Manu, Nuh, Nu’ua, or Minnos

Matsya Avatara
Manu, the 7 Sages, and the Fish

The Hindus generally consider Manu to be their progenitor, who along with seven sages, they believe, survived the Great Flood that deluged the world. They consider Manu to be their first king and law-giver. His book of law, Manusmriti, now discounted by some Hindu groups, is considered to be the first original law book in history. It is interesting to see very slight similarities between the flood stories and law-giver stories of Manu and others like the Biblical Noah (Nuh), Hawiin Nu’u, Roman Numa, the Chinese Nuwa, and the Germanic Minnos.  While the historicity of Manu is not established, some historians have conceded the date of the Great Flood to be 3012 BC (almost close to the date of the Biblical Noah’s flood). John Keay notes:

Some historians have dated the Flood very precisely to 3102 BC, this being the year when, by elaborate computation, they conclude that our current era, the Kali Yug in Indian cosmology, began and when Manu became the progenitor of a new people as well as their first great king and law-giver. It is also the first credible date in India’s history and, being one of such improbable exactitude, it deserves respect.

…3102 BC sticks in the historical gullet… Corroboration of the idea that it may, after all, apply to a Flood has since come from excavations in distant Iraq of one of Mesopotamia’s ancient civilisations. There too archaeologists have found evidence of an appalling inundation. It submerged the Sumerian city of Shuruppak, and has been dated with some confidence to the late fourth millennium BC. In fact, 3102 BC would suit it very well. [1]

While there are a few similarities between the story of Manu and the story of Noah (Heb. Nuh), the differences are many. The biblical Noah built a huge ark while Manu builds a boat. The biblical Noah escapes with seven members of his family and samples of all living animal and bird species; Manu escapes with seven sages. In Noah’s story, it is God who warns Noah about the great Flood to come and protects Noah and his family. In Manu’s story, a fish warns Manu of the Flood to come and saves him and the seven sages. Still, despite the differences, it is interesting to see that stories of a Great Flood feature in the cosmologies of not just the Hindus and the Jews but also in the cosmologies of many other peoples.  However, historians do not date the Manusmriti to 3102 BC; they date it the 2nd or 1st century BC.[2]


[1] John Keay, India: A History, pp.2-3
[2]Manu-smriti,” Encyclopædia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite. Version 2011.00.00 and “The Laws of Manu,” Microsoft Encarta Premium 2009. Version 16.0.0.1117
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