Holy scriptures proclaim that God is all pure and completely devoid of all malice. If this is so, did you ever wonder how cruelty, injustice, cheating, stealing and many other tendencies categorized as negative, exist in His pastimes? An unsatisfactory answer to this question may sometimes impel some to even question the existence of God. However, Lord’s apparently confusing activities – whether cheating or stealing – has a transcendental reason behind it. Mother may sometimes cheat by giving a bitter medicine to the child by disguising it as a sweet. But it is for the child’s benefit. Similarly the Lord sometimes apparently does injustice to His own devotees with a higher purpose to fulfill. But at the end, He reveals His unbound love for the devotee beyond anyone’s imagination. Here is an incident from the Srimad Bhagavatam that describes how the Lord lovingly taught a lesson to a devotee who attempted to disturb the universal administrative system, and simultaneously glorified him for all time to come.
Bali was the king of demons and the grandson of the great devotee Prahlada. The birth in the family of demons had no negative influence on his glorious character. He became very powerful by the benedictions of the brahmanas and his spiritual master Sukracharya. Endowed with undefeatable prowess, Bali went to conquer the heavenly planets. Knowing Bali to be formidable, Indra, the king of heaven fled away along with all the demigods. Bali took over the kingdom of Indra, and became the king of the entire universe.
The plight of the demigods pained the heart of their mother, Aditi. She prayed to the Supreme Lord to help her children. The Lord reciprocated and assured her that he would conquer Bali and reinstate the demigods in their positions. Thus the Lord descended as her son, Vamanadeva.
Lord Vamana dressed as an ascetic went to Bali Maharaja who was then performing a yajna. Bali was fascinated by the beauty of the little brahmana boy. As a charitable king, he inquired from the Lord of what he would accept as charity. Vamana asked Bali for three steps of land and nothing more, although Bali was ready to offer Him many invaluable gifts. Lord Vamana then expanded Himself and crossed beyond the coverings of outer space and covered the entire land with one foot and the entire sky with the other foot. Thus He captured the entire kingdom of King Bali in two steps and demanded from him to fulfill his promise. Humiliated by the Lord, Bali then showed his head indicating the Lord to keep His foot on his head as the third step. The Lord then placed His foot on Bali’s head and pushed him into the lower planetary system known as Sutala loka. The Lord again entrusted the universal affairs to the demigods and thus reestablished the universal administrative system.
Lord Vamana apparently cheated Bali by begging for three steps of charity as an innocent child and capturing his entire possessions. The all-knowing Supreme Lord knows perfectly well how to handle situations. The unconquerable king, Bali could have been conquered only by this way. Just as a nation has an administrative system run by the government for the smooth functioning of the national affairs, similarly the Supreme Lord employs various demigods to manage the universal administrative system. Whenever there is a disruption in the system caused by external forces, the Lord takes the responsibility of setting it into order. Bali caused a disruption in the management of universal affairs. So, the Lord, as Vamana set the disturbed systems in order.
Although as the maintainer of the universe, the Lord punished Bali, as the affectionate protector of devotees the Lord also favored Bali. He had made Bali the king of Sutala planetary system and personally guarded his kingdom as a doorkeeper. And He benedicted Bali with the post of Indra, the king of heavens in the next millennium. Further, He glorified Bali for all time to come as the best example of devotees who surrendered everything to the will of the Lord. Therefore, this act of divine cheating done by the Lord should not be perceived as injustice towards Bali, but as the expertise of the Lord in displaying His roles as the maintainer of universe and affectionate Lord of His devotees. Great souls cheat for a great cause!
Vamana Dwadasi marks the auspicious appearance of Lord Vamana. On this day, lets pray to the Lord for a faultless understanding of His transcendental pastimes and develop the mood of the Bali who completely surrendered to the will of the Lord.