I am reading 'The Wonder That Was India' by A.L.Basham. In chapter 1, Introduction the author mentions as a footnote that,

The ancient Indians knew their sub-continent as Jambudvipa (the continent of the jambu tree).

What was/is the jambu tree, if it is mentioned in any Hindu scriptures and do we still find it in India?

  • Hello. Welcome to HSE. We here discuss about Hinduism scriptures but not history of India. If you want to know whether the hindu scriptures has references to Jambu tree then this is the place to ask. But if you are asking about history of a tree used to/still available in India, then this is not the place to ask. Please edit your post accordingly. Thanks. – Mr_Green Mar 19 '20 at 11:03
  • There are plenty of Jambu trees in my home town. – TheLittleNaruto Mar 19 '20 at 11:17
  • 1
    BTW there is a cosmic significance of the word Jambudvipa. – TheLittleNaruto Mar 19 '20 at 11:24
  • @Mr_Green I just edited it. Thanks. – Noeshel Mar 19 '20 at 12:13
  • @TheLittleNaruto will need a little more than that. – Noeshel Mar 19 '20 at 12:14

Jambudvipa and the related Jambu tree have been mentioned in various Puranas. The Jambu tree is nothing but the rose apple tree.

Here are a few references from the Devi Bhagavatam which mention about the tree and the Dvipa (that is named after it):

Thus the seven oceans had their origins. And the portion of the earth, that was included within the ruts, became the seven islands (Dvîpas). 0 Child! Now hear about the seven Dvîpas and the seven Oceans :-- The first is the Jambu Dvîpa; the second is Plaksa, the third is S'almalî; the fourth is the Kus'a Dvîpa; the fifth is Krauncha; the sixth is the S'aka Dvîpa; and the seventh is the Puskara Dvîpa. The second Dvîpa Plaksa is twice the first Jambu Dvîpa and so on; each succeeding Dvîpa is twice as large as its previous one. Now hear the names of the oceans.

Devi Bhagavatam Book 8; Chapter 4

1-31. S'rî Nârâyana said :-- O Child Nârada! Now hear in detail about the divisions of the earth into the Dvîpas and the Varsas as marked out by the Devas. In brief, I describe about them; no one can speak about this in details. First, the Jambu Dvîpa is one lâkh Yoyanas in its dimensions. This Jambu Dvîpa is round like a lotus. There are nine Varsas in it and excepting the Bhadrâs'va and Ketumâla, each is nine thousand Yoyanas in its dimensions (i. e., in its diameter or circumference?) and there are eight very lofty mountains, in those Varsas, forming their boundaries. Of the Varsas, the two Varsas that are situated in the North and South, are of the size of a bow (segmental); and the four others are elongated in their size. The centre of all these Varsas is named Îlâvrita Varsa and its size is rectangular. In the centre of this Îlâvarsa is situated the golden Sumeru Mountain, the King of all the mountains, one lakh Yoyanas high. It forms the pericarp of the lotus earth.

1-37. Nârâyana said :-- The Jambudvîpa has been described, how it is and what is its width. It is surrounded on all sides by the salt ocean. As Meru is surrounded by Jambudvîpa, so the salt ocean is surrounded by Plaksadvîpa, twice its size. As the ditch is surrounded by gardens, so the salt ocean is surrounded by gardens. As the Jambu tree exists in Jambudvîpa, so the Plaksa tree exists in the Plaksa Dvîpa and of the same size. The name Plaksa Dvîpa is derived from the name of this Plaksa tree. This tree is of a golden colour. Fire exists at its bottom with form incarnate. This is, named Saptajihva.

Devi Bhagavatam Book 8; Chapter 12

The translator (Swami Vijnanananda) identifies Jambu to be rose apple.

The World Mother becomes very much pleased when one offers to Her the following things :-- Gur, honey, ghee, milk, curd, Takra, apûpa, fresh butter, Karkatî, Kusmânda, Modaka, Panasa, plantain, Jambu (rose-apple), mangoe, sesamum, oranges, Dâdima, (pomegranate) Vadarî (Jujube) the Dhâtrî (Âmalaki) fruit, Pâyasa, Prithuka, gram, cocoanut, Jambîra. Kaseru, and S’ûrana.

  • I am a little confused here. Firstly, according to the book Jambudvipa is one of the seven islands (continents?) and then it later adds that it is surrounded on all sides by salt water. Is it talking of the continents or world as one big dvipa divided into seven smaller dvipas? Also, if you could name the present names of the dvipas to make it easy to remember. – Noeshel Mar 20 '20 at 11:40
  • Yes, according to Puranas, the Jambudvipa is surrounded by the Lavana Samudra (salt ocean). Well, Jambudvipa is divided into 9 parts (called as Varsas), of which Bharat Varsha is the southernmost part. Now, this Bharat Varsha is further sub-divided into nine parts of which the 9th one can be taken to be the present day India. Even Srilanka is part of Jambudvipa, it is mentioned in the Purana as one of the Upa-Dvipas of Jambudvipa. – Rickross Mar 20 '20 at 13:20
  • @Noeshel Since world maps have changed so much from those ancient times, we can't give exact present names of these Dvipas. You can read a bit more about the topic from here: wisdomlib.org/definition/jambudvipa – Rickross Mar 20 '20 at 13:20
  • okay. Thank you so much. – Noeshel Mar 21 '20 at 15:49
  • @Noeshel No problem .. – Rickross Mar 21 '20 at 17:11

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