The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words

This page describes Vamana’s Arrival at Bali’s Sacrifice which is chapter 18 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the eighteenth chapter of the Kedara-khanda of the Maheshvara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 18 - Vāmana’s Arrival at Bali’s Sacrifice

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Lomaśa said:

1. Overwhelmed by his own Karman, Mahendra spoke to Bṛhaspati, his preceptor: “What is that rite whereby we can surmount a distress without any very great effort? May it (please) be explained”.

2. Bṛhaspati said thus: “We shall abandon Amarāvatī. Desirous of victory, we shall go elsewhere along with our families.”

3. All the Suras did so. Assuming the form of a peacock Purandara left Amarāvatī and went away immediately.

4. Yama assumed the form of a crow. The lord of wealth (Kubera) himself became a chameleon. Agni became a small pigeon and Maheśvara became a frog (and went away).

5. Nairṛta became a dove at that very instant and then went away. Pāśī (Varuṇa) became a Kapiñjala bird and Vāyu became a turtle-dove.

6-7. Assuming various bodies, they thus abandoned heaven and went away. In their great fright, they went to the holy hermitage of Kaśyapa.

All of them informed their mother Aditi of the activities of Daityas.

8-9. On hearing that unpleasant news, Aditi who was very fond of her sons, spoke to Kaśyapa about the critical danger of the Suras. “O great sage, let my words be listened to. After hearing them it behoves you to do (what should be done about) them. Devas have been defeated by Daityas. They have abandoned Amarāvatī and have come to your hermitage. Protect them, O Prajāpati.”

10. On hearing her words, Kaśyapa spoke these words: “O slender-bodied beautiful lady, understand that Asuras are unconquerable on account of their great penance. O chaste lady, they are being approved and encouraged by Bhṛgu.

11-12. Indeed their conquest (is possible) only through first undertaking a severe penance, O beatiful lady. Observe this holy rite and vow as quickly as possible, O lady of exquisite fortune, for the accomplishment of the tasks of Suras. I shall explain (the rite) conducive to the realization of your object. Perform it, O splendid lady, with great effort and care, in accordance with the injunctions mentioned.

13. In the month of Bhādrapada (August-September), O gentle lady, on the Daśamī (tenth) day, be pure (in body and mind) with self-restraint.[1] The rite of Ekabhakta (taking only one meal a day) should be performed for propitiating Viṣṇu.

14. Lord Hari who himself is the direct granter of everything that is desired, should be requested prayerfully by his devotees with the following Mantra, O lady of excellent complexion and good fortune:

15. Mantra: ‘I am your devotee, O lord. I shall perform this holy rite over three days beginning with Daśamī. O Viṣṇu, it behoves you to grant (me) permission.’

16-17. The lord of the universe should be prayed to only with this Mantra. (The devotee) should take only a single meal. That cooked rice without adding salt should be eaten from a plantain leaf. He shall perform the rite of observing fast on the eleventh day with great care.

18. He (or she) should keep awake during the night with great effort, O lady of excellent waistline. The Pāraṇā (ceremonial breaking of the fast) should be performed carefully on the twelfth day in accordance with the injunctions. After feeding excellent Brāhmaṇas, the Pāraṇā should be observed along with kinsmen.

19-21. The devotee should perform the holy rite thus over twelve months without any lethargy or sluggishness. When the month of Bhādrapada arrives (at the end of the year), he should worship Viṣṇu on the Ekādaśī (eleventh) day. The (idol of) Viṣṇu should be placed above a Kalaśa (pitcher) made of gold or silver in accordance with one’s own capacity. The Dvādaśī coinciding with Śravaṇa constellation is an auspicious day destructive of all sins. The devotee should observe fast scrupulously for the sake of quelling all defects and mistakes.”

On hearing what was told by Kaśyapa thus, Aditi performed the holy rite over a year with strict adherence to the rules.

22-23. Janārdana was pleased with (Aditi’s) holy rite that lasted a year. He appeared before her, O Brāhmaṇas, on the Dvādaśī day which coincided with Śravaṇa constellation.[2] The lord of Śrī (Lakṣmi [Lakṣmī]?) had the form of a Brahmacārin (religious student). He was two-armed and had lotus-like eyes. He had the colour of the flower of Atasī (hemp). He was adorned with a garland of sylvan flowers.

