The Ten Incarnations
the conquest of Vaishnavism
over the buddhists &Christians in
MATSYA (FISH) AVATARA
MATSYA (FISH) AVATARA
The Flood and the
This avatar is connected with the Biblical deluge in which
Vaivaswata Manu (Satya vrata The Righteous - Noah) or Noah was
saved through the Ark,
At the fish's command, Manu embarked in a ship together with the
Rishis and the seeds of all existing things, and the ship, bound to
the fish's great horn, was preserved during the Flood. Finally it
rested on a peak of the Himalayas.
The period starting from the creation of Adam or Swayambhuva Manu
ended with the coming of the flood and a new dispensation started
with the righteous one Vaivaswata Manu. This then reflects the
Noah story as well known in the early Christian era in
India in all details. The deluge story and the story of Noah
form one part of the myth.
And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the
ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.
III - Matsyavatara Katha (Brahmanical Version)
Shatapatha-Brahmana, I, 8, 1-6.
1. In the morning they brought to Manu water for washing, just as
now also they (are wont to) bring (water) for washing the hands.
When he was washing himself, a fish came into his hands.
2. It spake to him the word, 'Rear me, I will save thee!'
'Wherefrom wilt thou save me?' 'A flood will carry away all these
creatures: from that I will save thee!' 'How am I to rear thee?'
3. It said, 'As long as we are small, there is great destruction
for us: fish devours fish. Thou wilt first keep me in a jar. When
I outgrow that, thou wilt dig a pit and keep me in it. When I
outgrow that, thou wilt take me down to the sea, for then I shall
be beyond destruction.'
4. It soon became a ghasha (a great fish); for that grows largest
(of all fish). Thereupon it said, 'In such and such a year that
flood will come. Thou shalt then attend to me (i.e. to my advice)
by preparing a ship; and when the flood has risen thou shalt enter
into the ship, and I will save thee from it.'
5. After he had reared it in this way, he took it down to the sea.
And in the same year which the fish had indicated to him, he
attended to (the advice of the fish) by preparing a ship; and when
the flood had risen, he entered into the ship. The fish then swam
up to him, and to its horn he tied the rope of the ship, and by
that means he passed swiftly up to yonder northern mountain.
6. It then said, 'I have saved thee. Fasten the ship to a tree;
but let not the water cut thee off whilst thou art on the
mountain. As the water subsides, thou mayest gradually descend!'
Accordingly he gradually descended and hence that (slope) of the
northern mountain is called 'Manu's descent.' The flood then swept
away all these creatures and Manu alone remained here.
Translation by Julius Eggeling, in Sacred Books of the East, XII (Oxford,
1882), pp. 216-18.
III - Matsyavatara Katha (Hindu Pauranic Version)
The story of Vishnus incarnation as a fish Srimad Bhagavatham 8th
Skanda 24th chapter
In the end of Kalpa, the entire universe was plunged into the
sea-water when Brahma, wished to sleep, the demon Hayagreeva stole
all the Vedas from Brahma. Knowing the bad intention of the demon,
Lord Vishnu took incarnation as a Fish.
In the previous Kalpa, one King-sage named Satyavrata was doing
penance without partaking food & taking only water. The same
gentleman in this Kalpa took birth as Vaivaswata Manu and was
crowned as Manu by Lord Vishnu.
Once when he was doing Tarpana at
River, a small Fish come into his hand. This Dravidian King left
that water along with the fish in the river. The fish requested that
it may be kept in a safe place since there is danger of being
swallowed by big fishes in the river. So the king kept it in his
Kamandalu. The fish grew large by the hour so that the fish was
transferred to a well the next day. Then the fish got large enough
so that it was transferred to the pond, then in a river and at last
in the sea. The king was surprised and prayed almighty to reveal the
fun or magic behind it. They Lord Vishnu appeared and told Manu.
Yes, I am Lord Vishnu in the form of a Fish. From today, on the 7th
day the 3 lokas will be immersed in the sea water. Oh King, at that
time, I will send one boat near you. You collect and keep all
vegetables, all seeds and along with Saptarshi get into the boat and
in the total darkness move ahead with the help of light from the
Saptarshi. You tie the boat on my horns to protect from wind. I will
be dragging that ship up to the end of Brahmas night. Then I will
reply to your questions and you will know about Brahman. Then Lord
Vishnu disappeared. The King sat on a Darbha with its ends towards
east and facing to Esanya side. The saptarshis said Oh, King, you
are well blessed, since you could see Lord Vishnu & here his words.
Then the King tied the ship to the horn of the fish with the help of
a snake as a rope.
The king praised Lord Vishnu who then gave him Atma-Jnana & Bhakti.
Then Lord Vishnu killed the Demon Hayagreeva & recovered the Vedas.
Asura Hayagriva connection
It is then intertwined with the Hayagriva Asura story as they are
Matsyavatara (The Fish Incarnation)
[From the Bhagavata VIII].
