world, primarily “visible world,” then in general as “space or sphere of creation, with var. degrees of substantiality. Often (unspecified in the comprehensive sense of “universe.” Sometimes the term is applied collectively to the creatures inhabiting this or var. other worlds, thus, “man, mankind people, beings.”- Loka is not a fixed & def term. It comprises immateriality as well as materiality and emphasizes either one or the other meaning according to the view applied to the object or category in question Thus a translation of “sphere, plane, division, order” interchanges with “world.” Whenever the spatial element prevails we speak of its “regional” meaning as contrasted with “applied” meaning. The fundamental notion however is that of substantiality, to which is closely related the specific Buddhist notion of impermanence (loka = lujjati).

  1. Universe: the distinctions between the universe (cp. cakkavāḷa) as a larger whole and the world as a smaller unit are fluctuating & not definite. A somewhat wider sphere is perhaps indicated by; sabba-loka (e.g. SN.i.12; SN.iv.127, SN.iv.312; SN.v.132; Iti.122 Mhvs.1, Mhvs.44; cp. sabbāvanta loka DN.i.251; DN.iii.224) otherwise even the smaller loka comprises var. realms of creation. Another larger division is that of loka as sadevaka, samāraka, sabrahmaka, or the world with its devas, its Māra and its Brahmā, e.g. SN.i.160, SN.i.168 SN.i.207; SN.ii.170; SN.iii.28, SN.iii.59; SN.iv.158; SN.v.204; AN.i.259 sq. AN.ii.24 sq.; AN.iii.341; AN.iv.56, AN.iv.173; AN.v.50; Iti.121; Mnd.447 (on Snp.956), to which is usually added sassamaṇa-brāhmaṇī pajā (e.g. DN.i.250, see loci s. v. pajā). With this cp. Dhp.45, where the divisions are paṭhavī, Yamaloka sadevaka (loka), which are explained at Dhp-a.i.334 by paṭhavī = attabhāva; Yamaloka = catubbidha apāyaloka; sadevaka = manussaloka devalokena saddhiṃ-The universe has its evolutional periods: saṃvaṭṭati and vivaṭṭati DN.ii.109 sq. The Buddha has mastered it by his enlightenment: loko Tathāgatena abhisambuddho Iti.121. On loka, lokadhātu (= cosmos) and cakkavāḷa cp. Kirfel, Kosmographie p. 180, 181.

