Four continents

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An illustration of our world system

Four continents (Tib. གླིང་བཞི་, ling shyi, Wyl. gling bzhi) — the four island-continents (Skt. dvīpa; Tib. གླིང་, Wyl. gling) which surround Mount Meru according to the cosmology of the Abhidharma. They are:

  1. Purvavideha in the East, which is semi-circular and white in colour;
  2. Jambudvipa in the South, which is trapezoidal and blue (this is the continent we human beings live in);
  3. Aparagodaniya in the West, which is circular and ruby red; and
  4. Uttarakuru in the North, which is square and green.

Each of the four continents is flanked by two subcontinents (Skt. kṣudradvīpāni; Tib. གླིང་ཕྲན་, ling tren; Wyl. gling phran) of the same shape (see eight subcontinents).

Apart from the Chamara subcontinent of Jambudvipa, which is inhabited by rakshasa demons, all the other island-continents are inhabited by human beings of different characteristics, life styles and life-spans. Each continent also has a specific attribute (see four attributes of the four continents).

Further Reading

  • Jamgön Kongtrul, Myriad Worlds (Ithaca: Snow Lion, 1995), pages 110-113 & 138-140, ISBN 978-1559391887