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The Ancient Dwipas

The word Dwipa consists of two words – Dvi (two) and apa (water) which means having water on two sides. According to the Matsya Purana and Bhagabata Purana, the world was divided into Seven Dwipas (Sapta Dvipas) which means Seven islands. The Mahabharata names the following seven islands of the world.

1.    Jambu dvipa

2.    Plaksha Divpa

3.    Salmala dvipa

4.    Kusa dvipa

5.    Krauncha dvipa

6.    Saka dvipa

7.    Puskara dvipa

Below the celestial regiment, the earth is arranged in the seven concentrated rings of island continents. Jambu Dvipa is the innermost. The earth rests upon the head of shesa, the cosmic serpent.

Jambu Dvipa is surrounded by Lavana Sagara (the salty sea). Plaksha is the second of the rings surrounded by sea of sugar cane  juice (Ikshurasa) Salmala dvipa is the third with sea of wine around. Kusha is the fourth with white sea of clarified butter. Krauncha is the fifth with sea of curds (dadhi Sagara). Saka is the sixth  with white sea of milk (kshira Sagar). Pushkara is the Seventh white sea of fresh water (Jala).

The Brahma Purana describes the Seven Dvipas as below:-

O Brahmins, there are Seven continents Jambu, Plaksha, Salmala, Kusa, Krauncha, Saka and Puskara. Those are encircled by seven oceans the salty ocean, sea of Sugar Cane, wine, Ghee, Curds, Milk and Sea water. The Jambu dvipa is situated in the middle. In its centre, O leading Brahmins, is the Meru, the mountain of Gold.

Chapter 16

Chaitanya Charitamrita by Krushna Das written in 1557, also narrates seven dvipas as follows:-

The Planets are called – dvipas, outer space is like an ocean of air. Just as there are islands in the watery ocean, these planets in the ocean of space are called dvipas or islands in outer space.

          Our country- Bharata Varssha is  Jambu dvipa – the land of Jambu trees. The term Jambu dvipa was used by Mauryan emperor Asoka, in the third century BC. There were nine regions of Jambu dvipa. Each region was called Varsha. Our country Bharata was one of the regions of Jambu dvipa. So it is called Bharata Varsha.

          It may be mentioned that our Bharata was earlier known as Ajanava. After the king Bharata, the name was changed to Bharata. Jagannath Das has said in his Odiya Bhagabata

Purve Ajanava thila

Bharatun Bharata hoila.

Later on the foreigners called this Bharata as India and Hindustan. However our country has rich legacy of culture and civilization. We are proud of her – Hume Naaz hain Hind par.

(The views expressed are the writer’s own.)

Radhakanta Seth is an Income tax officer in Sambalpur.  He is a Freelance writer and his articles have been published in some Oriya dailies like Sambad, Samaj, Dharitri and English dailies like The Telegraph and in a sociological journal ‘Folklore’ published from Kolkata.

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