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Matsya Purana (literally, the ancient chronicle of Matsya) is one of the oldest of the 18 post-Vedic Hindu scriptures called the Puranas. The scripture is a composite work dated to c. 250–500 CE. It narrates the story of Matsya, the first of ten major Avatars of the Hindu god Vishnu. During the period of mahapralaya, Lord Vishnu had taken Matsya Avatar (fish incarnation) to save the seeds of all lives and Manu. Matsya Purana contains a comprehensive description of Manu and Matsya avatar. The Padma Purana categorizes Matsya Purana as a Tamas Purana (Purana of darkness or ignorance).
This Purana is the story of the Matsya Avatar (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu, Manu who was the King of Dravidadesa, and the first Mahapralaya (Great Deluge). In the end, Manu and all those he saves are safe in a large ship that he builds, atop the high Malaya Mountains. A number of Hindu scholars have taken the progression of forms assumed by Vishnu in the narrative, from fish to turtle to boar to "half-man and half-lion", to dwarf human, to human with an axe, to princely human, to Krishna (bringer of scripture) to Buddha (the enlightened one) to Kalki (the future human yet to come), as an analogy for evolution.
1 The cause of the lord Visnu assuming the form of fish and other related details; 2 Conversation between Matsya and Manu;
Sarga and Pratisarga
3 The primary creation; 4 The story of Sarasvati; 5 Birth of the daughters of Daksa and Kumara Karttikeya; 6 Description of the Kasyapa dynasty; 7 Birth of Maruts and description of Madana Dvadasi; 8 Presiding deities of each sarga and the crowning of Prthu as king; 9 Description of Manvantaras and seven Rsis; 10 The story of the king Prthu and the milking of the cow;
The Solar Dynasty
11 Genesis of the solar and lunar dynasties and the story of Ila; 12 The story of Ila and description of Iksvaku dynasty;
13 Description of Pitr-vamsa and the hundred and eight names of the Goddess; 14 Fall of Acchoda from the heaven and her redemption at her prayer to the manes; 15 Description of Pitr-vamsa and the method of performing Sraddha; 16 Different kinds of Sraddhas and the qualities of the Brahmanas to be invited in the Sraddhas; 17 Performing of Sraddha for achieving prosperity and emancipation; 18 Method of Ekoddisti and Sapindikarana Sraddha; 19 Distribution of havya and kavya by Pitrs in Sraddhas; 20 Story of the sage Kausika and the ants; 21 The story of Brahmadatta and the four sheldrake birds; 22 The time suitable for the performing of sraddha and some rules connected with the same;
The Lunar Dynasty
23 The origin of Moon, his marriage, performing of Rajasuya yajna, his attraction for Tara, his fight with lord Siva, and ending of war at the instance of Brahma.; 24 Birth of Budha from the womb of Tara, the story of Urvasi and Pururava and that of Yayati;
25 Kaca and Devayani join Sukra for learning of Mrtasanjivani after bearing painful situations; 26 Devayani proposes marriage with Kaca who refused and their mutual showering of curses; 27 Quarrel between Devayani and Sarmistha, Sarmistha pushes Devayani into the well, Yayati saves Devayani, conversation between Devayani and Sukracarya; 28 History of Yayati and dialogue between Devayani and Sukra; 29 Denouncement of Vrsaparva by Sukracarya and Sarmistha becomes the slave girl of Devayani; 30 Forest sports of Devayani and Sarmistha with their handmaids, arrival of the king Yayati - his talk with Devayani and his marriage with her. ; 31 Birth of a son to Yayati from Devayani, meeting of Sarmistha with Yayati in seclusion and the birth of a son to her as well; 32 Talk between Sarmistha and Devayani getting annoyed at the birth of a son to Sarmistha, Devayani goes to her father with a complaint. ; 33 Yayati's efforts to exchange of old age with the youthful age of his sons who declined, but Puru accepted the old age of Yayati, earning the boons; 34 Enjoying of worldly pleasures by Yayati, and then his proceeding to the forest crowning Puru as the king;
The Later Deeds of Yayati
