The Legend of the Fish
This is a story that has been told in India for thousands of years.
A long, long time ago there lived a man called Manu. He was kind and wise, and he lived happily in the depths of a jungle.
One day he was sitting by the river Chirini when he heard the voice of a little, little fish. It said:
“O Manu, I am a helpless little fish and I am frightened of the big fish who want to eat me. Please rescue me from this sea of terrors, and take care of me. I shall one day repay you for your kindness.”
Manu was overcome with pity, and he bent and took up the fish in his hands. Its scales were wet, and glistened like the moon, and Manu put it in an earthen water vessel. Here it grew and grew, and Manu cared for it like a child.
One day the fish said:
“O Manu, there is no room for me in this vessel. Please find me a better home.”
So Manu carried the fish to a large pool, and it lived here for many years. At last, however, it grew too large for the pool.
“O father,” it said to Manu. “Please take me to the river Ganga (Ganges), so that I can live there.
So Manu picked up the fish and carried it to the river Ganga. The fish lived here for some time, and then it once again spoke to Manu.
“O Manu,” it said. “Please take me to the Ocean. I have grown so big that I can no longer move in the river Ganga.”
So Manu lifted up the fish, and although it was so large, he carried it with ease, and its touch and smell were pleasant.
When he had cast the fish into the Ocean, it spoke to him with a smile.
“O kind-hearted friend, you have cared for me, listen now as I do the same for you. Soon the world will be submerged by a great flood, and everything will perish. You must build yourself a strong ark, and take a long rope on board. You must also take with you the Seven Sages, who have existed since the Beginning of Time, and the seeds of all things. When I am ready, I will come to you, and I will have horns on my head. Do not forget my words, for without me you cannot escape from the flood.”
Then Manu built himself and ark, and took the seeds of all things, and the Seven Sages on board, and they set sail on the surging waters. Soon he saw the horned fish, and cast one end of the rope over its horns. Then the fish began to tow the ark through the tossing, roaring waves. The whole world was covered with water, and nothing was to be seen but the ark, and Manu, and the Seven Sages, and the fish.
For many years the fish towed the ark through the water, and at last it came to the highest mountain in the Himalayas. At its command, they tied the ark to the mountain peak and then the fish said:
“O men of wisdom, I am the Creator of everything. I took on the shape of a fish, and I have saved you from this Flood. With my blessings Manu will once again fill the world with life.
With these words the fish disappeared, and Manu became the father of a new race of living things.
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