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Browsing: Aḍhāī-dvīpa (575181i)

Title: Map of the human world

Wellcome Trust Library
Date of creation:
19th century
Folio number:
Total number of folios:
not applicable
Place of creation:
western India
Gujarati / Rajasthani with Sanskrit and Prākrit quotations
watercolour on cloth
108.5-111 x 107.1 cm
Wellcome Library, London
JAINpedia Copyright Information


The main part of the diagram consists of concentric circles in alternating grey and white around a central circle. In the centre of the diagram is Mount Meru, shown as a yellow disc, the heart of the Two and A Half Continents. On Mount Meru sits a Jina on a throne but this is now hardly visible.

Mount Meru is in the middle of the circular continent of Jambū-dvīpa, shown with a pale background. Around Jambū-dvīpa is the ocean of Lavaṇa-samudra, shown as a grey circle.

Around Lavaṇa-samudra is the continent of Dhātakīkhaṇḍa. Around that is the ocean of Kālodadhi, again a grey circle.

Around Kālodadhi is another circle of land. This is half of the Puṣkara continent.

Together, these continents and oceans form Aḍhāī-dvīpa or 'Two and A Half Continents'. Thus the painting is a map of the cosmological concept of Two and A Half Continents. The Two and A Half Continents is in the centre of the middle worldmadhya-loka. There are three worlds in the Jain conception of the universe. The Two and A Half Continents is the only part of the Jain universe where human beings can be born so it is also known as 'the world of humans' – manuṣya-loka.

At the perimeter of Puṣkara-dvīpa is a slim yellow band. Outside this runs a repeated triangular pattern in blue. The yellow band is the outer mountain range beyond which no human beings live. In this diagram the blue pattern is a ring of mountain ranges with trees in between.

This painting is unusual in that the waters of the two oceans and the rivers are rarely shown in grey, as they are here. Figures representing inhabitants of the continents and important sites are mapped in fine detail and often given long descriptions. The painter's creativity is also plain in the depiction of the animals in the second ocean, the Kālodadhi. There are fish and other aquatic animals, but also other kinds of creatures, some of which are more fantastic than real and look like prehistoric animals.

Other visual elements

As is usual, there is a Jain temple at each of the four corners of the painting. There is an image of a Jina in the centre, who is being worshipped by a devotee waving a fly-whisk on each side.

Each Jain temple is flanked by pairs of animals, which is not common in maps of the Two and A Half Continents. The reasons for choosing these animals are not known, but some of them are emblems associated with a specific Jina:

Note the semi-fantastic creature in the upper left corner.

The floral border around the edge of the painting is a fine ornamentation.

Text portions and chart

On either side of each temple in the corners of the cloth are small paragraphs of writing. These give more detail about Jambū-dvīpa and the other parts of the Two and A Half Continents. The script is written as if the reader is at the edge of the material, looking into its centre. This means the reader must move around the border of the fabric to read it, because staying in one place would mean reading some of the script upside down or at right angles.

Top-left corner

Looking from the bottom of this image, on the right side of the temple in the top-left corner is a chart. It contains the dimensions of the mountain ranges which divide Jambū-dvīpa into regions. Going from south to north, they are:

  1. Vaitāḍhya
  2. Himavanta
  3. Mahāhimavanta
  4. Niṣadha
  5. Nīla
  6. Rūpi
  7. Śikharī
  8. Vaitāḍhya.

To the left of this chart is information in Sanskrit about the cities.

Bottom-left corner

The script where the bull is located is written in Sanskrit and gives the dimensions of the second continent, the Dhātakīkhaṇḍa.

Top-right corner

Again, the script on the side where the bull is located is in Sanskrit. Here it gives topographical details of Mount Meru, the forests on its terraces and so on. Then there is information about the 'followers' or tributaries of the main rivers – nadī-parivāra.

The script on the left side of the temple, where the horse is, is in Sanskrit too. It describes the trees and mountains on the Uttara-kuru and the Deva-kuru, and the temples there and in the Mahā-videha regions.


Aḍhāī-dvīpa is a Hindi term meaning 'Two and A Half Continents''. The Two and A Half Continents is in the centre of the middle worldmadhya-loka. There are three worlds in the Jain conception of the universe. The Two and A Half Continents is the only part of the universe where human beings can be born so it is also known as 'the world of humans' – manuṣya-loka.

The middle world in Jain tradition is formed of concentric rings of differing size. Every other ring is a continent, which is surrounded by a ring of ocean. These alternate rings of continents and oceans number 90 in all, but the Two and A Half Continents is the main focus of many works of Jain cosmology.

