--> Skip to main content

Symbolism King Bali Offering His Head To Vishnu As Third Step

Symbolism in King Bali (Mahabali) Offering His Head to Vishnu to Place the Third Step. This divine incident happened during the Vamana Avatar of Vishnu.

Deprived of their kingdom, the unhappy Devas (celestial beings) appealed to Lord Vishnu for help. The only way the kingdom could be restored to the celestials would be if Mahabali (King Bali) was killed. 
But Mahabali, although he had taken away the kingdom of the celestials from them, was not wicked. 
So Lord Vishnu did not want to kill Mahabali, said Goda Venkateswara Sastrigal, in a discourse. 
Thus when the Lord took the Vamana Avatara, He assumed a small stature, and asked Mahabali for as much land as His three steps could measure. 
Three steps measured by a person of that height didn’t seem much to Mahabali, and he gladly agreed to grant the visitor the gift He asked for. 
But when it actually came to measuring the land, the Lord assumed a huge form, and measured the worlds, and when it came to the third step, Mahabali bent his head and indicated that the third step of the Lord should be placed on his head. 
The Lord pressed down and sent Mahabali to be ruler of the netherworld. The Lord further said that He Himself would serve Mahabali in the netherworld. Thus the Lord restored Indra’s kingdom to him, and yet at the same time, He did not punish Mahabali severely. 
It is hard for us to banish our ego. We may give up wealth, but we cannot give up our pride. But Mahabali was willing to let go of his ego, by his act of bending before the Lord and asking Him to step on his head. That is why even today Mahabali is remembered with reverence.
Goda Venkateswara Sastrigal