In Bali's extensive hall of sacrifice, there were the recitation of Vedas, and
the auspicious sounds of music of the instruments. Shukracharya was officiating
as the head-priest at the hundredth horse sacrifice. The saints, gandharvas and
the subjects from the three worlds had come in large numbers to witness the sacrifice.
At one place there were heaps of pearls and precious stones from which gifts
were given. At another place cows and jewelry were distributed as gifts.
|ASHWAMEDA YAGA - THE SACRIFICE HALL
Adorned with clothes made of goldthread, Bali sat with his
wife Vindhyavali before the holy fire and performed the rituals. Shukracharya
approached Bali and whispered, "O Bali, It is time now to complete the sacrifice.
You have to be very careful now. Who can guess the deceitful ways of the Devas?
They may send Vishnu to this hall of sacrifice." Bali said, "O preceptor,
is that so? Then advise me how I should conduct myself if Vishnu himself comes
here." Shukracharya said, "Listen, this is my
advice, O Bali. If Vishnu comes and asks for any gift, deny it cleverly. Plead
your inability to give anything to the Almighty and All-powerful and send him
Bali was not pleased with this advice and did not heed him since he had vowed
to give charity.
Even as they were talking thus, the hall of sacrifice filled with murmurs of
'Make way, make way.' Every one moved aside and made way for the new guest. Bali
and his queen stood up eagerly and looked towards the entrance gate.
A little ascetic of about eight years was making his way towards them. His face
was shining with a smile. He held an umbrella over his head. A plait of hair
was hanging at the back of his head. He wore the sacred thread on his bare body
the lower part of which was covered with cloth made of fiber. His hands held
the staff of an ascetic and a water jug. There was deerskin under his armpit.
He wore the mark of sandal wood paste on his forehead. It looked as though he
had combined all branches of knowledge in his young body. He was taking his steps
|AN ASCETIC ARRIVING A THE RITUAL PLACE
The young ascetic addressed Bali and said, "O King Bali, let auspicious
things happen to you." Bali, his queen Vindhyavali, their son Bana and the
rest were struck with wonder and went on admiring his stature for a time. The
young ascetic continued speaking and said, "King of the Daityas, this is
a splendid sacrifice. I can judge what a righteous man you are from the flames
rising to the skies from the place of sacrifice; from the kind of eatables served
to people at this festivity; from the gifts of pearls and precious stones given
in charity; from lakhs and lakhs of admiring subjects who have gathered here
out of love and from the chanting of the Vedas. You must give me a gift suitable
to this superb sacrifice."
Bali felt elated and proud. He turned to his queen and said,"Vindhyavali,
how pleasant and meaningful are the words of this little ascetic ! We are indeed
fortunate to set our eyes on this jewel of learning. Bring holy water in a golden
jug. Let us wash his feet and earn merit." Vindhyavali brought a jug full
Bali and his queen washed the feet of the young ascetic,
offered flowers and sandalwood paste and worshipped him. Then Bali made
him sit on a precious seat and spoke to him, "Great man, though you are
young and short, your learning has made you shine above all others. Who are you?
Your handsome body is a feast to the eyes. Your words are sweet like honey. What
can I do for you? What can I give you? Ask whatever you desire, or everything
that I have. I shall give anything that you ask."
The young ascetic said "O king of Danavas I came here to ask you for a gift
only because I know you will give all I ask, as you are the lord of the three
worlds. I am the son of Kashyapa and my name is Vamanamurthy. I am a bachelor
and so I do not need either kingdom or wealth. I have been just initiated into
the knowledge of Brahman and started wearing the sacred thread. I am yet to give
my gurudakshina to my preceptor."
|VAMANA ASKING FOR THREE PACES OF LAND
Vamana continued, "My preceptor Bharadwaja needs a few paces of land to
perform the religious rites of 'Agnihotra'. Therefore I
ask you to give me only three paces of land to be measured by my feet. That will
Bali burst with laughter on hearing Vamana's request. He said, "One who
asks me for anything should not feel the need to ask for gifts from any one else
later. Even if you ask for one of the kingdoms under my authority, I shall grant
it. I feel ashamed to give you this little bit of land. What do you gain from
this? At least ask for more land."