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Meru, 5 Definition(s)

Introduction

Meru means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Hinduism

Śaivism (Śaiva philosophy)

Meru (मेरु) is the name of a golden mountained situated in the middle of the nine landmasses (navakhaṇḍa), according to Parākhyatantra 5.66. Mount Meru rises above the surface of the earth (pṛthivī) by 84,000 yojanas while it penetrates the circle of the earth to a depth of sixteen yojanas. The nine landmasses are known to be Bhārata, Hari, Kimpuruṣa, Ramyaka, Ramaṇa, Kuru, Bhadrāśva, Ketumāla and Ilāvṛta. Together these khaṇḍas make up the continent known as Jambūdvīpa.

The top of mount Meru are its three peaks belonging to Viṣṇu, Brahmā and Śaṅkara and below, on its slopes, are the eight citadels of the lokapālas:

  1. Amara or Amarāvatī of Indra (East),
  2. Sutejaskā, Sutejovatī or Tejovatī of Agni (South-East),
  3. Vivasvat, Vivasvatī or Saṃyamanī of Yama (South),
  4. Asita, Asitavatī, Rakṣovatī, Kṛṣṇāṅgārā, Kṛṣṇā or Kṛṣṇavatī of Nirṛti (South-West),
  5. Sita, Sitavatī or Śuddhavatī of Varuṇa (West),
  6. Gandha, Gandhavatī or Gandhavahā of Vāyu (North-West),
  7. Prabhā, Prabhāvatī or Mahodayā of Kubera or Soma (North),
  8. Yaśaskā or Yaśovatī or Sukhāvahā of Hara (North-East).

Accordingly, “they brighten the sky in all the eight directions with the light of the radiance of their gold and jewels; they contain heavenly pleasures and sweet tastes, and in them bodies are happy and pure”.

The Parākhyatantra is an old Śaiva-siddhānta tantra dating from before the 10th century.

Source: Wisdom Library: ŚaivismŚaivism book cover
context information

Śaiva (शैव, shaiva) or Śaivism (shaivism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshipping Śiva as the supreme being. Closeley related to Śāktism, Śaiva literature includes a range of scriptures, including tantras, while the root of this tradition may be traced back to the ancient Vedas.

Purāṇa

Meru (मेरु).—One of the seven mountains located in Jambūdvīpa, according to the Varāhapurāṇa chapter 75. Jambūdvīpa is ruled over by Āgnīdhra, one of the ten sons of Priyavrata was a son of Svāyambhuva Manu, who was created by Brahmā, who was in turn created by Nārāyaṇa, the unknowable all-pervasive primordial being.

Meru is composed of the following colours:

  1. eastern side: white, represents the Brahmin.
  2. southern side: yellow, represents the Vaiśya.
  3. western side: black, represents the Śudra.
  4. northern side: red, represents the Kṣatriya.

There are four mountains with a tree surrouding Meru in the four directions, and also four lakes:

  1. eastern direction: mount Mandara; has Kadamba tree on its peak; Aruṇoda lake;
  2. southern direction: mount Gandhamādana; has Jambū tree on its peak; Mānasa lake;
  3. western direction: mount Vipula; has Aśvatta tree on its peak; Asitoda lake;
  4. northern direction: mount Supārśva; has Vaṭa tree on its peak; Mahābhadra lake.

There are also four regions in the four directions:

  1. eastern direction: Bhadrāśva,
  2. southern direction: Bhārata,
  3. western direction: Ketumāla,
  4. northern direction: Kuru.

The Varāhapurāṇa is categorised as a Mahāpurāṇa, and was originally composed of 24,000 metrical verses, possibly originating from before the 10th century. It is composed of two parts and Sūta is the main narrator.

Source: Wisdom Library: Varāha-purāṇa

1a) Meru (मेरु).—(Mt.) the hill that stands in the middle of Ilāvṛta, equal in height to the length of Jambūdvīpa, surrounded on four sides by Mandara, Merumandara, Supārśva and Kumuda. In these four ranges are four great trees— Mango, Jambu, Kaḍamba and Banyan; four pools of milk, honey, sugarcane and fresh water; four celestial gardens— Nandana, Caitraratha, Vaibhrājaka, and Sarvatobhadra. Encircling the base of Meru, stand two hills. On the east are Jaṭhara and Devakūṭa; on the west Pavana and Pāriyātra; on the south Kailāsa and Karavīra, and on the north Triśṛnga and Makara. In the central part of its summit is Brahmā's square city of gold. Surrounding the outskirts of that city, are the eight cities of the eight guardians.1 There is a forest at its foot where Rudra sports with Pārvatī; Bhāgavan identified with;2 one of the six Varṣaparvatas of Jambūdvīpa occupying the middle portion. The dwellingplace of Deva gaṇas;3 on its four sides are four countries, Bhādrāśva, Bharata, Ketumālā, and Uttarakuru.4 The relation of Dhruva to.5 Here the sages met to consider a certain question and it was announced that he, who did not arrive in time would have to submit himself to the prāyascitta of brahmicide. Vaiśampāyana unable to go, undertook to do so.6 Acted as milkman of hills in milking the cow-earth.7 Sāvarṇi Manu's penance at.8 North of it were ruling 15 sons of Vikukṣi and south of it 114 sons of Ikṣvāku of whom Kakuśtha was the eldest.9

