Mahabali and his story

Onam is around the corner, Mahabali the Kathapurushan, dear to all Malayalees is on his way to visit all of us. But is he really well known to us other than the brief story we have all heard since childhood? Not that I know of and everybody takes him for granted. So, I started on a trip to find out more and it certainly turned out to be an interesting trip. Starting with the mythical background of the story I went to Mahabalipuram, a place that carries his name but situated far away from Kerala. I then moved on to the Bana kingdoms of ancient times and finally circled back to Kerala through Tulunad checking out another link to the origin of Nairs. It was some trip and so let me take you to those locales, telling you the tale I learnt along the way. For all you know it may be a tall tale, but interesting anyway.

But first a bit about the origin of Naris – In my longish article that covered most of the usual stuff, I concluded thus - To summarize, the Nayars have been considered a derivative of local indigenous people with invading Aryans, have been wandering Scythins who settled down, the wandering Nagas and so on. No one theory holds forte, though from all the above, the Scythian link seems to be the near fetched one. At least that was what I felt then….

A preamble about Asuras

First we start with Aditi and Diti. Without getting into too many complications about their origins, Aditi’s children turned out to be the devas or the godly sort and Diti’s through her lusty and untimely association with Kashyapa became the daityas or asuras. One such asura son Hiranyakashipu fathered Prahlada, who then fathered Virochana. Mahabali was born to Virochana and Viktare. Bana is Mahabali’s son and he fathers not one, but 4 crores of asuras named Nivatakavacas. So that in short establishes the lineage of Mahabali.


Now we have to figure out the connections between Mahabali and Kerala. Mahabali was as you know, a benevolent king of the asuras. Bali went on to succeed his grandfather as the king of the Asuras, and his reign over the realm was characterized by peace and prosperity. The churning of the oceans takes place, Mahabali takes possession of the urn of Amrut and a battle starts wherein Bali is first killed, but brought back to life by Sukracharya, after which an even fiercer battle takes place where Bali is victorious and drives out the Devas and Brahmanas. He would later expand his realm – bringing the entire world under his benevolent rule. Aditi his grand aunt is upset, since she is also the mother of all devas, and eventually becomes pregnant with Vamana after support from Kashyap and Vishnu.

Mahabali was performing the sacrificial rite of the Aswamedha Yagam on the banks of Narmada River (not in Kerala!) to go further up in life. We then get to the standard story, where Vamana appears as a Brahmin boy and in those days nobody refused anything to a Brahmin (even though Bali supposedly drove out all Brahmanas from his world). He asks for a boon to Bali who agrees to provide it. Vamans’s request was "You need not give me anything great. It is enough if you give me that extent of land covered by three footsteps of mine".

Despite the warnings of his advisor Sukracharya, Bali granted this boon. Vamana then grew to an immense size, and, with his first pace, traversed the all of the earth and the underworld. With his second pace, he covered Heaven in its entirety. Admitting defeat and seeing that Vamana has no more room for his last step Bali offered his own head for the third step. Vamana then pushes him into Patala or the nether world, thus saving the Devas and Indra whose position Bali would otherwise have taken.

Mahabali and Kerala

Bali was thus banished to the underworld. Due to his selfless devotion and unwavering dharma he was granted permission to visit his subjects once every year. The story also explains that the beautiful state of Kerala was the original kingdom of the Bali. We get a further clue now that Thrikkakara was supposed to have been the capital of the legendary Emperor. After Mahabalai was dismissed to Patala, the idol of Vamana was installed on the ruins of the palace of Mahabali by Saint Kapila, and he later asked the rulers of Kerala, to accept the supremacy of the deity cementing in the Brahmanism brought by Parasurama . It was a case of a Saivite defeated by Vasihnavite perhaps, looking at how the events went by, for as you know that was a tussle between them going on in the Southern parts of India. This is the only link I could find in the old tales connecting Mahabali and Kerala. But was he ever in Thrikkakara? Also if Kerala was a prosperous land that existed during Vamana’s time, then the Parasurama epoch and the story that he created Kerala with his flung axe is certainly incorrect, even as a myth. Now how did the tale tellers go wrong in those days? Ah! Who knows?

