Earth (land mass) with curvature looks like the back of a Turtle which, is a good representation of the slowly sliding Earth plates. Scriptures (Varaha, an ancient geographer) classified earth land mass (bhudevi) into seven dvipas and further sub-divided into the varshas, surrounded by seven seas, after deluge or ice age.
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In order to locate a particular place, God has created the directions to describe the location of different objects in this universe. In order to facilitate this objective, it was presumed that the entire area of the universe is 100 crores yojanas (an ancient measure), and 10 directions of equal dimensions (Dashadisha) were formed with an area of 10 crores yojanas per direction. As per mythology, these 10 directions are deemed to be the 10 daughters of Lord Brahma. Each direction/daughter married to deity or guardian. Eight cardinal directions: Kubera (North), Yama (South), Indra (East), Varuṇa (West), Ishana (Northeast), Agni (Southeast), Vayu (Northwest), Nirrti (Southwest). The remaining two directions comprise the Sky (aakash) and the Underworld (pataal). These ten directions are providing perfect location to mankind in identifying the position of each and everything in this universe.
Different versions of this old story was later included in Hindu/buddhist/jain scriptures. At that time land was assumed to be flat. Brahma - creator for all religious sects in India
- Patala means beyond seas - not below seas. Krishna crossed the ocean and rescued teacher's son from Ethiopia. This applies to story of Mahabali also.
- Devaloka means north of Bharatha, Himalayas and beyond. Not above.
- Swarka means "swa - raka, same type or category like us". Naraka means opposite "na - raka, , not our type or category". They are not physical locations. One is happy when he is in company of like minded people. Similarly, heaven means sky or other planets/solar systems, home of alien myths. People thought devas/gods came from heaven (sky). Alien myths, that super beingscame from sky or other planets and developed our civilization are widely believed in all cultures. Later people created stories on them. When an airplane that had accidentally landed in a remote Indian coastal village, villagers rushed to garland the plane and pilot as gods came from heaven.
Lord Varaha carefully placed fearful Earth on the water and gave her the ability to float. The god in the form of a boar (varaha) plunges into the waters and brings the earth out. He also marries the earth thereafter. The cult of Varaha seems to have been popular in the Gupta era (4th-6th century) in Central India, considering the large number of Varaha sculptures and inscriptions found. Symbolism also attributes that evolution from water could relate to the geological phenomenon of the tectonic age. It could also represent the rescue of earth from “false cults”.
Hindu Universe - Cosmogony and Geography
There are 14 universes (lokas or Bhuvanas) in the Multiverse (= Creation or Srishti), and we live in the middle universe.
Seven upper lokas are: Bhurloka, Bhuvarloka, Svarloka, Janaloka, Maharloka, Tapoloka and Satyaloka.
Seven lower lokas are: Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Talatala, Mahatala, Rasatala, and Patala.
Continent or Dvipa and Oceans
Dvipa has few meanings like island, continent, and planets.
In some stories, the world is divided into seven concentric island continents (sapta-dvipa vasumati) separated by the seven encircling oceans.
Seven dvipa or continents and each of these was divided into a number of varsas or subcontinents. These dvipas were surrounded by seven oceans containing salt, sugarcane-juice, wine, clarified butter, curd, milk and good drinking water (or these mixed in the water of the ocean).
The common names of the dvīpas, having their varṣas with a mountain and a river in each varṣa, is given in several Purāṇas. One can find detailed geography in the Vāyu Purāṇa. Markandeya Purana and Brahmanda Purana has stories referencing Jambudvipa. Jambudvipa is divided into four vast regions shaped like four petals of a lotus with Mount Meru being located at the center forming a diameter of 100,000 yojanas.
The Buddhist cosmology divides the bhūmaṇḍala (circle of the earth) into three separate levels: Kāmadhātu (Desire realm), Rūpadhātu (Form realm), and Ārūpyadhātu (Formless realm). In the Kāmadhātu is located Mount Sumeru which is said to be surrounded by four island-continents. "The southernmost island is called Jambudvīpa". According to Jain cosmology, Jambūdvīpa is at the centre of Madhyaloka, or the middle part of the universe, where the humans reside.
There are also myths that Jambudvīpa is special place for Dharma.
Seven regions or dvipa
Different scholars define regions or dvipa differently. Below is as per ancient Tamil literature and south asian trade notes:
(1) Jambu dvipa (North, Central and Southern Asia - southern part is bharat);
(2) Plaksa dvipa (Mediterranean - some include north africa);
(3) Saimali dvipa (East Africa - some include west Africa also);
(4) Kusa dvipa (Middle east);
(5) Kraunca dvipa (Europe);
(6) Saka dvipa (South east asia, australasia). Can include south america;
(7) Puskara dvipa (East Asia and northern pacific islands - also north america);
Some historical notes on dvipa:
1. Ashoka seems to represent his realm in 3rd century BC, presumably India, as Jambudvipa.
2. Sakadvipa referred in Khmer and Sri Vijaya kingdoms. Refers to land including present Indonesia and south of Indonesia.
3. Durga also known as Kusasdvipini, had links with Kusa dvipa (Middle east or Ur of the Chaldese); Some observe that The Qurayshi tribe were devoted to Goddess Alla (Durga).
4. Ptolemais of the Greek is referred as Plakhsyadvipa in stories based on historical events.
The Jambu dvipa, literally refers to "the land of Jambu trees" where Jambu is the name of the species (also called Jambul or Indian Blackberry) which occupied the central position, among the seven dvipas, had in its middle a golden mountain called Meru, with a ring of land. The Mount Meru is in the central and from which a number of other mountains including the Himalaya radiated in different directions like the petals of a lotus. This dvipa was divided into nine varsas or subcontinents, one of which was Bharata-varsa (India). Some consider Mount Meru as the axis of the spherical earth.
In some stories, Jambu dvipa has 6 mighty mountains, dividing into 7 zones (Ksetra). The names of these zones are:
Surya Siddhantic system states that Mt Meru resides at the centre (equator) of globe
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