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After being brought back to life by Sukracharya, Bali Maharaja became his disciple and began serving him very faithfully. In return, Sukracharya and the other descendents of Bhrigu became very pleased with Bali Maharaja, and because he desired to conquer the kingdom of Indra, they engaged him in the performance of the Vishvajit-yagya. After purifying Bali Maharaja and bathing him according to the regulative principles, the brahmanas sat down in the sacrificial arena.
As soon as oblations were poured into the sacrificial fire, a celestial chariot appeared, along with yellow horses resembling those of Indra and a flag marked with the symbol of a lion. There also appeared a golden bow, two quivers of infallible arrows, and celestial armor. Bali Maharaja’s grandfather, Prahlada then offered him a garland of ever-fresh flowers and Sukracharya gave him a conch shell.
After having thus received the necessary paraphernalia for battle, by the mercy of the brahmanas, Bali Maharaja circumambulated them and offered his obeisances. Then, after offering his obeisances to Prahlada Maharaja, Bali got onto the celestial chariot and put on his protective armor. After making ready his weapons, Bali Maharaja assembled his soldiers and the other leaders of the demons, so that the combined warriors looked as if they were prepared to swallow up the sky and burn all directions with their vision.
Bali Maharaja departed for the capital of Indra, and while going he seemed to make the surface of the earth tremble. King Indra’s city was full of very pleasing gardens that were filled with trees whose branches bent low due to the weight of their fruit and flowers. Beautiful women sported in those celestial gardens, under the protection of the demigods, and the lakes there were filled with lotus flowers and many species of exotic birds.
Surrounding Indrapura were rivers of Ganga water, called Akash-ganga, as well as high walls, equipped with parapets for defense. The entire city had been constructed by Vishvakarma, and was full of courtyards, wide avenues, assembly houses, and not less than one hundred million airplanes. The crossroads were made from pearl, and the sitting places were made of diamond and coral.
Everywhere was seen everlastingly beautiful and youthful women, who seemed to glitter like the flames of a fire. The breezes that blew throughout the city bore the fragrance of the flowers that fell from the hair of these damsels, combined with the smoke of aguru emanating from the windows of the residences. Throughout the city, the cries of peacocks were always to be heard, as well as the auspicious songs that were being chanted by the beautiful women flying overhead in their airplanes. In addition, the sounds of flutes, stringed instruments and drums, played in concert, along with the singing of the Gandharvas, constantly filled the air.
Thus, the combined beauty of Indrapuri seemed to defeat the pride of beauty personified. No one could enter that city who was sinful, envious, violent towards other living beings, cunning, falsely proud, lusty or greedy, for the people who resided there were all devoid of these faults.
As Bali Maharaja attacked the outskirts of Indrapuri, he blew the conch shell that had been given to him by his spiritual master, Sukracharya, causing fear to enter the hearts of the women protected by Indra. When Indra and the other demigods saw the strength of Bali Maharaja’s army, and understood his intention, they hastily approached Brihaspati and said, “My lord, our old enemy, Bali Maharaja, has gained such astonishing prowess and enthusiasm that we cannot even imagine resisting him. It appears as if Bali is trying to drink up the entire universe with his mouth, lick up the ten directions with his tongue, and set fire everywhere with his eyes. What is the cause of Bali Maharaja’s new-found strength and influence?”
Brihaspati replied, “Indra, because the brahmana descendents of Bhrigu Muni have become very pleased with Bali Maharaja, they have endowed him with this extraordinary prowess. You will not be able to conquer him now, for he has become empowered with their brahma-tejas. Indeed, just as no one can stand before Yamaraja, no one can vanquish Bali now, except the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore, you should leave the heavenly planets and remain elsewhere, unseen by others, and wait for the time when the situation becomes reversed. Later on, when Bali Maharaja insults the brahmanas, he will surely be vanquished, along with his friends and associates.”
Being so advised, the demigods assumed various forms, according to their desires, and then left the heavenly planets, scattering here and there, without being observed by the demons. Bali Maharaja then entered Indrapuri, and from there, he proceeded to bring the entire three worlds under his control.
After this, Sukracharya and the other brahmana descendents of Bhrigu, being very pleased with their disciple, engaged him in performing one hundred ashvamedha-yagyas, to enable him to remain upon the throne of Indra. After performing these sacrifices, Bali Maharaja’s reputation spread in all directions, and indeed, he appeared to brilliantly shine while seated upon Indra’s throne, like the full moon in the sky. By the mercy of the brahmanas, Bali Maharaja became very satisfied at having attained such an opulent position, and thus he began enjoying life in the kingdom of heaven.
Due to the misfortune of her sons, however, Aditi began to lament like one who had no protector. Then, after a long time, the great sage Kashyapa emerged from his trance of meditation and returned home to his ashram. Although Aditi greeted him with a proper reception, Kashyapa could see that she was morose, and that their abode was now wrapped in gloom.
After taking his seat, Kashyapa said, “O most gentle one, has something inauspicious happened with regard to your execution of religious principles, your dealings with the brahmanas, or with the people in general? Have there been some discrepancies in your execution of the principles of dharma, artha, and kama, the following of which make the activities of a householder as good as those of the transcendentalists? Being too much attached to your own family members, have you failed to properly receive uninvited guests, who therefore went away, disappointed? Homes from which guests depart, without having been received with at least an offering of a little water, are like the holes in the field that serve as residences for jackals.”
“O chaste woman, because of my long absence, were you so anxious that you neglected to offer oblations of ghee into the sacrificial fire?”
“O great-minded lady, are your sons faring well? By seeing your withered face, I can understand that your mind is not tranquil. Why is this?”
Aditi replied, “O respected husband, because I always think of you, there is no possibility of my neglecting any of the religious principles.”
“My lord, since you, who are one of the Prajapatis, are my personal instructor, where is the possibility that all of my desires will not be fulfilled?”
