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Browsing: Aḍhāī-dvīpa (069.001)

Title: Aḍhāī-dvīpa

Royal Asiatic Society
Pandit Tilokacanda Dayacanda
Date of creation:
Folio number:
not applicable
Total number of folios:
1 large size
Place of creation:
western India
Rajasthani and Gujarati
gouache on cloth
65.5 x 69.2 cm
Royal Asiatic Society Images/RAS, London
JAINpedia Copyright Information


This is the traditional representation of the world inhabited by human beings in Jain cosmology. It is made up of alternate concentric rings of continents, mountains and oceans.

Like any map, this one has captions, which are of two types:

  • geographical features, for example nadī for 'river', kūṭa for ‘mountain peak’
  • proper names, for example Ayodhyā is the name of a town and Raktāvatīnadī is the name of a river.

Each part of the Jain world has named rivers, mountains, towns, caves and so on. Since symmetry and repetition are two of the major organising principles of the Jain world, the names are often the same in different regions.

At each of the four angles of the picture is a Jain temple with worshippers. This is intended to show that the Jinas' teachings are everywhere in the world.

On each side of these temples, there are lines of text written in small script. They provide additional detail about the Jain universe, describing each component, giving dimensions and occasional quotations from scriptures.

Descriptive text around the temples

Location in painting


Bottom left-hand corner:

  • text to the right of the temple
  • text to the left of the temple
  • measurements relating to Dhātakīkhaṇḍa
  • date, name of the copyist and name of the owner

Bottom right-hand corner

measurements of Kālodadhi and Puṣkara-dvīpa

Top right corner

information about:

  • Uttara-kuru and the Deva-kuru lands
  • Jambū-dvīpa.

Top left corner

measurements of the Lavaṇa-samudra

Two and A Half Continents

The outermost pale pink ring is a mountain range called Mānuṣottara. It symbolises the limit beyond which human beings cannot live.

The two textured grey rings represent two oceans. The innermost one is the ocean called Lavaṇa-samudra – 'Salt Ocean'. The second one is Kālodadhi – 'Black-Water Ocean'.

The three spaces in between these three rings form the human world, which is called Aḍhāī-dvīpa – 'Two and A Half Continents'. Starting from the centre, they are:

  • Jambū-dvīpa – 'Rose-apple Tree Island'
  • Dhātakīkhaṇḍa
  • Puṣkara-dvīpa – 'Lotus Island'.

Half of Puṣkara-dvīpa is in the world of humans while half is the other side of the mountain range marked by the pale pink circle. This is why the complete map of the human world is called 'Two and A Half Continents'.

The thick red vertical line divides the Dhātakīkhaṇḍa and the Puṣkara-dvīpa into two halves, eastern and western. There are four Jinas sitting within the line. The four segments of this line on land represent a mountain range known as Iṣvākāra – 'Arrow-like' – because it is perfectly straight. Its name is written on the lowest segment.

The five yellow disks going horizontally across the centre represent the central mountain, called Mount Meru. The Jambū-dvīpa has one in its middle while both the two other continents have identical Mount Merus in each half.

Either side of each Mount Meru are two semicircles, indicated by one green and yellow line, the other a red and white line. They are the boundaries of two regions. The northern one is called Uttara-kuru, the southern one Deva-kuru. These regions are the Lands of Enjoyment, where people get all they need from 'wishing trees' – kalpa-vṛkṣas – and do not need to make any effort. Couples made up of twin boys and girls live in the Lands of Enjoyment.


The first continent, in the centre, is Jambū-dvīpa. It is divided into parts separated by mountain ranges.

From north to south there are eight mountain ranges. They are shown as double horizontal lines as they cross the Jambū-dvīpa from east to west. Here, the first and eighth are not coloured. The second, third, sixth and seventh are coloured in yellow. The most conspicuous on all maps are the fourth and fifth, respectively always green and red.

The names of all these mountains are not given in this map, but they are well known among Jains. Between these mountain ranges are seven regions. From north to south, the mountains and regions separating them are listed in the table.

Mountain ranges and regions of Jambū-dvīpa

Mountain ranges







Hairaṇyavata – identified on the map



Ramyaka – identified on the map



Mahā-videha – see below









Bharata – identified on the map



Across the centre of Jambū is a large rectangular strip marked out by a green line in the north – the Nīla mountain range – and a red one in the south – the Niṣadha mountain range. This is the Mahā-videha, which has Mount Meru at its centre. The Mahā-videha is a land of wonders, where Cakravartins go and where Jinas preach.

