The second of the six deva-worlds, the
first being the Cātummahārājika world. Tāvatimsa stands at the top of Mount
Sineru (or Sudassana). Sakka is king of both worlds, but lives in Tāvatimsa.
Originally it was the abode of the Asuras; but when
Māgha was born as
Sakka and dwelt with his companions in Tāvatimsa he disliked the idea of sharing
his realm with the Asuras, and, having made them intoxicated, he hurled them
down to the foot of Sineru, where the Asurabhavana was later established.
chief difference between these two worlds seems to have been that the Pāricchattaka tree grew in Tāvatimsa, and the Cittapātali tree in Asurabhavana.
In order that the Asuras should not enter Tāvatimsa, Sakka had five walls built
around it, and these were guarded by Nāgas,
Yakkhas and Cātummahārājika devas (J.i.201ff; also DhA.i.272f). The entrance to Tāvatimsa
was by way of the Cittakūtadvārakotthaka, on either side of which statues of
Indra (Indapatimā) kept guard (J.vi.97). The whole kingdom was ten thousand
leagues in extent (DhA.i.273), and contained more than one thousand pāsādas
(J.vi.279). The chief features of Tāvatimsa were its parks - the Phārusaka,
Cittalatā, Missaka and Nandana - the Vejayantapāsāda, the Pāricchatta tree, the
elephant-king Erāvana and the Assembly-hall Sudhammā (J.vi.278; MA.i.183; cp.
Mtu.i.32). Mention is also made of a park called Nandā (J.i.204). Besides the
Pāricchataka (or Pārijāta) flower, which is described as a Kovilāra (A.iv.117),
the divine Kakkāru flower also grew in Tāvatimsa (J.iii.87). In the
Cittalatāvana grows the Āsāvatī creeper, which blossoms once in a thousand years
It is the custom of all Buddhas to spend
the vassa following the performance of the
Yamakapātihāriya, in Tāvatimsa.
Gotama Buddha went there to preach the Abhidhamma to his mother, born there as a
devaputta. The distance of sixty-eight thousand leagues from the earth to
Tāvatimsa he covered in three strides, placing his foot once on
again on Sineru.
The Buddha spent three months in
Tāvatimsa, preaching all the time, seated on Sakka's throne, the
Pandukambalasilāsana, at the foot of the Pāricchattaka tree. Eighty crores of
devas attained to a knowledge of the truth. This was in the seventh year after
his Enlightenment (J.iv.265; DhA.iii.216f; BuA. p.3). It seems to have been the
frequent custom of ascetics, possessed of iddhi-power, to spend the afternoon in
Tāvatimsa (E.g., Nārada, J. vi.392; and Kāladevala, J. i.54).
Moggallāna paid numerous visits to
Tāvatimsa, where he learnt from those dwelling there stories of their past
deeds, that he might repeat them to men on earth for their edification (VvA.
The Jātaka Commentary mentions several
human beings who were invited by Sakka, and who were conveyed to Tāvatimsa -
e.g. Nimi, Guttila, Mandhātā and the queen Sīlavatī. Mandhātā reigned as
co-ruler of Tāvatimsa during the life period of thirty-six Sakkas, sixty
thousand years (J.ii.312). The inhabitants of Tāvatimsa are thirty-three in
number, and they regularly meet in the Sudhammā Hall. (See
details). A description of such an assembly is found in the Janavasabha Sutta.
The Cātummahārājika Devas (q.v.) are present to act as guards. Inhabitants of
other deva- and brahma-worlds seemed sometimes to have been present as guests -
e.g. the Brahmā Sanankumāra, who came in the guise of Pañcasikha. From the
description given in the sutta, all the inhabitants of Tāvatimsa seem to have
been followers of the Buddha, deeply devoted to his teachings (D.ii.207ff).
Their chief place of offering was the Cūlāmanicetiya, in which Sakka deposited
the hair of Prince Siddhattha, cut off by him when he renounced the world and
put on the garments of a recluse on the banks of the Nerañjarā (J.i.65). Later,
Sakka deposited here also the eye-tooth of the Buddha, which Doha hid in his
turban, hoping to keep it for himself (DA.ii.609; Bu.xxviii.6, 10).
The gods of Tāvatimsa sometimes come to
earth to take part in human festivities (J.iii.87). Thus Sakka, Vissakamma and
Mātali are mentioned as having visited the earth on various occasions. Mention
is also made of goddesses from Tāvatimsa coming to bathe in the Anotatta and
then spending the rest of the day on the Manosilātala (J.v.392).
The capital city of Tāvatimsa was
Masakkasāra (Ibid., p.400). The average age of an inhabitant of Tāvatimsa is
thirty million years, reckoned by human computation. Each day in Tāvatimsa is
equal in time to one hundred years on earth (DhA.i.364). The gods of Tāvatimsa
are most handsome; the Licchavis, among earth-dwellers, are compared to them
(DhA.iii.280). The stature of some of the Tāvatimsa dwellers is three-quarters
of a league; their undergarment is a robe of twelve leagues and their upper
garment also a robe of twelve leagues. They live in mansions of gold, thirty
leagues in extent (Ibid., p.8). The Commentaries (E.g., SA.i.23; AA.i.377) say
that Tāvatimsa was named after Magha and his thirty-two companions, who were
born there as a result of their good deeds in Macalagāma. Whether the number of
the chief inhabitants of this world always remained at thirty-three, it is
impossible to say, though some passages, e.g. in the Janavasabha Sutta, lead us
to suppose so.
Sometimes, as in the case of Nandiya,
who built the great monastery at Isipatana, a mansion would appear in Tāvatimsa,
when an earth-dweller did a good deed capable of obtaining for him birth in this
deva-world; but this mansion would remain unoccupied till his human life came to
an end (DhA.iii.291). There were evidently no female devas among the
Thirty-three. Both Māyā and Gopikā (q.v.) became devaputtas when born in
Tāvatimsa. The women there were probably the attendants of the devas. (But see,
e.g., Jālini and the various stories of VvA).
There were many others besides the
Thirty-three who had their abode in Tāvatimsa. Each deva had numerous retinues
of attendants, and the dove-footed (kaktgapādiniyo) nymphs (accharā) of
Tāvatimsa are famous in literature for their delicate beauty. The sight of these
made Nanda, when escorted by the Buddha to Tāvatimsa, renounce his love for
Janapadakalyānī Nandā (J.ii.92; Ud.iii.2).
The people of Jambudīpa excelled the
devas of Tāvatimsa in courage, mindfulness and piety (A.iv.396). Among the great
achievements of Asadisakumāra was the shooting of an arrow as far as Tāvatimsa
Tāvatimsa was also known as Tidasa and