24. On seeing him in the middle of her worship, Aditi was struck with wonder. Along with Kaśyapa that lotus-eyed lady eulogized him:

Aditi said:

25. Obeisance to you, the cause of all causes, to the soul of the universe, to the creator of the universe, to the lord in the form of Cit (i.e. animating spirit of life), to the lord of excellent form, to the greatest Ātman (Soul) not inferior to anyone. (Repeated) Obeisance to the lord of unhampered enlightenment.

26. On being remembered thus by Aditi, Acyuta, the lord of Devas, laughed and said to Aditi, the mother of Devas:

The Lord said:

27. I have been propitiated and pleased by your greatest penance, O sinless lady. (I have come) for accomplishing the task of Devas by means of this body alone.

28. On hearing the words of the lord, Aditi said to him: “O lord, Devas have been defeated by Asuras who are much more powerful (than Devas). O Janārdana, save all those Suras who have sought refuge (in you).”

29-30. On hearing her words, Viṣṇu, the sole overlord of Vaikuṇṭha, understood all the activities of Suras and everything Bali had intended to do.

31-32. Viṣṇu, the great Ātman, then pondered over everything: ‘What should be done by me today whereby Devas can conquer and the excellent Daityas maybe defeated?’

Then the lord said to his Gadā (iron club): “Go now, O weapon of great fortune, to the son of Virocana to bring about his death; kill him quickly.”

The Gadā of a bsautiful form,’laughingly said to Hṛṣīkeśa: “It is impossible for me to kill him. Indeed Bali is a great Brahmaṇya (well-versed in the Vadas [Vedas?], friendly and hospitable to Brāhmaṇas).”

33. Then Viṣṇu said to his Discus pacifyingly (i.e. persuading it): “O Sudarśana, you go quickly to Bali to kill him.”

34. Then Sudarśana said hurriedly to Cakrapāṇi (Viṣṇu, the wielder of discus): “O great lord, it is not possible for me to kill Bali.

35. Just as you are Brahmaṇya, O Viṣṇu, so is this great Daitya also.”

Śārṅgapāṇi (Viṣṇu, the wielder of the Śārṅga bow) was told the same by his bow. He was then struck with wonder. He began to think about it in diverse ways, pondering over it for a very long time.

Atri said:

36-39. At that time, what did all those Asuras do? Let it be mentioned:

Lomaśa said:

Then, all those Asuras beginning with Bali, desirous of fighting with Purandara, besieged the beautiful city in heaven. All those Asuras were not aware that Devas had gone away from heaven towards the hermitage of Kaśyapa assuming different forms.

They climbed the rampart wall with great excitement. When Daityas, desirous of killing Sureśa, entered Amarāvatī, they found it vacant. They became delighted in their minds.

40. Then Bali was crowned in Indra’s throne by Śukra in accordance with the injunctions regarding the ceremony of coronation. He was surrounded by all the Asuras.

41. Bali, the great son of Virocana, established in the realm in that manner, shone with the greatest prosperity in the authoritative position of Mahendra.

42. He was served by Nāgas and groups of Asuras. Like Mahendra, the divine tree (Kalpaka), the divine cow Kāmadhenu and the jewel were all won over by him.

43-44. Those people who have gained the title of a Dānī (Donor) have done so with limited donations. But Bali the great was a donor unto all living beings. Whatever anyone desired was immediately given by him. The overlord of Dānavas distributed liberally to everyone what he sought.

Śaunaka said:

45. O excessively fortunate one, Devendra never gave anything to anyone. How is this that Bali became a donor? Describe it truthfully.

Lomaśa said:

46. Whatever man does after exerting himself yields either good or bad results. This should be known by a learned person.

47. Indeed Śakra who performed a hundred horse sacrifices and gained the realm in Amarāvatī was addicted to worldly pleasures only.

48-49. A man seeks something and gains his object. Know that immediately (after getting the result) a sort of niggardliness besets him. Afterwards he dies and his merit becomes exhausted. As a result of this, Indra may turn into a worm and a worm may become Indra. Hence there is nothing more conducive to liberation than charitable gifts.

