|VAMANA - THE DWARF ASCETIC
The fifth incarnation of Vishnu, is usually represented
as a dwarf (Vamana) holding a water-pot in one hand and an umbrella in the other. He wears a ring of KUSHA
grass on his third finger and occasionally carries a book. He has long hair;
he wears ear ornaments and covers his body with a deerskin or loincloth. In his
first four incarnations Vishnu appears in either an animal form or in a half-human
half-animal form. The later incarnations starting from Vamana are all in human
form. The first of them, Vamana, is perhaps significantly a dwarf, thus symbolizing
the underdeveloped stage of mankind.
|VAMANA - THE DWARF ASCETIC
After the death of Hiranyakashipu, the king of Danavas (Asuras), Prahalad became
the king over the earthly kingdom. He had a son, Virochana. Devamba was the wife
of Virochana. Bali was the son of Virochana and Devamba.
Since Bali grew up as a child often playing on the lap of Prahalad, he was very
loving and respectable towards his grandfather. Prahalad taught him all the virtues
and made him an adept in the Vedas and the art of warfare. He became the foremost
among the Danava warriors; and appropriate to the name 'Bali', he was the strongest
Bali married Vindhyavali, the daughter of a saint. Prahalad made him the crown
Prince ('Yuvaraja'). After he became the yuvaraja, Bali thought, "Devas
have caused fright among the Danavas by constantly hating them and fighting them.
I must earn merit and proficiency in all respects, equal to that of Devas. Then
we can get rid of fear. To attain this I shall perform tapas (austerities) and
win the blessings of Brahma." He resolved to put his idea into action and
went to forest to perform austerity.
Bali settled for his tapas at a suitable place in the forest where none lived.
Till Brahma appeared before him, Bali gave up food and drink; neither did wind
nor rain scare him. Pleased by Bali's rigorous tapas, Brahma appeared before
him. Bali pleaded thus: "O Lord, I do not ask anything for my personal benefit.
But the Danavas have been rendered weak because of their fear of Devas. Grant
me the boon of immortality and the strength of Indra." Brahma granted his
prayer. Armed with the gifts he got from Brahma, Bali returned to the capital.
Soon after Bali returned from the forest after his tapas,
which had given him great power, Prahalad wanted to install him as king. But Bali wanted his grandfather
to rule over the world for some more time. But after a few years Prahalad convinced
Bali to accept the responsibility of kingship. Bali however,
agreed to this only on condition that his grandfather should stay in the capital. On the day of Bali's
coronation, many kings came to the capital with previous gifts. It was celebrated
with grandeur and joy. The Gandharva, Yaksha, Siddha and Daitya kings gave Bali
gifts and expressed their desire to have him as their friend.
|BALI - THE ASURA KING
Prahalad, Shukracharya (guru of the Asuras), Shambara and other elderly wise
men helped Bali to improve the state of affairs in his empire by making necessary
laws for the administration of the empire. Bali implemented the laws framed by
his advisers to provide enough food and shelter and to give necessary facilities
to ensure happiness of his subjects. The ascetics (rishis) who had gone to forests
and mountains to practice austerities returned to their way of life and to perform
sacrifices in hermitages without the fear of Danavas. Every one was able to devote
him to the performance of religious rites without fear. Peace and plenty prevailed