The word deva refers to a celestial form of human being who has supernatural powers. The term deva is mentioned in Sanskrit and Pali, and the concept of deva is still popular in Hinduism and Buddhism.
According to Hindu mythology, different natural elements are assigned the names of different devas. Thus there are specific devas who represent the natural powers such as air, fire, water, soil, sky, etc. Another group of devas represents the moral values of life. There are feminine forms of devas called ‘devi’. Like the concept of ‘devas’, ‘devis’ also signify certain essential elements of life. The three prominent devis represent prosperity (shree), education (vidya), and power (shakti).
There are many characteristic features assigned to devas. Buddhists believe that people with extra sensory perception can visualize devas. This power of individuals to perceive devas is called the ‘divyacaksus’. Those who have developed such illusionary power can hear their voice too.
Devas, according to both Hindu and Buddhist beliefs, can take different forms. These illusionary forms are created in order to manifest themselves in the carnal world. It is believed that Vishnu, a Hindu deva, assumed ten different forms in his life cycle in order to carry out his duties on earth.
Devas are classified according to their power and duties. Thus there are some devas who enjoy more authority and power than others. For example, it is believed that the higher devas have the power to fly unaided while the lower devas need the help of flying chariots.