There was an intermediate deluge; Brhama slept for a while; the
demon Hayagriva stole the Vedas. Lord Vishnu noticed this and took
the form of Fish. In the Dravida country, there was a pious King,
Satyavrata by name; as he was making an offering of water in the
Kritamala River, the Lord appeared as a tiny Fish in the water of
his palm. The Fish began to grow, and wondering at this, the King
went on transferring it from one vessel or container to another. The
Fish, which had finally to be deposited in the sea, told him: "On
the seventh day from now, all the worlds will become completely
flooded; on the flood waters, a boat will come to you; embark in it
with manifold herbs and seeds and surrounded by the seven great
sages and every class of living beings; a strong gale will rock the
boat, but tie it to my snout with the great serpent, and as you ask
me questions, I shall expound to you then the glory of Myself, the
Accordingly the sea swelled as huge rain-clouds poured down
incessantly, rolled on and engulfed the world; the boat appeared,
and also the great Fish; to its single snout, Satyavrata tied the
ark. Dragging the ark over the waters, the Lord as a Fish imparted
to Satyavrata the teachings about Truth which were collected in
the Purana known as the Matsya (Fish). After the waters of the
deluge had subsided, the Lord slew the demon Hayagriva and
restored the Vedas to Brahma, who awoke from his slumber.
[Achaean, the Indian Heritage, p. 377.]
Hayagriva is also referred to as Sankhasura the Asura of the Sankh.
The Sankh is the shell which is symbolic of the creative sound OHM.
But later story tells us that Sankhasura was killed by baby
(Sanskrit) A daitya said in Hindu legend to have waged war against
the gods and to have conquered them, upon which he stole the Vedas
and hid them at the bottom of the sea, whence they were rescued by
Vishnu in the form of a fish. There are also vague references in
connection with one of the dvipas (Sankha-dvipa) and it is
tempting to suppose that they are connected.
Another Hindu legend mentions the killing of Sankhasura by Krishna
-- another instance of the way in which this avatara is placed in
many different ages as the Krishna spirit in the world rather than
as any incarnated avatara of that name: the death of Krishna is
stated as having begun the kali yuga in 3102 BC, whereas
Sankha-dvipa was one of the great islands of the Atlantean
continental system of several million years ago.
"Once, at the end of the previous Kalpa, a demon named Hayagriva
wanted to take the Vedic knowledge away from Lord Brahma at the time
of annihilation. Therefore the Supreme Personality of Godhead took
the incarnation of a fish at the beginning of the period of
Svayambhuva Manu and saved the Vedas." Srimad-Bhagavatam 8:24
Bhagavatam then reinterprets it in spiritual history.
While Brahma was falling asleep (at a time when Vedism has lost all
its ground), at the end of the Kalpa, the Asura Hayagriva wanted to
take advantage of the circumstances to drown Vedism.
Vedas were stolen and a deluge took place. The Asuras took
away the Vedas and kept it submerged in the deluge waters. For
a period of time Vedas were lost to the Brahmins. We should remember
that Vedas were never written down. It is essentially against
the Brahminic principle to write down the Vedas since the
intonations and recitation methods will be lost in that process.
So what does it mean to say that Vedas were stolen or taken away?
The only conclusion we can make is that somehow these Asuras were
able to make the Vedas meaningless drown them. Then the
Vedas were rescued and a few people were saved to live on in spite
of the deluge and total carrying away of the nation under the
Before the latest creation of the
present universe, the four Vedas (the holy books from the mouth of
the Supreme-Deity) remained drowned in the waters. Who was this
terrible demon? Thomas? What was this deluge that totally
destroyed Vedism. The deluge here probably refers to
the Powerful presence of St.Thomas Ministry which engulfed all of
absorbing all Indians. But the Asuras who stole the Vedas still
remained and constituted a continuing Anti-Vishnu element. The
story therefore tells us that Vedism survived in the new form of
Vaishnavism of the Brahmins. It is all the more interesting
since it uses the Christian Noahic story as the background.
However there are many variations of this story some which are
totally antagonistic with the supremacy of Vishnu. In
some cases the demon was Hayagriva (Horse Headed) and was killed by
Matsya. In others, the incarnation that killed Hayagriva was
itself called Hayagriva with a horse head. At any rate the
demon was always the representation of Ajnana ignorance.
Hayagriva, meaning "one with the horse's neck", was the son of 'Kashyap
Prajapati'. Through great penance he managed to obtain a boon from
the Goddess Durga that he could only be killed by another "Hayagriva".
This instilled a sense of invincibility and he started harassing
the Devas. The Devas turned to Vishnu for aid, but despite a long
struggle of a thousand years, he was also unable to kill Hayagriva.
Tired and drained after the battle, Vishnu proceeded to Vaikuntha
Dham to rejuvenate and meditate in padamaasna (a yoga posture)
with his head supported by the upper end of his taut bow. The
Devas once again approached Vishnu for help against Hayagriva but
were unable to rouse him from his meditation. The Devas asked a
swarm of termites to assist in waking Vishnu by gnawing away the
string of the bow upon which he was resting. However, the snapping
of the bow string produced such a resonant sound that the universe
trembled, and the broken string lashed out with such force that
Vishnu's head was severed from his body.
The Devas were mortified, and prayed to the goddess Durga for
guidance. Durga was pleased with their prayers and told the Devas
that they need not fear, as no incident in this universe was
without some purpose. She then told them of her boon to Hayagriva
and asked them to attach the head of a horse to Vishnu so that he
in the guise of "Hayagriva" (that is, one with a horse's neck)
could kill his foe.
