Six classes of beings

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Six classes of beings (wyl. rigs drug)

  1. hell beings
  2. hungry ghosts, or pretas
  3. animals
  4. human beings
  5. demigods, or asuras
  6. gods


Location of the six realms according to the Abhidharma litterature

Desire Realm

Most hell beings and pretas live in the earth below the ground.

1-The Hot Hells are located one under another, from the Reviving Hell down to the Hell of Unrelenting Pain, which is 20,000 yojanas below this world. Each is surrounded in the four directions by the four Neighbouring Hells, one after the other. The Cold Hells are also below the ground, one on top of another, in another location. It is said that since the world is an immense gathering of particles, they can all fit. It is often said that the Hot Hells are located below Mount Meru, while the Cold Hells are below Lake Manasarovar. According to the Mahayana though, since the Hell Realms are actually understood to be our own perception, it is not necessary to consider them as definitely existent.


2-Pretas live 500 yojanas below the earth.

Beings in the Ephemeral Hells and “pretas who move through space” do not inhabit fixed abodes. They can live below the earth, in the human realm, or other places.


3-Animals either inhabit the great oceans (“Animals living in the depths”), or live mostly on the earth, in water, in trees, in the realms of the gods or humans (“scattered animals”).


4-Demigods inhabit cavities inside Mount Meru down to the universal golden basis, some above the water line, some below. The demi-gods living above the water line are sometimes counted as animals and include their chiefs such as Rahu.


5-Human beings dwell on the four continents and the eight subcontinents.


6-As for the gods, there are six abodes of the gods of the Desire Realm. The gods in the Heaven of the Thirty-three live at the top of Mount Meru. The gods in the Abode of the Four Great Kings reside on the four terraces at the top of Mount Meru, just below the Heaven of the Thirty-three, as well as on the crests of the Seven Mountain Ranges, in space and so on. In the sky above the Heaven of the Thirty-three, are the four other abodes of the gods of the Desire Realm, one above the other.

Form Realm

Above these, are the Seventeen Heavens of the Form Realm.

Formless Realm

Though the abodes of the Formless realm, being formless (in other word non-physical), have no separate location, they are also called "celestial worlds".