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Story of Vaman the Dwarf

Vikas Kamat/Kamat's Potpourri
Vishnu as Vamana the Dwarf
Vishnu as Vamana the Dwarf

Once upon a time, a demon Bali (a.k.a. Mahabali) was about to cause havoc on the earth. Bali was both a greedy conqueror as well as a generous philanthropist. He captured all the beautiful women of the earth for his pleasure and there was panic.

Rescuer Lord Vishnu then took the avatar of a dwarf  brahmin Vaman (a.k.a.Vamana)  and sought from the demon, land enough for his three steps. Bali was a mighty emperor and didn't think much of the young brahmin's request for three steps of land. Granted permission to keep all he could in three steps, Vamana encompassed the earth with one step, the sky with the other, and the underground with the third, thus rescuing the world.

To keep his word, Bali had to relinquish all his possessions. Vamana then was banished to the underground world (patala).

K.L. Kamat/Kamat's Potpourri
Vishnu as Vamana the Dwarf
Vishnu as Vamana the Dwarf
Sculpture depicts Vishnu occupying earth with one foot and sky with another

This legend of Vamana is controversial, especially in the state of Kerala where Bali is believed to have lived. While the liberation of the world is observed by followers of Vishnu (on the occasion of Diwali, see: Legends of Diwali), a popular festival, Onam is observed as the day Mahabali returns to his old kingdom.

See Also:

Indian Mythology

Kamadeva and his wife RatiSage Sandipani Teaching Krishna and SudhamaLion Faced Vishnu Destroys HiranyakashipuGaruda, the King of BirdsGaruda the Mythical BirdMatsyavatar -- Vishnu as the Rescuing FishThe Descent of Ganga
Mythical CharacterWriting of MahabharatHanuman Mistakes the Sun for a FruitSati SavitriGandhari with a MaidDraupadis WeddingSavitri and Satyvan by Artist Ardhenduprasad Banerji
Killing of ValiTwo Headed BirdBhishma Lies on the Bed of ArrowsHumiliation of Draupadi and Krishnas RescueContest to Marry DraupadiCelestials from a Sanskrit TextCelestial Creature in Kavi Art
Krishna Rescues the Elephant from the CrocodileSix Headed Deity Riding a SwanVishnu as a Wild Boar (Varahavatar)Eight Handed Lord GaneshLord Brahma and Adhiti - 19th Century IllustrationPainting from Srinivasa Temple, MulbagilWall Painting of Hanuman in Rajasthan
The Humiliation of ShurpanakhiFantastic AnimalsThe Army of Super CreaturesThree Legged Devotee Bhringi Agni the FireArjuna Quenches Bhishmas Thirst as he Lies on a Bed of Arrows and Krishna Looks OnCelestial Dharani rides a Turtle
Divesting of DraupadiFour Headed BrahmaKrishna Kills a Charging ElephantMythical AnimalNaga-Nagini ConjugationNarad Teaching KayadhuNarad Advising a Devotee
Parashurama and RamaIcon of Vishnu as Boar

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