Sri Baladeva Avatara

BY: SUN STAFF - 22.9 2020

Lord Balarama

From "Dasavatara - The Ten Manifestations of God" by Swami B.B. Tirtha.

Sri Baladeva Prabhu is the eighth avatara of the Dasavatara. In his commentary on Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya-lila 20.245, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada has written on the topic of twenty-five lila-avataras. Among them, Balarama, the slayer of the demon Pralamba, is the twenty-second lila-avatara.

People who practice other religious faiths often consider the followers of sanatana-dharma to be polytheists, mistakenly believing that they worship many gods. But the truth is that this misunderstanding arises due to their inability to understand the purport of the esoteric principles of sanatana-dharma. The followers of sanatana-dharma have never claimed that there are many supreme lords. The Supreme Lord is infinite and complete. As such, He can never be two, three, four or a thousand.

To consider something to be outside of the Infinite would imply the loss of the infinity of the Infinite and completeness of the Complete. Therefore the Complete and Infinite Power Almighty can be only one in number-'ekamevadvitiyam'.

The all-powerful Supreme Lord possesses infinite opulences. There may be many small gods dependent upon the Supreme Lord, but the Supreme Lord Himself is never many-He is one. The wise should very carefully consider whether or not persons who have the capacity to observe the manifestations of the various opulences of the Supreme Lord (the spiritual energy, marginal energy, material energy and other energies), should be considered to be more advanced and competent than those who cannot. In a rudimentary sense, the whole earth is constituted of 'dirt' and one could say that this statement constitutes knowledge of some kind. However, those who are able to analyse and acutely observe this 'dirt' perceive definable characteristics and qualities and are therefore thought of as 'scientists'.

Similarly, 'spiritual scientists' can perceive the infinite opulences of the Supreme Lord. This type of perception is the king of all knowledge. It should not be misconstrued that such persons are polytheists or that they promote the concept of many simultaneous supreme beings. The Supreme Lord, although being one, can perform pastimes or spiritual activities in an infinite variety of forms. If someone should say that He cannot do so, then it will be meaningless to call Him the 'Supreme Lord' or the 'All-Powerful One'. The Supreme Lord, although being one, exhibits differences according to His pastimes. He is known as Vishnu, 'ya idam visvam vyapnoti iti vishnu'. Vishnu is the complete substance. Demigods and demigoddesses, being expansions of His energies, are His subordinates and are not Vishnu. There is no duality in Vishnu-tattva. However, there are differences in pastimes. The king in the court and the king in the harem are not two different kings. He can be seen at two places in two different manifestations. In his court he displays his majestic nature and in his chambers he displays his intimate nature. Similarly, the Supreme Lord performs infinite pastimes in infinite forms. He is Sri Narayana in His majestic aspect, Sri Ramacandra in His ethical aspect, Sri Krishna in His sweet amorous aspect, and Gaurasundara Sri Hari in His most munificent aspect. The mood of repulsiveness (bibhatsa-rasa) has been manifested in Lord Matsya. Fearsomeness (bhayanaka-rasa) and parental affection (vatsalya-rasa) have been manifested in Lord Nrisimha. Therefore, Matsya and other avataras display differences in pastimes. All twelve rasas (five main and seven secondary mellows or moods) are manifested in their complete form only in Sri Nandanandana Krishna. So, even though all the manifestations of the Supreme Being are one, the excellence of rasa is only fully realised in the original form of Nandanandana Sri Krishna.

siddhanta tastvabhede 'pi
srisa krishna svarupayoh
rasenotkrishyate krishna
rupamesha rasasthitih
(Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu 2.32)

"In principle, there is no difference between the forms of Krishna and Narayana. Still, owing to the superior nature of sringara or madhurya rasa (conjugal mellows), Sri Krishna's form exhibits excellence. Such is the orderly foundation of rasa."

Sri Krishna Dvaipayana Vedavyasa Muni has mentioned twenty-two avataras in the 3rd Chapter of the 1st Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam. There, he writes as follows:

ekonavimse vimsatime
vrishnishu prapya janmani
rama-krishnav iti bhuvo
bhagavan aharad bharam
(Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.23)

"In the nineteenth and twentieth avataras, the Lord removed the burden of the world by His advent in the two forms of Rama and Krishna in the Yadu Dynasty."

In this context, after giving careful consideration to the innumerable avataras, and ultimately to serve as a proclamation of the exalted pre-eminence of Krishna, it is stated as follows:

ete camsa-kalah pumsah
krishnas tu bhagavan svayam
indrari-vyakulam lokam
mridayanti yuge yuge
(Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.28)

"All of the above-mentioned avataras are either plenary portions [1] (amsa) or portions of the plenary portions (kala) of the Lord. All of Them appear millennium after millennium to protect the planets from disturbances created by the demons. But They are not equal to Krishna as He is the Supreme Lord Himself."

Here, the idea of portions and portions of the portions has been put forth due to the sequential manifestation of rasas. Nandanandana Krishna manifests all rasas so therefore He is 'svayam bhagavan' or the Primeval Lord, the source of all avataras and amsa-avataras.

yanra bhagavatta haite anyera bhagavatta
'svayam-bhagavan'-sabdera tahatei satta
(Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi 2.88)

"Only the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the source of all other Divinities, is eligible to be designated 'svayam bhagavan'-the Original Supreme Lord."

