Theosophy and Agni Yoga
Natalia Kovaliova, PhD

Russian author of numerous books on Agni Yoga, Theosophy and Helena & Nicolas Roerich,
member of Russian TS.

The teaching of Theosophy is so comprehensive and universal that it is difficult to imagine it has a sequel. But nevertheless this is so. The wisdom of the Mahatmas knows no boundaries; about thirty-five years after the publication of the Secret Doctrine, the new disciples of the White Brotherhood - the Roerich family - set about recording the new teaching, which continues to explain the main themes of Theosophy, but in a rather different, more practical manner.

This teaching became known as Agni Yoga or Living Ethics.

As is well known, the basic content of the Secret Doctrine was transmitted by the Mahatmas M. and K. H. to Helena Petrovna Blavatsky by spiritual telepathy, thanks to the clairvoyant ability which H. P. Blavatsky possessed. Mme. Blavatsky herself wrote part of the text of this fundamental work. Mahatma M. transmitted the Agni Yoga teaching to Helena Ivanovna Roerich, who also had the gift of clairvoyance and (to an even greater extent) that of telepathy. This teaching was recorded by Helena Roerich in 1924-1938. Subsequently, in letters to her followers, Helena Roerich wrote multi-volume comments and explanations on the Agni Yoga Teaching, which is now extremely popular in Russia. These publications are called The Letters of Helena Roerich.

The close link between Theosophy and Agni Yoga is beyond doubt: the same concepts and principles, the same methods, the same interpretation of the most important metaphysical laws. With regard to the close link between Theosophy and Agni Yoga, the Mahatmas mention in the books of new Teaching that:

“One may well ask what the connection is between our new Teaching and our previous Teaching that we handed down via Blavatsky. Tell everybody that every hundred years, after the emergence of a profound revelation, a final culmination is granted, which actually moves the world along a more human path. Thus our new teaching completes Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine. This was the case when Christianity served as a culmination for the universal wisdom of the classical world, and the commandments of Moses served as a culmination for the wisdom of ancient Egypt and Babylon. It is only necessary to understand the significance of key teachings. The only thing we desire is that people should not only read our books, but that they should accept them immediately, since I am very concise regarding what has to be remembered” (The Fiery World, Part 2, 79).

The connection between Theosophy and Agni Yoga can be seen from the themes highlighted in the two Teachings: Theosophy explains the theoretical basis of the Mahatmas’ Teachings, ontology, cosmogony, philosophical anthropology and the teaching of evolution. The Agni Yoga Teaching examines the practical aspects of spiritual self-improvement; this Teaching is significantly devoted to ethics and psychology. Furthermore, if Theosophy, by virtue of its metaphysical depth and complexity, was originally geared towards society’s intellectual elite, the Agni Yoga Teaching (with the exception, perhaps, of the complex book Infinity) has been explained in more straightforward language and is thus accessible to a wider section of society. With the exception of the complex metaphysical laws which Agni Yoga comprises, the basic philosophical/ethical principles of this Teaching are described in a fairly simple fashion, sometimes in a manner that is reminiscent of the Jataka - a type of ancient Indian philosophical literature that refers to fables and parables that are accessible to people of any level of development (this type of teaching - i.e. speaking about complicated things in a simple way - was especially peculiar to Ramakrishna).

One of the major characteristics of the Living Ethics (which also distinguishes this teaching from Theosophy) is the specific nature of its literary form. Firstly, this relates to the internal structure of the text of the Agni Yoga books, and secondly to the literary style and the manner in which the material is set out. The structural peculiarity of the texts in the Living Ethics lies in the fact that in the books on this Teaching there is no traditional classification of material in terms of specific problems or issues. In the texts of the Agni Yoga, there are no chapters or sections. The books on this Teaching (with the exception of the two volumes of the first book of the Living Ethics - The Leaves of Morya’s Garden) are divided into paragraphs, each of which is devoted to one, two or three topics. The Agni Yoga is characterized by a unique way of explaining material, which its authors describe as “spiral”. The texts in the books on the Living Ethics represent a series of specific themes and problems, which are examined from various viewpoints in separate paragraphs. Furthermore, with each new paragraph, material that is devoted to some specific concept or theme subsequently becomes more complex and profound. It is obvious that the purpose of this textual structure is to strive to adapt rather complex philosophical material to the consciousness of a reader who does not have any special training in the sphere of esoteric Indo-Tibetan philosophy.