Brahma attached the head of a white horse to Vishnu's body and the
revived Vishnu entered into battle with Hayagriva and
eventually killed him.
atita-pralayapaya utthitaya sa vedhase
hatvasuram hayagrivam vedan pratyaharad dharih
At the end of the last inundation (during the reign of Svayambhuva
Manu) the Supreme Personality of Godhead killed the demon Hayagriva
and delivered all the Vedic literatures to Lord Brahma when he awoke
Hayagriva is an avatar of Vishnu. He is worshipped as the God of
knowledge and wisdom, with a human body and a horse's head,
brilliant white in color, with white garments and seated on a white
lotus. Hayagriva is celebrated in the Puranas for rescuing the Vedas
from the demons Madhu and Kaitabha and teaching them again to
Brahma. Symbolically, the story of Hayagriva indicates how the Vedas
were restored. In the normal situation the Hayagriva with
horse head succeded in destroying the knowledge of Vedas.
Evidently it could not be revived. The only way Vedas could be
revived was by emulating and copying the basis of the Hyagriva
knowledge itself. The old Vedic gods were thrown out and a new
Vedanta God was reinstated. This idea is supported by the
statement that Vishnu actually made up the Vedas as Hyagriva
Hayagriva is a very important deity in the Vaishnava tradition. His
blessings are sought when beginning study of both sacred and secular
subjects. Special worship is conducted on the day of the full moon
in August (Sravana-Paurnami) (his avatara-dina) and on
Mahanavami, the ninth day of the Navaratri festival. He is also
hailed as "Hayasirsa" (Horse-head)
There is also a Hayagriva Purana in Devi Bhagavata Purana
On the Narrative of Hayagriva (The Devi Bhagavata Purana 1.5)
5-9. Sūta said :-- O Munis! Hear all attentively the glorious
deeds of the supremely energetic Vishnu, the Deva of the Devas.
Once on a time the eternal Deva Janārdana became tired after the
terrible continuous battle for ten thousand years. After this the
Lord Nārāyana seated Himself on Padmāsan (a kind of posture) in
some lovely place on a level plot of ground and placing his head
on the front of his bow with the bow strung and placed erect on
the ground fell fast asleep. Visnu, the Lord of Ramā, was
exceedingly tired and thus he fell soon into deep sleep. At this
time Indra and the other Devas, with Brahmā and Mahesā began a
10-13. Then they, for the sake of success in Deva's well, went to
the region of Vaikuntha to meet with the Deva Janārdana, the Lord
of sacrifices. There the Devas, not finding Visnu, came to know by
their Dhyān (meditation) where Bhagavān Visnu was staying and
thither they went. They saw that the Lord Visnu, the Deva of the
Devas was lying unconscious, being under the arms of Yoganidrā
(the yogic sleep). Therefore they took their seats there. Seeing
the Lord of the universe asleep, Brahmā, Rudra and the other Devas
14-18. Indra then addressed the Devas :--O best of the Suras! Now
what is to be done! How shall we rouse Bhagavān from His sleep?
Now think of the means by which this can be effected. Hearing
Indra's words Sambhu said :-- O good Devas! Now we must finish
our sacrificial work. But if the sleep of Bhagavān be disturbed,
He would get angry.
Hearing Sankara's words, Paramesthī Brahmā created Vamrī insects
(a sort of white ants) so that they might eat up the forepart of
the bow that was lying on the ground causing the other end rise up
and thus break His sleep. Thus the Deva's purpose will, no doubt,
be fulfilled. Thus settling his mind, the eternal Deva Brahmā
ordered the white ants Vamrīs to cut the bow string.
25-30. Sūta said :-- Thus ordered by Brahmā, the Vamrī insect soon
ate away the fore end of the bow that rested on the ground.
Immediately the string gave way and the bow went up; the other end
became free and a terrible sound took place. The Devas bcame
afraid; the whole universe got agitated; the earth trembled. The
sea became swollen; the aquatic animals became startled; violent
wind blew; the mountains shook; ominous meteors fell.
The quarters assumed a terrific aspect; the Sun went down the
horizon. In that time of distress the Devas became anxious what
evil might come down. O ascetics! While the Devas were thus
cogitating, the head with crown on it of the Devadeva Visnu
vanished away; no body knew where it fell.
31-36. When the awful darkness disappeared, Brahmā and Mahādeva
saw the disfigured body of Visnu with its head off. Seeing that
headless figure of Visnu they were greatly surprised; they were
drowned in the ocean of cares and, overwhelmed with grief, began
to weep aloud. O Lord! O Master! O Devadeva! O Eternal one! What
unforeseen extraordinary mishap occurred to us to-day! O Deva!
Thou canst not be pierced nor cut asunder, nor capable of being
burnt; how is it then that Thy head has been taken away! Is this
the Māyā (majic) of some. Deva? O all pervading one! The Devas
cannot live when Thy condition is thus; we do not know what
affection dost Thou have towards us. We are crying because of our
selfish ends; perhaps this therefore has occurred. The Daityas,
Yaksas, or Rākhsasas have not done this; O Lord of Laksmī! Whose
fault will we ascribe this to? The Devas themselves have committed
this loss to themselves?
37-41. O Lord of the Devas! The Devas are now dependent! They are
under Thee. Now where are we to go? What are we to do? There is
none to save the dull stupid Devas!
