Bali was generous, kind, and just (In the brahminical version of the story, Bali is called a “demon” king, but even in that version, he is described as “generous” and respected and loved by his people). Under Bali’s reign, there was no caste or class, sickness or suffering.
The great devotee, Prahlad had a grandson and his name was Bali Raja. Once, Bali Raja performed a yagna with his guru, Shukracharya. Pleased with the yagna, the devas (gods) became pleased with him and gave him a divine chariot, an endless supply of arrows and an impenetrable shield. With all these powers and strength, he attacked Devnagri, the city of devas! When they were attacked, the devas ran away from their home.
Aditi, the mother of the devas, pleaded to her husband, “Our sons have become very unhappy, so would you please show them how to acquire wealth, fame and their positions back?” Her husband calmly told her, “Surrender to God and pray to Him because God accepts poor people’s devotion like none else.
” After hearing her husband’s words, Aditi fasted for 12 straight days only surviving on water. God gave her a boon and she gave birth to Vaman, an incarnation of Vishnu, on Bhadarva Sud 12. Vaman was born as a midget. Vaman Bhagwan arrived to the banks of Narmada to meet Bali Raja. Vaman Bhagwan’s aim was to give the devas back their city.
Bali was performing an Ashwamedh yagna when Vaman came to meet him. Everyone saw Vaman and honoured him. He was a bright young celibate who caught the attention of even Bali. Bali asked him, “Ask for anything from me, young celibate, and it shall be granted to you.” At the time, Vaman only had an umbrella, walking stick and a water pot. He told Bali, “Oh King of Demons, all I need is a little bit of land. I want three steps and anywhere I step, give me that land.”
Bali mocked him and said, “Little one, you are too simple. What good would three steps do you? You must ask for more land that will benefit you and let you live a happy life.” But Vaman replied, “One who is satisfied in God’s wish is happy and fulfilled. One who has no control over his senses cannot be satisfied with even the whole universe.”
Bali was very pleased with this humility and decided to grant him his wish. As soon as Shukracharya heard this, he came running to Bali. Shukracharya warned him that Vaman was an incarnation of Vishnu and therefore Bali should not grant him his wish. But Bali Raja was a man of his word and would grant Vaman’s wish.
Suddenly Vaman became very huge like a giant! With the first step Vaman covered the whole earth. Everyone was shocked! In his next step he took the whole universe. for his last remaining step, he asked Bali where he should step because there was nowhere else to step. Bali then, with utmost humility, offered his head the third step. Vaman was very pleased with Bali Raja’s devotion and offered him a boon. He promised Bali Raja that he would guard his gates forever.