Balarama's Pastimes with the Demons, Part 2

BY: SUN STAFF - 12.9 2023

Lord Balarama and Rukmi Playing Chess


Lila pastimes with the transcendental demons.


Rukmi and the King of Kalinga

"The King of Kalinga was a friend of Rukmi's and he gave him ill advice to play with Balarama and thus defeat Him in a bet. Amongst the ksatriya kings, betting and gambling in chess was not uncommon. If someone challenged a friend to play on the chessboard, the friend could not deny the challenge. Sri Balaramaji was not a very expert chess player, and this was known to the King of Kalinga. So Rukmi was advised to retaliate against the family members of Krsna by challenging Balarama to play chess.

Although not a very expert chess player, Sri Balaramaji was very enthusiastic in sporting activities. He accepted the challenge of Rukmi and sat down to play. Betting was with gold coins, and Balarama first of all challenged with one hundred coins, then 1,000 coins, then 10,000 coins. Each time, Balarama lost, and Rukmi became victorious."

Sri Balarama's losing the game was an opportunity for the King of Kalinga to criticize Krsna and Balarama. Thus the King of Kalinga was talking jokingly and purposefully showing his teeth to Balarama. Because Balarama was the loser in the game, He was a little intolerant of the sarcastic joking words. He became a little agitated, and when Rukmi again challenged Balarama, he made a bet of 100,000 gold coins. Fortunately, this time Balarama won. Although Balaramaji had won, Rukmi, out of his cunningness, began to claim that Balarama was the loser and that he himself had won. Because of this lie, Balaramaji became most angry with Rukmi. His agitation was so sudden and great that it appeared like a tidal wave in the ocean on a full moon day. Balarama's eyes are naturally reddish, and when He became agitated and angry His eyes became more reddish. This time He challenged and made a bet of a hundred million coins.

Again Balarama was the winner according to the rules of chess, but Rukmi again cunningly began to claim that he had won. Rukmi appealed to the princes present, and he especially mentioned the name of the King of Kalinga. At that time there was a voice from the air during the dispute, and it announced that for all honest purposes Balarama, the actual winner of this game, was being abused and that the statement of Rukmi that he had won was absolutely false.

In spite of this divine voice, Rukmi insisted that Balarama had lost, and by his persistence it appeared that he had death upon his head. Falsely puffed up by the ill advice of his friend, he did not give much importance to the oracle, and he began to criticize Balaramaji. He said, "My dear Balaramaji, You two brothers, cowherd boys only, may be very expert in tending cows, but how can You be expert in playing chess or shooting arrows on the battlefield? These arts are well-known only to the princely order." Hearing this kind of pinching talk by Rukmi and hearing the loud laughter of all the other princes present there, Lord Balarama became as agitated as burning cinders. He immediately took a club in His hand and, without any further talk, struck Rukmi on the head. From that one blow, Rukmi fell down immediately and was dead and gone. Thus Rukmi was killed by Balarama on that auspicious occasion of Aniruddha's marriage.

These things are not very uncommon in ksatriya society, and the King of Kalinga, being afraid that he would be the next to be attacked, fled from the scene. Before he could escape even a few steps, however, Balaramaji immediately captured him and, because the King was always showing his teeth while criticizing Balarama and Krsna, broke all the his teeth with His club. The other princes who were supporting the King of Kalinga and Rukmi were also captured, and Balarama beat them with His club, breaking their legs and hands. They did not try to retaliate but thought it wise to run away from the bloody scene.

During this strife between Balarama and Rukmi, Lord Krsna did not utter a word, for He knew that if He supported Balarama, Rukmini would be unhappy, and if He said that the killing of Rukmi was unjust, then Balarama would be unhappy. Therefore, Lord Krsna was silent on the death of His brother-in-law, Rukmi, on the occasion of His grandson's marriage. He did not disturb either His affectionate relationship with Balarama or with Rukmini. After this, the bride and the bridegroom were ceremoniously seated on the chariot, and they started for Dvaraka, accompanied by the bridegroom's party. The bridegroom's party was always protected by Lord Krsna, the killer of the Madhu demon. Thus they left Rukmi's kingdom, Bhojakata and happily started for Dvaraka."

