Counter Demonization of Onam by Vested Interests

via by Vinod Kumar published on August 22, 2015

Come Onam and along with arrives a crop blasphemous topics with the intent of ridiculing and demonizing the land’s cultural observance. A favourite topic of these cultural marauders goes along these lines- Onam is intended to welcome the Brahmin Vamanam, who pushed the Dallit Mahabali to the abyss of Patala Loka. At such a time, when those with vested interests leave no stone unturned to instill into Malayali minds, ample quantity of venom regarding this age old festival, it is important that truth be known.

At a time when the story of Mahabali is being tainted with venom, let us refresh the story of Mahabali’s grandfather Prahlada. Along with the story of Prahlada, let us have a glimpse at Narasimha Avatara and Koorma Avatara of Lord Vishnu and his nemesis Hiranyakshan.

The Mahabharata states the story of Hiranyakshan thus:

Hiranyakshan and Hiranyakashipu were the sons of sage Kashyapa and Aditi, who made themselves invincible with their tapas. After having secured for themselves various boons which fortified themselves, they began attacking Bhuloka, Swarga Loka and Patala Loka. When Hiranyakshan filched the earth and escaped to Patalaloka, Lord Vishnu assumed the Koorma Avatara (tortoise), slew Hiranyaksha and made secure Bhumi Devi.

Hiranyakashipu’s rage and hatred directed towards Mahavishnu sprung from his brother’s death. He thereby forbade chanting of Lord Vishnu’s name in his kingdom replacing the same with ‘Hiranyaya Namaha’. However, his son Prahlada, an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu remained undaunted by his father’s fierce directives and continued chanting the Lord’s name. Inspite of having warned his son numerous times to stop the chant, Prahlada continued, incurring Hiranyakashipu’s wrath to such an extent that he decided to kill his son. Just before executing his son, he issued a challenge seeking to know where his Lord Vishnu existed, so that he would appear to save Prahlada from the jaws of death.

As Prahlada pointed to a pillar, stating that his Lord existed in it, an arrogant Hiranyakashipu split it into two with his mace, from which sprung Lord Vishnu in his Narasimha Avatar (half man-half lion), much to Hiranyakashipu’s horror. Prahlada was crowned king by Lord Vishnu.

Time flew by, Prahlada’s son Virochana had a son named Bali. Known for his valour, justice and keenness in serving his subjects, Bali was popularly known as Maha Bali. Bali had a cherished dream- to acquire the position of Indra and soon embarked on the Viswajith Yaga to attain the post. A petrified Indra ran to Lord Vishnu and sought help.

Thus appeared Lord Vishnu as Vamana (Brahmin dwarf) in front of Maha Bali and sought three feet land. The generous king granted Vamana permission to take his preferred three feet land from any spot in his kingdom. Vamana, with the first step took Swargaloka and with the second, Bhuloka. Not knowing here to place the third step, Vamana looked quizzically at Bali, to which the king replied, “My Lord! I understood everything! You may place the third step on my arrogance. Placing the five elements as witness, I place everything that is mine and that which does not belong to me, at your feet.”

Saying thus, Bali took off his crown, placed it at the Lord’s feet and remained prostrate so that the Lord could place his desired third step on his head. Pleased at Bali’s devotion, Mahavishnu stated that he would attain ‘Suthalam an exalted place, following which in Manvanthara, he would be crowned Indra by the Lord himself. “Till then, I stand guard at your palace,” said Mahavishnu . And thus, Mahabali came to reside in ‘Suthalam’

Thus when u read the real account of what happened, you get to know that Mahabali was never ever stomped down to Patalaloka. The story in Bhagavatham stands testimonial to the same. How the Dalit factor and the so called destruction of the community crept into the story remains mysterious.

The story however highlights to vital aspects, a colossal message to mankind- when there is a breach of virtue, truth and justice, the Lord makes his appearance on earth- be it a call from Asuras, Devas or mankind. There is no difference based on caste or creed.

So whatever ‘ism’ you belong to, which ever ideology you may love, do not be like a blindfolded beast of burden. Instead choose to keep your eyes wide open to gauge the truth.

Celebrate Onam with an open heart, receptive attitude and an overwhelmed heart.

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