Man: Whence, How and Whither

The Civilisation of Atlantis

Source: Man Whence How And Whither (1913 reprint 1946)
by Annie Besant; Leadbeater, C. W

Atlantis: A Glimpse into Its Greatness

Atlantis influenced many countries and built grand civilizations. Places like Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, and the Americas experienced their presence and the empires they created. These civilizations reached heights of glory that today’s societies have yet to surpass. In this summary, we’ll explore some of the remarkable aspects of Atlantis, with details provided by Mr. Scott-Elliot in his work “The Story of Atlantis.”

The City of the Golden Gates

Mr. Scott-Elliot describes the famous City of the Golden Gates as surrounded by a beautiful, park-like landscape dotted with villas of the wealthy. To the west, a mountain range provided the city’s water. The city itself was built on the slopes of a hill rising about 500 feet from the plain. At the summit, the Emperor’s palace and gardens were fed by a perpetual stream of water, which cascaded down through a series of canals and moats that divided the city into three concentric belts.

  1. Upper Belt: This area featured a circular racecourse, large public gardens, and the residences of court officials. A notable institution here was the ‘Strangers’ Home,’ a palace where visitors were treated as guests of the government.
  2. Middle and Lower Belts: These belts housed the majority of the city’s inhabitants and various temples. The lowest belt also contained poorer houses and was home to those connected with shipping.

Other towns on the plains were protected by immense earth banks faced with metal plates, forming nearly impregnable barriers against contemporary weapons. However, these towns were vulnerable to aerial attacks by Atlantean air-ships, which could drop bombs and poison gas.

Advanced Technology and Scientific Achievements

Atlanteans were skilled in many advanced technologies. They developed air-ships and weapons that could project fire-tipped arrows, akin to rockets. Their knowledge extended to manipulating natural forces for propulsion and construction, even achieving feats such as making heavy objects repel the earth’s gravity.

Social and Economic Structure

The Toltec land system, detailed in chapters on Peru, fostered general well-being and the absence of poverty through universal primary education. The government was designed to benefit everyone, leading to a higher standard of living compared to modern times.

Use of Metals and Alchemical Practices

Metals like gold, silver, and aurichalcum were used extensively, often produced alchemically rather than mined. These metals were integral to the rich decorative schemes and elaborate armor used in pageants and ceremonies.

Dietary Habits

The common people ate meat, fish, and even reptiles, often cooking entire animals over fires. The higher classes had similar diets but kept their meat-eating habits more discreet. The Divine King and his close associates consumed grains, vegetables, fruits, and milk.

Governance and Decline

Governance was autocratic under the Divine Kings, with a focus on the welfare of the people. However, as power passed to less capable rulers, corruption set in, leading to societal decay. The immense wealth and luxury eventually undermined Atlantis, leading to its fall.

Despite their achievements, Atlantis fell due to the misuse of their advanced knowledge. The legacy of Atlantis passed on to the Aryan race, which continues to build on its foundations and may surpass its glory in the future.

Governance in Atlantis

Government Structure:

  • Autocratic System: Atlantis was governed under an autocratic system where the Divine Kings held absolute power. This system was believed to be the best for the people during the prime of Toltec civilization.
  • Divine Kings: The rulers, known as Divine Kings, were considered to have divine authority and were central to maintaining order and prosperity.
  • Governors: Each province was overseen by governors who were held accountable for the well-being and happiness of their regions. Negligence or failure leading to crime or famine was seen as a reflection of their incompetence.

Selection and Training of Officials:

  • Upper Class Selection: Governors and other officials were primarily drawn from the upper classes.
  • Merit-Based Advancement: Promising children, regardless of their background, were identified and trained in higher schools for state service.
  • Gender Equality: Both men and women could hold any office in the state, as there were no gender-based disqualifications.

Rules and Customs

Social Structure:

  • Absence of Poverty: There was a notable lack of poverty, with even slaves being well-fed and clothed.
  • Wealth and Luxury: The society saw immense growth in wealth and luxury, contributing to its eventual decline as knowledge and power were misused for personal gain.

Daily Life and Customs:

  • Public Hospitality: Strangers visiting the city were treated as guests of the government and accommodated in luxurious facilities.
  • Diet: Food customs varied by class. The masses consumed meat, fish, and even reptiles, while the higher classes favored grains, vegetables, fruits, and milk. The Divine King and close associates adhered strictly to a vegetarian diet.

Military and Technology

Military Strength:

  • Airships and Bombs: The Atlanteans had developed advanced airships (akin to modern aeroplanes) capable of dropping bombs that released poisonous vapors.
  • Advanced Weapons: They possessed weapons that could project fire-tipped arrows, resembling deadly rockets, and other sophisticated arms.
  • City Defenses: Cities were protected by massive earthworks and metal barriers, making them nearly impregnable to contemporary weapons.

