Matsya (Sanskrit: मत्स्य, lit

fish) is the fish avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu

Often described as the first of Vishnu’s ten primary avatars, Matsya is described to have rescued the first man Manu from a great deluge

Matsya may be depicted as a giant fish, often golden in color, or anthropomorphically with the torso of Vishnu connected to the rear half of a fish

The earliest account of Matsya is found in the Shatapatha Brahmana where Matsya is not associated with any particular deity

The fish-saviour later merges with the identity of Brahma in post-Vedic era and still later becomes equated with Vishnu

The legends associated with Matsya expand, evolve and vary in Hindu texts

These legends have embedded symbolism, where a small fish with Manu’s protection grows to become a big fish, and the fish saves earthly existence

In later versions, Matsya slays a demon named Hayagreevasura ( son of sage Kashyapa and Diti ) who steals the sacred scriptures - the Vedas and thus is lauded as the saviour of the scriptures

The tale is in the tradition of the family of flood myths, common across cultures