Four different types of duggatis: realms of miserable existances

There are four different types of duggatis: realms of miserable existances (hells) according to teravāda tradition. (edited)

  1. Animal realm
  2. Ghost realm
  3. Hell (niraya)
  4. Asura (demons?/demigods?) realm

Saddhmmopāyana a book belongs to Abhayagiriya (from Anuradapura era) describes only three duggatis. It does not mention, the realm of demons.

According to Duccaritavipākasutta there are only three realms mentioned.

  1. Animal realm
  2. Ghost realm (peta)
  3. Hell (niraya)

However, Pāthikasutta DN 24 explains another realm, which belongs to Asuras.

> kālakañcikā nāma asurā sabbanihīno asurakāyo, tatra upapajjissati.
> He’ll be reborn in the very lowest rank of demons, named the Kālakañjas.

The word Asura in Buddhist or Brahmanic literature has been used mostly as the antonym of the word Sura which means god or divine being. In other words which is not Sura is Asura. In this sense, Asuras cannot be one of the heavens or human word. Therefore, it should be a hell. There are several suttas that mention the word “Asurinda”, and the word Asura. Devāsurasaṅgāma Sutta AN 9.39 mentions a war between devās and demons.
There are few other examples in EBTs, where the word asurinda be found. Ex: AN 8.19 SN 11.8 SN 11.4

Do parallels and other sects also teach about four different duggatis?
Could demons (asuranikāya) also belongs to ghost realm?


Interesting. DN33 just has this:

Five destinations: hell, the animal realm, the ghost realm, humanity, and the gods.

The animal and ghost realms are therefore not considered hell in DN33. They are, however, sub-human realms.

I haven’t really looked into sub-human realms–they all seem rather undesirable. Has your investigation of the differences in sub-human realms led to insights about how we should be mindful in our daily practice?


Edited the question, had a problem choosing the word to represent the realms of miserable existances.
Sub-human realms is a good one.

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At the Council of Patna one of the debated topics was the question of whether there were five or six post-mortem destinations (gati). The non-Theravādins (Uttarāpathakas and Andhakas, according to Buddhaghosa) argued for six: devas, asuras, humans, animals, petas and hell beings.

The Theravādin debater, however, insisted on five, with the asuras being left out. His arguments were, firstly, that there are only five because the Buddha said so:

Pañca kho imā, sāriputta, gatiyo. Katamā pañca? Nirayo, tiracchānayoni, pettivisayo, manussā, devā.
– MN 23

and secondly, that asuras ought not to be counted as a species unto themselves because the plebeians amongst them are able to marry petas, whom they resemble in appearance, sex-life, diet, and longevity, while the patricians amongst them, like Vepacitti and his retinue, can do the same with devas.

Kathāvatthu, Chagatikathā

And Buddhaghosa’s commentary to the debate:


Hey :slight_smile:

In my opinion the best word for these are apayas
Apayas generally mean realms of suffering, lower realms, bad destinations, all sub-human realms.

T (Devoid of happiness). Group of the inferior worlds. The apayas do comprise four worlds:

  1. The asuras.
  2. The animals.
  3. The petas.
  4. The evils.

The existence of these worlds is prevailingly dominated by some emotions such as aversion, hatred and anger

The 4 ‘lower worlds’. are:

  • the animal world,
  • ghost world,
  • demon-world,
  • hell.

So niriya (hell) is the worst of the apayas.

There is a huge difference between animal realm and hellish realm, so yeah, animal realm is one of the apayas (bad destination) but definiately not hell, reserved for ones with worst of possible kamma.

“Pure Dhamma” site defines asuras as demons of laziness. I don’t know the source of this, just sharing what I’ve “heard” :slight_smile:

On the other hand, I’ve also heard people referring to asuras as demons of power, control etc.

I don’t have EBT source for that at the moment thou.