The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words

This page describes Glorification of the Boar Incarnation (of Vishnu) which is chapter 36 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the thirty-sixth chapter of the Venkatacala-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 36 - Glorification of the Boar Incarnation (of Viṣṇu)

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

[The Way Varāha Lifted up the Earth]:—

Bharadvāja said:

1. Formerly at the end of the Night of the Creator the Slayer of Madhu woke up. In his mind he thought about the acts of living beings.

2. He suspected in his heart, ‘Excepting the Earth no one else will be able to bear the burden of the flood (i.e. mass) of living beings.’

3. With abstract and profound meditation he saw the Earth in the neighbourhood of Pātāla. She was extremely frightened and was flooded with a vast sheet of water.

4-8. The Lord then adopted a form fit (to accomplish the task) of lifting up the Earth. Upakarman (subsidiary holy rite) was his lip; fire was his tongue, Praṇava was his loud grunt; the four Vedas were his four legs; expiatory rites his beautiful hoofs; Prāgvaṃśa (a sacrificial chamber with the columns or beams turned to the east) was his body; the shining Darbha grass constituted the hair on his body. Pravargya (a ceremony preliminary to the Soma Sacrifice) constituted the lock of hair curling backwards; the Dakṣiṇāgni (a type of sacrificial fire) was his belly. The wooden ladle Sruk was his snout; all the complete parts (of Yajña) constituted his limbs and joints. Divine hymns constituted his manes; Supreme Brahman was his head. Havya and Kavya were his velocity; the pure sacrificial animal was his knee; Ukta, Atyukta and other metres were his pathways; Mantras constituted his strength. Thus the Lord adopted the form of divine Boar identical entirely with Yajña.

9-15. In order to find out the Earth he entered the waters of the Ocean. With the lustrous beams of his curved teeth resembling the Crescent Moon, he forcibly dispelled the dense darkness characterizing the close of the Kalpa. With the intense Ghurughuru sounds that suppressed (drowned) the rumbling sounds of the clouds he made the cavity of the Cosmic Egg reverberate with sound.

Treading with his hoofs as sharp and tough as the arrow Khurapra, he made the body of the Lord of Serpents severely shattered and tossed it here and there. With his powerful breath-winds he made the interior of the Ocean come to the surface within the range of vision. With his long snout getting immersed in water and rising up again he stirred up the waters. Thus he went into the Ocean. He saw the trembling Earth stationed beneath the bottom of the seven nether worlds. She was agitated with fear. On seeing her he was delighted in his mind. He placed her on the tip of his curved teeth and rose up to the surface of the Ocean.

16-19. He rose up from the Ocean even as he was eulogized by the Sages residing in Janaloka.

When the Lord lifted up (married) the Earth with love the (water) of the Ocean falling down (from its surface) became the auspicious marriage screen for a short while. At the time of taking her across, O Arjuna, the Ocean, through its majestic thundering sound, performed the functions of the auspicious musical instruments unto the Lord in the form of the Boar.

Pearls scattered up by the sprays of water by the curling waves gave the impression of the maṅgalākṣatas (auspicious raw rice-grains showered over the couple in marriage).

Married (lifted up) by that Lord and dripping with the water (of the Ocean), the Earth shone as if her body was rendered wet due to the perspiration arising from intense love (for the Lord).

20-26. After lifting up the Earth from beneath the nether worlds thus the Lord placed her firmly in the midst of the waters of the Ocean.

When the Earth was lifted up by him, the water that filled up the space between the Earth and the atmosphere became the inviolable line of demarcation of the boundary made by him.

After establishing the Earth thus he placed the Elephants of the Quarters, the King of Serpents and the Tortoise for giving her extra support. That receptacle of mercy (Hari) willingly applied his own Śakti (power) in an unmanifest form as a support for them all.

As Hari thus stood in the form of Boar after retrieving the Earth, the residents of Janaloka beginning with Sanaka eulogized him.

After propitiating Puruṣottama in the form of Boar and at his behest, Brahmā created the universe as before.

Arjuna enquired:

27-28. O great sage, how does this Earth stand when sunk within the watery expanse at the time of the close of the Kalpa beneath the seven nether worlds? What is her support? How long does the period of a Kalpa last? What is its function?

29. Explain all this in detail to me, O Brāhmaṇa, O sage.

[The Incarnation of Śveta Varāha and Details of the Period of Kalpa]:—

Bharadvāja explained:

30-34. Sixty Vināḍīkās [Vināḍikās?] make one Nāḍikā.[1] Sixty Nāḍikās make a full day. Thirty days make a month which consists of two Pakṣas (fortnights). Two months make what is called a Ṛtu (season). Such six Ṛtus make one year. It is in the form of two Ayanas (transits of the Sun). It has (a cycle of) chillness, rains and heat.

Days and nights of Devas and Asuras are in opposition to each other. The two Ayanas of the Sun are the northern and the southern transits.

