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Canto LV - The Geography of Jambudvīpa

This page relates “the geography of jambudvipa” which forms the 55th chapter of the English translation of the Markandeya-purana: an ancient Sanskrit text dealing with Indian history, philosophy and traditions. It consists of 137 parts narrated by sage (rishi) Markandeya: a well-known character in the ancient Puranas. Chapter 55 is included the section known as “exposition of the manvantaras”.

Mārkaṇḍeya mentions the forests and lakes and mountains around Meru—All the heavenly beings dwell in that region where there is the most charming scenery—Bhārata alone is the land of action, which entails merit and sin.

Mārkaṇḍeya spoke:

Hear from me of the four forests and lakes which exist on Mandara and the three other mountains,[1] O brāhman. On the east is the forest named Caitraratha, on the southern mountain the forest Nandana, on the western mountain the forest Vaibhrāja, and on the northern mountain the forest Sāvitra. On the east is the lake Aruṇoda,[2] and on the south Mānasa, on the west of Meru is Śītoda, and Mahābhadra on the north.

On the east of Mandara are the mountains Śītārtta,[3] and Cakramuñja, and Kulīra, Sukankavat, and Maṇiśaila, Vṛṣavat, Mahānīla, Bhavācala, Sabindu, Mandara, Veṇu, Tāmasa, and Niṣadha, and Devaśaila.

The mountain Śikhara with its three peaks,[4] and Kaliṅga, Patangaka, Rucaka, and the mountain Sānumat, and Tāmraka, Viśākhavat, Śvetodara, and Samūla, and Yasudhāra, Ratnavat, Ekaśṛṅga, Mahāśaila, Rājaśaila, Pipāṭhaka, and Pañcaśaila, Kailāsa, and Himavat the loftiest of mountains; these mountains are said to lie on the south side of Meru.

Surakṣa,[5] and Śiśirakṣa, Vaidurya, and Kapila,[6] and Piñjara, Mahābhadra, Surasa, Kapila, Madhu, Añjana, Kukkuṭa, Kṛṣṇa, and Pāṇḍura the loftiest of mountains, and the mountain Sahasraśikhara, Pāripātra, and Śṛṅgavat; these mountains are well-known as lying on the west of Meru beyond the subjacent hills[7] which are on the west side.

Hear yet the other mountains on the north. Śaṅkhakūṭa, Vṛṣabha, and the mountain Hamsanābha, and the mountain Kapilendra, Sānumat, and Nila, Svarṇaśṛṅgin, Śātaśṛṅgin, Puṣpaka, Meghaparvata, Virajākṣa, Yarāhādri, Mayūra, and Jārudhi; these are said to be the mountains on the north of Meru, O brāhman.

The valleys among these mountains are exceedingly charming; they are decorated with forests and lakes of the clearest water. In them men are born who practise meritorious deeds, O brāhman. These are terrestrial Svargas, O brāhman; they surpass Svarga with their excellences. In them no fresh merit or sin accrues. Even the gods are said to enjoy merit in them. And on these mountains, Śītānta[8] and the rest, O brāhman, are the great and resplendent abodes of the Vidyādharas, the Yakṣas, the Kinnaras, the Nāgas, and the Rākṣasas, and the gods, and the Gandharvas, which possess great merit and are studded with charming groves which the gods frequent. And the lakes are charming; the breeze is pleasant at every season. Nor anywhere on these mountains do men have any kind of mental agitation.

Thus have I told thee of that four-leaved lotus-flower which is the earth; its leaves are Bhadrāśva, Bhārata and the other countries on the four sides. The country named Bhārata, which I have told thee of on the south, is the land of action; nowhere else is merit and sin acquired; this must he known to be the chief country, wherein everything is fixedly established.[9] And from it a man gains Svarga and final emancipation from existence, or the human world and hell, or yet again the brute-condition, O brahman.

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Footnotes and references:

1.

For śailaṣu read śaileṣu.

2.

Or Varuṇoda, see Canto lvi, verse 6.

3.

Śītārttaś read Śītāntaś? See verse 17, and Canto lvi, verse 6.

4.

See Canto lvi, verse 9. Śikhara must be first mountain on the south, and tri-kūṭa must be an adjective qualifying it.

5.

See Canto lvi, verse 14.

6.

The text “ Kapila” seems erroneous, as it mentions Kapila again in the next line. Another reading is Piṅgala.

7.

For viṣambhāt read vīṣkambhāt; see Canto liv, verse 19.

8.

See verse 4.

9.

Pratiṣṭhita.

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