Matsya, the Lord’s Fish Incarnation
This chapter describes the Supreme Personality of Godhead’s incarnation as a fish, and it also describes the saving of Mahārāja Satyavrata from an inundation.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead expands Himself by svāṁśa (His personal expansions) and vibhinnāṁśa (His expansions as the living entities). As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (4.8), paritrāṇāya sādhūnāṁ vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām: the Supreme Personality of Godhead appears on this planet for the protection of the sādhus, or devotees, and for the destruction of the miscreants, or nondevotees. He especially descends to give protection to the cows, the brāhmaṇas, the demigods, the devotees and the Vedic system of religion. Thus He appears in various forms—sometimes as a fish, sometimes a boar, sometimes Nṛsiṁhadeva, sometimes Vāmanadeva and so on—but in any form or incarnation, although He comes within the atmosphere of the material modes of nature, He is unaffected. This is a sign of His supreme controlling power. Although He comes within the material atmosphere, māyā cannot touch Him. Therefore, no material qualities can be attributed to Him in any degree.
Once, at the end of the previous kalpa, a demon named Hayagrīva wanted to take the Vedic knowledge away from Lord Brahmā at the time of annihilation. Therefore the Supreme Personality of Godhead took the incarnation of a fish at the beginning of the period of Svāyambhuva Manu and saved the Vedas. During the reign of Cākṣuṣa Manu there was a king named Satyavrata, who was a great pious ruler. To save him, the Lord appeared as the fish incarnation for a second time. King Satyavrata later became the son of the sun-god and was known as Śrāddhadeva. He was established as Manu by the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
To receive the favor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, King Satyavrata engaged in the austerity of subsisting only by drinking water. Once, while performing this austerity on the bank of the Kṛtamālā River and offering oblations of water with the palm of his hand, he found a small fish. The fish appealed to the King for protection, asking the King to keep Him in a safe place. Although the King did not know that the small fish was the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, as a king he gave shelter to the fish and kept Him in a water jug. The fish, being the Supreme Personality of Godhead, wanted to show His potency to King Satyavrata, and thus He immediately expanded His body in such a way that He could no longer be kept in the jug of water. The King then put the fish in a big well, but the well was also too small. Then the King put the fish in a lake, but the lake was also unsuitable. Finally the King put the fish in the sea, but even the sea could not accommodate Him. Thus the King understood that the fish was no one else but the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and he requested the Lord to describe His incarnation as a fish. The Personality of Godhead, being pleased with the King, informed him that within a week there would be an inundation throughout the universe and that the fish incarnation would protect the King, along with the ṛṣis, herbs, seeds and other living entities, in a boat, which would be attached to the fish’s horn. After saying this, the Lord disappeared. King Satyavrata offered respectful obeisances to the Supreme Lord and continued to meditate upon Him. In due course of time, annihilation took place, and the King saw a boat coming near. After getting aboard with learned brāhmaṇas and saintly persons, he offered prayers to worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, and thus he taught Mahārāja Satyavrata and the saintly persons about Vedic knowledge from the core of the heart. King Satyavrata took his next birth as Vaivasvata Manu, who is mentioned in Bhagavad-gītā. Vivasvān manave prāha: the sun-god spoke the science of Bhagavad-gītā to his son Manu. Because of being the son of Vivasvān, this Manu is known as Vaivasvata Manu.
bhagavañ chrotum icchāmi
śrī-rājā uvāca—King Parīkṣit said; bhagavan—O most powerful; śrotum—to hear; icchāmi—I desire; hareḥ—of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari; adbhuta-karmaṇaḥ—whose activities are wonderful; avatāra-kathām—pastimes of the incarnation; ādyām—first; māyā-matsya-viḍambanam—which is simply an imitation of a fish.
Mahārāja Parīkṣit said: The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari, is eternally situated in His transcendental position, yet He descends to this material world and manifests Himself in various incarnations. His first incarnation was that of a great fish. O most powerful Śukadeva Gosvāmī, I wish to hear from you the pastimes of that fish incarnation.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is all-powerful, yet He accepted the form of an uncommon fish. This is one of the ten original incarnations of the Lord.
yad-artham adadhād rūpaṁ
etan no bhagavan sarvaṁ
yathāvad vaktum arhasi
yat-artham—for what purpose; adadhāt—accepted; rūpam—form; mātsyam—of a fish; loka-jugupsitam—which is certainly not very favorable in this world; tamaḥ—in the mode of ignorance; prakṛti—such behavior; durmarṣam—which is certainly very painful and condemned; karma-grastaḥ—one who is under the laws of karma; iva—like; īśvaraḥ—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; etat—all these facts; naḥ—unto us; bhagavan—O most powerful sage; sarvam—everything; yathāvat—properly; vaktum arhasi—kindly describe; uttamaśloka-caritam—the pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; sarva-loka-sukha-āvaham—by hearing of which everyone becomes happy.
What was the purpose for which the Supreme Personality of Godhead accepted the abominable form of a fish, exactly as an ordinary living being accepts different forms under the laws of karma? The form of a fish is certainly condemned and full of terrible pain. O my lord, what was the purpose of this incarnation? Kindly explain this to us, for hearing about the pastimes of the Lord is auspicious for everyone.
Parīkṣit Mahārāja’s question to Śukadeva Gosvāmī was based on this principle stated by the Lord Himself in Bhagavad-gītā (4.7):
“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself.” The Lord appears in each incarnation to save the world from irreligious principles and especially to protect His devotees (paritrāṇāya sādhūnām). Vāmanadeva, for example, appeared to save the devotee Bali Mahārāja. Similarly, when the Supreme Personality of Godhead accepted the abominable form of a fish, He must have done so to favor some devotee. Parīkṣit Mahārāja was eager to know about the devotee for whom the Supreme Lord accepted this form.
ity ukto viṣṇu-rātena
uvāca caritaṁ viṣṇor
matsya-rūpeṇa yat kṛtam
śrī-sūtaḥ uvāca—Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī said; iti uktaḥ—thus being questioned; viṣṇu-rātena—by Mahārāja Parīkṣit, known as Viṣṇurāta; bhagavān—the most powerful; bādarāyaṇiḥ—the son of Vyāsadeva, Śukadeva Gosvāmī; uvāca—said; caritam—the pastimes; viṣṇoḥ—of Lord Viṣṇu; matsya-rūpeṇa—by Him in the form of a fish; yat—whatever; kṛtam—was done.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: When Parīkṣit Mahārāja thus inquired from Śukadeva Gosvāmī, that most powerful saintly person began describing the pastimes of the Lord’s incarnation as a fish.
chandasām api ceśvaraḥ
rakṣām icchaṁs tanūr dhatte
dharmasyārthasya caiva hi
śrī-śukaḥ uvāca—Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; go—of the cows; vipra—of the brāhmaṇas; sura—of the demigods; sādhūnām—and of the devotees; chandasām api—even of the Vedic literature; ca—and; īśvaraḥ—the supreme controller; rakṣām—the protection; icchan—desiring; tanūḥ dhatte—accepts the forms of incarnations; dharmasya—of the principles of religion; arthasya—of the principles of the purpose of life; ca—and; eva—indeed; hi—certainly.
Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: O King, for the sake of protecting the cows, brāhmaṇas, demigods, devotees, the Vedic literature, religious principles, and principles to fulfill the purpose of life, the Supreme Personality of Godhead accepts the forms of incarnations.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead generally appears in various types of incarnations to give protection to the cows and brāhmaṇas. The Lord is described as go-brāhmaṇa-hitāya ca; in other words, He is always eager to benefit the cows and brāhmaṇas. When Lord Kṛṣṇa appeared, He purposefully became a cowherd boy and showed personally how to give protection to the cows and calves. Similarly, He showed respect to Sudāmā Vipra, a real brāhmaṇa. From the Lord’s personal activities, human society should learn how to give protection specifically to the brāhmaṇas and cows. Then the protection of religious principles, fulfillment of the aim of life and protection of Vedic knowledge can be achieved. Without protection of cows, brahminical culture cannot be maintained; and without brahminical culture, the aim of life cannot be fulfilled. The Lord, therefore, is described as go-brāhmaṇa-hitāya because His incarnation is only for the protection of the cows and brāhmaṇas. Unfortunately, because in Kali-yuga there is no protection of the cows and brahminical culture, everything is in a precarious position. If human society wants to be exalted, the leaders of society must follow the instructions of Bhagavad-gītā and give protection to the cows, the brāhmaṇas and brahminical culture.
caran vāyur iveśvaraḥ
nirguṇatvād dhiyo guṇaiḥ
ucca-avaceṣu—having higher or lower bodily forms; bhūteṣu—among the living entities; caran—behaving; vāyuḥ iva—exactly like the air; īśvaraḥ—the Supreme Lord; na—not; ucca-avacatvam—the quality of higher or lower grades of life; bhajate—accepts; nirguṇatvāt—because of being transcendental, above all material qualities; dhiyaḥ—generally; guṇaiḥ—by the modes of material nature.
