Monday, September 14, 2009

Mount Meru

Mount Meru is a legendary mountain of the hindus, around which their whole universe exists. Hence mount Meru is the center of Hindu Universe. The shape of Meru, according to this description, is that of an inverted cone; and by the comparison to the seed-cup its form should be circular: but there seems to be some uncertainty upon this subject amongst the Pauráńics. The Padma compares its form to the bell-shaped flower of the Dhatura. The Váyu represents it as having four sides of different colours; or, white on the east, yellow on the south, black on the west, and red on the north; but notices also various opinions of the outline of the mountain, which, according to Atri, had a hundred angles; to Bhrigu, a thousand: Sávarni calls it octangular; Bháguri, quadrangular; and Varsháyani says it has a thousand angles: Gálava makes it saucer-shaped; Garga, twisted, like braided hair; and others maintain that it is circular. The Linga makes its eastern face of the colour of the ruby; its southern, that of the lotus; its western, golden; and its northern, coral. The Matsya has the same colours as the Váyu, and both contain this line: 'Four-coloured, golden, four-cornered lofty:' but the Váyu compares its summit, in one place, to a saucer; and observes that its circumference must be thrice its diameter. The Matsya also, rather incompatibly, says the measurement is that of a circular form, but it is considered quadrangular. According to the Buddhists of Ceylon, Meru is said to be of the same diameter throughout. Those of Nepal conceive it to be shaped like a drum. A translation of the description of Meru and its surrounding mountains, contained in the Brahmáńda, which is the same exactly as that in the Váyu. There are some differences in Col. Wilford's version would authorize, but they are not in general of much importance.

Many legends are attested to this great mountain which provides the lands around it, with water from its three great rivers.

Legends say that Mount Meru and the wind god Vayu were good friends. However, the sage Narada approached Vayu and incited him to humble the mountain. Vayu blew with full force for one full year, but Meru was shielded by Garuda with his wings (he was flying high). However, after a year Garuda took respite for some time. Thus theapex of the mountain was broken and it fell into the sea and created the island of Sri Lanka.
'Vishnu Puranam' suggests that if the world is like a lotus flower then the mountain meru is the that protrudes from the center of the flower
Another legend well-known to this day in India, is regarding the daily circumambulation of the sun around mount Meru,and involves the sage Agastya. The legend goes thus:
The Vindhya mountains that separate north and south India from each other once showed a tendency to grow so high as to obstruct the usual trajectory of the sun. This was accompanied by increasing vanity on the part of that mountain range, which demanded that Surya, the sun-God, circumambulate the Vindhya mountains daily, just as he does Mount Meru. The need arose to subdue, by guile, the Vindhyas, and Agastya was chosen to do that.
Agastya journeyed from north to south, and on the way encountered the now impassable Vindhya mountains. He asked the mountain range to facilitate his passage across to the south. In reverence for so eminent a sage as Agastya, the Vindhya mountains bent low enough to enable the sage and his family to cross over and enter south India. The Vindhya range also promised not to increase in height until Agastya and his family returned to the north. Agastya settled permanently in the south, and the Vindhya range, true to its word, never grew further. Thus, Agastya accomplished by guile something that would have been impossible to accomplish by force.