The Shiva Purana (English translation)

by J. L. Shastri | 1970 | 616,585 words

This page relates “description of the jambudvipa (jambu-dvipa)” as found in the Shiva-purana, which, in Hinduism, represents one of the eighteen Mahapuranas. This work eulogizes Lord Shiva as the supreme deity, besides topics such as cosmology and philosophy. It is written in Sanskrit and claims to be a redaction of an original text consisting of 100,000 metrical verses.

Chapter 17 - Description of the Jambūdvīpa (jambū-dvīpa)

Sanatkumāra said:—

1. O son of Parāśara, listen succinctly to what I explain, the sphere of the earth consisting of seven Dvīpas (continents).

2. The seven continents [see notes] are Jambū, Plakṣa, Śālmali, Kuśa, Krauñca, Śāka, Puṣkara. These seven are surrounded by seven oceans.

3. The seven oceans are salt sea, sugarcane juice sea, wine sea, ghee sea, curd sea, milk sea and pure water sea. Jambū Dvīpa is situated in the middle of all these.

4-6. In the middle of it is the golden mountain Meru, O Kāleya. It extends below to sixteen Yojanas and its height is eighty-four Yojanas. Its expanse on the top is thirty-two Yojanas. This mountain is situated on the back of the earth and expands on all sides. It is sixteen thousand Yojanas at the base. It has the shape of a pericarp. The mountains Himavat,[1] Hemakūṭa[2] and Niṣadha[3] are to its south.

7. The Varṣa mountains in the north are Nīla, Śveta and Śṛṅgin.[4] The extent of these is ten thousand Yojanas. They are full of gems and have pinky lustre.

8. Their height is a thousand Yojanas and their width too is the same. Bharata is the first sub-continent. Then there is the Kimpuruṣa.

9. Hari Varṣa is another which, O sage, is to the south of Meru. Ramyaka is on the northern side. In its part is Hiraṇmaya Varṣa.

10. In the north are the Kurus as well. O excellent sage, the extent of each of these, as in the case of Bharata, is nine thousand Yojanas.

11. Ilāvṛta Varṣa is in its middle and Meru rises up in its middle. In all the four quarters, peaks nine thousand Yojanas in height rise up.

12. O excellent sage, such is Ilāvṛta and there are four mountains here which appear as supporting beams to Meru, which are joined to it and rise above.

13. Mandara[5] is in the east. Gandhamādana[5] is in the south. Vipula[5] is in the western portion and Supārśva is situated in the north.

14. Trees acting as the flagstaff of the mountain are Kadamba, Jambu, Pippala and Vaṭa. Their height b eleven hundred Yojanas.

15. O great sage, listen to the origin of the name Jambūdvīpa. There are great trees shining here. I shall explain their nature to you.

16. Fruits of the Jambū tree are of the size of a huge elephant. They fall on the top of the mountain and become shattered and scattered everywhere.

17. The famous river Jambū[6] is made up of the juice of Jambū fruits. It flows there and is drunk by the residents of the locality.

18. People staying on its banks do not perspire. They do not emit bad odour and they do not want in the exercise of their sense-organs.

19. The mud of the stream dried by blowing with the mouth transforms itself into golden ornaments for the Siddhas. It is called Jāmbūnada.

20. Bhadrāśva Varṣa is on the cast of Meru. Ketumāla Varṣa is on the west. Between these two there is Ilāvṛta.

21. The forest in the east is Caitraratha,[7] that in the south in Gandhamādana, that in the west is Vibhrāja and that in the north is Nandana.

22. There are four lakes viz. Aruṇoda,[8] Mahābhadra,[8] Śitoda[8] and Mānasa.[8] These four lakes are worthy of being enjoyed by all the gods.

23. The filament-mountains of Meru on its east are Śātāñjana, Kuruṅga, Kurara and Mālyavat. Every one of them is important.

24. The filament-mountains on the south are Trikūṭa, Śiśira, Pataṅga, Rucaka, Niṣadha, Kapila and others.

25. The filament-mountains on the west are Sinīvāsa, Kusumbha, Kapila, Nārada, Nāga and other mountains.

26. The filament-mountains on the north are Śaṅkhacūḍa, Ṛṣabha, the mountain named Haṃsa, Kālañjara and others.

27. Śātakaumbha, the golden city of Brahmā, is on the top of Meru and in the middle. It extends to fourteen thousand Yojanas.

