A Great King Was Born
It is believed that the Asuras were the people who ruled this land which is now India. Baliraja is a mythical aboriginal king of Asuras. In his kingdom, justice and equality prevailed, people were happy and prosperous, and women were highly respected. Every year, he is remembered in various festivals throughout India — the Bihu in Assam, Balipratipada across central and north India, and Onam in Kerala.
In his book Gulamgiri, or Slavery, Mahatma Jotiba Phule identifies Baliraja as a strong and valiant King who was a friend of the downtrodden. However, we were told Bali’s kingdom invited the gods’ envy. So they sought the help of Wamana to defeat him. As a result, Wamana made in-roads into Bali’s kingdom and persecuted his subjects in various ways.
Baliraja, therefore, was forced to meet this challenge. Finally, on the eighth day of the battle between the troops of Wamana and Baliraja, the shattering news of the defeat and death of King Baliraja reached his people.
According to Phule, Bali was killed on the battlefield. Still, his son Banasura defeated Vamana, and Bali’s people celebrated the victory. Their women-folk knew in their heart that a second Baliraja was destined to appear on the scene and would surely usher in a heavenly reign of peace and prosperity on earth.
Bali is indeed seen as a great ‘peasant’ king and is remembered with the Marathi saying, “ida pida javo, Balica rajya yevo”. (Let troubles and sorrows go, and the kingdom of Bali come)”.
“ida pida javo, Balica rajya yevo”.
The longing for a righteous and just king who brings peace to this world is universal. We see this anticipation in many folklores around the globe. Jews longed for the Messiah to establish His eternal kingdom of Shalom. The Santals in India who migrated from the west believed Thak ur Jiu (the genuine god) would send his Son to redeem them. The Incas, the Burmese, the Athenians, and many more anticipated this redemption. Don Richardson documents these in his book Eternity in their Hearts.
In whatever form people anticipated for this great king whom God will send to govern all people in love, righteousness and justice, has come. Phule gives a new interpretation of the reign of king Bali by connecting Yeshua (Jesus) as the final Baliraja. He had the highest regard for Yeshua and His words (Bible), especially the golden rule and sermon on the mountain.
In whatever form people anticipated for this great king whom God will send to govern all people in love, righteousness and justice has come.
Around 1400 BC, which is likely after the death of this mythical first Baliraja, prophet Baalam in the region of Palestine prophesied about the king Yeshua that is to come.
“I see him, but not here and now.
I perceive him, but far in the distant future.
A star will rise from Jacob;
a scepter will emerge from Israel.”
Around 700 BC, the prophet Isaiah prophesied about the same king:
“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity.”
Again Isaiah writes:
“Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule in justice.
Each will be like a hiding place from the wind, a shelter from the storm, like streams of water in a dry place, like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.”
There are many more prophecies in the Bible and the folklores around the world about this most anticipated king, who is indeed the Son of God. All the prophecies in the Bible on this coming Messiah and his kingdom are fulfilled in Yeshua. God became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
The final Baliraja is no myth. He was born of a virgin two thousand years ago to a poor couple in the region of Palestine. No notable historian of antiquity today disagrees with his historicity. Today across the world, we mark our calendars “In the year of our Lord” (AD), acknowledging the reign of the final Baliraja.
The final Baliraja is no myth. He was born of a virgin two thousand years ago to a poor couple in the region of Palestine.
Phule compared the sacrifice of Baliraja, especially for the Shuratishura, with Yeshua, who sacrificed himself for the salvation of the world. He rose again as the everlasting king of heaven and the earth.
Yeshua proclaimed the good news (Gospel) by saying, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
The final Baliraja did not come in power and glory but as a suffering servant (sacrificial king) to bear our sorrows and our sins.
“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53
His kingdom is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour till it was all leavened. So one day Balirajya will fill the earth as the women sang, “ida pida javo, Balica rajya yevo”
“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
But the most unsettling question is, why is the world failing to see and welcome the reign of this great King into our lives today? The Jews rejected and killed the Baliraja they had waited for because he disapproved of their ways. He was not the nice, uncontroversial guy they wanted him to be.
In The Chronicles of Narnia, four children find the kingdom of Narnia imprisoned under the spell of the White Witch. Aslan, the lion, who is the king of Narnia, is nowhere to be found. They come upon Mr and Mrs Beaver, a husband and wife still faithful to Aslan. The Beavers assure the children that Aslan is about to return to set things right.
Faced with all this fearful yet exciting news, the children reason if he is a safe king. So they ask the Beavers.
“Is — is he a man?” asked Lucy.
“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion — the lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he — quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
Baliraja does not need our mere festivities but our obedience to his will. He demands that we leave our pride, pleasures, greed, or violence and submit to him.
How could Mahatma Phule recognise the reign of King Yeshua? He experienced the sacrificial love of Yeshua through those who served him. In the same way, by submitting to this great King and walking by his righteousness and justice, we will become joyful, faithful, and righteous citizens of Balirajya and reign with him.
Blessings for the season!
A Hindi bhajan by Yeshu Satsang Toronto, composed by Pradip Nitnavare