Meru, Mount
   In ancient Indian cosmology Mount Meru is a golden mountain, supporting the heavens, located at the center of the known universe. Its location is at the center of the continent of Jambudvipa (the island of the rose-apple tree). The part of Jambud-vipa south of the mountain is called Bharatavarsha, which is identified with historical India. BRAHMA, SHIVA, and VISHNU are understood to reside on the summit of Mount Meru, accompanied by sages praising the gods, apsarases (celestial dancers), and GANDHARVAS (celestial musicians). The pole star is seen to shine directly over the summit of Meru.
   The GANGES falls from heaven to the peak of Meru, where it is channeled to the four regions below. There are numerous mythological stories associated with this mountain. One says that Mount Meru and the god of the wind (VAY U) were good friends. However, the mischievous sage Narada approached Vayu and instigated him to humble the mountain. Vayu blew with full force for one full year, but Meru did not yield. However, after a year Meru relaxed for a while, and taking advantage of this opportunity, Vayu increased in intensity. The top of the mountain was broken off and it fell into the sea. Thus was the island of Sri Lanka born.
   Further reading: Cornelia Dimitt and J. A. van Buite-nen, eds. and trans., Classical Hindu Mythology: A Reader in the Sanskrit Puranas (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1978); E. Washburn Hopkins, Epic Mythology (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1986).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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