There are ten avatars of Lord Vishnu. The first one is the Matsya avatar, where he saved Satyavrata Manu and the Sapta rishis with their families from the great flood, by coming in the form of a giant fish. The second avatar is the Kurma avatar, where Lord Vishnu came in the form of a giant tortoise to help in the churning of the ocean by the Devas and the Asuras.
The third avatar of Lord Vishnu is the Varaha Avatar [Varaha means ‘boar’ in Sanskrit]. In this avatar Lord Vishnu incarnated as a Boar to protect the earth [Prithvi maa].
The Varaha avatar starts with the Doorkeepers of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu lived in Vaikunta. His home was guarded by two gatekeepers – Jaya and Vijaya. They loved Lord Vishnu and felt honoured that they were protecting him. They were many people who came to visit Lord Vishnu and it was Jaya’s and Vijaya’s job to allow every person who had grievance to see the Lord. They knew that Lord Vishnu’s time was precious and could not be wasted. The doorkeepers took their job very seriously.
As they were standing guard, the two of them saw four children come towards Vaikunta.
‘Who’s that?’ Jaya asked looking mystified. He had been Lord Vishnu’s doorkeeper for ages and had seen all sorts of things, but children… that was rare…
‘I have no idea…’ Vijaya said looking as mystified. ‘Whoever they are… we cannot let these children see the Lord. As it is the Lord has no time… I mean, we cannot bother him more and send these children also to see him…’
Jaya nodded as the four children came to the doors of Vaikunta. ‘Open up!’ The youngest among them said. ‘We want to see the Lord.’
Jaya sagely shook his head. ‘Children… please do not disturb the Lord. He is very busy…Why don’t you go and play something else…’
‘Ch..children… you think we are CHILDREN…’ another child spluttered angrily.
Vijaya realised that probably these were just some sage in the guise of children. But he resolutely shook his head… Lord Vishnu was tired. ‘Please listen to me…’ He said as soothingly as possible, ‘The Lord is very tired. He is resting. Please come some time later…’
This time Vijaya got scared when he saw the expression in the face of the children.
The one who looked the eldest looked at him venomously, ‘Do you even know who we are? I am Sanaka. That is Sanandana.’ He said pointing at the one in the middle, who was quietly standing, not talking till now. ‘And these two are Sanatana and Sanatkumara…We are…’
Jaya suddenly realised who these four children were and they were not children. He felt scared, very scared. ‘You are the four Kumaras. You are the sons of Lord Brahma…’ He said faintly kneeling before the four children.
Vijaya also knelt before the four children. ‘We apologise for our behaviour…’
However the four were far from relenting. Sananda spoke for the first time. ‘You closed the door of the Lord to devotees. We pray to him daily and are his devotees. The Lord is always available for us. You said he was sleeping… You are insolent and rude… you…’
Sanatkumar spoke, ‘For this we curse you…Jaya and Vijaya. You are so proud of yourselves. You think just because you are gods, you can do anything, did you…’
Jaya and Vijaya looked terrified as they feebly shook their heads, ‘Please…’ Jaya bleated…’Please do not curse us…’
Meanwhile inside Vaikunta, Lord Vishnu heard some raised voices at the door. Wondering who it was he ran outside and saw his doorkeepers kneeling at the four children sages of Lord Brahma. Looking at the expression on Jaya’s and Vijaya’s faces, he realised that something very wrong had happened.
Lord Vishnu opened his door and stepped outside, when he heard Sanatkumar complete his curse. ‘…You will no longer be gods. You will be born on earth as ordinary humans and live like ordinary people…’
Jaya and Vijaya knelt there silently not knowing what to do, when they heard a noise behind them…The Lord himself… Hopefully, the two of them turned to the Lord and bowed to them…’Lord…these…’
Lord Vishnu held up his hands and silenced them, ‘I know.. there are no explanations necessary…’
The four sages then bowed to Lord Vishnu. Sananda said angrily, ‘Lord, your doorkeepers prevented us from seeing you…your devotees…’
Lord Vishnu turned his beautiful black head and looked at his doorkeepers briefly, ‘Sages, they did not do anything wantonly. They just thought I was resting… they wanted to give me time to rest. Please forgive them…’
The sages however looked far from forgiving. They looked at the doorkeepers and Sanatana said again, ‘No.. no matter what the reason, they refused to let a devotee see the Lord. I cannot forgive that.. Their curse stands…’
So saying the four sages bowed once more to Lord Vishnu and walked away without looking back.
Lord Vishnu looked at the four sages and then turned to Jaya and Vijaya. Jaya sobbed. ‘Lord I don’t mind going to earth and living as humans, but…but…’
Vijaya continued as tears fell from his eyes, ‘..we cannot bear being separated from you…please Lord do something…’
Lord Vishnu was touched…He felt proud of them. They did not even mind the curse. He turned and looked at them, ‘I cannot take back the curse, but I can give you an option…’
The two looked hopefully at Lord Vishnu’s twinkling eyes…’Either you can take seven births on earth as my devotees…’
Vijaya cut in looking horrified, ‘…Seven births? You mean, I can’t see you for seven births…No…no…please no…’
‘…or take three births as my enemies…’ Lord Vishnu continued as he looked at them.