“Because you are a great personality, you are equal toward the demigods and demons, who are all born from your body and mind. However, even though He is equal to all living entities, the Supreme Personality of Godhead is especially favorable to the devotees. Therefore, kindly favor us, the demigods, for we have been deprived of our residence, fame, and opulence by our enemies, the demons. Having become exiled from heaven, we are now drowning in an ocean of miseries.”
“O best of sages, please consider our situation and then bestow upon my sons benedictions whereby they may regain what they have lost.”
Upon hearing Aditi’s request, Kashyapa slightly smiled and then said, “Oh, how powerful is the illusory energy of Lord Vishnu, by which the entire world becomes bound with affection for their children. Although the material body, which is made of five elements, is completely different from the real self, due to bodily attachment, one is regarded as a husband or son. These illusory relationships are all caused by a fundamental misunderstanding.”
“My dear Aditi, you should engage in the devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Who is the master of everything, Who can subdue one’s enemies, and Who can bestow all auspicious benedictions upon everyone. The Supreme Lord, Who is very merciful to the poor, will fulfill all of your desires, because devotional service unto Him is infallible. Indeed, in my opinion, any method other than devotional service is simply a useless waste of time.”
Kashyapa first tried to impart spiritual knowledge to his wife, so that she might become equipoised in loss and gain. However, when he saw that she was not ready to accept such instruction, he advised her to engage in devotional service for the fulfillment of her desires. Aditi was thus in the category of “arta”, or one who approaches the Supreme Lord in distress.
Aditi then requested, “O brahmana, please tell me the regulative principles by which I may worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead so that He will become pleased with me and fulfill my desires. Kindly instruct me in the best method of worshiping the Lord, so that He may very soon become satisfied and thus save me and my sons from this dangerous condition.”
Kashyapa said, “Formerly, when I had desired to beget offspring, I had requested guidance from Lord Brahma. Now, I shall explain to you the same process that Lord Brahma imparted to me, and by which the Supreme Lord becomes easily satisfied.”
“During the bright fortnight of the month of Phalguna (February and March), for twelve days, ending with Dvadashi, one should observe the vow of drinking only milk while worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead with full devotion. If available, dirt that has been dug up by a boar should be smeared over one’s body on the day of the dark moon.”
“Then, while bathing in a river, one should chant this mantra: ‘O mother earth, you were raised up by the Supreme Lord in the form of a boar. I offer my respectful obeisances unto you and pray that you kindly vanquish all of the reactions to my sinful life.’ Thereafter, one should perform his regular duties, and then very attentively worship the Deity of the Supreme Lord, the altar, the sun, water, fire, and the spiritual master.”
“First of all, one should offer various prayers while welcoming the Supreme Lord with faith and devotion. While engaging in archana (the worship of the Deity), one should chant the mantra ‘om namo bhagavate vasudevaya’ and offer flower garlands, incense and other paraphernalia. Then, one should bathe the Lord with milk, offer Him a nice dress and ornaments, and provide Him with padya, arghya, gandha, and other such things. After dressing the Deity, one should offer fine sweet-rice that has been boiled with ghee and molasses.”
“Thereafter, prasada should be offered to a Vaishnava, and then one can resume his worship by offering achamana, betel nut, and other articles to the Lord. After this, one should chant the mantra softly 108 times and then offer prayers in glorification of the Lord. Finally, after circumambulating the Deity, one should fall straight like a rod before the Lord with great delight, offering respectful obeisances. Then, after touching to one’s head all of the flowers and water that had been offered to the Deity, one should throw them in a sacred place. After this, at least two brahmanas should be fed with sweet-rice, and after honoring them greatly, one may have prasada with their permission, along with his friends and relatives.”
“That night, one should observe strict celibacy. The next morning, after bathing, one should once again engage in the service of the Deity as described above. Along with worship of the Deity, one should offer oblations into the sacrificial fire, and in this way, the vow should be observed for twelve days. During this period, one should not unnecessarily talk of material subjects, and one should remain completely free from envy towards all living entities. In other words, one should be a pure and simple devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Also, during these twelve days- singing, dancing, the chanting of prayers and mantras, as well as the recitation of Shrimad-Bhagavatam should accompany the regular worship of the Supreme Lord.”
Thereafter, on the thirteenth day, one should bathe the Deity with pancha-amrita (milk, yogurt, ghee, sugar and honey), under the direction of brahmanas who know the injunctions of shastra. Giving up all miserliness, one should arrange for very gorgeous worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Vishnu, and offer Him sumptuous food while chanting the Purusha-sukta mantra.”
“One should then satisfy the acharya, as well as the assistant priests, by offering them clothing, ornaments, money and cows, as well as prasada. Prasada should then be distributed to all of the other brahmanas who may have assembled, as well as to all other classes of men, so that they may also become satisfied. Vishnu-prasada should be distributed to all; including the poor, the dog-eaters, the blind, and the non-devotees- for in this way, Lord Vishnu becomes satisfied. Only after everyone has been sumptuously fed, should the performer of the yagya take prasada, along with his friends and relatives.”
Kashyapa then concluded by saying, “This is the ritualistic ceremony known as payo-vrata, that I had formerly learned from my grandfather, Lord Brahma.”
“O most fortunate lady, execute this process and thus worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead with a peaceful mind and joyful spirit.”
“This payo-vrata is also known as sarva-yagya, for by its performance all other sacrifices are automatically included. This worship of the Supreme Lord is also the essence of all austerities and the best process of giving in charity. Therefore, it is the best of all regulative principles, and the best method for pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Adhoksaja.”
“My dear gentle lady, rest assured that by following this vow, the Supreme Lord will very soon become pleased and satisfy all of your desires.”
Thereafter, Aditi performed the payo-vrata as instructed by her husband. With undivided attention, she meditated upon the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and thus brought her mind and senses under complete control. At the completion of her vow, the Supreme Lord, being very pleased, appeared before her in His four-armed form.
