• Prana is said to be an energy and is said to be universal.
  • Akasha is said to be very subtle form of energy.
  • Both of these two are subtle to see and are present in all places.


  • How do we find the difference between Akasha and Prana ?
  • Is Akasha is Essential to live as like Prana is essential ?

3 Answers 3


Akasha is said be to one of the Pancha Mahabhuta and firstly created from Brahman.

Taittariya Upanishad 2.1:

ॐ ब्रह्मविदाप्नोति परम् । तदेषाऽभुक्ता । सत्यं ज्ञानमनन्तं ब्रह्म । यो वेद निहितं गुहायां परमे व्योमन् । सोऽश्नुते सर्वान् कामान्सह । ब्रह्मणा विपश्चितेति ॥ तस्माद्वा एतस्मादात्मन आकाशः सम्भूतः । आकाशाद्वायुः । वायोरग्निः । अग्नेरापः । अद्भ्यः पृथिवी । पृथिव्या ओषधयः । ओषधीभ्योन्नम् । अन्नात्पुरुषः । स वा एष पुरुषोऽन्नरसमयः । तस्येदमेव शिरः । अयं दक्षिणः पक्षः । अयमुत्तरः पक्षः । अयमात्मा । इदं पुच्छं प्रतिष्ठा । तदप्येष श्लोको भवति ॥ १॥

II-i-1: The knower of Brahman attains the highest. Here is a verse uttering that very fact: “Brahman is truth, knowledge, and infinite. He who knows that Brahman as existing in the intellect, lodged in the supreme space in the heart, enjoys, as identified with the all - knowing Brahman, all desirable things simultaneously. From that Brahman, which is the Self, was produced space. From space emerged air. From air was born fire. From fire was created water. From water sprang up earth. From earth were born the herbs. From the herbs was produced food. From food was born man. That man, such as he is, is a product of the essence of food. Of him this indeed, is the head, this is the southern side; this is the northern side; this is the Self; this is the stabilising tail. Here is a verse pertaining to that very fact

Akash is said to be support of all things and all things rest in Akash. From Chhandogya Upanishad:

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

1. 'What is the origin of this world?' 'Ether , 'he replied. For all these beings take their rise from the ether, and return into the ether. Ether is older than these, ether is their rest.

Importance of Akash as explained in 7th chapter:

आकाशो वाव तेजसो भूयानाकाशे वै सूर्याचन्द्रमसावुभौ विद्युन्नक्षत्राण्यग्निराकाशेनाह्वयत्याकाशेन शृणोत्याकाशेन प्रतिशृणोत्याकाशे रमत आकाशे न रमत आकाशे जायत आकाशमभिजायत आकाशमुपास्स्वेति ॥ ७.१२.१॥

1. 'Ether (or space) is better than fire. For in the ether exist both sun and moon, the lightning, stars, and fire (agni). Through the ether we call, through the ether we hear, through the ether we answer. In the ether or space we rejoice (when we are together), and rejoice not (when we are separated). In the ether everything is born, and towards the ether everything tends when it is born. Meditate on ether.

Now, talking about Prana, it is said to be greatest than all Indriyas. It is explained by metaphor in Chhandogya Upanishad (5.1) that once there were a debate among all Indriyas claiming I'm the best of all. And finally it's concluded that Prana is the sovereign. Similar preaching found from Kaushitaki Upanishad 3.3:

