Varaha Avatara (Boar Incarnation)
Lord Vishnu’s third incarnation was in the form of a boar. Sage Kashyapa and his wife Diti had a son named Hiranyaksha, who became the king of the asuras (Demons). Hiranyaksha’s meditation pleased Lord Brahma and Lord Brahma granted him the boon that he would be invincible in battle. Thus armed, Hiranyaksha went out to fight with the devas (Gods). He comprehensively defeated the gods and conquered heaven. He also defeated Lord Varuna (God of the ocean). Thus, Hiranyaksha became the king of heaven, Earth and the underworld. But he was not particularly fond of the earth and he himself had begun to live in Lord Varuna’s palace under the ocean. So he hurled the earth into the depths of the ocean. Gods went to Lord Vishnu and prayed that something should be done about Hiranyaksha. They wished to be restored to heaven and they wished that Earth should be brought back from the depths of the ocean. In response to these prayers, Lord Vishnu adopted the form of a boar and entered the ocean. Hiranyaksha did not know that this boar was none other than Lord Vishnu. He thought that it was an ordinary boar and attacked it. The two fought for many years. But finally, Hiranyaksha was gored to death by the boar’s tusks. The boar raised the earth up once again with its tusks. Lord Vishnu thus saved the gods and the principles of righteousness or dharma.
4) Narasimha Avatara (Incarnation in the form of half-man and half-lion)
Hiranyaksha had a brother named Hiranyakashipu. Hiranyakashipu was furious to know that his brother has been killed and pledged to kill Lord Vishnu. But this could not be done unless he himself became powerful and invincible. Therefore, he began to pray to Lord Brahma through difficult meditation. Lord Brahma was pleased by his prayers and offered to grant a boon. Hiranyakashipu said – “Please grant me the boon that I may not be killed at night or day, by a man or a beast and that in the sky, the water or Earth.” Lord Brahma granted the desired boon.
He went on to conquer all the three worlds. Hiranyakashipu had a son named Prahlada, he was devoted to Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu tried to persuade his son but that did not work. He then tried to kill his son, but could not as Lord Vishnu intervened to save Prahlada everytime. Gods had been driven off from heaven by Hiranyakashipu. Gods went and prayed to Lord Vishnu, who promised them that he would find a solution. One day, Hiranyakashipu called Prahlada and asked – “How is it that you escaped each time I tried to kill you?”Prahlada replied – “Because Lord Vishnu saved me, he is everywhere.” “What do you mean everywhere?” retorted Hiranyakashipu. He pointed to a crystal pillar inside the palace and asked – “Is Vishnu inside this pillar as well?”
“Yes,”– replied Prahlada. “Very well, then I am going to kick the pillar,” said Hiranyakashipu. When Hiranyakashipu kicked the pillar, it broke into two. And from inside the pillar, Lord Vishnu emerged in his form of half-man and half-lion. He caught hold of Hiranyakashipu and placed him across his thighs. And with his claws, he tore apart his chest and killed him. Lord Brahma’s boon had been that Hiranyakashipu would not be killed by a man or a beast. But then Narasimha was neither a man nor a beast it was half-man and half beast. It also said that the asura would not be killed in the sky, the water or Earth, but Hiranyakashipu was killed on Lord Vishnu’s thighs. And finally, the boon had promised that Hiranyakashipu would not be killed at night or day. Since the incident took place in the evening, it was not night or day. After Hiranyakashipu died, the gods were restored to their rightful places. Lord Vishnu made Prahlada the king of asuras.