Where is Mount Sumeru?

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Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby Indrajala » Wed Nov 14, 2012 10:42 am

This is a question that doesn't seem discussed terribly much by modern Buddhists given how the old cosmology, if it is assumed to be entirely physical, has been refuted by modern discoveries.

The classical cosmology, such as that illustrated in the Abhidharma literature, would be at odds with what we know in the modern day.

However, I am inclined to wonder if the cosmology, at least as the Buddha described it, is not entirely physical because much of it describes where devas and other such immaterial beings reside. Consequently, we can assume these locations are not physical locations as we would perceive them.

That being said, some ancient writers seem to have believed Mount Sumeru was at the center of the realm and hence it blocked out the sun causing nights, though I don't think that was universally accepted.

So where is Mount Sumeru? Was it an ancient theory that we can rightfully dismiss? Or is it perhaps a kind of provisional map for both the physical and celestial realms?
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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby Astus » Wed Nov 14, 2012 10:51 am

I remember reading somewhere that Sumeru can be identified as the Himalayas, and the spatial cosmology is mostly India, the southern continent of Jambudvipa.
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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby tomamundsen » Wed Nov 14, 2012 11:29 am

I could swear that Malcolm identified a particular mountain as being what was probably thought of as Sumeru. I can't seem to find that statement with Google, though. It may have been on e-sangha.
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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby Huifeng » Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:10 pm

tomamundsen wrote:I could swear that Malcolm identified a particular mountain as being what was probably thought of as Sumeru. I can't seem to find that statement with Google, though. It may have been on e-sangha.


Kailash.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Kailash Ref: Jaina.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Meru_(Mythology) Ref: Geo.

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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby tomamundsen » Wed Nov 14, 2012 1:11 pm

Huifeng wrote:
tomamundsen wrote:I could swear that Malcolm identified a particular mountain as being what was probably thought of as Sumeru. I can't seem to find that statement with Google, though. It may have been on e-sangha.


Kailash.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Kailash Ref: Jaina.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Meru_(Mythology) Ref: Geo.

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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby Indrajala » Wed Nov 14, 2012 2:05 pm

Astus wrote:I remember reading somewhere that Sumeru can be identified as the Himalayas, and the spatial cosmology is mostly India, the southern continent of Jambudvipa.


The southern continent is an inverted triangular and is thought to reflect Indian geography, though the continents are still supposed to be islands onto themselves and separated by vast distances.

Mount Meru can't really be Kailash because it isn't tall enough, nor shaped like an hour-glass, nor separated from the southern continent by a vast ocean.

Is it possible, I wonder, did later Buddhist thinkers reify into geographical terms what was supposed to reflect to a large degree a cosmic, not earthly, map?

From a Vedic perspective at least one author, Richard Thompson, argues that at least in his research Meru Cosmology is only partially physical with the rest being cosmic or celestial.
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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby Red Faced Buddha » Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:48 am

It most likely doesn't exist.
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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby catmoon » Sat Nov 17, 2012 5:54 am

There used to be a Mt. Sumeru in Africa, according to Google maps. But I just checked and it isn't there any more!
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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby viniketa » Sat Nov 17, 2012 5:57 am

Most likely, it's an idealized representation of the Himalayan or Karakoram range with the Tibetan Plateau as the "top".

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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby Indrajala » Sat Nov 17, 2012 12:49 pm

viniketa wrote:Most likely, it's an idealized representation of the Himalayan or Karakoram range with the Tibetan Plateau as the "top".

:namaste:


So, you're saying that the Buddha taught a merely idealized representation?
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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby viniketa » Sat Nov 17, 2012 3:22 pm

Huseng wrote:So, you're saying that the Buddha taught a merely idealized representation?


Buddha teaches what the people of a time and culture can comprehend.

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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby Red Faced Buddha » Sat Nov 17, 2012 4:18 pm

viniketa wrote:
Huseng wrote:So, you're saying that the Buddha taught a merely idealized representation?


Buddha teaches what the people of a time and culture can comprehend.

:namaste:


:twothumbsup: Never thought of it like that.That's why I think he used terms like deva,asura,Sakra/Indra,etc.
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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby Indrajala » Sat Nov 17, 2012 4:33 pm

viniketa wrote:
Huseng wrote:So, you're saying that the Buddha taught a merely idealized representation?


Buddha teaches what the people of a time and culture can comprehend.

:namaste:


I'm pretty sure they could have comprehended a sphere orbiting a sun. There are some later Indian astronomers who were teaching just that, too.

So you're proposing the Buddha knew otherwise, but taught them an entirely wrong model.
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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby Lhug-Pa » Sat Nov 17, 2012 7:16 pm

Meru or Sumeru is a symbol, that may or may not have a literal aspect (i.e. an actual 'mountain' somewhere).


In Kundalini Yoga, Swami Sivananda wrote:"Spinal Column is known as Meru Danda. This is the axis of the body just as Mount Meru is the axis of the earth. Hence the spine is called ‘Meru’. Spinal column is otherwise known as spine, axis-staff or vertebral column. Man is microcosm. (Pinda - Kshudra-Brahmanda). All things seen in the universe,—mountains, rivers, Bhutas, etc., exist in the body also. All the Tattvas and Lokas (worlds) are within the body."


