Jains believe the universe is divided in three worlds: the heavens, the middle world and the hells. This is a traditional painted diagram of that part of the middle world which is inhabited by human beings.
What is depicted in it?
The middle world is made of concentric circles representing different continents, mountains and oceans. The outermost circle in yellow is the mountain range called Manuṣottara; it marks the boundary beyond which human beings cannot live. The two blue circles represent two oceans: the innermost is the ocean called Lavaṇa Samudra or ‘Salt Ocean’, the outer one Kālodadhi or ‘Black-Water Ocean’. The three spaces delimited by these three circles form the human world, Aḍhāī-dvīpa (Two and a Half Continents), the only part of the Jain universe in which the soul can achieve liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth.
A Jain temple with worshippers in depicted at the four corners to signify the universal nature of Jain doctrine. The captions in Gujarati and Sanskrit language describe geographical features and also provide proper names of places, rivers, mountains and other additional information.
Jains think that the universe is non-created and eternal and that its different worlds are interconnected. Understanding and meditating on the complex structure of the Jain universe is essential to promote spiritual awakening.