The first incarnation of Vishnu as his fish avat?r.
Matsya is a synonym for the waters and more distinctly stands for the water of life. It symbolizes the power of frtility, a fact which led to the identification of the fish and Vishnu himself being closely connected with the water and creation in his Nar?yana and several other forms.
There are several versions in the Pur?n?s of the way in which Vishnu assumed the aspect of a fish.
- One of them descibes him as turning himself into a fish so as to tow a ship in which M?nu (the 7th Law Giver) had taken refuge from a devastating flood. The same above story is found in the Mah?bh?rta, where in the fish is described as “shringi” , that is, having a horn
- In Bhagavata Pur?n?, it is further elaborated by the addition of a fight between Matsya and the demon Hayagriva (Horse -headed) who had stolen the Ved?s while Brahm? was asleep.