Vamana Avatar – Part 3 – Bali fulfills his promise


<< Part 2 >>

Angered at Bali not heeding to his warnings, Sukracharya cursed him – Since you are impudent enough to disobey my order, you will very soon be bereft of all your opulence and wealth.

Undaunted by this curse, Bali proceeded to wash Vamana’s feet and fulfill the promise made to him. Vamana then started increasing in size until everything in the universe was within his body, including the earth, the planetary systems, the sky, the directions, the black holes, the seas, the oceans, the birds, the beasts, humans, the devas and the asuras.

Manifesting himself in this manner, Vamana covered the entire surface of the earth with his first footstep and the heavenly planets with his second step.

Angered by the fact that their king was defeated by Lord Vishnu in the form of a young brahmachari, the asuras started fighting with the devas. Noticing this Bali expressly forbade them from doing so.

Vamana then addressed Bali You have promised me three steps of land, but I have occupied the entire universe with just two steps. Now, tell me, where do I place my third step? Because you have been unable to give charity as per your promise, the rule is that you should go down to live in the hellish planets for some time.

Undaunted by the young brahmachari’s words, Bali told him I cannot allow my promise to be false. Please, therefore, place your third footstep on my head.

I don’t fear being deprived of all my possessions, living in a hellish planet or being punished by you as much as I fear being defamed for being called a liar.

Pleased with Bali’s magnanimity and his devotion to being truthful, Vamana then asks him to go live in peace for the rest of his days in the planet Sutala unencumbered by the travails and troubles of being the asura king. Thus, Lord Vishnu delivered the proprietorship of the heavenly planets to Indra and fulfilled the promise that he had made to Aditi, the mother of the devas.


Vamana Avatar – Part 2 – Bali meets Vamana


<< Part 1 | Part 3 >>

Aggrieved with the plight of her sons, the demigods, Aditi, the wife of Kasyapa Muni performed severe penance and practiced austerities with the goal of pleasing the Supreme Personality of God-head. Pleased with her devotion to him, the Supreme Personality of God-head promised to become her son to protect her other sons. He was then born in the form of Vamana, a brahmana dwarf, a brahmachari. During the sacred thread ceremony of Vamanadeva, he was presented with a begging bowl by Kubera, the lord of the yakshas.

Vamana then proceeded to the place where Bali was performing his sacrifices and yagna. Holding in his hands, the rod of a brahmachari, a wooden umbrella and a pot full of water, he entered the arena where the ashwamedha sacrifice was being held. Although he was just a young brahmana boy wearing a belt of straw, a sacred thread, an upper garment of deerskin with matted locks of hair, he generated such radiance and effulgence that everybody in the arena stood up to welcome him there.

Bali then offered him a seat and worshipped him by washing his feet. Being aware of the prevalent religious principles, he also placed his head on the feet of the young brahmachari.

Bali addressed him thus – O son of a brahmana, it appears that you have come here to ask me something. Therefore, whatever you want from me shall be given to you. This is my promise to you.

Pleased with the asura king’s benevolence, Vamana replied O king, I ask you only three paces of land to the measurement of my steps.

When Bali intervened and requested the brahmachari to ask for a more significant offering, Vamana replied O King, even the entire three worlds will not satisfy a person whose senses are uncontrolled. If I were not satisfied with three paces of land then I would surely not be satisfied if you gave me seven islands and more.

Sukracharya who by now suspected that there was more to this young brahmachari than met the eye, took Bali aside and told him – This is the Supreme Personality of God-head, incarnate as the son of Kasyapa Muni and Aditi. He has now appeared here to fulfill the interests of the demigods, and your promise to him has the possibility of bringing great harm to our asura brethren.

Understanding the full import of his spiritual guru’s words, Bali then replied stating that he had made a promise to the young brahmachari and intended to fulfill it, at whatever cost. Being the grandson of Prahlada, how could he go back on his promise to a young brahmana and be accused of being untruthful.

<< Part 1 | Part 3 >>

Vamana Avatar – Part 1 – Bali defeats Indra


<< Part 2 >>

After the churning of the celestial ocean in which Lord Vishnu helped the devas obtain the Amrit, the nectar of immortality all for themselves, the asuras were enraged at this turn of events. They took up arms against the devas and attacked them on the shores of the ocean itself. Led by their commander Maharaja Bali (grandson of Prahlada), the asuras fought valiantly but the devas, who were enthused and enlivened after drinking the nectar managed to parry their attacks bravely.

Bali attacked Indra with all his best weapons and used various techniques of warfare to try and overpower the commander of the devas. Enraged by Bali’s attempts at sorcery and magical techniques to defeat him, Indra used his famed Vajra, the thunderbolt to render the asura commander unconscious, and left him for dead on the battlefield.

It was Sukracharya, a descendant of Bhrigu Muni who resuscitated Bali and nurtured him back to health. Overcome with gratitude for this gesture, Bali became a disciple of Sukracharya and served him with great faith. Pleased with his devotion and faith to his master, the holy men in the ashram suggested that Bali perform the Visvajit yagna, which would help him achieve his ultimate desire of defeating Indra.

When the sacrifice was performed, Bali received a celestial chariot, magical horses, weapons, and an entire army from the sacrificial fire. After offering his thanks and obeisance to his master and the assembled holy men, Bali then marched towards the capital of Indra. He gathered his entire army outside the capital and attacked it from all directions.

Noticing Bali’s renewed strength and disturbed by the same, Indra then approached his spiritual master Brihaspati and asked him the source of Bali’s newfound energy, enthusiasm and vigor. Brihaspati then told Indra about how Bali had managed to please the descendants of Bhrigu Muni and as a result was now equipped with supreme spiritual power, the likes of which could be overcome only by the Supreme Personality of God-head.

