Life as a deva

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
Post Reply
User avatar
Posts: 996
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 3:23 pm
Location: Laurel, MD

Life as a deva

Post by Lazy_eye » Sun Jun 03, 2012 1:47 am


Could someone point me to some sutta (or commentarial) passages where the bliss of heavenly existence is described in detail? (the more sumptuous the better).

Also, I remember it being said that devas start to waver and flicker as they approach the end of their lifespans. Does anyone happen to know where this is said?

Thanks :)

User avatar
Posts: 261
Joined: Fri May 25, 2012 4:30 am

Re: Life as a deva

Post by hanzze_ » Sun Jun 03, 2012 3:03 am

No, you might find it as a adequate aim for this live again and do to strive for higher. :tongue: Not less devas end up in hell again. Can't you remember?

User avatar
Posts: 8502
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: Life as a deva

Post by cooran » Sun Jun 03, 2012 4:37 am

Maybe these are a beginning:

Pages 36 to 39 Kama Loka here: The Thirty One Planes of Existence by Ven. Suvanna Mahathera" onclick=";return false;

AN 8.43 Visakhuposatha Sutta: The Discourse to Visakha on the Uposatha with the Eight Practices translated from the Pali by Bhikkhu Khantipalo (Scroll down to after the eighth practice) ... .khan.html" onclick=";return false;

with metta
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

User avatar
Posts: 2252
Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:04 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Life as a deva

Post by manas » Sun Jun 03, 2012 8:55 am

Hi Lazy_Eye,

ATI have a great chart with links etc here: ... /loka.html" onclick=";return false;

And here is a sutta that describes the difference between an 'educated disciple of the noble ones' and an 'uneducated run-of-the-mill person' regarding what happens to them when their stay in a Brahma realm ends. Kind of has the effect of increasing one's sense of spiritual urgency to reach stream-entry in this very lifetime, methinks: :thinking: ... .than.html" onclick=";return false;

Then the Blessed One, picking up a tiny bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monk, "There isn't even this much form...feeling...
perception...fabrications...consciousness that is constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that will stay just as it is as long as eternity."

(SN 22.97)

User avatar
Posts: 996
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 3:23 pm
Location: Laurel, MD

Re: Life as a deva

Post by Lazy_eye » Mon Jun 04, 2012 3:20 am

Thanks for the links and info.

I should clarify, perhaps, that I'm asking this for scholarly purposes rather than because I aspire to heavenly luxuries...I'm interested in knowing where in the literature we can find detailed descriptions of the particular kinds of blissful experiences which the devas enjoy.

User avatar
Site Admin
Posts: 10846
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Re: Life as a deva

Post by DNS » Mon Jun 04, 2012 4:45 am

The Vimanavatthu is an anthology of 85 short stories written in verse in the Khuddaka Nikaya. The stories are similar to each other in that each of them describes the life and deeds of a character who has attained residence in a heavenly mansion, the "Vimana", due to his/her meritorious deeds. I don't think there is much of it online yet, but here is one example:
I see this delightful and beautiful mansion, its surface of many a color, ablaze with crystal and roofed with silver and gold. A well-proportioned palace, possessing gateways, and strewn with golden sand.

As the thousand-rayed sun in the autumn shines in the sky in the ten directions, dispelling the dark, so does this your mansion glow, like a blazing smoke-crested fire in the darkness of the night.

It dazzles the eye like lightning, beautiful, suspended in space. Resounding with the music of lute, drum, and cymbals, this mansion of yours rivals Indra's city in glory.

White and red and blue lotuses, jasmine, and other flowers are there; blossoming sal trees and flowering asokas, and the air is filled with a variety of fragrances.

Sweet-scented trees, breadfruits, laden branches interlaced, with palm trees and hanging creepers in full bloom, glorious like jeweled nets; also a delightful lotus pool exists for you.

Whatever flowering plants there are that grow in water, and trees that are on land, those known in the human world and heavens, all exist in your abode.

Of what calming and self-restraint is this the result? By the fruit of what deed have you arisen here? How did this mansion come to be possessed by you? Tell it in full, O lady with thick eyelashes.


