THE STRUGGLE AGAINST AUTOCRACY
VAMANA AGAINST BALI AND USANAS
Incarnations of Vishnu
Kashyapa had become a legend in his own times. Aditi, Diti and Danu were three of his eight wives. They were said to be daughters of Prajapati Daksha. The Daityas and Danavas, the offspring of Diti and Danu, were as much a part of the larger society as Adityas, the offspring of Aditi were. They were not demons. If the warlords, Daityas, were dreaded and the plutocrats, Danavas, despised, the aristocrats, Adityas, were honoured.
But Kashyapa himself treated all the eight social sectors including the Asuras or Daityas, the Yakshas or Danavas and the Devas as the offspring of Aditi. He discouraged the tendency to decry the Asuras andYakshas, Gandharvas and Apsarases and Nagas and Sarpas.
His call for union without uniformity and non-interference by others in the customs of any group led to his being acclaimed as the ancestor of all social groups.
Urukrama and Vivasvan are treated as the sons of Kashyapa and Aditi. Urukrama or Vamana is revered as an incarnation of Vishnu while Vivasvan is held to be the father of Manu Vaivasvata.
The approved neo-intellectuals and neo-Kshatriyas like the traditional classes of intellectuals and warriors are traced to Aditi. We should not read beyond this in these lineages. (Vide Vol.2. of Hindu Social Dynamics for a rational analysis of the Vaivasvata Imagery)
However we should not discard the legends pertaining to the incarnations of Vishnu as mere fiction. We have to dwell on their implications for social dynamics.
Varaha incarnation was connected with the slaying of Hiranyaksha, Narasimha with the slaying of his brother, Hiranyakasipu and Vamana with the dethroning of Bali, grandson of Hiranyakasipu. Matsya incarnation dealt with Hayagriva and Kurma dealt with the churning of the ocean by the Devas and the Asuras.
These and the events pertaining to the exploits of Parasurama, Dasaratharama, Balarama and Krishna took place within a period of about a century. They were not separated from one another by millennia.
The first editions of the legends, Puranas, were well acquainted with them. While the Vaishnavaites lauded the roles of Vishnu in them, the Saivaites condemned several of them. The editors of the Bhagavatam were hard put to defending these, for more than others they tried to be objective in their approach to these events.
Socio-political Aspects of the Conflict: Varaha versus Hiranyaksha
Young Hiranyaksha went about as a lone warrior, Ekavira, carrying a trident and an iron mace, challenging one and all to duel with him. The nobles (devas) and their leader, Indra, hid themselves from this brother, companion and representative of the Asura ruler, Hiranyakasipu (Bhagavatam 3-17-22).
As he entered Varuna's domain, the troops of the latter fled. They were warriors only in name. The western region, which Varuna (often described as the god of the oceans) guided as ombudsman, was noted for minimal and diffused governance, vairajyam, bordering anarchism. The warrior reached Vibhavari, the capital of Pracetas and asked Rshabha Pracetas to battle with him.
The official, designated as Pracetas or Rshabha or Nandi, had to be first approached by any supplicant before the latter was permitted to meet the head of the state who functioned under the Purusha constitution. Purusha became the head of the state by his all-round ability to lead the society.
Neither Varuna nor Pracetas was a king. Varuna, one of the eight functionaries of the Vedic social polity, functioned as regent during interregnum. Pracetas was a senior counsellor and scholar. He might have assumed the role of the King himself and performed a Rajasuya sacrifice to become eligible to carry out the functions of the King as judge and arbitrator. (28)
Purusha and Pracetas
This Pracetas had subdued the Daityas and Danavas, the feudal lords and the plutocrats. He was not prepared for war and said that he and his men had decided to abjure war and follow a policy of subsidiary peace (upasamam, peace between two rulers who are not equal in strength and status) (17-29).
He advised Hiranyaksha to seek a reply from the Viraj, the ancient (purana) Purusha. (17-30). The Viraj, whose subordinate and regent this Pracetas was, had earlier held the rank of Purusha.
While the Viraj presided over a group (mandala) of five states and had tenure of ten to twelve years, the Purusha was the ruler of only one state but held his post for life, that is, for twenty to twenty-four years.
[We would avoid going by the description that has come down since the medieval times that the expression, Viraj, the purana Purusha referred to God Vishnu who is in existence since the very beginning and is eternal.]
Pracetas as a subordinate ruler or regent could enter into truce but not into peace. Unlike the Viraj and the Purusha, he was not a sovereign. We are introduced to the intricacies of the political setup under the Arthasastra of Pracetas Manu who belonged to the Rudra school of political thought..
Hiiranyaksha learnt from Narada that in the new setup, this chief, Purusha, was in Rasatala, a land that the Daityas claimed to be theirs. They were residents of this marshy land. (rasa-okasam), which was full of trees.
The former (purana) Purusha, later described as Varaha (hippo, rhino, pig?), was wandering there like a forest animal. He wanted to make this land secure for the sages and the nobles, rshis and devas.
Hiranyaksha accused him of having killed the asuras from his secret hideouts (18-4, 5). In 3-18-10, the Daitya is described as gramasimha, suggesting that he had jurisdiction only over the villages and not over the forest=covered marshy lands, which were open to all.
The Purusha claimed that he and his men had taken over this land, rasa-okasam, and were prepared to fight (18-11) This struggle is compared to the one between the elephant (Gajendra, a Pandya chieftain who did not heed Agastya's warning) and the crocodile (Hu-hu, a Gandharva chieftain who hosted a conclave of heterodox intellectuals) in the Gajendra-moksham episode.
Tvashtas vs. Maruts
Who was this Purusha? Bhagavatam (3-19-25) calls him Adhokshaja, one born to Adhoksha. This rare epithet of Vishnu means the axle at the lower level and is connected with the concept of Vairajarupa.
Vairajam (diffused governance) and Vairupam (absence of a definite social structure) marked the western region. The Rann of Kutch, an area below the sea level, might have been meant by the term, Adhoksha.
This verse also suggests that Hiranyaksha was the son of a smith, Tvashta, and the Purusha was a Marutpati, a chieftain belonging to the Maruts, one of the four traditional groups of nobles, devas. (Adityas, Vasus and Rudras were the other three groups.)
There was a conflict between the Maruts and the Tvashtas over the right to occupy this marshy land, Rasatala, and exploit its mineral resources. Both the groups must have belonged to the region to the west of the Aravallis. The Maruts wanted to hold this land on behalf of the sages and the nobles.
Two Alliances----Trisamdhi vs. Chakra
The verse 3-18-12 indicates that in the assembly of the nobles (devas) and the feudal lords (asuras) and others, Hiranyaksha had vowed to wipe the tears of his kin who had lost in the internecine war for control over Rasatala.
