World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Sumeru

Article Id: WHEBN0004021143
Reproduction Date:

Title: Sumeru  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Asura (Buddhism), Buddhist cosmology, Buddhist mythology, Sümber, Kunlun Mountain (mythology)
Collection: Buddhist Cosmology, Buddhist Mythology, Mythological Mountains
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Sumeru

For the equivalent central mountain in Hindu cosmology, see Mount Meru

Sumeru (Sanskrit) or Sineru (Pāli) or Kangrinboqe is the name of the central world-mountain in Buddhist cosmology. Etymologically, the proper name of the mountain is Meru (Pāli Neru), to which is added the approbatory prefix su-, resulting in the meaning "excellent Meru" or "wonderful Meru".

The concept of Sumeru is closely related to the Hindu mythological concept of a central world mountain, called Meru, but differs from the Hindu concept in several particulars.

Characteristics

According to Vasubandhu's Abhidharmakośabhāṣyam, Sumeru is 80,000 yojanas tall. The exact measure of the yojana is uncertain, but some accounts put it at about 24,000 feet, or approximately 4-1/2 miles, but other accounts put it at about 7-9 miles. It also descends beneath the surface of the surrounding waters to a depth of 80,000 yojanas, being founded upon the basal layer of Earth. Sumeru is often used as a simile for both size and stability in Buddhist texts.

Sumeru is said to be shaped like an hourglass, with a top and base of 80,000 yojanas square, but narrowing in the middle (i.e., at a height of 40,000 yojanas) to 20,000 yojanas square.

Sumeru is the polar center of a mandala-like complex of seas and mountains. The square base of Sumeru is surrounded by a square moat-like ocean, which is in turn surrounded by a ring (or rather square) wall of mountains, which is in turn surrounded by a sea, each diminishing in width and height from the one closer to Sumeru. There are seven seas and seven surrounding mountain-walls, until one comes to the vast outer sea which forms most of the surface of the world, in which the known continents are merely small islands. The known world, which is on the continent of Jambudvipa, is directly south of Sumeru.

The dimensions stated in the Abhidharmakośabhāṣyam are shown in the table below:

Name Width Height/Depth
Sumeru (Sineru) mountain 80,000 yojanas 80,000 yojanas
Sea 80,000 yojanas 80,000 yojanas
Yugandhara mountains 40,000 yojanas 40,000 yojanas
Sea 40,000 yojanas 40,000 yojanas
Iṣadhara (Isadhara) mountains 20,000 yojanas 20,000 yojanas
Sea 20,000 yojanas 20,000 yojanas
Khadiraka (Karavīka) mountains 10,000 yojanas 10,000 yojanas
Sea 10,000 yojanas 10,000 yojanas
Sudarśana (Sudassana) mountains 5,000 yojanas 5,000 yojanas
Sea 5,000 yojanas 5,000 yojanas
Aśvakarṇa (Assakaṇṇa) mountains 2,500 yojanas 2,500 yojanas
Sea 2,500 yojanas 2,500 yojanas
Vinadhara (Vinataka) mountains 1,250 yojanas 1,250 yojanas
Sea 1,250 yojanas 1,250 yojanas
Nimindhara (Nemindhara) mountains 625 yojanas 625 yojanas
Outer Sea 32,000 yojanas relatively shallow
Cakravāḍa (Cakkavāḷa) mountains

(circular edge of the world)

312.5 yojanas 312.5 yojanas

The 80,000 yojana square top of Sumeru constitutes the Trāyastriṃśa "heaven" (devaloka), which is the highest plane in direct physical contact with the earth. The next 40,000 yojanas below this heaven consist of sheer precipice, narrowing in like an inverted mountain until it is 20,000 yojanas square at a heigh of 40,000 yojanas above the sea.

From this point Sumeru expands again, going down in four terraced ledges, each broader than the one above. The first terrace constitutes the "heaven" of the Four Great Kings and is divided into four parts, facing north, south, east and west. Each section is governed by one of the Four Great Kings, who faces outward toward the quarter of the world that he supervises.

40,000 yojanas is also the height at which the Sun and Moon circle Sumeru in a clockwise direction. This rotation explains the alteration of day and night; when the Sun is north of Sumeru, the shadow of the mountain is cast over the continent of Jambudvīpa, and it is night there; at the same time it is noon in the opposing northern continent of Uttarakuru, dawn in the eastern continent of Pūrvavideha, and dusk in the western continent of Aparagodānīya. Half a day later, when the Sun has moved to the south, it is noon in Jambudvīpa, dusk in Pūrvavideha, dawn in Aparagodānīya, and midnight in Uttarakuru.

The next three terraces down the slopes of Sumeru are each longer and broader by a factor of two. They contain the followers of the Four Great Kings, namely nāgas, yakṣas, gandharvas, and kumbhāṇḍas.

The names and dimensions of the terraces on the lower slopes of Sumeru are given below:

Name Height above the sea Breadth Length (on one side)
Cāturmahārājika 40,000 yojanas 2,000 yojanas 24,000 yojanas
Sadāmada 30,000 yojanas 4,000 yojanas 32,000 yojanas
Mālādhara 20,000 yojanas 8,000 yojanas 48,000 yojanas
Karoṭapāni 10,000 yojanas 16,000 yojanas 80,000 yojanas

Below Sumeru, in the seas around it, is the abode of the Asuras who are at war with the Trāyastriṃśa gods.

See also

External links

  • Painting of Sumeru found in Buddhist cave sanctuary in Xinjiang
  • Mount Meru According to the Abhidharmakośa (Huntington Archive) [1] Stūpa as Mount Meru (ibid.) [2]


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.