The sequence of Teaching and the gradual complication of the structured material thus correspond to the universal principle of any teaching system - from the simple to the complex. The Agni Yoga says the following about this system of explaining materials: “the spiral reading of books on the Teaching - when these books should be read one after the other in sequential order - is more productive, since in such instances the consciousness follows a pattern of growth and deepened understanding of the Teaching” (Facets of Agni Yoga).

Furthermore, the sequence of specific themes and concepts in the texts of this teaching creates a particular state of consciousness in the reader’s mind, which activates his/her spiritual intuition. One of the specific features that characterizes the internal structure of the Agni Yoga texts is their semantic significance and – if we can put it this way - multi-layered structure.

Each paragraph in the Teaching comprises a number of levels of understanding of the problems considered in the Teaching - from the most simple, superficial level to the most profound level, which embodies a sacred, esoteric meaning.

Accordingly, every reader is able to interpret the knowledge set out in the Living Ethics at the level, which corresponds to the level of his personal, spiritual and intellectual development. 

The reason for presenting the material in this way is to ensure that the most sacred aspects of this Teaching reveal themselves and become accessible to the reader gradually each time he/she re-reads the Agni Yoga books.

In the foreword to the first book of the Teaching, The Leaves of Morya’s Garden - The Calling, it says on this subject that: “Dear reader, if you don’t understand, wait a while and then read again”.

The structural and stylistic features of the Agni Yoga are such that if the human consciousness has not reached the necessary spiritual and intellectual level to understand any aspects of esoteric knowledge, specific fragments of the text will not be comprehensible at the first reading.

Nevertheless, the information, which has not been stored in the conscious mind, is a property of the ‘super-conscious’ level of understanding.

Moreover, the intuitive-spiritual origin of humankind, without our being aware of it, assimilates the received information, and thanks to this process, what the reader didn’t understand at the first reading may become accessible to him/her with repeated reading.

The followers of the Agni Yoga are very familiar with an unusual effect that manifests itself when one reads this particular Teaching: When reading the Teaching more than once, the reader feels as if he/she is encountering the texts for the first time, or that, somehow, he/she missed out some paragraph in the book during the first reading.

It is said about the reasons for this type of effect in the Living Ethics Teaching: “You can read this teaching many times, and as your consciousness expands, you can find ever newer thoughts in it: Even if the consciousness has been able to expand to some degree since the last reading, something completely new will always be found. If the consciousness has not expanded, but remained at the same level, any subsequent reading will yield nothing, and it won’t be interesting to read it. Therefore, when your spirit is growing, every time you re-read the Teaching, it will provide you with ever-newer revelations” (Facets of Agni Yoga).

Though it focuses generally on ethics and psychology, the Agni Yoga Teaching nevertheless presents very diverse themes (as is the case with Theosophy). It is impossible to mention all the issues considered in the Agni Yoga Teaching.

Among the themes that are particularly interesting and topical for the modern reader, one might mention the change to the human Race and cosmic Circles, the higher energy centres of consciousness, contacts (both conscious and unconscious) with the Subtle World; the psycho-energetic potential of the consciousness, and the spiritual aspects of creativity. But probably the most fascinating topic described in detail in the Agni Yoga is the spiritual activity of the White Brotherhood. In theosophical literature, this theme has been hardly touched upon, since at that time the Mahatmas themselves did not reveal this topic.

