the generic name for gods among the Hindus. Throughout the Vedic period they were mere shapeless abstractions. It is true that human properties were frequently ascribed to them; it was even believed that gods are ultimately mortal, and can only purchase an exemption from the common lot by drinking of the potent amrita, or draught of immortality, that is, the soma (q.v.). But in the later period, when Brahminism had been introduced, the devas became more completely humanized, assumed a definite shape in the imagination of the worshipper, and exhibited all the ordinary signs of individuality. They were all regarded as inferior to the one Great Spirit, who is the primal source of being, and of whom the devas are no more than scintillations of majesty. They are worshipped, according to a Hindu writer, in order that men's minds may be composed, and led by degrees to the essential unity. The devas have their dwelling-place in Mearu, the local heaven of the Hindis. They are of different degrees of rank, some of them being superior, others inferior. Devas or Dewas are also the deities of the Buddhists, whether denoting the divine persons on the earth, or in the celestial regions above. There are numberless dwellings of the devas in the lokas or spheres above the earth. For an account of these see Hardy, Manual of Buddhism.