Akasha, aka: Ākāśa, Ākāsa, Ākāsa, Ākaṣa; 20 Definition(s)


Akasha means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, Marathi. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

The Sanskrit terms Ākāśa and Ākaṣa can be transliterated into English as Akasa or Akasha, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Hinduism

Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

A type of glance (or facial expression): Ākāśa (sky) : directed towards the sky, the pupil turned far back; indicating things moving above.

(Source): archive.org: The mirror of gesture (abhinaya-darpana)
Natyashastra book cover
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Natyashastra (नाट्यशास्त्र, nāṭyaśāstra) refers to both the ancient Indian tradition (śāstra) of performing arts, (nāṭya, e.g., theatrics, drama, dance, music), as well as the name of a Sanskrit work dealing with these subjects. It also teaches the rules for composing dramatic plays (nataka) and poetic works (kavya).

Yoga (school of philosophy)

Ākāśa (आकाश, “ether”):—One of the five gross elements assigned as a zone (or sphere) to the human body (bhūtamaṇḍala), according the Yogatattva-upaniṣad. The element ether is seated between the eyebrows and the crown of the head. Ether is represented by a circle (vṛtta), a smoky or grey colour (dhūmra) and the syllable ha (ह). The deity presiding over this region is Sadāśiva.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Yoga
Yoga book cover
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Yoga is originally considered a branch of Hindu philosophy (astika), but both ancient and modern Yoga combine the physical, mental and spiritual. Yoga teaches various physical techniques also known as āsanas (postures), used for various purposes (eg., meditation, contemplation, relaxation).

Vastushastra (architecture)

Space (आकाश, ākāśa) is one of the five primary elements (pañcabhūta) forming the basic components of the world, according to Vāstu-śāstra literature. It is because of the presence and balance of these five elements that our planet thrives with life.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Vāstu-śāstra
Vastushastra book cover
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Vastushastra (वास्तुशास्त्र, vāstuśāstra) refers to the ancient Indian science (shastra) of architecture (vastu), dealing with topics such architecture, sculpture, town-building, fort building and various other constructions. Vastu also deals with the philosophy of the architectural relation with the cosmic universe.


1a) Ākāśa (आकाश).—A god to be worshipped in housebuilding.*

  • * Matsya-purāṇa 253. 24; 265. 39.

1b) With dik; a sthāna of Rudra; son, Sarga.*

  • * Viṣṇu-purāṇa I. 8. 7-11.

1c) The ether, stands uncovered, formless, devoid of rasa, sparśa and gandha; its characteristic is śabda.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 102. 15, 17; Matsya-purāṇa 3. 23.
(Source): Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purana book cover
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The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

Vaisheshika (school of philosophy)

Ākāśa (आकाश, “ether”) is one of the nine dravyas (‘substances’), according to the Vaiśeṣika-sūtras. These dravyas are considered as a category of padārtha (“metaphysical correlate”). These padārthas represent everything that exists which can be cognized and named. Together with their subdivisions, they attempt to explain the nature of the universe and the existence of living beings. Ākāśa is also regarded as one of the five bhūtas (‘elements’) possessing a specific quality making it cognizable.

(Source): Wikipedia: Vaisheshika
Vaisheshika book cover
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Vaisheshika (वैशेषिक, vaiśeṣika) refers to a school of orthodox Hindu philosophy (astika), drawing its subject-matter from the Upanishads. Vaisheshika deals with subjects such as logic, epistemology, philosophy and expounds concepts similar to Buddhism in nature

Pancaratra (worship of Nārāyaṇa)

Ākāśa (आकाश) refers to an aspect of nṛsiṃha (‘man-lion’), according to the Vihagendra-saṃhitā 4.17, which mentions seventy-four forms (inlcuding twenty forms of vyūha). He is also known as Ākāśanṛsiṃha or Ākāśanarasiṃha. Nṛsiṃha is a Tantric deity and refers to the furious (ugra) incarnation of Viṣṇu.

The 15th-century Vihagendra-saṃhīta is a canonical text of the Pāñcarātra corpus and, in twenty-four chapters, deals primarely with meditation on mantras and sacrificial oblations.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Pāñcarātra
Pancaratra book cover
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Pancaratra (पाञ्चरात्र, pāñcarātra) represents a tradition of Hinduism where Narayana is revered and worshipped. Closeley related to Vaishnavism, the Pancaratra literature includes various Agamas and tantras incorporating many Vaishnava philosophies.

