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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Akasa

(Ākāśa) A Sanskrit term that has several but related meanings: (1) the primordial substance or spiritual essence that pervades all space; (2) it is Space itself; (3) the fifth cosmic element; (4) the “tablet of memory” that records all events. Akasa literally means “shining” or “luminous.”

In its highest aspect, akasa is the primordial substance that is the foundation of the cosmos, equivalent to Mulaprakriti in Vedanta. Thus akasa is the basis of the different manifested prakritis or substances of the universe. It is equivalent to the Hindu SVABHAVAT, the Adi-Buddhi of the Northern Buddhist, CHAOS in Greek mythology, BYTHOS of the Gnostics, and the Brahmanical “pradhana.” Some writers equate it with the “waters” in the opening lines of Genesis.

In Helena P. Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine, akasa is the vehicle through which Divine Ideation manifests. Apart from the physical plane, the lowest manifestation of akasa is the astral light.

As universal space, it is equivalent to Aditi of the Vedas, the Tibetan Tho-og, and alaya of the Northern Buddhists. In The MAHATMA LETTERS TO A.P. SINNETT, it is stated that “we recognize but one element in Nature (whether spiritual or physical) outside which there can be no Nature since it is Nature itself, and which as the Akasa pervades our solar system, every atom being part of itself, pervades throughout space and is space in fact, which pulsates as in profound sleep during the pralayas, and [is] the universal Proteus, the ever active Nature during the Manvantaras” (ML, p. 168).

As the fifth cosmic element, it is the fifth of the tattvas or cosmic elements: Adi (Primordial), Anupapadaka (the Parentless), Akasa (Aether), Taijasa (fire), Vayu (Air), Apas(Water), Prithivi (Earth). Akasa is said to originate from the third or manifested Logos. It must be noted that this aether is not the same as the ether of physics, which in turn is different from the ether of chemistry. The ether in physics is equivalent to what is known as astral light.

Akasa is more popularly known for its connection with the “akasic records,” which is the memory of all the events in the universe. All phenomena are automatically recorded in akasic matter, and they can be “read” by those who possess the necessary faculties to do so. This recording is happening on all the planes.

The term akasa or akasic is also used in certain special senses by the Mahatmas:

a. The unconscious state of the dead person in kama-loka is referred to as being in an akasic sleep (ML, p. 263). When victims of accidents are those who are “so good and pure, [they are] drawn immediately within the Akasic Samadhi, i.e., to fall into a state of quiet slumber, a sleep full of rosy dreams, during which they have no recollection of the accident” (ML, p. 197). This state is also used in describing the state of unconsciousness “when the sixth and seventh [principles] carrying off a portion of the fifth have gone into their Akasic Samadhi” (ML, p. 213).

b. When an adept can use his powers without paralyzing the physical or mental bodies, he does so with the use of “an akasic film interposed between the outer and the inner man” (ML, p. 257).

c. The earth’s atmosphere is constantly affected by akasa. “Science would be unwilling to admit that all these changes are due to akasic magnetism incessantly generating electric currents which tend to restore the disturbed equilibrium” (ML, p. 317). Furthermore, the adepts are able to study the atmosphere without being disturbed by the constant atmospheric tremors “for we have means of arresting, or counteracting such tremors — acquainted as we are with all the akasic conditions” (ML, p. 320).

See TATTVA; ASTRAL LIGHT.

V.H.C.

 

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