The Pastimes of Lord Balarama
APPEARANCE Sri Baladeva is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself. He is equal in supremacy to the Supreme Godhead, yet wherever Krishna appears, Sri Baladeva appears as Krishna’s brother, sometimes elder, sometimes younger. In his vaibhava-prakasa feature, Lord Krishna manifests Himself as Balarama. The Balarama feature is as good as Krishna Himself, the only difference being that the bodily hue of Krishna is dark and that of Balarama is fair. These two Lords, Krishna and Balarama, are each the seed and womb of the universe, the Creator and His Creative potency. They enter the hearts of living beings and control their conditioned awareness. They are the primeval supreme. (Appreciating Sri Vrdavana Dhama, pg. 110)
Yogamaya transferred Ananta Sesa (Balarama) from the womb of Devaki to the womb of Rohini. Seven months later during the most auspicious moment in Sravana month, Rohini, just like a lioness gave birth to Lord Balarama feeling all happiness. His complexion was just like a white lotus flower and He looked like the full moon. His eyes were brilliant like lightning flashes and his hair was the color of a new cloud yet brilliant like the sun. Such extraordinary beauty prevailed because He was none other than the Lord Sankarsana. Astrologers said that He would have long arms and kill Pralambasura; that He would have a younger brother and kill many other demons. They said He is Dhenupal, the protector of cows an the killer of Dhenekasura. The brahmanas under Vasudeva’s order performed the jata karma samskara ceremony. Though He was extremely beautiful, everyone was extremely anxious because He was mute and inactive. No one could get Him to make a sound or move. Once when Yasoda was pregnant, she picked Him up and carefully placed Him on her lap next to her heart where Krishna was residing, Balarama immediately began to laugh and play like a blissful child. But when Yasoda would set Him down, again he would become inactive. He remained in this condition until the appearance of His younger brother (Krishna). (Sri Vrndavana Dhama, Newsletter, Janmastami 1993, pg. 6)
During their formative years Sri Balarama and his younger brother Sri Krishna played and acted just like normal cowherd boys except for the events brought about by the unkind acts of certain demons these extraordinary activities were played out for the enjoyment and salvation of jivas in the material world. Krishna and his brother Balarama passed the childhood age known as kaumara and stepped into the age known as paugunda, from the sixth year up to the tenth. At that time all the cowherd men conferred and agreed to give those boys who had passed their fifth year charge of the cows in the pasturing ground. Given charge of the cows, Krishna and Balarama traversed Vrndavana, purifying the land with Their footprints. Accompanied by the cowherd boys and Balarama, Krishna herded the cows and played on His flute through the forest of Vrndavana, which was full of flowers, vegetables, and pasturing grass. The Vrndavana forest was sanctified as the clear mind of a devotee and was full of bees, flowers and fruits. There were chirping birds and clear lakes with waters that could relieve one of all fatigue. Sweet-fragranced breezes blew always, refreshing the mind and body. Seeing the favorable situation, Krishna, Balarama, and Their cowherd friends entered the forest and enjoyed the atmosphere to the fullest extent. Krishna saw that all the trees, overloaded as they were with fruits and fresh twigs, were bending down to touch the ground as if welcoming Him by touching His lotus feet. He was very pleased by the behavior of the trees, fruits and flowers, and, He began to smile, realizing their desires. Krishna then spoke to Balarama as follows; “My dear brother, You are superior to all of us, and Your lotus feet are worshipped by the demigods. Just see how these trees, full of fruits, have bent down to worship Your lotus feet! It appears that they are trying to get out of the darkness of being obliged to accept the form of trees. Actually, the trees born in the land of Vrndavana are not ordinary living entities. Having held the impersonal point of view in their past lives, they now have the opportunity of seeing you in Vrndavana, and they are praying for further advancement in spiritual life through Your personal association. “The herbs, creepers, and grass are also fortunate to touch Your lotus feet. And by Your touching twigs with Your hands, these small plants are also made glorious. As for the hills and rivers, they too are now glorious because You are now glancing at them. Above all, the damsels of Vraja, the Gopis, attracted by Your beauty, are most glorious, for You embrace them with Your strong arms.” In this way Krishna and Balarama enjoyed in the forest of Vrndavana to Their fullest satisfaction, along with the cows and the cowherd boys Once the cowherd friends of Krishna and Balarama told Them, “In the Talavan forest many fruits are falling from the trees, and many are lying on the ground. But all the fruits are being guarded by the evil Dhenuka. O Rama! O Krishna! Dhenuka is a most powerful demon in the form of an ass. He is surrounded by many friends who have assumed similar shapes and who are just as powerful as he. Dhenuka has eaten men alive, and therefore all people and animals are terrified of going to the Tala forest. O killer of the enemy, even the birds are afraid to fly there. In the Tala forest are