Aditi immediately became overwhelmed by transcendental ecstasy. She quickly stood up and then fell onto the ground like a rod, to offer her obeisances. After standing up, Aditi was at first unable to speak because of her great ecstasy. As she stood before the Lord with folded hands, tears filled her eyes, her hair stood up on end, and her entire body trembled.
Finally, with a voice that faltered due to excessive love, Aditi offered her prayers as follows while appearing to drink the Lord through her eyes: “O original Supreme Personality of Godhead, Supreme Controller, You are the shelter of all poor, suffering living beings. Please be kind upon us and spread our good fortune.”
“O Unlimited One, if Your Lordship is satisfied, then one can very easily obtain a lifetime equal to Brahma’s, residence in any desirable planetary system, unlimited opulence, satisfaction of the senses, mystic perfections, transcendental knowledge, and so what to speak of such a petty achievement as conquering one’s enemies.”
The Supreme Personality of Godhead then said, “O mother of the demigods, I have already understood your long-cherished desire for the welfare of your sons. I can understand that you want to be re-united with them, so that together you can worship Me after defeating the demons and retrieving your heavenly abode. You would like to see the wives of the demons lamenting for the death of their husbands, after they had been killed in battle by the demigods.”
“In My opinion, however, almost all of the leaders of the demons are now unconquerable, for they are under the protection of the brahmanas, whom the Supreme Lord always favors. Therefore, to try and use prowess against them would certainly prove futile, and result in even more misery. And yet, because I have been satisfied by your execution of the payo-vrata, I must find some means for favoring you, because worship of Me never goes in vain.”
“You have prayed to Me and properly executed your vow, for the sake of protecting your sons. Because of this, and in consideration of Kashyapa Muni’s austerities, I shall agree to become your son, for the purpose of protecting your other sons. While always meditating upon Me as being situated within your husband’s body, go and worship him, and be careful not to disclose this fact to anyone, even if asked. That which is very confidential becomes successful if kept secret.”
After saying this, the Supreme Lord disappeared from that spot. Having achieved the incomparable benediction that the Supreme Lord would appear as her son, Aditi considered herself to be successful, and thereafter, she approached her husband with great devotion. While situated in a trance of meditation, Kashyapa could see that a plenary portion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead had entered within him. Thereafter, just as the wind causes fire by the friction of two pieces of wood, Kashyapa transferred his potency into the womb of Aditi.
When Lord Brahma understood that the Supreme Lord was within Aditi’s womb, he came and offered his prayers: “My dear Lord, You are the original generator of all living beings, moving and non-moving, and You are also the generator of the Prajapatis.”
“O my Lord, as a boat is the only hope for a person who is drowning in the water, You are the only shelter for the demigods, who are now bereft of their heavenly position.”
Thereafter, the Supreme Personality of Godhead appeared from Aditi’s womb, His four hands decorated with conch shell, club, lotus flower and disc. He was dressed in yellow garments, and His eyes appeared like the petals of a blooming lotus flower. The Lord’s complexion was blackish, and His lotus face appeared very beautiful. His body was fully decorated with various ornaments, upon His chest was the mark of Shrivatsa, and an uncommonly beautiful flower garland hung around His neck, surrounded by humming bees in search of honey.
The effulgence of the Lord dissipated the darkness in the home of Prajapati Kashyapa, and in all directions and within the core of everyone’s hearts there were manifestations of happiness. The various seasons simultaneously displayed their respective qualities, and in consideration of the Lord’s appearance, the stars and planets situated themselves most auspiciously. The Lord appeared on the Shravana-dvadashi (the twelfth day of the bright fortnight in the month of Bhadra), at the auspicious moment known as Abhijit (at noon). This day is also known as Vijaya-dvadashi.
Upon the appearance of the Supreme Lord, the combined sounds of conch shells, drums and various musical instruments became tumultuous. The Apsaras danced in jubilation, the best of the Gandharvas sang, and the great sages, demigods, Manus, Pitas and fire-gods offered prayers for the Lord’s satisfaction. As they glorified the Lord and danced, the Siddhas, Suparnas and Nagas showered so many flowers from above, that Kashyapa’s entire house became covered.
When Aditi saw how the Supreme Personality of Godhead had appeared from her womb, by means of His internal potency, she was highly astonished and ecstatic. In great happiness and amazement, Kashyapa exclaimed “Jaya! Jaya!” again and again. Then, in the presence of His mother and father, the Supreme Lord assumed the form of Vamana, a dwarf-brahmana brahmachari- just as a theatrical actor changes his dress.
When the great sages saw the Lord in this form, they became very pleased. Placing Kashyapa at their head, the brahmanas performed all of the ritualistic ceremonies for Lord Vamanadeva, beginning with the birth ceremony. During the performance of the sacred thread ceremony, the sun-god personally uttered the Gayatri mantra, and Brihaspati offered the Lord a sacred thread.
Kashyapa offered Vamana a straw belt, Mother Earth gave Him a deerskin, and the moon-god gave the Lord a brahma-danda. Aditi presented her son with cloth for underwear, and the deity presiding over heaven gave Him an umbrella. Lord Brahma offered Vamanadeva a water pot, the sapta-rishis presented Him kusha grass, and mother Sarasvati gave the Lord a string of Rudraksha beads. Kuvera presented Vamana with a pot for begging alms, and the wife of Lord Shiva gave Him His first donation.
Having thus been welcomed, Lord Vamana exhibited His Brahman effulgence so that He surpassed in beauty the entire assembly of great rishis and demigods. Thereafter, when Lord Vamanadeva heard that Bali Maharaja was performing ashvamedha-yagyas under the direction of the brahmana descendents of the Bhrigu dynasty, He went there to show mercy to the king of the demons.
While going, the Lord’s weight pushed down the earth at every step. As they engaged in performing sacrifice on the northern bank of the Narmada River, at the place known as Bhrigukaccha, the priests saw the appearance of Lord Vamanadeva to be like the rising of the sun nearby.
