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Indian - Dwarf Form of Vishnu - Walters 25260.jpg
Four-armed Vamana
Devanagari वामन
Sanskrit Transliteration Vāmana
Affiliation Human dwarf and fifth Avatar of Vishnu
Weapon Wooden umbrella and water pot

Vamana (Devanagari: वामन, IAST: Vāmana, lit. dwarf) is described in the Puranas as the fifth avatar of Vishnu, and the first incarnation of the Second Age or Treta yuga.[1] He is the first avatar to appear as a human, although he does appear as a dwarf Brahmin.


  • Vamana (वामन) = a dwarf
  • Upendra (उपेन्द्र) = younger brother of Indra
  • Trivikrama (त्रिविक्रम) = one who strided over the three worlds (Svarga, Earth and Patala) in three steps


Vamana was born to Aditi and Kashyapa.[2] He is the twelfth of the Adityas.


Vamana as Trivikrama, depicted taking the last of three steps, which is on Bali's head, and with which He sends him to Patala.

Vamana Avatar - Calcutta Art Studio, calcutta (Kolkata) c1880's

The Bhagavata Purana describes that Vishnu descended as the Vamana avatar to restore the authority of Indra over the heavens, as it had been taken by Mahabali, a benevolent Asura King. Bali was the great grandson of Hiranyakshipu, the grand son of Prahlada and son of Virochana.

Vamana, in the guise of a short Brahmin carrying a wooden umbrella, went to the king to request three paces of land. Mahabali consented, against the warning of his guru, Sukracharya. Vamana then revealed his identity and enlarged to gigantic proportions to stride over the three worlds. He stepped from heaven to earth with the first step, from earth to the netherworld with the second. King Mahabali, unable to fulfill his promise, offered his head for the third. Vamana then placed his foot and gave the king immortality for his humility.[3]

In worshiping Mahabali and his ancestor Prahláda, he conceded sovereignty of Pátála, the netherworld. Some texts also report that Vamana did not step into the netherworld, and instead gave its rule to Bali. In giant form, Vamana is known as Trivikrama.[4]

Vamana avatar with King bali

Dwarf Vamana avatar at Rani ki vav, Patan, Gujarat


  • Mahabali symbolizes ahankara, the three feet symbolizes the three planes of existence (Jagrat, Swapna and Sushupti) and final step is on his head which elevates from all three states and he attains moksha.[4]


Vishnu as Trivikrama, Mahabalipuram relief

The Vamana temples are located in

  • Thrikkakara Temple, Thrikkakkara, Cochin, Kerala
  • Ulagalantha Perumal Temple, Kanchipuram in Kanchipuram
  • Vamana Temple, Eastern Group of Temples, Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh
  • Ulagalantha Perumal Temple, Tirukoyilur in Tirukoilur, Viluppuram district, Tamil Nadu

See also



  1. "Vamana Avatar: Vishnu’s Fifth Incarnation". Retrieved 6 November 2008. 
  2. Account of the several Manus and Manwantaras Vishnu Purana, translated by Horace Hayman Wilson, 1840, Book III: Chapter I. 265:22, at the request of the deities Vishńu was born as a midget, Vámana, the son of Adití by Kaśyapa. By applying to Mahabali for alms Kaśyapa was promised by the prince whatever he might demand, notwithstanding Śukra (the preceptor of the Daityas). The dwarf demanded as much space as he could step over at three steps and upon the assent of Mahabali he enlarged himself to such dimensions as to stride over the three worlds. Being worshipped however by Mahabali and his ancestor Prahláda, he conceded to them the sovereignty of Pátála.
  3. Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam. ed. India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 74. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Chandra, Suresh (Aug 15, 2012). Encyclopaedia of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Kindle Edition. 

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