|Tamil transliteration||பால தேவா|
|Affiliation||Avatar of Shesha or Vishnu|
Rohini Devi (mother)
Balarama (Sanskrit: Balarāma), also known as Baladeva, Balabhadra and Halayudha, is the elder brother of Krishna (an avatar of the god Vishnu) and is regarded generally as an avatar of Shesha. He is also sometimes considered as the Sankarshana form of Vishnu and the eighth avatar of Vishnu.
He may have originated in Vedic times as a deity of agriculture and fertility. In Jainism he is known as Baladeva. He is often depicted with a drinking cup, pitcher, shield and sword.
Birth and origin
Balarama was a son of Vasudeva. The evil king Kansa, the brother of Devaki, was intent upon killing the children of his sister because of a prediction that he would die at the hands of her eighth son.
Vishnu then impregnated the belly of the goddess Devaki with two strands of hair, one black, one white. To ensure their safety, their essence was transferred before birth to Rohini, who also desired a child. At birth, Krishna had a darker complexion, while Balarama was born fair. The other name of Balarama is Sankarshana, meaning a spirit transferred between two wombs. According to Bhagavata Purana, the name Sankarshana means, "one who brings together two different families" of King Yadu's and King Nanda's dynasties.
He was named Rama, but because of his great strength he was called Balarama, Baladeva, or Balabhadra, meaning "Strong Rama." He was born under Shravana nakshatra on Shraavana Purnima, or Raksha Bandhan.
Childhood and marriage
One day, Nanda requested the presence of Sage Garga, his priest, to name the newborn Krishna and Balarama. When the Garga arrived, Nanda, received him well and requested the naming ceremony. Gargamuni then reminded Nanda that Kamsa was looking for the son of Devaki, and if he performed the ceremony in opulence, it would come to his attention. Nanda therefore asked Garga to perform the ceremony in secret, and Garga did so:
Because Balarama, the son of Rohini, increases the transcendental bliss of others, His name is Rama, and because of His extraordinary strength, He is called Baladeva. He attracts the Yadus to follow His instructions, and therefore His name is Sankarshana.— Bhagavata Purana, 10.8.12
Balarama spent his childhood as a cow herder with his brother Krishna. He killed Dhenuka, an asura sent by Kansa, as well as Pralamba and Mushtika wrestlers sent by the king. After the evil king died, Balarama and Krishna went to the ashrama of sage Sandipani at Ujjayini for study. He later married Revati, the daughter of King Kakudmi, ruler of Kushasthali or Anarta
Kurukṣetra war of the Mahābhārata
Balarama taught both Duryodhana of the Kauravas and Bhima of the Pandavas the art of fighting with a mace. When war broke between the Kauravas and the Pandavas, Balarama cared for both sides, and so remained neutral. When Bhima defeated Duryodhana by striking him in the groin 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.
In the Bhagavata Purana, it is described that after Balarama took part in the battle causing the destruction of the remainder of the Yadu dynasty, and witnessing the disappearance of Krishna, he sat down in a meditative state and departed from this world.
Status as avatar
Narratives of Balarama are found in the Mahabharata, Harivamsha, Bhagavata Purana and other Puranas. The Bhagavata Purana suggests Balarama as an incarnation of Vishnu. He is classified in the vyuha avathar Sankarshana, of Vishnu where in Adishesha and Lakshmana is part of.
Balarama is depicted as fair skinned, in contrast to his brother, Krishna, who is dark skinned, Krishna in Sanskrit means dark. His āyudhas, or weapons, are the plough hala and the gadā. The plough is usually called Balachita. He often wears blue garments and a garland of forest flowers. His hair is tied in a topknot, and he has earrings, bracelets and armlets, and he is known for his strength.
The Jain Puranas, notably, the Triṣaṣṭiśalākāpuruṣacarita of Hemachandra, narrate hagiographical accounts of nine Baladevas or Balabhadras who are believed to be śalākāpuruṣas (literally "torch-bearers, great personalities"). These nine Baladevas are: Achala, Vijaya, Bhadra, Suprabha, Sudarśana, Ānanda, Nandana, Padma (Rama in Hinduism) and Rāma (Balarama in Hinduism).
Baliyana Mandir, Bainsa (dist Nawanshahr) Punjab
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