THE FOURTH RACE — ATLANTEANS.
We have hitherto pursued the general evolution of the human race, and have not spoken about its different tribes and branches; but it has been stated that during each Ring seven difference races have their rise and fall on a planet. During the present Ring our earth has seen the predominance of four different races, the ruling race now being the fifth. It must not be imagined that one race has to completely die out before another steps into the arena of life, but the period during which any one race acquires supremacy is said to belong to that race. Geologically speaking, the present is the age of man, but that does not mean that fishes do not swim in our waters, reptiles crawl along our paths, and quadrupeds dwell in our forests. Although the fifth race is the predominant one, it must not be forgotten that the fourth, and even the third race, have yet their representatives living. Among the present habitants of the earth, the black or negroid branches are the earliest, and therefore the least important; next comes the red-yellow races; and the cream of the earth's population is the brown-white race. Popularly speaking, this race is the Aryan family of mankind, speaking languages the affinity of which for each other is now an established fact.
In order to comprehend the progress of humanity through the different races, it is necessary to remember what large tracks of time are occupied by each of these races. Thus the present race had its origin more than a million years ago; it was preceded by the fourth and third races, each of which had its period of supremacy. Biblical chronology, and even geological calculations, will be offended by this statement, but it is supported by the experience of living adepts as well as by the sacred chronology of the ancients. If the temple records of ancient Egypt, of Chaldea, or of India be recovered for the modern world, we shall find how modern history and modern science have but picked up stray facts and pieced them together, without any knowledge of their position in time. Geology will hardly allow man any existence on this earth before the glacial period, but the esoteric teachers know that civilizations greater than that of Greece or Rome flourished before that epoch, and had their day. It would be a gigantic task to remove all the misconceptions that exist on the subject. We shall not waste time and energy by trying to fight the brood of error that infests the world, but shall state some events connected with the ancient history of our race, so far as permitted, and show their consistency with received facts.
It is known to all occultists that the first civilization
in the present
with the third race, of which lingering remnants are now to be found among the
flat-headed Australians. These degraded specimens of humanity, strange though
it might seem, are descended from ancestors whose civilization antedated by
aeons that of Phoenicia or Babylon. At first sight it may be very difficult to
account for the continuance of the representatives of a high primeval
civilization, which has left no traces that we can recognize. Students of the
occult sciences know, however, that the end of the period of each
race-supremacy is marked by a great cataclysm alternately of fire and water. If
civilized Europe of to-day be visited by such a convulsion of Nature, its
civilization will vanish; there are no pyramids which will remind its
successors of its departed glory; and those among its population who escape,
being deprived of all conditions of civilization life, will soon lapse into
barbarism. Although civilization began with the third race, it must not be
imagined that the second-race men were savages; since the conditions of their
existence, it will be seen, were such as to render civilization or barbarism,
as we know them, equally impossible.
The earliest civilization of which unmistakable traces have come down to us belonged to the fourth race, the so-called Atlanteans. To this period belongs the civilization mentioned in such books as Popul Vuh, Uttara Ramayana, and others. In the celebrated Sanscrit epic of Valmiki we find copious accounts of the civilization of a race of Atlanteans who dwelt near the mainland of India. The material prosperity of this people was very much in advance of the Aryans of the time. Their knowledge of the secret resources of Nature was something wonderful; they knew how to navigate aerial vehicles with the help of the subtle agency which Bulwer Lytton refers to under the name of Vril. Their houses, like those of the ancient Peruvians, were floored with gold. The weapons of destruction they constantly used were so far superior to those known to us as to be hardly conceivable. Art, literature, and science had their origin during this race period; but the Aryans had to develop their own civilization before they came in contact with the Atlanteans. Very little of the literature of the Atlanteans is now preserved, and their art and science have scarcely left any vestige except in China. By their superior knowledge the fourth race developed a material civilization, the like of which has not yet been seen on this earth. Their vast literature has almost entirely disappeared from the world; though one of the principal astronomical works in Sanscrit, called the Surya Siddhanta, is the production of an Atlantean astronomer. In this book mention is made of the seven islands of Atlantis — Plakshadvipa and others — and their geographical position marked with scientific accuracy. Another celebrated astronomer, who is always alluded to as Asura Maya, was a native of Atlantis, although Professor Weber, entirely misapprehending the meaning of the first part of this name, tries to transform him into the Greek Ptolemaios. Asura was the generic appellation of all the Atlanteans, who were the enemies of the spiritual heroes of the Aryas (gods). This rough account of the Atlanteans refers to the period when they came into contact with the Aryans , and consequently were going down the cycle of their supremacy. The record of their grandeur before that period (and it must be remembered that the Atlanteans attained their highest pitch of civilization and progress long before the Aryans emerged out of their swaddling-clothes) is preserved in books inaccessible to the world at large, and treasured with zealous care in the secret libraries of temples and lamaseries and the crypts and caverns of the initiated mystics.
