Manusmriti: A Rationalist viewpoint (part 1)

Who is Manu?

The Brahma Purana declares : To continue with Creation, Brahma gave form to a Man and a Woman. The man was Swayambhu Manu and the Woman was named Satarupa. Manu married his sister Satarupa. Humans are descended from Manu, that is the reason they are known as Manusya.

“Securing the great and eternal Sakti from the lord and desiring to initiate the process of procreation by copulation, Brahma become a wondrous man in one half and a woman in one half. From the woman half was born Satarupa. The man half created Viraja, called Svayambhuva Manu, the first creation. Performing a difficult penance the gentle Satarupa got the Manu of bright fame as her husband.” (Shiva Purana, Vayaviyasamhita 7, Section I, chapter 17.1-4 Translated by J.L. Shastri)

 “Brahma discarded his own shining physical body. After dividing his own body into two, he became a man by on half. By (another) half he became a woman and she was Satarupa. She was the Prakrti, the mother of all living beings (and manifested thus) because the lord was creating out of desire. ..The half that was created as a woman became Satarupa. That divine lady performed a very difficult penance for a hundred thousand years and obtained Purusa of brilliant fame as her husband. Indeed, he is called Manu, the Purusa, the earlier son of the self-born lord…After obtaining as his wife, Satarupa who was not born of any womb, the Purusa sported with her. Hence it is called Rati (sexual dalliance).” (Brahmanda Purana Translalted by G.V. Tagare)

There is another version of the story. According to the Matsya Purana, when Brahma was creating the universe, he made a female deity known as Satarupa.  Satarupa was known by different names, including Satarupa, Sandhya, or Brahmi. After creating Satarupa, Brahma was immediately infatuated and pursued her wherever she went. Satarupa moved in various directions to avoid his gaze but wherever she went, Brahma developed another head until he had four, one for each direction of the compass. Desperate, Satarupa leaped over him to stay out of his gaze even for a moment. A fifth head, however, appeared above the others. Thus, Brahmā developed five heads. At this moment Shiva appeared, determined that since Satarupa was Brahma’s daughter (being created by him), it was wrong and merged into devi Parvati and formed  the Ardhanarishvara, translated as “half-man and half-woman god.”

But Brahma continued to chase Satarupa and copulated with (read raped)  her inside a lotus for 100 years and after that Satarupa gave birth to Manu.

“Brahma, fired with passion in her company, married Satarupa and began to pass his days in enjoyment inside a lotus. He enjoyed the company of Savitri for hundred years, and after a long time Manu was born to them.” (Matsya Purana 3.43-44. Translated by  A. Taluqdar of Oudh, edited by B.D. Basu)

AdiShankaracharya writes on this verse,

”He, the Viraj called Manu, was united with her, his daughter called Satarupa, whom he conceived of as his wife. From that union men were born.” (Adi Shankaracharya on Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.3. Translated by Swami Madhavananda.)

(Also see Birhadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.3)

Manu married his mother/sister Satarupa. Out of this  incestuous relationship, two sons (Priyavrata and Uttanapada) and three daughters (Akuti, Devahuti and Prasuti) were born of Manu in the womb of Satarupa. (Devi Bhagavatam 3.13.15-16 Translated by Swami Vijnananda, Srimad Bhagvatam 4.1.1 )

There are several verses that justify these incestuous relationship.

“…His transcendental value is not to be minimized, even though he exhibited a tendency to enjoy his own daughter. There is a purpose for the exhibition of such a tendency by Brahmā, and he is not to be condemned like an ordinary living entity.” (Swami Prabhupada on Srimad Bhagavatam 3.12.48 )

A version of Kausitaki shows that Brahma’s sons were attracted to their sister and Kausitaki Brahamana also finds no problem in this act. (Kausitaki Brahmana 6.1.1-12)

Manusamhita or Manusmriti

According to Hindu mythology, the Manusmriti or Manusamhita is the word of Brahma, and it is classified as the most authoritative statement on Dharma .The scripture consists of 2690 verses, divided into 12 chapters.  It is presumed that the actual human author of this compilation used the eponym ‘Manu’, which has led the text to be associated by Hindus with the first human being and the first king in the Indian tradition.

Although no details of this eponymous author’s life are known, it is likely that he belonged to a conservative Brahman class somewhere in Northern India.

The Manusmruti  is an ancient legal text of Hinduism. It is also called Manava-dharma-shastra. It is a document that compiles and organised the code of conduct for hindus.

It was one of the first Sanskrit texts translated during the British rule of India in 1794, by Sir William Jones, and used to formulate the Hindu law by the colonial government.

Over fifty manuscripts of the Manusmriti are now known, but the earliest discovered, most translated and presumed authentic version since the 18th century has been the “Calcutta manuscript with Kulluka Bhatta commentary”

A pious hindu is one who follows every word of Manusmriti.

How many Manus are there?

To understand this, we shall first have to go through the basic calculation of time for Brahma. Each day of Brahma (known as a Kalpa) is divided into 14 Manvantars  and each Manvantar is composed of 72 Chatur Yugas.