Like the air passing through different types of atmosphere, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, although appearing sometimes as a human being and sometimes as a lower animal, is always transcendental. Because He is above the material modes of nature, He is unaffected by higher and lower forms.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the master of the material nature (mayādhyakṣeṇa prakṛtiḥ sūyate sacarācaram [Bg. 9.10]). Therefore, being the supreme controller of the laws of nature, the Lord cannot be under their influence. An example given in this regard is that although the wind blows through many places, the air is not affected by the qualities of these places. Although the air sometimes carries the odor of a filthy place, the air has nothing to do with such a place. Similarly, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, being all-good and all-auspicious, is never affected by the material qualities like an ordinary living entity. puruṣaḥ prakṛti-stho hi bhuṅkte prakṛtijān guṇān (Bg. 13.21). When the living entity is in the material nature, he is affected by its qualities. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, however, is not affected. Disrespectfully, one who does not know this considers the Supreme Personality of Godhead an ordinary living being (avajānanti māṁ mūḍhāḥ). Paraṁ bhāvam ajānantaḥ: such a conclusion is reached by the unintelligent because they are unaware of the transcendental qualities of the Lord.
brāhmo naimittiko layaḥ
lokā bhūr-ādayo nṛpa
āsīt—there was; atīta—past; kalpa-ante—at the end of the kalpa; brāhmaḥ—of Lord Brahmā’s day; naimittikaḥ—because of that; layaḥ—inundation; samudra—in the ocean; upaplutāḥ—were inundated; tatra—there; lokāḥ—all the planets; bhūḥ-ādayaḥ—Bhūḥ, Bhuvaḥ and Svaḥ, the three lokas; nṛpa—O King.
O King Parīkṣit, at the end of the past millennium, at the end of Brahmā’s day, because Lord Brahmā sleeps during the night, annihilation took place, and the three worlds were covered by the water of the ocean.
dhātuḥ śiśayiṣor balī
mukhato niḥsṛtān vedān
hayagrīvo ’ntike ’harat
kālena—because of time (the end of Brahmā’s day); āgata-nidrasya—when he felt sleepy; dhātuḥ—of Brahmā; śiśayiṣoḥ—desiring to lie down to sleep; balī—very powerful; mukhataḥ—from the mouth; niḥsṛtān—emanating; vedān—the Vedic knowledge; hayagrīvaḥ—the great demon named Hayagrīva; antike—nearby; aharat—stole.
At the end of Brahmā’s day, when Brahmā felt sleepy and desired to lie down, the Vedas were emanating from his mouth, and the great demon named Hayagrīva stole the Vedic knowledge.
jñātvā tad dānavendrasya
bhagavān harir īśvaraḥ
jñātvā—after understanding; tat—that; dānava-indrasya—of the great demon; hayagrīvasya—of Hayagrīva; ceṣṭitam—activity; dadhāra—accepted; śapharī-rūpam—the form of a fish; bhagavān—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; hariḥ—the Lord; īśvaraḥ—the supreme controller.
Understanding the acts of the great demon Hayagrīva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari, who is full of all opulences, assumed the form of a fish and saved the Vedas by killing the demon.
Because everything was inundated by water, to save the Vedas it was necessary for the Lord to assume the form of a fish.
tatra rāja-ṛṣiḥ kaścin
nāmnā satyavrato mahān
tapaḥ sa salilāśanaḥ
tatra—in that connection; rāja-ṛṣiḥ—a king equally qualified as a great saintly person; kaścit—someone; nāmnā—by the name; satyavrataḥ—Satyavrata; mahān—a great personality; nārāyaṇa-paraḥ—a great devotee of Lord Nārāyaṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead; atapat—performed austerities; tapaḥ—penances; saḥ—he; salila-āśanaḥ—only drinking water.
During the Cākṣuṣa-manvantara there was a great king named Satyavrata who was a great devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Satyavrata performed austerities by subsisting only on water.
The Lord assumed one fish incarnation to save the Vedas at the beginning of the Svāyambhuva-manvantara, and at the end of the Cākṣuṣa-manvantara the Lord again assumed the form of a fish just to favor the great king named Satyavrata. As there were two incarnations of Varāha, there were also two incarnations of fish. The Lord appeared as one fish incarnation to save the Vedas by killing Hayagrīva, and He assumed the other fish incarnation to show favor to King Satyavrata.
yo ’sāv asmin mahā-kalpe
tanayaḥ sa vivasvataḥ
śrāddhadeva iti khyāto
yaḥ—one who; asau—He (the Supreme Person); asmin—in this; mahā-kalpe—great millennium; tanayaḥ—son; saḥ—he; vivasvataḥ—of the sun-god; śrāddhadevaḥ—by the name Śrāddhadeva; iti—thus; khyātaḥ—celebrated; manutve—in the position of Manu; hariṇā—by the Supreme Personality of Godhead; arpitaḥ—was situated.
In this [the present] millennium King Satyavrata later became the son of Vivasvān, the king of the sun planet, and was known as Śrāddhadeva. By the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he was given the post of Manu.
ekadā—one day; kṛtamālāyām—on the bank of the Kṛtamālā River; kurvataḥ—executing; jala-tarpaṇam—the offering of oblations of water; tasya—his; añjali—palmful; udake—in the water; kācit—some; śapharī—a small fish; ekā—one; abhyapadyata—was generated.
One day while King Satyavrata was performing austerities by offering water on the bank of the River Kṛtamālā, a small fish appeared in the water in his palms.
saha toyena bhārata
satyavrataḥ—King Satyavrata; añjali-gatām—in the water held in the palms of the King; saha—with; toyena—water; bhārata—O King Parīkṣit; utsasarja—threw; nadī-toye—in the water of the river; śapharīm—that small fish; draviḍa-īśvaraḥ—Satyavrata, the King of Draviḍa.
Satyavrata, the King of Draviḍadeśa, threw the fish into the water of the river along with the water in his palm, O King Parīkṣit, descendant of Bharata.
tam āha sātikaruṇaṁ
dīnāṁ māṁ dīna-vatsala
kathaṁ visṛjase rājan
bhītām asmin sarij-jale
tam—unto him (Satyavrata); āha—said; sā—that small fish; ati-karuṇam—extremely compassionate; mahā-kāruṇikam—extremely merciful; nṛpam—unto King Satyavrata; yādobhyaḥ—to the aquatics; jñāti-ghātibhyaḥ—who are always eager to kill the smaller fish; dīnām—very poor; mām—me; dīna-vatsala—O protector of the poor; katham—why; visṛjase—you are throwing; rājan—O King; bhītām—very much afraid; asmin—within this; sarit-jale—in the water of the river.
With an appealing voice, the poor small fish said to King Satyavrata, who was very merciful: My dear King, protector of the poor, why are you throwing Me in the water of the river, where there are other aquatics who can kill Me? I am very much afraid of them.
“The Supreme Personality of Godhead possesses unlimited potency. Nonetheless, in His pastime in the form of a fish He begged protection from King Satyavrata.”
tam ātmano ’nugrahārthaṁ
śapharyāḥ sa mano dadhe
tam—unto the fish; ātmanaḥ—personal; anugraha-artham—to show favor; prītyā—very much pleased; matsya-vapuḥ-dharam—the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who had assumed the form of a fish; ajānan—without knowledge of this; rakṣaṇa-arthāya—just to give protection; śapharyāḥ—of the fish; saḥ—the King; manaḥ—mind; dadhe—decided.
To please himself, King Satyavrata, not knowing that the fish was the Supreme Personality of Godhead, decided with great pleasure to give the fish protection.
Here is an example of giving service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead even without knowledge. Such service is called ajñāta-sukṛti. King Satyavrata wanted to show his own mercy, not knowing that the fish was Lord Viṣṇu. By such unknowing devotional service, one is favored by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Service rendered to the Supreme Lord, knowingly or unknowingly, never goes in vain.
tasyā dīnataraṁ vākyam
āśrutya sa mahīpatiḥ
dayālur ninya āśramam
tasyāḥ—of the fish; dīna-taram—pitiable; vākyam—words; āśrutya—hearing; saḥ—that; mahī-patiḥ—the King; kalaśa-apsu—in the water contained in the water jug; nidhāya—taking; enām—the fish; dayāluḥ—merciful; ninye—brought; āśramam—to his residence.
