Root-Race

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Root-Race is a Theosophical concept that refers to successive evolutionary stages through which humanity goes in its pilgrimage on our physical plane. Seven of such root-races take place before completing the evolutionary cycle on this globe, the Earth.

NOTE: The term Root-Race does not refer to ethnicities or to racial concepts of the modern world.

General description

In the Theosophical view there are seven Root-Races or evolutionary cycles through which humanity evolves. Mme. Blavatsky wrote:

Every life-cycle on Globe D (our Earth) is composed of seven root-races. They commence with the Ethereal and end with the spiritual on the double line of physical and moral evolution—from the beginning of the terrestrial round to its close. (One is a “planetary round” from Globe A to Globe G, the seventh; the other, the “globe round”, or the terrestrial).[1]
Root-Races tree.gif
  1. There are seven ROUNDS in every manvantara; this one is the Fourth, and we are in the Fifth Root-Race, at present.
  2. Each Root-Race has seven sub-races.
  3. Each sub-race has, in its turn, seven ramifications, which may be called Branch or “Family” races.
  4. The little tribes, shoots, and offshoots of the last-named are countless and depend on Karmic action.

Examine the “genealogical tree” hereto appended, and you will understand. The illustration is purely diagrammatic, and is only intended to assist the reader in obtaining a slight grasp of the subject. . . .
The main stem of a tree may be compared to the root-race (A).
Its larger limbs to the various sub-races; seven in number (B1, B2).
On each of these limbs are seven branches, or family-races (C).

After this the cactus-plant is a better illustration, for its fleshy “leaves” are covered with sharp spines, each of which may be compared to a nation or tribe of human beings.[2]

Seven Root-Races

The Root-Races go through a process of cyclic evolution going from subtlety to materiality and back to subtlety:

These Races evolve from ethereality to materiality, and from the latter back again into relative physical tenuity of texture, so every living (so-called) organic species of animals with vegetation included, changes with every new Root-Race.[3]
Let us remember that the First Race is shown in Occult sciences as spiritual within and ethereal without; the second, psycho-spiritual mentally, and ethero-physical bodily; the third, still bereft of intellect in its beginning, is astro-physical in its body, and lives an inner life, in which the psycho-spiritual element is in no way interfered with as yet by the hardly nascent physiological senses.[4]

These cycles take place throughout the seven Rounds, and they vary in length:

The seven Rounds decrease and increase in their respective durations, as well as the seven races in each. Thus the 4th Rounds as well as every 4th race are the shortest, while the 1st and 7th Rounds as the 1st and 7th root races are the longest.[5]

It is important to keep in mind that the term Root-Races does not refer to ethnicities. They are different evolutionary stages humanity as a whole goes through successively. Besides, the same individuals that compose the current humanity have been reborn in all the previous Root-Races. In H. P. Blavatsky's words: "The mankind of the First Root-Race is the mankind of the second, third, fourth, fifth, etc."[6]

When coming closer to a modern concept of ethnicity, Blavatsky clearly rejected the idea of one race being intrinsically better than another. Differences between them exist, but they are only due to external conditions (culture, environment, geographical isolation, etc.) Arguing against the European concept of the time that their races were intrinsically better than the Africans, Blavatsky explained:

The Africans have never left their continent for several hundred thousands of years. If to-morrow the continent of Europe were to disappear and other lands to re-emerge instead; and if the African tribes were to separate and scatter on the face of the earth, it is they who, in about a hundred thousand years hence, would form the bulk of the civilized nations. And it is the descendants of those of our highly cultured nations, who might have survived on some one island, without any means of crossing the new seas, that would fall back into a state of relative savagery. Thus the reason given for dividing humanity into superior and inferior races falls to the ground and becomes a fallacy.[7]

Blavatsky also maintained the common origin of all races of humanity, even though they differ from each other:

The unity of the human species was accepted by the illustrious Professor of Cambridge (U.S.A.) [Professor Agassiz] in the same way as the Occultists do—namely, in the sense of their essential and original homogeneity and their origin from one and the same source:—e.g., Negroes, Aryans, Mongols, etc., have all originated in the same way and from the same ancestors. The latter were all of one essence, yet differentiated, because belonging to seven planes which differed in degree though not in kind. That original physical difference was but little more accentuated by that of geographical and climatic conditions, later on.[8]

