Tales from Srimad Bhagavatam: The Birth of Balarama – XXVIII

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Nilanjana retells the story of Balarama. Rohini, childless, was another wife of Vasudeva, who was in the prison with Devaki. A miraculous transfer of womb happens, when Rohini meets them in the prison. Yogamaya was born too. All these were in the preparation of Krishna’s birth. Read more in the weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.

Balarama is an important figure in our mythology. The elder brother of Krishna played a significant role in supporting his younger brother throughout their lifetime. Balarama is also believed to be an avatar. Some sources say that he is the incarnation of Adishesha1 while others say that he is an incarnation of Vishnu himself. In any case, Adishesha is believed to be an amsha (part) of Vishnu himself, so both the sources lead us to the same narrative.

Rohini was another wife of Vasudeva. She had been childless for a long time and was craving for a child of her own. Meanwhile, Devaki and Vasudeva were still royal prisoners in the palace that Kamsa had built for them. He had already killed the first six children of Devaki. When news spread that Devaki was expecting again, for the seventh time, Kamsa was ready. By now he had perhaps lost all sympathy for his sister. Her sorrow did not disturb him anymore. However, he was getting obsessed by the Lord and his hatred for him. He, of course, did not remember his original form as the door-keeper of Narayana’s Vaikuntha, doomed by a curse to be born in the world of mortals.

Everyone involved in this narrative is just a channel for the cosmic drama that was unfolding. As Narayana was preparing to take birth in the world of the mortals, he was gradually getting all his supporting divine beings to be born around the same time.

Rohini decided to pay a visit to her husband and his wife in the royal prison. Devaki suddenly went into a trance during the meeting. Magically, the child inside Devaki’s womb got transferred to Rohini’s. As she walked out of the royal prison pregnant with an avatar, Devaki again lost another child even before it was born. Kamsa heard the news that added much anxiety to his already agitated mind.

In course of time, Rohini gave birth to a son. He was known as ‘Sankarshana’. Since he was very strong he was also called ‘Bala’. His charm gave him the name ‘Rama’. He is popularly known as Balarama.

Now, it was time for Narayana to be born as Krishna. As Kamsa kept eagerly waiting for the eighth-born, Narayana summoned Devi (the cosmic feminine). Often known as Yogamaya, she too had a role in this cosmic drama. She was to be born as the daughter of Yashoda and Nanda. Since she agreed to help Narayana in this great cosmic drama. She was soon to be bestowed the title of Ishwari, who would grant children to the childless. Her devotees have built many temples in her various names all across the land.

Now, Narayana was ready to be born as Devaki’s eighth child…

[To be continued]


  1. Adishesha – The mythological thousand-headed serpent who forms the couch and the canopy of Narayana as he rests in the cosmic ocean

Footnote: Srimad Bhagavatam is often called the Bhagavad Purana. Authored by Ved Vyasa, the stories are about the various avatars (incarnations) of Lord Vishnu, also known as Narayana.

©Nilanjana Dey

Photos from the internet.

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A story-teller at heart, Nilanjana Dey is on a journey to experiment with fiction and poetry. Her first novel, largely aimed towards children, is titled ‘The Adventures of Puti – The Cheese Trail’. Her poems have been published at various prestigious portals. An alumni of English Literature from Jadavpur University (Kolkata), she is a marketing and communication professional based in Mumbai. She volunteers with a Mumbai based NGO working with the marginalised sections of the society.