Mahabali and Mahabalipuram

But then, how is Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu associated with Mahabali? Many a book claims that Mahabalipuram was the capital of Mahabali, even today.

One stupid version of the popular story goes thus - The former name of this place ‘Mahabalipuram’ has a history. A very rude and cruel king Mahabali ruled in this place and in a fierce battle king Mahabali was killed by Lord Vishnu and the place was named after the dead, arrogant king Mahabali (hrrump…..who would name the place after an evil & dead king?). Max Mueller however stated - If we went to Sadras, a place near Madras, we might see that the palace of king Bali is now lying under the sea. Vamana is equivalent to Trivikrama, which again means the sun-god. Bali denotes "offering in a worship." This is a physical truth; God is as a dwarf before the offerings in His worship, or else the act of worship cannot be exalted. It is a spiritual truth. The allegory consists in the expression of these two truths. That the once flourishing Mahabalipuram is today in the nether regions, that is to say, at the bottom of the sea is, however, a historical fact.

This Pallavanadu is far removed from Cheranadu and Kerala, so how could Bali have been in both places? Time to go there I suppose, to investigate.. and so we move on to the land of the seven pagodas, in Mahabalipuram, mamallapuram or city of mahamalla. What could be the truer myth behind Mahabalipuram? The famed collection of McKenzie manuscripts provide the answer

In early times one named Mallesudu ruled here prosperously; but from refusing to feed a Brahman, and mocking him, he was, by the said Brahman, caused to be metamorphosed into an alligator. A rishi, named Pandarica, going to pluck a lotus flower from the tank wherein the alligator was, it laid hold of him, and the rishi drew the alligator, on to the the bank. The king thus obtained release, and went to Swarga: and the rishi thought to present the flower to Vishnu; but the sea refusing to give him way, he occupied himself in baling out the sea; and, while so occupied, Vishnu, in the shape of an aged Brahman, approached, and asked for boiled rice. After some explanation he engaged to do the rishi's work, while the latter should go to prepare rice. By taking up a single handful of water, the sea retreated an Indian mile (1 ½ English); and when the rishi returned he found the Brahman reposing, in the manner in which statues of Vishnu are sometimes represented. He now recognized the god; and a fane was built by him over the spot. This was kept in order, by many later persons. Before the said incarnation of Vishnu, the place was called Mallapuri and Mallapurickshetram, from the before-mentioned Mallesudu. In subsequent times the name was altered to Mahavalipuram. Those ignorant of the Sthala puranam hence inferred that Maha Bali Chakraverti ruled here, and hence called the place Mahabalipuram, and some term it Mavalipuram. Both of these names are erroneous; and are known to be so from the local puranam. This is included in the Brahmanda-purana, from the 93d adhyaya to the 100th inclusive. The names of the subsequent rulers are unknown to any one.

Tamil scholars like KV Raman rubbish the Mahabali legend of Mahabalipuram stating that the legend of Mallai was Sanskritaized to Mahabalipuram and the legend of the fallen Mahabali dovetailed into it in the most artificial manner…So let us agree with that and keep him in Kerala for now.

Mahabali and the Banas

But then let us look at the son of Mahabali to trace the father’s steps. Mahabali’s son was Bana, who created the Bana kingdom (Bana was later cut to size by Siva, 998 of his hands were loped off– now recall that the Saivite Mahabali was trounced by Vamana or Vishnu and once out of Kerala, Bana was taken to task by Siva). The Bana kingdom ‘balikula nadu’ was apparently located in (The Tamils claim that he lived in Vanapuram (Banapuram) near Perumbana padi in N Arcot and provide the story of the fight between Banasura and Anirudha –see South Indian shrines: P. V. Jagadisa Ayyar for details) Central Deccan and centered in Kolar in today’s Karnataka and originally in Gudimallam near Renigunta in Chittoor Andhra Pradesh. Interestingly Gudimallam has a Siva temple called Parasurameshwara temple Hmmm…(One more coincidence – Parasurama in Deccan?).

