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Encyclopedia of Hindu Gods


Image used by permission.

Basic Description:  Vishnu became the Dwarf, Vamana, to control a king who had taken over much of the earth.

Alternate Names:  Vaman

Mythology:  Bali was a descendant of Hiranyakashyap who also gained control of great kingdoms.  Through devotion and penance he defeated Indra, the god of firmament, humbled many other gods, and extended his kingdom over the three worlds.  These worlds are heaven, earth and the underworld.  Vamana was a dwarf and also a respected Brahmin.  He went to Bali and Bali was impressed that such a small man could be a priest.  Bali promised to give Vamana whatever he wanted.  So Vamana asked for as much land as he could cross in three steps.  Of course Bali agreed because he saw how short Vamana was.  Before taking his first steps, Vamana grew to a great height.  One account says he stepped over heaven in one step and then over the earth in the second step, stopping short out of respect in order to leave the underworld to Bali.  Another account says that Vamana took two steps and covered all three worlds with them.  He banished Bali to the netherworlds because Bali did not keep his promise.  There was not enough land left for Vamana’s third step.  Bali was allowed, in both versions, to rule in the netherworlds where his capital was Mahabalipuram.

Other References on the Karma-to-Grace website:  Is there a savior in Hinduism?


Thomas, P.  Epics, Myths and Legends of India.  Bombay, India: D. B. Taraporevala Sons & Co. Private Ltd, 1961.

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