The Mahā-videha is divided into 32 provinces, distributed as eight groups of four, equally in the north-east, south-east, north-west and south-west. They are always shown as small rectangles, like here.


The first ocean, starting from the centre, is the thick grey ring around Jambū. Called Lavaṇa-samudra, it has sets of pots in each of the four directions. These are the 'great receptacles' – pātāla-kalaśas – that cause the tides.

There are two horizontal yellow lines ending with double hook shapes shown in the north and south of this ocean. These are two mountain chains that end with double pairs of 'tusks' jutting out into Lavaṇa-samudra. These tusks carry the 56 islands known as Antara-dvīpas. The islands are divided into seven groups of eight, although they are not shown on this map.

Everywhere on this map, a multitude of grey rivers flows and irrigates the land. Small yellow circles are the islands of the moons and the suns, which vary in number from place to place.


The Royal Asiatic Society was presented with this painting by Major-General William Miles on 17th June 1837. It had been given to him ‘by a Jain Priest of the Province of Marwar’ (see Head 1991). Besides his official activities in the army, Major-General Miles showed interest in the Jains, demonstrated by his contribution entitled ‘On the Jains of Gujerat and Marwar’ (Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society III, 1835: 335–371). F. E. Pargiter published the first description of this Two and A Half Continents painting in 1916 (see Pargiter 1916) in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society.

Aḍhāī-dvīpa is the Hindi phrase for 'Two and A Half Continents' and describes the only part of the universe where human beings live in the Middle World of Jain cosmology. Frequently depicted in maps or colourful diagrams, it is the only part of the universe where people can be born so it is also known as 'the World of Humans' – manuṣya-loka.

The Two and A Half Continents is formed of concentric rings of differing size. Every other ring is a continent, which is surrounded by a ring of ocean. Moving from the centre outwards, the order is as follows:

  1. the central continent, called Jambū-dvīpa
  2. the first ocean, known as Lavaṇa-samudra or 'Salt-Ocean'
  3. the second continent, Dhātakīkhaṇḍa
  4. the second ocean, called Kālodadhi or 'Black-water Ocean'
  5. half of the third continent known as Puṣkara-dvīpa.

Mount Meru is the centre of the universe in Jain cosmology, at the heart of the central continent of Jambū-dvīpa. Jambū is where human beings live and is in the Middle World, one of the three worlds of traditional Jain cosmology.

The Middle World is the smallest of the three worlds that make up world space – loka-ākāśa. In world space all the souls live in the different body-forms they take according to their rebirths, in the various worlds. Outside world space is the non world space – aloka-ākāśa – which is endless. However, the Middle World is the most important area from the spiritual point of view because it is the only part where human beings can live.

Pictures in cosmological works are not intended to be merely attractive. Spelling out in visual form the complex explanations found in the writings, cosmological paintings form a long-established tradition of artwork in Jain heritage.

Jains cannot advance spiritually without understanding and meditating upon cosmological theories so understanding them is crucial. Certain key religious concepts run through these theories. These include the notion of a physical soul shedding karma by moving through the cycle of rebirth to eventual omniscience and final liberation, along with the cyclical nature of time, the interconnectedness of the universe, and the importance of symmetry, repetition and balance.


Written by Pandit Tilokacanda Dayācanda, pupil of the group-leader, the teacher Rūpadhīra, himself pupil of the group-leader, the respected teacher Kuśalabhakta, pupil of Jinacandra-sūri of the monastic order the Large Kharatara. The third day of the bright half of the year 1873 in the Vikrama era, 1739 in the Śāka era.

This is the painted cloth of Pandit Pāsadatta. It was created for him to read. May there be auspiciousness!


The language is Sanskrit, mixed with Rajasthani. The words and ro mean ‘of’ in this language.

The numbers 105 and 104 accompanying the honorific title śrī, which is used with the proper name of a religious teacher, are auspicious. The number 108 may also be used in the same way.

The Br̥hat-Kharatara-gaccha is one of the main Śvetāmbara monastic orders. Arising in the 12th century, this sect is active today and is largely represented in Rajasthan or Gujarat.

In the long history of this monastic order there have been several heads with the name Jinacandra-sūri. This one is probably the Jinacandra-sūri who was born in 1752 and died in 1799 (1809–1856 of the Vikrama era). Thus he had died before this aḍhāī-dvīpa was made.

The date is expressed according to the traditional Indian calendar. Here the year is indicated in two different eras, namely the:

  • first one refers to 1873 in the Vikrama era
  • second one to 1739 in the Śāka era.