As we saw earlier, there was no Kerala before Parasurama came and created it. So how come Mahabali ruled it? Also we note that Mahabali was offering his yagas on the Narmada River. So was he perhaps elsewhere? And did Parasurama cult bring in the story? Did the Parasurama cult (includes Namboothiris and their Akambadi nairs) start perhaps in the Bana kingdom which remembered the Bali story of their ancestors? Certainly seems farfetched, but let us see (the story becomes further confusing for Vali or Mahabali is also the founder of the Vangas of Bengal – tells you perhaps why Malayalees and Bengalis ‘sometimes’ think alike)

Anyway the Banas had a troubled history, they were allied with various dynasties and kings of the Deccan, Pallavas, Malladeva and so on till Vikramaditya Jayameru rose to fame in 800-850AD. A number of battles with Gangas & Nolambas bear testimony to their warrior culture. The last in line was Vijayabahu Vikramaditya who defeated the Cholas. Later after a defeat by the Cholas, the kingdom and the group dissolved but they were on constant move since then around 900 AD, moving to Tamil Nadu and the Vijayanagara kingdoms as administrators and governors. But did they go further south?

Some of them were possibly the Rayalaseema Mudirajas who later became the Bunts famed for their warrior skills. For those interested in studying this link, check this site.

Banas and Kerala

If you look at the Kulashekara Perumal studies, it is mentioned that later day matriarchal kings of Kerala might be Banas originating from Banavasi, the ancient Kadamba capital with Naga connections. That Banas were Naga worshippers is also mentioned in many studies. Keralolpathi says that on the request of the Namboothiris of Perinchellur (Taliparamba) the last Cheraman Perumal was a Vanipperumal and was sent by an Aryan King of Aryapura Krishnarayar (Krishna III)(939 - 967 CE) with a large Nair army 3 lakh 50 thousand strong led by General Pada Mala Nair.

And so finally we come to Banapperumal. Well, according to Keralolpatti, he was the brother of Kavirasasingha, the king of Tulunad. Looking at the Kulashekara entry in Wikipedia, Kulasekhara Alwar was the second Tamil Villavar Chera King. By the end of the first millennium the Tamil Ezhimalai king of Northernmost Kerala, was replaced by a Banapperumal who initiated Matriarchy according to Keralolpathi. The Banapperumal or Vanikula Kshatriya of Karnataka (according to Keralolpathi) might be a Vaduga, Northern Naga invader who might have founded the Kolathiri kingdom of Kolathunadu.

This Bana perumal was apparently the person who was converted to Budhism by a Chinese monk and who went to China (That is interesting, Chinese links as early as 900AD!). Looking at Perumal timelines, he was perhaps the same Cheraman perumal who converted to Islam in other stories and Christianity in some others. Anyway the point to be noted here is the word Bana from the name, not anything else.

Banapperumal, according to the Keralolpathi became the king of Kolathunadu and assumed the title Cheraman Vadakkan Perumal (rival Chera) and favoured Matriarchy indicating his Naga origins. It should however be noted in this context that the veracity of Keralolpathi as an authentic historical document is doubted by some historians and its narratives are highly pro-brahminical. However, it has also been argued that the later Naga kingdoms are not related or only partly related to the Chera kings. The later kingdoms may also be more related to the northerners who came to the Chera kingdom during the Rashtrakuta invasions of 960 A.D. Keralolpathi describes the invasion of Chera kingdom by a Banapperumal with a three and a half lakh Nair army send by Krishna Rayar(Krishna III of the Rashtrakuta Dynasty).

