Aether (Greek) : The Element consisting all Panchmahabhuta (Tattva)

Tattva is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘thatness’, ‘principle’, ‘reality’ or ‘truth’. According to various Indian schools of philosophy, a tattva (or tattwa) is anelement or aspect of reality conceived as an aspect of deity. Although the number of tattvas varies depending on the philosophical school, together they are thought to form the basis of all our experience. The Samkhya philosophy uses a system of 25 tattvas, while Shaivism recognises 36 tattvas.

In Shaivite philosophy, the tattvas are inclusive of consciousness as well as material existence. The 36 tattvas of Shaivism are divided into three groups:

Shuddha tattvas
The first five tattvas are known as the shuddha or ‘pure’ tattvas. They are also known as the tattvas of universal experience.
Shuddha-ashuddha tattvas
The next seven tattvas (6–12) are known as the shuddha-ashuddha or ‘pure-impure’ tattvas. They are the tattvas of limited individual experience.
Ashuddha tattvas
The last twenty-four tattvas (13–36) are known as the ashuddha or ‘impure’ tattvas. The first of these is prakriti and they include the tattvas of mental operation, sensible experience, and materiality.

The word aithēr in Homeric Greek means “pure, fresh air” or “clear sky.” In Greek mythology, it was thought to be the pure essence that the gods breathed, filling the space where they lived, analogous to the air breathed by mortals. It is also personified as a deity, Aether, the son of Erebus and Nyx in traditional Greek mythology. Aether is related to αἴθω “to incinerate” and intransitive “to burn, to shine”.

Medieval scholastic philosophers granted aether changes of density, in which the bodies of the planets were considered to be more dense than the medium which filled the rest of the universe. Robert Fludd stated that the aether was of the character that it was “subtler than light”. Fludd cites the 3rd-century view of Plotinus, concerning the aether as penetrative and non-material.

In Plato’s Timaeus  speaking about air, Plato mentions that “there is the most translucent kind which is called by the name of aether “.Aristotle, who had been Plato’s student at the Akademia, disagreed with his former mentor and added aether to the system of the classical elements ofIonian philosophy as the “fifth element”.

 In Aristotle’s system of classical elements, aether had none of the qualities the terrestrial classical elements had. Aether was neither hot nor cold, neither wet nor dry. Aether did not follow Aristotelian physicseither. Aether was also incapable of motion of quality or motion of quantity. Aether was only capable of local motion. Aether naturally moved in circles, and had no contrary, or unnatural, motion. Aristotle also noted that crystalline spheres made of aether held the celestial bodies. The idea of crystalline spheres and natural circular motion of aether led to Aristotle’s explanation of the observed orbits of stars and planets in perfectly circular motion in crystalline aether.

 It was used in one of Sir Isaac Newton’s first published theories of gravitation, Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (the Principia). He based the whole description of planetary motions on a theoretical law of dynamic interactions. He renounced standing attempts at accounting for this particular form of interaction between distant bodies by introducing a mechanism of propagation through an intervening medium. He calls this intervening medium aether.

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