Bali the super powerful character
Welcome back to 8metals. Today we will talk about another important character from the Hindu mythology. This character is the ultimate example that demons are not always a negative character. Mahabali also known as Bali was a daitya king. He was the son of Virochana and the grandson of Prahalad. Thus born in the lineage of righteous ancestors, Bali was equally divine. His tale is mentioned in various texts including Mahabharata, Ramayana, Puranas and Shatapatha Brahmana. His legend is celebrated on the fourth day of Diwali as Balipratipada in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka. In Kerala Onam is celebrated on this day. He had great powerful sons Banasur, Ratamala and Varajwala.
Hindu texts: Mahabali was a righteous and generous king. However, his kingdom was surrounded by violent demons who misused power. They tortured Brahmins, Rishis and Suras. Mahabali temporarily had the Amrita which is the nectar for life in his possession. This was obtained by the Asuras with trickery. The Amrit supported Bali to bring back to life his associates in a battle of Gods and demons. Mahabali hence became immortal and could not be killed. He was very powerful. After continuous battles, Bali won heaven and earth and became invincible. The Gods approached Lord Vishnu and requested him to help them. Mahabali was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. So he refused to kill him in a war or defeat him. Thus Vishnu thought of a different plan. He tactically incarnated himself into a dwarf Brahmin. This Avatar is known as Vamana. Mahabali was known for his truthfulness and charity. He was performing the Ashwamedh Yajna to celebrate his victories and give away gifts. Vamana took this occasion to approach him and asked him for three steps of land. Mahabali being a charitable king at once agreed. Vamana then metamorphosed into the great Vishnu Trivikrama form. He measured the whole cosmos with one step and the earth with the other. Vishnu then asked Bali where to place his third step. Bali understood that it’s none other than the supreme lord. He requested him to place the third step on Bali’s head. Vishnu placed the third step on his head and he was sent to Patal lok. However, Vishnu was very pleased with his devotion. He granted Bali the kingdom of Sutala which was more beautiful than even the heaven. Vishnu himself attended to Bali and after his demise, Bali went to heaven with the touch of Vishnu. In some versions he is mentioned that he became a Chiranjeevi or immortal. Vishnu further granted him a boon that every year Bali would return to earth. The festivals of harvest that is Onam and Balipratipada are celebrated every year to mark his homecoming. The ancient Hindu literature and inscriptions these festivals were celebrated with great pomp, grandeur and colours. This suggests that these festivals have been celebrated in India since millennials.
Jain texts: Bali finds mention in Jain texts as well. He was the sixth of the nine Parthivasudevas who are the anti heroes of Jainism. Here Bali is the evil king who attempted to steal Purusha’s wife. He is later defeated and killed by Purusha. According to Jain mythology the two opposites of Bali are Ananda and Purushspundarika. They are the sons of King Mahasiva. They are believed to be the incarnations of Lord Vishnu as the sixth Baladeva and sixth Vasudeva. He is also mentioned in Jain scriptures as a comparison with the defeated evils. For instance the Girnar inscriptions of Gujarat dating back to 1231 CE in the Vikrama era gives an account of Vastupala, the great king of the Chalukya dynasty. He was very charitable. Here he is connected to Bali in terms of charity. In Jain texts Bali and Karna should always be praised for their charitable nature. These people are worthy of worship. Their sacredness cannot be held in this earth alone. Such a character was Bali. He is a famous name in the Jain folklore. In another version he was the son of Bahubali who became a monk. Thus Mahabali inherited his kingdom.
In popular culture: A number of television shows have featured him as a divine king. In India a number of locations are believed to his kingdoms. In the north Balia in Uttar Pradesh is believed to his capital. Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra is thought to be his abode before Lord Vishnu sent him to Sutala. In Gujarat the place Bharuch is connected to him. This is mentioned in the Matsya Purana in chapter 114. Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu is also associated with him. This is considered as his capital according to some texts. Even the island of Bali is considered to be named after him according to some scholars.
So this was the tale of Mahabali who was extremely powerful and possessed the Amrit. He was immortal and was blessed by Lord Vishnu. Hope this clears some of the common misconceptions. Stay connected with us for such interesting facts. We will be back soon. Stay safe and connected.