The Linga Purana

by J. L. Shastri | 1951 | 265,005 words | ISBN-10: 812080340X | ISBN-13: 9788120803404

This page describes Ilavrita sub-continent which is chapter 49 of the English translation of the Linga Purana, traditionally authored by Vyasa in roughly 11,000 Sanskrit verses. It deals with Shaiva pilosophy, the Linga (symbol of Shiva), Cosmology, Yugas, Manvantaras, Creation theories, mythology, Astronomy, Yoga, Geography, Sacred pilgrimage guides (i.e., Tirthas) and Ethics. The Lingapurana is an important text in Shaivism but also contains stories on Vishnu and Brahma.

Chapter 49 - Ilāvṛta sub-continent

Sūta said:

1. The first Dvīpa, it is said, extends to a thousand yojanas. The other Dvīpas successively extend to twice the previous one.

2-3. The earth along with all the oceans is stated as extending to fifty crores of yojanas. It consists of seven Dvīpas. It is splendid and is surrounded by the Lokāloka mountain.[1] The mountain Nīla is to the north of the Meru. The Śveta is to the north of this and the Śṛṅgī is still further north of Śveta. O brahmins, these three are the mountains of the sub-continents in the north.

4. The Jaṭhara and the Devakūṭa[2] are the mountains in the eastern quarter. The Niṣadha[3] is to the south of the Meru. Still south of it is the mountain Hemakūṭa.[4] The Himavat is to its south.

5. To the west of the Meru there are two mountains: Malyavān[5] and Gandhamādana.[6] These two extend towards the north.

6. All these leading mountains are frequented by the Siddhas and Cāraṇas. The inter-space between two mountains is nine thousand yojanas in each case.

7-10. This sub-continent south of the Himavat is known as Bhārata. Hemakūṭa is beyond that. The sub-continent within it is Kimpuruṣa. Niṣadha is beyond Hemakūṭa. Its sub-continent is called Harivarṣa. Beyond Harivarṣa and Meru is the splendid llāvṛta. Beyond llāvṛta is Nīla and the sub-continent Ramyaka. Beyond Ramyaka is Śveta and the sub-continent known as Hiraṇmaya. The mountain beyond Hiraṇmaya is known as Śṛṅgī and sub-continent beyond, it is Kuru. The two Varṣas one in the south and one in the north (i.e. Himavaṛsa and Ramyaka) are stationed like an arch.

11. The other four are horizontal in shape. llāvṛta is in the middle; to the west and east of the Meru there are two subcontinents and they are smaller (than the four mentioned before).

12. The area above Niṣadha is known as the northern Vedyarḍha (half of the whole Dvīpa which is conceived as a sacrificial altar). Thus there are three Varṣas in the southern half and three Varṣas in the northern half.

13. Ilāvṛta with the Meru in the middle is in the midst of the two halves.

14-15 The great mountain Mālyavān extends towards the north. Its width above is two thousand yojanas. Its length is stated to be thirtyfour thousand yojanas. The mountain Gandhamādana is to the west of it.

16-17. Its length and width is similar to that of Mālyavān. These six Varṣa mountains of good ridges extend to the east and are bounded on both sides by the Eastern and Western seas.

18. Himavat is full of snow. The Hemakūṭa contains gold. The Niṣadha is also golden resembling the morning sun.

19. The golden Meru which extends upwards has four colours. Its girth is symmetrical and cylindrical. It rises high.

20. The mountain Nīla is full of Lapis Lazuli stones. The Śveta is white in colour and full of gold. The three-peaked mountain Śṛṅgī has the colour of the feathers of the peacock and contains gold.

21-25a. Thus the mountains have been succinctly recounted. Again listen to the description of the leading hills or peaks.

Mandara and Devakūṭa are the mountains in the eastern quarter. Kailāsa and golden Gandhamādana extend from the east towards south and end within the ocean. The excellent mountains Niṣadha and Pāriyātra are stationed in the west, like those in the east. Triśṛṅga and Jārudhi are the excellent mountains in the north. They are embedded within the ocean and they also extend towards the East. Learned men. call these mountains “Maryādāparvatas” (mountains of the boundary).

25b-27. O excellent brahmins there are foot ranges to the lofty golden mountain Meru, extending to the four quarters. Supported by these, the earth consisting of the seven Dvīpas, does not move. Their length is mentioned to be ten thousand yojaṇas. In the east it is Mandara; in the south it is Gandha-mādana, in the west it is Vipula and in the north it is Supārśva,

28-34. Four lofty trees grow on these as though they are the flagstaffs of the Dvīpas. The great tree on the peak of the mountain Mandara is the Kadamba, the king of flag-staffs. It has long hanging branches. It acts as a caityapādapa (holy big tree in a sacred temple).

On the peak of the mountain in south (i.e. Gandhamādana) there is a Jambū tree (Rose Apple) with holy fruits and flowers hanging in garlands. The Jambū tree is known in all the worlds as the flagstaff in the southern region.

On the peak of the lofty mountain Vipula, in the west, a great Aśvattha tree (holy fig tree) grows like a great Caityapādapa (a sacred tree in a holy temple). On the peak of the mountain Supārśva in the north grows the big Nyagrodha (Indian fig tree), with a huge trunk extending to many yojanas in circumference.

I shall now mention the four sporting grounds of Devas on the leading mountains. They are devoid of human beings and have trees and plants that bloom in all the seasons.

35-57. There are groves in the four directions. Understand them by their names. The forest grove in the east is Caitraratha; in the south it is Gandhamādana; it is Vaibhrāja in the west; in the north it is the garden of Savitṛ (sun).