The merciful King, being moved by the pitiable words of the fish, placed the fish in a water jug and brought Him to his own residence.
sā tu tatraika-rātreṇa
idam āha mahīpatim
sā—that fish; tu—but; tatra—therein; eka-rātreṇa—in one night; vardhamānā—expanding; kamaṇḍalau—in the waterpot; alabdhvā—without attaining; ātma-avakāśam—a comfortable position for His body; vā—either; idam—this; āha—said; mahī-patim—unto the King.
But in one night that fish grew so much that He could not move His body comfortably in the water of the pot. He then spoke to the King as follows.
nāhaṁ kamaṇḍalāv asmin
kṛcchraṁ vastum ihotsahe
yatrāhaṁ nivase sukham
na—not; aham—I; kamaṇḍalau—in this waterpot; asmin—in this; kṛcchram—with great difficulty; vastum—to live; iha—here; utsahe—like; kalpaya—just consider; okaḥ—residential place; su-vipulam—more expanded; yatra—wherein; aham—I; nivase—can live; sukham—in pleasure.
O My dear King, I do not like living in this waterpot with such great difficulty. Therefore, please find some better reservoir of water where I can live comfortably.
sa enāṁ tata ādāya
tatra kṣiptā muhūrtena
saḥ—the King; enām—unto the fish; tataḥ—thereafter; ādāya—taking out; nyadhāt—placed; audañcana-udake—in a well of water; tatra—therein; kṣiptā—being thrown; muhūrtena—within a moment; hasta-trayam—three cubits; avardhata—immediately developed.
Then, taking the fish out of the waterpot, the King threw Him in a large well. But within a moment the fish developed to the length of three cubits.
na ma etad alaṁ rājan
sukhaṁ vastum udañcanam
pṛthu dehi padaṁ mahyaṁ
yat tvāhaṁ śaraṇaṁ gatā
na—not; me—unto Me; etat—this; alam—fit; rājan—O King; sukham—in happiness; vastum—to live; udañcanam—reservoir of water; pṛthu—very great; dehi—give; padam—a place; mahyam—unto Me; yat—which; tvā—unto you; aham—I; śaraṇam—shelter; gatā—have taken.
The fish then said: My dear King, this reservoir of water is not fit for My happy residence. Please give Me a more extensive pool of water, for I have taken shelter of you.
tata ādāya sā rājñā
kṣiptā rājan sarovare
tad āvṛtyātmanā so ’yaṁ
tataḥ—from there; ādāya—taking away; sā—the fish; rājñā—by the King; kṣiptā—being thrown; rājan—O King (Mahārāja Parīkṣit); sarovare—in a lake; tat—that; āvṛtya—covering; ātmanā—by the body; saḥ—the fish; ayam—this; mahā-mīnaḥ—gigantic fish; anvavardhata—immediately developed.
O Mahārāja Parīkṣit, the King took the fish from the well and threw Him in a lake, but the fish then assumed a gigantic form exceeding the extent of the water.
naitan me svastaye rājann
hrade mām avidāsini
na—not; etat—this; me—unto Me; svastaye—comfortable; rājan—O King; udakam—water; salila-okasaḥ—because I am a big aquatic; nidhehi—put; rakṣā-yogena—by some means; hrade—in a lake; mām—Me; avidāsini—perpetual.
The fish then said: O King, I am a large aquatic, and this water is not at all suitable for Me. Now kindly find some way to save Me. It would be better to put Me in the water of a lake that will never reduce.
ity uktaḥ so ’nayan matsyaṁ
jalāśaye ’sammitaṁ taṁ
samudre prākṣipaj jhaṣam
iti uktaḥ—thus being requested; saḥ—the King; anayat—brought; matsyam—the fish; tatra—therein; tatra—therein; avidāsini—where the water never diminishes; jala-āśaye—in the reservoir of water; asammitam—unlimited; tam—unto the fish; samudre—in the ocean; prākṣipat—threw; jhaṣam—the gigantic fish.
When thus requested, King Satyavrata took the fish to the largest reservoir of water. But when that also proved insufficient, the King at last threw the gigantic fish into the ocean.
kṣipyamāṇas tam āhedam
iha māṁ makarādayaḥ
adanty atibalā vīra
māṁ nehotsraṣṭum arhasi
kṣipyamāṇaḥ—being thrown in the ocean; tam—unto the King; āha—the fish said; idam—this; iha—in this place; mām—Me; makara-ādayaḥ—dangerous aquatics like sharks; adanti—will eat; ati-balāḥ—because of being too powerful; vīra—O heroic King; mām—Me; na—not; iha—in this water; utsraṣṭum—to throw; arhasi—you deserve.
While being thrown in the ocean, the fish said to King Satyavrata: O hero, in this water there are very powerful and dangerous sharks that will eat Me. Therefore you should not throw Me in this place.
evaṁ vimohitas tena
tam āha ko bhavān asmān
evam—thus; vimohitaḥ—bewildered; tena—by the fish; vadatā—speaking; valgu-bhāratīm—sweet words; tam—unto him; āha—said; kaḥ—who; bhavān—You; asmān—us; matsya-rūpeṇa—in the form of a fish; mohayan—bewildering.
After hearing these sweet words from the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the form of a fish, the King, being bewildered, asked Him: Who are You, sir? You simply bewilder us.
naivaṁ vīryo jalacaro
dṛṣṭo ’smābhiḥ śruto ’pi vā
yo bhavān yojana-śatam
na—not; evam—thus; vīryaḥ—powerful; jala-caraḥ—aquatic; dṛṣṭaḥ—seen; asmābhiḥ—by us; śrutaḥ api—nor heard of; vā—either; yaḥ—who; bhavān—Your Lordship; yojana-śatam—hundreds of miles; ahnā—in one day; abhivyānaśe—expanding; saraḥ—water.
My Lord, in one day You have expanded Yourself for hundreds of miles, covering the water of the river and the ocean. Before this I had never seen or heard of such an aquatic animal.
nūnaṁ tvaṁ bhagavān sākṣād
dharir nārāyaṇo ’vyayaḥ
dhatse rūpaṁ jalaukasām
nūnam—certainly; tvam—You (are); bhagavān—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; sākṣāt—directly; hariḥ—the Lord; nārāyaṇaḥ—the Personality of Godhead; avyayaḥ—inexhaustible; anugrahāya—to show mercy; bhūtānām—to all living entities; dhatse—You have assumed; rūpam—a form; jala-okasām—like an aquatic.
My Lord, You are certainly the inexhaustible Supreme Personality of Godhead, Nārāyaṇa, Śrī Hari. It is to show Your mercy to the living entities that You have now assumed the form of an aquatic.
namas te puruṣa-śreṣṭha
bhaktānāṁ naḥ prapannānāṁ
mukhyo hy ātma-gatir vibho
namaḥ—I offer my respectful obeisances; te—unto You; puruṣa-śreṣṭha—the best of all living entities, the best of all enjoyers; sthiti—of maintenance; utpatti—creation; apyaya—and destruction; īśvara—the Supreme Lord; bhaktānām—of Your devotees; naḥ—like us; prapannānām—those who are surrendered; mukhyaḥ—the supreme; hi—indeed; ātma-gatiḥ—the supreme destination; vibho—Lord Viṣṇu.
O my Lord, master of creation, maintenance and annihilation, O best of enjoyers, Lord Viṣṇu, You are the leader and destination of surrendered devotees like us. Therefore let me offer my respectful obeisances unto You.
sarve līlāvatārās te
jñātum icchāmy ado rūpaṁ
yad-arthaṁ bhavatā dhṛtam
sarve—everything; līlā—pastimes; avatārāḥ—incarnations; te—of Your Lordship; bhūtānām—of all living entities; bhūti—of a flourishing condition; hetavaḥ—the causes; jñātum—to know; icchāmi—I wish; adaḥ—this; rūpam—form; yat-artham—for what purpose; bhavatā—by Your Lordship; dhṛtam—assumed.
