Did the Buddha know the Earth is round?


I don’t know if you have met Ajahn Brahm? He is a wonderful and much loved Dhamma teacher. He is also a physicist! Physicists entertain all sorts of theories, they often have models they prefer. They may decide they like string theory or the idea of parallel worlds etc. They have pet-theories that they may research. They may advocate or attempt to educate etc.

All this involves the expression of opinions and views, preferences and prejudices. They may be expressing professional opinions but they don’t all agree with each other - far from it.

There are so many ways in which we give expression to opinions and views, likes and dislikes, preferences and prejudices. There is nothing mysterious about this - we all have our own ways of looking and being in the world. :slightly_smiling_face:


Finally penny droped!!!
Thank you for raising this question.
This is not a pet-theory it is Buddhas own experience.
The statement made by Buddha is the birds eye view of the earth from the outer space.
Just imagine you are in outer space gasing at the earth.
How would you describe earth.
You see the space, air, water and earth.
Now I am convinced that Buddha had super normal powers.
Now I am convinced Buddha knew that the earth is spherical.
Perhaps he knew that a person like you and me will ask this question one day.
So he kept it like a secret code without rocking the popular belief in his time.
So thank you again asking this question.

I asked the same question in DW about three and a half years ago.
I have come a long way since that question.
I hope you also continue with your quest for the realisation of the truth.
Hear is the link enjoy reading.


Not wishing to muddy the waters even more, but … the earth bit of Earth floats on liquid (lava) as tectonic plates.


There is nothing unreasonable about it.

I was replying to the whole thread.


Regardless of if they knew or didn’t know that the Earth was spherical, nearly every culture knew that there was ‘some sort of curvature’. Why? Ships appear mast-first on the horizon.


Wouldn’t the earth have to be spherical for the sun (and moon) to revolve around it?

With metta


Exactly my point about the 2nd grader questioning the teacher’s ability to do 2-digit addition. The ability to see countless world systems automatically assumes the ability to see a spherical earth. If the teacher’s able to talk about differential equations, topology, and combinatorics, asking him about 2-digit addition would be an absurdity. By the way, on the topic about critical thinking and intelligence, let’s hear Prof. Neil Degrasse Tyson’s brilliant analogy about our human intelligence here:


Why is it necessary for something to be round for something else to circle/revolve around it? I can circle a chair, a mountain and - metaphorically speaking - an island in a cosmic ocean? Maybe the sun and moon revolve around an island called: jambudippa, in a cosmic ocean? That makes sense! I also thought we had established that the sun and moon don’t revolve around our island home - is this grounds for healthy scepticism?

It is also interesting to use the translation ‘revolve’ instead of circle or, such like! When we think of revolve it makes it easier to make the association with actual planets etc. The planets in our solar system revolve around the sun, the moon revolves around the Earth and so on, whereas sun and moon circling an island in a cosmic sea might be a bit closer to the original meaning? The question also arises: does it actually say the sun and moon circle ‘Jambudippa’ or is there just a vague reference to revolving/circling/circumnavigating/circumambulation or, something about ‘a path surrounding something’ (see below)?

online definition:

“Parikrama or Pradakshina refers to circumambulation of sacred places in Hindu, Jain or Buddhist context. Parikrama means “the path surrounding something” in Sanskrit, and is also known as Pradakshina (“to the right”), representing circumambulation. … Pradaksina paths are defined.”


Not at all.
If accept without questioning it is blind faith.
Asking question removes doubt.

According to Buddhism Lava also come under the same category of water (Apo)


Are we to conclude that the Buddha was talking about the molten and solid layers of the Earth - earth established upon liquid? The centre of the Earth is a solid mass - I think iron - it then has a molten layer and then the crust. It is the solid core that gives us magnetic north and magnetic south - the Earth’s magnetic field - the north and south poles. The Buddha would then have said ‘liquid established upon earth then, earth established upon liquid then atmosphere then space’?


How about volcanos?
You find them outside the crust.
We all know tectonic plates are moving on top of the liquid.

When Buddha taught other subjects, he taught them help enough for the liberation.
We should not try to read too much into them.


Yes, there is plenty of hot liquid moving about. The point I was making was in regard to the sequence: earth established upon liquid. There is another step in the sequence i.e. the core is earth/iron then comes liquid/magma then comes earth/crust then comes atmosphere then comes space.

We should not read to much into these things? The easy way to stop that process is to let go of the thread - apparently these things are of enough interest to those participating to keep the thread alive. Clearly, a lot of reading into things - trying to understand literal meanings - has been going on? You did not provide an order, a sequence, an earlier commenter did - or was it you? - from the original source hence, my comment.

‘Established upon’ does not mean all mixed together?


As I said do not try to interpret word by word.
Our body also contain space, air, water and matter.
They are not in any particular order.


That would have depended on the location of the culture and also where the cosmological theorests lived. Landlocked cultures may come up with another story. They may see the movement of heavenly bodies across the sky - like the Egyptians and Ancient Indian cosmologists and work from there.


In ancient Indian cosmology the Sun, moon and stars move across the sky in an arc over the Earth. The Vedic model has the 'Island of ‘Jambudvipa’ on a cosmic ocean and the heavenly bodies passing over the 'Island. There are pictures anf also videos of the Vedic universe available online.


Just imagine Buddha is here today.
What question are you going to ask him?
What exactly you want to know?


The boats in the ocean around India 2,600 years ago may have been modest fishing boats that did not venture far from the shore. The oceans had rich ecosystems so catching things may have been easier.

The Harrapan’s hugged the coast when they traded with Mesopotamia. There were no giant deep sea vessels with high masts that I have heard about?


The thread addresses the question: Did the Buddha know the Earth was round? It has nothing to do with how many worlds are ‘out there’ or what kinds of beings there are. The world’s, suns, moons, heaven realms etc. mentioned in your comment, are they spheroidal or are they something else? You have cited some evocative imagery that has no relevance to the theme of the thread.


Those evocative imageries have 100% relevance to the theme of the thread. Please read my post again.


I read it again - I saw the word ‘revolve’ that gives a hint of some kind of circular motion. Through the four quarters hmmm … I am not sure that ‘revolve’ is an appropriate translation? It has an automatic connotation of planetary orbits. Things that roundish planets do around stars. Or, the moon around the Earth. We need more than vague hints to establish an understanding of ball-like heavenly bodies in revolving trajectories. I cannot see how your beautiful quotation establishes this?