Arrival of the Waters

Following the “seven days” when the world appeared to be ablaze in “the radiance of a thousand suns” the Deluge started.

First, according to the Hindu account, vast clouds gathered which “overshadowed the entire world.” (1)

“These ominous clouds . . . rumbling and shooting lightning, overspread the sky.” (2) They were “as vast as mountains.” “Some were dusky, some crimson, some white, some brilliant (in hue).(3) Other sources describe them as yellow, or azure, or red. “Loud in roar and mighty in size they fill the entire sky.” (4) They were “fringed with lightning, meteors and thunderbolts.” (5) Then, “rumbling aloud with lightning [they] poured torrential streams thick like chariot wheels.” (6) They “rained with a sullen roar, inundating the three worlds with ceaseless downpour of torrents. . . .” (7) “And then there were seen on all sides the four oceans engulfing with tempestuous waves the whole surface of the earth.” (8) All creation was “smitten by the luminous dense floods.” (9)

In the beginning of the deluge the nova in the sky shone through the splendor of the illuminated skies and through the sheets of rain, ever increasing in intensity.(10) The Biblical expression “the Lord sitteth upon the flood” (11) was an apt description of the blazing nova above the waters of the Deluge. It has a Babylonian counterpart in the title of Tammuz as bel girsu: “lord of the flood.” (12) The nova blazed terrifically, but soon the light became diffused, the shadows grew ever dimmer, the world that was all splendor and light turned gloomier and gloomier; the outpouring waters grew ever thicker; the clouds of dust darkened ever more the sky, and finally the drama of what was taking place on earth went on in darkness.

The Deluge was not a peaceful though abundant rain filling the earth with water, rising ever higher. Ancient sources give a description of the Deluge that differs greatly from the pageant of showers pouring from above on a peaceful land and peaceful sea.


  1. Skanda Purana in S. Shastri, The Flood Legend in Sanscrit Literature (Delhi, 1950), p. 87.

  2. Agneya Purana in ibid., p. 50.

  3. Kalika Purana in ibid., p. 103.

  4. Vishnu Purana in ibid., p. 50.

  5. Skanda Purana in ibid., p. 88.

  6. Bhagavata Purana in ibid., p. 61.

  7. Kalika Purana in ibid., p. 103.

  8. Bhagavata Purana in ibid., p. 61.

  9. Ibid., loc. cit.

  10. Cf. the Babylonian expression in the wailings for Tammuz: “The shining ocean to thy perditions has taken thee.” (S. Langdon, Tammuz and Ishtar [Oxford, 1914], p. 15).

  11. Psalm 29.

  12. S. Langdon, Babylonian Liturgies (Paris, 1913), p. 96.