(Last Updated on : 02/03/2010)
Vishnu Purana discusses the concept of seven continents in great detail in the form of dwipas or islands. Although usually the term 'dwipa' stands for islands but according to the concept of Puranas dwipas refer to the seven continents of the universe. The seven continents of the earth are namely Jambu-dwipa, Plaksha-dwipa, Shalmali-dwipa, Shakha-dwipa, Kusha-dwipa, Krauncha-dwipa and Pushkara-dwipa.
Vishnu Purana states that Jambu-dwipa extends to around hundred thousand yojanas. A lot of Jambu trees also grow on Jambu-dwipa. Plaksha-dwip is twice the size of Jambu-dwipa and a number of fig trees grow on it. In Plaksha-dwip the lord of the universe is worshipped in the form of moon by the Aryakas and other caste people. The continent of Plaksha-dwip is surrounded by a sea of molasses.
Salmali-dwipa is an insular continent and there are seven divisions to this continent according to the names of seven sons namely Sweta, Harita, Jimuta, Rohita, Vaidyuta, Manasa and Suprabha. There are seven mountain ranges in the continent of Salmala-dwipa. People of four castes occupy the continent and it is believed that the seven rivers that are present in the continent have the capacity to remove all sins.
Kusha-dwipa is surrounded by an ocean with the name of Suroda. The ocean has the same size as that of the land mass. There are seven varshas in the continent and the varshas are occupied by men of four castes. The people of four castes in Kusha-dwipa worship Janardana in the form of Lord Brahma
according to the rites laid down in the Sastras for the protection of their kingdoms. Just like the other continents Kusha-dwipa also has seven seas and seven continents. The continent has been named as Kusha-dwipa because it has a huge lump of Kus-grass in its land. Kusha-dwipa is grit by the Ghrita Sea or the Ocean of Butter.
The Sea of Butter on the other hand is encircled by Krauncha
-dwipa which is twice as large as the Kusha-dwipa. The seven varshas of the continent was named after the seven sons of Dyutiman, the sovereign of Krauncha-dwipa. In the charming mountains of Krauncha-dwipa people dwell free from fear along with the celestials. In this continent the Brahmanas
, the Kshatriyas, the Vaishyas and the Shudras are together known as the Pushkaras. Along with the seven important rivers in the continents there are a number of small rivers. In this land the great Janardana is worshipped in the form of Rudra and is surrounded by the sea of curd.
The Sea of Curds on the other hand is encircled by Saka-dwipa. In the continent of Saka-dwipa there are seven boundary mountains. All the mountains present in the island are very excellent and charming. There is a large Saka or a Teak tree in the lands which is frequented by the Siddhas and the Gandharvas. The four castes present in Saka-dwipa are Nriga, Magadha, Manasa and Mandaga. All these correspond to the Brahmanas, the Kshatriyas, the Vaishyas and the Shudras. The Saka-dwipa is surrounded by the sea of milk on all sides.
Vishnu Purana narrates that the sea of milk, is again encircled on all sides by the insular continent of Pushkara
, which is twice the extent of Saka-dwipa. In Pushkara-dwipa there is only one mighty range of mountain known as Manosattara which runs in a circular direction like an armlet. The mountain is fifty thousand Yoyanas in height and the same in breadth and it is circular on all sides. In the continent of Pushkara-dwipa the people live for ten thousand years, freed from disease, sorrow, anger and jealousy. There is neither virtue nor vice, killer nor slain; there is no jealousy, envy, fear, hatred, malice, nor any moral delinquency. The varsa situated on the outside of Manosattara is called Mahavira and the one situated inside is called Dhataki
: they are both frequented by the celestials and Danavas
. In Pushkara-dwipa there is no distinction of caste or order. The people dwelling in the continent do not perform any rites and the three Vedas
, the Purans, ethics, polity and the laws of services are completely unknown in the continent of Pushkara-dwipa. Pushkara-dwipa on the other hand is encircled by Syaduka Sea or the sea of fresh water.
In conclusion it can be said that in this way the seven insular continents are encircled by seven seas and each ocean and island is twice the dimension of that which precedes it. The water, in all these oceans, remains the same at all seasons and never increases or diminishes. Moreover in addition it can be said that in the continent of Pushkara-dwipa food is produced spontaneously and people there enjoy life.