Even H. P. Blavatsky herself did not generally write about the supernatural abilities of the Adepts, but her disciples and followers, who witnessed the materialization of the Teachers and other phenomena connected with Them. This topic, which was not revealed to a wide readership, was revealed in detail unexpectedly in the Agni Yoga Teaching: in the two last and largest volumes (from the whole series of Agni Yoga Teaching) - The Brotherhood and Super mundane which were dedicated to a mysterious Retreat, which is called Shambala in Tibet.

The information contained in these books is truly unique. If you wish to appreciate its merits, you have to read it yourself: simply to say that this information is enthralling is to state nothing …

One other theme - which is perhaps the most topical in a social sense - is an Agni Yoga theme: the period of cosmic-planetary change, to which we will become witnesses in the near future. Since the theme of the imminent Apocalypse has been discussed in society for many years, I would at least like to mention briefly the views of the Agni Yoga writers on this issue. According to their teaching, the new cosmic period, which began at the turn of the third millennium, will be characterized by unusual astronomical phenomena that will, in turn, result in sudden changes to the natural environment.

As far back as 1934, Elena Roerich wrote: “Cosmic cataclysms occur as the result of a deviation to the earth’s axis. Today, scientists are able to record with considerable accuracy this ever-continuing deviation, which still threatens to cause disasters”.

A number of modern astronomers and physicists consider that the affect on the earth of this so-called ‘parade of the planets’ began to make itself felt in the second half of 2003, and that in the future the consequences of this phenomenon will be ever more severe. The result of the new astronomical position of the planets will be serious natural-cosmic changes - first of all, a change to the angle of nutation, i.e. to the tilt of the earth’s axis. And in both ancient prophesies and in the forecasts of modern specialists, it is claimed that this process will result in the north and south poles changing positions. The celestial map (i.e. the location of the constellations above the planet) will also change, and new celestial bodies will come closer to the Earth. As a result of all these changes, the Earth’s electro-magnetic field will become full of new, super-powerful cosmic forces, which will be a new phenomenon for the Earth’s inhabitants. 

How will the new energy affect people? It is claimed in the Agni Yoga teaching that its effect on each specific individual will be determined by the moral-spiritual level of his/her development. This conclusion may seem strange to many people. But according to the esoteric doctrines of the East, everything in the world constitutes, first and foremost, various types of energy. Human consciousness is also a type of energy field, which may or may not correspond to energies reaching our planet from space. The thoughts and feelings of people are basically energy-bearing, and this Agni Yoga axiom has been confirmed by modern science. Such thoughts and feelings are not only weak electrical brain impulses, but also powerful cosmic energies that accumulate in the human bio-field and in the aura of the whole planet. The qualitative nature of people’s thought energies (and at the same time their impact on the whole environment) is determined by the moral content of their thinking.  An altruistic frame of mind, a striving towards goodness, love and mutual assistance are liable to help people and all living things on the planet. Self-perfection and the following of high moral ideals engender in the human micro-cosmos high-vibrational and pure energy, like that type of energy that reaches the Earth from space. On the other hand, base and selfish thoughts and feelings in a spiritual sense have a low-vibrational level and are the diametric opposite of the new cosmic energies. It is explained in the Agni Yoga that new energies may be assimilated (i.e. taken in and processed in an individual’s micro-cosmos) only by spiritually developed people, whose bodies and bio-poles have not been contaminated by negative psycho-energies. People whose consciousness radiates positive, high-vibrational thought energy into their surroundings will be spiritually prepared to assimilate new cosmic rays. But individuals that have brought negative karma upon themselves, i.e. selfish and immoral people, risk becoming the victims of new illnesses that are unknown to medical science. The cause of these illnesses will be the elementary conflict between high-vibrational cosmic energy, which reaches this planet, and low-vibrational energies in the human aura. In the ancient prophesies the highest cosmic energy was called ‘the Fire’ (in Sanskrit ‘Agni’, which also gave the Agni Yoga teaching its name). It is not a coincidence that the illnesses threatening humanity in the near future, which will have psycho-energy causes, are called ‘fiery’ in the Agni Yoga teaching. Atypical pneumonia, which has recently afflicted a number of countries and, as scientists have warned, will definitely return, is one type of particularly dangerous fiery illness that the authors of the Living Ethics warned humanity about. In Agni Yoga, this illness is called ‘plague of the lungs’: “Plague of the lungs, in its particular manifestations, is a very typical fiery epidemic. The illness has afflicted the planet on more than one occasion, thus preparing the consciousness for the possibility of a disaster. Strange types of cough that you’ve heard about are also similar to this illness. Everywhere the illness affects children, adults and even animals. But people do not want to pay heed to this preparatory manifestation of a terrible disaster. They superficially regard it as any one of a number of diverse illnesses, rather than considering it anything unusual”, it was mentioned in the Agni Yoga books as far back as 1933 …

