Varaggio, Giacomo Da
Varaggio, Giacomo da (French, Jacques de Voragine), an, Italian hagiographer, was born about 1230 at Varaggio or Varazze, near Savona. He became a Dominican in 1254, and taught in various schools with great reputation for piety and science. In 1267 he was chosen; provincial of his order for Lombardy, and in 1268 definitor, in which capacity he raised the interdict from Genoa and reconciled the Sicilians to the king of Naples., In; 1288 he assisted at the Council of Lucca, and in, 1290 at that of Ferrara. In 1292 he was raised to the archbishopric of Genoa, an office which he administered with great moderation and yet discipline. He died there, July 14, 1298, leaving many historical and legendary works, for which see Hoefer; Nouv. Biog. Géneralé, s.v.
Varaha the third avatar, or incarnation of Vishnu, in which he appears as a boar. It is supposed to have taken place at the period of creation when the earth was immersed in water, and Vishnu, in order to raise it unassumed the form of a gigantic boar. In the earlier recension of the Ramayana (q.v.) and the Linga-Purcana, the act of assuming the form of a boar in order to rescue the earth from its imperiled position is ascribed to Brahma, the creator of the universe; and in the Black Yajurveda, where this idea is first met with, it is likewise said that the lord of creation upheld the earth, assuming the form of a boar. At a later period, however, the incarnation is attributed to Vishnu. Between both conceptions there is the great difference, however, that in the former the transformation of the deity into a boar has apparently a purely cosmical character, while, in the latter it allegorically represents the extrication of the world from a deluge of iniquity by the rites of religion. The boar as an incarnation of Vishnu is a type of the ritual of the Vedas. He is described as the sacrifice personified; his feet being the Vedas; his tusks, the sacrificial post to which the victim is tied; his teeth, the sacrificial offerings; his mouth, the altar; his tongue, the fire; his hairs, the sacrificial grass; his eyes, day and night; his head, the place of Brahma; his mane, the hymns of the Vedas; his nostrils, all the oblations; his snout, the ladle of oblation; his voice, the chanting of the Samaveda; his body, the hall of sacrifice; his joints, the different ceremonies; and his ears as having the properties of voluntary and obligatory rites. The above are from the Vishnu-Purdna, and similar descriptions occur in the Harivansa and elsewhere.
In the Bhagavata-Purdna, another legend is also connected with this avatar, which still more distinctly proves that it was viewed in a purely religious light at the Puranic period. According to this legend, Javu and Vijayu, two doorkeepers of Vishnu, once offended some Munis who claimed admission to the paradise of Vishnu, and in consequence were doomed to lose their position in Vishnu's heaven, and to be reborn on earth. They thus became the sons of Kasyapa-aiad Diti under the names of Hiranyakasipu and Hiranyaksha.. The latter went straight ton heaven to conquer the gods, while the former remained and conquered the three worlds. The gods, thus threatened in their existence as well as dominions, implored the assistance of Vishnu, who was at that time the mysterious boar, and he slew Hiranyaksha. A similar contest between Vishnu as boar and numerous daemons, progeny of Diti, always ending in the defeat of the latter, is also described in one of the later portions of the Maharbrahta; and it follows from this and similar descriptions that this avatar had lost its original character and assumed that common to the others of representing the deity as become incarnate for the purpose of remedying moral or religious wrong, or of destroying influences hostile to the Brahminic caste.
Another legend, doubtless a late one, which is chiefly believed by the Siva (q.v.) religionists of Southern India, is by no means so flattering to Vishnu. In that version of the legend Brahma tries to reach the head of Siva, while Vishnu assumes, the-form of a boar-and digs down into the earth. in order to arrive at, the feet of the god. But Siva is illimitable, and Brahma descends and tries to make believe that he has accomplished the feat he attempted, but is exposed and cursed by Siva. Vishnu ascends from his fruitless effort with his tusks utterly worn out.