Desire realm

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Mount Meru surrounded by the continents and subcontinents, with the gods of the Desire and Form Realms above

Desire realm (Wyl. 'dod khams) - The first of the three realms, the desire realm is so called because the beings inhabiting it are prey to intense emotion and crave happiness based on the pleasures of the senses. The six classes of beings are all part of the desire realm, except for the class of gods, which is both part of the desire realm and the form realm.

The God Realms

The six heavens of the desire realm are (from lowest to highest):

Terrestrial Heavens:

Four Guardian Kings (Carturmaharajkayika / rgyal chen rigs bzhi)

The Four Great Kings, along with their retinues, reside upon the fourth terrace of Mount Sumeru. Upon the lower terraces live, in descending order, the gods of the Ever-Ecstatic, Garland-Bearers, and Vessel-Bearers. The crests of the seven mountain ranges, the sun, the moon, and all the stars also belong to the abodes of the Four Great Kings.

It is said that Vishnu resides in this realm.

Heaven of the Thirty-Three (Triyestrimsha / sum bcu rtsa gsum)

This is the uppermost terrestrial heaven, and is located on the peak of Mount Sumeru.

It contain the city Fair to See, in which Indra is King.

Celestial Heavens:

Free of Combat (Yama / 'thab bral)

This is the first celestial heaven. It is located in the space above Mount Sumeru and, as such, it is no longer subject to the attacks of the demi-gods.

Joyous Realm (Tushita / dga' ldan)

The Buddha resided here until the time came to take rebirth in the human realm, and demonstrate the twelve deeds of the Supreme Nirmanakaya. Before passing from Tushita he prophisied the Bodhisattva Maitreya's enlightenment as the buddha to follow him, and placed his crown on Maitreya's head, making him his regent. Maitreya will abide here until the time has come for him to demonstrate the twelve deeds.

Later, the Buddha returned to give teachings to his mother, who had been reborn here after giving birth to Him.

Enjoying Emanation (Nirmanratia / 'phrul dga')

Controlling Others' Emanations (Parinirmitvashavartin / gzhan 'phrul dbang byed)

This is the most refined state in which one can be reborn within the desire realm.

It is said that wicked Mara resides here.


  • Treasury of Precious Qualities - Kangyur Rinpoche
  • The Gateway to Knowledge Volume II - Mipham Rinpoche
  • The Jewel Ornament of Liberation - Gampopa