Planes of existence

I was watching this video on Youtube about the Buddhist doctrine on what happens to the “spiritual consciousness” (he was very careful to explain that Buddhist have a different concept that is not called a soul) after death. I wanted to know if I can trust what he says in this video and if this sounds correct or if there is anything here that is debated or controversial. Here is the video:

I wonder how many devotees of the Early Buddhist texts believe in an antarabhāva, which is what the Venerable is speaking of.

Ven Anālayo a while ago published a paper about the appearance of the gandharva in the Pāli Canon, but it seems rather sparse in its description of what it gets up to.

AFAIK there is no antarabhāva in Theravāda.

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It seems fairly clear that the suttas assume some kind of in-between state or process. Most of my friends who study the suttas would agree with this, in fact I don’t know anyone who follows early Buddhism who accepts the Theravada view on this.


There is no such state as “in-between” (or antarabhāva). Those beings are in the “nether land” (or para loka) which is what is stated in the “MN117 The Great Forty Mahācattārīsakasutta” where there is this world (ayaṃ loko) is where the beings of animals and humans reside and “other world” (paro loko) is where the gandhabba reside.

This sutta (MN117) did not translate rightly where “there is no this world” (natthi ayaṃ loko) and “there is no other world” (natthi paro loko) but the “natthi ayaṃ loko, natthi paro loko” was translated as only “There’s no afterlife.”

And also this:

This sutta (MN117) did not translate rightly where “there is this world” (atthi ayaṃ loko) and “there is this other world” (atthi paro loko) but the"atthi ayaṃ loko, atthi paro loko" was translated as only “There is an afterlife.”

These ten wrong views and ten right views need to be understood rightly for the attainment of the sotapatti.

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Then what is “extinction in-between”? For instance in SN 54.5, or in SN 48.15, or in several other AN suttas? “antarāparinibbāyī”

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The gandhabba is the “seed” or beings of humans or animals in “storage” or a temporarily place after death from the human or animal realm and is in the “nether world” (para loka) which is not the in-between existence (antarabhāva).

For “antarāparinibbāyī”, this is the beings of brahma who is already an anāgāmī and residing in the five pure abode (panca suddhavasa) cultivating for nibbāna.

This “antarāparinibbāyī” is a technical name given to the beings who dies and attains nibbāna before half the age he should have lived in a brahma world is expired.

antarā,(adv.),in between; meanwhile.
parinibbāyī,(adj.) one who has attained the final release.

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This is the commentarial opinion, isn’t it?

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This is from the Pali Dictionary.

Below is the description of the antarāparinibbāyī state by the owner of Pure Dhamma website:

A human gets to the antarāparinibbāyī state, when he becomes an Anagami AND also removes rupa raga and arupa raga. So, only three samyojana (mana, uddacca, avijja) are left in that person. If he dies without getting rid of the latter three, then he cannot grasp a new bhava (because he has removed kama raga, rupa raga, AND arupa raga, and thus cannot grasp any new bhava). Specifically, he cannot even get to a Suddavasa, since that belongs to rupavacara realms, and he has removed rupa raga.

When he dies at that state, he will stay as a human gandhabba until kammic energy for the human bhava is exhausted. That is the antarāparinibbāyī state (spending the remaining time as a gandhabba).

Sutta reference for antarāparinibbāyī state : AN 7.19. Nibbānasutta

So pañcannaṃ orambhāgiyānaṃ saṃyojanānaṃ parikkhayā antarāparinibbāyī hoti … pe … upahaccaparinibbāyī hoti … pe … asaṅkhāraparinibbāyī hoti … pe … sasaṅkhāraparinibbāyī hoti … pe … uddhaṃsoto hoti akaniṭṭhagāmī. Ayaṃ, bhikkhave, sattamo puggalo āhuneyyo … pe … anuttaraṃ puññakkhettaṃ lokassa. Ime kho, bhikkhave, satta puggalā āhuneyyā … pe … anuttaraṃ puññakkhettaṃ lokassā”ti.

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The author of the website PureDhamma, an advocate of the dispensation of the Venerable Waharaka Abayarathanalankara Thero, as usual, freely intermixed teachings from suttāni, Pāli Abhidhamma, as well as oral teachings which we can assume come from the aforementioned dispensation, and his own inference.

It is not a perspective informed by inquiry into early Buddhist texts from a text-critical perspective.

It would be interesting to compare this perspective on the role of the gandharva & antarābhāva in non- Vibhajyavāda & non-Tāmraparṇīya derived sects as it is presented in a much later medieval presentation in the Sautrāntika Abhidharmakośaśāstrakārikāvibhāṣya (T1563, Mahāyānika text, Āryavasubandhu):,vol_2,Vasubandhu,Poussin,Pruden,1991.pdf

However, IMO, there is much science fiction in PureDhamma’s conception of the functioning of the gandharva, which appears much like astral projection in PureDhamma’s view.

From PureDhamma:

  • One’s inert physical body is controlled by one’s mental body (gandhabba or manōmaya kaya) that is inside the physical body.
  • Gandhabba state remains through many successive human births within a given human bhava (which can last many hundreds of years). When a given physical body dies, gandhabba comes out of the dead body. Then the gandhabba has to wait (sometimes many years), before it is pulled into another womb, when a matching one becomes available. Rebirth stories confirm this account.

This information is largely the personal fancy of the website’s author as well as the anecdotal rememberings of personal accounts of rebirth that we can assume the author has compiled. It does not derive from the Pāli Abhidhamma and does not derive from the Buddha’s discourses.


Try read this first:


Antarbhava is an in between state. We cannot assume we can logically deduce nature. An in between state might be just that. I believe the Buddha says it is sustained by craving.

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I don’t think there is a state like that because it makes little sense to me. As i understand it when a person dies then it is all over and whatever could be taken to be this person is not to become manifest again but due to actions and intentions of the being that died there are conditions for arising of phenomena which can be taken to be another person. Thus no part of one being goes on to an afterlife but due to particular causes and conditions there is a particular birth or becoming in one of the fields of becoming.

I personally take Gandhabba in the Sutta to refer to causes and conditions of ripening Kamma rather than “an entity”. I am not well researched on this matter according to the Theravadin Canon and am to that extent ignorant so that is just my current way of thinking about it.

Yes, there’s no person to be found even in the current life, regardless of the demarcation in between lives.

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I changed my mind as i again came across this Sutta which speaks of beings to be born;

Whatever beings there may be, weak or strong, without exception, long, large, middling, short, subtle, blatant, seen & unseen, near & far, born & seeking birth: Karaniya Metta Sutta: Good Will

so i guess there is some sort of a gandhabba state


A Question about topic.

Does it help our enlightenment to know if there is in between state or if it is not? Does it help our wisdom? Not that it is wrong to ponder about ofcourse.

The list added is an theravada view of 31 planes of existance! I do not know it help the OP in the quest for answer

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This isn’t accurate. It’s based on the author’s opinion.


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I think that was maybe [edit: PureDhamma], not me.

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It’s from Pure Dhamma author, not me

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Sorry, editted.

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