withdrawn by the will of the Ego, and the atoms composing the form become dissociated from each other, and are resolved into the reservoir of essence to be recollected again when the hour strikes. This condition is brought about gradually by stages of which we are aware.

The first stage is the withdrawal of the life force in the etheric vehicle from the threefold (dense, liquid and gaseous) dense physical body and the consequent “falling into corruption,” and becoming “scattered to the elements.” Objective man fades out, and is no more seen by the physical eye, though still in his etheric body. When etheric vision is developed, the thought of death will assume very different proportions. When a man can be seen functioning in his etheric physical body by the majority of the race, the dropping of the dense body will be considered just a “release.”

The next stage is the withdrawal of the life force from the etheric body or coil, and its devitalization. The etheric coil is but an extension of one aspect of the sutratma or thread, and this thread is spun by the Ego from within the causal body much as a spider spins a thread. It can be shortened or extended at will, and when the period of pralaya has been decided upon, this thread of light, or of solar fire (note the word “solar”) is withdrawn, and gathered back to the atomic subplane where it will still vitalize the permanent atom and hold it connected within the causal body. The life impulses are then – as far as the physical plane is concerned – centralized within the atomic sphere.

The third stage is the withdrawal of the life force from so that it disintegrates in a similar manner and the life is centralized within the astral permanent atom. It has gained an increase of vitality through physical plane existence, and added color through astral experience.

The final stage for the human atom is its withdrawal from the mental vehicle. The life forces after this fourfold abstraction are centralized entirely within the egoic sphere; contact with the three lower planes is still inherently possible by means of the permanent atoms, the force centers of the three personality aspects.

In each incarnation the life forces have gained through the utilization of the vehicles,

  • An increased activity, which is stored in the physical permanent atom.
  • An added coloring, which is stored in the astral permanent atom.
  • A developed quality of strength, or purpose in action, which is stored in the mental unit.

These are wrought into faculty in devachan.

Devachan 45, 46 is a state of consciousness, reflecting, in the life of the Personality, that higher state which we call nirvanic consciousness, and which is brought about by egoic action. It is but a dim reflection in the separated units (and therefore tinged with selfishness and separative pleasure) of the group condition called nirvanic. In this high state of consciousness each separate identity, though self-realizing, shares in the group realization, and therein lies bliss for the unit. Separation is no longer felt, only unity and essential oneness is known. Therefore, as might be naturally deduced, there is no devachan for the savage or little evolved man, as they merit it not, and have not the mentality to realize it; hence, therefore, the rapidity of their incarnations, and the brevity of the pralayic period. There is little in their case for the Ego, on its own plane, to assimilate in the residue of incarnations, and hence the life principle withdraws rapidly from out of the mental form, with the resulting impulse of the Ego to reincarnate almost immediately.

When the life of the personality has been full and rich, yet has not reached the stage wherein the personal self can consciously cooperate with the ego, periods of personality “nirvana” are undergone, their length depending upon the interest of the life, and the ability of the man to meditate upon experience. Later, when the Ego dominates the personality life, the interest of the man is raised to higher levels, and the nirvana of the soul becomes his goal. He has no interest in devachan. Therefore, those upon the Path (either the probationary Path, or the Path of Initiation) do not, as a rule, go to devachan, but immediate incarnation becomes the rule in the turning of the wheel of life; this time it is brought about by the conscious cooperation of the personal Self with the divine Self or Ego.


45 Devachan. ” ‘Who goes to Devachan?’ The personal Ego, of course, but beatified, purified, holy. Every Ego – the combination of the sixth and seventh principles – which, after the period of unconscious gestation is reborn into the Devachan, is of necessity as innocent and pure as a newborn babe. The fact of his being reborn at all shows the preponderance of good over evil in his old personality. And while the Karma (of evil) steps aside for the time being to follow him in his future earth-reincarnation, he brings along with him but the Karma of his good deeds, words, and thoughts into this Devachan. ‘Bad’ is a relative term for us – as you were told more than once before, – and the Law of Retribution is the only law that never errs. Hence all those who have not slipped down Into the mire of unredeemable sin and bestiality – go to the Devachan. They will have to pay for their sins, voluntary and involuntary, later on. Meanwhile they are rewarded; receive the effects of the causes produced by them.”

