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Matsya Avatara

Kurma AvataraUnknown pious deed
During the reign of Caksusa Manu there was a king of Dravidadesa, named Satyavrata, who was a great pious ruler. To receive the favor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, King Satyavrata engaged in the austerity of subsisting only by drinking water. Once, while performing this austerity on the bank of the Krtamala River and offering oblations of water with the palm of his hand, he found a small fish. When the king was about to return the fish to the water, he was surprised to hear the fish speak out, begging for his mercy. The fish said that since it was so small, he would be surely devoured by the other creatures in the river and asked the king for protection. Since the king was compassionate by nature and this was also his duty, Satyavrata took the fish and placed it in a small vessel of water.

Even though the king did not know, he had just rendered direct devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, since the fish was none other than Lord Vishnu come to give special mercy to His devotee. This 'unknown pious deed' (ajnata sukriti) is root cause of many devotional advancements. Though the deed may not been performed in knowledge, since it serves the Lord, He mercifully accepts it and rewards the performer. Since people in the mode of goodness tend to perform pious deeds, they get a greater opportunity to perform, albeit unknowingly, devotional service to the Lord or His devotees and on the basis of this begin to make advancements in spirituality.

Surrender to the Lord
The next day, King Satyavrata was amazed to see that the fish had outgrown its vessel. On the request of the fish he transferred it to a well, but within minutes it outgrew that too. The king placed in the fish in a lake, then a river but in no time it grew too large to fit into these too. When the king was about to place the fish into the ocean, the fish begged not be put into the ocean since there were many sharks and deadly creatures that would attack it.

Completely bewildered the king now simply surrendered and understood that the fish was none other that the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Lord some times does this to His devotees, in order to demonstrate His inconceivable potency. King Satyavrata having understood the true position of the fish glorified Him with many prayers and requested Him to reveal the reason of this wondrous pastime.

Lord Matsya instructs
Lord Matsya, pleased by the surrender and the prayers of His devotee, revealed that on the seventh day from today the three worlds -- Bhuh, Bhuvah and Svah -- will all merge into the water of inundation. When all the three worlds merge into the water, a large boat sent by the Lord will appear before the king. The king was instructed to collect all types of herbs and seeds and load them on that great boat. Then, accompanied by the seven rsis (sapta-risi) and surrounded by all kinds of living entities, the king should aboard that boat, and without fear travel with his companions on the ocean of inundation. Since the Sun and Moon would also be destroyed, the only illumination would be the effulgence of the great rsis.

Lord Matsya proceeded to instruct King Satyavrata, that as the boat would be tossed around in the turbulent waters of destruction, He would appear in His Matsya form and the king should attach the His horn to the ship using Vasuki, the king of the serpents, as a rope.

Cosmic annihilation
King Satyavrata spend the seven days meditating on the Supreme Lord. After this time as predicted the Earth began to get inundated by torrential rains, which swelled the ocean causing it to overflow the entire world. At this time a huge boat appeared and the king, after collecting all forms of plants and seeds, boarded the boat with the seven sages. On the instructions of the saintly Brahmans, the king continued His meditation on the Lord, and soon a gigantic fish appeared. The fish had one horn and was eight million miles long. Following the instructions formerly given by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the King anchored the boat to the fish's horn, using the serpent Vasuki as a rope. Thus being satisfied, he began offering prayers to the Lord.

King Satyavrata instructed
For the duration of the night of Brahma, the King and his boat were carried over the waters of destruction anchored to the horn of Lord Matsya. Over this period The Supreme Personality of Godhead explained to King Satyavrata the spiritual science known as sankhya-yoga, the science by which one distinguishes between matter and spirit (in other words, bhakti-yoga), along with the instructions contained in the Puranas (the old histories) and the samhitas. The Lord explained Himself in all these literatures. While sitting in the boat, King Satyavrata, accompanied by the great saintly persons, listened to the instructions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in regard to self-realization. These instructions were all from the eternal Vedic literature. Thus the King and sages had no doubt about the Absolute Truth.

King Satyavrata was illuminated with all Vedic knowledge by the mercy of Lord Matsya, and in this period he has now taken birth as Vaivasvata Manu, the son of the sun-god (Vivasvan). In the Bhagavad Gita (4.1) he is once again mentioned by Sri Krishna as a link in the disciplic succession emanating from Him over which the Bhagavad Gita was passed.


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