Abhassara, Ābhassara: 4 definitions


Abhassara means something in Buddhism, Pali. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

Source: Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names

A Brahma world where live radiant devas from whose bodies rays of light are emitted, like lightning. It belongs to the Rupaloka and is in the plane of second jhana (Abhs. v.3; Compendium 138, n.4). The devas living there subsist on joy (pitibhakkha) (S.i.114.; DhA.iii.258; J.vi.55). Their span of life is two kappas and there is no guarantee that a person who has been born there may not later be reborn in an unhappy condition (A.ii.127; but see Abhs. v.6, where their life span is given as eight kappas). From time to time these devas utter shouts of joy saying aho sukham, aho sukham. This sound is the best of sounds. These devas are completely enveloped in ease (sukhena abhisanna parisanna) (A.iii.202; D. iii.219). Their world forms the third station of consciousness (vinnanatthiti), they are of uniform body, but their perceptions are diverse (ekattakaya nanat tasannino) (A.iv.40, 401; D.ii.69; D.iii.253). During the periods of the development of the world many beings are born in the Abhassara realm and they are then called the highest of the devas, yet even they change their condition (A.v.60). In lists of devas (E.g., M.i.289) they are given below the Appamanabha and above the Subha.

Bodhisattas are sometimes born in the Abhassara world (AA.i.73; J.i.406, 473; M.i.329; , MA.i.553; SA.i.162), but they are never born in Arupa worlds even when they have developed Arupa jhanas. Baka Brahma was born in Abhassara after having passed through Vehapphala and Subhakinna, and it was then that he conceived the belief that he was eternal.

The Buddha visited him and convinced him of the error of his belief (J.iii.359). When the universe is dissolved after the lapse of a long epoch and is again evolved, beings are mostly born in the Abhassara world. When, sooner or later, the world begins to re evolve (vivattati), the Brahmavimana appears, but it is empty. Then some being or other, either because he has finished his life there or because his merit is exhausted, leaves the Abhassara world and is reborn in the Brahmavimana. Others follow his example, and it is then that the first to be reborn in the Brahma world thinks of himself as Brahma, the eternal, etc. (D.iii.29).

When inhabitants of the Abhassara world are reborn as humans, their existence continues to be like that which they had in the brahma world itself. As time goes on, however, they lose their qualities and develop the characteristics, both physical and mental, of human beings (For details see D.iii.84ff., PsA.253). Buddhaghosa (DA.iii.865) says that their birth on earth is opapatika (by spontaneous regeneration) and they are mind born (manomaya).

On the occasions when the world is destroyed by fire, the fire spread up to the Abhassara world; when by water, the water rises to the Subhakinna; when by wind, the wind reaches to the Vehapphala (CypA.9).

Source: Pali Kanon: Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines

The 'Radiant Ones', are a class of heavenly beings of the fine-material world (rūpa-loka); cf. deva.

context information

Theravāda is a major branch of Buddhism having the the Pali canon (tipitaka) as their canonical literature, which includes the vinaya-pitaka (monastic rules), the sutta-pitaka (Buddhist sermons) and the abhidhamma-pitaka (philosophy and psychology).

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Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

[«previous next»] — Abhassara in Pali glossary
Source: BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

ābhassara : (adj.) radiant.

Source: Sutta: The Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary

Ābhassara, (adj.-n.) (etym. uncertain; one suggested in Cpd. 138 n. 4 is ā + *bha + *sar, i. e. from whose bodies are emitted rays like lightning, more probably a combn. of ābhā + svar (to shine, be bright), i. e. shining in splendour) shining, brilliant, radiant, N. of a class of gods in the Brahma heavens “the radiant gods”, usually referred to as the representatives of supreme love (pīti & mettā); thus at D.I, 17; Dh.200; It.15; DhA.III, 258 (°loka). In another context at Vism.414 sq. (Page 103)

Pali book cover
context information

Pali is the language of the Tipiṭaka, which is the sacred canon of Theravāda Buddhism and contains much of the Buddha’s speech. Closeley related to Sanskrit, both languages are used interchangeably between religions.

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