At this juncture, seeing Siva and the other Devas crying,
Brihaspati, supremely versed in the Vedas, consoled them thus :--
O highly fortunate one! What use there will be in thus crying
and repenting? It ought you now to consider the means that you
should adopt to redress your calamities. O Lord of the Devas! Fate
and one's own exertion and intelligence are equal; if the success
comes not through Fate (Luck or chance) one is certainly to show
one's prowess and merit.
42-46. Indra said :-- Fie to your exertion when, before our eyes,
the head of Bhagavān Visnu Himself has been carried off! Fie, Fie
to your prowess and intelligence! Fate is in my opinion, the
47-50. O Glorious ones!
. meditate on the Eternal Mahāmāyā;
who is the Mother of all, who is supporter of all, who is of the
nature of Brahmāvidyā (the Supreme Knowledge) and who is beyond
the Gunas, who is the Prime Prākriti, and who pervades the three
Lokas, the whole universe, moving and unmoving; She will dispense
51-54. Brahmā said :-- O Vedas! Now go on and chant hymns to the
Sacred Highest Devī Mahāmāyā, who is Brahmāvidyā, who brings all
issues to their successful issues, who is hidden in all forms.
Hearing His words, the all-beautiful Vedas began to chant hymns to
Mahāmāyā who can be comprehended by Jńān, and who pervades the
The Vedas said :-- Obeisance to the Devī! To the Mahāmāyā! To the
Auspicious One! To the Creator of the Universe! We bow down to
Thee, who is beyond the Gunas, the Ruler of all the Beings! O
Mother! Thou givest to Sankara even His desires. Thou art the
receptacle of all the things; Thou art the Prāna of all the living
beings; Thou art Buddhi, Laksmī (wealth), Sobhā, Ks'hamā
(forgiveness), Sānti (peace), Sraddhā (faith), Medhā (intellect),
Dhriti (fortitude), and Smriti (recollection).
55. Thou art the vindu (m) over the Prānava (om) and thou art of
the nature of semi-moon; Thou art Gāyattri, Thou art Vyārhiti;
Thou art Jayā, Vijayā, Dhātri (the supportress), Lajjā (modesty),
Kīrti (fame), Ichchā (will) and Dayā (mercy) in all beings.
56-57. O Mother! Thou art the merciful Mother of the three worlds;
Thou art the adorable auspicious Vidyā (knowledge) benefitting all
the Lokas; Thou destroyest the Universe and Thou skilfully
residest (hidden) in the Vīja mantras. Therefore we are praising
Thee. O Mother! Brahmā, Visnu, Mahesvara, Indra, Sūrya, Fire,
Sarasvatī and other Regents of the Universe are all Thy creation;
so none of them is superior to Thee. Thou art the Mother of all
the things, moving and non-moving.
58-61. O Mother ! When Thou dost will to create this visible
Universe, Thou createst first Brahmā, Visnu and Mahes'vara and
makest them create, preserve and destroy this universe; but Thou
remainest quite unattached to the world. Ever Thou remainest
constant in Thy one form. No one in this Universe is able to know
Thy nature; nor there is any body who can enumerate Thy names. How
can he promise to jump across the illimitable ocean, who cannot
jump across an ordinary well.
O Bhagavatī! No one amongst the Devas even knows particularly Thy
endless power and glory. Thou art alone the Lady of the Universe
and the Mother of the world.
O Mother!... Is it that Hari incurred any
heinous sin. How can that be! Where is sin to thy followers
who serve Thee! O Mother!
.. was it that Visnu became
proud and to curb that,
Therefore dost Thou gladden Her by
giving back Her husband's life.
69-73. Sūta said :-- Thus praised by the Vedas with their Angas,
with Sāmagānas (the songs from the Sāma Veda), the Nirgunā
Mahes'vari Devī Mahāmāyā became pleased. Then the auspicious voice
came to them from the Heavens, gladdening all, and pleasing to the
ears though no form was seen: O Suras! Do not care anything about
it; you are immortal (what fear can you have?) Come to your
74-75. Does anything take place in this world without any cause?
Now hear why Hari's head was cut off. Once on a time, seeing the
beautiful face of His dear wife Laksmī Devī, Hari laughed in
presence of Her.
87-92. Abandoning all sorts of enjoyments, with control over his
senses and without any food, the Daitya (Hyagriva) did Japam of
the (repeated) one syllabled Māyā-Vija-mantra and, meditating the
form of the Utmost Sakti of Mine, adorned with all ornaments,
practised very terrible austerities for one thousand years. I,
too, went to the place of austerities in My Tāmasī form, meditated
by the Daitya and appeared before him.
93-95. Hayagrīva said :-- Obeisance to the Devī Mahāmaye!...
96-100. The Devī said :-- O child! I am very much satisfied with
your wonderful tapasya and devotion. Now say what boon do you
want. I will give you the boon that you desire. Hayagrīva said
;-- O Mother! grant me that boon by which death will not come to
me, and I be invincible by the Suras and Asuras, I may be a Yogi
The Devī said :-- Death brings in birth and birth brings in
death; this is inevitable. This order of things is extant in this
world; never its violation takes place. O best of the Rāksasas!
Thus knowing death sure, think in your mind and ask another
. There is none in the three worlds to kill him.
So let Visvakarmā take a horse's head and fix it on the headless
body of Visnu. Then Bhagavān Hayagrīva will slay the vicious
wicked Asura, for the good of the Devas.
