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Vamana , is the fifth avatar of Hindu god Vishnu. He incarnates in a time of crisis and to restore cosmic balance by creatively defeating the asura king Bali with disproportionate powers over the universe. According to Hindu mythology, the demon king after his exploits and conquest of the universe sponsors a sacrifice and gift giving ceremony to consolidate his power. Vishnu appears at this ceremony as a dwarf mendicant Brahmin called Vamana.  When his turn to receive a gift comes, Bali offers whatever riches and material wealth Vamana would like. Vamana refuses everything and states he would just like three steps worth of land. Bali finds the dwarf’s request amusingly small and irrevocably grants it. Vamana then grows into a giant the size of cosmos. In the first step, he covers the earth. In second, he takes the heavens. For the third, Bali offers his head on which Vamana steps sending the demon king to the Patala (netherworld).

The Vamana avatar has roots in Vedic texts of Hinduism. The hymns of the Rigveda describes Vishnu as that benevolent god who in three steps defined all there is in the universe. The giant form of Vamana is also known as Trivikrama (literally, “three steps”). The Vamana legend has been a popular one, inspiring icons found in Hindu temples and sections in Hindu texts such as the Puranas and the epics. About thirty different versions of his mythology are found in these texts.

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