Monday, October 27, 2008

What are Devas? A Comprehensive Listing

What are Devas?

The word deva comes from the Sanskrit language, meaning "a being of brilliant light," and is used to indicate a [subtle, fine-material] being. The word deva is used as a general name for both nature spirits [bhumi devas] and angelic beings [akasha devas]. Although they all seem non physical, only some devas are also immaterial [arupa devas]. They are able to manifest physically in grosser form and can thus sometimes be seen by ordinary people. Some seem to be partially human with crossover traits.

How did devas come into being? It is said that in the beginning (Aganna Sutra), when earth solidified and the physical life forms were formed, the devas devolved due to unskillful conduct. Their karma over a long period of time led to the forming of denser physical bodies.

The consciousness of the devas is directed to expansion in contrast to our consciousness which is focused and limited by the form of the human body. Devas are always conscious of their cosmic environment and want to become ever more conscious of that which they encompass. Devic beings want to be, while physical beings want to do. Devic beings concentrate on creating, while physical beings want to develop.

Devas have an instinctive knowledge and do not have to acquire knowledge like humans do. They have an instinctive knowledge of cosmic patterns, relationships, and harmonies.

They do not have dense form as humans understand "form" in this physical world. In their astral realms -- from earth up to the highest celestial planes -- they are like fluid and open vortices of cosmic consciousness. When people are able to perceive them, they will often take a form extracted from the human mind. Thus, humans will see them in a more or less humanoid form, but in essence they are only vortices of energies.

They have memory and learn from experience. They are conscious of the archetypes of the field in which they work. They react to and improve their work according to the physical influences on the life forms with which they work. They are only interested in their own field of work. For example, the deva of the oak trees is only interested in the growth of oak trees, a landscape deva is only interested in the life forms of that landscape, a healing deva only works with healing energies. It is therefore useless to ask an oak tree deva how to heal a human body. Devas are only knowledgeable in their own particular field.

Working with devas is mutually beneficial. Devas acquire experience of focused consciousness and action, while humans may learn to surrender to the silence of the devic consciousness and its sensitivity to cosmic influences. Devas are always willing to help people.

Many people have tried to classify and name the numerous nature spirits. But one has to understand that there are many, many forms of nature spirits, and one form blends over into another. Moreover, their names are not consistent among the authors who classify them. It scarcely matters since the most important thing is that one has an idea what devas are and what they do. Below is one list.

If one is really interested in working with nature spirits, one book that is recommended is by Marko Poganick... More>>

Devas in Thai art

Modern art devas

The following is an attempt at a Comprehensive Listing (with some corresponding Buddhist terms from the 31 Planes of Existence). For explanations see here.
  • Gnomes (Earth element)
  • Kobolds
  • Giants
  • Mountain devas (Bhummattha devas)
  • Dryads (tree or Rukkhattha devas)
  • Nymphs (Water element)
  • Undines
  • Nixies
  • Naiads
  • Elves or Sylphs (Air element)
  • Fairies (Kumbandhas)
  • Storm devas

  • Salamanders (Fire element)
  • Fauns
  • Pan

  • Werewolves
  • Dragons (nagas)
  • House spirit (pretas)
  • Birth spirits
  • Guardian spirits
  • Djinn (Genies)
  • Sound and Dance spirits
  • Group elementals
  • The Tuatha De Danann, or Sidhe (an Irish race of beings)

  • UFOs (Akasattha or Space devas)
  • Deva of the Stone
  • Evil Devas


  1. Seraphim (Haioth ha Qodesh)
  2. Cherubim (Ophanim or Galgalim)
  3. Thrones (Arailim)
  4. Dominions (Hhashmalim)
  5. Powers (Seraphin)
  6. Virtues (Malakim)
  7. Principalities (Tarshishim)
  8. Archangels (Beni Elohim, "sons of God")
  9. Angels (Keroubim)

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