Varaha Avatar-2

In this post, Let us see a much interesting, alternate version of Varaha avatar which by the way is the third avatar of the Dashavatars of Lord Vishnu.

Now we know that Lord Brahma wanted to start his creation and found to his horror that Mother Earth or Bhoomi Devi was missing. He knew very well that He could not do anything but pray to Lord Vishnu to resolve the crisis.

Before He could even start to pray, a small boar-no bigger than the upper part of the thumb finger-jumped from Brahma’s nostril. Within no time, the boar grew in size to ten Yojanas in breadth and a thousand yojanas high. He was the same colour that of a dark cloud; and his roar was like thunder; his tusks were white, sharp, and fearful; fire flashed from his eyes like lightning, and he was radiant as the sun; his bulk was vast as a mountain; his shoulders were round and large and his body was smooth and beautiful. His eyes were like the lotus. He was so big that Mount Meru could fit into each round bell in his anklet.

Just imagine such a persona – A wild boar of such proportions, but with lotus eyes (PundariKakshan) and smooth and a beautiful body!! Some sight it would have been to see Varaha like explained here.

On seeing Him, all the great sages, Sanandana and the other residents of Janaloka, Tapoloka and Satyaloka started praying to Him and hailing Him. On hearing all their prayers, the Boar emitted a low murmuring sound which was like the chanting of Sama Veda.

He dived into the oceans dividing it into two halves. He penetrated the water with His hooves, just like sharp arrows penetrating its target. He then searched for Mother Earth by Her smell (true to His avatar).He reached and lifted Her up in between his great white tusks. Water rushed to the lower Lokas through the marks made by His hooves. He killed Hiranyaskha and lifted Bhoomi Devi to the top of the ocean where everyone waited with bated breath. As He reared up His head, water from his brow sprinkled and purified everything that came in contact with it.

He laid down the Earth in the summit of the ocean and disappeared.

Now, that is some story, is it not? Nothing given here is my imagination. The Avatar is described in more detail in our ancient scriptures like Vishnu Purana, Bhagavatam and Vayu Purana. Each time it is narrated in between generations, the version has thinned and thinned to come to the present version.

Anyway, this is about the incarnation. But what about its objective? Every Avatar in the Dashavatar has an objective and it is certainly not to kill some Asura. If It was, then Vishnu does not have to come in another form to kill or come down to the earth at all!

We will see about Varaha Avatar’s objective in the next post.

Varaha Avatar

All of us know that Varaha is the 3rd Avatar of Lord Vishnu. He incarnated as the Varaha Avatar (The Boar) to save Bhoomi Devi/Mother Earth from an Asura – Hiranyakshan who grabbed Her and hid Her in the Ocean.

First let us look at the Incarnation. The oft repeated story goes something like this – One day Hiranyakshan hides Bhoomi Devi or Mother Earth under an ocean. All the Devas, knowing fully well, the implications of a missing Bhoomi Devi, goes to Brahma who in turn prays to Lord Vishnu. Suddenly a wild boar or Varaha jumps from the Nostrils of Brahma. It grows in size. It then goes into the ocean, kills Hiranyaksha and brings back Mother Earth.

Now let us look at the most popular questions about this Avatar which learned people ask.

If Bhoomi Devi (and essentially the Bhoomi) is inside the ocean, then what happened to all the living things in the Bhoomi?

Was the ocean itself not part of that Bhoomi? If so how could It be hidden inside the ocean?

Why did Vishnu jump out of Brahma’s Nostril and not from anywhere else?

To answer these questions, we need to understand the setting of the Avatar first.

After the Supreme Being creates Brahma He creates the World from the Golden Egg in which everything is in an embryonic state.  – Mother Earth is created.

After that He creates Asuras and Devas. – Hiranyakshsan is born.

Next He needs to create all the living things. For this He has a checklist in which He needs to tick-off all the right boxes. Devas – check, Asuras – Check, Golden Egg – Check, Gross Elements – Check, Subtle Elements – Check, Mother Earth – No Check. How can He create the living things, if Mother Earth is not there? He panics. He is sure to lose His Brahma post if something goes amiss here! (There was one other  situation, when Brahma almost lost his post. We will see about it in another post)

At the same time, Devas come rushing to Brahma, saying that Bhoomi Devi has gone missing. He does not have anything else to do other than praying to Vishnu. He does that. Vishnu answers his prayers, comes out of the Nostril, kills Hiranyakshan and brings back the Earth from the ocean.

