Manu (Hinduism)

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Matsya protecting Vaivasvata Manu and the seven sages at the time of Deluge

In some Hindu traditions, Manu is a title accorded to a progenitor of humanity. According to the Puranas, 14 Manus appear in each kalpa (aeon). The period of each Manu is called Manvantara.

The current world is that of Vaivasvata, the seventh Manu of the aeon of the white boar (sveta varaha kalpa). Vaivasvata, also known as Sraddhadeva or Satyavrata, was the king of Dravida before the great flood.[1] He was warned of the flood by the Matsya avatar of Vishnu, and built a boat that carried his family and the seven sages to safety. The earliest extant text that mentions this story is the Satapatha Brahmana (dated variously from 700 BCE to 300 BCE). The myth is repeated with variations in other texts, including the Mahabharata and the various Puranas. It is similar to other flood myths such as that of Gilgamesh and Noah.[2]

Manus of the current aeon[edit]

According to the Puranas, we currently live in the aeon of the white boar (sveta varaha kalpa), a part of the Kali Yuga.[3] The 14 Manus of the current aeon are:[4]

  1. Svayambhuva
  2. Svarocisa
  3. Uttama
  4. Tamasa
  5. Raivata
  6. Caksusa
  7. Vaivasvata (the current Manu)
  8. Savarni
  9. Daksa Sarvani
  10. Brahma Sarvani
  11. Dharma Sarvani
  12. Rudra Sarvani
  13. Deva Sarvani
  14. Indra Sarvani

Most texts agree on the names of the first 9 manus, but there is some disagreement on the names of the subsequent Manus.

Lifespan[edit]

The lifespan of a Manu is called manvantara. According to the Bhagavad Gita, the lifespan of one Manu is 71 Mahayugas (306,720,000 years), and each Mahayuga is 4,320,000 years. (Bhagavad Gita 8.17)[5] The present Manu has already lived for 28 Mahayugas, which is 120,960,000 years." (Srimad Bhagavatam 4.30.49).[6]

Works ascribed to the Manus[edit]

The texts ascribed to the Svayambhuva Manu include Manava Grihyasutra, Manava Sulbasutra and Manava Dharmashastra (Manusmriti or "rules of Manu").[7] Manusmriti is considered by some Hindus to be the law laid down for Hindus and is seen as the most important and earliest metrical work of the Dharmaśāstra textual tradition of Hinduism.[8] At the same time it is a Smriti, so whenever there is a conflict between what is mentioned in it and that mentioned in sruti (Vedas and Upanishads) the latter is considered to be correct as it holds higher spiritual authority.

In modern literature[edit]

In the Victor Hugo novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Claude Frollo is seen to be studying Manu's works in his study of alchemy.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Alain Daniélou (11 February 2003). A Brief History of India. Inner Traditions / Bear & Co. pp. 19–. ISBN 978-1-59477-794-3. 
  2. ^ Klaus K. Klostermaier (5 July 2007). A Survey of Hinduism: Third Edition. SUNY Press. p. 97. ISBN 978-0-7914-7082-4. 
  3. ^ Swami Sivapriyananda (1990). Astrology and Religion in Indian Art. Abhinav. p. 40. ISBN 978-81-7017-231-4. 
  4. ^ His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Teachings of Lord Caitanya (Third Edition): The Golden Avatara. The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. pp. 109\u2013. ISBN 978-91-7149-730-7. 
  5. ^ "Bhagavad Gita Chapter 8 Verse 17". Vedabase.net. Retrieved 2012-03-17. 
  6. ^ "Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 4 Chapter 30 Verse 49". Vedabase.net. Retrieved 2010-12-08. 
  7. ^ The Laws of Manu. See 63: These seven very glorious Manus, the first among whom is Svayambhuva, produced and protected this whole movable and immovable (creation), each during the period (allotted to him).
  8. ^ See Flood 1996: 56 and Olivelle 2010.

External links[edit]