Fall of Man and the Deluge in the Hindu Books

The deluge appears in the Hindu books only as a tradition. It claims no sacred character, and we find it but in the Mahabharata, the Puranas, and still earlier in the Satapatha, one of the latest Brahmanas. It is more than probable that Moses, or whoever wrote for him, used these accounts as the basis of his own purposely disfigured allegory, adding to it moreover the Chaldean Berosian narrative. In Mahabharata, we recognize Nimrod under the name of King Daytha. The origin of the Grecian fable of the Titans scaling Olympus, and the other of the builders of the Tower of Babel who seek to reach heaven, is shown in the impious Daytha, who sends imprecations against heaven's thunder, and threatens to conquer heaven itself with his mighty warriors, thereby bringing upon humanity the wrath of Brahma. "The Lord then resolved," says the text, "to chastise his creatures with a terrible punishment which should serve as a warning to survivors, and to their descendants."

Vaivasvata (who in the Bible becomes Noah) saves a little fish, which turns out to be an avatar of Vishnu. The fish warns that just man that the globe is about to be submerged, that all that inhabit it must perish, and orders him to construct a vessel in which he shall embark, with all his family. When the ship is ready, and Vaivasvata has shut up in it with his family the seeds of plants and pairs of all animals, and the rain begins to fall, a gigantic fish, armed with a horn, places itself at the head of the ark. The holy man, following its orders, attaches a cable to this horn, and the fish guides the ship safely through the raging elements. In the Hindu tradition the number of days during which the deluge lasted agrees exactly with that of the Mosaic account. When the elements were calmed, the fish landed the ark on the summit of the Himalayas.

This fable is considered by many orthodox commentators to have been borrowed from the Mosaic Scriptures.* But

* The "dead letter that killeth," is magnificently illustrated in the case of the Jesuit de Carriere, quoted in the "Bible dans l'Inde." The following dissertation represents the spirit of the whole Catholic world: "So that the creation of the world," writes this faithful son of Loyola, explaining the biblical chronology of Moses, "and all that is recorded in Genesis, surely if such a universal cataclysm had ever taken place within man's memory, some of the monuments of the Egyptians, of which many are of such a tremendous antiquity, would have recorded that occurrence, coupled with that of the disgrace of Ham, Canaan, and Mizraim, their alleged ancestors. But, till now, there has not been found the remotest allusion to such a calamity, although Mizraim certainly belongs to the first generation after the deluge, if not actually an antediluvian himself. On the other hand the Chaldeans preserved the tradition, as we find Berosus testifying to it, and the ancient Hindus possess the legend as given above. Now, there is but one explanation of the extraordinary fact that of two contemporary and civilized nations like Egypt and Chaldea, one has preserved no tradition of it whatever, although it was the most directly interested in the occurrence — if we credit the Bible — and the other has. The deluge noticed in the Bible, in one of the Brahmanas, and in the Berosus Fragment, relates to the partial flood which, about 10,000 years B.C., according to Bunsen, and according to the Brahmanical computations of the Zodiac also changed the whole face of Central Asia.+ Thus the might have become known to Moses through recitals personally made to him by his fathers. Perhaps, even, the memories yet existed among the Israelites, and from those recollections he may have recorded the dates of births and deaths of the patriarchs, the numbering of their children, and the names of the different countries in which each became established under the guidance of the holy spirit, which we must always regard as the chief author of the sacred books"!!! f See chapter xv. and last of Part I.

Babylonians and the Chaldeans might have learned of it from their mysterious guests, christened by some Assyriologists Akkadians, or what is still more probable they, themselves, perhaps, were the descendants of those who had dwelt in the submerged localities. The Jews had the tale from the latter as they had everything else; the Brahmans may have recorded the traditions of the lands which they first invaded, and had perhaps inhabited before they possessed themselves of the Punjab. But the Egyptians, whose first settlers had evidently come from Southern India, had less reason to record the cataclysm, since it had perhaps never affected them except indirectly, as the flood was limited to Central Asia.

Burnouf, noticing the fact that the story of the deluge is found only in one of the most modern Brahmanas, also thinks that it might have been borrowed by the Hindus from the Semitic nations. Against such an assumption are ranged all the traditions and customs of the Hindus. The Aryans, and especially the Brahmans, never borrowed anything at all from the Semitists, and here we are corroborated by one of those "unwilling witnesses," as Higgins calls the partisans of Jehovah and Bible. "I have never seen anything in the history of the Egyptians and Jews," writes Abbé Dubois, forty years a resident of India, "that would induce me to believe that either of these nations, or any other on the face of the earth, have been established earlier than the Hindus, and particularly the Brahmans; so I cannot be induced to believe that the latter have drawn their rites from foreign nations. On the contrary, I infer that they have drawn them from an original source of their own. Whoever knows anything of the spirit and character of the Brahmans, their stateliness, their pride, and extreme vanity, their distance, and sovereign contempt for everything that is foreign, and of which they cannot boast to have been the inventors, will agree with me that such a people cannot have consented to draw their customs and rules of conduct from an alien country."*