So now, to the answers to the questions given in the beginning.

Mother Earth goes missing BEFORE the creation of living things can begin.

The Ocean in which the asura hides Bhoomi Devi is not the Ocean of the world, but the Primordial Ocean containing primordial waters that is the main cause of the dissolution or Pralay. (Our ancient scriptures say that the water is viscous in nature unlike the water of our oceans which is watery). We have already seen about this ocean here.

It is Mother Earth or Prithvi who goes missing. The subtle element associated with Prithvi – the Gross element – is the Scent. The character of Scent is associated with the sense organ of Nose and hence Vishnu jumps out of Brahma’s Nostrils!!

This version of the story is not very interesting and also not anything similar to what has been narrated in our ancient scriptures. Also in the normal narrations, the story ends with Varaha bringing out Bhoomi Devi. But the essence of the Avatar is not featured anywhere in the story. Is it? If you thought that killing Hiranyaksha was the main goal of the Avatar, You are wrong. Then, what is the objective?

Let us see the alternate version of this story and about the main objective, in the next post.

PanchiKarana and the Pancha Bootas

At the end of the last post, we saw how the basic 24 elements came into existence. We also saw that each Pancha Bhoota or Gross Element is just associated with its own Subtle element or Tanmatra and how it is not so in actuality. Now let us see what happens to bring the gross elements to the current state they are in.

Panchikarana is what happens. Lord Vishnu first takes Ether and divides it into 2 halves. He takes one half, divides it into 4 equal quarters and shares them each with the other 4 elements. He does the same to all the 5 gross elements. At the end of this process, all elements are a mixture of 50% of itself and 12.5% of the other 4 elements.

The Creation that happens till this point of time is called Samashti Creation (Creation done by the Supreme Being himself).  At the end of the Samashti Creation, there are millions of eggs or Andams floating in the cosmos. As seen in our very first post, Each of this Andam contains 14 lokas – Satya, Tapa, Jana, Mahar, Svar, Bhuvar, Bhur Lokas at the top  and Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Talatala, Mahatala, Rasatala and Patala Lokas under the ground. It is also covered on the exterior by seven natural envelopes – Water, Fire, Air and Ether- in the same order-followed by Ahankara, Mahat and finally by the Indiscrete Principle. Each layer is ten-fold than the previous one.

Inside each such Egg, all the worlds that would be created, are in an embryonic state. Our world contains Mountains, Rivers, Land, Ocean etc… The egg also contains, Asuras, Devas, Humans and all other living things.

The Supreme Being then appoints one very pure Soul (Atman) as Brahma of each Andam.  He then becomes the Antharyami  (or the Inner God) of Brahma and starts Vyashti Srishti. Brahma goes on to create Asuras, Devas, Rakshasas, Yakshas, Gandharvas, Plants and animals, basically everything that lives and is a part of our Lokas. Detailed description of how Brahma achieves the progeny is given in our ancient scriptures like Vishnu Purana and Srimad Bhagavatam. (by the way, Asuras are different from Rakshas. We tend to mix them up in our stories. A topic for another post may be)

The very first creation at the start of the new Brahma’s first day is called Sarga. The creation that happens after every dissolution or pralaya is called Prati-Sarga.

Now that we have seen Dissolution and Creation, it is time to get into the original goal of this blog – bringing out interesting and not so frequently heard stories from our scriptures. I thought I will start with Varaha Avatar (although this is an oft repeated story, there are some misconceptions which I would like to do something about).

Until we see Mr Varaha…

Creation of Universe in Hindu Scriptures

After the dissolution, the universe has to be created again. How does that happen? Who does what during this process? Who are the players? Read on to know…

Kala or Time (which is also considered as a form of Vishnu) communicates to the Lord that it is time to start the creation process.

The Supreme Being manifests himself as Moola Prakriti or Chief Principle and creates Mahat or Maha Tattva or Intellect or Great Principle. This is the germinating place for the rest of the creation.

