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A Quick Guide to the

Seven Principles of Man


Adapted for quick reference from

Annie Besant’s Seven Principles of Man



The Lower Quaternary


The four lower principles are discarded on or after physical death and are know as the Lower Quaternary.





The dense physical body of man is called the first of his seven principles, as it is certainly the most obvious. Built of material molecules, in the generally accepted sense of the term –with its five organs of sensation - the five senses -its organs of locomotion, its brain and nervous system, its apparatus for

carrying on the various functions necessary for its continued existence.




The Linga Sharira , the astral body, the ethereal body, the fluidic body, the double, the wraith, the doppelganger, the astral man


The best name is the Etheric Double, because this term designates the second principle only, suggesting its constitution and appearance:





All universes, all worlds, all men, all brutes, all vegetables, all minerals, all molecules and atoms, all that is, are plunged in a great ocean of life, life eternal, life infinite, life incapable of increase or diminution. The universe is only life in manifestation, life made objective, life differentiated.


Now each organism, whether minute as a molecule or vast as a universe, may be thought of as appropriating to itself somewhat of life, of embodying, in itself as its own life some of this universal life.




In building up our man we have now reached the principle sometimes described as the animal soul, in Theosophical parlance Kâma Rűpa, or the desire-body. It belongs to in constitution, and functions on, the second or astral plane. It

includes the whole body of appetites, passions, emotions, and desires which come under the head of instincts, sensations, feelings and emotions, in our Western psychological classification, and are dealt with as a subdivision of mind.



The Upper Triad


The upper three Principles are known as The Upper Triad.





Often referred to as the Mental Body, this principle is divided into Lower and Higher Manas or Higher Mind and Lower Mind


The word Manas comes from the Sanskrit word – man, the root of the verb to think



The lower aspect of the mind principle is concerned with dealing with the world and combines with the Kama or desire principle to form the personality.



This is higher spiritual mind which usually manifests itself on the physical plane by influencing the lower mind. The lower mind can ignore the higher mind.


A distilled essence of Manas is taken into Devachan – the second death. The personality Kama-Mans is discarded during this process.




Atma is piece of the divine within all of us with Buddhi being the vehicle through which the Atman become an individual spiritual entity.





The is some variation among esoteric writers as to the precise divisions of the constitution of man. Here is an example in which the Etheric and the Body of Prana or Energy are regarded as one principle and the Lower and Higher Minds –Manas are regarded as separate principles. Astral is here combined with the Desire Principle -Kama  Some writers postulate that Lower Manas is discarded completely or is conditionally immortal depending on the life lived.


7 Atma Spiritual

6 Buddhi

5 Higher Manas Mental

4 Lower Manas

3 Kâma Astral

2 Prâna. Etheric Double Physical

1 Dense Physical Body


Other variations of the seven principle system can also be found.

Double Physical

Seven Principles of Man By Annie Besant


After Death States


Devachan By H P Blavatsky


The Constitution of Man By C W Leadbeater


After Death By C W Leadbeater


Theosophy and the Number Seven

A selection of articles relating to the esoteric

significance of the Number 7 in Theosophy




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