It may be a matter of surprise to find them described in the Brahmanical writings as Rakshasas — a term signifying "raw-eaters" — and their power of smell credited with wonderful acuteness; but the solution of the difficulty is to be found in the order of the development of the senses in the different races and sub-races. Ours being the fifth race has developed the sense of taste more than any preceding, while the sense of smell attained its greatest perfection in the fourth race.
The occult record shows that a considerable
part of India was, at the time of the Aryan settlement, in the
occupation of the Atlanteans; so also parts of Europe, specially
Greece and Italy, not to mention their African colonies in Egypt and
on the Mediterranean coast. Regarding the Atlantean ancestors of the
Greeks and Romans, one of our teachers 
"The Atlantean 'old Greeks' could not be designated even as the Autochtones — a convenient term used to dispose of the origin of any people whose ancestry cannot be traced, and which, at any rate with the Hellenes, meant certainly more than simply 'soil-born', or primitive aborigines; and yet the so-called fable of Deukalion and Pyrrha is surely no more incredible or marvellous than that of Adam and Eve — a fable that hardly a hundred years ago no one would have dared or even thought to question. And in its esoteric significance, the Greek tradition is possibly more truly historical than many a so-called historical event during the period of the Olympiades, though both Hesiod and Homer may have failed to record the former in their epics".
"Peradventure", says the same teacher, [Theosophist, October 1883] "had the historians learned something more than they have of the Italian 'Autochtones' — the Iapygians — one might have given the 'old Romans' the latter name. But then there would be again that other historical difficulty: history knows that the Latin invaders drove before them and finally cooped up this mysterious and miserable race among the clefts of the Calabrian, thus showing the absence of any race affinity between the two. Moreover, Western archaeologists keep to their own counsel, and will accept of no other but their own conjectures; and they have failed to make anything out of their undecipherable inscription in an unknown tongue and mysterious characters on the Iapygians monuments, and so for years have pronounced them unguessable. . . . . The records of the occultists make no difference between the Atlantean ancestors of the old Greeks and Romans. Partially corroborated, and in turn contradicted, by licensed or recognized history, their records teach that of the ancient Latini of classic legend called Itali — of that people, in short, which, crossing the Apennines (as their Indo-Aryan brothers — let this be known — had crossed before them the Hindoo-Koosh), entered from the north the peninsula — there survived at a period long before the days of Romulas but the name and — a nascent language. Profane history informs us that the Latins of the 'mythical era' got so Hellenized amidst the rich colonies of Magna Graecia, that there remained nothing in them of their primitive Latin nationality. It is the Latins proper, it says, those pre-Roman Italians, who, by settling in Latium, had from the first kept themselves free from the Greek influence, who were the ancestors of the Romans. Contradicting exoteric history, the occult records affirm that if, owing to circumstances too long and complicated to be related here, the settlers of Latium preserved their primitive nationality a little longer than their brothers who had first entered the peninsula with them after leaving the East (which was not their original home), they lost it very soon, for other reasons. Freed from the Samnites during the first period, they did not remain free from invaders. While the Western historian puts together the mutilated, incomplete records of various nations and peoples, and makes them into a clever mosaic according to the best and most profitable plan, and rejects entirely traditional fables, the occultist pays not the slightest attention to the vain self-glorification of alleged conquerors or their lithic inscriptions. . . . . The occultist follows the ethnological affinities and their divergences in the various nationalities, races, and sub-races in a more easy way; and he is guided in this as surely as the student who examines a geographical map. As the latter can easily trace by their differently coloured outlines the boundaries of the many countries and their possessions, their geographical superficies, and their separation by seas, rivers, and mountains, so the occultist can, by following the (to him) well-distinguishable and defined auric shades and gradations of colour in the inner man, unerringly pronounce to which of the seven distinct human families, as also to what particular respective group, and even small sub-group, of the latter belongs such or another people, tribe, or man. This will appear hazy and incomprehensible to the many who know nothing of ethnic varieties of nerve-aura, and disbelieve in any 'inner-man' theory, scientific but to the few. The whole question hangs upon the reality or unreality of the existence of this inner-man whom clairvoyance has discovered, and whose odyle or nerve emanations Von Reichenbach proves. If one admits such a presence and realizes intuitively that, being closer related to the invisible Reality, the inner type must be still more pronounced than the outer physical type, then it will be a matter of little, if any, difficulty to conceive our meaning. For, indeed, if even the respective physical idiosyncrasies and special characteristics of any given person make his nationality usually distinguishable by the physical eye of the ordinary observer, let alone the experienced ethnologist — the Englishman being commonly recognizable at a glance from the Frenchman, the German from the Italian, not to speak of the typical differences between human root-families in their anthropological division — there seems little difficulty in conceiving that the same, though far more pronounced, difference of type and characteristic, should exist between the inner races that inhabit these 'fleshly tabernacles'. Besides this easily discernible psychological and astral differentiation, there are the documentary records in their unbroken series of chronological tables, and the history of the gradual branching off of races and sub-races from the three geological, primeval Races, the work of the Initiates of all the archaic and ancient temples up to date, collected in our 'Book of Numbers', and other volumes".
