Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Bali Padayami: A Re-look at the 'Vamana-Bali' story, and notes on Sura/Asura, Demon, Avatar, Vaman, Shri Ganesh, Arya, Dravida, etc. (Part-I)

Since we are celebrating Bali Padayami (also known as: Bali Pratipadā), let us discuss this story, which is now a widely-believed legend.

I understand that we are reasonably familiar with the story itself, and therefore am refraining from reproducing it here. I just want to share my thoughts on this story.

To me: the "Vamana-Bali" story refers to some natural event, in which a large piece of land may have sunk below the ocean, due to volcanic activity, tectonic shifts (earthquake), tsunami or some great deluge (flood).

What I am clear about is: It has nothing to do with any humans per se or with any groups or communities of humans whatsoever.

But first let us look at the various interpretations that the Vamana-Bali story has attracted down the ages (or has this happened in more recent times?):

As per the current popular-perception of the "Dasavatara", Vamana (also: Vaman) is popularly believed to be the fifth "avatar" or manifestation of Shri Vishnu (popularly perceived as the unseen and formless preserving or balancing force behind the cosmos). Many (including learned 'scholars') have interpreted Vaman as "dwarf"; while some have equated Vaman as  a "Brahmin" - i.e. as an individual belonging to the highest 'caste' or position in society.

This has further been (mis)interpreted by some as: that Shri Vishnu appeared on earth in His fifth "avatar" - that of a "Brahmin" or a "Vaman"...! 

[Do read: Shri Ram: Whether he was a "good husband" and what is "Ram-Rajya"? (Part-I) - HERE - to know what a "Brahmin" exactly means.]

While "Bali" has been (mistakenly) labeled as a "Demon" King. Rather: as a just and noble "Demon" king who looked after his people (praja) with care and filial affection - but who was "punished" by Shri Vishnu is His "Vaman" or Brahmin "avatar"...!!

Bali is also (mistakenly) thought to have belonged to a class of people now somehow dubbed as the "Asura" people. ... And some have (mistakenly) even written reams and reams and gone blue in the face talking about the "vanquished Asura people"...!!!

The so-called "vanquished Asura people" have further been variously interpreted as the Dravida people and/or the ones that have now been labeled as: "backward castes" and "tribal" as well. 

While Shri Vishnu in His "Vaman" or (supposedly) Brahmin "avatar" has been blithely labeled as "Arya" or "Aryan".

To my mind: all of these are terrible misinterpretations. Frankly, misinterpretations-par-excellence. Here's why:

There is no such thing as a demon - in our culture; this word has made its appearance in our collective vocabulary thanks to the translations of our ancient texts - by aliens. Therefore, we can safely conclude that things have been lost and/or distorted in translation - big time.

"Asura" does not refer to a person, people or community. "Asura" means negative; the opposite of "Sura" (which means: positive).

Any entity, or rather anything in nature (Prakriti) or creation (Srssti or Shristi) that is negative is "Asura" and anything in nature or creation that is positive is "Sura". It is irrespective of form, shape, gender and location; irrespective of whether seen or unseen, i.e., whether manifested or un-manifested. It can even be intangibles such as: actions, thoughts, traits, qualities, feelings and the like. 

[Note: Anything that is Sura or positive is also known as daaivic. Anything that is Asura or negative is also known as aasuric.]

E.g. force. The gravitational force or gravity is "Sura" or a positive force, since it helps in sustaining life on earth. Though gravity cannot be seen and has no form or gender.

While any negative natural event such as: flood, tsunami, volcanic eruption, earthquake and the like, that causes large-scale devastation of life and property, can be interpreted as "Asura" or a negative force. An epidemic (mahamari) like plague, dengue, malaria, etc is "Asura", while the organisms causing them are aasuric or negative forces (at that point in time, i.e. when they are causing the epidemic.)

Even the cells/batteries in our torches are "Sura" and "Asura" (i.e. positive and negative).

Positive traits or qualities such as: knowledge, wisdom, intelligence, strength, awareness, a calm disposition, lack of boastfulness, ability to listen, et al are Sura traits or qualities. 

Shri Ganesh represents/manifests these positive or noble traits (since they cannot be seen with mortal eyes and possess no form). One way of 'seeing' them is through (the idol of) Shri Ganesh, and it is advised that one endeavours to achieve them too. Positive or noble traits and qualities are worthy of reverence or worship. Shri Ganesh is not a person. The elephant head, the bent trunk, the large body, along with the swift mooshika-vahana (the mooshika or mouse as the vahana or vehicle) - they all have their interpretations. [Will discuss in detail later.] 

