The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Shukra Curses Bali: Vamana Grants Boon to Bali which is chapter 19 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 nineteenth chapter of the Kedara-khanda of the Maheshvara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 19 - Śukra Curses Bali: Vāmana Grants Boon to Bali

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Lomaśa said:

1. On being addressed thus by his preceptor Bhārgava, the Daitya laughed and spoke these words in a voice as majestic as the (thundering) sound of the cloud:

2. “I have been moved by those words with which I have been addressed by you for the sake of my welfare. Your statement may be for my happiness and welfare. But it is sure to go against my welfare.

3. I will surely give what has been begged of (me) to Viṣṇu in the form of a Baṭu. This Viṣṇu is the lord of the fruits of all Karmans.

4-6. Certainly, those people in whose heart Viṣṇu is stationed, are the most deserving persons. Everything seen in this world, is called holy by his name. This Hari is the lord of the universe. Vedas, Yajñas and these things beginning with Mantras, Tantras etc., become perfect and complete on account of him. Lord Hari, the soul of everyone has come here out of sympathy for me, in order to redeem me. There is no doubt about it. Understand this truthfully.”

7. On hearing these words of his, Bhārgava became furious.[1] He began to curse the lord of Daityas, fond of virtue and piety:

8. “O suppressor of foes, you wish to offer the gift, transgressing my directives. Hence, O stupid one, become devoid of good qualities; be rid of all your glory.”

9. Thus (Śukra) cursed his noble-souled disciple, conversant with the ultimate truth and possessing unfathomable knowledge and understanding. Mahā Kavi (‘the Great Śukra’), the most excellent one among those who know virtue and piety, hastened to his own hermitage.

10. When Bhārgava had departed, Bali, the son of Virocana, worshipped Vāmana and began to offer the earth,

11-12. Vindhyāvalī, the resplendent better-half of Bali, came there and washed the feet of the Baṭu. He (Bali) gave the earth to Viṣṇu along with the rite of Saṃkalpa (‘ritualistic proclamation of the intention’) as he was an expert in the procedure (for holy rites). By his determination, the unborn Lord increased in size.

13. When the lord increased in size, the whole of the earth was covered with one of his steps by Viṣṇu who was powerful. All the Svargas (Heavens supposed to be twenty-one in number) were covered with the second step by that Supreme Soul.

14. The foot of Viṣṇu that went as far as Satyaloka, was washed by Parameṣṭhin (i.e. Brahmā) with the water from his. Kamaṇḍalu (‘water-pot’).

15-16. From the water that came in contact with his feet was born (the sacred river) Bhāgīrathī who was auspicious unto all, by whom all the three worlds were rendered sacred and pure, all the Sagaras were uplifted and the matted hair of Śaṃbhu was filled. By Bhagīratha the first and foremost of all the holy waters named Gaṅgā was made to descend. It was connected with Viṣṇu’s foot by Brahmā.

17. The greatest Ātman came to be known by the name Trivikrama, because of his three steps. Then all the three worlds were covered up by the steps taken by Trivikrama.

18-19, Or (it is better to state that) the whole of this universe including mobile and immobile beings was completely covered up by means of two steps.

Janārdana, the lord of Devas, cast off that form (i.e. the cosmic size) and again assumed the form of the Baṭu. He took his seat (as before). At that time Devas, Gandharvas, Sages, Siddhas and Cāraṇas came to the place of Bali’s Yajña in order to see the lord, the presiding deity of Yajñas.

20. Brahmā came there and eulogized the Supreme Spirit. Other leading Daityas also hastened to the place of Bali.

21. Vāmana sat there in the abode of Bali surrounded by all these. Then he said to Garuḍa:

22-23. “In his childish ignorance, sufficient ground to be covered up by three steps was offered by him to me. Two steps have been taken by me. One step that had already been promised, this evil-minded fellow does not give me. Hence the third step must be taken up by you.”