Vamanadeva’s brilliant effulgence robbed the splendor of Bali Maharaja and all of the assembled brahmanas, so that they began talking amongst themselves as to whether the sun-god himself, Agni or Sanat-kumara had arrived at their sacrificial arena. As the descendents of Bhrigu were thus arguing in various ways, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vamanadeva entered the arena, holding His rod, umbrella and water pot in His hands. Appearing as a brahmana boy, the Lord wore a straw belt, a sacred thread, a deerskin garment, and matted locks of hair on His head.
Feeling their prowess diminished by the Lord’s presence, the brahmanas immediately rose up from their seats and welcomed Vamana properly by offering Him their obeisances. Bali Maharaja, who felt great jubilation upon seeing the Lord, offered Him a seat with great satisfaction and then worshiped Him by washing His lotus feet. Just as Lord Shiva receives the water of the Ganga (which emanates from the toe of Lord Vishnu, upon his head with great devotion), Bali Maharaja placed upon his head the water that had washed Lord Vamanadeva’s lotus feet.
Bali Maharaja then addressed the Lord as follows: “O brahmana, I offer You my welcome and most respectful obeisances. Please let us know what we may do for You.”
“O my Lord, because of Your arrival, all of my forefathers have certainly become satisfied and our entire dynasty has been sanctified. Indeed, we feel that our sacrifice has now come to a successful completion, just by Your presence. Not only have I become freed from all sinful reactions by the water that washed Your lotus feet. By the touch of Your small lotus feet, the entire surface of the earth has certainly become sanctified.”
“O son of a brahmana, it appears that You have come here to ask me for something. You can take from me whatever You desire, whether it be a cow, gold, a house, food and drink, the daughter of a brahmana for becoming Your wife, villages, horses, elephants, chariots, or whatever else You may want.”
Lord Vamanadeva was very satisfied to hear Bali Maharaja speak in such a pleasing manner. Therefore, in reply, the Lord praised him as follows: “O King, you are indeed exalted because you have accepted the guidance of the brahmanas, and are under the care of your grandfather, Prahlada Maharaja. I know that no one has taken birth in your family who is poor-minded or miserly, and thus has refused to give charity to a brahmana, or accept the challenge of a kshatriya on the battlefield. Nor has anyone in your family failed to fulfill his word after having promised to give something in charity.”
“The great hero, Hiranyaksha, was born in your dynasty, and without any assistance, he easily conquered all directions. The Lord in His Varaha incarnation killed Hiranyaksha only with great difficulty after a very severe fight. Thus, later on, when the Lord thought about Hiranyaksha’s uncommon prowess, He felt Himself to be victorious indeed.”
“When Hiranyakashipu heard of his brother’s death, he angrily went to Lord Vishnu’s residence to gain revenge. When the Lord saw Hiranyakashipu coming with a trident in his hand, He thought as follows, ‘Wherever I go, Hiranyakashipu will follow Me, just as death constantly pursues all living entities. Therefore, I had better enter into the core of his heart. Because he only has the power to see externally, he will not be able to see Me there.’ After making this decision, Lord Vishnu entered the body of Hiranyakashipu, who was rushing toward Him with great speed.”
“In a subtle body that was inconceivable to him, the Lord of all mystic powers entered Hiranyakashipu’s nostril, along with his breath. When Hiranyakashipu found Lord Vishnu’s residence vacant, He began searching for Him throughout the universe, while angrily challenging Him to fight. Finally, after being unable to find Lord Vishnu anywhere, Hiranyakashipu thought, ‘I have searched the entire universe, but I have not found Lord Vishnu. Therefore, He must have gone to that place from which no one returns (or, in other words, He must now be dead).’ ”
Lord Vamana continued to speak to Bali Maharaja: “Your father, Virochana, was so affectionate to the brahmanas that even though he knew that it was the demigods who had come to him in the dress of brahmanas, he delivered to them the duration of his life at their request.”
“O king of the Daityas, who have followed in the footsteps of your illustrious forefathers, I wish to ask for only three paces of land, according to My own measurement. Although you are certainly very munificent, and are able to give Me as much land as I could possibly ask for, I do not wish to accept anything from you that is more than what I require. If a learned brahmana takes charity from others just according to his needs, then he does not become entangled in sinful activities.”
Bali Maharaja replied, “O son of a brahmana, Your speech is as good as that of learned and elderly persons. However, because You are a mere boy, Your intelligence is undeveloped, and thus You are not very prudent in regard to your self-interest. I am the proprietor of the entire three worlds, and so I could give you one of the seven islands of Bhu-mandala. And yet, in spite of your having come here and pleased me by Your sweet words, You are asking for only three paces of land. For this reason, I can understand that You are not very intelligent.”
“O little boy, one who approaches me should beg for enough so that he will never again have to ask for something from anyone. Therefore, please take from me as much land as is necessary for you to maintain Yourself according to Your needs.”
Lord Vamanadeva said, “O King, if a person’s senses are uncontrolled, even if he were to receive the entirety of whatever there may be within the three worlds to satisfy his senses, he would still remain dissatisfied. If I were not satisfied with three paces of land, then surely I would not be content even by possessing one of the seven islands of Bhu-mandala, and would hope to get the others as well.”
“We have heard how powerful kings, like Maharaja Prithu and Maharaja Gaya gained proprietorship over the entire sapta-dvipa, but still could not find the limit of their ambitions. Therefore, one should be satisfied with whatever he achieves as a result of his destiny, for discontent can never bring happiness. A person who is not self-controlled will never be happy, even if he were to possess the entire three worlds.”
“Material existence causes discontent as one tries to fulfill his lust and greed, and thus the repetition of birth and death continues. However, one who is satisfied with that which is obtained by destiny is fit for liberation from material existence. A brahmana who remains satisfied with whatever is providentially obtained becomes increasingly enlightened with spiritual power. On the other hand, the spiritual potency of a dissatisfied brahmana decreases, like a fire when water is sprinkled upon it. Therefore, My dear King, I only wish to ask you for three paces of land, and by that gift I shall be very pleased.”