Starting from the centre, the Two and A Half Continents consists of the following elements:

  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.

The maps of the Two and A Half Continents are very detailed and usually have long labels identifying the different elements. Based on the lengthy texts explaining Jain cosmology, the iconography is highly complex and characteristically repetitive and symmetrical.

Jambū-dvīpa – the first continent

The central circle in diagrams of the Two and A Half Continents is the first continent, Jambū-dvīpa. The innermost yellow disk is the cosmic axis, Mount Meru. It has three terraces set atop one another in decreasing order of size, and all planted with parks and forests. A temple to the Jinas is at the peak.

The semi-circles on each half of Mount Meru are the pairs of 'Elephant Tusk' – Gajadanta – mountains. These form the borders of the two Lands of Enjoyment.

Lands of Enjoyment




Name of associated tree




Jambū tree




Śālmalī tree

Here people can spend their days in pleasure because wish‑fulfilling trees enable them to get all they want without any effort.

Around Mount Meru are seven other regions – varṣa – picked out by six coloured lines. These symbolise parallel mountain ranges – varṣa-dhara. Apart from those in the north and south, the mountain ranges do not have standard colours in images of Jambū-dvīpa. The name of the range farthest north, Nīla, means 'dark blue' or 'dark', and is usually shown as green on maps. The mountain range in the south is generally red.

At the summits of each mountain range is a lake.

From south to north, these parts of Jambū-dvīpa are called:

Mountains, lakes and regions of Jambū-dvīpa

Mountain range

Lake at summit


Himavant – 'Small Himavant'


Bharata and Haimavata

Mahā-himavant – 'Large Himavant'









Rukmin or Rūpī






These lakes are the sources of two rivers that flow east and west respectively through the seven regions. Both rivers flow into the Lavaṇa-samudra.

At the far north and south of these regions are the twin mountain ranges of Vaitāḍhya.

The Mahā-videha region forms a wide block in the centre of the diagram. The region is made up of 32 provinces between the mountain ranges of Niṣadha and Nīla. These provinces are divided into 16 oblongs in the east and 16 in the west. These two sets of oblongs are split into smaller groups of eight oblongs on each side of the rivers that run through the seven central regions. Forests mark the boundary of the region.

There are gates at the four cardinal points of Jambū-dvīpa, which open the land to the ocean:

  • north – Vaijayanta
  • south – Aparājita
  • east – Vijaya
  • west – Jayanta.

Lavaṇa-samudra – the first ocean

Around Jambū-dvīpa is the first ocean, Lavaṇa-samudra or 'Salt Ocean'.

In the water four sets of pots – pātālas or kalaśas – are suspended. They are filled with water and then emptied and filled with air in a regular cycle, which regulates the tides. Their locations correspond to the four directions. There are four big ones and 7,884 smaller ones, with 1,971 smaller ones at each compass point.

Tidal movement is also directed by the Shore Retainers – Velaṃ-dharas. Four large ones lie at the cardinal directions and four small ones in between each point. The name means both the mountains and the dragons that live inside.

Eight tusk-shaped peninsulas extend into the sea from Jambū-dvīpa, each containing seven inhabited regions. These make up the 56 Intermediate Islands – Antara-dvīpa.

Dhātakīkhaṇḍa – the second continent

The second, larger concentric ring is the continent of Dhātakīkhaṇḍa. Although double the size of Jambū-dvīpa, this is never clear in cosmological artwork.

A mountain range called Iṣvākāra or 'Arrow Shaped' runs north to south, dividing Dhātakīkhaṇḍa into eastern and western halves. Jain temples within vertical lines mark the range of mountains. One temple sits in the southern half, the other in the north.

Dhātakīkhaṇḍa's eastern and western halves each hold a Mount Meru, on the same plane as the central one.

Each half of Dhātakīkhaṇḍa also holds seven regions with the same name as the seven regions in Jambū-dvīpa. There are six mountain ranges in each half, dividing the seven regions from each other. Thus Dhātakīkhaṇḍa has a total of 14 regions and 12 mountain ranges.

Kālodadhi – the second ocean

Dhātakīkhaṇḍa is enclosed by Kālodadhi or 'Black-Water Ocean', which is the second ocean in the Two and A Half Continents.

There are no tides in Kālodadhi but there are two islands in the eastern and western parts ruled by the two deities Kāla and Mahā-kāla.

Puṣkara-dvīpa – the third continent

The outermost ring shows half of the third continent, Puṣkara-dvīpa. Only the inner half, where human beings live, is shown.