The divisions of the human race referred to above by the term "root-families" are, more properly speaking, geological races. Teachers of the esoteric doctrine know that the earth at the present time is inhabited by "three entirely distinct primeval races, whose evolution, formation, and development have proceeded pari passu and on parallel lines with the evolution, formation, and development of three geological strata; namely, the Black, the Red-Yellow, the and the Brown-White Races".
Even the sacred writings of the Hindus, accessible to the world, reveal to us many glimpses of the Eastern Atlanteans. During the first period of Aryan settlement in India, the new-comers had constant warfare with the Atlanteans whom they found in possession. At a much later epoch, of which a pretty full account is to be found in the Ramayana, the Atlanteans were scattered far and wide over the face of the country. Incursions by them on the Aryan settlements were few and far between, and it was only in the less populous tracts that the Aryan heroes had to encounter, with almost invariable success, the straggling Atlantean tribes. But there was a very powerful Atlantean empire extending over a number of islands in the Indian seas, and its Emperor Ravana, in spite of many symbolical legends clustering around him, was an historical character to whom many of the Aryan principalities on the mainland were forced to pay tribute. The marvellous powers he obtained over the occult forces are allegorically described in that celebrated Indian epic. The subversion of his empire by Rama, the Aryan hero, marked the extinction of Atlantean supremacy in that part of the world, although, here and there, rich and powerful Atlantean colonies struggled for existence for a very long time. At the battle of Kurukshetra, which according to the Brahmanical calculation took place over 5,000 years ago, Aryan princes fought side by side with their Atlantean allies. Before that date Yudhisthira, the leader of one of the belligerent parties, had his palace, which was unsurpassed in its splendour by that of any other Aryan prince, built and furnished by an Atlantean of the name of Maya, who had inherited some of the transcendental knowledge of his race.
We have said that the Atlanteans possessed full knowledge of some of the subtler forces of Nature now generally unknown to the sons of men. It was with the assistance of this knowledge that they carried forward their development to a point which it is difficult for the ordinary man of to-day to imagine; and it was the abuse of this knowledge that led to their downfall and extinction as a dominant race. The Adepts of our day have all the knowledge of the Atlanteans, and much more, but their highly developed moral nature is always a safeguard against the abuse of power. Those familiar with the method of instruction pursued by them, know how careful they are never to entrust occult knowledge to persons of whose moral integrity and purity of motive they are not absolutely certain. The profane public regard the science of the occult forces of Nature as magical, as a thing which, if true, is of little practical importance. They do not for a moment realize to what purposes of benevolence and malignity this science is applied according to the moral character of the practitioners. The so-called magic, as Bulwer Lytton points out in this "Strange Story", is of two kinds: —
"The dark and evil, appertaining to witchcraft or necromancy; the pure and beneficent, which is but philosophy, applied to certain mysteries in Nature remote from the beaten tracks of science, but which deepened the wisdom of ancient sages, and can yet unriddle the myths of departed races".
