Meru (mythology)

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Mount Meru ( Sanskrit , m., मेरु, meru ; Chinese  須彌 山  /  须弥 山 , Pinyin Xūmí shān , W.-G. Hsü-mi shan ; Hgl. 수미산, Sumisan ; Japanese 須弥 , Shumisen ; viet. Tu di sơn , Tib . : ri rab ) forms the world mountain in the center of the universe according to Hindu , Jain and Buddhist cosmogony .


The unimaginably high mountain Sumeru, residence of gods and protective deities, rises in the center of the universe. The sun and moon, the stars and the planets revolve around it, influencing the course of day and night, the coming and going of the seasons and thus ultimately the well-being of people.

According to ancient Thai texts, Mount Sumeru rises 84,000 yojana above the surface of the earth, it extends a further 84,000 yojana into the depth. It is 84,000 yojana thick and its girth is 252,000 yojana.

According to Hindu tradition, the Meru is surrounded by four concentric chains of continents. According to Buddhist cosmology - such as B. in the Thai opus Traibhumikatha from the 14th century presented in detail - it is surrounded by seven concentric mountain ranges that get lower and lower towards the outside. Each mountain range is separated from the next by a deep ocean, the Sidantara Ocean . This entire system is bounded on the outside by another, insurmountable mountain range, the Cakkavala mountain range ("iron mountains"). Beyond the iron mountains there is nothing.

Between the iron mountains and seven mountain ranges that surround Mount Meru, in the great salt ocean, there are four continents: In the east lies Pubbavideha , in the north Uttarakuru , west Aparagoyana and south of the Jambu continent ( Sanskrit , m ., जम्बुद्वीप, Jambudvīpa, Thai , ชมพูทวีป - Chomphuthawip ). In the north of this continent, on the slopes of Mount Meru, lies the Himavanta forest , home to many mythical animals. Each of these continents is surrounded by 500 smaller islands. Between the four major continents lie four smaller continents, called Yupara . This is the land where Garuda live. People live on the Jambu continent.

Meru is sometimes located differently from region to region. Mountains in China, Japan and Bali are also identified with Meru or other sacred mountains of Buddhism. Mythological explanations for this are e.g. B. Moves of supernatural beings, the flight of the mountain or cosmological explanations. In Southeast Asia in particular, symbolic replicas show the center of kingdoms. Recognizable symbolic images are Hindu temples and stupas such as Angkor Wat , Borobudur and Prambanan .

Wall painting

Wall painting Wat Sakhet, Bangkok

The picture opposite shows the right half of the west wall in the bot of Wat Sakhet, Bangkok . The cross-section through the Buddhist cosmos is shown here, so to speak , directly behind the main Buddha statue . In the left half of the picture is Mount Meru, at the very top is Indra's palace. The seven mountain ranges are represented here like columns, crowned by the palace of a deity. At the bottom right you can see the Great Salt Ocean with two of the continents. The palaces of the Devata float above on a red background . The white circle in the middle on the right is the sun, shown here as a sun chariot pulled by mythical creatures. A similar painting can also be admired in the Chapel of the Emerald Buddha (in Wat Phra Kaeo in Bangkok).

See also


  • Frank E. Reynolds (Transl.): Three Worlds According to King Ruang . University of California (Berkeley Buddhist studies series), 1982, ISBN 0-89581-153-7

Web links

Commons : Meru  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. Yojana : old measure of length, about 16 km; see also: Old weights and measures (Thailand)