50. From charitable gift knowledge is acquired and from knowledge liberation is achieved undoubtedly. Devotion unto the Trident-bearing Lord (Siva) is greater than liberation, O Brāhmaṇas.

51. Sadāśiva, the lord of all, gives away everything when his mind is pleased. Śaṅkara becomes satisfied with even a very little thing that is offered, say, even water of a very little quantity.

52. In this connection they cite this ancient legend. This has been undoubtedly done by the son of Virocana.[3]

53. There was a roguish gambler, a great sinner. He used to censure Devas and Brāhmaṇas. He indulged in great fraud and dishonesty. He was an adulterer.

54-59. Once much wealth was earned by him through great sins and gambling. He took with him flowers, betal leaves and sandal paste for giving them to a prostitute. (On the way robbers took away all his garments and ready cash.) The gambler was left with only a loin cloth. Scents, garlands etc. which he had taken with him to be offered to the courtezan, were still with him. He clasped his shoulders with crossed hands, thereby making a Svastika sign to cover the nakedness of his body. Taking the scent etc. he was running towards the bouse. He stumbled on the way and fell on the ground instantaneously. After the fall he swooned. After some time he regained consciousness. Although he was a sinner causing unpleasantness (trouble) to others and though he was dull-witted, suddenly his intellect was directed towards good thoughts. Evidently it was the result of his previous deeds. The gambler was exceedingly disgusted with worldly objects. He was repentant and miserable for what he had done so far. The scent, the flowers etc. that had fallen on the ground were dedicated to Śiva by that gambler unconsciously and unintentionally.

60-64. By this meritorious deed (something good happened). He was taken to the abode of Yama by the attendants of Yama. Yama who is dreadful unto all the worlds said to him after calling him a sinner: “O stupid fellow, you are to be cooked in the great hells.” On being told by Dharmarāja thus, the gambler spoke these words: “O lord, no evil conduct has been practised by me. O Yama, let my meritorious deeds be truly considered.”

Citragupta spoke:

Something had been given by you to Śiva, the great soul. What fell on the ground was given to Śiva at the time of your death. Due to that meritorious deed, understand, you will attain the position of Indra undoubtedly for three Ghaṭikās (1 Ghaṭikā = 24 minutes).

65. At that time the lord came there accompanied by all the Suras. Riding on Airāvata, this gambler was taken to Śakra’s abode. Śakra was them enlightened and advised by Bṛhaspati of sanctified soul:

66. “O Purandara, for a period of three Ghaṭikās this gambler should be installed in your seat at my bidding.”

67. On hearing the words of his preceptor, he betook (respected) them on his head (i,e. bowed down his head to signify assent). Śakra went elsewhere and the gambler was ushered into the wonderfully furnished abode of the king of Devas.

68. He was crowned and installed on the throne of Śakra. He attained the kingdom of Śatakratu, because he had offered scents to Śaṃbhu along with flowers and betel leaves.

69-70. What then in the case of those people who are actuated by faith to offer large quantities of scents, flowers etc. always with great devotion to Śiva, the Supreme Spirit? (I.e. they deserve much greater reward.) They will attain Śivasāyujya (identity with Śiva). They will be accompanied by Śiva’s army (Gaṇas) and acquire great joy. Indeed Śakra is the servant of such people.

71-72. The happiness that people of quiescent minds engaged in the worship of Śiva attain is very great. It is rare and difficult of achievement even by Brahmā, Śakra etc. Those who are covetous of sensual pleasures are deluded. They are poor and pitiable. They do not know (these things).

Mahādeva is (i.e. deserves) to be saluted and Sadāśiva to be worshipped.

73. Mahādeva is to be worshipped and adored by all living beings knowing the truth. Thus the gambler attained the status of Indra for a period of three Ghaṭikās.

74. On being crowned by the priest, he occupied the seat of Purandara. At that time, this gambler of great fame was told by Nārada:

75. “Bring Indrāṇī by whom the kingdom is rendered very splendid.” Then the gambler, the lover of Śiva, laughed and said:

76. “I have nothing to do with Indrāṇī. This ought not to have been mentioned by you, O highly intelligent one.”

After saying thus, the gambler began (to give) charitable gifts.

77-80. The lover of Śiva gave Airāvata to Agastya. The gambler of liberal-minded nature gave Viśvāmitra the horse named Uccaiḥśravas. The gambler of great fame gave Kāmadhenu and Cintāmaṇi of great lustre to Vasiṣṭha. The gambler of great splendour gave Gālava the divine tree Kalpataru. The gambler of great fortune gave Kauṇḍinya a house.

Joyously he gave these and many other jewels of diverse kinds to sages. He gave everything for the pleasure of Śiva.

81. The lord continued his charitable gifts over a period of three Ghaṭikās. After the period of three Ghaṭikās was over, the previous lord arrived.

82. Purandara was seated on his own throne in Amarāvatī. He was being eulogized by the sages. He was accompanied by Śacī also.

83. The evil-minded one said to Śacī: “O splendid and beautiful lady, you have been enjoyed by that gambler; were you not? Tell me the truth fully.”

84-86. Then the lady without blemish said to Purandara: “Everywhere you see things and persons on the analogy of your own self, O Purandara. He is a noble soul in the form of a gambler. By the grace of Śiva, he has been the knower of the reality and ultimate truth. He is high-minded and detached (from worldly pleasures). He forsook for the sake of others the kingdom and other things that had come to him. All those great things were considered binding nooses causing delusion. Hence he gave them to others. (Hence) he has become victorious.”

87. On hearing the words of Indrāṇī, Purandara, the lord of Devas, became ashamed. He sat silently in his seat.

88-91. The most excellent one among those conversant with arguments said to Bṛhaspati: “Airāvata is not to be seen. So also Uccaiḥśravas, the horse. By whom have Pārijāta and other objects been taken away?”

Then Guru (Bṛhaspati) said to him the great thing done by the gambler. As long as he had power, he gave away (those) to the sages. Those who are not influenced by and not attached to their own great power and position, those who are continuously engaged in meditation on Śiva are the favourites of Śaṅkara.

Abandoning the fruits of the Karmans, they attain the greatest region by resorting to Jñāna (knowledge) alone.”

92-93. On hearing the words of Bṛhaspati, Indra said these words: “Mostly these things Yama will say, for the sake of his own prosperity.”

Thinking that to be so, Śakra, the king of Suras, suddenly went accompanied by Bṛhaspati. Purandara who desired his own objectives, went to the city of Saṃyaminī.

94. On being welcomed and honoured by Yama, Śakra said these words: “My position and region was given to the evil-minded gambler by you.

95. But this highly despicable action has been committed by him. All jewels and fine things belonging to me were given to different persons by him. O Dharma, know this exactly.

96. Your name is Dharma. How did you give the gambler (this position)? Everything has been done by you for destroying my kingdom.

97. O highly fortunate one, fetch the elephant and other things back quickly. Other things, jewels etc. have been given to different persons.”

9G. On hearing the words of Śakra, Yama spoke these words to the gambler furiously: “What is this that has been done by you, a great sinner?

99-102. Śakra’s kingdom was given to you for your enjoyment. But it has been given to Brāhmaṇas. A great thing has been done otherwise. What should not be done has been committed by you, (viz.) the removal (stealing) of other people’s wealth, O foolish one. You will go to hell because of this sin.” On hearing the words of Yama, the gambler said: “The fact that I am to go to hell does not deserve anxiety. As long as I had the possession of Śakra’s throne, something was given to the Brāhmaṇas.”

Yama said:

103-104. Charitable gift is commended on the earth where the fruit of Karman is had. In heaven charitable gift should never be given to anyone by anyone at any place. Hence, O stupid one, you are worthy of being punished. What is opposed to the injunctions of the scriptures has been perpetrated by you. The preceptor is the chastiser and guide of those who are wise and self-possessed. The king is the chastiser of evil-minded persons. I am undoubtedly the chastiser of all persons of sinful conduct.

105. After rebuking that gambler thus, the lord of Dharma (i.e. Yama) himself spoke to Citragupta: “Let him be cooked in the hell.”