From what I understand, sometimes a Spiritual symbol has a literal aspect as well, and sometimes it doesn't.

The Buddha Shakyamuni would have been well aware that the Earth revolves around the Sun.

Even the Vedics knew it.
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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Nov 17, 2012 8:00 pm

So did (some of) the Ancient Hellenes: Philolaus (d. 390 BCE) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philolaus but that's some 200 years after Buddha.
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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby viniketa » Sat Nov 17, 2012 8:06 pm

Huseng wrote:So you're proposing the Buddha knew otherwise, but taught them an entirely wrong model.


No. You proposed that the representation was not entirely "physical". Astus proposed the Himalayas. I agreed and further proposed that any physical correspondence was likely to be the geographical area of the Himalayan or Karakoram range with the Tibetan Plateau as the "top". This area would have been familiar, even as just an oral tale, to many of the people to whom Buddha taught.

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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby chokyi lodro » Sat Nov 17, 2012 8:16 pm

What Astus and Lhug-pa are saying sounds correct.

I used to follow a devotional branch of Hinduism, in which the Sumeru-type cosmology figured. It was explained to me that it was a partially allegorical depiction of the nature of the universe, that is partly 'real', but largely a way of explaining metaphysics.

From what I remember, which was largely taken from the monolithic Bhagavata-purana, in short it does exist, mostly likely is Kailash, but the things said about it are not all to be taken as true.

What I find interesting about all this allegory stuff is that although we know that physically the moon revolves around the earth, and the earth around the sun, on some level it does make sense to say that the sun revolves around the earth. From our perspective, as earth-bound beings, the sun does indeed make its daily appearance, on its inexorable daily grind from east to west. …just as it does make sense to visualize the universe we would desire as a mandala, an idealized form, even as small as a disc, despite that the universe could never possibly fit into a disc, and even a largely two-dimensional one at that!

I suppose what I am trying to say is that although it is definitely not physically how depicted, it does make sense to the human mind to visualise the universe under the guise of that symbol.
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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby Lhug-Pa » Sat Nov 17, 2012 8:57 pm

chokyi lodro wrote:It was explained to me that it was a partially allegorical depiction of the nature of the universe, that is partly 'real', but largely a way of explaining metaphysics.


Yeah, and in addition to what I'd posted regarding Meru and the Spinal Column, etc., I would also agree with Huseng's implication that Sumeru is a multidimensional symbol as well:


Huseng wrote:However, I am inclined to wonder if the cosmology, at least as the Buddha described it, is not entirely physical because much of it describes where devas and other such immaterial beings reside. Consequently, we can assume these locations are not physical locations as we would perceive them.
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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby Lhug-Pa » Sat Nov 17, 2012 9:23 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:So did (some of) the Ancient Hellenes: Philolaus (d. 390 BCE) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philolaus but that's some 200 years after Buddha.
:namaste:


From the following link:


Lhug-Pa wrote:The Buddha Shakyamuni would have been well aware that the Earth revolves around the Sun.

Even the Vedics knew it.
In Isis Unveiled, H.P. Blavatsky wrote:If the Pythagorean metempsychosis should be thoroughly explained and compared with the modern theory of evolution, it would be found to supply every "missing link" in the chain of the latter. But who of our scientists would consent to lose his precious time over the vagaries of the ancients. Notwithstanding proofs to the contrary, they not only deny that the nations of the archaic periods, but even the ancient philosophers had any positive knowledge of the Heliocentric system. The "Venerable Bedes," the Augustines and Lactantii appear to have smothered, with their dogmatic ignorance, all faith in the more ancient theologists of the pre-Christian centuries. But now philology and a closer acquaintance with Sanskrit literature have partially enabled us to vindicate them from these unmerited imputations. In the Vedas, for instance, we find positive proof that so long ago as 2000 B.C., the Hindu sages and scholars must have been acquainted with the rotundity of our globe and the Heliocentric system. Hence, Pythagoras and Plato knew well this astronomical truth; for Pythagoras obtained his knowledge in India, or from men who had been there, and Plato faithfully echoed his teachings.


Although it is said that Pythagoras was actually part Canaanite/Phoenician (African, 'Hamitic' or 'Chamitic').

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Re: Where is Mount Sumeru?

Postby Aemilius » Tue Feb 05, 2013 4:50 pm

All movement is relative, i.e. all movement occurs in relation to other bodies (moving or stationary). There is no error in conceiving earth as stationary and sun as moving. It is a matter of perspective. Nevertheless, you have to be more accurate in geometry and physics. The ancient descriptions say that sun and moon move around Mount Sumeru.
A perceiver on earth will see that sun moves above equator and that sun thus makes a perfect circle around the South pole or the North pole. As a conclusion the only correct place for Sumeru is either the South Pole or the North Pole. For several reasons it seems logical that the South pole is the actual place of Mt Sumeru. I think the Mount Sumeru world map is hugely old, indians have inherited it from an earlier civilisation. It must be more than 200 000 years old, or come from that period in earth's history.
Experientally humans still perceive sun as moving and earth as stationary, it is very difficult to experience earth as moving and sun as stationary.
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