Varaha Purana belongs to Vaishnava lore and is narrated by Vishnu in the form of Varaha to Mother Earth.
Order of Varaha Purana
Varaha Purana is identified as a Mahapurana. The list of Puranas given in Vishnu Purana mentions Varaha Purana in the 12th rank, another in Devi Purana mentions it in the 11th rank.
Name & Nature of the Purana
This Purana is narrated by Vishnu in the form of Varaha, one of his incarnations to Pruthvi (earth). Hence it is named as Varaha Purana. As it is narrated by an incarnation of Vishnu, it is assigned to Vaishnava cult.
1st verse of Varaha Purana is the praise of Lord Varaha,
नमस्तस्मै वराहाय लीलयोद्धरते महीम् ।
खुरमध्यगतो यस्य मेरुः खणखणायते ॥
Namastasyai varahaya leelayoddharate maheem |
Khuramadhyagato yasya meruh khanakhanayate ||
Salutation to Lord Varaha who had freed the earth easily; and the mountain Meru which is stuck in the hoofs of the Lord Varaha always makes the sound ‘khana khana’.
Structure of Varaha Purana
Naradiya Purana says that, Varaha Purana had a total of 24000 verses; but according to Agni Purana it has 14000 verses. Calcutta Asiatic society edition and Venkateshwara Press edition has only 10000 verses. Hence it is thought that many parts of this Purana is still unavailable. It is also said that the original text of Varaha Purana starts with the Manavakalpa but it is not available in the current edition.
This Purana does not have sub divisions like Skanda, Kanda or Parva. It is straightly divided into chapters namely Adhyayas. Varaha Purana has 218 chapters. The Purana comprises of 217 chapters and the last adhyaya lists the contents. Minute observation of the treatise leads us to two broad divisions. General observation divides all the chapters into two groups. One is chapter no 1 to 192 and second is chapter no 193 to 218. But according to Haraprasad Shastri, there are three groups- chapter no 1 to 112, 113 to 192, 193 to 218. On the other hand Dr. Hajara divides it into four groups; chapter no 1 to 112, 113 to 192, 193 to 212 and 213 to 218.
The last division of Adhyayas is more accepted and relevant because these four parts have the dialogues between four different people. There are two Pathas available of Varaha Purana namely Gaudi and Dakshinatya. Among them Gaudi is more famous.
Date of Varaha Purana
Many parts of Varaha Purana were composed before 800 AD, some before 1100 AD and some before 1500 AD. Hence it may be concluded that 700 to 1500 AD is the period of composition of Varaha Purana. Dr. Baladeva Upadyaya considered the period of Varaha Purana as 9th – 10th AD.
Additionally subject matter of Varaha Purana suggests that first half of Purana was composed in north India and later half in the Nepal.
Varaha incarnation of Vishnu
Varaha is the third incarnation of Lord Vishnu who killed the demon Hiranyaksha and freed earth from trouble. Lord Varaha is also known as Yadnyavaraha, Mahavaraha, Shwetavaraha, Jadnyavaraha. In Vedic literature Varaha is associated with Vrutra as well as Prajapati. But in Puranic literature he is known as the third incarnation of Vishnu. The demon Hiranyaksha went to ocean along with earth, hence Vishnu retrieved earth out of the water in the form of Varaha by holding earth in his snout.
Holy place of Varaha mentioned in Varaha Purana
A question is asked in Varaha Purana – which is the holy place of Bhagavan Varaha? The answer is given in Varaha Purana itself that,
यत्र भागीरथी गङ्गा मम सौकरवे स्थिता ।
यत्र संस्था च मे देवि ह्युद्धृतासि रसातलात् ॥ १३७.७
Yatra Bhagirathi ganga mama saukarave sthita |
Yatra samstha ca me devi hyuddhrutasi rasatalat ||
The description tells that the holy place Sukara is Saukarava Kshetra which is on the bank on Ganga. There many temples of Varaha exist. This Saukarava place may be associated with the city named Soro in Uttar Pradesha. This Soro city is also located on the bank of River Ganga. A temple of Varaha is located in this city. According to scholars, name of the city may be derived from ancient name Saukarava. It is also mentioned in Varaha Purana that, visit to this place gives Moksha and it is one of the best among all holy places.