Here, Srila Kaviraja Gosvami has expressed the difference between anuvada (subject) and vidheya (predicate). That which is known is called anuvada and that which is unknown is called vidheya:

taiche inha avatara saba haila jnata
kara avatara?-ei vastu avijnata

'ete'-sabde avatarera age anuvada
'purushera amsa' pache vidheya-samvada

taiche krishna avatara-bhitare haila jnata
tanhara visesha-jnana sei avijnata

ataeva 'krishna'-sabda age anuvada
'svayam-bhagavatta' piche vidheya-samvada
(Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi 2.79-82)

"In the same way, all these avataras were known, but whose avataras They were was unknown. First the word 'ete' ('these') establishes the subject (the avataras). Then 'plenary portions of the purusha-avataras' follows as the predicate. In the same way, when Krishna was first counted among the avataras, specific knowledge about Him was still unknown. Therefore, first the word 'krishna' appears as the subject, followed by the predicate, describing Him as the Original Personality of Godhead."

Supreme Godhead (the Prime Cause of all causes) Sri Krishna's first expansion, Sri Baladeva-the original Sankarshana (Mula-Sankarshana), has the form of a cowherd boy in Vraja and that of a kshatriya in Puri (Dvarakapuri). Sankarshana of the first catur-vyuha (quadruple expansion) in Dvaraka is an amsa-avatara of Mula-Sankarshana (cowherd Baladeva). Sankarshana, who is in the second catur-vyuha of Narayana in Vaikuntha, is Maha-Sankarshana-an amsa-avatara of Mula-Sankarshana in the form of a kshatriya belonging to the first catur-vyuha in Dvaraka. Karanodakasayi Maha-Vishnu, the first purusha-avatara, is the amsa-avatara of Maha-Sankarshana and the Supersoul of Maya-Prakriti [2]. Karanodakasayi Maha-Vishnu's expansion as Garbhodakasayi Vishnu-the second purusha-avatara (Pradyumna), enters into all the universes.

Garbhodakasayi Vishnu's expanded form is the third purusha-avatara-Sri Kshirodakasayi Vishnu in the form of Aniruddha who is the indwelling Supersoul of the individual universes, as well as the individual living beings. It is Sri Kshirodakasayi Vishnu, who, upon being prayed to by the demigods, appears millennium after millennium to annihilate the miscreants, to deliver the pious and to re-establish the principles of religion. Sri Kshirodakasayi Vishnu's expanded form (amsa-avatara) is Sesha-Anantadeva. In his explanation of Nityananda-tattva, Sri Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami has explained Sri Baladeva-tattva in this way. Sri Baladeva is non-different from Nityananda-tattva:

sankarshanah karana-toya-sayi
garbhoda-sayi ca payobdhi-sayi
seshas ca yasyamsa-kalah sa nitya-
nandakhya-ramah saranam mamastu
(Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi 1.7 & 5.7)

"May Sri Nityananda Rama be the object of my constant remembrance. Sankarshana, Sesha-Naga, Karanodakasayi Vishnu, Garbhodakasayi Vishnu and Kshirodakasayi Vishnu are His plenary portions and the portions of His plenary portions."

In his explanation of Sri Govinda-tattva, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada identifies Sri Baladeva as the vaibhava-rupa (pastime form) of Lord Govinda. 'Gah vindati iti govindah'-the word 'go' has several meanings including knowledge, senses, earth, cow and others. Sri Govinda manifests in five forms:

1. svarupa or svayam-rupa: the original form.
2. para-svarupa: the Narayana form.
3. vaibhava-rupa: the pastime form.
4. antaryami-rupa: the Indwelling Supersoul.
5. arca-rupa: the Deity form.

The svarupa or svayam-rupa, Vrajendranandana Govinda is the Cause of all causes.

isvarah paramah krishnah
anadir adir govindah
(Brahma-samhita 5.1)

The para-svarupa or para-tattva-svarupa is understood to be Sri Vishnu-Narayana, the Lord of the paravyoma (the transcendental spiritual sky) and Vaikuntha.

Sri Baladeva Prabhu, the original Narayana, is the vaibhava-prakasa of Govinda. He is the original cause of all emanations. The propagating prime cause of individuality or the all-pervading function-holder of the Personal Godhead is also Baladeva-He is svayam-prakasa. Sri Baladeva's color is white, different from that of Krishna. He carries a buffalo horn, which produces a louder sound than the flute of Krishna. Therefore He is known as Singadhrik (horn-holder). Sri Baladeva possesses qualities like Krishna. He is the fountainhead or prime source of the all-embracing, all-pervading and all-extending energy. The actual meaning of these definitions cannot be understood completely by using limited mundane terminology. Vibhu and Prabhu are interdependent. The one who is manifested as vaibhava-prakasa is Vibhu (the opulent manifested form), and the Divinity from whom He is manifested is Prabhu. There exists inconceivable non-distinction and distinction between Vibhu and Prabhu. Prabhu is Vasudeva and Vibhu is Sankarshana. Vibhu and Prabhu's oneness aspect-the third manifestation, is Pradyumna. Similarly, Their fourth manifestation is in the form of Aniruddha. These four constitute the original catur-vyuha in Dvaraka and are the origin of all other catur-vyuhas. Their second manifestation is the second catur-vyuha in the paravyoma or Vaikuntha. They are also pure and turiya (transcendental) like the original catur-vyuha. Baladeva, who is Sri Krishna's vilasa form, is the Original Sankarshana. In the paravyoma or spiritual sky, Maha-Sankarshana is the svarupa-amsa-Balarama's own amsa-avatara. He is the source of the first purusha-avatara, Karanarnavasayi Maha-Vishnu. He (Baladeva or His manifestation, Karanarnavasayi Maha-Vishnu) is the cause of Rama, Nrisimha and other avataras, as well as Goloka and Vaikuntha, and is also the cause of the cosmos. All of the above-mentioned five forms of Vishnu are of the same nature. Any number of lamps can be lit from the original lamp, and they will all be capable of burning all things. Similarly, the original lamp is svayam-rupa Sri Krishna and there is no difference in tattva (essence) ontologically between the second, third, fourth and fifth Vishnu Deity or between one form and another of Vishnu. There is only difference in the characteristics of Their pastimes. (The explanation of 'Sri Govinda'-The compilation of lectures of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada: 2nd Vol.)

Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, while introducing the avataras of avatari (the fountainhead of avataras) Sri Krishna, writes in the 20th Chapter of the Madhya-lila of Sri Caitanya-caritamrita as follows: Sri Krishna's three different forms are:

1. svayam-rupa: the original form
2. tadekatma-rupa: the same form, non-different from svayam-rupa but with different bodily features and specific activities
3. avesa-rupa: an empowered form

Again, svayam-rupa is of two types:

1. svayam-rupa
2. svayam-prakasa

'svayamrupe-eka krishna vraje gopamurti'

Again, svayam-prakasa is of two types:

1. prabhava
2. vaibhava

sei vapu, sei akriti prithak yadi bhase
bhavavesa-bhede nama 'vaibhava-prakase'
(Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 20.171)

"If one form or feature is differently manifested according to a different mode of features, it is called 'vaibhava-prakasa'. "

vaibhava-prakasa krishnera-sri-balarama
varna-matra-bheda, saba-krishnera samana
(Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 20.174)

"The first manifestation of the vaibhava feature of Krishna is Sri Balarama. Sri Balarama and Krishna have different complexions, otherwise Sri Balarama is equal to Krishna in all respects."

In the 5th Chapter of the Adi-lila of Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Nityananda-tattva is explained as follows:

sarva-avatari krishna svayam bhagavan
tanhara dvitiya deha sri-balarama

eka-i svarupa donhe, bhinna-matra kaya
adya kaya-vyuha, krishna-lilara sahaya

sei krishna-navadvipe sri-caitanya-candra
sei balarama-sange sri-nityananda
(Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi 5.4-6)

"The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, is the fountainhead of all avataras. Lord Balarama is His second form. These two are one and the same identity. They differ only in form. Lord Balarama is the first expansion of Krishna and He assists in Lord Krishna's transcendental pastimes. That original Lord Krishna appears in Navadvipa as Lord Caitanya, and Balarama appears with Him as Lord Nityananda."

sri-balarama gosani mula-sankarshana
panca-rupa dhari' karena krishnera sevana

apane karena krishna-lilara sahaya
srishti-lila-karya kare dhari' cari kaya

srishty-adika seva, tanra ajnara palana
'sesha'-rupe kare krishnera vividha sevana

sarva-rupe asvadaye krishna-sevananda
sei balarama-gaura-sange nityananda (Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi 5.8-11)

"Lord Balarama is the Original Sankarshana. He assumes five other forms to serve Lord Krishna. He Himself helps in the pastimes of Lord Krishna and does the work of creation in four other forms. He executes the orders of Lord Krishna in the work of creation and in the form of Lord Sesha, serves Krishna in various ways. In all the forms, He tastes the transcendental bliss of serving Krishna. That same Balarama is Lord Nityananda, the companion of Lord Gaurasundara."

Sri Balarama, who is the Deity of the sandhini potency, serves Krishna in His five forms of Maha-Sankarshana, Karanodakasayi, Garbhodakasayi, Kshirodakasayi, and Sesha. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has written as follows in the Amrita-pravaha Bhashya (commentary) of Sri Caitanya-caritamrita:

Balarama, who is one of the first four expanded forms of Krishna in Dvaraka, can be called the Original Sankarshana. He is Maha-Sankarshana in the second manifested expanded four forms of Narayana in Vaikuntha. He serves Krishna by taking the form of Maha-Sankarshana and four other amsamsa-avataras-Karanabdhisayi, Garbhodasayi, Kshirodakasayi and Sesha. He Himself, while assisting in the pastimes of Krishna with the four forms of Maha-Sankarshana, Karanodakasayi, Garbhodakasayi, and Kshirodakasayi, also performs the work of creation. Sesha, who is also known as Ananta, performs various types of service to Krishna. In this way, Balarama tastes the divine nectar of the service of Krishna by accepting all these forms:

sei ta' 'ananta' 'sesha'-bhakta-avatara
isvarera seva vina nahi jane ara

sahasra-vadane kare krishna-guna gana
niravadhi guna ga'na, anta nahi pa'na

sanakadi bhagavata sune yanra mukhe
bhagavanera guna kahe, bhase prema-sukhe

chatra, paduka, sayya, upadhana, vasana
arama, avasa, yajna-sutra, simhasana

eta murti-bheda kari' krishna-seva kare
krishnera seshata pana 'sesha' nama dhare
(Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi 5.120-124)

"That Ananta-Sesha is the devotee avatara of Godhead. He knows nothing but the service of Lord Krishna. With His thousands of mouths He sings the glories of Lord Krishna, but although He always sings in this way, He does not find an end to the qualities of the Lord. The four Kumaras (Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana and Sanat) hear Srimad-Bhagavatam from His lips, and they in turn repeat the glories of the Lord, to be immersed in the ocean of transcendental bliss of love of God. Ananta-Sesha serves Lord Krishna by assuming the forms of the Lord's umbrella, slippers, bedding, pillow, garments, easy chair, residence, sacred thread and throne. He is thus called Lord Sesha, as He is the last manifested form of Krishna to serve Him. He takes various forms for the service of Krishna."

