Srimad Bhagvata Mahapurana Book 8 Chapter 19:26-39

Book 8: Chapter 19

Srimad Bhagvata Mahapurana: Book 8: Chapter 19: Verses 26-39
The Lord asks three paces of land of Bali, who gives his word; while Sukra remonstrates with him against this course

The glory of a Brahmana, contented with whatever is got by chance, grows; through discontent (however) it disappears (even) as fire gets extinguished with water. Therefore, only three paces (of land) do I ask of you, the foremost of the bestowers of boons. I shall have accomplished my purpose with this much alone; (for) wealth is desirable only to the extent of one's (bare) need. Sri Suka continued : Thus spoken to, he (Bali) laughingly said, "Take as much as you will." He (then) took up a pot of water[1] in order to (make a solemn vow to) give (three paces of) land to the divine Dwarf. (The sage) Usana (Sukracarya, the preceptor of the demons), the foremost of the learned, who knew the object of Lord Visnu, warned his disciple, Bali (the ruler of the Asuras)-who was bent on gifting land to the same Lord----(in the following words).

Sukra said: Sprung from the loins of the sage Kasyapa through Aditi, O son of Virocana, this dwarf is no other than the immortal Lord Visnu, who is bent upon accomplishing the purpose of the gods. I do not approve of what you have promised to Him, ignorant as you are of the harm that will follow (from it). A great calamity has surely befallen the Asuras. Appearing as a Brahmacari (religious student) through (His) Maya (deluding potency), this Hari will snatch your throne, dominion, fortune, splendour and glory (so) widely known, and bestow it on (His own brother) Sakra (Indra). Assuming a form co-extensive with the universe, He will cover (all) these (three) worlds (viz., heaven, earth and the intermediate region) in three strides. Giving away (your) all to Visnu, how will you (be able to) keep your body and soul together, O fool? Where will place be found for the third stride of the all-pervading Lord, who will cover the (whole) earth with one colossal stride, heaven with the second and the intervening space with His gigantic person ? For yourself, who will (thus) prove unable to redeem your promise, and fail to make the promised gift, I foresee a firm footing in the infernal region (alone). The wise do not commend that gift (on the part of a donor) through which' one's (own) living is lost. For in this world charity, sacrificial performances, austerity and other (righteous) acts are possible for him (alone) who has a means of subsistence. A householder dividing his income into five parts (and utilizing it) for the purposes of (1) (acquiring) religious merit and (2) celebrity, (3) (earning more) wealth, (4) enjoying pleasures and (5) maintaining his own people rejoices in this as well as in the life beyond. On this point (viz., the question of truth and falsehood) too hear from me, O chief of the Asuras, the verdict of the Bahvrcas (the seers of Rgveda): "Whatever is expressed in terms of 'yes' (with reference to the prayer of a petitioner) is truth; (while) that which one utters in terms of 'no' is indeed untruth. One should understand truth to be the flower and fruit of the tree of the body; for it is declared as such (by the Sruti texts). In the event of the tree (itself) not surviving, the fruit and flower (too) will vanish. (And) falsehood (refusal to part with one's possessions) is the secret of preserving one's body (life).



  1. It is customary among the Hindus to make a solemn vow or declaration of purpose before actually undertaking any religious act of austerity, sacrifice or gift. The way to do it is to take some water with flowers In the hollow of one's right palm, to mention the time and place of the undertaking and the personal as well as the family name of the person undertaking It, as well as of the Brahmana on whom a gift is proposed to be bestowed or whose services as an officiating -priest are going to be engaged for the occasion, and then to declare the purpose Itself. This being done, the water In the hollow of one's palm is discharged on the ground, thus solemnizing the vow.

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