Author Sundari Venkatraman is known as the specialist on romance and relationships. With Matsya – The First Avatar, the first short book in her Dashavatar series, she takes a leap in to the mythological or spiritual sphere. Not even once does it seem as if she is new to the genre. This, obviously, means that her switch has been successful.
Matsya – The First Avatar, as the name suggests, is about the first avatar of Lord Vishnu in the form of a fish. Lord Brahma was tired and sleepy after completion of one kalpa (10 thousand years). As he dozed off to sleep, the Asura Hayagriva managed to steal the four Vedas – Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharva Veda – from him.
After realizing his folly, a guilt-ridden Brahma visited Lord Vishnu urging for help and intervention. The calm-headed Lord readily agreed to help by taking form of a fish (matsya). The sage king Satyavrath became an important part in the latter part of Vishnu’s plan, which is the progression to another Yuga.
We have heard about the different avatars of Lord Vishnu. Probably many of us might have read descriptions of each of his avatars. But it is a smart idea to provide detailed information on them and their importance. Venkatraman’s story follows Matsya Purana (the Brahma Purana features Brahma as the fish avatar).
The book is ideal for those who are much interested in the topic. The story, which started with the stealing of the Vedas, gives an overwhelming feeling as it ends towards the creation of Satya Yuga. For the believers or devotees, it answers some tough questions and gives clarity on the times we are living. But the non-believers too are in for a good experience if they look at it purely as a fictional story.
Ventakraman has presented the story in as simple was as possible but at the same time has retained the richness of the language, making it appealing across age groups. Maintaining such balance is certainly not easy. The grip is also nicely maintained throughout.
In today’s times, the standard of editing in modern Indian English literature has gone down. A number of punctuation and other errors are overlooked somehow. Thankfully, Matsya – The First Avatar is a fine example of quality editing.
There are no such negatives points as such. It’s just that the author could have used a more believable way of slipping of the Vedas than through Brahma’s nostrils. It also would have been fine if we were given more insight into Satyavartha’s greatness.
Overall: Matsya – The First Avatar is a fine account of Lord Vishnu’s first avatar as the fish. The book makes you eager to read about the remaining avatars by the author in her Dashavatar series.
Review by: Keyur Seta
Author: Sundari Venkatraman
Publisher: Flaming Sun (author’s banner)
Cover: Artistic image of Lord Vishnu in his half-fish form