All Your pastimes and incarnations certainly appear for the welfare of all living entities. Therefore, my Lord, I wish to know the purpose for which You have assumed this form of a fish.
na te ’ravindākṣa padopasarpaṇaṁ
mṛṣā bhavet sarva-suhṛt-priyātmanaḥ
yathetareṣāṁ pṛthag-ātmanāṁ satām
adīdṛśo yad vapur adbhutaṁ hi naḥ
na—never; te—of Your Lordship; aravinda-akṣa—My Lord, whose eyes are like the petals of a lotus; pada-upasarpaṇam—worship of the lotus feet; mṛṣā—useless; bhavet—can become; sarva-suhṛt—the friend of everyone; priya—dear to everyone; ātmanaḥ—the Supersoul of everyone; yathā—as; itareṣām—of others (the demigods); pṛthak-ātmanām—living entities who have material bodies different from the soul; satām—of those who are spiritually fixed; adīdṛśaḥ—You have manifested; yat—that; vapuḥ—body; adbhutam—wonderful; hi—indeed; naḥ—unto us.
O my Lord, possessing eyes like the petals of a lotus, the worship of the demigods, who are in the bodily concept of life, is fruitless in all respects. But because You are the supreme friend and dearmost Supersoul of everyone, worship of Your lotus feet is never useless. You have therefore manifested Your form as a fish.
The demigods like Indra, Candra and Sūrya are ordinary living entities who are differentiated parts and parcels of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Lord expands Himself through the living beings (nityo nityānāṁ cetanaś cetanānām). His personal viṣṇu-tattva forms, which are all spiritual, are called svāṁśa, and the living entities who are differentiated parts are called vibhinnāṁśa. Some of the vibhinnāṁśa forms are spiritual, and some are a combination of matter and spirit. The conditioned souls in the material world are different from their external bodies made of material energy. Thus the demigods living in the upper planetary systems and the living entities living in the lower planetary system are of the same nature. Nonetheless, those living as human beings on this planet are sometimes attracted to worshiping the demigods in the higher planetary systems. Such worship is temporary. As the human beings on this planet have to change their bodies (tathā dehāntara-prāptiḥ), the living entities known as Indra, Candra, Varuṇa and so on will also have to change their bodies in due course of time. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā, antavat tu phalaṁ teṣāṁ tad bhavaty alpa-medhasām: “Men of small intelligence worship the demigods, and their fruits are limited and temporary.” Kāmais tais tair hṛta jñānāḥ prapadyante ’nya-devatāḥ: [Bg. 7.20] those who do not know the position of the demigods are inclined to worship the demigods for some material purpose, but the results of such worship are never permanent. Consequently, here it is said, yathetareṣāṁ pṛthag-ātmanāṁ satām, padopasarpaṇaṁ mṛṣā bhavet. In other words, if one is to worship someone else, he must worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Then his worship will never be fruitless. Svalpam apy asya dharmasya trāyate mahato bhayāt: even a slight attempt to worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead is a permanent asset. Therefore, as recommended in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, tyaktvā sva-dharmaṁ caraṇāmbujaṁ hareḥ. One should take to the worship of the lotus feet of Hari, even if this means giving up the so-called occupational duty assigned because of the particular body one has accepted. Because worship in terms of the body is temporary, it does not bear any permanent fruit. But worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead gives immense benefit.
iti bruvāṇaṁ nṛpatiṁ jagat-patiḥ
satyavrataṁ matsya-vapur yuga-kṣaye
vihartu-kāmaḥ pralayārṇave ’bravīc
cikīrṣur ekānta-jana-priyaḥ priyam
śrī-śukaḥ uvāca—Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; iti—thus; bruvāṇam—speaking like that; nṛpatim—unto the King; jagat-patiḥ—the master of the entire universe; satyavratam—unto Satyavrata; matsya-vapuḥ—the Lord, who had assumed the form of a fish; yuga-kṣaye—at the end of a yuga; vihartu-kāmaḥ—to enjoy His own pastimes; pralaya-arṇave—in the water of inundation; abravīt—said; cikīrṣuḥ—desiring to do; ekānta-jana-priyaḥ—most beloved by the devotees; priyam—something very beneficial.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: When King Satyavrata spoke in this way, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who at the end of the yuga had assumed the form of a fish to benefit His devotee and enjoy His pastimes in the water of inundation, responded as follows.
saptame hy adyatanād ūrdhvam
ahany etad arindama
śrī-bhagavān uvāca—the Supreme Personality of Godhead said; saptame—on the seventh; hi—indeed; adyatanāt—from today; ūrdhvam—forward; ahani—on the day; etat—this creation; arimdama—O King who can subdue your enemies; nimaṅkṣyati—shall be inundated; apyaya-ambhodhau—in the ocean of destruction; trailokyam—the three lokas; bhūḥ-bhuva-ādikam—namely Bhūrloka, Bhuvarloka and Svarloka.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: O King, who can subdue your enemies, on the seventh day from today the three worlds—Bhūḥ, Bhuvaḥ and Svaḥ—will all merge into the water of inundation.
saṁvartāmbhasi vai tadā
upasthāsyati nauḥ kācid
viśālā tvāṁ mayeritā
tri-lokyām—the three lokas; līyamānāyām—upon being merged; saṁvarta-ambhasi—in the water of destruction; vai—indeed; tadā—at that time; upasthāsyati—will appear; nauḥ—boat; kācit—one; viśālā—very big; tvām—unto you; mayā—by Me; īritā—sent.
When all the three worlds merge into the water, a large boat sent by Me will appear before you.
tvaṁ tāvad oṣadhīḥ sarvā
bījāny uccāvacāni ca
āruhya bṛhatīṁ nāvaṁ
ṛṣīṇām eva varcasā
tvam—you; tāvat—until that time; oṣadhīḥ—herbs; sarvāḥ—all kinds of; bījāni—seeds; ucca-avacāni—lower and higher; ca—and; sapta-ṛṣibhiḥ—by the seven ṛṣis; parivṛtaḥ—surrounded; sarva-sattva—all kinds of living entities; upabṛṁhitaḥ—surrounded by; āruhya—getting on; bṛhatīm—very large; nāvam—boat; vicariṣyasi—shall travel; aviklavaḥ—without moroseness; eka-arṇave—in the ocean of inundation; nirāloke—without being illuminated; ṛṣīṇām—of the great ṛṣis; eva—indeed; varcasā—by the effulgence.
Thereafter, O King, you shall collect all types of herbs and seeds and load them on that great boat. Then, accompanied by the seven ṛṣis and surrounded by all kinds of living entities, you shall get aboard that boat, and without moroseness you shall easily travel with your companions on the ocean of inundation, the only illumination being the effulgence of the great ṛṣis.
dodhūyamānāṁ tāṁ nāvaṁ
upasthitasya me śṛṅge
dodhūyamānām—being tossed about; tām—that; nāvam—boat; samīreṇa—by the wind; balīyasā—very powerful; upasthitasya—situated nearby; me—of Me; śṛṅge—to the horn; nibadhnīhi—bind; mahā-ahinā—by the large serpent (Vāsuki).
Then, as the boat is tossed about by the powerful winds, attach the vessel to My horn by means of the great serpent Vāsuki, for I shall be present by your side.
ahaṁ tvām ṛṣibhiḥ sārdhaṁ
yāvad brāhmī niśā prabho
aham—I; tvām—unto you; ṛṣibhiḥ—with all the saintly persons; sārdham—all together; saha—with; nāvam—the boat; udanvati—in the water of devastation; vikarṣan—contacting; vicariṣyāmi—I shall travel; yāvat—as long as; brāhmī—pertaining to Lord Brahmā; niśā—night; prabho—O King.
Pulling the boat, with you and all the ṛṣis in it, O King, I shall travel in the water of devastation until the night of Lord Brahmā’s slumber is over.
This particular devastation actually took place not during the night of Lord Brahmā but during his day, for it was during the time of Cākṣuṣa Manu. Brahmā’s night takes place when Brahmā goes to sleep, but in the daytime there are fourteen Manus, one of whom is Cākṣuṣa Manu. Therefore, Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura comments that although it was daytime for Lord Brahmā, Brahmā felt sleepy for a short time by the supreme will of the Lord. This short period is regarded as Lord Brahmā’s night. This has been elaborately discussed by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī in his Laghu-bhāgavatāmṛta. The following is a summary of his analysis. Because Agastya Muni cursed Svāyambhuva Manu, during the time of Svāyambhuva Manu a devastation took place. This devastation is mentioned in the Matsya Purāṇa. During the time of Cākṣuṣa Manu, by the supreme will of the Lord, there was suddenly another pralaya, or devastation. This is mentioned by Mārkaṇḍeya Ṛṣi in the Viṣṇu-dharmottara. At the end of Manu’s time there is not necessarily a devastation, but at the end of the Cākṣuṣa-manvantara, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, by His illusory energy, wanted to show Satyavrata the effects of devastation. Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī also agrees with this opinion. The Laghu-bhāgavatāmṛta says:
madīyaṁ mahimānaṁ ca
paraṁ brahmeti śabditam
vetsyasy anugṛhītaṁ me
sampraśnair vivṛtaṁ hṛdi
madīyam—pertaining to Me; mahimānam—glories; ca—and; param brahma—the Supreme Brahman, the Absolute Truth; iti—thus; śabditam—celebrated; vetsyasi—you shall understand; anugṛhītam—being favored; me—by Me; sampraśnaiḥ—by inquiries; vivṛtam—thoroughly explained; hṛdi—within the heart.
