Question 116: The three types of Akasha

Winter solstice
Rama asks about the nature and cause of reality that is experienced. The Sage replies, explaining the nature of the three types of akasha.

akash: San. m., n. (ambara) sky, space, an expanse; the element of ether, the subtlest form of matter. Space gives things form and keeps them discrete. Its quality is sound. ‘It is through space that sounds are transmitted and heard. Love and play are products of akasha and seeds sprout on account of akasha.’ ‘Akasha pervades the cosmos but remains unstained.’ (bg XIII.32)
bhootakash: Hin. elemental space

chidakash: the akash or the space of Chit. the Absolute Consciousness; the all-pervading spirit.

chittakash: mental space

chitta: individual consciousness

prakriti: primordial nature, disposition; root-matter, the original or natural form or condition of anything, matter, form.

roop, rupa, rupa: San. n. the subtle element of form; shape, outward appearance; figure; likeness, reflection; manner; beauty; character; colour. The formless God assumes a form, for no divine leela can be performed without a body.

shuddh: Hin. shuddha San. adj. pure, cleansed, uncontaminated; faultless; upright, sincere; correct.
ashuddh: lacking purity, blemished, contaminated, polluted

vikalpa mental agitations; errors;


Question 116: Sir, you said that the mind that is of the nature of the real-unreal; it is the cause of jivas of different qualities, viz sattvic (high), rajsic (medium) and tamsic (low). But the mind is impure (ashuddh). How does it arise out of the pure consciousness and manifest itself as a vast universe?

Answer: Ramji, there are three types of akash, viz:~

  1. bhootakash (elemental space)
  2. chittakash (mental space)
  3. chidakash (knowledge space)

When these types of akash are viewed thoughtfully (with the power of reflection), it will be seen that there is no distinction among these. They all are one but appear different on account of different names. The pure consciousness that is just cognition and is all-pervasive, sustains chittakash and it permeates through everything. The senses and the mind derive their functional power from this potency, called chidakash. The chittakash manifests the universe and is the cause of the gross and the subtle objects, and is itself of the nature of variants (vikalpa)(mental agitations; errors).

That which extends in all the ten directions, which is indivisible and is of the nature of the void, and sustains elements such as air, etc., is called bhootakash. Chittakash and bhootakash which are created out of chidakash, are the cause of everything. Ramji, all these akash are part of the faith of an ignorant person; for the wise, nothing except Brahman exists. The names and forms are mentioned just to teach the ignorant; in reality, nothing except Brahman exists. The world is nothing but an ideation and is experienced only when there is ideation of a world in the pure consciousness. The expanse of the universe is experienced by the ignorant; a wise person sees nothing but Atma.

Ramji, you must understand that the world is a creation of the chitta-modification. You are not concerned with how it has been created. You should only endeavour for its merger and achieve quiescence by fixing your chitta in Atma.

Ramji, the ideational chitta is the cause of the bondage of individuals. With a firm faith, you should follow the injunctions of the sages and scriptures and be established in Atma, whereafter you will go beyond the feelings of loss and gain, pain and pleasure, and your subtle ego will be destroyed. When you follow and practise in the spirit of what is said in scriptures and are stabilised in that spirit, you will attain the state of tranquillity. As long as there is forgetfulness of Atma, sufferings increase, but when the Atmic state is attained, all sufferings vanish.

Ramji, chitta is a creation of Atma and hence is an aspect thereof, but due to its impurities it is also not a form of Atma. To a wise person, chitta is truly the form of Brahman; but to the unwise, it is the cause of the illusion of the universe.


Winter solstice
Winter solstice in Alaska
A person can discard as many gross bodies in which he takes temporary residence, as the number of times he pares his nails. But, the subtle body cannot be changed; it lasts and persists. This is the most secret doctrine of spiritual thought. Going further along this line of discovery, it can be revealed that man means: a complex of the gross body, the subtle body and the Individual. The Vedantic philosophy would declare that the Individual shares the quality of Eternal unchanging Everlastingness (Nithya). Prakriti or the objective World is also eternal, but, with a difference, It undergoes perpetual change; it is never the same; but, it persists for ever. The basis for the objective world, namely, Prana (the life force) and Akasa (Space or ether) are eternal, but, they act and interact without rest and manifest variously and manifoldly.

The Individual Atma (the Jivatma) did not have its origin in either Akasha or Prana; it is not material in nature. So, it is eternal, without any change. It did not happen through the impact of Prana on Akasa, or Akasa on Prana. Things brought together will disintegrate. But things that are ‘themselves’ ab initio cannot so come apart. For, disintegration means ‘resuming the original nature’, ‘becoming what it originally was’, ‘reducing itself to its native substance’. The gross body is the result of the combination of Prana and Akasa and so, it dissolves itself into its components. The subtle body too dissolves but, only after a long, long time. The Jivi is not brought together, so, it cannot fall apart. It has no birth. It cannot be born. A unitive part-less being can have no moment of origin.


Hamsa Gayatri
Om Hamsaaya Vidmahe
Paramahamsaya Dheemahi
Tanno Hamsa Prachodayat

“May we realise Hamsa that is our own Self as the Swan. Let us meditate on that Paramahamsa, the Supreme Self. May Hamsa illumine us.”