Chalukyas minted coins embossed with Varaha and it was also seen on their royal crest. Cholas and the Vijayanagar empire too adopted Varaha as royal symbols
Varaha avatar is Lord Vishnu’s avatar as a boar and is his third avatar. Popularly known as the avatar that saves Bhudevi from Hiranyaksha, Varaha stands for the earth’s resurrection after the universe dissolves and marks the beginning of a new aeon.
He is worshipped for the triumph of goodness over evil. Varaha Jayanti falls on 24th August this year.
FORMS OF VARAHA
Varaha is at times shown as a boar and at times as a human with a boar’s head. While the first two avatars of Lord Vishnu, matsya and kurma, are shown with a man’s upper body and the animal’s lower body, Varaha and the next avatar, Narasimha are shown with an animal’s head and a man’s body.
In his four arms, Varaha holds the Sudarshan Chakra, conch, mace and a sword or lotus or with the gesture of blessing. Varaha sculptures look towards the right and it is in Vaikuntha Vishnu portrayals that the head is shown turned towards the left.
As Adi Varaha, his right leg rests on snake Ananta with Bhudevi seated on his left lap. As Yajna Varaha, he is seated on a lion throne with consorts, Bhudevi and goddess Lakshmi on either side. As Pralaya Varaha, Bhudevi is depicted with him. When he is depicted with
only goddess Lakshmi, his form is similar to Lord Vishnu’s and he can be identified as Varaha only by his boar’s head. At times, his consort is shown as Varahi, one of the Matrikas, that is mother goddesses. She too is shown with a boar’s head.
Varaha was a form of Lord Brahma, according to the Taittiriya Aranyaka and the Shatapatha Brahmana. In the Ramayana and the Vishnu Purana though, he is referred to as Lord Vishnu’s avatar and that narrative continues today.
When the four Kumaras who are sages, Sanaka, Sanatana, Sanandana and Sanat kumara, arrive in Vaikuntha, the gatekeepers, Jaya and Vijaya, not only stop them but also laugh at them since the Kumaras look like children and are naked. The Kumaras curse the gatekeepers that they will be born as rakshasas. Lord Vishnu appears before the Kumaras and also assures his gatekeepers that they will be released by one of his avatars.
Jaya and Vijaya are born to sage Kashyapa and Diti as Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashyapa. After a long penance by Hiranyaksha, Lord Brahma grants him his wish that he cannot be killed by humans or a range of animals. Hiranyaksha with his brother creates havoc and hides Bhudevi in the primordial waters.
Lord Vishnu takes the form of Varaha since Hiranyaksha does not list the boar among the animals from which he is protected. Varaha lifts Bhudevi out of the primordial waters on his tusks and after a fierce battle with Hiranyaksha, kills the rakshasa. He, then places Bhudevi in her original position and marries her. Some sources say that they have a son, the rakshasa Narakasura.
Performing the Dwadasi puja will bring health and eliminate fear, confusion and discontent. According to Varaha himself, it is not great yajnas but worship with detachment, concentration and devotion that brings his blessings. Devotees can pray at midnight, at the time of dusk or at midday. They can observe a fast on Dwadasi and offer water, facing the Sun while reciting the ‘Om Namo Narayana’ mantra.
They can offer white flowers with the mantra ‘Sumanah Sumana Grihnna Priyo me Bhagavan Harih, Itena Mantrana Sumano dadat’. Next, they can offer sandalwood paste with the mantra ‘Namosthu Vaishnavey Vyaktavyakta Sugandhi cha, Grahan Grahana Namo Bhagavatey Vaishnavey Anena Mantreya Gandham dadatu. They can then offer incense with the mantra ‘Pravishtey me Dhupadhupanam grihnath Bhagavan Achyutah Anena mantryena Dhupam dadatu’.
Mathura holds the earliest Varaha images, dating back to the 1st and 2nd centuries. Varaha sculptures are found extensively during the 4th to 6th century Gupta period.
Early Varaha sculptures of the 5th century can be seen in the Udayagiri caves in Madhya Pradesh, of the 6th century in the Badami caves of Karnataka, of the 7th century in Mahabalipuram and Ellora and of the 8th century from Bago Pathari which is now in the museum in Gwalior. Although originally found in Southern and Western India, by the 7th century, they were found across India, including locations like Khajuraho, Udaipur and Jhansi.
The Chalukyas from the 6th to 8th century minted coins with Varaha on them and adopted the avatar on their royal crest. During the 9th century, Mihira Bhoja, the Gurjara Pratihara king took the title, Adi Varaha. He too had coins minted with the avatar. The Cholas, from 4th to 13th century, and the Vijayanagar empire from 14th to 17th century too adopted Varaha in their royal symbols. The Aihole pillar carving of Varaha has been identified as the Vijayanagar emblem.