Varaha Avatar – Part 5 – Varaha Appears


<<Part 4 of the story>>

In the meantime, given that the humans who resided on earth had become very sinful over the ages, they regularly indulged in battles and wars and used deadly weapons which not only annihilated each other but also ended up in the earth itself being inflicted with severe damage. They used such devastating weapons that the earth trembled every time they were used, and it was being ravaged to a large extent. All the omens portended that it was time something catastrophic was due to occur on earth as a result of these actions.

Hiranyaksha realized quite soon that the easiest way to draw Vishnu into a fight would be to trouble his devotees, a majority of whom were humans residing on earth. Empowered by the boon of Brahma which rendered him immortal to any retribution from humans, he then started unleashing his reign of terror on earth and its residents. He however used such powerful weapons that the earth tilted from its axis and it slipped and fell deep into the celestial ocean. This situation played very well to the demon’s advantage, who then hid the earth deep in the ocean’s dark recesses.

Alarmed by this situation, the demi gods approached Vishnu, the preserver and requested him to save the earth from the atrocities committed by Hiranyaksha. Knowing that the time was opportune for his intervention, Vishnu then took the form of Varaha, the boar.

Emerging as a tiny boar (the size of a thumb) from the nostril of Brahma, Varaha grew and grew until he reached the size of a huge mountain. Some versions of this epic state that his thunderous roar was frightening and his mane was so fiery and fearsome that Varuna requested that he fold his mane so as not to scare the creatures that lived in the oceans.

In this fearsome form of Varaha, Vishnu then dived deep into the celestial ocean and retrieved the earth. Upon being stopped by Hiranyaksha, he thought to himself “Jaya can wait. Mother Earth needs to be placed back on her axis so that life on earth can resume to normal as soon as possible.” Varaha then rushed to the surface of the celestial ocean and put earth back on its axis.

He then turned his attention to Hiranyaksha and then fought him with his mace. After a fierce fight which apparently lasted for close to a thousand years, Varaha manages to finally overcome the demon. Just before he kills him, he reveals his true form, that of Vishnu so that Hiranyaksha is able to realize that he is finally being granted salvation from the curse of his earlier existence as Jaya.

Thus ended the reason for Vishnu taking the avatar in the form of a boar, the Varaha avatar.


While some versions of the story state that Varaha balanced the earth on his two tusks while fighting Hiranyaksha, I find it a little more plausible that he first restored the earth back on its axis before fighting the demon. More so because almost all legends state that the fight lasted for more than a few years, and it made more sense that the earth was restored back to normal state sooner rather than later.

Some other versions also go on to state that Mother Earth falls in love with this form of Vishnu and Narakasura, the demon is a result of the union between Mother Earth and Varaha.

<<Part 4 of the story | CONCLUDED>>

Varaha Avatar – Part 4 – Hiranyaksha


<<Part 3 of the story | Part 5 of the story>>

After a hundred year pregnancy when Diti gave birth to her twin sons, the event caused a lot of natural disturbances in the heavens and on earth. Ominous omens such as earthquakes, fires, comets, meteors and thunderbolts occurred; strong winds uprooted gigantic trees and tossed them around. The skies were filled with clouds, loud thunder and flashes of lightning; the oceans tossed and turned and their waves reached extreme heights.

Sage Kasyapa whose seed resulted in these two sons named the elder twin Hiranyakasipu and the other one Hiranyaksha. Hiranyakasipu was an ambitious man and wanted to bring all three worlds under his control and his younger brother, Hiranyaksha was more than willing to support him in all his endeavors. In fact he liked battle and fighting so much that he was always found brandishing a club on his shoulder ready to challenge anybody who dared to cross his path.

He had a foul temper and he was also extremely strong, both mentally and physically. He roamed all three physical worlds in search of Indra and the demigods to engage them in battle and defeat them. Even they were scared of him and went into hiding. Enraged by the fact that he couldn’t locate them, Hiranyaksha then dived into the deep ocean where even the aquatic animals were so scared of him that they didn’t dare cross his path.

