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Encyclopedia of Hindu Gods


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 of mankind.

Alternate Names:  Swayambhuva, Satyavrata, Son-of-Light (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).

History/Practices:  History 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.

Mythology:  The 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 of self.

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, 1991.

Thomas, P. Epics, Myths & Legends of India. Bombey: D.B. Taraporevala Sons & Co. Private Ltd., 1989.

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