One Mahāyuga (a great Yuga, i.e. a set of four ordinary Yugas), O son of Pṛthā, consists of four hundred and thirty-two thousand human years. They are in the form of Kṛta etc. The period consisting of seventy-one Mahāyugas is one Manvantara. Listen to the Manus born in this Kalpa named Śveta-Varāha.

35-40. Svāyaṃbhuva was the first Manu.[2] Then Svārociṣa became Manu. Afterwards came Uttama, Tāmasa, Raivata and Cākṣuṣa.

All these six Manus along with (their special) Indras, Suras and Sages have passed away previously. It is Vaivasvata who is the Manu now, O Arjuna. He is the seventh Manu. Ādityas, Vasus, Rudras and others are the groups of Devas in his regime. After performing a hundred horse-sacrifices the most brilliant one attained the position of Indra.

The Seven Sages, O Arjuna, are Viśvāmitra, I (i.e. Bharadvāja), Atri, Jamadagni, Kāśyapa [errata: Kaśyapa], Vasiṣṭha and Gautama. The sons of Manu were extremely mighty. There were great warriors with Ikṣvāku as their Chief. They ruled over the Earth. They were always devoted to virtue. The five sons of Sūrya, Dakṣa, Brahmā, Dharma and Rudra called (respectively) Sūryasāvarṇi, Dakṣasāvarṇi, Brahmasāvarṇi, Dharmasāvarṇi and Rudrasāvarṇi together with Raucya and Bhauma are the seven future Manus.

41. In the course of a day of Brahmā there are fourteen Manus. This period is called a Kalpa. At the end of it there shall be night, the extent of it being equal to that (of the Day of Brahmā). Listen.

42. Towards the close of a day of Brahmā, O son of Pāṇḍu, a terrible drought lasting for a hundred years befalls the earth.[3]

43. In the course of that drought, when the earth becomes dry, O Dhanañjaya, the four types of living beings get perished.

44. At that time the Sun will be endowed with rays that will resemble fire. It will vomit sparks of fire and that will have hot flames like fiery tufts of hair.

45. With the villages, cities, mountains, trees, forests etc. perished, the earth then becomes comparable with the back of a tortoise. It will resemble a red-hot ball of fiery iron.

46-48. Then from the limbs of the Creator great clouds will issue forth. They will cover up the sky. They will have loud roaring, thundering sound. They will be terrible with different colours such as white, yellow, red, black and variegated colour too. They will have the forms of mountains, elephants, mansions, trees etc. They will cause a great shower for a period of one hundred years. With that water the great fire caused by the Sun will be extinguished.

49. Again for a hundred years the great clouds will cause a fierce downpour. On account of that water all the oceans will be flooded and they will undergo change in form.

50-55a. That water poured down by the clouds at the close of the Kalpa spreads to all the worlds. A dense darkness envelops the worlds of Bhūḥ, Bhuvaḥ, Svaḥ and Mahaḥ.

The earth sunk under water goes down to the bottom of the nether worlds. It does not perish. It stays there somehow supported by the Śakti of Brahmā.

Then, O Arjuna, the wind issuing forth from the breath of Brahmā drives away all those great clouds rising at the close of the Kalpa.

The wind then blows incessantly for a period of hundred years without a break. Its velocity cannot be checked.

Shunning this fierce wind the Lotus-born Lord goes into Yogic Slumber and lies hidden within the lotus coming out from the navel of Hari in the vast sheet of water.

As the Lord of the universe is thus engrossed in Yogic Slumber, O son of Pṛthā, the night of the same extent as the day befalls him.

55b-59. When the night passes off, he gets up quickly and as before creates all the creatures at the behest of Hari.

Hari protects the universe in different Kalpas adopting befitting forms. In this Kalpa he had adopted the form of white Boar consisting of the parts of Yajña. Sporting about on the earth in the form of Boar, the Lord reached Veṅkaṭācala, his own stipulated previous abode.

While wandering over the banks of Svāmipuṣkariṇī for a long time, Lord Viṣṇu saw the Lotus-based Lord endowed with great devotion.

Brahmā worshipped that sanctifier of living beings and requested:

60-62. “O Lord, resort to your own previous divine body.” Accepting his request, the Lord abandoned the form of Boar and resorted to his own cosmic body that cannot be worshipped by anyone else. He stood thus with great earnestness and enthusiasm. Even after a long time no one was able to see him.

Arjuna said:

63-65. Hari thus became imperceptible and could not even be remembered. How then, O great sage, did he become manifest to human beings? Did anyone who, due to the good luck of the worlds, propitiated the Lord, reveal him here? Tell me this story?

You are conversant with all the Āgamas. Do recount the story of Hari, the hearing of which dispels sins. O excellent one among the sages, I have now attained the foremost place among meritorious persons.

Footnotes and references:


VV 29-34 give the measures of Time.


VV 35-40 give the list of Manus.


The Puranic concepts about the destruction of the world at the end of a Kalpa are given in vv 42-55.

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