Brihaspati then advised Indra that a time would come when Bali would insult brahmanas which would immediately render all the benedictions that he had received from them inconsequential. However, until such a time it would be appropriate for the demi gods to leave the capital and go somewhere else. Taking the advice of their spiritual master, Indra and the demi gods then left their heavenly kingdom and scattered.

Bali, now with the satisfaction of having defeated his nemesis Indra, proceeded to perform one hundred ashwamedha sacrifices.

<< Part 2 >>

Varaha Avatar – Part 5 – Varaha Appears


<<Part 4 of the story>>

In the meantime, given that the humans who resided on earth had become very sinful over the ages, they regularly indulged in battles and wars and used deadly weapons which not only annihilated each other but also ended up in the earth itself being inflicted with severe damage. They used such devastating weapons that the earth trembled every time they were used, and it was being ravaged to a large extent. All the omens portended that it was time something catastrophic was due to occur on earth as a result of these actions.

Hiranyaksha realized quite soon that the easiest way to draw Vishnu into a fight would be to trouble his devotees, a majority of whom were humans residing on earth. Empowered by the boon of Brahma which rendered him immortal to any retribution from humans, he then started unleashing his reign of terror on earth and its residents. He however used such powerful weapons that the earth tilted from its axis and it slipped and fell deep into the celestial ocean. This situation played very well to the demon’s advantage, who then hid the earth deep in the ocean’s dark recesses.

Alarmed by this situation, the demi gods approached Vishnu, the preserver and requested him to save the earth from the atrocities committed by Hiranyaksha. Knowing that the time was opportune for his intervention, Vishnu then took the form of Varaha, the boar.

Emerging as a tiny boar (the size of a thumb) from the nostril of Brahma, Varaha grew and grew until he reached the size of a huge mountain. Some versions of this epic state that his thunderous roar was frightening and his mane was so fiery and fearsome that Varuna requested that he fold his mane so as not to scare the creatures that lived in the oceans.

In this fearsome form of Varaha, Vishnu then dived deep into the celestial ocean and retrieved the earth. Upon being stopped by Hiranyaksha, he thought to himself “Jaya can wait. Mother Earth needs to be placed back on her axis so that life on earth can resume to normal as soon as possible.” Varaha then rushed to the surface of the celestial ocean and put earth back on its axis.

He then turned his attention to Hiranyaksha and then fought him with his mace. After a fierce fight which apparently lasted for close to a thousand years, Varaha manages to finally overcome the demon. Just before he kills him, he reveals his true form, that of Vishnu so that Hiranyaksha is able to realize that he is finally being granted salvation from the curse of his earlier existence as Jaya.

Thus ended the reason for Vishnu taking the avatar in the form of a boar, the Varaha avatar.


While some versions of the story state that Varaha balanced the earth on his two tusks while fighting Hiranyaksha, I find it a little more plausible that he first restored the earth back on its axis before fighting the demon. More so because almost all legends state that the fight lasted for more than a few years, and it made more sense that the earth was restored back to normal state sooner rather than later.

Some other versions also go on to state that Mother Earth falls in love with this form of Vishnu and Narakasura, the demon is a result of the union between Mother Earth and Varaha.

<<Part 4 of the story | CONCLUDED>>

Varaha Avatar – Part 4 – Hiranyaksha


<<Part 3 of the story | Part 5 of the story>>

After a hundred year pregnancy when Diti gave birth to her twin sons, the event caused a lot of natural disturbances in the heavens and on earth. Ominous omens such as earthquakes, fires, comets, meteors and thunderbolts occurred; strong winds uprooted gigantic trees and tossed them around. The skies were filled with clouds, loud thunder and flashes of lightning; the oceans tossed and turned and their waves reached extreme heights.

Sage Kasyapa whose seed resulted in these two sons named the elder twin Hiranyakasipu and the other one Hiranyaksha. Hiranyakasipu was an ambitious man and wanted to bring all three worlds under his control and his younger brother, Hiranyaksha was more than willing to support him in all his endeavors. In fact he liked battle and fighting so much that he was always found brandishing a club on his shoulder ready to challenge anybody who dared to cross his path.

He had a foul temper and he was also extremely strong, both mentally and physically. He roamed all three physical worlds in search of Indra and the demigods to engage them in battle and defeat them. Even they were scared of him and went into hiding. Enraged by the fact that he couldn’t locate them, Hiranyaksha then dived into the deep ocean where even the aquatic animals were so scared of him that they didn’t dare cross his path.

Moving through the depths of the ocean for very many years, he finally reached Vibhavari, the capital of Varuna, the lord of the aquatic creatures and guardian of the lower regions of the universe. Poking fun at Varuna, the demon challenged him to fight him, to which Varuna cleverly replied that he had grown too old and now desisted from warfare. He also goaded the demon stating that his prowess in warfare was so legendary that none other than Lord Vishnu himself would prove to be a worthy adversary.

Knowing fully well that Vishnu would prove to be a strong adversary, Hiranyaksha then engaged in severe penance praying to Brahma. Pleased with his penance, when Brahma appeared to him, he asked for a boon stating that he should be immortal and should not be defeated by any god, man or animal and went on to narrate a long list of animals to Brahma.

However, he inadvertently forgot to include the boar in the list of animals that he stated. Given that Brahma had promised him a boon, the same was granted to the demon, which only went on to increase his confidence and the volume of atrocities that he was committing.

<<Part 3 of the story | Part 5 of the story>>