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It is supposed that certain sages having addressed Menu, requesting him to apprize them of the sacred laws, he began with speaking of the CREATION as follows: "Be it heard!
“This universe existed only in the first divine idea yet unexpanded, as if involved in darkness, imperceptible, undefinable, undiscoverable by reason, and undiscovered by revelation, as if it were wholly immersed in sleep :
“Then the sole self-existing power, himself undiscerned, but making this world
as those very laws prove the Hindu nation to have attained at the time they were framed. Besides, I am at a loss to conceive what is intended by saying that the Indian and Cretan lawgivers were one and the same person. If a Cretan had knowledge of the laws of Menu, he may have borrowed from them; he may also have borrowed his name, though we confess not to discover any strong analogy between them; nothing shews that they lived about the same epoch; and if we suppose that the Hindus adopted the Cretan laws, we must deny all that is known of their civil and religious history and institutions.
discernible, with five elements* and other principles of nature, appeared with undiminished glory, expanding his idea, or dispelling the gloom.
He, whom the mind alone can perceive, whose essence eludes the external organs, who has no visible parts, who exists from eternity, even He, the soul of all beings, whom no being can comprehend, shone forth.
He, having willed to produce various beings from his own divine substance, first with a thought created the waters, and placed in them a productive seed:
“That seed became an egg,† bright as
* The fifth element with the Hindus, we believe, is what we understand by ether.
In the verses ascribed to Orpheus, it is said that God having produced a large egg, broke it, and that from it came out the heavens and the earth. The same allegory was made use of by Pythagoras, to whom some ancient authors attribute the laws that others give to Orpheus. The Orphæ, though the name be taken from the latter, were followers of the doctrines of Pytha
gold, blazing like the luminary with a thousand beams; and in that egg was born the form of Brahmá, the great forefather of all spirits.
The waters are called nárá, because they were the production of Nara, or the spirit of God; and since they were his first ayana, or place of motion, he thence is named Nárayana, or moving on the waters. From that which is, the first cause, not the object of sense existing every where in substance, not existing to our perception, without beginning or end, was produced
goras. Their title implied a pure devout life, free from violence. They abstained from eating any animal food, or eggs, as the Brahmins and devout persons in India have done from the remotest ages. In the orgies of Bacchus, the egg was consecrated and held in veneration as a symbol of the world, and of him who contains every thing within himself. "Consule initiatos Liberi patris in quibus hac veneratione ovum colitur, ut ex formâ tereti ac penè sphærali atque undique versum clausâ, et includente intra se vitam, mundi simulachrum vocetur."-Macrob. Saturn. vii. c. 16. (tom. ii. p. 275. ed. Bipont.)
the divine male, famed in all worlds under the appellation of Brahmá.
In the egg the great power sat inactive a whole year of the Creator, at the close of which by his thought alone he caused the egg to divide itself;
"And from its two divisions he framed the heavens above, and the earth beneath : in the midst he placed the subtle ether, the eight regions, and the permanent receptacle of waters."
Then after recapitulating the different created things, it is said:
"He (meaning Brahmá) whose powers are incomprehensible, having thus created this universe, was again absorbed in the Supreme Spirit, changing the time of energy for the time of repose."
He having enacted this code of laws, himself taught it fully to me in the beginning; afterwards I taught it Maríchi and the nine other holy sages.
My son Bhrigu will repeat the divine code to you without omission; for that sage learned from me to recite the whole of it.
Bhrigu, great and wise, having thus been appointed by Menu to promulge his laws, addressed all the Rishis with an affectionate mind, saying: 'Hear!'
"From this Menu, named Sway'-ambhuva, or Sprung from the self-existing, came six descendants, other Menus, or perfectly understanding the scripture, each giving birth to a race of his own, all exalted in dignity, eminent in power, &c. &c."*
The Laws of Menu are divided into eight chapters, the contents of which are: 1st. On the Creation. 2nd. On Education. 3rd. On Marriage. 4th. On Economics and Morals. 5th. On Diet, Purification, and Women. 6th. On Devotion. 7th. On Government and on the Military Class. 8th. On Judicature and Law, both civil and criminal, but which appear to be only a digest of others already in practice,
* "Ces Menous sont les mêmes que les Mahabad des anciens Persans." Observation by M. Langlès. See the notes, and Notice Chronologique, in the tenth volume of his edition of Chardin's travels.