Moving through the depths of the ocean for very many years, he finally reached Vibhavari, the capital of Varuna, the lord of the aquatic creatures and guardian of the lower regions of the universe. Poking fun at Varuna, the demon challenged him to fight him, to which Varuna cleverly replied that he had grown too old and now desisted from warfare. He also goaded the demon stating that his prowess in warfare was so legendary that none other than Lord Vishnu himself would prove to be a worthy adversary.

Knowing fully well that Vishnu would prove to be a strong adversary, Hiranyaksha then engaged in severe penance praying to Brahma. Pleased with his penance, when Brahma appeared to him, he asked for a boon stating that he should be immortal and should not be defeated by any god, man or animal and went on to narrate a long list of animals to Brahma.

However, he inadvertently forgot to include the boar in the list of animals that he stated. Given that Brahma had promised him a boon, the same was granted to the demon, which only went on to increase his confidence and the volume of atrocities that he was committing.

<<Part 3 of the story | Part 5 of the story>>

Varaha Avatar – Part 3 – The Means To Salvation


<<Part 2 of the story | Part 4 of the story>>

When they were cursed by the sages, Jaya and Vijaya realized the gravitas of their mistake and begged the forgiveness of the holy men. While they realized that a Brahman’s curse cannot be withdrawn, they requested that they don’t forget the supreme personality of Lord Vishnu even in their mortal bodies.

As the doorkeepers were requesting this from the sages, Lord Vishnu walked out of the seventh entrance to greet the sages. The sages were greatly enamored and enraptured by the presence of Vishnu himself and sang his praises in the form of hymns which described the wondrous beauty of the Lord in many words.

Vishnu told the sages that his doorkeepers, Jaya and Vijaya, by virtue of being his devotees as well as his doorkeepers, the offense committed by them to the holy men was nothing short of the offense being committed by Vishnu himself. While he approved of the punishment meted out to them by the sages, he requested them to modify the terms of the curse such that both Jaya and Vijaya’s terms of exile from Vaikunta would be reduced and they could soon return to his service.

The sages, unnerved by the sheer presence of Lord Vishnu and truly humbled by his excellence sang hymns in his praises and also offered to withdraw their curse to the doorkeepers if he so ordained it.

To this statement of theirs, Vishnu replied that Know that the punishment you inflicted on them was originally ordained by me, and they shall therefore take birth in a demoniac family. But they will remain united with me in thought through mental concentration intensified by anger. They will soon return to Vaikunta as well.

Brahma then continued with the story where he informed the demigods that Jaya and Vijaya were now in the womb of Diti, conceived as Kasyapa’s sons. Having heard Brahma’s story regarding Diti’s pregnancy, the demigods were relieved that all of these occurrences had happened with the complete knowledge of Vishnu and their fears were assuaged to a large extent.

<<Part 2 of the story | Part 4 of the story>>

Varaha Avatar – Part 2 – The Doorkeepers Of Vaikunta


<<Part 1 of the story | Part 3 of the story>>

Diti however clearly understood that the sons within her womb would be the cause of great disturbances to the demigods and she therefore continuously bore them for one hundred years without delivering them. By the force of her prolonged pregnancy, the light of the sun and the moon diminished in the various planets and the demigods themselves were highly disturbed and distressed by this force. They therefore approached Lord Brahma and requested him to be merciful towards them as this darkness had hindered their work.

Understanding the demigods’ plight, Brahma narrated the tale of his four sons – Sanaka, Sanatana, Sanandana and Sanat Kumara to them. These four sons of his were born from his mind, and were the predecessors of the demigods. They were known to travel throughout the material and spiritual worlds without a definite desire or purpose in mind.

On one of their travels, the four sages came across Vaikunta where by dint of their superior spiritual powers, they could sense unprecedented happiness inside. Vaikunta has seven entrances and these sages passed through the first six entrances without being unduly astonished at all the wonders that each and every one of these six chambers presented to them. They arrived at the seventh entrance which was guarded by two doorkeepers Jaya and Vijaya adorned quite richly.