While referring to Baladeva Vidyabhushana's explanation of Laghu-Bhagavatamrita, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada (in his Anubhashya commentary) has written as follows:

The Sesha who is the supporter-potency (adhara-sakti) of the bedstead of Vishnu (wielder of the Sarnga bow), is in the category of God (Vishnu-tattva). The Sesha who is the bearer of the planets, is of the category of saktyavista jiva-tattva. The Sankarshana of the second catur-vyuha appears as Rama, taking with Him Sesha who bears the global spheres. There are two features of Sesha-one is He who supports the planetary systems on His hoods, and the other is He who is the bedstead servitor.

The Sesha who supports the planetary systems is an avesa-avatara (absorption-avatara) of Krishna (or Sankarshana), and is therefore also known as Sankarshana. The bedstead feature of Sesha always considers Himself to be an eternal servitor and friend of Lord Sarngadhara (wielder of the Sarnga bow).

Sri Krishna Himself performs His own service in His form of Baladeva. Therefore Sri Baladeva is the original spiritual master. By the mercy of Baladeva, one obtains the service of Sri Krishna. Gurudeva is non-different from Baladeva and Nityananda. The only difference between Gurudeva and Baladeva is that Gurudeva is sakti-tattva while Sri Baladeva is omnipotent Vishnu-tattva, the possessor of all opulences. Tulasi can be offered to the lotus feet of Sri Baladeva, but since Gurudeva is sakti-tattva, Tulasi cannot be offered to his lotus feet.

In the 3rd Volume of 'The Sayings of Srila Prabhupada', Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada expresses the following thoughts in relation to Sri Baladeva: "In the sruti (Mundaka Upanishad 3.2.4) it is said: 'nayamatma balahinena labhyah'-'Without the grace of Baladeva, no one can get God'. There can be no auspiciousness or eternal bliss without taking shelter of the lotus feet of Sri Gurudeva. Sri Baladeva serves Krishna with His body, mind and words. We can be benefited only by His mercy. When we argue with our gurudeva, when we try to rectify or correct gurudeva with our mundane knowledge or try to imitate him artificially without actually following him, then we are following the path of asrauta (not listening to or hearing the authentic scriptures descending through the bona-fide preceptorial channel) or tarka (argument) instead of the path of srauta (the following of or listening to scriptures). Only when we give up all such evil-minded tendencies and surrender unto his lotus feet, will following the path of hearing bring auspiciousness to us." The 10th Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam describes the appearance pastime of Sri Baladeva:

Suffering from the burden of the demons, Mother Earth took shelter of the creator demigod, Brahma. Brahma and the demigods then went to the shore of the Ocean of Milk and prayed to Vishnu. In a state of self-absorbed meditation, Brahma heard a divine voice from the sky, which said that Vishnu would soon appear to reduce the burden of the earth.

Brahma then informed the demigods of the oracle and ordered them to take birth along with their wives, in the dynasty of the Yadus and the family of the Pandavas, for the service of the Supreme Lord.

When Vasudeva married Devaki, Kamsa, out of affection for his sister, was driving their chariot. At that time, a heavenly voice rang out saying that Devaki's eighth child would kill Kamsa. Upon hearing that heavenly voice, Kamsa jumped up immediately and prepared to kill Devaki. Even after trying to convince him in many ways, Vasudeva was unable to stop Kamsa from carrying out this heinous act. Vasudeva then took an oath before Kamsa that whenever he and his wife would have a child, he would surrender it to Kamsa. Kamsa thought that the saintly Vasudeva would surely keep his word, and therefore with firm confidence, Kamsa desisted from the killing of his sister.

In due course of time, upon the birth of the first child of Devaki, Vasudeva took his son and went to Kamsa. He handed over his first child to Kamsa as he had promised. At that time Kamsa returned Vasudeva's first son to him, but later heard from Narada about the true forms of the residents of Vraja and the Yadavas, about his own previous birth and whether the eighth pregnancy would be counted from the beginning or the end. When Kamsa heard such a suspicious statement, he became thoughtful. He then shackled Vasudeva and Devaki in prison and killed the six children of Devaki one after the other. He also imprisoned his father, Ugrasena, and began to oppose the Yadavas. After being harassed by Jarasandha, Aghasura, Bakasura and other demons, the Yadavas fled to different states.

When Sri Baladeva appeared as the seventh pregnancy of Devaki, Yogamaya, as per the Supreme Lord's instruction, attracted the seventh pregnancy of Devaki without anyone's knowledge and placed Him in the womb of Rohini, Vasudeva's second wife in Gokula. Since He was attracted from the womb of Devaki by Yogamaya and placed in the womb of Rohini, He is therefore known by the names of Rohini-nandana and Sankarshana. Because of giving pleasure to the residents of Gokula He became famous as Rama, and also became known as Balabhadra due to possessing extraordinary strength.

The citizens of Mathura lamented, thinking that Devaki's pregnancy had been destroyed. Lord Krishna appeared on the 8th day of the dark fortnight of the month of Bhadra (conjoined with the Rohini-nakshatra) after the appearance of the Presiding Deity of the sandhini potency, Baladeva Prabhu. Baladeva's appearance day is the full moon day of the month of Bhadra. He appeared as the elder brother for the comprehensive service of Sri Krishna. In the pastimes of Rama, He appeared as the younger brother Lakshmana, and was therefore unable to perform the thorough service of Sri Ramacandra. In the pastimes of Krishna, this is why He appeared as the elder brother. Nanda Maharaja and Yasoda Devi also entrusted only Balarama with the responsibility of looking after the child, Gopala. While Krishna wandered in the forest along with His friends, Balarama was always engaged in His service. After killing Aghasura, Krishna was taking lunch with the cowherd boys on the banks of a lake. At that time, Brahma, wanting to test Sri Krishna, took away His calves and cowherd boys and hid them in a cave within Sumeru Mountain.

