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More Pastimes of Lord Balarama
After defeating the king Jarasandha several times, Krishna decided to move His family from the city of Mathura to an unconquerable fortress in the sea, known as Dwarka. After moving His family, Krishna and Balarama pretended to be afraid of Jarasandha and fled to mount Pravarsana. Jarasandha chased the Lords up said mountain, but unable to find them he set the mountain on fire. In order to avoid the fires, Lord Krishna and Balarama jumped some eighty-eight miles to the ground.(Krishna Book Vol. I, pg 348)
In another instance Lord Balarama was challenged to play chess with a demoniac in-law of His, Rukmi. On the advice of the King of Kalinga, Rukmi challenged Lord Balarama to play chess for various wagers. Knowing that Lord Balarama, in this particular rasa, was not the most adept of chess players, the two sought this opportunity to make fun of Lord Krishna and Balarama.
The first two games were played for 1,000 and 10,000 gold pieces respectively and Lord Balarama was the loser in each game, but the third game was for 100,000 gold pieces. Fortunately Lord Balarama was the winner, but the sinful Rukmi attempted to cheat the Lord and claim that he was the winner. This angered Balarama so He made another wager of one hundred million coins. Again Lord Balarama was the victor and again Rukmi attempted to cheat the Lord. This time there was a voice from the sky that stated that according to the rules of chess, Lord Balaram was the winner. Still Rukmi persisted that he was the winner and insulted the Lord with artful words. At this time Lord Balarama became very angry and summoned His mace, Sunanda, and smashed Rukmi on the head killing him with one blow. Lord Balarama also took this opportunity to capture the fleeing King of Kalinga who feared for his life. Balarama used His mace to smash the teeth of the king because he was always showing them while criticizing the Lord. Balarama also captured all the princes who supported the king and beat them with His club, breaking their hands and legs. (Krishna Book Vol. II, pg.194)
Once Lord Balarama was feeling very anxious to see his father and mother, Nanda and Rohini, so He returned to Vrndavana for a visit. At this time He also sought to pacify the gopis who were feeling great distress due to separation from Lord Krishna. To alleviate their distress Lord Balarama described the wonderful pastimes and glories of Krishna, and chanted Krishna's transcendental names. Balarama became so absorbed in chanting that his complexion assumed Krishna's blue color. (Appreciating Shri Vrndavana Dhama, pg 112)
When Lord Balarama visited Vrndavana for two months, He would enjoy at night with His cowherd girlfriends in a garden on the bank of the Yamuna. One night, intoxicated with joy and Varuni (a liquid honey form of the daughter of Varuna) Lord Balarama summoned Yamuna so that he could play in her waters. Thinking that the Lord was drunk, she disregarded His command. This angered Lord Balarama, and He began dragging the river with the tip of His plow, Hala. Lord Balarama said, " O sinful one disrespecting Me, you do not come when I call you but rather move by you own whim. Therefore, with the tip if My plow I shall bring you here in a hundred streams."
At this time Yamuna realizing her mistake sought to please the Lord with kind words and immediately presented her waters for His enjoyment. Thereupon He released her and, like the king of elephants with his entourage of she-elephants, entered the rivers water with His female companions. (Krishna Book Vol. II, pg.220) It is noted that after pleasing Lord Krishna's gopis with words, that Lord Balarama had the above mentioned relations with His own separate gopis. Lord Balarama performed His own rasa-lila at Ram Ghat, which is a long distance from the site of Krishna's rasa-lila. The gopis attached to Krishna in the mood of madhurya rasa would be attached to Lord Balarama in the mood of friendship only and vice-versa. While Lord Balarama performed rasa-lila for two months, Krishna's gopis watched from a distance.