Although some of the occult forces of Nature may be known and wielded by persons of low and selfish moral character, the highest mysteries will always be reserved for the pure and the unselfish. We need not discuss here the ultimate effect brought on the devotees of black magic, by their own wicked practices. The tortures of a theological hell are nothing in comparison to the punishment which the immutable law brings upon the sons of evil. The great cataclysms which close the cyclic degeneration of races, are brought about when the increase of these spiritually debased black magicians renders a general conflict between them and the Adepts of the Good Law inevitable; the struggle continues until the periodic cataclysm sweeps away the doomed race, and prepares the ground for the growth and prosperity of the succeeding one. In all religions the memory of such conflicts is preserved under different names and symbols. This is the combat of Michael and his angels against the Dragon; of the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness; of the Devas against the Asuras. The last of such great conflicts was followed by the submergence of the last mainland of Atlantis. "The great event", says  our Master, "the triumph of our sons of the fire-mist (the adepts), the inhabitants of Shambullah, when yet an island in the Central Asian sea — over the selfish, if not entirely wicked magians of Poseidonis (the last of the Atlantean continents), occurred just 11,446 years ago." 
It must here be mentioned that the adepts who overthrew the power of these black magicians were not all of the fifth race, but many fourth-race men, raised by artificial spiritual culture to the standard of the fifth-race adepts, were found on the victorious side in the great conflict. Ages after this event, which but robbed black magicians of predominance and not of existence, we find Atlantean black magicians at times interfering with the progress and development of students of the real occult science. The school of black magic is by no means extinct even to-day; in fact, numerically speaking, the black magicians are stronger than the followers of Light; and the mystic, from the commencement of his career, feels the malignant influence of these powers of evil. In the great Sanscrit epic of the Mahabharata, we read of a terrible fight between Anusalva, the king of the black magicians of North-Eastern Bengal, a country famous to this day for sorcery and witchcraft, and Krishna and his clan, to the utter discomfiture of the former. About the time of the fall of Buddhism in India, the headquarters of the Indian black magicians were in Malwa in Rajputana. At present there are two principal schools of black magic in the East: the chief seats of one are in and near Cashmere; and of the other, in Bhootan and further East. The black magicians go under various names; their rites and practices are horrible and revolting to a degree, and by them they can invoke the aid of some of the worst principles in Nature — dangerous elementaries, and still more vile and dangerous elementals. The power thus gained is used for the purpose of punishing their enemies or otherwise gratifying their own evil ends. They are on the look-out to injure men, and it often occurs that a person making a good resolution is by them malignantly thwarted in his purpose. The great difference between the adepts and the black magicians is that that the power of the latter can be set in motion only by the force of a concentrated selfishness. They have accentuated their personality (the fifth Principle) by sacrificing to it their spirituality, which is the sixth Principle, the divine spark in man; and in consequence, when the personality fades, as it must when in course of time all Nature is spiritualized, they will meet with the fate of Margrave in the "Strange Story"; they will lose all, and, turning round, have to begin again from the lowest rung of the ladder. This is the eternal damnation of the wicked; the annihilation spoken of in treatises on occultism. It does not mean an absolute negation, but a loss of all the memories that cluster around an individuality from the beginning of its cyclic course; all individualities as such are immortal.
In "Isis Unveiled" the subject of Atlantis has been considered at some length, and a valuable addition made to our stock of knowledge. An old Eastern legend is therein narrated: — There was an island in an extensive sea where now the Gobi desert lies. It was inhabited by band of adepts, the "Sons of God", called Brahman Pitris in Indian sacred books, and in the Chaldean Kabala by another though synonymous term; their island formed a part of the lost continent of Atlantis.
"This race [of adepts]", to quote this authority,  "could live with equal ease in water, air, or fire, for it had an unlimited control over the elements. . . . . It was they [these adepts] who imparted Nature's most weird secrets to men, and revealed to them the ineffable and now lost 'word'. . . . . There was no communication with the fair island by sea, but subterranean passages, known only to the chiefs, communicated with it in all directions".
Following it up, a different authority says that "Atlantis
is mentioned in the 'Secret Books of the East' (as yet virgin of Western
spoliating hand) under another name in the sacred hieratic or
sacerdotal language. And then it will be shown that Atlantis was not merely the
name of one island, but that of a whole continent, of whose isles and islets
many have to this day survived. The remotest ancestors of some of the
inhabitants of the now miserable fishermen's hovel 'Aclo' (once
, near the Gulf of Uraha, were allied at one time as closely with the old
Greeks and Romans as they were with the fourth-race Chinese". strikethrough: original text by authors, HPB corrected
underline: HPB's alternative text
: footnotes, referencing related information elsewhere in the classic theosophical teachings