Who is Balaram?
Balarama is An Expansion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead - Krishna.
vaibhava-prakāśa kṛṣṇera — śrī-balarāma
varṇa-mātra-bheda, saba — kṛṣṇera samāna
“The first manifestation of the vaibhava feature of Kṛṣṇa is Śrī Balarāmajī. Śrī Balarāma and Kṛṣṇa have different bodily colors, but otherwise Śrī Balarāma is equal to Kṛṣṇa in all respects."
[Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita - Madhya 20.174]
Together they create the entire creation which includes the spiritual as well as the material world.
etau hi viśvasya ca bīja-yonī
rāmo mukundaḥ puruṣaḥ pradhānam
anvīya bhūteṣu vilakṣaṇasya
jñānasya ceśāta imau purāṇau
These two Lords, Mukunda and Balarāma, 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.
[Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam - 10.46.31]
What is the relation of Balaram with Krishna?
Although Balarama is an expansion of Krishna, both are different in form and mood. Krishna is having a hue of blue clouds while Balaram is pure white in complexion. Krishna is The Supreme Personality with the mood of Enjoyer, while Balaram is The Supreme Personality with the mood of Servant. In this service mood, He is always a constant companion of Krishna. Every time Balarama accompanies Krishna with the mood to serve Him.
śrī-balarāma gosāñi mūla-saṅkarṣaṇa
pañca-rūpa dhari’ karena kṛṣṇera sevana
Lord Balarāma is the original Saṅkarṣaṇa. He assumes five other forms to serve Lord Kṛṣṇa.
[Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita - Ādi-līlā - 5.8]
In Treta Yuga, Krishna appeared as Lord Rama and Balarama appeared as His younger brother, Laksmana. In Dwapar Yuga, Balarama appeared as His elder brother. In Kali Yuga, Krishna appeared as Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Balarama appeared as Nityananda Prabhu.
sei kṛṣṇa—navadvīpe śrī-caitanya-candra
sei balarāma—saṅge śrī-nityānanda
That original Lord Kṛṣṇa appeared in Navadvīpa as Lord Caitanya, and Balarāma appeared with Him as Lord Nityānanda.
[Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita - Ādi-līlā - 5.7]
He is the source of the great serpent – Lord Sesa (who becomes the resting bed for Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu) and Anta-Sesa.
vaikuṇṭhe ‘śeṣa’ — dharā dharaye ‘ananta’
ei mukhyāveśāvatāra — vistāre nāhi anta
“Lord Śeṣa in the spiritual world of Vaikuṇṭha and, in the material world, Lord Ananta, who carries innumerable planets on His hoods, are two primary empowered incarnations. There is no need to count the others, for they are unlimited.
[Sri Chaitanya Caritamrita - Madhya 20.370]
Balaram is also amongst the 10 prominent avatars (incarnations) of Krishna. Balarama, the first expansion of Krishna, expands himself in quadruple expansions - Vāsudeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha, to serve Krishna.
vaibhava-prakāśe āra prābhava-vilāse
eka-i mūrtye baladeva bhāva-bhede bhāse
“Śrī Balarāma is a vaibhava-prakāśa manifestation of Kṛṣṇa. He is also manifested in the original quadruple expansions of Vāsudeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha. These are prābhava-vilāsa expansions with different emotions.
[Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita - Madhya 20.188]
What is the significance of Balaram's name?
His name comes from two Sanskrit words, Bala, meaning “Strength”, “Stamina”, “power” and Rama, meaning “beloved”, “Pleasing”, “Charming”. The word rama is defined beautifully in Sri Chaitanya Caritamrita.
ramante yogino ’nante
“‘The Supreme Absolute Truth is called Rāma because the transcendentalists take pleasure in the unlimited true pleasure of spiritual existence.’
[Sri Chaitanya Caritamrita Madhya 9.29]
Therefore Balarama is the one who gives us Spiritual Strength to enjoy the Eternal Bliss of Krishna’s Devotional Service.
Srila Prabhupada mentions –
Balarāma, bala means strength and rāma means enjoyment. So Balarāma means who gives you spiritual strength for enjoying eternal blissful life, He is Balarāma.
[Srila Prabhupada Lecture - Rath Yatra - San Francisco - July 5, 1970]
He is also known as Baladeva, Balabhadra, Haladhara, Halayudha. The first two refer to the spiritual strength that comes from Him, the last two associate Him with Hala "plow". Balaram is also known as the “Farmer God” and “The God of Agriculture”.
Balarāma represents plowing the land for agriculture and therefore always carries in His hand a plow, whereas Kṛṣṇa tends cows and therefore carries a flute in His hand. Thus the two brothers represent kṛṣi-rakṣya and go-rakṣya
[Srimad Bhagavatam 10.5.20 Purport]
It is also very symbolic for devotees. Being the original guru-tattva or spiritual master (adi-guru) of everyone, Lord Balaram uses His plow to cultivate our heart which is like a barren land. We are so much engrossed in worldly activities, responsibilities, and material life that we have forgotten our eternal relation with Krishna. Thus our heart has become dry and barren. Because of this forgetful condition, every one of us is suffering. Because of this pathetic state of existence, out of compassion and desiring our welfare, Balaram plows our infertile heart with his plow and cultivates it. He then through his representatives or bonafide spiritual masters, sows the seed of Bhakti, unadulterated and pure love of Godhead, in our heart and waters it with his causeless mercy.
