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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Root Races

A theosophical concept that differs from the common anthropological meaning of the word “race.” A root race refers to a specific stage of human development where certain faculties or qualities are being developed. There are seven root races of humanity, with subraces under each one. They begin with the Ethereal and end with the spiritual on the double line of physical and moral evolution. At present, humanity has reached the fifth root race, simultaneously with populations that belong to the third and fourth root races. The fifth root race has reached its 5th subrace.

The Secret Doctrine enumerates the following root races of humanity:

1st Root Race. The first root race did not have physical bodies, and their mind-principle was not functioning, hence were called AMĀNASA, without mind. Manas, or mind, was only awakened in the third root race by the MĀNASAPUTRAS. This primeval race was created out of the astral bodies of the Lunar Pitris or Barhishads, and hence were shadows, or chhāyas. For this reason it is also called Bhūta, or phantom. The first race was sexless and reproduced through fission. It developed the faculty of hearing. Its continent is called Ādi-Varsa, the Imperishable Sacred Land which is the only continent “whose destiny it is to last from the beginning to the end of the Manvantara through each Round” (SD II:6).

2nd Root Race. The second, Hyperborean, race also did not have physical bodies. They reproduced by budding, and developed the sense of touch. The later second race is also called the “Sweat-Born,” because they reproduced by exuding vital fluid which coalesced into an egg-shaped ball, which served as an outside vehicle for a fetus and child. The Hyperboreans were located in a continent near the North Pole comprising the present Northern Asia.

3rd Root Race. Often referred to as the Lemurian race, this race had three stages: (1) the Sweat-Born, which it inherited from the second race; (2) androgynous humans, or “Egg-born;” and (3) the development of the two sexes and their separation. The Secret Doctrine states that the separation of the sexes occurred eighteen million years ago, during its fifth subrace. This is often referred to as “the FALL of Man,” or the first fall.

The Lemurians built huge cities out of stone and lava. The first large cities appeared in the area of what is now Madagascar.

The most significant event during the midpoint of the third root race was the awakening of the Mind Principle, also called “the Coming of the Mānasaputras.” The Mānasaputras were advanced beings who had passed through the human stage in previous Manvantaras, acquiring the full capacity of the mind. They had full knowledge of Kriyaśakti, or the power of the will. They were the ones who activated the Mind-Principle of the third race humans. It is in this connection that we come to the second fall, or the “Fall of the Angels,” due to the disobedience of the Mānasaputras in giving intelligence to man. It is equivalent to the eating of the fruit of “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” (Gen. 2.8, 2.17).

The third root race developed the sense of sight, and this went through three stages: (1) the early third race humans had only one eye and were hermaphrodites; (2) then they passed through a stage where they had three eyes, the third being at the back of the head; (3) the third eye lost its power and petrified (or ossified), and our present pineal gland is its remnant.

The Lemurian continents had two portions: the northern part covered a vast area in the Pacific and Indian Ocean through the Atlantic up to Norway. Its southern part covered the foot of the Himalayas down to the Antarctic Circle.

4th Root Race. The fourth, or Atlantean race, was developed from a nucleus of Northern Lemurian third race human beings. They developed the fourth sense, that of taste, as well as the full development of the two eyes. The Secret Doctrine states that the greatest development of the physical body reached its peak two million years ago, at the midpoint of the fourth root race.

This race also developed speech, which was not necessary during the earlier stages because communication was made through thought-transference. Language was first developed in monosyllables, followed by agglutinative languages, and then by inflectional language, which is the root of present Sanskrit.

Then the fourth race became tall with pride. They mated with “the mindless, the narrow-headed” which bred monsters. They practiced sorcery and became wicked. Then followed the deluge which eventually destroyed the Atlantean civilization. The Secret Doctrine estimates that this was 850,000 years ago, or 200,000 years after the commencement of the Fifth Root Race. According to Solon and Plato, the last remnant of Atlantis, located in what is now the Atlantic Ocean, perished 9,000 years before their time.

The Secret Doctrine states, “The present yellow races are the descendants . . . of the early branches of the Fourth Race. Of the third, the only pure and direct descendants are . . . a portion of the fallen and degenerated Australians, whose far-distant ancestors belonged to a division of the seventh Sub-race of the Third. The rest are of mixed Lemuro-Atlantean descent. They have since then entirely changed in stature and intellectual capacities” (SD II:199 fn.).

5th Root Race. The fifth race developed the sense of smell. The Secret Doctrine states that the fifth root race has been in existence for about one million years. Often referred to as the Aryan race, it has its subraces. The Europeans are its fifth subrace, while the present Americans are the germs of the sixth subrace of the fifth root race. The seventh subrace will start its preparations in 25,000 years, after which there will be cataclysms that will destroy Europe and the whole fifth root race. The race will however overlap with the 6th root race for many hundreds of thousands of years more.

6th Root Race. As the sixth root race is on the ascending arc, it will “be rapidly growing out of its bonds of matter, and even of flesh” (SD II:446). This seems to suggest that the bodies or vehicles of the future races will return to becoming more ethereal and androgynous. The Secret Doctrine further states that “there will be no more Americans when the Sixth Race commences; no more, in fact, than Europeans; for they will have now become a new race, and many new nations. Yet the Fifth will not die, but survive for a while: overlapping the new Race for many hundred thousands of years to come, it will become transformed with it . . .” (Idem.).

The next sense to be developed will be the faculty of normal clairvoyance.

7th Root Race. Not much information is provided on the seventh root race. It is expected that it will be more ethereal than the sixth. Great adepts and initiated ascetics “will ‘once more produce Mind-born immaculate Sons . . .’ (SD II:275).”

See Chain, Planetary; Manus; Vaivasvata Manu; Deluge.

V.H.C.

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