Opposite traits or qualities (to the ones mentioned above) such as: ignorance, half-baked knowledge, boastfulness, lack of perspective, ego, an illusion of or a lack of intelligence, et al are Asura (negative) traits or qualities. It is advised that one endeavours to let go of them at the earliest. These negative traits/qualities are not worthy of worship too. 

Both "Sur" or "Sura" (i.e. positive forces or entities) and "Asur"/"Ashur"/"Asura" (i.e. negative forces or entities) are required for creation, and they are present everywhere: in creation, in the universe and in this world; they are present within us (as traits or qualities), they are present within society and within civilization as well - so as to sustain it, or rather, so as to maintain the balance (equilibrium) in society and in Creation.

A wee bit of negativity (aasuric-ness) is required for the positivity (daaivic-ness) to shine. E.g: a lamp, the blue pre-dawn hours. Also: without some amount of negativity (aasuric-ness) civilization will stagnate. And we too won't be able to accumulate good karma.

Therefore, "Sura" and "Asura" have a very wide definition and scope. They do not indicate towards any 'caste' or 'community'.

"Vaman" is neither "Brahmin" nor "dwarf". Vaman = small-sized humans.

The first humans on earth would have been small in size: due to the still-hostile environment/terrains, food may not have been abundant, and so on and so forth. E.g. certain groups of people like: the (African) Bushmen are small in size. But they are very much human.

Hence, "Vaman" refers to the first humans - i.e. the small-sized humans - that evolved on this planet.

As for Bali, we have "Mahabalipuram", we have "Bali" (in the Far East) and we have "Babylon" (which to me, is a corrupt version of Mahabalipuram or rather: Bahubalipuram, resulting out of the change in phonetics over time).

There may have been a great volcanic eruption, or a major tectonic shift (e.g. an earthquake of devastating proportions), a gigantic tsunami or a great deluge (flood) that may have resulted in a large chunk of landmass being swallowed up by the waters. And this could have happened near modern-day Mahabalipuram, Bali (in the Far East) or even near modern-day "Babylon".

But if any of you were to ask me, I would plump for the first one, that is: near modern-day Mahabalipuram. This is because, in my mind, I am clear that this event (whether a devastating earthquake, an underwater volcano, a tsunami or a great flood) has happened near modern-day Mahabalipuram.

Here's why: I have no doubt in my mind that the continent of Africa was attached to ancient India, and some natural event (earthquake, flood, tsunami or volcanic eruption) led to its separation and becoming a separate entity. And in the process, some chunk of landmass may have gone below the waters. And this very likely would have happened near modern-day Mahabalipuram. [Note: The continent of Australia too may have been a part of the single landmass (that originally consisted of Africa, India, Australia). It too may have separated from the mother-landmass and become a separate entity, as a result of this natural event.]

I say that the continent of Africa (and maybe Australia) was attached to ancient India, because there is no other way that certain islands with drastically different-looking people could be existing so near to modern-India. These islands are clearly (at least to my mind) a remnant of ancient Africa and ancient Australia; bits of the landmass that separated from the mother-landmass (due to one or the other earlier-mentioned natural events) - but did not go below the waters.

Even a cursory reading of the Devi Mahatmyam ("The Greatness or the Glory of the Devi": written to commemorate the glorious acts of Parvati and her comrades - in the Satya/Sat Yug, the 1st era), the Ramayan (the comprehensive history of the 2nd era, the Treta) and the Mahabharat (the comprehensive history of the 3rd era, the Dwapar Yug) - will corroborate what I have just mentioned.

As for the current-version of the Vaman-Bali story, 'scholars' and sundry vested interests (both homegrown and phoren) have given it a very different twist, not to mention some very unpalatable spice, rather tadka. Sadly.

Our ancients had a unique way of describing things or events: in camouflaged language or coded text. Everything was given a name, a gender and a shape; popular figures/characters were used to depict various events whether on earth or celestial. This was done for the sake of comprehension or ease of understanding.

