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The Battle between Varaha Dev and Hiranyaksha

When we see our artist’s illustration of Lord Varaha, we notice that he is depicted as having two arms, just like His images seen in temples. Therefore, the artist, who works for our Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, inquired from Prabhupada about how to represent Lord Varaha. And Prabhupada told them that in the Srimad Bhagavatam Lord Varaha is described as having four hoofs. However, he said that you can show two arms, and the back legs should be hoofs. And then they also wondered that Lord Varaha is a boar! Can a boar be attractive? Because the Lord is supposed to be all-attractive. Does the Lord ever have incarnations, which are non-attractive? Answering them Srila Prabhupada said that Lord Varaha is very beautiful, very attractive. And, he said, when you paint Him, you should make Him as attractive as possible.

Therefore, Murari Gupta first depicted Lord Chaitanya as transformed into the boar, then he showed Lord Chaitanya transform into Lord Varaha and then Lord Varaha picking up a water pot. There was a water pot with a spout and Lord Varaha, or Lord Chaitanya in His form as Lord Varaha, then picked up that water pot in His mouth just as Lord Varaha would pick up the earth from the bottom of the Garbhodaka Ocean.

In this way Lord Chaitanya was revealing to His devotees that He is the Supreme Lord. This was His pastime; this was His way of showing them. He said, “In the past you doubted who I am! Now you know who I am! Now you can see who I am!”

And then He asked Murari Gupta to offer prayers. And Murari Gupta was so astounded to see all of this that it was difficult for him to say much in glorification of the Lord. Then Lord Chaitanya began to speak to Murari Gupta and He told him that there are people who worship the Vedas but He said, “There is a particular wretch in Kasi named Prakasananda and he cuts me to pieces with his teaching of the Vedas.”

Prakasananda was the leader of the mayavadi sanyasi’s in Benares. So it’s mentioned there in Chaitanya Bhagavata that in His early pastimes, Lord Chaitanya was already aware of this Prakasananda. And He describes how his words were cutting Him to pieces. Why do the mayavadi’s words cut the body of the Lord to pieces? Because they deride His personal form! The Mayavada, they will particularly recite a statement from the Vedas which said “The Lord has no arms and He has no legs. He cannot see but He knows everything. He has no ears but He can hear everything. He has no eyes but He can see everything.”

So they give importance to this kind of statement and then they conclude that the Lord therefore cannot have a form. They do not understand how the Lord can have a spiritual form, a transcendental form. So when the Lord appears in these different incarnations just as Varaha, Kurma or Nrsingha, the body is not material. But it is a fully transcendental spiritual form.

Actually, the form of Lord Varaha is described to be the Vedas personified. And this is explained that the Vedas are the breath of the Lord. Now the Vedic knowledge was given, the first student of the Vedas was Lord Brahma. The Vedic knowledge from the Lord was imparted into Lord Brahma. That breath of the Lord was put into Lord Brahma. Then when Lord Varaha appears, He appears from the nostril of Brahma. So what is coming from the nostril? This is actually our breath, so that same breath is actually Lord Varaha. Therefore just as the breath comes from the nostril of Lord Brahma, this is personified Vedas. So Lord Brahma is no different from the personification of the Vedas.

We should understand that there are two different Varaha’s mentioned in the Srimad Bhagavatam. One is called Sveta Varaha and then there is Rakta Varaha. Meaning one is white and one is red. And they appear at different times, one appears during the Svayambhuva Manu millennium and the other during the Caksusa millennium.

In the beginning of creation, Lord Brahma produced Manu and requested him and his wife to procreate the universe. At that time, Manu pointed out to Brahma that the earth planet had fallen into the bottom of the Garbhodaka Ocean. Brahma was contemplating what to do? It is then that the Lord Varaha appears from the nostril of Brahma.

Of course He came out from the nostril in a tiny form, but then expanded into a gigantic form, which covered the sky all the way up to the planet of Brahma, all the way upto Satyaloka. This way Varahadeva dove into the bottom of the Garbhodaka Ocean, to pick up the earth from the bottom of the Garbhodaka Ocean.