Then Citragupta laughed and said to Yama:

106-108. “How can this gambler be sent to hell? The great elephant Airāvata has been given to Agastya by him. The horse that came out of the ocean (Uccaiḥśravā) has been given to the noble-souled Gālava. Welfare unto you, Cintāmaṇi of great lustre has been given to Viśvāmitra.[4] These and other jewels have been given away by this gambler. As a result of that Karman, he is worthy of being praised and worshipped in all the three worlds.

109. Everything that is given away with Śiva in view either in heaven or in the mortal world by men is, it should be known, everlasting. It is called a flawless Karman. Hence there is no question of this gambler falling into hell.

110-111. Whatever sins the gambler committed have all been reduced to ash by remembering Śaṃbhu. He has become a noble soul. Thanks to the grace of Śambhu, many merits have been acquired by him at the same instant.” On hearing these words of Citragupta, the king of the departed spirits bent down his head. He laughed and said this to Śatakratu (Indra):

112-114. “Indeed you are the king of the leading Suras. (Though) old you are too covetous of the kingdom. One good thing of the whole of your life has been earned by you by means of a hundred sacrifices. There is no doubt about it.

You have to request all those sages, Agastya and others, particularly by falling at their feet or offering them monetary compensation in order to get back the elephant and other jewels, whereby you can become happy. You are to hasten.”

115. Thinking that it should be so (after hearing) those words, Purandara of indiscriminate vision went back to his city. With his neck bent down in humility, he requested the sages. Then he got back (the tree) Pārijāta.

116. In the same manner, Purandara got back the whole of the kingdom. He became (once again) the king in Amarāvatī along with noble-souled (persons).

117. A rebirth was granted to the gambler by Yama. As a consequence of some noble action, he became the son of Virocana.

118. Suruci, the daughter of Vṛṣaparvan, the principal queen of Virocana, became the mother of the gambler. He remained in the womb of that noble-souled lady.

119. From the son of Prahlāda and from Suruci, he inherited the great inclination for virtue and charitable gifts.

120. Even as he was staying in the womb, his own mind was made excellent by the gambler. What is difficult of access even to learned men, O Brāhmaṇas, has been accomplished by that gambler.

121. Śakra once went to Virocana, the lord of Daityas, in the guise of a Brāhmaṇa beggar.[5] He was desirous of killing him.

122. After reaching Virocana’s abode, Indra spoke these words on assuming the guise of an old Brāhmaṇa: “O king of good holy rites, O lord of Daityas, you are (the most celebrated) learned man and donor in the whole of the three worlds. Give me (what I am going to ask).

123. Standing in the midst of assemblies, O king of excellent fortune, Brāhmaṇas extol your wonderful life-story and spotless fame. I am a beggar, O lord of Daityas of good holy rites; it behoves you to give me (what I beg).”

124. On hearing his words, the lord of Daityas spoke these words: “O holy lord, what should be given (to you). Tell me quickly.”

125-126. Indra in the form of a Brāhmaṇa spoke to Virocana: “It is a humiliating thing, yet I beg of you. Whatever is highly pleasing and dear to you, should be given to me. There is no doubt about it.”

The Asura, the son of Prahlāda, laughingly spoke these words:

127. “If you desire, O Brāhmaṇa, I shall give you my head. Even this kingdom (I shall give) without any strain. This glory and prosperity shall not go to others. I shall undoubtedly offer everything to you.”

128. On being told thus by the Daitya, Indra pondered over it and said: “Give me your own head adorned with the crown.”

129. When these words were spoken by Śakra in the form of a Brāhmaṇa, the Asura, the son of Prahlāda, joyously hurried up and cut off his own head with his own hand and gave it to Mahendra.

130. The virtuous action performed by Prahlāda previously was (of course) very difficult to do, but by resorting to Bhakti (devotion) alone of Viṣṇu, it was done by him with his mind devoted to him.

131. There is nothing greater than a charitable gift anywhere. That charitable gift offered to persons in distress is highly meritorious.

132. Anything whatsover within one’s capacity, (if offered) is capable of infinite results. There is nothing greater than charitable gift in all the three worlds.

