deva »
  • deva

(lit: the Radiant Ones; related to Lat. deus): heavenly beings, deities, celestials, are beings who live in happy worlds, and who, as a rule, are invisible to the human eye.

They are subject, however, just like all human and other beings, to ever-repeated rebirth, old age and death, and thus are not freed from the cycle of existence and from misery. There are many classes of heavenly beings.

I. The 6 classes of heavenly beings of the sensuous sphere (kāmāvacara or kāma-loka; s. avacara loka), are

  1. Cātumahārājika-deva,
  2. Tāvatimsa,
  3. Yāma,
  4. Tusita (s. Bodhisatta),
  5. Nimmāna-rati,
  6. Paranimmita-vasavatti. Cf. anussati. (6).

II. The heavenly beings of the fine-material sphere (rūpāvacara or rūpaloka) are:

  1. Brahma-pārisajja, Brahma-purohita, Mahā-brahmāno (s. brahma-kāyika-deva). Amongst these 3 classes will be reborn those with a weak, medium or full experience of the 1st absorption (jhāna, q.v.).
  2. Parittābha, Appamānābha, Ābhassara. Here will be reborn those with experience of the 2nd absorption.
  3. Paritta-subha, Appamāna-subha, Subha-kinna (or kinha). Here will be reborn those with experience of the 3rd absorption.
  4. Vehapphala, Asañña-satta (q.v.), Suddhāvāsa (q.v.; further s. Anāgāmi). Amongst the first 2 classes will be reborn those with experience of the 4th absorption, but amongst the 3rd class only Anāgāmis (q.v.).

III. The 4 grades of heavenly beings of the immaterial sphere (arūpāvacara or arūpa-loka) are:

  1. the heavenly beings of the sphere of unbounded space (ākāsānañcāyatanūpaga-devā),
  2. of unbounded consciousness (viññānañcāyatanūpaga-deva),
  3. of nothingness (ākiñcaññāyatanūpaga devā),
  4. of neither-perception-nor- non-perception (nevasaññā-nāsaññāyatanūpaga-devā). Here will be reborn those with experience of the 4 immaterial spheres (arūpāyatana; s. jhāna 5-8).

See Gods and the Universe by Francis Story (WHEEL 180/181).


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