The Story of Vishnu as Varaha and Demon Hiranyaksha

Legend has it that Demon Hiranyaksha had pushed the Mother Earth down into oceans and Lord Vishnu appeared as Varaha, the boar incarnation, to rescue it. Hiranyaksha is the brother of Hiranyakashipu who was annihilated by Lord Vishnu as Narasimha – half-man half-lion. Hiranyaksha means the golden-eyed and he was the son of Sage Kashyapa and Diti.

Varaha

In the previous birth Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu were the brothers Jaya and Vijaya – they were the gate keepers of the Vaikunta or Heaven. They became demons due to a curse and they were saved from the curse by Lord Vishnu by removing their demonic traits.

Hiranyaksha pushing the earth into the ocean symbolically suggests land grabbing and greed.

The stories in the Puranas state that Hiranyaksha started troubling saints, humans and Devas. Finally, he decided to drag and throw the earth into the ocean. When he did it Mother Earth gave a huge cry and Vishnu appeared in the form of Varaha and fought and killed Hiranyaksha and restored Mother Earth.

HiranyakshaSymbolically, the dragging of earth by demon Hiranyaksha is Tamas (Evil) overcoming human beings. Bloated with ego, man falls deep into misery. The only saving grace is that of self realization. When it happens we slowly move out of deep dark pit – that is symbolically represented by Varaha uplifting the earth with his tusks.