The complete date as given in the document corresponds to 19 May 1817 in the Common Era (Pargiter 1916: 539).

The word pāṭa is the technical name for paintings on cloth or paper that are meant to be rolled so they can be carried.

The final phrase is customary at the end of manuscripts.


In the bottom-left corner, the text on the right side of the temple with a Jina, provides information that is found in the colophons of manuscripts. The first few lines are additional detail about the Jain universe, provided on the description tab.

From line 4 onwards, it gives the date and the name of the person who wrote, and perhaps painted, the object and of the owner.

4. // śrī // Br̥hat-Kharatara-gache śrī-Jinacandrasūri-ācārya-
5. vā° śrī-105-śrī-Kuśalabhaktajī-gaṇi / tat-śiṣya
6. vā°/  śrī-104-śrī-Rūpadhīrajī-gaṇi / tat-si-
7. ṣya paṃ°/ pra°/ Tilokacaṃdaḥ Dayācaṃda
8. liṣataṃ / saṃ 1873 rā varṣe Śāke 1739 pramite Yeṣṭha suda 3 di-
9. ne //
10. // paṃ pra śrī-105-śrī-śrī-
11. Pāsadattajī ro pāṭa chai sva-vācanā-
12. rthe liṣāyo
13. che subhaṃ bhava-
14. tu.