General definition (in Hinduism)

Ākāśa (आकाश, “space, ether”) refers to one of the dravyapañcaka (fivefold substances), defined in the Taittirīya-āraṇyaka 7.7.1. The dravyapañcaka, and other such fivefold divisions, are associated with the elemental aspect (adhibhūta) of the three-fold division of reality (adhibhūta, adhidaiva and adhyātma) which attempts to explain the phenomenal nature of the universe. Adhibhūta denotes all that belongs to the material or elemental creation.

The Taittirīya-āraṇyaka is associated with the Kṛṣṇa-yajurveda and dates from at least the 6th century BCE. It is composed of 10 chapters and discusses vedic rituals and sacrifices (such as the mahāyajña) but also includes the Taittirīya-upaniṣad and the Mahānārāyaṇa-upaniṣad.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Āraṇyaka

Akasha is the Sanskrit word meaning "aether" in both its elemental and metaphysical senses.

1) In Hinduism, Akasha means the basis and essence of all things in the material world; the first material element created from the astral world (Air, Fire, Water, Earth are the other four in sequence). It is one of the Panchamahabhuta, or "five elements"; its main characteristic is Shabda (sound). In Sanskrit the word means "space", the very first element in creation. In Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati, and many other Indian languages, the meaning of Akasha has been accepted as sky.

2) In Jainism, Akasha is space in the Jain conception of the cosmos. 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.

3) In Buddhist phenomenology Akasha is divided into limited space (ākāsa-dhātu) and endless space (ajatākasā). The Vaibhashika, an early school of Buddhist philosophy, hold Akasha's existence to be real. Ākāsa is identified as the first arūpa jhāna (arūpajhāna), but usually translates as "infinite space."

Etymology: Akasha (or Akash, Ākāśa, आकाश);

(Source): WikiPedia: Hinduism

In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

'space', is, according to Com., of two kinds: 

  1. limited space (paricchinnākāsa or paricchedākāsa), 

  2. endless space (anantākāsa), i.e. cosmic space.

1. Limited space, under the name of ākāsa-dhātu (space element), belongs to derived corporeality (s. khandha, Summary I; Dhs 638) and to a six fold classification of elements (s. dhātu; M.112, M.115, M.140). It is also an object of kasina meditation. It is defined as follows: "The space element has the characteristic of delimiting matter. Its function is to indicate the boundaries of matter. It is manifested as the confines of matter; or its manifestation consists in being untouched (by the 4 great elements), and in holes and apertures. Its proximate cause is the matter delimited. It is on account of the space element that one can say of material things delimited that 'this is above. below, around that' " (Vis.M. XIV.63).

2. Endless space is called in Atthasālini ajatākāsa, 'unentangled', i.e. unobstructed or empty space. It is the object of the first immaterial absorption (s. jhāna), the sphere of boundless space (ākāsānañcāyatana). According to Abhidhamma philosophy, endless space has no objective reality (being purely conceptual), which is indicated by the fact that it is not included in the triad of the wholesome (kusalatika), which comprises the entire reality. Later Buddhist schools have regarded it as one of several unconditioned or uncreated states (asankhata dharma) - a view that is rejected in Kath. (s. Guide. p. 70). Theravāda Buddhism recognizes only Nibbāna as an unconditioned element (asankhata-dhātu: s. Dhs. 1084).

(Source): Pali Kanon: Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines

s. Ākāsa (“space”).

(Source): Pali Kanon: Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines
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Theravāda is a major branch of Buddhism having the the Pali canon (tipitaka) as their canonical literature, which includes the vinaya-pitaka (monastic rules), the sutta-pitaka (Buddhist sermons) and the abhidhamma-pitaka (philosophy and psychology).

Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

Ākāśa (आकाश, “space”) refers to one of the ten comparisons (upamāna) according to the Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra chapter 11. These upamānas represent a quality of the Bodhisattvas accompanying the Buddha at Rājagṛha on the Gṛdhrakūṭaparvata. They accepted that dharmas are like space (ākāśa). In the Mahāyāna, the Buddha said to Subhūti: “Space (ākāśa) is beginningless, without middle and without end; and it is the same with dharmas”. This is why it is said that dharmas are like space. Space is always pure by nature, but when it is overcast and covered by clouds, people say that it is impure. In the same way, the dharmas are always pure by nature, but when they are obscured by desire (rāga), hatred (dveṣa) and delusion (moha), people declare them to be impure.