sweet-smelling fruits no one has ever tasted. Indeed, even now we can smell the fragrance of the tala fruits spreading all about. O Krishna! Please get those fruits for us. Our minds are so attracted by their aroma! Dear Balarama, our desire to have those fruits is very great. If you think it’s a good idea too, let’s go to that Tala forest.” Hearing the words of Their dear companions, Krishna and Balarama laughed and, desiring to please them, set off for the Tala forest surrounded by Their cowherd boyfriends. Lord Balarama entered the Tala forest first. With His arms he began shaking the trees with the power of a maddened elephant, causing the tala fruits to fall to the ground. Hearing the sound of the falling fruits, the ass demon Dhenuka ran to attack Balarama, making the earth and trees tremble. The powerful demon rushed up to Lord Balarama and sharply struck His chest with the hooves of his hind legs. Then Dhenuka began to run about, braying loudly. Again the furious ass rushed toward Balarama and situated himself with his back toward the Lord. Then screaming in rage, the demon hurled his hind legs toward Him. Lord Balarama seized Dhenuka by his hooves, whirled him about with one hand, and threw him into the top of a palm tree. The violent wheeling motion killed the demon. Lord Balarama threw the dead body of Dhenukasura into the tallest palm tree in the forest, and when the body landed in the treetop the tree began shaking. The great palm tree first caused a tree by it’s side to shake, and then it broke under the weight of the demon. As the second tree shook it caused a third one to shake. In this way a chain reaction was created, and many trees in the forest shook and broke. Thoroughly enraged by the death of Dhenuka, the remaining ass demons ran to attack Krishna and Balarama. As the demons attacked, Krishna and Balarama easily seized them one after another by their hind legs and threw them all into the tops of the palm trees. (Krishna Book vol. 1, pg. 113) One day while Krishna and Balarama and Their cowherd friends were tending the cows in the Vrndavana forest, the demon Pralamba entered their midst. He had assumed the form of a cowherd boy with the intentions of kidnapping Krishna and Balarama. Since Lord Krishna sees everything, he understood who the demon was. Still, the Lord pretended to accept the demon as a friend-while at the same time considering how to kill him. Krishna assembled the cowherd boys and divided them into two even teams. After the cowherd boys had chosen Krishna and Balarama as the leaders of the two teams, the boys began to play various games involving carriers and passengers. In these games the winners would climb up on the back of the losers, who would have to carry them. Thus carrying and being carried by one another, and at the same time tending the cows, the boys went to a banyan tree known as Bhandiraka. When Sridama, Vrsabha, and the other members of Lord Balarama’s party were victorious in these games, Krishna and His followers had to carry them. Thus Krishna had to carry Sridama, Bhadrasena had to carry Vrsabha, and Pralamba had to carry Balarama. Considering Lord Krishna invincible, the demon Pralamba quickly carried Balarama far beyond the spot where he was supposed to put his passenger down. As the great demon carried Balarama, the Lord became as massive as mount Sumeru, and Pralamba had to slow down. Prlambasura then resumed his actual form-an effulgent body that was covered with golden ornaments and that resembled a cloud flashing with lightning and carrying the moon. When Lord Balarama saw the gigantic body of the demon as he moved swiftly in the sky-with his blazing eyes, fiery hair, terrible teeth reaching toward his scowling brows, and amazing effulgence generated by his armlets, crown and earrings-the Lord seemed to become a little frightened. Remembering the actual situation, the fearless Balarama understood that the demon was trying to kidnap Him and take Him away from His companions. The Lord then became furious and struck the demon’s head with His hard fist, just as Indra, the king of the demigods, strikes a mountain with his thunderbolt weapon. Thus smashed by Balarama’s fist, Pralamba’s head immediately cracked open. The demon vomited blood from his mouth and lost all consciousness, and then with a great noise he fell lifeless to the ground, like a mountain devastated by Indra. The cowherd boys were most astonished to see how the powerful Balarama had killed the demon Pralamba, and they exclaimed, “Excellent! Excellent!” They offered Balarama profuse benedictions and glorified Him. Their minds overwhelmed with ecstatic love, they embraced Him as if He had returned from the dead. (Krishna Book Vol. I, pg. 133) The demons killed by Lord Balarama represent different anarthas which are as follows: Dhenukasura and other asses- Ignorance of the truth due to idiocy; loss of knowledge of one’s spiritual identity, ignorance concerning the non-difference of Krishna and His name and ignorance of our relationship with Krishna. The killing of Pralambasura- removes licentiousness, personal gain, worship and honor.” “If a devotee cries out humbly and sincerely to Lord Sri Krishna to remove these demoniac qualities which are represented by the demons killed by Lord Krishna, then Sri Krishna Himself will remove those evils. But the devotees must personally work to drive out the anarthas represented by the demons killed by Lord Balarama. This is a mystery of Vraja bhajan. The