You will be thoroughly advised and favored by Me, and because of your inquiries, everything about My glories, which are known as paraṁ brahma, will be manifest within your heart. Thus you will know everything about Me.
As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (15.15), sarvasya cāhaṁ hṛdi sanniviṣṭo mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca: the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Paramātmā, is situated in everyone’s heart, and from Him come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. The Lord reveals Himself in proportion to one’s surrender to Him. Ye yathā māṁ prapadyante tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham [Bg. 4.11]. In responsive cooperation, the Lord reveals Himself in proportion to one’s surrender. That which is revealed to one who fully surrenders is different from what is revealed to one who surrenders partially. Everyone naturally surrenders to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, either directly or indirectly. The conditioned soul surrenders to the laws of nature in material existence, but when one fully surrenders to the Lord, material nature does not act upon him. Such a fully surrendered soul is favored by the Supreme Personality of Godhead directly. Mām eva ye prapadyante māyām etāṁ taranti te [Bg. 7.14]. One who has fully surrendered to the Lord has no fear of the modes of material nature, for everything is but an expansion of the Lord’s glories (sarvaṁ khalv idaṁ brahma), and these glories are gradually revealed and realized. The Lord is the supreme purifier (paraṁ brahma paraṁ dhāma pavitraṁ paramaṁ bhavān [Bg. 10.12]). The more one is purified and the more he wants to know about the Supreme, the more the Lord reveals to him. Full knowledge of Brahman, Paramātmā and Bhagavān is revealed to the pure devotees. The Lord says in Bhagavad-gītā (10.11):
“Out of compassion for them, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.”
ittham ādiśya rājānaṁ
so ’nvavaikṣata taṁ kālaṁ
yaṁ hṛṣīkeśa ādiśat
ittham—as aforementioned; ādiśya—instructing; rājānam—the King (Satyavrata); hariḥ—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; antaradhīyata—disappeared from that place; saḥ—he (the King); anvavaikṣata—began to wait for; tam kālam—that time; yam—which; hṛṣīka-īśaḥ—Lord Hṛṣīkeśa, the master of all the senses; ādiśat—instructed.
After thus instructing the King, the Supreme Personality of Godhead immediately disappeared. Then King Satyavrata began to wait for that time of which the Lord had instructed.
āstīrya darbhān prāk-kūlān
niṣasāda hareḥ pādau
āstīrya—spreading; darbhān—kuśa grass; prāk-kūlān—the upper portion facing east; rāja-ṛṣiḥ—Satyavrata, the saintly King; prāk-udak-mukhaḥ—looking toward the northeast (īśāna); niṣasāda—sat down; hareḥ—of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; pādau—upon the lotus feet; cintayan—meditating; matsya-rūpiṇaḥ—who had assumed the form of a fish.
After spreading kuśa with its tips pointing east, the saintly King, himself facing the northeast, sat down on the grass and began to meditate upon the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Viṣṇu, who had assumed the form of a fish.
tataḥ samudra udvelaḥ
sarvataḥ plāvayan mahīm
tataḥ—thereafter; samudraḥ—the ocean; udvelaḥ—overflowing; sarvataḥ—everywhere; plāvayan—inundating; mahīm—the earth; vardhamānaḥ—increasing more and more; mahā-meghaiḥ—by gigantic clouds; varṣadbhiḥ—incessantly pouring rain; samadṛśyata—King Satyavrata saw it.
Thereafter, gigantic clouds pouring incessant water swelled the ocean more and more. Thus the ocean began to overflow onto the land and inundate the entire world.
dadṛśe nāvam āgatām
tām āruroha viprendrair
dhyāyan—remembering; bhagavat-ādeśam—the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; dadṛśe—he saw; nāvam—a boat; āgatām—coming near; tām—aboard the boat; āruroha—got up; vipra-indraiḥ—with the saintly brāhmaṇas; ādāya—taking; auṣadhi—herbs; vīrudhaḥ—and creepers.
As Satyavrata remembered the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he saw a boat coming near him. Thus he collected herbs and creepers, and, accompanied by saintly brāhmaṇas, he got aboard the boat.
tam ūcur munayaḥ prītā
rājan dhyāyasva keśavam
sa vai naḥ saṅkaṭād asmād
avitā śaṁ vidhāsyati
tam—unto the King; ūcuḥ—said; munayaḥ—all the saintly brāhmaṇas; prītāḥ—being pleased; rājan—O King; dhyāyasva—meditate; keśavam—upon the Supreme Lord, Keśava; saḥ—His Lordship; vai—indeed; naḥ—us; saṅkaṭāt—from the great danger; asmāt—as now visible; avitā—will save; śam—auspiciousness; vidhāsyati—He will arrange.
The saintly brāhmaṇas, being pleased with the King, said to him: O King, please meditate upon the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Keśava. He will save us from this impending danger and arrange for our well-being.
so ’nudhyātas tato rājñā
saḥ—the Lord; anudhyātaḥ—being meditated upon; tataḥ—thereafter (hearing the words of the saintly brāhmaṇas); rājñā—by the King; prādurāsīt—appeared (before him); mahā-arṇave—in the great ocean of inundation; eka-śṛṅga-dharaḥ—with one horn; matsyaḥ—a big fish; haimaḥ—made of gold; niyuta-yojanaḥ—eight million miles long.
Then, while the King constantly meditated upon the Supreme Personality of Godhead, a large golden fish appeared in the ocean of inundation. The fish had one horn and was eight million miles long.
nibadhya nāvaṁ tac-chṛṅge
yathokto hariṇā purā
nibadhya—anchoring; nāvam—the boat; tat-śṛṅge—onto the horn of the big fish; yathā-uktaḥ—as advised; hariṇā—by the Supreme Personality of Godhead; purā—before; varatreṇa—used as a rope; ahinā—by the great serpent (of the name Vāsuki); tuṣṭaḥ—being pleased; tuṣṭāva—he satisfied; madhusūdanam—the Supreme Lord, the killer of Madhu.
Following the instructions formerly given by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the King anchored the boat to the fish’s horn, using the serpent Vāsuki as a rope. Thus being satisfied, he began offering prayers to the Lord.
yadṛcchayopasṛtā yam āpnuyur
vimuktido naḥ paramo gurur bhavān
śrī-rājā uvāca—the King offered prayers as follows; anādi—from time immemorial; avidyā—by ignorance; upahata—has been lost; ātma-saṁvidaḥ—knowledge about the self; tat—that is; mūla—the root; saṁsāra—material bondage; pariśrama—full of miserable conditions and hard work; āturāḥ—suffering; yadṛcchayā—by the supreme will; upasṛtāḥ—being favored by the ācārya; yam—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; āpnuyuḥ—can achieve; vimukti-daḥ—the process of liberation; naḥ—our; paramaḥ—the supreme; guruḥ—spiritual master; bhavān—Your Lordship.
The King said: By the grace of the Lord, those who have lost their self-knowledge since time immemorial, and who because of this ignorance are involved in a material, conditional life full of miseries, obtain the chance to meet the Lord’s devotee. I accept that Supreme Personality of Godhead as the supreme spiritual master.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is actually the supreme spiritual master. The Supreme Lord knows everything about the suffering of the conditioned soul, and therefore He appears in this material world, sometimes personally, sometimes by an incarnation and sometimes by authorizing a living being to act on His behalf. In all cases, however, He is the original spiritual master who enlightens the conditioned souls who are suffering in the material world. The Lord is always busy helping the conditioned souls in many ways. Therefore He is addressed here as paramo gurur bhavān. The representative of the Supreme Personality of Godhead who acts to spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness is also guided by the Supreme Lord to act properly in executing the Lord’s order. Such a person may appear to be an ordinary human being, but because he acts on behalf of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the supreme spiritual master, he is not to be neglected as ordinary. It is therefore said, ācāryaṁ māṁ vijānīyāt: an ācārya who acts on behalf of the Supreme Personality of Godhead should be understood to be as good as the Supreme Lord Himself.
Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura has advised that the spiritual master acting on the Supreme Lord’s behalf must be worshiped as being as good as the Supreme Lord, for he is the Lord’s most confidential servant in broadcasting the Lord’s message for the benefit of the conditioned souls involved in the material world.
jano ’budho ’yaṁ nija-karma-bandhanaḥ
sukhecchayā karma samīhate ’sukham
yat-sevayā tāṁ vidhunoty asan-matiṁ
granthiṁ sa bhindyād dhṛdayaṁ sa no guruḥ
janaḥ—the conditioned soul subjected to birth and death; abudhaḥ—most foolish because of accepting the body as the self; ayam—he; nija-karma-bandhanaḥ—accepting different bodily forms as a result of his sinful activities; sukha-icchayā—desiring to be happy within this material world; karma—fruitive activities; samīhate—plans; asukham—but it is for distress only; yat-sevayā—by rendering service unto whom; tām—the entanglement of karma; vidhunoti—clears up; asat-matim—the unclean mentality (accepting the body as the self); granthim—hard knot; saḥ—His Lordship the Supreme Personality of Godhead; bhindyāt—being cut off; hṛdayam—in the core of the heart; saḥ—He (the Lord); naḥ—our; guruḥ—the supreme spiritual master.
In hopes of becoming happy in this material world, the foolish conditioned soul performs fruitive activities that result only in suffering. But by rendering service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one becomes free from such false desires for happiness. May my supreme spiritual master cut the knot of false desires from the core of my heart.
For material happiness, the conditioned soul involves himself in fruitive activities, which actually put him into material distress. Because the conditioned soul does not know this, he is said to be in avidyā, or ignorance. Because of a false hope for happiness, the conditioned soul becomes involved in various plans for material activity. Here Mahārāja Satyavrata prays that the Lord sever this hard knot of false happiness and thus become his supreme spiritual master.
yat-sevayāgner iva rudra-rodanaṁ
pumān vijahyān malam ātmanas tamaḥ
bhajeta varṇaṁ nijam eṣa so ’vyayo
bhūyāt sa īśaḥ paramo guror guruḥ
yat-sevayā—the Supreme Personality of Godhead, by serving whom; agneḥ—in touch with fire; iva—as it is; rudra-rodanam—a block of silver or gold becomes purified; pumān—a person; vijahyāt—can give up; malam—all the dirty things of material existence; ātmanaḥ—of one’s self; tamaḥ—the mode of ignorance, by which one performs pious and impious activities; bhajeta—may revive; varṇam—his original identity; nijam—one’s own; eṣaḥ—such; saḥ—He; avyayaḥ—inexhaustible; bhūyāt—let Him become; saḥ—He; īśaḥ—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; paramaḥ—the supreme; guroḥ guruḥ—the spiritual master of all other spiritual masters.
One who wants to be free of material entanglement should take to the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and give up the contamination of ignorance, involving pious and impious activities. Thus one regains his original identity, just as a block of gold or silver sheds all dirt and becomes purified when treated with fire. May that inexhaustible Supreme Personality of Godhead become our spiritual master, for He is the original spiritual master of all other spiritual masters.
In human life one is meant to undergo austerity to purify one’s existence. Tapo divyaṁ putrakā yena sattvaṁ śuddhyet. Because of contamination by the modes of material nature, one continues in the cycle of birth and death (kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgo ’sya sad-asad-yoni janmasu). Therefore the purpose of human life is to purify oneself of this contamination so that one can regain his spiritual form and not undergo this cycle of birth and death. The recommended process of decontamination is devotional service to the Lord. There are various processes for self-realization, such as karma, jñāna and yoga, but none of them is equal to the process of devotional service. As gold and silver can be freed from all dirty contamination by being put into a fire but not merely by being washed, the living entity can be awakened to his own identity by performing devotional service (yat-sevayā), but not by karma, jñāna or yoga. Cultivation of speculative knowledge or practice of yogic gymnastics will not be helpful.
The word varṇam refers to the luster of one’s original identity. The original luster of gold or silver is brilliant. Similarly, the original luster of the living being, who is part of the sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha [Bs. 5.1], is the luster of ānanda, or pleasure. Ānandamayo bhyāsāt. Every living entity has the right to become ānandamaya, joyful, because he is part of the sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha [Bs. 5.1], Kṛṣṇa. Why should the living being be put into tribulation because of dirty contamination by the material modes of nature? The living entity should become purified and regain his svarūpa, his original identity. This he can do only by devotional service. Therefore, one should adopt the instructions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is described here as guror guruḥ, the spiritual master of all other spiritual masters.
Even though we may not have the fortune to contact the Supreme Lord personally, the Lord’s representative is as good as the Lord Himself because such a representative does not say anything unless it is spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu therefore gives a definition of guru. Yāre dekha, tāre kaha ‘kṛṣṇa’-upadeśa: [Cc. Madhya 7.128] the bona fide guru is he who advises his disciples exactly in accordance with the principles spoken by Kṛṣṇa. The bona fide guru is he who has accepted Kṛṣṇa as guru. This is the guru-paramparā system. The original guru is Vyāsadeva because he is the speaker of Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, wherein everything spoken relates to Kṛṣṇa. Therefore guru-pūjā is known as Vyāsa-pūjā. In the final analysis, the original guru is Kṛṣṇa, His disciple is Nārada, whose disciple is Vyāsa, and in this way we gradually come in touch with the guru-paramparā. One cannot become a guru if he does not know what the Personality of Godhead Kṛṣṇa or His incarnation wants. The mission of the guru is the mission of the Supreme Personality of Godhead: to spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness all over the world.
anye ca devā guravo janāḥ svayam
kartuṁ sametāḥ prabhavanti puṁsas
tam īśvaraṁ tvāṁ śaraṇaṁ prapadye
na—not; yat-prasāda—of the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; ayuta-bhāga-leśam—only one ten-thousandth; anye—others; ca—also; devāḥ—even the demigods; guravaḥ—the so-called gurus; janāḥ—the total population; svayam—personally; kartum—to execute; sametāḥ—all together; prabhavanti—can become equally able; puṁsaḥ—by the Supreme Personality of Godhead; tam—unto Him; īśvaram—unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead; tvām—unto You; śaraṇam—shelter; prapadye—let me surrender.
Neither all the demigods, nor the so-called gurus nor all other people, either independently or together, can offer mercy that equals even one ten-thousandth of Yours. Therefore I wish to take shelter of Your lotus feet.
It is said, kāmais tais tair hṛta jñānāḥ prapadyante ’nya-devatāḥ: [Bg. 7.20] people in general, being motivated by material desires, worship the demigods to get fruitive results very quickly. People generally do not become devotees of Lord Viṣṇu, since Lord Viṣṇu never becomes the order-supplier of His devotee. Lord Viṣṇu does not give a devotee benedictions that will create a further demand for benedictions. By worshiping the demigods one may get results, but, as described in Bhagavad-gītā, antavat tu phalaṁ teṣāṁ tad bhavaty alpa-medhasām: whatever great benedictions one may achieve from the demigods are all temporary. Because the demigods themselves are temporary, their benedictions are also temporary and have no permanent value. Those who aspire for such benedictions have a poor fund of knowledge (tad bhavaty alpa-medhasām). The benedictions of Lord Viṣṇu are different. By the mercy of the Lord Viṣṇu, one can be completely freed from material contamination and go back home, back to Godhead. Therefore the benedictions offered by the demigods cannot compare to even one ten-thousandth of the Lord’s benedictions. One should not, therefore, try to obtain benedictions from the demigods or false gurus. One should aspire only for the benediction offered by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As the Lord says in Bhagavad-gītā (18.66):
“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.” This is the greatest benediction.
acakṣur andhasya yathāgraṇīḥ kṛtas
tathā janasyāviduṣo ’budho guruḥ
tvam arka-dṛk sarva-dṛśāṁ samīkṣaṇo
vṛto gurur naḥ sva-gatiṁ bubhutsatām
acakṣuḥ—one who does not have his power of sight; andhasya—for such a blind person; yathā—as; agraṇīḥ—the leader, who goes first; kṛtaḥ—accepted; tathā—similarly; janasya—such a person; aviduṣaḥ—who has no knowledge of the goal of life; abudhaḥ—a foolish rascal; guruḥ—the spiritual master; tvam—Your Lordship; arka-dṛk—appear like the sun; sarva-dṛśām—of all sources of knowledge; samīkṣaṇaḥ—the complete seer; vṛtaḥ—accepted; guruḥ—the spiritual master; naḥ—our; sva-gatim—one who knows his real self-interest; bubhutsatām—such an enlightened person.
