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21-Krishn and Balaraam

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21-Difference Between Krishn and Balaraam

There is a temple at Puree, in the State of Orissaa, which has a unique distinction of housing three divine siblings "Krishn, his elder brother Balaraam (locally known as Balabhadra) and his younger sister Subhadraa. Some say that Krishn is Vishnu, Balaraam is Shiv and Subhadraa is Devee, thus the three siblings represent the three main schools of Hindu theism: Vaishnav, Shaiv and Shaakt.

Balaraam's character is very different from Krishn's character. Balaraam is silent, somber, simple but has a fiery temper that is fast to rise and quick to fall unlike Krishn who talks sweetly to get his way, always miling and never loses his coolness.

Physically too, both the brothers are different altogether. Balaraam is fair and has smooth straight hair while Krishn is dark with thick curly hair. Balaraam dresses in blue while Krishn dresses in yellow. Balaraam carries the plough and the pestle, associating him with agricultural activities while Krishn carries a flute, associating him with animal husbandry.

But the greatest difference between the two brothers is that while Krishn favored the Paandav, Balaraam favored the Kaurav, especially Duryodhan. The story goes that Balarama taught mace-warfare and wrestling to both Duryodhan and Bheem, and of the two, Duryodhan was his favorite disciple, just as Krishn's favorite was Arjun over Karn.

In mythology, our Shiv is Bholenaath, the guileless one, who often very innocently gives boons to demons without realizing the consequences, a damage that needs to be rectified by the wily householder god Vishnu. In the epic MBH, Balaraam is the innocent Shiv while Krishn is the wily Vishnu.

Balaraam was so happy with Duryodhan that he wanted his sister, Subhadraa, to marry him. Krishn, however, had other plans. He engineered romance between Subhadraa and Arjun and got her to elope with him. "Look, he is not taking her by force," said Krishn to pacify his infuriated elder brother, "Arjun has not abducted her, she herself has gone with him, rather she has taken him with her  because she was holding the reins of the chariot. She wanted to go with him. Who are we to stop her?"

Later in the epic, according to folk retellings, Balaraam wants his daughter, named variously as Vatsalaa or Shashirekhaa, to marry Duryodhana's son, Lakshman. Krishn stops even this marriage from taking place. He asks Bheem's son Ghatotkach to help Vatsalaa elope with Arjun's son, Abhimanyu and destroy the wedding plans.

This story does not end here. Duryodhan and Balaraam had another plan to unite the Kaurav and the Yaadav clans : Duryodhan's daughter, Lakshmanaa, would marry Krishn's son, Saamb. When Vatsalaa elopes with Abhimanyu, an exasperated Duryodhan refuses to let his daughter marry Saamb. Not willing to take "no" for an answer, Saamb goes to Hastinaapur and tries to abduct Duryodhan's daughter, but is caught by Duryodhan who throws him in a jail. When Balaraam seeks the release of Saamb, Duryodhan insults the Yaadav clan for never keeping their word. Incensed, Balaraam turns into a giant, swings his plough, hooks it on the foundations of Hastinaapur and threatens to drag it into the sea, until Duryodhan apologizes.

Years later in the great war at Kurukshetra, directed by Krishn, Bheem strikes Duryodhan under the navel on his thigh. When Balaraam learns of this, he is so angry for this breach of war rules that he raises his plough to kill Bheem. He could not tolerate that his disciple could behave like this. Krishn stops him saying - "Yes, Bheem has broken the law, but the spirit of the law was upheld so that victims are protected, not villains." Hearing this Balaraam lowers his plough, and forgives Bheem, not because he understood the complex argument of Krishn, but because the ascetic form of God had faith in Vishnu, the more worldly form of God, his younger brother.



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Created by Sushma Gupta On 05/27/04
Modified on 03/24/12