The story as such is very small. The difference from the previous Avatarams and Vamana Avataram is that, this time lord viShNu didn’t just appear. He was in the womb of Atithi and was born to her as a baby. And grew up to be a dwarf. Some scriptures say that he grew in age as soon as he was born. But there is no significant proof.
Why this avatAram?
As we have been seeing in the past, the problem seems to be the same. Battle between AsurAs and devas.
After lord NarasimhA finished Hiranyakashipu, PrahlAdan was crowned king. Pious and Righteous as he was, he ruled the kingdom well. His son Virochanan was also a good king. PrahlAdan himself was his Guru therefore no question of any injustice in his rule.
Virochanan’s son was Bali chakravarthi. Such a lineage, he naturally was valorous and unparalleled in strength and might . In fact he was praised by his praja for being a just king. His reign was a golden period for his kingdom. Then what happened, Why did viShNu have to take vAmana AvatAram.
This question is only out of curiosity, not of ego .
There are some reasons for the story.
Right after the churning of the ocean of milk, Indra and his army defeated Bali and took his kingdom. A dejected Bali approached his Guru ShukrAcharya and pleaded for guidance. Guru instructed him to conduct yagnyas towards the welfare of the world. He asked him to give lots of alms to Brahmans. Bali did all and as told by his Guru, his strength increased by multiple folds. His Asura army regained it’s vigor.
Now he waged war against Indra and defeated him. As a good and righteous king, he quickly became more popular with the people than Indra. Everyone praised him and said he was better than Indra. With praises, all this came getting to his head, BAli forgot lord NArAyanaya.
Around the same time, devas and their mother Atithi pleaded BhagvAn to release them from this humiliation. To which viShNu said, BAli is destined to become Indra . but not now. Though he is righteous and just, his descendants are going to be menace. Saying so, he promised the devas that he would set things right.
He decided to be born to atithi and kashyap muni. On a fixed day at an auspicious time, lord viShNu was born as VAmana, a dwarf figure. BramhA himself came down and did the ceremonies of jastakaran and namakaran.
Meanwhile at Bali’s kingdom, the AsurAs were growing weak, they were losing their aura. Disturbed by this, BAli went to his grandfather PrahlAdan to find out what was going wrong. PrahlAd, used his yogic powers and found out in an instant that BhagvAn viShNu was born as VAmana. When he told this to Bali, he asked who is this NArAyana? Is he more powerful than our AsurA kings ?
Hearing this, PrahlAdan got angry and screamed at Bali, ” the AsurA community is evil and you are the head of that, so now you will reap what you sowed”. Bali realised his mistake and apologized. PrahlAd then adviced him to bovine viShN bhakth and so Bali developed devotion for viShNu. He made plans to start aswamedha yagnya.
Bharadwaj mahariShi, was vAmana’s Guru. Upon completion of his gurukulam, VAmana wanted to go to attend the aswamedha yagnya. Bali was giving away riches to Brahmans and there was nothing odd, in VAmana wanting to go there. He’s actually planning to go there and ask for alms.
As VAmana entered the arena, ShukrAcharya, the Asuras guru felt viShNu’s presence and warned Bali to be vigilant. He said, viShNu has come to snatch everything away from you. Wake up, don’t promise him anything “.
But a pious Bali crisply replied, ” If MahaviShNu has come to me to ask for something, there is no big honor than that. So I will give, Please don’t stop me.”
As VAmana came closer, Bali stood up from his throne, went to VAmana, washed his feet and gave him all the respects and asked him what do you want .
VAmana pointed at his Guru Bharadwaj and said, he needs some space to perform agnihotrA homa, please give me 3 feet of land. Bali agreed to that and along with his wife Vindhyavali, attempted to pour water from kamandalu. Fearing the inevitable, ShukrAcharya took a tiny insect form and blocked the spout of the kamandalu. Realizing that, Vishnu poked the spout with a dharbha kuShA. That cost the Guru his one eye.
Suddenly, to everyone’s surprise, the young Brahmin boy started growing in size. Soon he was larger than planet Earth itself. He took a large step and put it on Earth to claim it and said, “Now the earth is mine.” Then he took the second step and put it on Amravati (heavens ) which was under Bali’s control and said, “Now Amravati is mine.”
Then he said, “Bali where should I keep my third step? Earth and Heaven are already mine. Now there is no place left.” Shukracharya warned Bali, “Be careful Bali!
But Bali said, “Acharya, I have given him my word. I cannot go back from it. “The Asuras and Daityas heard this and stepped forward to attack VAmana, but they could not harm him at all.
Bali then addressed VAmana and said, “As nothing else is left you may keep your third step on my head.”
Hearing Bali’s words, Lord viShNu appeared in his true form and said, “I bless you, Bali. From now on, you will rule PAtAl Lok forever.” Thus Bali went away to PAtAl Lok. Indra and the other Gods retained Amravati due to Lord viShNu’s VAmana AvatAr.
Even today Bali is loved by his people.
VAmana AvatAram has a sub AvatAram which is when he grew in size. This AvatAram is called Trivikraman.
Temples of Vamana Avatar