As a blind man, being unable to see, accepts another blind man as his leader, people who do not know the goal of life accept someone as a guru who is a rascal and a fool. But we are interested in self-realization. Therefore we accept You, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as our spiritual master, for You are able to see in all directions and are omniscient like the sun.
The conditioned soul, being wrapped in ignorance and therefore not knowing the goal of life, accepts a guru who can juggle words and make some display of magic that is wonderful to a fool. Sometimes a foolish person accepts someone as a guru because he can manufacture a small quantity of gold by mystic yogic power. Because such a disciple has a poor fund of knowledge, he cannot judge whether the manufacture of gold is the criterion for a guru. Why should one not accept the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, from whom unlimited numbers of gold mines come into being? Ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate [Bg. 10.8]. All the gold mines are created by the energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore, why should one accept a magician who can manufacture only a small portion of gold? Such gurus are accepted by those who are blind, not knowing the goal of life. Mahārāja Satyavrata, however, knew the goal of life. He knew the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and therefore he accepted the Lord as his guru. Either the Supreme Lord or His representative can become guru. The Lord says, mām eva ye prapadyante māyām etāṁ taranti te: [Bg. 7.14] “One can get relief from the clutches of māyā as soon as he surrenders unto Me.” Therefore it is the guru’s business to instruct his disciple to surrender to the Supreme Personality of Godhead if he wants relief from the material clutches. This is the symptom of the guru. This same principle was instructed by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu: yāre dekha, tāre kaha ‘kṛṣṇa’-upadeśa [Cc. Madhya 7.128]. In other words, one is advised not to accept a guru who does not follow the path of instruction given by Lord Kṛṣṇa.
jano janasyādiśate ’satīṁ gatiṁ
yayā prapadyeta duratyayaṁ tamaḥ
tvaṁ tv avyayaṁ jñānam amogham añjasā
prapadyate yena jano nijaṁ padam
janaḥ—a person who is not a bona fide guru (an ordinary person); janasya—of an ordinary person who does not know the goal of life; ādiśate—instructs; asatīm—impermanent, material; gatim—the goal of life; yayā—by such knowledge; prapadyeta—he surrenders; duratyayam—insurmountable; tamaḥ—to ignorance; tvam—Your Lordship; tu—but; avyayam—indestructible; jñānam—knowledge; amogham—without material contamination; añjasā—very soon; prapadyate—achieves; yena—by such knowledge; janaḥ—a person; nijam—his own; padam—original position.
A materialistic so-called guru instructs his materialistic disciples about economic development and sense gratification, and because of such instructions the foolish disciples continue in the materialistic existence of ignorance. But Your Lordship gives knowledge that is eternal, and the intelligent person receiving such knowledge is quickly situated in his original constitutional position.
So-called gurus instruct their disciples for the sake of material profit. Some guru advises that one meditate in such a way that his intelligence will increase in regard to keeping his body fit for sense gratification. Another guru advises that sex is the ultimate goal of life and that one should therefore engage in sex to the best of his ability. These are the instructions of foolish gurus. In other words, because of the instructions of a foolish guru one remains perpetually in material existence and suffers its tribulations. But if one is intelligent enough to take instructions from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as enunciated in Bhagavad-gītā or the Sāṅkhya philosophy of Kapiladeva, one can very soon attain liberation and be situated in his original position of spiritual life. The words nijaṁ padam are significant. The living entity, being part and parcel of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, has the birthright to a position in Vaikuṇṭhaloka, or the spiritual world, where there is no anxiety. Therefore, one should follow the instructions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Then, as stated in Bhagavad-gītā, tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti mām eti so ’rjuna: [Bg. 4.9] after giving up one’s body, one will return home, back to Godhead. The Lord lives in the spiritual world in His original personality, and a devotee who follows the instructions of the Lord approaches Him (mām eti). As a spiritual person, such a devotee returns to the Personality of Godhead and plays and dances with Him. That is the ultimate goal of life.
tvaṁ sarva-lokasya suhṛt priyeśvaro
hy ātmā gurur jñānam abhīṣṭa-siddhiḥ
tathāpi loko na bhavantam andha-dhīr
jānāti santaṁ hṛdi baddha-kāmaḥ
tvam—You, my dear Lord; sarva-lokasya—of all planets and their inhabitants; suhṛt—the most well-wishing friend; priya—the most dear; īśvaraḥ—the supreme controller; hi—also; ātmā—the supreme soul; guruḥ—the supreme teacher; jñānam—the supreme knowledge; abhīṣṭa-siddhiḥ—the fulfillment of all desires; tathā api—still; lokaḥ—persons; na—not; bhavantam—unto You; andha-dhīḥ—because of blind intelligence; jānāti—can know; santam—situated; hṛdi—in his heart; baddha-kāmaḥ—because of being bewildered by material lusty desires.
My Lord, You are the supreme well-wishing friend of everyone, the dearmost friend, the controller, the Supersoul, the supreme instructor and the giver of supreme knowledge and the fulfillment of all desires. But although You are within the heart, the foolish, because of lusty desires in the heart, cannot understand You.
Herein the reason for foolishness is described. Because the conditioned soul in this material world is full of materialistic lusty desires, he cannot understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead, although the Lord is situated in everyone’s heart (īśvaraḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ hṛd-deśe’rjuna tiṣṭhati [Bg. 18.61]). It is because of this foolishness that one cannot take instructions from the Lord, although the Lord is ready to instruct everyone both externally and internally. The Lord says, dadāmi buddhi-yogaṁ tam yena mām upayānti te. In other words, the Lord can give instructions on devotional service by which one can return home, back to Godhead. Unfortunately, however, people do not take this devotional service. The Lord, being situated in everyone’s heart, can give one complete instructions on going back to Godhead, but because of lusty desires one engages himself in materialistic activities and does not render service to the Lord. Therefore one is bereft of the value of the Lord’s instructions. By mental speculation one can understand that one is not the body but a spirit soul, but unless one engages in devotional service, the real purpose of life is never fulfilled. The real purpose of life is to go back home, back to Godhead, and live with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, play with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, dance with the Supreme Personality of Godhead and eat with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. These are different items of ānanda, spiritual happiness in spiritual variegatedness. Even though one may come to the platform of brahma-bhūta and understand his spiritual identity by speculative knowledge, one cannot enjoy spiritual life without understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is indicated here by the word abhīṣṭa-siddhiḥ. One can fulfill the ultimate goal of life only by engaging in devotional service to the Lord. Then the Lord will give one proper instructions on how to go back home, back to Godhead.
tvaṁ tvām ahaṁ deva-varaṁ vareṇyaṁ
prapadya īśaṁ pratibodhanāya
chindhy artha-dīpair bhagavan vacobhir
granthīn hṛdayyān vivṛṇu svam okaḥ
tvam—how exalted You are; tvām—unto You; aham—myself; deva-varam—worshiped by the demigods; vareṇyam—the greatest of all; prapadye—fully surrendering; īśam—unto the supreme controller; pratibodhanāya—for understanding the real purpose of life; chindhi—cut off; artha-dīpaiḥ—by the light of purposeful instruction; bhagavan—O Supreme Lord; vacobhiḥ—by Your words; granthīn—knots; hṛdayyān—fixed within the core of the heart; vivṛṇu—kindly explain; svam okaḥ—my destination in life.
O Supreme Lord, for self-realization I surrender unto You, who are worshiped by the demigods as the supreme controller of everything. By Your instructions, exposing life’s purpose, kindly cut the knot from the core of my heart and let me know the destination of my life.