aspirant must personally remove these strong impediments with his best care and efforts and by obtaining the mercy of Krishna. If the devotee’s humility becomes very deep and intense, Krishna will be merciful. In that case, the feeling of Lord Balarama will arise in his mind and quickly destroy these demoniac qualities. Then one will gradually improve his cultivation of Bhajan” Srila Prabhupada offers further enlightenment about the powerful mercy of Lord Balarama. “The sword of knowledge is given by Krishna, and when one serves the guru and Krishna in order to hold the sword of Krishna’s instructions, Balarama gives one strength. Balarama is Nityananda. Thus one should accept the sword of knowledge from Krishna and be strong with the mercy of Balarama. We are therefore worshipping Krishna-Balarama in Vrndavana. (Appreciating Sri Vrndvana Dhama,, pg. 153) Sometimes Krishna and Balarama would play on Their flutes; sometimes They would throw ropes and stones devised for getting fruits from the trees; sometimes Krishna and Balarama would only throw stones; and sometimes, Their anklebells tinkling, Krishna and Balarama would play football with the fruits like amalaki. Sometimes Krishna and Balarama would cover Themselves with blankets and imitate the cows and fight one another, roaring loudly, and sometimes Krishna and Balarama would imitate the voices of the animals.(Appreciating Sri Vrdavana Dhama, pg. 130) Lord Balarama is called “Douji” (the elder brother who protects and cares for the younger brother). After lifting Govardhana Hill Lord Krishna killed a succession of ferocious demons including Sankasura and Aristasura. Balarama hadn’t killed a demon for a long time, and He was concerned about His duty of protecting Krishna as His elder brother. Desiring to dress like Krishna, Lord Balarama asked Krishna if He could wear His peacock feather and play Krishna’s flute for just one day. Krishna who dearly loved His elder brother, agreed and personally gave His peacock feather and flute to Balarama. Krishna and Balarama warmly embraced and then Balarama laughing happily, ran away playing gaily on Krishna’s flute. Meanwhile, in Mathura, the wicked King Kamsa was about to send the horse demon, Keshi, to Vrndavana in order to kill Krishna. The Keshi demon asked King Kamsa, “How will I recognize Krishna?” Kamsa told him that it would be easy to tell, because Krishna would be the only person wearing a peacock feather and playing a flute. While Balaramaji was fully enjoying His pastime of being Krishna for the day, the fierce horse demon, Keshi, stormed into Vrndavana. Seeing Balarama wearing a peacock feather in his crown and playing a flute, matching the description King Kamsa had given of Krishna, the Keshi demon roared up and gave Balarama a mighty kick that could have killed a full grown elephant. This kick totally knocked the wind out of Balarama, and sent Him tumbling out of the demon’s sight. Thinking that he had killed Krishna, the Keshi demon galloped away. Balaramaji, picking Himself up, began to cry. Balarama’s chest still hurt from the demon’s kick and He was short of breath. Balarama was hungry, very tired and sore all over from tumbling so far. Reaching home, Balarama immediately went to Krishna an returned His flute and peacock feather. Balarama told Krishna that he never again wanted to wear them, and that a huge horse demon had just violently kicked Him; thinking He was Krishna. Then Balaramaji met His mother Rohini and fell asleep in her arms. Krishna replaced the peacock feather in His crown, tucked the flute back in His belt and walked into the village. Then Sri Krishna met the horrible horse demon and effortlessly killed him.
Srila Prabhupada writes, “Lord Balarama is the original Vishnu; therefore anyone remembering these pastimes of Lord Balarama in the morning and the evening will certainly become a great devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and thus his life will become successful in all respects.” (Appreciating Sri Vrdavana Dhama, pg. 113)
Lord Balarama is constantly serving Lord Krishna in every respect. In all of Krishna’s incarnations and manifestations. In Rama-lila, Balarama serves Lord Ramachandra as His younger Brother, Laxmana. In Kali-yuga, Sri Balarama spreads the Sankirtan movement of Sri Caitanya as Lord Nityananda. Lord Balarama serves Sri Krishna in all five rasas (mellows), santa to madhurya rasa. In santa rasa Lord Balarama fulfills Sri Krishna’s desires for blissful transcendental pastimes by expanding Himself as the holy dhama of Vraja Mandala. All of Krishna’s personal possessions such as Krishna’s crown, bed, clothes, throne, ornaments; and any other objects that Krishna utilizes are all expansions of Lord Balarama.
As Krishna’s cowherd friend and elder brother in sakhya rasa, Sri Balarama sometimes accepts service from Krishna after defeating Him in a wrestling match. But generally, Balarama’s fraternal feelings are mixed with servitude (dasya rasa) and parental affection (vatsalya rasa). In the mood of vatsalya rasa, Sri Balarama sometimes protects Krishna as a parent or chastises Him as the elder. Once Lord Balarama told Subala, “my dear friend, please inform Krishna not to go to Kaliya today. Today is Krishna’s birthday, and so I wish to go along with Mother Yasoda to bathe Him. Tell Krishna He should not leave the house today!” This shows how Balarama, Krishna’s elder brother took care of Krishna with parental love, within the scope of fraternal affection.