Each Root-Race succeed each other, although there is a period of overlapping between the old forms dying out and the new forms beginning to be more and more dominant:

To show how the continents, races, nations and cycles overlap each other, one has but to think of Lemuria, the last of whose lands perished about 700,000 years before the beginning of the Tertiary period (see p. 65 of the same work), and the last of “Atlantis” only 11,000 years ago; thus both overlapping—one the Atlantean period, and the other the Aryan.[9]

The end of a Root-Race and the beginning of a new one is marked by important geological changes:

The periods of the great root races are divided from each other by great convulsions of Nature, and by great geological changes.[10]
Every root-race is separated by a catastrophe, a cataclysm—the basis and historical foundation of the fables woven later on into the religious fabric of every people, whether civilized or savage, under the names of “deluges,” “showers of fire” and such like.[11]
At the close of every Root-Race there comes a cataclysm, in turn by fire or water. Immediately after the “Fall into generation” the dross of the third Root-Race–those who fell into sensuality by falling off from the teaching of the Divine Instructors–were destroyed, after which the Fourth Root-Race originated, at the end of which took place the last Deluge.[12]

There are also cataclysms half-way every cycle:

The approach of every new "obscuration" is always signalled by cataclysms — of either fire or water. But, apart from this, every "Ring" or Root Race has to be cut in two, so to say, by either one or the other.[13]

According to Blavatsky, at the beginning of a new Root-Race a great adept (Manu) incarnates, chooses the best portion of humanity as the seed of the next Root-Race, and lets the old civilization be destroyed in the cataclysms.

In the Hindu scripture Vishnu Purana (4:24) we find a similar concept:

When . . . the close of the Kali age shall be nigh, a portion of that divine being who exists of his own spiritual nature in the character of Brahma, and who is the beginning and the end, and who comprehends all things, shall descend upon earth: he will be born in the family of Viṣṇuyaśas, an eminent Brahman of Sambhala village, as Kalki, endowed with the eight superhuman faculties. By his irresistible might he will destroy all the Mlecchas and thieves, and all whose minds are devoted to iniquity. He will then reestablish righteousness upon earth; and the minds of those who live at the end of the Kali age shall be awakened, and shall be as pellucid as crystal. The men who are thus changed by virtue of that peculiar time shall be as the seeds of human beings, and shall give birth to a race who shall follow the laws of the Krita age, or age of purity.

Seven Sub-races

Each root-race is divided into seven minor cycles called sub-races,[14] which are again subdivided into seven branch or family races. These sub-divisions is related to the modern concept of races and ethnicities.

It must be remembered that the sub-races refer to cultural qualities and not to the level of evolution of the soul. When asked if one's incarnations are "in sub-race progression," Annie Besant answered, "They do not follow any regular law of succession."[15] People incarnate in the various sub-races in different orders to gather experiences.

Currently, humanity is undergoing the fifth Root-Race stage, and has developed five sub-races. However, the majority of human beings are incarnated in cultures that derive from previous Root-Races, and that had their apex of development far in the past. Mahatma K.H. wrote:

The majority of mankind belongs to the seventh sub-race of the fourth Root race, — the above mentioned Chinamen and their off-shoots and branchlets (Malayans, Mongolians, Tibetans, Javanese, etc., etc., etc.) and remnants of other sub-races of the fourth — and the seventh sub-race of the third race. All these, fallen, degraded semblances of humanity are the direct lineal descendants of highly civilized nations neither the names nor memory of which have survived except in such books as Popalvul and a few others unknown to Science.[16]

Early civilizations

In this view, there have been on Earth many civilizations of which we know nothing at the moment. Master K.H. wrote to A. P. Sinnett:

We affirm that a series of civilizations existed before, as well as after the Glacial Period, that they existed upon various points, of the globe, reached the apex of glory and — died.[17]

The Master was aware that all these teachings contradicted those of modern science. However, he stood by his knowledge:

You cannot think that we, who have such tremendous odds against the acceptance of our doctrine would deliberately go on inventing Races and sub-races (in the opinion of Mr. Hume) were not they a matter of undeniable fact.[18]

As to why we do not find remains of the previous civilizations, one of the reasons is that the Root-Races live on a different parts of the earth, many of which cyclically sink as a new piece of land rises to lodge the new Root-Race:

Our present continents have, like “Lemuria” and “Atlantis,” been several times already submerged and had the time to reappear again, and bear their new groups of mankind and civilization; and that, at the first great geological upheaval, at the next cataclysm—in the series of periodical cataclysms that occur from the beginning to the end of every Round,—our already autopsized continents will go down, and the Lemurias and Atlantises come up again.[19]
Besides, as Master K.H. explains, "every object of the civilized portions of humanity that inhabited those regions hav[e] been pulverized to dust by the great masses of travelling glaciers" leaving behind "only such rude implements as now found among those savage tribes".[20] This is what geologists usually find when they come upon some ancient remains in regions of the modern continents that where inhabited by past Root-Races.

Root-Races

First Root-Race

The First Root-Race was one of sexless ethereal beings devoid of understanding, language, or any cognitive activity. They were produced by the Barhishad Pitris, who emanated ethereal forms from themselves. They are called the "Chaya Race," chāyā being a Sanskrit word that means "image or shadow." These forms were overshadowed by human Monads. According to H. P. Blavatsky, this Race developed on seven separate regions of an island positioned where the north pole is now.

Read more: First Root-Race

Second Root-Race

Read more: Second Root-Race

Third Root-Race

Read more: Third Root-Race

Fourth Root-Race

Read more: Fourth Root-Race

Fifth Root-Race

Read more: Fifth Root-Race

Sixth Root-Race

There is a prophecy in certain Asiatic old books couched in the following terms, the sense of which we may make clearer by adding to it a few words in brackets.
"And as the fourth (race) was composed of Red-yellow which faded into Brown-white (bodies), so the fifth will fade out into white-brown (the white races becoming gradually darker). The sixth and seventh Manushya (men?) will be born adults; and will know of no old age, though their years will be many. As the Krita, Treta, Dvapara and Kali (ages) have been each decreasing in excellence (physical as well as moral) so the ascending—Dvapara, Treta and Krita will be increasing in every excellence. As the life of man lasted 400 (years in the first, or Krita Yuga), 300 (years in Treta), 200 (years in Dvapara) and 100 (in the present Kali age); so in the next (the 6th Race) (the natural age of man) will be (gradually increased) 200, then 300 and 400 (in the two last yugas)".[21]

After Master K.H. stated that the British Islands, France and other lands of the fifth Root-Race where going to sink, until they reappear at the end of the sixth Root-Race:

When they reappear again, the last seventh Sub-race of the sixth Root race of present mankind will be flourishing on "Lemuria" and "Atlantis" both of which will have reappeared also (their reappearance following immediately the disappearance of the present isles and continents), and very few seas and great waters will be found then on our globe, waters as well as land appearing and disappearing and shifting periodically and each in turn.[22]

Seventh Root-Race

The last seventh Race will have its Buddha as every one of its predecessors had; but, its adepts will be far higher than any of the present race, for among them will abide the future Planetary, the Dhyan Chohan whose duty it will be to instruct or "refresh the memory" of the first race of the fifth Round men after this planet's future obscuration.[23]
By the middle of the Seventh Race, says an occult prophecy, the struggle of the two conflicting Powers (Buddhi and Kama-Manas) will have almost died out. Everything that is irredeemably sinful and wicked, cruel and destructive, will have been eliminated, and that which is found to survive will be swept away from being, owing, so to speak, to a Karmic tidal-wave in the shape of scavenger-plagues, geological convulsions and other means of destruction. The Fifth Round will bring forth a higher kind of Humanity; and, as intelligent Nature always proceeds gradually, the last Race of this Round must necessarily develop the needed materials thereof. [24]
The last seventh Race will have its Buddha as every one of its predecessors had; but, its adepts will be far higher than any of the present race, for among them will abide the future Planetary, the Dhyan Chohan whose duty it will be to instruct or "refresh the memory" of the first race of the fifth Round men after this planet's future obscuration.[25]

Continents

Each Root-Race has a new continent. These have a particular name in the Esoteric Philosophy, although Blavatsky did not publish them. She wrote:

Before we turn to the Anthropogenesis of the prehistoric Races, it may be useful to agree upon the names to be given to the Continents on which the four great Races, which preceded our Adamic Race, were born, lived, and died. Their archaic and esoteric names were many, and varied with the language of the nationality which mentioned them in its annals and scriptures. . . .