जीवति वागपेतो मूकान्विपश्यामो जीवति चक्षुरपेतोऽन्धान्विपश्यामो जीवति श्रोत्रापेतो बधिरान्विपश्यामो जीवतो बाहुच्छिन्नो जीवत्यूरुच्छिन्न इत्येवं हि पश्याम इत्यथ खलु प्राण एव प्रज्ञात्मेदं शरीरं परिगृह्योत्यापयति तस्मादेतमेवोक्थमुपासीत यो वै प्राणः सा प्रज्ञा या वा प्रज्ञा स प्राणः सह ह्येतावस्मिञ्छरीरे वसतः सहोत्क्रामतस्तस्यैषैव दृष्टिरेतद्विज्ञानं यत्रैतत्पुरुषः सुप्तः स्वप्नं न कञ्चन पश्यत्यथास्मिन्प्राण एवैकधा भवति तदैनं वाक्सर्वैर्नामभिः सहाप्येति चक्षुः सर्वै रूपैः सहाप्येति श्रोत्रं सर्वैः शब्दैः सहाप्येति मनः सर्वैर्ध्यातैः सहाप्येति स यदा प्रतिबुध्यते यथाग्नेर्ज्वलतो विस्फुलिङ्गा विप्रतिष्ठेरन्नेवमेवैतस्मादात्मनः प्राणा यथायतनं विप्रतिष्ठन्ते प्राणेभ्यो देवा देवेभ्यो लोकास्तस्यैषैव सिद्धिरेतद्विज्ञानं यत्रैतत्पुरुष आर्तो मरिष्यन्नाबल्य न्येत्य मोहं नैति तदाहुरुदक्रमीच्चित्तं न शृणोति न पश्यति वाचा वदत्यथास्मिन्प्राण एवैकधा भवति तदैनं वाव सर्वैर्नामभिः सहाप्येति चक्षुः सर्वै रूपैः सहाप्येति श्रोत्रं सर्वैः शब्दैः सहाप्येति मनः सर्वैर्ध्यातैः सहाप्येति स यदा प्रतिबुध्यते यथाग्नेर्ज्वलतो विस्फुलिङ्गा विप्रतिष्ठेरन्नेवमेवैतस्मादात्मनः प्राणा यथायतनं विप्रतिष्ठन्ते प्राणेभ्यो देवा देवेभ्यो लोकाः ॥ ३॥

3. Man lives deprived of speech, for we see dumb people. Man lives deprived of sight, for we see blind people. Man lives deprived of hearing, for we see deaf people. Man lives deprived of mind, for we see infants. Man lives deprived of his arms, deprived of his legs, for we see it thus. But prâna alone is the conscious self (pragñâtman), and having laid hold of this body, it makes it rise up. Therefore it is said, Let man worship it alone as uktha. What is prâna, that is pragñâ (self-consciousness); what is pragñâ (self-consciousness), that is prâna, for together they (pragñâ and prâna) live in this body, and together they go out of it. Of that, this is the evidence, this is the understanding. When a man, being thus asleep, sees no dream whatever, he becomes one with that prâna alone. Then speech goes to him (when he is absorbed in prâna) with all names, the eye with all forms, the ear with all sounds, the mind with all thoughts. And when he awakes, then, as from a burning fire sparks proceed in all directions, thus from that self the prânâs (speech, &c.) proceed, each towards its place; from the prânas the gods (Agni, &c.), from the gods the worlds. Of this, this is the proof, this is the understanding. When a man is thus sick, going to die, falling into weakness and faintness, they say: 'His thought has departed, he hears not, he sees not, he speaks not, he thinks not.' Then he becomes one with that prâna alone. Then speech goes to him (who is absorbed in prâna) with all names, the eye with all forms, the ear with all sounds, the mind with all thoughts. And when he departs from this body, he departs together with all these.

Thus, Akasha is one of the Pancha Mahabhuta created firstly and supports all things whereas Prana is one which can't live without and is greatest among all other indriya/consciousness in the body. But one important thing to take in to consideration is that both words Akash and Prana ultimately refers to nothing other than Brahman.

According to Brahma Sutra 1.1:

आकाशस्तल्लिङ्गात् ॥ १.१.२२॥
23. Ether (is Brahman), on account of the characteristic marks.

अत एव प्राणः ॥ १.१.२३॥
24. For the same reason breath (is Brahman).


How do we find the difference between Akasha and Prana ?

-- Akasha Mahabhuta is composed of many components and Prana is one of the major component of Akasha.

स इमान् प्राणान् आकाशान् अभिनिर्मन्थति। (Jaiminiya Brahamana 2.18)

Akasha is formed by the churning (Manthana) of Prana Rashmis.

Same thing is also called in Taittariya Samhita:

प्राणो वा अन्तरिक्षम्। (Taittariya Samhita

Space contains Prana

But is only Prana present in Akasha? No, there are many components which form Akasha. For example:

भुव इत्य अन्तरिक्षम्। (Taittariya Aranyaka 7.5.1)

Antariksha contains Bhuva.

अन्तरिक्षम् वै यजुषाम् आयतनम्। (Gopatha Brahamana 2.24)

Yajush rashmi (ie Vibration of Yajus- Veda mantras) are contained in space.

