Vishnu’s Dashavatar: Matsya Avatar

Hi guys! As promised, here is the first post of the Vishnu’s Dashavatar series, Matsya Avatar! Do you know what the word ‘Matsya’ means? Believe it or not, it means ‘fish’! Why did Lord Vishnu take his first Avatar as a fish? Read on, and you will find out.

The seventh Manu, Vaivasvata, was doing his morning prayers at the banks of the Krithamala river.

Wait. ‘Who is a Manu?’ you ask? Manu is the first man in a Manvantara (eon, which lasts 306,720,000 years!), who is the progenitor of humanity. For every Manvantara, there is a different Manu. The current Manu is Vaivasvata. Did you notice something else? The English word ‘Man’ seems to be a derivation of Manu. So let’s get back to the story.

While praying at the banks of the Krithamala river, Manu dipped his cupped hands in the water. When he took it out, he saw a small fish that came with the water into his hands. He was about to release the fish, when the fish said, “Oh, King Manu, Please don’t put me back, the bigger fish shall eat me! Oh, King, protect me!”. The King put the fish in his water jug and returned to his palace.

The next day, he went to check on the fish. He saw that the tiny fish had grown in size so much that it fully occupied the jug. He ordered his attendants to transfer it to a container, but the next day a shocking sight awaited him. The fish had grown as big as the container and was struggling to breathe.

He transferred it to a pond, and then a lake, but the fish grew so much that none of them could accommodate it. He finally moved it to the ocean, but to his astonishment, the fish kept on growing and growing!

Manu was worried now he prayed to Lord Vishnu for help. Suddenly, the fish turned into Lord Vishnu and said, “Dear Manu, I did this to test your affection towards animals. The great floods are near, so I am appointing you to preserve the wildlife and knowledge of the world. Build a strong ship and get the best seeds of flora and a male and female of each fauna. And also request the Saptarishis (Seven Sages) to assemble in the ship.”

Lord Matsya

Pralayapayodhi Jale dhritvan asi Vedam

Vihita vahitra charitram akhedam

Keshava dhrita mina sharira

Jaya Jagadisha Hare!

      In the waters of the great deluge, to preserve the knowledge of the Vedas,
      you held them like a vessel undeflected from its course
      O Keshava in the form of a fish, Hail Vishnu, the Lord of the Universe!

Soon, the great floods arrived, and Manu had done as Lord Vishnu had instructed. Manu prayed to Lord Vishnu as the ship sailed through turbulent waters. The fish, Lord Matsya, arrived for the help of Manu. This time, Matsya had grown a horn on his head and brought the King of snakes Vasuki with him. Matsya instructed Manu to tie one end of Vasuki to his horn and the other end to the bow of the ship.

Lord Matsya guided the ship through the waves to the Himalayan region. After a long time, the floodwaters receded, and Manu reestablished the vegetation and the animals of the world, this time far better.

Click here for the next part

By DhyanKatha

Hi, I’m a 12-year-old homeschooler. I’m interested in Carnatic classical music. I’m fascinated by Indian epics and other untold stories.

2 replies on “Vishnu’s Dashavatar: Matsya Avatar”

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