Bali Maharaja smiled and replied, “Alright. Take whatever You like” and to confirm his promise, he picked up his water pot.
Sukracharya could understand Lord Vishnu’s purpose, however, and so he immediately told his disciple, who was about to offer everything to Lord Vamanadeva, “O son of Virochana, this dwarf brahmana is actually the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vishnu. Having accepted Kashyapa and Aditi as His father and mother, He has now appeared to fulfill the interests of the demigods. This person who has falsely appeared as a brahmachari, is the Supreme Lord. After taking away all of your land, wealth, beauty, power and fame, He will deliver the kingdom of the three worlds to your enemy, Indra.”
“You rascal, you do not know what a great mistake you have made, for when you give Him the promised three steps of land, He will occupy the entire three worlds. After giving everything to Lord Vishnu, what will be your means of livelihood? This dwarf brahmana will cover all of the land and space within the universe with only two steps. Where then will He be able to place His third?”
“Because of this, you will be unable to fulfill your promise, thus paving your way to an eternal residence in hell. Learned scholars do not praise that charity which endangers one’s livelihood, for one’s occupation is the root of all religious performances. For this reason, one should divide his wealth into five parts- for religion, for reputation, for opulence, for sense gratification, and for the maintenance of family members. In this way, one can become happy in this world, as well as in the next.”
“If you argue that you cannot break a promise that is already made, then listen to the evidence of the Bahvricha-shruti, which states that a promise is valid only when preceded by ‘om’, and not otherwise,”
“Just as fruit and flowers cannot exist without the body of a tree- without the material body, one cannot derive the benefit of religious practice. Therefore, even though the body is ‘asat’, or not factual, it is necessary for achieving a tangible result. If one gives everything in charity, and thus becomes poverty-stricken, the result will be that he will remain unfulfilled in terms of both sense gratification and self-realization.”
“In this case, the safe course of action is to refuse this brahmachari’s request for charity. Although such a refusal involves telling a lie, it will protect you. For flattering a woman, to bring her under control; while joking; during a marriage ceremony’ for the purpose of earning one’s livelihood’ for saving one’s life when it is in danger; for protecting cows and brahmanas; or for saving anyone from the hands of an enemy, falsity is never condemned.”
Sukracharya was a representative of the priestly class of brahmanas who are mostly interested in receiving remuneration from their disciples. Thus, he was very concerned about what would happen to his own position if the Lord took away all of Bali Maharaja’s possessions. That is the difference between a smarta-brahmana and a Vaishnava. A smarta-brahmana is always interested in material profit, whereas a Vaishnava is interested only in satisfying the Supreme Personality of Godhead. After hearing his spiritual master’s arguments, which were meant to discourage him from fulfilling his promise, Bali Maharaja remained silent for some time, at this very crucial point.
Bali Maharaja thought, “How can I disobey my spiritual master? On the other hand, Sukracharya has deviated from the duty of a spiritual master, which is to teach his disciple how to surrender unto Lord Vishnu- and thus go back home, back to Godhead. Sukracharya can be rejected, due to having deviated from his duty as a guru. Therefore, I think that it is better for me to independently satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead in all respects, even at the risk of ignoring his advice to the contrary.”
After full deliberation, Bali Maharaja replied to Sukracharya, “I agree with your statement that the householder should accept only those religious principles that do not hinder one’s means of livelihood and good reputation. How then can I withdraw my promise, simply out of greed, and thus behave like an ordinary cheater- especially toward a brahmana?”
“There is nothing more sinful than untruthfulness. For this reason, Mother Earth once said, ‘I can bear any heavy burden except a person who is a liar’. I do not fear hell, poverty, an ocean of distress, falling down from my position, or even death itself, as much as I fear cheating a brahmana. Because whatever one possesses is taken away, sooner or later, why not please this brahmana with the wealth that one is destined to lose at the time of death, if that is what is required to satisfy Him?”
“Shibi, Dadhichi and many other great personalities were willing to sacrifice their very lives for the welfare of others. Why shouldn’t I be willing to give up a little insignificant land? Since all of one’s possessions will eventually be lost, why not use them for the achievement of a good reputation, which continues to exist, even after death?”
“O best of brahmanas, many men have fearlessly laid down their lives on the battlefield, but rarely has one gotten the opportunity to directly give his accumulated wealth to the Supreme Lord, Vishnu. Under the circumstances, I must give this little brahmachari whatever charity He wants.”
“O great sage, saintly persons like you always engage in worshiping Lord Vishnu. Therefore, whether Lord Vishnu has come here to give me benedictions, or punish me as an enemy, I must carry out His order and give Him the requested land without hesitation. If Lord Vishnu has actually come here, covering Himself out of fear, then even if He irreligiously arrests, or even kills me, I shall not retaliate, because He has assumed the form of a brahmana. But, I feel that Lord Vishnu would never give up His widespread reputation by resorting to such deception. Either He would lie down on the battlefield, having been slain by me, or He would kill me in a fight.”
Sukracharya’s argument that religious principles should only be accepted if they do not hinder economic development and sense gratification is invariably put forward by materialistic men. In reality, Sukracharya was trying to hinder Bali Maharaja’s execution of devotional service. Thus, so that he could overcome such a hindrance, Bali decided to reject Sukracharya’s advice and immediately give everything to Vamanadeva.
Bali Maharaja had received the seed of devotional service from his grandfather, Prahlada, and when that seed developed, he became so purified that the Supreme Lord mercifully appeared before Him. Due to having attained the perfection of love of Godhead, by the mercy of Prahlada (thus he was a kripa-siddha), Bali Maharaja immediately decided, “I shall give this little dwarf brahmana whatever He asks from me.”