  2. Regional meaning.

    1. in general. Referring to this world, the character of evanescence is inherent in it; referring to the universe in a wider sense, it implies infinity, though not in definite terms. There is mention of the different metaphysical theories as regards cosmogony at many places of the Canon. The antānantikā (contending for the finitude or otherwise of the world) are mentioned as a sect at DN.i.22 sq. Discussions as to whether loka is sassata or antavā are found e.g. at MN.i.426, MN.i.484; MN.ii.233; SN.iii.182, SN.iii.204; SN.iv.286 sq. AN.ii.41; AN.v.31, AN.v.186 sq.; Pts.i.123, Pts.i.151 sq.; Vb.340; Dhs.1117. Views on consistency of the world (eternal or finite; created or evolved etc.) at DN.iii.137; cp SN.ii.19 sq. Cp. also the long and interesting discussion of loka as suñña at SN.iv.54 sq.; Pts.ii.177 sq.; Cnd.680-as well as MN.ii.68 (upanīyati loko addhuvo, and “attāṇo loko, assakoloko” etc.); “lokassa anto” is lit unattainable: AN.ii.50 = SN.i.62; SN.iv.93; but the Arahant is “lok’antagū,” cp. AN.iv.430
    2. As regards their order in space (or “plane”) there are var. groupings of var worlds, the evidently popular one being that the world of the devas is above and the nirayas below the world of man (which is “tiriyaṃ vâpi majjhe”): Cnd.550. The world of men is as ayaṃ loko contrasted with the beyond or paro loko: DN.iii.181; SN.iv.348 sq.; AN.i.269; AN.iv.226; Snp.779 (n’āsiṃsati lokaṃ imaṃ parañ ca); or as idhaloka DN.iii.105. The defn of ayaṃ loko at Mnd.60 is given as: sak’attabhāva, saka-rūpa-vedanā etc., ajjhatt āyatanāni, manussa-loka, kāmadhātu; with which is contrasted paro loko as: parattabhāva, para-rūpavedanā, bāhir’āyatanāni, devaloka, rūpa- & arūpadhātu-The rise and decay of this world is referred to as; samudaya and atthaṅgama at SN.ii.73; SN.iii.135 SN.iv.86; AN.v.107
      ■ Cp. DN.iii.33 (attā ca loko ca); Mhvs.1, Mhvs.5 (lokaṃ dukkhā pamocetuṃ); Mhvs.28, Mhvs.4 (loko ’yaṃ pīḷito) Pv-a.1 (vijjā-caraṇa-sampannaṃ yena nīyanti lokato)
    3. Other divisions of var. kinds of “planes” are e.g. deva˚; AN.i.115, AN.i.153; AN.iii.414 sq.; Brahma˚; Vb.421 Mhvs.19, Mhvs.45; Yama˚; Dhp.44; SN.i.34; nara˚; Mhvs.5, Mhvs.282 See also each sep. head-word, also peta˚ & manussa˚. The division at Mnd.550 is as follows: niraya˚, tiracchāna˚, pittivisaya˚, manussa˚, deva˚ (= material) upon which follow khandha˚, dhātu˚, āyatana˚ (= immaterial). Similarly at Mnd.29, where apāya˚; takes the place of niraya˚, tiracchāna˚, pittivisaya˚
    4. Another threefold division is saṅkhāra˚, satta˚, okāsa˚; at Vism.204, with explains: “sabbe sattā āhāra-ṭṭhitikā” ti sankhāraloka; “sassato loko ti vā asassato loko” ti sattaloka; “yāvatā candima-suriyā pariharanti disā ’bhanti virocamānā” etc. (= MN.i.328; AN.i.227; cp Ja.i.132) = okāsaloka. The same expln in detail at Snp-a.442
    5. Another as kāma˚, rūpa˚, arūpa˚: see under rūpa; another as kilesa˚, bhava˚, indriya˚; at Ne.11, Ne.19. Cp. sankhāra-loka Vb-a.456; dasa lokadhātuyo (see below) SN.i.26.
  3. Ordinary & applied meaning-

    1. division of the world, worldly things SN.i.1, SN.i.24 (loke visattikā attachment to this world; opp sabba-loke anabhirati SN.v.132)
      loke in this world among men, here DN.iii.196 (ye nibbutā loke); Iti.78 (loke uppajjati); DN-a.i.173 (id.); Vb.101 (yaṃ loke piya-rūpaṃ etc.); Pv.ii.1#13 (= idaṃ C.); Kp-a.15, Kp-a.215 See also the diff. defns of loke at Cnd.552
      loka collectively “one, man”: kicchaṃ loko āpanno jāyati ca jīyati ca, etc. DN.ii.30. Also “people”: Lanka-loka people of Ceylon Mhvs.19, Mhvs.85; cp. jana in similar meaning. Derived from this meaning is the use in compounds (˚- as “usual, every day, popular, common”: see e.g. ˚āyata, ˚vajja, ˚vohāra
    2. “thing of the world, material element, physical or worldly quality, sphere or category (of “materiality”). This category of loka is referred to at Vb.193, which is explained at Vb-a.220 as follows: “ettha yo ayaṃ ajjhatt’ ādi bhedo kāyo pariggahīto so eva idha-loko nāma.” In this sense 13 groups are classified according to the number of constituents in each group (1–12 and No. 18); they are given at Cnd.551 (under lokantagū Snp.1133) as follows 1 bhavaloka; 2 sampatti bhavaloka, vipatti bhavaloka; 3 vedanā; 4 āhārā; 5 upādāna-kkhandhā 6 ajjhattikāni āyatanāni (their rise & decay as “lokassa samudaya & atthangama” at SN.iv.87); 7 viññāṇaṭṭhitiyo; 8 loka-dhammā; 9 satt’āvāsā 10 upakkilesā; 11 kāmabhavā; 12 āyatanāni 18 dhātuyo. They are repeated at Pts.i.122 = Pts.i.174 with 1 as “sabbe sattā āhāra-ṭṭhitikā; 2 nāmañ ca rūpañ ca; and the remainder the same. Also at Vism.205 and at Snp-a.442 as at Pts.i.122. Cp. the similar view at SN.iv.95: one perceives the world (“materiality” loka-saññin and loka-mānin, proud of the world) with the six senses. This is called the “loka” in the logic (vinaya) of the ariyā
      ■ A few similes with loka see J.P.T.S. 1907, 131.

