Story of King Bali
First Online: August 25, 2012
Page Last Updated: January 29, 2014
Bali (a.k.a Mahabali) was the grandson of Prahlada, who instilled in him
a strong sense of righteousness and devotion. Bali would eventually succeed his
grandfather as the king of the Asuras, and his reign over the realm was
characterized by peace and prosperity. He would later expand his realm
bringing the entire world under his benevolent rule and was even able to
conquer the underworld (patala) and Heaven, which he wrested from Indra and
the Devas. The Devas, after their defeat at the hands of Bali, approached their
patron Vishnu and entreated him to restore their lordship over Heaven.
In Heaven, Bali, on the advice of his guru and advisor, Shukracharya, had begun
the Ashwamedha Yajna so as to maintain his rule over the three worlds.
Vishnu, meanwhile, had adopted the avatar of Vamana, a small Brahmin boy, and,
during the rite, approached Bali and requested a grant of land although only
as much land as he could cover with three paces.
Despite the warnings of his advisor, Bali granted this boon. Vamana then grew to
an immense size, and, with his first pace, traversed the all of the earth and
the underworld. With his second pace, he covered Heaven in its entirety.
Admitting defeat, and seeing that Vamana has no more room for his last step,
Bali offered his own head as a stepping-stone.
Bali offers his head as a stepping stone