This is a sign of love. And yet, although Bali Maharaja was prepared to give the gift to Vamanadeva without discussion, he knew that this would pain the hearts of Sukracharya and the demons. It is for this reason that he spoke in such an equivocal way. Actually, if Lord Vishnu had come and requested Bali Maharaja directly for the kingdom of the three worlds, he certainly would not have refused. Therefore, it was just to enjoy a little humor with His devotee that the Lord covered Himself as a dwarf brahmana and then begged for three steps of land from Bali Maharaja.
Thereafter, being inspired by the Supreme Lord from within his heart, Sukracharya cursed Bali Maharaja as follows: “Although you have no real knowledge, you consider yourself to be so learned that you have impudently dared to disobey my order. As a result, you shall very soon become bereft of all your opulence.”
Even though he was cursed by his spiritual master, Bali Maharaja never deviated from his fixed determination. Thus, according to the custom, he first of all offered water to Lord Vamanadeva and then gave Him the gift of land as he had promised. Bali Maharaja’s wife, Vindhyavali, brought a large golden water pot, and Bali jubilantly washed the Lord’s lotus feet and then placed the water upon his head.
All of the demigods, being exceedingly pleased with Bali Maharaja’s simple, non-duplicitous act, began praising him, while showering down millions of flowers. The Gandhravas sounded many thousands of trumpets and played their drums, while declaring, “How exalted a person is Bali Maharaja, and what a difficult task he has performed! Even though he knew that Lord Vishnu had come on behalf of his enemies, he nonetheless gave Him the entire three worlds in charity.”
Lord Vamanadeva began increasing in size, until everything in the universe was within His body. Bali Maharaja and the entire assembly could thus see the universal form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, which contained all of the gross and subtle material elements, the senses and the sense objects- as well as all of the planetary systems and living entities.
Bali Maharaja could see the lower planetary systems situated upon the soles of the lotus feet of the Lord’s universal form, which stood upon the surface of the earth. On the Lord’s calves were situated the mountains; on His knees, the various birds; and on His thighs, the air. Beneath the Lord’s garments was seen the evening twilight, and upon His genitals were situated the Prajapatis. Bali Maharaja saw himself and his associates situated on the Lord’s waist, along with the seven oceans. In the Lord’s navel, he saw the sky and on the Lord’s chest, he saw the stars.
Bali Maharaja saw religion situated on the heart of the Lord, pleasing words and truthfulness upon His chest, and the moon was seen in His mind. The goddess of fortune was also resting upon the Lord’s chest, and on His neck were all of the Vedas. The demigods, headed by Indra, were situated upon the Lord’s arms, and the directions were seen in His ears. On His head were the upper planetary systems; on His hair, the clouds; in His nostrils, the wind; in His eyes, the sun; and in His mouth was fire. From His words came the Vedic mantras, and on His tongue was Varuna.
On the eyebrows of the Lord’s universal form were the regulative principles, and on His eyelids were day and night. Anger was situated on His forehead, envy upon His lips, lusty desire in His touch, and the waters in His semen. On His back was irreligion, and in His acts were fire sacrifices. On the Lord’s bodily hairs were all of the drugs and herbs, in His smile was the illusory energy, and on His shadow was death. In His veins were all the rivers, on His nails were all the stones, in His intelligence was Lord Brahma and other demigods and great rishis, and throughout His entire body were situated all kinds of moving and non-moving living entities.
When the demons saw the Sudarshana chakra in the Lord’s hand, and heard the tumultuous twanging of His bow, lamentation entered their hearts. The Panchajanya conch shell, the Kaumodaki club, the sword named Vidyadhara, the shield decorated with hundreds of moonlike spots, and the best of quivers called Akshayashayaka all appeared together, along with the Lord’s personal associates- to offer prayers unto the universal form.
Thereafter, when Lord Vamanadeva took His second step, He covered all of the heavenly planets. Indeed, as His lotus foot extended higher and higher, beyond even Maharloka, Janaloka, Tapoloka and Satyaloka, there remained absolutely no place to put His third step. At this time, the Lord’s toenail pierced the universal coverings and a drop of the Causal Ocean leaked in through the hole, so that it could deliver all of the fallen souls by becoming the River Ganga.
When Lord Brahma saw the effulgence of his abode, Brahmaloka, reduced by the glaring light emanating from Lord Vamanadeva’s toenails, he approached the Lord, along with the great sages. After worshiping the upraised lotus foot of the Supreme Personality of Godhead with oblations of water, Lord Brahma, who seemed insignificant in the presence of that effulgent lotus foot, offered his prayers. The water from Lord Brahma’s kamandalu, which washed Lord Vamanadeva’s lotus foot, combined with the water that had leaked through from the Causal Ocean, to become the Ganga.
Thereafter, Lord Vamanadeva resumed His original form as a dwarf-brahmana, and so all of the great demigods, headed by Lord Brahma, came there and worshiped Him with offerings of fragrant flowers, water, padya, arghya, sandalwood paste, aguru paste, incense, lamps, fused rice, unbroken grains, fruit, roots and sprouts. While worshiping Lord Vamanadeva, the demigods also offered prayers that described His glorious activities, and they also danced, sang, played upon musical instruments, and sounded their conch shells.
At this time, Jambavan, the king of the rikshas came there and while sounding his bugle, he declared a great festival in honor of Lord Vamanadeva’s victory.
When Bali Maharaja’s demon followers saw that their master had lost all of his possessions to Vamanadeva, who had taken them away on the plea of begging for three paces of land, they angrily exclaimed, “This Vamana is not a brahmana, but the best of cheaters, Lord Vishnu! Having covered His real form by disguising Himself as a brahmana, He is working on behalf of the demigods. Since our lord, Bali Maharaja, had given up the power to punish while engaged in this sacrificial performance, our eternal enemy, Vishnu has taken the opportunity to steal his kingdom. Bali Maharaja will not retaliate because he is always fixed in a vow of truthfulness, and thus it is our duty to kill this Vamanadeva on his behalf.”
