Where is Jambudipa?

The Lord Buddha was born and lived in Jambudipa. References

The etymology of Jambudipa is “the island where one is born”. Implicitly it means the island where the Lord Buddha was born.

An Indian map of Jambudipa

A Chinese map of Jambudipa

Where is the modern day Jambudipa?

That’s odd and new to me. To avoid polemics, let me highlight that an alternative (and widely accepted) etymology says something different:

The word Jambudvipa literally refers to “the land of Jambu trees” where Jambu is the name of the species (also called Jambul or Indian Blackberry) and dvipa means “island” or “continent”.


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One of the four Mahádípas, or great continents, which are included in the Cakkavála and are ruled by a Cakkavatti. They are grouped round Mount Sineru. In Jambudípa is Himavá with its eighty-four thousand peaks, its lakes, mountain ranges, etc. This continent derives its name from the Jambu-tree (also called Naga) which grows there, its trunk fifteen yojanas in girth, its outspreading branches fifty yojanas in length, its shade one hundred yojanas in extent and its height one hundred yojanas (Vin.i.30; SNA.ii.443; Vsm.i.205f; Sp.i.119, etc.). On account of this tree, Jambudípa is also known as Jambusanda (SN.vs.552; SNA.i.121). The continent is ten thousand yojanas in extent; of these ten thousand, four thousand are covered by the ocean, three thousand by the Himálaya mountains, while three thousand are inhabited by men (SNA.ii.437; UdA.300).

Sometimes in Jambudípa there are as many as eighty-four thousand cities; this number is sometimes reduced to sixty thousand, forty thousand, or even twenty thousand, but never to less (SNA.i.59; J.iv.84 says sixty-three thousand; PvA.111). In the time of Asoka there were eighty-four thousand cities, in each of which he built a monastery (Mhv.v.176; Vsm.201). In the Anguttara Nikáya (i.35) it is said that, in Jambudípa, trifling in number are the parks, groves, lakes, etc., more numerous the steep, precipitous places, unfordable rivers, inaccessible mountains, etc.

At the time of Metteyya Buddha’s appearance on earth Jambudípa will be pervaded by mankind even as a jungle is by reeds and rushes. There will be eighty-four thousand cities with Ketumátí (Benares) at the head (D.iii.75).

The Buddha once declared that the people of Jambudípa excel those of both Uttarakuru and Távatimsa in three respects - courage, mindfulness and religious life (A.iv.396; Kvu.99).

Buddhas (and Cakkavattis) are born only in Jambudípa (BuA.48; MA.ii.917).
For the purposes of cáriká, the monks divided their tours in Jambudípa into three circuits or mandalas - the Mahámandala which extended over nine hundred leagues, the Majjhima which extended over six hundred, and the Antima over three hundred.

Those who wish to tour the first, start after the mahápavárana and complete their journey in nine months, for the Majjhimamandala they start after the Pavárana, on the full-moon day of Kattika, completing the tour in nine months, while for the Antimamandala they start on the first day of Phussa and return after seven months (Sp.i.197).

In each Cakkavála there is a Jambudípa (A.i.227). Mention is made in the Kákáti Játaka (J.iii.91) of a Jambudípa-samudda, beyond which was the river Kebuka.

Source: http://www.metta.lk/pali-utils/Pali-Proper-Names/jambudiipa.htm

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So the current thinking is the maps shown above depicts the Asian/European landmass is it?

Do you know any other references where the word"dipa" refer to a continent?

Sure. Check SC’s define entry for dīpa:

masculine neuter
an island; a shelter, a place of refuge
a division of the terrestrial world, one of the four continents
the island of Sri Laṅkā
an island continent (mahā˚, always as 4);
terra firma, solid foundation, resting-place, shelter, refuge (in this sense freq. combined w. tāṇa lena & saraṇa & expl. in Com by patiṭṭhā)-
*Ved. dvīpa = dvi + ap (sp.) of āpa water, lit. “double-watered,” between (two) waters



I think we can be more or less sure Jambudipa is a mythological construct. First, it is supposed to be ten thousand yojanas in length alone, which is, as far as I know, longer than the equator line, so I don’t think there can be any talk about an island here. Even the Jambu trees the continent is named after are supposed to outspread their branches fifty yojanas in length. Second, it is only one of the four great continents (Aparagoyāna, Pubbavideha, and Uttarakuru being the three others), which are, in their turn, oriented around the Mount Meru, a mountain that is supposed to have the dimensions far surpassing anything that can be found on our planet. You can see the four continents and the Mount Meru on the pictures in your post.

