Subtle Bodies

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Mme. Blavatsky's teachings

Modern scholars, acknowledge that the term "subtle body" entered English usage first through the writings of H. P. Blavatsky, Annie Besant, and C. W. Leadbeater.[1]

H. P. Blavatsky refers to three subtle bodies:

The Linga Sharira is the invisible double of the Sthūla-śarīra or physical body. The Mayavi Rupa is not regarded as a permanent body in human beings but one created through the power of thought (kriyāśakti), that serves as a vehicle both of the manasic thought and the kamic passions and desires.[2] The Causal Body is the vehicle for the higher Ego.

A further subtle body could be the Kāmarūpa, although in Blavatsky's teachings this is not a body during life but becomes one after death in Kāmaloka.

According to Besant and Leadbeater

Annie Besant and C. W. Leadbeater described the subtle bodies as follows:

The Etheric Double is the subtle counterpart of the physical body. The Emotional body, also called "Astral body by them, is the vehicle for the emotions, both the lower or kamic, and the higher emotions. The Mental body is the vehicle of the lower mind, built with matter from the four lower subplanes of the mental plane. The Causal body is the vehicle of the Ego, and is made of matter from the three higher subplanes of the mental plane.

The Māyāvi-Rūpa could be added as a subtle body which is artificially created through the power of thought or kriyāśakti.


  1. Geoffrey Samuel and Jay Johnston (eds), Religion and the Subtle Body in Asia and the West (New York: Routledge, 2013), p. 2
  2. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988), 219.

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