Sri Krishna immediately assumed the forms of the calves and cowherd boys and returned home. Due to returning in this way, neither the cowherds nor the cows were able to understand that their children had been kidnapped, but the cowherds became ecstatic with transcendental love when they touched their children. Upon touching their calves, the cows began shedding tears due to intense love. Although the residents of Vraja were unable to understand the reason for this, Baladeva Prabhu understood that because Krishna had expanded Himself as the cowherd boys and calves, the residents of Vraja were exhibiting symptoms of divine love of Godhead. During the Kaliya-damana pastime, the residents of Vraja, being greatly distressed in separation from Krishna, wanted to enter into the water polluted by the poison of Kaliya. But Baladeva Prabhu, who knows the glories of Sri Krishna, stopped them from this endeavour and saved them from drowning in Kaliya's lake.

Sri Baladeva Prabhu performed the pastimes of killing Dhenukasura in Talavana and Pralambasura in Bhandiravana. When Balarama and Sri Krishna reached the age of pauganda (ages 5-10), Nanda Maharaja and other cowherds appointed Them to take care of the cows along with the calves. One day, Balarama and Sri Krishna, along with Their friends, arrived in Talavana while wandering through different forests. The powerful Dhenukasura, in the form of an ass, along with his powerful cohorts, lived there to guard the palmyra trees so that no living beings could eat the palmyra fruits. Many of the palmyra trees were full of fruits. Due to the scent of the fully ripened palmyra fruits, Talavana and other places nearby emanated a beautiful aroma. Consequently, the cowherd boys requested Krishna and Balarama to get those fruits for them.

In order to fulfill their desire, Krishna and Balarama took all Their friends and happily entered into Talavana. Out of affection for Sri Krishna, Baladeva first entered into the forest, and like an intoxicated elephant, shook the palmyra trees. Because of this shaking, palmyra fruits began falling down making a loud sound. Angered by the sound of the falling palmyra fruits, the ass demon Dhenukasura immediately came there and struck the chest of Balarama with his hind legs and began jumping around making fearsome sounds. When Dhenukasura returned to kick Balarama, Baladeva caught hold of his two legs and wheeled him around with such speed that the demon left his body while he was still being spun. Baladeva then threw the demon to the top of a palmyra tree. The demon's body was so big that the palmyra tree began to break, and crashing against the other palmyra trees, they all began to fall to the ground. When Dhenukasura's cohorts arrived there in anger, they also received the same fate. The pastime of killing Dhenukasura took place in Talavana after the pastime of subduing Kaliya.

In his purport of the pastime of the killing of Dhenukasura, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has written as follows: "All the demons killed by Sri Baladeva are all the anarthas (unwanted things) that will be removed by the devotional practitioner with the help of Sri Baladeva. This is the secret of Vraja-bhajana. Dhenukasura is the carrying of the burden of superstition. Ignorance and nescience about one's own real self, the real form of the holy name, and the real form of the object of worship, is indicated by Dhenukasura."

In the 18th Chapter of the 10th Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, the pastime of the killing of Pralambasura is described as follows:

Sri Krishna and Balarama's wandering place of Vraja-dhama was decorated with all the pleasing qualities of spring even during the summer season. One day, Krishna and Balarama, along with Their friends, were engaged in playing, dancing and singing when Pralambasura entered their midst disguised as a cowherd boy. The cowherd friends were unable to understand this, but omniscient Lord Krishna understood that the newcomer cowherd was a demon in disguise. In order to kill him, He received him as a friend. All the cowherd boys then divided into two parties for a game. Krishna became the leader of one group and Balarama became the leader of the other. The condition of the game was that the party that was defeated would carry the victor on his shoulder. When they played, Sridama and Vrishabha of Balarama's party became victorious. Consequently, Krishna carried Sridama and Bhadrasena carried Vrishabha. On the other side, Balarama defeated Pralambasura. Avoiding Krishna, Pralambasura ran away carrying Balarama stealthily on his shoulders.

uvaha krishno bhagavan
sridamanam parajitah
vrishabham bhadrasenas tu
pralambo rohini-sutam
(Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.18.24)

Balarama, understanding the ill motives of the demon, became so heavy on the shoulders of Pralambasura that he was unable to bear His weight. The demon then assumed his real form. Upon seeing the terrible form of the demon, Haladhara Baladeva at first expressed symptoms of doubt. But just as Indra hurled his lightning bolt, shattering mountains to slay the demons, Baladeva struck the demon a ferocious blow on the head with His fist. This blow shattered Pralambasura's head and he began to vomit blood. He left his body in this state of repeatedly vomiting blood. The cowherd boys and demigods then began to glorify Lord Baladeva profusely due to the excellence of His deed.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura describes the purport of the killing of Pralambasura as follows: "Pralambasura is a symbol of illicit sexual connection (stri-lampatya), aspiration for gain, adoration (labha-puja) and name and fame (pratishtha)."