The earth and Lord Varaha have a very intimate connection. In the Sri Vaishnavism, they worship the Lord along with His two sakti’s, bhu and sri. This is bhumi, the deity of the earth planet. When Lord Varaha picked up the earth planet from the bottom of the Garbhodaka Ocean, we are told at that time the earth became impregnated. And the result of her impregnation is she gave birth to a son called Naraka. And this Naraka in the beginning of his life was a good devotee. He served all the brahmanas, he was very pious, very religious. But due to the will of Providence he came into bad association. He associated with some demon called Bana. And after that, then he became offensive against the devotees. And he gave so much trouble to the brahmana’s that ultimately this child was killed by the Lord.

Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu also described this to Murari Gupta. He said, “I cannot tolerate anyone who gives trouble to my devotees.” He said, “Even my own son if he gives trouble to my devotees, I will kill him.” Of course the Lord did this ultimately. The Lord killed this Naraka.

So we said Lord Varaha has two incarnations, one is white and one is red. In the second incarnation, it is described that He has a fight with Hiranyaksha. Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakasipu of course were the two sons of Diti and at the time of their birth there was much bad omen. There was thunder and lightning and the whole event was under very inauspicious circumstances. Everyone could understand that some very demoniac persons were taking their birth. Thus, Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakasipu began to terrorize the universe. And Hiranyaksha, by his name we understand that he is always looking for gold and because of his desire to acquire more and more gold he had dug up most of the earth and he had created some instability in the earth planet resulting in the earth planet falling into the bottom of the Garbhodaka Ocean.

Hiranyaksha also liked to challenge people, he liked to show his strength, and he went everywhere, looking for a suitable person to fight with. He had gone on one such occasion to meet Varuna the god of the sea. Varuna however declined to fight with Hiranyaksha. He told Hiranyaksha, “I am too old now. I won’t be able to give you a good fight. But don’t worry, you should find Lord Visnu. And Lord Visnu will certainly give you a good combat! And when Lord Visnu is finished with you, you will find that your body is surrounded by dogs. You will become food for the dogs and vultures. You can be sure of this.”

So hearing these words from Varuna, Hiranyaksha was very eager to find Lord Visnu. And this leads to this verse being spoken that, Lord Visnu in the form of Lord Varaha actually appears to pick up the earth and at that time then He is challenged by Hiranyaksha, calling Him “Oh! You amphibious beast!”

So Lord Varaha first picks up the earth, and restores the earth in its position on the surface of the water and then comes back to fight with Hiranyaksha. And there is a great fight because we know that Hiranyaksha, Hiranyakasipu they are not ordinary demons. Anyone who is fighting with the Lord, they are very special personalities. They are almost equal to the Lord. And they had come here with that particular purpose in mind, following the curse of the four Kumaras, the two gate keepers of Vaikuntha, Jaya and Vijaya fell into the material world to take birth as demons three times. In their first birth, they were born as Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakasipu.

So the Lord wants a good fight. And Lord Varaha He had a very fierce fight with Hiranyaksha. In fact, it was such a fight that even Lord Brahma was worrying because it was coming to the end of the day. He said Lord Varaha, “Demons become more powerful towards the end of the day. Please kill him quickly!” They were fighting with maces and at one point Lord Varaha lost His mace and the demigods were watching the fight and they were all worried, “oh no! what’s going to happen!” they thought, but then the Lord has His Sudarshan chakra and He used that to defend Himself.

So then finally just before the end of the day Lord Varaha slaps just on the ear of Hiranyaksha. And the demon Hiranyaksha fell down dead. In this way Lord Varaha fulfilled His mission that the Lord incarnates to give pleasure to the devotees and annihilate the demons.

So the pastime of Lord Varaha is showing us how the Lord can take any form He likes, He is not limited. Why should the Lord take the form of a boar? Of course the form of a boar was particularly appropriate for His function, because the earth had fallen into the bottom of the sea. So in order to pick up an object from the bottom of some dirty place its appropriate to have the body of a boar.

And this pastime of course is glorified in Jayadeva Goswami’s Dasavatara Stotra. He describes how the Lord appears in the form of a boar and picks up the earth planet from bottom of the Garbhodaka Ocean.

