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jyayan gunair avarajo ’py aditeh sutanam
lokan vicakrama iman yad athadhiyajñah
ksmam vamanena jagrhe tripada-cchalena
yacñam rte pathi caran prabhubhir na calyah
Translation by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
The Lord, although transcendental to all material modes, still surpassed all the qualities of the sons of Aditi, known as the Adityas. The Lord appeared as the youngest son of Aditi. And because He surpassed all the planets of the universe, He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. On the pretense of asking for a measurement of three footsteps of land, He took away all the lands of Bali Maharaja. He asked simply because without begging, no authority can take one’s rightful possession.
Purport by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
The history of Bali Maharaja and his charity to Vamanadeva is described in the Eighth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam. Bali Maharaja conquered all the planets of the universe by rightful possession. A king can conquer other kings by strength, and such possession is considered to be rightful. So Bali Maharaja possessed all the lands of the universe, and he happened to be charitably disposed toward the brahmanas. The Lord therefore pretended to be a beggar brahmana, and He asked Bali Maharaja for a measurement of three footsteps of land. The Lord, as the proprietor of everything, could take from Bali Maharaja all the land he possessed, but he did not do so because Bali Maharaja possessed all those lands by king’s rights. When Bali Maharaja was asked by Lord Vamana for such small charity, Bali Maharaja’s spiritual master, namely Sukracarya, objected to this proposal because he knew that Vamanadeva was Visnu Himself, pretending to be a beggar. Bali Maharaja did not agree to abide by the order of his spiritual master when he understood that the beggar was Visnu Himself, and he at once agreed to give Him in charity the land requested. By this agreement Lord Vamana covered all the lands of the universe with His first two steps and then asked Bali Maharaja where to place the third step. Bali Maharaja was very glad to receive the Lord’s remaining step upon his head, and thus Bali Maharaja, instead of losing everything he possessed, was blessed by the Lord’s becoming his constant companion and doorman. So, by giving everything to the cause of the Lord, one does not lose anything, but he gains everything that he could never otherwise expect.