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Vaisesika – Ether, Time, Space


Ether (Akasa)

The fifth eternal reality is Akasa – derived from the root “kas” ~ to be visible, appear, to shine, to be brilliant. It is that in which things appear – Ether. It accounts for the universal phenomenon of sound which is a special quality not associated with the other four elements. Sounds can be produced in any of them, but the absence of sound does not produce any alteration in their essential nature. Therefore we can postulate another reality – one in which sounds can inhere (like touch in air).

Sound is an objective phenomenon because it can be witnesses by several persons as being something apart from themselves. Ether is also demonstrated through the other Paramanus – they are all pure points (anus) and they require some medium in which they unite to produce new forms. An all pervading continuum is an absolute logical necessity for manifestation – Ether is assumed to be that medium.

Ether is of infinite magnitude (and therefor motionless), has no parts, indestrcutible and eternal. Like the Paramanus it cannot be perceived. However is has a special property – sound – which is perceived by a special sense of hearing.

Ether, together with the 4 Paramanus – earth, water, fire & air are called in Sanskrit “Bhutas” – that which has become – the ultimate essence of nature.

Time (Kala)

Kala is said to come from the root “kal” – to calculate or enumerate – it is translated as “time”. It is a reality that arises from the notional ideas of present, past and future – produced by the continual coming and going of all manifest phenomena in the objective world of sensible matter. This is caused by an outside force – otherwise there would be no reason for mutual relations such as seasonal changes and other periodic cycles.

This force cannot be Ether because these changes do not produce sound – if it were, the universe would be in a constant roar. It is a reality because we cannot conceive it to be dependent on anything for its existence.

Space (Dik)

The word Dik is derived from the root “dis” – to point out, show, exhibit. It is a direction, region or cardinal point – it gives rise to the notions of east, west, sough and north. The necessity for this reality arises from the fact that all things are seen to have an orderly relationship in the course of their movement – they hold a relative position.

Time cannot be this force because it operates in the opposite direction to Space. Time creates a unified affect, while Space must hold everything apart in order for things to have positional relationship with one another.

We tend to confuse Space with Ether. We think of Ether as a space in which things manifest. A good example to tell that two apart is to think of a chandelier and the room in which it hangs. The room provides the space – Ether and the chain which hold the chandelier suspended in the room is Space – the positional force. Space holds all things that manifest themselves in Ether.

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