Technological Achievements:

  • Water Management: The City of the Golden Gates had an elaborate water system with concentric canals and cascading waterfalls.
  • Scientific Breeding and Agriculture: There were advanced practices in breeding plants and animals, and the use of colored glass to promote plant growth.
  • Energy Manipulation: The Atlanteans possessed knowledge of forces that could repel gravity, facilitating the construction of large structures.
  • Alchemy: Metals were often produced alchemically rather than mined, and were used extensively in decoration and domestic utensils.

Clairvoyance and Scientific Knowledge:

  • Clairvoyance: The use of clairvoyance was common, allowing the observation of natural processes that are invisible to most.
  • Application in Crafts: This knowledge was applied to various arts and crafts, enhancing daily life and the economy.

Threats and Decline

Internal Corruption:

  • Abuse of Power: As power passed to younger generations, abuses and corruption increased, leading to social and political troubles.
  • Luxury and Decay: The unchecked growth of wealth and luxury contributed to the civilization’s decline, as knowledge and power were misused.

External Threats:

  • Air Attacks: Despite strong city defenses, Atlantean cities were vulnerable to attacks from the air, which could drop deadly bombs.


From Man: whence, how and whither; a record of clairvoyant investigation (1913)

ATLANTIS peopled many countries with its subraces, and built many splendid civilisations. Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, North and South America, knew them, and the Empires they raised endured for long, and reached a point of glory that the Aryan Race has not yet overtopped. The chapters XI — XIII on Peru and Chaldea in the present work shew remnants of their greatness, and these may be supplemented by some additional details.

Mr. Scott-Elliot thus describes the famous City of the Golden Gates: “A, beautifully wooded park-like country surrounded the city. Scattered over a large area of this were the villa-residences of the wealthier classes. To the west lay a range of mountains, from which the water-supply of the city was drawn. The city itself was built on the slopes of a hill, which rose from the plain about five hundred feet. On the summit of this hill lay the Emperor’s palace and gardens, in the centre of which welled up from the earth a never-ending stream of water, supplying first the palace and the fountains in the gardens, thence flow-

*A good account of this may be read in The Story of Atlantis by W. Scott-Elliot. The writers of the present book were among the collaborateurs who collected the materials therein so ably arranged and presented, so the ground is very familiar to us.

ing in the four directions, and falling in cascades into a canal or moat which encompassed the palace grounds, and thus separated them from the city which lay below on every side. Prom this canal four channels led the water through four quarters of the city to cascades which, in their turn, supplied another encircling canal at a lower level. There were three such canals forming concentric circles, the outermost and lowest of which was still above the level of the plain. A fourth canal at this lowest level, but on a rectangular plan, received the constantly flowing waters, and in its turn discharged them into the sea. The city extended over part of the plain, up to the edge of this great outermost moat, which surrounded and defended it with a line of waterways extending about twelve miles by ten miles square.

“It will thus be seen that the city was divided into three great belts, each hemmed in by its canals. The characteristic feature of the upper belt, that lay just below the palace grounds, was a circular racecourse and large public gardens. Most of the houses of the court officials also lay on this belt, and here also was an institution of which we have no parallel in modern times. The term ‘Strangers’ Home’ amongst us suggests a mean appearance and sordid surroundings; but this was a palace where all strangers who might come to the city were entertained as long as they might choose to stay — being treated all the time as guests of the Government. The detached houses of the inhabitants and the various temples scattered throughout the city occupied the other two belts. In the days of the Toltec greatness there seems to have been no real poverty — even the retinue of slaves attached to most houses being well fed and clothed — but there were a number of comparatively poor houses in the lowest belt to the north, as well as outside the outermost canal towards the sea. The inhabitants of this part were mostly connected with the shipping, and their houses, though detached, were built closer together than in other districts/’

Other large towns, built on the plains, were protected by immense banks of earth, sloping towards the town, and sometimes terraced, while, on the outward side, they were faced with thick plates of metal, clamped together; these were supported on great beams of wood, the uprights being driven deeply into the earth; when these were in place, and connected with heavy crossbars, the plates were attached to them, overlapping like scales, and then the space between the earth-work and the barrier was filled with earth, solidly rammed together. The whole formed a practically impregnable barrier against the spears, swords, and bows and arrows which were the usual weapons of the time. But such a city necessarily lay open to assaults from above, and the Atlanteans carried the making of air-ships — aeroplanes, we should call them now — to a high pitch of excellence; and, if such a city were to be attacked, these birds-of-war were sent to hover over it, and to drop into it bombs which burst in the air, and discharged a rain of heavy poisonous vapour, destructive of human life. Allusions to these may be found in the conflicts related in the great epics and Puranas of the Hindus. They had also weapons which projected sheaves of fi re-tipped arrows, which scattered far and wide as they hurtled through the air like deadly rockets, and many others of similar kinds, all constructed by men well-versed in the higher branches of scientific knowledge. Many of these are described in the very ancient books above referred to, and they are mentioned as being given by some superior Being. The knowledge required for their construction was never made common.

