The Four Abhavas (Absence)

    • The Five Bhavas
    • Edited by
      Dr. H.C. Bharill

Lesson 7


The life-story of Swami Samant Bhadra, who always remained away from worldly fame is practically unknown. It has been a characteristic of the Jain acharyas that though they wrote splendid works, they did not write anything about their own lives. Whatever small is available is not sufficient.

He was a prince of the Kadamb dynasty of kings. He was named Shanti Verma in his childhood. He was born in Uragpur town on the bank of the river Kaveri in the Deccan. He was alive till Vikram Samvat 138.

Nothing is known about his family life. He was initiated into the order of Digamber Jain sainthood at an early age. Then he passed through hard penance and obtained a very deep knowledge of God and soul. Besides being a great scholar of Jain philosophy, he was an incomparable master of logic, grammar, prosody, poetry and lexicography. He was, possessed of an uncommon power of exposition of the holy texts. He shattered the pride of perverted orators of religious thought. He writes- ” I roam about like a lion for exposition of the religious truth”.

The latter acharyas have remembered him with great respect. He is known as the first writer of verses of adoration. He has given strength to lyric poetry. His verses of adoration are full of great logic. Vadibhsingh Suri, Veervandi Acharya and Acharya Shubhchandra have showered praises on him and compared him with the sun in dispelling the darkness of ignorance.

The present lesson has been written on the basis of the ninth, tenth and eleventh verses of Aptamimansa.

Four Abhavas

 Acharya Samant Bhadra : The nature of substance is multifacedness. Just as existence is the nature of the substance from the point of view of the self, Abhav (absence – non existence) is also in the nature of the substance from the point of view of the non-self.

Disciple : What is an Abhav ? How many are they ?

Acharya Samant Bhadra : Non-existence of one substance into the other substance is called absence (Abhava). There are four kinds of absence (i) Praagabhava, (ii) Pradhvansabhava, (iii) Anyonyabhava, (iv) Atyantabhava.

Disciple : Kindly explain the.four Abhavas briefly.

Acharya Samant Bhadra : The absence (non-existence) of the present modification in the former (past) modification (of a substance) is called Praagabhava. The absence (non-existence of the present modification in the posterior (future) modification (of a substance) is called Pradhvansabhava. For example the former modification of curd was milk, wherein curd was absent. This absence is Praagabhava. Curd-water is the future modification of curd, in which the present modification of curd is non-existent. This absence is called Pradhvansabhava.

Disciple : Sir, you have explained this with the help of the example of milk and curd. Kindly explain it with reference to the soul.

Acharya Samant Bhadra : The non-existence of the modification of an introvert in the former modification of an extrovert is Praagabhava and absence of the same in the future modification of Godhood is Pradhvansabhava.

Disciple : What is Anyonyabhava ?

Acharya Samant Bhadra : The absence (non-existence) of the present modification of one particular matter substance into the present modification of any other matter substance is called Anyonyabhava, e.g. the present bitter taste of lemon is not present in the present sweetness of sugar.

Disciple : Please explain this also in the context of the soul.

Acharya Samant Bhadra : This does not apply to soul. You have not read the definition carefully and so you put such a. question. It is clear in the definition that the absence of the present modification of one matter substance with the present modification of any other matter substance is Anyonyabhava. This applies to matter substance only and that too in their present modifications.

Disciple : What is Atyantabhava ?

Acharya Samant Bhadra : The absence (non-existence) of one substance (entity) into the other substance is called Atyantabhave, e.g. the soul and matter substances have Atyantabhava in each other.

Remember that Atyantabhava applies to two of the six substances. Anyonyabhava applies to the present modifications of two matter substances. Praagabhava applies to the present and the past modifications of one of the six substances and Pradhvansabhava applies to the present and the future modifications of the six substances. Atyantabhava alone applies to a substance, the rest of the Abhavas apply to the modifications of substances.

Briefly we can say that Praagabbava is that by virtue of whose absence activity or behaviour definitely follows. Pradhvansabhava is that by virtue of whose existence a particular activity is definitely destroyed.

The absence of the present modification of one matter into the present modification of any other matter is Anyonyabhava and the absence in the context of all the three divisions of time is Atyantabhava.

Disciple :What wrong will follow if we do not accept these four Abhavas ?

Acharya Samant Bhadra:

  1. If we do not recognise Praagabhava all modifications of the activities will have to be accepted since beginningless times.
  2. If we do not recognise Pradhvansabhava, all modification will remain up to endless times.
  3. If we do not accept Anyonyabhava, all the modification of all the matter substances will be merged into one, that is, the will become one and the same.
  4. If we do not accept Atyantabhava, all the substances will abandon their natural attributes; the differences in the substances will be annihilated and all the substances will be one.
  5. It is hoped that you have understood the four Abhavas.

