Did the Buddha know the Earth is round?


I appreciate the ‘handful of leaves’ metaphor but you seem to understand it in a way that I am not familiar with. I thought it meant that the Buddha shared teachings with us that were relevant to the process of awakening - you may have misunderstood what I have said - never mind!


We would be Arahants if we had fully understood the three characteristics.


We know that there are teaching Buddha’s and solitary Buddha’s - this is the Buddha’s teachings. The Buddha taught that some can teach and others cannot - that makes sense to me - it is consistent with my experience in Buddhism. As to who is capable of learning? That depends on many causes and supportive conditions.


I think it is quite something that he is saying that there is liquid (which would have to be the lava) on which the earth (earth’s crust) based on. When we question the Buddha’s ability to detect ‘scientific’ knowledge, we must consider the possibility that he was talking about science, rather than begin after dismissing the possibility- otherwise our considerations would be unbalanced. Vayo means movements (not necessarily ‘air’) so the movement of the liquid can cause volcanic eruptions (and the atmosphere surrounds that). He has not talked about the metallic core or it is too hot to be in solid form, perhaps because it wasn’t relevant to the earthquake issue/what is possible to be perceived thereby limiting any confusion by bringing in unnecessary bit of information to the topic at hand -here he was merely providing an explanation of earthquakes after one just happened- a good reason to calm the populace and give them a sense of understanding (and hence a feeling of control) over what just happened.

with metta


That’s interesting, the context! So why not say hot liquid and lava can come in liquid form and a bit thicker - at least on the surface. The iron core is a solid mass it is not liquid. A simple search will reveal what goes on deep in the Earth. I suppose there was no word for lava in the Buddha’s region. I don’t think there are any volcanoes there? I think the earthquakes had something to do with seismic activity. The tectonic plate of India rubbing up against the other one to its North. The Himalayas are the result. I think earthquakes are caused by fault lines but there would be volcanic activity along these fault lines.


Earthquakes are caused by plates moving against each other, movemenet of the plates is caused by, in part, mantle convection (movement of the liquid rock below the plates) - such is the current scientific understanding.
Volcanic activity is not a mandatory consequence. There are regions on Earth devoid of volcanoes along the plate boundaries.


And the solid core creates the Earth’s magnetic field that protects us from solar winds. Without it we would not be here as a species. Life would have had a hard time evolving the way it has if we were exposed to the full force of the solar winds without something to deflect them. The northern and southern lights are created by deflected solar winds. But we digress yet again - not to worry! :slightly_smiling_face:


Exactly. Volcanoes occur when there are subductions and are some distance from the boundary. Here in New Zealand the volcanoes i n the North Island are some way west of the boundary. The non-volcanic Southern Alps in the South Island are adjacent to the plate boundary, and are an uplift feature.


@laurence say if Buddha did not know that earth is round.
How does it matter to you?
I create another topic with this question you can answer to that as this is an off-topic question.
Does that mean Buddha’s teaching Kamma and re-birth etc are all of them wrong?


I cannot see a necessary connection between the shape of the Earth and the Buddha’s teachings on ‘kamma’ and rebirth? Occasionally we jump to conclusions - we are only human!

I have started another thread that addresses your concerns. Best wishes, Laurence


Comment moved.



sutta nipata


Could you provide the exact passage in the Sutta Nipata? It would be interesting to see what the Pali is.

Similarly I came across a similar reference in the Therāpadāna, (in the new English translation ‘Legends of the Buddhist Saints’ - page 51, PDF slide 52):

The original Pali is here: SuttaCentral (@ SC82, but I don’t know how to adjust the link to highlight the specific verse, I’ll try to do this later).

The Pali_English dictionary for ‘tulamaṇḍale’ has: image

So circles/disks for the dictionary; but sphere for the translator…?

Based on the surrounding verses, I’m wondering is this verse has to do with weighting the earth with a scale (rather than lifting), since the other verses are about measuring (a volume of water and a distance in space).

In Sanskrit it would seem that ‘tula’ can mean a balance or a weight actually.

Now the shape of the weight would give a clue to the shape of the earth they had in mind… A quick search yields:

  • Cubes for the Indus Valley civilization:

  • possible spheres (?) at the time of Gandharan sculpture (ref)

  • discs, e.g. 19th cent. India

Disks, spheres, cubes… all bets are off! :grinning:


Didn’t people question what is the other side of the coin?


Turtles all the way down


This sounds right.
When I was young I thought the earth is going all the way down.
Anyway this is no difference to my present knowledge.
I think the world is extend to infinity.:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:



Sorry, answering for other’s question, but this is the passage from Snp 5.1:

"Atha ko carahi jānāti,
Asmiṃ pathavimaṇḍale ;
Muddhaṃ muddhādhipātañca,
Taṃ me akkhāhi devate”

The bold is “earth disc”?


I think traditional Indian cosmologies have an “Earth” that is circular but not spherical, with Sumeru jutting out from the middle of it like a very tall inverted pyramid. Afaik. But that is an interesting quote.