The 9th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Deva is the Hindu term for deity; devatas (Devanagari: देवता, Khmer: tevoda (ទេវតា), Javanese, Balinese, Sundanese, Malay and Indonesian: dewata; Cebuano/Tagalog: diwata), are a kind of smaller more focused devas. The term "devata" also means devas (deva in plural form or the gods). They are male and female devata. There are many kinds of devatas: vanadevatas (forest spirits, perhaps descendants of early nature-spirit cults), gramadevata (village gods), devata of river crossings, caves, mountains, and so on. In Hinduism, the devatas that guard the nine cardinal points are called Devata Lokapala (Guardians of the Directions) or in ancient Java called Dewata Nawa Sanga (Nine guardian gods). Every human activity has its devata, its spiritual counterpart or aspect.
Some of well known Hindu-Buddhist heavenly beings belong to the group of devatas, such as apsara or vidhyadari; heavenly maiden that sent by Indra from svarga to seduces the meditating ascetics, and her male counterparts; gandharvas; the heavenly musicians. Devatas often occurred in Hindu epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata, and also some Buddhist holy scriptures. The island of Bali is nicknamed as Pulau Dewata (Indonesian: "islands of devata or island of gods"), because of its vivid Hindu culture and traditions. In Bali, there are many offerings dedicated to hyang, the guardian spirits associated with devata.