Therefore, in view of the possible, and even very probable confusion, that may arise, it is considered more convenient to adopt, for each of the four Continents constantly referred to, a name more familiar to the cultured reader. It is proposed, then, to call the first continent, or rather the first terra firma on which the first Race was evolved by the divine progenitors:

I. The Imperishable Sacred Land. . . .
II. The “Hyperborean” will be the name chosen for the Second Continent. . . .
III. The third Continent, we propose to call “Lemuria.”. . . .
IV. “Atlantis” is the Fourth Continent.. . . .

V. The Fifth Continent was America; but, as it is situated at the Antipodes, it is Europe and Asia Minor, almost coeval with it, which are generally referred to by the Indo-Aryan Occultists as the fifth.[26]

The different masses of land sink and resurface cyclically. The shift of continents is connected with a change in the axis of the Earth and an inversion of the poles:

That worlds (also Races) are periodically destroyed by fire (volcanoes and earthquakes) and water, in turn, and renewed, is a doctrine as old as man. Manu, Hermes, the Chaldees, all antiquity believed in this. Twice already has the face of the globe been changed by fire, and twice by water, since man appeared on it. As land needs rest and renovation, new forces, and a change for its soil, so does water. Thence arises a periodical redistribution of land and water, change of climates, etc., all brought on by geological revolution, and ending in a final change in the axis.[27]
The poles inverted, in consequence of the great inclination of the axis, bringing each time as a result the displacement of the Oceans, the submersion of the polar lands, and the consequent upheaval of new continents in the equatorial regions, and vice versâ.[28]
Why not admit—true, no one of them has ever thought of it—that our present continents have, like “Lemuria” and “Atlantis,” been several times already submerged and had the time to reappear again, and bear their new groups of mankind and civilization; and that, at the first great geological upheaval, at the next cataclysm — in the series of periodical cataclysms that occur from the beginning to the end of every Round,—our already autopsized continents will go down, and the Lemurias and Atlantises come up again.[29]

After quoting this Blavatsky clarifies: "Not the same identical continents, of course."[30]

Modes of reproduction

  • Middle Third Root-Race: Egg-born
  • Late Third Root-Race: Womb-born

Development of language

Online resources

Articles and pamphlets

Books

Notes

  1. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 160.
  2. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. II, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 434-435.
  3. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. II, (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1979), 697.
  4. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. II, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 298-299, fn.
  5. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. VI (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1989), 117.
  6. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. II, (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1979), fn. 146.
  7. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. II, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 425.
  8. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. II, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 607, fn.
  9. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. II, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 433, fn.
  10. Alfred Percy Sinnett, Esoteric Buddhism, (London: Theosophical Publishing House LTD, 1972), 48.
  11. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XIV (Los Angeles, CA: Philosophical Research Society, 1950), 81, fn.
  12. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988), 608.
  13. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 93b (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 314.
  14. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 66 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 174-175.
  15. Annie Besant, Theosophical Lectures, (Chicago: The Rajput Press, 1907), 147.
  16. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 93b (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 312.
  17. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 93b (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 311.
  18. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 93b (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 311.
  19. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 93b (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 310.
  20. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 93b (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 310.
  21. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. VI (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1989), 117.
  22. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 93b (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 314.
  23. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 93b (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 314.
  24. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XIII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1982), 128.
  25. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 93b (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 314.
  26. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. II, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 6-9.
  27. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. II, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 725-726.
  28. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. II, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 360.
  29. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 93b (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993),???
  30. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. II, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 333.