It's probably a Third Council split then maybe, bhante, because I can find plenty of Buddhist images of garudas hanging out in heaven too (Do garudas also get a split between earthly/mundane varieties and heavenly/celestial varieties too?), and those are simply "large (magical) birds," i.e. animals, to go with the "large (magical) snakes." To be fair though, it makes more intuitive sense for magical birds to be in the heavens, the "magical skies" so-to-speak, than magical snakes.Dhammanando wrote: ↑Mon May 25, 2020 4:48 pm For example, are the nāga followers of Virūpakkha in the Cātummahārājika heaven animals? Or are they devas of serpentine form? I've never seen any explicit statement either way, but I think the Theravāda position ought to be that they are devas, for at the Third Council the Theravādins rejected the claim of the Andhakas that there might be animals living in the heavenly realms.
I suppose it depends on how animistic or chthonic we are willing to consider the backdrop of Buddhism as versus how Āryan or Heaven/Sky-Centred we think it may have gotten and when. Does this sky-centring/heaven-centring pre-date the Buddha, is the unanswerable question.
Answerable in this forum, though, of course.
This is a bit off-topic, so I don't want to go into it too much, but you've accidentally stumbled on something I have a positively geeky interest in, and now I must hold back the prapañca so as to not produce a giant off-topic essay and respect this subforum.
Your description of them as "worms" reminds me of another religion that has a preoccupation with "the deep," namely Abrahamic monotheism. The "worms" of the deep are often Tiamat and her children in translations like the King James. For instance: Genesis 1 is Marduk's victory over Tiamat, the lady of the deep, reframed as Elohim's triumph over Tehom.
Aside done.bərêšîṯ bārā ɂĕlōhîm; ɂêṯ haššāmayim wə ɂêṯ hā ɂāreṣ.
In the beginning, [Elohim] created the heaven and the earth.
wə hā ɂāreṣ, hāyəṯāh ṯōhū wāḇōhū, wə ḥōšeḵ ɂalpənê ṯəhōwm; wə rūaḥ ɂĕlōhîm, məraḥep̄eṯ ɂalpənê hammāyim.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of [Tehom]. And the spirit of [Elohim] moved upon the face of the waters.