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What is meant by Overlord and Creator in this Sutta?

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It has to be borne in mind that the context is the Buddha’s formulation of a system of planes of existence in replacement of the Hindu model. In MN 1 can be seen the reference to ‘fruitful devas,’ which is plane 21, then the ‘conqueror’ (Thanissaro), then the immaterial levels. So planes 23-27 are those in question and contain non-returners or ‘conquerors’:

"These are the five Pure Abodes (suddhavasa), which are accessible only to non-returners (anagami) and arahants. Beings who become non-returners in other planes are reborn here, where they attain arahantship.

Among its inhabitants is Brahma Sahampati, who begs the Buddha to teach Dhamma to the world (SN 6.1)."—ATI

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From the Pali:

Creator= pajāpati

masculine

  1. the lord of creation

One of the kings of the devas, mentioned with Sakka, Varuṇa, Isāna, etc. MN.i.2 SN.i.219 DN.i.244 DN.ii.274

He is sometimes mentioned with Brahmā, as distinct from him. MN.i.140 MN.i.327 MN.i.329

In the Āṭānāṭiya Sutta DN.iii.204 he is mentioned among the Mahāyakkhas, to be invoked by followers of the Buddha in times of danger.

Overlord= SuttaCentral

abhibhū1

Chief disciple of Sikhī Buddha. DN.ii.9 In the Aruṇavatī Sutta it is said that he went with Sikhī to a Brahma-world and, at the Buddha’s request, preached a sermon to the accompaniment of great magical powers. He proved that by using just such speech as if he were preaching to a gathering of monks, he could, standing in the Brahma-world, make his voice heard by its thousand realms. SN.i.154f. The verses spoken on this occasion are, in the Theragāthā, ascribed to Abhibhūta. Thag.1147–1148

In the Aṅguttara Nikāya AN.i.226f. we find Ānanda asking the Buddha how far Abhibhū’s powers bore relation to those of a Buddha, and the Buddha replying that Abhibhū was a mere disciple, and proceeding to describe the immeasurable powers of the Tathāgata.

abhibhū2

A class of devas belonging to the formless plane. MN.i.1 They live in the same plane as the Vehapphalā. In the Brahmanimantanika Sutta MN.i.329 the Buddha claims to be Abhibhū (=the conqueror).

Anyway, since there’s a heaven realm called: Devas who take delight in creating, and there’s not much details in the sutta to describe what exactly do they create, I wouldn’t rule out being able to create universes as one of their powers. I think some may take creating as more like creating books, songs, video games etc.

The difference between the Christian creator and these devas who delight in creating (if they can create worlds), is that the devas who delight in creating doesn’t have absolute power. Just having the power to create doesn’t imply one is all powerful. In particular, the devas don’t have the power to end suffering for all beings as a snap of the finger.

If comic books, science fiction and shows like Rick and Morty can have people (who are not all powerful) creating worlds (Rick created microverse), then I don’t see any issue with devas creating worlds, or even being overlord over them. It might be that the ancient Christians theologians don’t have the benefit of science fiction for them to imagine a being who’s capable of creating worlds, but not all powerful.

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