Sūta said :-- Hearing these words, Visvakarmā quickly
cut off with his axe, the head of a horse, brought it before the
Devas and fixed it on the headless body of Visnu. By the grace of
Mahāmāyā, Bhagavān became horse-faced or Hayagrīva.
Then, a few days after, Bhagavān. Hayagrīva killed that proud
Dānava, the Deva's enemy, by sheer force. Any man, hearing this
excellent anecdote, becomes freed, certainly of all sorts of
difficulties. Hearing or reading Mahāmāyā's glorious deeds, pure
and sin destroying, gives all sorts of wealth.
Thus ends the fifth chapter of the first Skandha on the
description of the narrative of Hayagrīva in the Mahā Purāna
Srimad Devī Bhāgavatam.
This evidently is not a Vaishnavite version since even Vishnu has
become victim of death and was subject to the Goddess who is above
all gods even of Vishnu. After the death of Vishnu, the idea
was to resurrect Vishnu by putting on a new head similar to that of
Hayagriva and regain the Vedas with cleverness.
Madhu Asura and Kaitabha Asura Connection
Another legend has it that during the creation, the Asuras
Madhu and Kaitabha stole the Vedas from Brahma, and Vishnu then took
the Hayagriva form to recover them.
Srimad Devī Bhāgavatam X,I
On the killing of Madhu Kaitabha
1-49. Sūta said:--O Munis! When the excellent Tāmasi Sakti, the
Goddess presiding over sleep came out from the eyes, mouth, nose,
heart, etc., of the body of the World-Guru Visnu and rested
in the celestial space, then the powerful Lord Visnu began
to yawn and got up. He saw the Prajāpati Brahmā, terrified and
spoke to him in words, deep like rumbling in the clouds :-- O
Bhagavān Padmayone! What makes you come here, and leave your
tapasyā? Why do you look so terrified and anxious? Hearing this,
Brahmā said: O Deva! The two very powerful and very terrible
Daityas, Madhu Kaitabha sprung from the wax of Thy ears
approached to kill me; terrified thus, I have come to Thee. So, O
Lord of the Universe! O Vāsudeva! now I am quite out of senses and
terrified; save me. Visnu, then, said :-- Now go and rest
in peace, without any fear; let those two stupids, whose life has
been well nigh exhausted, come to me for battle; I will certainly
Sūta said:-- While Bhagavān Visnu, the Lord of all the
Devas, was thus saying, those two very powerful Dānavas, elated
with pride, came up there, in their search for Brahmā. O Munis!
The two proud Daityas stood there in the midst of the Pralaya
water without anything to stand on and with calm attitude. They
then spoke to Brahmā as follows:-- O You have fled and come here?
You cannot escape. Go on and fight. I will kill You before this
Then I will kill him also who sleeps on this bed of serpent.
Either give us battle or acknowledge yourself as our servant.
Hearing their words, Janārdan Visnu addressed them as follows:--
O two Dānavas, mad for war! Come and fight with me as you like; I
will surely curb your pride. O two powerful ones! If you trust me,
come and fight. Hearing this, the two Dānavas in the midst of
that mass of water resting without any support, came up there to
fight, with their eyes rolling with anger. The Daitya, named Madhu,
became very angry, came up quickly to fight while Kaitabha
remained where he stood. Then the hand-to-hand fight ensued
between the two mad athletes; Bhagavān Hari and Madhu became
tired; Kaitabha came up and began to fight. After that
Madhu and Kaitabha joined and, blind with rage, began to
fight again and again hand to hand with the very powerful Visnu.
And Bhagavān Brahmā and the Prime Force Ādyā Sakti witnessed this
from the celestial Heavens. So the fight lasted for a long, long,
time; yet the two Dānavas did not feel a bit tired: rather
Bhagavān Visnu became tired. Thus five thousand years
passed away; Hari then began to ponder over their mode of death.
He thought:-- I fought for five thousands of years but the two
formidable Dānavas have not been tired anything, rather I am
tired; it is a matter of great surprise. Where has gone my
prowess? and what for the two Dānavas were not tired; What is the
This is a matter, now, seriously to be thought over. Seeing
Bhagavān Hari thus sunk in cares, the two haughty Dānavas spoke to
him with great glee and with a voice like that of the rumbling of
cloud :-- O Visnu ! If you feel tired, if you have no
sufficient strength to fight with us, then raise your folded palms
on your head and acknowledge that you are our servant; or if you
can, go on fighting. O intelligent one!
We will take away your life first; and then slay this four-faced
Brahmā. Hearing the words of the two Dānavas, resting there
without any support in the vast ocean, the high-minded Visnu
spoke to them in sweet consoling words :-- See, O heroes! no one
ever fights with one who is tired, afraid, who is weaponless, who
is fallen and who is a child; this is the Dharma of the heroes.
Both of you fought with me for five thousands of years. But I am
single handed; you are two, and both equally powerful and both of
you took rest at intervals. I will therefore take rest for a
while, and then fight with certainty. Both of you are very
powerful and very much elated in vanity. Therefore rest a while.