The splendor of Lord Balarama’s transcendental form eclipses many millions of glistening rising moons, and the slightest scent of His boundless strength is sufficient to destroy many armies of demons. Although He knows the supernatural power of His younger brother Krishna, still, out of love for Him, Balarama never leaves Krishna alone in the forest even for a moment. I offer my prayers to Lord Balarama, the enemy of Dhenukasura. (Appreciating Sri Vrdavana Dhama, pg. 111)
BALARAMA THE GOPI
Lord Balarama can expand Himself into unlimited and different forms. In order to serve Krishna’s intimate conjugal pastimes in madhurya rasa, Lord Balarama expands Himself as Ananga Manjari. Ananga Manjari wears beautiful clothing the color of a blue lotus flower and she is especially dear to Lalita and Visakha. Ananga Manjari, a most exquisitely beautiful gopi, is Srimati Radharani’s younger sister. Her complexion is the color of a springtime ketaki flower.(Appreciating Sri Vrdavana Dhama, pg. 67)
LORD BALARAMA IS VRNDAVANA
The spiritual planet goloka Vrndavana, the eternal abode of Lord Krishna, is shaped like the whorl of a lotus flower. Even when the Lord descends to any one of the mundane planets, He does so by manifesting His own abode as it is. Vrndavana is compared to a lotus flower because it is incredibly beautiful, fully alive and can expand and contract. Being a form of Lord Baladeva, Sri Vrndavana-dhama is completely spiritual, fully cognizant and saturated with unlimited prema for Sri Krishna. The spiritual lotus of Vraja-dhama fully cooperates with Krishna’s desire for pastimes by expanding and contracting to facilitate His transcendental movements. Within a short time, for example, Krishna can traverse the distance between Nandagrama and Vamsivata where He meets nightly with Radharani. According to material calculations, Vamsivata is thirty-seven miles away from Nandagrama. But by Sri Balarama’s blessings, Krishna arrives there easily and quickly. In his expansion as Sri Vraja-dhama, Lord Balarama fully accommodates all the necessary features of Sri Krishna’s mind-pleasing pastimes. This is the inconceivable nature of Sri Krishna and His transcendental abode of Vrndavana-dhama. The spiritual lotus of Vraja also arranges for accomplished devotees to effortlessly wander all over Vrdavana to participate in Radha and Krishna’s splendid spiritual pastimes. One day while Srila Sanatana Gosvami was doing bhajan in Vrndavana, he walked to and circumambulated Govardhana Hill. Then Sanatana Gosvami walked to Goloka to perform madhukari, and by evening he returned to Vrndavana to serve his beloved Deity, Madan-mohan. Serving as the spiritual lotus of Vraja, Sri Balaramaji enabled Sanatana Gosvami to perform this incredible service of walking over 108 kilometers in one day. Srila Rupa Gosvami compares Vraja to a lotus: When it blooms fully, the different sites of Krishna’s pastimes appear to be distant from one another. But after sunset, the lotus contracts, and the places come closer together to assist the meeting of Srimati Radhika and Sri Krishnacandra. (Appreciating Sri Vrdavana Dhama, pg. 160)
LORD BALARAMA’S YOUTH
Lord Krishna and Lord Balarama accompanied Akura to the city of Mathura to kill the evil King Kamsa and to be reunited with Their parents Devaki and Vasudeva. After revealing to Akura Their other forms of Lord Vishnu and Ananta Sesa respectively Krishna and Balarama went to the city to dispose of the evil king. Upon Their arrival in the city the evil King Kamsa tried several unsuccessful attempts to bar Krishna and Balarama from fulfilling the inevitable prophecy that They would kill him. Finally Krishna and Balarama were with Kamsa in a great wrestling arena. Kamsa had his greatest wrestlers challenge Their Lordships to a fight. The wrestler Canura addressed Krishna and Balarama with the following words: “O Krishna and Balarama, You two are well respected by courageous men and are both skillful at wrestling. Having heard of Your prowess, the king has called You here, wanting to see for himself. You, Krishna, aren’t really a child or even a young man, and neither is Balarama, the strongest of the strong. Therefore You two should fight powerful wrestlers like us. Accepting the challenge, Krishna paired off with Canura, and Balarama fought with Mustika. Seizing each other’s hands and locking legs with each other, the opponents struggled powerfully, eager for victory. They each struck fist against fist, knees against knees, head against head, and chest against chest. Each fighter contended with his opponent by dragging him about in circles, shoving him and crushing him, throwing him down, and running before and behind him. Forcefully lifting and carrying each other, pushing each other away, and holding each other down, the fighters appeared to be hurting even their own bodies in their great eagerness for victory. As Krishna and Balarama fought the huge wrestlers, the women present gazed upon the two Lords and became enthralled by Their beauty. The ladies said, ‘Just see the lotus face of Krishna as he darts around His foe! That face, covered with drops of perspiration brought on by the strenuous fight, resembles the whorl of a lotus covered with dew. What austerities the gopis must have performed to be able to always see His beautiful form!’ ‘Don’t you see the face of Lord Balarama, with his eyes copper-red from His anger toward Mustika and its beauty enhanced by His laughter and His absorption in the fight?’ As the women spoke, Krishna powerfully struck Canura and began to break every part of his body. Furious, Canura violently pounded the Lord’s chest with both fists. No more shaken by the demon’s mighty blows than an elephant struck with a flower garland, Lord Krishna grabbed Canura by his arms, swung him around several times, and hurled him onto the ground with great force. His clothes, hair, and garland scattering, the wrestler fell down dead like a huge festival column collapsing. Mustika also struck Balarama, and Balarama returned the blow with great force. Mustika began to tremble, and blood and vomit flowed from his mouth. Distressed, he gave up his vital force and fell down just as a tree falls down during a hurricane. After the two wrestlers were killed, a wrestler named Kuta came forward. Lord Balarama immediately caught him in His left hand and killed him nonchalantly. Another wrestler named Sala came forward, and Krishna immediately kicked him and cracked his head. Shortly thereafter Kamsa was killed by Krishna. Kamsa’s eight brothers headed by Kanka were killed by Lord Balarama with the tusk of the elephant Kuvalayapida.(Krishna Book Vol. I,pg. 273- 280) The rasas Madhurya and aisvarya are in equal degrees in Mathura. Lord Krishna and Balarama’s killing of Kamsa and his associates illustrates this point. After killing these demons in the wrestling arena at Mathura, Krishna approached His parents Devaki and Vasudeva, who just stood looking awestruck in a mood of total reverence. Since Krishna hadn’t seen His parents since the day He was born (about eleven years), Krishna was expecting some heartfelt reciprocation of emotions. But Devaki and Vasudeva, seeing Krishna as the Supreme Lord and not as their son, remained firm in their mood of aisvarya. Krishna who is always hankering for his devotees’ love, began to cry upon seeing His parents relating to Him in awe and reverence, This immediately opened Mother Devaki’s heart, which flooded with vatsalya rasa. She took Krishna on her lap, covered His head with her sari and tried to breast-feed Him. Meanwhile Lord Balarama threw Himself at the feet of His father. And Vasudeva, overcome with vatsalya rasa, picked up Balarama, sat Him on his lap, smelled His head and treated Him in a very loving fatherly way.(Appreciating Sri Vrndavana Dhama, pg. 120)
Concealing Their innately perfect knowledge by Their human-like activities, Krishna and Balarama went to Avanti to reside at the school of the learned spiritual master Sandipani Muni. Sandipani thought very highly of these two self-controlled disciples, whom he felt so fortunate to have obtained. Krishna and Balarama served him as devotedly as one would serve the Supreme Lord Himself, thus showing others an irreproachable example of how to worship the spiritual master. Satisfied with Their submissive behavior, Sandipani Muni taught the two Lords the entire Vedas, together with their six corollaries and the Upanishads. He also taught Them the Dhanur-veda, with it’s most confidential secrets; the standard book of law: the methods of logical reasoning and philosophical debate: and the sixfold science of politics. Krishna and Balarama immediately assimilated each and every subject after hearing it explained just once. Thus with fixed concentration They learned the sixty-four arts and skills in as many days and nights. Thereafter They satisfied Their spiritual master by offering him guru-daksina, the traditional token of remuneration a disciple gives his spiritual master. When Krishna and Balarama offered Their teacher, Sandipani Muni, anything he desired, he asked for the return of his son, who had drowned in the ocean at Prabhasa. The two Lords at once traveled there on Their chariot and ordered the ocean to return Their guru’s son. The ocean explained that he had been captured and slain by the demon Pancajanya. Krishna in turn slew the demon. The Lords then went to Samyamani, the abode of Yamaraja., who immediately returned the child.(Krishna Book Vol. I, pg 281-289)
” Powerful Lord Balarama is sixteen years old, full of the luster of youth and has a fair complexion the color of crystal. Balarama wears blue garments and a garland of forest flowers. Baladeva’s handsome hair is tied in a graceful topknot. Splendid earrings adorn Balarama’s ears. Sri Baladeva’s neck is splendidly decorated with garlands of flowers and strings of jewels. Splendid bracelets and armlets ornament Douji’s graceful and very strong arms. Balarama’s feet are decorated with splendid jeweled anklets. Sri Baladeva is Krishna’s dearest friend. Baladeva is a great reservoir of the nectar mellows of many kinds of transcendental pastimes.” “Lord Balarama’s beauty is enhanced by the earrings touching His cheeks. Balarama’s face is decorated with tilaka made from musk, and Balarama’s broad chest is ornamented with gunja (small, red, black, and white berries native to Vrndavana). Sri Baladeva’s voice is very grave and His arms are very long, touching his thighs.” (Appreciating Sri Vrndavana Dhama, pg.110) MATURITY After defeating the king Jarasandha several times, Krishna decided to move His family from the city of Mathura to an unconquerable fortress in the sea, known as Dwarka. After moving His family, Krishna and Balarama pretended to be afraid of Jarasandha and fled to mount Pravarsana. Jarasandha chased the Lords up said mountain, but unable to find them he set the mountain on fire. In order to avoid the fires, Lord Krishna and Balarama jumped some eighty-eight miles to the ground.(Krishna Book Vol. I, pg 348)
