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Avatara (incarnation of Vishnu) Vamana before King Bali. Jaipur, circa late 19th century. Opaque watercolour with gold on wasli. 25 x 36cm
After King Bali gains power over the devas or gods, Vishnu restores order by appearing as Vamana avatara - his dwarf incarnation - who in the guise of a diminutive brahmin tricks King Bali into offering a boon (despite protestations from his purohita or counsel, seen with finger pointing as a warning) granting him all the land he can cover in three paces. Vamana gives Bali his kamandalu (water pot) and asks the king to pour water from it into the brahmin's i.e. Vamana's hand to signal his acceptance. On Bali's doing so, Vamana transforms into the gigantic Trivikrama so that two of his steps cover the entire universe whilst the third lands on Bali's head forcing himback into the netherworld.
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Images and text © Peter Blohm