In the maha-mantra--Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare. Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare -- the word Rama refers also to Balarama. Since Balaram appeared as Lord Nityananda, Rama also refers to Lord Nityananda. Thus Hare Krsna, Hare Rama addresses not only Krsna and Balarama but Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda as well. In the purport to Sri Chaitanya Caritamrita Adi 5.132, Srila Prabhupada mentions –
yei yei rūpe jāne, sei tāhā kahe
sakala sambhave kṛṣṇe, kichu mithyā nahe
If someone calls Lord Rāmacandra by the vibration Hare Rāma, understanding it to mean “O Lord Rāmacandra!” he is quite right. Similarly, if one says that Hare Rāma means “O Śrī Balarāma!” he is also right. Those who are aware of the viṣṇu-tattva do not fight over all these details.
[Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita - Adi 5.132]
The Appearance and Pastimes of Balaram.
The Disappearance Pastimes of Krishna Balaram.
In the summary to 30th Chapter of 11th Canto Srimad Bhagavatam, it is mentioned -
After Śrī Uddhava left for Badarikāśrama, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, taking note of many bad omens, advised the Yādavas to abandon Dvārakā and go to Prabhāsa, on the bank of the Sarasvatī, to perform svasty-ayana and other rituals for counteracting bad fortune. They followed His advice and went to Prabhāsa. There they became absorbed in festivity, and by the illusory power of Lord Kṛṣṇa they became intoxicated from drinking liquor. Thus losing their intelligence, they quarreled among themselves and began killing one another, until not a man was left alive.
Srimad Bhagavatam 11.30.24 - 26:
The violent anger of these warriors, who were overcome by the brāhmaṇas’ curse and bewildered by Lord Kṛṣṇa’s illusory potency, now led them to their annihilation, just as a fire that starts in a bamboo grove destroys the entire forest.
When all the members of His own dynasty were thus destroyed, Lord Kṛṣṇa thought to Himself that at last the burden of the earth had been removed.
Lord Balarāma then sat down on the shore of the ocean and fixed Himself in meditation upon the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Merging Himself within Himself, He gave up this mortal world.
Seeing the disappearance of Baladeva, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa sat down silently upon the ground. Then a hunter named Jarā, mistaking the sole of the Lord’s left foot for a deer, pierced it with an arrow. The hunter immediately understood his mistake and, falling at the feet of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, begged to be punished. In reply, Lord Kṛṣṇa told the hunter that what he had done was actually according to His own desire. The Lord then sent the hunter to Vaikuṇṭha.
Srimad Bhagavatam 11.30. 39-40:
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear Jarā, do not fear. Please get up. What has been done is actually My own desire. With My permission, go now to the abode of the pious, the spiritual world.
So instructed by the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa, who assumes His transcendental body by His own will, the hunter circumambulated the Lord three times and bowed down to Him. Then the hunter departed in an airplane that had appeared just to carry him to the spiritual sky
When Dāruka, Kṛṣṇa’s charioteer, arrived on the scene and saw Lord Kṛṣṇa in that condition, he began to lament. Kṛṣṇa told him that he should go to Dvārakā, inform the residents about the annihilation of the Yadu dynasty, and advise them all to leave Dvārakā for Indraprastha. Dāruka obediently carried out this order. All the demigods who, in pursuance of the desire of Lord Kṛṣṇa, had taken birth in the Yadu dynasty to render assistance in His pastimes followed Lord Kṛṣṇa and returned to their respective abodes. The Lord’s activities of creating a life for Himself and then dismantling it are simply tricks of Māyā, like an actor’s performance. Actually, He creates the entire universe, and then He enters within it as the Supersoul. In the end, He again winds up the entire universe within Himself and, remaining in His private glory, desists from external pastimes.
Srimad Bhagavatam 11.31.6:
Without employing the mystic āgneyī meditation to burn up His transcendental body, which is the all-attractive resting place of all the worlds and the object of all contemplation and meditation, Lord Kṛṣṇa entered into His own abode.
Balaram Pranam Mantra.
Lord Balaram represents the service attitude to Lord Krishna.
Lord Balaram is considered the original spiritual master. Instructions of the bonafide spiritual master are the energy of Balaram.
The easiest way to approach Lord Krishna is to please Lord Balaram first.
Let us offer a prayer onto the Lotus feet of Balaram and seek His blessings for the steady progress in Krishna Consciousness.
namas te dharani-dhara
namas te balanam srestha
pralambare namas te ‘stu
ehi mam krsna-purvaja
Obeisances to You, O holder of the plow. Obeisances to You, O wielder of the mace. Obeisances to You, O darling of Revati. Obeisances to You, O kind benefactor of Your devotees.
Obeisances to You, O upholder of the earth. Obeisances to You, O best of the strong. Obeisances to You, O enemy of Pralamba. Please come to me, older brother of Krsna.
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