In Raja Yoga, page number 26, Swami Vivekananda says this:

At the beginning of creation there is only this Akaca; at the end of the cycle, the solids, the liquids, and the gases all melt into the Akaca again, and the next creation similarly proceeds out of this Akaca. By what power is this Akaca manifested into this universe? By the power of Prana. Just as Akaca 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 Akaca, 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.

And in 'Complete works of Swami Vivekananda' - Volume 8, Swami Vivekananda says this

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

From where did Swamiji get this idea apart from Self realization. Is there any scriptural ( Vedic or Puranic ) reference for all matter coming from Akasha being acted upon by Prana?

  • Rig Veda contains cryptic poems, which will give indirect meaning of what you are searching for, but not in the words used by Swami Vivekananda. If you want they will be quoted in the answer @VARUN.N RAO Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 15:35
  • 1
    your reference is obscure. The quote you give is not in Vivekananda's Work called 'Raja Yoga' which includes his translation of Patanjali's Yoga Aphorisms; rather your quote appears in Volume 8 of his Complete Works in a part entitled 'Pranayama' under the section 'Notes of Class Talks and Lectures'. Prana and Akasha have many different meanings in the vedas. I would encourage you to read Raja Yoga from Volume 1 where he goes into much greater detail. Commented Jan 21, 2020 at 9:51
  • @SwamiVishwananda I have read complete book Raja Yoga. And this comes under Pranayama section of the book. I will attach the link. I was recently talking to a Vedantic pundit who did not accept that matter was created from Akasha and Prana. He asked me to give one quotation from any hindu scripture. I have not found any source, please let me know if you are aware of any source.
    – user13262
    Commented Jan 21, 2020 at 13:45
  • @VARUN.NRAO - Please provide the correct reference via hyperlink. As others have mentioned, Prana might have different meaning Commented Jan 21, 2020 at 14:45
  • @Carmen sandiego, I have given link to the whole book along with page number 26. Please click on the hyper link of Raja Yoga
    – user13262
    Commented Jan 21, 2020 at 14:56

4 Answers 4


Is there any scriptural ( Vedic or Puranic ) reference for all matter coming from Akasha and Prana?

Yes, the Taittiriya Upanishad says all elements come from ether:

tasmAdvA etasmAdAtmana AkAshassambhUtah | AkAshAdvAyUh | VAyuragnih | AgnerApah | adbhyah prithvi | prithivyA oshadhayah | oshadhIbhyo'nnam | annAt purushah

From that Brahman sprang ether (akasha); from ether air (vayu); from air fire (agni); from fire water (apah); from water earth (prithvi); from earth plants (oshadhayah), from plants food (annam); from food man (purusha).

As you can see, all elements ultimately come from akasha, which itself comes from Brahman.

But there is no verse that says that all elements come from Prana.

  • I was specifically asking for the reference for what Swami Vivekananda was saying. Materials coming by Prana acting on Akasha.
    – user13262
    Commented Jan 19, 2020 at 16:14
  • @VARUN.NRAO Sorry, I don't know what verse Vivekananda is referring to, if he even is referring to any verse in particular.
    – Ikshvaku
    Commented Jan 19, 2020 at 17:24
  • I wanted to know whether the claim that Swamiji is making that matter is created by Prana and Akasha is backed by any scriptures or is it his own?
    – user13262
    Commented Jan 19, 2020 at 17:44
  • @VARUN.NRAO No, I'm not aware of his theory being supported by scripture.
    – Ikshvaku
    Commented Jan 19, 2020 at 18:26
  • @Ikshvaku, does Prana fall under any of the 24 (5*4 + 4) tattvas of Sankhya ?
    – ram
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 6:13

Here is one reference from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (Bhāgavata Purāṇa) 5.25 - 5.29:

tāmasād api bhūtāder vikurvāṇād abhūn nabhaḥ
tasya mātrā guṇaḥ śabdo liṅgaṁ yad draṣṭṛ-dṛśyayoḥ ||25||

From the darkness of false ego, the first of the five elements, namely the sky, is generated. Its subtle form is the quality of sound, exactly as the seer is in relationship with the seen.

nabhaso ’tha vikurvāṇād abhūt sparśa-guṇo ’nilaḥ
parānvayāc chabdavāṁś ca prāṇa ojaḥ saho balam ||26||
vāyor api vikurvāṇāt kāla-karma-svabhāvataḥ
udapadyata tejo vai rūpavat sparśa-śabdavat ||27||
tejasas tu vikurvāṇād āsīd ambho rasātmakam
rūpavat sparśavac cāmbho ghoṣavac ca parānvayāt ||28||
viśeṣas tu vikurvāṇād ambhaso gandhavān abhūt
parānvayād rasa-sparśa-śabda-rūpa-guṇānvitaḥ ||29||

Because the sky is transformed, the air is generated with the quality of touch, and by previous succession the air is also full of sound and the basic principles of duration of life: sense perception, mental power and bodily strength. When the air is transformed in course of time and nature’s course, fire is generated, taking shape with the sense of touch and sound. Since fire is also transformed, there is a manifestation of water, full of juice and taste. As previously, it also has form and touch and is also full of sound. And water, being transformed from all variegatedness on earth, appears odorous and, as previously, becomes qualitatively full of juice, touch, sound and form respectively.