133. There are three types of charitable gifts, viz. Sāttvika, Rājasa and Tāmasa. That charitable gift which is characterized as Sāttvika, was performed by him.

134-135. The head was cut off and given to Indra who was in the guise of a Brāhmaṇa. The crown fell down there. So also the gems and jewels of great lustre fell down simultaneously for the purpose of the groups of Daityas, kings and serpents.

136. That charitable gift of Virocana became well-known in all the three worlds. Even today poets sing about (the charitable gifts) of the noble-souled king of Daityas.

137-138. This gambler of great refulgence became the son of Virocana. He was born after the father had died. His mother, a chaste lady, forsook her body and attained the world of her husband. Then in the very same throne of his father, he was crowned by Bhārgava (Śukra).

139. He earned great fame and he became well-known by the name Bali. All the groups of Suras of very great strength were terrified by him.

140. It has already been mentioned that they went to the auspicious hermitage of Kaśyapa. At that time Bali of great fame became Indra in the city of Devas.

141. By means of his penance, he became the Sun-god himself and blazed. The Asura became Īśa himself and stayed in the north-eastern quarter protecting it, keeping watch over it.

142. Similarly he himself became Nairṛta and Varuṇa, the lord of the waters. Bali then stayed in the north as the lord of wealth (Kubera). Thus Bali directly enjoyed the three worlds himself.

143. Thus, O Brāhmaṇas, Bali became eagerly devoted to and engaged in munificent charitable gifts due to the previous practice which the gambler had, because he was engaged in the worship of Śiva.

144. Once he was seated in the middle of the assembly along with Bhṛgu. The glorious lord was surrounded by the leading Daityas. He spoke these words to Śaṇḍa and Marka:

145. “Take up your residence along with the Asuras here itself near me. Leave off Pātāla today itself. It does not behove you to delay.”

146-147. On hearing it, Bhārgava laughingly said: “One is honoured in the heavenly world only through different kinds of Yajñas. Heaven can be enjoyed, O great king, only by those who perform Yajñas. O king, my words cannot be otherwise.”

148. On hearing the words of the preceptor, the lord of Daityas spoke these words: “Let all the great Asuras live in heaven for a long time, by virtue of the Karman performed by me. There is no doubt about this.”

149. Thinking that Bali was childish, Śukra, the holy lord of Bhṛgu clan, whose power of penance was very great and who was the most excellent one among the intelligent people, laughed and said:

150-151. “O Bali, the words uttered by you do not appeal to me. If you wish to come here itself and stay, O Daitya of good holy rites, worship the Fire-god with a hundred horse-sacrifices after going to the land of Karman (i.e. the earth). It does not behove (you) to delay.”

152. Thinking that it should be so, the noble-souled Bali abandoned heaven. The learned leader of Daityas went to the earth accompanied by Daityas, the preceptor and all attendants.

153. On the banks of the river Narmadā there is a great holy spot of exalted refulgence named Gurukulya. After conquering the entire surface of the earth, the noble-souled lord of Daityas went there.

154. Urged by his preceptor, Bali, son of Virocana of great fame, who was very efficient, had the great initiation. He who was the most excellent one among truthful persons worshipped through many horse-sacrifices.

155. He kept a Brāhmaṇa as his Ācārya (preceptor). He had sixteen Ṛtviks. All of them were well-tested by the noble-souled Bhārgava.

156. Bali, who was readily initiated, performed ninety-nine Yajñas. He decided to complete the hundredth horse-sacrifice too.

157-158. By the time the full merit of the hundred sacrifices was to accrue, the excellent Vrata of Aditi as mentioned by me before, was also completed. The powerful lord Hari was delighted at that Vrata. He became Aditi’s son in the form of a great religious student.

159-162. The sacred thread ceremony of the lord was performed by Kaśyapa himself. When the rite was completed, Brahmā, the grandfather of the worlds, also came there. A sacred thread was given by Brahmā, Parameṣṭhin. A staff was given by the noble-souled Soma (Moon). A girdle was brought and a wonderfully potent deer-hide too. Similarly two sandals were given to the noble-souled boy by the Earth. Alms were brought by Bhavānī for the sake of the realization of his desired object. Thus (everything) was given to Viṣṇu who was in the form of a Baṭu (religious student).

