In Hindu mythology, the gods created Manu, the first man, who gave life to all humans. According to legend, he was the earth's first king and the ancestor of all the kings of India. The most famous tale involving Manu tells of a great flood that destroyed everything on earth.
One day Manu was washing his hands in a bowl of water when he saw a tiny fish there. The fish pleaded with Manu to be placed in a larger vessel of water to survive. In return, the fish promised to save Manu from a great flood that was to come and carry away all living beings. Manu put the fish in a bigger bowl, but the fish grew so rapidly that he had to transfer it to an even larger tank. The fish continued to grow until Manu eventually threw it into the sea. At that point, the fish told him that he should build a great ship to save himself from the coming flood. He also instructed Manu to take into the ship two of each animal on the earth as well as seeds from every kind of plant.
When the flood came, Manu used a rope to tie his boat to a large horn growing out of the fish. Pulling the ship through the rough waters, the fish came to the Himalaya mountains. There it told Manu to tie the ship to one of the mountains and wait until the waters receded. After the flood, Manu became lonely because only he and the animals aboard the ship had survived. He offered a sacrifice and was rewarded with a wife, with whom he began to repopulate the earth.
In several Hindu texts the fish appears as the god Brahma or Vishnu. The story of Manu and the flood also has parallels with the biblical stories of Noah's Ark and Adam and Eve.