Many Gods and Goddesses have tribal origins. They eventually developed into major figures in Hinduism. Goddess Varahi is one of them.The worshipping of the female counterparts is widespread among the tribes especially those of fierce disposition. There was also an ancient tribal practice to offer all kinds of sacrifice including blood sacrifice. There appears to be a tribal link to Vishnu’s Varaha and Narasimha avatars.
DEPICTION: Varahi is one of the saptha mathrukas who aided the Devi in her fight against Shumbha, Nishumbha and their armies. Thus she is sometimes given warrior attributes. Other Mother is calm and loving.
Her face resembling a boar, her face is dark or storm-cloud colored. She wears on her head a Karanda-Makuta and is adorned with ornaments made of corals. She wields the Hala and Sakti and is seated on a Peetam under a Kalpaka tree. Her left foot is supported by a small stool. She wears on her legs Nupura-anklets. According to the Vishnudharmottara, she has a big belly. According to this authority, she has six hands in four of which she carries the Danda, Khadga, Khetaka and Pasa,the two remaining hands being respectively held in the Abhaya and Varada poses. The Purvakaranagama says that she carries the Saringapdhanus, the Hala and Musala as her weapons. Her Vahana as well as the emblem on her banner is the elephant.
BOAR MYTH: Lord Brahma, after being satisfied with tapasya and sever austerities in his devotion, gives a boon to Hiranyaksha, the golden eyed demon. The demon asked to become king of the whole world, and that no human or animal which he mentioned by name should ever have the power to harm him. Now, legends always have this loophole, the demon enumerated all the animals that were found but misses out the boar. He becomes invincible and causes havoc. He plunders everything of value from the creatures of the world. He appropriates the Vedas and scriptures. The earth was submerged into the ocean as a hostage.
The devas and Gods run to Mahavishnu and seek aid. With the Vedas gone, there was no religious or spiritual activity and people were in the dark abyss of ignorance. Wars were waged but Hiranyaksha was victorious than before. The devas in the three worlds panic and earth is seeing poverty and pestilence. So the devas approach Lord Brahma. He takes an entourage and rushes to the Kailash. There Lord Siva is in meditative state. Everyone knows that Siva is not to be interfered with when He is in Samadhi. But Lord Siva is aware and passes knowledge to Brahma’s mind to rush to Mahavishnu.
FOOTNOTE: One will find this interesting plot repeated in the Puranas. Sometimes Siva sends the problem to be handled by Mahavishnu; sometimes it is the other way around. Or it is send to the Mother Goddesses, Durga or Kali. In Latin we call this ‘delagatus-delegare’ meaning ‘delegating an assignment to some-one. This comes with a qualification. First the person delegating must have the authority to do so. Secondly, the person accepting the assignment must have the locus standi to accept and complete it.
The Puranic plot of delegatus delagare is symbolic of the unity among the Trinity. Sadly, here below there is so much of unnecessary hair-splitting and competitive writing on the supremacy of the Gods. This is regrettable. It is true that personal Gods are named. Each finds his or her God superior but could it be begged to be understood that one is to transcend deities and comprehend that they are vehicles for Self-Realization. The murthis have to disappear some day to give way for jnana. The All-pervading Brahman is religionless. ‘Isavasyam-idam-sarvam’ He parvades everything, everyone, everywhere. ‘Yat kincha jagatyam-jagat’ – whatsoever the created world, everything is
Anyway, hearing Hiranyaksha’s havocs’ Lord Vishnu saw in His wisdom the shortfall in the animal list which he stood protected. So Mahavishnu assumed the boar form and plunged into the depths of the primeval ocean to rescue Earth. There was a one thousand year war kill Hiranyaksha and to lift the earth up with his great white tusks. He calmed it, and made it ready for human use by molding its mountains and continents.
BHUDDISM: In Tibetan Buddhism, Goddess Varahi is one of the Dakini, an enlightened compassionate spirit embodied in a female form. (Pls refer to yesterday’s posting of Dakini’s. Varahi’s embodiment is taken to be the protector , the concealer and the one who recovers spiritual communication, texts and other sacred objects. She is often sought for interpretation of prophesies and signs. Generally, in the Buddhist tradition, the boar is equated with kama- desire. Its animal instinct to sniff and search is seen as a forms that range from attachment to one's body through the general attachment to material possessions. Possessions here include lust and greed. This is the very thing that Dakinis stand to transcend.
SRI VIDYA TRADITION: Varahi is often associated with Goddess Kamala, one of the Mahavidyas. She is also called the Danda-Natha, Lady Commander of the forces of the Mother-Goddess, thus symbolizing the might of Sri Vidya. The hog-faced Varahi destroys evil forces that obstructs the devotees' progress , paralyses the enemies, and lead the devotees ultimately to Sri-Vidyas. With Kurukulla, she is accorded the parental status to Sri-Chakra - Lalitha Tripura-Sundari. While Kurululla represents the full moon, Varahi represents the new-moon. Again, while Varahi represents prakasa - illumination aspects of Goddess devi, she is the vimarsa-deliberation aspect of mother-goddess.
In another aspect, Varahi is also said to be one of the Yoginis, taking the form of a boar. She is said to lift up the earth with her tusks to confer benefits on all creatures. She is imagined as an eight-armed and three-eyed lady with a face of a hog, seated under a palmyra tree, and functioning as a trusted attendent of the Goddess as as her chief counsellor
In this form she is known as Chaitanya-bhairavi ( the devotee's association of strength) She is being described as a fierce ( Maha-Ghora ) and as Commander of the forces, she moves about in a chariot frawn by boars. She is said to reside in the ocean of sugar-cane juice ( ikshu ), one of the four oceans that surrounds the mother goddess., holding her court in the island of nine-jewels, and facing the mother-goddess.
