Vrindaranya Dasi - August 9, 2006 3:30 pm

Guru Maharaja answers Sanga questions about Sri Balarama


Q. Because Sri Balarama participated in the rasa dance, does he have a primary expansion of his pleasure potency in the same way that Lord Krsna expands his pleasure potency as Sri Radha?


A. Balarama does not participate in the sarad purnima rasa lila of Radha-Krsna. His rasa dance takes place with his own gopis, at Rama ghat in the spring. Our sampradaya does not speak of his gopi lila in any depth, but prefers to depict him in light of his devotion to Krsna as guru (elder), friend, and servant, kabhu guru, kabhu sakha, kabhu bhrtya-lila. Indeed, it emphasizes his respectful encounter with Krsna's gopis when he visited Vrndavana on Krsna's behalf--rama-sandarsanadrtah--more than his dancing with his own gopis.


In Balarama's encounter with Krsna's gopis, it is stated, sankarsanas tah krsnasya sandesair hrdayam-gamaih: Sankarsana delivered a message that was confidential. He spoke to the hearts of Krsna's gopis. Why is Balarama called Sankarsana in this verse? Because sankarsana means to draw together and here Sankarsana was drawing Krsna and the gopis together. Even though Krsna was in Dvaraka, Balarama's confidential talks with Krsna's gopis made Krsna fully manifest in the hearts and minds of the gopis. In this exchange, Balarama has the mood of a servitor of Krsna. He is fully representing Krsna with no desire to enjoy Radha's group for himself in any way.


For the most part, when the Bhagavata speaks of Balarama's affairs with his own gopis it does so covertly, as we find in 10.15.8 where Krsna says, gopyo 'ntarena bhujayor. In this phrase, Krsna speaks overtly of Balarama embracing forest vines and covertly of his future lila in which he embraces his own gopis, as this phrase can be read to indicate that Balarama embraces either creepers or milkmaids.


As for his principal consort, from Bhagavatam we know of Revati in Balarama's Dvaraka lila. From the literature of the six Goswamis of Vrndavana we also know that he manifests as sakti-tattva in the form of Ananga manjari, the younger sister of Radha. It is only in this form that he directly participates in Radha and Krsna's romantic affairs.


Q. What is the significance of Krsna's brother Baladeva carrying a plow? Is it ever used as a weapon? Does He ever use it "agriculturally?"


A. Baladeva bears the plow, which symbolizes his agricultural social status as well as the importance of the guru's need to till the field of the heart of his student before planting the seed of bhakti therein. Baladeva is the original guru--Krsna in the form of his best servitor.


For the most part Baladeva does not carry his plow in Vraja, but rather a buffalo horn. Every morning he blows this horn signaling the time for the young cowherds to assemble and awaken Kanai Krsna. However, Sri Balarama did manifest his plow in Vraja during his yamunakarsana-lila (dragging the Yamuna) at the time that he returned from Dvaraka to deliver a message to the Vrajavasis. He is also referred to as "he who bears the plow" (Haladhara) in the Vraja-lila involving the slaying of Pralambasura. At that time, in spite of using this name to address Balarama, Sukadeva depicts him in very human terms, because he was momentarily frightened by Pralamba's astonishing transformation from a cowherd into an asura, tvisadbhutam haladhara isad atrasat. Krsnadasa Kaviraja Goswami also mentions him with reference to his bearing the plow when he informs us that Nityananda Prabhu is directly Balarama, nityananda gosani saksat haladhara.


Q. How did Baladeva leave the planet? I'm not sure if I have read anything about the manner in which He went back to Vaikuntha realm.


A. Sri Baladeva's Mula Sankarsana expansion, who performs pastimes in Mathura and Dvaraka, departed from this world in Dvaraka by producing an extraordinary white snake from his mouth--a manifestation of Sesa Naga--on which he rode away to Vaikuntha being possessed of superhuman power, ramas cadbhuta-vikramah. Otherwise, the original Balarama, the son of Rohini who appears in Vraja, never leaves Vrndavana, where he is sometimes manifest and sometimes not.


Q. You wrote that Balarama manifests the forms of the parsadas (eternal associates) of Sri Krsna in all the rasas other than srngara (conjugal love). Does this mean that Mother Yasoda in vatsalya rasa is considered a manifestation of Balarama?