'Lands of Enjoyment' in Sanskrit, where people do not need to make any effort because all their needs are met by wish-fulfilment trees. The Lands of Enjoyment are in Jambū-dvīpa, in the Middle World where humans live.
Common Era
The period of time starting with the year when Jesus Christ was traditionally believed to have been born. Using CE is a more secular way of dating events in a multinational, multi-religious world.
The second continent in the Middle World of Jain cosmology. Dhātakīkhaṇḍa forms part of the Two and A Half Continents where human beings live.
Sanskrit for 'meditation', one of the six internal austerities or tapas that help purify the soul of karma. Meditation is deep thought about religious doctrine or mental focus on spiritual matters over a period of time. An important part of many religions, meditation is especially important in Jain belief because it forms key elements of religious practice and spiritual development.
Follower of the 24 Jinas or an adjective describing Jain teachings or practices. The term 'Jaina' is also used although 'Jain' is more common.
The innermost island-continent in the Middle World, in Jain cosmology. It is divided into seven continents separated by six mountain ranges. It takes its name - 'Rose-Apple Continent' - from a rock formation that resembles a rose-apple tree, which is found on Mount Meru in the centre of the island.
A 'victor' in Sanskrit, a Jina is an enlightened human being who has triumphed over karma and teaches the way to achieve liberation . A synonym for Tīrthaṃkara, which means 'ford-maker' or one who has founded a community after reaching omniscience through asceticism. The most famous 24 – Ṛṣabha to Mahāvīra – were born in the Bharata-kṣetra of the middle world , but more are found in other continents. There have been Jinas in the past and there will be some in the future.
Action or act, thought of as physical in Jainism. Created by mental or physical action, karma enters the soul, which then needs religious restraints and practices to make it flow out. Karma can be both:
  • negative – deriving from harmful acts
  • positive – arising from beneficial actions.
Both types of karma trap a soul in continual rebirth. A pan-Indian concept, karma has extremely complex, detailed and technical divisions and subdivisions in Jainism.
Omniscience, enlightenment or perfect knowledge – the highest of the five types of knowledge , where one knows everything wherever and whenever it is. It is extremely difficult to attain, equivalent to the 13th stage of spiritual purity in the guṇa-sthāna. Digambaras believe only men can achieve it whereas Śvetāmbaras believe that both men and women can become enlightened.
The universe in Jain cosmology, composed of the upper, middle and lower worlds. Human beings can live only in part of the Middle World.
There are three worlds in traditional Jain cosmology. The middle world is where human beings and animals live, and sits between the upper and the lower worlds.
The third continent of the middle world of Jain cosmology. Human beings can live only in the first two circular continents and the inner half of the third. Puṣkara-dvīpa is enclosed by a circular mountain barrier known as Mānuṣottara-parvata or 'Mountain beyond Mankind'. Human beings cannot live on the outer side of these mountains.
Often abbreviated, Vikrama-saṃvat is the calendar associated with Emperor Vikramāditya. It begins in about 56 BCE so the equivalent date in the Common Era can be calculated by subtracting 57 or 56. Based on Hindu traditions, it is a lunar calendar often used in contemporary India.
Formally recognised leaders within a religion. The clergy often perform rituals, lead worship and instruct believers in religious principles. Lay men and women usually complete formal study before being initiated into the clergy. Clerics are active among lay believers, often living in society. They may have specific roles or ranks and may progress through a hierarchy to become top leaders of the religious organisation.
To deliver a speech on a religious topic, usually given by a prophet or member of the clergy. It may be a formal task of a religious office or open to all believers in a religious faith. Often covering social and moral subjects, preaching may be intended to:
  • remind hearers of religious principles and rules
  • encourage piety
  • persuade non-believers of the correctness of the preacher's religious beliefs.
Set of sacred texts that believers accept as authoritative within a religion. Synonymous with canon.
An organised group of believers in a religion, often distinguished from other groups within the same religious faith who have differences of doctrine or practice.
A building reserved for public worship or prayer, usually dedicated to one religion and run by members of that religion's clergy.
A classical language of India, originally used by priests and nobility. Sanskrit has a rich literary and religious tradition. With only a few thousand native speakers nowadays, it is predominantly used in Hindu religious ceremonies and by scholars.
'Learned one' in Sanskrit and used originally for a Hindu brahmin scholar and teacher. Nowadays a Jain pandit is a scholar who has been educated traditionally and is expert in the sacred texts of at least one of the Jain sects.
The Hindi phrase for 'Two and A Half Continents' describes the only part of the universe where human beings live in the Middle World of Jain cosmology. It is made up of the central continent, Jambū-dvīpa, the second continent, Dhātakīkhaṇḍa, and Lavaṇa-samudra, the circular ocean that separates them. Kālodadhi is the ring of ocean around Dhātakīkhaṇḍa, dividing it from the 'half' continent, which is the inner part of the Puṣkara continent.
Bright fortnight
The half of the lunar month in the traditional Indian calendar in which the moon is at its fullest.
A belief system about the universe that covers its origin, structure and parts, and natural laws and characteristics such as space, time, causality and freedom.
The westernmost state in India, which is a stronghold of Śvetāmbara Jainism.
The most widely spoken group of languages in India, originating in the northern part of the subcontinent. Local dialects and Hindi languages are spoken all over northern India and in surrounding countries. Standard Hindi is used in administration by the central government of India, along with English.
The Lavaṇa-samudra or 'Salt Ocean' in Sanskrit is the first ocean in the Two and A Half Continents of the Middle World in Jain cosmology. It encircles the central continent, Jambū-dvīpa.
In Jain cosmology, one of the Lands of Action or karma-bhūmi in the first continent, Jambū-dvīpa, in the middle world of humans. Mahā-videha consists of 32 provinces between the Niṣadha and the Nīla mountain ranges. Thanks to the repetitive nature of Jain cosmology, there are also two Mahā-videhas on each of the continents of Dhātakīkhaṇḍa and Puṣkara-dvīpa.
Mount Meru
The cosmic axis of the Jain universe. Located in the middle of Jambū-dvīpa, the innermost continent of Jain cosmology, Mount Meru consists of three forested terraces, each smaller than the one below. When a Jina is born, the gods visit the earth, take him away and wash him in the standard birth ritual on the mountain. Jain temples often have a tower symbolising Mount Meru. Mount Meru is also the centre of the universe in traditional Buddhist and Hindu belief.
The largest state in India, in the north-western part of the country.
The language spoken in Rajasthan, in north-western India, and surrounding states. It is also spoken in some parts of neighbouring Pakistan. Also the adjective describing people, things or places in or associated with the state of Rajasthan.
Three worlds
In Jain cosmology three worlds make up world space, where life exists:
  • ūrdhva-loka – upper world
  • madhya-loka– middle world
  • adho-loka – lower world.
These are frequently represented in art as the Cosmic Man, a human figure whose legs stand for the lower world, whose waist symbolises the middle world and whose torso represents the upper world.
Favourable or lucky. Auspicious objects bring good fortune and may predict good events or a bright future. 
Found at the end of a Jain manuscript, a colophon is similar to the publication information at the beginning of modern books. It usually contains the title and sometimes details of the author, scribe and sponsor. The colophons of Jain manuscripts may also include the names of owners, readers and libraries where they have been stored. They frequently have decorative elements and very commonly contain a wish for good fortune for any readers. Written mainly by the scribes who copy texts, Jain colophons are often written in Sanskrit.
A title of respect often used to indicate holiness or divinity. It honours a person or place and is also added to the name of written or sung texts, such as scriptures. It is added before the name, for example Śrī Ṛṣabha.

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