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Vamana
Vamana
(Sanskrit: वामन, IAST: Vāmana, lit. dwarf), is the fifth avatar of Hindu god Vishnu.[1][2] He incarnates in a time of crisis to restore cosmic balance by creatively defeating the Asura king Mahabali, who had acquired disproportionate power over the universe. According to Hindu mythology, the noble demon king sponsors a sacrifice and gift giving ceremony to consolidate his power, and Vishnu
Vishnu
appears at this ceremony as a dwarf mendicant called Vamana.[1] When Vamana's turn comes to receive a gift, Mahabali
Mahabali
offers him whatever riches and material wealth he would like, but Vamana
Vamana
refuses everything and states he would just like three paces of land. Mahabali finds the dwarf's request amusingly small and irrevocably grants it.[1] Vamana
Vamana
then grows into a giant of cosmic proportions. In one step he covers the earth, in another the heavens, and for the third, Mahabali
Mahabali
offers his head on which Vamana
Vamana
steps, sending the demon king to the Patala
Patala
(netherworld).[1][3] The Vamana
Vamana
avatar has roots in Vedic texts of Hinduism. The hymns of the Rigveda
Rigveda
describes Vishnu
Vishnu
as that benevolent god who in three steps defined all there is in the universe.[1][4] The giant form of Vamana is also known as Trivikrama (literally, "three steps").[5] The Vamana legend has been a popular one, inspiring icons found in Hindu temples and sections in Hindu texts such as the Puranas
Puranas
and the epics. About thirty different versions of his mythology are found in these texts.[6]

Contents

1 Etymology 2 Origin

2.1 Hinduism

3 Symbolism

3.1 Onam
Onam
festival

4 Iconography 5 Temples 6 See also 7 References 8 External links

Etymology[edit] The Sanskrit
Sanskrit
word Vamana
Vamana
(वामन) means "dwarf".[3] He is also known as Trivikrama (त्रिविक्रम) means the three steps, representing the Svarga
Svarga
(heaven), the earth, and the Patala (netherworld). The legend of Vishnu
Vishnu
covering the universe in three steps is found in Vedic texts. For example, hymns, 1.22 and 1.154 of the Rigveda describe Vishnu
Vishnu
as that bountiful, kind, just god in three steps defined all there is in the universe.[1][4] Other Rigvedic hymns that mention three steps of Vishnu
Vishnu
include 1.154, 6.49, 7.100 and 8.29, and in these the context is of a benevolent god who protects the oppressed humanity by his creative acts against the evil.[4] Origin[edit] Aditi
Aditi
took Payovrata to propitiate Lord Vishnu. As a result, Vamana was born to Aditi
Aditi
and Kashyapa.[7] He is the twelfth of the Adityas. Hinduism[edit]

Vaman holding leg on Bali

The Bhagavata Purana
Bhagavata Purana
describes that Vishnu
Vishnu
descended as the Vamana avatar to restore the authority of Indra
Indra
over the heavens, as it had been taken by a benevolent Asura
Asura
King Mahabali
Mahabali
(or simply called Bali). Bali was the great grandson of Hiranyakshipu, the grand son of Prahlada
Prahlada
and son of Virochana. Vamana, as a dwarf Brahmin
Brahmin
carrying a wooden umbrella, went to the king to request for land that he could set his foot upon for three paces. Mahabali
Mahabali
consented, against the warning of his guru, Sukracharya
Sukracharya
thinking of the limitations of the space of his foot. Vamana
Vamana
then enlarged to gigantic proportions to stride over the three worlds. He stepped from heaven to earth with the first step, from earth to the netherworld with the second. King Mahabali, unable to fulfill his promise, offered his head for the third. Vamana
Vamana
then placed his foot and gave the king immortality for his humility.[8] He was also allowed to return every year to see the citizens of his country. The festival of Onam
Onam
for some and first day of Diwali
Diwali
for some is related to this return of Mahabali
Mahabali
to a visit to earth once every year in August-September. Some texts state that Vamana
Vamana
gave the lordship of the netherworld to Bali. In giant form, Vamana
Vamana
is known as Trivikrama.[9] According to another but similar version, Prahlada's grandson Mahabali came to power by defeating the gods (Devas), and taking over the three worlds. According to Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism
mythology, the defeated Devas approached Vishnu
Vishnu
for help in their battle with Mahabali.[10] Vishnu refused to join the gods in violence against Mahabali, because Mahabali
Mahabali
was a good ruler and his own devotee. He, instead, decided to test Mahabali's devotion at an opportune moment. Mahabali, after his victory over the gods, declared that he will perform Yajna
Yajna
(homa sacrifices) and grant anyone any request during the Yajna. Vishnu
Vishnu
took the avatar of a dwarf boy called Vamana
Vamana
and approached Mahabali. The king offered anything to the boy – gold, cows, elephants, villages, food, whatever he wished. The boy said that one must not seek more than one needs, and all he needs is the property right over a piece of land that measures "three paces". Mahabali
Mahabali
agreed.[11][12] The Vamana grew and covered everything Mahabali
Mahabali
ruled over in just two paces. For the third pace, Mahabali
Mahabali
offered himself to the Vamana.[11] Symbolism[edit]