It is one cycle of 4 yugas (Kritha (Sathya), tretha, dwapara and kali). A total of 4320000 (4.3 million) human years.

Now let me split it clearly for everyone to understand better. The multiplication factor in each set is going to be 360. Why? Because 360 human years is one year for the Devas and hence we use that number. Henceforth, wherever I mention year, it is Deva year only (which is 360 human years).

Sathya Yuga = 4000 years. Starting period is 400 and ending period is 400
Thretha Yuga = 3000 years. Starting period is 300 and ending period is 300
Dwapara Yuga = 2000 years. Starting period is 200 and ending period is 200
Kali Yuga = 1000 years. Starting period is 100 and ending period is 100.

Sathya Yuga : (4000 + 400 + 400) deva years = 4800 deva years =4800 x 360 human years  = 1728000 human years

Thretha Yuga : (3000 + 300 + 300)  deva years = 3600 * 360  human years              = 1296000 human years

Dwapara Yuga : (2000 + 200 + 200) deva years = 2400 * 360 human years     =    864000 human years

Kali Yuga : (1000 + 100 + 100) deva years = 1200 * 360 human years                                                                        =     432000 human years

Sum Total of all the above (1 Chathuryuga: 1728000+1296000+864000+432000 human years = 4320000  human years.


Kalpa means Aeon, which denotes one day (not night) of Brahma.

1000 chaturyuga is one kalpa.

=1000 x 4320000 human years

In simple terms, it can be said as 4.32 billion years and this is one day of Brahma (night not included). An equal amount of time is his night. Hence 4.32 + 4.32 = 8.64 billion years is one full day (day + night) of Brahma. Each kalpa has a different name and our current kalpa is called as “Shvethavaraha kalpa”

Age of Brahma 

Brahma has 100 years of life span. The equivalent human years are calculated as follows

2 kalpas – 1 day and night for Brahma = 8.64 billion human years

1 month of Brahma = 259.2 billion human years

1 year of brahma = 3.1104 trillion human years

100 years of Brahma = 311.04 trillion human years


It is Manu Antara, which means the life span of Manu. We have 14 Manus to rule over in one day of Brahma (kalpa) and this is classified as 14 manvantaras. Life span of one Manu is roughly 72 chaturyugas.

1 manvantara = 311,040,000 human years.

As you can observe from the chart above, the Chatur-yuga and Manvantar periods run into huge time spans. For the smooth functioning of such long intervals of time, each of these has a different set of Gods and Guardians.

For example, the post of Indra passes to the most deserving of the Devas every Manvantar and alongwith him, the groups of Devas, Saptarishis etc. also change posts and so does the Manu.

The fourteen Manus ruling over these manvantaras of the present kalpa are:


We are in the 28th chaturyuga of the seventh Manvantara now and the name of our current Manu is “Vaivasvatha”.

Claim number of years in Kalpa, Chaturyuga and Manvantara is unscientific and religious nonsense

We have seen that:

One day of Brahma (kalpa) = 14 Manus

2 kalpas – 1 day and night for Brahma = 8.64 billion human years

One month of Brahma = (14×30) = 420 Manus =259.2 billion human years

One year of Brahma = (420×12) = 5040 Manus = 3.1104 trillion human years

100 years of Brahma = (5040×100) = 504000 Manus = 311.04 trillion human years

Right now, we are nearing the Noon of the 1st year of the 51st day of our Brahma’s life. This implies there have already been a total of {14x360x50 = 252000 Manus for previous Years + 7 for this day} = 252007 Manus till now! Mercifully, our scriptures do not give us the details of the previous years of Brahma’s life and only talk about the current day known as the Varah Kalpa.

According to modern science, age of Universe is estimated as 13.82 billion years. That is the time elapsed since big bang.

 In 2015, the Planck Collaboration estimated the age of the universe to be 13.813±0.038 billion years, slightly higher but within the uncertainties of the earlier number derived from the WMAP data. By combining the Planck data with external data, the best combined estimate of the age of the universe is (13.799±0.021)×109 years old.

(Ref.: 1. Planck Collaboration (2015). “Planck 2015 results. XIII. Cosmological parameters (See PDF, page 32, Table 4, Age/Gyr, last column)”. Astronomy & Astrophysics.

2. Lawrence, C. R. (18 March 2015). “Planck 2015 Results” )

Carl Edward Sagan (November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996) was an American astronomer, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, author, science popularizer, and science communicator in astronomy and other natural sciences.

He says, “The Hindu dharma is the only one of the world’s greatest faiths dedicated to the idea that the cosmos itself undergoes an immense, indeed an infinite number of deaths and rebirths. It is the only dharma in which the time scales correspond to those of modern scientific cosmology. Its cycles run from our ordinary day and night to a day and night of Brahma, 8.64 billion years long, longer than the age of Earth or the Sun and about half the time since the Big bang”  (Carl Sagan (2013). Cosmos. Ballantine. p. 273)

By: Rationalist Debashis