He was placed in charge of an infantry. He himself was on a chariot. In the battle with maces he had an upper hand but when the Purusha resorted to the discus, chakra, the Daitya took up the trident but could not succeed (3-19-14).
The battle had taken the colour of one between Vaishnavaites and Saivaites. The former (followers of Vishnu) admired and advocated the policy of confederation of social groups on the periphery (chakram) to keep away anti-social elements from the approved sections of the unarmed core society who were committed to peace.
The concept of Trisamdhi (or Trident) brought together, the three social worlds (the urban patriciate, the rural commonalty and the forest society) against the recalcitrant elements among the feudal chieftains. The followers of Siva approved it.
Hiranyaksha resorted to this concept and alliance to offset the might of the above confederation. But he failed and got killed in the duel with Purusha Varaha. It was in fact a major battle between two socio-political alliances.
Hiranyaksha, Hiranyakasipu, Prahlada, Virochana, Bali
This event might have taken place closer to the period of Manu Svarochisha when a new Viraj had taken over in the western region known for its Vairajam and Vairupam. It was also a period when the concept, Pracetas, as a political authority became prominent.
Hiranyaksha met his death at the hands of Varaha and his brother, Hiranyakasipu, at those of Narasimha, a leader of free men (naras). Hiranyakasipu's son, Prahlada, was a student of Narada.
Prahlada had rejected the principles of polity advocated by the school of Usanas, which was patronized by the feudal lords (asuras). He was granted the status of Prajapati, chief of the people, and his rule was legitimized.
Bhishma was an ardent admirer of Prahlada's policy of creating a cultured society with the ruler setting a personal example. Both Krshna and Badarayana held him in esteem. Prahlada, Narada and Angirasa were Prajapatis who respected one another.
Virocana, son of Prahlada, was however faulted by Kashyapa for still being under delusion, a drawback that the asuras were guilty of. He did not persevere adequately to realize the Truth. Virocana was a rival of Purandara Indra.
Virocana's son, Bali, emerged as a despot though he was unlike Hiranyakasipu, respectful to the learned. Bali enjoyed the support of the veteran political grammarian, Usanas.
Usanas was a Bhargava, a member of the Bhrgu clan. (Parasurama, who pulled down several despots, too was a Bhargava.) Urukrama, a descendant of Kashyapa by Aditi, is pitted against Bali, a descendant of Kashyapa by Diti. To be precise, Urukrama was a student of Kashyapa.
Bali was a Daitya like Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakasipu. The Bhagavatam in the thanksgiving verse says that the spirits of Bhrgu, Daksha, Angirasa and Kashyapa were happy with the discomfiture of Bali.
By Daksha, it must have meant Pracetas, one of the ten Prajapatis who contributed to Manava Dharmasastra and was known as Pracetas Manu, the author of an Arthasastra text. These Prajapatis were dead or had retired from the socio-political scene when Bali was deposed.
Urukrama, one who walked with wide steps, was born to Prshni, a dwarfish woman (8-17-26). He was born in the house of a Prajapati, during the tenure of Manu Svarochisha (8-18-3). This Prajapati must have been Kashyapa (son of Marici). Kashyapa and his wife, Aditi, appear to have brought up this child who too was dwarfish. Urukrama was known also as Vamana and had opted to remain a bachelor. Brhaspati anointed him as a student, Brahmachari.
In other words, Vamana, the foster-son of Kashyapa, was trained in the school of thought promoted by Brhaspati.
Brhaspati was a Brahmavadi, a socio-political ideologue known for his advocacy of materialism and economic power. He belonged to the school of Angirasa and Atharva.
Urukrama might have joined the Kaumara-Brahmacari movement that was established during the tenure of Manu Svarochisha for promoting mass education.
Urukrama authorized to use Brahmadanda
Urukrama received his danda, the staff that symbolized a celibate and monk, from Soma (8-18-15).This cryptic statement implies that Soma (a follower of Atri) who was the chief of the council of seven sages during the tenure of the sixth Manu, Chakshusha, empowered him to use Brahmadanda.
He was empowered to punish those who violated the provisions of the socio-political constitution enshrined in Atharvaveda (Brahma).
During the later Vedic period, Brhaspati and Indra were the officials who looked after the interests of the commonalty, prthvi, and the patriciate, divam, the two major strata of the agro-pastoral core society. The frontier society of forests and mountains was under the charge of the official designated as Soma.
Soma was essentially a sober sage but had with respect to the frontier society of forests and mountains the same authority as Indra had with respect to the core society. (Vide Vol.3.Ch.22. Hindu Social Dynamics)
The Identity of the Supporters of Vamana
The verses 18-15 to 17 indicate that Vamana had the support of bhumi, vana and dhio, the three social worlds (lokas), the commonalty of the rural areas, the forest society and the urban patriciate. The support of the followers of Brahma and Siva and also of Yaksha is claimed for him.
In other words, the traditional intelligentsia who followed Brahma, the Prajapati of Brahmavarta (the Sarasvati-Drshadvati basin), the Saivaites who opted to stay out of the Varnasrama scheme and the plutocrats (yakshas) of the other society encouraged Vamana.
On hearing that Bali was performing an Asvamedha sacrifice on the banks of the Narmada in a field known as Bhrgu-kaccha, with Bhrgus as his priests, Urukrama proceeded there with heavy steps (18-25). The Bhrgus might have taken the help of the Atharvans in performing that sacrifice. The Bhrgus and Bali welcomed Vamana befitting the status of a Brahmarshi.
They treated him not as a socio-political activist that a Brahmavadi was, or a common priest who officiated at household sacrifices but as a revered Brahmarshi who was essentially a meditator engaged in spiritual pursuits and who knew the provisions of the socio-political constitution, Brahma.
The Asura leader, Bali, offered him a cow, gold, residence, food, villages, animals and also a Brahman girl in marriage. But Vamana could not accept these gifts as he was not a Brahmarshi and as he had taken the vow to remain a celibate for life (8-18-32).
Vamana's Apologia and Bali's Ancestors
Addressing Bali as janadeva (as one who was a noble, deva, according to the native population, jana of Janasthana) (8-19-2), Vamana described his offer as being in tune with his kula (clan) and in accordance with dharma (that is, in tune with the kuladharma of Tvashtas).
Vamana might have belonged to the Valakhilyas who were short.Tvashtas were manufacturers of iron tools and weapons of war. The Valakhilyas of the Aravallis were technocrats. Kratu who represented the Tvashtas on the Board of Ten Prajapatis nominated by the first Manu to draft the Manava Dharmasastra was a Valakhilya.