Krsna Book, Chapter 61



Balarama Kills Pralambasura


"Once while they were engaged in their transcendental pastimes, a great demon of the name Pralambasura entered their company, desiring to kidnap both Balarama and Krsna. Although Krsna was playing the part of a cowherd boy, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead He could understand everything--past, present and future. So when Pralambasura entered their company, Krsna began to think how to kill the demon, but externally He received him as a friend. "O My dear friend," He said, "It is very good that you have come to take part in our pastimes." Krsna then called all His friends and ordered them: "Now we shall play in pairs. We shall challenge one another in pairs." With this proposal, all the boys assembled together. Some of them took the side of Krsna, and some of them took the side of Balarama, and they arranged to play in duel. The defeated members in duel fighting had to carry the victorious members on their backs. They began playing, and at the same time tended the cows as they proceeded through the Bhandiravana forest. The party of Balarama, accompanied by Sridama and Vrsabha, came out victorious, and Krsna's party had to carry them on their backs through the Bhandiravana forest. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, being defeated, had to carry Sridama on His back, and Bhadrasena carried Vrsabha. Imitating their play, Pralambasura, who appeared there as a cowherd boy, carried Balarama on his back. Pralambasura was the greatest of the demons, and he had calculated that Krsna was the most powerful of the cowherd boys.

In order to avoid the company of Krsna, Pralambasura carried Balarama far away. The demon was undoubtedly very strong and powerful, but he began to feel the burden, and thus he assumed his real form. When he appeared in his real feature, he was decorated with a golden helmet and earrings and looked just like a cloud with lightning carrying the moon. Balarama observed the demon's body expanding up to the limits of the clouds, his eyes dazzling like blazing fire and his mouth flashing with sharpened teeth. At first, Balarama was surprised by the demon's appearance, and He began to wonder, "How is it that all of a sudden this carrier has changed in every way?" But with a clear mind He could quickly understand that He was being carried away from His friends by a demon who intended to kill Him. Immediately He struck the head of the demon with His strong fist, just as the King of the heavenly planets strikes a mountain with his thunderbolt. Being stricken by the fist of Balarama, the demon fell down dead, just like a snake with a smashed head, and blood poured from his mouth. When the demon fell, he made a tremendous sound, and it sounded as if a great hill were falling upon being struck by the thunderbolt of King Indra.

All the boys then rushed to the spot. Being astonished by the ghastly scene, they began to praise Balarama with the words "Well done, well done." All of them began to embrace Balarama with great affection, thinking that He had returned from death and they offered their blessings and congratulations. All the demigods in the heavenly planets became very satisfied and showered flowers on the transcendental body of Balarama, and they also offered their blessings and congratulations for His having killed the great demon Pralambasura."

Krsna Book, Chapter 18


Romaharsana Suta

Balarama Kills Romaharsana Suta
With a Blade of Grass


"This holy place, Naimisaranya, is still existing in India, and in ancient times it was especially used for the meetings of great sages and saintly persons with the aim of understanding spiritual life and self-realization. When Lord Balarama visited that place there was a great sacrifice being performed by a great assembly of transcendentalists. Such meetings were planned to last thousands of years. When Lord Balarama arrived, all the participants of the meeting--great sages, ascetics, brahmanas and learned scholars--immediately arose from their seats and welcomed Him with great honor and respect. Some offered Him respectful obeisances, and those who were elderly great sages and brahmanas offered Him blessings by standing up. After this formality, Lord Balarama was offered a suitable seat, and everyone present worshiped Him. Everyone in the assembly stood up in the presence of Balarama because they knew Him to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Education or learning means to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead; therefore, although Lord Balarama appeared on the earth as a ksatriya, all the brahmanas and sages stood up because they knew who Lord Balarama was.

Unfortunately, after being worshiped and seated at His place, Lord Balarama saw Romaharsana, the disciple of Vyasadeva (the literary incarnation of Godhead), still sitting on the vyasasana. He had neither gotten up from his seat nor offered Him respects. Because he was seated on the vyasasana, he foolishly thought himself greater than the Lord; therefore he did not get down from the seat or bow down before the Lord. Lord Balarama then considered the history of Romaharsana: he was born in a suta family, or a mixed family, born of a brahmana woman and a ksatriya man. Therefore although Romaharsana considered Balarama a ksatriya, he should not have remained sitting on a higher seat. Lord Balarama considered that Romaharsana, according to his position by birth, should not have accepted the higher sitting position, because there were many learned brahmanas and sages present. He also observed that Romaharsana not only did not come down from his exalted seat, but he did not even stand up and offer his respects when Balaramaji entered the assembly. Lord Balarama did not like the audacity of Romaharsana, and He became very angry with him. When a person is seated on the vyasasana, he does not generally have to stand to receive a particular person entering the assembly, but in this case the situation was different because Lord Baladeva is not an ordinary human being. Therefore, although Romaharsana Suta was voted to the vyasasana by all the brahmanas, he should have followed the behavior of other learned sages and brahmanas who were present and should have known that Lord Balarama is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Respects are always due Him, even though such respects can be avoided in the case of an ordinary man. The appearance of Krsna and Balarama is especially meant for reestablishment of the religious principles. As stated in the Bhagavad-gita, the highest religious principle is to surrender unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is also confirmed in the Srimad-Bhagavatam that the topmost perfection of religiousness is to be engaged in the devotional service of the Lord.

