Basic Description: Manu
the Lawgiver. The fourteen progenitors and lawgivers of the human race
in fourteen successive creations are known as Manus. The first was the Son-of
–the-self-born (Svayambhuva), procreated by the Immense-Being (Brahma) after
he had divided himself into male and female halves. From this Manu were
born the ten Great-Seers (Maha-rsis) or lords-of-progeny (Praja-patis). The Manu of the present age is the Son-of-Light (Vaivata). His story
is linked with that of the deluge. Manu is mentioned in the Vedas as the progenitor
Alternate Names: Swayambhuva, Satyavrata,
(Vaivata), Son-of-the-Self-born (Svayambhuva), Son-of-the-self-Luminous (Svarocisa),
Son of the Highest (Auttama), son of Darkness (Tamasa), son of Opulence (Raivata),
Son of Vison (Cakasusa), son of Brightness (Vaivasvata), Kinsman of the Sun
(Arka-savarnika), Kinsman of Ritual Skill (Daksa-savarnika), Kinsman of the
Immensity (Brahma-savarnika), Kinsman of the Eternal Law (Dharma-savarnika),
Kinsman of the destroyer (Rudra-savarnika), Kinsman of Light (Deva-savarnika
or Raucya), Kinsman of Might (Indra-savarnika), or Son of Might (Bhautya).
of Creation. In the history of creation, one day and night of the Immense
Being is called a Kalpa. This day is divided into fourteen parts. One Manu rules
over each of these parts, which are called manvantaras (reign of a Manu). Each
manvantara lasts two and a half equinoxical precessions, that is, 4,320,000
human years. There are thus fourteen Manus in a Kalpa, and for the rule of each
Manu a different set of the seven sages, different gods, a different Indra,
and different avatars appear.
Fish-Incarnation: The story of the fish is that of
the deluge, from which the fish save the seventh lawgiver, Manu Satyavrata,
founder of present-day humanity. In the water brought to him for ablutions,
Manu found a small fish which came into his hand and asked for protections.
The fish said, “I Shall save you from a flood which will sweep away all creatures.”
The fish grew to a large size and had to be kept in larger and larger vessels
until nothing but the ocean could hold it. Manu then recognized the incarnation
of Vishnu. The god informed Manu of the approaching deluge and ordered him to
prepare for it. He directed Manu to build a ship, and when the deluge came,
he ordered him to embark on the ship with all the sages, plants, and animals.
The fish which was of prodigious size, then swam to Manu, who fastened the vessel
to the fish’s horn, using the great serpent Remainder as a rope, and he was
conducted to safety when the waters had subsided. The Bhagavata Purana further
relates that the fish fought in the ocean the demon Hayagriva who
had stolen the Vedas from the sleeping Brahma. He gave the Vedas back to Manu
Satyavrata and taught him the principles of the knowledge which should guide
the human race during the present cycle of the four yugas, which are the true doctrine
Code of Manu: In his
code, Manu gives an account of creation. According to this authority,
he created living beings, the waters and threw them into a seed.
That seed became Brahma. The waters are called Nara
and the motion is called Narayana. Thus in this account, which
is an amalgamation for many myths, Manu claims the credit of creation of the
world to himself and incidentally establishes the priority of Narayana to Nara,
an obscure point in many of her myths.
Other References on the Karma-to-Grace website:
Hindu Flood Account.
Vankateswami and the God of the Untouchables.
Danielou, Alain. The
Myths and Gods of India. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International,
Thomas, P. Epics, Myths
& Legends of India. Bombey: D.B. Taraporevala Sons & Co. Private Ltd.,
Return to Table of Contents