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Vishnu Foremost Hindu God and His Appearance as Vamana the Dwarf God

Updated on July 6, 2020
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The author is an air warrior and a global traveler who loves to visit and explore new places


Before beginning this article it must be understood that the trinity of Brahma Vishnu and Shiva form the essence of Hinduism. Vishnu is the preserver God which means he protects the universe from being destroyed and keeps it alive. As per Hindu philosophy, he has descended to earth in nine forms called 'avatars.' HIs more famous forms of avatars are Rama and Krishna. Vishnu's wife is Laxmi the Hindu Goddess of wealth.

We all know a dwarf is a man with stunted growth. Generally, a dwarf is represented in western lore like fairy tales as a man with magical powers who lives to the age of 250 years. In Hinduism a dwarf is considered very important as the fifth avatar of Vishnu, Vamana was a Brahmin dwarf.

As per Hindu thought, the good and evil forces are about evenly matched. However sometimes the evil forces gain the upper hand and when that happens, it necessitates Vishnu emerging on earth in the form of an avatar to defeat the evil forces.

Avatar is generally speaking the embodiment of a person or idea. It means descent from heaven to earth of a deity. It can be translated into English as an incarnation. The Bhagwat Purana tells us that Vishnu has appeared on this earth in the form of 9 avatars. The God Rama was the 7th Avatar, Lord Krishna the 8th Avatar and Lord Buddha were the 9th Avatar. The 10th Avatar Kalki (eternity) is yet to emerge.

The Puranic texts of Hindus mention that Vamana was the 5th avatar of Vishnu. He was also the first avatar who appeared in human form. He took birth as a Brahmin dwarf. His other name is Upendra. The parents of Vamana were Aditi and Kashyapa. Aditi is the mother of all the Devatas while Kashyapa was a sage. He is the twelfth of the Adityas the sons of Aditi and sage Kashyapa. Vamana is also regarded as the younger brother of Indra, the king of Gods.

Vamana the 5th Avatar

As I have already pointed out Vishnu appears on the earth in the form of an avatar when there is dire need to restore order or fight evil. Vishnu came to the earth as the 5th avatar at the request of all the gods led by Indra. In ancient Hindu mythology, Indra is generally recognized as the king of gods.

Why did Indra make this request to Vishnu? Legend tells us that the fourth lineal descendent of Hiranyakashyap named Bali was able to defeat all the gods including Indira himself. Hiranyakashyap was an asura and the king of the Daityas from the Puranic scriptures. Asuras are described in Indian texts as powerful superhuman Demi gods with good or bad qualities and one of their races are the Daityas

Bali was a powerful entity in his own right. With the defeat of Indra and the gods, Bali's power spread over the 3 worlds and this alarmed all the gods. As per Hindu philosophy, the entire universe is composed of 3 worlds. The First World is the physical universe; the Second World is the subtle astral or mental plane of existence in which the devas, angels, and spirits live; and the Third World is the spiritual universe of the Maha devas, where great shining beings, the Gods live.

All the gods appealed to Lord Vishnu for protection to save them from Bali. Lord Vishnu listened to the pleas of the gods and decided to help them. Accordingly, he manifested himself as an Avatar and appeared on earth as the dwarf Avatar Vamana. Having come on earth as Vamana, Vishnu made plans to accost Bali.

Once when King Bali was conducting a great religious offering, Lord Vishnu in the form of Vamana appeared before him accompanied by many Brahmins. Bali was delighted to see a dwarf as a holy man and as a mark of his respect for Brahmins promised Vamana whatever he desired.

10 Avatars of Vishnu include Lord Krishna and Lord Buddha
10 Avatars of Vishnu include Lord Krishna and Lord Buddha

The exile of Bali

Bali listened to the request of Vamana. He asked him again whether he was sure of what he wanted to ask. Lord Vishnu as Vamana asked only for as much land as he could measure by three steps. Bali laughingly agreed, thinking a dwarf could not take much from him.

Bali was in for a shock as Lord Vishnu as dwarf stepped over heaven in first stride and earth in the second stride. But Lord Vishnu out of respect to Bali's kindness and his grandfather Prahlada's great virtues did not complete the third step. This was because also as Bali had realized that Vamana was really Vishnu and he had offered his head for the third step.

In Hindu mythology, Prahlada is acclaimed for his exclusive devotion to Vishnu. Lord Vishnu left Bali in pathal, the subterranean region. Bali's capital was Mahabalipuram. This place is about a hundred kilometers from the city of Madras and is now a tourist resort with lovely temples and beautiful beaches.

The ancient Bhagwad Purana attributed to the sage Ved Vyasa has 7 chapters dedicated to Vamana. One may wonder what happened to God Vamana. After the completion of his work, Vamana became invisible and vanished.

The dwarf god has temples spread all over India which are dedicated to him. Some of the major temples are located as given below.- Mithranandapuram Vamanamoorthy Temple, Cherpu, Thrissur in Kerala- Thrikakkara Temple, Cochin in Kerala.- Khajuraho Temples, Madhya Pradesh, Vamana, and Ulagalantha Perumal Temple in Viluppuram District, Tamil Nadu.

All these temples are worth a visit. This god is unique in the history of religions as no other religion has such a god.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


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    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh 

      4 weeks ago from Singapore

      RoadMonkey, thanks for commenting

    • RoadMonkey profile image


      4 weeks ago

      I think it would take many years visiting India to see and learn about all the wonders.

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh 

      4 weeks ago from Singapore

      Thank you Manatitaji, for commenting.

    • manatita44 profile image


      4 weeks ago from london

      Awesome! I won't hide it, I prefer when you use your natural talent in this way, to uplift humans. A sublime and exquisite piece! Stay blessed!

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh 

      4 weeks ago from Singapore

      Dear Chitrangada, thank you for commenting

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      4 weeks ago from New Delhi, India

      Great writing.

      Though I know quite well about the Vamana avtar, your narration is interesting and well presented. Our holy scriptures are full of such interesting stories, each teaching us something important.

      Thank you for sharing.


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