Pluto Region May Be Named After Buddhist Deity
In the aftermath of NASA’s historic New Horizons flyby of Pluto, names are being given to the geographical features of the distant planet.
One of the regions is informally named after “Meng Po,” the god of forgetfulness in Chinese Buddhist mythology, the Buddhist website Lion’s Roar reports. “Meng Po” is said to greet souls in the afterlife, and give them a bowl of soup to forget their experience of Hell before they pass into the next life.
There is a previous connection with the dwarf planet and the Buddhist afterlife. In Hindi, Pluto is named “Yama,” after the wrathful deity of death Buddhist and Hindu mythology.
With the help of the general public, the New Horizons team has assembled a list of possible names for the never-before seen regions of Pluto. The proposals are divided in six categories ranging from the names of NASA space missions and spacecraft to those of underworlds with their beings and travellers.
— NASA Solar System (@NASASolarSystem) July 17, 2015
I love the names that are emerging from the Pluto flyby: Tombaugh Regio, Cthulhu, Mordor! http://t.co/Ff0MNdq0pn
— Sam Luckenbill (@sam) July 15, 2015
The most popular entry in the category of underworld beings is “Cthulhu,” which is the old deity in the 1928 book The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft. It was favoured by 39 percent of all voters and showed worldwide popularity, according to the New Horizons team.
The International Astronomical Union needs to approve the names to make them official.