The Guru & Mahabali…and Onam


Lord Vamana

With the Teacher’s day and Onam together I thought what better way than share the story of the great Mahabali.

Mahabali was a great ruler, and with the penance and the yagna that he performed, it was going to be sure that he would rule the world. The word ‘Tathasthu’ is the most easily abused word when it came to granting wishes left, right and centre.

So getting back to the story, Mahabali was performing one of the biggest Yagna or sacrifice on earth the Ashwamedha Yagna. Along side was his Guru Sukracharya – the mentor for the asuras as they are known, guiding him and making the rituals all a success.

Whenever these yagnas are held, Indra the king of Gods always has a problem, he knows his time will be limited if the rituals are complete and he would lose Indraloka for sure not to forget the beautiful dancing ladies – Apsara, Menaka and the troupe.

It is also believed that Mahabali was one of the most sincerest of the kings ever on earth. To take you back on history, Mahabali is the grandson of King Prahlada, whose father was Hiranayakasipu! Prahlada is supposed to the one of the greatest devotees of Lord VIshnu.

As the ritual was getting over, it was time for Maha Vishnu to act and so he takes the form of Vamana the dwarfed brahmin. He comes calling on Mahabali at the site of the yagna.

Mahabali has been generous and a bit of pride was evident the way he did his charity, ofcourse that would be the cause of his undoing.

Mahabali welcomed Vamana and told him “Ask oh brahmana!  and that shall be given!” That very moment Sukracharya could sense this Vamana was not an ordinary being. 

Vamana also saluted and said, “Oh the ruler of this earth, I just need three steps of land and that is all I need!”

Mahabali felt odd and said “Is that all oh brahmana, you shall have the three steps as you wish.” This probably was one of the Tathasthu that Mahabali made a mistake.

Sukracharya now knew the game was up and went near Mahabali and told him “Oh Mahabali, please don’t give your word. You would not be able to fulfill them, you can have the luxury of not having to go by your word now.”

Mahabali was a bit taken aback. For the first time he decided to disobey his guru. Probably its there in the bloodline, his grand father Prahlada was the one who disobeyed the father and now here is another person disobeying his guru. Whatever happened to “Mata Pita Guru Deivam” and “Matru Devo Bhava, Pitru Devo Bhava, Guru Devo bhava, Athithi Devo Bhava!”

Then he turned to Vamana and said, “Please take your three steps of land. I shall stand by my word!”

Sukracharya was aghast at this audacity and left the venue. A classic instance of disobeying the teacher!

Well then it was the time for Maha Vishnu to take his form and covered the earth and the sky with two steps and was wondering where would he make his next move.

Mahabali also knew there was only one place. It was his head. So Maha Vishnu, the Vamana placed his feet on Mahabali and pushed him into the kingdom below the earth.

It was then Mahabali felt odd, he loved his people so much and he was going to miss them forever and he asked Maha Vishnu for a boon that he would love to visit his people once a year.

The occasion happens to be Onam! With the onset of Chingam the malayalam month this festivities hold a great significance in the Kerala and for the malayalees worldwide!

PS: Happy Teachers Day! In other words, Mahabali should have listened to his guru! :P

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