As we saw, Banas of Deccan seem to have some country connection to the present day inhabitants of Kerala. Both the Banas and Kerala seem to have some connection to Mahabali. So did the story of the mythical Bali come to Kerala with the Banas and their entourage? As we know stories follow cultures and people and remain with them through generations. Well, if that is indeed the case, the mythological events do seem connected to something in our part of the world. But what about Bali, where was he from originally? Somewhere near Narmada between Madhya Pradesh and coastal Gujarat or for that matter Northern Deccan? Maybe that is where we came from… Who knows? One thing is clear, the time lines of the southerly dispersion of Banas end correctly with the installation of the Bana Perumal.


Sutala – Bali was sent to Sultala. Sutala is one of the seven patalas. Sutala is retaliatory jealousy, the others being Atala (fear andlust), vitala (rage), talatala (mental confusion) , rasatala (selfishness), mahatala (lack of conscience) and patala (murder and malice). But according to the puranas, Bali and his people were all sent to Sutala.

According to Bhagavata Purana, it goes thus - I will give him (Bali) a place, difficult for others to attain. He shall be the Indra of Savarni Manvantara. Till then let him reside in Sutala. By my wish, the dwellers of Sutala shall have no mental or bodily pain, no fatigue, no sleepiness, no defeat and no misfortune. Bless thee, O Maharaj, go to Sutala with thy clan. Sutala is even wished for by those that dwell in Svarga. Even the Lokapalas shall not be able to overpower thee. What of others? If any Daitya does not follow thee, I will kill him by my Chakra. By all means I will preserve thee and thy followers. There you shall always find me at your door. Thy Asura nature shall be there entirely destroyed under my influence. Prahlada was also ordered by Bhagavan to accompany Bali to Sutala. So they all went to Sutala.

Are we in Sutala? You can decide by looking at the malayali psyche..

What happened to little Vamama? Well, Vamana then founded a town, called after him as Vamanapur, to the west of Bhavanrtha, on a site which was recommended by Gargar Acharya (Girnar mahatmya). Vamanpur, Vamanasthali, Vamanadham or Vanthali is nine miles south of Junagad. According to this book, Balisthan where Bali lived, is today’s Bilkha which is somewhat across Vamanpur as well. Well at least that provides a link to those who believe that Parasurama and his party come down to Kerala from Maharashtra.

Further research was becoming too complicated and meaningless for this little brain and some more potent stuff needs to be ingested to get these wild connections better understood, so I have to digress…..

Anyway, until further research proves otherwise Mahabali was our (malayali) king and Onam is our festival – so, we will continue to celebrate it with gusto, and he will visit us from Patala or Sutala, wherever he is or wherever he was from……

He must be on his way by now. Kerala is rejoicing already, people are lining up…The beverages department will start to make even more money and everybody will see heaven, at least briefly…

                                                 WISH YOU ALL A LOVELY ONAM


Encyclopedic Dictionary of Puranas - Parmeshwaranand (Swami)
The Madras journal of literature and science, Volume 8
The history of the Bengali language - Bijay Chandra Mazumdar
The Calcutta review, Volumes 126-127
Ancient Indian History and Civilization- Sailendra Nath Sen
Ancient India: collected essays - Sakkottai Krishnaswami Aiyangar
A study of the Bhagavata Purana- Pürnendu Narayana Sinha

Note: Dr Sankara Pillai has a different angle which can be seen here


harimohan said...

tks maddy wishing u all a happy onam have to read ur blog in detail before commenting will do so shortly intresting indeed

Anamika said...

Hello Maddy,

Wish you and family a very happy ONAM.

As usual a very interesting article!!!

In Karnataka people celebrate "Bali Padayami". It falls on the first day of the month of Karthika (October-November) after Deepavali. The story is similar to our Maveli story except for the ending. The king comes once in a year to rule his erstwhile kingdom.This festival is celebrated in parts of Maharashtra too. People believe Mahabali had attained salvation on that day and they worship Lord Vishnu. This story seems to be more genuine than our Maveli story. How can the King rule Kerala which was not there at that time. Mahabali might have been the ruler of the Deccan area . The "yaga" on the banks of Narmada also makes sense then. Now how did Mahabali become a legend in Kerala? As you have written his descendants might have come to Kerala.The earliest records of Onam celbrations are in 800AD during Kulasekhara Perunal's time. Keralites might have been celebrating the harvest festival. And some clever person (with good intention) might have added the Mahabali story to that festival. Anyway ONAM is now a "national" festival, a money spinning day for the Beverages Corporation and Mahabali became a "pot bellied" comic figure.


