abhāva

(‘non-existence’)

The production of an effect is the sign of the existence of the cause. In the same way, the non-production of it is the sign of its non-existence. This is the line of argument adopted by the Vaiśeṣika system, one of the two dialectical schools of Hindu philosophy. According to it, the non-perception of a jar in the ground before us is the same as the perception of the non-existence, abhāva, of the jar. This is the only system which considers abhāva as a fundamental category of reality and describes four kinds of it:

  1. prāgabhāva—non-existence before coming into being, as for e.g., the non-existence of the jar before it is produced;
  2. pradhvaṁsābhāva—non-existence after destruction, as for e.g., the non-existence of the jar after it is destroyed;
  3. anyonyābhāva—mutual non-existence of two different objects, as for e.g., the non-existence of the cow in the horse and vice versa; and
  4. atyantā-bhāva—absolute non-existence, as for e.g., the non-existence of colour in air.