Legend has it that the demons Madhu and Kaitabha stole the Vedas, and disappeared into the sea; Vishnu came down in the form of Matsya avataram and restored the vedas and then restored them to their original fragrance.
According to the Matsya Purana, the king of pre-ancient Dravida and a devotee of Lord Vishnu, Satyavrata who later becomes known as Manu was washing his hands in a river when a little fish swam into his hands and pleaded with him to save its life. He put it in a jar, which it soon outgrew. He then moved it to a tank, a river and then finally the ocean but to no avail.
The fish then revealed himself to be Lord Vishnu and told him that a deluge would occur within seven days that would destroy all life. Therefore, Satyavrata was instructed to take “all medicinal herbs, all the varieties of seeds, and accompanied by the seven saints” along with the serpent Vasuki and other animals.
The deluge occurred. Satyavrata built a boat which when the lord reappeared as promised, advised Satyavrata to board the boat and fasten the serpent Vasuki to his horn as a rope to the boat. The deluge was so fierce that it submerged the entire universe by its flooding.
The Matsya towed the boat to a mountaintop when the flood came, and thus Satyavrata survived along with some “seeds of life” to re-establish life on earth. After which the rest of life started on Earth. Thus Matsya avatara signifies that God will always protect the needy and the devoted at any kind of circumstances greater than deluge itself.
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