Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Geography (Pitha Locations)

Geography (Pitha Locations) | Purelands & Sacred Geography Main Page

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- Pitha Description (below)
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Shakta Pitha - 24 Locations according to the Chakrasamvara System:
[1] Pulliramalaya.
[2] Jalandhara.
[3] Odyana.
[4] Arbuta.
[5] Godavari.
[6] Rameshavara.
[7] Devikoti.
[8] Malawa.
[9] Kamarupa.
[10] Ote.
[11] Trisakune.
[12] Kosala.
[13] Kalinga.
[14] Lambaka.
[15] Kanchi.
[16] Himalaya.
[17] Pretapuri.
[18] Grihadeva.
[19] Saurashta.
[20] Suvarnadvipa.
[21] Nagara.
[22] Sindhura.
[23] Maro.
[24] Kuluta.

There are several systems enumerating the names and locations of the Tantric Buddhist twenty-four Pithas. The two most well known systems are from the Hevajra Tantra and Chakrasamvara Tantra. In the Hindu religion the names and number of the Pithas can be found in the Brahmanda Purana, Mahapitha Purana and the Shakti Pitha Stotram by Shankaracharya (9th century).

Currently the only known references to the twenty-four Pithas in Himalayan art are found in the painting set of the Secret Biography of the 7th Dalai Lama. Three of the compositions from a set of seven paintings depict eight yogis each. The eight in total represent the twenty-four pithas. Some of the paintings have inscriptions naming each of the pithas accompanied by a geological feature symbolic of the related body part or representing a play on words between the name and meaning. HAR image #46911 is the best example for both inscription and geological feature.

From the Hevajra Tantra it says: " Vajragarbha asked: O Bhagavan, what are these meeting places?
Bhagavan replied: they are the Pithas, Upapithas, Ksetras, Upaksetras, Chandohas, Upachandohas, Melapakas, Upamelapakas, Pilavas, Upilavas, Smasanas and Upasmasanas.
Vajragarbha asked: O Bhagavan, which are the Pithas and the other meeting places?
Bhagavan relpied: The Pithas are Jalandhara, Oddiyana, Purnagiri [Pulliramalayam] and Kamarupa. The Upapithas are Malava, Sindhu, and Nagara [Pataliputra]. The Ksetras are Munmuni, Karunyapatakam, Devikota and Karmarapatakam. The Upaksetras are Kulata, Arbuda, Godavari and Himadri. The Chandohas are Harikelam, which is located in the middle of the salty ocean, Lampaka, Kancika and Saurastra. The Upachandohas are Kalinga, the Golden Island [Suvarnadvipa] and Kokana. The Pilava is at the edge of a village and a city. The cities of Caritra, Kosala, and Kumarapura, which is in the Vindhya Hills, are also Pilavas. In close proximity to them are the Upapilavas, O Vajragarbha of great mercy. Smasana is a meeting place of hungry ghosts as well as the seashore. A garden or the edge of a pond are known as an Upasmasana."

(The Concealed Essence of the Hevajra Tantra with the Commentary Yogaratnamala. G.W.Farrow & I. Menon. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 1992. Part 1, chapter 7, pages 76-77).

Jeff Watt 9-2016 [updated 6-2017]