Part of a series on

Vaishnavism

Supreme deity

Vishnu

Important deities

Dashavatara

Matsya Kurma Varaha Narasimha Vamana Parasurama Rama Balarama Krishna Buddha Kalki

Other Avatars

Mohini Nara-Narayana Hayagriva

Related

Lakshmi Sita Hanuman Shesha

Texts

Vedas Upanishads Bhagavad Gita Divya Prabandha Ramcharitmanas

Puranas

Vishnu Bhagavata Naradiya Garuda Padma Agni

Sampradayas

Sri (Vishishtadvaita) Brahma (Dvaita, Acintyabhedabheda) Rudra (Shuddhadvaita) Nimbarka
Nimbarka
(Dvaitadvaita)

Philosophers–acharyas

Nammalvar Yamunacharya Ramanuja Madhva Chaitanya Vallabha Sankardev Madhavdev Nimbarka Pillai Lokacharya Prabhupada Vedanta Desika

Related traditions

Bhagavatism Pancharatra Tattvavada Pushtimarg Radha Krishna ISKCON Swaminarayan Ekasarana Pranami Ramanandi Vaikhanasas

Hinduism
Hinduism
portal

v t e

Mahabali
Mahabali
symbolizes Samridhi (prosperity), the three feet symbolizes the three states of existence ( Jagrat (awake), Swapna (dream sleep) and Sushupti (deep sleep) and final step is on his head which elevates from these three states, unto moksha (spiritual liberation, release from rebirths).[9] Onam
Onam
festival[edit] In one version of the Vamana
Vamana
legend, when Mahabali
Mahabali
offered himself for Vishnu's third step, it was an act of Mahabali's devotion.[11] Vishnu granted him a boon. Mahabali
Mahabali
chose to revisit earth, once every year, the lands and people he previously ruled. This revisit marks the festival of Onam, as reminder of the virtuous rule and his humility in keeping his promise before Vishnu.[11][13] According to Nanditha Krishna, a simpler form of this legend, one without Mahabali, is found in the Rigveda
Rigveda
and the Vedic text Shatapatha Brahmana where a solar deity is described with powers of Vishnu. This story likely grew over time, and is in part allegorical, where Bali is a metaphor for thanksgiving offering after a bounty of rice harvest during monsoon, and Vishnu
Vishnu
is the metaphor of the Kerala sun and summer that precedes the Onam.[14] According to Roshen Dalal, the story of Mahabali
Mahabali
is important to Onam
Onam
in Kerala, but similar Mahabali
Mahabali
legends are significant in the region of Balia in Uttar Pradesh, Bawan also in the same state, Bharuch in Gujarat, and Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra. The story is significant not because Mahabali's rule ended, but it emphasizes the Hindu belief in cyclical nature of events, that no individual, no ruler and nothing lasts forever, except the virtues and self understanding that overcomes all sorrow.[15] Iconography[edit] Vamana
Vamana
iconography varies by region. Three icons are common, one shows his left foot raised above his knee, the second shows his foot above his navel, and the third shows it raised above the forehead. These icons respectively symbolize the three worlds – netherworld, earth and heaven – Vamana
Vamana
covered as Trivikrama.[16] Temples[edit] The Vamana
Vamana
iconography and images are found in many Vaishnava
Vaishnava
temples. Some Vamana
Vamana
temples include:

Vamana
Vamana
temple at Marhia, Jabalpur (dated to 5th-century, Gupta Empire era)[17][18] Vamana
Vamana
temple in Nagpur
Nagpur
complex of Ramagiri temples, Maharashtra (5th-century CE)[19] Vamana
Vamana
along with other avatars of Vishnu, at the Dashavatara
Dashavatara
Temple, Deogarh, Jhansi (Uttar Pradesh, dated 500-500 CE)[20] Thrikkakara Temple, Thrikkakkara, Cochin, Kerala Ulagalantha Perumal Temple, Kanchipuram
Ulagalantha Perumal Temple, Kanchipuram
in Kanchipuram Vamana
Vamana
Temple, Eastern Group of Temples, Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh Ulagalantha Perumal Temple, Tirukoyilur
Ulagalantha Perumal Temple, Tirukoyilur
in Tirukoilur, Viluppuram district, Tamil Nadu

Vamana
Vamana
taking a giant step, Nepal

Vamana
Vamana
at the Badami cave temples, Karnataka

Vamana
Vamana
striding the heavens, Karnataka

Dwarf Vamana
Vamana
avatar at Rani ki vav, Patan, Gujarat

Vishnu
Vishnu
as Trivikrama, Tamil Nadu

The dwarf Vamana, Andhra Pradesh

Vamana
Vamana
at Ellora caves, Maharashtra

See also[edit] Media related to Vamana
Vamana
at Wikimedia Commons

Dashavatara Vishnu
Vishnu
Purana Onam Bhagavata Purana Vishnu Varaha Parashurama Rama Krishna Buddha Kalki Vamadeva

