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Varaha: The third Avatar of Lord Vishnu

Varaha is a boar like avatar of Lord Vishnu

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Avatars of Lord Vishnu (Source: Wikimedia commons)
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  • ‘Varaha’ is his third avatar of Lord Vishnu followed by Kurma avatar and succeeded by Narasimha avatar.
  • Vishnu Puran treats Varah as a symbol of sacrifice.
  • Varaha is a boar like avatar of Lord Vishnu

Among Dashavatars of Lord Vishnu, ‘Varaha’ is his third avatar followed by Kurma avatar and succeeded by Narasimha avatar. Varaha is a boar like avatar of Lord Vishnu. Some people also believe that Lord Vishnu was born oh his tusks in this avatar and was capable to lift up the Earth on his tusks after killing the demon.

Lord Vishnu Temple (Lower Padmanabham Temple) at Padmanabham Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Lord Vishnu Temple (Lower Padmanabham Temple) at Padmanabham Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Here are ten facts about Varaha avatar of Lord Vishnu

  • Varaha avatar is first avatar of Lord Vishnu with a head of an animal and rest as human body. While the Matasya and Kurma avatar, depicts frame of a human body while the bottom part depicts animal body.
  • Chalukya was the first dynasty to use Varaha avatar engravings on the coins. Varaha was worshipped highly till Muslims came in India. Muslims treat pigs as impure and unclean, from then Varaha worship declined.
  • The generation of first millennia treated Varaha as the symbol of manhood. On the other hand, Vishnu Puran treats Varah as a symbol of sacrifice.
  • Varaha avatar had been evolved when a devil named Hiranyakshya took earth to the bottom of the ocean. Mother earth, then, asked Lord Vishnu to help her. Lord Vishnu came in Varaha (boar) avatar and defeated Hiranyakshya and carried Earth on his tusks and came out of the ocean.

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  • Varaha Avatar helped Earth to come out of the ocean after pralay and in this way started a new cycle of the world.
  • According to Vishnu Purana, every part of Varaha has some significance like feet of Varah symbolize Vedas, tusk symbolizes suffering, hair represents grass, joints symbolizes different ceremonies, ears denotes rituals, coarse hairs denotes sexual improves, eyes as day and night and nostrils symbolizes gifts.
  • Lord Varaha is worshipped in many parts of Southern India. There are many temples having Varah avatar of Lord Vishnu. Some of the famous temples to Lord Varaha are Tirumala temple, Shri Mooshnam temple, Varah Swamy temple in Secunderabad district of Andhra Pradesh.
  • There is a special connection between Varaha and Tirupati temple. If one goes to Tirupati temple, first worship Varah temple in Adi Varah Kshetra of Tirupati then go and take blessings from Tirupati Balaji.

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  • To mark the evolution of Varaha Avatar many people celebrate Varaha Avatar Jayanti. On this occasion one would do jagran all the night recalling the stories of Lord Vishnu and his dashavatars. Some people also fast on this day. All those who fast on this day will be worshipping a small statue of Lord Vishnu in Kalash followed by Visarjan.
  • One can fiund the engravings of Lord Varaha in Badami (Karnataka), in Ellora caves in Maharashtra, in Varah Cave temple in Mahabalipuram and in Udaygiri Caves in Madhya Pradesh.

-by Aparna Gupta, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter @writetoaparna

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  • devika todi

    it is always fascinating to know more about Hindu mythology.

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Buddhist Monk Losang Samten Uses Colors to Spread Message of Peace

Samten was born in Tibet. When he was a young boy, his family escaped to Nepal fleeing Chinese Communist control of his homeland. They lived in a refugee camp for years.

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Samten
Former Buddhist monk and Tibetan scholar Losang Samten uses colored sand to build mandalas, circular images filled with complex iconography, which have great meaning in Hinduism and Buddhism. VOA

According to one estimate, there are a 5 quintillion, 5 hundred quadrillion grains of sand on earth, a number so large it must be approaching infinity. This makes sand an appropriate medium for the construction of spiritual images of the universe.

Former Buddhist monk and Tibetan scholar Losang Samten does just that, using colored sand to build mandalas, circular images filled with complex iconography, which have great meaning in Hinduism and Buddhism.

Tibetan monks have created mandalas over the centuries from a variety of materials. Before sand, they used crushed colored stone. Now Samten travels around the world to find sand in various colors. He also dyes sand in watercolors.

Now Samten travels around the world to find sand in various colors. He also dyes sand in watercolors.
Tibetan monks have created mandalas over the centuries from a variety of materials. Before sand, they used crushed colored stone. VOA

Decades of mandalas

Samten, in his mid-60s, learned the craft at the feet of the Dalai Lama.

“When I was a teenager, age of 17,” he told VOA, “I had a privilege to enter His Holiness Dalai Lama’s monastery … in India. I have been studying sand mandalas ever since then. So it’s a long time.”

VOA found Samten painstakingly layering grains of colored sand at the gallery of the Philadelphia Folklore Project. The particular mandala he was working on was the mandala of compassion, or unconditional love.

Far from random designs, mandalas have been perfected over centuries.

“These are uniquely designed many, many, many, many, many years passing to an artist to another artist to another artist to another artist,” Samten said. “The color has a meaning, the shape has different meanings. Not my design; it didn’t come out of my own idea.”

When Samten created a sand mandala at the American Museum of History in New York in 1988 at the request of the Dalai Lama, it was the first time the 2,600-years-old ancient ritual art was seen outside of monasteries. Since then, Samten has made sand mandalas in museums, galleries and universities across the U.S. and many parts of the world.

“They are used to enhance the spiritual practice through image and meditation, to overcome suffering. Mandalas represent enlightened qualities and methods which explain this path, making them very important for the spiritual journey,” Samten wrote on his web site.

Nothing is permanent

Samten was born in Tibet. When he was a young boy, his family escaped to Nepal fleeing Chinese Communist control of his homeland. They lived in a refugee camp for years.

Now Samten travels around the world to find sand in various colors. He also dyes sand in watercolors.
Samten, in his mid-60s, learned the craft at the feet of the Dalai Lama. VOA

“In the winter of 1959, [we] crossed Mount Everest, it took us two months to cross,” he told VOA. “You cannot travel during the day and so scared and not enough food not enough clothes. I was age of 5. I saw, I mean unbelievable dead bodies, people dying without food. I became a monk at age 11 when I was in school, refugee school.”

Samten left monastic life in 1995 and became the spiritual director at the Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia. He says the patience of the creative process, can lead observers to find calm determination within themselves.

“When I am doing this mandala at universities and schools, many kids came to me, (saying) ‘when I saw you doing the sand mandala, that help me so much to finish my education, patience …’ I have a lot of stories,” he said.

Monk Samten
Samten was born in Tibet. When he was a young boy, his family escaped to Nepal fleeing Chinese Communist control of his homeland. VOA

Beauty comes and goes

After a sand mandala is completed, it is dismantled ceremoniously.

“Dismantle has many different reasons,” Samten said. “… One thing is, dismantle is a beauty, whatever we see as a beauty on the earth, never be everlasting as a beauty and impermanent, impermanent, comes and goes. It’s like a season.”

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Or like sand, ever changing in the wind.

Samten often invites children to participate in the ceremony.

To gallery visitor Traci Chiodress that was part of the charm of the event.

“I think it’s powerful to see something so beautiful created, and then taken apart, and to be done in a community with a group of people of different ages,” she said. “I just think it’s an important type of practice.” (VOA)