Vamana pointed out that the presence of the Bhrgus was evidence of Bali's fame and that the soul of his grandfather, Prahlada, would be pleased. He praised Bali's ancestors for meeting promises given to Brahmans (19-5). Then he tried to justify Hiranyakasipu seeking revenge for the death of his brother at the hands of Vishnu. (Vishnu must have been the name of the Purusha who killed Hiranyaksha.) Hiranyakasipu searched for Vishnu who had hidden himself (?). It was Narayana who was pitted against this feudal lord and not Vishnu.
Urukrama treated these events as ones related to battles and to a false sense of ego and as one not involving higher goals or objectives. He evaded justifying the killing of the two Asura brothers.
He kept out the disputations between Hiranyakasipu and his son, Prahlada. (Later interpolations?) [There is no attempt to present the former as an atheist.] He lauded Hiranyaksha for his lone conquests and for meeting the challenges of the opponents in battle. .
Reservations about the deeds of Varaha and Narasimha
This was not a mere shrewd attempt to trick Bali into complacency before depriving him of his ill-gotten wealth. Vamana was genuinely representing the non-orthodox Kashyapan interpretation of the events behind the two incarnations (Varaha and Narasimha) of Vishnu that were then criticized severely by the Pasupatas as unjust warfare. Vamana praised Virocana for his affinity to the Brahmans.
There was a complaint that his life was cut short by the Brahmans. Vamana defends that Virocana gave up his life not to Brahmans but to the nobles, devas, who approached him disguised as Brahmans. Vamana incarnation too was an act of deception by Brahmans, according to some critics.
The Bhrgus had granted the feudal warlords, asuras, a status equal to that of the nobles, devas, and stood by them. But Vamana pulled down Bali. He did so though Bali was not against Brahmans. Of course Bali was not a deist.
Vamana was not upholding the interests of Brahmans. Vamana was putting forth the Kashyapan approach when he refused to approve the killing of Hiranyaksha by Vishnu, son of Adhoksha, and of Hiranyakasipu by Narasimha (and of Virochana by Purandara Indra).
Why Vamana opposed Bali
Bali had established a leviathan by distorting the state and hence Vamana, a Kashyapan and follower of Brhaspati, opposed him though the Bhrgus, especially Usanas, defended him. The verses 8-19-15 to 26 of the Bhagavatam present the justification for Vamana's asking for only three steps of land.
One should not accept as gift what is more than what he needs. Vamana does not deviate totally from Bhrgu who has prescribed that only a Brahman is entitled to accept gifts but has not prescribed any limits for the gifts though he calls for contentment.
Vamana finds fault with even Prthu Vainya and Gaya for being ambitious. Bhrgu held these two rulers in high regard. [Kashyapa had praise for Prthu who replaced Vena as Rajarshi.
[ he Rajarshi of Gaya gave protection to Manu Vaivasvata, spread his mission through a large cadre of Visvedevas for this purpose.]
Vamana advises that a Vipra (a Brahman who is constantly going from place to place educating all) should be satisfied with what he happens to get by chance. He was such a Vipra. Vamana does not seek anything for himself.
His request is for the restoration to the owners the wealth that Bali had taken over. It is a demand on behalf of the common man who under Bali's benevolent monarchy has to beg for meeting his needs and is not able to get them as a matter of right.
Bhargava Usanas too could not recognize Vamana, a protege of Kashyapa. He suspected that it was Vishnu who was working through the son of Kashyapa and Aditi and tried to stop Bali, son of Virocana, from handing over the promised gift (8-19-30).
Usanas had no good opinion about the patriciate. [Vishnu mentioned by Usanas might have been a chieftain of the Talajanghas who were inveterate enemies of the Bhrgus. The Talajanghas were associated with the Haihayas to whom the great emperor, Kartavirya Arjuna, belonged.]
Kartavirya fell at the hands of Parasurama. The Haihayas had killed Jamadagni, father of Parasurama and a member of Vaivasvata's council of seven sages. Usanas must have been aware how Kashyapa received as gift from Bhargava Parasurama all the twenty-one states that the latter had taken over and then restored them to the Kshatriyas.
Usanas was for a strong state while Parasurama was for a stateless society. [Vamana and Kashyapa did not approve either.] Usanas treated Vamana as a student of hypnotism and magic (maya-manavaka). (32)
Usanas on Vamana's Intents
Usanas feared that Vamana might deprive Bali of his place (sthanam), status of an Isvara, wealth, sovereignty and recognition in citations as a ruler and give them to Sakra (Indra). [Was this Sakra a son of Kartavirya Arjuna?]
Was the term, sthana, a reference to Janasthana, the territory over which Bali had jurisdiction, and of which he was a charismatic ruler (Isvara)?
Usanas feared that Vamana might deprive Bali also of his control over the villages (gam) and the lands and estates of the nobles (divam-viboh) and the hollow mines (kham).
[It is not rational to interpret the last two as implying skies or heaven where the gods are supposed to reside (divam) and antariksham, the hollow ether inhabited by other supernatural beings.]
These Vamana would cover with his first two steps, Usanas feared. Usanas wondered where he would place his third step. He cautioned Bali that the gifts if made would leave him without any means of livelihood. (19-33,34) Usanas had however not gauged Vamana's intents correctly.
Bali's state had taken over the open pastoral lands and also the villages. This affected the villagers adversely. The nobles were in possession of lands that they had conquered or acquired or inherited. But Bali did not give them the necessary charter and kept them for himself.
He had declared the mines to be state property. These originally belonged to the plutocrats (Yakshas), the technocrats (Nagas) and the proletariat (Sarpas) who belonged to the frontier society. All the three social worlds (lokas) had been deprived of their wealth. Vamana intended to force Bali to restore these to their rightful owners.
If the three social worlds, Bhu, Bhuva and Sva (agro-pastoral lands, forests areas and the estates of the urban patriciate) were lost (19-35), Bali would be in trouble. Bali would lose not only these but also his own territories and the perks and benefits he was enjoying. Bali sensed that he had been trapped.
Usanas on Valid Gift
Then issues pertaining to gifts were debated. If the rights of an individual to bestow gifts were withdrawn, only the Brahmans would suffer. For, they alone were eligible to receive gifts. Usanas had to tread softly and warily on this issue.
When is charity (danam) declared to be a gift (santi)? Santi is valid gift. When does danam not qualify to be called a gift? (19-36)
Usanas, the interpreter of state laws, says that a bestowal that prevents the person who bestows from further pursuing the duty of bestowing, of performing sacrifices (yajnas), of strenuous endeavour (tapas) and pursuit of vocation (karma) in the social world (loka) (to which he belongs) that is connected with his economic means (vitta) is not a valid gift.
[It may be noticed here that Usanas takes up a platform that was proto-varna. He uses the term, loka, social world, and not the term, varna, social class. The duties mentioned above, danam, yajna and tapas, were common to all the three social worlds. Only the vocations and means of livelihood differed.]
