Varaha – The Celestial Boar

Varaha at Halebeedu

Embark on a journey through the epic tale of Varaha Avatar, one of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu in Hindu mythology. This captivating story follows the exploits of Vishnu in his boar form, as he battles the demon Hiranyaksha to rescue the earth goddess, Bhudevi. With themes of heroism, sacrifice, and divine grace, this myth offers valuable insights into the nature of good and evil, the cycle of creation and destruction, and the enduring power of devotion. Join us as we explore the deeper meaning and symbolism behind this ancient Hindu myth and discover the wisdom it holds for us today.

The Beginnings

This is one of those stories that are older than ancient times when the earth was just being created. Brahma had four sons naming Sanaka, Sanatana, Sanandana, and Sanatkumara, roaming around in three worlds. Once, they decided to pray to Lord Vishnu and hence, reached the gates of Vaikuntha where Lord Vishnu was residing. Jay and Vijay, beloved doorkeepers of the Vaikuth considered them just ordinary four boys and by insulting them, chased those four away. Offended by the treatment, the Sanakadi brothers exclaimed – “You both have been engulfed in Rajas and Tamasi Gunas (superior and dark virtues). You do not deserve to be near Lord Vishnu. Demon life will better suit you.” Saying, that, they curse both Jay and Vijay to be demons. Realizing the mistake, both doorkeepers apologized immediately to the sages. After calming down, sages accepted the mercy petition and reduced their sentence to three lives. And for each life, Vishnu will liberate them from their sins. Hence, in their first life, Jay – Vijay born as Hiranyaksh and Hiranyakashipu. Next, they were born as Ravan and Kumbhakarna in Treta Yug, and for third life, they were liberated by Krishna, in the form of Shishupala and Dantavakra in Dwapar Yug.  

King Daksha Prajapati, had three daughters. One was Sati, who married Mahadev, and the other two were Diti and Aditi. One of the legendary Sapta Rishi, Sage Kashyap married both Diti and Aditi. Aditi gave birth to Gods Surya and Agni. Diti, was pregnant, and after carrying her child for hundred years in her womb, Hiranyaksha was born, and with him, the Demon race began. 

Hiranyaksh, grown to become a mighty demon. He went and performed penance for thousands of years to Brahma and Brahma granted him unlimited powers. Brahma also said that he won’t be killed by any God, Demon, or Human as well. Now, Hiranyaksha, the first of the mighty demon became unstoppable. He started harassing the gods, sages and started creating havoc on the newly created universe. 

Lord Vishnu

According to Puranas, the universe is made up of a spherical dome, within which, innumerable planetary bodies floating around. Half of the universe is covered in these planetary bodies hovering, and the bottom half is filled with the sea called the Garbhodaka Ocean. Demon Hiranyaksha, first of his name, started churning the sea by just roaming around in it. Being of limitless power, now, his ego had no limits. At the banks of the Garbhodaka sea, where he was churning, he met Sage Narad. Drunk with power, he asked Narad Rishi, has he met anybody, who is as strong as Hiranyaksha. Narad said, there is one, named Vishnu, who is even more powerful than you.  

Listening to that, Hiranyaksha started roaming around in-universe in search of Vishnu to challenge him. But meeting the lord is never that easy. The demon could not find the Lord. So, he presumes the giant form, uprooted the earth from its gravitational position, and hide it in the Garbhodaka sea. All the gods and sages freaked out seeing this and ran towards Brahma to save the earth. Generally, in speaking terms, the bottom of the sea is considered to be muddy, unclear, and filled with sediment. You need the extraordinary sniffing capacity to find something out in that muddy waters.

Birth of the Lord

Listening to the gods, Brahma started meditating. And from his Nostril, a very small Boar emerged and started floating around him. Within a few seconds, it grew drastically, making itself visible to all the universe. While growing, it roared, and with that thunder, gods knew, Vishnu has born in the form of Boar, or, Varaha. Varaha, jumped high in the air, till heaven. His snout was like an arrowhead, his tusks were gleaming with power, while his thick hairs making that fearful Psithurism like sound. He floated in the highest point of the universe for a second, and with all of his might, dove straight away towards Garbhodaka sea like a missile, while still growing. As his body touched the water surface, tsunamis rose, bigger than Himalaya mountain, making the sea unstable. 

As Varaha dove right into the endless abyss, all the gods, Yakshas, and demigods gather around to see what is happening. Using the senses of extraordinary sniffing ability, Varaha managed to locate the earth, at the bottom of that dark and muddy galactical waters. Above the surface, a long time had passed, and as all the hope and patience were about to lose, an enormous bulge appeared. Within the bulge, earth resurfaced, balanced perfectly on the long snout of the boar, held at the place by his two divine tusks. Varaha took the earth, back to its original space and roared again in the challenging tone.  

