In the Christian church many people believe that the anchor and fish was an important religious symbol in the early days, and there is a lot of discussion about it. So what does the symbolism of the anchor and fish mean in early Christianity? Jesus taught many people and most of them were fishermen. You may have read many stories about Jesus serving people fish, and about how Jesus helped Peter to catch more fish. What does this mean?
Fish live in water; without water fish cannot live. There is a beautiful teaching of Sant Kabir:
je jake sharan rakhe take rakhe laj
ulat jalame machali chale baha gaya gaja raj.
"One who surrenders is protected, just like a tiny fish goes against the current, but a big huge elephant goes down in the stream."
It is a really thought-provoking example. Why can a tiny fish with so little strength go against the current, while an elephant with so much strength falls down? It is because a tiny fish has completely surrendered itself to water. The life of the fish is the life of surrender. It surrenders completely to water. In water it is born, in water it lives, and ultimately it dies in water. It cannot exist without water. Similarly, surrender yourself to God. You were born in God and exist because of God andwill go back to God.
Some fish live in mud, but the mud does not touch or stick to the fish. If your life is dedicated to God you will be free from worldly mud; nothing can touch you, and you will be free.
One can go against the current of the river. Although the pranic energy in the body naturally flows from the top of the head down towards the feet, there are those who
know how to go against the current (that is, taking the pranic energy upward, not downward). This is the spiritual meaning of being a fish.
In yogic scriptures, inhalation and exhalation are symbolized as two fish swimming in two streams. It is said in Kailasha Tantra:
Ganga yamunayor madhye dvau matsau charatah sada
Tau matsau bhakshayat yastu sa bhavet matsya sadhaka
"In the Ganga and the Yamuna there are two fish swimming continuously. One who can eat these two fish, is truly a sincere seeker."
In the left and right nostril, in the ida and pingala canals (nadis), are the two holy rivers, the Ganga and the Yamuna. There are two fish constantly swimming in these two rivers, which comprise the breath. The breath is flowing through the left and right nostrils, ida and pingala canals of the spine. Breath control brings beauty and success in life This is one meaning of the fish symbolism.
Jesus' giving fish to people symbolizes complete nutrition. We need nutrition for the body and nutrition for the mind. Jesus said: "Peter, be the fisher of men." Here fish symbolize human beings in the ocean of the world. The statement, "Peter, be the fisher of men," refers to bringing people from the worldly ocean and directing them towards God.
The anchor along with fishing are always associated with a boat. It is also said in the Bhagavatam: life is a boat and the world is the ocean. This lifeboat will flounder in the waves, but if the boat is anchored on the shore, even if there is a strong wind or storm, nothing will happen to the boat. Similarly, the boat of life should be anchored. My beloved Guruji Swami Shri Yukteshwarji said: "Human life is ever unreliable until it is anchored in the Divine." Therefore, let this boat of our life be anchored in the Divine. If the mind is anchored in Christ, if the mind is anchored in God, then the mind has nothing to do but to remember God, and to do good. This is the beauty of human life. So the anchor is symbolic of reaching the goal of life through breath control - to anchor life in Divinity. With the anchor and fish together, let our lives be dedicated to God with steadiness and harmony.
Source: page 13-16, Mysticism of Religious Symbols by Paramhansa Hariharananda of Kriya Yoga