Varaha avatar story: Why did Lord Vishnu take the form of Varaha?

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Varaha avatar is the third avatar of Lord Vishnu which was manifested as a boar. The Varaha avatar followed the Matsya avatar (first avatar) and the Kurma avatar (second avatar). In the Varaha avatar, Lord Vishnu incarnated as a boar to save the earth (Prithvi) from a deluge by killing the asura Hiranayaksha. There is a greater significance in the Varaha avatar story that is not readily known. The Varaha avatar of Lord Vishnu has two purposes: one to rescue the earth from the deluge so that Lord Brahma could start creation and second to rescue his two greatest devotees: Hiranayaksha and Hiranyakashipu!

Varaha avatar story: The lesser known truth

varaha avatar storyThe lesser known truth in the Varaha avatar story is not known to many people although the story is mentioned in the scriptures. The reason that Lord Vishnu incarnated as the boar was to fulfil his promise and remove the curse on two of his biggest devotees: Jaya and Vijaya. The seeds of Lord Vishnu’s incarnations in various yugas were laid long back to propagate creation.

The cause and effect that determines the world in the four yugas has its beginnings in the story about Jaya and Vijaya.

The Varaha Avatar Story 

Jaya and Vijaya were the gatekeepers of Vaikuntha. Jaya and Vijaya once stopped the four kumaras (mistaking them as children) from seeing Lord Vishnu. The four kumaras kept on requesting to meet Lord Vishnu but neither Jaya and Vijaya conceded to their demands.

The kumaras were enraged and cursed the two gatekeepers, “Lord Vishnu belongs to this devotees. Just as you have caused us separation from Lord Vishnu, both of you will also lose your divinity and take birth as mortals on earth, getting separated from Lord Vishnu.”

For Jaya and Vijaya, the thought of separating from Lord Vishnu is unimaginable and they fall at the grace of Vishnu and request him to remove the curse of the kumaras. Vishnu refuses saying that the curse of the kumaras cannot be dishonored but reassures Jaya and Vijaya that he will take birth with them for all their mortal births on earth. Lord Vishnu then offers them two choices: The first option is to take seven births on Earth as a devotee of Vishnu, while the second is to take three births as his enemy. Jaya and Vijaya cannot bear the thought of staying away from Vishnu for seven lives.

Jaya says, “Everyone who is born has to die and what better way to go than to be relieved of this earthly existence by you, our Lord.”
It was Jaya and Vijaya who were born as Hiranayaksha and Hiranyakashipu in the Satya Yuga. The maya created by Lord Vishnu is such that he rescued his devotees and also ensured that the Prithvi was rescued from the deluge to start the process of creation. It was in the Varaha avatar that Lord Vishnu fought Hiranayaksha for a thousand years and defeated him to rescue him from the earth. Then on his two tusks, the Varaha avatar brought the earth back from the depths of the ocean for creation to begin.

Varaha Avatar Depiction

The varaha avatar is depicted with four arms: one arm holds the Sudarshana chakra, the other arm holds the shankha (conch), yet another arm holds a gada (mace) and the other arm makes the varamudra gesture (for blessing). The Varaha avatar resurrects the earth from pralaya (dissolution of the universe) and paved the way for the creation to begin.

Varaha Avatar- Temples

One of the most  prominent temple of the Varaha avatar is the Sri Varahaswami Temple in Tirumala Andhra Pradesh, near Tirupati. At the end of Satya Yuga, when the earth had been rescued by the Varaha Avatar and creation started, the devotees of Lord Vishnu requested him to stay on earth. Lord Vishnu in his Varaha avatar ordered his vehicle Garuda to bring his divine garden Kridachala from his abode Vaikuntha to Venkata hills,

The oldest Varaha temple is Nav Toran (nine pillars) temple in Jawad, Madhya Pradesh.

Suggested Reading

What is Karma: The bowman analogy

Brihaspati: The Guru of Gods

What is peace of mind: Brihaspati instructs his son

The story of Goddess Lakshmi

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