“Of course it is a state, one, so to say, of intense selfishness during which an Ego reaps the reward of his unselfishness on earth. He is completely engrossed in the bliss of all his personal earthly affections, preferences, thoughts, and gathers in the fruit of his meritorious actions. No pain, no grief nor even the shadow of a sorrow comes to darken the bright horizon of his unalloyed happiness; for, it its a state of perpetual ‘Maya’. …Since the conscious perception of one’s personality on earth is but an evanescent dream that sense will be equally that of a dream in the Devachan – only a hundredfold intensified.”

‘Bardo’ is the period between death and rebirth – and may last from a few years to a kalpa. It is divided into three subperiods

    (1) when the Ego delivered of its mortal coil enters into Kama-Loka (the abode of Elementaries);

    (2) when it enters into ‘Gestation State’;

    (3) when it is reborn in the Rupa-Loka of Devachan.

Subperiod (1) may last from a few minutes to a number of years – the phrase ‘a few years’ becoming puzzling and utterly worthless without a more complete explanation; Subperiod 2nd is ‘very long’; as you say, longer sometimes than you may even imagine, yet proportionate to the Ego’s spiritual stamina; Subperiod 3rd lasts in proportion to the good Karma, after which the monad is again reincarnated.”

“…Every effect must be proportionate to the cause. And, as man’s terms of incarnate existence bear but a small proportion to his periods of inter-natal existence in the manvantaric cycle, so the good thoughts, words, and deeds of any one of these ‘lives’ on a globe are causative of effects, the working out of which requires far more time than the evolution of the causes occupied.”

– From Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, pp. 100-105-106.

46 Devachan. A state intermediate between two earth lives into which the Ego enters after its separation from its lower aspects or sheaths


(2) The Period between Egoic Cycles

Herein is hid the mystery of the 777 incarnations and concerns the relation of the unit to his group on the egoic plane, prior to the unfoldment of the fifth petal. It concerns man in the period between the savage stage and that of the disciple, when he is an average man but still in the two Halls. The mystery of all root races lies here, and the egoic cycles coincide with the building of racial forms, and civilizations. A man will reincarnate again and again in the various subraces of a root race until a certain cycle has been covered; then he may undergo a pralayic condition until in a later (and sometimes much later) root race he will respond to its vibratory call, and the egoic impulse to incarnate will again be felt. In illustration of this, we should bear in mind that the more advanced humanity of today did not incarnate until the fourth root race. These cycles are one of the mysteries of initiation, though one of the earlier mysteries, and are revealed at the second initiation as they enable the initiate to comprehend his position, to see somewhat the nature of the karmic impulse, and to read his own record in the astral light.

These might be considered the two lesser pralayic periods and concern primarily life in the three worlds.

(3) Next comes the period wherein the man has attained freedom.

A man has at this stage succeeded, under law, in “abstracting” himself, the freed soul, from out of the matter of the three worlds. He has used and worked with deva substance and has gained all the vibratory contact possible, and has secured all the intended “realizations” and “revelations”; he can no longer be held imprisoned by the devas. He is free until, consciously and willingly, and in another round, he can return as a member of a Hierarchy to continue His work of service for the little evolved humanity of that distant time. As this concerns the seven paths of opportunity for a Master we will not deal with it here. This is the great human pralaya.

(4) Planetary Pralaya

Man, after these cyclic happenings, is now a conscious part of his group, and a vibrant point in a center in the body of a Heavenly Man, consciously alive and consciously aware of his place in the great whole. This involves a realization as to the center of which he is a point of energy, a knowledge of the type of force he is to transmit, and to manipulate from cosmic levels, and a conscious relation with the six other centers in the planetary Life with which he is associated.

This period of conscious activity in etheric substance (of which the planetary body is formed) persists according to the karma of the planetary Lord, for the unit is now consciously associated with planetary karma, and is a participant in the working out of the will and purpose of the Lord of His Ray. On the higher planes of the system, this stage persists for the length of the life of a scheme; to which a period of pralaya succeeds that has its beginning towards the end of the seventh round in any scheme or of the fifth if the Law of Persistence of a scheme is working out through cycles of five. I am here generalizing and speaking in broad terms; the karma of the units differ and a man – according to the path he chooses after the fifth initiation – stays and works within his own scheme, but changes may occur through the following factors:

  • Planetary karma.
  • The will of the Lord of his Ray.
  • Orders emanating from the solar Logos which are conveyed to him after liberation via the planetary Logos and through the medium of the chohan of his Ray.

