Bhaya is fear and Nirbhaya is free from fear. Is Abhaya also being free from fear? No, even though theses two words Nirbhaya and Abhaya sound to be the same there is a subtle difference.
Abhaya can be taken as absence of fear. To explain it better let us suppose there is a half cut trunk of a tree with protruding branches and it the dark it appears to be like a ghost. A beam of light would dispel the fear as it brings out the broken tree with branches to our mind. The act of beam of light was to give us Nirbhaya fearlessness. It is a momentary experience to be fearful and free from fear, they are like clouds covering the sun they appear and disappear. But a person who is indifferent whether it is a ghost or anything else for that matter he has got Abhayattva, state of acceptance.
Mind is deluded to be afraid and removal of the fear is also an act of mind. Bhaya and Nirbhaya are linked with fear and removal of fear but Abhaya is not linked to either of them. It is a permanent state of fearlessness or could be considered as state of acceptance. The person who has experienced this is aware of his true nature and hence does not become a victim of fear. He is not aware of the second apart from the one which he is aware.
Fear exists in the thought of a second entity. Nirbhaya is linked with unity consciousness. There is no skepticism in such a state of Advaita one is truly fearless. Fear is there when our true identity is lost, when Absolute is forgotten and world is felt, when there is desires and attachments, when there is need for something, when we are deluded by objects that we perceive. There is fearlessness when one is in the experience of true nature.
Once it so happened that the Greek Emperor Alexander learnt that Sage Dandini who was dwelling in forest was a great philosopher and wished to see him. He sent his messenger to fetch the sage. The messenger went to the ashram, the sage was in meditation.
The messenger said, “O Sage Emperor Alexander, the son of the mighty God Zeus commands your presence at his palace”.
The sage remained in deep meditation and did not reply. Whereupon the messenger said angrily, “The powerful warrior Alexander does not take any refusals kindly, if you obey you will be rewarded if not your head will be cut off.”
Sage Dandini was neither pleased nor panicked by this threatening invite.
He looked up and said: “Tell your master the mighty son of Zeus that firstly all sons of Zeus are my brothers and we are all equal in the eyes of Absolute. Secondly since I am contented with what I have I do not require any rewards and thirdly he can cut off my head, but will never be able to disturb the peace of my soul, something which clearly Alexander does not have in spite of all his conquests.” When Alexander, the great received this message he was amazed and his desire to meet such a fearless Sage doubled and he came to Sage Dandini to learn the secrets of Spirituality.
Absolute is always there for us to protect and He protects all as His own offspring there is no need to ask for His protection, all we need to do is to make ourselves worthy and utilize His protection.