Last Updated: July 27, 2017

Definition - What does Abhasavada mean?

Abhasavada is a Sanskrit term generally taken to refer to the “theory of appearance.” It is derived from the word, abhasa, which means “mere/fallacious appearance.” It can also be translated as “reflection,” “semblance of reason” or “intention.”

Abhasavada is used in Hindu philosophy, particularly the Shaivita school and Advaita Vedanta, which share roots with yogic philosophy. It has slightly different connotations in each school, but broadly speaking, they both attempt to explain the way in which the manifest world is not what it appears to be, but is instead, on some level, an illusion.

Yogapedia explains Abhasavada

In Shaivism, Abhasavada is the theory used to explain the volitional power of Shiva, which is the force that underlies the apparent creative power of nature. According to this theory, the whole world is an abhasa, or manifestation, of Shiva. Thus, the theory states that all prakriti is the projection of Shiva’s will-consciousness. It is in Shiva’s nature to manifest himself in the infinite shapes of the universe.

However, Abhasavada in Advaita Vedanta states that the individual soul is the illusory experience and is simply a projection or manifestation of Brahman, the Universal Consciousness. Thus, all objects in the world are secondary appearances because they are the reflections of the primary appearances of Brahman. All these appearances are illusions.

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