Manu and the Seven Rishis of India
Long ago there was a wise man named Manu who lived within the jungles of India. While walking along the length of the Chirini river one day, a fish rose from the waters and spoke to Manu,
"O Manu, I am a helpless little fish and I am frightened of the big fish who want to eat me. Please rescue me from this sea of terrors, and take care of me. I shall one day repay you for your kindness."
Filled with compassion Manu lifted up the fish from the river and put the creature in an earthen vessel to protect it. Then, the fish grew so large it overwhelmed the small vessel and the fish spoke,
"O Manu, there is no room for me in this vessel. Please find me a better home."
And so the wise man carried the fish to a large pool where the fish could swim more freely. Once again though, the fish outgrew the pool's size.
"O father,” it said to Manu. “Please take me to the river Ganga (Ganges), so that I can live there."
Just as the fish said, Manu took the fish to the River Ganges and lived there for quite some time.
"O Manu,” it said. “Please take me to the Ocean. I have grown so big that I can no longer move in the river Ganga."
Finally being cast into the ocean, the fish smiled at Manu.
"O kind-hearted friend, you have cared for me, listen now as I do the same for you. Soon the world will be submerged by a great flood, and everything will perish. You must build yourself a strong ark, and take a long rope on board. You must also take with you the Seven Sages, who have existed since the Beginning of Time, and the seeds of all things. When I am ready, I will come to you, and I will have horns on my head. Do not forget my words, for without me you cannot escape from the flood."
As the fish instructed him, Manu set out to build an ark, gathering the seven sages and seeds from afar, he set sail as the oceans began to rise. Amidst the tumbling and tossing waters, Manu spotted the fish and lassoed the horns with a rope fastened to the ship's prow. All the world was nothing but the ocean, the ark, Manu and the sages it seemed.
For many years the crew sailed, and finally came to the highest peaks of the Himalayas, where the fish commanded Manu to tether the ship to the mountain top. The fish spoke for the last time,
"O men of wisdom, I am the Creator of everything. I took on the shape of a fish, and I have saved you from this Flood. With my blessings Manu will once again fill the world with life."
And so, Manu repopulated the Earth with the seven wise men of the mountains, bringing peace and prosperity.
Creation or History?
The above myth comprises one of the earliest myths that has been spoken in India for countless generations and was written down in the Catapatha Brahmana of the Rig Veda. Like so many other creation flood myths around the world, the redemption of men is sought through a chosen few in the aftermath of a global flood.
If there really is any truth to the tales, just who exactly were the chosen of Manu's story? Like so many other oral traditions that span generations, stories preserved by the ascetic disciples of India may indeed point back to a certain time long forgotten, shrouded in time-worn symbols and figures of myth and legend.
An esteemed Emeritus Professor of Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania named Gregory Possehl is one of several western scholars that believes the culture of India goes way back, much further than originally thought; curator of the University of Pennsylvania's Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, he has written a list of books and articles on the subject of the Indus Valley peoples, and has seriously challenged pre-established views about ancient India and the beginnings of Indus Valley Civilization.
"Everything that has been written about this culture five years ago is wrong," Gregory argues. For a long time, Vedic India was believed to be largely the byproduct of a post Aryan "cultural invasion", an "intrusion" from the west which consisted mainly of peoples coming from the Black Sea. As more and more evidence begins to stack up however, the theory of foreign Aryan origins for Indian civilization has begun to become more and more untenable.
The Pashupati Seals of Shiva
Pashupati Seal (3000BC-1800BC)
Over sixteen ancient carved seals collected from Indus Valley sites scattered throughout India and Pakistan display unmistakable icons of later Indian/Hindu culture. Images of prominent figures in yogic postures are depicted on the seals, often surrounded by animals. One clearly shows a three headed yogi, which is the hallmark of Shiva, the great god of India who was known be the god of Yoga, often depicted with three faces in later ages.
The name Pashupati, was an epithet given to the God Shiva as the Lord of Cattle, and in later times, Rudra, protector of Cattle. The carvings of many cattle surrounding the Pashupati seal along with a crown of bovine horns atop the yogi's head suggests that the iconography is strongly indicative of an early proto Shiva deity that existed in India long before the supposed "Indo-Aryan invasion" occurred.
The figures in the seals often sit on thrones. The significance is that such figures were rulers, or important officials within the Harappan Indus Valley Civilization over 5000 years ago at the latest, c.4000BC-1500BC. New evidence at a place called Mehrgarh pushes the horizon of Indus civilization even further back, where finds reveal an already well developed sophisticated agricultural center with artifacts carbon dated to 7000BC., over 9000 years ago, a period when one of the last largest sea floods in Glenn Milne and Kurt Lambeck's models of post Ice Age melting occurs.
Evidence of the Myths in Indus Valley Literature
Once an Ice Age river called the Sarasvati, flowed down the Gujerat Peninsula emptying into the Indian ocean. The river's name is mentioned throughout the old scriptures of the rishis, of which the legend of Manu is written within.
