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Vamana Avatara and Bali Maharaja

"So Bali Maharaja dedicated atma-nivedana, everything: his property, his personal body, everything. So in exchange, Vamana, Lord Vamana became his doorkeeper. So Vamanadeva said, "My dear Bali Maharaja, you are so great a devotee. So in return for your service, I shall remain always your doorkeeper." So by offering everything to Krsna, nobody is loser. You must always remem... They are gainer, the best gainer. Because after all, everything belongs to Krsna. Why should we foolishly say, "It is mine, it is mine?" Aham mameti. Janasya moho 'yam. This is called illusion. Nothing belongs to me, but I think that "This is mine, this is mine, this is mine." The whole world is going on (like) that. Aham mameti. "We are Americans," "We are Indians," "This belongs to me," "That belongs to you." We make such, I mean to say, shareholder. But shareholder for other's property. Everything belongs to God. Not only this world--there are many millions and millions of planet."

Srila Prabhupada Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam, 09-24-72, Los Angeles

"Atma-nivedanam, giving everything to Krsna. That is Bali Maharaja. He did not do anything. He simply... Whatever he possessed, he gave it to Krsna, "Take it," his everything. He promised three feet land, and by two feet land all his possession was covered. Then Krsna asking that "Where to keep the another feet?" He said, "Yes, sir, there is place. Just keep it on my head. That's all." So by three feet he lost everything. He lost not everything, but he gained everything, and Krsna agreed that "You are so sacrificing. Now I shall remain as your doorkeeper here, stand here always to save you from all dangers." So by giving to Krsna, by serving Krsna, by loving Krsna, nobody is loser. Nobody is loser. Everyone is gainer. Everyone is gainer. So therefore we should take this process."

Srila Prabhupada Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam, 02-22-73, Auckland

"Regarding Bali Maharaja: He is born in the same atheistic family of Maharaja Prahlada. He happened to be the grandson of Maharaja Prahlada, and as his great grand-father, Hiranyakasipu was very powerful, and as there was animosity between the demigods and the demons, Bali Maharaja also defeated the demigods several times, and was occupying all the planets. At that time Vamanadeva appeared as the son of Kasyamuni. Bali Maharaja was very charitably disposed. Sometimes the atheists are also very charitable. Persons who believe that we are doing pious activities, making charities and welfare work to the human society, why should we bother about God?--such persons even though very moral and pious in the estimation of the material world, are also demons, on account of their apathy for Krishna Consciousness. So, Bali Maharaja was a man of that type. Under the circumstances he was not averse to accept charity and other pious activities. He was being guided by his spiritual master, Sukaracharya. Sukara means the semina. In other words, one claims to become acharya on the principle of being born of a Brahmin father. They may be called sukaracharya, or acharya or preacher not by disciplic succession, but on the right of heredity. In India there are still superstitions that one should be initiated by such sukaracharya family. They are called generally as the jatigosain. Jatigosain means the caste spiritual master. All over India, especially in Bengal, this jatigosain spiritual mastership is very prevalent. But really goswami means one who is master of the influence of different senses, namely the influence of tongue, the influence of mind, the influence of anger, the influence of belly, the influence of genital, and the influence of talking. So one who is master of these influential webs of sense gratification, he is called goswami. Goswami is not by hereditary chart. So Sukaracharya posed himself as such goswami spiritual master. He had many mystic powers, therefore he was considered to be very influential spiritual master of the demons.

So when Vamanadeva appeared, Bali Maharaja was attracted by His beauty as a Dwarf Brahmin, and as he was charitably disposed, he wanted to give Him some charity. But Sukaracharya, being elevated in mystic yogic powers, he could understand that Vamanadeva was Visnu. And in order to favor the demigods, He had come there to cheat Bali Maharaja in the shape of begging some charities. Bali Maharaja was puffed up with his material vanities, and Vamanadeva as He is Visnu, all-peaceful, without interrupting his attitude, just approached him in the form of a Brahmin, Who has a right to beg something from the princely order. And the principle orders also are always disposed, to make charities to the Brahmins.

..... Bali Maharaja is Mahajana because he wanted to serve Visnu by disobeying his non-bonafide spiritual master. As explained above, Sukracarya was hereditary spiritual master by seminic succession. But Bali Maharaja first revolted against this stereotyped seminic succession spiritual master, and therefore he is Mahajana. Srila Jiva Goswami has described in his Karamasandharvha that one should be anxious to accept a spiritual master who is bona fide in spiritual knowledge. And if need be one should relinquish the connection of hereditary spiritual master and accept a real bona fide spiritual master. So when Sukaracharya advised him contrary to his previous instructions, specifically, he checked Bali Maharaja in the matter of worshipping Visnu, and thus Sukaracharya became at once fallen down from the position of becoming a spiritual master. Nobody can become a spiritual master who is not a devotee of Visnu. A brahmana may be very expert in the matter of performing Vedic rituals, accepting charities, and distributing wealth--all these are exalted qualifications of the brahmanas, but the Vedic injunction is, in spite of possessing all these qualities, if somebody is against Lord Visnu, he cannot be a spiritual master. So when Sukaracharya advised Bali Maharaja against Visnu, he at once became unqualified for becoming a spiritual master. Bali Maharaja disobeyed such unqualified spiritual master, and therefore, he is accepted as Mahajana. Mahajana means a personality whose footprints should be followed. So, his exemplary behavior in rejecting a non-Vaisnava spiritual master being ideal to the bona fide students, he is considered a Mahajana."

Srila Prabhupada Letter to Satsvarupa, 07-03-68, Boston

Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.