When Lord Balarama saw that Romaharsana Suta did not understand the highest principle of religion in spite of his having studied all the Vedas, He certainly could not support his position. Romaharsana Suta had been given the chance to become a perfect brahmana, but because of his ill behavior in his relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, his low birth was immediately remembered. Romaharsana Suta had been given the position of a brahmana, but he had not been born in the family of a brahmana; he had been born in a pratiloma family. According to the Vedic concept, there are two kinds of mixed family heritage. They are called anuloma and pratiloma. When a male is united with a female of a lower caste, the offspring is called anuloma; but when a male unites with a woman of a higher caste, the offspring is called pratiloma. Romaharsana Suta belonged to a pratiloma family because his father was a ksatriya and his mother a brahmana. Because Romaharsana's transcendental realization was not perfect, Lord Balarama remembered his pratiloma heritage. The idea is that any man can be given the chance to become a brahmana, but if he improperly uses the position of a brahmana without actual realization, then his elevation to the brahminical position is not valid.

After seeing the deficiency of realization in Romaharsana Suta, Lord Balarama decided to chastise him for being puffed up. Lord Balarama therefore said, "This man is liable to be awarded the death punishment because, although he has the good qualification of being a disciple of Lord Vyasadeva, and although he has studied all the Vedic literature from this exalted personality, he was not submissive in the presence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead." As stated in the Bhagavad-gita, a person who is actually a brahmana and is very learned must automatically become very gentle also. In the case of Romaharsana Suta, although he was very learned and had been given the chance to become a brahmana, he had not become gentle. From this we can understand that when one is puffed up by material acquisition, he cannot acquire the gentle behavior befitting a brahmana. The learning of such a person is as good as a valuable jewel decorating the hood of a serpent. Despite the valuable jewel on the hood, a serpent is still a serpent and is as fearful as an ordinary serpent. If a person does not become meek and humble, all his studies of the Vedas and Puranas and his vast knowledge in the sastras become simply outward dress, like the costume of a theatrical artist dancing on the stage. Lord Balarama began to consider thus, "I have appeared in order to chastise false persons who are internally impure but externally pose themselves to be very learned and religious. My killing of such persons is proper, to check them from further sinful activity."

Lord Balarama had avoided taking part in the Battle of Kuruksetra, and yet because of His position, the reestablishment of religious principles was His prime duty. Considering these points, He killed Romaharsana Suta simply by striking him with a kusa straw, which was nothing but a blade of grass. If someone questions how Lord Balarama could kill Romaharsana Suta simply by striking him with a blade of kusa grass, the answer is given in Srimad-Bhagavatam by the use of the word prabhu (master). The Lord's position is always transcendental, and because He is omnipotent He can act as He likes without being obliged to the material laws and principles. Thus it was possible for Him to kill Romaharsana Suta simply by striking him with a blade of kusa grass.

At the death of Romaharsana Suta, everyone present became much aggrieved, and there was roaring crying. Although all the brahmanas and sages present there knew Lord Balarama to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they did not hesitate to protest the Lord's action, and they humbly submitted, "Our dear Lord, we think that Your action is not in line with the religious principles. Dear Lord Yadunandana, we may inform You that we brahmanas posted Romaharsana Suta on that exalted position for the duration of this great sacrifice. He was seated on the vyasasana by our election, and when one is seated on the vyasasana, it is improper for him to stand up to receive a person. Moreover, we awarded Romaharsana Suta an undisturbed duration of life. Under the circumstances, since Your Lordship has killed him without knowing all these facts, we think that Your action has been equal to that of killing a brahmana. Dear Lord, deliverer of all fallen souls, we know certainly that You are the knower of all Vedic principles. You are the master of all mystic powers; therefore ordinarily the Vedic injunctions cannot be applied to Your personality. But we request that You show Your causeless mercy upon others by kindly atoning for this killing of Romaharsana Suta. We do not, however, suggest what kind of act You should perform to atone for killing him; we simply suggest that some method of atonement be adopted by You so that others may follow Your action. What is done by a great personality is followed by the ordinary man."

