isis unveiled: chapter xv (knowledge is power)

“According to computation we are now in the age of Kali-Yug, the third, reckoning from that of Satya or Kritayug, first age in which Hindu tradition establishes the laws of Manu, and the authenticity of which Sir William Jones implicitly accepted.

Admitting all that may be said as to the enormous exaggerations of Hindu chronology – which, by the bye, dovetails far better with modern geology and anthropology than the 6,000 years’ caricature chronology of the Jewish Scripture – still as about 4,500 years have elapsed since the fourth age of the world, or Kali-Yug, began, we have here a proof that one of the greatest Orientalists that ever lived – and a Christian in the bargain, not a Theosophist, believed that Manu is many thousand years older than Moses. 

Clearly one of two things should happen: Either Indian history should be remodeled for the Presbyterian Banner, or the writers for that sheet should study Hindu literature before trying their hand again at criticism of Theosophists. But apart from the private opinions of these reverend gentlemen whose views very little concern us, we find even in the New American Cyclopaedia a decided tendency to dispute the antiquity and importance of the Hindu literature.

The Laws of Manu, says one of the writers, “do not date earlier than the third century B.C.” This term is a very elastic one. If by the Laws of Manu, the writer means the abridgment of these laws, compiled and arranged by later Brahmans to serve as an authority for their ambitious projects, and with an idea of creating for themselves a rule of domination, then, in such a sense, they may be right, though we are prepared to dispute even that.

At all events, it is as little proper to pass off this abridgment for the genuine old laws codified by Manu, as to assert that the Hebrew Bible does not date earlier than the tenth century of our era, because we have no Hebrew manuscript older than that, or that the poems of Homer’s Iliad were neither known nor written before its first authenticated manuscript was found. There is no Sanscrit manuscript in the possession of European scholars much older than four or five centuries, a fact which did not in the least restrain them from assigning to the Vedas an antiquity of between four or five thousand years.

There are strongest possible arguments in favor of the great antiquity of the Books of Manu, and without going to the trouble of quoting the opinions of various scholars, no two of whom agree, we will bring forward our own, at least as regards this most unwarranted assertion of the Cyclopaedia.”

H. P. Blavatsky

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