A. Actually all forms of the parsadas of Sri Krsna are manifestations of Balarama because he presides over the sandhini sakti. This sakti expands the dhama and all forms therein. Even Krsna's form is a manifestation of the sandhini sakti. However even though their forms are constituted of his sandhini sakti, the principal gopis are nonetheless manifestations of Radha's desire to serve Krsna.


In addition to Balarama's presiding over the sandhini sakti, he presides over vatsalya, sakhya, and dasya rasa and serves Krsna in all of these sentiments, as guru, friend, and servant--kabhu guru, kabhu sakha, kabhu bhrtya-lila purve yena tina-bhave vraje kaila khela.


Q. I was recently contemplating Krsna in the forms of Jagannatha, Subhadradevi, and Balarama. Sat-cid-ananda came to mind. Does each of these Deities represent one of the three aspects of sat-cit-ananda?


A. Jagannatha represents samvit (cognition), Balarama sandhini (existence), and Subhadra hladini (joy). These are the three components of Krsna's antaranga (internal) sakti.




Krsna Book: Lord Balarama Visits Vrndavana


Lord Balarama became very anxious to see His father and mother, Maharaja Nanda and Yasoda. Therefore He started for Vrndavana on a chariot with great enthusiasm. The inhabitants of Vrndavana had been anxious to see Krsna and Balarama for a very long time. When Lord Balarama returned to Vrndavana, all the cowherd boys and the gopis had grown up; but still, on His arrival, they all embraced Him, and Balarama embraced them in reciprocation. After this He came before Maharaja Nanda and Yasoda and offered His respectful obeisances unto them. In response, mother Yasoda and Nanda Maharaja offered their blessings unto Him. They addressed Him as Jagadisvara, or the Lord of the universe who maintains everyone. The reason for this was that both Krsna and Balarama maintain all living entities, and yet Nanda and Yasoda were put into such difficulties on account of Their absence. Feeling like this, they embraced Balarama and, seating Him on their laps, began their perpetual crying, wetting Balarama with their tears. Lord Balarama then offered His respectful obeisances to the elderly cowherd men and accepted the obeisances of the younger cowherd men. Thus, according to their different ages and relationships, Lord Balarama exchanged feelings of friendship with them. He shook hands with those who were His equals in age and friendship, and with loud laughing embraced each one of them.


After being received by the cowherd men and boys, the gopis, and King Nanda and Yasoda, Lord Balarama sat down, feeling satisfied, and they all surrounded Him. First Lord Balarama inquired from them about their welfare, and then, not having seen Him for such a long time, they began to ask Him different questions. The inhabitants of Vrndavana had sacrificed everything for Krsna, simply being captivated by the lotus eyes of the Lord. Because of their great desire to love Krsna, they never desired anything like elevation to the heavenly planets or merging into the effulgence of Brahman to become one with the Absolute Truth. They were not even interested in enjoying a life of opulence, but were satisfied in living a simple life in the village as cowherd men. They were always absorbed in thoughts of Krsna and did not desire any personal benefits, and they were all so much in love with Him that in His absence their voices faltered when they began to inquire from Balaramaji.


First Nanda Maharaja and Yasodamayi inquired, "My dear Balarama, are our friends like Vasudeva and others in the family doing well? Now You and Krsna are grown-up married men with children. In the happiness of family life, do You sometimes remember Your poor father and mother, Nanda Maharaja and Yasodadevi? It is very good news that the most sinful King Kamsa has been killed by You and that our friends like Vasudeva and the others who had been harassed by him, have now been relieved. It is also very good news that both You and Krsna defeated Jarasandha and Kalayavana, who now is dead, and that You are now living in a fortified residence in Dvaraka."