(The holy shrine) in the east is Mitreśvara. Thereafter (i.e. in the south) it is Ṣaṣṭheśvara. In the west it is Varyeśvara and in the north it is Āmrakeśvara.

Similarly, O leading sages, there are four great lakes also.

38-40. The sages sport about there on the mountains and in the gardens.

The lake in the east is Aruṇoda;[7] that in the south is Mānasa; in the west Sitoda and in the north Mahābhadra.

In the south there is the holy centre of Śākha, in the west it is of Viśākha; in the north of Naigameya and in the east of Kumāra. I shall mention briefly the leading peaks beginning from the eastern lake Aruṇoda only by their names. It is not possible to describe them in detail.

41-45a. These are the great mountains, viz:—Śītānta, Kuraṇḍa, Kurara, Vikara, Maṇiśaila, Vṛkṣavān, Mahānīla, Rucaka, Savindu, Dardura, Veṇumān, Samegha, Niṣadha and Devaparvata. These and other mountains are the abodes of Siddhas in the east of Mandara. There are divine shrines of Rudra, Viṣṇu and Nārāyaṇa on all these hills, their caves and forests.

45b-49. I shall now mention the great hills to the south of the lake Mānasa in brief. Śaila, Viśiras, Śikhara, Ekaśṛṅga, Mahāśūla, Gajaśaila, Piśācaka, Pañcaśaila, Kailāsa, and Himavat. These are all lofty excellent hills frequented by Devas. On all these different mountains and forests divine shrines of Rudra have been installed by Devas. The mountains in the southern direction are thus mentioned to you. I shall now tell you about the hills in the west.

50-52. To the west of the lake Sitoda there stand Surapa, Mahābala, Kumada, Madhumān, Añjana, Mukuṭa. Kṛṣṇa, Pāṇḍura, Sahasraśikhara, the leading hills Pārijāta and Śrīśṛṅga. These are the prominent excellent mountains frequented by Devas in the western quarter and they contain shrines of Rudra.

53. The extremely powerful mountains to the north of the lake Mahābhadra are being stated now succinctly.

54-56. They are:—Śaṅkhakūṭa, Mahāśaila, Vṛṣabha, Haṃsaparvata, Nāga, Kapila, Indraśaila, Sānumān, Nīla, Kaṇṭakaśṛṅga, Śataśṛṅga, Puṣpakośa, Praśaila, Virajas, Varāhaparvata, Mayūra and Jārudhi.[8] All these are stationed in the north.

57. There are thousands of divine palaces of the tridentbearing lord on those divine hills.

58. In the interstices of these leading hills there are many internal water reservoirs, lakes and parks.

59. Thanks to the favour of Parameṣṭhin, Devas, sages, Siddhas purified by their devotional thoughts of Śiva reside here along with their families in their respective abodes.

60-69. The different deities reside in the various forests as follows:—

The residence of Lakṣmī is in the Bilva grove; Kaśyapa and others stay in the Kakubha grove; the residence of Indra, Upendra and of the snake gods is in the Tālavana (forest of palm trees); the residence of Kardama and his tribe is in the Udumbara grove; the residence of the Vidyādharas and Siddhas is in the holy and splendid mango-grove; the abode of the Nāgas and Siddhas is in the forest of Nimba (Margosa), that of the sun and Rudra is in the Kiṃśuka; the preceptor of Devas is stationed in the holy forest of Bījapūra; the abode of the noble lords beginning with Viṣṇu is in the forest of lilies; the serpents stay on. the Nyagrodha within the clusters of Sthalapadma (land lotuses). It is here that Śeṣa the lord of the nether worlds stays. He alone is the god of Death unto all. The ploughshare-armed lord is only a form of Viṣṇu himself, the preceptor of the universe; he is the leaning couch of Viṣṇu; he is the bangle of the lord (Śiva). Dānavas including their preceptor Śukra stay in the forest of jack trees. The serpents are stationed in the Viśākhaka forest along with the Kinnaras; there are innumerable trees of all kinds in this beautiful forest. Nandīśvara is also stationed there and is being eulogised by the leading Gaṇas. Goddess Sarasvatī stays in the middle of the region full of Santānaka (wish-yielding) trees. Thus are the residents of these forests recounted in brief. It is not possible to describe them in detail.

Footnotes and references:


Lokāloka—a belt of mountains bounding the outer-most of the seven seas and dividing the visible world from the regions of darkness.


On the eastern side of Meru there are two mountains, namely the Jaṭhara and the Devakūṭa which run north to south and stretch up to the Nila (Tien Shan) and Niṣadha mountains (Vāyu 35.8). Jaṭhara is identified with Kuruk-Tagh and Devakūṭa with Altin Tagh—Nan Shan Tsing-Ling of Sinkiang and Northern China. The Geography of the Purāṇas, pp. 99-100.


Niṣadha: Śp. places it to the south of the Meru, along with the Himavat arid Hemakūṭa. It represents Hindukush Kunlun chain.


Hemakūṭa: a sacred hill situated to the north of Mānasarovara It represents Ladakh-Kailash-Trans-Himalayan chain.


Malyavān: This mountain bounds Ilāvṛta Varṣa on the east.


Gandhamādana: It is placed to the south of Meru.


Aruṇoda, It lies to the east of Meru.


Jārudhi: This range is identified with the Kirghiz-Zailai Al-Tau, Ketmen chain. Geography of the Purāṇas (S. M. Ali). p. 82.

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