Scholars associate the Rig Vedic Sarasvati river with the seasonally, but otherwise dry modern Ghaggar-Hakra river, filling only with the annual monsoon. However, during the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago, it is believed to have flowed full of water. Written in the Vedic texts, the Sarasvati is also described as being a vibrant flowing river. The age of the Vedic texts are not known, but oral versions are thought to antedate the written ones by many millenia. If the descriptions of the Sarasvati are indeed of the Ice Age Ghaggar-Hakra, the true age of the Vedic hymns could be vastly old.
Legends of Tamil: Lemuria and the Fabled Lost Kingdom of Kumari Kandam
In the south eastern corner of India, further oral accounts from Tamil scholars are believed possibly linked to a much older prehistoric India. According to Tamil literature, the first poem anthologies written as far back as 100 BC., a lost civilization known as Kumari Kandam existed on a great landmass, Lemuria. The Dravidian scholars and poets who continued the tradition of Tamil literature, believed that the knowledge of the past Kingdom had been passed down orally for generations since its destruction.
The original dates written in the Medieval literature of the Lemurian Kingdom are certainly products of a nationalistic propaganda fostered during the late Medieval period continuing into Modern Indian times. However it is possible that the exaggerated nature of the Southern tales are based on more historic accounts clouded in oral interpretation spread out over many hundreds of generations, diffused and distorted in each telling.
Tale Lost in the Telling
Yogis of India
In fact the first poems written in 100 BC, possess an unusually mature complexity and diversity, indicating that the literature had already been in development for a long period. Modern Dravidian Tamil scholars today stress that the knowledge that lies within the libraries of Southern India form part of an extended corpus of unbroken oral traditions going far back into the past, preserved by an carefully constructed specialized caste of professional scholars.
The appearance of the civilization occurs over tens of thousands of years into the past within the annals of the Dravidians. Interestingly, the three recorded floods that wiped out the Lemuria continent overtime in the latter part of Tamil Medieval literature are almost exactly coincident with the dates of Glenn Milne and Kurt Lambeck's modeled Ice Age Maps of sudden sea level rise.
Possible Origins in the Last Ice Age
In the report, the data maps show the south eastern coast of India at one time had a landbridge connecting Sri Lanka Island and the the Tamil Nadu coast for thousands of years until about 7000 years ago (5000 BC) when all the area submerged. The first submersion of the Lemuria continent supposedly occurred in 16000 BC, remarkably close to the date on Milne's maps displaying the first major of the three floods occurring around 15,000 BC-14,000BC.
Ice Age Map of India/Southeast Asia
Another flood recorded in the Tamil epics is yet again placed roughly close to Milne's second flood around 7200BC and again a couple thousand years later, all three off by only a thousand years. For an ancient cultural oral tradition stretched over many generations, the dates present a fairly high level of accuracy in recalling past events. Or is it just coincidence?
Such ideas may not appear as far fetched when taking into account a curiously sunken stone structure that rests at the bottom of the Bay of Bengal, five kilometers off the coast of southeastern India. In March 1991, the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) in India, working off the shore of Tranquebar-Poompuhur on the coast of Tamil Nadu near Nagapattinam, discovered a shipwreck while scanning the bottom of the Bay using side sonar. On March 7, 1991, the NIO located the shipwreck at a depth of 19 meters below the water, later investigated by divers on March 8th and 9th.
Then, by accident, T.C.S. Rao, surveyed another large object 40 X 10 meters, shaped like a ship. By 2:00P.M. though, the buoys that marked the position significantly drifted and the divers could not find the wreck. A second side scan revealed by the end of the afternoon that the object actually measured 30 to 35 meters east to west and 10 meters north to south, forming an oval shape with an opening in one side. On March 16th and 19th, T.C.S Rao surveyed the area now reporting:
"There are actually three objects, the central one being oval-shaped with an opening on the northern side. Its longer axis is 20 meters. There is a clay deposit on the eastern flank beyond which another semi-circular structure is seen. To the north-west of the central object one or more oval-shaped objects are found."
Later on March 23rd, three divers decided to risk the tumultuous currents in the bay and dived the ruins, but only possessed enough air to explore the central structure. The divers reported then,
"...a horseshoe-shaped object, its height being one to two meters. A few stones blocks were found in the one-meter-wide arm. The distance between the two arms is 20 meters. Whether the object is a shrine or some other man-made structure now at 23 meters depth remains to be examined in the next field season...in some sections a few courses of masonry were noted."
Computer simulated image derived from sonar scans of the sea bottom of the underwater Poompuhur U-shaped structure
The implications of Rao's findings are truly monumental, for, given the depth of 23 meters the structure is found at in the Bay of Bengal, the structure would only have been above ground to be built by human hands over 10,000 years ago, when sea levels were much lower. The structure lies on what once formed a landbridge that connected Sri Lanka and the Indian mainland during the last Ice Age. Is the Poompuhur structure a relic of the fabled Kumari Kandam of the Dravidian scholars?