By Swami Harshananda
Out of the ten avatāras (known as Daśāvatāras) or incarnations of Viṣṇu, the Varāha (Boar-incarnation) is the third. Viṣṇu assumed this form to recover bhu or the earth deified as Bhudevī or Earth-goddess sunk in the waters of the ocean by the demon Hiraṇyākṣa.
He is generally shown as lifting up and holding Bhudevī in his right hand. The goddess herself is shown as a charming damsel of dark complexion (or bright like lightning) with folded hands.
Bhuvarāha is sometimes distinguished from Ādivarāha. The Ādivarāha is shown as standing on the Ādiśeṣa (Serpent-Conch Viṣṇu) whereas the Bhuvarāha is not. Occasionally the two forms are shown to be identical.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore