Geographical information in the Mahabharata.

  • Page of 1 Go
Posted: 10 months ago

Bhīshma Parva, Jamvukānda Nirmāna Parva is an information-repository on the geography of Bhāratavarsha which also contains some rudimentary knowledge of the whole globe and the regions in Asia to the north of Bhāratavarsha. 

Sanjay names seven varshas which spread in the eurasia region are—

  1. Bhārata Varsha – extreme south – bow shaped
  2. Himavat Varsha
  3. Hari Varsha - west tibet.
  4. Ilāvrita Varsha – central varsha
  5. Śveta Varsha
  6. Hiranyaka Varsha
  7. Airāvata Varsha – extreme north – bow shaped

The figure shows that there is a good correspondence between sanjay narratives of the six mountains and seven regions to the mountains and regions of asia, especially the bow shaped southern region viz Bharata Varsha (India) and the bow shaped northen region Airavata Varsha(Siberia).

" There, O king, the men are cheerful, and endued with great energy and great strength and the women are all of the complexion of the lotus and highly beautiful. Beyond Nila is (the Varsha called) Sweta, beyond Sweta is (the Varsha called) Hiranyaka. Beyond Hiranyaka is (the Varsha called) Airavata covered with provinces. The last Varsha in the (extreme) north and Bharata's Varsha in the (extreme) south are both, O king, of the form of a bow. These five Varshas (viz., Sweta, Hiranyaka, Elavrita, Harivarsha, and Haimavat-varsha) are in the middle, of which Elavrita exists in the very middle of all. Amongst these seven Varshas (the five already mentioned and Airavata and Bharata) that which is further north excels the one to its immediate south in respect of these attributes, viz., the period of life, stature, health, righteousness, pleasure, and profit. "

Siberia too is bow shaped and fits perfectly well with the description given by Sanjaya. He says that the Varsha to the extreme south (i.e. Bhārata Varsha) and the Varsha of extreme north (i.e. Airāvata Varsha) are both bow-shaped. On the north of Sringavat and up to the margin of the sea, is the Airāvata Varsha. There the sun gives no heat. The moon with the stars are the only source of light there. The Arctic Ocean north of Siberia is described as the Milky Ocean, probably an eye witness account of the white colored ice-sheets covering the Arctic Ocean (To its north is the Milky Ocean where resides Hari of Vaikuntha – kṣīrodasya samudrasya tathaivottarataḥ prabhuḥ harir vasati.

Posted: 9 months ago

Thanks for sharing this.

Considering that the text describes Sudarśanadvīpa as round like a wheel (parimaṇḍala, cakra-saṃsthita, Bhīṣmaparvan 6.12), one would expect the northern shore to curve the opposite way.

The six mountain ranges are all described as immersing on both sides into the eastern and western oceans (avagāḍhā hy ubhayataḥ samudrau pūrva-paścimau, Bhīṣmaparvan 7.2), but in the real world, this isn't true.

In Sabhāparvan chapters 24-25, Arjuna crosses Himavat and then Śveta-parvata (Kailāsa) to reach Kiṃpuruṣa country, Hāṭaka country of Guhyakas around Lake Mānasa, and Gandharva country. As he is about to proceed north into the Hari subcontinent, he is told that it is part of Uttara Kuru.

Another place where the subcontinents are named is Śāntiparvan chapter 312, mentioned in this post regarding the one and only time the word Āryāvarta occurs in Mahābhārata.

The Bhīṣmaparvan geography identifies Jambūdvīpa as one of four continents on the four sides of Meru, along with Bhadrāśva (east), Ketumāla (west), and Uttara Kuru (north). A different geographical tradition is recorded in Śāntiparvan chapter 14, where Yudhiṣṭhira is told that he has forcibly conquered all of Jambūdvīpa (south of Meru), Krauñcadvīpa (west of Meru), Śākadvīpa (east of Meru), and Bhadrāśva (north of Meru).

Whatever geographical information may have been recorded by travellers, obviously the people who preserved it took liberties with the locations of named lands and exaggerated the symmetry of subcontinents and mountains.

Posted: 9 months ago

well i think he describe world in pepal and rabbit shape--

यथा हि पुरुषः पश्येदादर्- शे मुखमात्मनः- ।

एवं सुदर्शनद्व- ीपो दृश्यते चन्द्रमण्ड- ले॥

द्विरंश- े पिप्पलस्तत- ्र द्विरंशे च शशो महान्।।-

(भी- ्म पर्व, महाभारत)

Just like a man sees his face in the mirror, so does the Earth appear in the Universe. In the first phase, you see Peepal leaves and the next phase you see a rabbit.

Posted: 9 months ago

This verse is about the marks on the moon (चन्द्रमण्डले = candra-maṇḍale) being a reflection or shadow of Sudarśana-dvīpa.

If someone was viewing Sudarśana-dvīpa from space, the grammatical case would be ablative (candra-maṇḍalāt), not locative (candra-maṇḍale), and looking at the actual object wouldn't be compared to looking in a mirror!

It is a mistake to translate the word dvir-aṃśe (meaning "in half-part") referring to pippalaḥ (meaning "a peepal tree," not a leaf) the first time as "two peepal leaves joined," and it is dishonest to ignore the second time dvir-aṃśe appears, referring to śaśo mahān - a large rabbit.

The idea that the mark on the moon is a rabbit is very popular in Saṃskṛta literature, with the moon being called śaśāṅka, śaśin, śaśadhara etc. Substituting "animal" for "rabbit," the moon is called mṛgāṅka.

The idea that the earth's shadow marks the moon is referenced by Kālidāsa in Raghuvaṃśa: chāyā hi bhūmeḥ śaśino malatven'āropitā śuddhimataḥ prajābhiḥ = even the earth's shadow on the moon is called dirt by people accusing the pure one.


Krishna  Sanjay  Mahabharat 

Related Topics

No Related topics found

Topic Info

2 Participants 3 Replies 517Views

Topic started by priyaprakash90

Last replied by BrhannadaArmour

up-open TOP