In another instance Lord Balarama was challenged to play chess with a demoniac in-law of His, Rukmi. On the advice of the King of Kalinga, Rukmi challenged Lord Balarama to play chess for various wagers. Knowing that Lord Balarama, in this particular rasa, was not the most adept of chess players, the two sought this opportunity to make fun of Lord Krishna and Balarama. The first two games were played for 1,000 and 10,000 gold pieces respectively and Lord Balarama was the loser in each game, but the third game was for 100,000 gold pieces. Fortunately Lord Balarama was the winner, but the sinful Rukmi attempted to cheat the Lord and claim that he was the winner. This angered Balarama so He made another wager of one hundred million coins. Again Lord Balarama was the victor and again Rukmi attempted to cheat the Lord. This time there was a voice from the sky that stated that according to the rules of chess, Lord Balaram was the winner. Still Rukmi persisted that he was the winner and insulted the Lord with artful words. At this time Lord Balarama became very angry and summoned His mace, Sunanda, and smashed Rukmi on the head killing him with one blow. Lord Balarama also took this opportunity to capture the fleeing King of Kalinga who feared for his life. Balarama used His mace to smash the teeth of the king because he was always showing them while criticizing the Lord. Balarama also captured all the princes who supported the king and beat them with His club, breaking their hands and legs. (Krishna Book Vol. II, pg.194)
Once Lord Balarama was feeling very anxious to see his father and mother, Nanda and Rohini, so He returned to Vrndavana for a visit. At this time He also sought to pacify the gopis who were feeling great distress due to separation from Lord Krishna. To alleviate their distress Lord Balarama described the wonderful pastimes and glories of Krishna, and chanted Krishna’s transcendental names. Balarama became so absorbed in chanting that his complexion assumed Krishna’s blue color. (Appreciating Sri Vrndavana Dhama, pg 112) When Lord Balarama visited Vrndavana for two months, He would enjoy at night with His cowherd girlfriends in a garden on the bank of the Yamuna. One night, intoxicated with joy and Varuni (a liquid honey form of the daughter of Varuna) Lord Balarama summoned Yamuna so that he could play in her waters. Thinking that the Lord was drunk, she disregarded His command. This angered Lord Balarama, and He began dragging the river with the tip of His plow, Hala. Lord Balarama said, ” O sinful one disrespecting Me, you do not come when I call you but rather move by you own whim. Therefore, with the tip if My plow I shall bring you here in a hundred streams.” At this time Yamuna realizing her mistake sought to please the Lord with kind words and immediately presented her waters for His enjoyment. Thereupon He released her and, like the king of elephants with his entourage of she-elephants, entered the rivers water with His female companions. (Krishna Book Vol. II, pg.220) It is noted that after pleasing Lord Krishna’s gopis with words, that Lord Balarama had the above mentioned relations with His own separate gopis. Lord Balarama performed His own rasa-lila at Ram Ghat, which is a long distance from the site of Krishna’s rasa-lila. The gopis attached to Krishna in the mood of madhurya rasa would be attached to Lord Balarama in the mood of friendship only and vice-versa. While Lord Balarama performed rasa-lila for two months, Krishna’s gopis watched from a distance. Lord Balarama respects Lord Krishna’s gopis and is very careful to avoid mixing with them. (Appreciating Sri Vrndavana Dhama, pg.71) If while walking on Govardhana Hill, Krishna’s elder brother Balarama, sees a series of golden stones, He thinks: “The daughter of King Vrsabanu (Radharani) must have just walked before Me,” and Balarama changes course to avoid an awkward situation. In the same way if Radharani sees a series of crystal stones, She thinks, “Balarama must have just walked before Me,” and Radharani then changes course. (Appreciating Sri Vrndavana Dhama, pg113) It was during one of these evenings of Lord Balarama’s rasa-lila that He was accosted by the terrible gorilla Dvivida. This Dvivida was as strong as 10,000 elephants and the friend of a demon killed by Lord Krishna . He sought to cause harm to Lord Krishna and all those dear to Him. Dvivida happened upon Lord Balarama during an evening of the Lords pleasure. He insulted the Lord and His gopis, and sought to fight with Him. Balarama being angered by the demon’s activities engaged Dvivida in combat and after leveling a mountain and a forest killed the demon with His bare hands. (Krishna Book Vol. II, pg.229)
