As we all know, matsya means fish. Lord viShNu incarnated in the form of a fish.
This happened in the first Yuga. That is the Satya Yuga or krita Yuga.
We have all heard that the Lord incarnated to destroy bad guys and protect the good guys. In Satya Yuga almost all were good, then why did He have to descend? Well, when it is time for a yugam to end and the next one to start, there is mad destruction. This is called Pralayam. Where whatever was created is destroyed. Only a few samples of so called building blocks are saved to start creation again in the following Yuga. This is said to be one of his favourite games. Like how a child makes a sand castle, breaks it after sometime and then makes a new one.
Similarly, it was time for Satya Yuga to end and Treta Yuga to begin.
The story starts with king Satyavrata. King Satyavrata wanted to make his existence more useful. So he handed over the Rajya to his son and went to do tapas. He prayed to lord BrahmA. As usual lord BramhA pleased with Satyavrata’s penance granted him the boon of saving all the movable and immovable assets of the earth during the great deluge.
One day when he was performing Tarpana he gathered a tiny fish along with water in his kamandalu. Fearing that this tiny fish will be eaten by big fishes in the pond, he kept it in his kamandalu. But the fish seemed to grow fast. He kept changing the containers but the rate at which the fish was growing, he could no longer keep it at home. He put it in the river and within seconds it out grew the river too. Finally he took it to the ocean and there when the fish grew to its maximum size, Satyavrata realized that it was none other than Vasudeva.
As he bowed to Him, the lord began to speak.
BhagavAn informed the King that very soon there would be a Pralaya when Earth would get submerged in deep waters with mountains, forests etc. and a mammoth ship, constructed by Devas would arrive. The Lord asked Satyavrata to keep ready samples of various species of SvedajA(born of sweat), AndajA (born of eggs), UdbhijA(born out of Earth), JaraayujA (born from womb such as human beings, animals etc. which were subject to birth and death).
BhagavAn further suggested that when the ship arrived he should tie it to the horn of the giant fish. With the approach of Pralaya, there would also be severe drought in the Universe.
Surya, Soma, Brahma, Narmada River, MahariShi Markandeya, Shankara, Four Vedas, Puranas, and Suvrata who after Pralaya would become the Prajapati.
As predicted, at the end of the Chakshusa ManvantarA, the ship appeared and along with it a huge rope like snake materialised with which Satyavrata tied the ship to the horn of Matsyavatara BhagavAn viShNu. And he also got himself secured to the ship. As the Pralaya subsided, Matsya BhagavAn explained to Prajapati Satyavrata who became the Vaivasvata Manu about the re-creation of the Universe and its end again, the creation of humanity.
This drought would go on for several years. Fiery winds will blow. The Sun’s heat would burn species. All the seven seas would flood into one. And the only ones who would survive are:
Temples Of Matsya Avatar
There are very few temples for Matsya Murthy. Wikipedia lists a few.
Matsya Narayana Temple – It is situated in Omkar hills. South Bangalore. Details in the templogue section.