PS. Bali Padayami day is celebrated as "Govardhan Pooja" in North India.


Happy Onam, Maddy. A timely post. Looking forward to reading it.

Arvind Mishra said...

Its really a wonderful write-up with a new vision and insights!It caused a sense of deja vu reminding me of my childhood days when I read those 'PAURANIK' stories and often fantasized about them tried to correlate the characters!
One thing still haunts me what is connection in between the Bali who faced VAMAN and Baali who was killed by lord Rama. Could you enlighten?

P.N. Subramanian said...

Very interesting dig. Quite sometime back I read somewhere that Mahabali ruled over Kurukshetra.

Maddy said...

thanks a lot - hope u had a good onam..

Maddy said...

thanks anamika..
yes, sometimes legends get enmeshed with reality and it is difficult to unravel them of the main culprits messing up many a timeline is the Keralolpatti..

Maddy said...

thanks raji..
long time no hear!!

Maddy said...

thanks arvind..
that bali is the monkey king - right? it came much later in Rama's time..obviously Bali was a popular name?

Maddy said...

thanks pns.
hope you are doing well.
i am not sure about that - some say he did the ashwameda yaga on the banks of Narmada, some say Kurukhetra..

Deepti said...

loved reading the answers to many of my doubts on Onam

L N Srinivasakrishnan said...

Happy Onam to all.

TiruvOnattiruvizavu - holy festival of Tiruvonam - is attested in the Divyaprabandham verses. This is a celebration of the Vamanaavataram. This dates back to very early times in Tamil culture.

But the Mahabali story is a later Keralite graft onto the traditional festivity - most probably deliberately by Nambuthiris. In fact most of the Nambuthiri-Nair myths and legends attach themselves deliberately to the Konkan coast legends. This is deliberate and is probably post Imperial Chola period. It has no validity in 9th century Mahodayapuram Kerala.

Keralolpathi, which is probably a 13th-14th cntury piece of deliberate legend making, Parasurama legend, Nambuthiri origin myths in the western coast and in regions all the way upto Ganga Yamuna Doab, now Nair origins in the upper west coast, are all part of a larger political move away from Tamil cultural moorings and an orientation towards the Konkan coast, thus ensuring cultural independence.

There might well have been some merit oriented and fortune seeking immigration of martial families and brahmins from the upper west coast in the past but the majority of the population is just an extension of the western Tamil cultural complex of the pre 8th century era. This cultural complex ws hq'ed in Karur (called Vanji then).

Disavowal of traditional origins in favor of fantastic and magical myths is a distinctly Keralite phenomenon not confined to Hindus alone. Christians would want to be direct descendants of St Thomas, the Apostle himself and the Muslims would have some Perumal king actually going to Mecca on pilgrimage etc etc.

This is not to offend anyone. But much of what I'm saying is available in recent academic studies.

L N Srinivasakrishnan said...

I forgot to mention a real old reference in literature to Onam. It is from 'Maduraik kaanji', a didactic (Buddhist) Classical Tamil poem on the ephemeral nature of life. It is dated to 300-400 AD. It has the following reference to Onam

കണം koL അവുണര്‍ കടന്ത പൊലം താര്‍ മായോന്‍ മേയ ഓണം നല് നാള്‍

This means 'The good day of Onam - when the gold garland wearing killer of multitudes of asuras - Krishna was born'.

I reproduce the original Tamil as Google transliterate will not reproduce the word 'koL' into Malayalam correctly. It looks for similarity to contemporary Malayalam words. Anyway, I hope my script engg is correct - apologies if not.

