In the previous article Cosmo Graphical Mapping | Jambudvipa | 101 author has discussed on concepts of Jambudvipa, saptadvipa, catur dvipa and more. The following article would be a continuity topic on the same. Readers are expected to read the previous article before reading the following one.
Figure shown above is a reproduction of the kurmavibhaga from a modem edition of a medieval astrological text, the Narapatijayacarya, which was intended as a guide to divination. This popular work, composed by Narapati in A.D. 1177, “describes various arrangements (cakras) of letters associated with time divisions and astrological entities, magical pictures of animals and objects (also called cakras), and arrangements of nakshatras [asterisms], months, and numbers relative to the directions (bhumis), all of which promote the military victory of their user.” The edition the figure was taken from contains scores of other diagrams that served purposes analogous to that of the kurmacakra. Pingree lists more than a hundred known manuscripts of the Narapatijayacarya, as well as nine published editions over the period 1882 to 1955. How many additional editions have been published since 1955 is not known. But the Narapatijayacaryii is only one among many technical texts on omens and divination (samhitha). The earliest of these is the Gargasamhitha(first century B.C. or A.D.), and the most important is the Brihatsamitha of the sixth century astronomer Varahamihira. A search through the thousands of surviving samhitha manuscripts would surely reveal many diagrams of potential interest to historians of cosmography, but the task is so vast and its scholarly requirements are so formidable that such an undertaking could not be considered in the compilation of the present work.
Divination with the aid of almanacs containing diagrams with terrestrial spatial referents-among others is common in India, and practitioners of the art are sought out not only by simple village folk but by members of the elite as well. In the most common form of astrology, casting horoscopes, one “maps” on a chart (of which there are several standardized forms, depending on the system being followed) the position of the sun, moon, and planets at the moment of the client’s birth;. Other types of “mapping” take place on a person’s body. In her work on the village of Pahansu, the anthropologist Gloria Goodwin Raheja describes the process as follows: Settling in a new village or town involves, in the indigenous conceptualization, a matching of the person with these places, and inappropriate matching’s may result in in-auspiciousness. Ordinary villagers do not have a comprehension of the techniques used by the astrologer to determine whether the match will be auspicious or inauspicious, but they are aware of the sort of mapping of village to person that is involved. The mapping is carried out in the following manner. Beginning with the lunar asterism (nakshatra) that corresponds with the first letter of the name of the village, the twenty-eight nakshatras are mapped onto the “body” in the order in which the asterisms appear in the heavens. Thus, taking Pahansu as an example, Buddhu Pandit [the village astrologer] would start with uttara phalguni, the asterism that is associated with the Hindi syllable pa, and map the nakshatras. …
[Raheja here provides a table indicating seven asterisms each that are associated with the client’s forehead, back, heart, and feet.] Having constructed the nakshatra “body” in this way, the astrologer then notes the nakshatra that corresponds to the first syllable of the name of the man who wishes to settle in the village. If that nakshatra has “fallen” (parna) on the forehead or heart, then the match between village and person is propitious, and the man’s family will prosper there; if it falls on the back or the feet, inauspiciousness will afflict him if he settles in that village. In this procedure, the lunar asterisms are arrayed in an order specified by the particular village, and this ordering determines where the person’s own name-asterism will fall. It is in this particular matching of the person with the village that the potential for auspiciousness or inauspiciousness lies.