After taking rest for a while I will fight with you according to
the just rules of warfare. Hearing these words of Hari, the two
chief Dānavas trusted and remained far aloof, ready to fight
Now the four-armed Vāsudeva, seeing them at a sufficient distance,
began to ponder in his mind thus :-- How their death can be
effected? Thinking for a time, he came to know that they have been
granted, by the Supreme Sakti Devī, death at their will (Ichchāmrityu);
and therefore they are not getting tired. I fought so long with
them uselessly; my labour went in vain. How then can I now fight,
with this certain knowledge. Again if I do not fight, how these
two Dānavas, elated with their boon and giving troubles to all, be
destroyed? When the boon is granted by the Devī their death is
also well nigh impracticable. Who wants his own death, even placed
in very great distressed circumstances. Attacked by terrible
diseases, reduced to indigent poverty no one wants to die; so how
can it be expected that these two haughty Dānavas would want their
death themselves? Therefore it is advisable me to take refuge of
that Ādyā Sakti, the giver of the fruits of all desires. No
desires can ever be fructified unless She is thoroughly pleased.
Thus thinking, Bhagavān Visnu saw the beautiful Devī Yoga
Nidra Siva, shining in the air. Then the supreme Yogi, Bhagavān
Visnu, of immeasurable spirit began to praise with folded
palms that great Bhuvanes'varī Mahā Kāli, the giver of boons for
the destruction of the Dānavas. O Devī! I bow down to Thee O
Mahāmāyā, the Creatrix and Destructrix! Thou beginningless and
deathless! O auspicious Chandike! The Bestower of enjoyment and
liberation I do not know Thy Saguna or Nirguna
forms; how then can I know Thy glorious deeds, innumerable as they
To-day Thy undescribable prowess has been experienced by me, I
being made senseless and unconscious by Thy power of sleep. Being
tried again and again by Brahmā with great care to bring me back
to my consciousness, I could not become conscious, so much my
senses were contracted down. O Mother! By Thy power, Thou didst
keep me unconscious and Thou again hast freed me from sleep, and I
also fought so many times. O giver of one's honour! Now I am
tired; but Thou hast granted boon to the two Dānavas and therefore
they are not getting tired. These two Dānavas, puffed up with
pride, were ready to kill Brahmā; and therefore I challenged them
to fight with me and they too are fighting fiercely with me in
this vast ocean.
But Thou hast granted them the wonderful boon that they will die
whenever they will; and therefore I have now come to Thy refuge,
as Thou protectest those that come under Thy shelter. Therefore, O
Mother, the remover of the Devas' troubles! These two Dānavas are
become exceedingly elated by Thy boon and I, too, am tired.
Therefore dost Thou help me now. See! those two sinners are ready
to kill me; without Thy grace, what can I do now? and where to
50-59. Thus praised by the eternal Vāsudeva Jagannātha Hari, with
humility and pranams, the Devī Mahā Kāli, resting in the air, said
smiling :-- O Deva deva Hari! Fight again; O Visnu! These
two heroes, when deluded by My Māyā, would be slain by you; I will
delude them certainly, by My side long glance; O Nārāyana! then
slay quickly the two Dānavas, when conjured by My māyā.
Sūta said :-- Hearing these loving words of Bhagavatī, Bhagavān Visnu
went to the scene of battle in the middle of that ocean, when the
two powerful Dānavas of serene tempers and eager to light, became
very glad on seeing Visnu in the battle and said :-- O
four-armed one! we see your desire is very lofty indeed; well
stand! Stand! now be ready for battle, knowing that victory or
defeat is surely dependent on Destiny. You should think now thus
:-- Though it is generally true that the more powerful one wins
victory; but it also happens sometimes that the weak gets the
victory by queer turn of Fate; so the high souled persons should
not be glad at their victories, nor should express their sorrows
at their defeat; so dont be glad, thinking, that you on many
former occasions fought with many Dānavas who were your enemies,
and got the victory; nor be sorry that now you are defeated by the
two Dānavas. Thus saying, the powerful Madhu Kaitabha came
up to fight. Seeing this, Bhagavān Visnu struck them
immediately by fist with great violence; the two Dānavas, elated
with their strength, struck Hari in return with their fists. Thus
fighting went on vigorously.
60-87. Now seeing the two Dānavas of great powers, fighting on
incessantly, Nārāyana Hari cast a glance expressive of great
distress, towards the face of the Devī Mahākāli. Seeing Visnu
thus distressed, the Devī laughed loudly and began to look
constantly with eyes somewhat reddish and shot towards the two
Asuras side-long glances, of love and amorous feelings which were
like arrows from the Cupid. The two vicious Daityas became
fascinated by the side-long glances of the Devī and took great
pleasures in them; being extremely agitated by these amorous
darts, looked with one steady gaze towards the Devī, of spotless
lustre. Bhagavān Hari, too, saw the wonderful enchanting pastime
of the Devī. Then Hari, perfectly expert in adopting means to
secure ends, began to speak smiling and in voice like that of the
rambling cloud, knowing the two Dānavas enchanted by Mahāmāyā,
O two heroes! I am very glad at the mode of your fighting. So ask
from me boons. I will grant that to you. I saw many Dānavas
before, fighting; but never I saw them expert like you, nor I
heard like this. I am therefore, very much satisfied by your such
unrivalled powers. Therefore, O greatly powerful pair of Dānavas!