This fable which mentions the earliest avatar — the Matsya — relates to another yuga than our own, that of the first appearance of animal life; perchance, who knows, to the Devonian age of our geologists? It certainly answers better to the latter than the year 2348 B.C.! Apart from this, the very absence of all mention of the deluge from the oldest books of the Hindus suggests a powerful argument when we are left utterly to inferences as in this case. "The Vedas and Manu," says Jacolliot, "those monuments of the old Asiatic thought, existed far earlier than the diluvian period; this is an incontrovertible fact, having all the value of an historical truth, for, besides the tradition which shows Vishnu himself as saving the Vedas from the deluge — a tradition which, notwithstanding its legendary form, must certainly rest upon a real fact — it has been remarked that neither of these sacred books mention the cataclysm, while the Puranas and the Mahabharata, and a great number of other more recent works, describe it with the minutest detail, which is a proof of the priority of the former. The Vedas certainly would never have

* "Description, etc., of the People of India," by the Abbe J. A. Dubois, missionary in Mysore, vol. i., p. 186.

failed to contain a few hymns on the terrible disaster which, of all other natural manifestations, must have struck the imagination of the people who witnessed it."

"Neither would Manu, who gives us a complete narrative of the creation, with a chronology from the divine and heroical ages, down to the appearance of man on earth — have passed in silence an event of such importance." Manu (book i., sloka 35), gives the names of ten eminent saints whom he calls pradjapatis (more correctly pragapatis), in whom the Brahman theologians see prophets, ancestors of the human race, and the Pundits simply consider as ten powerful kings who lived in the Krita-yug, or the age of good (the golden age of the Greeks).

The last of these pragapatis is Brighou.

"Enumerating the succession of these eminent beings who, according to Manu, have governed the world, the old Brahmanical legislator names as descending from Brighou: Swarotchica, Ottami, Tamasa, Raivata, the glorious Tchakchoucha, and the son of Vivasvat, every one of the six having made himself worthy of the title of Manu (divine legislator), a title which had equally belonged to the Pradapatis, and every great personage of primitive India. The genealogy stops at this name.

"Now, according to the Puranas and the Mahabharata it was under a descendant of this son of Vivaswata, named Vaivaswata that occurred the great cataclysm, the remembrance of which, as will be seen, has passed into a tradition, and been carried by emigration into all the countries of the East and West which India has colonized since then. . . .

"The genealogy given by Manu stopping, as we have seen, at Vivaswata, it follows that this work (of Manu) knew nothing either of Vaivaswata or the deluge." *

The argument is unanswerable; and we commend it to those official scientists, who, to please the clergy, dispute every fact proving the tremendous antiquity of the Vedas and Manu. Colonel Vans Kennedy has long since declared that Babylonia was, from her origin, the seat of Sanscrit literature and Brahman learning. And how or why should the Brahmans have penetrated there, unless it was as the result of intestine wars and emigration from India? The fullest account of the deluge is found in the Mahabharata of Vedavyasa, a poem in honor of the astrological allegories on the wars between the Solar and the Lunar races. One of the versions states that Vivaswata became the father of all the nations of the earth through his own progeny, and this is the form adopted for the Noachian story; the other states that — like Deukalion and Pyrrha — he had but to throw pebbles into the ilus left by the retiring waves of the flood, to produce men at will. These two versions — one Hebrew, the other Greek — allow us no choice. We must either believe that the Hindus borrowed from pagan Greeks as well as from monotheistic Jews, or — what is far more probable — that the versions of

* "Fetichisme, Polytheisme, Monotheisme" pp. 170, 171.

both of these nations are derived from the Vedic literature through the Babylonians.

History tells us of the stream of immigration across the Indus, and later of its overflowing the Occident; and of populations of Hindu origin passing from Asia Minor to colonize Greece. But history says not a single word of the "chosen people," or of Greek colonies having penetrated India earlier than the 5th and 4th centuries B.C., when we first find vague traditions that make some of the problematical lost tribes of Israel, take from Babylon the route to India. But even were the story of the ten tribes to find credence, and the tribes themselves be proved to have existed in profane as well as in sacred history, this does not help the solution at all. Colebrooke, Wilson, and other eminent Indianists show the Mahabharata, if not the Satapatha-brahmana, in which the story is also given, as by far antedating the age of Cyrus, hence, the possible time of the appearance of any of the tribes of Israel in India.*

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