35 Performing of the tapas by the king Yayati and his reaching the heaven; 36 At the instance of Indra, Yayati repeats the advice given by him to his son Puru; 37 Fall of Yayati from the heaven and the question asked to him by Astaka; 38 Conversation between Yayati and Astaka; 39 Conversation between Yayati and Astaka; 40 Discussion of Yayati and Astaka on asrama dharma; 41 Discussion between Yayati and Astaka, Yayati refuses to accept the merits granted by others; 42 Refusal of the king Yayati to accept the offer of the kings including Astaka and others;
The Dynasty of Yayati
43 Description of Yayati's dynasty and the story of Kartavirya Arjuna; 44 Burning of the trees with lustre of Kartavirya, curse of Vasistha to Kartvirya and the description of Andhaka race; 45 The story of Syamantaka gem; 46 Description of Vrsni dynasty; 47 Life story of Krsna, history of Daityas, battle of gods and the demons; 48 Description of Turvasu and Druhya, story of Bali and the birth of Karna; 49 Description of Puruvamsa, Bharatavamsa and the birth of Bharadvaja etc. ; 50 Comprehensive history of the rulers of Puruvamsa;
Rites and Rituals
51 Dynasty, Origin and various names of Agni; 52 Description of Dharma and Adharma, the excellence of Karmayoga over Jnana-yoga; 53 Descriptions of Puranas and merit of making the gift of a Purana; 54 About the ordinance of Naksatra-purusa; 55 The merits of the vow of Aditya-sayana; 56 Krsnastami Vrata and the merits of adoration of Siva in different months; 57 Rohinicandra-sayana Vrata, The rules of performing different vows; 58 The rules of consecration of newly built tanks, wells, pools, temples etc. ; 59 The rites of dedicating trees and planting groves; 60 About the ordinance of Saubhagya-sayana; 61 The birth of Agastya and the dialogue between Narada and Siva; 62 Description of Ananta-trtiya vow; 63 Vow of "Rasakalyanini trtiya" and rite of Sahasra Agnistoma; 64 About the ordinance of Ardranandakari trtiya; 65 Vow of Aksaya-trtiya and its merit; 66 Description of Sarasvata ordinance; 67 Merits of charity at the time of solar and lunar eclipses; 68 Rituals of bathing on the seventh day of a bright fortnight; 69 Vow of Bhima Dvadasi; 70 Vow of Anangadana, the method of worshipping Kama; 71 Description of the ordinance known as Asunyasayanadvitiya; 72 The vow of Angaraka, the dialogue between Pippalada and Yudhishthira; 73 Method of the pacification of planet Brhaspati and Sukra; 74 The vow and merits of Kalyana-saptami; 75 The merits of the vow of Visoka-saptami; 76 The ordinance of Phala-saptami; 77 The vow and merits of Sarkara-saptami; 78 The vow and merits of Kamala-saptami; 79 The vow and merits of Mandara-saptami; 80 The ordinance of Subha-saptami; 81 The ordinance of Visoka-dvadasi, the method of worshipping Laksmi; 82 The merits of gift of Gudadhenu and other symbolic images of the cow; 83 The benefits and greatness of all gifts; 84 The description of gift of salt-hill; 85 The description of gift of raw-sugar-hill; 86 The description of mountain of gold; 87 The description of mount of sesamum; 88 The description of gift of cotton-hill; 89 The description of mount of clarified butter; 90 The description of mount of gems; 91 The description of the mount of silver; 92 The description of the sugar-hill; 93 The performance of Santi and Pusti (Oblation to the nine planets) ; 94 Description of the form of nine planets; 95 Method and merit of the ordinance of Siva-caturdasi; 96 The greatness of giving up of all fruits; 97 The method of Sunday ordinance; 98 The process of bringing Samkranti to a close; 99 The vow of Visnu-vratam, known as the Vibhuti-Dvadasi; 100 Description of the vow of Visnu-vratam; 101 Prescribing of the sixty vratas and the related glory; 102 Method of taking bath and the performing of tarpana; 103 Anxiety of Yudhishthira, his meeting with the sage Markandeya;
The Glory of Prayaga
104 The glory of Prayaga and description of various sacred places; 105 Position of those who die at Prayaga and the importance of giving a cow in charity; 106 Glory of Prayaga and description of various auspicious places; 107 Description of the various sacred places of Prayaga; 108 The glory of Prayagatirtha; 109 Glory of Prayaga in preference to other tirthas; 110 Dwelling of all the auspicious tirthas at Prayaga; 111 Stay of Brahma, Visnu and Siva at Prayaga; 112 Glory of Prayaga as described by Vasudeva;
