Sumeru, aka: Su-meru; 12 Definition(s)

Introduction

Sumeru means something in Buddhism, Pali, 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

Purāṇa

Sumeru (सुमेरु).—Is Meru (s.v.).*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 14. 49; 15. 42.
(Source): Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purāṇa book cover
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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.

Śāktism (Śākta philosophy)

Sumeru (सुमेरु) is the name of a tree found in maṇidvīpa (Śakti’s abode), according to the Devī-bhāgavata-purāṇa 12.10. Accordingly, these trees always bear flowers, fruits and new leaves, and the sweet fragrance of their scent is spread across all the quarters in this place. The trees (eg. Sumeru) attract bees and birds of various species and rivers are seen flowing through their forests carrying many juicy liquids. Maṇidvīpa is defined as the home of Devī, built according to her will. It is compared with Sarvaloka, as it is superior to all other lokas.

The Devī-bhāgavata-purāṇa, or Śrīmad-devī-bhāgavatam, is categorised as a Mahāpurāṇa, a type of Sanskrit literature containing cultural information on ancient India, religious/spiritual prescriptions and a range of topics concerning the various arts and sciences. The whole text is composed of 18,000 metrical verses, possibly originating from before the 6th century.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam
Śāktism book cover
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Śākta (शाक्त, shakta) or Śāktism (shaktism) represents a tradition of Hinduism where the Goddess (Devī) is revered and worshipped. Śākta literature includes a range of scriptures, including various tantras, although its roots may be traced back to the Vedas.

Kathā (narrative stories)

Sumeru (सुमेरु).—One of the mountains of Jambūdvīpa.—Sumeru has received a fabulous treatment at the hands of ancient Indian writers. Kālidāsa and Soḍḍhala call it a mountain of gold and make it the dwelling place of supernatural beings like Vidyādharas and Kiṃpuruṣas. Soḍḍhala has referred to one Vipula; but according to Āpte, it is a name of the mountain Meru. According to Rājaśekhara the Meru mountain is situated in the middle of the Jambūdvīpa. It is encircled by Ilāvartavarṣa.

(Source): Shodhganga: A critical appreciation of soddhalas udayasundarikatha
Kathā book cover
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Kathās (कथा) are special kind of Sanskrit literature: they are a kind of a mix between Itihāsa (historical legends) and Mahākāvya (epic poetry). Some Kathās reflect socio-political instructions for the King while others remind the reader of the historical deeds of the Gods, sages and heroes.

In Buddhism

Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

Sumeru (सुमेरु).—According to the Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra (chapter XIV), mount Sumeru has a height of 84,000 yojanas; at its summit is the city of the Trāyastriṃṣas. Beside Mount Meru is a mountain called Yugandhara, 42,000 yojanas high; it has four peaks on each of which is a city inhabited by a group of Caturmahārājikas. The lands of the other gods, Yāmas, etc., made of seven jewels (saptaratnamaya), are situated in space (ākāśa) where they are supported by wind and so on up to the Pure Abodes (śudddhavāsa).

According to the Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra (chapter XV).—“Mount Sumeru is situated at the center of the four continents; the sun makes a circuit around Sumeru and successively lights up the four continents (dvīpaka)”.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra
Mahayana book cover
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Mahayana (महायान, mahāyāna) is a major branch of Buddhism focusing on the path of a Bodhisattva (spiritual aspirants/ enlightened beings). Extant literature is vast and primarely composed in the Sanskrit language. There are many sūtras of which some of the earliest are the various Prajñāpāramitā sūtras.

Vajrayāna (Tibetan Buddhism)

Sumeru (सुमेरु) is the name of a mountain associated with Caṇḍogra: the eastern cremation ground (śmaśāna) according to the Vajravārāhī-sādhana by Umāpatideva as found in te Guhyasamayasādhanamālā. As a part of this sādhana, the practicioner is to visualize a suitable dwelling place for the goddess inside the circle of protection which takes the form of eight cremation grounds.

The Guhyasamayasādhanamālā by Umāptideva is a 12th century ritualistic manual including forty-six Buddhist tantric sādhanas. The term sādhana refers to “rites” for the contemplation of a divinity.

(Source): Wisdomlib Libary: Vajrayogini
Tibetan Buddhism book cover
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Tibetan Buddhism includes schools such as Nyingma, Kadampa, Kagyu and Gelug. Their primary canon of literature is divided in two broad categories: The Kangyur, which consists of Buddha’s words, and the Tengyur, which includes commentaries from various sources. Esotericism and tantra techniques (vajrayāna) are collected indepently.

General definition (in Buddhism)

Sumeru (सुमेरु) refers to the “excellent mountain” and represents one of the “eight mountains” (parvata) as defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 125). The Dharma-samgraha (Dharmasangraha) is an extensive glossary of Buddhist technical terms in Sanskrit (eg., sumeru). The work is attributed to Nagarjuna who lived around the 2nd century A.D.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Dharma-samgrahaSanskrit words. It means wonderful high mountain. It is composed of gold. silver, lapis lazuli and crystal, therefore it is so wonderful. It is eighty four thousand Yugamdhara high and eighty found thousand Yugamdhara wide, which is the greatest mountain amongst all.(Source): Buddhist Door: Glossary

In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

Sumeru (सुमेरु) or Sudarśana is a mountain in the centre of Jambūdvīpa: the tree enveloping the continent of Jambūdvīpa: the first continent of the Madhya-loka (middle-word), according to the 2nd-century Tattvārthasūtra 3.10.—The height of Sumeru Mount is 100040 yojana. Sumeru Mount has three regions in the form of terraces. The first terrace is 500 yojana from earth. The second region is 62500 yojana above the first terrace. The third terrace is 36000 yojana above the second terrace.

There are four forests (vana) on Sumeru Mount. They are called Bhadraśāla, Nandanavana, Saumanasavana and Pāṃdukavana. The first forest lies at the foot of the mountain and the rest in its platform. How many Jina temples are there in the four forests? There are four Jina temples in four directions in each forest for a total of 16 temples on the mount.

(Source): Encyclopedia of Jainism: Tattvartha Sutra 3: The Lower and middle worlds
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.

India history and geogprahy

Sumeru (सुमेरु).—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 Śūlapāṇi.

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

Sumeru (सुमेरु) is the name of 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. In No. 17 the mountain Sumeru is described as one of the breasts of the earth (the other being Kailāśa) and the Gupta king Kumāragupta is mentioned as the lord of the earth. In No. 32 it has been named as Amarabhūdhara.

Sumeru is identified with Rudra Himālaya in Garhwal, where the river Gaṅgā has its source, it is near Badarikāśrama. Its other names are Meru, Karṇikācala, Ratnasānu, Svargiri, Svargigiri and Kāñcanagiri.

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

Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-English dictionary

sumēru (सुमेरु).—m (S) The sacred mountain Meru. See mēru.

(Source): DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary
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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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