163. The lord of Śrī, in the form of Vāmana (Dwarf), bowed down to Aditi and Kaśyapa. The lord of great refulgence went to the sacrificial chamber of Bali for the sake of deceiving Bali, it is said.

164. Then that great lord went to heaven shaking the earth with the weight of the forepart of his foot. That Lord Vāmana, Viṣṇu himself in the form of the religious student, the Supreme Soul (did so) for the cause of Suras.

165. The noble-souled lord was eulogized by means of truthful words by the people, leading sages and groups of Devas. Proceeding quickly the lord, the sole kinsman of the universe, reached the sacrificial chamber.

166. Since the lord was in the guise of a Baṭu, he sang the Sāman hymns loudly. It was the lord himself, lord Hari who can be realized only through the Vedāntas, who was being sung about in those Sāman hymns.

167. Vāmana whose refulgence was very great had assumed the form of a Baṭu. He stood at the entrance and saw that great horse-sacrifice of Bali.

168. The whole of the cardinal points were pervaded by the great Brahminical splendour of the noble-souled Vāmana, the Baṭu, the sanctifier of everything.[6]

169. On hearing it, the intelligent Bali told Śaṇḍa and Marka: “Let it be looked into as to how many Brāhmaṇas have come.”

170. Thinking that it should be so, both Śaṇḍa and Marka hurriedly got up. They came to the entrance of the hall erected for the performance of the sacrifice.

171. They saw the noble-souled Śrī Hari in the form of a Baṭu. They returned quickly in order to intimate it to Bali.

172. “A certain Brahmacārin (a religious student) alone has come. There is no one else. He has come to your presence, O great king. (He is engaged) in reciting etc. Why he has come to you, we do not know. Know it yourself, O highly intelligent one.”

173. When these words were spoken by both of them, that high-minded (Daitya) stood up immediately for seeing that Baṭu.

174. The great son of Virocana, of excessive refulgence, prostrated himself on the ground like a rod on seeing the Baṭu. He bowed down to the Baṭu with his head.

175. He immediately took the Baṭu in and made him sit on his own throne. After offering Arghya, Pādya etc. duly, he honoured and worshipped the Baṭu.

176. With his neck drooping down due to modesty, he spoke in polished soft words: “Whence have you come, Sir? What for have you come? Whose (son) are you? O lord, let these things be mentioned”

177. On hearing the words of the son of Virocana, Vāmana was delighted. He began to speak.

The Lord said:

178. You are the king and overlord of the three worlds. No one else deserves to be so. If on account of a person the family becomes weaker and deficient, that person is remembered as Kāpuruṣa (‘contemptible one’).

179. If on account of a person the family continues to be iṇ the same position or becomes better and superior, that person is a true man. The Karman performed by you has never been done by your ancestors.

180. Hiraṇyakaśipu and others were the most excellent ones among Daityas. Hiraṇyakaśipu performed great penance for a period of a thousand divine years.

181. As he was engaged in the great penance his body was eaten by many ants and covered with biting gad-flies.

182. On coining to know of it, Surendra formerly went to his city and besieged it with a great army.

183-184. In his presence all the Asuras were killed by the enemy of Daityas. His queen Vindhyā[7] was being taken away,

but, O King, was prevented by Nārada who was desirous of doing something. By the grace of Śaṃbhu, all those things which had been desired mentally by the lord of Daityas were won over by means of penance alone.

185-186, Her son was that person of great splendour (i.e. Prahlāda) by whom his own son, i.e. your father who was a favourite of his father, was led to the Assembly, O King of great fortune. Your father was known by the name Virocana. It was by that noble-souled (Daitya) that the learned Indra was propitiated by the offer of his own head. O King, you are his son. Great fame has been earned by you.

187. By the great lamp of your fame, Suras have been burnt like locusts and fireflies. There is no doubt about this that even Indra has been conquered by you.

188. All your activities have been heard by me, O Daitya of good holy rites. I am a small insignificant person clinging to my vow of celibacy.

