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A Dictionary of Hinduism

W. J. Johnson

Varāha (‘ The Boar’) 

According to the Vaiṣṇava Purāṇic texts, Varāha is the third avatāra of Viṣṇu. Taking the form of a boar, he kills the daitya Hiraṇyākṣa and then rescues the earth (personified as Bhū Devī), whom the daitya has thrown into the ocean, by lifting her on his tusks. Depictions of this cosmogonic myth usually show Varāha with a boar's head and a man's body; in the earlier iconography the goddess clings to a tusk, in the later, a more literal portion of the earth is raised up.