The wild boar species in India is named Sus Indicus. Historically, the boar in India is regularly seen being hunted by natives with dogs 1. Within Hindu culture, the boar takes a more positively aggressive aura. Symbolism linked with the wild boar is incorporated into several key stories associated with rebirth, creation, and protection. The creator Prajapati transformed into a boar and spread out the earth, which became known as the goddess Prthivi. This allowed him to give birth to many more gods 2.
Vishnu - Protector Of The Universe
The god Vishnu, a major god in Hinduism and Indian mythology, is thought to be the protector of the universe 3. Vishnu, the preserver and restorer, is one of the three aspects of the Supreme Being. He emerges from his sleep when the Hindu world is in danger and takes different forms known as avatars 4. The third incarnation of Vishnu, known as Varaha avatar, was in the form of a wild boar. In this form, Vishnu killed the powerful Asura Hiranyaksha, who was a demon that brought massive floods that took the earth to the bottom of the "cosmic ocean." Varaha used his tusks to lift the earth, depicted in the form of a beautiful woman, out of the ocean in which she sunk to the depths 5. Varaha is eventually forced to kill himself along with his sons, who are wreaking havoc on the earth that was just salvaged 6. In this context, since Vishnu's incarnations were seen as transformations of the gods, the boar is a symbolic protective warrior ridding the land of evil spirits. However, without enough self-control, the boar is capable of becoming a destructive force that contradicts its savior qualities. Spiritually, the boar avatar is seen as a metaphor for spiritual persistence and sacrifice 7.
Another spiritual symbol that appears in early Indian civilization is called the makara, or the water-monster. The makara is an ancient Indian symbol constructed from the lower jaw of a crocodile, the trunk of an elephant, the upper tusk and ears of a wild boar, and body parts of other wild animals. The makara is a symbol of power, and was by adopted by early Buddhism 8.
Additionally, the Hindu goddess Durga is seen depicted in wild boar form as Vajrabarahi. Blessings from Vairabarahi are sought for protection against the tiger 9. Once again, Hindu culture symbolically represents the wild boar as a protective force, rather than a destructive one.
- 1 - Balfour, Edward. The Cyclopaedia of India and of Eastern and Southern Asia, Commercial, Industrial and Scientific: Products of the Mineral, Vegetable, and Animal Kingdoms, Useful Arts and Manufactures, Volume 1. London: B. Qauritch, 1885. <link>
- 2 - Leeming, David Adams. A dictionary of Asian mythology. New York: Oxford University Press US, 2001. <link>
- 3 - Hefner, Alan G. "Vishnu." Encyclopedia Mythica, 27 Aug. 1997. <link>
- 4 - "Vishnu." World History: Ancient and Medieval Eras. ABC-CLIO, 2009. <link>
- 5 - Davis, Kenneth C. Don't Know About Mythology. New York: HarperCollins Publisher, 2006. <link>
- 6 - O'Flaherty, Wendy Doniger. The origins of evil in Hindu mythology. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1980. <link>
- 7 - Sanstha, Sanatan. "What are the implied meanings of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu?" Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, n.d. <link>
- 8 - Beer, Robert. The encyclopedia of Tibetan symbols and motifs. Chicago: Serindia Publications, 2004. <link>
- 9 - McGinley, Mark. "Sunderbans National Park, India." The Encyclopedia of Earth, 8 Jul. 2008. <link>