113 The description of Jambudvipa and its mountains and varsas; 114 Description of Bharatavarsa, Kimpurusa and Harivarsa; 115 Story of the earlier birth Pururava; 116 Description of Airavati river; 117 Description of the astonishing splendour of Himalaya; 118 Description of the astonishing beauty of Himalaya and the hermitage of the sage Atri; 119 Entry of Pururava in the hermitage, description of the grandeur of the asrama and the tapas performed by Pururava; 120 Tapas of the king Pururava, sports of Gandharvas and apsaras, arrival of the sage Atri, the boon granted to the king; 121 Description of Kailasa and Ganga besides Jambudvipa; 122 Description of Sakadvipa, Kusadvipa and Salmalidvipa; 123 Description of Gomedaka and Puskaradvipa;
124 Speed of the Sun and the Moon described; 125 Description of the movement of the sun and his chariot; 126 Riding of different gods over the Sun's chariot in different months; 127 Description of the chariot of the planets and praise of Dhruva; 128 Movements of divine planets and the speed of the sun and the moon;
129 The building of Tripura; 130 Building of Tripura by Maya-danava; 131 Comfortable living of the Daityas in Tripura, witnessing of the dream by Maya; 132 Atrocities of the Daityas of Tripura, taking refuge of the gods with Brahma; 133 Building of a surprising chariot of Siva for the killing of Tripurasura; 134 Attack on Tripura by Siva and other gods; 135 Attack on Tripura by Indra at the command of Siva, victory of the gods the retreat of the Danavas to Tripura; 136 Anxiety of Maya, construction of a surprising step well, terrific war between Nandikesvara and Tarakasura; 137 Anxiety of Maya with the drying of the step-well, Danavas enter the nether world; 138 Terrific battle between the gods and the Danavas and killing of Tarakasura; 139 Maya entrusts safety of Tripura to the Danavas convincing them again; 140 War between Gods and Danavas, killing of Vidyunmali by Nandisvara; 141 Pururava's union with the sun and moon;
The Yuga Dharma
142 Description of the Yugas; 143 Description of yajna and its method; 144 The temperament of Dvapara and Kaliyuga, the story of the king Pramati, start of Krtayuga; 145 Changes in the bodies, varna with the change of the yugas (see Yuga Dharma);
The Slaying of Taraka
146 Birth of Vajranga, his making captive by Indra and his release; 147 Birth of Tarakasura with the boon of Brahma; 148 Performing of tapas by Tarakasura, receiving of his boon from Brahma and the preparations of war between the gods and the Daityas; 149 The start of war between gods and the asuras; 150 Battle between gods and the demons. 151 Collective attack of Danavas over Visnu; 152 Terrific battle of Visnu with Mathana and other Daityas; 153 Dialogue between Visnu and Indra, battle of gods and Daityas- defeat of gods; 154 Taraka commands to free gods captured by, description of marriage of Siva and Parvati; 155 Quarrel between Siva and Parvati; 156 Secret consultations between Kusumamodini and Parvati and other related events; 157 Parvati's curse on Viraka and boon to Ekanamsa; 158 Parvati's prayer by Viraka; 159 Birth of Skanda and his praise by the Siddhas; 160 Battle between Skanda and Taraka and death of the demon;
The Narasimha Avatara
161 Tapas of Hiranyakasipu, arrival of Narasimha in the court Hiranyakasipu; 162 Description of the form of Narasimha by Prahlada; 163 War between Narasimha and Hiranyakasipu;
The Creation from Lotus
164 Emerging of the universe out of the golden lotus; 165 Arrangement of all the four yugas; 166 Description of delusion; 167 Visnu sleeps in the ocean; 168 Emerging of the five Mahabhutas and a lotus from the navel of Narayana; 169 Manifestation of Brahma from the lotus of the navel; 170 Birth of the Madhu and Kaitabha; 171 Emerging of the mind-born sons of Brahma;
The Tarakamaya Battle
172 The gods pray to Visnu against the atrocities of Taraka; 173 Preparation of war by the Daityas and Danavas; 174 God's compaign for war; 175 Battle between the gods and the Danavas; 176 Conflict between gods and Tarakamaya; 177 Conflict between gods and Tarakamaya; 178 Conflict between gods and Tarakamaya; 179 The killing of Andhaka;
Glory of Varanasi