Shortly thereafter Lord Balarama returned home to Dwarka. There was then an incident where His nephew, Samba, was kidnapped. The family patriarch, King Ugrasena, called for retaliation. Seeing the family preparing for a fight, Balarama pacified them in order to avoid conflict between the Yadu and Kuru dynasties. He then went to the Kaurava household where He expressed King Ugrasena’s demand for Samba’s return. They became very angry, insulted Balarama and the Yadu dynasty, and then returned to their city. Balarama decided to punish them all. He took His plow, intending to rid the earth of all the Kurus, and began dragging their city of Hastinapura toward the Ganges. Seeing that their city was in eminent danger, they quickly returned Samba. They then prayed, “O Lord, please forgive us, who are truly ignorant of Your true identity”. Feeling appeased Balarama assured them He would not harm them, and returned home with Samba. (Krishna Art, plate 151)
There was once an incident where in order to marry Balarama and Krishna’s sister Arjuna, upon the advice of Krishna, disguised himself as a sage. Balarama, believing Arjuna to be a sage presented him Subhadra to render him service. Subhadra consequently fell in love with Arjuna and willingly left with him. Balarama, thinking His sister was kidnapped, was going to punish Arjuna. Krishna the greatest architect of flowery words pacified Balarama and explained to Him what truly happened. (Krishna Book Vol. III, pg. 122)
Once Lord Balarama began to talk in his sleep as follows: “O lotus eyed Krishna, Your childhood adventures are manifest simply according to Your will. Therefore, please dispose of the stubborn pride of this Kaliya serpent.” By saying this Lord Balarama astonished the assembly of the Yadus and made them laugh very loudly for some time. Then yawning so hard as to make ripples on His abdomen, Lord Balarama, the bearer of the plow, returned to His deep sleep. This is an instance of sleepiness in ecstatic love. (Appreciatig Sri Vrndavana Dhama, 113)
There came a time when it was inevitable that the two arguing factions of the Kuru dynasty were going to war. Lord Balarama, not anxious to see the outcome of this conflict decided to take pilgrimage to all the holy places. At one such place there was a large sacrifice taking place. Many great sages were present at this sacrifice and when Lord Balarama approached they rose and offered Him all due respects. Thereafter they offered Balarama a proper seat and worshipped Him as the Supreme Lord. All the sages present did this except Romaharsana, who remained seated on the Vyasasana. Seeing his impudence Balarama struck him with a single blade of kusa straw and killed him. Upon seeing the Lord kill Romaharsana, the other sages in attendance became greatly distressed. They humbly petitioned the Lord saying that they had bestowed the great boon of long life upon Romaharsana and that the Lord had caused their benediction to become false. The sages then requested the Lord to please set an example and atone for the sin He had committed even though He was the Supreme Personality of Godhead and therefore sinless. Lord Balarama heard the words of the sages and was pleased with them. He said that the benediction of the father, Romaharsana, should be passed on to the son, and the Lord also agreed that He would do whatever the sages suggested that he do in order to atone for the sin. The sages then asked that He please slay the demon Balvala, who was a great source of anguish for the sages. After He had performed this task , the sages said that Lord Balarama should continue his pilgrimage for 12 months. Balarama accepted what the sages said, and the next time the demon Balvala appeared Balarama called for His club and His plow. Although the demon was flying here and there in the air, the Lord swiftly snagged the demon with his plow and pulling him down He smashed his head with His club. After accepting due praise from the sages and taking their leave Lord Balarama continued on His pilgrimage. (Krishna Book Vol. III, pgs. 59-63) LORD BALARAMA’S DISAPPEARANCE Due to a curse placed on the Yadu dynasty they were to be the cause of their own destruction, thirty-six years after the end of the battle of Kuruksetra. After Balarama took part in the drunken battle that caused the destruction of the rest of the Yadus, and after He witnessed the disappearance of Lord Krishna, Lord Balarama sat down in a meditative state and gave up His body. His soul passed out of His mouth in the form of a great white naga, and thus he was carried by Sesanaga in the shape of a serpent.(Srimad Bhagavatam First Canto pg.573) MISC. PASTIMES After the mace fight between Bhimasena and Duryodhana Balarama was prepared to kill Bhima for what He believed was cheating, but he was stopped by Lord Krishna. (Srimad Bhagavatam First Canto pg 573)
Lord Balarama’s wife Revati was born in a yuga previous to the yuga that Bala was born in. Therefore when they met she was taller that He. Lord Balarama took his plow and pushed Ravati down with the flat of it, thus making her short. (Lecture given by H.H. Lokanatha Swami Srimad Bhagavatam Tenth Canto 2nd chapter verses 13-15 Anaheim, Ca.8/17/89)
