Who Is Balaram?

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
satyānande cid-ātmani
iti rāma-padenāsau
paraṁ brahmābhidhīyate

“‘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. 

In the earthly pastime, Balarama appeared as the 7th son of Vasudeva. The evil king Kamsa, Vasudeva's brother-in-law, was intent upon killing the children of his sister Devaki because of a prediction that he would die at the hands of her eighth child. Evil demon Kamsa had already killed the first six children of Devaki by smashing the newborns on a stone.



Srila Prabhupada mentions the appearance of Lord Balaram in the summary of Srimad Bhagavatam 10th Canto 2nd Chapter

After Kamsa killed the shad-garbhas, the six sons of Devaki, one after another, Anantadeva entered Devaki's womb and was transferred to the womb of Rohini by the manipulation of Yogamaya, who was following the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead … Following the orders of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Yogamaya transferred Baladeva, Sankarshana, the seventh child of Devaki, from the womb of Devaki to the womb of Rohini. Because Sankarshana appears in order to increase love of Krishna, He is known as Baladeva. One may take auspicious strength from Him to become a devotee of the Lord, and therefore He is also known as Balabhadra.

 

He appeared on Shravana Purnima or Raksha Bandhan. 

 

 

Balarama grew up with his younger brother Krishna in the household of the head of cowherds, Nanda Maharaj. 

 

 

Balarama and Krishna spent their childhood as a cow herder. This is also a very significant message for us.

Lord Balaram represents plowing the land for agriculture and therefore always carries a plow in His hand, whereas Krishna tends Cows and therefore carries a flute in His hand. Thus the two brothers represent krisi-raksha (protecting Bulls by engaging them in farming) and go-raksha (protecting the Cows).

[Srimad Bhagvatam 10.5.20 Purport]

 

 

 

Balarama had killed many demons like -  Dhenuka, an asura sent by Kamsa, as well as Pralamba, Mushtika wrestlers sent by the king, Balvala who was disturbing the sages of Naimisharanya and Dvivida – the gorilla. When Krishna was killing Kamsa, Balarama slew his mighty Senapati Kaalvakra. After the evil king - Kamsa died, Balarama and Krishna went to the ashrama of sage Sandipani at Ujjain for study. 

 

 

 

He married Revati, the daughter of King Kakudmi. He had two sons - Nishatha and Ulmuka.



Balarama as the original Guru-Tattva is seen as very merciful to the fallen souls. However, He is very much disturbed by arrogance. His intolerance to arrogance can be seen during His Pasitimes when he used his plow to bring Yamuna river closer to Vrindavan and pull the entire Hastinapura into the Ganges river.



Balaram was an excellent warrior in mace warfare (Gada Yuddh). He taught both Duryodhana of the Kauravas and Bhima of the Pandavas the art of fighting with a mace i.e Gada Yuddh . When war broke between the Kauravas and the Pandavas, both of them had also approached him to be part on their sides. Balarama cared for both sides and so remained neutral. He went for a pilgrimage with his nephew Pradyumna and other Yadavas during the war, and returned on the last day, to watch the fight between his disciples. When Bhima defeated Duryodhana by striking him in the thigh with his mace, Balarama threatened to kill Bhima. This was prevented when Krishna reminded Balarama of the vow of Bhima—to kill Duryodhana by crushing the thigh he had exposed to Bhima's wife Draupadi.

 

 

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.

namaste halagraha
namaste musalayudha
namaste revati-kanta
namaste bhakta-vatsala

 

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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2 thoughts on “Who Is Balaram?

  1. Hare Krishna Deblina Mataji
    Pamho
    Excellent article on Balaram Ji.

    I have to give a class on Balaram Ji and was searching for some points. Your article has more than everything that I needed.

    I liked the fact that you have based your entire article on the sastras.

    Thanking you again
    Yhs
    KPDD

  2. Hare Krishna mataji
    Pamho
    This article gives many sastric references for the vast information provided.
    You have also brought out differences and similarities betweem Lord Krishna and Lord Balaram very nicely.
    Very useful.

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