The Lord replied, "Yes, I must atone for this action, which may have been proper for Me, but is improper for others; therefore, I think it is My duty to execute a suitable act of atonement enjoined in the authorized scriptures. Simultaneously I can also give this Romaharsana Suta life again, with a span of long duration, sufficient strength, and full power of the senses. Not only this, if you desire I shall be glad to award him anything else which you may ask. I shall be very glad to grant all these boons in order to fulfill your desires."

This statement of Lord Balarama definitely confirms that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is free to act in any way. Although it may be considered that His killing of Romaharsana Suta was improper, He could immediately counteract the action with greater profit to all. Therefore, one should not imitate the actions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; one should simply follow the instructions of the Lord. All the great learned sages present realized that although they considered the action of Lord Balarama to be improper, the Lord was immediately able to compensate with greater profits. Not wanting to detract from the mission of the Lord in killing Romaharsana Suta, all of them prayed, "Our dear Lord, the uncommon use of Your kusa weapon to kill Romaharsana Suta may remain as it is; because of Your desire to kill him, he should not be brought to life again. At the same time Your Lordship may remember that we sages and brahmanas voluntarily gave him long life; therefore, such a benediction should not be nullified." Thus the request of all the learned brahmanas in the assembly was ambiguous because they wanted to keep intact the benediction given by them that Romaharsana Suta would continue to live until the end of the great sacrifice, but at the same time they did not want to nullify Balarama's killing him.

The Supreme Personality of Godhead therefore solved the problem in a manner befitting His exalted position, and said, "Because the son is produced from the body of the father, it is the injunction of the Vedas that the son is the father's representative. Therefore I say that Ugrasrava Suta, the son of Romaharsana Suta, should henceforth take his father's position and continue the discourses on the Puranas, and because you wanted Romaharsana to have a long duration of life, this benediction will be transferred to his son. The son, Ugrasrava, will therefore have all the facilities you offered--long duration of life in a good and healthy body, without any disturbances and full strength of all the senses."

Lord Balarama then implored all the sages and brahmanas that aside from the benediction offered to the son of Romaharsana, they should ask from Him any other benediction, and He would be prepared to fulfill it immediately. The Lord thus placed Himself in the position of an ordinary ksatriya and informed the sages that He did not know in what way He could atone for His killing of Romaharsana, but whatever they would suggest He would be glad to accept.

The brahmanas could understand the purpose of the Lord, and thus, they suggested that He atone for His actions in a manner which would be beneficial to them. They said, "Our dear Lord, there is a demon of the name Balvala. He is the son of Ilvala, but he is a very powerful demon, and he visits this sacred place of sacrifice every fortnight on the full moon and moonless days and creates a great disturbance to the discharge of our duties in the sacrifice. O descendant of the Dasarha family, we all request You to kill this demon. We think that if You kindly kill him, that will be Your atonement on our behalf. The demon occasionally comes here and profusely throws upon us contaminated, impure things like pus, blood, stool, urine and wine, and he pollutes this sacred place by showering such filth upon us. After killing Balvala, You may continue touring all the sacred places of pilgrimage for twelve months, and in that way You will be completely freed from all contamination. That is our prescription."

Krsna Book, Chapter 77


Dvivida, the Ape Demon


"This gorilla was a great friend of Bhaumasura's or Narakasura's, who was killed by Krsna in connection with his kidnapping sixteen thousand princesses from all over the world. Dvivida was the minister of King Sugriva. His brother, Mainda, was also a very powerful gorilla king. When Dvivida gorilla heard the story of his friend Bhaumasura's being killed by Lord Krsna, he planned to create mischief throughout the country in order to avenge the death of Bhaumasura. His first business was to set fires in villages, towns and industrial and mining places, as well as the residential quarters of the mercantile men who were busy dairy farming and protecting cows. Sometimes he would uproot a big mountain and tear it to pieces. In this way he created great disturbances all over the country, especially in the province of Kathwar. The city of Dvaraka was situated in this Kathwar province, and because Lord Krsna used to live in this city, Dvivida specifically made it his target of disturbance.

Dvivida was as powerful as 10,000 elephants. Sometimes he would go to the seashore, and with his powerful hands he would create so much disturbance in the sea that he would overflood the neighboring cities and villages. Often he would go to the hermitages of great saintly persons and sages and cause a great disturbance by smashing their beautiful gardens and orchards. Not only did he create disturbances in that way, but sometimes he would pass urine and stool on their sacred sacrificial arena. He would thus pollute the whole atmosphere. He also kidnapped both men and women, taking them away from their residential places to the caves of the mountains. Putting them within the caves, he would close the entrances with large chunks of stone, like the bhrngi insect, which arrests and carries away many flies and other insects and puts them within the holes of the trees where he lives. He thus regularly defied the law and order of the country. Not only that, but he would sometimes pollute the female members of many aristocratic families by forcibly raping them.

