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Avichi (devanāgarī: अवीचि, avīci) also transliterated Avitchi, is a Sanskrit and Pali word used in Buddhism meaning "without waves". It refers to the lowest level of "hell" (naraka), into which the dead who have committed grave misdeeds may be reborn. Although in Buddhism Hells are temporary, Avichi is often regarded as a place of no return, where beings languish eternally.

In the Theosophical view Avichi is not a locality but a state of misery experienced by those who have devoted their life to do conscious harm, and as a consequence their personal egos have broken the connection with the spiritual Individuality. This state is not only experienced after death, but can continue on the physical plane in a new incarnation as a soulless person, leading a life full of sorrow, turning more and more animalistic as time passes. The personality is eventually annihilated, after one or several incarnations.

In Buddhism

In Theosophy

Avitchi is defined by Mahatma K.H. as "the perfect antithesis of Devachan — vulgarized by the Western nations into Hell and Heaven."[1] In a similar vein, Mme. Blavatsky wrote: "There is an Avichi, rightly called Hell, though it has no connection with, or similitude to, the good Christian Hell, either geographically or psychically."[2] According to her, Avitchi is not hell as a locality but "a state and a condition, and the tortures therein are all mental".[3]

A general description of this state was given as follows:

Avitchi is a spiritual state of the greatest misery and is only in store for those who have devoted consciously their lives to doing injury to others and have thus reached its highest spirituality of EVIL.[4]

Avîtchi (Sk.). A state: not necessarily after death only or between two births, for it can take place on earth as well. Lit., “uninterrupted hell”. The last of the eight hells, we are told, “where the culprit, die and are reborn without interruption--yet not without hope of final redemption”. This is because Avitchi is another name for Myalba (our earth) and also a state to which some soulless men are condemned on this physical plane.[5]

The Earth, or earth-life rather, is the only Avichi (Hell) that exists for the men of our humanity on this globe. Avichi is a state, not a locality––a counterpart of Devachan. Such a state follows the “Soul” wherever it goes, whether into Kâma-Loka, as a semi-conscious “spook” or into a human body, when reborn to suffer Avichi. Our philosophy recognizes no other Hell.[6]

Separation from the higher ego

The state of avitchi begins when the lower quaternary, due to its absolute lack of spirituality, loses its connection with the human soul or higher ego. The person then becomes a "soulless" entity, that is, a lower quaternary that retains only the most personal aspect of the soul (kama-manas) but loses all connection to the higher ego. This soulless entity is destined to suffer annihilation sooner or later:

The personal “soul” in this case––viz. in that of one who has never a thought unconnected with the animal self, having nothing to transmit to the Higher, or to add to the sum of the experiences from past incarnations which its memory is to preserve throughout eternity––this personal soul becomes separated from the Ego. It can graft nothing of Self on that eternal trunk whose sap throws out millions of personalities, like so many leaves from its branches, leaves which wither and die and fall at the end of their season. These personalities bud, blossom forth and expire, some without leaving a trace behind, others after commingling their own life with that of the parent stem. It is the “souls” of the former class that are doomed to annihilation, or Avichi.[7]

While yet in the body which has lost its higher “Soul” through its vices, there is still hope for such a person. He may be still redeemed and made to turn on his material nature; in which case either an intense feeling of repentence, or one single earnest appeal to the Ego that has fled, or best of all, an active effort to mend one’s ways, may bring the Higher Ego back again. The thread or connection is not altogether broken, though the Ego is now beyond forcible reach, for “Antaskarana is destroyed,” and the personal Entity has one foot already in Myalba [the earth]; but it is not yet beyond hearing a strong spiritual appeal. There is another statement made in Isis Unveiled (loc. cit.) on this subject. It is said that this terrible death may be sometimes avoided “by the knowledge of the mysterious NAME, the ‘WORD.’ What this “WORD” (which is not a “Word” but a Sound) is, you all know. Its potency lies in the rhythm or the accent. This means simply that even a bad person may, by a study of the Sacred Science, be redeemed and stopped on the path of destruction. But unless he is in thorough union with his Higher Ego, he may repeat it, parrot-like, ten thousand times a day, and the “Word” will not help him. On the contrary, if not entirely at one with his higher Triad it may produce quite the reverse of a benificent effect, the “Brothers of the Shadow” using it very often for malicious objects; in which case it awakens and stirs up only the evil, material elements of nature. But if one’s nature is good, and sincerely strives towards the HIGHER SELF, which is that “Aum,” through one’s Higher Ego, which is its third letter (Buddhi being the second), there is no attack of the Dragon Apophis which it will not repel.[8]

