5th Avatar Vamana

Vamana Avatar is the Saviour of the Heavens.

In Vamana Avatar, Sriman Narayana incarnates as a dwarf priest.


In Vamana Avatar, Sriman Narayana incarnates as a dwarf priest. The circumstances under which Sriman Narayana descends to earth in the form of Vamana can be recalled from His previous incarnation as Narasimha.

Sriman Narayana killed the king of the Asuras, Hiranyakashipu. After Prahlad, Virechana became the king of the Asuras and Virechana was followed by Bali who aspired to be like Lord Indra, the King of the Heavens.

Bali performed the Vishwajit Sacrifice (a very powerful yagna). This is a prayer performed to become the king of the three worlds under the guidance and blessings of Shukracharya. Agni Deva was pleased by the Pooja and gave Bali a divine golden chariot and celestial weapons.

Bali took his divine chariot and set out to conquer Indra. Indra was afraid of Bali’s newly acquired strength and powers and sought refuge by Brihaspati. Brihaspati advised him that at present Bali is invincible and cannot be defeated. Indra will have to abandon his throne as King of the Heavens until at such time Bali will ignore his Guru’s counsel and fail in his endeavors.

Bali ascended the throne of heaven and became the Lord of the three worlds. Mother Aditi, the mother of the Devas, could not bear the defeat of Indra and was very sad. Her husband Sage Kashyap was unaware of the Devas defeat. Hearing everything Sage Kashyap advised Mother Aditi to observe the Payovrata vow in the month of Phalgun ín dedication and honour to Sriman Narayana.

The Pavovrata vow is the vow of milk, where only milk should be drunk by those who are observing this vow. According to the Hindu calendar, Phalgun is the last month. It falls between mid-February and mid-March in the Gregorian calendar.

Sriman Narayana was pleased by this vow, and appeared before Mother Aditi on the 13th day. He declared that He shall be born as her son. Months later, Sriman Narayana took His descent. The couple stood amazed, as the Lord changed His form to that of a dwarfed Brahman – The Vamana. Dressed in a loin cloth, He carried a staff and a gourd and set forth to meet with Bali.

Even though Bali had the Kingdom of Heaven under his control his desires grew limitless. One day while performing a prayer known as Ashwamedha Yagna, a blinding light filled the sacrificial grounds. Thinking that Lord Surya himself is present to witness the prayer, they continued with much austerity and devotion.

As their eyes got used to the brilliance, they saw that a dwarf Brahman had entered the sacrificial enclosure. Bali rose from his seat to welcome him. He gave Vamana a special seat and washed his feet. Bali had taken a vow that he would give anything to a Brahman, irrespective of how difficult the request may be.

Bali asked what is it that the Brahman so desires shall have: cows, elephants, horses, chariots, villages… anything? Vamana said, “All I require is a strip of land, three paces long and measured by my stride.” Bali was very disappointed with Vamana’s humble demand and could not understand why Vamana wanted only 3 paces of land, whereas he could get an entire continent.

Vamana replied, ” He who is not satisfied with three paces of land will not be satisfied with the whole continent. I have asked for three paces of land and that is all I need. Bali laughed and said, “Then you shall have what you want.”

Guru Shukracharya, realized that the Brahman was none other than Sriman Narayana. Shukracharya tried to stop Bali. Bali replied, “Nothing can be done now, Guru Shukracharya, I have given him my word. I have promised that I shall give this Brahman whatever he has asked for, how can I, Bali, the grandson of Prahlad, refuse like a common cheat? I will give this Brahman the land he seeks.” This response infuriated Guru Shukracharya. For disregarding his advice, he said, “You have ignored me therefore you will fall from your position as King of the Heavens.”

To everybody’s surprise Vamana began to grow and grow. Bali and all others present there were astounded to see the whole creation of Vamana’s body. Vamana began to measure the three paces, with his first stride he covered the earth, and with his second stride he covered the Heavens. Vamana  asked Bali, “You had promised me three paces of land and I have covered all that was yours in two. Where should I place my third stride?”

Bali said, “Oh Lord, place your third step on my head, that which is more valuable to me than all my possessions put together.” At that moment Prahlad appeared and bowed to Narayana, and requested that He pardon and forgive his Grandson Bali. Sriman Narayana replied, “Your grandson stood firm by his promise even at the cost of disobeying his Guru and inviting his demise. He is noble and has earned entry into my realm.”

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