Varaha Purana:A Significant Piece of Hindu Literature

Varaha Purana:A Significant Piece of Hindu Literature

The Varaha Purana stands as a significant piece of Hindu literature, a text from the Puranas genre, primarily dedicated to the praise of Narayana (Vishnu) within the Vaishnavism corpus. However, its diverse chapters also venerate Shiva, Shakti, and other deities. This revered Sanskrit text has undergone multiple revisions since its inception, with varying versions and sections lost to history.

Origin and Composition

Estimations peg the initial completion of the Varaha Purana between the 10th and 12th centuries, although it underwent continual revisions thereafter. Scholars debate its classification as a Purana due to its focus on Vaishnava practices alongside sections praising Shiva, Shakti, and other gods in a seemingly secular manner. Its missing elements, akin to the Panchalakshana, raise questions about its conventional Puranic status.

Mythology and Content

Varaha Avatar of Vishnu

The Varaha Purana delves into a rich tapestry of Hindu mythology, prominently featuring the Varaha avatar of Vishnu, depicting the earth’s rescue during a catastrophic flood. Alongside, it intricately weaves narratives of goddesses, Shiva, and discussions on Karma and Dharma within its Dharmasamhita. Notably, it offers detailed medieval geographic accounts, acting as tourist guides to temples in Mathura and Nepal, although it doesn’t emphasize Krishna in the Mathura-related sections as seen in other Puranas.

Historical Context

The exact century of its composition remains elusive. Suggestions lean toward a later period, potentially influenced by Ramanuja in the 12th century, while some posit its completion by the 10th century. The Varaha Purana‘s summary in manuscripts like Matsya Purana and Skanda Purana differs significantly from the surviving texts, hinting at lost variations and diverse versions over time.

Classification and Contents

Classified as a Sattva Purana by the Padma Purana, scholars challenge the Sattva-Rajas-Tamas classification, finding little textual basis for such categorization within the Varaha Purana. The printed editions vary in their chapter count, with claims of 24,000 verses in the Hindu tradition, yet surviving manuscripts possess less than half that number.

Distinct Sections and Themes

The Varaha Purana presents distinct sections delineated by different interlocutors and themes. From the dialogue between Suta, Varaha, and Prithvi to narrations between Prithvi and Sanatkumara, discussions between King Janamejaya and the sage Vaishampayana, and the final conversation between Brahma and Sanatkumara—each section bears unique characteristics likely composed by different authors and during different periods.


The Varaha Purana stands as a multifaceted literary gem, intertwining tales of divine avatars, discussions on righteousness, and geographical narratives. Its complexities, diverse content, and variations across manuscripts render it a subject of scholarly intrigue, offering a profound glimpse into Hindu mythology, religious practices, and historical contexts.

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