Matsya protecting Sraddhadeva Manu and the seven sages at the time of Deluge
In Hindu mythology, Shraddhadeva Manu (Sanskrit manuśraddhādeva) is the current Manu and the progenitor of the current humanity (manvantara). He is the seventh of the 14 manus of the current kalpa (aeon).
Shraddhadeva was the king of the Dravida Kingdom before the great flood. Forewarned about the flood by the matsya avatara of Vishnu, he saved humanity by building a boat that carried his family and the saptarishi to safety. He is the son of Vivasvana and is therefore also known as Vaivasvata Manu. He is also called Satyavrata (always truthful).
According to the Puranas, the genealogy of Shraddhadeva is as follows:
- Marichi, one of the 10 Prajapatis created by Brahma.
- Kashyapa, son of Marichi and his wife, Kala. Kashyapa is regarded as the father of humanity.
- Vivasvan or Surya, son of Kashyapa and Aditi.
- Vaivasvata Manu, because he is the son of Vivasvan and Saranyu (Saṃjñā). He is also known as Satyavrata and Shraddhadeva.
The Great Deluge
Shraddhadeva was the king of the Dravida Kingdom during the epoch of the Matsya Purana. According to the Matsya Purana, Matsya, the avatar of Vishnu, first appeared as a shaphari (a small carp) to Shraddhadeva while he washed his hands in a river flowing down the Malaya Mountains.
The little fish asked the king to save him, and out of compassion, he put it in a water jar. It kept growing bigger and bigger, until the king first put it in a bigger pitcher, and then deposited it in a well. When the well also proved insufficient for the ever-growing fish, the King placed it in a tank (reservoir), that was two yojanas (16 miles) in height above the surface and on land, as much in length, and a yojana (8 miles) in breadth. As it grew further, the king had to put the fish in a river, and when even the river proved insufficient, he placed it in the ocean, after which it nearly filled the vast expanse of the great ocean.
It was then that Vishnu, revealing himself, informed the king of an all-destructive deluge which would be coming very soon. The king built a huge boat which housed his family, saptarishi, nine types of seeds, and animals to repopulate the earth, after the deluge would end and the oceans and seas would recede. At the time of deluge, Vishnu appeared as a horned fish and Shesha appeared as a rope, with which the king fastened the boat to the horn of the fish.
The boat was perched after the deluge on the top of the Malaya Mountains. After the deluge, Manu's family and the seven sages repopulated the earth. According to Purana, Manu's story occur before 28 chaturyuga in the present Manvantara which is the 7th Manvantara. This amounts to 120 million years ago.
And Manu was endowed with great wisdom and devoted to virtue. And he became the progenitor of a line. And in Manu's race have been born all human beings, who have, therefore, been called Manavas. And it is of Manu that all men including Brahmanas, Kshattriyas, and others have been descended, and are therefore all called Manavas. Subsequently, the Brahmanas became united with the Kshattriyas. And those sons of Manu that were Brahmanas devoted themselves to the study of the Vedas. And Manu begot ten other children named Vena, Dhrishnu, Narishyan, Nabhaga, Ikshvaku, Karusha, Saryati, the eighth, a daughter named Ila, Prishadhru the ninth, and Nabhagarishta, the tenth. They all betook themselves to the practices of Kshattriyas. Besides these, Manu had fifty other sons on Earth. But we heard that they all perished, quarrelling with one another.
In Theosophy, the "Vaivasvata Manu" is one of the most important beings at the highest levels of Initiation of the Masters of the Ancient Wisdom, along with Maitreya, and the Maha Chohan. According to Theosophy, each root race has its own Manu who physically incarnates in an advanced body of an individual of the old root race and physically progenerates with a suitable female partner the first individuals of the new root race.
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