Sometimes it is argued that people do not know who is a spiritual master and that finding a spiritual master from whom to get enlightenment in regard to the destination of life is very difficult. To answer all these questions, King Satyavrata shows us the way to accept the Supreme Personality of Godhead as the real spiritual master. The Supreme Lord has given full directions in Bhagavad-gītā about how to deal with everything in this material world and how to return home, back to Godhead. Therefore, one should not be misled by so-called gurus who are rascals and fools. Rather, one should directly see the Supreme Personality of Godhead as the guru or instructor. It is difficult, however, to understand Bhagavad-gītā without the help of the guru. Therefore the guru appears in the paramparā system. In Bhagavad-gītā (4.34) the Supreme Personality of Godhead recommends:
“Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.” Lord Kṛṣṇa directly instructed Arjuna. Arjuna is therefore tattva-darśī or guru. Arjuna accepted the Supreme Personality of Godhead (paraṁ brahma paraṁ dhāma pavitraṁ paramaṁ bhavān [Bg. 10.12]). Similarly, following in the footsteps of Śrī Arjuna, who is a personal devotee of the Lord, one should accept the supremacy of Lord Kṛṣṇa, as supported by Vyāsa, Devala, Asita, Nārada and later by the ācāryas Rāmānujācārya, Madhvācārya, Nimbārka and Viṣṇusvāmī and still later by the greatest ācārya, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Where, then, is the difficulty in finding a guru? If one is sincere he can find the guru and learn everything. One should take lessons from the guru and find out the goal of life. Mahārāja Satyavrata, therefore, shows us the way of the mahājana. Mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ. One should surrender to the Supreme Personality of Godhead (daśāvatāra) and learn from Him about the spiritual world and the goal of life.
ity uktavantaṁ nṛpatiṁ
viharaṁs tattvam abravīt
śrī-śukaḥ uvāca—Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; iti—thus; uktavantam—being addressed by Mahārāja Satyavrata; nṛpatim—unto the King; bhagavān—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; ādi-pūruṣaḥ—the original person; matsya-rūpī—who had assumed the form of a fish; mahā-ambhodhau—in that water of inundation; viharan—while moving; tattvam abravīt—explained the Absolute Truth.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued: When Satyavrata had thus prayed to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who had assumed the form of a fish, the Lord, while moving in the water of inundation, explained to him the Absolute Truth.
purāṇa—the subject matter explained in the Purāṇas, the old histories, especially the Matsya Purāṇa; saṁhitām—the Vedic instructions contained in Brahma-saṁhitā and other saṁhitās; divyām—all transcendental literatures; sāṅkhya—the philosophical way of sāṅkhya-yoga; yoga—the science of self-realization or bhakti-yoga; kriyāvatīm—practically applied in life; satyavratasya—of King Satyavrata; rāja-ṛṣeḥ—the great king and saint; ātma-guhyam—all the mysteries of self-realization; aśeṣataḥ—including all branches.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead thus explained to King Satyavrata the spiritual science known as sāṅkhya-yoga, the science by which one distinguishes between matter and spirit [in other words, bhakti-yoga], along with the instructions contained in the Purāṇas [the old histories] and the saṁhitās. The Lord explained Himself in all these literatures.
aśrauṣīd ṛṣibhiḥ sākam
nāvy āsīno bhagavatā
proktaṁ brahma sanātanam
aśrauṣīt—he heard; ṛṣibhiḥ—the great saintly persons; sākam—with; ātma-tattvam—the science of self-realization; asaṁśayam—without any doubt (because it was spoken by the Supreme Lord); nāvi āsīnaḥ—sitting in the boat; bhagavatā—by the Supreme Personality of Godhead; proktam—explained; brahma—all transcendental literatures; sanātanam—eternally existing.
While sitting in the boat, King Satyavrata, accompanied by the great saintly persons, listened to the instructions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in regard to self-realization. These instructions were all from the eternal Vedic literature [brahma]. Thus the King and sages had no doubt about the Absolute Truth.
utthitāya sa vedhase
vedān pratyāharad dhariḥ
atīta—passed; pralaya-apāye—at the end of the inundation; utthitāya—to bring him to his senses after sleeping; saḥ—the Supreme Lord; vedhase—unto Lord Brahmā; hatvā—after killing; asuram—the demon; hayagrīvam—by the name Hayagrīva; vedān—all the Vedic records; pratyāharat—delivered; hariḥ—the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
At the end of the last inundation [during the period of Svāyambhuva Manu] the Supreme Personality of Godhead killed the demon named Hayagrīva and delivered all the Vedic literatures to Lord Brahmā when Lord Brahmā awakened from sleeping.
sa tu satyavrato rājā
viṣṇoḥ prasādāt kalpe ’sminn
āsīd vaivasvato manuḥ
saḥ—he; tu—indeed; satyavrataḥ—Satyavrata; rājā—the King; jñāna-vijñāna-saṁyutaḥ—enlightened in full knowledge and its practical use; viṣṇoḥ—of Lord Viṣṇu; prasādāt—by the mercy; kalpe asmin—in this period (ruled by Vaivasvata Manu); āsīt—became; vaivasvataḥ manuḥ—Vaivasvata Manu.
King Satyavrata was illuminated with all Vedic knowledge by the mercy of Lord Viṣṇu, and in this period he has now taken birth as Vaivasvata Manu, the son of the sun-god.
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura gives his verdict that Satyavrata appeared in the Cākṣuṣa-manvantara. When the Cākṣuṣa-manvantara ended, the period of Vaivasvata Manu began. By the grace of Lord Viṣṇu, Satyavrata received instructions from the second fish incarnation and was thus enlightened in all spiritual knowledge.
śrutvā mucyeta kilbiṣāt
satyavratasya—of King Satyavrata; rāja-ṛṣeḥ—of the great king; māyā-matsyasya—and the fish incarnation; śārṅgiṇaḥ—who had one horn on His head; saṁvādam—the description or dealings; mahat-ākhyānam—the great story; śrutvā—by hearing; mucyeta—is delivered; kilbiṣāt—from all sinful reactions.
This story concerning the great King Satyavrata and the fish incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Viṣṇu, is a great transcendental narration. Anyone who hears it is delivered from the reactions of sinful life.
avatāraṁ harer yo ’yaṁ
kīrtayed anvahaṁ naraḥ
saṅkalpās tasya sidhyanti
sa yāti paramāṁ gatim
avatāram—incarnation; hareḥ—of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; yaḥ—whoever; ayam—he; kīrtayet—narrates and chants; anvaham—daily; naraḥ—such a person; saṅkalpāḥ—all ambitions; tasya—of him; sidhyanti—become successful; saḥ—such a person; yāti—goes back; paramām gatim—back home to Godhead, the supreme place.
One who narrates this description of the Matsya incarnation and King Satyavrata will certainly have all his ambitions fulfilled, and he will undoubtedly return home, back to Godhead.
pralaya-payasi dhātuḥ supta-śakter mukhebhyaḥ
śruti-gaṇam apanītaṁ pratyupādatta hatvā
ditijam akathayad yo brahma satyavratānāṁ
tam aham akhila-hetuṁ jihma-mīnaṁ nato ’smi
pralaya-payasi—in the water of inundation; dhātuḥ—from Lord Brahmā; supta-śakteḥ—who was inert because of sleeping; mukhebhyaḥ—from the mouths; śruti-gaṇam—Vedic records; apanītam—stolen; pratyupādatta—gave back to him; hatvā—by killing; ditijam—the great demon; akathayat—explained; yaḥ—one who; brahma—Vedic knowledge; satyavratānām—for the enlightenment of Satyavrata and the great saintly persons; tam—unto Him; aham—I; akhila-hetum—unto the cause of all causes; jihma-mīnam—appearing as and pretending to be a great fish; nataḥ asmi—I offer my respectful obeisances.
I offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who pretended to be a gigantic fish, who restored the Vedic literature to Lord Brahmā when Lord Brahmā awakened from sleep, and who explained the essence of Vedic literature to King Satyavrata and the great saintly persons.
Here is a summary of Satyavrata’s meeting with the fish incarnation of Lord Viṣṇu. Lord Viṣṇu’s purpose was to take back all the Vedic literatures from the demon Hayagrīva and restore them to Lord Brahmā. Incidentally, by His causeless mercy, the Lord spoke with Satyavrata. The word satyavratānām is significant because it indicates that those on the level of Satyavrata can take knowledge from the Vedas delivered by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Whatever is spoken by the Supreme Lord is accepted as Veda. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā, vedānta-kṛd veda-vit: the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the compiler of all Vedic knowledge, and He knows the purport of the Vedas. Therefore, anyone who takes knowledge from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, or from Bhagavad-gītā as it is, knows the purpose of the Vedas (vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyaḥ [Bg. 15.15]). One cannot understand Vedic knowledge from the veda-vāda-ratās, who read the Vedas and misconstrue their subject matter. One has to know the Vedas from the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports of the Eighth Canto, Twenty-fourth Chapter, of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, entitled “Matsya, the Lord’s Fish Incarnation.”
—This commentation has been finished in our New Delhi center today, the first of September, 1976, the day of Rādhāṣṭamī, by the grace of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the ācāryas. Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura says, tāṅdera caraṇa sevi bhakta-sane vāsa janame janame haya, ei abhilāṣa. I am attempting to present Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in the English language by the order of my spiritual master, Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, and by his grace the work of translation is gradually progressing, and the European and American devotees who have joined the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement are helping me considerably. Thus we have expectations of finishing the great task before my passing away. All glories to Śrī Guru and Gaurāṅga.
END OF THE EIGHTH CANTO
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