How much may one gift from his income
Usanas explains that one should distribute his income or wealth under five heads, dharma (religious duty, in common parlance), yasa (future glory through accumulation or investment), artha (current economic needs), kama (sex and pleasure) and svajana (one's own family including children, kinsmen and elders).
There has to be a limit on how much should be spent on duties like bestowal of gifts to Brahmans and sacrifice for the welfare of the needy. It cannot be more than one fifth of the total wealth or earnings of the donor. This rule was applicable to all the three social worlds.
Bali would be violating this rule if he gifted away all his wealth, Usanas pointed out. [The charter of demands presented to Prthu had six heads including these five. The sixth was kara (tax). Manu Vaivasvata must have suggested this. Bali was not under the jurisdiction of Manu.]
Asuras and Rta, Satya and Dharma
Usanas tried to instruct Bali in the presence of the Bhrgus and Vamana on when a bestowal could be construed as a valid and binding gift. Was it binding on Bali to keep his word?
Usanas drew attention to a Bahu-rchai verse. (It is traced to Aitareya Brahmana of Rgveda.) It was a work attributed to a sage who belonged to the other society (itara-jana), which was governed by the rules laid down by the plutocrats, Yakshas. Usanas told the respected Asura chief that what is pronounced (proktam) is considered to be promise (satyam), valid forever, only if it is preceded by the term, Om (19-38).
The Pranava (Om) was an orientation that every one who desired to be treated as a member of the core Aryan society had to accept. (The plutocrats, Yakshas, had accepted it, but not the feudal lords, Asuras. Like the Gayatri chant, it was a basic orientation.) Otherwise the utterance was anrta, not according to the laws that the entire (early) Vedic society accepted.
The feudal lords, Asuras, had accepted the laws of nature, Rta but not Dharma, the code of right conduct outlined by Bhrgu and other Prajapatis who functioned under the direction of Manu Svayambhuva.
They had not disputed the laws based on truth, Satya, though the Satyavratas (who had taken the pledge to adhere to truth under all circumstances) were against the Rakshasas, Yakshas and Asuras.
Bali had not uttered Om. Hence what he said was but an offer, a proposal, and not a promise, Usanas argued. He tried to outwit Vamana.
Had Bali become liable to be proceeded against under the civil laws based on Satya?
In the verses, 8-19-39, 40, Usanas presents his interpretation of Satya. If the individual, Atma, is visualized as a tree, Satya may be compared to its flowers and fruits. The tree must be allowed to grow, if we are to expect flowers and fruits from it. These benefit others and not that tree itself.
Satya, truth, followed by an individual must benefit others. Rta is the root and Satya is the fruit while Atma is the tree. (We refrain from translating atma, as soul.) Let the advocates of Satya not destroy the tree, the individual, and the root, the principles of Rta, Usanas urges.
Rta requires that every one should have his means of livelihood. It is the universal law of survival. Satya which Manu Svayambhuva and the great sage, Vasishta advocated and Dharma, which the Brahmarshis proclaimed, are secondary while Rta, the law of Nature, is primary. It covers the principle of survival and growth.
Even as an uprooted tree dries up, the Atma or the individual (not the soul here) who is not protected by any social body (sarira), deprived of the protection of the laws based on Rta will wither.
As Usanas questions the validity of Satya as the base for policy (niti) (19-42), Bali deliberates on the statements of his preceptor and accepts them as Satya.
Bali on Satya and Dharma
Bali was a householder for whom that only is dharma, which does not hinder the securing of economic needs (artha), the pursuit of pleasure (kama) and economic activities for future fame (yasa). (8-20-2)
But how could a descendant of Prahlada afford to become a cheat, lured by wealth? Asatya is the greatest adharma.
Bali could assure that he would not speak untruth (asatya) but could not promise that he would speak out the truth. He could assure that he would not do any deed proscribed by dharma but could not consent to perform all the duties prescribed by it. Bali had heard bhumi (Mother Earth, the commonalty personified) say that she could bear any man except a liar (4).
Usanas avoided declaring that 'satya is dharma'. It may be noted that the puritanical Upanishadic sages assert that Satya is Dharma and that Dharma is Satya thereby rejecting the argument that Dharmasastra could compromise with asatya, untruth, in the name of expediency. They rejected the laws of expediency.
Bali hesitates to dupe Vipras
Bali did not fear anything more than outwitting or duping a Vipra (20-5). The Vipras were unselfish and never expected remuneration for their services to the masses whether they taught the latter or officiated as priests or were members of the jury in cases of dispute. The Vipras did not stay in one place and were not subordinate to the state.
It would be highly unwise to attempt to dupe these Vipras who were known for their uprightness and self-sacrifice. Vipras could be asked to serve as members of the four-member civil judiciary. Bali cited how Dadhichi and Sibi sacrificed themselves for others (7).
Asuras left only with personal savings for yasa
He expressed anguish that the Daityas had been deprived of all their lokas (the areas belonging to the three social worlds) and had been left only yasa (20-8). Bali (the descendant of a Tvashta, a smith) had been deprived of the lands and mines needed for his livelihood as a Daitya (a feudal lord and arms-manufacturer). He had however been left the savings that he could use for his future needs (yasa) (20-8).
He had to surrender all the wealth that he had annexed but was permitted to retain the savings from his current earnings.
If Usanas thought that he should not part with these savings (yasa) where would Bali get the wealth needed to meet his commitments?
Bali suspected that Vamana was Vishnu
Bali was however resolute on bestowing the promised gift on the vata, the young Brahmachari, Brahman student (Vamana) (20-10). He would do so even if the latter were Vishnu and whether he had come there to bless him or as an enemy (11).
He would give whatever agricultural land (kshiti) Vamana desired. (Bali hoped that he would not be deprived of the mines which provided him his means of livelihood as a smith.)
Even if Vamana tried to kill him in an improper way, Bali would not resort to violence, for the very assuming of the form of a Brahman indicated that Vishnu (a Kshatriya) was afraid of Bali (20-12).
If he were really Vishnu who deserved paeans (uttamasloka), he would fight against Bali and not ask for alms, the latter argued (20-13). Bali decided to follow Satya rather than the counsel of his preceptor (20-14).
Despite the curses showered on him by Usanas, he proceeded to perform the rituals for gifting away all his achievements and gains. What did Vamana ask for and what did Bali give? What are the implications of this peaceful transfer of authority?
First Step: Retrieval of the Three Social Universes (Trijagat)
Gandharvas, Kimpurushas and Kinnaras
By his first step, Vamana covered the areas belonging to the three social universes (jagats) of Gandharvas, Kimpurushas and Kinnaras. Bali had taken over the vast territories claimed by these nomadic groups and these are now retrieved for them from him.