All Vishnu-tattva are accompanied by three potencies: Sri, Bhu and Lila (Lila or Dhama as the potency of Durga). Vishnu is incomplete without the manifestation of these three potencies. Sri Gaura-Narayana also possesses three potencies: Sri Lakshmipriya as Sri potency, Sri Vishnupriya as Bhu potency and Sri Navadvipa-dhama as lila or nila potency. Sri Baladeva also possesses three potencies, Revati, Varuni and Lila or Nila.

tomara kripaya srishti kare aja deve
tomare se revati varuni kanti seve
(An alternate reading says: tomare se revati varuni sada seve.)
(Caitanya-bhagavata, Madhya-lila 15.38)

In Sri Caitanya-bhagavata, Sri Baladeva's potencies have been mentioned as Revati, Varuni and Kanti.

From the description in the 3rd Chapter of the 9th Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, it is known that Saryati, the son of Manu, had three sons named Uttanabarhi, Anarta and Bhurishena. Revata, the son of Anarta, had one hundred sons, of whom the eldest was Kakudmi. On the advice of Brahma, Kakudmi offered his daughter Revati to the mighty and powerful Baladeva who is the original Vishnu-tattva. After offering his daughter, Kakudmi went to Badarikasrama to perform austerities.

sri vasu jahnava sri nityanandera preyasi
sri varuni-revati sakala guna rasi
(Bhakti-ratnakara 12.399)

sri varuni revatyovamse-sambhave
tasya priye dve vasudha ca jahnava
sri suryadasasya-mahatmanah sute
kakudmirupasya ca suryatejasah

Those who were previously consorts of Baladeva-Varuni and Revati (born in the lineage of Revata), appeared as consorts of Nityananda. Vasudha and Jahnava, who were daughters of Suryadasa, possessed a splendor like that of the sun. Suryadasa was the avatara of Kakudmi. Although Sri Baladeva is Vishnu-tattva, He Himself serves the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna as His foremost servant. He also engages others in the service of Krishna and exhibits the pastime of acting as the original spiritual master. In spite of all this, during His manifest pastimes in this material world, He Himself performed the pastime of accepting a guru in order to teach the importance of taking shelter of a guru. This is described in the 45th Chapter of the 10th Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam.

prabhavau sarva-vidyanam
sarva-jnau jagad-isvarau
nanya-siddhamalam jnanam
guhamanau narehitaih

atho guru-kule vasam
icchantav upajagmatuh
kasyam sandipanim nama
hy avanti-pura-vasinam
(Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.45.30-31)

"Concealing Their innately (self-effulgent) perfect knowledge by Their humanlike activities, the two omniscient Lords of the universe, Krishna and Balarama, Themselves the origin of all branches of knowledge, desired to reside at the school of a spiritual master and therefore approached Sandipani Muni, a native of Kasi living in the city of Avanti."

Sandipani Muni, being satisfied with the service of Krishna and Balarama, taught Them the entire Vedas, political science and the sixty-four varieties of fine arts in sixty-four days.

When Krishna and Balarama expressed the desire to offer guru-dakshina (a fee or gift given to a priest) to Their spiritual master, the muni asked for the return of his son who had died in the ocean at Prabhasa Tirtha. To fulfil the desire of Their spiritual master, Sri Krishna and Balarama went to Prabhasa-tirtha and were informed about the abduction of the child by the powerful demon Pancajana. Upon hearing this, Lord Krishna entered the water and killed the demon but could not find the boy within the demon's belly. Lord Krishna took the conchshell that had grown around the demon's body. That conch became famous as Pancajanya. Sri Krishna and Balarama then reached Yamaloka and loudly blew the conchshell, Pancajanya. Upon hearing the sound of the conchshell, Yamaraja arrived there and elaborately worshipped Them. Thereafter, Sri Krishna and Balarama brought the son of Their spiritual master from Yamaraja and gave the child to him as guru-dakshina. Sandipani Muni expressed great joy to have disciples like Sri Krishna and Balarama, and gave Them permission to return home.

sri gurur-uvaca
samyak sampadito vatsa
bhavadbhyam guru-nishkrayah
ko nu yushmad-vidha-guroh
kamanam avasishyate
(Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.45.47)

"The spiritual master Sandipani Muni said, 'My dear boys, You two have completely fulfiled the disciple's obligation of offering guru-dakshina. Indeed, for one who has disciples like You, what further desires could remain unfulfiled?'"

Sri Balarama was the teacher of Bhima and Duryodhana in the art of fighting with clubs. Sri Krishna, who is the performer of wonderful tasks, took away Rukmini, the daughter of the Vidharbha king, Bhishmaka, in order to fulfil her desire. Jarasandha and two other warriors fought with Krishna but were defeated. Rukmini's brother, Rukmi, who was jealous of Krishna, was unable to tolerate this. He again attacked Sri Krishna. Due to Rukmini's prayers, when Krishna was about to kill Rukmi by destroying all his weapons, He let him go, but only after defacing him. At that time, Baladeva came there and pacified Rukmini not to lament unnecessarily out of ignorance.

Although Rukmi was filled with animosity toward Sri Krishna and considered marriage relations with the enemy to be against dharma, he married his granddaughter Rocana to Aniruddha, the grandson of Rukmini, desiring to please his sister out of extreme affection for her.

Rukmini, Baladeva, Sri Krishna, Samba, Pradyumna and other Yadavas were present at Aniruddha's wedding in the city of Bhojakata. After the wedding, on the advice of the arrogant kings headed by the King of Kalinga, Rukmi began a gambling match with Baladeva. In the first match, Rukmi defeated Baladeva, whereupon the King of Kalinga laughed at the Lord, displaying all his teeth. Later, upon the repeated victory of Baladeva, Rukmi began to say that He was winning by cheating and lying. Apart from this, Rukmi repeatedly ridiculed Baladeva by saying that He was only expert at tending cows. For some time, Baladeva remained silent, but upon being insulted repeatedly, Lord Baladeva struck Rukmi with His parigha (a kind of iron cudgel used in war in ancient times) to destroy his pride. Rukmi died then and there, and the other offensive kings fled to save their lives.