In the pastime of Ratha-yatra the reason that Lord Balarama appears with dilated eyes and shrunken limbs is because he is affected by the mood of separation that Radha and Krishna are feeling for each other. (Lecture Given by H.H. Gour Govinda Swami, Towaco,N.J. 6/23/94)
Balarama rides in the chariot known as Taladhvaja. Tala means rhythm and dhvaja means ensignia or distinguishing symbol. Rhythms are said to have originated from Lord Shiva’s cosmic dance. The rhythm created by Balarama’s huge moving chariot is said to produce an equally powerful and blissful sound. The four horses that pull Balarama’s chariot are 1.Tivra-strength, 2.Ghora- constancy, 3, Dirgha-timelessness, and 4.Srama-work. Balarama’s chariot in Orisa is 47 feet high and requires 763 pieces of wood to build. Daruka, the one who takes care of all, is Balarama’s charioteer. (Lila’s of Lord Jaganatha, pg64-77)
Lord Balarama is the beauty incarnation of the Lord. (Srimad Bhagavatam First Canto pg.168)
The funereal ceremony of Abhimanyu, the son of Arjuna, was performed by Balarama, as He was the maternal uncle. (Srimad Bhagavatam, First Canta pg 573 FINAL NOTES AND PRAYERS If anyone wants to attain the Lotus feet of Sri-Sri Radha-Krishna, and be able to taste and fully relish Their pastimes, one must first approach the lotus feet of Lord Balarama or Lord Nityananda. This is a mandatory prerequisite, for only by receiving Their mercy can this realization be possible. Because Lord Nityananda and Lord Balarama are non-different, the Gosvamis confirm that by getting Lord Nityananda’s mercy one becomes eligible to receive the ecstatic prema of Sri Radha and Sri Krishna in Vraja. Lord Balarama and Lord Nityananda do not accept any offenses whatsoever, and are so merciful that by simply worshipping Lord Nityananda one is automatically worshipping and pleasing Lord Balarama. It is described that Lord Nityananda and Lord Balarama are the friends of the most fallen and the most wretched. Just as it is not possible to enter Lord Caitanya’s service without the mercy of Lord Nityananda, it is impossible to enter Vraja rasa without the mercy of Lord Balarama, who is non-different from Lord Nityananda. (Appreciating Sri Vrndavana Dhama, pg114) Sri Balarama is the servitor of Godhead who serves Lord Krishna in all affairs of existence and knowledge. The transcendental abode exist by the energy of Lord Balarama. Krishna’s first expansion in a form for pastimes is Lord Balarama. Balarama Himself helps in the pastimes of Lord Krishna and He does the work of creation in four other forms. In all forms Balarama tastes the transcendental bliss of serving Krishna. If we develop consciousness of this fact, then we are in actual Krishna consciousness. We should always remember that Krishna is the only supreme master and that everyone else is His servant, EKALE ISVARAH KRSNA, ARA SABA BHRTYA. Either Lord Narayana, or Lord Shiva, Everyone is subordinate to Krishna. Even Baladeva is subordinate to Krishna. In the transcendental pastimes, Krishna is the chief hero, and Balarama provides additional help.(Appreciating Sri Vrndavana Dhama , pg 111) vahasi vapusi visade vasanam jaladabham hala-hati-bhiti-milita-yamunabham kesava dhrta-haladhara-rupa jaya jagadisa hare
O kesava! O Lord of the Universe! O Lord hari, who have assumed the form of Lord Balarama, the wielder of the plow! All glories to You! On your brilliant white body you wear garments the color of a fresh blue rain cloud. These garments are colored like the beautiful dark hue of the River Yamuna, who feels great fear due to the striking of Your plowshare. (Songs of the Vaisnava Acaryas, pg. 97)
Corrections And Notes Sri Baladeva is the seventh child of Devaki, elder to Krishna and white in complexion. The story behind this is as follows. The devas were instructed by the Mahavishnu to take birth as Gopalas (cowherds). MahaVisnu then took one white hair from His head and said that it would go into Rohini’s womb and change into Balarama and taking a black hair said that it would go into Yasoda and become Krishna. The color white is said to represent enlightenment. When this story appeared in the original text, there were three inquiries relevant to it, sent to me by Candra das, Hare Krishna Dasi, and Brahmananda Das. I would like to thank them for their attention in this matter and for helping me to give better, more acurate information. I was able, by the instruction of Brahmananda Das, to site Sri Caitanya-caritamrita Madhya-Lila Vol. 9 pg 75. There it clearly states that “in this connection, one should see Laghu- bhagavatamrta, the chapter called Krishnamrta, verses 156-164. Srila Rupa Gosvami has refuted this argument about the hair incarnation, and his refutation is supported by Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana’s commentaries. This matter is further discussed in the Krishna-sandarba (29) and in the commentary known as Sarva- samvadini, by Srila Jiva Gosvami.” The quotation also says that these pastimes are not factual but are related for the bewilderment of the asuras. It was my understanding that these pastimes actually happened but were misinterpreted by the asuras, I now stand corrected.