परं कोकामुखं स्थानं तथा कुब्जाम्रकं परम् ।
परं सौकरवं स्थानं सर्वसंस्थानमोक्षणम् ॥
Param kokamukham sthanam tatha kubjamrakam param |
Param saukaravam sthanam sarvasamsthanamokshanam ||
Subject matter of Varaha Purana
Belief, good behaviour, Varnashramadharma, Prayashchitta (punishments) all these are reflected in Varaha Purana like other Puranas. Among the Danamahatymya (importance of donation), donation of Parvata (mountain) and Dhenu (cow) is considered as the important one. According to Varaha Purana all the objects should be donated in the form of Parvata and Dhenu. We find citation from Varaha Purana in the texts Chaturvargya Chintamani, Danasagara (these are essay literature on Dharma).
List of Holy places
Varaha Purana describes many holy places and its importance. The list of holy places mentioned in the Varaha Purana is as follows,
Kokamukha, Mayapuri (Haridwara), Kubjamraka (Hrishikesha), Aditya Tirtha, Badarikashrama, Mandara Kshetra, Someshwara Linga, Mukti Kshetra, Triveni Kshetra, Shalagrama Kshetra, Ruru Kshetra, Dwaraka, Sanandura, Mathura, Devavana, Chakra Tirtha, Asikunda Tirtha, Gokarna Tirtha, Shleshmataka Kshetra, Jaleshwara, Shrungeshwra
List of the Vows
Under the category of good conduct Varaha Purana describes many religious vows. They are,
Matsya Dwadashi, Kurma Dwadashi, Varaha Dwadashi, Nrusihma Dwadashi, Jamadagnya Dwadashi, Shree Rama Dwadashi, Shree Krishna Dwadashi, Buddhna Dwadashi, Kalki Dwadashi, Padmanabha Dwadashi, Bharana Vrata, Sadhanaswarupa Vrata, Shubha Vrata, Dhanya Vrata, Kanti Vrata, Saubhagya Vrata, Avighna Vrata, Shanti Vrata, Kama Vrata, Arogya Vrata, Putraprapti Vrata, Shaurya Vrata, Sarvabhauma Vrata, Dhenudana Vrata.
Chapter no 99 to 110 describes the importance of the donation of cow made with various eatables. Donation of Tiladhenu (cow made with sesame), Jaladhenu (cow made with water), Rasadhenu (cow made with sugarcane juice), Ghrutadhenu (cow made with clarified butter), Gudadhenu (cow made with jaggery), Sharkaradhenu (cow made with sugar), Madhudhenu (cow made with honey), Kshiradhenu (cow made with milk), Dadhidhenu (cow made with curd), Navanitadhenu (cow made with butter), Lavanadhenu (cow made with salt) Karpasashenu (cow made with cotton), Dhanyadhenu (cow made with grains) is suggested in Varaha Purana.
Famous moral verses
दंष्ट्राग्रेणोद्धता गौरुदधिपरिवृता पर्वतैर्निम्नगाभिः ।
साकं मृत्पिण्डवत् प्राम्बृहदुरुवपुष्पानन्तरूपेण येन ॥
सोऽयं कंसासुरारिर्मुरनरकदशास्यान्तकृत् सर्वसंस्थः ।
कृष्णो विष्णुः सुरेशो नुदतु मम रिपूनादिदेवो वराहः ॥ (१.३)
Damshtragrenoddhata gaurudadhiparivruta parvatairnimnagabhih |
Sakam mrutpindavat prambruhadruruvapushpanantarupena yena ||
Soyam kamsasurarirmuranarakadashasyantakrut sarvasamsthah |
Krushno vishnuh suresho nudatu mama ripoonadidevo varahah ||
सुरूपां परनारीं तु दृष्ट्वा चक्षुर्निमीलयेः ।
परद्रव्येषु मा लोभोऽन्यायोपाजितेषु च ।। १३७.१९३
Suoopam paranarim tu drushtva cakshurnimeelayeh |
Paradravyeshu ma lobho nyayopajiteshu ca ||
सत्यमूलं जगत्सर्वं लोकाः सत्ये प्रतिष्ठिताः । १३८.१५५
Satyamulam jagatsarvam lokah satye pratishthitah |
चित्तं नाशो हि लोकस्य चित्तं मोक्षस्य कारणम् । १४२.२८
Cittam nasho hi lokasya cittam mikshasya karanam |
मात्सर्यं सर्वनाशाय मात्सर्यं धर्मनाशकम् । १४८.३५
Matsaryam sarvanashaya matsaryam dharmanashakam |
वित्तेनापि विहिनस्य कुटुम्बभरणं कुतः । १५२.५५
Vittenapi vihinasya kutumbabharanam kutah |
Mahadeva Shastri Joshi. 1974. Bharatiya Sanskruti Kosha, Vol. VIII. Pune. Bharatiya Sanskrutikosh Mandal.