1. The great sages approached Manu, who was seated with a collected mind, and, having duly worshipped him,
spoke as follows:
2. 'Deign, divine one, to declare to us
precisely and in due order the sacred laws of each of the
(four chief) castes (varna) and of the intermediate ones.
3. 'For thou, O Lord, alone knowest the purport, (i.e.)
the rites, and the knowledge of the soul, (taught) in this
whole ordinance of the Self-existent (Svayambhu), which
is unknowable and unfathomable.'
4. He, whose power
is measureless, being thus asked by the high-minded
great sages, duly honored them, and answered, 'Listen!'
5. This (universe) existed in the shape of Darkness,
unperceived, destitute of distinctive marks, unattainable by reasoning, unknowable, wholly immersed, as it
were, in deep sleep.