An Affectionate Boar with a Riveting Roar
This is the story of how God takes on the spectacular form of a wild boar, saves the earth, and puts on a show for his devotees.
This story is worth your time. It has been told for millennia in various mediums. I pray my rendition follows in this tradition and helps the reader to develop or enhance their appreciation for Śrī Varāha: the Viṣṇu avatāra of a wild boar.
In the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava lineage, we extol Kṛṣṇa as the source of all incarnations of God (see Śrī Brahma-saṁhitā 5.1). A particularly attractive feature of Kṛṣṇa is his affection for His devotees. This endearment is clearly on display in the personality and activities of His playful boar incarnation.
This story comes with a benediction (SB 3.13.48): "If one hears and describes in a devotional service attitude this auspicious narration of Lord Boar, which is worthy of description, the Lord, who is within the heart of everyone, is very pleased."
The conversation in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is taking place between the great sage Maitreya and gentle Vidura. Vidura is an amazing personality and a great example for all aspiring transcendentalists. His demeanour was so pleasing that he was visited frequently and blessed by the ṛṣis. Even Kṛṣṇa would rest his feet on Vidura's lap in a relaxed mood. Being eager to hear the pastimes of Viṣṇu, Maitreya didn't hold back. He delighted Vidura with story after story which, for our good fortune, was written down in the Bhāgavatam.
After Lord Brahmā had finished his duty of creation, he watched as the Earth became submerged into the Garbhodaka Ocean which fills up about half of each universe. He sat for a long time contemplating how it could be lifted, given the Earth’s importance as a place of residence for living entities. Brahmā had confidence that the Lord would show the way.
Just then, a small boar, no larger than the size of the last digit of a thumb, appeared from Brahmā’s nostril. Perplexed and full of wonder, he observed the boar as it expanded in the sky to the size of a gigantic elephant. Trying to make sense of the situation, Brahmā discussed with Marīci, as well as the Kumāras and Manu, “Is this some extraordinary entity come in the pretence of a boar? It is very wonderful that He has come from my nose. I’ve never experienced such a thing. Could this be Viṣṇu?”
As if to confirm Brahmā’s suspicion, the magnificent boar let out a terrific roar in his gorgeous voice that shook the foundation of the universe. The sound, echoing throughout the cosmos, brought delight to Brahmā and other elevated brāhmaṇas, and they were enlivened to see and hear from this unique form of Viṣṇu. The great sages and thinkers who are residents of Janaloka, Tapoloka and Satyaloka were immediately inspired to chant the Vedic hymns, most significantly, the verse from Bṛhan-nāradīya Purāṇa:
Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare
Hare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare
Understanding that the prayers were meant for him, Śrī Varāha roared again in response as he flew in the sky, slashing his tail with his stiff hairs quivering. His glance illuminated space. He scattered the clouds in the sky with his hooves and his glittering white tusks. Then, suitable to his form of a boar, Varāhadeva began sniffing out the location of the earth globe.
Then he dove into the Garbhodaka Ocean to rescue the submerged planet. Like a giant mountain, Varāha divided the middle of the ocean, and two high waves appeared as the arms of the ocean. They cried loudly in prayer, “O Lord of all sacrifices, please do not cut me in two! Kindly give me protection!”
Varāha saw the earth, the resting place for all living beings, lying as it was in the beginning of creation, and He personally took the earth on his tusks and lifted it.
This feat disturbed the great demon Hiraṇyākṣa who tried to fight with Lord Boar. His anger glowing like the Sudarśana wheel, Varāha immediately killed the monster, just as a lion kills an elephant. The cheeks and tongue of the Lord became smeared with the blood of the demon.
Then Varāha playfully suspended the earth on the edge of His curved white tusks. To enliven his devotees, he assumed a bluish complexion like that of a tamāla tree. Thus the sages, headed by Brahmā, were excited to see their Viṣṇu and offered respectful glorifications, “O Lord, Your form is worshipable by performances of sacrifice, but souls who are simply miscreants are unable to see it. All the Vedic hymns, Gāyatrī and others, can be found in the touch of Your skin. O Lord, You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead and are worshipable by universal prayers, Vedic hymns and sacrificial ingredients. You can be realized by the pure mind freed from all visible and invisible material contamination. We offer our respectful obeisances unto You.”
Varāha then shook off the waters of the Garbhodaka ocean and sprinkled his devotees with affection.
In this way the Personality of Godhead, Lord Viṣṇu, the maintainer of all living entities, raised the earth from within the water and, having placed it afloat on the water, he returned to his own abode.
This entire pastime is steeped in love. First of all, Hiraṇyākṣa was actually a resident of Vaikuṇṭha who took the role of a monster to give pleasure to Viṣṇu. That's another amazing story. Then He playfully appeared from the nostril of Lord Brahmā which humorously put Brahmā into a state of confusion, especially when He expanded across the celestial sky and roared so loudly it echoed across the universe. It's quite funny, actually.
Then Lord Varāha put on a show for his devotees and returned back to the spiritual realm, leaving them excited and delighted.
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These words were not generated with or augmented by artificial intelligence; just “flawsome” human thoughts here … with, of course, due homage to The Algorithm that abides over us all.
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