One of Vishnu's most famous incarnations is that of Vamana the dwarf. The story is told throughout Hindu scripture, as I discuss in this question. Just to refresh people's memories, the story goes roughly as follows: the Asura (demon) Mahabali, grandson of Vishnu's devotee Prahlada, took over the three worlds by conducting a hundred Ashwamedha Yagnas (horse rituals). Indra went to Vishnu for help, so Vishnu incarnated as Vamana, the youngest son of Indra's parents Kashyapa and Aditi, and then he went to Mahabali's hundredth Ashwamedha Yagna. He asked Mahabali for three steps of land, and then he grew gigantic and used those steps to take back the three worlds for Indra and the gods.

But according to Rupa Goswami, an Acharya of the Gaudiya Vaishnava sect (which the popular organization ISKCON is a part of), this isn't the first time that Vishnu has incarnated as a dwarf; here is what he says in his Laghu-Bhagavatamrita:

Lord Vamana appeared three times in this kalpa. During the reign of the first (Svayambhuva) Manu, He visited the sacrifice performed by Vaskala, the king of the danavas. Then, in the reign of Vaivasvata Manu, and visited the sacrifice performed by Dhundhu. Then, in the seventh catur-yuga of that manvantara, He appeared as the son of Kasyapa and Aditi. In this way, to accept a donation, He appeared three times as Lord Trivikrama.

The third incarnation is the famous one I discussed above. But my question is, what is the story of Vishnu's two earlier Vamana incarnations, involving Vashkala and Dhundhu? Are these described in Hindu scriptures?

Are there any commentaries on Rupa Goswami's work that shed light on this?


1 Answer 1


Question 1: Vaskala (Baskali) story is described in Padma Purāṇa (Sṛṣṭi, chapter 30). Incident with Dhundhu is described in Vāmana Purāṇa, chapter 78. In both cases Lord Vāmana came to take back Indra's kingdom that they usurped.

Question 2: Yes, there are two commentaries on Laghu-bhāgavatāmṛta that shed some light on this - by Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa and Vṛndāvanacandra Tarkālaṅkāra.

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    Thanks for your answer! Here's the Padma Puranas chapter: gdurl.com/RF3t And here's the Skanda Purana chapter (click on topics 1 and 2): indianscriptures.com/scriptures/puranas-18-puranas-mahapurana/… You should add these links to your answer, and preferably provide summaries and/or quotes from these chapters, for the benefit of future readers. Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 2:39
  • @Keshav As Bhishma says at the end of the excerpt it does seem like the same story of Vamana and Mahabali. So what is Pulastya's answer to that?
    – Surya
    Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 4:40
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    @KeshavSrinivasan even in Baskali episode Vishnu was born to Aditi.. Could Baskali be another name for Bali? Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 6:11

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