Akasha (Sanskrit ākāśa आकाश) is a term for either space or æther in traditional Indian cosmology, depending on the religion. The term has also been adopted in Western occultism and spiritualism in the late 19th century. In many modern Indo-Aryan languages and Dravidian languages the corresponding word (often rendered Akash) retains a generic meaning of "sky".
The word in Sanskrit is derived from a root kāś meaning "to be". It appears as a masculine noun in Vedic Sanskrit with a generic meaning of "open space, vacuity". In Classical Sanskrit, the noun acquires the neuter gender and may express the concept of "sky; atmosphere" (Manusmrti, Shatapathabrahmana). In Vedantic philosophy, the word acquires its technical meaning of "an ethereal fluid imagined as pervading the cosmos".
In Vedantic Hinduism, Akasha means the basis and essence of all things in the material world; the first element created. A Vedic mantra “pṛthivyāpastejovāyurākāśāt” indicates the sequence of initial appearance of the five basic gross elements. Thus, first appeared the space, from which appeared air, from that fire or energy, from which the water, and therefrom the earth. It is one of the Panchamahabhuta, or "five gross elements"; its main characteristic is Shabda (sound). The direct translation of Akasha is the word meaning "upper sky" or 'space' in Hinduism.
The Nyaya and Vaisheshika schools of Hindu philosophy state that Akasha or aether is the fifth physical substance, which is the substratum of the quality of sound. It is the One, Eternal, and All Pervading physical substance, which is imperceptible.
Akasha is space in the Jain conception of the cosmos. Akasha is one of the six dravyas (substances) and it accommodates the other five, namely sentient beings or souls (jīva), non-sentient substance or matter (pudgala), principle of motion (dharma), the principle of rest (adharma), and the principle of time (kāla).
It is all-pervading, infinite and made of infinite space-points.
It falls into the Ajiva category, divided into two parts: Loakasa (the part occupied by the material world) and Aloakasa (the space beyond it which is absolutely void and empty). In Loakasa the universe forms only a part. Akasha is that which gives space and makes room for the existence of all extended substances.
The Western mystic-religious philosophy called Theosophy has popularized the word Akasha as an adjective, through the use of the term "Akashic records" or "Akashic library", referring to an etheric compendium of all knowledge and history.
Ervin László in Science and the Akashic Field: An Integral Theory of Everything (2004), based on ideas by Rudolf Steiner, posits "a field of information" as the substance of the cosmos, which he calls "Akashic field" or "A-field". Ervin László sets out a clear paradigm in this work, in line with the latest scientific discoveries on the one hand, and ancient philosophies of high stature on the other (Advaita Vedanta). He clearly explains the transition area between the non-manifested Potence (the Absolute) and the manifested (the Universe): a causal Field outside time and space in which all information about the manifested is "saved". László describes it as a non-dimensional holographic imprint. Everything manifested is in-formed from this A-Field (Akasha) on a micro and macro level.
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