Space is just a name (nāmamātra) and not a real dharma. Space is invisible (adrśya) but, looking at it from afar, the eye perceives a light blue color. In the same way, dharmas are empty (śūnya) and non-existent (asat): the person who is still far away from pure true wisdom does not discover its true nature (satya-lakṣaṇa) but sees in it ātman, men (puṃs) and women (strī), houses (gṛha) and cities (nagara), all kinds of different things (dravya), and his mind clings to them. When a little child (bālaka) looks at the blue sky, he says that he sees a real color (varṇa); but those who fly up very high and come closer to the sky see nothing; it is when we look at it from a distance that we assert that we see a blue color. It is the same for dharmas. This is why the sūtra says that they are like space (ākāśa).

(Source): Wisdom Library: Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra
Mahayana book cover
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Mahayana (महायान, mahāyāna) is a major branch of Buddhism focusing on the path of a Bodhisattva (spiritual aspirants/ enlightened beings). Extant literature is vast and primarely composed in the Sanskrit language. There are many sūtras of which some of the earliest are the various Prajñāpāramitā sūtras.

General definition (in Buddhism)

Ākāśa (आकाश, “space”) refers to the first of the “three unconditioned things” (asaṃskṛta) as defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 32). The Dharma-samgraha (Dharmasangraha) is an extensive glossary of Buddhist technical terms in Sanskrit (eg., ākāśa). The work is attributed to Nagarjuna who lived around the 2nd century A.D.

Ākāśa (“space”) also refers to one of the “five great elements” (mahābhūta) as well as one of the “six elements” (ṣaḍdhātu), defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 39 and 58 respectively).

(Source): Wisdom Library: Dharma-samgraha

In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

Ākāśa (आकाश, “space”).—Things in the universe occupy each some place. That which gives things their places is space. Space has two divisions:

  1. the universe (loka),
  2. the non-universe or the beyond (aloka).

In the universe all the six dravyas (magnitudes and substances), soul, matter, space, time, principles of motion and stationariness, find their places. In the aloka there is only endless space.

(Source): Google Books: Outlines Of Jainism

Space (Akasha) substance possesses the specific attribute of accommodation-causation.

How many divisions of space are there?

Space substance is only one substance and as such it is indivisible (akhand). However, universe (lokakash) and non-universe (alokakash) are considered its two divisions.

(Source): Atma Dharma: Principles of Jainism

Ākāśa (आकाश, “space”) according to the 2nd-century Tattvārthasūtra 5.9.—Space (ākāśa) is a substance which provides space to all substances (dravya) to exist. How many sub divisions of space are there and which are they? There are two sub divisions of space namely cosmos (lokākāśa) and trans-cosmos (alokākāśa).

According to Tattvārthasūtra 5.18, “(The function) of space (ākāśa) (is to) provide accommodation (avagāha)”.—The function of space substance is to provide place to exist (avagāha) to all substances (dravya). An entity which provides place to exist to all substances is space (ākāśa). It is one continuum spread throughout the cosmos (for existence of all substances) and beyond (where only it exists).

(Source): Encyclopedia of Jainism: Tattvartha Sutra 5: The category of the non-living
General definition book cover
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Jainism is an Indian religion of Dharma whose doctrine revolves around harmlessness (ahimsa) towards every living being. The two major branches (Digambara and Svetambara) of Jainism stimulate self-control (or, shramana, ‘self-reliance’) and spiritual development through a path of peace for the soul to progess to the ultimate goal.

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Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

ākāsa : (m.) the sky; space.