Responding to the challenge, Hiranyaksha could not help himself to stay put. He immediately charged towards Varaha. Varaha, born ready, also forced himself onto the demon with the speed of light and the horrendous battle started. As being the first of the demon, and due to the boon granted by Brahma, Hiranyaksha was very much powerful to overcome. Both of them used various weapons on each other, but they were the perfect match for each other. While, all of the gods, demigods, sages and even Brahma himself started chanting prayers, Varaha got his hands on one legendary mace named Kaumodaki. With this weapon, Varaha hit a blow on the head of the demon, resulted in killing him in one instant bang.  

Vijayanagar Empire Flag

Although not praised these days much, Varaha was a significant symbol of Power and might during the Indian middle ages. The mighty Hindu empire, the Vijaynagar Empire, stood against the Islamic invasion, stopping the green tide in 1336. They have given Varaha, a proud place on their flag, in the form of wild boar. When this sun-moon-dagger and boar flag flattered high on the battlefield, it used to strike fear in the eyes of Islamic forces, surrounding the Vijaynagar empire.

Just to mention, the most unholy animal Kur@n mentioned is- A pig. Just a coincidence? I don’t think so. 

Few cryptozoologists refer to this legend of Varaha to Entelodont, the giant Jurassic ancestor of Boar.  

According to Puranas, these numberless planetary bodies are floating around due to their inner constitution and composition, creating a web of gravitational pull, holding planets to each other. A slight variation in the core of the planet may lead to the collapse of the planet into the Garbhodaka sea. Hiranya means Gold. As per CryptoScientists, this Hiranyaksha was one of the first oil driller and gold explorers, who dug too deep, resulting in changing the core of the earth. Change in the core composition led to the alteration of the gravitational pull, resulting in the falling of the earth into an endless abyss. Hence, this story gives us the message of preserving the earth, to keep its exploitation to its minimum. Otherwise, we will have to depend on a god to take the form of supergiant wild boar to save it. 

Varaha at Hoysaleshawara temple, Halebeedu
Varaha at Hoysaleshawara temple, Halebeedu

Hoysalas were Flag holders of Dharma during the southern invasion of the Khilji Dynasty. Varaha, once popular, but now forgotten god, found a place on their gorgeous temples. These Varaha sculptures are Purana lessons in themselves. Here, you can see, the whole story is trapped in beautiful Prabhaval or, an ornate arch. Twelve-handed Vishnu, along with his beloved Panchajanya Conch, Sudarshan Chakra, Lotus, and Kaumodaki mace, holding few other weapons like Vajra, bow, and arrow. His face is beautifully carved as a wild bore, with two tusks coming out from his mouth. His snout is visible, just like a boar. He gently upholds the earth, in the form of a woman (Bhu-Devi) on his left shoulder, and by supporting her with one hand. Beneath his feet, you will see demon Hiranyaksha, holding a sword, just before dying. His fangs are out as he cries in pain while his eyes cannot withstand the weight of Varaha. Under another foot, some other demon, holding a sword and shield is trying to escape the angry boar. Although the statue is badly damaged, you can feel its grace. 

Somanathpura Temple Varaha
Somanathpura Temple Varaha

One more statue can be found in Chennakesava temple, Somnathpura, where Varaha has four hands. In his upper two, he is holding beautifully carved Chakra and conch shell. Kirtimukha has been depicted on these two powerful symbols of Vishnu. In the other two hands, he is carefully holding a slightly elongated globe, that is, our earth. Isaac Newton first proposed that Earth was not perfectly round. Instead, he suggested it was an oblate spheroid—a sphere that is squashed at its poles and swollen at the equator. In astronomy, a planet’s elongation is the angular separation between the Sun and the planet, with Earth as the reference point. The greatest elongation of a given inferior planet occurs when this planet’s position, in its orbital path around the Sun, is at a tangent to the observer on Earth. I hate to be that guy, but, this temple was erected in 1258 while Newton was born in 1643. Just saying.

Varaha, Nuggehalli temple, Karnataka
Varaha, Nuggehalli temple, Karnataka
6 Avatars, Hiranyaksha & Hiranyakashyapu
6 Avatars, Hiranyaksha & Hiranyakashyapu


1. Varaha Purana
2. Srimad Bhagvat Puran
7. Vimanika comics

2 thoughts on “Varaha – The Celestial Boar

  1. Hi,
    Great narration. Who was the third dwarpal/gatekeeper who was also sentenced to live on Earth, although as a Vinshu devotee?

    1. I only have idea about the two, Jaya and Vijaya. Didn’t knew, that there was a third one. Will do some research and get back to you. Thanks for the comment and pushing me to do some more research.

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