You should know about the previous birth of Putna. There was a very powerful demon named Hiranyakashipu. The Supreme Being had to manifest Himself in a ferocious man-lion form (Nrisimha) to kill him. Surprisingly, Hiranyakashipu’s son was Prahlada, an ardent lover of God and a renowned Saint. Prahlada’s successor, Virochana was also a great devotee, but his son was the demon Bali, who harboured hostile feelings towards the Supreme Lord, and yet was famed for his giving. It so happened that the Lord of the universe appeared in His diminutive form known as Vaman avatar. He proceeded like the rising sun towards the place where Bali was performing ashwamedha yajnya (a Vedic sacrificial ritual). Bali inquired, “My dear Brahmin, may I know the reason for Your visit to me?”
Bali’s daughter, Ratanmala who was also present, felt a strong attraction towards this infinitely beautiful form of the Lord that purified her heart. She was overcome with an intense desire to make the Lord suckle her breast as an infant. So, in her next birth as Putna, the all-knowing Lord fulfilled her desire.
Vaman sarcastically replied, “There is no specific reason. I have heard a lot about your generosity and this has inspired Me to come to you. I want three paces of ground from you, measured by My feet.” Bali was amazed and stood speechless for a moment. Then, with a tender smile lighting up his face, he said, “Indeed You are extremely innocent. I am the sole Lord of the entire world, and yet instead of asking me for multiple acres of land, You want three paces of ground measured by Your tiny feet! Revise your words.” But the Supreme Lord said, “I know that you are the greatest of givers, but all I ask from you is to grant Me just three paces of land covered by My feet.”
Bali laughed and smiling indulgently, took a vessel full of water to pour a few drops onto the lotus palms of the Youngster to commence the sankalp (a ritual followed by any auspicious action) to pledge the destined law. His preceptor, Shukracharya, who was the wisest among all wise men, stopped him. He did not want Bali to be deceived. He wanted him to know that this sweet young Brahmin boy, whom he thought to be an innocent child, was in reality the Supreme Lord Himself. Shukracharya warned Bali that this diminutive Boy would deprive him of all his wealth and power, and nothing would be left for him. But this greatest of givers, Bali feared his blasphemy if he complied with Shukracharya’s claim. In his mind the opinion of people mattered, lest they defame him saying that such a great giver failed to grant such a minuscule piece of land to a mere boy.
Thus, Bali firmly resolved to fulfil the demand of the tiny Brahmin boy.
To be continued . . .
An English translation of a discourse delivered in Hindi by:
Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj
11 August 2013
Bhakti Dham, Mangarh
© Radha Govind Samiti