May 20, 2016; revised May 30, 2018
|Realm||Description||Cause of Birth in Realm||Lifetime|
|The Apayas (Undesired Realms)|
|1. Niraya (Hell)||Unimaginable suffering.||Anantariya papa kamma, Ten akusala kamma with established wrong views.||Variable|
|2. Thirisan (Animal)||Microscopic to large animals.||Ten akusala kamma with established wrong views.||Variable|
|3. Peta (Hungry Ghosts)||Some live in our world unseen to us.||Ten akusala kamma with established wrong views.||Variable|
|4. Vinipatha Asuras (Asuras)||Some live in our world unseen to us.||Ten akusala kamma with established wrong views.||Variable|
|Sugathi (Desired Kama Loka Realms)|
|5. Manussa (Human)||Most valued birth of all realms.||Eight kusala kamma (thihethuka, dvihethuka, and ahethuka; see Note 1)||Variable|
|6. Chathurmaharajika Deva||Fine bodies from this realm; no diseases.||Eight kusala kamma.||500 CY
|7. Tāvatimsa deva||Sakka lives in this realm.||Eight kusala kamma.||1000 CY
|8. Yama deva||Eight kusala kamma.||2000 CY
|9. Thusitha deva||Eight kusala kamma.||4000 CY
|10. Nimmanarathi deva||Eight kusala kamma.||8000 CY
|11. Paranimmitha Vasavatthi deva||Eight kusala kamma.||16000 CY
|Rupa Loka (Fine Material Realms)|
|12. Brahma Parisajja deva||Jhanic bliss in this and higher realms.||First jhana (minor)||1/3 MK (Note 3)|
|13. Brahma Purohitha deva||First jhana (medium)||1/2 MK|
|14. Brahmakayika (Maha Brahma)||First jhana (highest)||1 MK|
|15. Paritthaba deva||Second jhana (minor)||2 MK|
|16. Appamanabbha deva||Second jhana (medium)||4 MK|
|17. Abhassara deva||Second jhana (highest)||8 MK|
|18. Paritthasubha deva||Third jhana (minor)||16 MK|
|19. Appamanasubha deva||Third jhana (medium)||32 MK|
|20. Subhkinhaka deva||Third jhana (highest)||64 MK|
|21. Vehappala deva||Fourth jhana various levels from here and above||500 MK|
|22. Asanna satta||Body only; no mind||500 MK|
|23. Aviha deva||Only Anagamis||1000 MK|
|24. Athappa deva||Only Anagamis||2000 MK|
|25. Sudassa deva||Only Anagamis||4000 MK|
|26. Sudassi deva||Only Anagamis||8000 MK|
|27. Akanitta deva||Only Anagamis||16000 MK|
|Arupa Loka (Immaterial Realms); see Note 3|
|28. Akasanancayatana deva||Fifth jhana||20,000 MK|
|29. Vinnanancayatana deva||Sixth jhana||40,000 MK|
|30. Akincannayatana deva||Seventh jhana||60,000 MK|
|31. Neva sanna na sanna deva||Eighth jhana||84,000 MK|
- Lifetimes of various deva realms are given in the “Visākhā Sutta (AN 8.43)“.
2. Tihetuka means kusala kamma done with alobha, adosa, amoha.
- Dvihetuka means kusala kamma done with alobha, adosa.
- Ahetuka means kusala kamma done with only alobha, adosa, but also without enthusiasm.
- See, “Patisandhi Citta – How the Next Life is Determined According to Gathi” for details.
- CE = Celestial Years; M HY = Millions of Human Years.
4. MK = Mahā Kalpa, an aeon or the life of the Earth or the Solar system (roughly about 10 billion years). Solar system is born, destroyed, and reborn just like living beings. We will discuss this in the Agganna Sutta in the future.
5. The names of the four arupa realms are descriptive of their characteristics.
- Akāsānancāyatana comes from “ākāsa” +”ananta” or infinite+”āyatana“, or the realm where the infinite space is the focus of the mind (ārammana).
- Vinnānancāyatana comes from “viññāna” +”ananta” or infinite+”āyatana“, or the realm where the infinite viññāna is the focus of the mind (ārammana).
- Äkincnnayatana comes from “ākin” + “ca” or mind +”āyatana”, or the realm where the focus of the mind (ārammana) is only the mind.
- Neva saññā nā saññā comes from “na” or not+ “asañña” or without perception +”nā“, or not + “saññā” or perception, i.e., the realm where one cannot say whether there is either “no perception” or “there is perception”. One could go on for a short time without perception (just like in the asañña realm), but it comes back since the “bhava” is still there.