So the above passages show that the first element created was the Sky/Ether (2.5.25) and rest of the elements gradually became manifest from the sky to air to fire and so on.

  • "for the master coming" and "not the profession if pancha bhuthas"? didn't understand. Can you please update your comment or explain a little what do you mean by these statements?
    – Prakash K
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 17:07
  • @VARUN.NRAO Thanks for deleting the comment, can you kindly let me know what you meant by that ? Also hope we all know that everything else we see i.e. matter is the combination of these panca-tattvas and nothing else. So what is the problem with the references i gave?
    – Prakash K
    Commented Jan 21, 2020 at 10:06
  • I was specifically asking for matter from Prana acting on Akasha. Not Akasha getting converted into the other Bhutas. There is a very important difference between the two. Your answer is to a different question. I want to know the source of what Swami Vivekananda said exactly, not of related topics. Thanks for the effort. If you know the answer please edit.
    – user13262
    Commented Jan 21, 2020 at 13:58
  • Please read the question slowly once again. I need reference for the line "Universe is created by Prana acting on Akasha" . I know about the pancha bhutas, that is not what I'm asking. I'm asking to this line which is very very important.
    – user13262
    Commented Jan 21, 2020 at 14:03

"Prana," this word being the Sanskrit term meaning "Absolute Energy."

Science of Breath, by Yogi Ramacharaka, William Atkinson, [1904]

What is Prana? Prana is the center of everything.

"Prana is Fire; Prana is the Sun; the Cloud; the Wind; Prana is the Killer of Demons; Prana is the Earth. It is what is and is not, immortal. Prana is the center of everything."

Prasna Upanishad.

Brahma, in the earlier Vedic books, is a neuter noun, meaning the spell or prayer of the priest and the magic power which it exerts over gods, men, and the universe. Prāṇa, again, is properly the breath of the body, hence the incorporeal forces or functional energies on which depends the existence of material life.

Brahma Knowledge, 1911

Homage to Prāna, him who hath dominion o'er the universe,
Who hath become the Sovran Lord of all, on whom the whole depends!
Homage, O Prāna, to thy roar, to thunder-peal and lightning flash!
Homage, O Prāna, unto thee what time thou sendest down thy rain!
When Prāna with a thunderous voice shouts his loud message to the plants, They straightway are impregnate, they conceive, and bear
When the due season hath arrived and Prāna shouteth to herbs,
Then all is joyful, yea, each thing upon the surface of the earth.
When Prāna hath poured down his flood of rain upon the
mighty land.

Hymns of the Atharva Veda, translated by Ralph T.H. Griffith, [1895], Book 11, Hymn 4

Rishi Markandeya said to Yudhisthir, "The Prana and the Apana air are interposed within the Samana and the Udana air. And the heat generated by their coalition causes the growth of the body (consisting of the seven substances, bones, muscles, etc.)"
Rishi Markandeya said to Yudhisthir, "While seated here (in a corporeal frame) it is sustained in all its relations external or internal (to matter or mind) by the subtle ethereal air called prana".

Mahabharat, Vana Parva (Book 3), Markandeya-Samasya Parva (Section CCXIII), by Mohan Ganguli, tr. [1883-1896]

He(Prana) moves as an embryo within the gods; having arrived, and being in existence, he is born again. Having arisen he enters with his mights the present and the future, as a father (goes to) his son.
They call Prâna Mâtarisvan (the wind); Prâna, forsooth, is called Vâta (the wind). The past and the future, the all, verily is supported upon Prâna.
The holy (âtharvana) plants, the magic (ângirasa) plants, the divine plants, and those produced by men, spring forth, when thou, O Prâna, quickenest them.
May Prâna, who rules over this (all) derived from every source, and over everything that moves, (may he) unwearied, strong through the brahma, adhere to me!

Atharvaveda 11.4

First, thou were born of Akasa, then of fire, and then of water.
Brahma who creates by His will and along with its law, comes to an end; all the Akasa (matter) and the Macrocosm merge into the Paramesuara [i.e., Parameshwara—JBH.] (non-dual; the highest God), that which is the liberator from the delusion of illusions .