Having come to this decision, the demons angrily picked up their weapons, and although Bali Maharaja tried to forbid them, they rushed at Lord Vamanadeva, hoping to kill him. When the associates of Lord Vishnu saw the demons approaching, they smilingly picked up their own weapons and forbade them from continuing their attempt. These Vishnu-dutas, such as Nanda, Sunanda, Jaya, Vijaya and Garuda were all extremely powerful, and so when the demons ignored their warning, they easily began to slaughter them.
When Bali Maharaja saw how his soldiers were being killed, he remembered Sukracharya’s curse, and forbade the demons from further aggression by saying, “O Viprachitti, O Rahu, O Nemi, please hear my words. Because the present time is not in our favor, stop fighting immediately. No one can supersede the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Who is the supreme giver of happiness and distress. The time factor, which represents the Supreme Lord, was previously in our favor, but now it has gone against us. Unless and until providence is in our favor, we shall never be able to gain victory. Let us wait for that favorable time when defeating our enemies will be possible.”
Thereafter, in accordance with Bali Maharaja’s order, the demons entered the lower regions of the universe, being driven by the soldiers of Lord Vishnu. Then, on the day of soma-pana, Garuda arrested Bali Maharaja with the ropes of Varuna, understanding this to be Lord Vishnu’s desire. When Bali Maharaja was thus bound up, a great roar of lamentation was heard in all directions throughout the upper and lower planetary systems. Although he had lost all bodily luster, Bali Maharaja remained fixed in his determination to satisfy Lord Vishnu, and thus he was not overly disturbed by the loss of all his possessions.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vamanadeva, then told Bali Maharaja, “O King of the demons, you had promised to give Me three steps of land, but I have occupied the entire universe with My first two. Now, please tell Me where I shall place My third step. Because you are unable to give charity according to your promise, you must now go down to live in the lower planets. Being falsely proud of your possessions, you had promised to give Me land, and yet you could not fulfill your word. Therefore, because of your fault, and in accordance with the order of Sukracharya, you must live below the earth for a few years.”
After having mercifully taken away all of Bali Maharaja’s possessions, the Lord arrested him, just to show everyone the greatness of His devotee’s tolerance. Feeling that he had not fulfilled his promise, and considering the possessor to be greater than his opulence, Bali Maharaja replied, “O Supreme Personality of Godhead, if You think that I have not given You charity according to my words, then I shall certainly rectify matters. Because I cannot allow my promise to prove false, I beg You to please place Your third lotus footstep on my head.”
“I do not fear being deprived of all my possessions, living in hellish life, or being arrested or punished by You, as much as I fear the defamation for having cheated a brahmana. Although a father, mother, or friend may sometimes chastise one as a well-wisher, they never punish their subordinates like this. Still, because You are the most worshipable Lord, I consider this punishment to be a great favor. Because Your Lordship is indirectly the greatest well-wisher of us demons, You act for our best welfare by posing as our enemy. Because we always aspire for a position of false prestige, You give us the vision to see the correct path by chastising us. Many demons that were continually inimical toward You, achieved the perfection that is attained by great mystic yogis. Although You have arrested and punished me, I do not feel at all ashamed or aggrieved.”
“What is the use of this material body, which automatically leaves its owner at the end of life? What is the use of one’s family members, who are actually plunderers that take away one’s money, which could be used in the devotional service of the Lord? What is the use of home, community and country, for attachment to them merely wastes one’s valuable time and energy. By good fortune I have been deprived of all my opulence and forcibly brought under the shelter of Your lotus feet.”
As Bali Maharaja was describing his position in this way, Prahlada Maharaja appeared upon the scene, like the moon rising at night. Prahlada’s tall, elegant body had a very blackish complexion, and he was dressed in fine yellow garments. His beautiful eyes resembled the petals of a lotus flower, his arms were long, and his appearance was extremely pleasing to all.
Because Bali Maharaja was bound by the ropes of Varuna, he could not properly offer respect to his grandfather, and so he simply bowed his head. Because Vamanadeva had arrested him, Bali Maharaja considered himself to be a great offender at the lotus feet of the Lord. Feeling that Prahlada Maharaja must certainly be displeased with him, Bali hung his head down in shame, and his eyes filled with tears.
When Prahlada Maharaja saw Lord Vamanadeva, Who was being worshiped by His intimate associates, he began shedding tears due to feelings of great jubilation. After coming before Vamanadeva, Prahlada fell to the ground to offer obeisances and then said, “My dear Lord, it was You who gave Bali the kingdom of the three worlds, and now You have taken it away. I consider that You have acted equally in both cases. In other words, because Bali’s exalted position was putting him deeper into the darkness of ignorance, You have done him a great favor by taking everything away. Material opulence is so bewildering that it can make even a very learned and self-controlled man forget the need to endeavor for the goal of life, self-realization.”
As Prahlada Maharaja stood before Vamanadeva with folded hands, Lord Brahma next began to address the Lord. However, Bali Maharaja’s chaste wife, Vindhyavali, who was very fearful and aggrieved because of her husband’s arrest, suddenly came before the Lord. After offering her obeisances with folded hands, Vindhyavali said, “O my Lord, You have created the universe so that You can enjoy Your pastimes, but foolish, unintelligent men claim proprietorship. While falsely claiming ownership, such persons think that they can give some charity and thus enjoy a prestigious position.”
In this way, Vindhyavali criticized her husband. Bali thought that by giving his body to the Lord he could free himself from the defamation of being unable to give in charity what he had promised. However, his wife pointed out that since he was still in the darkness of ignorance, he thought his body to be his own property, and not the Lord’s.
After seeing Prahlada and Vindhyavali approach the Lord to beg for mercy on behalf of Bali Maharaja, Lord Brahma joined them by saying, “O well-wisher and master of all living entities, I think that this man has been sufficiently punished, for You have taken away everything from him. Bali Maharaja offered You everything in his possession without hesitation, including his own body, and so I think that he can now be released.”