I wish to grant both of you any boon that you want. Seeing the
Devī Mahāmāyā, the gladdener, of the Universe, the two Dānavas
felt themselves amorous; and therefore they became proud on
hearing Visnu's those words and told Visnu, with
their lotus-like eyes wide open, thus :--
O Hari! what do you like to give us? We are not beggars; we do not
want anything from you. O Lord of the Devas! Rather we will give
you whatever you desire; we are donors; not receivers. So O
Vāsudeva! Hrisi Kesa! We are glad to see your-
wonderful fight; so ask from us any boon that you desire. Hearing
their words, Bhagavān Janārdan said :-- If you both are so much
pleased with me, then I want this that both of you be killed by
Hearing these words of Visnu, Madhu Kaitabha became
very much wondered and thinking we are now cheated remained for
some time merged in sorrow. Then reflecting that there is water
everywhere and solid earth nowhere, they said :--
O Janārdana Hari! We know that you are truthful; therefore now we
want this desired boon from you that you wanted to grant us before
now grant us this desired boon of ours. O Madhusūdana! We will be
slain by you; but kill us, O Mādhava! on a solid earth, free from
any water; and thus keep your word.
Sri Bhagavān Hari laughed and remembering His Sudarsan disc said
:-- O two highly fortunate ones! Verily, I will kill both of you
on the vast solid spot without any trace of water. Thus saying,
the Devadeva Hari expanded His own thighs and showed to those
Dānavas the vast solid earth on the surface of water and said :--
O two Dānavas! See, here is no water. Place your two heads here;
thus I will keep my word and you would keep your word. Hearing
this, Madhu Kaitabha thought over in their minds and
expanded their bodies to ten thousand Yojanas. Bhagavān Visnu
Hari also extended his thighs to twice that amount. Seeing this,
they were greatly, suprised and laid their heads on the thighs of
Visnu. Visnu of wonderful prowess, then cut off
quickly with His Sudarsan disc the two very big heads over His
thighs. Thus the two Dānavas Madhu Kaitabha passed away;
and the marrow (meda) of them filled the ocean. O Munis! For this
reason, this earth is named Medinī and the earth is unfit for
Thus I have described to you all that you asked. The sum and
substance is this that the wise persons should serve Mahāmāyā with
all thei hearts. The Supreme Sakti is worshipped by all the Devas.
Verily verily, I say unto you that this is decided, in all the
Vedas and other Sastras that there is nothing higher than this
Ādyā Sakti. Therefore this Supreme Sakti should be worshipped
anyhow; either in Her Saguna form or in Her Nirguna
Thus ends the ninth Chapter of the first Skandha on the killing of
Madhu Kaitabha in the Mahāpurana Srimad Devī Bhāgavatam of
18,000 verses by Maharsi Veda Vyās
According to this story
Mula-Prakriit (Original Nature), Adi-Sakti(Primal Energy)
belongs to Devi (goddess) and not to Vishnu
Madhu means nectar in Sanskrit
. Madhu kaita means belonging to honey bees. It can be the qualities
or nature of honey bees. One of the meanings of "bha" is "having a
similarity to". "Madhu Kaitabha" means "having a semblance to
the nature of honey bees". The Asuras Madhu and Kaithabha implies
something sweet as honey. It was these sweet honey that
destroyed the Vedas and made sacrifices come to a stop.
to the Maha-bharata and the Puranas, Mahu and Kaitabah sprang from
the ear of Vishnu while he was asleep at the end of a kalpa, and
were about to kill Brahma, who was lying on the lotus springing from
Vishnus navel. Vishnu killed them, and hence he obtained the names
of Kaitabha-jit and Madhu-sudana. The Markandeya Purana attributes
the death of Kaitabha to Uma, and she bears the title of Kaitabha.
The Hari-vansa states that the earth received its name of Medini
from the fat (medas) of these demons). In one passage it says that
their bodies, being thrown into the sea, produced an immense
quantity of fat, which Narayana used in forming the earth. In
another place it says that the medas quite covered the earth, and so
gave it the name of Medini. The Fat of the earth comes from
these two Asuras. Without that the earth would have no medus
The myth therefore describes the basic fat on which the earth is
created now is the fat from Madhu Kaita.
became extremely proud of his position as the creator and
about his powers and his Knowledge. (jnAnam). Vishnu wanted to
teach him the lesson of humbleness. So he created two Asuras Madhu
and Kaitabha out of two drops of water from the lotus leaf.
(Other version makes them from his ear wax). These Asuras
stole the Vedas and hid them in the Patala. Brahma could not
create his kalpa era without them. So he approached Vishnu.
Vishnu incarnated as Hayagriva He rushed to Patala lokam and
raised His "uthGitham" (outgoing breathe interpreted as OM) in
samavedha swaram which terrified the Asuras. They hid the Vedas
(which were in the form of babies) and escaped in fear . Hayagriva
thus retrieved the Vedas and gave it back to Brahama to start
Yet another legend has it that during the creation, Vishnu compiled
the Vedas in the Hayagriva form.
In VishNu puraaNam the list follows thus:
"Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Ashva,
Simha rupathibhi ( In the forms of fish, torotoise, boar, horse and
It may be assumed that such retrieval of lost status of the Vedic
religion was repeated and were led by various leaders. These
most probably represents the tribal leaders with those insignia.
This is supported by the similar epics in Buddhism also.
