Ābhassarā Devā, Ābhassaraloka
The Abhassara Gods, The Abhassara Realm
A class of Brahma deities that shine or radiate light. They are identical in body but of diverse minds. Accessed through attainment of the second jhāna.
* indicates unchecked, unstandardized external referenc
*DN III 218, 258
DN 15 pp 69
*AN IV 40
*AN III 202
AN 10.29 pp 60
*MN I 329
*SN I 114
Examining the Mulapariyaya — Analysis
The 10th Question: Knowledge of Former Habitations.
|Pali||MO||Hare||Horner||Childers||Bodhi||Rhys Davids||(Mrs)Rhys Davids||Thanissaro||Walshe||Woodward|
|Ābhassara||Radiant Beings||Devas of Radiant Splendour||the Radiant ones||Shining, Radiant gods||the gods of Streaming Radiance||Radiant Devas||Radiant Devas||the luminous gods||devas of Streaming Radiance||Radiant Devas|
Pali Text Society
Pali English Dictionary
Edited by T. W. Rhys Davids and William Stede
Ābhassara: [etym. uncertain; one suggested in Cpd. is ā+*bha+*sar, i.e. from whose bodies are emitted rays like lightning, more probably a combination of ābhā+*svar (to shine, be bright), i.e. shining in splendour] shining, brilliant, radiant, Name of a class of gods in the Brahma heavens "the radiant gods", usually referred to as the representatives of supreme love (pīti & mettī)
The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters
A Critical Pāli Dictionary
V. Trenckner, Dines Andersen and Helmer Smith
Ābhassarā (devā)'The Radiant Deities', name of a class of divinities inhabiting one of the Rūpa-brahmalokas in the second jhāna-bhūmi.
Ābhassara and Subhakinna Gods. The Ambassadors of the Heart, and the Pure of Heart. Subsisting on Piti and Metta, they traverse the sky, emitting cries of joy: "Oh the Joy! Oh the Joy!"
Hierarchies in Hindu and Buddhist Cosmology usually progress towards less and less, (or, more precisely for the Hindu system, towards greater and greater modesty, less and less display) so the differentiation between the two sets of gods should be in the perceptability of their form.
"Splendor" is sometimes mentioned in relation to the gods, and in this case those of more power (of goodness in the kamma that caused this rebirth) are said to be more splendid, of brighter light and clearer color.
Most translators translate the two as Radiant ones and Luminescent ones respectively which would follow the above reasoning, but the breakdown of the word for Subhakinna would indicate the reverse.
I do not know which is which, and follow the others in this.
One set Radiates Light, you do not see the form, you see light radiate from the periphery of the form, the other set, by contrast do not emit light, but their shape is visable, so they are said to be luminous.
The Ābhassara realm is said to be the place where most beings are reborn during the resting stage after the destruction of the world and prior to it's re-evolution. This is not always the case, as we hear that sometimes, during the destruction of a world system, the flames of Hell reach as high as the Subhakinna realm.