(Last Updated on : 15/01/2014)
The Matsya Purana is the sixteenth among the eighteen Puranas. The Matsya Purana deals with Matsya, the first incarnation of Lord Vishnu on earth and is so called as it was first recited by Vishnu in his Matsya avatar to Manu
. The Matsya Purana is one of the older works of Purana literature, or at least one of those which have preserved most of the ancient text. It commences with the story of the great flood out of which Vishnu, in the form of a fish (Matsya) saves only Manu alone. While the ship in which Manu is sailing along is being drawn through the flood by the fish, there takes place between him and Vishnu, incarnated as a fish, the conversation which forms the substance of the Purana.
Content of Matsya Purana
The Matsya Purana deals with the stories related to the wisdom of Matsya. As the verses reveal, during the period of Mahapralaya, Lord Vishnu had taken the Matsya avatar (fish incarnation) to save the seeds of all lives and Manu. It contains 14,000 verses, which are all in the form of conversation, while Matsya was teaching Manu about the significance of divinity, greatness of Lord Vishnu and the path of virtue.
The general contents of the Matsya Purana are description of the greatness of Narsimha Avatara, description of all the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu, greatness of fasting like Anant Tritiya and the places of pilgrimage like Prayag, tales of Chandravansh, Suryavansh and Kuruvansh and kings like Yayati and Kartveerya, description of the Kalpa and Yugas, appearance of idols, appearance and construction of Devamandapa (canopy for the deities), legend of Savitri
and Satyavan, results of auspicious and inauspicious motion of the planets, birth of Parvati
, immolation of Madan (Kamadeva), wedding of Lord Shiva
with Parvati, birth of Kartikeya
, duties of a king, description of future kings. Several subjects like Jainamata (religion of Jainism
), Buddha Mata (Buddhism
(histrionics) and Andhraraja Vamsa (kingdom and kings of Andhra) are discussed in this book.
The Matsya Purana itself describes the five characteristics (Pancha Lakshana) that a text must satisfy before being classified as a Maha Purana. The Matsya Purana are also concerned with the original creation of the universe (Sarga), the periodical process of destruction and re-creation (Pratisarga
), the various eras (Manvantara), the histories of the solar dynasty (Surya Vamsha), and lunar dynasty (Chandra Vamsha) and royal genealogies (Vamshanucharita).
The chief characters of this Purana are the Lord Matsya, the incarnation of Vishnu and the Emperor of Dravida Satyavrata, who is known as Manu. Manu is also venerated as the father of the Aryans. It has been said that, if the Matsya Purana is to be given as a gift along with a golden image of a fish at the time of Visuva, it is considered auspicious.
This is therefore the Matsya Purana, the imparting of wisdom to Manu by the Matsya avatar of Lord Vishnu.