24. On being told thus by Vāmana of great soul, Garuḍa rebuked the son of Virocana and spoke these words:

25. “O stupid Bali, why is this despicable thing committed by you? When you do not have sufficient material what will you give to the Supreme Soul? Of what avail is a (show of) liberalmindedness by you, an insignificant person now?”

26. On being told thus, Bali was overcome (by grief) but smilingly he spoke to Garutmān, the lord of birds, the following words:

27-28. “I am (really) capable, O (bird) of huge wings. I am not a miser. What can I give him by whom all these have been created? O dear one, I have been made incapable by this noble-souled lord.”

Then Garuḍa of noble mind spoke to Bali:

29. “Indeed you know (everything), O lord of Daityas. You were prevented by your preceptor. Yet you offered the earth to Viṣṇu. Is this important thing forgotten by you?

30. That step, the third one that has been promised to Viṣṇu must be given to him. How is it that you do not give it, O hero? You will fall into hell.

31. How is it that you do not give the third step to my master? I will take it forcibly, O foolish one.” Śaying this he bound the great Asura, the son of Virocana, by means of nooses of Varuṇa.

32. Garuḍa, the most excellent one among conquerors, became very ruthless (and did like this). On seeing that her husband had been bound, Vindhyāvalī came there.[2]

33. She placed (her son) Bāṇa on one side and stood in front of Vāmana. It was enquired by Vāmana, “Who is this (lady) standing in front of me?”

34. Then Prahlāda of great splendour, the lord of the Asuras, spoke: “This is Vindhyāvalī, the chaste wife of Bali. She has come to you.”

35. On hearing the words of Prahlāda, Vāmana spoke these words: “Say, O Vindhyāvalī, what shall I do for you?” On being told thus by the lord, Vindhyāvalī. spoke:

Vindhyāvalī said:

36. What for has my husband been bound by the noble-souled Garuḍa? Let it be explained immediately, O Janārdana of exalted fortune?

Then Hari of great splendour, who had assumed the guise of a Baṭu said:

The Lord said:

37. Ground measured by three steps had been offered to me by him alone. The whole of the three worlds has been covered up by me with two steps.

38. The third step has to be given to me by this (Daitya) your husband. Hence, O chaste lady, he has been bound by me through Garuḍa.

39. On hearing the words of the lord, she spoke these great words:

“What has been promised by him, O lord, is not given to you.

40-41. All the three worlds have been covered up by you of valorous form. Therefore (everything) that we had in heaven aswell as on the earth has been hindered and obstructed by you. That was why something has not been given to you, O Lord, O Lord of the  universe, O Lord of Devas.”

Then the lord laughed and said to Vindhyāvalī:

42. “Three steps have to be given to me today. Why (were they not given) now? Tell me quickly, O lady of large wide eyes, what have you in your mind?”

Then that chaste lady stood steady and said to Urukrama (‘one of large step’ i.e. Vāmana):

43. “Why was the whole of the three worlds, O lord of the universe, occupied by you with large steps? Therefore, O sole kinsman of the universe, has everything to be given to you of matchless form by us?

44. Hence leave it off, O Viṣṇu and do thus now. Three steps had been promised by my husband now. My husband will give (those promised steps) now to you. You need not worry about it.

45-46. Place a step on my head, O lord, the most excellent one among Devas. Place the second step, O lord of the universe, on the head of my child (Bāṇa). Place the third step, O lord of the universe, on the head of my husband. Thus I shall give you three steps, O Keśava.”

47. On hearing her words, Janārdana became delighted. He spoke these gentle and soft words to the son of Virocana:

The Lord said:

48. Go to Sutala, O lord of Daityas. Do not delay. It does not behove you to delay. Live long and be happy along with all the groups of Asuras.

49. I am delighted and contented, O dear one. What shall I do for you? You are the most excellent one among all donors, O highly intelligent one.

50-51. Choose a boon. Welfare unto thee. I shall give you everything you wish.

On being told thus by Trivikrama, the son of Virocana was released (from bondage) and embraced by the Discus-bearing Lord of Devas. Then Bali, an expert in the use of words, spoke these words:

52. “It was by you that the whole of this universe consisting of mobile and immobile beings was created. Hence I do not wish for anything except your lotus-like feet, O Lord.

