The 8th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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阿耨池・阿耨達池・無熱池 (Skt; Jpn Anokuchi, Anokudatchi, or Munetchi) Anavatapta Lake: Literally "heat-free," this mythical lake is sometimes thought to be Lake Manasarovar, a sacred lake at the foot of Mount Kailash in The Himalayas, the source of four of the world's great rivers: the Ganges (east), the Indus (south), the Oxus (west), and the Huang He or Yellow River (north). It was thought to be able to cool the fires that torment beings and the home of a dragon of the same name.
Heat-Free Lake. A lake said to give rise to the four rivers that nurture the soil in the four quarters of Jambudvipa. Anavatapta means heat-free or not afflicted by heat. According to The Great Commentary on the Abhidharma and The Dharma Analysis Treasury, this lake lies north of the Snow Mountains and south of Mount Fragrant, and according to The Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom, it lies within the Snow Mountains. The Great Commentary on the Abhidharma defines the lake's circumference as eight hundred ri (one ri is about 0.45 kilometers), and The Dharma Analysis Treasury as two hundred yojanas (one yojana is about 7 kilometers). Anavatapta Lake is bounded by shores of gold, silver, emerald, and crystal, and inhabited by a dragon king named Anavatapta. The clear, cool water is said to originate from the mouth of this dragon king and flow out from the four sides of the lake into four rivers: the Ganga River, Sindhu River, Vakshu River, and Shita River. These rivers flow respectively eastward, southward, westward, and northward, supplying water to the land of Jambudvipa.
Anavatapta (阿那婆達多 in Chinese and Japanese) is the lake lying at the center of the world, according to an ancient Buddhist cosmological view. The name Anavatapta means "heat-free"; the waters of the lake were thought to be able to soothe the fires that torment beings. Anavatapta is also the name of the dragon that lives in the lake; having become a Bodhisattva, it was free from the distresses that plague other dragons, which are tormented by fiery heat and preyed on by Garuda birds.
Lying south of Perfume Mountain, Lake Anavatapta is said to be 800 li in circumference and bordered by gold, silver, and precious stones. Four rivers issued from the lake. The earthly manifestation of the lake is often identified with Lake Manasarovar, which lies at the foot of Mount Kailash (Gandhamadana or Perfume Mountain) in the Himalayas. The four mythical rivers are sometimes identified with the Ganges (east), the Indus (south), the Oxus (west), and the Tarim or the Huang He (Yellow River, north).
One route by which this ancient Buddhist view of the cosmos passed from sixth-century China to Japan was via gardening. Such gardens often had a hill in the center, representing Mount Meru, and a pond symbolizing Lake Anavatapta (which became Munetsunochi (無熱悩池) or Munetsuchi (無熱池; "pond without heat") in Japanese).