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 bhū or the earth—deified as Bhūdevī or Earth-goddess—sunk in the waters of the ocean by the demon Hiraṇyākṣa.
He is generally shown as lifting up and holding Bhūdevī in his right hand. The goddess herself is shown as a charming damsel of dark complexion (or bright like lightning) with folded hands.
Bhūvarāha is sometimes distinguished from Ādivarāha, the latter being shown as standing on the Ādiśeṣa (Serpent-Conch Viṣṇu) whereas the former is not. Occasionally the two forms are shown as identical.