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Deva: lit: the Radiant Ones; related to Lat. deus: divine 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 divine beings.

I. The 6 classes of divine beings of the sense-sphere kāmāvacara or kāma-loka see: avacara loka are cātumahārājika-deva, Tāvatimsa, Yāma, Tusita see: Bodhisatta, Nimmāna-rati, Paranimmita-vasavatti Cf. anussati 6.

II. The divine beings of the fine-material sphere rūpāvacara or rūpaloka are:

  1. brahma-pārisajja brahma-purohita mahā-brahmāno see: brahma-kāyika-deva Amongst these 3 classes will be reborn those with a weak, medium or full experience of the 1st absorption jhāna.
  1. parittābha appamānābha, ābhassara Here will be reborn those with experience of the 2nd absorption.
  1. paritta-subha appamāna-subha, subha-kinna or kinha Here will be reborn those with experience of the 3rd absorption.
  1. vehapphala asañña-satta, suddhāvāsa, further see: anāgāmi Amongst the first 2 classes will be reborn those with experience of the 4th absorption, but amongst the 3rd class only anagami

III. The 4 grades of divine beings of the immaterial sphere arūpāvacara or arūpa-loka are: the divine beings of the sphere of unbounded space ākāsānañcāyatanūpaga-devā of unbounded consciousness viññānañcāyatanūpaga-deva, of nothingness ākiñcaññāyatanūpaga devā of neither-perception-nor-non-perception nevasaññā-nāsaññāyatanūpaga-devā Here will be reborn those with experience of the 4 immaterial spheres arūpāyatana

See also: Buddhist cosmology


Maha Thera Nyanatiloka. Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines, Buddhist Publication Society, first edition 1952.