He is then “abstracted” under a mysterious planetary law which only works on cosmic etheric levels, and is transferred to his destination. If we interpret all the above in terms of energy and of radioactivity and thus avoid the dangers of materialistic interpretation, the meaning will become clearer.


Excerpted from:

“A Treatise on Cosmic Fire – Section Two – Division D – Thought Elementals and Fire Elementals”

By Alice Bailey and Djwhal Kuhl


The Mayavirupa is literally the illusory form; it is the body of temporary manifestation which the Adept creates on occasion through the power of the will and in which He functions in order to make certain contacts on the physical plane and to engage in certain work for the [human] race.  CF 761

Mayavi Rupa.  Sanskrit, “Illusive Form.”  It is the body of manifestation created by the adept by an act of will for use in the three worlds.  It has no material connection with the physical body.  It is spiritual and ethereal and passes everywhere without let or hindrance.  It is built by the power of the lower mind, of the highest type of astral matter.  IHS 221

…The stage wherein–after the fourth initiation–there is direct unbroken relation between the Monad, via the Triad, and the form which the Master is using to do His work among men.  This form may be either His temporary personality, arrived at along the normal lines of incarnation, or the specially created form to which Theosophists give the technical but cumbersome word “mayavirupa.”  It is the “true mask, hiding the radiant light and the dynamic energy of a revealed Son of God.”  RI 50-51

He [the initiate] can work through a physical body (with its subtler sheaths) or not, as he sees fit. He realizes that he, as an individual, no longer needs a physical body or an astral consciousness, and that the mind is only a service instrument. The body in which he now functions is a body of light which has its own type of substance. The Master, however, can build a body through which He can approach His incoming disciples and those who have not taken the higher initiations; He will normally build this body in semblance of the human form, doing so instantaneously and by an act of the will, when required. The majority of the Masters who are definitely working with humanity either preserve the old body in which They took the fifth initiation or else They build the “mayavirupa” or body of maya, of physical substance. This body will appear in the original form in which They took initiation. This I personally did in reference to the first case; i.e., preserving the body in which I took initiation.  This the Master K.H. did in creating a body which was made in the form in which He took the fifth initiation.  RI 705

The Master Jesus on the Cross could not respond to any saving process (even had He desired to do so) because the soul body–as is always the case at the fourth initiation–was destroyed; there was nothing to respond to the evocative power of an outside person, interested or loving.  As an adept and as one in whom monadic consciousness was firmly established, the powers then available to Jesus could not be used in the saving of His physical body.  At the same time, it must be remembered that He would have no desire to save it, because He now possessed the power (demonstrated later in the Gospel story) to create a body at will in order to meet His needs.  EH 654

Some of the Masters will create what is called in the language of the East the “mayavirupa”–a vehicle of expression which is built of atomic physical and astral substance and of concrete mental substance. This They can create at will, use at will and cause to vanish at will; Their problem is not, therefore, so acute in the matter of appearing and of reappearing as is that of the initiate who cannot thus create to suit his purpose and his service.  EX 697

Applicants for initiation and initiates up to the third initiation use both the sutratma and the antahkarana, employing them as a unit.  The power of the Triad begins to pour through, thus energizing all human activities upon the physical plane, and vitalizing in ever increasing degree the man’s thought forms.  The key to the formation of the Mayavirupa is found in the right comprehension of the process.  CF 959-960 [See also: ENA 31]

The three aspects of the will, as focused in the Spiritual Triad, are now in full expression; the initiate is animated by Purpose, but faces still greater evolutionary developments; of these I do not need to speak, as they concern divine aspects as yet unknown and unregistered by man.  The reason for this complete ignorance is that the vehicles of any man below the third initiation contain too much “impure matter” to record the impact of these divine qualities.  Only the “created body” (the mayavirupa) of an initiate of the fourth initiation can begin to register these divine impacts; it is therefore a waste of our time to consider even the possibility of their existence.  RI 317

The soul then prepares itself for the coming fourth initiation.  This is basically a monadic experience and results–as you know–in the disappearance or destruction of the soul vehicle or causal body, and the establishment, therefore, of a direct relation between the monad on its own plane and the newly created personality, via the antahkarana.  EH 518

The causal body is itself eventually done away with when the pupil takes the fourth initiation and can freely create his own body of manifestation.  LOM 275

In the mode whereby the liberated disciple can now create a body for physical plane contact and for service in the three worlds–this time not under the Law of Necessity but under the Law of Service, as understood by the initiate.  EH 505