All living entities are created from the fleeting glance of Karanodakasayi Maha-Vishnu who is an amsa-avatara of Sri Baladeva Prabhu. In this way, Baladeva has a direct relationship with all living entities. Because of His natural compassion for the living beings, He is affectionate toward them and also controls them for their benefit. Therefore He carries the plough, pestle and other weapons. In the 65th Chapter of the 10th Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, there is a description of Sri Balarama's visit to Gokula, His consolation of the gopis by imparting news of the well being of Krishna, His sport with the gopis in the groves by the bank of the Yamuna and His pastime of attracting Yamuna. Sages who became enchanted upon seeing His beauty witnessed this. In this enchanted state, they recited Balarama's glories and while singing, played kettledrums in the heavens and showered down flower petals. One day during that time, Lord Balarama drank some intoxicating divine varuni juice that had been sent by the demigod Varuna and in an intoxicated state, He began wandering about the forest. While wandering in the forest, He summoned the Yamuna River so that He could play in her waters but she refused to come, thinking that He was intoxicated. Because of her disobedience, Balarama, in order to punish Yamuna, began to pull her with the end of His plough to split her into hundreds of streams. Frightened and trembling, the goddess Yamuna then fell down at Lord Balarama's lotus feet, chanting and repeatedly praying for forgiveness. Thereupon, Lord Balarama forgave her. Later, for the pleasure of the gopis, the Lord bathed and sported with them for a long time in the waters of the Yamuna. Finishing the water-sports, Baladeva came out of the Yamuna and Goddess Kanti, a special form of Goddess Lakshmi, presented Him with a set of blue garments, precious ornaments, and a beautiful necklace. Lord Balarama dressed in the blue garments and wearing the golden necklace, appeared resplendent:

kamam vihritya salilad
bhushanani maharhani
dadau kantih subham srajam
(Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.65.31)

Bearing the mark of the strike of the plough, the Yamuna still exhibits the prowess of Baladeva.

Srila Jayadeva Gosvami in his composition, Dasavatara-stotra, prays to the Lord of the universe in His form as Haladhara (wielder of the plough) in this way:

vahasi vapushi visade vasanam jaladabham
kesava dhrita-haladhara-rupa jaya jagadisa hare
(Sri Jayadeva's Dasavatara-stotra, 8th Verse)

"O Kesava! You assumed the form of Haladhara, wielder of the plough! You wear blue garments, which are colored like the water of the River Yamuna who feels great fear due to the striking of Your plough. O Lord of the universe! O Lord Hari in the form of Haladhara, all glories unto You!"

The Hastinapura pastime of Baladeva has been described in the 68th Chapter of the 10th Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam. Samba, the son of Krishna's queen Jambavati, had taken away Duryodhana's daughter Lakshmana from her svayamvara assembly. The Kauravas were enraged by this improper act and began to fight with Samba in order to arrest him. While they were fighting, the Kauravas observed and appreciated the wonderful heroic form of the boy. However, four warriors of the Kaurava party collectively surrounded Samba and defeated him by unjust means. They then arrested him along with Lakshmana, and took them both to Hastinapura. When Sri Krishna and the Yadavas heard from Devarshi Narada of this injustice by the Kauravas, they became angry. Taking permission from King Ugrasena, Sri Krishna prepared for war, along with the Yadavas.

Duryodhana was Sri Baladeva's disciple in the art of mace fighting. Baladeva being aware of the power of Krishna, thought, "If Krishna goes to battle, then Duryodhana may lose his life." Thus, out of compassion for His disciple, He pacified Sri Krishna and the Yadavas, and set off for Hastinapura with several brahmanas and Yadava elders. During the journey, Baladeva was thinking that upon His persuasion, His disciple Duryodhana would accept His words and free Samba along with Lakshmana. Camping on the outskirts of Hastinapura, He first sent Uddhava to ascertain King Dhritarashtra's intentions. When Duryodhana and other Kauravas heard from Uddhava about Baladeva's arrival, they joyfully took auspicious items to Him and worshipped Him. After inquiring about each other's welfare, Lord Balarama said, "You have captured Samba in an unjust fight. In order that there not be any hostilities between you and the Yadavas, I am telling you by the order of King Ugrasena that you should hand Samba over to us."

Upon hearing these words of Lord Baladeva, the Kauravas felt insulted and replied with fury, "Amazing! The Yadavas are trying to give orders to the Kauravas? Look at the crookedness of time and how the times have changed! Today, the leather shoe is eager to climb atop one's crowned head. The Yadavas are related to us because of the marital ties of Kunti Devi, and for this reason only they have the opportunity of sharing our beds, seats and meals. Indeed, it is only by our mercy that they have been given royal thrones, and now they are thinking that they have become equal to us? It is certainly true that they are enjoying the royal crown, royal bed and other paraphernalia today by our mercy only. Just see, they have lost all shame and dare to command us like masters! These Yadavas will surely have to step down from their royal position."

nunam nana-madonnaddhah
santim necchanty asadhavah
tesham hi prasamo dandah
pasunam lagudo yatha
(Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.68.31)

Upon seeing the misbehaviour of the Kauravas and hearing their abusive words, Balarama became filled with rage and laughingly spoke as follows, "Those scoundrels who are intoxicated with the pride of wealth and power never want peace. Just as beasts do not show understanding without being beaten by a cudgel, scoundrels cannot come to their senses without physical punishment. I came here desiring the welfare of the Kauravas after pacifying the Yadavas, but they are so proud that they have disrespected Me. So, is King Ugrasena unfit to command the Kauravas when Indra and other planetary rulers are bound to obey his orders? That Lord whose servant is Lakshmi devi; the dust of whose lotus feet is carried on the heads of Indra and other rulers of the universe; of whose spiritual identity Brahma, Shiva and Myself are simply amsa-avataras or even amsamsa-avataras-is that very Krishna not fit to sit on a royal throne? Are the Yadavas indeed like shoes whereas the Kauravas are like the head? I shall surely punish all these impudent Kauravas immediately."

