PURANIC GEOGRAPHY AND CETUMALA OF BELIZE PLUS A BIT ABOUT KURU AND BHADRSVA-VARSA

The Brahmanda Purana states that the worldly-lotus was born of the navel of Lord Vishnu. In the middle was located Mt. Meru. Round it were four large countries, Bhadrasva (भद्रस्व) to the east, Bharata (भारत) or Greater India, Cetumala (केतुमाल) to the west, Kuravas or Kuru (कुरु) to the north. These four regions, it says, cover the entire region of the earth.

The Worldly Lotus

as described in the Brahmand Purana

Cetumala or Ketumala, as per the Indian scriptures, was located to the western end of the world, in any case to the west of Mt. Meru which was located at the centre of the world. 


Interestingly, the name of the capital of an ancient Mayan state in Belize in Latin America was Chetumal. Chetumal is known to have been occupied from 2000 BC though it might have been inhabited earlier than that. This ancient site is located at present day Santa Rita. Though little structural evidence remains of ancient Chetumal, Santa Rita is indeed the site of some Mayan ruins. 

Pre-Classic era (2500 BC-200 AD) Ruins 

at Santa Rita built over an even more 

ancient site of Cetumal, Belize


Many Mayan sites, including Chetumal seem to have names of Sanskrit and Tamil origin. Chetu (चेतु) is a Sanskrit word that means ‘heedfullness’  or ‘consciousness’.  One of the meanings of  ‘Ketu’ (केतु) too is ‘intelligence’ or ‘discernment’. Chetumal has no known meaning in the Mayan languages, though Chactemal means Redwood, but it is highly unlikely that an ancient civilization was named after timber – especially when many centres of Maya civilization had names which have close cognates in Sanskrit such as Tikal (Trikaal), Tiwanaku (Devanaku) and Maitili (Mithila).

Kuru and Uttara Kuru of the Mahabharata and the Puranas have long been identified as north Russia and Siberia. Ancient Indian texts refer to Siberia as Uttara-Kuru. ‘Uttara’ means ‘North’, ‘Kuru’ is the name of the Indian tribe that had traveled north. ‘Kara’, the name of the Sea into which the Angara River falls, is most likely a distortion of the ancient Sanskrit name ‘Kuru’, though it is sometimes claimed to arise from the Turick ‘kara’ meaning ‘black’. 


In his book ‘Ancient Indian Province in Tibet, China and Mongolia: Identification of the Ancient Land of Bhadrāśva, author Shyam Narain Pande associates these three countries with Bhadrasva region of the Puranas. 


1. Ancient Indian Province of Bhadrasva by Shyam Narain Pande

2. Journal-of-the-American-Oriental-Society-1849-Volume-13

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