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Depiction of devas from a thangka of the Wheel of Life

Deva (T. lha ལྷ་; C. tian 天) are one of the six classes of beings within Buddhist cosmology. Translated literally, deva means "radiant one," "shining one," etc.[1] However, this term is commonly translated as "god," "divinity," "heavenly being," "celestial being," etc.[1]

Rebirth as a deva is the result of the accumulation of positive karma from previous lifetimes.[1]

Buddhist cosmology identifies three classes of devas, corresponding to the three realms of existence. These are:

The devas are also one of the eight classes of non-human beings (aṣṭasenā) that attended the Buddha's teaching.[2]

It is said that because the life of the gods is free from suffering, the idea of practicing Dharma never occurs to them. When the effect of the actions which sent them there is exhausted, these gods will suffer greatly, while their body gradually degenerates. At the end of their lives, they have very frightening visions of their upcoming lower rebirth in samsara, in which these gods inevitably fall back into.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. deva.
  2. Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. aṣṭasenā.


Further reading