Manusyaloka, Map of the Human World


Jainism is an Indian religion, which was founded by Vardhamana Mahavira, a spiritual leader called the Jina (conqueror), in the sixth century B.C. Jainism teaches nonviolence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice rely mainly on the effort of advancing the soul on the spiritual ladder to divine consciousness in a universe that has no beginning or end. Jainism has its own version of geography and cosmology, in which the universe is divided into three kingdoms: the upper is the realm of the heavens and the celestials; the middle is the domain of humans, animals, and plants; and the lower, which belongs to the damned and the disorderly. This 19th-century cosmological diagram of the manuṣyaloka (the human world), comes from western Rajasthan, a state in India with one of the largest Jain populations. The chart shows the Adhai-dvipa, or the two and a half continents inhabited by mortals. The continents are shown as concentric circles surrounded by ring-shaped oceans filled with swimmers and fish, complex networks of rivers and lakes, and mountain ranges. The continent Jambudvipa (rose-apple tree island) is shown in the center of the chart, encircled by a blue ring that represents the Lavana Samudra (Salt Ocean). The next ring corresponds to the continent Dhatakikanda bounded by Kalodadhi (Black-Water Ocean). The outermost band represents half of the third continent, Pushkaradvipa (lotus island).This final band is surrounded by the multi-colored peaks of the mountain range that delimits mortal space, while the pavilions at the corners of the chart represent celestial guardians of the human world.

Last updated: February 12, 2016