-akkhāyikā (f., scil. kathā) talk or speculation about (origin etc. of) the world, popular philosophy (see lokāyata and cp. Dialogues i.14) Vin.i.188; DN.i.8; MN.i.513; Mil.316; DN-a.i.90. -agga chief of the world, epithet of the Buddha Thag-a.69 (Tha-ap.11). -anta the end (spatial) of the world AN.ii.49 (na ca appatvā lokantaṃ dukkhā atthi pamocanaṃ). -antagū one who has reached the end of the world (and of all things worldly) epithet of an Arahant AN.ii.6, AN.ii.49 sq.; Iti.115, Snp.1133; Cnd.551. -antara the space between the single worlds Ja.i.44 (v.253: Avīcimhi na uppajjanti, tathā lokantaresu ca). -antarika (scil. Niraya) a group of Nirayas or Purgatories situated in the lokantara (i.e. cakkavāl antaresu Ja.i.76), 8,000 yojanas in extent, pitch dark which were filled with light when Gotama became the Buddha Ja.i.76; Vb-a.4; Vism.207 (lokantariya˚) Snp-a.59 (˚vāsa life in the l. niraya); cp. BSk. lokântarikā Divy.204 (andhās tamaso ‘ndhakāra-tamisrā) -ādhipa lord or ruler of the world AN.i.150. -ādhipateyya “rule of the world,” dependence on public opinion, influence of material things on man, one of the 3 ādhipateyyas (atta˚, loka˚, dhamma˚) DN.iii.220 Vism.14. -ānukampā sympathy with the world of men [cp. BSk. lokânugraha Divy.124 sq.] DN.iii.211; Iti.79 -āmisa worldly gain, bait of the flesh MN.i.156; MN.ii.253 Thig.356. -āyata what pertains to the ordinary view (of the world), common or popular philosophy, or as Rhys Davids (Dial. i.171) puts it: “name of a branch of Brahman learning, probably Nature-lore”; later worked into a quâsi system of “casuistry, sophistry. Franke, Dīgha translation 19, trsls as “logisch beweisende Naturerklärung” (see the long note on this page, and cp. Dial. i.166–172for detail of lokāyata). It is much the same as lok-akkhāy(ika) or popular philosophy. DN.i.11, DN.i.88; Vin.ii.139; Snp.p.105 (= vitaṇḍa-vādasattha Snp-a.447, as at DN-a.i.247); Mil.4, Mil.10, Mil.178; AN.i.163, AN.i.166; AN.iii.223. Cp. BSk. lokāyata Divy.630, Divy.633 and lokāyatika ibid. 619. See also Kern’s remarks at


