Startling Similarity between Hindu Flood Legend of Manu and the Biblical Account of Noah
1872, the amateur Assyriologist, George Smith, made a discovery that would shock the world. Whilst studying a particular tablet from the ancient Mesopotamian city of Nineveh, he comes across a story that many would have been familiar with.
Today, we are aware that flood myths are found not only in Near Eastern societies, but also in many other ancient civilizations throughout the world. Accounts of a great deluge are seen in ancient Sumerian tablets, the Deucalion in Greek mythology, the lore of the K’iche’ and Maya peoples in Mesoamerica, the Gun-Yu myth of China, the stories of the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa tribe of North America, and the stories of the Muisca people, to name but a few. One of the oldest and most interesting accounts originates in Hindu mythology, and while there are discrepancies, it does bear fascinating similarity to the story of Noah and his ark.
‘The Deluge’ by Francis Danby, 1840. ()
「大洪水」由畫家Francis Danby在1840 年時創作。（圖片來源： ）
The Hindu flood myth is found in several different sources. The earliest account is said to have been written in the Vedic Satapatha Brahmana, whilst later accounts can be found in the Puranas, including the Bhagavata Puranaand the Matsya Purana, as well as in the Mahabharata. Regardless, all these accounts agree that the main character of the flood story is a man named Manu Vaivasvata. Like Noah, Manu is described as a virtuous individual. The Satapatha Brahmana, for instance, has this to say about Manu: “There lived in ancient time a holy man / Called Manu, who, by penances and prayers, / Had won the favour of the lord of heaven.”
Manu was said to have three sons before the flood – Charma, Sharma, and Yapeti, while Noah also had three sons – Ham, Shem, and Japheth.
印度大洪水神話可以從許多來源中找到。最早的是記載在吠陀的《百道婆羅門誦》（Satapatha Brahmana）中，較晚的版本可以在往世書（Puranas，也譯為宇宙古史）中找到，包括《薄伽梵往世書》（Bhagavata Purana）、《鱼往世書》（Matsya Purana），也可以在摩訶般若多（Mahabharata）中找到。無論如何，所有記載中印度大洪水故事主角都是一個叫摩奴毘婆斯婆多（Manu Vaivasvata）的人。像諾亞一樣，摩奴被描述成一個聖賢的人。在《百道婆羅門誦》中，對摩奴的描述是：「一位生活在古在的聖人，他叫做摩奴，因為他的懺悔和祈禱，天堂的人眷顧了他。」
據說摩奴在大洪水來臨前有三個兒子，分別是沙爾馬（Charma）、夏爾馬（Sharma）、亞佩提（Yapeti），而諾亞也有三個兒子，分別是含（Ham，主要為 人及 居民的祖先）、閃（Shem， 居民（主要為 居民）的祖先）、雅弗（Japheth，主要為 及 居民的祖先）。
Both Noah and Manu are described as virtuous men. ‘Noah and his Ark’ by Charles Wilson Peale, 1819 ()
諾亞和摩奴都被描述為一個聖賢的人。「諾亞方舟」由Charles Wilson Peale於1819 年創作。（圖片來源： ）
Augsburger Wunderzeichenbuch, Folio 1 (Genesis 7, 11-14), 1552. ()
《奧格斯堡奇蹟之書》（Augsburger Wunderzeichenbuch，文藝復興時期的藝術瑰寶之一），頁碼1 （創世紀7，11 – 14 ）1552 年。（圖片來源：(）
In the story of Manu, however, the destruction of the world is treated as part of the natural order of things, rather than as a divine punishment. It is written in the Matsya Puranathat “Manu then went to the foothills of Mount Malaya and started to perform tapasya (meditation). Thousands and thousands of years passed. Such were the powers of Manu‘s meditation that Brahma appeared before him.In the flood myth from the Old Testament, God who saves Noah by instructing him to build an Ark. In the Hindu version of the story, it is also through divine intervention, in the form of the god Vishnu, that mankind is preserved from total destruction. In this story, the god appears to Manu in the form of a little fish whilst he was performing his ablutions in a pond. Manu kept the fish, which grew so quickly that its body occupied the entire ocean in a matter of days. It was then that Vishnu revealed his identity to Manu, told him about the impending destruction, and the way to save humanity. There is also a large boat involved in this story too. Vishnu instructed Manu to build a boat and fill it with animals and seeds to repopulate the earth.
When the time came, Manu was to tie the boat to the horn of fish, so that it could be dragged around. Interestingly, this would not be the only time that Vishnu saves mankind from destruction, as he would re-appear as avatars over the course of time to preserve life on earth.
在摩奴的故事中，毀滅世界的洪水是自然現象而不是神的懲罰。在《鱼往世書》中寫著：「摩奴來到摩羅耶山（Mount Malaya）進行冥想（tapasya）。幾千年過去，摩奴的冥想力量變得強大，梵天（Brahma）出現在他的面前。」在舊約聖經（Old Testament）中，大洪水神話描述神指導諾亞建造方舟。在印度的大洪水故事中，也有神聖力量的干預。保護之神毗濕奴（Vishnu）讓人類免除完全的毀滅。在這個故事中，神以一條小魚的姿態出現在摩奴面前，當時他在池塘中淨身。摩奴留下了小魚，小魚在幾天內快速長大，大得可以佔滿海洋。接著，毗濕奴向摩奴顯示他的真身，告訴他將來到的災難以及解救人類的方法。在這個故事中也有一艘大船。毗濕奴指導摩奴建造一艘大船，裝滿動物和種子，等災難過後就可以讓生命在地球上復甦。
Incarnation of Vishnu as a Fish, from a devotional text. ()
After the flood, Noah’s Ark is said to have rested on mountains of Ararat. Similarly, Manu’s boat was described as being perched on the top of a range of mountains (the Malaya Mountains in this case) when the waters had subsided. Both Noah and Manu were then said to repopulate the earth, and all human beings could trace their ancestry to either one of these flood survivors.
大洪水後，據說諾亞方舟停在亞拉拉特山（Mount Ararat）上。與此相似的是，摩奴的船相傳在洪水後停在摩羅耶山（Mount Malaya）上。諾亞和摩奴都被認為復甦了地球上的生命。地球上所有人類都可以在大洪水後存活的人中找到祖先。
‘Noah’s ark on Mount Ararat’ by Simon de Myle, 1570 AD. ()
「亞拉拉特山山上的諾亞方舟」由畫家Simon de Myle在1570 年時創作。（圖片來源： ）