References[edit]

^ a b c d e f James G. Lochtefeld (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: N-Z. The Rosen Publishing Group. pp. 737, 84. ISBN 978-0-8239-3180-4.  ^ Deborah A. Soifer (1991). The Myths of Narasimha
Narasimha
and Vamana: Two Avatars in Cosmological Perspective. State University of New York Press. p. 3–4. ISBN 978-0-7914-0800-1.  ^ a b Constance Jones; James D. Ryan (2006). Encyclopedia of Hinduism. Infobase Publishing. p. 477. ISBN 978-0-8160-7564-5.  ^ a b c Deborah A. Soifer (1991). The Myths of Narasimha
Narasimha
and Vamana: Two Avatars in Cosmological Perspective. State University of New York Press. pp. 18–19, 22–25. ISBN 978-0-7914-0800-1.  ^ James G. Lochtefeld (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: N-Z. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 711. ISBN 978-0-8239-3180-4.  ^ Deborah A. Soifer (1991). The Myths of Narasimha
Narasimha
and Vamana: Two Avatars in Cosmological Perspective. State University of New York Press. pp. xiii, 113–116, 123–138. ISBN 978-0-7914-0800-1.  ^ Account of the several Manus and Manwantaras Vishnu
Vishnu
Purana, translated by Horace Hayman Wilson, 1840, Book III: Chapter I. 265:22, at the request of the deities Vishńu was born as a midget, Vámana, the son of Adití by Kaśyapa. By applying to Mahabali
Mahabali
for alms Kaśyapa was promised by the prince whatever he might demand, notwithstanding Śukra (the preceptor of the Daityas). The dwarf demanded as much space as he could step over at three steps and upon the assent of Mahabali
Mahabali
he enlarged himself to such dimensions as to stride over the three worlds. Being worshipped however by Mahabali
Mahabali
and his ancestor Prahláda, he conceded to them the sovereignty of Pátála. ^ Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam, ed. India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 74.  ^ a b Chandra, Suresh (2012). Encyclopaedia of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Kindle Edition.  ^ J. Gordon Melton (2011). Religious Celebrations: An Encyclopedia of Holidays, Festivals, Solemn Observances, and Spiritual Commemorations. ABC-CLIO. pp. 400–402. ISBN 978-1-59884-206-7.  ^ a b c d J. Gordon Melton (2011). Religious Celebrations: An Encyclopedia of Holidays, Festivals, Solemn Observances, and Spiritual Commemorations. ABC-CLIO. p. 659. ISBN 978-1-59884-206-7.  ^ Nanditha Kirshna (2009). Book of Vishnu. Penguin Books. pp. 58–59. ISBN 978-81-8475-865-8.  ^ Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam, ed. India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 74.  ^ Nanditha Krishna
Krishna
(2009). Book of Vishnu. Penguin Books. pp. 58–61. ISBN 978-81-8475-865-8.  ^ Roshen Dalal (2010). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin Books. pp. 229–230. ISBN 978-0-14-341421-6.  ^ T. A. Gopinatha Rao (1993). Elements of Hindu iconography. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 163–167. ISBN 978-81-208-0878-2.  ^ Chandra, Pramod (1970). "A Vamana
Vamana
Temple at Marhia and Some Reflections on Gupta Architecture". Artibus Asiae. 32 (2/3): 125–145. doi:10.2307/3249549.  ^ Meister, Michael W. (1996). "Man and Man-Lion: The Philadelphia Narasimha". Artibus Asiae. 56 (3/4): 291–301. doi:10.2307/3250120.  ^ Bakker, Hans (2013). "The Trivikrama Temple: A New Interpretation of Rāmagiri Evidence (3)". South Asian Studies. Taylor & Francis. 29 (2): 169–176. doi:10.1080/02666030.2013.833757.  ^ Alexander Lubotsky (1996), The Iconography of the Viṣṇu Temple at Deogarh and the Viṣṇudharmottarapurāṇa, Ars Orientalis, Vol. 26, The Smithsonian Institution and Department of the History of Art, pp. 65-80

External links[edit]

Vamana
Vamana
Temples in Kerala Vamana
Vamana
Avatar

v t e

Avatars of Vishnu

Dashavatara

Matsya Kurma Varaha Narasimha Vamana Parashurama Rama Balarama1 Krishna1 Buddha1 Kalki

Other avatars

Four Kumaras Narada Nara-Narayana Kapila Dattatreya Yajna Rishabha Prithu Dhanvantari Mohini Vyasa Prsnigarbha Hayagriva Hamsa

1 The list of ten avatars varies regionally. The two substitutions involve Balarama, Krishna
Krishna
and Buddha
Buddha
is considered the avatar of Vishnu. Krishna
Krishna
is almost always included; in exceptions, he is considered the source of all avatars.

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 284535267 GND: 119054426 BNF:

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