From Mahat arises Ahankara or False-ego.

From Ahankara, the 3 elemental qualities or Gunas are born – Sattva Guna(Goodness), Rajo Guna(Passion) and Tamo Guna(Ignorance,Inertia).

From Sattva Guna, the five organs of senses and five organs of action are born. At the end, Mind is created to control all the above 10 organs.

From Tamo Guna, the five gross elements or Pancha Bhootas and the five Tanmatras or Subtle elements are born in the below fashion.

Each Gross element is associated with one subtle element.  The subtle element is created first which is followed by the corresponding gross element. I’m reproducing the Vishnu Purana here so that I don’t mess with the content.

“Elementary Egotism then becoming productive, as the rudiment of sound, produced from it Ether, of which sound is the characteristic, investing it with its rudiment of sound. Ether becoming productive, engendered the rudiment of touch; whence originated strong wind, the property of which is touch; and Ether, with the rudiment of sound, enveloped the rudiment of touch. Then wind becoming productive, produced the rudiment of form (colour); whence light (or fire) proceeded, of which, form (colour) is the attribute; and the rudiment of touch enveloped the wind with the rudiment of colour. Light becoming productive, produced the rudiment of taste; whence all juices in which flavour proceed resides; and the rudiment of colour invested the juices with the rudiment of taste. The waters becoming productive engendered the rudiment of smell; whence an aggregate (earth) originates, of which smell is the property.”

In simple terms, starting with Sound the Gross and Subtle elements are produced in a logical order. At the end of this exercise, the Supreme Being completes the creation of all the Pancha Bhootas and Tanmatras and 24 basic elements come into existence. 5 Sense organs, 5 action organs, 1 Mind to control, 5 Gross elements, 5 Subtle elements, Ahankara, Mahat and Moola Prakriti. Also, Brahma has not yet been created. From nothing, we have the most basic elements that are required for the actual creation to begin. But one step remains.

If you notice, you will realize that the Tanmatras are just associated with their own Pancha Bhootas. For example Wind is just associated with touch after the creation. But in actuality we can also “hear”wind. Right? So what does the Lord do to bring about that basic elemental change?  We will see in the next post.

Prakrita Dissolution – the elemental one

After the 3 types of Dissolutions, It is time for us to look at the most elemental of them all – The Prakrita Dissolution.

The Prakrita Pralayam occurs at the end of the life of each Brahma (You can recollect that the life span of a Brahma is 100 divine years) after He completes two parârdhas. At the end of the Hundredth year, the seven basic elements – Mahat or Mahan, Ahankara and the 5 Tanmatras are subject to destruction.(We will see more about these elements in the next post). Thus this dissolution is called elemental annihilation, since it is elemental in nature. Then all calamities will occur one by one starting with extreme drought resulting in a great famine, followed by the fire of destruction. Then a terrible wind will blow for 100 years which will be followed by the last, but not the least, heavy rains for the next 100 years. At the end of this rain, the universal egg will be one big form of water.

Let us see now, how the Pancha Bhoota or gross elements are destroyed one after the other. Each element is associated with one very basic elemental character. Earth is associated with Smell, Water with Taste, Fire with Form, Wind with touch or feeling and Ether with Sound. Each element will be destroyed when this character is robbed off it. Let us see how.

The excessive water drives away the quality of fragrance of the Earth. Earth dissolves.

The great fire will take away the most basic character of water-Taste. Water dissolves.

The terrible Wind takes away the quality of Form from fire. Fire dissolves.

The Ether robs Wind of its basic character-touch or feeling. Wind dissolves.

The elemental nature takes Sound off from Ether. Ether dissolves into nature or Ahankara.

Ahankara dissolves into Mahaan and Mahaan dissolves into the Pradhana or the Root.

According to Srimad Bhagavatam – “This is the prâkritika pralaya or elemental dissolution wherein all the material elements of nature and energies of the unseen Original Person are completely dismantled by Time and helplessly merge.”

It is clear now from where we come and to where we all go and how helpless we are in the grand scheme of things. Yet we don’t realize all this and behave as if we are the greatest in this universe. How Silly, eh?

Enough of all the negative posts about Dissolution. In the next few posts we will see how creation happens and what happened at the very beginning.