Tag Archives: Bali Chakravarti

Vamana Avatar: Onam and its Significance

From mortality to Immortality: Vamana Avatar:
The virtuous and noble King Bali was the grandson of Prahlada. Just like his grandfather he too was very devoted to Lord Vishnu. Bali had established his sovereignty over earth and heaven. Under the guidance of his Guru Shukracharya, Bali decided to perform a yagna, and he undertook a sankalpa or vow that whatever anybody sought from him, he would give away as charity, and he strictly adhered to it. The Gods wanted the terrestrial and celestial planes back from Bali, and they prayed to Lord Vishnu to help them.

Lord Vishnu as Vamana, appeared as the son of Sage Kashyapa and his wife Aditi. Short in stature, but most charming to look at, the young brahmachari, Vamana proceeded to Bali’s yagnasala with an umbrella in one hand and a kamandalu in the other. Everyone was wonderstruck at the compelling personality of Vamana and rose from their seats to offer their salutations.

Bali received the divine guest with all respect and reverence and asked the young vatu (brahmachari) to put forth his request. Vamana asked Bali for three measures of land as measured by his little foot. Bali was astonished. A piece of land as measured by three little steps of the young vatu would not serve any purpose! Guru Shukracharya intervened and tried his best to stop this dana because he knew that it was Lord Vishnu alone who had come in the form of a brahmchari. But for Bali it was living upto his vow of dana. He insisted on giving more land, but Vamana said that the land measured by his feet would suffice. Finally Bali agreed. He took a little water in his hand, took the sankalpa of dana, and poured the water on the earth in front of him. 

To the astonishment of all assembled there including Bali, the dwarf Vamana grew and grew to become Trivikrama – “Lord of three divine steps”. With the first step he measured all of the terrestrial plane. With the second step he measured the celestial spheres. There was no place to keep the third step. Bali was overwhelmed at the darshan of the Lord’s cosmic form. The Lord asked him where to place his third step. Bali knelt down in utter surrender to the Lord and asked him to place the third step on his head. The Lord took the third step and placed his sacred feet on Bali’s head and sent him to the realm called Sutala to rule over. The Lord also assured Bali that he himself would be there to guard and protect his kingdom. The Lord told Bali that on Vamana Jayanti, he could visit the kingdom he once ruled over which is celebrated as ONAM.

Significance:
Bali represents a seeker who is on the spiritual path. “Bali” means sacrifice – a knower and performer of karma yoga. His sovereignty over earth and heaven indicate that he is a master of the outer world of circumstances and the inner world of thoughts and emotions, and therefore the Master of his Jnanendriyas and Karmendriyas. He becomes eligible for “Indrapadavi” – the throne of Indra. “Indra” means “indriyaanaam raja Indra” (the Master of all the Indriyas). To such an advanced seeker, the Guru, represented by Vamana (One who has transcended his mind) enters his life and inspires him to move beyond just mastering the physical, mental and intellectual equipments. Lord Vishnu appeared as Vamana in the Sravana Nakshatra or Thiruonam Star (sravana indicates listening to scriptures) in the month of Bhadrapada (State of Auspiciousness).

Shukracharya representing the “standard of living – materialism” tries to dissuade the seeker. But the seeker surrenders totally to his Guru. With the grace of the Master, he transcends his equipments – the body, the mind and the intellect, which is represented by the Lord’s three steps, to cover the earth (body), space (mind) and head (intellect). At this juncture, the Guru¬† guides the seeker’s attention “within himself in contemplation,” which is represented by the Lord placing His foot on Bali’s head. This is “sparsha deeksha” (initiation through touch). Bali is “sent down” (to turn the attention inwards) to “Sutala” (the domain of auspiciousness) which is the region beyond our comprehension – the inner world of peace and quietude. The seeker turns his attention totally within, and through meditation comes to discover the inner kingdom of everlasting freedom and peace!

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Ravana seeks help from Bali Chakravarti to fight Rama!

Lord Rama along with his vanara army crossed the ocean and reached Lanka. What followed was a fierce battle. Everyday Ravana’s army and his prominent chieftains suffered defeat. Worried, Ravana decided to seek help from Bali Chakravarti – the grandson of Prahlada who was pushed to paatala (the lower world) by Lord Vamana. Bali Chakravarti was the King of patala and was ruling there.

Ravana reached paatala and tried to get into Bali’s kingdom, but was stopped by a guard. Everytime he tried to enter, he was stopped by the mighty power of the guard who was protecting Bali’s kingdom. The guard was none other than the Lord Vamana himself. Unable to overpower Vamana, Ravana became invisible and tried to enter, but nothing was invisible to the Lord and Ravana was stopped. Ravana now reduced his form and tried to enter very quickly but Vamana stopped him and placed his foot on Ravana. Unable to bear the pain of the Lords’s feet on him, Ravana lied down there gasping for breath. The Lord could have crushed him, but Ravana was destined to be killed by Lord Rama. Since Ravana came in contact with the Lord’s feet, Ravana’s body became pure enough to receive Lord Rama’s divine arrow! Finally Vamana released Ravana, and Ravana entered the kingdom of Bali.

He met Bali and requested him to help him in his fight with Lord Rama. Bali was aware of all that had happened in Lanka and also knew that it was the Lord who was born as Rama to kill Ravana. Since Ravana had come requesting for help, it was the duty of a king (Bali) to help all those who come seeking for help. Bali said that he would help Ravana on one condition. He took Ravana to an open land where there was a huge mountain made of gold and studded with diamonds with a perfectly circular base. Bali said that he wanted to gift this rare and precious mountain to Ravana , and if he could lift it and take it with him, then he would consider helping Ravana.

Ravana tried lifting it, but could not move it even by an inch. Now Bali asked him to step back and look at it. Wonder of wonders! The entire mountain looked like an ear-ring. Bali said that this was the ear-ring of Hiranyakashipu. During the fight between Lord Narasimha and Hiranyakashipu, his ear-ring had fallen down to the the nether world. Bali told Ravana that in his previous birth he was Hiranyakashipu, and now in this birth he could not even lift his own ear-ring which he used to wear. Where was Ravana’s might and strength? Bali warned Ravana that it was Lord Vishnu Himself who had come down as Lord Rama, and He would surely defeat and kill Ravana.

Having heard this, Ravana left the nether world and came back to Lanka. Though warned by Bali Chakravarti, he never realized his mistake and continued the battle only to be killed by the Lord.

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