According to the Dhamma(afaik), there are three types of heavenly beings.

  1. Devas - Gods(male)
  2. Apsara/Divyangana - Angels(female) who accompany the gods.
  3. Brahmas(Rupa/Arupa) - ?

We can use the word 'god' or 'higher-god' to refer to brahmas, but that doesn't clearly separate them from Devas who belong to the sensual world. Is there a better English word?

P.S. I'm inclined to think that there's no proper English term because the Western world did not have the practice of attaining Jhanas. Thus no concept of Brahma realms or non-sensual realms.

2 Answers 2


I always use "angel" to refer to devas, and "god" to refer to brahmas; though the terms have a different connotation in Judeo-Christian tradition, the relationship the terms have with each other is similar, since devas are really just angelic, whereas brahmas are in a sense godlike.

  • I noticed that in some of the videos, Bhante. But I was wondering what to call Apsaras, in that case. The ones who are there to entertain the Devas. They seem to be lesser than Devas. Commented Aug 10, 2014 at 16:47
  • @SankhaKulathantille nymphs, I think is the generally accepted translation, though again it's probably not exact. Commented Aug 10, 2014 at 19:05
  • Thank you, Bhante! Heard that word for the 1st time. Meaning seems to fit. Commented Aug 10, 2014 at 20:26

It's safest to leave them in the Pali or Sanskrit.

Angels sounds very Christian. It creates a "don't think about polar bears" situation to hear these Christian words. If you try not to think about polar bears, all you can think about is polar bears. If you hear the word Angel and try not think about guys with wings that do Gods bidding and sometimes rebel and turn into princes of darkness, then all you'll be able to think about is that.

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