At the perimeter of Puṣkara-dvīpa is a ring of mountains known as Mānuṣottara-parvata or 'Mountain beyond Mankind'. It is 1721 yojanas high and 1022 yojanas broad. On the other side of the range lies the half of the continent where humans cannot live.

Like Dhātakīkhaṇḍa, Puṣkara-dvīpa is split into eastern and western parts by the Iṣvākāra mountains. Again, each half has a Mount Meru on the horizontal axis.


A full transliteration and translation of this elaborate text has to be left for a later stage. Here is a brief sample of the text, which is written in Rajasthani, using the Devanāgarī script.

This sample translation is of the text in the yellow circular strip representing the Māṇuṣottara-parvata.

The Puṣkaravara continent measures 1,600,000 yojanas. In its centre is the Mānuṣottara mountain range. There is half a Puṣkara [continent]. It is in the middle. Half a Puṣkara measures 800,000 yojanas. At its outer side is the Māṇuṣottara. Beyond it is another half Puṣkara, which has 800,000 yojanas. Its size is 1,022 yojanas. The Mānuṣottara is 1,721 yojanas high. Its width at the bottom is 1,022, its width at the top 424 yojanas. On the top in the four directions there are four peaks. On the four peaks there are four temples dedicated to the Jinas. It should be known that the Mānuṣottara [has the shape of] the lion’s position. It is like a seated lion [sitting on his haunches with straight forelegs].


A full transliteration and translation of this elaborate text has to be left for a later stage. Here is a brief sample of the text, which is written in Rajasthani, using the Devanāgarī script.

This sample transliteration is of the text in the yellow circular strip representing the Māṇuṣottara-parvata.

lakṣa 16 00000 Pukharavara-dvīpa chai. tiṇa madhye eṣaḥ Mānuṣottara-parvata arddha-Puṣkarārdha hai madhye hai. Puṣkarārdha 8 lāṣa ro chai. tiṇa su vāhya disi Mānuṣottara-parvata chai. tiṇa su āgai 8 lākha Puṣkarārddha hai. 1022 yo uṇo chai. Mānuṣottara ucccatve 1721 yo, nīcai vistāra 1022, upari vistāra 424 yo. tasyopari caturddaśi 4 kūṭa hai. tiṇāṃ 4 kūṭā upari 4 śrīJineśvaradevajī nā deharā chai. te jāṇivā Mānuṣottara sīhai nisāī hai, jima siṃha baiṭho huvai tima āpaṇa disi uccatta chai te sama++chai pūvāhiva++āva uttāra chai //


'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.
The second continent in the Middle World of Jain cosmology. Dhātakīkhaṇḍa forms part of the Two and A Half Continents where human beings live.
Island or, by extension, continent, for instance Jambū-dvīpa, 'Rose-Apple Tree Continent'.
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.
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 world of human beings and animals, corresponding to a large part of the middle world in Jain cosmology.
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.
A measure of distance equal to about 14 kilometres.
Fourth Jina of the present age. His symbolic colour is gold and his emblem the monkey. There is no historical evidence of his existence.
Second Jina of the present age. His symbolic colour is gold and his emblem the elephant. There is no historical evidence of his existence.
First Jina of the present age. His symbolic colour is gold and his emblem the ox or bull. There is little historical evidence of his existence. Jains believe that he established many social institutions, such as marriage and the caste system, and introduce crafts and agriculture to the people.
Third Jina of the present age. His symbolic colour is gold and his emblem the horse. There is no historical evidence of his existence.
A god or divine figure, often with physical powers beyond those of a human and with superhuman abilities.
An enthusiastic follower of a religion. Can also describe a keen enthusiast of an individual, concept or activity.
An image of a deity or concept that is worshipped either as a god or as a representation of the deity.
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.
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.
A script for writing in different Indian languages, still used today. In Devanāgarī each letter has a horizontal line above it. 
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 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.
A sign used to indicate a missing or illegible syllable in the transliterations given in JAINpedia.
Usually written as 'chowrie' in English, the Hindi carũrī is a fly-whisk or fan. It is probably descended from the Sanskrit term cāmara, which means a 'yak-tail fan'. Like the cāmara, the chowrie is used to fan royalty or priests and thus signifies high status in Indian art.
Conventions or rules governing how images, symbols and the placement of elements and figures are used in art to represent ideas and convey meaning. Also the term for the academic study of such artistic conventions.
The conversion of words from one alphabet into the corresponding letters of another alphabet. The text is not necessarily translated into another language, just put into another alphabet.

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