Yoga Vashishtha, tr. by Rishi Singh Gherwal, [1930]

Gargi said, “Yajnavalkya, that which they say is above heaven and below the earth, which is between heaven and earth as well, and which was, is, and shall be – tell me, in what is it woven, warp and woof?’

Yajnavalkya said, “That of which they say, O Gargi, that it is above heaven and below the earth, which is between heaven and earth as well, and which was, is, and shall be–that is woven, warp and woof, is the ether. “Ether (Akasha) is the subtlest element. So subtle that it is often indistinguishable from Consciousness. Without it nothing can exist. Yet, there is more”.

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 3:8

From Mahabharat, we know, the prana and the air causes the growth.
Sanskrit term meaning is "Absolute Energy" for Prana.
We know from the Upanishads, and multiple sources of Hindu Scriptures including Atharvaveda, that Prana is all pervading.
From Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, we know Akasha is different from Consciousness and is often indistinguishable. And that "more" is Brahman and Parabrahman.
Also, Yajnavalkya Rishi clears that everything everywhere is woven in Akasha/ether.
Yoga Vasistha says concentrating on Akasha you go beyond matter which in turn would make things like levitation possible for a yogi.

Different from this, which consists of the essence of food, is the other, the inner Self, which consists of breath. The former is filled by this. It also has the shape of man. Like the human shape of the former is the human shape of the latter. Prâna (up-breathing) is its head. Vyâna (back-breathing) is its right arm. Apâna (down-breathing) is its left arm. Ether is its trunk. The earth the seat (the support).

Yajurveda, Section: Taittiriya Upanishad, Second Anuvacha.

From this, which is in accordance to the references presented by you of Swami Vivekanand, he concluded that Akash is acted upon by Prana. One should take into consideration that there are different levels of enlightenment/ liberation. Similarly, although some people might think he became the all knower/ as he knew His self but that has fundamental flaws in it as he was not the all-knowing. It is said, if one knows the Brahman, one becomes like the Brahman. And that the one who knows the Atman is freed from everything worldly. There's various levels of knowledge, it's understanding, putting it in practice, and having something called as "Sakshatkar" as well.

One can say everything is created from Brahman. //This is true One can also say everything is created from Aakash, which is also true! As mentioned in Yajurveda's Taittiriya Upanishad. One can say everything is from energy, which is true as well. One can say we are from water. //True

One can say we are from dust(which is Earth)// Christianity, in a way true. Hinduism says this body is made of five base elements Ether/Aakash/Space, Air, Fire, Water, Earth.// Much more precise.

If you refer Hindu Scriptures you will know, that body has 5 base elements, 5 mahabhut, 5 gnanendriyas, 5 karmendriyas, 4 antaharan - mann, buddhi, chitt, ahankar.

Those belonging to the Sankhya philosophy propound the existence of 24 elements and believe Parmatma to transcend them; i.e. Parmatma is 25th element.

Yoga philosophy propounds that jiva and ishwar is 25th element and Parmatma the 26th.

The point being Swami Vivekanand is not wrong but what he says is according to his understanding of the Vedas and Hindu Scriptures. He never claimed that whatever He is saying is the Ultimate truth and is the only truth or that whatever He says is the only way for Liberation. And of course he has never said that Upanishads or Vedas are false, so if you yourself research Upanishads, and Vedas, you might be able to draw different statements too. And that's why, Bhagwan Swaminarayan and others have said that they need to be understood from a Satpurush as one would be utterly confused if one goes on to understand by himself - just as we see ISIS, etc. to derive their source to kill Non-Muslims from the same book which most people of that community find peace in and do not harbour violence in their hearts probably.

Currently, that Satpurush from whom, every good Scripture can be learnt is Mahant Swami Maharaj.

Only one who realises God through these four scriptures can be said to possess total gnān. For example, only when one sees with one’s eyes does one come to know that milk is white; only when one smells with one’s nose does one come to know its smell; only when one touches it with one’s finger does one come to know whether it is hot or cold; and only when one tastes it with one’s tongue does one come to know its taste. In this manner, only when milk is tested through all of the indriyas can one totally know its nature; it cannot be totally known through one indriya alone. Similarly, one realises God’s nature totally when one realises it through the four scriptures, i.e., the Vedas, etc. To have such knowledge is called total gnān.

Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Vachanamrut, Vartal 2 Full text here

So, I am of the opinion that get what is useful, utilize it, always try to know the bigger picture. This is just one person(Swami Vivekanand) stating one point but the whole philosophies have contradictions with other Hindu philosophies too(Kapil Muni's Sankhya Philosophy and Yoga Philosophy),

The great Acharyas accepted by Hinduism, Ramanujacharya, Shankarachaya, Madhavacharya, Vallabhacharya propounded their own statements and paths to liberation all contradicting to each other yet within Hinduism and all having hundreds of thousands of followers. And the Latest Acharya, who is living right now, the person who wrote a Bhashya and is accepted and respected across Hinduism and propogated a Vaidik-Sanatan Siddhant is Vedant Martand, Darshan Kesari, Mahamahopadhyay Sadhu Bhadreshdas with Akshar Purushottam Darshan which I am a follower of.