Reincarnation of the soulless entity

When a person breaks his connection with the higher ego he becomes a soulless entity, turning more and more animalistic as time passes. After the dead of the body the more common fate for the kama-manasic entity is immediate reincarnation without any connection with a reincarnating Ego:

Earth is AVICHI, and the worst Avichi possible. Expelled forever from the consciousness of the Individuality (the reincarnating Ego), the physical atoms and psychic vibrations of the now separate personality are immediately reincarnated on the same earth, only in a lower and still more abject creature, a human being only in form, doomed to Karmic torments during the whole of its new life. Moreover, if it persists in its criminal or debauched course, it will suffer a long series of such immediate reincarnations.[9]

The future of the Lower Manas is more terrible, and still more terrible to humanity than to the now animal man. It sometimes happens that after the separation the exhausted Soul, now become supremely animal, fades out in Kâma-Loka, as do all other animal souls. But seeing that the more material the human mind, the longer it lasts, in that intermediate stage, it frequently happens that after the actual life of the soulless man is ended, he is again and again reincarnated into new personalities, each one more abject than the other. The impulse of animal life is too strong; it cannot wear itself out in one or two lives only.[10]

Thus we find two kinds of soulless beings on earth: those who have lost their higher Ego in the present incarnation, and those who are born soulless, having been severed from their Spiritual Soul in the preceding birth. The former are candidates for Avichi; the latter are “Mr. Hydes,” whether in or out of their human bodies, whether incarnated or hanging about as invisible but potent ghouls. In such men, cunning develops to an enormous degree, and no one except those who are familiar with the doctrine would suspect them of being soulless, for neither Religion nor Science has the least suspicion that such facts actually exist in Nature.[11]

The fate of the higher ego

After severing its connection with the wicked personality, two different things may happen to the reincarnating Ego:

The Divine Ego does one of two things: either (a) it recommences immediately under its own Karmic impulses a fresh series of incarnations; or (b) it seeks and finds refuge in the “bosom of the Mother,” Alaya, the Universal Soul, of which the Manvantaric aspect is Mahat. Freed from the life impressions of the personality, it merges into a kind of interlude of Nirvana, wherein there can be nothing but the eternal Present, which absorbs the Past and Future. Bereft of the “laborer,” both field and harvest now being lost, the Master, in the infinitude of his thought, naturally preserves no recollection of the finite and evanescent illusion which had been his last personality. The latter, then, is indeed annihilated.[12]

Dweller on the Threshold

In rare cases the soulless entity does not reincarnate immediately, but stays on the astral light and becomes a kind of Dweller on the Threshold, obsessing the reincarnating ego that used to animate it, and that has now reincarnated in a new personality:

Bereft of its guiding principles, but strengthened by the material elements, Kâma-Manas, from being a “derived light,” now becomes an independent Entity. After suffering itself to sink lower and lower on the animal plane, when the hour strikes for its earthly body to die, one of two things happens: either Kâma-Manas is immediately reborn in Myalba (the state of Avichi on earth), or, if it becomes too strong in evil––“immortal in Satan” is the Occult expression––it is sometimes allowed, for Karmic purposes, to remain in an active state of Avichi in the terrestrial Aura. Then through despair and loss of all hope it becomes like the mythical “devil” in its endless wickedness; it continues in its elements, imbued through and through with the essence of matter; for evil is coëval with matter rent asunder from spirit. And when its higher Ego has once more reincarnated, evolving a new reflection, or Kâma-Manas, the doomed Lower Ego, like a Frankenstein’s monster, will ever feel attracted to its “Father,” who repudiates his Son, and will become a regular “Dweller” on the “threshold” of terrestrial life.[13]

