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Encyclopedia of Hindu Gods


Image from Moor.

Basic Description:   Balarama, the Hindu equivalent of Bacchus in Greek and Roman mythology, is the brother of Krishna.

Alternate Names:   The "White One"

Iconography: Balarama is frequently pictured alongside Krishna. He is white or pale and carries a sickle.  

Mythology:   Krishna and Balarama share the same parents—Vasudeva and Devaki.  Balarama is considered a great warrior and a lover of wine.  Vaishnavite Hindus tend to classify Balarama as the 9th avatar of Vishnu.

Birth:  Devaki, the sister of the demon Kansa became pregnant.  However, Kansa had previously killed six of Devaki’s unborn children.  Because this child growing inside of Devaki happened to be Lakshman who was coming to earth to keep Krishna company, Vishnu intervened.  He transferred the embryo into Rohini’s womb, and told Kansa that Devaki had experienced a miscarriage.   Krishna and Balarama were thus born safely and brought up as the child of Vasudeva and Devaki.

Death:  Alongside Krishna , Balarama aided the Pandavas during the epic battle described in the Bhagavad-Gita.  When the Pandavas beat the Kauravas, their mother, Gandhari swored that the entire Yadu race, of which Krishna and Balarama were members, would soon be dead in the same manner.  When Krishna heard of this prophecy, he ordered the citizens of Dewarka to move to Prabhasa in order to avoid their fate.  However, on the way the people had a drunken party, which turned into an all-out brawl.  Although Balarama and Krishna did their best to stop this, eventually they were the only two left alive.  As the two considered this, the serpent Shesha crawled out of Balarama’s mouth and slithered away, leaving Balarama’s lifeless body behind.   Krishna was subsequently killed in a hunting accident, bringing the prophecy to life.

Other References on the Karma-to-Grace website:   Is there a savior in Hinduism?


Thomas, P.  Epics, Myths and Legends of India.  Bombay, India: D. B. Taraporevala Sons & Co. Private Ltd, 1961.

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