There are different kinds of birth in Buddhism, depending on what realm one is reborn in.

What are these kinds of birth?


2 Answers 2


To an enlightened Buddha, everything is merely elements (dhatu), sense phenomena (ayatana) & aggregates (khandha). 'Birth' ('jati') means to impute the idea or worldly convention of 'selves', 'persons' or 'beings' ('satta') onto the mere elements, sense spheres & aggregates (refer to SN 12.2; SN 5.10; & SN 23.2). All 'births' ('jati') are mere thought conceptions or sankhara (refer to SN 22.81). Ajahn Buddhadasa said:

The word "birth" refers to the arising of the mistaken idea "I," "myself". It does not refer to physical birth, as generally supposed. The mistaken assumption that this word "birth" refers to physical birth is a major obstacle to comprehending the Buddha's teaching. Whenever there arises the mistaken idea "I," the "I" has been born; its parents are ignorance and craving. The kind of birth that constitutes a problem for us is mental birth. Anyone who fails to grasp this point will never succeed in understanding anything of the Buddha teaching.

Another Kind of Birth

  • Jati (Jeat) in Thailand, Cambodia... in South Asia, is always a synonym for Birth, Stand, State also Nation. While it actually means "identification", it's not good to deny all other with a categorical answer (bias). Slave of Buddha and some others, aren't to be suspected to be smarter then generations of wise and use of words for tousands of years by continents. If just meaning that suggested, aside of usual, the Buddha would have told. Look at his definition of jati, birth, you know well, which does not, of course, exclude this focus, as well. Jan 16, 2018 at 14:28

In the Theravada Abhidhamma, four different kinds of birth are recognized1, namely:

  • egg-born beings (Aṇḍaja), such as birds, fish and reptiles.

  • womb-born beings (Jalābuja), such as mammals. Egg-born beings are also included in this category.

  • moisture-born beings (Saṃsedaja), includes certain lowly forms of animals, such as worms.

  • spontaneously-born beings (Opapatika), such as petas and devas. These beings are generally invisible to the physical eye.

1 Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma, Ch. 5: "Compendium of Matter", p. 256, by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

  • The four kinds of birth are also found in the suttas. But they do not appear to be closely related to the realms. Is there a quote which shows that they are in fact related?
    – Jayarava
    Sep 3, 2015 at 12:01
  • There is this quote by Ven. Bhikku Bodhi from the section on births in the sensuous realm: "The present section deals with the manner in which these material groups come into being at the moment of conception, during the course of existence, and in different realms", p. 256.
    – user2424
    Sep 3, 2015 at 12:23
  • Also he lists the entire section on different kinds of birth under the chapter: "In the Sensous World", p. 255. There is not much else written about it.
    – user2424
    Sep 3, 2015 at 12:23
  • If you have some sutta references to the different kinds of birth, then feel free to add them - post is now community wiki.
    – user2424
    Sep 3, 2015 at 12:24
  • 1
    This teaching is from MN 12; about the 4 kinds of generation (rather than birth). 32. "Catasso kho imā, sāriputta, yoniyo. Katamā catasso? Aṇḍajā yoni, jalābujā yoni, saṃsedajā yoni, opapātikā yoniSariputta, there are these four kinds of generation. What are the four? Egg-born generation, womb-born generation, moisture-born generation and spontaneous generation..... What is spontaneous generation? There are gods and denizens of hell and certain human beings and some beings in the lower worlds; this is called spontaneous generation. Jan 16, 2018 at 10:21

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