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11-Matsya Avataar
From  Bhaagvat Puraan, 8/8

2nd Avataar in 10 Main Avataar and 11th in 24 Avataar

There have been several Avataar of several gods on this Prithvi. There are some Avataar in which Vishnu incarnated just only to fulfill one single aim and after completing it went away. Matsya Avataar is one of them. Matsya Avataar (Fish Incarnation) is the First Avataar of Vishnu in which he started the Kalp. When after the Braahm Naimittik Pralaya, all Lok sank into water, Brahmaa Jee got sleepy, Ved came out of his mouth and seeing a good opportunity Hayagreev Daitya took those Ved away. At that time Vishnu appeared as a Matsya (fish). Matsya Avataar has been variedly narrated in different texts. The Shatpath Braahman and the Bhaagavat Puraan, 8/8 relate it to Manu, the Padm Puraan, 5/37 relates it to demon Shankhaasur, and the Matsya Puraan relates it to demon Hayagreev.

Bhaagvat Puraan Version
There was a king named Satyavrat who was doing Tapasyaa and was subsisting on water only. Later, the same Satyavrat was born to Soorya Dev as his son Shraaddh Dev and Bhagavaan appointed him as the Vaivaswat Manu for the next Manvantar. How?

One day the King Satyavrat was offering water from his palms (called Arghya) to Soorya Dev after his routine worship. So as he filled water in his palms (Anjulee) he found a tiny fish in it. he was about to drop it in the sea that he heard a subtle voice, "O King, Please do not drop me in the sea again. Big fish will eat me." So he pour that water in his Kamandal and brought it home. In the meantime the fish grew so much that it could not adjust itself in the Kamandal. So the King put it in a large vessel. There also it grew so much in a little while that he had to transfer it into a small pond. In a few hours it again grew so much that the whole pond was filled with its body. The King again to transfer it. This time he transferred it to a large river, but in a few hours the river's flow got blocked. This time the King could not resist himself and asked the fish - "You don't seem to be an ordinary fish, who are you?"

The fish said - "O King, You are right. I am not the ordinary fish. I am Vishnu. I have come to warn you that on the 7th day from today, there will be the Great deluge. You will see a big boat floating on the water. The Saptarshi will also be there in that boat. You also board it. There will be dark everywhere. Only the light of --- will show you the path. The boat will be shaking violently, but do not be worried. In a little while you will see huge fish with one horn. That will be me. Tie your boat with my horn and then I will be wandering around with your boat for long time. At the same time I will reply your questions too. Now you take me to the the ocean. Remember the 7th day from today." Manu took the fish to the ocean left it there and came back to his home.

The 7th day, it happened whatever the fish said. Black clouds came all over the sky, terrible winds started blowing, heavy rainfall started and within a short time the water spread all over. The then Satyavrat saw a large boat coming towards him, so he boarded the boat. As the water level was increasing its violent waves were also increasing. It became difficult to control the boat. the then the King saw a huge fish coming to him, somehow he got his boat tied to that fish's one horn. After this the violent waves got a bit calmed down and the boat started floating calmly. It was pitch dark all around.

Till the period of deluge was over, the King asked many questions from the fish and the fish satisfied him by its answers. All these questions and answers are written in Matsya Puraan. Thus in this Avataar Vishnu saved the world to the next Kalp. In the next Kalp He appointed Satyavrat as a Manu.

Padm Puraan, Version-1
This story comes in Padm Puraan, 5/37 - Brahmaa Jee created 9 Prajaapati - Bhrigu, Mareechi, Atri, Daksh, Kardam, Pulastya, Pulah, Angiraa, and Kratu. Mareechi had a son named Kashyap Jee. Kashyap Jee had 4 wives - Aditi, Diti, Kadroo and Vinataa. Aditi gave birth to Devtaa and Diti gave birth to Tamo Gunee sons who became great Asur. Their names were - Makar, Hayagreev, Hiranyaaksh, Hiranyakashyap, Jambh, Maya etc. Makar was very mighty. He deluded Brahmaa Jee, took all four Ved from him and entered the ocean. The whole world became A-Dharmee. Brahmaa Jee went to Vishnu and prayed Him to bring Ved back taken by Makar." Mahaadev Jee said - "Hey Paarvatee, Then Vishnu assumed the form of Matsya (fish), entered the ocean and killed the Daitya by tearing him with his mouth's front part. He handed over all Ved to Brahmaa Jee."

Padm Puraan, Version-2
This story comes from Padm Puraan, 5/12 - "Satyabhaamaa asked Krishn - "Why do you love Kaarttik Maas and Ekaadashee Tithi, tell me the reason of this?" Krishn said - "Listen, In earlier times, King Prithu asked Naarad Jee a similar question. Naarad Jee said - "In earlier times there was an Asur named Shankh. He was the son of Samudra. He defeated all Devtaa, so Devtaa hid in caves. He thought that these Devtaa are powerful because of Ved, so let me take away their Ved, this will make them weak." At that time Chaaturmaasya (Shraavan, Bhaadrapad, Aashwin and Kaartik) was going on and Vishnu was sleeping in His Ksheer Saagar. Before He went to sleep all Adhi-Daivik forms of Ved also merged into the Divine water of Ksheer Saagar, that is why Devtaa were also very weak.

That is why Brahmaa Jee went to Vishnu along with other Devtaa and prayed Him. Pleased with their worship, Vishnu said - "On Kaartik Shukla Prabodhinee Ekaadashee day, when only one Prahar (3 hours) night remains, whoever will worship me, they will come near me. Shankhaasur has kept all Ved in water. I will kill him and bring the Ved from him. From today, every year Ved and I will rest in water in Kaartik Maas. Since you have come on Ekaadashee, that is why this Tithi will be very dear to me. If anyone takes up Ekaadashee and Kaarttik Maas Vrat, he will surely come to me."

Thinking that Devtaa were weak, Shankhaasur brought the Ved from there and hid in the sea. The absence of the Ved, which had been guiding mankind to the path of righteousness, caused an outbreak of all kinds of sins and vices and pervaded all aspects of human life. Shankhaasur was hiding with the Ved into deep waters inside a conch named Paanchajanya. After killing Shankhaasur, Vishnu brought his body Shankh (Conch) along with Him and since then He has been carrying it as the Paanchjanya conch as one of his attributes. When He incarnated as Krishn in Dwaapar Yug, He blew it to announce the commencement of the Mahaabhaarat war.


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Created by Sushma Gupta on 6/15/11
Updated on 09/30/13