According to later chroniclers, the Gandharvas were nomadic groups of singers who entertained the gods and Apsarases were danseuses who lured the gods, kings and sages. Such interpretations only bare the ignorance of the later generations about the composition and structure of the Vedic society.
Gandharvas did not belong to any of the three organized social worlds, divam, prthvi and antariksham, patriciate, agro-pastoral commonalty and the industrial frontier society, whose members were settled clans and communities and had prescribed residential areas and permitted vocations.
Gandharvas and Apsarases were not organized on the basis of families and households and did not pursue any economy oriented vocation and were not settled communities. They claimed the right to move across any territory and were allowed passage.
The Kimpurushas were later equated with monkeys. They were large social groups that were denied the right to dig the soil and hence could not be engaged in agriculture or in mining.
They too had to move from one region to another, living on fruits and leaves plucked from trees. They were not denied access to vocations involving manual labour. They were persons with talents but were dispossessed of lands and property.
The Kinnaras were musicians and couriers and were employed by the chiefs of the forest society to convey their messages to those in the core society and had the right to move along the highways and even by-paths unharmed. They were free men not bound by social ties.
The rights of these three social universes, jagats, who were also known as blessed peoples (punya-jana), were restored to them as a first step in social reorganization.
The vast territories with no recognized domiciles were thrown open to the social universes in a move to encourage them to get settled as organized communities. [It is unfair, unwise and academically unsound to treat these groups as socially or racially or ethnically different from the rest of the society.] Vamana claimed for the three social universes (jagats), the third society (tirya), the right to reside in the open areas annexed by Bali.
The free men, naras (nrs) (who had parted company with their families, clans and vocational communities to be able to pursue their own permitted activities), the nobles (devas) and the sages (rshis) would get access to these territories.
The lower ranks of the Gandharvas were known as Naras. The officials of the government and even troops were recruited from among these free men, naras.
Gandharvas ranked lower than the Devas and the sages. But the commoners (manushyas) unlike the free men (naras) were organized and settled economic communities. They had to keep away from these territories.
Bali's act of dispossession declared void
Vamana demanded that the residents of these freed territories be free to operate on the land (bhumi), that is, cultivate the lands and in the mines (kham). They should be free to go in all directions (disa), stay at higher levels (dhio, residences and defence observatories located on the mountains). All chasms and ravines (vivara) and river economy (paya) should be thrown open to them (8-20-21).
The Asura king had surreptitiously come in possession of these lands and had restricted entry to these from his strategic position in Janasthana, in the central Narmada valley. That control is declared void.
Where were these lands located? It may be safely inferred that the areas south of Narmada were liberated from Bali. The ensuing verses (8-20-22 to 33) describe the reactions of the different groups to this first step.
It was a highly significant move to reorganize the society by getting a very large section of the population settled as organized vocational communities and as free men, in the peninsula control over which had been taken over surreptitiously by Bali.
The Second Step: Restoration of Three Institutions
Maharloka, Janaloka and Tapaloka
The verse 8-20-34 of the Bhagavatam shows how Urukrama covered the three lokas by his second step. These were mahaloka, janaloka and tapaloka. (According to some mahaloka meant pastoral lands. This interpretation is not sound.)
The seven lokas, bhu, bhuva, sva, maha, jana, tapa and satya, were indeed seven constituents of the Vedic social polity.
Bhu referred to the agro-pastoral plains and to the commoners, manushyas, engaged primarily in agriculture and pasture and secondarily in trade to procure other needs of the population of this core society. Bhuva meant the frontier society of the forests and mountains, which was engaged in industrial economy and was dominated by the plutocrats, the technocrats and the industrial proletariat, yakshas, nagas and sarpas. Sva indicated the patriciate of the agro-pastoral core society. The patriciate, devas, dominated the core society.
(The three social worlds, lokas, bhu, bhuva and sva, had been surrendered even before Urukrama took his first step to liberate the territories of the three jagats.)
Mahaloka (maharloka) referred to the council of the senior sages, known as maharshis. Bali had wound up this council on the advice of Usanas. Vamana called for its restoration.
Vamana restored another state institution, Janaloka, the assembly of legislators and representatives of the people, jana, which too had been dissolved by the feudal chieftain.
Tapaloka was a body of planners and researchers. They were engaged in rigorous endeavour, tapas, to discover new methods and invent new tools.This body had always been free from state control. Tapasvis were not dependent on either the aristocrats or the plutocrats.
The feudal warlords did not appreciate the immunities enjoyed by these academicians and researchers and wound up this council and cadre too. Vamana called for its restoration.
The seventh social world and constituent of the Vedic social polity was known as 'Satyaloka', the judiciary that stood by Satya, Truth.
Bali did not function against the code based on the principles of truth. He ignored this judiciary but did not dissolve it or distort its functioning.
These seven social worlds pertained to the country that was situated on the banks of Svardhuni (8-21-4). It is likely that Bali had taken over this country under his protectorate. He violated the autonomy of the three bodies maharloka, janaloka and tapaloka.
Did that country belong to Jambhavan, a Rksha? Jambhavan has been presented as a bear. He was a friend of Dasaratha of Kosala and helped Rama, son of Dasaratha, to retrieve his wife from Ravana of Lanka. Jambhavan was a witness to the discomfiture of Bali as 21-8 indicates. He was the first to inform Rama about this event. (Bali had by then been banished to the Western Ghats.)
As these two steps divested Bali of vast areas and weakened him, his asura followers became panicky. They felt that Bali, who had been initiated into Satyavrata, was deceived by Vamana. They thought it their duty to kill the latter. The followers of Vishnu (who had stayed in the background) took up their weapons. Bali noticed that his asura troops would be overpowered and dissuaded them from resorting to arms (19).
The jana, that is, the native people of Janasthana, could not overcome the times he said (21-22). The Daitya and Danava chiefs, Asuras and Yakshas, feudal lords and plutocrats, who had gathered at Bhrgu-Kaccha (Baruch?) for the Asvamedha sacrifice, were chased to Rasa, the marshy lands (21-25).
Purusha Varaha had killed Balis forefather, Hiranyaksha, who tried to dislodge him from Rasatala.
Bali was arrested.
Bali was taken prisoner. The son of Aruna (a son of Kashyapa) understanding the desire of Prabhu brought the ropes of Varuna and tied Bali. Prabhu was the designation of the head of the larger civil society of the Vedic times.
Aruna was considered to be the charioteer of the sun. Bali was taken in civil bondage by an official on behalf of Varuna who was the ombudsman of the western region. Varuna could take any one in civil bondage for violation of the provisions of the Viraj constitution (8-21-26). Urukrama had outwitted Bali.