Yet another type of mapping Raheja describes relates to the way a farmer would seek to learn of an auspicious time and place to dig a well In this case the astrologer would map the day’s nakshatra onto the space defined by the boundaries of the fields in which the farmer wishes to dig a well. The farmer gives a rough map (naksha) of his fields to [the astrologer, who] superimposes a diagram (cakra) of the directions over this. The squares of the diagram are propitious or not propitious for the digging because of their conjunction with the various asterisms. If the day’s nakshatra falls on a square that is unfavorable, then another day is chosen. In-auspiciousness (kusubh) is produced if one acts in the context of an unfavorable conjunction of times and spaces. Along with this narrative, Raheja includes the diagram, oriented with east at the top. It shows the center, northeast, southeast, southwest, and north as auspicious (though only during the specified times) and the remaining three cardinal directions and northwest as inauspicious. Finally, Raheja describes the procedures followed in the village of Pahansu before building a house. These are analogous to those I have just cited and also relate conceptually to practices described in the final section of this chapter concerning microcosmic analogues of the cosmos. Within the vast corpus of Indian cosmographic literature, references to regions, physical features, and peoples of the real world were not limited to texts on divination. In virtually all the Puranas the sections known as the bhuvanakosas (dictionaries of the world) combined not only accounts of the cosmos in its largest sense and of the general constitution of the earth, but also an abundance of geographical detail of a relatively localized nature. Unfortunately the lines of separation were not clearly drawn, and it is difficult even for the trained Indologist to ascertain when a particular text crosses the threshold between speculative fancy and empirical description. In fact there exists no clear separation between the two. Portions of what is described appear to be based on dim transmuted memories of ancient
Aryan homelands far to the north of India; other passages seem to be distorted accounts, received perhaps through non-Aryans, of lands well beyond the then Aryan frontier; and still other descriptions are of real enough places within the Aryanized portions of India, but seen through the mystifying prism of religion.40 Comparable observations can also be made in regard to the mixture of the real and the unreal in the texts of the Buddhists and the Jains, though both of those religions have been even more inclined to invention than were the ancient Hindus. In specific regard to the Jains, Sircar was moved to observe that they merited “thanks … for their power of imagination and passion for useless description in which they appear to have excelled the Puranic writers.” A much-used and troublesome word in the cosmographic texts is dvipa, which is variously rendered as continent, island, or island continent. Originally dvipa “meant nothing more than a land between two sheets of water (usually rivers)” and was thus analogous to the contemporary Hindi/Urdu doab (interfluve).This could help explain the early application of the term to certain island regions such as Videha (in this case the Malay Archipelago), but it would convey little sense in regard to desert regions such as Sakadvipa (the Desert of Sistan). An argument sometimes invoked in regard to some of the arid dvipas in Central Asia is that they were seen metaphorically as islands in an “ocean” of sand, that is, essentially as oases. In any event, the surviving cosmographies indicate that dvipas could be separated by mountain ranges as well as by intervening seas. The confusion about what a dvipa might refer to is noteworthy because it provides a possible explanation of the persistent error on European maps derived from the Geography of Ptolemy or, more precisely, from later maps that sought to incorporate Ptolemy’s geographic coordinates. These maps posited an enormous island of Taprobane (Sri Lanka) to the south of an India that is nonpeninsular in form. If one assumes that the Puranic Dakshinatya or Dakshinapatha (the southern region or Deccan) was perceived as a dvipa beyond the east-west trending Vindhya Mountains, then it might have been taken as a great southern island without any recognition of its separateness from ancient Lanka.
Gossellin’s commentary on Ptolemy lends support to that view: The deep embayment of the Gulf of Cambay, which is to the south of Gujarat, was able to appear to them [ancient navigators] as the beginning of the strait that they knew should separate Taprobane from India. A sense of order made them continue this strait up to the Gulf of the Ganges [Bay of Bengal], across the continents and from that time forward the eastern peninsula of India, considered as an island, could be confused with Ceylon to which one [i.e., the geographers of Alexandria] assigned the entire extent which that part of Asia ought to have had.43
The Jain conception of the world of man, Manusyaloka (Fig 2), appears to be derived from the Puranic view (Fig 3) that sees Jambudvipa within its encircling Lavana Samudra (Salt Sea). But Manusyaloka also extends beyond that ocean to include all of a second continent, Dhatakikhanda, the ring ocean beyond that and half of a third ring continent, Puskaradvipa, stopping at the circular chain of mountains midway across the ring. Thus, Manusyaloka is also styled the adhai-dvipa, or earth of two and a half continents, reflecting the pervasive Jain fascination with numerology.
Figure 4 depicts the key elements in the Jambudvipa of the Jains. Within this continent are subregions, also called dVipas or continents, that are separated by six east-west mountain ranges and, within what would be the large equatorial region, Videha, two north-south ranges, thus yielding a total of nine continents-three northern, three middle, and three southern including the bowshaped Bharata, the southernmost of all. Alternatively, one may speak of seven continents if one takes the three in the middle as a single entity. But whereas the original Puranic view saw the surrounding oceans as girdled by a single peripheral mountain ring, the Cakravala (round perimeter) or Lokaloka (world-nonworld, i.e., the place where the world and the nonworld meet), the Jain texts expanded the number of concentric island continents to six, thereby bringing the total number of basic units to the conventional seven if one now considers the central Jambudvipa as a single entity. And a post-Gupta work-date unknown, but not earlier than the mid-sixth century named no fewer than sixteen inner and sixteen outer islands, each with an ocean beyond. Nevertheless, relatively few surviving Jain depictions of this earth system show a large number of ring continents; one or two-and-a-half appears to be the usual number portrayed.
