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1. Devā.– A class of beings. As a title the word “deva” is attributed to any being regarded, in certain respects, as being above the human level. Thus it is used for a king. In a late classification (CNid.307; KhA.123, etc.) there are three kinds of Devā: conventional gods — e.g., kings and princes (sammutidevā); beings who are divine by the purity of their great religious merit — Arahants and Buddhas (visuddhidevā); and beings who are born divine (uppattidevā). Under the third category various groups are enumerated, the commonest number being seven:

  1. Cātummahārājikā,
  2. Tāvatiṃsā,
  3. Yāmā,
  4. Tusitā,
  5. Nimmānaratī,
  6. Paranimmita Vasavattī, and
  7. Brahmakāyikā (e.g., D.i.216; A.i.210, etc.).

The longest list is that of the Majjhimanikāya (i.289; iii.100. The Divyāvadāna p.266 contains a list of twenty-two), which contains the names of twenty-five groups.

The popular etymology of the word connects it with the root ’div’ in the sense of playing, sporting, or amusing oneself, sometimes also of shining: “Dibbantī ti devā, pañcahi kāmaguṇehi kīlanti, attano vā siriyā jotantī ti attho.” (KhA.123). The word implies possession of splendour and power of moving at will, beauty, goodness and effulgence of body, and, as such, is opposed to the dark powers of mischief and destruction — such as the Asurā, Petas, and Nerayikas. The Devā are generally regarded as sharing kinship and continuity of life with humans; all Devā have been men and may again be born among men. They take interest in the doings of men, especially the Cātummahārājikā and the gods of Tāvatiṃsa. They come to earth to worship the Buddha and to show reverence to good men. Sakka (q.v.) is usually spoken of as chief of the gods — “Devānaṃ indo.”

All Devā are themselves in saṃsāra, needing salvation. They are subject to death, their life-spans varying according to the merit of each individual deva. They are born in the full flower of youth and are free from illness until the moment of their death. Devā die from one of the following causes: exhaustion of life, merit or food; failing, through forgetfulness, to eat; and jealousy at the glory of another, which leads to anger. (DhA.l.173. For other particulars see the article on deva in the PTS Dictionary). When a deva is about to die five signs appear on him: his clothes get soiled, flowers worn by him fade, sweat exudes from his armpits, his body loses its colour and he becomes restless on his seat. DA.ii.427 f; DhSA, 33, etc.

2. Devā.– Daughter of Udaya I and wife of Mahinda, son of the Ādipāda Dāṭhāsiva. Cv.xlix.12.

3. Devā.– Daughter of Dappula II and wife of Kittaggabodhi. Cv.xlix.71.

4. Devā.– Wife of Kassapa V and mother of Sakka senāpati. She built, for the monks living in the wilderness, a vihāra called after herself, and adorned the Buddha-image at Maricavatti. Cv.lii.52, 61, 64 ff.