Matsya - Review

One of the most fascinating stories from Indian mythology is that of the Ten Avatars. In some ways, it covers entire human history as per Indian myth end to end. Both the great epics Ramayana and Mahabharata are included as Rama and Krishna are two of the Avatars. Then we have the story of Prahalada covering two Avatars – Varaha and Narasimha. And then there is the famous story of Mahabali and Vamana. So that’s five Avatars. Parasurama the famous warrior is a sixth one. So that leaves three with tenth ‘Kalki’ yet to take place. There is a dispute on the ninth Avatar – some claim Parashurama is the one while other claim Budha is the one. Both claims have their weaknesses. Parashurama seems to occupy a subsidiary role to and is a contemporary of another Avatar Krishna. So somehow, he does not seem to have the aura of the others. Budha on the other hand seems to be a force fit of historic figure and founder of another religion into the Hindu pantheon. Anyways we are digressing – let us come back to the remaining two – the first and the second – Matsya and Kurma. When I thought about it, I realized I did not know these stories too well. So, when I came to know Sundari Venkaraman, a writer friend and popular romance author, will be writing these two stories, I was excited to pick them up.

Matsya is the first book in her Avatar series for children. It starts with an Asura stealing the Vedas from the creator Brahma. Then Vishnu takes the Avatar of a small fist to rescue the Vedas. He makes his appearance to a king Manu. The fish begins to grow in size and soon it becomes larger than a whale and seeks out the demon. Meanwhile there is also a story arc similar to Noah’s story from the old testaments.  The drowning of the whole world and rescue of key individual and representative members of each species. It is interesting how so many different myths have this particular story. Only difference here is the giant fish drags along the arc to the safety of the shore.

I felt it was comprehensive with sufficient detail covering the entire myth. The language is simple and ideal for children. The story is told in a clear manner with no confusions or complexity. The flow is well maintained and nowhere does a reader lose interest. So overall, it is quite an engaging read that also helped me know about the Matysa Avatar. I am now looking forward to the Kurma Avatar.  Definitely a recommended read for all children and even children who do not know this myth.

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