Manu Vivasvan and Our Current Humanity
Manu refers not just to a person, an original human being, king or guru, as often interpreted, but to a guide of humanity and a civilizational era for humanity.
In Hindu accounts there are fourteen Manus of which our current Manu or humanity is the seventh, with seven more to go. These Manus are associated with the Seven Rishis or Seven Sages, who sustain the core of Vedic knowledge throughout all time and all worlds.
Most ancient cultures have such an idea of many humanities and previous civilizational eras, of which ours is neither the first, the last, or the highest.
Our current Manu and related humanity began at the end of the last Ice Age, which terminated with major cataclysms at the end of the Younger Dryas around 9600 BCE or 11,600 years ago. All ancient civilizations have stories of this great flood, and the effort of various sages to establish a new civilizational order after it. This last Manu was called Manu Vivaswan, Manu born of the Sun God or Solar Divine power.
Manu came from Kerala in the south in his flood story and went north to the Himalayas, eventually setting up his kingdom on the Sarasvati River in what is now Haryana and later called Kurukshetra. This is mentioned in the Matsya Purana.
The Materialistic Ages
The materialistic aspect of this new humanity began around five thousand years ago or 3102 BCE according to Vedic sages and around 3114 BCE according to the Mayas, who had a similar great spiritual tradition on the American continents.
There were previous humanities and civilizations during the Ice Age and its cycles, perhaps as long as human species have been on this planet. Some were less mental and more spiritual than our civilization is today. Others were more astral and less physical. Some terminated themselves by their wrong karmas as a species, which brought about natural calamities. Some eventually transcended to higher realms, leaving this physical realm behind.
The Human Being as a Materialized Mental Being
Humanity is a transitional species between the material and spiritual realms. As Sri Aurobindo noted, human beings are a “mentalized material being”. Manu as a term is related to manas meaning mind.
We are inherently dominated by a materialistic nature, which we can expand by the power of the outward looking mind or learn to transcend through an inner vision beyond the mind by Yoga and meditation.
Sri Aurobindo raised the call to create a Supramental humanity, beyond this outer mind dominated by the physical and able to spiritualize even the physical and the earthly realm.
As materialized mental beings, we humans have a predatory temperament. We are not only involved with exploiting other species, we are predatory towards our own species as our many wars and efforts at social domination indicate.
Humanity by nature is not a Divine or Deva species but an undivine or even anti-divine, an Asura species. Asura does not mean demonic as wrongly translated, but one who mistakes the body as their true Self or being. This is the basis of our obsession to exploit the outer world, our suppression and distortion of our spiritual aspirations, even turning these into more violence and exploitation.
Challenges to Humanity Today
There have been major civilizational and spiritual challenges for humanity throughout history. Eras of light and higher consciousness have occurred, though mainly upheld by those who have renounced the world or kept outside of it, but these have been rare, short term, apart from the mainstream social order, and often suppressed.
The so-called modern aspect of our civilization since the Renaissance has developed the materialistic intellect further, putting us under the mechanical mind and the measurements and machines it creates.
Modern technology so far as we approach 2024 has not enlightened us but has given us more weapons of war and powers of social control. We are becoming more materialistic, physical and outwardly oriented, as our current media displays, though a portion of humanity always maintains a spiritual aspiration
Our new technology could enable us to develop a higher spiritual way of life, as it has the tools to free us from the outer burdens of physical existence. But for this to occur we need a new intelligence and consciousness to guide our technology. An intelligence beyond the mind and the outward looking intellect and its obsession with name, form and number as truth, material pleasures as happiness, material powers as real power, and outer control of the world as the real goal of human action in life.
The period of this century with a new technology still lacking in higher guidance can be very dangerous, with one of the most difficult periods being this very decade.
The Way Forward?
The question arises: Will we bring out the spiritual potentials of this humanity as envisioned by the ancient sages and rishis, and by great gurus and yogis today? Will we give birth to a higher consciousness that connects us to cosmic intelligence, and takes us beyond the ego or physical mind? Or will our current humanity debase or even destroy itself, or have nature turn against and protect the Earth from our destructive species.
I don’t want to sound pessimistic and hope always remains. But the fact is that we have veered off our spiritual course to ascend in consciousness and instead are seeking to expand in the outer directed ego-mind. Unless that expansion is replaced by an ascending force, it can expand until it bursts.
Let us cultivate a higher awareness and devotion to bring out a higher humanity within us aligned with our deeper Divine nature and purpose on this planet. For this Yogic and Vedic teachings can show the way and give the inner power.
David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri)