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.
Birth & Origin
Vishnu then impregnated the belly of 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 Nanda Baba's dynasties.
Childhood & Marriage
One day, Nanda requested the presence of Sage Gargamuni, 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 Ujjain for study. He later married Revati, daughter of King Kakudmi, ruler of Kushasthali or Anarta
The Kurukshetra War Of Mahabharata
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 Mahabharata, Harivamsha, Bhagavata Purana, Krishna Charit Manas and other Puranas. He is classified in the Vyuha avatar Sankarshana where in Adishesha and Lakshmana are part of. Vyasa Mahabharata states that after Balarama's death, he turned into a white snake and entered the present day Arabian ocean. So it can be concluded that Balarama is an avatar of Adishesha in Dwaparayuga, as Lakshmana was in Tretayuga and Patanjali (original practitioner who wrote the first book on Yoga shastra and writer Maha Bhasya to Panini's grammar) in Kaliyuga.
Maues coin depicting Balarama, 1st century BCE
Balarama is depicted as fair skinned, in contrast to his brother, Krishna, who is dark skinned, Krishna in Sanskrit means dark. His ayudha 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). Balarama was the ninth one.
- Baliyana Mandir, Bainsa(dist Nawanshahr) Punjab
- Kendrapara, Baladevjew Temple
- Ananta Vasudeva Temple
- RevtiBaladevji Mandir, Jetalpur, Gujarat
- Shri Daau Ji Mandir, Vill- Banchari, Haryana
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