(1) The honorable king said: 'O powerful one, I would like to hear the story about that first incarnation of the Lord so wonderful in His deeds in which He is simply understood by the illusory form of a fish [or Matsya, see also 2.7: 12, 5.18: 24-28 and 6.9: 23]. (2-3) For what purpose accepted the Controller the form of a fish, a form that is certainly not the most favorable one in the world; to operate in that slow mode of matter must be as hard as the life of someone under the laws of karma! O mighty sage, please tell us as good as you can everything about the ways of Lord Uttamas'loka ['the One glorified'], for to hear about Him is what makes the whole world happy [B.G. 4: 7].'
(4) S'rî Sûta Gosvâmî said: "Thus being questioned by Vishnurâta ['Vishnu-sent'] told the so mighty son of Vyâsadeva him everything there was to know about the deeds of Vishnu in the form of a fish. (5) S'rî S'uka said: 'For the cows, the brahmins, the enlightened, the devotees and even the vedic literatures accepts the Supreme Controller in His incarnations forms to safeguard the dharma and the purpose of life. (6) Lower or higher among the living entities is the Controller [Himself], just like the air moving here and there, not higher or lower with the forms He assumes; willing by the modes He is beyond the modes. (7) In the past day of Brahmâ [kalpa], at its end was there consequently an inundation and were all the worlds existing submerged in the ocean, o King. (8) At the time wanted Brahmâ to lie down feeling sleepy and emanated from his mouth most powerfully the vedic knowledge that by Hayagrîva who happened to be nearby was seized [see 2.7: 11 and 5.18: 6]. (9) Understanding that dânava course of action of Hayagrîva assumed the Supreme Lord Hari, the Controller, the form of a fish. (1o) When that took place was there some saintly king named Satyavrata, a great personality and devotee of Lord Nârâyana, who in his penances was of the austerity of only subsisting on water. (11) In the present great day of Brahmâ was he someone who as a son of the sun-god became celebrated as S'râddhadeva and by Lord Hari was entrusted the position of Manu [see 6.6: 40 and 8.13: 1]. (12) When he one day sat at the Kritamâlâ river, performing oblations of water, manifested in his palm full of water some kind of a small fish itself. (13) Satyavrata, the master of Dravidades'a, o son of Bharata, threw the little fish with the handful of water into the river. (14) Appealing to the greatly compassionate King said it: 'The riverwater is very scary, o protector of the poor, why do you throw Me, small as I am, before the avaricious aquatics, o King?'
(15) Very pleased to show it his personal favor decided he, not knowing that he held the form of Matsya, to offer the fish protection. (16) The great ruler hearing its pitiable words mercifully put it in the water of a jug and took it home. (17) But expanding in the water of that pot could it one day not find itself comfortable anymore and said it thus to the great leader: (18) 'In this jug I have it difficult, I cannot live in a place like this, please consider a more spacious residence where I can live with pleasure.'
(19) He then took it out and placed it in a large well, but thrown in there grew it within a second out to the length of three cubits [2.10 meters]. (20) [It said:] 'This tank isn't suitable for Me to live happily in, please give Me, who took to your shelter, a place much bigger!'
(21) The king removing it from there threw it, o King, in a lake that was immediately covered by its body when He instantly grew out into a gigantic fish. (22) 'This water you put Me in does not accommodate Me, o King, I'm a large aquatic, better put Me somehow in an expanse of water that suits Me more permanently'.
(23) Thus requested brought he Matsya to bigger and bigger reservoirs until he finally threw the giant into the ocean. (24) Thrown there it said to the king: 'In this place there are dangerous aquatics that all too powerful will eat Me, o hero, therefore you shouldn't throw Me in here!'
(25) Thus perplexed by the fish addressing him with sweet words said he: 'Who are You in this fish-form bewildering us? (26) I've never seen or heard of such an energetic aquatic like You are: Your Lordship has in a day expanded to hundreds of miles! (27) You having assumed the form of a marine animal, must be the Supreme Lord in person, the inexhaustible Lord Nârâyana present here to show Your mercy to all living entities. (28) I offer You, the Most Excellent Personality of Maintenance, Creation and Destruction my obeisances; unto surrendered devotees like us are You indeed the Supreme Master, the Highest Destination, o Almighty One. (29) Everything You do in Your incarnations is the cause of the welfare of all living beings; I'd like to know for what purpose Your Lordship has assumed this form. (30) Never can the worship of the lotus feet of You, Lotuspetal-eyed One, run futile: You are the friend, the dearmost, the original soul namely of everyone, of all divinities differently embodied and spiritually fixed and before our very eyes have You now manifested that so very wonderful body.'
