[Advaita-l] Four kinds of Non-existence (abhAva)

sunil bhattacharjya skbhattacharjya at gmail.com
Sun Aug 17 17:48:11 CDT 2008


Referring to "anyonya-abhAva" it is somewhat similar to a situation
explained by Lord Buddha. Lord Buddha tried to make his disciples
understand Shunyata when he said that Shunyata does not mean
non-existence. He said, for example, a horse does not exist in an ox
and that does not mean the horse or the ox do not exist. Shunyata or
the non-existence refers to non-existence in a particular situation. .


Sunil K. Bhattacharjya

On Sun, Aug 17, 2008 at 7:18 AM, S.N. Sastri <sn.sastri at gmail.com> wrote:
> Four kinds of Non-existence (abhAva)
> Namaste.
> nyAya and vaisheShika schools of philosophy, as also the bhATTa school of
> pUrvamiimAmsA, recognize abhAva or non-existence as a category and divide it
> into four types as will be described below. advaita does not recognize
> abhAva as a category. According to it non-existence is identical with the
> substratum on which the non-existence of an object is postulated. Thus, when
> we say that there is no pot on this floor it means that there is only the
> floor.
> Although advaita does not recognize abhAva, it is referred to in the bhAshya
> of Shri Shankara for refuting the objections of nyAya based on abhAva.
> Examples of this are found in the bhAshya on br. up. 1.2.1 and taitt. up.
> bhAshya introduction. An understanding of the four kinds of abhAva according
> to nyAya is therefore useful for understanding the bhAshya. These are
> described below.
> 1. prAg-abhAva- This is the non-existence of a particular pot before (prAg)
> it was made. This is known as antecedent non-existence. This has no
> beginning because this particular pot was always non-existent before it was
> made. But this prAg-abhAva ends as soon as the pot is made. It therefore has
> an end.
> 2. pradhvamsa-abhAva—This is the non-existence after destruction. pradhvamsa
> means destruction. This is known as annihilative non-existence. This begins
> as soon as the pot is destroyed. But it has no end because the destroyed pot
> can never come back.
> 3. atyanta-abhAva—This is the same as limitation in space. An object does
> not exist at a particular time in any place other than where it is at that
> time because it is limited in space. This term is applicable only to things
> which exist somewhere and not to things like the horn of a rabbit which have
> no existence anywhere at all. This is known as absolute non-existence.
> 4. anyonya-abhAva- This is actually the difference of one thing from
> another. A pot is not a cloth. There is anyonya-abhAva between the two. This
> is known as mutual non-existence.
> All the objects in the world have all these four kinds of abhAva, except
> AkAsha which is all-pervading and cannot therefore have atyanta-abhAva
> anywhere. They all have a beginning and an end. They are limited in space.
> Each object is different from all other objects.
> But brahman cannot have any of these abhAva's. It has neither origin nor
> destruction and so it does not have the first two kinds of non-existence.
> brahman is not limited in space and so it cannot have atyanta-abhAva
> anywhere. All objects are superimposed on brahman and so no object is
> different from brahman. It has therefore no anyonya-abhAva.
> Regards,
> S.N.Sastri
> --
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