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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (R)

Jambudvipa (Sanskrit: जम्बुद्वीप) is the dvipa ("island" or "continent") of the terrestrial world, as envisioned in the cosmologies of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Surya Siddhanta, an astronomical text, refers to Northern Hemisphere of the earth as Jambudvipa whereas the Southern hemisphere is referred to as Patala.

Variants of name

Origin of name

The word Jambudvipa literally refers to "the land of Jambu trees" where Jambu is the name of the species Syzygium cumini and dvipa means "island" or "continent".

Jamun tree has following names in different languages:

In Puranas

According to Puranic cosmography, the entire Cosmos is divided into seven concentric island continents (sapta-dvipa vasumati) separated by the seven encircling oceans, each double the size of the preceding one (going out from within). The seven continents of the Puranas are stated as

Seven intermediate oceans consist of salt-water, sugarcane juice, wine, ghee, curd, milk and water respectively.[1][2]

Continent Jambudvipa (Indian Blackberry Island), also known as Sudarshanadvipa, forms the innermost concentric island in the above scheme. Its name is said to derive from a Jambu tree (another name for the Indian Blackberry). The fruits of the Jambu tree are said, in the Viṣṇupurāṇa (ch.2) to be as large as elephants and when they become rotten and fall upon the crest of the mountains, a river of juice is formed from their expressed juice. The river so formed is called Jambunadi (Jambu river) and flows through Jambudvipa, whose inhabitants drink its waters. Insular continent Jambudvipa is said to comprise nine varshas (zones) and eight significant parvatas (mountains).

Markandeya Purana portrays Jambudvipa as being depressed on its south and north and elevated and broad in the middle. The elevated region forms the varsha named Ila-vrta or Meruvarsha. At the center of Ila-vrta lies the golden Mount Meru, the king of mountains. On the summit of Mount Meru, is the vast city of Lord Brahma, known as Brahmapuri. Surrounding Brahmapuri are 8 cities - the one of Lord Indra and of seven other Devatas.

Markandeya Purana and Brahmanda Purana divide Jambudvipa into four vast regions shaped like four petals of a lotus with Mount Meru being located at the center like a pericarp. The city of Brahmapuri is said to be enclosed by a river, known as Akash Ganga. Akash Ganga is said to issue forth from the foot of Lord Vishnu and after washing the lunar region falls "through the skies" and after encircling the Brahmapuri "splits up into four mighty streams", which are said to flow in four opposite directions from the landscape of Mount Meru and irrigate the vast lands of Jambudvipa.[3]

The common names of the dvīpas, having their varṣas (9 for Jambu-dvīpa, 7 for the other dvīpas) with a mountain and a river in each varṣa, is given in several Purāṇas [4]. There is a distinct set of names provides, however, in other Purāṇas [5]. The most detailed geography is that described in the Vāyu Purāṇa [6].

In Buddhism

The Buddhist cosmology divides the bhūmaṇḍala (circle of the earth) into three separate levels: Kāmadhātu (Desire realm), Rūpadhātu (Form realm), and Ārūpyadhātu (Formless realm). In the Kāmadhātu is located Mount Sumeru which is said to be surrounded by four island-continents. "The southernmost island is called Jambudvīpa". The other three continents of Buddhist accounts around Sumeru are not accessible to humans from Jambudvīpa. Jambudvīpa is shaped like a triangle with a blunted point facing south. In its center is a gigantic Jamun tree from which the continent takes its name, meaning "Jambu Island".

Jambudipa, one of the four Mahādīpas,or great continents,which are included in the Cakkavāla and are ruled by a Cakkavatti.They are grouped round Mount Sumeru.In Jambudīpa is Himavā with its eighty-four thousand peaks,its lakes,mountain ranges,etc..

This continent derives its name from the Jamun tree (also called Naga) which grows there,its trunk fifteen yojanas in girth,its outspreading branches fifty yojanas in length,its shade one hundred yojanas in extent and its height one hundred yojanas (Vin.i.30; SNA.ii.443; Vsm.i.205f; Sp.i.119,etc..).On account of this tree,Jambudīpa is also known as Jambusanda (SN.vs.552; SNA.i.121).The continent is ten thousand yojanas in extent; of these ten thousand,four thousand are covered by the ocean,three thousand by the Himālaya mountains,while three thousand are inhabited by men (SNA.ii.437; UdA.300).

Jambudvīpa is the region where the humans live and is the only place where a being may become enlightened by being born as a human being. It is in Jambudvīpa that one may receive the gift of Dharma and come to understand the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path and ultimately realize the liberation from the cycle of life and death.

In Mahavamsa

Another reference is from the Buddhist text Mahavamsa, where the emperor Ashoka's son Mahinda introduces himself to the Sri Lankan king Devanampiyatissa as from Jambudipa, referring to what is now the Indian subcontinent. (Mahavansa/Chapter 14)

Mahavansa/Chapter 3 (The First Council) tells....When these theras, pitiful toward the whole world, had passed half a month seven days in the funeral ceremonies and seven in homage of the relics and had resolved thus: `Spending the rainy season in Rajagaha, we will make a compilation of the dhamma, no other (monks) must be permitted to dwell there'; and when they had made their pilgrimage over Jambudipa, consoling here and there the sorrowing people, they, moved with desire that the good might long endure, betook them in the bright half of the month Asalha to Rajagaha, (the city) richly provided with the four things needful.

