Manu is a term found with various meanings in different mythologies of Hinduism. In early texts, it refers to the archetypal man, or to the first man (progenitor of humanity). In later texts, Manu is the title or name of mystical sage-rulers of earth, or alternatively as the head of mythical dynasties that begin with each cyclic kalpa (aeon) when the universe is born anew. The title of the text Manusmriti uses this term as a prefix, but refers to the first Manu – Svayambhuva, the spiritual son of Brahma.
In some Puranic mythology, each kalpa consists of fourteen Manvantaras, and each Manvantara is headed by a different Manu. The current universe, in this mythology, is asserted to be ruled by the 7th Manu named Vaivasvata.
In Vishnu Purana, Vaivasvata, also known as Sraddhadeva or Satyavrata, was the king of Dravida before the great flood. He was warned of the flood by the Matsya (fish) avatar of Vishnu, and built a boat that carried the Vedas, Manu's family and the seven sages to safety, helped by Matsya. The myth is repeated with variations in other texts, including the Mahabharata and a few other Puranas. It is similar to other flood myths such as that of Gilgamesh and Noah.
Manus of the current kalpa
The 14 Manus of the current aeon are:
- Chakshusha (Cākṣuṣa)
- Vaivasvata (the current Manu)
- Daksa Sarvani
- Brahma Sarvani
- Dharma Sarvani
- Rudra Sarvani
- Deva Sarvani
- 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.
Works ascribed to the Manus
Jain mythology mentions the 14th patriarch named Nabhiraja, mentioning him also as Manu. This, state scholars, links ancient Jain tradition to Hindu mythologies, because the 14 patriarchs in Jain myths are similar to the 14 Manus in Hindu myths. The Manu of Jainism is the father of 1st Tirthankara Rishabhanatha (Adinatha). This ancient story is significant as it includes one of earliest mentions of ikshu (sugarcane) processing.
In modern literature
- Proto-Indo-European religion, §Brothers
- Minos, king of Crete, son of Zeus and Europa.
- Manes, king of Lydia
- Nu'u, Hawaiian mythological character who built an ark and escaped a Great Flood.
- Nüwa, goddess in Chinese mythology best known for creating mankind.
- Ziusudra, hero of the Sumerian flood epic
- Roshen Dalal (2010). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin Books. p. 242. ISBN 978-0-14-341421-6.
- Roshen Dalal (2010). The Religions of India: A Concise Guide to Nine Major Faiths. Penguin Books. p. 229. ISBN 978-0-14-341517-6.
- Alain Daniélou (11 February 2003). A Brief History of India. Inner Traditions / Bear & Co. pp. 19–. ISBN 978-1-59477-794-3.
- Klaus K. Klostermaier (5 July 2007). A Survey of Hinduism: Third Edition. SUNY Press. p. 97. ISBN 978-0-7914-7082-4.
- 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.
- 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).
- Natubhai Shah 2004, pp. 15–16.
- Shah, Natubhai (2004) [First published in 1998], Jainism: The World of Conquerors I, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 81-208-1938-1