Volume I Number I
Sacrifices have their own stories and purposes. Some make sacrifices to achieve a bigger goal while some sacrifices are made for societal welfare, sometimes man makes sacrifice/s for a cause; and then there are legends who sacrifice themselves leaving behind all the illusions and materialism and become selfless for their love and devotion towards God.
This is the legend of Bali, a daitya but a benevolent king who always look after the causes of his people. He was an ambitious king who not only aspired for the throne of Indra, but actually defeated Indra and his deva-army with his valor and captured the throne. On his guru’s counsel he organized a grand yagya that would instate him as Indra forever. There, on the request of Devas, Bhagwan Vishnu arrived, in Vaman’s form in order to test Bali’s genuineness.
When Vaman request for land that he could set his foot upon for three paces, Bali consented. It was then Vaman enlarged himself in gigantic proportions and he stepped from heaven to earth with the first step, from earth to the netherworld with the second; and then there was nothing left to set his third foot on, embarrassing Bali to not able to fulfill his promise. Bali had realized the true nature of Vaman and humbly bowed in front of vaman and offered himself. Vaman Bhagwan was immensely pleased; he set his first foot on Bali, placing him as the ruler of the netherworlds and granting immortality.
But the story doesn’t ends here, Bhagwan Vaman gave one more boon to Bali; after the end of Kaliyuga, next Chaturyuga will commence and Bali will be the next Indra. Before it gets your minds wondering, let us learn about Hindu Timelines. We are at current living in the age of Kaliyuga, followed by Satyuga, Tretayuga & Dwaparyuga; hence forming a Chaturyuga. When 71 Chaturyugas are passed, it constitutes a Manvantara, i.e. lifespan of a Manu, the progenitor of humanity. At current, we are living in Vaivasvat Manvantar, the 7th Manu. With the end of current Kaliyuga, it will be the end of Vaivasvat manvantar and the 8th Manu, i.e. Savarni Manu will start the Satyuga.
Now, the concept of Indra. Indra is actually a title and whoever is worthy to bear such great responsibility, is instated on the throne of King of devas. The current Indra is son of Kashyap & Aditi, Shakra. And hence the next will be Bali, as per vaman’s blessing. It also clears a misconception, even a daitya/danava can attain such title (here as Indra), if he’s worthy; it was never about your birth, but your KARMA. It is since then that a sacrifice made was termed as ‘Balidaan’.
We are approaching towards one of the major festivals of Hinduism, the Chaitra Navratri. The festival of Navratri which specifically means “Nine nights” (Nav = Nine, Ratri = Nights), occurs four times in a year, Sharad/ Ashwin (September-October); Vasant/ Chaitra (March-April); Magh(January-February); Ashadha(June-July). While the former two are more famous and celebrated nationwide in festivity with customs and traditions depending on the region; the latter two are rather incognito also known as ‘gupt navratra’ worshipped by the followers of ‘Shaktism’ in a discrete form or manner. There’s one more thing notable about the Vasant/Chaitra Navratra that it heralds the beginning of the Hindu New Year based on the Vikram Samvat. People all over nation celebrate Bhartiya Nav Samvatsar (Indian New Year) depending upon the regions viz. Nav Samvatsar in North India, Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra, Ugadi in Andhra Pradesh, Yugadi in Karnataka, Poila Baishakh in West Bengal, Bihu in Assam, while the Konkanis and the Sindhis observe the occassion as Sanvsar Padvo and Cheti Chand respectively.