Mahavansa/Chapter 5 tells that ....The sons of Kalasoka were ten brothers, twenty-two years did they reign in Magadha. Afterwards, the nine Nandas were kings in succession; they too reigned twenty-two years in Magadha. Then did the brahman Canakka anoint a glorious youth, known by the name Candagutta, as king over all Jambudipa, born of a noble clan, the Moriyas, when, filled with bitter hate, he had slain the ninth (Nanda) Dhanananda.

Mahavansa/Chapter 15 (The Acceptance of the Maha Vihara) tells....Giving his own holy drinking vessel for the homage of the people and leaving the bhikkhuni here with her following and also his disciple Mahadeva with a thousand bhikkhus, the Sambuddha went eastward from thence, and standing on the place of the Ratanamala, he delivered exhortations to the people; then rising in the air with the brotherhood the Conqueror returned to Jambudipa.

In Jainism

According to Jain cosmology, Jambūdvīpa is at the centre of Madhyaloka, or the middle part of the universe, where the humans reside. Jambūdvīpaprajñapti or the treatise on the island of Roseapple tree contains a description of Jambūdvīpa and life biographies of Template:IAST and King Bharata. Trilokasāra (Essence of the three worlds), Trilokaprajñapti (Treatise on the three worlds), Trilokadipikā (Illumination of the three worlds) and Template:IAST (Summary of Jain geography) are the other texts that provide the details of Jambūdvīpa and Jain cosmology. Madhyaloka consists of many continent-islands surrounded by oceans, first eight whose names are:

Continent/ Island Ocean
Jambūdvīpa Lavanoda (Salt - ocean)
Ghatki Khand Kaloda (Black sea)
Puskarvardvīpa Puskaroda (Lotus Ocean)
Varunvardvīpa Varunoda (Varun Ocean)
Kshirvardvīpa Kshiroda (Ocean of milk)
Ghrutvardvīpa Ghrutoda (Ghee ocean)
Ikshuvardvīpa Iksuvaroda (Ocean of Sugarcane Juice)
Nandishwardvīpa Nandishwaroda

Mount Meru is at the centre of the world surrounded by Jambūdvīpa, in form of a circle forming a diameter of 100,000 yojanas.[7]

Jambūdvīpa continent has 6 mountains, dividing the continent into 9 zones (Ksetra). The names of these zones are:

  1. Bharat Kshetra
  2. Mahavideha Kshetra
  3. Airavat Kshetra
  4. Ramyakwas
  5. Hariwas
  6. Hairanyvat Kshetra
  7. Haimavat Kshetra
  8. Devkuru
  9. Uttarkuru


विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[8] ने लेख किया है ...जंबुद्वीप (AS, p.351): पौराणिक भूगोल के अनुसार भूलोक के सप्त महाद्वीपो में एक द्वीप है। यह पृथ्वी के केंद्र मे स्थित है। इसके इलावृत, भद्राश्व, किंपुरुष, भारत, हरि, केतुमाल, रम्यक, कुरु और हिरण्यमय, ये नव खण्ड हैं। इनमें भारतवर्ष ही मृत्युलोक है, शेष देवलोक हैं। इसके चतुर्दिक लवण सागर है। जं‌बूद्वीप का नामकरण यहाँ स्थित जबू वृक्ष (जामुन) के कारण हुआ है। जंबूद्वीप से क्रमानुसार बड़े द्वीपों के नाम इस प्रकार है‌- प्लक्ष, शाल्मली, कुश, क्रौंच, शाक एवं पुष्कर। पौराणिक भूगोल के आधार पर यह कहना उपयुक्त होगा कि जंबूद्वीप में वर्तमान एशिया का अधिकांश भाग सम्मिलित था। विष्णु पुराण अंश 2, अध्याय 2 के अनुसार- 'जम्बूद्वीप: समस्तानामेतेषां मध्य संस्थित:, भारतं प्रथमं वर्षं तत: किंपुरुषं स्मृतम्‌, हरिवर्षं तथैवान्यन्‌मेरोर्दक्षिणतो द्विज। रम्यकं चोत्तरं वर्षं तस्यैवानुहिरण्यम्‌, उत्तरा: कुरवश्चैव यथा वै भारतं तथा। नव साहस्त्रमेकैकमेतेषां द्विजसत्तम्‌, इलावृतं च तन्मध्ये सौवर्णो मेरुरुच्छित:। भद्राश्चं पूर्वतो मेरो: केतुमालं च पश्चिमे। एकादश शतायामा: पादपागिरिकेतव: जंबूद्वीपस्य सांजबूर्नाम हेतुर्महामुने।

जैन ग्रंथ 'जंबूद्वीप्प्रज्ञप्ति' में जंबूद्वीप के सात वर्ष कहे गये हैं। हिमालय को महाहिमवंत और चुल्लहिमवंत दो भागों में विभाजित माना गया है और भारतवर्ष में चक्रवर्ती सम्राट का राज्य बताया गया है। पुराणों में जंबूद्वीप के छ: वर्ष पर्वत बताये गये हैं - हिमवान, हेमकूट, निषध, नील, श्वेत और श्रृंगवान्


  1. Agni Purana 108.1-2.
  2. Matsya Purana 121-122.
  3. Geographical Data in the Early Puranas. A Critical Study, Dr M. R. Singh: University of Rajasthan/Jaipur. Punthi Pustak, Calcutta. 1972. p. 5
  4. "Jambudwipa: The Seeds Of Political Unity In The Indian Subcontinent".
  5. Agni Purana 108.1-2.
  6. Matsya Purana 121-122.
  7. Schubring, Walther (1995)Pp. 204-246
  8. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.351