Mount Meru

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Mount Meru surrounded by the four continents and eight subcontinents, with the gods of the kāmadhātu and rūpadhātu above.
Chinese mandala depicting Mount Meru and the surrounding continents. Yuan dynasty (1271–1368).

Mount Meru (Skt.; T. ri rab; C. Xumishan/Miaogaoshan 須彌山/妙高山), a.k.a. Sumeru, is a great mountain that forms the central axis of our world-system, according to Buddhist cosmology.[1]

The 84000 glossary states:

According to ancient Indian cosmology, Meru is the great mountain forming the axis of the universe. At its summit lies Sudarśana, home of Śakra and his thirty-two gods, and on its flanks live the asuras. Meru has four sides facing the cardinal directions, each of which is made of a different precious stone. Surrounding it are several mountain ranges and the great ocean where the four great island continents lie: in the south, Jambudvīpa (our world); in the west, Godānīya; in the north, Uttarakuru; in the east, Pūrvavideha. Above it are the abodes of the devas of the kāmadhātu.[2]

The Princeton Dictionary states:

Mount Sumeru stands in the middle of the world as its axis and is eight leagues (yojana) high. It is surrounded by seven mountain ranges of gold, each separated from the other by an ocean. At the foot of the seventh range, there is a great ocean, contained at the perimeter of the world by a circle of iron mountains (cakravāda). In this vast ocean, there are four island continents in the four cardinal directions, each flanked by two island subcontinents. The northern continent is square, the eastern semicircular, the southern triangular, and the western round. Although humans inhabit all four continents, the “known world” is the southern continent, named Jambudvīpa, where the current average height is four cubits and the current life span is one hundred years.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. Sumeru, Mount.
  2. Internet-icon.svg ri rab, Christian-Steinert Dictionary


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