Also, because of the references, Swami Vivekanand might have concluded because without energy nothing is possible and without Akash too. Aakash doesn't have a life in itself. Prana does. So, unless Prana acts on Akash technically nothing can be created. The bigger picture being the Brahman making this all happen. And Parabrahman the ultimate reason behind everthing.

You do need to hear what great people have to say!

40 Universities Honor Mahamahopadhyay Swami Bhadreshdasji, Bengaluru, India, 15 Feb 2018

Felicitation by numerous Universities at M S University, Gujarat

Full video to the Bengaluru Felicitation Event of Bhadresh Swami


The question is

Is there any scriptural ( Vedic or Puranic ) reference for all matter coming from Akasha being acted upon by Prana?

Let us go in reverse order, ie., from Puranas, which were composed at a subsequent date compared to the Veda, to the Veda. This method is adopted because the Rig Vedic vocabolary, being cryptic, cannot be understood easily.

Shiva Purana says

  1. Śakti came into being at the outset; with Śāntyatītapadā following. From Śiva in association with Śakti Māyā came into being and then the unmanifest from it.

  2. Śāntyatītapada originated from Śakti and from it Śāntipada; then the Vidyāpada; from it the Pratiṣṭhāpada came into being.

  3. Nivṛttipada originated from Pratiṣṭhāpada. Thus has been briefly described the creation induced by the lord.

We have to remember that

  • Shiva has auspiciousness and pervasivess and thus it is AkAsha and normally inert, which is depicted as Shiva remaining in Samadhi.
  • Shakti has Vibration and thus it is prAna.

So Shakti or prAna acts on Shiva or AkAsha, which is inert, and brings forth creation.

Rig Veda X.129, popularly known as Nasadiya Sukta, says

  1. THEN was not non-existent nor existent: there was no realm of air, no sky beyond it. What covered in, and where? and what gave shelter? Was water there, unfathomed depth of water?

  2. Death was not then, nor was there aught immortal: no sign was there, the day's and night's divider. That One Thing, breathless, breathed by its own nature: apart from it was nothing whatsoever.

  3. Darkness there was: at first concealed in darkness this All was indiscriminated chaos. All that existed then was void and form less: by the great power of Warmth was born that Unit.

It is also called Hymn of Creation.

In the 2nd Mantra of this Hymn, it was stated that

That One Thing, breathless, breathed by its own nature

It means that from inert one breathless (Shiva), breath (Shakti) came out.

Rig Veda I.185.4, dedicated to Heaven and Earth, says

May we be close to both the Worlds who suffer no pain, Parents of Gods, who aid with favour, Both mid the Gods, with Day and Night alternate. Protect us, Heaven and Earth, from fearful danger.

Here, Heaven indicates the all pervasiveness and Earth indicates the creation part. Aditi is called mother all celestial deities.

Rig Veda II.20.3 describes, Indra or sachipati (Sachi's Husband), as Shiva. Shiva indicates auspiciousness.

sa no yuvendro johūtraḥ sakhā śivo narāmastu pātā | yaḥ śaṃsantaṃ yaḥ śaśamānamūtī pacantaṃ ca stuvantaṃca praṇeṣat ||

May Indra, called with solemn invocations. the young, the Friend, be men's auspicious keeper, One who will further with his aid the singer, the toiler, praiser, dresser of oblations.

The pervasiveness, omnipotency, etc of Indra was eulogised in Rig Veda. This Rig Vedic Indra and Rudra later became Shiva and Sachi became Parvati in Puranas.

To conclude, Swami Vivekananda is right in saying so and it is Shakti or Vibration or prAna that creates the world and creatures by acting on inert Shiva or Akasha.

  • I feel these statements as force fitting - Shiva has auspiciousness and pervasivess and thus it is AkAsha and normally inert, which is depicted as Shiva remaining in Samadhi. Shakti has Vibration and thus it is prAna. Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 17:51
  • Unless you understand these issues in esoteric sense, you will definitely feel that the statements made in this regard as force fitting @Carmensandiego Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 20:29
  • prANa indicates that having life/vibration/energy. When you see thunderstorm, you are witnessing the energy but aakasha in the background gets little importance. Be it earthquake or a heavy winds accompanied by severe rain or any Natural phenomenon, aakasha will remain in the background in inertia. It is the Energy that makes impact @Carmensandiego Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 20:35

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