Gaura lila - Nityananda
Mother: Rohini devi;
Brother: (younger) Sri Krsna;
Wife: Srimati Varuni devi;
Wife: Srimati Revati devi;
Other names: Balabhadra, Haladhara.
- is sixteen years old and full of the luster of youth;
- has a fair complexion the color of crystal;
- wears blue garments and a garland of forest flowers;
Lord Balaram is the first personal expansion of Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. All other incarnations expand from Him.
In Krsna's pastimes, He plays Krsna's elder brother. Together Krsna and Balarama enact many pastimes as cowherd boys in the land of Vrndavana. Lord Balarama carries a plough and club and is known for His great strength.
(See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, Chapter 5.)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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 At the last stage, He departed from this world by producing a great white snake from His mouth, and thus He was carried by Sesanaga in the shape of a serpent (Srimad Bhagavatam First anto pg.573)
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:
- Dirgha-timelessness, and;
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