“My dear Lord, simply by offering water, newly grown grass, or flowers at Your lotus feet, those who maintain no mental duplicity can elevate themselves to the spiritual world. This Bali Maharaja, without duplicity, has offered You everything within the three worlds. How then can he deserve to suffer like this?”
The Supreme Personality of Godhead replied, “My dear Brahma, because of material opulence, a foolish person becomes practically mad, and thus does not care for anyone, and dares to defy even My authority. To such a person I show My special favor by first of all taking away his possessions.”
“While rotating in the cycle of repeated birth and death, by good fortune, a dependent living entity may come to the human form of life, which is very rarely achieved. If a human being is born in a higher status of family, if he performs wonderful activities, if he is youthful, or if he has great beauty, a good education or wealth, but is nonetheless not proud of his opulence, it is to be understood that he is even more favored by Me. In other words, such a person understands very well that these material assets are attained by the mercy of the Supreme Lord and thus he engages them fully in the service of the Lord. Although such material advantages are generally impediments to a conditioned soul’s advancement in devotional service, because they cause him to become falsely proud, they can never disturb a pure devotee of the Lord.”
“Bali Maharaja has become the most exalted among the asuras, for in spite of having undergone so much misery, he has passed My examination by remaining fixed in devotional service. Although bereft of his riches, fallen from his position, defeated and arrested by his enemies, rebuked and deserted by his relatives and friends, and cursed by his spiritual master, Bali Maharaja remained steady in his vow of truthfulness. In consideration of his great tolerance, I have decided to give Bali Maharaja a place superior to the residences of the demigods.”
“Afterwards, in the next manvantara, which will be ruled over by Savarni Manu, Bali Maharaja will take the post of Indra. Meanwhile, he will live on the planet Sutala, which was made by Vishvakarma, according to My order. Being especially protected by Me, the residents of this planet will remain free from all mental and bodily miseries, fatigue, dizziness, defeat, and natural calamity.”
“Bali Maharaja, you may now go and peacefully live on the Sutala planet, surrounded by your friends and relatives. While residing there, not even the predominating deities of other planets will be able to conquer you, and as far as the demons are concerned, if they transgress your rule, My Sudarshana chakra will kill them.”
“O great hero, I shall always remain with you as your doorman, to protect you in all respects. As a result of always seeing Me, all the materialistic desires and anxieties that may arise because of your association with the demons will be thoroughly vanquished.”
With folded hands, and eyes filled with tears, Bali Maharaja replied to the Lord in a voice that faltered due to devotional ecstasy: “What a wonderful result one achieves by simply attempting to offer obeisances to You! Even though I am a fallen demon, just by offering my obeisances unto You, I have received more of Your mercy than has been achieved by any of the demigods.”
After saying this, Bali Maharaja first offered his obeisances to Lord Vamanadeva, and then to Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva. Being released from the bondage of the naga-pasha, Bali Maharaja very happily prepared to enter the planet known as Sutala and begin ruling the demons.
In appreciation of the Lord’s mercy upon his grandson, Prahlada Maharaja addressed Vamanadeva in a greatly ecstatic voice: “O Supreme Personality of Godhead, although You are universally worshiped, even by Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva, You have kindly agreed to personally protect us, the demons. I think that such mercy has never before been achieved by anyone- not even Lord Brahma, Lord Shiva, or the goddess of fortune, Lakshmi. Great personalities enjoy their perfection simply by tasting the nectar of rendering devotional service at Your lotus feet. How then have we, who are all rogues and rascals that have been born in an envious family of demons, received Your mercy? It could only be possible because Your mercy is causeless.”
The Supreme Personality of Godhead replied, “My dear son, Prahlada, may there be all good fortune for you. For the time being, please accompany your grandson to Sutala and live there happily, along with your friends and relatives. Rest assured that you will be able to see Me there in My four-armed form. Due to the transcendental bliss that you will derive from always seeing Me, there will be no question of further bondage to fruitive activities.”
After taking Vamanadeva’s order upon his head, Prahlada Maharaja circumambulated the Lord and then, after offering his obeisances, he entered the lower planet known as Sutala, along with his grandson.
The Supreme Lord then addressed Sukracharya, who was seated nearby in the midst of the assembly of sacrificial priests: “O best of the brahmanas, please describe the fault of your disciple, Bali Maharaja, who was engaged in performing sacrifices. For what reason did he deserve to be cursed? Let this fault be judged by the qualified brahmanas, and then nullified in their presence.”
Sukracharya replied, “My Lord, You are the master of all sacrifices. Therefore, if one has fully satisfied You, what is the question of there being a fault in his sacrificial performance? Even if there are discrepancies in pronouncing the mantras; observing the regulative principles; or with regards to time, place, person and paraphernalia- when Your Lordship’s holy name is chanted, everything becomes faultless. Still, since You have ordered that Bali Maharaja’s discrepancies be nullified by the brahmanas, I must obey Your command as my first duty.”
Thereafter, the brahmanas began compensating for whatever discrepancies there may have been in Bali Maharaja’s execution of his sacrifices. Lord Vamanadeva then delivered to His brother, Indra all of the land that He had taken away from Bali Maharaja on the plea of begging for three steps.
To satisfy Kashyapa Muni and his wife, Aditi, all of the demigods and great sages, headed by Lord Brahma, decided to accept Lord Vamanadeva, Who is also called Upendra, as the protector of the Vedas, the principles of religion, fame, opulence, auspiciousness, vows, elevation to higher planetary systems, and liberation. Although Indra had been considered to be the king of the universe, the demigods and great sages wanted to accept Lord Upendra as the supreme master of everything, for the welfare of everyone within the three worlds.
Thus, with great pleasure, Indra placed Lord Vamanadeva in front of him, and then, with Lord Brahma’s permission, he brought Him to his heavenly planet in a celestial airplane. In this way, under the protection of the Lord, Indra became reinstated in his original position, thus regaining his rule of the three worlds. Finally, while glorifying Lord Vamanadeva’s uncommon activities, and praising the exalted position of Aditi, all of the demigods returned to their respective abodes.