“In earlier ages, seven Great Sages and four Manus, who were brought forth from a notion arising from My essence, produced all living creatures in all the worlds.” — Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 10, Verse 6
Read the Prelude to this chapter
Having previously stated that He is the source of all creation, Lord Krishna, avatara of Vishnu, now says that the first Four Manus and Great Sages produced all living beings in all the worlds. This suggests that the worlds were already in existence but living beings were not. He created the Manus and Sages to manage the job of populating them. Having created these ‘creators’ He remains the Source of all Creation.
In previous verses we came to some understanding about Creation. Now Lord Krishna is going to expand on this as it pertains to Himself and all the worlds and universes in existence. In revealing His magnificence in this way, He shows us something about ourselves, and the nature of our own personal cosmology and journey through time.
Ruling Forces, Sages and Time
Lord Krishna is an avatara of Lord Vishnu, the first self-aware individual in the Absolute. With the awareness of His own individual existence, like a ripple effect, all other individuals became self-aware.
- Self-aware – The awareness of one’s own existence in the Absolute.
The first four Manus are the first four individuals known to Lord Vishnu. The Sages are the first individuals known to the Manus and consequently known also to Lord Vishnu.
- Known – Upon becoming self-aware, becoming aware of another as the same as oneself.
That there can be a ‘first’ in a timeless place (the Absolute) indicates the beginning of time and space and relativity, the effect of which is the vibrations of the sound of OM, “The Word” at the beginning of Creation.
The Manus suggest the nature of the mind as the ruling force in huge time periods called a Manvantaras. There are fourteen Manvantaras, so there are fourteen Manus. We are currently in the seventh Manvantara.
- Manu – ‘Thinker’. The ruling force of a Manvantara. From the root man (pronounced mun), to think, reason, imagine, have notions, thoughts, ideas.
- Manvantara – Manu (the ruling force) + antara, (between): A Manvantara is the time period between Manus, 306,720,000 of our years.
- Sages – Seven perfect beings who bring us knowledge of Truth. Their purpose within any given Manvantara is to guide humanity toward the dissolution of ignorance (enlightenment). There are different Sages in different Manvantaras, who go about this differently.
The root of the word Manu, man, is the same for the word for mind (manas) and man (humankind). The four Manus mentioned in this verse are the first four Manus and are said to be the progenitors of humankind.
The First Four Manus
In the Absolute before Creation, the first individual to become self-aware is known to us as Vishnu (‘all-pervader’). It is Vishnu that gives us a sense of Personal God, or a “Supreme Being”.
Vishnu immediately became aware of four Others, knew them as the same as Himself, and went on to know all Others. The first four Others accepted as the same as Himself are the first four Manus of the first four Manvantaras.
Not all Others accepted those of whom they became aware as the same as themselves. These Others became embodied beings. Those who did accept Others and accepted them all, may come into embodiment if they choose. They have no imposed journey to take, but they may take embodiment for the welfare of others who do. Embodied, they are called avataras (ava, ‘descent’ + tara, ‘liberator’).
This first fully knowing individual, Vishnu, together with the first four Manus, are responsible for our five senses, and one that is different: the ability to know directly (without the aid of the physical senses).
At the end of a Manvantara there is a dissolution (not destruction) to make way for a new Manvantara. Our current Manvantara began as taught in the story of Noah and the flood in the Bible, and in the story of the Manu of our current Manvantara in which living beings were gathered into a boat to keep them safe from the waters in order to repopulate a new world.
The current Manu, Vaivasvata (‘sunlight’), is also known as Shraddhadeva (god of faith) and Satyavrata (Truth as our sphere of action in our manner of living). This Manu, our Ruling Force, is like the light of the sun that makes things perceptible to us so that we can see (pay attention), have faith, and live in Truth. This is why the yamas and niyamas are so important. They show us how.
We are provided with the means of succeeding in this with Lord Krishna’s teachings, and we have the Sages to guide us with their Divine Sight—their perception is not dependent upon reflected light as is our own. We see things indirectly. We need light to shine on things in order to see them. Thus depending almost solely on our senses, with our indirect perception we rely on appearances and judge accordingly. This is what we are meant to rise above in our current Manvantara.
In our next installment, we will look at how Manus, Sages and Time pertain to us and the journey we are on, at a more personal level.
Namaste (I bow to the divine one you really are),