SAPTAMATRUKAS: Varahi is classed as the fifth among the seven "mother-like" divinities, Saptmatrukas. Hence also called Panchami. With Kurukulla, she is granted the pare to Sri-Chakra Lalita Tripura-Sundari. The story of her aiding the Saptha Mathrukas to fight Shumbha and Nishumbha is also found in the Varahi Nigrahashtakam, the Octet of Death.
As Saptamatrkas, Varahi represented controlled energy of courage and fearless when these virtues go out of control and envy, greed and lust is the order for the day. As such Mother Varahi reminds us that we stand tall to take up any issue by the horn. We are not to be blind to fall into clangs of arrogance and greed. These have not been our basic nature. Meditating and worshiping her reminds us of this truth.
DEVI MAHATMYA: According to a latter episode of the Devi Mahatmya that deals with the killing of the demon Raktabija, the warrior-goddess Durga creates the Matrikas from herself and with their help slaughters the demon army. When the demon Shumbha challenges Durga to single combat, she absorbs the Matrikas into herself. In the Vamana Purana, the Matrikas arise from different parts of the Divine Mother Chandika; Varahi arises from Chandika's back. In the slaying of Raktabija, Varahi is the Shakti of Hari, who assumed the incomparable form in a sacrificial boar, she also advanced there in a boar-like form
The Slaying of Nishumbha "... Shattered by the boar formed goddess Varahi with blows of her snout, wounded in their chests by the point of her task and torn by her discuss, the asuras fell down " "... some were powdered on the ground by the blows from the snout of varahi" ...The bestowing of boons "Salutation to you, O Narayani, O you who have a face terrible with tusks .."
MARKANDEYA PURANA: The Markendeya Purana praises Varahi as a granter of boons and the regent of the northern direction, in a hymn where the Matrikas are declared as the protectors of the directions. In another instance in the same Purana, she is described as riding a buffalo. The Devi Bhagavata Purana says Varahi, with the other Matrikas, is created by the Supreme Mother. The Mother promises the gods that the Matrikas will fight demons when needed. In the Raktabija episode, Varahi is described as having a boar form, fighting demons with her tusks while seated on a preta corpse.
VARAHA PURANA: In the Varaha Purana, the story of Raktabija is retold, but here each of Matrikas appears from the body of another Matrika. Varahi appears seated on Shesha-nāga the serpent on which the god Vishnu sleeps from the posterior of Vaishnavi, the Shakti of Vishnu. The hindu Varaha-Purana relates Varahi representing the inauspicious emotion of envy.
MATSYA PURANA: The Matsya Purana tells a different story of the origin of Varahi. Varahi, with other Matrikas, is created by Lord Shivato help him kill the demon Andhakasura, who has the ability like Raktabija to regenerate from his dripping blood.
SYMBOLISM. The Boar is not confined to Hindu mythology alone. In Egypt there is the boar Goddess Ceridwin. Goddess Isis, the equivalent of Goddess Durga, had a brother called Seth who had the shape of a boar. In Celtic tradition, there was a Mother Goddess referred to as ‘old White Sow’. Animals such as boar, horse and elephants etc have gone far back in human lifes, let alone myths. Everything is divine to Hindus. They see divinity in all things around us including animals. This is part of Hindu dharma. Animals not only become vahanas but take their own independent forms and play divine roles.
This principle is seen in the Avatar concept of Mahavishnu. The boar avatar is the third manifestation of Mahavishnu in which he represents a complete terrestrial animal and moves from water based animals. This is parallel to the organic evolution theory which indicates the origin of the human from an aquatic background. Also, the individual characteristics of an animal relate to the five elements that manifest in the functioning of the five senses in human as well as in certain functions of human's physiology. This is necessary for human’s to perceive the external environment in which the human live. It is said that, medically, there are many boar-tissues which humans can depend on for transplant. For instance, within my limited knowledge of medicine or human genetics, the aorta of a boar could be transplanted to humans.
ANIMAL SYMBOLISM: Animals sometimes reflect human emotional and phycological states. The Varaha-Purana relates Varahi as a representation of the inauspicious emotions of Envy. In other belief, for instance, in China, the boar represents the wealth of the forest. In Japan, the boar depicts courage. The Celts and Welsh belief that the boar represent courage and strong warriors. In Tibetian Buddhist tradition, boar represents general and material attachment, greed and lust.
SACRIFICES: Generally goat represents kama-lust; buffalo represents krodha-anger; cat represents lobha – greed; sheep represents moha – illusion or stupidity; and the camel represents matsarya – envy.
CALAMITIES: In Tibetian Buddhist tradition, Green Tara symbolism includes: lion represents pride; wild elephants represents delusion; forest fire represents hatred; snakes represents envy; flood represents lust and represents doubt.
GAYATRI: Mantra invoking Varahi Devi, consort of Lord Varaha for riffing oneself of negativity:
Om shreem hreem kleem dhum,
shulini asya yajamaanasya,
sarva shatroon samhara samhara,
kshema laabham kuru kuru
hum phat svaha
Hara Hara Mahadeva
(draft Gods, Goddesses, Minor Deities and Sages)
Yogi Ananda Saraswathi