Like Mahakala, Hayagriva is one of the Eight Great Protectors of
Buddhism, called as Tam Drim, a guardian and a destroyer of
obstacles to enlightenment. He is a
popular personal, deity among the Gelug order of Tibetan Buddhism.
Hyagriva Buddhist representation
The earliest surviving Tantric text date back to about 600 A.D
Hayagriva is one of the emanations of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara.
Hayagriva is also regarded as Yidam or Istadevata. Hayagriva has
many forms often with three faces, six arms and four legs sometimes
with huge wings. Hayagriva can be recognized by a small horse head
surmounted on the top of his main terrific head. He is a wrathful
god. Tantrism is common to both Hinduism and Buddhism of the period.
Tibet, Hyagriva is one of the Dharmapalas who protect the
teachings of Buddhis and the land of Tibet. His name means
horse-necked. He has a stocky human body and a horses
head, although sometimes he is shown with a smaller horses head
above his own human one. Other drawings show him with three
horses heads, which is when he takes the form of Krodha
Atigyhya, the Angry Highest Secret. In this form he
carries a goad, a noose, a club and a sword together with lotus
emblem and a skull. Hyagriva or Tamdrin as he is also called
, is the protector of the padma family of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas
(those who refuse to enter Nirvana until all are enlightened.) He
is seen as an emanation of Amitabha Buddha and is understood to
embody the speed of all Buddhas. His essence resides in the
chanting of the syllable hri which. Like the stallions whinny,
is the sound that curs through illusion and reveals the nature of
reality. Hyagriva also protects horses.
The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures: The Ultimate A-Z of
The Matsya Kingdom was founded by fishermen community who later
attained kingship. The Sanskrit word Matsya means fish.
Satyavati, the wife of Kuru king Santanu was from this community.
King Virata, a Matsya king, founded the kingdom of Virata. He was
the father-in-law of Abhimanyu the son of Arjuna. The epic
Mahabharata relates the founder of Matsya kingdom to the ruler of
Chedi, viz Uparichara Vasu. He was of the Puru dynasty
(1,63). Apart from the five royal sons of this king Pauravas - he
had a son and a daughter born of a women of fisherman community.
This male child, in due cource established the Matsya Kingdom and
founded the royal dynasty called Matsya Dynasti. Their
location could be on the banks of river Sindhu.
Tamdrin, Hayagriva, Horse-Throat
Emanation of Amitabha, dharmakaya of all the Buddhas of the Lotus
And emanation of Vajra Dharma and Chenrezi,
You are the body of great ferocity manifest from the syllable HRI:
Homage to Tamdrin with the horse's neigh
An interesting fact is that fishing was the main occupation of the
people who lived near river Saraswati. After the Saraswati River
dried up, they migrated to river Charmanwati now known as Chambal
meaning fish in Dravidian languages. Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa,
was son of Satyavati who belogned to this fishermen community later
became Veda Vyasa who compiled and edited the Vedas and the Puranas.
There were six other Matsya Kingdoms The Pandya Kingdom
in the extreme south, also bears the icon of a fish on its
official banner showing some connection with the Matsya kings. The
main Matsyas under Virata had its capital named Viratanagari which
is now known as Bairat in Jaipur district of Rajasthan.
Swayam Pradhana temples with matsyavatara are very rare. The
one that we know of is in Nagalapuram This temple
contains few rare Stone images such as Vinahara Dakshinamurthi,
Hayagriva Bhuvarala and Trivikrama and was built by Krishna Raya of
Vijayanagara Kingdom. From historical records we know that
this area was one of the major Christian centers renowned all over
700 BCE1200 CE.
The seals unearthed from the archeological sites of Indus valley
civilization, like Harapa and Mohenjodaro, contain a large number of
images of fish. These fish symbols were interpreted as representing
stars according to Iravattam Mahadevan (fish symbol which he
translates as meen of the Dravidian languages).
Parpola maintains that these represent the Fish God revered by the
inhabitants of the Indus valley is connected with the
constellations. Or was this the memory of the great Noahic
deluge. This ancient memory probably lies behind the Matsya
Hayagriva appears to be a King of the Matsya kingdom.
There is no doubt that the initial Matsyavatara was an attempt to
retell the Noah and the
story in the Indian way. Noah was asked to get together his
family and all the species into the ark. Here Vishnu asks the
Manu to gather the seven Rishis and the animals. How did the Matsya
come into the picture of Noahs story connects us to the era of
Pisces that is supposed to have emerged soon after the universal
flood. However the story of retrieving the Vedas is an addendum
which does not fit the context. These must be two separate
stories mixed together in the processes of the growth of mythology.
The second part is the story of the Asura Sura struggle for vedic
supremacy and relates to the history of the recent past. The
Kingdom which took active role in the reinstatement of the brahminic
power got mixed up with the Matsya of the Noahs ark story. It
must be a myth telling the story of how the Brahminic Vedas were
rescued from the pralaya of Thomas faiths of the Asuras.
We have also seen how the Sakthi group dealt with the same story
making Devi as the supreme laughing at the decapitulation of
vishnus head and putting on a horses head instead. This group
was laughing at the Vaishnavites in trying to copy the theology of
the Asuras saying that it is laughable for Vishnu to put on the
foolish horses head of the Asura.Asuras
Madhu and Kaithabha laughs at the Vaishnavite attempt at