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Who is Lord Balarama?

The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, is the fountainhead of all
incarnations. Lord Balarama is His second body. They are both one and the
same identity. They differ only in form. Balarama is the first bodily
expansion of Krishna, and He assists in Lord Krishna's transcendental
pastimes. He is the source of the entire spiritual world and is the adi-
guru, the original spiritual master.

He assumes five other forms to serve Lord Krishna. He Himself helps in the
pastimes of Lord Krishna, and He does the work of creation in four other
forms called the catur-vyuha (four armed) forms known as Vasudeva,
Sankarshana, Pradyumna and Anirudha. He executes the orders of Lord Krishna
in the work of creation, and in the form of Lord Sesa He serves Sri Krishna
in various ways. In all the forms He tastes the transcendental bliss of
serving Krishna. No one can approach Krishna without first getting the
mercy of Baladeva.

Descent of Balarama
****************
Whenever Krishna appears in the material world, He is accompanied by His
associates and paraphernalia. Five thousand years ago when Krishna
descended into the material world, He was first preceded by Baladeva. Only
after Baladeva give His mercy did Krishna descend, such is the intimate
relationship between Krishna and Baladeva.

When Baladeva appeared as the seventh child in the womb of Devaki, she
could understand that this was a divine child and this made her all the
more concerned about His safety. Even Kamsa could sense His potency and he
became fearful, thinking he may have been tricked by the prophecy that he
will be slain only by the eight child of Devaki. At this time Krishna
instructed Yogamaya, His internal potency, to transfer the unborn child
from the womb of Devaki to that of Rohini, one of the other wives of
Vasudeva, who was hiding from Kamsa in the house of Nanda Maharaja in
Gokul.

In this way Balarama was born in Gokul under the protection of Nanda
Maharaja. Garga Muni the venerable kulguru (family priest) of the Yadu
dynasty revealed to Rohini that the child she was carrying was indeed that
of her husband Vasudeva. At the time of the name-giving ceremony he named
the child Rama, one who gives all pleasures. Referring to the immense
strength of the child, Garga Muni predicted that He will also be known as
Balarama (bala meaning strength). Since He was forcibly attracted from the
womb of Devaki to that of Rohini, He was also be called Sankarshana. As the
son of Rohini He was known as Rohini-nandan and as the elder brother of
Krishna He was also called Douji.

The form of Lord Balarama
********************
Powerful Lord Balarama is sixteen years old, full of the luster of youth
and has a fair complexion the color of crystal. He wears blue garments and
a garland of forest flowers. His handsome hair is tied in a graceful
topknot. Splendid earrings adorn His ears and His neck is splendidly
decorated with garlands of flowers and strings of jewels. Splendid armlets
and bracelets ornament Douji's graceful and very strong arms and His feet
are decorated with splendid jeweled anklets.

Lord Balarama's beauty is enhanced by the earrings touching His cheeks. His
face is decorated with tilaka made from musk, and His broad chest is
ornamented with a garland of gunja. Balarama’s voice is very grave and His
arms are very long, touching His thighs

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, He never leaves Krishna alone in the forest even for a moment.
Balarama is Sri Krishna's dearest friend and is a great reservoir of the
nectar mellows of many kinds of transcendental pastimes.

Specific Pastimes of Lord Balarama
Balarama slays Dhenukasura
*********************
Dhenukasura was a powerful demon who had assumed the form of an ass. With
his demon friends he was occupying Talavana, one of the twelve forests of
Vrindavana. Out of fear of these demons no one could approach Talavana and
enjoy the numerous flowers and fruits in the forest. Balarama, induced by
His cowherd friends, entered the forest desiring to kill the demons. He
began shaking the fruit trees, making a big noise. Dhenuka, furious at the
intrusion, attacked Balarama with his rear legs, but Balarama easily picked
him up by his legs and whirled him around until he died. As the other demon
friends of Dhenuka rushed to attack, Krishna and Balarama picked them up
and threw them on trees, killing them. Soon the forest was free of all
demons, and it appeared that the bent trees were being directed by Balarama
to pay obeisances to Krishna.

Balarama kills Pralambasura
********************
Once when Krishna and Balarama were playing with the cowherd boys, a demon
named Pralamba entered their midst, disguised as a cowherd boy.
Understanding the invincible potency of Krishna, he instead decided to
abduct Balarama. At the end of the game, as the losing party he was
supposed to carry Balarama on his shoulders. Carrying the Lord on his
shoulders he ran swiftly, but Balarama realizing the true identity of demon
began to make himself heavier and heavier. Unable to bear the weight, the
demon assumed his original form which was like a huge dark effulgent cloud,
decorated with golden ornaments. Balarama then bought His fist down the
head of the demon splitting it into two and causing him to give up his
life.

