84000 Glossary of Terms

Our trilingual glossary combining entries from all of our publications into one useful resource, giving translations and definitions of thousands of terms, people, places, and texts from the Buddhist canon.

ལྷ། | Glossary of Terms




  • Term
Publications: 44

Cognate with the English term divine, the devas are most generally a class of celestial beings who frequently appear in Buddhist texts, often at the head of the assemblies of nonhuman beings who attend and celebrate the teachings of Śākyamuni and other buddhas and bodhisattvas. In Buddhist cosmology the devas occupy the highest of the five or six “destinies” (gati) of saṃsāra among which beings take rebirth. The devas reside in the devalokas, “heavens” that traditionally number between twenty-six and twenty-eight and are divided between the desire realm (kāmadhātu), material realm (rūpadhātu), and immaterial realm (arūpyadhātu). A being attains rebirth among the devas either through meritorious deeds (in the desire realm) or the attainment of subtle meditative states (in the material and immaterial realms). While rebirth among the devas is considered favorable, it is ultimately a transitory from which beings will fall when the conditions that lead to rebirth there are exhausted, Thus, rebirth in the god realms is regarded as a diversion from the spiritual path.