53. Let my devotion be to your lotus-like feet, O lord Janārdana. Let it flourish again and again, O lord of Devas. Let my devotion (unto you) be everlasting.”

54. Thus requested by him, the lord, the sanctifier of all living beings, became exceedingly pleased then and spoke to the son of Virocana:

The Lord said:

55. O Bali, go to Sutala surrounded by kinsmen and relatives.

On being told thus by him the Asura spoke these words:

56. “What have I to do in Sutala, O lord of Devas? Tell me. I shall stay near you. It does not behove you to say otherwise.”

57. Then Hṛṣīkeśa, the merciful (lord), said to Bali: “O King, I shall always be near you.

58. O lord, I shall stand at the entrance to your (abode) and stay there perpetually. O Bali, the most excellent one among Asuras, be not afflicted and distressed. Listen to my clear and open statement. I shall be the bestower of boons on you. Along with the residents of Vaikuṇṭha, I shall betake myself to your abode.”

59. On hearing those words of Viṣṇu of matchless splendour, the Daitya went to Sutala surrounded by Asuras.

60. He stayed there along with his hundred sons, the chief (eldest) of whom was Bāṇa. The (Daitya) of great might was the greatest among all donors, their ultimate resort.

61. All the beggars and mendicants of the three worlds went to Bali. Viṣṇu who stood at the entrance to his abode, granted to them whatever they desired to get.

62. Some of them were desirous of worldly pleasures. Others were desirous of liberation. He gave them everything. He gave it to those persons in whose Yajñas they officiated as the Brāhmaṇa priests.

63-65. It was by the favour of Śaṅkara that Bali became thus.[3] In his former birth as a gambler, fragrant flowers, scents and other great things that had fallen on dirty ground were offered by him to the great Ātman. What had fallen down was dedicated to Śiva, the great spirit by him. What then in the case of those who worship Maheśvara with the greatest devotion? Those who devoutly offer sweet scents, flowers, fruits or even water go to Śiva’s presence.

66-67. There is no greater (deity) worthy of being worshipped than Śiva. Those who are dumb, blind, lame and sluggish, those who are devoid of nobility of birth, Cāṇḍālas, dog-eaters and even low-born mean fellows, always attain the greatest goal if they are engaged in devotion to Śiva.

68. Hence Sadāśiva should be worshipped by all learned men. Sadāśiva should be worshipped, adored and venerated.

69. Those who are aware of the ultimate truth think about Maheśa stationed in the heart. Wherever there is the individual soul, Śiva too dwells there.

70. Everything without Śiva becomes inauspicious instantaneously. Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Rudra—these carry on their activities through the Guṇas.

71. Brahmā possesses Rajas Guṇa. Viṣṇu has Sattva Guṇa. Rudra resorts to Tamas Guṇa. Maheśvara is beyond all the Guṇas.

72. Mahādeva should be worshipped in the form of Liṅga by those who desire salvation. There is no greater bestower of worldly pleasures and liberation than Śiva.

Footnotes and references:


Śukra, Bali’s preceptor, warned that Vāmana, the Baṭu, was Viṣṇu and the proposed gift of three paces of land should not be given. When Bali refused to obey, Śukra cursed him. In the end Vāmana committed a disingenuous fraud of demanding three paws of land of his Viśvarūpa, when the promise was made of the Baṭu’s small three paces and Bali was bound down for non-fulfilment of the pledge.


Vindhyāvalī, the Queen of Bali, who saw through Viṣṇu’s fraud, rose to the occasion and told Viṣṇu (Vāmana) to take still three paces by placing them on the head of Bali, of herself and of her son Bāṇa. The great Viṣṇu was vanquished. He restored Bali to his kingdom in Sutala and became his doorkeeper.


One fails to understand where Śiva’s favour comes in this episode. The author, a propagandist of Śiva, however, gives Śiva the credit of Bali’s ultimate victory.

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