पशवो अन्तरिक्षम्। (Kapistha Samhita 31.13)

Antariksha contains Pashus.

Seeing space is composed of Pashus, one might be surprised as many just understand pashus as animals. However in Vedas Pashus have very different meaning from animals. Actually various chhandas, marud rashmis are called Pashus in Vedas ( eg. Pashavo Marut -[Maitrayani Samhita 3.3.10], Pashavo Vai Chhandansi -[Kathaka Samhita 12.1]... etc..

So as clear from above Akasha is composed of many Rashmis like Prana, Bhuva, Yajusham, Marud, Trishthuv etc... Thus they all form net like structure in which all other particles can evolve. As they form Net like structure, Rishi in Vedas say, space is like net:

छिद्रमिव अन्तरिक्षम्। (Tandya Mahabrahamana 3.10.2)

Space is like net (having holes).

Is Akasha is Essential to live as like Prana is essential ?

Yes surely, without Akasha (space) creation can't happen, as it is in this space later Vayu, Agni, Apaha and Prithivi tatwa emerge.

आकाशे हीदं सर्वं समोप्यत। (Aitreya Aranyaka 2.3.1)

In this Akasha (space), everything emerges.

Note that Akasha doesn't mean complete vacuum it is Tatwa and is composed of various Rashmis like Prana, Marud, Bhuva etc... as discussed above. If you want to know in detail about composition of Akasha, mechanism of it you can read book 'Veda Vigyan Alok' written by Acharya Agnivrat Naisthik.


The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 8/Notes Of Class Talks And Lectures/Pranayama

First of all we will try to understand a little of the meaning of Pranayama. Prana stands in metaphysics for the sum total of the energy that is in the universe. This universe, according to the theory of the philosophers, proceeds in the form of waves; it rises, and again it subsides, melts away, as it were; then again it proceeds out in all this variety; then again it slowly returns. So it goes on like a pulsation. The whole of this universe is composed of matter and force; and according to Sanskrit philosophers, everything that we call matter, solid and liquid, is the outcome of one primal matter which they call Akasha or ether; and the primordial force, of which all the forces that we see in nature are manifestations, they call Prana. It is this Prana acting upon Akasha, which creates this universe, and after the end of a period, called a cycle, there is a period of rest. One period of activity is followed by a period of rest; this is the nature of everything. When this period of rest comes, all these forms that we see in the earth, the sun, the moon, and the stars, all these manifestations melt down until they become ether again. They become dissipated as ether. All these forces, either in the body or in the mind, as gravitation, attraction, motion, thought, become dissipated, and go off into the primal Prana. We can understand from this the importance of this Pranayama. Just as this ether encompasses us everywhere and we are interpenetrated by it, so everything we see is composed of this ether, and we are floating in the ether like pieces of ice floating in a lake. They are formed of the water of the lake and float in it at the same time. So everything that exists is composed of this Akasha and is floating in this ocean. In the same way we are surrounded by this vast ocean of Prana -- force and energy. It is this Prana by which we breathe and by which the circulation of the blood goes on; it is the energy in the nerves and in the muscles, and the thought in the brain. All forces are different manifestations of this same Prana, as all matter is a different manifestation of the same Akasha. We always find the causes of the gross in the subtle. The chemist takes a solid lump of ore and analyses it; he wants to find the subtler things out of which that gross is composed. So with our thought and our knowledge; the explanation of the grosser is in the finer. The effect is the gross and the cause the subtle. This gross universe of ours, which we see, feel, and touch, has its cause and explanation behind in the thought. The cause and explanation of that is also further behind. So in this human body of ours, we first find the gross movements, the movements of the hands and lips; but where are the causes of these? The finer nerves, the movements of which we cannot perceive at all, so fine that we cannot see or touch or trace them in any way with our senses, and yet we know they are the cause of these grosser movements. These nerve movements, again, are caused by still finer movements, which we call thought; and that is caused by something finer still behind, which is the soul of man, the Self, the Atman. In order to understand ourselves we have first to make our perception fine. No microscope or instrument that was ever invented will make it possible for us to see the fine movements that are going on inside; we can never see them by any such means. So the Yogi has a science that manufactures an instrument for the study of his own mind, and that instrument is in the mind. The mind attains to powers of finer perception which no instrument will ever be able to attain.

