Home | Mythological Stories


Previous | Next

Matsya in Hindu Mythology
See also   Elephants

Matsya, means fish, is a very important thing in our Hindu scriptures. It has been mentioned in several references at several places.

(1) Matsya (Fish) is the first Avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu to save people for the next Manvantar.

(2) Satyvatee, the wife of Raajaa Shaantanu and the mother of Ved Vyaas Jee, was the daughter of a fish and that is why she smelled like a fish.

(3) Shakuntalaa, wife of Raajaa Dushyant, lost her ring to a fish and then had to suffer a lot.

(4) When Hanumaan had burnt Lankaa and he jumped into the sea to put out the fire of his tail, a drop of his sweat fell in the sea and a fish swallowed it. Later she gave birth to Hanumaan's son named Makaradhwaj. (Read Hanumaan Meets His Son)

(5) Shambaraasur Daitya knew that Krishn's son Pradyumn was going to kill him, so he stole him from Rukminee's delivery room when he was not even 10 days old and threw him in the sea to kill him and went home. But a fish swallowed him and a fisherman caught him. Seeing a big fish he gave that fish to the king Shambaraasur and the king gave it to his cook Maayaavatee (Kaam's wife) to cook it. When she cut it a baby came out of its stomach - that was Pradyumn. She brought him up very dearly.

(6) The remaining piece of pestle which came out from the womb of Saamb, according to Braahman's prediction, was also swallowed by a fish. That fish, again, was caught by a fisherman. The fisherman sold that iron piece to a Vyaadh (hunter) named Jaraa. He made the arrowhead out of that piece and used it to kill Krishn.
[Vishnu Puraan, 5/14]

Symbolism of Fish
Fish live in water; without water fish cannot live. There is a beautiful teaching of Sant Kabeer:
je jaake sharan rahe taakee raakhe laaj, ulat jal me machhalee chale baha gayaa gaj raaj.
"One who surrenders to whoever he protects him, just like a tiny fish [who lives in water] can go even against the current, but a big huge elephant goes down in the stream."

It is a really thought-provoking example. Why can a tiny fish with so little strength go against the current, while an elephant with so much strength falls down? It is because a tiny fish has completely surrendered itself to water. The life of the fish is the life of surrender. It surrenders completely to water. In water it is born, in water it lives, and ultimately it dies in water. It cannot exist without water. Similarly, surrender yourself to God. You were born in God and exist because of God and will go back to God. Some fish live in mud, but the mud does not touch or stick to the fish. If your life is dedicated to God you will be free from worldly mud; nothing can touch you, and you will be free.

One can go against the current of the river. Although the Praanik energy in the body naturally flows from the top towards the feet, there are those who know how to go against the current (that is, taking the Praanik energy upward from down). This is the spiritual meaning of being a fish.

--In Yaugik scriptures, inhalation and exhalation are symbolized as two fish swimming in two streams. It is said in Kailaash Tantra:
Gangaa yamunaayormadhye dwau matsau charatah sadaa
Tau matsau bhakshayaat yastu sa bhavet matsya saadhakah

"In the Ganga and the Yamuna there are two fish swimming continuously. One who can eat these two fish, is truly a sincere seeker."

--In the left and right nostril, the Idaa and Pingalaa canals (Naadee) are the two holy rivers, the Gangaa and the Yamunaa. There are two fish constantly swimming in these two rivers, which comprise the breath. The breath is flowing through the left and right nostrils is Idaa and Pingalaa canals of the spine. Breath control brings beauty and success in life This is one meaning of the fish symbolism.

--The anchor along with fishing is always associated with a boat. It is also said in the Bhaagvat : life is a boat and the world is the ocean. This lifeboat will flounder in the waves, but if the boat is firmly anchored on the shore, even if there is a strong wind or storm, nothing will happen to the boat.

--Similarly, the boat of life should be anchored. My beloved Guruji Swaamee Shree Yukteshwarji said : "Human life is ever unreliable until it is anchored in the Divine." Therefore, let this boat of our life be anchored in the Divine. If the mind is anchored in Christ, if the mind is anchored in God, then the mind has nothing to do but to remember God, and to do good. This is the beauty of human life. So the anchor is symbolic of reaching the goal of life through breath control - to anchor life in Divinity. With the anchor and fish together, let our lives be dedicated to God with steadiness and harmony.
[Source: page 13-16, Mysticism of Religious Symbols by Paramhansa Hariharananda of Kriya Yoga]

Matsya in Christianity
In the Christian church many people believe that the anchor and fish was an important religious symbol in the early days, and there is a lot of discussion about it. So what does the symbolism of the anchor and fish mean in early Christianity? Jesus taught many people and most of them were fishermen. You may have read many stories about Jesus serving people fish, and about how Jesus helped Peter to catch more fish. What does this mean? Jesus' giving fish to people symbolizes complete nutrition. We need nutrition for the body and nutrition for the mind. Jesus said: "Peter, be the fisher of men." Here fish symbolize human beings in the ocean of the world. The statement, "Peter, be the fisher of men," refers to bringing people from the worldly ocean and directing them towards God.



Home | Stories


Previous | Next

Created by Sushma Gupta on 5/9/09
Updated on 10/03/13