How it come to be possessed by me, this mansion with its flocks of herons, peacocks, and partridges; and frequented by heavenly water-fowl and royal geese; resounding with the cries of birds, of ducks and cuckoos;

containing divers varieties of creepers, flowers and trees; with trumpet-flower, rose-apple, and asoka trees now how this mansion came to be possessed by me, I will tell you. Listen, venerable sir.

In the eastern region of the excellent country of Magadha there is a village called Nalaka, venerable sir. There I lived formerly as a daughter-in-law and they knew me there as Sesavati.

Scattering flower-blossoms joyfully I honored him skilled in deeds and worshipped by gods and men, the great Upatissa[1] who has attained the immeasurable quenching.

Having worshipped him gone to the ultimate bourn, the eminent seer bearing his last body, on leaving my human shape I came to (the heaven of) the thirty (-three) and inhabit this place.
Vim 3.7 Sesavati ... 7_Sesavati" onclick=";return false;

Posts: 2233
Joined: Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:56 am

Re: Life as a deva

Post by Nyana » Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:45 pm

Yes, the Vimānavatthu is a good canonical source. There are also post-canonical works such as the Māleyyadevattheravatthu, which recounts the story of the elder Māleyyadeva from Sri Lanka visiting the Cūlāmaṇi-shrine in the heaven of the thirty-three gods:
  • At that moment Sakka, king of the gods, came with his retinue and worshiped the right tooth of the Blessed One and the Cūlāmaṇi-shrine with various kinds of garlands, perfumes, ointments and the like; seeing the elder sitting down he went up to him, paid reverence and sat down to one side. All the groups of gods paid reverence to the shrine, walking around it keeping it to the right, (and then) paid reverence to the elder and sat down all around (him); so too did all the divine maidens, who paid reverence to the elder with a fivefold prostration. Sakka, king of the gods, asked the elder: “Sir, where have you come from?” “Great king, I have come from the Rose-apple island to pay reverence to the shrine.” Then the elder asked Sakka: “Did you have the Cūlāmaṇi-shrine set up?” “Yes, venerable sir, I had it set up to be worshiped by the gods.” The elder asked: “King of the gods, these gods did good deeds in the Human World and were reborn here to enjoy divine happiness; why do they make merit now?” “Venerable sir, these gods make merit in the desire to go beyond the world of the gods....”

    Then the noble Metteyya, the future Buddha, came down from the Tusita realm to worship at the shrine. He was attended by millions upon millions of junior gods and goddesses, who shone with a light brighter than that of the moon with its thousand rays; he (himself) shone like a full moon in a cloudless autumn sky, surrounded by clusters of stars. They were (all) holding lamps, incense, perfumes and garlands. His celestial radiance filled the whole city of the Thirty-three (gods) with light, gave off a celestial smell, and with his characteristic incomparable grace and charm he came to the shrine-terrace, walked around it keeping it to his right, paid reverence to and worshiped the eight directions, and sat down on the western side.
from Collins, Steven. Nirvana and Other Buddhist Felicities: Utopias of the Pali imaginaire. Cambridge University Press, 1998.

User avatar
Posts: 1906
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2010 12:47 pm
Location: Cambodia

Re: Life as a deva

Post by Hanzze » Tue Jun 05, 2012 8:30 am

The last story might refer to Devas in tusita


(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

Tusita (s. Bodhisatta),
Paranimmita-vasavatti. Cf. anussati. (6).

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

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.).
Parittābha, Appamānābha, ābhassara. Here will be reborn those with experience of the 2nd absorption.
Paritta-subha, Appamāna-subha, Subha-kinna (or kinha). Here will be reborn those with experience of the 3rd absorption.
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:

the heavenly 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; s. jhāna 5-8).

