Sacred Mount Meru: Home Of The Gods And Center Of The Universe

David Tee - - According to Hindu writings, Christians believe the Earth is the center of the universe. In contrast to this belief, the Hindus believe Mount Meru is the center of the universe and the home of their gods.

Sacred Mount Meru: Home Of The Gods And Center Of The Universe

Left: A mountain. Credit: Public Domain. Right: Bhutanese thangka of Mount Meru and the Buddhist universe, 19th century, Trongsa Dzong, Trongsa, Bhutan. Credit: Public Domain

Mount Meru is significant in Hindu eyes, extending about 84,000 Yojana high or about 672,000 miles. Because the Hindu and other eastern religions adore Mount Meru, they feel that the sun and all the planets in the solar system orbit it.

According to Jain mythology, two sets of suns, moons, and stars circle Mount Meru. While one set works, the other place rests in the mountain's shadow, about 100,000 Yojans wide.

The Importance Of Sacred Mount Meru

For the Hindus, Mount Meru is the Earth's axis. Without it, the Earth cannot rotate. Also, they view the mountain as the home of the gods, with the important ones having their separate kingdoms somewhere along with their great height.

Vedic God Indra: Ruler Of Heavens And Tough Warrior Who Kills Evil Serpent Vritra

Left: Indra, a guardian deity on the east side of a Hindu temple. Image credit: Nomu420 /Wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0; Right: Indra, the god of storms, riding on a white elephant, Airavata. Image credit: Public Domain

The followers of each of these gods go to those celestial kingdoms to rest and wait for their next reincarnation. This transfer takes place after the worshipper has died.

For the Javanese people or Indonesians, Mount Meru provides the origin of their island, Java. According to their legends, the Batara Guru commanded Brahma and Vishnu to fill the island with humans.

Unfortunately, at that time, the island of Java was floating and not anchored to any solid ground. The gods moved Mahameru to Jambudvipa, India, to stop the movement and attach it to Java. This new anchor became Mount Semeru, now the highest mountain in Java.

For the Buddhists, the importance of Mount Meru is found in their belief that it is the center of the universe, much like Hindu belief. Unlike the Hindu version of Mount Meru, the Buddhists believe or believed that a body of water surrounded the mountain and the wind encircled that water.

Sacred Mount Meru: Home Of The Gods And Center Of The Universe

A mural depicting Mount Meru, in Wat Sakhet, Bangkok, Thailand Credit: Public Domain

Also, the Buddhists believe that 31 different planes of existence reside on the mountain, each one with its style of life forms and worlds.

The Mythological Characteristics Of Mount Meru

Because it is considered the center of the universe and a sacred place, Mount Meru has a lot of mythological characteristics attached to it. First, it is so high that the mountain touches heaven. Then, the polar star shines directly above the mountain, giving it a more sacred appearance.

Second, it is said that the River Ganges comes to the mountain as one river. Once it hits Mount Meru, it divides itself into four separate rivers. Third, four cities are filled with inhabitants on each side of the mountain, one for each side.

It is said in ancient myths that these inhabitants see the sun all the time in the center and always work. The sun only appears to rise and set to those not living on the mountain.

Also, one lord of the heavens, God Indra, lives at the peak. Four celestial kings live on Mount Meru, with one on each side. The mountain extends down to Jambudvipa, which is divided into four continents.

It is essential because Buddha was born in the southern continent of Jambudvipa. It is also where his teachings are followed.

There Is Some Controversy Surrounding Mount Meru

As with many myths, modern science gets in the way. Although ancient Buddhists believed the mountain was real, European visitors started to tell a different story about the Earth. This story contradicted Buddha's teaching about Mont Meru.

For a while, this new information caused some problems.

Finally, modern Buddhist scholars decided it was an allegorical tale, not an accurate mountain description.

Unfortunately for science, many Buddhists still refuse to change their beliefs about the sacred Mount Meru. They felt that defending the existence of Mount Meru was the same as protecting Buddha. The ancient belief in the mountain still exists today.

Written by – David Tee - Staff Writer

Updated on December  25, 2023

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