Imagery of humans or animals was used to describe everything. E.g. a celestial event has been described through the imagery of 'Rahu' and 'Ketu'. Both Rahu and Ketu have been depicted as human figures, but we must look beyond the imagery. And once we do, we can figure out without much ado that our ancients have clearly indicated that the earth initially had two moons (i.e. two satellites), and that one of them was destroyed. The debris of the destroyed moon or satellite would have scattered all over outer-space, (probably) some of it also rained down on other graha-s (planets) such as Venus or Mars, but a portion of them would definitely have fallen on earth, right?  

And this too may have been the catalyst for or caused the devastating earthquake/ the gigantic tsunami/ or the great deluge (flood) - that was ultimately responsible for the large landmass (the one described above) to sink below the ocean. [Note: Please do also remember that the moon, the sole existing satellite of the planet that we inhabit, Mother Earth, exerts immense influence on the water-bodies and on us as well, since our mortal bodies too largely consist of water.]

That, to my mind, is the Vaman-Bali story - bequeathed to us by our ancients.

Our ancients used a lot of metaphors, allusions and imagery in their writings, but instead of deciphering them, it is us - modern humans and their (unworthy) descendents - that have busily given a different colour and flavour to all of them, or have allowed others to do so gleefully. What a shame!

It is in our best interests to cleanse our treasure-trove of ancient knowledge, as well as our ancient history or pracheen itihasa, of all the unwanted aspects that have seeped in and crept in over time. It is best that we do not take our ancient texts including the Devi Mahatmyam, the Ramayan and the Mahabharat at face value. They are immense repositories of knowledge, in fact they are a veritable treasure-trove of knowledge and an inalienable part of our culture and heritage, but which have, unfortunately, now come to be labeled as 'scriptures'. [All thanks to overtly daaivic or benevolent but covertly aasuric or malevolent aliens and their spiritual offspring and disciples.]


Shubh Deepavali and a Shubho Kaali Pujo to you all. May the festival of lights, dispel the darkness within and around us. May the divine Mother Shakti (in the form of Maa Kaali) strike away all negativity. May She bless us with happiness, good health and prosperity. 

[Do read: Who or rather what are Maa Adi Shakti and Maa Kaalraatri? - HERE.]

PS: We must also take a re-look at what is popularly known as Naraka Chaturdashi or the legend of Narakasura, and refrain from taking it a face-value. This story too describes certain natural events besides having positive lessons or morals woven into it. Our ancients knew how to inculcate good values in children and youngsters, while simultaneously passing on knowledge and history in an interesting manner - for sure. Salute to their wisdom!

Parting shot: I have still not been able to figure out as to just why our ancient texts - that are nothing but immense repositories of knowledge - have been suddenly labelled variously as: "Hindu Mythology", part of "Hindu Epic" and "Hindu Literature". Given that no "ism" existed during those times or eras (yugs), how can these ancient repositories of knowledge be dubbed as "Hindu mythology", et al?  

Especially: since prior to the arrival of the overtly daaivic (benevolent) but covertly aasuric (malevolent) aliens on this great land (via gloried boats), these very "Hindu Epics", "Hindu Mythologies" and "Hindu Literature" were simply known as: "Itihasa" - history. So?

(Do stay tuned…)

Picture: "Vaman-Bali" - as popularly depicted in Bali Pratipada or Bali Padayami. Courtesy: link.


  1. Our ancients had a unique way of describing things or events: in camouflaged language or coded text. Everything was given a name, a gender and a shape; popular figures/characters were used to depict various events whether on earth or celestial. This was done for the sake of comprehension or ease of understanding.....

    Are you camouflaging the already camouflaged ancient texts ?

  2. @Mahesh Kalaal: Umm, why would I want to do that? Isn't there enough confusion already?

    My approach is more like how one approaches a jigsaw-puzzle. I try to look beyond the existing narrative, and figure out if there is a disconnect somewhere. Or whether the narrative is smooth. And if I am not satisfied, I try to understand the reason for any disconnect, and then join the dots.

    There are clear imageries and metaphors in their writings; frankly it is filled with them. Maybe that's how they wrote. Unfortunately, we have not been able to decipher.

    Here is an example: Krishna is also called "Giridhari" (literally: he who lifted a hill) and large parts of the population believe that he lifted up a whole mountain on his little finger! But it is clearly a metaphor - a testimony to his intelligence, perception and planning - even as a young boy, besides alluding to the accomplishment of some Herculean task.

  3. So How come metaphors could be real history???

  4. @Mahesh Kalaal: That is how they wrote. It is us that have been responsible for all this confusion. Sadly.