See Gods and the Universe by Francis Story (WHEEL 180/181).
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step"

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_

User avatar
Posts: 700
Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2010 5:31 am
Location: Brentwood Bay

Re: Life as a deva

Post by rowboat » Tue Jun 05, 2012 8:44 am

Also, I remember it being said that devas start to waver and flicker as they approach the end of their lifespans.
I don't seem to remember anything about that, but I do know, whether you're in one of the hell realms or a deva realm, when your time is up, you fall through the ground, or you fall through the floor, or you get pulled through the "pipe" at the bottom of the vat.
Rain soddens what is covered up,
It does not sodden what is open.
Therefore uncover what is covered
That the rain will not sodden it.
Ud 5.5

User avatar
Posts: 89
Joined: Wed Jan 19, 2011 3:58 am

Re: Life as a deva

Post by Son » Fri Jun 08, 2012 1:05 pm

As devas experience the end of their lifespan, this is what takes place:
1) the celestial flowers begin to wilt; 2) the celestial apparel appears dingy; 3) perspiration begins to appear in the armpits; 4) the once glowing complexion turns dull; and 5) the feeling of pleasure turns to boredom.
Almost all the kama-devas above the first pleasure sphere (catumaharajika) have castles or "pleasure mansions" of their own, but many of them seem to require residency with other devas, then there are husbands, wives, and "children," along with servants and attendants. But no one is homeless. Sometimes devas who become married merge their castles together. Once you reach the Yama world, Tusita, Nimminarati and Paranimmitavasavatti, the castles can float. Also these worlds aren't shaped like earth, but are like discs, with centers that spread outward.

Life in each pleasure world is much brighter and pleasing than the lower, with grander castles, more refined beauty (in jewels, flowers, decorations), and generally everything is just more enjoyable. In Yama, beings only need to embrace one another to experience sex. Yama is the world of the care-free devas, who don't worry or quarrel as some inferior devas do. In Tusita, they hold hands for sexual bliss. Tusita is the world of the highly contented ones, who are incredibly joyous and their happy lives are filled with gaiety. Everyone here is pious, and kind, and not given to aversion. This is where future Buddhas reside, and there many bodhisattvas dwelling in Tusita. In Nimmin. they just smile at one another, and in Paranimmi the devas avoid looking into one another's eyes because it causes sexual bliss--so if they want to, they just make eye contact, and they have sexual bliss. In the celestial lokas, many of the devas acquire celestial vehicles according to their merit.

In catumaharajika, which is what the world above us is called, things are mostly different. Because of the nature of accumulated merit in this sphere, there are many diverse beings. Birth can occur spontaneously as in all the other kamalokas, but it can also occur in the womb, in the moisture of water, or in eggs--just like lower births. There is also the possibility of being neither male nor female, in this celestial world.

There are four main cities, one for each continent, filled with tall crystal castles and beautiful flower ponds. Outside the cities there is a vast, mythical forest called "Himavanta" in some places. Where Tavatimsa is likened to "Olympus," the forest of catumaharijika is likened to the faery forest of the Faery Kingdom in Western mythology. According to some Buddhist sources, it is thought that long, long ago humans were "closer" to the celestial forest, but in time because of our increasing defilement, we were sundered from it. Really, this supports the mysterious "human origins" story from Abhidharma.

Magikal golden trees with golden lives grow in solitude throughout the celestial forest, growing beautiful flowers which become amazing fruit for short periods--and the devas compete for these fruits. Leaves that fall in the forest disappear and do not accumulate. Many miraculous and magikal animal-beings inhabit the forest, and these are devas. Some of the lower-class devas reside "parallel" to the earth, in other words with us. These devas may reside just sort of wherever, or in trees or in mansion above tree, the earth, or in the air. Some devas look very ugly and displeasing, others do not. Some of them look like frightening or beautiful animals, others look like humans. Experience in this devaloka isn't that great, really. However, mostly they live for a very long time, and the maximum lifespan is over thousands of years.

Beyond Tavatimsa and Yama, in Nimmin. the devas have the ability to create whatever sense-objects they desire. In lower worlds, devas inherit their castle based on merit, but these devas can change their castle however they'd like. In paranimmi tavasavatti, the devas do not even have to create. They can freely behold and possess the other celestial creations, and have hundreds of attendants. Lesser devas do not have to do much, and reap the fruit of their past merit; these highest devas, however, really don't need to do anything at all, they have whatever they need or want simply by wish. That's why there is a being dwelling here who is called "Mara."

