Manu says that among all of mankind’s actions, those that conduce to spiritual liberation are seen to be the greatest, for, of all kinds of activities, the knowledge of the Soul [Atma-Jñana] is of primary importance. The knowledge of the Soul [also called spiritual science], alone releases us from binding shackles and brings freedom from agony and death and so, it stands supreme over and above all other sciences – natural, social, economic, environmental, etc. [12:85]. Manu, in his treatise, acknowledges that man pursues multiple aspirations in his physical day-to-day living, but postulates that man’s highest aspiration is everlasting beatitude [Mukti]. To achieve this highest goal, man would have to adjust all his goals of lesser quality and synthesize them with his ultimate goal. With this approach, man’s current life becomes harmonized with his subsequent lives, like links in a long chain. In the Manu Smriti we get a picture of the complete integrated life of a soul as it progresses through its many transmigrations, making use of multiple opportunities for working out its destiny, and finally arriving at its ultimate destination of self-realization. Because of its focus on the Soul, Karma Yoga and ultimate freedom, we can safely say that the Manu Smriti is important not merely for being a law-book but ranks highly as an expression of a complete philosophy of life. In this regard, the Manu Smriti is perceived as occupying the highest pedestal among similar Smriti works [of Rishis like Parashar, Yajñavalkya, Apastamba, Atri, Devala, etc.]
THE THEORY OF CREATION IN MANU SMRITI Acharya Dr.Satish Prakash Ji
- In the beginning, in the period of grand dissolution, before creation took place, this universe existed in the shape of darkness, unperceived, destitute of distinctive marks, unattainable by reasoning, unknowable, as if immersed in deep sleep from all around.
- After the period of grand dissolution, God – the Self-Reliant One, indiscernible to the naked eye – caused this Universe to become manifest. In so doing, He infused inexhaustible energy into Matter causing the great elements, and the rest, to evolve and become manifest. With this evolution, He dispelled darkness associated with the state of dissolution.
- From Matter that was under His Control, God drew forth Mahat, Cosmic Intelligence that contained in itself both Sat [the material cause for subsequent evolutes] and Asat [the yet-to-evolve evolutes themselves]. From Mahat, God drew forth Ahankaar or Ego, the powerful sense of individuation.
- The Creator caused to evolve the great mind that aids the Soul, all five subtle and gross elements rooted in the three qualities [Sattwa, Rajas, Tamas], and then, one by one in due order, the five cognitive and five active senses that grasp the objects of sensation.
- Combining subtle particles of these six [the five subtle elements and the ego] which possess measureless power, with particles of their corresponding gross elements, God created all beings.
These five verses above tell us the following:
- God is the agental [efficient] cause of the universe.
- Matter is the material cause of the universe.
- The universe evolved over a period of time and passed through different stages; it just did not happen.
- The universe constitutes dynamic realism. It is not a dream.
- Before the universe became manifest, it existed in deep darkness. This is the darkness caused by a prior dissolution of all forms. Each cycle of creation is followed by a cycle of dissolution, which again is followed by a period of creation. Cycles of creation and dissolution follow each other endlessly and rhythmically.
Acharya Dr.Satish Prakash