We understand the Lord’s forms to be always transcendental. In this purport, Srila Prabhupada talks also about Nityananda, that the body of Lord Nityananda is also spiritual. He is not an ordinary person. But in the material, the Lord appears like an ordinary person. Therefore, Prabhupada quotes the relevant verse from the Bhagavad Gita, that the “Foolish mock at Me descending amongst them like an ordinary person. They do not know my transcendental nature and supreme dominion over all that can be.”

So Lord Varaha has a wonderful form and He performed wonderful pastimes. When the Lord incarnates in this world, it is not for just any ordinary purpose but it is to fulfil specific functions, special functions, as in this case picking up the earth, and annihilating demons like Hiranyaksha.

So there is one more pastime of Lord Varaha, I wanted to mention which also took place here in Mayapur dhama, in Navadvipadhama and that was over in Koladvipa. Kola is another Sanskrit word for boar, just like Sukara there is also another word kola. So Koladvipa is one of the nine islands of Navadvipa. And it is named after Lord Varaha because in the Satya yuga Lord Varaha appears there. He appeared there to fulfil the desire of one brahmana devotee. There was one Vasudeva vipra who was a very pious brahmana and a great devotee of Lord Varaha, and he was praying to Lord Varaha, that “Please make my eyes successful. Give me darshan. I want to see your form. Please make my life successful. If I can have your darshan then my life is worthwhile. ” And he was praying like this for many days. He was a great devotee of Lord Varaha.

So after a long time Lord Varaha appeared to this brahmana Vasudeva and He revealed to this brahmana Vasudeva His transcendental form. If you go over to Navadvipa you can see there is one temple there, a Gaudiya temple which has also the deity of Lord Varaha. So Lord Varaha appears there in Koladvipa and He told this brahmana Vasudeva that “This Navadvipadhama is very dear to Me. All of My different incarnations are here in this dhama. And in the Kaliyuga I will also come in my most merciful form and at that time I will perform the sankirtana of the holy name.”

And then He requested this brahmana Vasudeva, “You please also come in the Kaliyuga and take part in My sankirtana pastimes. In this way, Lord Varaha reveals the nature of His future pastimes to His devotee.

The pastimes of the Lord like Lord Varaha are full of auspiciousness for the devotees. But for demons they are very difficult to understand. If some people who are not devotees come and see this battle between Lord Varaha and Hiranyaksha, they may think, “Oh! The good person is Hiranyaksha. And the demon is this animal, this terrible looking animal. This poor man is fighting with this terrible boar. ”

It is difficult for people to understand the actual nature of the transcendental nature of the pastimes of the Lord. But for the devotees very easy to understand.

So the Lord’s reply as I said, “True it is that I am a beast of the jungle. I am meant for eating dogs like you.” In England, you know they have a very barbaric pastime. Aristocratic people go on horses; they often go for hunting for things like foxes and boars. Boars are very ferocious animals. Wild boars, they have tusks on them which are razor sharp. And when people go hunting for these boars, they often go with many dogs. But many of these dogs are ripped to pieces by these boars because these boars they can fight also. They have these razor sharp tusks and they rip the dogs to pieces.

So very appropriate Lord Varaha’s reply to Hiranyaksha that, “I am meant for eating dogs like you.”

So we want to learn how to speak words which are pleasing to the Lord. There are many nice prayers. We will hear also in relation to Lord Varaha, when Lord Varaha appears the great sages in the higher planets like Janaloka, Tapaloka, they offer prayers to Lord Varaha and they pray to Him that how “You are the personification of the Vedas” and they say, “we have become purified by the water which has come from Your bodily hairs.”

Lord Varaha had dove into the bottom of the Garbhodaka Ocean and when he came up, just like you know a dog which goes in the water shakes its body and all the water from its body splashes over everyone. Similarly, Lord Varaha after picking up the earth planet then shook His body and the water, which came from His body, splashed on the great sages in the higher planets. But the great sages said “we have become purified by the water from your bodily hairs.”

You know if a boar was to come and throw, or sprinkle water on us, we would run away from it. But Lord Varaha when He shakes His body the water which comes from Him, that water is not different from the river Ganges. Just as the water, which washes the feet of Lord Vamanadeva, is river Ganges and it purifies all of us. In the same way the sages said, “We have become purified from this water coming from your bodily hair.”

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