Given these descriptions of Jambudipa, looking for its modern equivalent would be akin to looking for the modern Garden of Eden, Eldorado, Atlantis, Hades, or the islands that Odysseus journeyed through.

References: http://www.palikanon.de/english/pali_names/c/cakkavaala.htm


Does that mean Nepal/India is not the birthplace of the Lord Buddha?

I think the “4 continents” idea emerge from the map above where it is divided into 4 regions.

“Diva” has always been used to refer to a small island. It is not plausible the concept of a continent even existing 2500 years ago.

The map shows an island with a mountain (Mt. Meru) at the centre. The island is divided into 4 regions.

If you were correct then that would be the first time a continent was named after a fruit. It would also be the first time both Indian and Chinese cartographers got so horribly wrong how to draw a map of a large continent.

Of course they are, it’s just that they are not on Jambudipa. Similarly, the Vikings and Ancient Germanic people were born in Eastern and Central Europe and Skandinavia, but it doesn’t mean they were born in Midgard. And Ven. Brahmavamso is living in Australia, but he surely isn’t walking upside down. People living in China do live in China, but not in the Middle Kingdom that is truly middle.

In Sinhala? So what? In Modern Hindi, dvīpa means ‘island’ and mahādvīpa means ‘continent’, so the actual meaning of ‘dvīpa’ is closer to ‘land mass’. Judging by the word form, it was borrowed from Sanskrit, and we find direct correspondence to these words in Pali. So, Jambudipa is considered to be one of the four mahādīpā in the entire Commentarial literature written on Sri Lanka. The usage is virtually identical in all other Indo-Aryan languages, ancient and modern (and I would venture a guess this is also correct for the Dravidic languages as well).

This is not quite true. If you follow the links to palikanon.de that I left in my previous comment and read the articles on each of the four great continents, you will see they are mentioned in the Canon and Commentaries quite frequently. For example, Uttarakuru is described in some detail in DN32, but mostly in later or Paritta-like texts with quasi-agical purposes that may be surmised to be late. You may see on the example of Uttarakuru how real nations or tribal confederations were mythologized as time passed.

Not sure about the continent, but there’s Brazil. A close association of Canada with the maple tree is also known, so no one would be surprized if Canada would be called the Land of the Maple Tree. Who knows, maybe Jambudipa started out as a similar poetic name for Bharat or Aryavarta? Huaxia, one of the historical names for the Chinese nations, can be traced back among other things to the 華 radical, which originally meant ‘flower’. Moreover, if we look at the Mahabharata’s list of the continents, almost all of them are named after trees and fruits:

Jambu (“Indian Blackberry tree”)
Plaksha (“Ficus religiosa (Peepal) tree”)
Shalmali (“Bombax tree”)
Kusha (“grass”)
Kraunca (“Mountain”)
Shaka (" Pine tree")
Pushkara (" Maple tree")

This list is important for another reason as well. It shows that the idea of Jambudipa is not necessarily a uniquely Buddhist one. We find it in the Puranas, we surely find it in the Jain literature, even in the Tattvarth-Adhigama-Sutra, the most prestigious non-canonical text of the entire tradition (so prestigious in fact, that it may be safely regarded as canonical). All of these traditions believed the entire Indic area to be part of Jambudipa, just as the Scandinavians believed to be living in Midgard. It would also be very weird for the Hindus and especially Jains of all people to borrow the concept of a region where the Lord Buddha was born and apply it to the entire India despite their ideological differences. Much more natural is the idea that the name comes from the Jambu trees and was borrowed from the large Indic tradition into Buddhism and not vice versa.


Among the many world systems there is a moon, a sun and a Jambudipa.

Jamma + dipa > Jambudipa (the island where a Thahagatha is born)

In each world system all Thahagathas are born in Jambudipa. They are born in Jambudipa and even speak the same language Magadha.

“Bhikkhus, as far as sun and moon revolve and light up the quarters with their brightness, so far the thousandfold world system extends. In that thousandfold world system there are a thousand moons, a thousand suns, a thousand Sinerus king of mountains, a thousand Jambudīpas, a thousand Aparagoyānas, a thousand Uttarakurus, a thousand Pubbavidehas, and a thousand four great oceans; a thousand four great kings, a thousand heavens ruled by the four great kings, a thousand Tāvatiṃsa heavens, a thousand Yāma heavens, a thousand Tusita heavens, a thousand heavens of devas who delight in creation, a thousand heavens of devas who control what is created by others, a thousand brahmā worlds. As far, bhikkhus, as this thousandfold world system extends, Mahābrahmā an.v.60 there ranks as the foremost. But even for Mahābrahmā there is alteration; there is change. Seeing this thus, the instructed noble disciple becomes disenchanted with it; being disenchanted, he becomes dispassionate toward the foremost, not to speak of what is inferior.