Given that these four sages were highly evolved spiritual beings, they looked five years old in physical appearance and were not dressed at all. For all practical purposes they looked like five year old boys without wearing any clothes and therefore the doorkeepers blocked their way when they tried to go through the seventh entrance.

Enraged by the fact that they were not allowed to see Srihari, the supreme, the four sages’ cursed the doorkeepers. In Vaikunta, who are these two who have developed a discordant mindset even though they are in service of the Lord? Where is the possibility of an enemy of the Lord coming to Vaikunta? In Vaikunta, where all beings exist in harmony, how can these two creatures exist, whose minds are filled with disharmony? Although they are dressed like residents of Vaikunta, they are probably impostors, given that they don’t seem to fit in, they said.

Since they find duality in Vaikunta in the form of harmony and disharmony, they are contaminated and should therefore be banished from this place to the material world. Saying so, the four sages cursed the two doorkeepers, Jaya and Vijaya, to be born as mortal human beings.

<<Part 1 of the story | Part 3 of the story>>

Varaha Avatar – Part 1 – The Story Of Diti

The majority of the stories surrounding the Varaha Avatar begin with Lord Vishnu assuming the shape of a boar, killing the asura Hiranyaksha and saving the earth, but I decided to go back some more steps and try to tell the story right from its very beginning. I would therefore request readers to please indulge me in this small but necessary detour to understand the very origins of this avatar of Vishnu.



<<Part 2 of the story>>

Once Diti, the daughter of Daksha, and the wife of Kasyapa approached her husband thus “O learned one, the arrows of Cupid have struck me and has affected me as a mad elephant affects a banana tree. I desire to have sons, which is the greatest honor for any married woman, and you will also become famous due to these sons spreading your fame and name far and wide.”

While Kasyapa understood and sympathized with his wife’s wish to have progeny from him, he requested her to wait for a few seconds citing the inauspiciousness of the particular time at which she had made this request. That particular time was inauspicious as horrible-looking ghosts and constant companions of Lord Shiva were visible at that moment.

Despite Kasyapa’s advice to the contrary, Diti was so enamored by her desire that she could not control herself and grabbed her husband’s clothes. Understanding his wife’s purpose and obliging her, the wise sage engaged in coitus with her, and after the deed cleansed himself and sat meditating.

Worried about the consequences of her actions, Diti approached her husband and requested him to protect her embryo from the wrath of Lord Shiva. She offered to perform penance in his honor and was confident that pleased with her meditation and penance, he would forgive her misdemeanor and mistake.

Hearing her speak thus, Kasyapa replied “Because of your mind being polluted, because of defilement of the particular time, because of your negligence of my directions and because of your being apathetic to the demi-gods, everything was inauspicious.

You will give birth to two contemptuous sons due to this deed of yours, and they shall be the cause of constant lamentation to all three worlds! They will kill poor faultless living beings, torture women and enrage the great souls.

And they will finally meet their end when the Lord of the universe, Vishnu will descend and kill them.”

When she heard that her sons would finally be killed by Vishnu, Diti immediately thanked the great sage while stating that it was good that they would be killed by the Supreme Lord as that would be a magnanimous end when compared to being killed by the wrath of brahmana devotees of the Lord. She knew that anybody who died due to the wrath of brahmana devotees was unwelcome even in hell and would have to suffer for all eternity.

Pleased with her devotion to Vishnu, her adoration for Shiva and her respect for him, Kasyapa went to state that one of the sons of her son (Prahlada, son of Hiranyakasipu) would be one of Vishnu’s greatest devotees and that his fame and devotion would be on par with Vishnu himself. Hearing that her grandson would go on to be a great devotee of the Lord and also that her sons would be killed by Vishnu himself, Diti was pleased.

<<Part 2 of the story>>