28. All round that city are the eight cities of the eight guardians of the quarters, which have been assigned to them according to their quarters and forms.

29. Issuing from Viṣṇu’s feet, the river Gaṅgā falls in that city of Brahmā flowing through the sphere of the moon.

30. Falling in four directions the river Gaṅgā flows into four streams viz. Sītā,[9] Alakanandā,[10] Cakṣus,[11] and Bhadrā.[12]

31. Sītā flows to the east of the mountain, Alakanandā flows to the south, the Cakṣus flows to the west and the Bhadrā flows to the north.

32. Thus the holy river Gaṅgā flowing along three paths, flows into the great ocean in the four quarters after crossing all the mountains.

33. Meru is situated in the middle of the four mountains: Sunīla, Niṣadha, Mālyavat and Gandhamādana. It has the shape of a pericarp of a lotus.

34. The four Varṣas Bhārata, Ketumāla, Bhadrāśva and the Kurus are the petals of the world-lotus. The Lokaparvatas constitute the boundary.

35. The Devakūṭa[13] constitutes its belly. Its extent is from south to north. Gandhamādana and Kailāsa extend from east to west.

36. The Niṣadha and the Nīla mountains issue from the east and the west of Meru, curl down to south and north and terminate within the pericarp.

37. These Kesara mountains Śveta and others, constituting the belly of Meru in twos, are very beautiful.

38. To the north of the mountains are water-troughs resorted to by the Siddhas and Cāraṇas. The forests and the cities beside them are very fascinating.

39. The cities are of the gods, Yakṣas, Gandharvas and Rākṣasas. The gods and the Daityas sport about on the mountains day and night.

40. These are the abodes of righteous men. They are glorified as heavens on the earth. Sinners can never go there. They cannot be seen in their vicinity.

41. O great sage, in the eight Varṣas beginning with the Kimpuruṣa etc. there is no sorrow, danger, agony, hunger or fear.

42. The people are healthy, without terror and devoid of miseries. They have the longevity of ten to twelve thousand years.

43. Time is calculated there as Kṛta, Tretā etc. The lord does not shower earthly waters there.

44. In all these seven Varṣas, the rivers are well arranged. They have sands of gold. There are hundreds of small rivers too. Auspicious men sport in them.

Notes on the seven continents (dvīpa):

ŚP. mentions seven continents. Their identifìcation is uncertain. Scholars hold different views: See Geography of the Purāṇas Ch. II. Each of the continents is surrounded by one of the seven seas and divided into several Varṣas. For instance, Jambu comprises nine varṣas of which Bharata is the one. The continents comprise mountains variously classed as maryādā, varṣa, kula, viṣkambha and kṣudra. These give rise to innumerable streams and rivers that flow in the lands and fall info the sea.

Footnotes and references:


This most celebrated mountain forms the northern boundary of Bhārata, extending from the eastern to the western sea.


It is held to be identical with the Kailāsa, a sacred hill situated to the north of Mānasarovara.


ŚP. places it to the south of the Meru, along with the Himavat and Hemakūṭa.


Nīla, Śveta and Śṛṅgin stand to the north of the Meru. Cp Sk. P. I. II. 37. 43.


The mountains Mandara, Gandhamādana, Vipula and Supārśva are placed to the east, south, west and north of the Meru respectively.


Its identification with the stream of that name near the mount Abu it uncertain.


Caitraratha forest is placed on the bank of the Acchoda lake.


Aruṇoda, Mahābhadra, Śītoda and Mānasa are the lakes of gods near Sumeru.


Sītā, one of the seven currents of the Ganges rising from Bindusara, a Himalayan lake, flows towards the west. For details see Studies in Skandapurāṇa PP. 149. 150, under Sītā-Cakṣu group.


It flows through Garhwal and Śrīnagar, the capital of Garhwal is situated on it.


Cakṣu is on of the seven branches of the Ganges often identified with vakṣu(?), vaṅkṣu (?) Oxus or Amu Darya.


According to the Purāṇas (Viṣṇu. BK II. ch. II) Vāmana (51, 32), Bhāgavata (V. 175), Bhadrā branched off from the main stream of the Ganges when the latter escaped itself from the locks of Śiva.


Devakūṭa is one of the eight boundary mountains which together with Jaṭhara stretch across from the north to the south on the east side of Meru (Mār. 54.22-26, 59.3-4.)