The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 1/Raja-Yoga/Prana

Pranayama means the control of Prâna. According to the philosophers of India, the whole universe is composed of two materials, one of which they call Âkâsha. It is the omnipresent, all-penetrating existence. Everything that has form, everything that is the result of combination, is evolved out of this Akasha. It is the Akasha that becomes the air, that becomes the liquids, that becomes the solids; it is the Akasha that becomes the sun, the earth, the moon, the stars, the comets; it is the Akasha that becomes the human body, the animal body, the plants, every form that we see, everything that can be sensed, everything that exists. It cannot be perceived; it is so subtle that it is beyond all ordinary perception; it can only be seen when it has become gross, has taken form. At the beginning of creation there is only this Akasha. At the end of the cycle the solids, the liquids, and the gases all melt into the Akasha again, and the next creation similarly proceeds out of this Akasha.

By what power is this Akasha manufactured into this universe? By the power of Prana. Just as Akasha is the infinite, omnipresent material of this universe, so is this Prana the infinite, omnipresent manifesting power of this universe. At the beginning and at the end of a cycle everything becomes Akasha, and all the forces that are in the universe resolve back into the Prana; in the next cycle, out of this Prana is evolved everything that we call energy, everything that we call force. It is the Prana that is manifesting as motion; it is the Prana that is manifesting as gravitation, as magnetism. It is the Prana that is manifesting as the actions of the body, as the nerve currents, as thought force. From thought down to the lowest force, everything is but the manifestation of Prana. The sum total of all forces in the universe, mental or physical, when resolved back to their original state, is called Prana. "When there was neither aught nor naught, when darkness was covering darkness, what existed then? That Akasha existed without motion." The physical motion of the Prana was stopped, but it existed all the same.

At the end of a cycle the energies now displayed in the universe quiet down and become potential. At the beginning of the next cycle they start up, strike upon the Akasha, and out of the Akasha evolve these various forms, and as the Akasha changes, this Prana changes also into all these manifestations of energy. The knowledge and control of this Prana is really what is meant by Pranayama.

In modern Science, Akasha and Prana are known as Space and Time and the concept was used extensively by Albert Einstein in his Theory of Relativity. Einstein proved that everything in this universe not only exists in space but also in time and bends the universe based on its potential. Earth is revolving around Sun not because of gravitation alone but high bend in Space-Time graph by Sun. So, every entity in the universe is Scient(from Akasha) and Potent(From Prana), bigger is the scient of an entity, bigger is the potential or vice-versa and entire cosmos also called Brahman/God is infinite and hence Omniscient and Omnipotent. Why people worship and remember and follow in masses the perfected messengers or Avatars like Ram, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, Swamis etc., even after so many years from when they had left the earth, as these powerful consciousnesses not only bend space through their psychic yogic powers when they existed, but also their upcoming time, hence they attract masses.

Swami Vivekananda, late in the year l895 wrote in a letter to an English friend, "Mr. Tesla thinks he can demonstrate mathematically that force and matter are reducible to potential energy. I am to go and see him next week to get this new mathematical demonstration. In that case the Vedantic cosmoloqy will be placed on the surest of foundations. I am working a good deal now upon the cosmology and eschatology of the Vedanta. I clearly see their perfect union with modern science, and the elucidation of the one will be followed by that of the other." (Complete Works, Vol. V, Fifth Edition, 1347, p. 77).

Akasha/matter is just another name of one static Shiva/Shava/Nirguna Brahman, the seer from whom the entire universe manifests. While the Prana is another name of dynamic Shakti/energy/Saguna Brahman which regulates the appearance and disappearance of matter in the Akasha. Prana appears from Akasha, within Akasha and for Akasha. In modern science, they are called electron/Prana/energy and nucleus/Akasha/matter. Just like in a nucleus, electrons revolve around the nucleus and are responsible for atom's properties, attributes etc.,, inside every human body, Prana/Triguna Prakriti moves in cycles in and out and allows the self/Purusha to manifest his/her characters based upon his Akasha(i.e. static brain) and its mind, ego and Karmas. This can be seen if one wears microscope and will find that the universe is nothing but combination of atoms/Akasha and their motion/Prana.

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