When the gopis arrived, Lord Balarama glanced over them with loving eyes. Being overjoyed, the gopis, who had so long been mortified on account of Krsna's and Balarama's absence, began to ask about the welfare of the two brothers. They specifically asked Balarama whether Krsna was enjoying His life surrounded by the enlightened women of Dvaraka Puri. "Does He sometimes remember His father Nanda and His mother Yasoda and the other friends with whom He so intimately behaved while he was in Vrndavana? Does Krsna have any plans to come here to see His mother Yasoda and does He remember us gopis who are now pitiably bereft of His company? Krsna might have forgotten us in the midst of the cultured women of Dvaraka, but as far as we are concerned, we are still remembering Him by collecting flowers and sewing them into garlands. When He does not come, however, we simply pass our time by crying. If only He would come here and accept these garlands that we have made. Dear Lord Balarama, descendant of Dasarha, You know that we would give up everything for Krsna's friendship. Even in great distress one cannot give up the connection of family members, but although it might be impossible for others, we gave up our fathers, mothers, sisters and relatives. Without caring at all about our renunciation. Then, all of a sudden, Krsna without any serious consideration left. Krsna renounced us and went away. He broke off our intimate relationship without any serious consideration and left for a foreign country. But He was so clever and cunning that He manufactured very nice words. He said, 'My dear gopis, please do not worry. The service you have rendered Me is impossible for Me to repay.' After all, we are women, so how could we disbelieve Him? Now we can understand that His sweet words were simply for cheating us."


Another gopi, p rotesting Krsna's absence from Vrndavana, began to say: "My dear Balaramaji, we are of course village girls, so Krsna could cheat us in that way, but what about the women of Dvaraka? Don't think they are as foolish as we are! We village women might be misled by Krsna, but the women in the city of Dvaraka are very clever and intelligent. Therefore I would be surprised if such city women could be misled by Krsna and could believe His words."


Then another gopi began to speak. "My dear friend," she said, "Krsna is very clever in using words. No one can compete with Him in that art. He can manufacture such colorful words and talk so sweetly that the heart of any woman would be misled. Besides that, He has perfected the art of smiling very attractively, and by seeing His smile women become mad after Him and would give themselves to Him without any hesitation."


Another gopi, after hearing this, said, "My dear friends, what is the use in talking about Krsna? If you are at all interested in passing away time by talking, let us talk on some subject other than Him. If cruel Krsna can pass His time without us, why can't we pass our time without Krsna? Of course, Krsna is passing His days very happily without us, but the difference is that we cannot pass our days very happily without Him."


When the gopis were talking in this way, their feelings for Krsna became more and more intensified, and they were experiencing Krsna's smiling, Krsna's words of love, Krsna's attractive features, Krsna's characteristics and Krsna's embraces. By the force of their ecstatic feelings, it appeared to them that Krsna was personally present and dancing before them. Because of their sweet remembrance of Krsna, they could not check their tears, and they began to cry without consideration.


Lord Balarama could, of course, understand the ecstatic feelings of the gopis, and therefore He wanted to pacify them. He was expert in presenting an appeal, and thus, treating the gopis very respectfully, He began to narrate the stories of Krsna so tactfully that the gopis became satisfied. In order to keep the gopis in Vrndavana satisfied, Lord Balarama stayed there continually for two months, namely the months of Caitra (March-April) and Vaisakha (April-May). For those two months He kept Himself among the gopis, and He passed every night with them in the forest of Vrndavana in order to satisfy their desire for conjugal love. Thus Balarama also enjoyed the rasa dance with the gopis during those two months. Since the season was springtime, the breeze on the bank of the Yamuna was blowing very mildly, carrying the aroma of different flowers, especially of the flower known as kaumudi. Moonlight filled the sky and spread everywhere, and thus the banks of the Yamuna appeared to be very bright and pleasing, and Lord Balarama enjoyed the company of the gopis there.


The demigod known as Varuna sent his daughter Varuni in the form of liquid honey oozing from the hollows of the trees. Because of this honey the whole forest became aromatic, and the sweet aroma of the liquid honey, Varuni, captivated Balaramaji. Balaramaji and all the gopis became very much attracted by the taste of Varuni, and all of them drank it together. While drinking this natural beverage, Varuni, all the gopis chanted the glories of Lord Balarama, and Lord Balarama felt very happy, as if He had become intoxicated by drinking that Varuni beverage. His eyes rolled in a pleasing attitude. He was decorated with long garlands of forest flowers, and the whole situation appeared to be a great function of happiness because of this transcendental bliss. Lord Balarama smiled beautifully, and the drops of perspiration decorating His face appeared to be soothing morning dew.