s. v. -āyatika (brāhmaṇa) one who holds the view of lokāyata or popular philosophy SN.ii.77 (translation K.S. 53: a Brahmin “wise in world-lore”); Mil.178; Ja.vi.486 (na seve lokāyatikaṃ; explained as “anatthanissitaṃ… vitaṇḍa-sallāpaṃ lokāyatika-vādaṃ na seveyya,” thus more like “sophistry” or casuistry) -issara lord of the world Sdhp.348. -uttara see under lokiya. -cintā thinking about the world, worldphilosophy or speculation SN.v.447; AN.ii.80 (as one of the 4 acinteyyāni or thoughts not to be thought out buddha-visaya, jhāna-visaya, kamma-vipāka, l-c.). Cp BSk. laukika citta Divy.63, Divy.77 etc. -dhammā (pl. common practice, things of the world, worldly conditions SN.iii.139 sq.; Snp.268 (expln loke dhammā; yāva lokappavatti tāva-anivattikā dhammā ti vuttaṃ hoti Kp-a.153, cp. Ja.iii.468); Mil.146. Usually comprising a set of eight, viz. lābha, alābha, yaso, ayaso, nindā pasaṃsā, sukhaṃ, dukkhaṃ DN.iii.260; AN.iv.156 sq. AN.v.53; Cnd.55; Pts.i.22, Pts.i.122; Vb.387; Ne.162; Dhp-a.ii.157. -dhātu constituent or unit of the Universe “world-element”; a world, sphere; another name for cakkavāla. Dasa-sahassi-lokadhātu the system of the 10,000 worlds Vin.i.12; AN.i.227
■ DN.iii.114; Pv.ii.9#61 Kv.476; Vism.206 sq.; Vb.336; Mnd.356 (with the stages from one to fifty lokadhātu’s, upon which follow sahassī cūḷanikā l-dh.; dvisahassī majjhimikā; tisahassī; mahāsahassī); Ja.i.63, Ja.i.212; Mil.237; Vb-a.430 Vb-a.436. See also cūḷanikā. -nātha saviour of the world, epithet of the Buddha Snp.995; Vism.201, Vism.234; Vv-a.165; Pv-a.42, Pv-a.287. -nāyaka guide or leader of the world (said of the Buddha) Snp.991; Tha-ap.20; Mhvs.7, Mhvs.1; Mil.222 -nirodha destruction of the world Iti.121 (opp. ˚samudaya). -pāla (˚devatā) guardian (governor) of the world, which are usually sepcified as four, viz. Kuvera (= Vessavaṇa), Dhataraṭṭha, Virūpakkha, Virūḷhaka alias the 4 mahārājāno Pv.i.4#2; Ja.i.48 (announce the future birth of a Buddha). -byūha “world-array, pl. byūhā (devā) Name of a class of devas Ja.i.47; Vism.415 (kāmâvacara-deva’s). -mariyādā the boundary of the world Vv-a.72. -vajja common sins Mil.266; Kp-a.190. -vaṭṭa “world-round,” i.e. saṃsāra (opp. vivaṭṭa = nibbāna) Ne.113, Ne.119. See also vaṭṭa. -vidu knowing the universe, Lp. of the Buddha DN.iii.76; SN.i.62; SN.v.197, SN.v.343; AN.ii.48; Snp.p.103; Vv.34#26; Pp.57; explained in full at Snp-a.442 and Vism.204 sq. -vivaraṇa unveiling of the universe, apocalypse, revelation Vism.392 (when humans see the devas etc.). -vohāra common or general distinction, popular logic, ordinary way of speaking Snp-a.383, Snp-a.466; Vb-a.164.

cp. Vedic loka in its oldest meaning “space, open space.” For etym. see rocati. To the etym. feeling of the Pāli hearer loka is closely related in quality to ruppati (as in pop. etym. of rūpa) and rujati. As regards the latter the etym. runs “lujjati kho loko ti vuccati” SN.iv.52, cp. Cnd.550, and loka = lujjana Dhs-a.47, Dhs-a.308: see lujjana. The Dhtp.531 gives root lok (loc) in sense of dassana