கணம் கொள் அவுணர் கடந்த பொலம் தார் மாயோன் மேய ஓணம் நல் நாள்

tolifetolifelachaim said...

Beautiful..............well written and good homework........100+ .........hope if you get sometime you can read Akash's blog....... someetimes he writes some good stuff....

Maddy said...

Thanks LNS..

just a couple of quick questions - so how come onam not celebrated in Tamil Nadu, these days?

divyaprbandham is also based on vishnu legends written by some body - right? how would you attest to its correctness?

plenty more..but that is yet another venue to explore.. nevertheless, as you saw the people such as nairs came from somewhere according to most analyses..

regarding the karur vanchi and muziris vanji, i had written earlier here..that is also a matter of much debate & conjecture.

Maddy said...

thanks tolifetolifelachaim

i will check out akash's blog for sure


Maddy said...

Thanks Srini..
Well, now there are even more questions I suppose, for we see inputs from the Buddhist era. and see the impact from the time the Buddhist lineage was wiped out from Travancore & South Malabar.. an area I am yet to study more about..

drsabu said...

I live adjacent to the Thrikkakkara temple.There is a place called Pathalam near Eroor about 6 Km from Thrikkakkara temple.Was Maveli banished to this Pathalam?

windwheel said...

Excellent article and some very erudite comments.
In the case of Vedic ritual, though philologically it appears that expansion into Kerala was via Tamil Nadu, yet, the paradox remains that what appear more archaic forms are now only found in 'God's own country'.
My feeling is that significant portions of Kerala already boasted International Trade connections and housed a large heterogenous 'metic' class from Bronze Age times- even though that technology was not native. Parasuram, as a classic Iron Age figure parallel to Wieland Smith, creates Kerala because his sin was matricide and killing, rather than serving, Kshatriyas. Clearly, Kerala had both matrilocal as well as God-king cultus concepts are were known to so do at a very early point.
I think a new type of logic is needed to appreciate the true 'adbhut' or wondrous nature of one's homeland. I call this type of logic- reverse mereological because the part is shown to be much larger than the whole. An Imperialist synoecism stresses invasions and influxes. They do occur but what's interesting is that, most often, there are people of that culture or lineage already in place. Alexander massacred Greek settlements in Afghanistan. They'd been there for two hundred years living peacefully. But they'd sided with the Persians a long time ago. Ultimately the Greek revival in India owed more to the older Ionian layer than that of the Macedonian upstart.
The problem for a conventional historicist philological view of Kerala is that- unlike most places whither one is drawn by profit merely- it's actually a pretty nice place to live. People visit, then want to settle. They may, consciously, harbour certain prejudices about colour or diet, but in practice they quickly succumb to the unique beauty of the place and its peoples.
I would like to read a sort of evo devo game theory based anthropological history of Kerala.
Just as its beauty is sophisticated- because the eco-system is sophisticated- so to with its social geography and mythic history.
Lovely post.

L N Srinivasakrishnan said...

Tiruvonam was celebrated as a Vishnu temple festival. Even today, Vaishnavas every month mark the tiruvonam day. In Tamil history, it had nothing to do with Mahabali. Divyaprabandham does not say on Tiruvonam came down or did not come down. All it says is tiruvonam festival was celebrated in temples. No more.

Frankly Nairs did not come from anywhere else. There ought to have been a local landowning soldierly class from early periods in history.

L N Srinivasakrishnan said...

> I suppose, for we see inputs
> from the Buddhist era.
Frankly there's no such thing as Buddhist era. Buddhism, Jainism, traidtional Hinduism all co-existed. It is just a coincidence that a buddhist text in its description of the biggest city in Tamil country talks of a festival which may not have been Buddhist.

Today you can have a christian person writing a story set in Changanachery or Tiruvalla describing in passing Onam. Does not make it a Christian Era.