(31) S'rî S'uka said: 'Speaking there thus was that master of man, Satyavrata, addressed by the Master of the Universe, the Lord who as the one love of the devotees at the end of the yuga, for the sake of enjoying His pastimes, in the water of the great flood had assumed the form of a fish. (32) The Supreme Lord said: 'From the seventh day from today onward will, o subduer of the enemies, this threefold creation of earth, ether and heaven be flooded by the all-devouring ocean. (33) When the three worlds are submerged in the waters of annihilation, can you at that time count on the appearance of a very big boat by Me sent to you. (34-35) To prepare for that time please with the [wisdom of the] seven sages collect all higher and lower kinds of herbs and seeds and surround yourself with all kinds of beings getting on that huge boat to travel undaunted the ocean of the flood with no other illumination but the effulgence of the rishis. (36) Attach with the great serpent [Vâsuki] that boat, being tossed about by the very powerful wind, to My horn, for I will be near you. (37) I will drag you, together with the sages on the boat, along over the waters throughout the night of Brahmâ, my best one. (38) By my support and counsel will in your heart in full the knowledge be revealed of My glory that is known as the Supreme Brahman [see also B.G. 5: 16, 10: 11].'
(39) After instructing the king thus disappeared the Lord from there. The king then awaited the time that the Master of the Senses spoke to him about. (40) Spreading kus'a grass with its tips to the east sat the saintly king facing northwards to meditate upon the feet of the Lord who had appeared in the form of a fish. (41) With huge incessantly showering clouds in the sky saw he how next the ocean overflowed on all sides and therewith more and more inundated the earth. (42) Remembering what the Lord had said saw he a boat coming near which he, taking the herbs and creepers with him, boarded with the learned of rule. (43) The wise very pleased said to him: 'O King meditate upon Kes'ava ['the Lord with the black curls'] for He is the one who will save us from the impending danger and will set things right.'
(44) He being meditated by the king thereafter appeared in the great ocean as a countless yojanas big golden fish with one horn. (45) Pleased to fasten the boat onto that horn using the great serpent for a rope the way the Lord before had advised, satisfied he the Killer of Madhu. (46) The king said: 'From time immemorial has ignorance about the knowledge of the soul been the root cause of the material bondage that is accompanied by so much suffering and hardship; with the grace of God can, supported by the teacher of example, in liberation [in devotional service, see 7.5: 23-24] He, our Supreme Lord and Spiritual Master, be attained. (47) The one born, unwise accepts as a result of his karma different bodies in his desire to be happy [see 4.29 and B.G. 4: 5, 6: 45 and 16: 20], but his profit-minded plans bring him only grief; by rendering service is that matter cleared up and is with Him, our guru in the core of the heart, the hard knot of the mind of untruth cut. (48) By that service is, just like a piece of ore in touch with fire is purified, a person able to give up all the impurity that he has out of ignorance and can he revive his original identity [vocation or varna]; let Him, who in that sense is the One Inexhaustible, be our Supreme Controller, the Guru of Gurus. (49) Others together or individually or even the demigods and the gurus cannot even match one ten-thousandth of Your grace; let me surrender unto Him, the Controller, unto You, that shelter. (50) The way someone blind accepts the lead of a blind man does one similarly unwise take a person lacking in knowledge for a guru; Your Lordship appearing like the sun as the seer of all that can be seen are accepted as the guru of us, I, the enlightened person who knows his destination. (51) By what a common man instructs an ordinary person is he of surrender to the impermanent as the goal of life and to an ignorance that cannot be overcome, but by the eternal uncontaminated knowledge of You achieves a person very soon his constitutional position. (52) You are of all worlds the dearmost well-wisher, the controller, original soul and spiritual master, the spiritual knowledge, the fulfillment of all desires and the One situated in the heart who by people caught in greed that are of a dim intelligence cannot be known. (53) May by my surrendering to the exalted One that You are, the Greatest of All worshiped by the gods, the Supreme Controller for understanding the real purpose of life; by the light of Your meaningful words of instruction, the knots fixed in the heart be cut through, o Supreme Lord, please tell me where I belong [see also B.G. 4: 34].'
(54) S'rî S'uka said: 'Thus being addressed explained the Supreme Lord, the Original Person who had assumed the form of Matsya, unto the king the Absolute Truth as they were moving in the great ocean. (55) Thus got the holy king Satyavrata acquainted with the old stories, the Purânas; the vedic instructions, the Samhitâs; the transcendental, the divya; the analytic, the sânkhya; the linking of oneself to the divine with a unified [Krishna- or natural] consciousness, the yoga; the practical of living it, the kriya; and all the mysteries of selfrealization in all its forms. (56) Sitting in the boat with the sages, heard he thus about the traditional lore of the science of selfrealization the way it, beyond doubt, was explained by the Supreme Lord. (57) When the last inundation had ended handed the Lord over to Brahmâ, in order to reawaken him, all the vedic records after having put an end to the darkness caused by Hayagrîva. (58) King Satyavrata enlightened in the spiritual knowledge and its practical wisdom became in this period indeed Vaivasvata Manu by the mercy of Lord Vishnu.
(59) When someone hears the description of this great story of Satyavrata the saintly king and the Matsya incarnation with the one horn, is he delivered from all reactions to sin. (60) Whomever glorifies daily the incarnation of the Lord will have success in all his endeavors and will return home, back to Godhead. (61) I offer my obeisances unto Him the Cause of All Causes, who posing as a great fish, for Satyavrata's sake explained the vedic knowledge and put an end to the daitya darkness in giving back the vedic records that were stolen from the mouths of Lord Brahmâ who lay deep asleep in the waters of the flood.'