While Balarama was in that happy mood, He desired to enjoy the company of the gopis in the water of the Yamuna. Therefore He called Yamuna to come nearby. But Yamuna neglected the order of Balaramaji, considering Him to be intoxicated. Lord Balarama became very much displeased at Yamuna's neglecting His order. He immediately wanted to scratch the land near the river with His plowshare. Lord Balarama has two weapons, a plow and a club, and He takes service from them when they are required. This time He wanted to bring the Yamuna by force, and He took the help of His plow. He wanted to punish Yamuna because she did not come in obedience to His order. He addressed Yamuna: "You wretched river! You did not care for My order. Now I shall teach you a lesson! You did not come to Me voluntarily. Now with the help of My plow I shall force you to come. I shall divide you into hundreds of scattered streams!"


When Yamuna was threatened like this, she became greatly afraid of the power of Balarama and immediately came in person, falling at His lotus feet and praying thus: "My dear Balarama, You are the most powerful personality, and You are pleasing to everyone. Unfortunately, I forgot Your glorious, exalted position, but now I have come to my senses, and I remember that You hold all the planetary systems on Your head merely by Your partial expansion of Sesa. You are the sustainer of the whole universe. My dear Supreme Personality of Godhead, You are full of six opulences. Because I forgot Your omnipotence, I have mistakenly disobeyed Your order, and thus I have become a great offender. But, my dear Lord, please know that I am a surrendered soul unto You. You are very much affectionate to Your devotees. Therefore please excuse my impudence and mistakes and, by Your causeless mercy, may You now release me."


Upon displaying this submissive attitude, Yamuna was forgiven, and when she came nearby, Lord Balarama wanted to enjoy the pleasure of swimming within her water along with the gopis in the same way an elephant enjoys himself along with his many she-elephants. After a long time, when Lord Balarama had enjoyed to His full satisfaction, He came out of the water, and immediately a goddess of fortune offered Him a nice blue garment and a valuable necklace made of gold. After taking bath in the Yamuna, Lord Balarama, dressed in blue garments and decorated with golden ornaments, looked very attractive to everyone. Lord Balarama's complexion is white, and when He was properly dressed He looked exactly like the white elephant of King Indra in the heavenly planets. The river Yamuna still has many small branches due to being scratched by the plowshare of Lord Balarama. And all these branches of the river Yamuna still glorify the omnipotency of Lord Balarama.


Lord Balarama and the gopis enjoyed transcendental pastimes together every night for two months, and time passed away so quickly that all those nights appeared to be only one night. In the presence of Lord Balarama, all the gopis and other inhabitants of Vrndavana became as cheerful as they had been before in the presence of both brothers, Lord Krsna and Lord Balarama.

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - August 9, 2006 5:25 pm
Actually all forms of the parsadas of Sri Krsna are manifestations of Balarama because he presides over the sandhini sakti. This sakti expands the dhama and all forms therein. Even Krsna's form is a manifestation of the sandhini sakti. However even though their forms are constituted of his sandhini sakti, the principal gopis are nonetheless manifestations of Radha's desire to serve Krsna.

Not sure I understant, I always thought that Krsna represents samvit and Radha represents hladini. So how Krsna's form is a manifestation of the sandhini? And how gopis are sandhini as well?

Vamsidhari Dasa - August 9, 2006 10:51 pm

Vrindaranya thank you for posting this. It was so nice to be able to read it and contemplate on Sri Balaram's pastimes on this auspicious day of His appearance. It comes as even more important given that Guru Maharaja is away in NC so it gives us an opportunity to contemplate his words as well. Just wanted to express my gratitude.


Vamsi :)

Swami - August 10, 2006 9:54 am

Not sure I understant, I always thought that Krsna represents samvit and Radha represents hladini. So how Krsna's form is a manifestation of the sandhini? And how gopis are sandhini as well?



Yes, Krsna is the presiding deity of samvit and Radha presides over hladhini sakti. But this does not mean that they have nothing to do with sandhini sakti. Balarama presides over the sandhini sakti, but this does not mean that he has no samvit or hladhini. As far as form is concerned, sandhini is involved.


Similarly, Bhagavan represents ananda in comparison to Paramatma and Brahman, but this does not mean that Bhagavan is not cognizant or that he does not exist, nor is Brahman or Paramatma devoid of ananda, etc.