Nilanjana retells the story of Balarama and Dhenuka, in the weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.
Sukha continued narrating the stories about the birth of Vishnu as Krishna. Adisesha, born as Balarama, was Krishna’s constant companion in Vrindavan. They would go out to the field every day to graze the cows and enjoy themselves along with other cowherds. Their lifestyle was not very different from regular cowherds of their time. Krishna would be playing his flute mostly all the time. This practice made him very proficient with the flute. Now this music would call all his friends and the cattle that may have been scattered around, to gather back together and return back home. Life continued this way as Balarama and Krishna were growing up.
One day Balarama and Krishna were playing around, as usual. After some time, Balarama felt a little tired, so he decided to take a quick nap. But some of his friends from the cowherds came and informed them about a palm grove nearby that yielded tasty ripe fruits. The simple gopas (cowherds) desired these delicious fruits. However, an asura(demon) named Dhenuka and his kinsmen were guarding the grove. They were known to devour human flesh.
Balarama and Krishna set out to fulfill the simple desire of their friends – to eat dates from the palm grove. They entered the grove, looked around and began working on the task. With his mighty arms, Balarama shook the trees – one by one. The ground was covered with delicious fruits. The cowherds began picking them up. Their enjoyment knew no bounds.
Dhenuka asura did not miss the noise created by the cowherds. He arrived at the spot, in the form of a mule, to see Balarama shaking the trees. Angry, he kicked Balarama around. Now the one to let go of such a behavior, Balarama grabbed his hind-legs, whirled him round and round above his head and threw him on the trees. That was the end of the dreaded demon. The dead asura fell on the ground along with some trees. His kinsmen attacked Balarama and Krishna with equal violence but met the same fate.
Balarama, by being an incarnation of Adisesha, was an extension of Narayana himself. They pervade the whole universe and in this birth, they had showered their grace on simple cowherds by taking on all kind of dangers to fulfill the desires of their simple playmates.
As Sukha completed narrating this story, Parikshit’s eyes were moist. Grace has to be experienced. It is beyond intellectual comprehension and therefore elusive to those who constantly operate from the mind.
[To be continued]
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.
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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.