Mapping theosophical terminology

From Anthroposophy

This page is not intended to give a complete exhaustive overview of theosophical terminology, for this see the Reference section below.

However, certain early lectures by Rudolf Steiner covered themes that were never covered again later. And given these were given in the very early years 1903-1905, purely sanskrite terms borrowed from theosophy were used. On this site these were necessarily retained because there is no obvious anthroposophical equivalent term or more modern spiritual scientific alternative term.


1904-11-09-GA089 uses the following key terms, see Schema FMC00.187 and Christ Module 7 - Cosmic dimension

  • sthula sharira
  • linga sharira
  • karana sharira


Lecture coverage and references

Mahat (Sans.) Lit. "The Great One." The first principle of Universal Intelligence and consciousness. In the Puranic philosophy, the first product of root-nature or Pradhana (the same as Mulaprakriti); the producer of Manas the thinking principle, and of Ahankara, Egotism or the feeling of "I am I" in the lower Manas.

Linga Sharira (Sans.) "Astral body," i. e., the aerial symbol of the body.

This term designates the doppelganger, or the "astral body" of man or animal. It is the eidolon of the Greeks, the vital and prototypal body, the reflection of the man of flesh. It is born before man and dies or fades out with the disappearance of the last atom of the body.

Sthula Sharira. The Sanskrit name for the human physical body, in Occultism and Vedanta philosophy.

Also in 1905-03-23-GA0XX does Rudolf Steiner use the sharira terms discussing the old sagas of the gods

There was then a company of twelve great Initiates; the thirteenth was their leader. At that time he was not more advanced than the others. This Initiate was called Siga, or Sieg. Having attained a certain age he was capable of surrendering his own individuality to a higher Being, of taking in a higher Being into himself — (That. is one of the greatest Mysteries; the Descent of the Dove into Christ Jesus.) — the individuality of Odin or Wotan. This is the same who had lived as a great Initiate in Atlantis. During the decline of the Atlantean race, Europe, which was then tropical, gradually became a cold realm of mist. The remnants of the Atlanteans came forth from Iceland.

The coming forth of Wotan is represented in the following way. First there were the masses of ice; on this those who came over from the Atlantean world were saved. The cow Autumbh [Audhumla?] licked the ice-masses. Wotan passes through two incarnations, through Bure and Bör. He then became Wotan by reason of the chela individuality of the chela Sieg. Everything which was of the Sieg nature in the chela was synthesised by the name Sieg.

In the first sub-race it was Wotan who was the opponent of Hönar or Wille, and Loki or Weh. Wotan after having incarnated had to go through a severe test. For nine long days after he had been wounded in the side where the heart lies, he had to hang on a cross-beam. To him then came Mimur, and taught him the Runes. (foreshadowing of the Christ deed.) Then came his resurrection. This was his initiation in the first sub-race of the fifth root-race. Wotan then established a Mystery, the origin of humanity itself. First came our Earth, but without the minerals and plants. It was all enclosed in one great individuality, the giant Ymir. He was overcome by Wotan, Wille, and Weh. From him, (Adam Cadmon,) came forth the whole earth. From his skull they made the heavenly dome; he was the macrocosmic man. From him the Gods made the structure of Earth.

From the body of the giant came forth dwarfs which lived in the inner part of the Earth. From the “Plant-men” which the three Gods found, from Asgar, ?ASK?) and Emble (Oak) and Uhne, they formed the physical man. The three Gods constructed the sheaths of man.

Wotan or Odin. . . . . . . . . . Sthula Sharira.

Wille or Hönir. . . . . . . . . . . Linga Sharira.

Weh or Loki . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Kama.

Wotan, Odin gave the Spirit.

Hönir, Wille gave Life and the Law (of Nature.)

Loki or Weh gave Warmth and Colour, Kama.

Thus were the human sheaths constructed by the Gods. The dwarf is the little man who is actually the spiritual; he was the spark that came to fructify man, who from the middle of the Lemurian time, is to form Manas, Buddhi, and Atma. The human Ego had first to take form in the depths, or it would have been immediately transformed into dead mineral by the sunlight.

The Initiation of the second sub-race was as follows: — Wotan was to have the thread of Wisdom. The second sub-race was to evolve slowly to this stage. Wisdom was formed by the Giant Stitunger. (Suttung?) He guarded the draught of Wisdom. The giant had a daughter called Gunlet. Wotan cannot reach the draught of Wisdom, so he changes himself into a serpent and enters the sanctuary of Gunlet in which he remained for three days. The serpent is the Self endowed with Wisdom. What occurred in the Lemurian age is now recapitulated.

The three Gods find the dwarf Antwar, as Hecht, and Otter the son of Hreidmar. Otter has the form of a fish-otter; he is killed by Loki. The father was to receive the skin of Otter filled with gold within and without: — this signifies the permeation of man with the gold of Wisdom. Previously Sthula Sharira, Linga Sharira, and Karana Sharira had been formed. Loki kills that which was formerly on the Earth, Otter, and brings Wisdom, the gold. Besides this gold there was the golden ring.


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References and further reading