Trailokya (Sanskrit: त्रैलोक्य; Kannada: ತ್ರೈಲೋಕ್ಯ; Pali: tiloka, Tibetan: khams gsum; Chinese: 三界; Vietnamese: Tam Giới) literally means "three worlds"[1][2][3][4][5] It can also refer to "three spheres,"[3] "three planes of existence,"[6] "three realms"[6] and "three regions."[4]

Sculpture of Vamana, an avatar of Vishnu, who is associated with the legend of taking three strides upon the three worlds

Conceptions of three worlds (tri-loka) appear in Hinduism and Jainism, as well as early Buddhist texts.

The Triloka Purusha, the figure who embodies the three worlds.

Hindu cosmologyEdit

The concept of three worlds has a number of different interpretations in Hindu cosmology.

  • Traditionally, the three worlds refer to either the earth (Bhuloka), heaven (Svarga), and hell (Naraka),[7] or the earth (Bhuloka), heaven (Svarga), and the netherworld (Patala)[8]
  • The Brahmanda Purana conceives them to be Bhūta (past), Bhavya (future), and Bhavat (present)[9]
  • In Vaishnavism, the three worlds are often described to be bhūr, bhuvaḥ, and svaḥ (the gross region, the subtle region, and the celestial region)[10]
  • In the Nilanamatapurana, Vamana covers his second step on the three worlds of Maharloka, Janaloka, and Tapoloka, all of which are regarded to be a part of the seven heavens[11]

Buddhist cosmologyEdit

In Buddhism, the three worlds refer to the following destinations for karmic rebirth:

  • Kāmaloka the world of desire, typified by base desires, populated by hell beings, preta (hungry ghosts), animals, humans and lower demi-gods.
  • Rūpaloka is the world of form, predominantly free of baser desires, populated by dhyāna-dwelling gods, possible rebirth destination for those well practiced in dhyāna.
  • Arūpaloka is the world of formlessness, a noncorporeal realm populated with four heavens, possible rebirth destination for practitioners of the four formlessness stages.[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Monier-Williams (1899), p. 460, col. 1, entry for "[Tri-]loka" (retrieved at and p. 462, col. 2, entry for "Trailoya" (retrieved at
  2. ^ Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-25), p. 301, entry for "Ti-" (retrieved at Here, tiloka is compared with tebhūmaka ("three planes").
  3. ^ a b c Fischer-Schreiber et al. (1991), p. 230, entry for "Triloka." Here, synonyms for triloka include trailokya and traidhātuka.
  4. ^ a b Blavatsky (1892), pp. 336-7, entry for "Trailokya" (retrieved at
  5. ^ Purucker (1999), entry for "Trailokya" (retrieved at
  6. ^ a b Berzin (2008) renders khams-gsum (Wylie; Tibetan) and tridhatu (Sanskrit) as "three planes of existence" and states that it is "[s]ometimes called 'the three realms.'" Tridhatu is a synonym of triloka where dhatu may be rendered as "dimension" or "realm" and loka as "world" or even "planet."
  7. ^ (2017-11-18). "Trailokya: 19 definitions". Retrieved 2022-08-18.
  8. ^ Maruvada, Surya N. (2020-03-02). Who is Who in Hindu Mythology - VOL 2: A Comprehensive Collection of Stories from the Pur??as. Notion Press. ISBN 978-1-64805-686-4.
  9. ^ (2019-06-20). "Vaivasvata Manvantara: the Mārīca creation [Chapter 38]". Retrieved 2022-08-18.
  10. ^ (2008-09-27). "Triloka, Tri-loka: 12 definitions". Retrieved 2022-08-18.
  11. ^ (2019-01-28). "Story of Vāmana". Retrieved 2022-08-18.


External linksEdit