“I came to bring fire to earth, and how I long for it to burn!” These words uttered by Jesus Christ in the Gospel referred to this very Cosmic Fire or to the supreme cosmic energies. It is possible that the ancient tales of a purifying cosmic fire blazing down onto the Earth to destroy all evil and to free the Earth from depravity are not as naďve as they appear at first glance. It sometimes merely suffices to substitute the word ‘energy’ for ‘fire’ for the purpose of comprehending the ancient philosophical writings in scientific terms. 

This very factor - the emergence of new cosmic energies in the planet’s aura - will be the main reason for natural cataclysms, which will be inevitable during the change of cosmic eras.

Most people don’t even suspect that it’s not just physical factors - i.e. global warming, global dimming, etc. - that play a very important role in upsetting the balance of nature: psycho-energy factors also play their part. The energy of negative thoughts and feelings, when radiated into space by human beings, destabilizes the Earth’s Aura, which, in the end, results in even more catastrophic ecological disasters: earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, regular floods, unusually powerful and frequent hurricanes, terrible forest fires, unprecedented variations in the climate, etc.

As explained in the Agni Yoga teaching, negative thoughts and feelings have led to a stifling accumulation of negative energy in the Earth’s aura. The emergence in the planet’s aura of high-vibration cosmic energies which are not compatible with humanity’s low-vibration psychic energies will result in an even greater upset to the balance of natural phenomena - mainly unprecedented seismic activity and, as a result, dangerous natural cataclysms. Therefore, the Authors of the Living Ethics think that the most ‘striking feature’ of the Apocalypse will not be natural changes in themselves, but rather the low level of spiritual development of the greater part of humanity, which may even result in cataclysms and the deaths of a huge number of people. 

At the same time, as the writers of the Agni Yoga emphasize, it would be a mistake only to see the negative aspect of the changes faced by our planet. The Living Ethics, unlike religious teachings, do not consider the period of transition from one Cosmic Era to another to be the ‘end of the world’. The Mahatmas believe that the emergence of a new energy in the Earth’s aura will purge the planet of anti-evolutionary forces and bring about a new, progressive era in the development of the planet and humanity. As confirmed in the Agni Yoga teaching, the Apocalypse will not be the end of the world, but rather a prototype for a type of cosmic court “so that everyone will be rewarded or punished for their actions”. This is even mentioned in religious sources. In the biblical Apocalypse, in spite of all the depicted disasters that threaten the human race, it is said that: “And I saw a new sky and a new Earth”. According to Agni Yoga, after the period of global, natural and social-spiritual changes that face the planet and society, the new, bright epoch of Satiya Yuga will come into being. To sum up, it remains merely to point out that, in bestowing their new teaching on the world, the Mahatmas wanted, first and foremost, to warn the world about impending natural changes and thereby to help people to survive a difficult time of transition from one Cosmic Era to another. For this very reason, Agni Yoga has a very clear, practical purpose. It only remains to remind readers that the new Teaching of the Mahatmas is intimately linked with Theosophy and will have to be researched mainly by people from the field of Theosophy.

Last update: januar 2009
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