Vaman > Virat

Ambition > Achievements

Ambition is essential if you want to achieve something, anything.  Without ambition, what do you have to aim for in your life ?

Vaman’s plan was to deprive emperor Bali of everything he had – everything !  Couched in honeyed words, Vaman requested land that could be covered by his three strides.  Vaman spoke the truth in most succinct and terse terms.  Details of what he was asking were never asked or given and so the king could not say he was deceived.  Suspecting nothing, the emperor agreed without consulting anyone or considering the impact of his unilateral decision. 

Overly simplistic request of Vaman made Shukracharya suspect foul play.  Using his immense insight, sage Shukracharya perceived the divine plan and realized God intended to unseat his patron from universal power.  His ego, no matter how refined and perfected, was unable to accept God’s decision to redress the balance of power in universe.  Guru is not God.  Guru must not try to second guess God’s mind.  Whatever God has dictated, must be for the good the universe.  If we have faith on God, we must have faith in God’s benevolence.  Gurus can not presume to upset the universal lila for the sake of his / her own disciples.  Usurping the power of God is a dangerously foolish act, even for gurus as immensely intelligent and powerful as Shukacharya.

Shukacharya was loath to lose that which had taken generations to build.  Though a king maker and not the king, he felt more affinity to the kingdom, its wealth and power than the king himself.  When Shukacharya’s advise to Bali fell on deaf ears, he tried to obstruct the ceremony of offering sacred water that needed to be poured out to confirm the charitable offer.  God being God, punished Shukacharya’s insolence with characteristic poise.  He blinded the egotistical guru in one eye.  Creator of Sanjivani vidya was left crest fallen.  Despite his insights, Shukracharya presumed God was wronging his student.  His sense of fairplay trumped his wisdom and he became blind to divine lila.

Even when emperor Bali was warned by Shukacharya about the divine plan to rob him, instead of feeling anger, upset, outrage or fear, Bali felt honoured and humbled that God Himself had come to his house to ask for what was already his.  Bali was very philosophical about the impending loss.  He was under no illusion as to what God was asking of him, but he was also under no illusion as to the effects of refusing God’s demand.  Refusing what God wanted would only earn him infamy, sully his good name and mire his soul with terrible karmic repercussions.  Chaos caused by trying to obstruct God’s will would result in greater loss for his people.  It is useless to resist God’s will.  So its best to go with the flow and minimize the damage to all those around him.    

No good act goes unpunished.  No sooner had Bali promised to give land measured by three strides of the Brahmin child, Vaman became Virat !  In no time at all, his enormous, colossal body ranged between heaven and Earth.  Sun was blocked out by the child that grew to be a giant.  As soon as Vaman became Virat, Vishnu measured everything owned by Bali in two steps.  There was nothing left for the third step !  Vishnu threatened Bali with eternal infamy if he could not provide room for the third step.  Robbed of all material items, the King offered himself – atama-samarpan.

Like a parent, God does not “take”, but rather, he “gives”.  Even when he took away the empire of Bali, Vaman gave Bali a new kingdom in the nether world.  Bali was made an immortal, rare soul that would survive the maha-pralay and become an Indra, inheriting the kingdom of heaven in the next Manvantar.  Vaman himself guards the emperor of the next era and Lakshmiji has declared him her “brother”.

There are many lessons of this tale.  Here are some of the main points –

* Have a plan – a grand plan

* Perception is not reality.  Looking at the small child, Bali presumed he would acquire “punya” by donating land covered by the child’s three strides.  Instead, he lost his entire empire ! 

* Be clear in your communications.  Don’t assume anything, it only makes an ass out of you and me.

* Read your contract before signing it.  If only Bali knew what he was getting into !

* Sometimes you have to go with the flow.  If everything suggests this is not the right time to fight, conserve your energy and bide your time.  Going against the wishes of Vaman cost Sukacharya dearly.

* Karmic debts to have to be paid by everyone, even God incarnate.  Having robbed Bali of everything, Vaman has to protect Bali till he is repaid in full, with huge interest on top !

* Above all – THINK BIG.  Even though he was Vaman – small – he thought Virat – BIG.  By striving, Vaman managed to cover the entire universe in just two strides.  Try and you will be surprised what you can achieve ! 



© Bhagwat Shah



Main Courtyard of the Haveli.


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