Meru; 18 Definition(s)

Introduction

Meru means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, the history of ancient India, Marathi. 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

Vastushastra (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-śāstra
Vastushastra book cover
context information

Vastushastra (वास्तुशास्त्र, vāstuśāstra) refers to the ancient Indian science (shastra) of architecture (vastu), dealing with topics such architecture, sculpture, town-building, fort building and various other constructions. Vastu also deals with the philosophy of the architectural relation with the cosmic universe.

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Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

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

Meru (मेरु).—The entire mountain system of the world, as conceived by the Puranic writers, centres round the Meru, the mountain of gold, which is supposed to stand in the middle of Ilāvṛta, a highly elevated sub-continental region (varṣa) of Jambudvīpa. Below the central mountain are the four viṣkambha-parvatas (Sujacent hills), Mandara, Gandhamādana, Vipula and Supārśva. Six sub-continental ranges (varṣaparvata) lie to the north an south of the Meru—Nīla, Śveta and Śṛṅgī to the north and Niṣadha, Hemakūṭa and Himavat to the south.

Source: archive.org: Geography in Ancient Indian inscriptions (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 Index

Meru (मेरु) refers to the name of a Mountain mentioned in the Mahābhārata (cf. II.48.2, V.158.15, IX.44.13, IX.44.43). Note: The Mahābhārata (mentioning Meru) is a Sanskrit epic poem consisting of 100,000 ślokas (metrical verses) and is over 2000 years old.

Source: JatLand: List of Mahabharata people and places
Purana book cover
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The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

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Shaivism (Shaiva 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: Śaivism
Shaivism book cover
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Shaiva (शैव, śaiva) or Shaivism (śaivism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshiping Shiva as the supreme being. Closely related to Shaktism, Shaiva literature includes a range of scriptures, including Tantras, while the root of this tradition may be traced back to the ancient Vedas.

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Kavya (poetry)

Merū (मेरू) is the name a locality mentioned in Rājaśekhara’s 10th-century Kāvyamīmāṃsā.—Mahāmerū or the mountain situated in the middle of the Jambudvīpa. It is encircled by the Ilāvrtavarṣa.

Source: Shodhganga: The Kavyamimamsa of Rajasekhara
context information

Kavya (काव्य, kavya) refers to Sanskrit poetry, a popular ancient Indian tradition of literature. There have been many Sanskrit poets over the ages, hailing from ancient India and beyond. This topic includes mahakavya, or ‘epic poetry’ and natya, or ‘dramatic poetry’.

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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

Meru (मेरु) participated in the war between Rāma and Rāvaṇa, on the side of the latter, as mentioned in Svayambhūdeva’s Paumacariu (Padmacarita, Paumacariya or Rāmāyaṇapurāṇa) chapter 57ff. Svayambhū or Svayambhūdeva (8th or 9th century) was a Jain householder who probably lived in Karnataka. His work recounts the popular Rāma story as known from the older work Rāmāyaṇa (written by Vālmīki). Various chapters [mentioning Meru] are dedicated to the humongous battle whose armies (known as akṣauhiṇīs) consisted of millions of soldiers, horses and elephants, etc.

Source: archive.org: Een Kritische Studie Van Svayambhūdeva’s Paümacariu
General definition book cover
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Jainism is an Indian religion of Dharma whose doctrine revolves around harmlessness (ahimsa) towards every living being. The two major branches (Digambara and Svetambara) of Jainism stimulate self-control (or, shramana, ‘self-reliance’) and spiritual development through a path of peace for the soul to progess to the ultimate goal.

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India history and geogprahy

Meru (मेरु).—Various inscriptions describe the mountain Meru as mighty, firm, rugged, piled with huge rocks, and as mountain of the Gods (amara-bhūdhara). In the Mandsaur inscription of the Guild of the Silk-weavers, the mountains Sumeru and Kailāsa are described as the large breasts of earth. Another Mandsaur inscription refers to the rocks of the glens of the Sumeru being split open by the blows of the horns of the bull of the God Śūlapāni. The Vasantagadh inscription of 625 A.D. makes the mention of long durability of the Meru mountain.

The mountain has been identified with the Altai mountain in Central Asia. Altai is Allain-Ula in Mongolian, which means, mountain of gold. According to the Kālikā-purāṇa, the Jambu river flows from this mountain. The God Śiva saw the summit of this mountain.