It's important to note that names given to devas are derived from several uses; how they became devas, based on their merits, their human name, the name they are recognized by according to their actions, or names given by humans who worship them. The rulers of each celestial devaloka differ from the inhabitants because of their greater lifespan, greater merit fruits, and greater powers. Each devaloka has one king, except for catumaharajika.

I hope I was able to shed some light for you about deva experience. I didn't go into the brahma beings.
A seed sleeps in soil.
It's cold and alone, hopeless.
Until it blooms above.

User avatar
Posts: 1906
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2010 12:47 pm
Location: Cambodia

Re: Life as a deva

Post by Hanzze » Fri Sep 21, 2012 10:00 am

Maybe that helps to understand the life as a deva:
II. The Burden of Dukkha in the Deva World

In the six abodes of devas also, the five groups of existence found in any devas will firstly burden
him by way of sankhata at the beginning, by way of santapa in the middle, and finally by way of

33. Sankhata dukkha:
here the burden by 'sankhata', may be explained as follows: It briefly means
alms-giving, restraint of bodily and verbal actions, and restraint of mental action. Only when one has
performed these wholesome deeds in this present life will he be able to arise in the deva-plane in his next
birth and attain the body of a deva. He will not be able to achieve such a state by developing his mental
groups only. By giving away his property to others in charity, a person who has wealth of a hundred kyats
or a thousand kyats may be reduced to poverty in a single day; morality means strict observance and
restraint. If one does not practise alms-giving and morality, he is bound to be reborn in the lower worlds
in his next birth. So it is necessary to perform these wholesome deeds to reach the deva world. Even
when they arise in the happy course of existence by virtue of their wholesome deeds done in the previous
existences, if they have offered on a small scale in their past existence, they will have to lead a base life
in their present existence. The more they practiced dana and sila, the better positions they will enjoy in
their present existence. So people have to practice alms-giving spending a lot of money and also observe
precepts with great self-control, because they fear that they may be low down in lower worlds in their
next existence. When they have to do this merely because it is essential for their future welfare, it is
Anything that is performed compulsorily is dukkha. If, without practising dana and sila, a
being were able to arise in the deva-plane after his death, or if he were able to arise in the
Brahma plane without prac- tising calm, who would care to perform such wholesome
deeds as dana, sila and bhavana.?

34. Santapa dukkha:
Once the beings obtain the bodies of devas in the deva-planes, great fire of
passion rise up from the body and burn that deva throughout his life, dosa, moha, soka, parideva, dukkha,
domanassa and upayasa, arise in his life in the fullness of time. This is how a deva is burdened by way of

35. Viparinama dukkha:
Again, while the devas are thus enjoying pleasures in the deva-plane, their
span of life expires, and just like a big fire suddenly put out by an external agency, these devas die
suddenly, and generally they arise in the lower worlds. In fact, their khandha cause them to arise in the
lower worlds. This is how the devas are burdened by way of viparinama finally.
Out of three ways of burdening at the beginning, in the middle and at the end, the burden
of sankhata is very heavy for Brahmas. Because they are able to bear the heavy burden of
sankhata, the santapa in the middle becomes a little lighter for them. The burden of
viparinama also comes after a long time. Their life-span is calculated in terms of kappa
In the case of devas in the six deva-worlds, the burden of sankhata is not heavy. The
practice of dana and sila is a thousand times easier than the practice of jhana and bhavana.
As the burden of sankhata is not heavy and as kilesa have not even faded, the burden of
santapa is very heavy when one becomes a deva. The fire of passion and sensous lust
arisen out of the six sense-doors burns those devas up to the end of their lives. The
remaining fire of defilements also burns when the time is ripe. The burden by way of
viparinama also comes very quickly. Their span of life is calculated in terms of years,
months and days. The life- span of the devas is like the wink of an eye when compared to
that of Brahmas. Though there is said to be pleasures and enjoyments in the whole of the
six deva-worlds, all these are fires of kama and raga that are burning them.
Thus the khandhas of six deva-worlds burden the devas in four ways and as the burden is
manifest it is clearly dukkha-sacca.

form "Manual of Buddhism by Venerable Mahathera Ledi Sayadaw
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step"

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 49 guests