Long ago, when life first appeared on the earth, a terrible demon named
Hayagriva terrorized the earth. He prevented sages from performing their
rituals and stole the Holy Vedas, taking refuge in a conch shell in the
depths of the ocean. Brahma, the creator of the world approached Vishnu for
help and the latter immediately assumed the form of a fish and plunged into
the ocean. He killed the demon by ripping open his stomach and retrieved the
Vedas. Here the four forms emerging from the demon's stomach represent the
four Vedas: Rig, Sam, Atharva, and Yajur.
Matsya (as here), is generally represented as a four-armed figure with the
upper torso of a man and the lower of a fish.
The demon's dangling head suggests that he is already in the throes of
death. His tongue curls as it hangs out. The ocean which is the scene of
battle, fills nearly one-third of the painted space. The background consists
of a blue sky with squiggly clouds spread all across it. Three, highly
stylized trees are placed symmetrically on both sides, and the edge of the
water is marked with tufts of grass.
Of Related Interest:
Matsya Avatara, the First Avatara of Vishnu (Madhubani Painting on Hand Made Paper treated with Cow Dung)
Matsya-Avataar Yantra (Madhubani Painting on Hand Made Paper treated with Cow Dung)
Matsya - Avataar of Vishnu (Silver Pendant)
The Auspicious Dashavatara Bell (Brass Bell)
Dash Avataar - The Ten Incarnations of Lord Vishnu (Orissa's Paata Painting)
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