Maddy said...

so you are talking about the word Thiruonam being a common festival term right? it would be interesting to figure out how all these celebrations became onams..another subject for another day, and it may all merge - with more study..

nairs - a complex one as well..i will keep you posted. no definitive answers there though i tend not to quite agree with you, for various reasons

Maddy said...

thanks windwheel..

i am but a starter student of history and prone to posting what i learn, as i get on. sometimes i learn a lot, sometimes i get stuck and cannot go any further for a while.... for lack of information or imagination.

we will all read,learn, think & correct...and it will go on. essentially we are trying to imagine how life existed ages before...and so it is a bit of fertile thought at best, reinforced with some fact, till it reaches a kind of consensus

Happy Kitten said...

Hope you had a lovely Onam.. did read this article the same day but yesterday while I was reading about Cleopatra, I chanced to read about the Macedonian connection and that the early Rajputs are Macedonians! came to your blog to know more...

"Some of this information comes to us from an inscription found on the walls of the cave temples of Nasik to the north-east of Bombay. It is interesting to note that some of the Yavanas, Sakas and Parthians retreated into the mountains and deserts of Rajasthan. Four centuries later the Rajputs emerged from this same region and played a dramatic part in the history of India. The Rajputs are believed to be a hybrid people, the ancestors of the Yavanas and their barbarian allies."

Suresh Nambiar said...

Kerala was recovered from Sea. This means that Kerala existed earlier and then it was Parasurama who recovered the lost land.

mythra81 said...

balikula.....banavasi......vanniyar.....agnivansh.....banaskantha area of rajasthan/gujarat.....snake worship is still very strong there.....sri lanka has its own vanni and mahaweli ganga.....maybe the drying up of once fertile areas in rajasthan like that of the saraswati river led these people towards south the way there area tribe called bhils in banaskantha region...bhil=villavar.....rajasthan is supposed to be the scythian centre of india....their territories extended into kashmir, afghanistan, baluchistan.....ancient texts refer to the arrattas and bahlikas of the indus baluchistan area practicing polyandry and matrilineality.

Unknown said...

Hi Maddy thank you for such a lovely article about Mahabali. I have read that first the whole of south India was one big country.
Is this reason why similar names of Mahabali came to being?
Also yes the Buddhist era has totally vanished for unknown reasons
For example even now Buddhist temples are being excavated in kerala.
The missing pieces might well be hidden in the very soil we live today.

Anonymous said...

Mahabali rode Uchaisravasa the flying horse. His son Banasura fought in the battle for Usha of Tezpur. Bali lost the battle for throne of Indra at mount Meru. he is mentioned as Indra for next Manavantara. Ballerophon rode the flying horse Pegasus. his grandsons fought in the battle for helen of troy. He lost battle at mount Meru. Both their downfalls were caused by pride. Bali ruled earth as emperor. Bali was a Daitya. Daitya were children of Diti. Children of Danu were Danava. Danava were white in color. Daitya were a bit darker. Children of Manu were called Manava. Many other groups :P

Anonymous said...

Bali was never shown as a bad person. In Ramayana, Vishwamitra tells Rama that Bali was the greatest king the world ever knew.

Anonymous said...

Parashurama did not create Kerala. He is said to fought back the advancing sea. Bali was present during the last 3 Manavantara of present Kalpa. ramayana took place in the treta yuga of 24th Mahayuga of present Manavantara and Mahabharata in the 28th or present Mahayuga.

The time scales here are crazy. It is like time dilation. Refer to Hindu Units of Time. I was listening to Joe Rogan podcast and they were telling there was some new evidences that pyramids could be millions of years old and they shoved it under the rug. Obviously it will destroy the modern idea of historical time line. Looking at the Hindu units of times, one might wonder hmmm.

Anonymous said...

There was a screw in Russia found that was allegedly 300 million years old lol.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Interesting article! Its quite amazing to know that there are so many interesting stories of God Vishnu's avatar that many are not aware of. Adding one more story of God Vishnu's avatar. Vamana Avatar, the fifth avatar of God Vishnu came to earth in the form of a dwarf Brahmin to subdue the Demon King Mahabali.

