Varaha Avatar and Varaha Charama Slokam

Every Avatar of Lord Vishnu has an objective. If we look at the incarnations from a bird’s eye view, we will see one story in each incarnation- the story that has been handed over to us through the generations. But if we look a little deeper and study our scriptures, we will get the chance to see the inner meanings and the actual objectives of Dashavatar.

So, what could be the main objective of Varaha Avatar then?

Well, Bhoomi Devi was looking for a chance to have an intimate conversation with Lord Vishnu over Her children – us, the Jeevatmas. She was sad about our state because even after tons of rebirths we are still struggling to attain liberation from the cycle of life and death. When she was being lifted out of the ocean by Vishnu on his tusks, She asked Him for an easier way for Jeevatmas to attain Moksham. He complied and shared a slokam called Varaha Charama Slokam with Bhoomi Devi.

I’m not going to go deep into the meanings of the slokam. The essence of what Vishnu has said is that if we think of Him and accept that He is the very cause of this universe, when we are in our peak of health with a sound mind and body, then during the time of our death bed (when we cannot think of anything, but lie helplessly), Vishnu will take us to His abode, thereby liberating us from the cycle of births and deaths. This sloka gathers significance because in the concept of Bhakthi, one needs to be thinking of the Lord even at his last moments, to attain Moksha and reach Vishnu’s abode. Read the story of Jadabharathar to gain more insight on the importance of the essence of Varaha charama Slokam.

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.