Type of Spiritual Experience
There are real mountains venerated as symbolic replicas of the ones seen in spiritual experience, but most cultures also have their own mythical mountains – mountains that have been ‘seen’ in spiritual experience or mountains that are simply used symbolically to represent the principles that a mountain embodies.
Everest, Nandi Devi, Mount Olympus, Mauna Loa, Gunung Agung are all real but venerated mountains. But Mount Meru is mythical.
Mount Meru is probably the most famous and widely known mythological sacred mountain. It is to be found in Hindu, Buddhist cosmology, and Jain mythology, and is considered to be the center of all the physical, metaphysical and spiritual universes.
It is the abode of Lord Brahma – the Creator - and the Devas. The mountain is said to be 80,000 Yojanas (several thousands of miles) high and located in Jambudvipa, one of the continents in the Cosmic Ocean in Hindu mythology. Many Hindu temples, including Angkor Wat, the principal temple of Angkor in Cambodia, have been built as symbolic representations of this mountain.
The mythology surrounding Mount Meru includes reference to the Sun god. The Puranas and Hindu epics, for example, state that Surya, the sun-God, circumambulates Mount Meru every day.
A description of the experience
Bhutanese thanka of Mt. Meru
A mural depicting Mt. Meru,
in Wat Sakhet, Bangkok, Thailand