Buddha Statue - Antique Khmer Style SE Asia Seated Wood Enlightenment Buddha Statue - 32cm/13"

The Wheel of Rebirth: Exploring the Six Realms in Buddhist Cosmology


Central to Buddhist cosmology is the concept of samsara, the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Within this cyclical existence, beings are believed to traverse various realms based on their karma—the sum of their actions.

In this blog post, we will explore the six types of rebirth in Buddhism, each representing a distinct realm within the vast tapestry of existence.

  1. Deva (Gods or Celestial Beings): The realm of the Devas is characterized by immense beauty, luxury, and a blissful existence. Devas are celestial beings who enjoy a life of pleasure and comfort. However, despite their divine surroundings, Devas are not exempt from the cycle of samsara. Their existence is impermanent, and when their accumulated good karma is exhausted, they may descend to lower realms.

  2. Asura (Demigods or Titans): Asuras inhabit a realm characterized by jealousy, conflict, and perpetual strife. Despite their supernatural powers, Asuras are locked in constant battles for dominance. The asura realm is marked by a perpetual thirst for power and resources, leading to a turbulent existence. Like the Devas, Asuras are bound by the cycle of birth and death.

  3. Human Realm: The human realm is a unique and pivotal point in the cycle of samsara. It is considered a favorable realm for spiritual growth and enlightenment. Humans have the capacity for both pleasure and pain, and their experiences offer opportunities for moral and spiritual development. Attaining enlightenment in the human realm is considered particularly significant in Buddhist teachings.

  4. Animal Realm: In the animal realm, beings experience a life dominated by instincts, survival, and the pursuit of basic needs. The animal realm is characterized by ignorance and limited intellectual capacities. While animals may experience pleasure and pain, their existence is primarily driven by primal instincts, lacking the self-awareness and moral agency present in the human realm.

  5. Preta (Hungry Ghosts or Wandering Spirits): The realm of the Pretas is marked by insatiable hunger and thirst. Pretas are depicted as beings with tiny mouths and enormous stomachs, symbolizing their perpetual craving and dissatisfaction. Their existence is characterized by a constant search for nourishment and fulfillment, yet they are unable to satisfy their desires. The Preta realm represents the consequences of extreme attachment and greed.

  6. Naraka (Hell Realm): The Naraka realm is a state of intense suffering and torment. Beings in this realm undergo excruciating pain and misery as a result of negative karma. The hell realms are not permanent, and beings eventually exhaust their negative karma, leading to the possibility of rebirth in other realms. The experiences in the hell realm are reflective of the consequences of severe negative actions and unwholesome behavior.



The six realms of rebirth in Buddhism provide a comprehensive framework for understanding the diverse experiences within the cycle of samsara. While these realms illustrate the consequences of karma, they also emphasize the impermanence of existence and the potential for spiritual growth.

The ultimate goal in Buddhism is to break free from the cycle of rebirth through enlightenment, transcending the limitations of the six realms and attaining Nirvana, a state of liberation and ultimate peace.