Source: archive.org: Geography in Ancient Indian inscriptions

Meru (मेरु) is another for Sumeru: a mountain mentioned in the Gupta inscription No. 17 and 32. The Gupta empire (r. 3rd-century CE), founded by Śrī Gupta, covered much of ancient India and embraced the Dharmic religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Sumeru is identified with Rudra Himālaya in Garhwal, where the river Gaṅgā has its source, it is near Badarikāśrama.

Source: archive.org: Personal and geographical names in the Gupta inscriptions

Meru.—(SII 3), name of a gift. (EI 2; CII 4), a kind of temple. Note: meru is defined in the “Indian epigraphical glossary” as it can be found on ancient inscriptions commonly written in Sanskrit, Prakrit or Dravidian languages.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Indian Epigraphical Glossary

Meru (मेरु) is the name of a mountain situated in Majjhimadesa (Middle Country) of ancient India, as recorded in the Pāli Buddhist texts (detailing the geography of ancient India as it was known in to Early Buddhism).—Meru is referred to in the Therīgāthā Commentary, and is identical with the Rudra Himālaya in Gharwal where the river Ganges takes its rise. It is near the Badarikā Āśram, and is probably the Mount Meros of Arrian.

Source: Ancient Buddhist Texts: Geography of Early Buddhism
India history book cover
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The history of India traces the identification of countries, villages, towns and other regions of India, as well as royal dynasties, rulers, tribes, local festivities and traditions and regional languages. Ancient India enjoyed religious freedom and encourages the path of Dharma, a concept common to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.

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Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-English dictionary

mēru (मेरु).—m (S) The sacred mountain Meru in the centre of the seven continents. Supposed to mean the high land of Tartary, immediately to the north of the Himalaya mountains. 2 fig. The large middle gem of a necklace. The two ends meet in it. 3 The stalk or standing tube of a guḍaguḍī or hubble bubble.

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

mēru (मेरु).—m The standing tube of a guḍaguḍī. The mountain mēru. The middle gem of a necklace.

Source: DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English
context information

Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

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Sanskrit-English dictionary

Meru (मेरु).—

1) Name of a fabulous mountain (round which all the planets are said to revolve and which forms the centre of the several Dvīpas; cf. dvīpa; it is also said to consist of gold and gems); विभज्य मेरुर्न यदर्थिसात् कृतः (vibhajya merurna yadarthisāt kṛtaḥ) N.1.16; स्वात्मन्येव समाप्तहेममहिमा मेरुर्न मे रोचते (svātmanyeva samāptahemamahimā merurna me rocate) Bh.3.15.

2) The central bead in a rosary.

3) The central gem of a necklace.

Derivable forms: meruḥ (मेरुः).

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary

Meru (मेरु).—(1) n. of a former Buddha: Mv iii.239.9; (2) n. of a future Buddha: Mv ii.355.10 (here text Maru, probably misprint) = iii.279.15 (verse); (3) n. of a cakravartin (= Pali Neru; note that Pali has Sineru for the mountain name Sumeru): Mvy 3574.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Edgerton Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Dictionary

Meru (मेरु).—m.

(-ruḥ) 1. The sacred mountain Meru, in the centre of the seven continents, compared to the cup or seed-vessel of the lotus, the leaves of which are formed by the different Dwipas: its height is said by the Hindus to be 84,000 Yojanas, sixteen thousand of which are below the surface of the earth: the shape is variously described, as square, conical, columnar, spherical, or spiral; and the four faces of it are of various colours, or white towards the east, yellow to the south, black to the west, and red towards the north: the river Ganges falls from heaven on its summit, and flows thence to the surrounding worlds in four streams; the southern branch is the Ganges of India, the northern running into Tartary is the Bhadrasoma, the eastern is the Sita, and the western the Chacshu or Oxus: on the summit of Meru Brahma resides attended and worshipped by the Rishis, Gandharbas, &c.; the regents of the points of the compass occupy the corresponding faces of the mountain, the whole of which consists of gold and gems: considered in any but a fabulous light, mount Meru appears to mean the high land of Tartary, immediately to the north of the Himalaya mountains. 2. The central bead in a rosary. 3. The middle gem in a necklace. E. mi to scatter, (radiance,) Unadi aff. ru.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Shabda-Sagara Sanskrit-English Dictionary
context information

Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family. Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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Relevant definitions

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