Of Standards and Specifications

If you thought standards and specifications have become a problem only now – you needed to attend our Materials Management class today!

First something serious. What could be the oldest example of specification? Answer is specification of measurement units (units of length, weights etc.). And the importance is not difficult to see, is it?

Now, one of the earliest problem faced due to lack of specification? Who was the victim? Think… Think…

King Bali!

If the length of a “step” had been defined properly, King Bali would not have lost all his kingdom and himself to Vamana 🙂 If Vamana had asked the land in terms of meter or such standard unit, Bali would not have fallen in trap, right? 😀

For the uninitiated, this is the story of Vamana Avatar of Lord Vishnu. To prevent the increasing influence of King Bali, Lord Vishnu went to him in the guise of a dwarf Brahmin (this Avatar is called Vamana). In Bhiksha he asked for only three and a half steps of land. King Bali was famous for his generousity. And for three and a half steps of land – why would he even be bothered? But he was tricked. Vamana measured the whole of Earth, Patal (the world under the earth – usually associated with the kingdom of deamons) and Heaven in one step each. That made three steps. A half step was still left. Then King Bali offered his head and Vamana put his last step on his head. That way King Bali offered himself also to the God. Of course, he got Moksha and all 🙂


One thought on “Of Standards and Specifications

  1. Since I am removing the Haloscan Comments, I am copy-pasting the comments I got on this post here.

    Assuming Vishnu’s avatars happened chronologically, his interplay with dimensions in his Matsya avatar (small without specifying the dimension thus inducing Satyavrata to give him space within the kamandalu, and the other manipulations of standards and dimensions by him in this avatar) would qualify for the title
    Ayan Bhattacharya | Email | Homepage | 02.18.05 – 8:45 pm | #

    Please give us the whole story. At least I do not know the story of Matsya Avatar completely. May be in your blog itself.
    Jaya Jha | Homepage | 02.18.05 – 10:25 pm | #

    Gravatar Could not get hold of a copy of the matsya puran to quote from :-(.

    Mythologically, Matsya was Vishnu’s first avatar.

    In the version which I refer, the Vedas slipped out of Brahma’s hand in a moment of lassitude. An asura, Hayagriva noticed and took advantage by devouring (this was the Veda (original), so it had to be restored you see ). So Vishnu took the Matsya form and hid in sage Satyavrata’s pond. Sage Satyavrata was subsisting only on water (probability = 100% that he would use his pond ), and early next morning when he reached the pond and found an invisible fish entreating him for provision of refuge, he could not refuse. The fish’s (Vishnu) main argument was that it was very small, so would be devoured if left alone; nowhere were the exact dimensions mentioned. So Satyavrata agreed to help and provided it refuge in his kamandal. But within a few hours the fish had grown too big for the kamadal, so the same entreaty ensued. When Satyavrata argued that it wa
    Ayan Bhattacharya | Email | Homepage | 02.19.05 – 1:54 pm | #

    Gravatar When Satyavrata argued that it was now big enough, the fish argued that it was still small compared to the bigger fish (interplay on dimension + relativity of size)….the same loop repeated itself again and again…till the fish was placed in the ocean, big enough to devour the asura and restore the Vedas. Of course, after this followed the Pralay and the rest of the Matsya Puran.

    Pardon the raconteur for the little dramatisations devised
    Ayan Bhattacharya | Email | Homepage | 02.19.05 – 1:58 pm | #

    Gravatar Good references:
    (though diff. versions might say diff things):

    Quick overview of Vishnu’s avatars:

    In Gyanoday lib: Indian Mythology, Jan Knappert (Book no: 23864, Rack:291.130954)
    Ayan Bhattacharya | Email | Homepage | 02.19.05 – 2:01 pm | #

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