Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Varaha Purana, by Bibek Debroy

Varaha Purana, translated by Bibek Debroy

This is the fourteenth purana I am reviewing and is the last of the sattvika Puranas. This Purana is slightly longer than the Vishnu Purana, and is divided into two sections, the purva bhaga and the uttara bhaga. This Purana is known as the Varaha Purana because this Purana was narrated by Vishnu in his Varaha avatara or form to the Earth on her request. This Purana does not talk about any specific topic but include the usual information that any Purana should have, and then narrates stories according to the questions asked by Mother Earth. The stories in this Purana include many stories on the different tithis and also on the different sites of pilgrimage, and also include a lot on why Mathura is one of the holiest places one can visit. This Purana also points out what acts will displease Lord Vishnu, and how would you make an idol.

Favourite Stories

There is one story in the Varaha Purana that talks about the birth of Lord Ganesha and is completely different from the one that is mentioned in the Brahmavaivarta Purana. It has its own theory on how Lord Ganesha took birth. The second story comes when they talk about the supremacy of Lord Vishnu. It is a story on why even Lord Shiva admits that Lord Vishnu is the supreme god, even over himself.

On Chaturthi, one should worship Lord Ganesha. If one does so, and also eats sesame seeds, a lot of punya is acquired. The story behind this vrata is so. Earlier, any work that would help acquire praise or merit could be performed without any difficulty, but as time passed, it became more difficult to do such work. The gods felt that another god should be created who would remove such obstacles from one’s path when prayed to. They asked the God Rudra to create that being. When Rudra opened his mouth, a wonderful being known as Vinayaka came out of his mouth. Many more Vinayaka’s came out of the pores of his body. The gods were in a fix. Who would they choose as the chief? Brahma arrived and decided that the first Vinayaka that emerged from Rudra would be the chief and would be called Ganapati, or the head of the ganas. As Ganapati’s birth took place on the Chaturthi, that is why the Chaturthi is sacred to Ganapati.

The Supremacy of Vishnu:
At the time of creation, Brahma asked Shiva to create. Shiva decided to meditate under the water. As he was doing so, a miniature statue of Narayana was lying under the water when Shiva reached there. Shiva ignored it and started to meditate. As he was meditating, eleven fiery forms appeared before him, and when he questioned them on who they were, they just vanished. Right after that, a bright form appeared before Shiva. The form replied that he was Narayana and the water was his abode. He said that the eleven forms that had appeared were the eleven adityas. Shiva was able to see Narayana because Narayana had granted Shiva divine sight that allowed Shiva to see. Otherwise, like all other creatures, Shiva wouldn’t be able to see Narayana. After saying this, Narayana first took the form of the miniature statue, and then grew so big, that his head had disappeared above the clouds. Narayana then vanished. Therefore, even Lord Shiva is forced to admit that Lord Vishnu is the supreme being.

Here is a small prayer you may recite if you wish to pray to Lord Vishnu:

"Salutations to the one with an infinite number of eyes, hands and feet, the one with the sun and the moon as his eyes, salutations to the one who manifests himself in an image dressed in white in satya yuga, blood-red in treta yuga, yellow in dvapara yuga, and black in kali yuga. Salutations to the one who created the brahmanas from his mouth, kshatriyas from his arms, vaishyas from his thighs and shudras from the tips of his feet, salutations to the one who carries a shield, a sword, a mace, and the divine lotus"
Reading this Purana or even hearing it being read, frees one of his sins and liberates the mind. One can also have sons and grandsons if the above is followed. The punya acquired is many times more if the purana is heard in a tirtha. It is said that if one reads just one chapter of the Varaha Purana, the punya acquired is the same that will be acquired by donating ten healthy cows. If you read ten chapters, you obtain the punya that one obtains by performing a huge sacrifice. Lastly, reading this Purana pleases Lord Narayana.

Since this is the kali yuga, the yuga where there is no shortage of sins, why not read this Purana to reap its benefits?

© 2018, Anvita Agarwal. All rights reserved.

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