Chroniclers have not been able to present with clarity what were the three steps taken by Urukrama to liquidate feudalism and despotism.Vamana asked where the third step was to be placed.
By the first step, Bali had surrendered the land between Tapati and Indu that was said to be the area under the influence of the Mrga star and was also known as Udubi (21-30).
This land of the commoners, bhuloka, was given to the three mobile social universes, jagats (Gandharvas, Kimpurushas and Kinnaras), to enable them to get settled as agro-pastoral communities. (It might have been the land to the north of Tapati and to the south of the Tropic of Cancer.)
By the second step, Bali parted with his influence over the svarloka, the property and rights of the patriciate which he had taken over. As he could give no more, Bali had to go to prison (niraya) for five years (8-21-32, 33). He was accused of having duped a Vipra.
The Vipra was an officer of the constitution bench. It was presided over by an expert in Atharvaveda or Brahma, which enshrined the socio-political constitution of the Vedic times. Three Vipras representing the other three Vedas assisted this expert, known as Brahman.
Thereupon Bali asked Vamana to keep his third step on his head (22-2). [This is obviously a later interpolation.]
But Bali was not convinced that Urukrama (Vamana) had been just to him. Bali considered it to be civil bondage for unpaid debts. He had only taken over the wealth of others temporarily and had only failed to return it to the owners. It was not misappropriation for personal purposes, he implied. But the arrest of Bali had a wider import. It was made for violation of the constitution of Janasthana.
Prahlada on Bali's Plight
The Asuras accepted the Narayana cult after Hiranyakasipu was killed. [This cult insisted that God is present in all beings and even in all inanimate objects whether natural or created.] Prahlada had suffered at the hands of his own father, Hiranyakasipu (8-22-8).
Bali, his grandson, had accumulated wealth for his wife and children. The savings under the head, svajana, were meant for them. They now despised him as he had lost it and the people of his native land, Janasthana, threatened him (22-9, 10). Bali lost faith in all.
Prahlada who was yet alive and was a dark-coloured monk dressed in yellow clothes held this punishment to be improper. Prahlada (who was a follower of Narada) knew that the Prabhu (who held the position of Viraj) had installed Bali as Indra and had now taken away that position from him. [The terms, Prabhu and Viraj, are not to be construed as referring to God.] But Bali was retained as the army general with the rank of Indrasena.
Indra, during the Vedic times, controlled the treasury (to which the nobles were the main contributors), led the army (formed mainly from the private armies of these nobles), presided over the assembly of nobles (sabha) and headed the eight-member ministry of Adityas. Many socio-political thinkers disapproved concentration of powers in the hands of one official. Vamana was nominated as Upendra or Deputy Indra with the right to control the treasury, which had been taken away from Bali.
Prahlada expected this higher and ultimate authority Virata Prabhu (who was both the head of the larger state and the expanded society) to treat all equally and Bali fairly.
This was the approach of Kashyapa who advocated the concept of Viraj and union without uniformity and granted recognition to all the social sectors while rejecting the division along the lines, Adityas, Daityas and Danavas, aristocrats, feudal lords and plutocrats.
Was Urukrama's action a violation of the understanding that was given to Prahlada and the Asuras when some of them laid down arms? Did Urukrama deviate from any assurance given by Kashyapa? Kashyapa had thrown open the post of Indra to all the eight sectors of the larger society, Viraj.
Vindhyavali on Bali's Plight
Bali's wife, Vindhyavali, that is, the representatives of the people of Janasthana that was in the Vindhyas, intervened to tell Upendra that though the three social universes, jagats, territories open to all had been brought into existence by him with good intentions, only fools had established themselves there (8-22-20).
Urukrama's move to convert the social universe (jagat) of the cadres like Gandharvas into settled communities, a socil world, (loka) was a failure in the opinion of the natives of Janasthana.
Vamana had not intended or anticipated such misuse of the Narmada valley by those who did not belong to that area. Throwing it open to all was an act of ignorance or miscalculation. [It is imperative that we do not adhere to the belief that Vamana was an incarnation of God Vishnu and do not treat all scrutiny of the conduct of Vamana or Parasurama or even of Rama and Krshna as sacrilege.] Only the natives, jana, could be relied upon to tend their lands properly, it was urged.
According to Vamana, neither residence nor pursuit of a beneficial employment or vocation led to establishing ownership (svamya) over lands in these areas meant for Gandharvas, Kimpurushas and Kinnaras. For, according to the constitution of Viraj, these regions were open to all and no group could claim exclusive ownership there.To use Kautilyan terminology, they would have been no mans land, sunyadesa.
They could not be brought under any nation-state and the original residents were allowed their autonomy. But they too could not prevent others from entering these regions for residence and livelihood. They were jagats, not lokas. Bali had violated this provision of the constitution of Viraj.
Even the people of Janasthana, which was located in the Vindhyas, had not grasped the gravity of this violation, the Bhagavatam implies.
Urukrama was not Vishnu whose troops stood by. Nor was he the Virata Prabhu, the head of the larger society, who ordered the arrest of Bali. He was a Kashyapan who was nominated as Upendra, Deputy Indra, of that Janapada.
Upendra was a post that was equal to that of Brhaspati who controlled civil polity, the treasury and the armoury under the Vratya scheme, in tune with the provisions of the Indra-Brhaspati agreement.
Vamana belonged to the Atharvan school of Brhaspati (who upheld civil law based on Truth, Satya).
Banishment of Bali
The Bhagavatam makes Brahma plead for Bali who was bereft of all. When the three lokas, maha, jana and tapa, were liberated (that is, when the council of senior sages, maharshis, the assembly of representatives of the people and legislators and the council of researchers in the Svardhuni area that Bali had taken over were restored), Brahmavarta (the land of Brahmarshis, the Sarasvati-Drshadvati basin) heaved a sigh of relief. Brahma, the chief of the people of Brahmavarta, says that Bali surrendered these lands without any reservation. Hence, he need not be punished. (23).
This chief, Brahma, later became Manu Savarni. But even the sages had not weighed Balis excesses correctly. It is explained that Balis fault lay in his disrespect to the loka, that is, to the common people and to Urukrama (who represented them). Hence he was deprived of his wealth (22-24).
It was assured that Bali was not deposed because he was an asura by birth. Birth, work, age, form and expertise were all in Balis favour but his rigid approach (stambha) went against him (8-22-26). [Hiranyakasipu too was guilty of such a rigid approach and that approach failed him and he was torn to pieces by Narasimha. Bali had failed to learn a lesson from that fall.]
All the factors had to be taken together before punishing one (8-22-27).
Even in his fall, Bali was a Satyavrata, one who adhered to his pledge to abide by truth (22-30). Bali had not disturbed the authority of the judiciary (Satyaloka). So it was declared that he would be reinstated (after five years) as Indra during the tenure of Manu Savarni (22-31).