189. For the sake of a hut give me some ground, O most excellent one among the kings of earth.

On hearing the words of that Baṭu, Bali spoke:

190-191. “O Baṭu, you are a scholar. What you have spoken before, you yourself do not know, because you are only a child. On hearing it, I think that it is truthful.

Speak quickly, O highly fortunate one, how much ground shall I give you? Ponder over it quickly in your mind.”

192. Then Yāmana spoke these sweet words smilingly:

“Those Brāhmaṇas who are not contented are undoubtedly doomed.

193-194. Those are Brāhmaṇas who are contented, not others. They are Brāhmāṇas in disguise. They (i.e. real Brāhmaṇas) are engaged in their own duty, O King. They are devoid of arrogance. They have no hindrance (of any kind). They are free from jealousy. They have conquered anger and are liberal-minded, O highly intelligent one. They are real Brāhmaṇas, O highly fortunate one. This earth is sustained by them.

195. You are lofty-minded. You have plenty. You are the sole donor in the three worlds. Still the ground measured up to three paces should be given to me.

196. I have nothing to do with plenty of earth, O slayer of Suras. It will serve as a hut with a mere entrance.

197. Three paces of ground are enough for our purpose. There is no doubt about it. I shall take the steps and give me the ground as much as I cover. Only that number (of steps) need be given to me if you are a real donor.”

198. Bali, the son of Virocana, laughed and said this:

“I shall give you the entire earth including mountains, parks and forests.

199-202. O highly fortunate one, take this which belongs to me and given to you by me. See, O Baṭu, you are the person who is an entreater and that you are begging of a Daitya. Whether the beggar is insignificant or not, the donor sees himself (i.e. considers his capacity) and gives away things to those who seek them. He is the real liberal-minded person who gives away commensurately with his own status. Hence a suppliant who is unfortunate should not go abegging. O Baṭu, I shall give you the entire earth today, including the mountains, parks and forests and oceans. My statement cannot be otherwise.”

203. The Baṭu said once again to the son of Virocana: “My (need) is fulfilled, O great Daitya, by taking land covered in three steps.”

204. On hearing those words, Bali, the lord of Asuras, spoke these words laughingly: “Let the space adorned by three steps and given by me, be accepted.”

205. On being told thus, Vāmana laughingly said to the Asura: “Intending the whole of the earth (for dāna), it behoves you to give it, O Daitya of good holy rites.”

206. Thinking that it should be so, Vāmana, the great son of Kaśyapa, was adored well by Bali. Bali was then eulogized well by the sages and leading ascetics.

207. While after worshipping Vāmana, Bali was about to give (the gift), that great son of Virocana was prevented by his preceptor.

208. “This gift should not be offered by you to Viṣṇu in the form of a Baṭu. He has come here for the sake of Indra. He will create obstacles in your Yajña. Hence Viṣṇu, the illuminator of spiritual life, should not be worshipped by you.

209-211. Formerly much has been done by this one assuming the form of Mohinī, the enchantress. Nectar was given to Devas and the great Rāhu was killed. Daityas were routed. The powerful Kālanemi was killed. Such is he. He is the noble-souled Puruṣa. He is Īśvara. He alone is the lord of the universe. Ponder over everything, O highly intelligent one, mentally. It behoves you to do what is conducive to your welfare or otherwise.”

Footnotes and references:


VV 13ff. This is Ekādaśī Vrata to be observed for full one year.


12th day in the bright half of Bhādrapada is the birthday (Jayantī) of Vāmana. Mbh, Sabhā 38 does not give these details of sending his weapons to kill Bali as here in vv 31-35.


VV 52-81. This story of the previous birth of Bali as a gambler-donor is given tc explain Bali’s nature of thoughtless liberality, his atidāna. The story however glorifies the liberality of the gambler to the detriment of god Yama.


Cp. vv 77-80 which state it differently.


VV 121-136 describe how Bali’s father Virocana offered his own head to Indra in the guise of a Brāhmaṇa.


Or by the loud sound of the Vedic Pavamāna hymn recited by the noble-souled Vāmana.


Kayādhū according to BhP.

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