In the temple town of SriMushnam The front Gopura was a huge seven tiered one and we entered into
the temple. The tall dwajastambha reached out to the skies through a small
opening. We reached the back of Garudazhwar’s sanctum with a very very narrow
path to either side leading to a mandapa ..
Right in front of us was Bhuvaraha of whom we had heard so much. The first
impression was that He was so small, hardly three feet tall! So this was the
Maha Pothrin – Great Boar – described by Swami Desika. Azhwar srisookthis and
Puranas say that Varaha was so humongous that the bells(mani) on His anklet were
the size of the mythical Meru mountain!
Agreed that when He dropped down from Brahma’s nostril he was the size of an ant
and then rapidly grew. Still His size surprises us.
Next, His posture. This is truly amazing! What flair! What panache ! What elan!
Not surprisingly most of the words are derived from French, who know a thing or
two about style. We have never seen any Perumal in this pose.
He stands wih His legs bent at the knees. He has only two arms. Here He is not
the usual “chaturbhuja” – four armed – Vishnu. Both His wrists are bent and
placed at His waist. He stands akimbo with elbows extending outward. His
perfectly proportioned torso is bent to His right. His face is turned to His
left, neck extended and he is looking upward. We can see His snout in profile.
The crown on His head is raffishly tilted to His right. He is looking to the
south and His thirumeni is towards west.
We cant take our eyes off Him. The archaka is doing the deeparadhana and explains about Him.
This is Varhamoorthy just after He finished off Hiranyakshan, the asura who
sneaked off with Mother Earth and hid her in the sludge in the primordial ocean.
This he did to deprive the devas of their strength, that they derived from those
on earth who dutifully did the prescribed karma, (that is so rare in this Kali
yuga!). Sukracharya had advised him, no earth – no karma – weak gods – victory.
So, that amazingly powerful brother of Hiranyakasipu was wreaking havoc all over
the cosmos and everyone, as usual went and represented to Sriman Narayana,
through the proper channels, viz. Brahma. Unexpectedly a small piglet dropped
down from the nose of Brahma and soon grew to a gigantic size. His tusks were
lunar white and huge and he had “sphuta padma lochana” large lotus like eyes.
With His great tusks the Divine Boar prised out Mother earth from the mire and
placed her safely. He then fought Hiranyakshan, what a fight it was! Inevitably
the asura was defeated and on the verge of death he asked our Lord to grant him
His vision. That was when Varaha Perumal took up this magnificent pose. What can
we say about the good fortune of that asura who died looking upon this dazzling
The archaka mama then drew our attention to the chakra and sankha which our Lord
had at His waist. This is unique. He said that Varaha moorthy adopted the two
armed frame and hid His discus and conch because this asura was a staunch Vishnu
bhakta and would have stopped fighting if he had seen those two. It was
imperative, for various reasons, to kill him so Bhagavan hid His eternal symbols
and fought with two hands. Most stylishly, like no other Perumal, He has the
chakra and sankha at His waist. This is well seen when He wears the gold
“kavacha”. Cool, what!
Coming out of the sanctum the archaka illuminated the utsavamoorthy. His consort
had appealed to Him to discard the boar’s face. Here as Yagna Varaha He is His
usual handsome self, with Sri and Bhu devi on either side. In fact so enamored
of this processional deity was Sri Madhvacharya that he has mentioned Him in his
dvadasa stotra. This is an important kshetra for followers of Sri Madhvacharya.
The temple was renovated by Vijayanagara kings. Stone slabs at the main entrance
inform us that samprokshanas have been done under the auspices of many
There is one more Varaha, called Neela Varaha at the foot of Yagna Varaha. He is
a much smaller version of the moolavar. A surfeit of Varahas, what!
Aadhyam Rangamithi Proktham Vimanam Rangasangyitham
Srimushnam Venkatadri cha Salgramam cha Naimisham
Totadri Pushkaram chaiva Naranarayanaashramam
Ashtou me Murthayah Santi Svayamvyaktha Mahitale.
On this earth, our Lord Sriman Narayana has appeared on His own at eight
important places. The foremost sanctum being the celebrated Srirangam.
SriMushnam, ThiruVenkatamalai, Salagramam, Naimisaranyam, Tothadri, Pushkaram
and Sri Badrikashramam. – Sri Varahakavacham.
This is one of the eight svayamvyaktha kshetras. Our Lord appeared here de novo,
so to say. The eight are Srirangam, Tothadri, TiruVenkatam and SriMushnam in
the south. Pushkar, Naimsaranya, Badri and Saligrama in the north. Bhuvaraha
Perumal appeared on His own and His frame is saligrama. Tirumanjana, ritual
bath, is performed daily. We were truly fortunate to witness tirumanjana.
Without the kavacha,ornaments and crown He is much smaller. But the proportions
are perfect and He is so handsome to behold. Adhya safalam me janma…
During His exertions Varaha sweated and this perspiration collected as the
Nithya Pushkarani. The curative and boon granting power of a bath in this
pushkarani is the stuff of legends. As is the fruits of circumambulating the
huge “arasu” peepul, tree nearby. Denizens of the hamlets,towns and cities
nearby flock here to get boons and wishes fulfilled. One need not be surprised
at the power of our Lord’s sweat. The peripatetic Kapali was relieved of the
foul smelling calvarium (of his father Brahma) stuck to his hand for thousands
of years, by the sweat of the Lord of Naimisaranya.
Vishnorangushtasamsparshath punyada khalu Jahnavi
Vishnoh Sarvangasambutha Nithyapushkarani subha. – Sri Varahakavacham.
