The All Munificent Purushottama - Part 3

Hare Krishna Prabhujis and Matajis,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva.

This is in continuation of the previous offering titled, "The All Munificient Purushottama". In the previous offering we saw how the Supreme Lord lowers Himself for the elevation and auspiciousness of others and hence called Purushottama or Uttama Purusha.

We will see how the Lord exhibited this quality in His incarnation as a transcendental fish (Matsya).

Lord Matsya as Purushottama: Once a great King Satyavrata engaged in the austerity of subsisting only by drinking water. Once, while performing this austerity on the bank of the Ktamālā 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 God Himself, he gave shelter to the fish and kept Him in a water jug. The fish, immediately expanded in such a way that He could no longer be kept in the jug. The King then subsequently put the fish in a well, then in a lake and finally in the ocean as the fish expanded in size very quickly within few days. But even the sea could not accommodate Him. Thus the King understood that the fish was no one else but the Lord Himself and offered prayers. The King said to the Lord “You are certainly the Suprme Lord and now You have manifested this fish form to show mercy to all living entities.” and prayed as follows.

namas te purua-śreṣṭha sthity-utpatty-apyayeśvara
bhaktānā na prapannānā mukhyo hy ātma-gatir vibho
sarve līlāvatārās te bhūtānā bhūti-hetava
jñātum icchāmy ado rūpa yad-artha bhavatā dhtam

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. 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. (Srimad Bhagavatam 8.24.28 and 29)

Lord Matsya informed the king that within a week there would be an inundation throughout the universe (devastation which happens at the end of Manu’s period where all earthly planet is inundated) and He will protect the King in a boat, which will save all of them. After saying this, the Lord disappeared.  After one week, the annihilation happened and  the King saw a boat coming near and boarded the boat along with all living entities, devotees, saintly persons, herbs. He then prayerd to Lord Matsya who appeared there and pulled the boat in the floods with Vasuki as rope tied to His horns. The Lord pulled them for the entire night of Brahma and in that time, He instructed Satyavrata and all the persons in the boat on spiritual knowledge which forms the Matsya purana.

We can see in the above prayer that Satyavrata addresses the Lord as purusha sreshta. Srila Prabhupada in the word to word meaning translates sreshta as  “best of all living entities”. Another word for Sreshta is Uttama which also means best. So purusha sreshta  means Uttama Purusha or Purushottama. Here Lord Matsya is addressed as Purushottama not only because He is Supreme Lord but also because of below reasons.

  • Though the Lord is shelter for all material and spiritual worlds, He sought shelter of Satyavrata and asked for his protection. He did this to bless Satyavrata and protect him and all the living entities during the floods.
  • Though He can make the boat sail through the floods just by His will, He personally pulled the boat by His horns. The vast water of devastation is fearful even to Lord Brahmā. So Lord Matsya gave protection and assurance to Satyavrata and all rishis and living entities in the boat by His personal association and sail through the floods.
  • Though He is the master of all living entities and can depute anyone to pull the boat, He did this Himself so that He can personally instruct Satyvrata and others in the boat about His glories and enlighten them spiritually. Also He did this to instruct Satyavrata by His personal example that  saintly persons, living entities and devotees and herbs are all worthy of protection and they deserve all care by the King.
  • The Lord gave humanity a great teaching. The boat represents the human form of life, and Satyavrata and others represents souls in human body. The spiritual master is the serpent Vasuki who connects the conditioned souls to Lord Matsya. If we take shelter of the bonafide spiritual master (who is always connected to the Lord Matsya), the Lord will take us across the ocean of birth and death and grant permanent residence in the spiritual world.

In essence,  the Lord manifested a fish form (a species which is generally considered abominable) and immersed Himself in the ocean of devastation so that all living entities can cross the ocean of birth and death,  He is rightly called as Purushottama.

Krishna willing, we will meditate on further incarnations of the Lord in the coming offerings.

Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva,
Narahari Krishna das
Chennai.