“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 as a Deity-Origins
He is an ancient deity rooted deep in the agricultural India. It marks the advent of the farming nation, and its association with Nature and honoring its traits. His iconography appears with Naga (many-headed serpent) which can be very well seen as veneration of snakes as the protector of crops as they destroy vermins like rodents.
His association with a plough and other farm artifacts like watering pot, possibly indicate his origins inagriculture. His associationwas strong with farming and farmers, as he was the deity who used farm equipment as weapons when needed. Balarama was indeed, most revered of the Indian deities.
He has been a farmer’s patron deity, signified as the”harbinger of knowledge”, of agricultural tools and prosperity.
Balarama – The Puranic Purusha
Balarama is the elder brother of Krishna and the Son of Rohini and Vasudeva. He is also known as Baladeva, Balabhadra, Haladhara, Dauji and Halayudha.
“The Bhagavan as the Self of everything tells the creative power of His unified consciousness (yogamaya) about His plan for His own birth as Balarama and Krishna. He begins with Balarama. The whole of Shesha, which is my abode, will become an embryo in Devaki’s womb which you shall transplant to Rohini’s womb.”
— Bhagavata Purana 10.2.8
Balarama an incarnation of Adishesha
The legends consider Balarama as an avatar of Shesha, the reclining snake companion of Vishnu. Narratives of Balarama are found in Mahabharata, Harivamsha Purana, Bhagavata Purana, etc. He is classified in the Vyuha Avatar Sankarshana where Adishesha and Lakshmana area part of him. The legend regards him as the incarnation of Adisesha, the serpent Vishnu rested on, reflecting his role and interconnection with Vishnu. Sri Hari and Shesha are inseparable in each of his avatar. He is near him in direct form as Krishna’s elder brother and indirect formin Ramavtar as Lakshmana.
A Constant Companion in Krishna’s Leelas
Krishna’s Dauji is almost always shown and described with Krishna, like in stealing butter, playing childhood pranks, complaining to Yashoda that his baby brother Krishna had eaten dirt, playing in cow pens, studying together at the school of guru Sandipani, fighting evil wrestlers sent in by Kansa to kill the two brothers.
Balarama always supported Krishna in form and spirit. Balarama’s constant association with Krishna made him the protector and supporter of dharma.
In this time of strife and chaos among Indian farmers,it’s right to remember Balarama and his lessons on agriculture. ‘Treat the land as your fulfilling mother and till it with care and protect the nurturing Nature.’ The power comes from within,it’s the Balarama within that does wonders. It just us who have to find him.
“Sri Baladeva is Sri Krishna’s dearest friend. Baladeva is a great reservoir of the nectar mellows of many kinds of transcendental pastimes.”