A Brahma-world where live radiant devas from whose bodies rays of light are
emitted, like lightning. It belongs to the Rūpaloka and is in the plane of
second jhāna (AbhS. v.3; Compendium 138, n.4). The devas living there subsist on
joy (pītibhakkha) (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 abhisaññā parisaññā) (A.iii.202; D. iii.219).
Their world forms the third station of consciousness (viññānatthiti), they
are of uniform body, but their perceptions are diverse (ekattakāyā
nānat-tasaññino) (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 Appamānābhā and above the Subhā.
Bodhisattas are sometimes born in the Ābhassara world (AA.i.73; J. i.406, 473;
M.i.329; , MA.i.553; SA.i.162), but they are never born in Arūpa worlds even
when they have developed Arūpa-jhānas. Baka Brahmā was born in Ābhassara 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 Ābhassara world. When, sooner or
later, the world begins to re-evolve (vivattati), the Brahmavimāna 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 Ābhassara world and is
reborn in the Brahmavimāna. Others follow his example, and it is then that the
first to be reborn in the Brahma-world thinks of himself as Brahmā, the eternal,
When inhabitants of the Ābhassara-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 opapātika
(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 Ābhassara-world; when by water, the water rises to the Subhakinna; when by
wind, the wind reaches to the Vehapphala (CypA.9).
According to Buddhaghosa (MA.i.29; VibhA.520; cp. DA.ii.510), the Ābhassaras
are so called because radiance spreads from their bodies in all directions, like
flames from a torch (dandadīpikāya acci viya etesam sarīrato Ābhā chijjitvā
chijjitvā patantī viya sarati visaratī ti Abhassarā).
According to the scholiast of the Candābha Jātaka (q.v.), beings who meditate
on the Sun and Moon are born in this world. The Moon appears at the wish of the
Abhassara Brahmās. See Candimā.