The 9th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Around it are seven freshwater lakes separated by seven rings of golden mountains.
The shine of the blue lapis-lazuli reflects on the marine waters in front.
Upon hitting the surface it reflects and appears in the space above.
So rather than there being something blue above us, the space appears blue because of the reflection of the lapis-lazuli of Mount Meru's southern side. Similarly the oceans and the sky are respectively red, yellow and white in the West, North and East directions of Mount Meru.
- Robert Beer, The Handbook of Tibetan Buddhist Symbols (Boston: Shambhala, 2003), pages 83-84.
- Jamgön Kongtrul, Myriad Worlds (Ithaca: Snow Lion, 1995), pages 109-110.
People of all times from around the world have stood in awe when faced with majestic mountains. From these sublime experiences have come myths about great mountains as homes of the gods, as stairways to the heavens, as pillars of the earth.
Its grand peaks seemed to reach beyond the profane human realm and stretch up, touching the divine realm of the gods, so the Tibetans and Hindus saw the mountains as a means of transition between both the human and heavenly worlds.
A huge herd of flying elephants had displeased him, so he punished them by cutting off their wings and they turned into the Himalayas. The mountains were important to all of the gods for they all made sacrifices there.
Well, Mount Kailas is an actual Himalayan mountain in the Ngari region of Tibet. It rises 22,000 feet high from the edge of the Tibetan Plateau and is highly inaccessible. It is Mount Kailas then that is the physical embodiment of Mount Meru for the Buddhist and Hindu peoples.
Myths say that Meru rested on the hood of the coiled primeval cobra Vasuki, who, it was said, caused earthquakes when he yawned. It was also believed that the whole world would be devoured by this ancient snake at the end of the present age, world cycle.
The Hindus and Buddhists both regarded Mount Meru as sacred for it was thought to be the centre of the cosmos and supported all of the spheres of existence, from Brahma's divine city of gold at its peak, to the seven netherworlds at its base, and especially as the source of the sacred Ganges river.
The divinity of this mountain is reflected in the religious objects of worship, yantras, of these peoples for the mountain is symbolized in their conical shape. Indeed, this majestic mountain inspired much awe in those who beheld it.