By Giriraj Swami
Today is Balarama Purnima, the appearance day of Lord Balarama, the first expansion of Lord Krishna, who plays as Krishna’s older brother. Listening to Sri Caitanya-bhagavata this morning, I happened to hear a description of Lord Chaitanya’s special affinity for the mood of Lord Balarama: “Every day, Lord Chaitanya, accompanied by Lord Nityananda, visited various Vaishnavas’ homes and enacted transcendental pastimes. The Lord was constantly engaged in His ecstasies, manifesting the moods and behaviors of different incarnations—Matsya, Kurma, Narasimha, Varaha, Vamana, Ramachandra, Buddha, Kalki, and Krishna, the son of Nanda Maharaja. Lord Chaitanya displayed these moods, as and when He desired, and then quickly hid them.
“But somehow the mood of Balarama came repeatedly to the Lord, and He kept manifesting it. As Haladhara (Balarama), Lord Chaitanya would become very excited and shout loudly, ‘Bring Me wine! Bring Me some wine!’ Nityananda always understood the Lord’s intentions, and so He would reverentially give Him a pot filled with Ganges water. At such times, Lord Chaitanya’s mighty voice seemed to shake the entire creation, and His dancing was so wild it appeared as if the earth would shatter. Seeing such violent dancing, the devotees became fearful. They sang the glories of Balarama, and the Lord became very pleased and His ecstasy increased. In this state, the Lord moved about like a madman; He staggered like an intoxicated person, and He composed and recited varieties of poems and songs. What splendor He manifested in the mood of Balarama! The devotees gazed at the exquisite beauty of the Lord’s face, but their eyes could not be satiated. They more they looked, the more their desire to see Lord Chaitanya’s moonlike face increased—without limit.” (Cb Madhya 28.61–74)
Sri Caitanya-caritamrita (Adi 17.115–117) describes, “One day the Lord sat down in the corridor of a Visnu temple and began calling very loudly, ‘Bring some honey! Bring some honey!’ Nityananda Prabhu Gosani, understanding the ecstatic mood of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, brought a pot of Ganges water as a token and put it before Him. After drinking the water, Lord Caitanya became so ecstatic that He began to dance. Thus everyone saw the pastime of attracting the river Yamuna.”
In his purport, Srila Prabhupada explains, “Yamunakarsana-lila is the pastime of attracting the Yamuna. One day, Sri Baladeva wanted the Yamuna River to come before Him, and when the river Yamuna refused, He took His plow, wanting to dig a canal so that the Yamuna would be obliged to come there. Since Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the original form of Baladeva, in His ecstasy He asked everyone to bring honey. In this way, all the devotees standing there saw the yamunakarsana-lila. In this lila, Baladeva was accompanied by His girlfriends. After drinking a honey beverage called Varuni, He wanted to jump into the Yamuna and swim with the girls. It is stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.65.25–30, 33) that Lord Baladeva asked the Yamuna to come near, and when the river disobeyed the order of the Lord, He became angry and thus wanted to snatch her near to Him with His plow. The Yamuna, however, very much afraid of Lord Balarama’s anger, immediately came and surrendered unto Him, praying to the Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and admitting her fault. She was then excused.”
This incident is also described in the Dasavatara-stotra (8), the prayer of Jayadeva Gosvami concerning the ten incarnations:
vahasi vapusi visade vasanam jaladabham
kesava dhrta-haladhara-rupa jaya jagad-isa hare
“O Kesava! O Lord of the universe! O Lord Hari who have assumed the form of plow-wielding Balarama! All glories to You! On Your brilliant white body You wear garments colored like a fresh rain cloud and the river Yamuna, whom You frighten with the blows of Your plow.”
May Lord Balarama kindly excuse us for our offenses and draw us near Him.