This chapter describes how Lord Viṣṇu, desiring to advertise the glories of Bali Mahārāja, arrested him for not fulfilling his promise in regard to the Lord’s third step.
With the second step the Supreme Personality of Godhead reached the topmost planet of the universe, Brahmaloka, which He diminished in beauty by the effulgence of His toenails. Thus Lord Brahmā, accompanied by great sages like Marīci and the predominating deities of all the higher planets, offered humble prayers and worship to the Lord. They washed the Lord’s feet and worshiped Him with all paraphernalia. Ṛkṣarāja, Jāmbavān, played his bugle to vibrate the glories of the Lord. When Bali Mahārāja was deprived of all his possessions, the demons were very angry. Although Bali Mahārāja warned them not to do so, they took up weapons against Lord Viṣṇu. All of them were defeated, however, by Lord Viṣṇu’s eternal associates, and, in accordance with Bali Mahārāja’s order, they all entered the lower planets of the universe. Understanding Lord Viṣṇu’s purpose, Garuḍa, the carrier of Lord Viṣṇu, immediately arrested Bali Mahārāja with the ropes of Varuṇa. When Bali Mahārāja was thus reduced to a helpless position, Lord Viṣṇu asked him for the third step of land. Because Lord Viṣṇu appreciated Bali Mahārāja’s determination and integrity, when Bali Mahārāja was unable to fulfill his promise, Lord Viṣṇu ascertained that the place for him would be the planet Sutala, which is better than the planets of heaven.

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