Vamana is the fifth Avatar (Incarnation) of Lord Vishnu, in the form of a beautiful young brahmin. He was the one who returned the Deva Loka to Lord Indra while outwitting the Asura King Mahabali.
The story of King Mahabali and Vamana’s avatar of Vishnu is described in the Eighth Canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam.
In the Vedic astrology text by Maharshi Parashara, the Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra, Lord Vamana, is connected with the planet Jupiter. In this regard, Vamana represents the wise one with the knowledge of the universe.
The appearance of Lord Vishnu As Vamana
According to Srimad Bhagavatam, there lived a great asura king named Bali during Satya Yuga. He was the grandson of Prahlada. He defeated Lord Indra, King of devas, and took control of Deva Loka. This deranged Aditi and Kasyapa Muni, who were the parents of the Devas(demigods).
Aditi and Kashyapa prayed to Vishnu that their sons would be protected from the Asuras. Through prayer and service, Lord Vishnu appeared in the house of Kasyapa and his wife. Then, Lord Vishnu assumed the form of Vamana, a dwarf brahmana.
Pleased with seeing the incarnations of Vishnu, the great sages performed all the prescribed sacred rites. At the initiation ceremony of Vamana as a brahmin, Lord Surya uttered the Gayatri mantra, Brihaspati offered a sacred thread, and Kashyapa offered a grass belt.
Bhudevi (Mother Earth) gave Him a deerskin, and Chandra deva gave him a brahma-danda, the staff of a brahmachari. Mother Aditi gave him an undergarment, and the sky god gave Him an umbrella.
Lord Brahma brought a jug of water to Lord Vamana, the seven sages brought kusha grass, and Mother Saraswati brought a Rudraksha rosary. Lord Kubera gave Him a begging vessel, and Mother Bhagavati made the first donation.
With words of welcome and blessings, Lord Vamana, the best of the brahmacharis, revealed the effulgence of Brahman to all present. Thus, He eclipsed with His beauty the entire assembly, which was attended by great saints and brahmins.
Vamana Avatar and Mahabali
Lord Vamana attended the Yajna (sacrifice) of King Mahabali, who was famous for his generosity. The King received this boy Vamana with honor. He greeted Him and said that he wanted to donate something to Him. Brahmins in those days were never refused. Vamana only asked for three paces of land. Mahabali was surprised and asked Vamana to ask for more.
Guru Shukracharya, Mahabali’s Guru, knew that this brahmin was not an ordinary person. He realized Lord Vishnu had taken the form of a brahmin boy to destroy Mahabali’s wealth. Shukracharya began to chastise his disciple for promising three steps of land. He said that Lord Vishnu came to deceive Bali and deprive him of all wealth.
Mahabali replied that the earth could bear the weight of mountains and oceans, but she could not bear the burden of a liar. So, Vamana’s request was granted, and the dwarf was transformed into Trivikrama (giant form).
He is also referred to as Lord Trivikrama (three steps).
तथा त्रिविक्रमं वक्ष्ये ब्रह्माण्डक्रमणोल्बणम्।
पादपार्श्वे तथा बाहुमुपरिष्टात् प्रकल्पयेत् ।।
Now about the Vamana form of lord striding the three worlds, as if pervading all the universe.Matsya Purana – 260.36
In just two steps, the whole universe was under the foot of Lord Vamana. King Bali offered to put the third step on his royal head since there was no other free place left. The pacified Vamana placed the third step on his head and allowed Bali to visit Patala Loka along with the armies of asuras and rule there. Lord Indra regained his kingdom of Swarga or Deva Loka.
Lesson by Vamana Avatar
Vamana said that a person who cannot control his senses would not be happy even if he gains the whole world’s wealth, but one who can control his senses will be happy in any situation. People who focus on material possessions can have a lot of money but are never content.
1. Should Control Our Senses
During the conversation between Vamana and Bali, Lord Vamana told the King that one must learn to rein in their senses if one wants to find true contentment in life, regardless of material possessions. True devotee is always satisfied with what they have.
2. Lesson of Truthfulness
When Shukracharya asked Mahabali to refuse the promise given to Vamana, Bali replied he could not lie to the Brahaman because the weight of a liar is an unbearable burden for Mother Earth. Truthfulness is one of the fundamental principles of religion. Due to Mahabali’s truthfulness, Vishnu re-installed dharma, and Bali continued to live as a king of Asuras.
3. A Complete Devotion
Mahabali is a unique example of a devotee who has surrendered himself to the Lord Vishnu. Sometimes Lord Vishnu gives us trials in the form of deprivation and adversity. It is easy for a devotee to turn to Lord in such a helpless situation. It becomes a much more serious test when Lord Vishnu, on the contrary, gives us everything – money, power, attraction, and knowledge.
We should be cautious not to become proud and use them for their intended purpose. And we can remember the charm of the little brahmin boy Shri Vamana Deva to get the “super-special mercy” needed in such a situation.