6 Sep 2014

The Deep Meaning of Vamana Avatar's ‘Three Steps’

Today is Vamana Jayanthi, the day when it is celebrated the fifth Incarnation of Lord Mahavishnu, in the form of Vamana Avatar.

Krishna Retreat, 2012

In 2012 during a Krishna Retreat, Sri Swami Vishwananda explained the deep meaning of the Vamana Avatar's ‘Three Steps’:

“The story of Vamana is linked with Mahabali. He was the king of the demons and he became very powerful. He defeated lord Indra and proclaimed himself the lord of the three worlds. To get rid of king Bali, the Lord in the form of Vamana Avatar asked him for three steps.

"Then, as the Lord took the Vishwa Swarupa form, in one step He took all the material things of king Bali. In the second step He took all the lokas which king Bali had taken from Indra and all the other gods. Then he asked king Bali, ‘Well in my two steps I have taken everything from you – you who have considered yourself the lord of the three worlds – I have taken everything, but where will I put my third step now? So give me, fulfil your vow, give me the third step!’ At that moment, king Bali bent his head and said, ‘Lord, now what is left is only me. I completely surrender, Atmanivedan, to you.’ So at that moment, the Lord placed his toe on the head of king Bali.

"By surrendering to the Feet of the Lord, when he offered his head to the Lord and the Lord put His Feet over his head, he was liberated. He was freed from all the bad things which he had done.
Guru Purnima, 2014
"These three steps symbolize the wakefulness state, the dreaming state and the deep sleep state which is Jagrat, Swapna and Shushupti.

"If one gets caught into these three states, one loses good qualities and values. The wakefulness state – of course everybody is awake, but you have to be awake in a different state; you have to awaken the consciousness.

"The dreaming state – you see when you are dreaming, you are not aware of it, but your subconscious is awake. And for someone who is surrendered to God, the dreaming state have another advancement, because even in the dreaming state one can build up the devotion to God.

"And then you have the deep sleep state. In the deep sleep state, one is not aware. This is in the unconscious. So in that state, if you are surrendered, the Lord will give you everything. You see in this deep sleep state, sometimes you have a deja vu; in this level you are travelling, but you can also praise God. You can also burn your karma.

"These three states represent the three steps in which Mahavishnu, in the form of Vamana, took control over king Bali, which represents the mind itself. If the mind is surrendered, you keep working and burning your karma when you are awake, sleeping, and also when you are not even aware, in the deep sleep state. So, when you surrender completely you are continuously burning the karmic vasanas from previous lives; all your negativity. And this is what Vamana Avatar represents.”