Thus, Sri Baladeva, intending to rid the earth of all the Kurus and cast Hastinapura into the Ganga, dug His plough weapon into the southern side of the city and began using it to drag Hastinapura. By the extra-mundane miraculous power of Baladeva, Samba was excluded from the submersion of Hastinapura. Upon seeing that Hastinapura was falling into the Ganga due to being pulled by the tip of Balarama's plough, the Kauravas became terrified and in great distress cried out, "Trahi baladeva!" ("O Baladeva, please save us! Please save us!"). Putting Samba and Lakshmana in front of them, they approached Lord Baladeva and surrendered before Him while praying: "O Lord, in Your form of Ananta, You carry the earth on one of Your heads. At the time of annihilation, You destroy the entire universe and lie down to rest on Sesha. Please rescue the Kauravas as we are ignorant and misguided." The protector of the surrendered, Baladeva, forgave them immediately with the words, "Ma bhaih" ("Do not fear.")." Baladeva also killed Narakasura's friend, the powerful ape, Dvivida, with His pestle and plough.

yadavendro 'pi tam dorbhyam
tyaktva mushala-langale
jatrav abhyardayat kruddhah
so 'patad rudhiram vaman
(Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.67.25)

"Then furious Baladeva hurled His pestle and plough with both hands, which struck the throat and arms of Dvivida. Dvivida died vomiting blood."

namaste tu halagrama namaste tu mushalayudha
namaste revatikanta namaste bhakta-vatsala
namaste balinam sreshtha namaste dharanidhara
pralambare namaste tu trahi mam krishna purvaja

"Obeisances unto You, O holder of the plough; obeisances unto You, O wielder of the pestle; obeisances unto You, O beloved husband of Revati; obeisances unto You, O affectionate benefactor of Your devotees; obeisances unto You, O upholder of the earth; obeisances unto You, O best of the mighty; obeisances unto You, O killer of the Pralamba demon [3]. Please save me, O elder brother of Krishna."

To teach the people in general, Sri Baladeva killed Romaharshana Suta who was unqualified to recite Srimad-Bhagavatam. Later, He accepted the arrangement of the sages to atone for the sin of killing a brahmana. This incident is described in the 78th Chapter of the 10th Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam as follows:

In order to remain neutral, Lord Baladeva left Dvaraka on the pretext of going on a pilgrimage after hearing of the possibility of war between the Pandavas and Kauravas. The Lord bathed in sacred places such as Prabhasa and eventually came to the holy Naimisharanya Forest where great sages were performing an extended fire sacrifice. The sages rose from their sitting places and worshipped Baladeva. Baladeva accepted a seat, and after sitting down, the Lord noticed that Romaharshana Suta, who was a disciple of Vyasadeva and a member of the pratiloma suta caste, was sitting on a higher seat than the other sages. He was also bereft of the etiquette of standing up to welcome the Lord. Lord Balarama thought, "He is not qualified to recite the Bhagavatam. He is only performing a recitation of the Bhagavatam for his livelihood. He is vainly proud of falsely assuming himself to be a scholar. He is a greater sinner than the people who engage in sin." Baladeva Prabhu, the protector of religion, then killed Romaharshana with a blade of kusa grass, which was in His hand. The sages, distressed by the death of Romaharshana Suta, prayed to Baladeva, "We gave Romaharshana Suta the seat of the spiritual master and granted him a long life so that he could remain alive until the end of our yajna, but You were not able to understand our motive. Therefore, to set a perfect example for the people in general, it would be good for you to undergo the prescribed atonement for slaying a brahmana." When Baladeva asked the sages about the atonement for killing a brahmana, the sages requested Baladeva as follows: "Romaharshana, who was killed by You, had also been awarded a long life by us. Please preserve the truth of both of these incidents." Sri Baladeva, following the Vedic maxim that 'one's son takes birth as one's own self', granted Romaharshana's son, Ugrasrava, the position of speaker of the Puranas, and awarded him a long life with unfailing sensory capacity.

Baladeva performed His pastime of disappearance after the destruction of the Yadu dynasty.



[1] There may be doubt as to whether the word "portion" is appropriate for expressing the expanded forms of Sri Krsna, expanded forms of Baladeva or purusha-avataras and others, because all the expanded forms are ontologically non-different from each other. Differences exist only in the manifestation of qualities. As all the forms are transcendental, Their qualities are also transcendental. It is better to use amsha-avatara or amshamsha-avatara. The word avatara should be added to avoid confusion.

svamsha-vistara-catur-vyüha, avatara-gana
vibhinnamsha jiva-tanra shaktite ganana
(Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 22.9)

[2] The Causal Ocean of Creation (the material energy consisting of three primal qualities-sattva-guna, rajo-guna and tamo-guna in a dormant state). Sa aikshata. Eko 'ham bahushyami: Karanodakashayi Maha-Vishnu observes and desires to become many, so He imparts conscious energy and infinite brahmanas are created.

[3] The Supreme Lord Himself kills only fortunate persons because as a result, they attain a meritorious destination.