Bardesanes

Bardesanes or Bardaisan. A Syrian Gnostic, erroneously regarded as a Christian theologian, born at Edessa (Edessene Chronicle) in 155 of our era (Assemani Bibl.. Orient. i. 389). He was a great astrologer following the Eastern Occult System. According to Porphyry (who calls him the Babylonian, probably on account of his Chaldeeism or astrology), “Bardesanes . . . . held intercourse with the Indians that had been sent to the Cæsar with Damadamis at their head” (De Abst. iv. 17), and had his information from the Indian gymnosophists. The fact is that most of his teachings, however much they may have been altered by his numerous Gnostic followers, can be traced to Indian philosophy, and still more to the Occult teachings of the Secret System. Thus in his Hymns he speaks of the creative Deity as “Father-Mother”, and elsewhere of “Astral Destiny” (Karma) of “Minds of Fire” (the Agni-Devas) &c. He connected the Soul (the personal Manas) with the Seven Stars, deriving its origin from the Higher Beings (the divine Ego); and therefore “admitted spiritual resurrection but denied the resurrection of the body”, as charged with by the Church Fathers. Ephraim shows him preaching the signs of the Zodiac, the importance of the birth-hours and “proclaiming the seven”. Calling the Sun the “Father of Life” and the Moon the “Mother of Life”, he shows the latter “laying aside her garment of light (principles) for the renewal of the Earth”. Photius cannot understand how, while accepting “the Soul free from the power of genesis (destiny of birth)” and possessing free will, he still placed the body under the rule of birth (genesis). For “they (the Bardesanists) say, that wealth and poverty and sickness and health and death and all things not within our control are works of destiny” (Bibl. Cod. 223, p.221—f). This is Karma, most evidently, which does not preclude at all free-will. Hippolytus makes him a representative of the Eastern School. Speaking of Baptism, Bardesanes is made to say (loc. cit. pp. 985-ff “It is not however the Bath alone which makes us free, but the Knowledge of who we are, what we are become, where we were before, whither we are hastening, whence we are redeemed; what is generation (birth), what is re-generation (re.birth)”. This points plainly to the doctrine of re-incarnation. His conversation (Dialogue) with Awida and Barjamina on Destiny and Free Will shows it. “What is called Destiny, is an order of outflow given to the Rulers (Gods) and the Elements, according to which order the Intelligences (Spirit-Egos) are changed by their descent into the Soul, and the Soul by its descent into the body”. (See Treatise, found in its Syriac original, and published with English translation in 1855 by Dr. Cureton, Spicileg. Syriac. in British Museum.)

Source: H.P.Blavatsky - The Theosophical Glossary