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Manu mentre raccoglie Matsya dall'acqua

In Hindu traditions, Manu is a title accorded to the progenitor of mankind, and also the very first king to rule this earth, who saved mankind from the universal flood. He was absolutely honest which was why he was initially known as "Satyavrata", or One with the oath of truth.

Mahabharata says: "And Manu was imbued 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, Kshatriyas, and others have been descended, and are, therefore, all called Manavas. Subsequently, O monarch, the Brahmanas became united with the Kshatriyas. And those sons of Manu that were Brahmanas devoted themselves to the study of the Vedas. "The ten sons of Manu are known as 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 Kshatriyas. Besides these, Manu had fifty other sons on Earth. But we heard that they all perished, quarrelling with one another."[1]


14 Manus of Śveta Vārāha Kalpa

Each Manu rules during an eon called a Manvantara. Puranas ascribe to each Manvantara one Indra, one Vishnu avatara, etc.[2] 14 Manvantaras make up a Kalpa, a period corresponding to a day in the life of Brahma. 14 Manus of the present Śveta Vārāha Kalpa are

  1. Svayambhuva Manu
  2. Svarocisa Manu
  3. Uttama Manu or Auttami
  4. Tamasa Manu
  5. Raivata Manu
  6. Caksusa Manu
  7. Sraddhadeva Manu (son of Vaivasvata) [3]
  8. Savarni Manu
  9. Daksa Savarni Manu
  10. Brahma Savarni Manu
  11. Dharma Savarni Manu
  12. Rudra Savarni Manu
  13. Deva Savarni Manu or Raucya
  14. Indra Savarni Manu or Bhauta

Currently we are in the 7th Manvantara headed by Sraddhadeva (Vaivasvata) Manu.

The Matsya Avatara of Lord Vishnu is said to have appeared to King Manu (whose original name was Satyavrata, the then King of Dravida[4][5], while he washed his hands in a river. This river was supposed to have been flowing down the Malaya Mountains in his land of Dravida. According to the Matsya Purana, his ship is supposed to have been perched after the deluge on the top of this Malaya Mountains. [6][7][8] (This land or kingdom of Dravida that was ruled over by Satyavrata or Manu might have been an original, greater Dravida, that might have stretched from Madagascar and East Africa in the west to Southernmost India and further to Southeast Asia and Australia in the east.) The little fish asked the king to save It, upon his doing so, kept growing bigger and bigger. It also informed the King of a huge flood which would occur soon. The King builds a huge boat, which houses his family, 9 types of seeds, and animals to repopulate the earth after the deluge occurs and the oceans and seas recede.

This story is to an extent similar to other deluge stories, like those of Gilgamesh from ancient Sumerian Mythology, and the story of Noah's ark from Judeo-Christianity.

The genealogy

The genealogy of the Ikshvaku dynasty as mentioned in the Ramayana (i.69.17-32 and ii.102.4-29)[9] is as follows:

The Puranas provide a genealogical list from Kusha to Brihadbala, who was killed by Abhimanyu in the Mahabharata war. This list is corroborated by the Raghuvamsha till Agnivarna[10]:

Works ascribed to Manu

According to tradition, Manava Grihyasutra, Manava Sulbasutra and Manava Dharmashastra (Manusmriti) texts are ascribed to Manu (Sayambhuva). 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.[11]. 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 Theosophy

In Theosophy, the Manu is regarded as the progenitor of the Aryan root race.

In modern literature

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.


  1. Mahabharata Book 1:Adi Parva:Sambhava Parva:Section LXXV
  2. 14 Manu-s of 14 Manu-antara-s
  3. Bhagavata Purana (Srimad Bhagavatam) 8.13.1
  4. Matsya Purana
  5. Bhagavata Purana 8.24.12
  6. Matsya Purana
  7. Bhagavata Purana 8.24.12
  9. Template:Cite book
  10. Template:Cite book
  11. See Flood 1996: 56 and Olivelle 2005.


See also

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