om — O my Lord; namaḥ — respectful obeisances; bhagavate — unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead; mukhya-tamāya — the first incarnation to appear; namaḥ — my respectful obeisances; sattvāya — unto the pure transcendence; prāṇāya — the origin of life; ojase — the source of the potency of the senses; sahase — the origin of all mental power; balāya — the origin of bodily strength; mahā-matsyāya — unto the gigantic fish incarnation; namaḥ — respectful obeisances; iti — thus.
I offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is pure transcendence. He is the origin of all life, bodily strength, mental power and sensory ability. Known as Matsyāvatāra, the gigantic fish incarnation, He appears first among all the incarnations. Again I offer my obeisances unto Him.
Śrīla Jayadeva Gosvāmī sings:
keśava dhṛta-mīna-śarīra jaya jagad-īśa hare
Soon after the cosmic creation, the entire universe was inundated with water. At that time Lord Kṛṣṇa (Keśava) incarnated as a gigantic fish to protect the Vedas. Therefore Manu addresses Lord Matsya as mukhyatama, the first incarnation to appear. Fish are generally considered a mixture of the modes of ignorance and passion, but we must understand that every incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is completely transcendental. There is never any deterioration of the Supreme Lord’s original transcendental quality. Therefore the word sattvāya is used here, meaning pure goodness on the transcendental platform. There are many incarnations of the Supreme Lord: Varāha mūrti (the boar form), Kūrma mūrti (the tortoise form), Hayagrīva mūrti (the form of a horse) and so on. Yet we should never think any of Them material. They are always situated on the platform of śuddha-sattva, pure transcendence.