In Buddhist mythology, there are multiple levels of realms. The lowest realms are known as hells. Following up, we reach the animal realm, the human realm, and then several heavenly realms. Together, these all make up the cycle of Samsara. An enlightened being, a Buddha, transcends this cycle and reaches Nirvana which is beyond the entire cycle.
In Buddhism, gods, angels, humans, animals, and demons are all on a path toward an enlightened state. All are caught in this Samsara cycle and all are subject to move up or down through the realms based on their “merit.”
Among the beings that inhabit the heavenly realms are devas. Deva is usually interpreted as angel in English, though the meanings are not precisely synonymous. There are many types of devas that live in the various heavenly realms.
Devas often appeared to the Buddha in the hours between 10 pm and 2 am (after most the monks had retired) for teaching in the Dharma.
There’s a famous story of some Devas appearing to the Buddha early in his ministry. These devas were beings of light and illuminated the whole grove like daylight. They observed the Buddha meditating and immediately noticed there was something different about him.
They approached and one of them asked whether the Buddha, “Are you god?”
“No,” replied the Buddha, “I am no god.”
“Then you must be a deva from the highest realms of heaven.”
“No,” replied the Buddha, “I am no deva.”
“Surely,” said a third deva, “a being such as yourself cannot be a lowly human.”
“No,” replied the Buddha. “I am not human.”
The devas were perplexed, “If you’re not a god, not a deva, and not a human, what are you?
“I am awake,” replied the Buddha.
The lowest form of deva is known as a Gandharva. In Buddhist cosmology, these beings inhabit the lowest heaven known as The Heaven of the Four Great Kings.
These beings live extremely long lives. The texts generally describe their years as coinciding with 50-100 human years. Their lifespans are placed at from 90,000 human years to as much as 80 million earth years. Here are some of the characteristics the Buddha attributed to them in the texts.
- The Buddha first observed devas (including Gandharvas) prior to his enlightenment as undefined lights or orbs. After attaining enlightenment, the images clarified into beings in the various heavenly realms.
- Only visible to enlightened beings unless they choose to take form. They can materialize and dematerilize visibly.
- They were described as a race of demigods.
- Ghandharvas have a humanoid form.
- They can consume food, but don’t need it.
- They were known as amazing musicians.
- They interact with humans more than other kinds of devas. Devas in the higher heavens live lavish, beautiful lives and they aren’t much interested in humans.
- Gandharvas cruise around in aerial craft and enjoy going very fast. Buddha described their craft as “vehicles fit for gods.”
- Some travel in “floating cities” or “celestial palaces.” They were described as being miles long.
Could these massive floating palaces be related to the massive UFOs people witness today?
Never stop seeking!
Ray Davis is an author, thinker, and advocate for human potential. He is the author of the Anunnaki Awakening series. Signed copies of Book 1, Revelation, are now available within the U.S. from his website, AATrilogy.com or outside the US from Amazon or by order from your local bookstore.