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Potential Spoilers for the events Season 6-8 of Naruto Shippuden

In the Jiraiya vs Pain fight we get the following information.

Konan is a former student of Jiraiya, who is also the Angel of Amegkure and Pain who has the Rinnegan is the leader who defeated Hanzo. During the fight we learn of the six Paths of Pain, each who uses a different unique abilities while sharing their field of vision. Jiraiya was confused how could six people have the Rinnegan when only Nagato had it.

This is the setup for the sequence of the events leading into the next season.

Jiraiya recognises Yahiko, and then the body of pain that he pulls into the toad. He then decides to go back out and realises that ALL the paths of pain are Ninjas he'd seen/met before. And then the realization "The real one is not among them." This confuses me since we know Nagato can make any dead person a path of pain (the new Animal Path), Why would he chose those particular individuals that Jiraiya knows? Infact how did he know Jiraiya knows them?

And thus the question, How/Why did Nagato choose the "Paths" of Pain?

Additional Info: He chooses the following paths of pain

the 5 shinobi that Jiraiya encountered during his journey: The Puppeteer, The Waterfall shinobi, The Fuma clan shinobi, The Grass Shinobi, The Priest. The sixth path i.e. Yahiko seems obvious due to their connection. But again using the other 5 seems very coincidental.

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It's only a theory, because even the wiki (or any SBS) gave no explanation why he chose these specific people, except that Jiraiya knew them. So I will try to make some connections between what we know for these characters (very few) and their path's meaning.

So, except from Yahiko, here is what I think for the other 5 paths:

  • Nakara Path: The man that wields it was a priest, so it only makes sense because of that that he would bring people back to life or take their life. This also comes from the religion perception:

    Yama is the lord of Justice, the King of Hell, he puts living beings after death for appropriate punishment, for example, in boiling oil, if you lie to him, he will rip out your tongue. After the period of punishment is complete, they are reborn on earth in human or animal bodies.

  • Preta Path: This person had failed to cultivate the land for his family due to his participation in war. And as it is mentioned below in the wiki:

    In Buddhism, the Preta realm (also known as the Hungry Ghost realm) is a reincarnation based on strong possessiveness and desire which were cultivated in a previous life or lives.

    So it only makes sense for him to be that path.

  • Human path: This shinobi believed that all he could do to try and achieve peace was to teach the next generation to survive the battles with other ninja until it came.

    In Buddhism, the Human realm it is widely believed that is the form of rebirth most likely to attain enlightenment, due to both the availability of information and teachers, and the ability to reason without falling victim to the obsessive aggression or carnal delights inherited by the higher planes.

    So that's how it makes sense, because he wanted to teach.

  • Animal Path: The first, I think, was one of the Six Paths of Pain because he fought Jiraiya at some point. Also, there is only one connection to this path:

    Buddhists believe that animals inhabit a different dimension separated from humans not spatially but mentally; an unhappy plane of rebirth which revolves around fear, instinct and survival of the fittest, suffered by those animals that work for humans and, above all, by those ignorant to what is happening to them.

    But I don't know if it counts. The second Animal Path was after Jiraiya's death and she didn't meet him.

  • Asura Path: Last but not least, this man is the only one that I cannot make even one connection. He was shown to be a wandering puppeteer with insight to the world and

    In Buddhism, the Asura realm is the plane of semi-divine warring demons which people are reincarnated in due to actions based on jealousy, struggle, combat or rationalisation in a previous life, and though powerful, live in constant violence and conflict to which there is no resolution nor peace. Following a common depiction of Asura, this ability allows the user to possess six arms and three faces, each of which display a different emotion. They are featured in Hinduism as the lowest tier of divine beings, and are known to live a life pursuing power, while indulgent and representative of materialistic and carnal pleasures.

    Maybe there is a connection through rationalisation.

Hope it helps!

Note: if someone wants to edit and put more, feel free to do so!

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It is possible Jiraya shared stories of his past travels/battles with his 3 pupils while he was training them.

Jiraya also left a copy of his first novel "tales of gutsy ninja" for Nagato.

Minato mentioned that Jiraya's first novel read like an autobiography of Jiraya's life as a ninja. So it's possible that inspired Nagato to pick out past ninjas from Jiraya's past as his bodies.

This is speculation as its never really addressed. Jiraya had briefly discovered the connection with the bodies to his past, but was killed moments later and it was never expanded by the Plot. So its still a mystery.

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Nagato had a bit of a God complex. The six paths of pain that are

Animal Path Human Path Naraka Path Asura Path Preta Path Deva Path are actually the six paths of reincarnations from Buddhism. In Buddhism it is believed that every being reincarnates 5 times as different ‘paths’ until finally he ascends to the Deva Path and becomes a god or at least goes to heaven and ascends properly.

Having just one or two of those paths would not be a proper nod at his god complex. Also some Jutsu’s are complex and need a proper setting. None of the paths could use the other paths abilities despite them all being Nagato’s abilities. Maybe that is why he had to make a minimum amount of paths to get his abilities working. Even Tobi had to make 6 paths.

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