Skip to main content

         * Index                            * Biographies          * Theosophical

         * Glossary of Terms      * Religion                    Organisations                                     

                                                  * Philosophy            * Contributors

Theosophical Encyclopedia

Deluge

A universal legend that is found in many ancient traditions around the world.

In the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition, it is the story of Noah, who was told by the Lord to build an ark to save himself and his family when the Lord drowned the whole human race which had become wicked.

In various Hindu sources, such as the Satapatha BrahmanaMahabharata, and Puranas, it is the story of Vaivasvata building a ship or ark that saved him and the seven Rishis from the flood that swept all living things. His ark rested on the Himalayas.

In Greek mythology, it was the deluge caused by Zeus when he became disgusted with the King of Arcadia, and decided to drown the entire human race. Deucalion was warned by his father, Prometheus, of the coming flood. He built an ark which saved him and his wife, Pyrrha. The ark rested on Parnassus.

Among the ancient Chaldeans, a similar flood story antedated Noah. The god Hea told Sisithrus about the coming deluge and commanded him to prepare a vessel to save himself and a few others. He decided to drown the world after the council of the gods became angry with the wickedness of the world. Among the Peruvians, legend speaks of seven Incas, or creative gods, who repeopled the earth after the deluge.

In Scandinavia, the giant Bergelmir escaped in a boat as his brothers were drowned in the blood of their raging father, the giant Ymir.

In referring to the legends of the universal deluge, The Secret Doctrine considers them as both historical and allegorical. Historically, it refers to the deluge that sank Atlantis, or the fourth root race of humanity. Not all the deluge stories however referred to this historical event. Helena P. Blavatsky, for example, states that while the deluge story of the Vaivasvata Manu refers to this historical event, the story of Noah was not a historical record but rather a recounting of earlier deluge legends, such as the one from Chaldea. Geologically, the world underwent many glacial periods. HPB says that the universal deluge refers to one that swept Altantis, “beginning with Ruta and Daitya and ending with the (comparatively) small island mentioned by Plato. This is shown by the agreement of certain details in all the legends. It was the last of its gigantic character” (SD II:141).

Allegorically, the flood stories symbolize events in the formation of the cosmos and the evolution of mankind. They refer to the First Cosmic Flood, or primordial creation. Visnu, the male principle, fructified the female generative principle, symbolized by the ship or the ark. The stories also symbolize the saving of humanity from destruction during the Third Root Race. A mortal woman, symbolized by the ship, was made a receptacle of the human seed.

See also VAIVASVATA MANU.

V.H.C.

© Copyright by the Theosophical Publishing House, Manila

Tag Cloud

Occult (21)
Pilgram (2)
Poems (4)