Balarama glorified by Krishna
**********************
As the elder brother of Krishna, Balarama was the object of His love and
respect. Once when walking in the forest of Vrindavana, Krishna observed
the trees bending down as if paying obeisances. He glorified the lotus feet
of Balarama as being the object of devotion even for the demigods. He said
that the trees, which were impersonalists in previous life times,
witnessing the personal form of Balarama were now praying for His devotion.
At other times when Balarama would get tired by playing, He would lie down
the lap of one of the cowherd boys and Krishna would personally massage His
feet, fan Him and give Him service. Such was the sweet reciprocation of
love between Krishna and Balarama.

Yamuna devi chastised
******************
Once Lord Balarama, Who was at the time living in Dwarka, came back to stay
in Vrindavana for two months. At this time He enjoyed pastimes with His
gopi friends (who were different from the gopis of Krishna). Enjoying such
pastimes on the bank of Yamuna at Rama-ghata, the Lord summoned Yamuna so
that He could sport in the waters. When Yamuna devi did not respond. Lord
Balarama took up His favorite weapon, His plow, and began to drag Yamuna in
a hundred streams. Understanding the position of Balarama, Yamuna devi
personally appeared and offered her obeisances to the Lord with many
prayers in His glorification. Thus appeased the Lord entered and bathed in
the waters of the river.

Kauravas chastised
***************
Samba, the darling son of Jambavati and Krishna, kidnapped Laksmana the
daughter of Duryodhana from the assembly were she was supposed to choose
her husband. The furious Kauravas after a prolonged fight, finally arrested
Samba by sending in six of their greatest warriors. When the Yadavas heard
of this they prepared for battle but Lord Balarama pacified them,
preferring to find a peaceful solution. However when He requested the
Kauravas to return Samba and Laksmana, the Kauravas responded by insulting
Him and the Yadava dynasty. Understanding them to be ignorant in their
false prestige, Balarama took His plow and began to drag Hastinapura into
the Ganges. The terrified Kauravas now surrendered to the lotus feet of
Balarama, begging for His mercy. They immediately returned Samba and
Laksmana and had them married ceremoniously with many opulent gifts.

Balarama marries Revati
******************
In Satya yuga there was a King named Raivata whose daughter Revati was
excellent in all respects. Unable to find a match suitable for her, the
king took her to the court of Brahma for his advise. After waiting for some
time when the king met with Brahma, he was shocked to learn that in the
short time he spent in the Brahmaloka, millions of years had already passed
on Earth and at the time Dvapara yuga was concluding. However Lord Brahma
informed King Raivata that present at this time was Lord Balarama Who was
more than qualified to be the husband of Revati.

King Raivata returned and approached Balarama to accept Revati as His wife.
However Revati belonged to an earlier yuga when people were much larger
physically. So Lord Balarama placed His plow on her head until she shrunk
to an appropriate size and accepted her as His wife.

Balarama and Mahabharata
*********************
In general Balarama was equally affectionate to both the Pandavas and the
Kauravas. He accepted both Duryodhana and Bhima as His disciples in the art
of mace-war. As a teacher He appreciated the superior technique of
Duryodhana as opposed to the raw strength of Bhima. At the time of
Mahabharata, He refused to take sides and instead went on an extended
pilgrimage to the holy places. In the battle between Bhima and Duryodhana,
He became angry at Bhima for killing Duryodhana by trickery, but was
appeased by Sri Krishna.

Killing of Romaharshana
******************
Towards the end of Dvapara yuga thousands of sages assembled on the banks
of Naimyasharana to perform a thousand year yajna in an effort to reverse
the onset of Kali yuga. They appointed as their leader Romaharshana, one of
the main disciple of Vyasadeva, who was also present when Sukadeva Goswami
narrated Srimad Bhagavatam to King Parikshit.

When Lord Balarama entered the assembly, understanding Him to be the
Supreme Personality of Godhead, all present rose to offer Him respect.
However Romaharshana, proud at occupying the position of the leader did not
get up. Lord Balarama could understand that even though Romaharshana was a
an expert Vedantist, he had not yet realized these teachings. Considering
him unqualified to lead the ceremony, Balarama touched him with a blade of
grass causing him to die. He then instituted Suta, the son of Romaharshana
as the leader of the assembly and continued with His pilgrimage.

Mercy of Lord Balarama
******************
Lord Balarama exemplifies the service attitude to Krishna. His only mission
is to please Krishna by rendering service to Him, whether it is in the
creation of the material worlds, maintaining the spiritual world or as His
personal paraphernalia.

Lord Balarama is the eternal companion of Sri Krishna. He came as Lakshmana
with Rama and later as Nityananda Prabhu with Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He is
the original spiritual master, and any one desiring to make spiritual
progress must first get the mercy of Lord Balarama.

All glories to Lord Balarama !!
Reference : Srimad Bhagavatam, Tenth Canto.

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