With the help of Sri Balarama
Swami BV Parivrajak
Balarama helps us to purify our heart (Vrindavan) by killing two demons: Dhenuka and Pralamba. He killed many other demons such as Dvivida Gorilla, Balvala, the wrestlers in the arena of Kansa and others, but Dhenuka and Pralamba are particularly important for the sadhakas. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur explains in Sri Chaitanya Shikshamrita that the contaminations they represent have to be removed by dint of the devotee’s own endeavours. When a devotee tries with enthusiasm to remove these impurities, then, by the mercy of Lord Balarama, they are cast far away.
The killer of Dhenuka
The vrindavan lila is very sweet and reassuring. Whenever any obstacle comes to disrupt the normal flow of life, Krishna and Balarama intervene with Their formidable prowess. The residents of Vrindavan have nothing to fear because Krishna and Balarama are always with them, assuring them all kinds of protection.
The killing of Dhenukasura occurred right after the banishment of the Kaliya serpent from the Yamuna river. Once the cowherd boys had heard of a large grove where there were palmyras bearing delicious fruit, but dared not go there because it was guarded by Dhenuka, a demon in the form of an ass. The demon charged at Balarama when He began to gather the fruit. Balarama killed Dhenuka hurling him against one of the palmyras. The demon fell dead together with the tree’s fruits. Thereafter the boys and cattle were able to frequent the grove.
Dhenuka is the ass demon. He represents the bad mentality of overburdened load-carrying.
If we are influenced by the Dhenuka mentality, we are spiritually unaware, totally ignorant of our nature as servants of the Lord. Dhenuka is the misleading mentality that causes delusion about what and who is actually worshipable. It also stimulates foolish interpretations of the divine nature of the holy name of the Lord. In short, Dhenuka represents ignorance of knowledge of the soul through gross materialistic intelligence. Dhenuka is ass-like foolishness. One has to be very determined not to remain under the spell of Dhenukasura if he/she is interested in spiritual advancement.
The Garga Samhita reveals why Balarama killed Dhenuka during His Braj lila. In his previous life, Dhenuka was Sahasika, a son of Bali Maharaj. Sahasika offended the sage Durvasa by disturbing him when the muni was meditating. Sahasika was enjoying with ten thousand women on Mount Gandhamadana and making a lot of noise. The sage Durvasa became very irritated and cursed him to become an ass. Durvasa said, “You fool! Ass-like man! Become an ass! After 400,000 years, you will attain liberation by the the hand of Lord Balarama, in the transcendental circle of Mathura, in the sacred forest of Talavan.” Dhenuka could not be killed by Krishna for two reasons. Firstly, Krishna was bound to make true the words of Durvasa Muni. The second reason was that Krishna had given His word to Prahlad Maharaj that He would not kill anybody in his dynasty.
The killer of Pralamba
According to the Brahma-vaivarta Purana, Pralamba was Sudarshana in his previous life. Sudarshan was one of the brothers of Suhotra, who became Bakasura in Braj lila. According to the Garga Samhita, Pralamba was Vijay, the son of a Gandharva king named Huhu. He was cursed by Kuvera to become a demon for stealing some flowers from one of his gardens.
The killing of Pralamba occured during the rainy season, just after Krishna swallowed the two forest fires. The demon approached Krishna and Balarama when They were playing with all the other boys of Braj. Pralamba joined them in their games with a view to killing them, and passed unnoticed. The boys then started a new game called ‘game of the deer’ (harinakridanam nama). They formed two teams and raced in pairs, skipping like deer, up to the bhandira tree. The bhandira was a gigantic banyan tree. It reached up to the sky and provided shade for Krishna and Balarama when they were out grazing the cattle. The boys enjoyed very much the game of the deer. The boy who was last to reach the bhandira tree had to carry his rival back to the starting point on his shoulders. Krishna competed against Shridama and Balarama against Pralamba. Balarama won as He reached the banyan tree first. The winners had to be carried on the back of the losers. So, Balarama climbed on the shoulders of the false gopa, the intruder Pralamba, who reverted to his huge demonic form and raced away with Him. Balarama, however, killed him by pounding the head of the demon with His formidable
Pralamba represents lust for the company of the opposite sex, as well as desire for profit, adoration and distinction. These are all very strong obstacles. It is very difficult to overcome lust for the opposite sex, greed for money, the desire for sense gratification and the inclination to increase one’s honour and be worshipped by others.
Pralamba represents also duplicity. He entered the group of the boys in disguise and passed unnoticed for a while. Similarly, when one livesv with others with duplicious motives, he may be successful for a while, but ultimately he will be exposed by Balarama’expert investigation. Pralamba is the emblem of dishonesty in the guise of innocence and purity. We should be very careful to avoid the effect of Pralamba in our mind. Honest people are very rare, which means that Pralamba is an effective agent of Kansa and the age of Kali. Pralamba is synonimous with double-dealing, diplomacy, cheating, fraud, kali-chela and so forth. A Pralamba type of person cannot thrive in any walk of life. Sooner or later, his dishonesty will be found out. He will be hated by all men of his society. He will fail in all his ventures. To cover up an untruth, he will tell hundred
If one understands that the Pralamba tendencies are very detrimental for one’s development in Krishna consciousness, he/she will try to cast them out. If one tries with humility, Krishna will be pleased and bestow His mercy. The devotee must petition the Lord for the strength to vanquish all the miseries which comes along with the Pralamba mood. One should pray and cry sincerely before the Lord on a daily basis. As soon as Balarama awakens in the devotee’s heart, these contaminations will be instantly
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura remarks that the methods of the process of purification are very deep and mysterious and that it is necessary to learn about them directly from a genuine spiritual master. Since Balarama is the original guru, a bonafide master is empowered by Him. When the aspiring devotee takes shelter of the spiritual master, he/she receives some of that transcendental shakti and is thereby able to overcome the influence of Pralamba.
Balarama promotes the process of purification by killing Dhenuka and Pralamba in our heart. Gurudeva slays the same demons in the heart of his disciples by the strength of his personal conduct and relevant instructions. Under the shelter of the spiritual master, one becomes interested in discharging devotional service and develops a taste for hearing and chanting about Krishna. The more one is interested in hearing and chanting, the more he/she is purified from the worldly contamination.
My humble attempt to praise the mighty Sri Balarama ends with a verse from the Balarama Kavacha. This armor (kavacha) was given to the gopis of Vrindavan by Garga Muni. Later on, it was repeated to Duryodhan, who was a favorite of Balarama during the holocaust of Kurukshetra.
kamat sada raksha tu dhenukarih
krodhat sada mam dvivida prahari
lobhat sada raksha tu balvalarir
mohat sada mam kil magadharih
O Dhenukari, killer of the ass-like demon, kindly protect me from lust. O Dvivida Prahari, killer of the gorilla demon, kindly protect me from anger. O Balvalari, killer of Balvala, kindly protect me from greed. O Magadhari, kindly protect me against illusion.
Let us always remember Sri Balarama hurling the ass-demon on top of the palmyras of the Talvan forest! Let us always remember Sri Balaram while He smote down the Pralamba demon, the duplicitous nature hidden in the heart! The pastimes of Sri Balarama are endless and the source of truthfulness and beauty for the whole world.
May the mercy of Sri Balarama flood the earth and sweep away the hearts of all from all undesirable contamination. May He enable us to distinguish truth from illusion for the benefit of
May Sri Balarama be pleased! All glories, all glories to Sri Balarama!