The land system of the Toltecs will be described in the chapters on Peru, and the absence of poverty and the general well-being of the population were largely due to the provision therein made for universal primary education. The whole scheme of government was planned out by the Wise for the benefit of all, and not by special classes for their own advantage. Hence the general comfort was immensely higher than in modern civilisations.

Science was carried far, for the use of clairvoyance being habitual, the processes of nature, now invisible to most, were readily observed. Its applications to arts and crafts were also numerous and useful. The rays of sunshine, sent through coloured glass, were used for promoting the growth of plants and animals ; scientific breeding was carefully carried out for the improvement of promising species ; experiments were tried in crossing — e.g., the crossing of wheat with various grasses produced different kinds of grain; less satisfactory were the attempts which produced

wasps from bees, and white ants from ants.1 The seedless banana was evolved from a melon-like ancestor, containing, like the melon, large quantities of seeds. Forces, the knowledge of which has been lost, were known to the science of the day; one of these was used for the propulsion of both air-and water-ships; another for so changing the relation of heavy bodies to the earth, that the earth repelled instead of attracting them, so making the raising of gigantic stones to a lofty height a matter of the greatest ease. The subtler of these were not applied by machinery, but were controlled by will-power, using the thoroughly understood and developed mechanism of the human body, ‘ ‘ the vina of a thousand strings “.

Metals were much used and admirably wrought, gold, silver and aurichalcum being those most employed in decoration, and in domestic utensils. They were more often alchemically produced than sought for in the crust of the earth, and were often very artistically introduced to add richness to schemes of decoration, carried out in brilliant colours. Armour was gorgeously inlaid with them, and that used merely for show in pageants and ceremonies was often entirely made of the precious metals; golden helmets, breastplates and greaves being worn on such occasions over tunics and stockings of the most brilliant colours — scarlet, orange, and a very exquisite purple.

Food differed in different classes. The masses of the people ate meat, fish, and even reptiles — perhaps one should not say ‘even,’ remembering the turtle of our City Fathers. The carcase of an animal, with all its contents, was slit down the breast and stomach, and hung up over a large fire ; when it was thoroughly cooked through it was removed from the fire, the contents were scooped out and, among the more refined, placed on dishes, while the rougher people gathered round the carcase itself, and plunged their hands into its interior, selecting toothsome dainties — a plan which sometimes led to quarrels ; the rest was thrown away or given to domestic animals, the flesh itself being considered as offal. The higher classes partook of similar food, but those belonging immediately to the Court made rather a secret of such banquets. The Divine King, of course, and those closely connected with Him, ate only food composed of grains cooked in various ways, vegetables, fruits, and milk, the latter being drunk as a liquid, or made into many sweet preparations. Fruit-juices were also largely used as drinks. Some of the courtiers and dignitaries, while partaking of these milder comestibles publicly, were observed quietly stealing “away to their private chambers and feasting on more toothsome viands, among which fish, as ‘high’ as modern game, played a not inconspicuous part.

Government was autocratic, and in the palmy days of Toltec civilisation under the Divine Kings, no system could have been happier for the people ; but as the unchecked powers They wielded passed into the hands of younger souls, abuses crept in and troubles arose ; for here, as everywhere, decay began in the corruption of the highest. The system was that Governors were held accountable for the welfare and happiness of their provinces, and crime or famine was regarded as due to their negligence or incapacity. They were drawn chiefly from, the upper classes, but specially promising children were drafted out into the higher schools to be trained for the service of the State, whenever they were found. Sex was no disqualification, as it is now, for any office in the State.1

The immense growth of wealth and of luxury gradually undermined the most splendid civilisation that the world has yet seen. Knowledge was prostituted to individual gain, and control over the powers of nature was turned from service to oppression. Hence Atlantis fell, despite the glory of its achievements and the might of its Empires ; and the leading of the world passed into the hands of a daughter Eace, the Aryan, which, though it has to its credit many magnificent achievements in the past, has not yet reached the zenith of its glory and its power, and will, some centuries hence, rise even higher than Atlantis rose in its palmiest days.

We have chosen two daughter civilisations which grew up in later days, far from the great centre of the fourth Root Eace — one descended from the third sub-race, the Toltec, the other from the fourth subrace, the Turanian — in order to give a more vivid and detailed picture of the level reached by the Atlanteans. These did not form part of the investigations made in the summer of 1910, and chronicled in the present book; they were done during the last decade of the nineteenth century by the present writers, working with some other members of the T. S., whose names we are not at liberty to give. One of the present writers put them into the form of articles for The Theosophical Review, and these articles are here reprinted in their proper place, as part of a much larger work.

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