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Does the concept of "Mara Devaputta" (The being called Mara) exist in all schools of Buddhism?

What is mentioned about that concept?

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Mara , according to the specific Buddhist and Hindu Cosmology, is the leader of the heaven above Sakra, prince of the Devas (see The Thirty-one Planes of Existence).

According to Wikipedia's Mara (demon) article:

In Mahayana Buddhism. There are traditionally these four types of Mara In traditional Buddhism, four metaphorical forms of "māra" are given:

  • Kleśa-māra, or Ma̋ra as the embodiment of all unskillful emotions, such as greed, hate and delusion.
  • Mṛtyu-māra, or Māra as death.
  • Skandha-māra, or Māra as metaphor for the entirety of conditioned existence.
  • Devaputra-māra, the deva of the sensuous realm, who tries to prevent Gautama Buddha from attaining liberation from the cycle of rebirth on the night of the Buddha´s enlightenment.

This Devaputra Mara is, according to Buddhists, a real sentient being. He is destined to become a Pratyeka Buddha. His followers might not be so fortunate.


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The above image quoted from The Thirty-one Planes of Existence. Note especially:

  • Realm: 11) Devas Wielding Power over the Creation of Others (paranimmita-vasavatti deva)
  • Comments: These devas enjoy sense pleasures created by others for them. Mara, the personification of delusion and desire, lives here.
  • Cause of rebirth here:
    • Ten wholesome actions (MN 41)
    • Generosity
  • Devas Wielding Power over the Creation of Others (paranimmita-vasavatti deva) These devas enjoy sense pleasures created by others for them. – Pasquale Sep 27 '18 at 2:32
  • According to Master Hua, a great Sutra master from China, the beings in this heaven have great merits, but they get their happiness from stealing the enjoyment of others. Devas Wielding Power over the Creation of Others (paranimmita-vasavatti deva) These devas enjoy sense pleasures created by others for them. – Pasquale Sep 27 '18 at 2:33
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You should consider reading S. Bachelor's book, Living with the Devil, where he explains how different Buddhist schools define Mara.

There is a short interview with the author: Living With The Devil -- A Buddhist take on good and evil.

In fact, Batchelor considers "Mara" - the seductive allure of doctrine that offer the false consolation of an explanation of the meaning of life and "I". There is even an opera about Mara (Mara the Opera).

  • Per the interview, Mr. Bachelor has his own view of what Mara is: i.e., "Traditional Buddhists would argue that Mara is a god, a deva, who comes down to earth, has a little chat with the Buddha, then goes off again ... But if you think of Mara as a way of talking about an aspect of the Buddha’s own experience, then the Buddha is made human again." – ChrisW Sep 24 '18 at 8:44
  • Do you happen to know whether the concept of Mara exists in all schools of Buddhism? If the book you cited does define the doctrines of different schools, could you perhaps add a paragraph your answer (or a few quotes from the book) to summarise the different definitions? – ChrisW Sep 24 '18 at 8:48
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Batchelor is clear. "Buddha and Mara are figurative ways of portraying a fundamental opposition within human natures." The idea that Mara "comes down to earth, has a little chat with the Buddha, then goes off again" is for children. Mara would not be a 'being'.

As Mara describes a natural function of the mind it will appear in all schools of Buddhism and all doctrines of the Unity of Self. It just won't always be called Mara. Jesus met Mara in the desert under a different name and awarded him the same treatment.

Mara is said to have sent dancing girls to distract the Buddha from his purpose and he simply turns them into cherry blossom. I feel this is a useful story to remember for the ease with which the Buddha, like Jesus, dispatches Mara. Once the ego and the distinct self is dealt with Mara becomes toothless because there is nobody to tempt.

This is my view and as such may be incorrect.

  • @Dhammadhatu I think of CrabBucket (associated with Triratna) as maybe "secular" himself ... and he associated Batchelor with secular Buddhism here and here. Definitionally, IMO this site allows people to "self-identify" (if they will) as being of one school of Buddhism or another if they want to (and generally allow any school to self-identify as "Buddhist"). – ChrisW Sep 27 '18 at 8:23
  • I don't mind the downvote but an explanation for it would be useful. At this time I see no problem with my answer. – PeterJ Sep 27 '18 at 12:18
  • My guess is that the downvote was Dhammadhatu's, who (as he posted in a comment which he since deleted) disagrees with "Batchelor's ideas" for whatever reason I know not (I haven't read any of Batchelor's books). I think we all need to feel a little equanimity over the possibility that someone might downvote our answer for that kind of reason -- keep the answer as-is if you yourself think it may be useful. Another part of this answer which someone might have found "not useful" was introducing "Jesus" into an explanation of Buddhist doctrine, but (shrug). – ChrisW Sep 27 '18 at 13:10
  • I haven't voted at all yet, myself, fwiw; I've been waiting for an answer which talks about "all schools" or "different schools" and "what is mentioned" as requested by the OP. – ChrisW Sep 27 '18 at 13:13
  • @ChrisW - Thanks for the helpful comment. I probably share Dhammadhutu's view of Batchelor but feel B's comment about Mara being 'figurative' is correct. I did mention other schools but you might be right about the reference to Jesus. Happy to say I share the view you give in your comment below. – PeterJ Sep 28 '18 at 12:20
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"Mara" is the enemy of enlightenment. "Mara" can be so cunning that this morning a "Mara" visited this forum disguised with the user-name "Nibbana". This shows how sneaky & cunning Mara is. This Mara tried to stop the enlightenment my Holy Guru Volkov transmitted today.

In the Pali suttas, "Mara" is found in many places, such as:

  1. The suffering terror of "ego-death" called "marana" (SN 12.2).

  2. The cause of "marana", namely, attaching to aggregrates as "I". "me" & "mine" (SN 22.63).

  3. A mind with psychic powers (generally a believer in God or Brahma) that tries to stop the enlightenment of unshakable faith in the Lokuttara (Supramundane) Buddha-Dhamma.

In summary, Mara believes the "birth" ("jati") of "a being" ("satta") is a physical organism emerging from a physical womb rather than merely the arising of a "view", as described in SN 5.10:

Why now do you assume 'a being'? Mara, have you grasped a view? This is a heap of sheer constructions: Here no being is found.

Just as, with an assemblage of parts, The word 'chariot' is used, So, when the aggregates are present, There's the convention 'a being.'

SN 5.10

In Chapter 23 of the Samyutta Nikaya, suttas about Mara as clinging to aggregates (SN 23.1, 23.11, 23.13, etc) are found together suttas about how "a being" ("satta") is a state of attachment (SN 23.2, 23.3, etc).

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    Off-topic but SN 5.10 doesn't mention "birth" ("jati"); it mentions "made" ("pakata"), and "arisen" ("samuppanno") and "ceases" ("nirujjhati"). But yes Vajirā identifies that as another example of diṭṭhigata ("māra diṭṭhigataṃ nu te;"). Also IMO she doesn't literally say that "a 'being' is a 'view'", instead she says, "there is no 'being', there are only the aggregates" -- actually not even that, what she says is, "when the aggregates are present, a 'being' is conventional, but it's only dukkha that arises and ceases". – ChrisW Sep 27 '18 at 9:48
  • Same thing. "Jati" is about "satta". "Satta" is jati and jati is satta. Note: the phrase: "only suffering arising" is found in SN 5.10 and SN 12.15, which is about the arising of "self". "Jati", "satta" and "atta". Same thing. All Mara. Regards – Dhammadhatu Sep 27 '18 at 10:32

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