Gestation period

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The Gestation period is a post-mortem stage that happens after the "second death" in kama-loka and before the soul can enter Devachan. This condition is one of unconsciousness, and it is spoken of as a period of "gestation" because it precedes the birth of the "Devachanic Ego".

Early Theosophist, A. P. Sinnett, described it as follows:

When the division of, or purification of the fifth principle has been accomplished in Kama loca by the contending attractions of the fourth and sixth principles, the real Ego passes into a period of unconscious gestation . . . a spiritual ante-natal state at the entrance to spiritual life . . . and this period, in different cases, may be of very different duration--from a few moments to immense periods of years.[1]

According to H. P. Blavatsky the gestation period "lasts from a few days to several years",[2] while Mahatma K.H. wrote that it can be very long: "longer sometimes than you may even imagine, yet proportionate to the Ego's spiritual stamina".[3]

After this unconscious period of gestation, consciousness gradually awakens in Devachan:

Remembrance will return slowly and gradually . . . to the Ego at the moment of its entrance into the Devachan.[4][5]

According to Annie Besant

In the book Talks with a Class, we find Annie Besant describing this period as follows:

In some of our earliest teachings a great deal of stress was laid upon the unconscious condition into which men sink between the highest sub-plane of Kama-loka and the lowest sub-plane of Devachan, that which H. P. B. spoke of as a " laya-centre," the transition state between the two, which was neither one nor the other, and in which we were told that the man stays very long, sometimes longer than we can imagine. . . .

It is evidently a period quite necessary to the building up of the devachanic ego for the life in Devachan, and that apparently may be a very long period. Just as in the womb of the mother the body of the child is built up, so in this gestation period what you may call the body for Devachan is built up. One thing that must take place in it is the separating off of all the astral matter, however subtle that astral matter may be; that must be left behind. The man practically goes to sleep and is unconscious. During that period of unconsciousness, all that is useful which has been worked into the astral matter, that is, all the higher emotions, the astral matter connected with the whole of those modes of consciousness, is separated off from the matter through which they were expressed, or which brought them out, and the vibrations of the matter connected with those, which have been spread over the whole of the astral body of this particular phase of matter, the whole of those are directed on to the permanent atom, and the permanent atom responds, taking up the power of vibrating in these measures, and thus preserves everything for the next astral body. And all that is valuable for the higher life—the feeling of devotion, the feeling of un­selfish love, either for a person or for a cause, every­thing in your emotional life which is of a higher kind—and the whole of that must have a material basis, you must remember—the whole of that is transferred as a vibratory power to the permanent astral atom, and that in turn produces sympathetic vibrations in the mental atom, from which every one of those vibrations of the higher kind, which had been expressed in the finer matter of the astral body, is sent through the mental body, and affects the moods of the mental consciousness.

Now it is quite intelligible that that might occupy a considerable period of time, and that the more of it there is, the longer the time which will be required. . .

Another considerable part of that unconscious, or gestation, period must be spent in vivifying for separate life the mental matter which had always been vivified during the earth-life and the post­mortem life on the astral plane through the kamic elements. . . I imagine the need of that gestation period, which we have overlooked so much, is also to vivify the mental body for a separated existence, when it has lost its lifelong partner. When this kamic element is got rid of altogether, the ego in the region of bliss, or Devachan, will have the purified memory.[6]

See also


  1. Alfred Percy Sinnett, Esoteric Buddhism (San Diego, CA: Wizards Bookshelf, 1987), 96-97.
  2. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. IV (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1991), 120-121.
  3. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 68 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 194.
  4. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 104 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 362.
  5. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 104 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 362.
  6. Annie Besant, Talks with a Class, (Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1921), 54-56.