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MATSYA (FISH) AVATARA

 

 

MATSYA (FISH) AVATARA

 

 

 

The Flood and the Ark

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.

Gen 7:1  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.
http://www.galileolibrary.com/history/history_page_9.htm

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 Kritamala 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.

(http://www.mudgala.com/sri-krishna-mangal/legends_of_the_world_2.html)

Asura Hayagriva connection

 It is then intertwined with the Hayagriva Asura story as they are directly connected.

 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 Supreme Brahman."

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.]

http://www.galileolibrary.com/history/history_page_9.htm

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 Krishna.

 

Sankhasura (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 Christian influence.  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 India 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.


(see http://www.harekrsna.com/philosophy/associates/demons/vishnu/ajnana.htm)

 

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

(Srimad-Bhägavatam 8.24.57)

“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 from sleeping.”

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 incarnation.

 


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 sacrifice.

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 became anxious.

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 S’ambhu said :-- “O good Devas! Now we must finish our sacrificial work. But if the sleep of Bhagavān be disturbed, He would get angry.”

Hearing S’ankara'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 S’iva 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 supreme. ….

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 our welfare. ….

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 world.

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 S’ankara 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), S’obhā, Ks'hamā (forgiveness), S’ānti (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, Mahes’vara, 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.

62-68.  …  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 senses. ….

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 and immortal”.

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 boon.….   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”.

106-112. … 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 S’rimad 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.  

 

 S’rimad Devī Bhāgavatam X,I

On the killing of Madhu Kaitabha

1-49. Sūta said:--O Munis! When the excellent Tāmasi S’akti, 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 kill them.”

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 one.

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 S’akti 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 cause?

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 again.

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 S’akti 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 S’akti, 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 S’iva, 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 are.

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 go?”

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 don’t 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, thus :--

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 me.”


 

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.

S’ri 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 eatable purpose.

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 S’akti is worshipped by all the Devas. Verily verily, I say unto you that this is decided, in all the Vedas and other S’astras that there is nothing higher than this Ādyā S’akti. Therefore this Supreme S’akti should be worshipped anyhow; either in Her Saguna form or in Her Nirguna state.

Thus ends the ninth Chapter of the first Skandha on the killing of Madhu Kaitabha in the Mahāpurana S’rimad 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.

According 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 Vishnu’s 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 – youthhood.

The myth therefore describes the basic fat on which the earth is created now is the fat from Madhu Kaita.

  

Brahma 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 again.

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 lion)

 

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.

 In 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 horse’s 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 stallion’s 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 Fantastic ...

By John Matthews, Caitlin Matthews

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 family,
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 the world.

 

700 BCE–1200 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 Avatara

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 Ark 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 Noah’s 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 Matsya Kingdom which took active role in the reinstatement of the brahminic power got mixed up with the Matsya of the Noah’s 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 vishnu’s 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 syncretization.