In theosophical literature, a planetary chain is composed of a planet or globe and its six non-physical counterparts, totaling seven globes. A chain is the arena of evolution of various classes of beings (elemental, mineral, plant, animal, human, etc.). There are many chains in a solar system, and evolution goes through minor and major cycles and processes within a chain. Earth has its Earth Chain, Venus its Venus Chain, Moon its Moon Chain, etc. To help understand the evolutionary process in the chains, it is necessary to understand the nature of the globes and rounds.
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Globes. All the physical globes in space have their six inner non-physical counterparts (see accompanying diagram). Globe A belongs to the higher planes, while Globe B and C are grosser, while Globe D is the physical globe. In our own planetary chain, Globe D is the physical earth itself. Globes E, F, and G are again non-physical globes.
It should be noted that the highest Globe is sometimes referred to as Globe Z because it is believed that there are higher globes than Globes A and G, but which remain undiscussed in the works of Helena P. BLAVATSKY. It is said that there are a total of twelve globes in all.
Each globe is the sphere of evolution of seven ROOT RACES, each of which has its subraces. Upon the completion of the evolution in one globe, the life-wave leaves that globe and transfers to the next globe (starting from Globe A and going to Globe G).
Rounds. As the life-wave goes from Globe A to G, it completes one round, sometimes called the Inner Round. After Globe G, the life-wave goes back again to Globe A to begin another round, until seven rounds are completed, after which it leaves the chain of globes completely and transfers to other chains. In each round, human evolution is watched over by a MANU, which is also called ROOT-MANU.
During the round, the globe that is left behind by the life-wave will retain dormant life-seeds, called SISHTAS, for the different kingdoms of life, so that it will accelerate the continuation of the evolution in that globe when the life-wave comes back during the next round. This stage of dormancy is also called “obscuration.” The life-seeds during the obscuration period is watched over by a SEED-MANU.
There are seven classes or hierarchies of monads in each chain according to their stages of evolution, and each of the seven occupy one of the globes at any one time. As they move from one globe to another, they follow a certain orderly sequence so that they do not overlap each other. For example, when Class 7 appears in Globe A, then Class 1 will have just moved to Globe B, and so on down to the other classes and globes.
Chains. When the life-wave has finished the seven rounds, it now moves on to another chain. When the last (seventh) round of each chain is started, the globes begin to die out (instead of going into obscuration), from Globe A followed by all the others down to the last. The chain of globes will now go into pralaya or dissolution. Each globe has to transfer its life and energy to another planet, a neutral “laya center.”
The life-wave of every chain therefore comes from another lower and dead chain. Hence it may be said that the life-wave in one chain reincarnates in the next chain. H. P. Blavatsky stresses that this process is perfectly analogous to the death and rebirth of a human being.
Globe A of the Moon Chain does not fully die out until the first monads of the first class have left Globe G of the Moon Chain into the Nirvana which awaits them between the two chains. The monads of the first class of the Moon Chain will thereafter incarnate in Globe A of the Earth in the lowest kingdom. They will attain the human stage during the first round. (Taking note that “human” does not necessarily mean beings similar to our own in form and nature, but denotes a stage which has no equivalent word in the English language.) Class 2 will reach the human stage in Round 2, and so on up to the 4th Round.
Closing of Evolutionary Door. During the fourth round, when the human stage is fully developed, the entrance to the human kingdom is closed, and the later monads will have to await a next chain to become human beings. The Secret Doctrine states that “It is at this point [4th Globe of the 4th Round] that the Cosmic Monad (Buddhi) will be wedded to and become the vehicle of the Atmic Ray, i.e., it (Buddhi) will awaken to an apperception of it (Atman); and thus enter on the first step of a new septenary ladder of evolution, which will lead it eventually to the tenth (counting from the lowest upwards) of the Sephirothal tree, the Crown” (SD I:177).
The only race that can enter the human kingdom after the 4th Round will be the “dumb races,” who were half-descended from humans, and from whom came the anthropoid apes who are destined to die out in the fifth root race. The Secret Doctrine states that the life-wave on the Earth comes from the Moon Chain. The Moon Chain has already completed its evolutionary cycles, and is now in the process of disintegrating. It is stated that the Moon will disappear during the Seventh Round of the Earth Chain. The Earth Chain is still in its Fourth Round, Fourth Globe, Fifth Root Race and Fifth Subrace. Mercury and Venus are far older than the Earth.
Mars and Mercury. In the early years of the Theosophical Society, a controversy arose as to whether Mars and Mercury belonged to the Earth Chain or not. In the writings of A. P. Sinnett, he stated that the two planets were part of the Earth chain. In The Secret Doctrine, H. P. Blavatsky categorically stated that this was a mistake. Mars and Mercury had their own respective chains, as they have their own invisible counterpart globes.