BALA-RÂMA – Elder Brother of Krishna and an avatâra of Vishnu

This myth is nested within the great myth cycles of Lord Vishnu and Shrî Krishna. Bala-Râma was involved in many episodes as an adoring, supportive older brother of Krishna. It was a role deserving of a divine lineage, demonstrating the kind of person who deserved to be near so great an incarnation as Krishna, and how important it is to live one’s own dharma (duty).

Bala-Râma’s birth was particularly miraculous. On the day of the marriage of the Yâdava king Vasudeva to Devakî, a voice was heard from the sky that the eighth child of this couple would kill Kamsa, the wicked brother of Devakî. Kamsa immediately jailed both Devakî and Vasudeva. He killed the first six children born to them. The seventh child was the incarnation of Ananta, Vishnu’s serpent.

Vishnu, in order to protect him, ordered Mâyâdevî to take the child from the womb of Devakî and to place it in the womb of Rohinî, another wife of King Vasudeva in the city of Madhurâ. Rohinî gave birth to Balabhadra-Râma. The eighth child was Krishna. Bala-Râma was the constant companion in all the boyhood adventures of Bala-Râma plays with his younger, dark-skinned brother Krishna.

Krishna in Madhurâ, killing demons and demonesses and even his uncle Kamsa at a Câpa-pûjâ (worship of the bow). According to the Bhâgavata Purâna, Bala-Râma was the partial incarnation of Vishnu, and Shrî Krishna is a full incarnation. Other Purânas identified BalaRâma as the incarnation of Ananta, the serpent on which Vishnu reclined upon when floating on the milky ocean.

BALA-RÂMA, BALABHADRA-RÂMA - Elder brother of Krishna and an avatâra of Vishnu

In versions where Bala-Râma was considered a partial incarnation, another figure was inserted in the list of the ten incarnations of Vishnu, such as Buddha. When Bala-Râma died of disappointment with the Yâdava clan and all of their failures at kingship, his spirit left his body through his mouth as a white serpent and was welcomed into the netherworld by the Nâga kingdom.

In art and iconography Bala-Râma is exactly the same in appearance as Krishna except he is white and Krishna is black or dark purple.

Leave a Comment