The Ark And The Ship

 

 


Friends,  I have always wondered why there is so much  similarity in the stories of Noah’s Ark and Manu’s Nauka ( Ship). There are numerous similarities between the Noah’s Ark and Indian King Manu’s Boat. While I was searching google for more details I bumped into an article which read as :

 

“In 1872, the amateur Assyriologist, George Smith, (Assyriology is the archaeological, historical, and linguistic study of not just Assyria, but the entirety of ancient Mesopotamia, a region encompassing what is today modern Iraq, north eastern Syria, south eastern Turkey, and north western and south western Iran and of related cultures that used cuneiform writing) made a discovery that shocked the world. Whilst studying a particular tablet from the ancient Mesopotamian city of Nineveh, he came across a story that many would have been familiar with. When Smith succeeded in deciphering the text, he realized that the tablet contained an ancient Mesopotamian myth that paralleled the story of Noah’s Ark from the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament. I had never heard so much similarity in stories from ancient cultures.

 

Such flood myths are found 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 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 Purana and the Matsya Purana , as well as in the Mahabharata.

 

The main character of the flood story is a man named Manu Vaivasvata. Like Noah, Manu is described as a virtuous individual. Manu lived in ancient time and was a holy man. By penances and prayers, He 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.

 

In the Book of Genesis, the cause of mankind’s destruction is given as, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. It repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. The Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air. Noah was a righteous man among all the people of that time. He found favour in God’s eyes. With very specific instructions, God told Noah to build an ark for him and his family in preparation for a catastrophic flood that would destroy every living thing on earth. God also commanded Noah to bring into the ark two of all living creatures of every kind along with him and food for them. Noah obeyed everything God commanded him to do.  After they entered the ark, rain fell on the earth for a period of forty days and nights. The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days, and every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out.  At the end of the hundred and fifty days, the waters decreased and the Ark rested on the mountains of Ararat. After Noah and his family went out from the Ark, they released all the animals from the ark. After the Flood, from Noah’s three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, the whole earth was repopulated.

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. Manu was Dravidian the king before the great flood. He was a righteous man, who sought truth. Because Manu was absolutely honest, he was also known as Satyavrata (One with the oath of truth). It is written in the Matsya Purana that “Manu then went to the foothills of Mount Malaya and started to perform meditation. Thousands and thousands of years passed. Such were the powers of Manu‘s meditation that Brahma, The Creator of Universe appeared before him and said. “I am pleased with your prayers, ask a boon.” Manu said “I have only one boon to ask.  Sooner or later there will be destruction and the world will no longer exist. Please grant me the boon that I can save the world.” Brahma readily granted this boon.

One more story I found is: One day Manu was washing his hands in a river when a tiny fish asked him to protect him from larger fish. Manu took pity on the fish and transferred it to a small earthen pot, and nourished it with care. As time elapsed fish kept growing bigger and bigger, until King Manu first put him in a bigger pitcher and then deposited him in a well. But the fish continued to grow because of which it had to be subsequently transferred to river and finally to the ocean. It was then that Lord Matsya (Avatar of Lord Vishnu), revealing himself, informed the King of an all-destructive deluge which would be coming very soon. Then Manu built the ark, and took the seeds of all things, the Seven Sages on board and a pair of each animal, and they set to sail on the surging waters. Soon he saw the horned fish, and cast one end of rope over its horns. Then the fish began to tow the ark through the tossing, roaring waves. the whole world was covered with water, and nothing was to be seen but the ark only. According to the Matsya Purana, Manu’s boat was perched after the deluge on the top of the Malaya Mountains. These mountains are believed to be located in north India, near Manali. The word ‘Manali’ is regarded as the changed name of ‘Manu-Alaya’ which literally means ‘the abode of Manu’. Manali is also often referred to as the ‘Valley of the Gods’. An ancient temple dedicated to Manu is situated in the old township of Manali. The town ranges in elevation from 1,800 m (5,900 ft) to 2,000 m (6,600 ft). Manu stayed for long time on the peak using the food stuffs kept inside the Boat. They returned to the plain land after the deluge or Pralaya and started the new civilization. Its believe that the entire human race after the destruction has been descended from him and thus called Manav or Manush.  He also was the very first king to rule this earth.

I didn’t find more details of different cultures but let us summerise the similarity between The Biblical flood with the Vedic flood.

  • Mankind in a corrupt state
  • Both were commanded by the God
  • Both Noah and Manu built the Ark
  • Both stories talk about the great flood
  • A Righteous man is given Divine warning
  • Animals were brought on board the vessel to repopulate the world after the flood
  • The Vessel lands on a high mountain after the flood
  • Both have three sons
  • Mankind today descends from Noah or Manu
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Sunil Shah