Jahnavi(Ganga) is considered pure just because once she happened to flow over
His big toe. What to say of this sacred Nithya pushkarani which is connected to
the whole of His thiru meni, auspicious body?
There is another pond nearby, about a kilometer away. This is called “danda
sarovar” or “Madhva sarovar”. Once Sri Madhvacharya had come to Sri Mushnam and
saw a thirsty pregnant woman searching for water. The compassionate acharya
miraculously made a pond of water appear from the end of his staff,danda, hence
The archaka tells us that Aswatha, peepul, and Thulasi, sacred basil – ocimum
sanctum – were born of Bhuvaraha’s eyes.
Our Lord partakes a special prasada. Steamed tuber, sweetened korai kizhangu
is His favorite.
Bhuvaraha is justly famous for safeguarding vehicles. There is a superstition
that if one’s vehicle has collided with a pig or vise versa it becomes unlucky
and should be disposed of at once. One cant help wondering who is really
unlucky, the vehicle or the pig? People bring their apparently ill fated vehicle
s to this temple, hand over the keys and perform an “archana”. The archaka,
without fail, asks for the vehicle’s number. It is like asking for the “gothra”
and “nakshatra” of the yajaman! It would have been much simpler if all of us
had unique identification numbers ! The vehicle gets sanctified and can be
retained. What about the unfortunate pig? asks the wag.
Continuing in the same mien, to the left of the entrance there is temple for the
seven hand maidens, “saptha kannikas” of Sri Ambujavalli Thayar. These are
“ammans” and are resorted to by expectants mothers. What can one say of the
faith that makes mothers to be, pray to “maidens” for safe delivery?! Perhaps
all this ensures that there will be a regular flow of pilgrims to the temple!
One legend connected with the temple is that of a king who was suffering from an
unhealing carbuncle. Must have been a diabetic. He resorted to Sri Varaha who
came as a boar and with His lance like tusk cut open the infected area and let
out the pus, resulting in a cure. Sri U.Ve. Ramabadrachariar in his magnum opus
– 108 divyadesams – mentions this incident. He writes that it was Muslim who was
so afflicted and on being cured he did mangalasasana to our Lord. Even now on
the day Sri Bhuvarahar goes to the nearby sea shore, Thaikkal, for His yearly
“theertavari” local Mohameddans pay tribute to our Lord.
It is truly amazing that this swayamvyaktha kshetra was ignored by the azhwars.
May be it didnot exist in their times. Difficult to believe so, after seeing
the temple, which definitely looks more than a millenium old. Much more in fact.
Historically the kings of Vijayanagara, Nayakas, were responsible for
renovation of this temple in the 15th and 16th centuries. One of the kings who
was suffering from severe abdominal pain had a dream in which our Lord came and
touched his tummy. The pain disappeared. The grateful king, who was in this
kshetra at that time, renovated the temple. A sculpture on one of the many
columns, with our Lord’s handprint on the king’s body illustrates this incident
Coming out reluctantly, from the sanctum of our Lord we proceed to
circumambulation. The corridor is spacious. Behind, we are surprised to find a
sannidhi for Sri Vedanta Desika. The whole temple wears Thengalai Thirumans all
over. Next is that of Manavala Mamuni and then sancta of Kaliyan and Thirukacchi
nambi. The end of the parikrama leads to Ambujavalli Thayar’s sanctum. She is as
usual, lovely. We drink her in and recieve thirtha and satari. It being
Purattasi sravanam, tirumanjana is done for Desika and prasada distributed after
Sri Parasara Bhatta used to say that if one must seek refuge of our Lord, among
the dasavathara,Varaha is the most perfect choice. Based on the “nahi ninda
nyaya” (not denigrating others) he is reported to have said: Matsya avathara is
sea bound so it cant extricate us from the sea of samsara. Koorma is itself
pushed down into the sea by a mountain. Nrisimha is different above and below
the neck so not to be resorted to. Vamana took over the three worlds by
stratagem of showing tiny feet and then growing to gigantic proportions.
Parasurama was rage personified. Rama(Bhattar’s favourite in fact!) lost His
wife for ten months. Balarama was too fond of drinking. Krishna, His wife Andal
says, was always lying. We haven’t seen Kalki yet. So Varaha, who without any
shame(manam illa panri) took on the form of a boar and jumped into the dirty
sludge and brought out Bhuma devi, is the one to be resorted to. Similarly He
will extricate us from the “bheemabhavaarnavodare” the belly of the deep and
dangerous ocean of existence.
It must be remembered that it was Varaha Perumal who gave the first guarantee
that He would safely steer the prapanna to safety. Varaha charma sloka.
Stiththe manasi suswasthe sharire sathiyo narah…
“Ye men if you realise and remember with all your humors in harmony, that I am
the Cosmos and Unborn when you are “mens sana in corpore sana”, then when
death is iminent and you are like wood and stone, I will remember my bhakta,
devotee, and take him to the highest abode, paramapada.”
It was this very Varaha who taught the easiest way to attain Him to Bhudevi. She
repeated it to us when She took birth as Periazhwar’s daughter, “Thoozhomai
vandhu toomalar thoovi thozhudu, vayinaal padi manthinaal chinthithu pozha
piyaiyum pukuthurvan ninavaiyum thiyinil thoosaakum “. If we come sanctfied,
offering pure flowers, pay obeisance, sing with our mouths and think in our
minds, the past transgressions and those that still stand will disappear like
cotton in a fire.
Sri Ambujavalli sametha Sri Bhoovarahaswamy Parabrahmane namo namah.