I had thought Jambudipa meant “Land of the Rose Apple”

“Then there’s the story of the Buddha, when a child, being placed under a rose apple tree, and the shadow of the tree stayed with him the whole day. His father realized that a miracle had taken place and came and worshiped him. Ancient India was known as Jam-bhu-dvipa, the Rose Apple Tree land, because it was shaped like the rose apple tree leaf; so probably connecting the story of Buddhism with Jam-bhu-dvipa was connecting the religion with India.”

Taken from here - “TREES & FLOWERS IN BUDDHISM” https://discourse.suttacentral.net/t/where-is-jambudipa/5303/10

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The Rose Apple is a tropical fruit. It grows mainly in southern parts of India. It most certainly grows well in Sri Lanka.

That again rules out northern parts of India as the birthplace of the blessed Buddha.

There are a number of things not of conjecture.

  • It’s a small island
  • It is not “mythical” since Lord Buddha himself makes many references.
  • The geography and structure as seen through the eyes of ancients is clearly evident from the above maps.

There are many species of the Syzygium genus which grow within the Indian subcontinent.

Sorry but your suggested etymology for Jsmbudvipa is at best an alternative one. Although more likely to be just wrong.

Unfortunately, if my observation of your way of argumenting here taught me anything, trying to show you this will not work.

Nevertheless, as the post had grown in length and my first replies got lost at the beginning of it I will take a chance to share again a link to the wiki article, so others may be able to understand the mainstream interpretation of the term.



Do you understand the word “tropical” ? Here is the tropical region.

The Nepal/North Indian region is above 4000 ft over sea level. This is not in the tropical region. This species of tree does not grow well in this region.

The quicker everyone figures this out, the better things will be for the EBT process. There are folks constantly running to India for answers thinking the Lord Buddha was born there. You need to confirm either way. Everything else will nicely fall into place once the true origin is known.

The word “Dipa” or “Dweep” is a word used to refer to an island.

  • Chera Dweep/St. Martin’s Island
  • Lakshadweep, Union State in India composed of islands
  • Lakshadweepa, “one hundred thousand islands” in Sanskrit, a poetical term for a mythical expanse of innumerable islands in the Indian Ocean
  • Jambudvipa, the dvipa (“island”) of the terrestrial world, as envisioned in the cosmologies of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism
  • Jambudwip, an island in the Bay of Bengal
  • Jawahar Dweep/Butcher Island
  • Kuruva Dweep
  • Mahal Dweep, an obsolete name for the Maldives

It has never been used to refer to a “continent”. The translation is a modern translation that is clearly incorrect.

The rest of the modern emtymology is also incorrect as I keep mentioning.

The fact that the cosmic mountain does not exist means that these cosmologies have to be treated as historical artefacts of the realization of the Dhamma in ancient times. We should be viewing this not as “because it is old, this is the historical true Dhamma”, but rather “this is how these people realized, integrated, and explained the Dhamma in their own contexts and made it relevant within their own worldviews”.

Jambudvīpa is nowhere, just like Sumeru.

[quote=“Rajitha, post:16, topic:5303”]
The rest of the modern emtymology is also incorrect as I keep mentioning.
[/quote]You will have to prove that to have people believe it.

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The Thai word for Continent is ทวีป / Thwīp. I wonder if this is related?

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Yes, it’s from the Sanskrit cognate, dvīpa.


When did it happen Coemgenu? Was it when you realised Santa Clause does not exist? Or when you realised it wasn’t the Tooth fairy who left some cash under the pillow? When did you become cynical?

The magic has slowly faded away has it not? What if I told you the magic does exist. There is a heaven and there are angles. All it takes is some faith. Unlike the faith you had in Santa I can guarantee this time you will not be let down.

Did you know no one hardly visit Bodhghaya during Vesak? The reason people avoid visiting is because of the scorching hot 40c or 100f degree weather. See here -> Bodhgya climate.

Can you imagine anyone attaining enlightment in this heat? The Sutha mention quite clearly the weather was “pleasant” during birth, enlightenment, and Parinibbana. India is not Lord Buddha’s birthplace.