(Source): BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

1) Ākāsa, 2 (nt.?) a game, playing chess “in the air” (sans voir) Vin.II, 10 = D.I, 6 (= aṭṭhapada-dasapadesu viya ākāse yeva kiḷanaṃ DA.I, 85). (Page 93)

2) Ākāsa, 1 (Sk. ākāśa fr. ā + kāś, lit. shining forth, i. e. the illuminated space) air, sky, atmosphere; space. On the concept see Cpd. 5, 16, 226. On a fanciful etym. of ākāsa (fr. ā + kassati of kṛṣ) at DhsA.325 see Dhs.trsl. 178. ‹-› D.I, 55 (°ṃ indriyāni saṅkamanti the sense-faculties pass into space); III, 224, 253, 262, 265; S.III, 207; IV, 218; V, 49, 264; J.I, 253; II, 353; III, 52, 188; IV, 154; VI, 126; Sn.944, 1065; Nd1 428; Pv.II, 118; SnA 110, 152; PvA.93; Sdhp.42, 464. —ākāsena gacchati to go through the air PvA.75 (āgacch°), 103, 105, 162; °ena carati id. J.II, 103; °e gacchati id. PvA.65 (cando). — Formula “ananto ākāso” freq.; e. g. at D.I, 183; A.II, 184; IV, 40, 410 sq.; V, 345.

—anta “the end of the sky”, the sky, the air (on °anta see anta1 4) J.VI, 89. —ānañca (or ânañca) the infinity ef space, in cpd. °āyatana the sphere or plane of the infinity of space, the “space-infinity-plane”, the sphere of unbounded space. The consciousness of this sphere forms the first one of the 4 (or 6) higher attainments or recognitions of the mind, standing beyond the fourth jhāna, viz. (1) ākās°, (2) viññāṇ’ānañc-āyatana (3) ākiñcaññ°, (4) n’eva saññānâsaññ°, (5) nirodha, (6) phala. — D.I, 34, 183; II, 70, 112, 156; III, 224, 262 sq.; M.I, 41, 159.; III, 27, 44; S.V, 119; Ps.I, 36; Dhs.205, 501, 579, 1418; Nett 26, 39; Vism.326, 340, 453; DA.I, 120 (see Nd2 under ākāsa; Dhs.265 sq.; Dhs.trsl. 71). As classed with jhāna see also Nd2 672 (sādhu-vihārin). —kasiṇa one of the kasiṇ’āyatanas (see under kasiṇa) D.III, 268; A.I, 41. —gaṅgā N. of the celestial river J.I, 95; III, 344. —gamana going through the air (as a trick of elephants) Miln.201. —cārika walking through the air J.II, 103. —cārin = °cārika VvA.6. —ṭṭha living in the sky (of devatā) Bu I.29; Miln.181, 285; KhA 120; SnA 476. —tala upper story, terrace on the top of a palace SnA 87. —dhātu the element of space D.III, 247; M.I, 423; III, 31; A.I, 176; III, 34; Dhs.638. (Page 93)

(Source): Sutta: The Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary
Pali book cover
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Pali is the language of the Tipiṭaka, which is the sacred canon of Theravāda Buddhism and contains much of the Buddha’s speech. Closeley related to Sanskrit, both languages are used interchangeably between religions.

Marathi-English dictionary

akasa (अकस).—m f ( A) Spite, grudge, malice.

--- OR ---

ākāśa (आकाश).—n m (S) The sky. Pr. ā0 jara phāṭalēṃ tara tyāsa ṭhigaḷa kāya? 2 The atmosphere. 3 The empty space. 4 The fifth element considered as a subtil or etherial fluid pervading space, and forming the vehicle of sound and life. ā0 pātāḷa ēka with of s. Used of an exceedingly proud man. ā0 pātāḷa ēka hōṇēṃ Expresses the commingling of heaven and earth (under torrents of rain). ā0 pātāḷacā bhēda Difference great as the interval betwixt heaven and hades. ākāśālā ghērā ghālaṇēṃ or dēṇēṃ To achieve prodigies, exploits, feats. 2 To perform or to attempt an impossibility, 3 To be ambitious, aspiring, grasping, comprehensive &c. ākāśīṃ rāhaṇēṃ To dwell in the garret or top-room; to live in the attics.

(Source): DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

akasa (अकस).—m Malice, spite, grudge.

--- OR ---

ākāśa (आकाश).—n m The sky. The empty space; the atmosphere. The fifth element supposed to be an ethereal fluid per- vading space. ākāśa pātāḷa ēka karaṇēṃ To indulge in loud uproar that would bring the very heavens down.

(Source): DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English
context information

Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

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