Unknown said...

Article makes sense. Onam is not a festival of Kerala it is of Nair's. Nairs were the community who lived during the ancient civilization. There language was Sanskrit they followed vedas (in birth and death rituals). Due to some ancient problems (may be after parashurama created kerala) the nairs moved to kerala bringing their culture. Nairs worshiped serpant, Vishnu and Shiva. They knew agriculture. Looking at all these definitely Nairs were among the true Aryans . Now why onam is not celeberated elsewhere in India may be due to influx from other parts of world to northern and central India. We are among few communities which still preserve our Hindu tradition.

Unknown said...

The problem with Tamil based writers like Srini is the penchant to associate Kerala and Malayalees with Tamil culture. The western ghats had been a formidable wall and fence equivalent to the Great Wall of China. There is nothing to associate with the Deccan 's agamic religion with our Tantric version. Even the libby is traced to brahmi and not the so called Caldwell 's Dravidian theory. The Hindu religion including Buddhism was brought from the north to the south overwhelming animistic practices. Thiruvonam is exclusive to Malayalees . Neither is Diwali any significant to Keralites. Kerala culture is distinctive and not seen anywhere.

Unknown said...

Nairs did not worship vishnu or shiva. Their belief was more towards bhootham, pretham pishachu as attested sri. K. M. Panikkar. The belief system of vaishnavaites and saivaites allegedlu came later

Unknown said...


Mahendran said...

Thanks for this post. You must be getting a lot of questions on this around this time of Onam. Mine is about the definition of the various lokas.
Where does it say that Patala is a general term for all 'nether' worlds ?

In Bhagavatham (8th kaandam, 22nd adyayam, 7th vakyam), it says

My dear King, beneath this earth are seven other planets, known as Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Talātala, Mahātala, Rasātala and Pātāla. I have already explained the situation of the planetary systems of earth. The width and length of the seven lower planetary systems are calculated to be exactly the same as those of earth.

Can you please point me to the source of your definition ?

Maddy said...

Thanks Mahendran,
I dont have exact sources, nor have I delved that deep yet, but the bilva svarga comprising the seven regions of the nether world in the cosmic egg, is called Patalas, of which Patala is interestingly one world. HH Wilson too, goes over this on page 215 of his Vishnu Purana translation.

Dimmitt for example explains - The cosmic egg of seven
concentric spheres appears to be the usual framework within which
all space is located. There are seven successively higher heavens
(lokas), realms of the gods and immortal beings, and seven successively
lower netherworlds (patalas) where demons and chthonic
beings dwell. In the middle lies the earth on which human beings
live. This symmetrical picture is somewhat complicated by the fact
that there are also a number of hells (narakas) which are found in a
downward direction of no clear spatial location.

Maddy said...

Also Mahendran,
One of the earliest recorded definitions of the cosmic universe is from an interview between a Zamorin of Calicut and a Portuguese Friar named Fenicio in the early 17th century. The explanation to the Friar goes thus - "Of the Padalas [Patala] and their number. " The Brahmins, with that same levity with which they imagine the continents and oceans to be seven in number, also tell us that there are seven Padalas, which are certain localities below the surface of the earth, just as we speak of the limbo and other subterranean places and caverns. These seven are Adela [Atala], Videla [Vitala], Sudela [Sutala], Taladeldam [Talitala], and Sadelam [Satala], Mahadala [Mahtala], and Padalam [Patala].' In these Patalas they say that there live beings just as on earth.

sathsh said...

Karnataka and Goa - dont know whether its full or certain parts celebrate balipadyami / Bali Pratipadā on the next day of diwali. they also welcome bali in their homeland . Onam is a harvest festival / kodagu region harvest festival puthari is 15 days behind of balipadyami, Also groundnut festival is celebrated in the same month in karnataka. I collaborate bali with agriculture in western coast .

Maddy said...

thanks sathsh,
very interesting and thanks for your comment