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Descent of the Buddha from the Trayastrimsa Heaven at Sankissa.[1]
Translations of
(MLCTS: tàwədèɪɰ̃ðà)
(Pinyin: =Dāolì tiān)
(Rōmaji: Tōriten)
Khmerត្រ័យត្រិង្ស (ត្រៃត្រិង្ស), តាវត្តិង្ស
(Traytroeng, Tavattoeng)
(RR: Doricheon)
VietnameseĐao Lợi Thiên
Glossary of Buddhism

The Trāyastriṃśa (Sanskrit; Pali Tāvatiṃsa) heaven is an important world of the devas in the Buddhist cosmology. The word trāyastriṃśa is an adjective formed from the numeral trayastriṃśat, "33" and can be translated in English as "belonging to the thirty-three [devas]". It is primarily the name of the second in the six heavens of the desire realm in Buddhist cosmology, and secondarily used of the devas who dwell there. Trāyastriṃśa is ruled by Śakra.


The Trāyastriṃśa heaven is the second of the heavens of the Kāmadhātu, just above Catumaharajika or the realm of the Four Heavenly Kings, and is the highest of the heavens that maintains a physical connection with the rest of the world. Trāyastriṃśa is located on the peak of Sumeru, the central mountain of the world, at a height of 80 yojanas ; the total area of the heaven is 80 yojanas square. This heaven is therefore comparable to the Greek Mount Olympus in some respects.

According to Vasubandhu, inhabitants of Trāyastriṃśa are each half a krośa tall (about 1500 feet) and live for 1000 years, of which each day is equivalent to 100 years of our world: that is, for a total of 36 million of our years.

Since Trāyastriṃśa is physically connected to the world through Sumeru, unlike the heavens above it, the Trāyastriṃśa devas are unable to avoid being entangled in worldly affairs. In particular, they frequently find themselves in quarrels with the asuras, a separate set of divine beings who were expelled from Trāyastriṃśa and who now dwell at the foot of Sumeru, plotting for ways to recover their lost kingdom. There is, however, marriage between the devas and the asuras just as there is between the Æsir and the jötnar in Norse mythology.

The chief of the Trāyastriṃśa devas is Śakra (Pāli: Sakka), also known as Indra. Other Trāyastriṃśa devas who are frequently mentioned are Viśvakarman (Vissakamma), the devas' craftsman and builder; Mātali, who drives Śakra's chariot; and Sujā, Śakra's wife and daughter of the Asura chief Vemacitrin (Vepacitti).

The Trāyastriṃśa heaven appears several times in Buddhist stories, in which either the Buddha ascends to Trāyastriṃśa, or (more often) deities from Trāyastriṃśa descend to meet the Buddha. The Buddha's mother, Maya, was reborn in the Tusita Heaven, and came down to visit Trāyastriṃśa heaven where her son taught her the abhidharma.[2]

The "thirty-three" in the name of the heaven is not an enumeration of the gods who live there (there are far more) but a general term inherited from Vedic mythology, implying "the whole pantheon of gods". In Theravada Buddhist legends, there were 33 humans in Sakka's original group (who made enough merit to become devas atop Mount Sineru). [3]

In Buddhism, there are "Yāmā devāḥ", "Tushitānāṃ", "Nirmāṇaratayaḥ devāḥ", and "Paranirmita-vaśavartinaḥ devāḥ" above Trāyastriṃśa and "Catumaharajika" below. They are called the six heavens together with Śakro devānām (Śakra). More heaven "Sunirmita devāḥ" is sometimes added to these depending on sūtras.


In Mahayana literature, Trāyastriṃśa is composed of thirty-three levels. These are enumerated in the Saddharmasmṛtyupasthāna Sūtra. The original Sanskrit names occasionally vary between extant Sanskrit manuscripts and Chinese texts.[4]

  1. Sudharmanivāsinī (善法堂天)
  2. Tuṅganivāsinī (山峯天)
  3. Śikharanivāsinī (山頂天)
  4. Sudarśananivāsinī (善見城天)
  5. Rasthanivāsinī (鉢私地天)
  6. Koṭaranivāsinī (倶吒天)
  7. Caitrarathanivāsinī (雑殿天)
  8. Nandananivāsinī (歓喜園天)
  9. Vaibhrājanivāsinī (光明天)
  10. Pāriyātrakanivāsinī (波利耶多天)
  11. Āmiśrataṭanivāsinī (離険岸天)
  12. Kuñjarataṭanivāsinī (谷崖岸天)
  13. Maṇigarbhānivāsinī (摩尼蔵天)
  14. Āvartacarā (旋行天)
  15. Tapanīyagṛhā (金殿天)
  16. Mālācchāyā (鬘影天)
  17. Nimnonnatācāriṇī (柔軟天)
  18. Nānābhaktavicitrāśarīrā (雑荘厳天)
  19. Yogavahā (如意天)
  20. Sūkṣmacarā (微細行天)
  21. Saṃhṛṣṭagītadhvanyabhiratā (歌音喜楽天)
  22. Tejomālinī (威徳輪天)
  23. Candrāyatanacarā / Candrāyaṇacarā (月行天)
  24. Yamanaśālā (閻摩那娑羅天)
  25. Nimeṣonmeṣagatī (速行天)
  26. Prabalecchācchāyāśarīrā / Pramāṇecchāśarīrā / Pavanecchācchāyā / Pravaṇecchāśarīreṣu (影照天)
  27. Maṇicīrā / Śalecarāḥ (智慧行天)
  28. Nikāyasabhāginī (衆分天)
  29. Maṇḍalanivāsinī / Maṇḍalaniratā (曼陀羅天)
  30. Utkarṣacārinī / Autkarṣa (上行天)
  31. Tejomukhā (威徳顔天)
  32. Tejojālinī / Tejohvālāmālinī (威徳燄輪光天)
  33. Prakīrṇakā (清浄天)


Below is a list of the devas who are said to dwell here:

Śakra's wives

Śakra's sons

  • Suvira
  • Susīma

Śakra's daughters

  • Āśā (Pali: Āsā) (Luck)
  • Śraddhā (Pali: Saddhā) (Faith)
  • Śrī (Pali: Sirī) (Glory)
  • Hrī (Pali: Hirī) (Modesty)


In popular culture[edit]

  • The Dragon Ball series features a location called the Lookout in the English dub and Kami's Temple (神の神殿 kami no shinden) in the Japanese release. This area is reminiscent of Trāyastriṃśa iconographically, as this heaven is traditionally depicted as a flat surface on the top of Mt. Sumeru. There are thirty-two trees on the Lookout, which equate to the same number of palaces in Trāyastriṃśa (not counting the thirty-third, Śakra's palace, exemplified by the hyperbolic time chamber).
  • In Super Mario Bros. 3, World 5-1 (Sky Land) features a collection of coins that spell out the number "33." This may be in reference to Trāyastriṃśa, which is further implied by this world's introduction of the Tanooki suit. This power-up allows the player to transform into a stone statue of Kṣitigarbha, a bodhisattva whose background is explained in the Kṣitigarbha Sūtra that takes place in Trāyastriṃśa.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Marshall p.56
  2. ^ "Māyā". Retrieved 2018-04-07.
  3. ^ "Buddhist Legends, II. 7. How Magha Became Sakka". Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  4. ^ Stuart, Daniel Malinowski (2012). A Less Traveled Path: Meditation and Textual Practice in the Saddharmasmrtyupasthana(sutra). University of California, Berkeley.