In rarer cases, however, something far more dreadful [than the soulless reincarnations] may happen. When the lower Manas is doomed to exhaust itself by starvation; when there is no longer hope that even a remnant of a lower light will, owing to favorable conditions––say, even a short period of spiritual aspiration and repentance––attract back to itself its Parent Ego, then Karma leads the Higher Ego back to new incarnations. In this case the Kâma-Mânasic spook may become that which we call in Occultism the “Dweller on the Threshold.” This “Dweller” is not like that which is described so graphically in Zanoni, but an actual fact in nature and not a fiction in romance, however beautiful the latter may be. Bulwer must have got the idea from some Eastern Initiate. Our “Dweller,” led by affinity and attraction, forces itself into the astral current, and through the Auric Envelope of the new tabernacle inhabited by the Parent Ego, and declares war to the lower light which has replaced it. This, of course, can only happen in the case of the moral weakness of the personality so obsessed. No one strong in his virtue, and righteous in his walk of life, can risk or dread any such thing; but only those depraved in heart. Robert Louis Stevenson had a glimpse of a true vision indeed when he wrote his Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. His story is a true allegory. Every Chela would recognize in it a substratum of truth, and in Mr. Hyde a “Dweller,” an obsessor of the personality, the tabernacle of the “Parent Spirit.”[14]

Avichi Nirvana

In one of his letters, Master K.H. talks about an Avichi that takes place at the end of a manvantara, a state that is opposed to the regular Nirvana:

After the completion of the great cycle [there is] either a long Nirvana of Bliss (unconscious though it be in the, and according to, your crude conceptions); after which — life as a Dhyan Chohan for a whole Manvantara, or else "Avitchi Nirvana" and a Manvantara of misery and Horror as a —— you must not hear the word nor I — pronounce or write it. But "those" have nought to do with the mortals who pass through the seven spheres. The collective Karma of a future Planetary is as lovely as the collective Karma of a —— is terrible. Enough. I have said too much already.[15]

In the book Man: Fragments of a Forgotten History it is said:

Sorcerers and black magicians, the most powerful of those vile fraternities, attain at the conclusion of a great cycle of activity, what is called Avitchi-Nirvana. At the beginning of the next period of activity they commence a nameless life of spiritual wickedness, to be ended only at the next period of rest. The name of these beings of misery and horror, the cursed alike of man and god, is never pronounced or written, but they have nothing to do with the mortals who pass through the seven spheres. These are the habitants of the eighth sphere, which has sixteen grades. In the first fourteen of these the entity loses, after prolonged periods of suffering, its seven astral and seven spiritual senses. The mysteries of the last two grades are never communicated outside the sanctuary of initiation. It may be stated, however, that from the last, the entity, having lost the accumulated vile energy of its past, emerges as a new individuality, to begin a new course from the lowest rung of the ladder of life.[16]

Additional resources


  1. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 68 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 359.
  2. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 622.
  3. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. IX (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1974), 136.
  4. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. VII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1987), fn, 635.
  5. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Theosophical Glossary (Krotona, CA: Theosophical Publishing House, 1973), 45.
  6. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 637, fn.
  7. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 635.
  8. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 638-639.
  9. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 632-633.
  10. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 636.
  11. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 638.
  12. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 635-636.
  13. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 637.
  14. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 636.
  15. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 93b (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 311.
  16. Two Chelâs, Man: Fragments of a Forgotten History (LaVergne, TN:Kessinger Publisher, 2007?), 134.

Online resources