This wiki page mentions that the Charvakas did not accept Akasha as a basic element as it is not tangible and according to them, there are only four basic elements.

I would like to know why Akasha is considered as a Bhoota (basic element) according to the Vedas.

PS: I just would like to know the Vedic viewpoint (Uttara Paksha) before I delve into what Charvakas are saying (Purva Paksha). No disrespect is intended.

  • The material creation starts with Ether(sky); as in among 5 elements ; ether is 1st one to be manifested. in 12th canto of Bhagavatam anhilation process is given. So if you just reverse it; it becomes creation process. You can read more here vedabase.com/en/sb/12/4/15-19 Commented May 10, 2016 at 7:43
  • I do not know their view but some saints believe all 5 elements Aakasa, Neer, Bhoomi, Agni and Vayu are subtle elements. And we know periodic table has info about physical elements. Anyways, Chidambaram Temple has Aakasa Lingam where empty space (AAKASA) is worshiped as Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva here is Nataraja who is famous as Lord of Cosmic Dance.
    – The Destroyer
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 10:15
  • @Vishalprabhulawande Thanks for the link. Yoga Vashishtha also says the same thing. Although, I am primarily looking for references from the Vedas. Commented May 10, 2016 at 10:20
  • @TheDestroyer Thanks for that piece of information. I also believe the same thing, I am just looking for references. Also, what periodic table are you talking about? Commented May 10, 2016 at 10:21
  • 1
    Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – The Destroyer
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 10:42

1 Answer 1


According to Chhandogya Upanishad,

अस्य लोकस्य का गतिरित्याकाश इति होवाच सर्वाणि ह वा इमानि भूतान्याकाशादेव समुत्पद्यन्त आकाशं प्रत्यस्तं यन्त्याकाशो ह्येवैभ्यो ज्यायानकाशः परायणम् ॥ १.९.१॥

English translation:

I-ix-1: (Salavatya) 'What is the essence of this world?' 'Akasa' said (Pravahana); 'All these beings arise from Akasa alone and are finally dissolved into Akasa; because Akasa alone is greater than all these and Akasa is the support at all times.'

Adi Shankaracharya Bhashya on this verse:

BHAYA- " What is the essence of this Region?"- " Akasha' '-said Pravlihana. " Akasha" here stands for the Supreme Self; as the Vedic Text says-' Akasha by name': as the producing of all things is the function of that Self, all things becorne dissolved into that Self. The Text itself is going to declare later on that "I created Light. The Light becomes dissolved into the Supreme Deity. --ALL these things in this world,-animate as well as inanimate, mobile and immobile-are produced out of Akasha,-in a regulated order of Light, Food and so forth, in accordance with the capacity of things ;-they become dissoloed into Akasha, at the time of Universal Dissolution,-in the reverse order:-because Akasha indeed is greater than these-superior, larger, than all things; and for that reason, it is the' param '-'ultimate'-'ayanam. -' substratum', basis, support, at all three points of time.-1)

Thus, Akasha is the greater/superior and supporter of all other elements and hence it is considered a basic element.

Also note that Akasha doesn't only refer to/as-an element, it is the narrator/signifier of Brahman according to Brahma Sutra 1.1.22:

आकाशस्तल्लिङ्गात् ॥ १.१.२२॥
22. Space (Akasa) is Brahman, for Brahman's indicatory mark is in evidence.

  • The Akasha in that context is referring to Brahman, the questioner wants to know about the Pancha Bhuta Akasha.
    – Ikshvaku
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 2:25

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