  • 1) Bhāgavata-purāṇa V. 16 (whole); 20. 2; VIII. 5. 18; Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa I. 1. 69; 4. 28.
  • 2) Bhāgavata-purāṇa IX. 1. 25.
  • 3) Ib. XI. 16. 21; Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 13. 32 and 36.
  • 4) Ib. II. 15. 16, 42-51; 17. 19, 34, 84; 21, 14, 28-34; III. 7. 194, 258; 61. 24; 63. 36; 66. 7; IV. 1. 24; 9. 17; Viṣṇu-purāṇa II. 1. 20-22; 2. 39-41; 8. 19; V. 1. 12, 66; 38. 72.
  • 5) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 23. 108.
  • 6) Ib. II. 25. 96; 35, 15-18.
  • 7) Matsya-purāṇa 2. 33; 10. 26; Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 36. 223.
  • 8) Matsya-purāṇa 11. 38.
  • 9) Ib. 12. 26-8; 113. 12ff; 124. 13; 163. 83; 182. 21; 183. 1; 184. 18; 249. 12.

1b) A temple with 100 beautiful towers, four gates, sixteen storeys and many fine turrets; the toraṇa of Meru is 50 hastas.*

  • * Matsya-purāṇa 269. 28, 31, 47.

1c) A Dānava with manuṣya dharma.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 68. 15.

1d) The mother of Niyati and Āyati.*

  • * Viṣṇu-purāṇa I. 10. 3.
Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana IndexPurāṇa book cover
context information

The Purāṇas (पुराण, purana) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahāpurāṇas total over 400,000 ślokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

Vāstuśāstra (architecture)

Meru (मेरु) refers to a type of temple (prāsāda) classified under the group named Sāndhāra, according to Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra chapter 56. The Sāndhāra group contains twenty-five out of a sixty-four total prāsādas (temples) classified under four groups in this chapter. As the last name mentioned in this group, Meru is also known as Prāsādarāja. The Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra is an 11th-century encyclopedia dealing with various topics from the Vāstuśāstra.

Meru is found in another list in the Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra, chapter 60, where it is mentioned in a list of thirty-six Prāsādas (temples) having activities of the townsmen entailing Sādhārās.

Meru is found in another list in the Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra, chapter 63, where it is listed in the group named Nāgara, containing 20 different prāsādas (temples/buildings).

Meru is also listed in the Suprabhedāgama, which describes a list of 13 temple types. This list represents the earliest form of the classification of temples in the South Indian Vāstuśāstra literature.

Meru is also listed in the Īśānaśivagurudevapaddhati which features a list of 52 temple types. This list represents the classification of temples in South-India.

Meru is also listed in the Matsyapurāṇa which features a list of 20 temple types. This list represents a classification of temples in Nort-India.

Meru is also listed in the Agnipurāṇa which features a list of 45 temple types. It is listed under the group named Vairāja, featuring square-shaped temples. This list represents a classification of temples in Nort-India.

Source: Wisdom Library: Vāstu-śāstraVāstuśāstra book cover
context information

Vāstuśāstra (वास्तुशास्त्र, vastu-shastra) refers to the knowledge of architecture. It is a branch of ancient Indian science dealing with topics such architecture, construction, sculpture and their relation with the cosmic universe.

In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

Meru (मेरु).—In the center of the Jambū-dvīpa is the Mount Meru, golden and having the shape of a truncated cone. At the base of Meru is a grove Bhadraśāla resembling a surrounding wall. At five hundred yojanas from Bhadraśāla, on a terrace, is the grove called Nandana. On a second terrace, at a certain distance above Nandana is the garden Puṇḍarīka. In the last grove is performed the Janmābhiṣeka-kalyāṇaka (birth-bath ceremony) of the Tīrthaṅkaras. Each of the above mentioned groves has four śāśvata Jina Bhavanas.

Source: Google Books: Jaina Iconography

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