Mahatmas, the Beings of the Hierarchy of Compassion
In the course of events that surround the history of Modern Theosophy, some were of paramount importance and turned out to be its most characteristic and decisive ones.
In my opinion, particularly outstanding has been the appearance of the Spiritual Hierarchy and its leading presence in the Theosophical Movement. The Mahatmas appeared through their messenger, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky; an appearance marked as one of the most overwhelming events that occurred on our planet in the 19th century. Their presence is a milestone in human history, because it reflects both mankind’s regaining touch with the invisible spiritual world and its becoming able, with the immeasurable help of a messenger of its own, to perceive all or part of what the Hierarchy means to convey to it.
The inquirer comes face to face with the following hot questions: who are the Mahatmas, what is their role in human evolution and what can their relationship with mankind be?
Starting with the etymology of the word Mahatma, Maha Atma, meaning Great Soul, we understand that a Mahatma is an Entity belonging to the spiritual plane. The Mahatmas are Entities pertaining to higher spiritual worlds, having previously been, very far back in indefinable times, human beings just like us. They are Beings who stood out during previous humanities and who, through their self-devised efforts, bent and aspirations, managed to outreach the ring of personality and enter the plane of individuality. As individualities who relinquished the bliss of Nirvana, they belong to the Hierarchy of Compassion, their only purpose having always been to offer their help to the younger and spiritually less evolved brothers of theirs, all human beings at large.
Mahatmas are men spiritually evolved; they control Nature’s forces by means of their own powers acquired in the course of hundreds of incarnations in the near and distant past. Now they are the Masters of Wisdom and Life.
According to the Theosophical Glossary “Mahatmas…are Adepts of the highest order… Exalted Beings who, having attained to the mastery over their lower principles are thus living unimpeded by the “man of flesh” and are in possession of knowledge and power commensurate with the stage they have reached in their spiritual evolution. Called in Pali, Rahats and Arhats.”
Arhat is the worthy one, deserving divine honors. “The Arhat is one who has entered the last and highest path and is thus emancipated from rebirth.”(1). Arhat is the one who successively ascended the Ladder of Life, following the path of Renunciation. “Renunciation is the Second Path and is therefore called “the Path of Woe”. That Secret path leads the Arhat to mental woe unspeakable; woe for the living Dead and helpless pity for the men of karmic sorrow; the fruit of Karma sages dare not still.” (2)
They exist in objective manifestation and are continuously acting. Their influence is always beneficiary, peaceful, and noble. They motivate brotherliness, progress, love, hope, courage, inspiration, intuition, harmony and endurance to give, spiritual readiness and an inclination towards spirituality. Often times they arouse men from mental and spiritual inertia, the way They only know.
They are the transmitters of the Law, as described in the Secret Doctrine: “The Universe is worked and guided from within outwards…The whole Cosmos is guided, controlled and animated by almost endless series of Hierarchies of sentient Beings, each having a mission to perform… who are “messengers” in the sense only that they are agents of Karmic and Cosmic Laws.” (3)
They are humanity’s Elder Brothers. They shield and protect us, just as we shield and protect our younger brother. They are our Teachers, having taught us, throughout the centuries, everything, from the minor to the grander, depending on the needs of our perception. They instruct us on mental and spiritual issues. And most of all, they show us the path that leads to spirituality, the path of our return to the spiritual birth-place wherefrom we once started and train us on the methods that can make our treading the secret path easier.
They are the Masters of Wisdom or the Brothers of Light. They work through other human beings, whom they choose from among mankind. The latter are the Great Men who are disciples of the Mahatmas. The series of Seers and Initiates appearing on our earth has its root in the brotherhood of the Mahatmas, while physically it is represented by the Great Men of our planet. The latter appeared as the Hermetic Chain or the Golden Chain, considered by the Greek mystics and philosophers as springing from Zeus and reaching out to the simple man via a series of spiritual and noble men.
Transmitting consciousness from the core of spirituality down to the physical man has always been the most important part in initiation because such transmission is per se the very working of Nature. In Church parlance, it is called Apostolic Succession.
Helena Blavatsky was the earthly messenger of that spiritual series of Entities. Such messengers are also called Apostolic Mediums or Mediators having nothing to do with the mediums we commonly know of. Mediums convey messages from the lower astral world. On the contrary, Apostolic Messengers transmit the spiritual teaching and the Wisdom conveyed thanks to the series of the Spiritual Hierarchy.
History often refers to the line of Great Beings, since their presence became a landmark in religious matters, philosophical thinking, and mankind’ s culture: Buddha, Sankaratsarya, Krishna, Jesus, Pythagoras, Empedocles, Plutarch, Plato, Origen, Apollo of Tyanea, Lao-tse, Confucius, Zoroaster and so on. They were all Reformers and Masters of Wisdom of the Great Lodge or the White Brotherhood that gave birth to the great religion-philosophies of our planet.
Those great Masters of Wisdom are the rear-guard of Theosophy. They are standing behind the ones responsible on the physical plane for the renewal and spreading of Ancient Wisdom, of Theosophy; they guide and support them by means incomprehensible and inconceivable to the profane.
1. Theosophical Glossary
2. The Voice of the Silence, verses 183-184
3, SD I, 275