Disciple : Yes Sir, I have followed them.

Acharya Samant Bhadra : What Abhava exists in the body and the soul?

Disciple : Atyantabhava.

Acharya Samant Bhadra : Why?

Disciple : For one is matter substance, while the other is soul substance and the absence between two substances is called Atyantabhava.

Acharya Samant Bhadra : What Abhava exists in the book and the jar?

Disciple : Anyonyabhava, because the book and the jar both are the present modifications of matter substance.

Acharya Samant Bhadra : “The soul is from beginningless times omniscient”.

Disciple : Praagabhava, for omniscience is the modification of the attribute of consciousness and as such modifications of sensory knowledge and others do not have its existence.

Acharya Samant Bhadra : What Abhava has not been accepted by those who believe that the present attachment will trouble one throughout life ?

Disciple : Pradhvansabhava, because the present modifications of attachment are non-existent in the future modifications of the attribute of conduct. As such the present attachment cannot be in instrumental to future happiness or unhappiness.

Disciple : What are the benefits of understanding these four Abhavas ?

Acharya Samant Bhadra : If one who has been indulging in sinful wrong faith and other demerits, makes effort, can destroy these and develop the religious states of correct faith and other merits, because the present modification does not exist in the past modifications. The inferiority complexes like those that lead to regarding oneself as a sinner and not having the capacity to adopt religious style of life are removed by understanding Praagabhava In the same way by understanding Phadhvansabhava, one can achieve glorious modifications in future, however mean and low the present conditions may be, because the future modifications have absence of the present modification. This way, one is encouraged to become soul-minded even in the present ignoble states, disregarding all inferiorities.

Disciple : Kindly let us know the benefits of Anyonyabhava and Atyantabhava also.

Acharya Samant Bbadra : Because there is Atyantbhava in different substances, one substance cannot change or create or destroy the other ones. By such understanding our eternal fear that somebody can do us any harm is removed. Looking to others for our own welfare and knowing that others will do us some good are also washed off. Anyonyabhava creates a feeling of independence in us, for when one modification of matter substance is quite different from and independent of the same of other substance, the same are quite so from our soul.

Thus by understanding these four Abhavas, feelings of independence grow, hopes that others can help or harm us are dashed to pieces, fear is totally annihilated and the feelings of loneliness and inferiority in the face of weaknesses of the past and the present and the consequent impurities are done away with and spiritually minded persons become introvert and proceed on the path of complete liberation. I hope you have understood the benefits arising out of the knowledge, of these Abhavas.

Disciple : Yes Sir, I have followed them perfectly well.

Acharya Samant Bhadra : Then tell me what mistake one commits, if one believes that if our bodies are strong our voice is also strong.

Disciple : He does not know the nature of Anyonyabhava, because the strength and fatness of the body are due to the Ahar Vargnas (Karmic matter) and the force of the voice is the work of speech karmic matter. This way there is Anyonyabhava in the fatness of the body and speech.

Acharya Samant Bhadra : “Omniscience emerges after the destruction of consciousness covering karma (Gyanavarni karma).” What is wrong in believing like this ?

Disciple : Person with such a belief does not know Atyantabhava, for there is this Abhava in Gyanavarni karma and the soul. More so, how can one substance effect any modification in the other one ?

Acharya Samant Bhadra : Religious texts declare like that from untrue conventional aspect to give us knowledge of the indifferent instrumental causes present at the time of the birth of the new modifications, but from the real point of view, one substance cannot create, change or destroy the other one.

Thus, the nature of things is multifaced. One modification is not the nature of the whole substance. Abhava is also in the nature of the things. The scheme of things will fail without accepting it. It is, therefore, necessary to understand the nature of all the four Abhavas, to do away with all the delusions, attachments and aversions and remain very alert in this attempt.

Here, 1 put an example. It we want to get our stomach operated, would we get it done by any body without knowing the details of the operator and the operations ? No, we try to gather complete information about the doctor. The doctor too, does not get ready, easily to do the work in which he is not an expert. The question of operating apart, even if we want to get a shirt stitched, we try to search an expert tailor and the tailor, too, if does not know the stitching of a shirt, might refuse to stitch it. But the scope of religion is made so wide open that anybody, without understanding and knowing the truth or reality, gets ready to preach and he also finds listeners.

 Dharma Ke Dashlakshana, Page 120 Dr. Hukamchand Bharill