Lord Balarama respects Lord Krishna's gopis and is very careful to avoid mixing with them. (Appreciating Shri Vrndavana Dhama, pg.71)
If while walking on Govardhana Hill, Krishna's elder brother Balarama, sees a series of golden stones, He thinks: "The daughter of King Vrsabanu (Radharani) must have just walked before Me," and Balarama changes course to avoid an awkward situation. In the same way if Radharani sees a series of crystal stones, She thinks, "Balarama must have just walked before Me," and Radharani then changes course. (Appreciating Shri Vrndavana Dhama, pg113)
It was during one of these evenings of Lord Balarama's rasa-lila that He was accosted by the terrible gorilla Dvivida. This Dvivida was as strong as 10,000 elephants and the friend of a demon killed by Lord Krishna . He sought to cause harm to Lord Krishna and all those dear to Him. Dvivida happened upon Lord Balarama during an evening of the Lords pleasure. He insulted the Lord and His gopis, and sought to fight with Him. Balarama being angered by the demon's activities engaged Dvivida in combat and after leveling a mountain and a forest killed the demon with His bare hands. (Krishna Book Vol. II, pg.229)
Shortly thereafter Lord Balarama returned home to Dwarka. There was then an incident where His nephew, Samba, was kidnapped. The family patriarch, King Ugrasena, called for retaliation. Seeing the family preparing for a fight, Balarama pacified them in order to avoid conflict between the Yadu and Kuru dynasties. He then went to the Kaurava household where He expressed King Ugrasena's demand for Samba's return. They became very angry, insulted Balarama and the Yadu dynasty, and then returned to their city. Balarama decided to punish them all. He took His plow, intending to rid the earth of all the Kurus, and began dragging their city of Hastinapura toward the Ganges. Seeing that their city was in eminent danger, they quickly returned Samba. They then prayed, "O Lord, please forgive us, who are truly ignorant of Your true identity". Feeling appeased Balarama assured them He would not harm them, and returned home with Samba. (Krishna Art, plate 151)
There was once an incident where in order to marry Balarama and Krishna's sister Arjuna, upon the advice of Krishna, disguised himself as a sage.
Balarama, believing Arjuna to be a sage presented him Subhadra to render him service. Subhadra consequently fell in love with Arjuna and willingly left with him. Balarama, thinking His sister was kidnapped, was going to punish Arjuna. Krishna the greatest architect of flowery words pacified Balarama and explained to Him what truly happened. (Krishna Book Vol. III, pg. 122)
Once Lord Balarama began to talk in his sleep as follows: "O lotus eyed Krishna, Your childhood adventures are manifest simply according to Your will. Therefore, please dispose of the stubborn pride of this Kaliya serpent." By saying this Lord Balarama astonished the assembly of the Yadus and made them laugh very loudly for some time. Then yawning so hard as to make ripples on His abdomen, Lord Balarama, the bearer of the plow, returned to His deep sleep. This is an instance of sleepiness in ecstatic love.
There came a time when it was inevitable that the two arguing factions of the Kuru dynasty were going to war. Lord Balarama, not anxious to see the outcome of this conflict decided to take pilgrimage to all the holy places.
At one such place there was a large sacrifice taking place. Many great sages were present at this sacrifice and when Lord Balarama approached they rose and offered Him all due respects. Thereafter they offered Balarama a proper seat and worshipped Him as the Supreme Lord. All the sages present did this except Romaharsana, who remained seated on the Vyasasana. Seeing his impudence Balarama struck him with a single blade of kusa straw and killed him. Upon seeing the Lord kill Romaharsana, the other sages in attendance became greatly distressed. They humbly petitioned the Lord saying that they had bestowed the great boon of long life upon Romaharsana and that the Lord had caused their benediction to become false. The sages then requested the Lord to please set an example and atone for the sin He had committed even though He was the Supreme Personality of Godhead and therefore sinless.
Lord Balarama heard the words of the sages and was pleased with them. He said that the benediction of the father, Romaharsana, should be passed on to the son, and the Lord also agreed that He would do whatever the sages suggested that he do in order to atone for the sin. The sages then asked that He please slay the demon Balvala, who was a great source of anguish for the sages. After He had performed this task, the sages said that Lord Balarama should continue his pilgrimage for 12 months. Balarama accepted what the sages said, and the next time the demon Balvala appeared Balarama called for His club and His plow. Although the demon was flying here and there in the air, the Lord swiftly snagged the demon with his plow and pulling him down He smashed his head with His club. After accepting due praise from the sages and taking their leave Lord Balarama continued on His pilgrimage. (Krishna Book Vol. III, pgs. 59-63)
Lord Balarama's wife Revati was born in a yuga previous to the yuga that Bala was born in. Therefore when they met she was taller that He. Lord Balarama took his plow and pushed Ravati down with the flat of it, thus making her short.
The funereal ceremony of Abhimanyu, the son of Arjuna, was performed by Balarama, as He was the maternal uncle. (Shrimad Bhagavatam, First Canta pg 573.
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.
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 Shri 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 Shrimad 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.