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Akasha (devanāgarī: आकाश Ākāśa) is a Sanskrit word meaning "space, sky". In Hinduism it is the first (and highest) element (mahābhūta) in creation, after which follow four more (Air, Fire, Water, and Earth).

In the Theosophical view Akasha is seen as the spiritual Primordial Substance that pervades the whole space, and from which the cosmos is developed. Before the beginning of manifestation, Akasha is said to contain in seed the Logos of the system to-be. When the hour for re-awakening strikes, the Logos develops in Akasha and the Divine Thought of the former differentiates the primordial substance into all the manifested planes and forms in the Cosmos.

In the listing of cosmic planes, Akasha is regarded as the fifth one (counting from the lowest plane "upwards"), the plane of Mahat or the Divine Thought. However, it is also reflected on the corresponding Prakritic planes.

General description

H. P. Blavatsky defined it as follows:

Âkâsa (Sk.). The subtle, supersensuous spiritual essence which pervades all space; the primordial substance erroneously identified with Ether. But it is to Ether what Spirit is to Matter, or Âtmâ to Kâma-rûpa. It is, in fact, the Universal Space in which lies inherent the eternal Ideation of the Universe in its ever-changing aspects on the planes of matter and objectivity, and from which radiates the First Logos, or expressed thought. This is why it is stated in the Purânas that Âkâsa has but one attribute, namely sound, for sound is but the translated symbol of Logos--“Speech” in its mystic sense.[1]

Akasha is frequently identified with the cosmic fifth principle (counting from below upwards):

Akâsa—of which Ether is the grossest form—the fifth universal Cosmic Principle (to which corresponds and from which proceeds human Manas).[2]

This principle is sometimes referred to as primordial or cosmic substance, which is the vehicle of the Divine Thought, or Cosmic Ideation.[3] It is the higher aspect of the manifested cosmic matter or Prakriti:

The Tibetan esoteric Buddhist doctrine teaches that Prakriti is cosmic matter, out of which all visible forms are produced; and Akâsa that same cosmic matter—but still more imponderable, its spirit, as it were, “Prakriti” being the body or substance, and Akâsa-Sakti its soul or energy.[4]

Akâsa, then, is Pradhâna in another form. . . . It is, as said, the noumenon of the seven-fold differentiated Prakriti.[5]

After a Maha-pralaya Akasha is "resolved back again into the primary state of abstract potential objectivity" (mulaprakriti). When the manvantaric impulse re-awakens and Akasha is evolved, it becomes the upadhi of the cosmic ideation.[6]

In the esoteric view akasha is septenary as anything else in the cosmos:

The realm of Akâsa is the undifferentiated noumenal and abstract Space which will be occupied by Chidakasam, the field of primordial consciousness. It has several degrees, however, in Occult philosophy; in fact, “seven fields.” The first is the field of latent consciousness which is coeval with the duration of the first and second unmanifested Logoi. It is the “Light which shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehended it not” of St. John’s Gospel. When the hour strikes for the Third Logos to appear, then from the latent potentiality there radiates a lower field of differentiated consciousness, which is Mahat, or the entire collectivity of those Dhyan-Chohans of sentient life of which Fohat is the representative on the objective plane and the Manasaputras on the subjective. The Astral Light is that which mirrors the three higher planes of consciousness, and is above the lower, or terrestrial plane; therefore it does not extend beyond the fourth plane, where, one may say, the Akâsa begins.[7]

Akasha and magic

Akasha is connected with the power behind all magical operation. Mme. Blavatsky wrote:

In the same sacrifice (the Jyotishtoma Agnishtoma) it is called the “God Âkâsa”. In these sacrificial mysteries Âkâsa is the all-directing and omnipotent Deva who plays the part of Sadasya, the superintendent over the magical effects of the religious performance, and it had its own appointed Hotri (priest) in days of old, who took its name. The Âkâsa is the indispensable agent of every Krityâ (magical performance) religious or profane. The expression ”to stir up the Brahmâ”, means to stir up the power which lies latent at the bottom of every magical operation, Vedic sacrifices being in fact nothing if not ceremonial magic. This power is the Âkâsa--in another aspect, Kundalini--occult electricity, the alkahest of the alchemists in one sense, or the universal solvent, the same anima mundi on the higher plane as the astral light is on the lower.[8]

According to C. W. Leadbeater

C. W. Leadbeater wrote:

Like so many others of our Theosophical terms, the word âkâsha has been very loosely used. In some of our earlier books it was considered as synonymous with astral light, and in others it was employed to signify any kind of invisible matter, from Mulaprakriti down to the physical ether. In later books its use has been restricted to the matter of the mental plane.[9]

In Hinduism

In Hinduism Akasha (often translated as "space", "ether", or even "sky") is the chief and more subtle of the "five elements" (Panchamahabhuta). It is the first to be created, and forms the basis and essence of all things in the visible universe. In this sense, it is regarded as the one, eternal, and all pervading imperceptible substance. Its main characteristic or property is Shabda (sound), of which it is the substratum.

See also

Additional resources




  1. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Theosophical Glossary (Krotona, CA: Theosophical Publishing House, 1973), 13.
  2. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), fn. 13.
  3. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 326.
  4. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. III (Wheaton, Ill: Theosophical Publishing House, 1968), fn. 405.
  5. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 256.
  6. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 328.
  7. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988), 360.
  8. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Theosophical Glossary (Krotona, CA: Theosophical Publishing House, 1973), 13.
  9. Charles Webster Leadbeater, Clairvoyance, (Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1986), ??.