Senzar The Mystery of the Mystery Language, Part 1

Masonic, Occult and Esoteric Online Library

Senzar The Mystery of the Mystery Language, Part 1

By John Algeo

Some Puzzles About Senzar

Another of H.P.B.'s language comparisons creates a puzzle for interpretation, if we assume that by Senzar she is talking about an ordinary language:

The Neter Khari (hieratic alphabet) and secret (sacerdotal) speech of the Egyptians is closely related to the oldest "Secret Doctrine Speech." It is a Devanagari with mystical combinations and additions, into which the Senzar largely enters. (CW XIV, 97)

Hieratic is a cursive form of Egyptian hieroglyphic writing. Its comparison to Devanagari probably refers only to the sacred use of both scripts; they are quite different in appearance and principles. If "the oldest 'Secret Doctrine Speech'" is Senzar, as seems likely, H.P.B. twice states a relationship between Senzar and hieroglyphics — a difficult statement to understand in view of her earlier linkage of Senzar and Sanskrit, since it and Egyptian have no known affinity.

[Some Russian linguists have proposed a linkage between Hamito-Semitic (which includes Egyptian) and Indo-European (which includes Sanskrit) in a hypothetical Nostratic language family; however, this theory is generally regarded as speculative. In any case, Blavatsky seems to be talking more about writing systems than about language proper in the passage cited above. Her conflation of writing and speech is discussed below.]

There are other puzzles in H.P.B.'s statements about Senzar. One comes during a discussion of the identity of Amida Buddha, in which she states, "'Amida' is the Senzar form of 'Adi'" (CW XIV, 425). Amida is in fact the Japanese form of the Sanskrit word Amitabha, the name of one of the five (or seven) Dhyani Buddhas that symbolize the creative power of the Adi or Primordial Buddha. If we take H.P.B.'s statement as an etymology, she is wrong on two counts. Amida is Japanese, not Senzar (unless Senzar is also Japanese, as well as Sanskrit and Egyptian); and Amida does not mean the same as Adi.

Moreover, H.P.B. must have known those simple facts. It is difficult to imagine that she did not, and therefore she must have meant something other than a simple etymology by her statement. In fact, H.P.B. was not much interested in or concerned about the philologist's form of etymology; she was far more interested in a symbolic connection between things. This peculiar statement must be a symbolic one, a possibility to which we shall return.

As a final instance of the puzzles surrounding Senzar, we can note the legend of the marvelous Kumbum tree. It is a tree that is supposed to grow only in Tibet and to have sprung originally from one of the hairs of the Lama Tsong-Kha-pa, an avatar of the Buddha. Blavatsky quotes an account by the Abbe Huc, who says that the leaves and bark of this tree have impressed upon them letters and characters and that, if the bark is peeled off, different characters appear on the inner layers.

The tale is a familiar sort of traveler's marvelous narrative, but to it H.P.B. adds several details. She says that the writing on the Kumbum tree is

in the Sansar (or language of the Sun) characters (ancient Sanskrit); and that the sacred tree, in its various parts, contains in extenso the whole history of the creation, and in substance the sacred books of Buddhism. In this respect, it bears the same relation to Buddhism as the pictures in the Temple of Dendera, in Egypt, do to the ancient faith of the Pharaohs. (Isis I, 440)

The association of Senzar with Sanskrit has already been noted, and the comparison of Senzar with pictures will be noted below. Blavatsky adds that the Egyptian pictures allegorically represent a cosmogony (Isis I, 441), a significant point since Senzar is also used in the Stanzas of Dzyan to express a cosmogony.

Elsewhere, she repeats the main points about the Kumbum tree and insists that

The letter-tree of Tibet is a fact; and moreover, the inscriptions in its leaf-cells and fibres are in the Senzar, or sacred language used by the Adepts, and in their totality comprise the whole Dharma of Buddhism and the history of the world. (CW IV, 350-51)

The Kumbum tree is as much a mystery as the Senzar writing that appears upon it.

Some of what Blavatsky says about Senzar raises it from the realm of the ordinary to that of the extraordinary — indeed, of the fantastic, if her comments are taken literally. She links Senzar with such different writing systems as hieroglyphics and devanagari. She identifies a Japanese word as a Senzar form of Sanskrit. She says that the legendary Kumbum tree's leaves and bark are impressed with Senzar symbols spelling out the whole of Buddhist teaching and world history. What kind of language can be and do all those things?



Masonic Publishing Company

Purchase This Title

Browse Titles
"If I have seen further than
others, it is by standing
upon the shoulders of giants."


Comasonic Logo

Co-Masonry, Co-Freemasonry, Women's Freemasonry, Men and Women, Mixed Masonry

Copyright © 1975-2024 Universal Co-Masonry, The American Federation of Human Rights, Inc. All Rights Reserved.