Abhasavada (Sanskrit: आभासवाद) is the term derived from the word Abhasa meaning mere or fallacious appearance, reflection, looking like, light, semblance of reason, intention

In Hindu philosophy this term refers to the Theory of Appearance, both of the Shaivite school and the Advaita Vedanta, though with differing connotations

The Shaivites rely on Maheshvaraya (Sovereignty of Will) of Shiva, the creator-sustainer-destroyer to explain Creation

Jnanadikara deals with two theories a) Svatantryavada and b) Abhasavada to explain Shiva’s volitional power

The whole creation or manifestation is the result of the Kriya Sakti of the Lord who becomes Nirmana Sakti (constituent power) owing to the operation of three laws viz

the law of Division (bheda-bheda), the law of Perception (mana-tat-phala-meya) and the law of Causation (Karya karana, Kriya Sakti)

Svatantryavada or the universal voluntarism is the chief doctrine of the Pratyabhijna system; it is the doctrine of self-dependence or sovereignty of the Lord’s Will which imparts impetus to the process of the world

It explains the creative power in Nature and multiplication of effect

This theory replaced Arambhavada (theory of Realistic creation), Parinamavada (theory of transformation) and Vivartavada (theory of Manifestation)

Abhasavada is the Pratyabhijna’s theory of Manifestation, propounded by Utpalacarya and influenced Abhinavagupta, which explains Monism and holds the world objects as manifestations or Abhasas, and the view that it is the very nature of Shiva, the Supreme Cause (Parma Shiva), to manifest Himself in diverse forms of the universe, that the whole universe is an abhasa of Shiva

It recognizes the truth that appearance as appearance or as process of the world, is real, the appearance is not a superimposition on Shiva actively involved in free spontaneous kriya of creation

Prakrti is projection of the free-will of Shiva

In the Advaita Vedanta version, Abhasavada, the theory of appearance advocated by Suresvara, holds that the individual soul is merely an illusory appearance – a projection – of Brahman-intelligence

According to this school of thought championed by Sankara, at the level of Consciousness Jiva and Ishvara are considered to be mere reflection or appearance of the One Impartite Brahman; because they are identical with Brahman they have no separate identity of their own

Suresvara maintains that Jivas are as real as Brahman, they being primary appearances in and through avidya, while the objects of the world are unreal, they being secondary appearances, the mere reflections of the primary appearances

Reality thus appearing in Avidya is the cause of all further outward appearances by way of phenomenal or empirical entities, recognized as illusions

Sankara holds the view that Avidya or Maya, the metaphysical Ignorance, is of the nature of a superimposition of Self on the Not-self (Anatman), the real on the real and vice versa, there cannot be superimposition on the empty void

The creation of the universe is nothing but self-creation (Brahma Sutra I


26); Brahman creates all things by apparently transforming Itself into all things

Pratibimbavada, the theory of reflection, evolved from Abhasavada

Padamapada had as basis the fact that Awareness is identical to the original as in Tat Tvam Asi in which mahavakya there is the identification of anidamamsa (pure Awareness) with Brahman