Till then he would be banished to Sutala, constructedby Visvakarma as a health resort (22-32). It was a place for repentance in solitude. Bali feared to go there, as it was not safe. It was a prison without walls. He was assured protection from being attacked by any ruler, whether kim or apara, whether of kimpurushas or the rebellious Daityas who were not alien (apara) to him (34).
Bali was under the protection of Manu Savarni in the southwest peninsula when Rama passed through that area on his trek to Lanka. Sutala was close to the territory of Vali and Sugriva, leaders of Kimpurushas (Vanaras) who had been treated unjustly by Bali. He feared being attacked by Ravana of Lanka but the latter did not think it prudent to confront Bali who was still a force to reckon with.
The Third Step and the Retrieval of the Three Vistapas,
Trusts for Dharma, Svajana and Yasa
The Prabhu promised to be nearby to guarantee him protection (8-22-35). Who was this Prabhu? Sutala must have been in the area between Tapati and Godavari. Prahlada might have spent his last days there in penance.
As Bali was banished to Sutala, the three vistapas were given back to Indra (5) (of Janasthana) with the Dandaniti scheme of governance as originally envisaged coming again into force.
Indra could function only as directed by the members of the bodies of the legislature. Autocracy could no longer hold sway. The social universes, jagats, were not under the governance of Indra or his deputy. Indra and Brhaspati (or Upendra) had jurisdiction only over the aristocracy and the commonalty of the core society.
Bhagavan, Head of the Academy
The jagats, social universes, were to be under the supervision of Bhagavan who had a status similar to that of Brahma, the Prajapati of Brahmavarta. He must have been later called, jagatguru, teacher of members of the unorganized social universe, jagat.
Bhagavan was the designation of the head of an academy and has later come to be interpreted as God. Neither Brahma nor Bhagavan has to be visualized as God. Bhagavan was essentially a teacher.
This teacher had a hand in drafting the constitution that would grant the king and the state, jurisdiction only over matters not under established social and economic organizations.
Who was the head of this Bhagavata school of thought, it needs to be identified. The three vistapas were placed under the protectorate of Purandara Indra.
Vamana was not a ruler. He was a liberator. He belonged to the group of Haris and was to be respected as Narayana, the Bhagavatam states (8-23-13). He was not Bhagavan. He was not Vishnu. The visualization of Vamana as God Vishnu who took Visvarupa, a huge form covering the entire cosmos, in order to humble Bali needs to be set aside for arriving at a rational appraisal of his role.
Bali was not an emperor controlling earth, sky and the lower world. He was but a fort-based chieftain who had his base in the Vindhyas. He exceeded his authority and jurisdiction and annexed territories not owned by any and which were open to all. The disputation between Vamana and Bali can be understood correctly only in the light of the liberation of these territories from Bali.
It was not a conflict between Aryas and Non-Aryas or one between deists and atheists or even one between Devas and Asuras.
Vamana versus Usanas on Bali
Vamana was asked to justify his action before an assembly of rtvijas (who were professional priests, officers in charge of protocol and performance of duties) and Brahmavadis (who were socio-political ideologues).
The rtvijas were mainly Bhrgus who stuck to the procedure prescribed and the letter of the law while the Brahmavadis were practitioners of realpolitik. Bhargava Usanas was a master of statecraft. Urukrama (Vamana) asked him to explain the legal position. Usanas had to account for the faults committed by Bali, as he had been Balis advisor.
The Brahmavadis (who knew the point of view of the upholders of the socio-political constitution, brahma-drshtam) who upheld the principles of the constitution as enshrined in the Atharvaveda, Brahma, cited instances and held that the procedural errors (karma chhidram) committed by his disciple were equivalent to distortion (vaisamyam) in performance of duties (karma).
In other words, Bali distorted the constitution while functioning as a ruler though he might have adhered to the procedure laid down. He had distorted the spirit of law. (8-23-14)
Vamana does not allege that Bali failed in his duties and hence he deserved to be impeached. Usanas was required to consider how Bali had deviated from his duties.
This disputation was on an issue distinct from the one on which the Prabhu ordered Bali to be taken in civil bondage by Varuna. That was for violating the provisions of the Viraj constitution.
Trijagat, Triloka, Trivistapa
We have come across three terms, trijagat, triloka and trivistapa. These are different from the conventional three social worlds (lokas), (urban) patriciate (divam), (rural) commonalty (prthvi), and frontier society (antariksham).
Trijagat referred to the three social universes, Gandharvas, Kimpurushas and Kinnaras who were not settled communities though they had their distinct social, cultural, economic and political orientations.
Triloka referred to the three socio-political institutions of the Vedic times, maharloka, janaloka and tapaloka, council of sages, assembly of legislators and academy of researchers.
Trivistapa referred to the three sources of revenue, under the heads dharma, svajana and yasa, collected by the state and kept in the hands of the incumbent to the post of Indra as trust money.
We have traced how Bali, guided by Usanas, manipulated the rules to get riches. Unlike Vena, he was cautious enough to lull the people and not to precipitate a revolt.
Bali had taken three-fifths of the earnings and wealth of the individuals under the heads, dharma, yasa and svajana, and allowed them to use two-fifths under the heads, artha and kama, to meet their current economic needs and pursue pleasures of life.
To be precise, Bali directed the people to surrender to the state three-fifth of their earnings and assured them that the state would look after the social and spiritual obligations of the individuals (dharma), their future needs and prosperity (yasa) and the security of their families (svajana). He had not refused to meet the obligations under the three heads.
As there was no prescribed source of revenue for the state (unlike the tax, kara, equivalent to one-sixth of the earnings as proposed in the charter given to Prthu), Bali distorted the older scheme while coveting the three portions of the trust wealth, vistapas.
Usanas defends his counsel to Bali
Usanas put forward the thesis that if the person who was the master (host) at a sacrifice (yajna) and the person (guest) (yajna purusha) to whom the sacrifice was offered were satisfied in all respects, it was enough to make that sacrifice a valid one. There could be thereafter no complaint preferred about deviation.
Usanas was distorting even the spirit of sacrifice, yajna. This thesis does not mean that ends justify means. It raises the question: Who are concerned in the deal or agreement?
Every act is an act of sacrifice. The witnesses do not have the right to raise objections. They may intervene to give their views only if there is a dispute between the donor and the recipient, between the benefactor and the beneficiary at the act of sacrifice, yajna. If the two do not complain, then the act is perfect and valid, Usanas argues.
