Matsya Purana – A short story

Satyavrata seeing the fish for the first time

While there are multiple versions of this story, the underlying theme and the events associated with the Matsya avatar stays the same in all of them.

One day while bathing, Satyavrata (also called Manu by some) accidentally catches a small fish in his hands. To his surpise, the fish looks at him and starts talking to him. It asks Manu to save its life and protect it in return for which the Matsya will protect Manu from an impending flood about which it is aware of.

When Manu agrees to help, the fish first asks him to put it in a jar of water, and then when it outgrows the same, it asks him to dig a pit, fill it with water and put it in the pit. Later, when it outgrows the pit, it asks Manu to transfer it to the ocean, by which time it is big enough to survive and is also indestructible. At this point, the fish asks Manu to build himself a boat and be ready for the impending flood. It also instructs him that when the flood waters increase, he should think of the fish that will then come over to help him out.

When the flood begins, Manu boards the boat and then prays to the fish for assistance. The fish then appears and ties the boat to a horn that has grown on its head. It uses the serpent Vasuki as the rope to tie the boat to its horn. The fish then tows this boat to safety and takes Manu to the highest and driest point left on the earth.

It is told that as the matsya swam through the flood waters he discoursed Manu on the various topics and revealed to him the knowledge of the Vedas, Puranas, Samhitas and the Supreme Truth.

Matsya steering the boat through the flood waters
Matsya steering the boat through the flood waters

Some versions also has the matsya instructing Manu to collect seeds of all types of plants and assembling the saptarishis (seven great sages) on the boat who are then rescued by the great matsya.


This post has been written for Friday Fictioneers Photo Prompt – Nov 1 where the post had to be inspired by the pic below.


26 thoughts on “Matsya Purana – A short story

    • @Jyothi, I cannot verify whether it is fiction or fact, but it is the generally accepted story about the Matsya Purana 🙂

  1. I love this story, Jairam, and have imagined, visualized it many times through my childhood. I also love how it is parallel to the Noah’s Ark story in many ways.

    Thanks. 😀

    Happy Diwali to you and your loved ones!

    • @Vidya, oh yes, this is the Indian version of the story of the great deluge, maybe I will do a post on some of the other stories about the Great Flood from various other countries’ mythologies, and here’s wishing you and your family a happy Diwali as well 😀

  2. In the story where Noah built a huge Ark (boat ) and the boat carried a seed each of every species of plant and a pair (male and female) of every know animal. loved the story, Jairam.

  3. Far over the 100-word limit, but worth every character. I love learning something new, especially when that new thing parallels stories I’ve already heard. It makes me think and question. And that’s a good thing. Many thanks for sharing.

    • @Cherry Pickens, yes, while the post was well over the 100 word limit, I pretty much used the prompt as an excuse to tell this story, that’s all 😀 Am glad you liked the post itself 🙂

    • @Richa, where do you think Manu got his knowledge to write his Manu Smritis from ??? 😉 All fishy knowledge only 😀

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