While creating such great disturbance all over the country, sometimes he heard very sweet musical sounds from the Raivataka Mountain, and so he entered that mountainous region. There he saw Lord Balarama was present in the midst of many beautiful young girls, enjoying their company while engaged in singing and dancing. He became captivated by the beautiful features of Lord Balarama's body, each and every part of which was very beautiful, decorated as He was with a garland of lotus flowers. Similarly, all the young girls present, dressed and garlanded with flowers, exhibited much beauty. Lord Balarama seemed to be fully intoxicated from drinking the varuni beverage, and His eyes appeared to be rolling in a drunken state. Lord Balarama appeared just like the king of the elephants in the midst of many she-elephants.

This gorilla by the name Dvivida could climb up on the trees and jump from one branch to another. Sometimes he would jerk the branches, creating a particular type of sound, "Kila, kila," so that Lord Balarama was greatly distracted from the pleasing atmosphere. Sometimes Dvivida would come before the women and exhibit different types of caricatures. By nature young women are apt to enjoy everything with laughter and joking, and when the gorilla came before them they did not take him seriously, but simply laughed at him. However, the gorilla was so rude that even in the presence of Balarama he began to show the lower part of his body to the women, and sometimes he would come forward to show his teeth while moving his eyebrows. He disrespected the women, even in the presence of Balarama. Lord Balarama's name suggests that He is not only very powerful, but that He takes pleasure in exhibiting extraordinary strength. So He took a stone and threw it at Dvivida. The gorilla, however, artfully avoided being struck by the stone. In order to insult Balarama, the gorilla took away the earthen pot in which the varuni was kept. Dvivida, being thus intoxicated with his limited strength, began to tear off all the valuable clothes worn by Balarama and the accompanying young girls. He was so puffed up that he thought that Balarama could not do anything to chastise him, and he continued to offend Balaramaji and His companions.

When Lord Balarama personally saw the disturbances created by the gorilla and heard that he had already performed many mischievous activities all over the country, He became very angry and decided to kill him. Immediately He took His club in His hands. The gorilla could understand that now Balarama was going to attack him. In order to counteract Balarama, he immediately uprooted a big oak tree, and with great force he came and struck at Lord Balarama's head. Lord Balarama, however, immediately caught hold of the big tree and remained undisturbed, just like a great mountain. To retaliate, He took His club by the name of Sunanda and began to hit the gorilla with it. The gorilla's head was severely injured. Currents of blood flowed from his head with great force, but the stream of blood enhanced his beauty like a stream of liquid manganese coming out of a great mountain. The striking of Balarama's club did not even slightly disturb him. On the contrary, he immediately uprooted another even bigger oak tree, and after clipping off all its leaves, he began to strike Balarama's head with it. But Balarama, with the help of His club, tore the tree to pieces. Since the gorilla was very angry, he took another tree in his hands and began to strike Lord Balarama's body. Again Lord Balarama tore the tree to pieces, and the fighting continued. Each time the gorilla would bring out a big tree to strike Balarama, Lord Balarama would tear the tree to pieces by striking His club. The gorilla Dvivida would clutch another tree from another direction and again attack Balarama in the same way. As a result of this continuous fighting, the forest became treeless. When no more trees were available, Dvivida took help from the hills and threw large pieces of stone, like rainfall, upon the body of Balarama. Lord Balarama, also in a great sporting mood, began to smash those big pieces of stone into mere pebbles. The gorilla, being bereft of all trees and stone slabs, now stood before Him and waved his strong fists. Then, with great force, he began to beat the chest of Lord Balarama with his fists. This time Lord Balarama became most angry. Since the gorilla was striking Him with his hands, He would not strike him back with His own weapons, the club or the plow. Simply with His fists He began to strike the collarbone of the gorilla. This striking proved fatal to Dvivida, who immediately vomited blood and fell unconscious upon the ground. When the gorilla fell, it appeared that all the hills and forests tottered.

After this horrible incident, all the Siddhas, great sages and saintly persons from the upper planetary system began to shower flowers on the person of Lord Balarama, and sounds glorifying the supremacy of Lord Balarama were vibrated. All of them began to chant, "All glories to Lord Balarama! Let us offer our respectful obeisances unto Your lotus feet. By Your killing this great demon, Dvivida, You have initiated an auspicious era for the world." All such jubilant sounds of victory were heard from outer space. After killing the great demon Dvivida and being worshiped by showers of flowers and glorious sounds of victory, Balarama returned to His capital city, Dvaraka."

Krsna Book, Chapter 67

 Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. Excerpted from various texts and purports of HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.