Urukrama finds fault with the Usanas approach
All procedural errors with respect to policy and technique (mantra and tantra), to place and time (desa and kala) and to reality (vastuta) could be overlooked, if the sacrifice was made with devotion (to the Purusha, to the leader invited as the guest at the sacrifice meant to validate its purpose), Usanas argued (8-23-16).
But this argument did not satisfy Urukrama. He wanted to know whether Bali was interested in the welfare of the people. Bali had presented his state as a welfare state.
Were the people satisfied? If they were satisfied, procedural errors (in collecting revenue and wealth and in distributing them to the needy) should be overlooked, Usanas argued. But Urukrama, the Hari, ordered Usanas to make amends for the discrepancies in the yajna where the latter officiated as a priest (official, guide).
Usanas and the Viprarshis (intellectuals who as roving sages spread knowledge and good cultural practices and who claimed the right to officiate at the sacrifices, yajnas, performed by any one whether he was initiated or not) as impartial jurists were required to correct the procedural errors (8-23-18). It is not sound to translate the term, Vipra, as Brahman.
Urukrama who belonged to the school of Brhaspati that prescribed civil law pertaining to economic transactions (vyavahara) would not accept the attempt at simplifying the procedure by which there need be no witness to a deed or contract and no appeal or retraction after the two parties had expressed satisfaction.
Both the Bhrgus and the Viprarshis (who were not as detached as the Brahmarshis were from worldly affairs) who stood by Dharmasastra conceded that the letter of the law had been violated. Usanas, the exponent of Dandaniti, too had to agree.
The Atharvan view was that procedural errors resulted in a distortion of the acts done. The claim that Bali had only good intents and had no ulterior motives did not convince Vamana as it did not meet the requirements of the constitutional law.
Bali's was a totalitarian state; not a social welfare state
There had been misappropriation of the wealth of the people that Bali could keep only in trust. The contributions collected by him under the three heads (dharma, yasa and svajana) were not only unauthorized, they were used to flaunt his power and pelf.
He had annexed the open pastoral lands and taken over the mines. These had affected certain social groups adversely.
His asvamedha sacrifice and gifts to Brahmans were not valid expenditure incurred under the head, dharma.
The feudal chieftain was trying to become an overlord and was encouraged by Usanas and the younger Bhrgus. Hence, Bali had to be divested of his authority as a ruler.
What Bali had done was the creation of a totalitarian state while giving the impression that he was introducing a state that would work for social welfare and ensure social security and would also be a nation-state keeping out poachers and migratory groups.
[It is necessary that we arrive at a correct picture of the polity that Bali tried to create, for while some during his own times and later have extolled him, others have not.]
Mahendra and Upendra
As the Bhrgus made amends and consented to return to the rule of the accepted laws (which were not meddled with under the pretext of simplification of procedure), Vamana, the Hari, handed over the supervision of the three lokas, mahar, jana and tapa, to Mahendra.
Mahendra was the senior among all the Indras and controlled the patriciate of all the states in his jurisdiction. He had a status higher than that of a King, Rajan, who had control over only a small territory.
It may be noted here thatthe pre-Prthu constitution treated the Viraj, the head of the federal state as being on par with Mahendra, the chief of the federation of nobles of all the member states of that federation.
The earlier Atharvan polity had deprived the king of access to the state treasury and control over the army. These were placed under the care of Indra, the head of the assembly of nobles and chief of the eight-member ministry.
Purandara (who had destroyed the forts of the feudal lords, asuras) held the position of Indra then. Urukrama did not want to be in charge of the patriciate, divam. He had (like Brhaspati) jurisdiction only over the commonalty, prthvi.
Urukrama as Upendra: Deputy Chancellor of Exchequer
The Bhagavatam describes his duties in the verses 8-23-23, 24. The task of protection of the Vedas and the Devas was assigned to him.
It meant protection of the intellectuals who had mastered the Vedas and ensuring that the cultural aristocracy performed its duties as expected of it and unhindered by the feudal elements.
Upendra was in fact Brhaspati. He was also given the responsibility to look after social laws (dharma), development (yasa) and national exchequer (sri). He was required to arrange for auspicious events and performance of vratas (fulfillment of pledges taken by the individuals and the officials of the state).
Unlike in the Pasupata Brhaspati system (as developed by the Vratya Prajapati, Mahadeva), the (Vaishnavaite) Upendra takes over the role of Rtvija in addition to the duties of Brhaspati.
As Rtvija assisted by four (or sixteen officials) Upendra would ensure that the officials of the state who received contributions to the treasury (made at the sacrifices performed by the householders) were voluntary and valid ones (being attested by the Rtvija in the presence of his assistants).
As Brhaspati he would be the administrator of civil law. He ensures that the aristocracy does not fail to perform its duties. Of course he continues to be the guardian of the interests of the commonalty.(The chronicle claims that Vamana was a member of the Hari cadre. Prthu belonged to this cadre.}
Upendra as Trustee of People's Contributions
The financial contributions made for religious and social duties (dharma), and the savings on account of yasa, for successful accomplishment of new undertakings, and the contributions to the national exchequer (sri or rajyalakshmi or sura) would be under the charge of Upendra. He was not merely the teacher or priest of the nobles, devas. Upendra like Brhaspati was an influential official of the state.
(The contribution under svajana, endowments for children, is not mentioned here. The householder must have been trusted to retain it and use it for the purpose meant. Bali had misappropriated it while taking it over.)
Administrative Duties of Upendra
Upendra is also in charge of social and administrative classification and stratification (kalpam svarga and apavarga). He could determine who could be admitted to the nobility (svargam) and who should be demoted and sent to a lower class (apavargam).
In the absence of the post of Varuna, Upendra undertakes this task of classification and prescription of tenure (kalpam). He becomes the controller of, chakram, of the tenures of the prominent officials, vibhutis, and their rotations. Balis system of administration needed a major correction, Vamana pointed out to Usanas and the Brahmavadis.
While Indra the head of the house of nobles, looked after only the three state institutions, maharloka, janaloka and tapaloka, Upendra had all the residuary powers. These three (contributions under the heads, dharma, yasa and svajana) did not belong to the executive.
Upendra as Naraprajapati
Upendra emerged as the spokesman and chief of the free men, as Naraprajapati. These free men (naras) whose services were indented for state purposes including the manning of its police and army were not governed by the laws of clans and communities. They were to be absorbed in the social polity as subjects, praja, answerable to this high civilian chief. The organized commonalty, manushyas, was directly under the eight-member ministry. Upendra was not a member of that ministry.
He was also not the chief of the people, Prajapati, who was empowered to admit new members to the commonalty of manushyas as prajas, though not born within the jurisdiction of the nation-state, janapada. The free men, naras, who were not bound by the codes of clans and communities, had to be made to follow the rules of discipline. Upendra was expected to regulate the activities of these free men, naras, and be the guardian of their interests.