The fourth initiation marks the complete realization of this relation by the initiate.  It enables him to say:  “I and my Father are one.”  It is for this reason that the crucifixion, or the Great Renunciation, takes place.  Forget not that it is the soul that is crucified.  It is Christ Who “dies.”  It is not the man; it is not Jesus.  The causal body disappears.  The man is monadically conscious.  The soul-body no longer serves any useful purpose; it is no more needed.  Nothing is left but the sutratma, qualified by consciousness–a consciousness which still preserves identity whilst merged in the whole.  Another qualification is creativity; thus consciousness can be focussed at will on the physical plane in an outer body or form.  This body is will-created by the Master.  RI 455

When the antahkarana is built, and the mental unit is superseded by the manasic permanent atom, and the causal body disappears, then the adept knows that the lower mind, the mental body, is also an illusion and is, for him, non-existent.  There are then–as far as his individual consciousness is concerned–only three focal points or anchorages (both of these expressions are inadequate to express the full meaning):

1. Humanity, in which he can focus himself at will through the medium of what is called technically the “mayavirupa”–a bodily form which he creates for the fulfillment of monadic purpose.  RI 481

At the fourth initiation, the initiate is brought into the Presence of that aspect of Himself which is called “His Father in Heaven.”  He is brought face to face with his own Monad, that pure spiritual essence on the highest plane but one, which is to his Ego or higher self what that Ego is to the personality or lower self….For the remainder of his appearances in the three worlds he is governed only by will and purpose, self-initiated, and creates his body of manifestation, and thus controls (within karmic limits) his own times and seasons.  The karma here referred to is planetary karma, and not personal.  IHS 117

This marks the fourth Initiation; after that Initiation, the Adept makes for Himself a body of manifestation, a free creation–there is nothing in Him to call into objectivity a body for use in the three worlds and evolved under the Law of Causes.  LOM 11

The intuition (or buddhi) being the unifying principle and thus welding all, at the fourth initiation the lower vehicles go, and the adept stands in his intuitional body, and creates from thence his body of manifestation.  LOM 339

Since buddhi is the unifying principle (or the welder of all), at the fifth initiation the adept lets the lower vehicles go, and stands in his buddhic sheath.  He creates thence his body of manifestation.  IHS 16-17

It must be remembered that a Master has no personality at all.  His divine nature is all that He has.  The form through which He works (if he is working through and living in a physical vehicle) is a created image, the product of a focussed will and the creative imagination; it is not the product of desire, as in the case of a human being.  This is an important distinction and one which warrants careful thinking.  The lesser lives (which are governed by the Moon) have been dispersed.  They no longer respond to the ancient call of the reincarnating soul, which again and again has gathered to itself the lives which it has touched and colored by its quality in the past.  The soul and the causal body no longer exist by the time the fourth initiation is undergone.  What is left is the Monad and the thread, the antahkarana which it has spun out of its own life and consciousness down the ages and which it can focus at will upon the physical plane, where it can create a body of pure substance and radiant light for all that the Master may require.  This will be a perfect body, utterly adapted to the need, the plan and the purpose of the Master.  None of the lesser lives (as we understand the term) form part of it, for they can only be summoned by desire.  In the Master there is no desire left, and this is the thought held before the disciple as he begins to master the significance of the fourth Rule.  RI 101

If the deva, or solar Angel, is no longer attracted by matter, then there is no identification, and objective life is no longer the law of his existence.  He identifies himself then with quality, or energy, and becomes an expression of the divine attributes.  Objectivity may then ensue as a voluntary offering to the good of the group or planetary existence, but identification with the separated form is no longer the case.  The human vehicle then created is as much a thought form in this case as any other particularized idea, and the greatest act of conscious magic is to be seen.  All other magical creations are subsidiary to this.  Through manipulation of negative and positive energy, thus bringing them to the point of equilibrium before informing them, the perfected body of the Adept is formed.  CF 1013-1014

In the case of all avatars it is the will aspect which is brought into play, and which produces appearance–either the will of the perfected adept, such as the Buddha Himself, or (as in the case of the true Avatar, Who is, and Who has not achieved) the will of the planetary Logos or of the solar Logos, taking form for a specific purpose.  It involves a higher display of the creative faculty than that displayed by the Adept in the creation of His body of manifestation, the Mayavirupa.  CF 760-761