The diagram, Fig 4 (a little more than one-fourth of the entire Jambudvipa) preserves the scalar relations stipulated in the Jain texts, in which the middle region, Videha, has twice the width, north-south, of the two adjacent mountain ranges, which are in turn twice as wide as the succeeding regions, Ramyaka (off the map to the north) and Harivarsa, and so forth, until the northernmost and southernmost regions, Airavata and Bharatavarsa (India), are reached. (Also. beyond the northern limit of this diagram are the Rukmin and Sikharin Mountains, the equivalents of the Nisadha and Mahahimavat Mountains, and the Hairanyavata region, the equivalent of Haimavat). Similar scalar relations obtain in respect to the heights and depths of the mountain chains; the length, breadth, and depth of lakes within the mountain ranges; the number of tributaries entering the pairs of rivers flowing east and west out of these lakes, and so forth. Not indicated in this view are the numerous east-west regional divisions within Videha and the one and a half continents and the Kaloda Ocean outward from Jambudvipa and the Lavanoda (Salt Ocean) that compose the rest of Manusyaloka. These are shown in figure 2. The inset diagram shows an enlargement of a small area in the southernmost part of Jambudvipa, including much of Bharatavarsa and the Himavat (Himalaya) Mountains. A narrow mountain range, the Vaitadhya, through which the Ganga and Sindhu rivers flow via great tunnels, divides Bharatavarsa into northern and southern halves, each with three khandas (divisions). Of the six khandas, five are domains of the Mleccha (barbarians) and only one, the southernmost, belongs to the Aryans. Adapted from N. P. Saxena and Rama Jain, “Jain Thought regarding the Earth and Related Matters,” Geographical Observer 5 (1969): 1-8; with additional data and nomenclature from Willibald Kirfel, Die Kosmographie der lnder nach Quelen dargestellt (Bonn: Kurt Schroeder, 1920; reprinted Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1967; Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1967), 214-33, 251.
To this point author concern with cosmography has been almost exclusively in regard to the earth. But our planet constitutes only an infinitesimal portion of the universe. That perception was shared by all three of the major indigenous religions of India, and each gave rise to a number of conceptions of the universe, some of remarkable complexity. Not only that, Buddhists and Jains came to believe in an infinite number of universes. Hindus, by contrast, seemed content to believe that a limited number of named gods-Indra, Varuna, Vayu, Agni, Aditya, Yama, and so on-created their own worlds, just as Brahma created our earth and its associated heavens, netherworlds, and hells-seven or more of each, depending on the text consulted. However, “the notions as to the situation of these worlds (except those of Indra and Yama) seem always to have been rather vague.” For our own universe, the Hindu views also appear relatively simple. One such view, expounded in the Puranas, is “that each generating principle or element envelops the one generated by it. The gross elements combine into a compact mass, the world-egg (brahmanda), which rests on the waters, and is surrounded by seven envelopes : water, wind, fire, air, Ahamkara [a substance producing the ‘conceit of individuality’], Buddhi [the ‘thinking substance’], and Pradhana [an amalgam of darkness, ctivity, and goodness]. The universes envisioned by the Jains are far more complex and wondrous than those of Hinduism, though compounded of many of the same elements and similar also in presenting a vertical sequence of hells, netherworlds, earth, and heavens. Jains also postulated that their multiplicity of universes occupied only a portion of cosmic space. Each universe is called a Lokakasa, and beyond it is the Alokakasa, “an absolute void. perfectly impenetrable to anything, either matter or souls.” Coterminous with the Lokakasa are “Dharma and Adharma, the substrata of motion and rest, … [and] the indispensable conditions … of all existing things. Jains envisage our own universe as consisting of a series of netherworlds increasing regularly in size with distance below the world of man and a series of heavenly realms above it that increase regularly in size up to a certain limit and then decrease regularly beyond that limit Figure 5a/5b
The dimensions in rajjus are explicit for conceptions a and b. In each view there is a succession from the lowest and widest hell up to the middle level, that of Jambudvipa, with widths of seven and one rajju, respectively; then to successively wider heavens, the widest of which has a breadth of five rajjus, and finally, successively narrower heavens, the uppermost being one rajju in width
Each heaven and hell had its own special properties. Figuratively, the ensemble was seen as a woman (or man) standing with arms akimbo, presumably a throwback to the Vedic myth of the Purura (cosmic or primeval man). The dimensions of the several portions of the Jain universe are a triumph of the human imagination. The unit in which they are measured is the rajju, literally a rope, which is defined as “the distance which a male celestial being flies in six months at the rate of 2,857,152 yojanas in one samaya or the shortest unit of time.” And a samaya has been translated as a “blink, which is about 1/5 of a second.”51 Since Buddhism virtually disappeared from India proper not long after the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate (A.D. 1206), there is little likelihood of uncovering on the subcontinent many surviving representations of the cosmographic conceptions associated with that faith.