180 Glory of Varanasi and the granting of boon to Yaksa by Lord Siva; 181 Mahatmya of Avimukta Ksetra; 182 Mahatmya of Kasi-tirtha; 183 Mahatmya of Kasi-tirtha; 184 Mahatmya of Avimukta-tirtha; 185 Mahatmya of Avimukta-tirtha; 186 Narmada Mahatmya; 187 Narmada Mahatmya; 188 Narmada Mahatmya; 189 Narmada Mahatmya; 190 Narmada Mahatmya; 191 Narmada Mahatmya; 192 Narmada Mahatmya; 193 Narmada Mahatmya; 194 Narmada Mahatmya;
The Pravaras of the Sages
195 Narration of Pravaras of Bhrgu race; 196 Descriptions of Angira Family; 197 Description of Atri family; 198 Description of Visvamitra family; 199 Pravaras of Maharsi Kasyapa; 200 Description of Vasistha family; 201 Description of Parasara family; 202 The Description of the Pravaras; 203 The families of Dharma; 204 Narration of the pitrs (manes) ; 205 Benefits of donation of cows; 206 The gift of a black deer skin; 207 The signs of an auspicious bull;
The Tale of Savitri
208 The anecdote of Savitri; 209 The anecdote of Savitri; 210 The anecdote of Savitri; 211 The anecdote of Savitri; 212 Third boon to Savitri from Dharmaraja; 213 The resuscitation of Satyavan; 214 The anecdotes of Savitri;
215 Description of the duties of a King; 216 The qualities of the king's servant; 217 The ways of protecting the fort and the city of a king; 218 Things to be preserved by a king in his fort; 219 The protection of the king; 220 The duties of a king; 221 The fate and the result of one's own effort and energy; 222 The Dharma of the kings and the policy of conciliation; 223 Raja Dharma- the policy of Bheda; 224 Raja Dharma- the policy of Dana; 225 Raja Dharma- the policy of Danda; 226 Description of Raja Dharmas; 227 Rajadharma - his inflicting punishments; 228 The propitiatory rites or Santis; 229 The Santi Offerings; 230 The propitiations for the bad omens; 231 Santi rites; 232 Graha Santis; 233 Santi rites; 234 The extraordinary peace offering when reservoirs of water go bad; 235 The extraordinary Santi during pregnancy; 236 Unusual peace offerings; 237 The extraordinary Santis due to birds and deer, etc. ; 238 Santis on unlucky signs; 239 Description of Graha-yajnas, etc. ; 240 The march of a King; 241 Vibration of different limbs and their effects; 242 Dreams and Marching; 243 The auspicious signs at the time going out;
The Vamana and Varaha Avatara
244 The story of Vamana incarnation; 245 The incarnation of Vamana; 246 The incarnation of Vamana; 247 Varaha incarnation; 248 Varaha incarnation; 249 The churning of the Amrta; 250 The description of the churning of the milk ocean; 251 The churning of the ocean;
252 The Vastu Deva; 253 Ascertaining of Vastu site for construction of buildings etc. ; 254 The Vastu Vidya; 255 The Vastu Vidya; 256 The Vastu Vidya; 257 The Vastu Vidya; 258 The measurements of limbs of the images of the Devas, etc. ; 259 The characteristics of the images of the Devas; 260 The forms of the images of the several Devas and their characteristics; 261 The forms of Gods, etc. ; 262 The pedestals on which the Gods are placed; 263 The dimensions of the Phallus; 264 The consecration of the idols; 265 Adhivasana Vidhise; 266 Installation of an image; 267 The bathing of the idol; 268 Propitiating the Vastu Deity; 269 The dimensions and related characteristics of temples; 270 The characteristics of Mandapas;
The Future Dynasties
271 The genealogies of future Iksvakus and Brhadrathas; 272 Pradyota, Sisunaka, the Nanda, the Maurya, the Shungas and the Kanvayana dynasties; 273 The reigns of the Andhras, Yavanas and the Mlecchas, the end of a Yuga, origin of Kaliyuga;
274 The Tula Purusa Mahadana; 275 Hiranyagarbha Mahadana; 276 Brahmanda Dana; 277 Kalpapadapa Mahadana; 278 Giving away of one thousand cows; 279 Kamadhenu Dana; 280 Hiranyasva Dana; 281 The gift of Hiranyasva Ratha Mahadana; 282 The giving away of the golden chariot and elephant known as Hema Hasti Mahadana; 283 The giving away of land with five ploughs; 284 The giving away of the golden earth; 285 The giving away of the wheel of universe; 286 Kanaka Kalpalatapradana; 287 Saptasagara Pradana (giving away seven oceans) ; 288 Ratna Dhenu Pradana; 289 Mahabhutaghata Dana;
290 The narration of Kalpas; 291 The conclusion and narration, in brief, of the contents of the Purana, the end.
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