Jaya said is a whisper, ‘As your enemy?… What sort of an option is this? My Lord, how can I even think of not liking you…’
Lord Vishnu looked at them, not saying anything…
Jaya and Vijaya both looked at each other and then at Lord Vishnu. As one they said, ‘We will be born three times and come back my Lord…’
Lord Vishnu laughed, ‘Do you know that you actually think more about your enemies than your friends. So you will be thinking more about me when you are my enemies… And I will incarnate on the earth to kill you, all the three times. You will attain moksha, my dear friends…’ He finished and embraced the two of them tightly, touched by their devotion.
It was after this that Jaya and Vijaya were first born as Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakasipu.
LORD Vishnu incarnated as Varaha – the Boar to kill Hiranyaksha.
However even before Hiranyaksha’s birth, at that time, the earth was not in a good shape. The people on earth were very sinful. They were bad and fought often with one another. They never lived in harmony with each other or with nature. They used such devastating weapons that the earth trembled.
Pritvi maa prayed to Lord Vishnu to come and protect her. ‘Oh Lord, please come and save me…if this goes on, I will not able to sustain life any more..please come and save all of us…
The great sages on the earth also realised that if something was not done fast, Prithvi maa would be lost. They also performed a great yagna please Lord Vishnu.
Meanwhile, Hiranyaksha unmindful of the violence wanted to become more powerful than the rest. For this he performed severe penance praying Lord Brahma. When Lord Brahma appeared before him, Hiranyaksha asked for his boon, ‘My Lord, my boon is that I shall not be defeated by any man, God or these animals…” Hiranyaksha gave a list of animals, which could not defeat him. However he forgot to mention the boar as an animal, which could kill him.
Powered by these boon, Hiranyayaksha started tormenting the people of the earth. The humans were already alarmed about the earth. Hiranyayaksha had great strength and could fight anybody. He could never be defeated. He thought that he was the most powerful person ever created, he went and challenged everyone for a fight. The gods usually got scared of him.
However occasionally, some gods used to fight him. Angered by this Hiranyaksha decided that he had to make the Gods weak. He realised that though the gods lived in the heavens, the source of their power of the earth. If I made sure none of the Gods can access the earth, they will become weak and I can go unchallenged…
Hiranyaksha used powerful weapons and soon the earth shook so badly that she slipped from her axis. This was all that Hiranyaksha wanted and when the earth slipped she fell down… straight down…
Then Hiranyaksha hid the earth where no one could find her. Now Hiranyaksha went and challenged the Gods. The gods now not being connected with the earth were so greatly weakened and could not fight Hiranyaksha.
Hiranyaksha went and challenged Varuna, the God of the Sea. ‘Varuna!’ He bellowed loudly, ‘I the great Hiranyaksha challenge you to a fight. I want to see how strong I am…’ He said arrogantly.
Varuna seethed with anger, but there was nothing that he could do. He could not fight Hiranyaksha, in this condition. He spoke barely controlling his anger. ‘Son I am much too older than you. However if you wish, you can go and fight Lord Vishnu, he is the strongest person, there is to fight…’
When he heard Lord Vishnu’s name, Hiranyaksha felt a strange feeling. However as he did not remember who he was, he just nodded and decided that Lord Vishnu was the best person to fight.
Meanwhile Lord Vishnu was very worried. He was the Preserver God and he had heard Prithvi maa’s prayer. He also realised the Hiranyaksha was coming his way.
He had to put the earth back in her place if she was to be protected.
And Hiranyaksha…Lord Vishnu smiled and realised that Jaya’s first punishment was about to end…
A tiny boar emerged from the nostril of Lord Brahma – the Creator. But as soon as the boar emerged, the Boar started growing. It grew and grew and grew. Soon it grew as large as a mountain.
Hiranyaksha saw a huge boar dive and take the earth from where he had hid her. He was enraged and in awe at the same time. He taunted the boar, ‘Hey! Where do you think, you are going. I, the great Hiranyaksha challenge you to a fight…Let us see whether you have the guts to fight me…’
However the boar paid no attention to Hiranyaksha. I have to get Prithvi maa back to her place. Jaya can wait for more time. He pushed the earth up.
As Hiranyaksha came closer, with his weapon, the boar went faster and faster, taking the earth with him. Finally just as Hiranyaksha attacked, the boar placed the earth back in her axis.
Prithvi maa said a silent thank you as the boar turned to face Hiranyaksha. The boar looked at Hiranyaksha so furiously, that Hhiranyaksha was momentarily was terrified.
‘You wanted to fight me… I was not free at that time. Now I am all yours. Let us who among the two of us is stronger…’ The boar said.
The boar and Hiranyaksha fought each other. But this time Hiranyaksha had met his match. No matter what he did, the boar had an answer for it. The boar fought brutally and cleverly managing to weave inside and outside the defences of Hiranyaksha.
Hiranyaksha found that he was actually getting tired and was still nowhere close to beating the boar.
Tiredly Hiranyaksha looked at the Boar. The boar seemed to be looking at him sternly and lovingly at the same time. He shook his head. Why would the boar look at him lovingly….He again charged at the boar. The boar easily deflected his attack and pushed him back.
Try as he might, Hiranyaksha was not able to find any weaknesses in the attack of the boar. He fought and knew that he could not defeat the boar.
At last out of sheer weakness, he looked at the boar. This is Narayana…my Lord..my Lord who has come as promised… He felt from somewhere deep inside him.
However Hiranyaksha continued to fight the boar. The Boar finally tired out Hiranyaksha and killed him. With his last breath, Hiranyaksha realised who was before him. Narayana…You are Narayana…