Placing the manāpakāyikā devatā

The Great Disciples of the Buddha says that

On another occasion, many female deities called “the graceful ones”(manāpakāyikā devatā) appeared before Anuruddha and told him all the marvelous things they could do. […] When the deities noticed that Anuruddha did not find pleasure in their performance, they instantly left (AN 8:46). If we remember how the Venerable Anuruddha had spent his youth as a prince, enchanted by the arts and music, we may understand better how this scene could materialize around him. If he had not trodden the Buddha’s path to liberation, he quite possibly might have taken rebirth among these deities, who were superior in rank to the Thirty-three gods . Anuruddha must have thought this experience worth telling, for when he saw the Buddha in the evening he recounted it to him.

Does anyone know where they got the rank for these devas? Is this in a commentary somewhere?

Thanks! :smile:


Bhikkhu Bodhi says

Mp [the Manorathapūraṇī (Aṅguttara Nikāya-aṭṭhakathā)] identifies these deities with the “devas who delight in creation” (nimmānaratino devā)

Which would place them above the Tavatimsa Devas.


The reason this intrigues me is that this seems to be a rather high deva realm exclusively for women: a proposition that counters somewhat the impression that heavenly nymphs and goddesses are always inferior to e.g. Sakka.


The deva planes are experienced by living humans when they engage in higher thought, in the case of the nimmanarati plane 10, the creation of art or scientific discovery. Painters, musicians etc male or female, enter this mind level during the creative act. This fact allows a parallel to be drawn between western and Asian culture, the highest levels of western thought being at the top of the sensuous sphere in Asian terms. If such people die in a plane 10 mind state, male or female they will be reborn there. This also partly explains why Buddhist monuments are covered in carvings, there was a connection to reality drawn between the appearance of devas on earth, the creative act, the patronage of such work and planes 10 & 11.