BalarAma, is the embodiment of Strength. Like parashurAma carried an Axe, BalarAma always carried a plough.
It is said that, Adisesha , or Ananta the serpent, on whom Paramapurusha rests was born as BalarAma. Still he is considered to be one of viShNu’s Avataram, because, in GItA BhagvAn says, In snakes I am Adisesha. Hence, BalarAma is the 8th AvatAram.
His birth is a well known part of the KriShNa AvatAra story. Once Lord NArAyana said to Adisesha, “Ananta during my RAma incarnation you were born as my younger brother Lakshmana and served me devotedly. I am pleased with it. In another incarnation I will be born as your younger brother and would like to serve you – even adore you.” In the mean time what happened was, those rAkshasas who died at the hands of RAma during his war with RAvana, were born in DwApara Yuga as Kshatrias, became extraordinarily powerful due to excessive prosperity, became uncontrollable, atrocious and ruthless necessitating the intervention of the Lord. ShrImAn NArAyana now desired Ananta to be born as the son of VAsudeva as His elder brother so that he may be helpful to him in HIS work during his incarnation as KriShNa subsequently.
BalarAma was conceived by Devaki. This was her seventh pregnancy. The foetus grew in Devaki’s womb for six months. Then MahA viShNu directed HIS Yoga mAya, and instructed her to pull the foetus out of Devaki and place it in the womb of Yashoda in Gokulam. As he was pulled out of the womb he is called, Sankarshanan. He is also called, Halayudha as he always carried a plough. KriShNa and BalarAma were the sweethearts of all the people in Gokulam. The Gopikas were none other than the Rishis from TretA Yugam. They all missed RAma so much that they requested to be born again in DwApara Yugam as Gopika stris and enjoy BhagvAn to their hearts content.
He killed, Asuras such as Pralambhasura, Denukasura, Mushtika etc. At the right age, BalarAma was sent to Gurukulam with KriShNa. Where they both learnt all that had to be learnt in just 64 days. (we have to note here that KriShNa AvatAr was only for 120 years. As against RAma who lived for more than 11000 years. So everything has to be done at a faster pace.)
There is not much to be listed as Leela for BalarAma as the purpose of this AvatAram was majorly to support KriShNa. But there are of course a few interesting things to share.
- BalarAma’s marriage – He was married to the daughter of king Raivatha. Her name was Revathy. King Raivatha, was so proud about his daughter that he took her to BrahmA lokam in search of a good groom for her. He was not very satisfied with the ones available on earth at that time. When he landed in BrahmA lokam, BrahmA was listening to a musical performance by the GandharvAs, so they waited patiently until the performance was finished. Then, Raivatha humbly paid his respects to BrahmA and revealed the purpose of his visit. BrahmA laughed loudly, and explained that time runs differently on different planes of existence, and that during the short time they had waited in BrahmA-lokam to see him, 27 chatur-yugams (a cycle of four yugams, totalling 108 yugAs, or Ages of Man) had passed on earth. All the kings ministers, friends, his wives, country men have all long gone. Saying this lord BramhA, added that viShNu, the preserver, was currently incarnate on earth in the forms of KriShNa and BalarAma, and he recommended BalarAma as a worthy husband for Revati. After this Raivatha and Revathy returned to earth, found BalarAma and proposed for the wedding. BalarAma accepted and they both got married. An interesting note found here is that, as Revathy was from a different time period, she was much much taller than BalarAma. That he had to actually put his plough around her neck and pull her downwards to shorten her.
- Once King Rukmi and BalarAma were playing at a game of dice. Rukmi played a fraudulent game. BalarAma could not tolerate this and so killed Rukmi.
- Samba was KriShNa’s son. He fell in love with Duryodhana’s daughter LakshmanA. Naturally Duryodhana didn’t approve. He imprisoned Samba. BalarAma learned about this and went to meet Duryodhana. He explained to him that, what Samba has done is not a crime. It only fits a Kshatriya. And that it was only fair that Duryodhana allowed this wedding. A stubborn Duryodhana, refused to understand and insulted BalarAma. When BalarAma could no longer control his anger, he went straight out of the palace did feel into the earth with his plough, and started dragging HASTINAPUR city towards river Ganga. Terrified at this Duryodhana quietly released Samba and his daughter too.
- BalarAma was a great drunkard. Once as he was drunk he ordered river Yamuna to change course and come closer to him. Yamuna denied saying it was not her nature to change course. An angry BalarAma, using his mighty plough, pulled yamunA close to him. Such was his strength. Even today, we can see yamunA’s course changed in a place called RAm Ghat in Brindavan. When you travel from Mathura to Delhi within 20 – 25 kms, this place called RAmghAt comes. There you can find YamunA’s changed course.
- BalarAma is the representative of our atma. When we learn his AvatAra story, we should realize the strength of our atma. How immensely powerful it is. And use this strength to keep away from unwanted distractions and useless noise. And divert the time and energy towards realising Bramham.
- In the mighty Kurukshetra war BalarAma refused to take sides and went away on a pilgrimage. Because he regarded both BhIma and Duryodhana equally.
- At the end he was in a hurry to go back to Vaikunta and wait for BhagvAn viShNu to come and rest on his curls. So he laid flat on the sands of PrabhAsa tIrtha. And as KriShNa was watching from a distance, a thousand headed Serpent came out of BalarAma’s mouth and travelled towards Vaikunta.
BalarAma and KriShNa were like one soul in two bodies literally.
Temples Of Balaram Avatar