78. The Liberation of Balvala, and Lord Balarama's Touring the Sacred Places
24 / The Liberation of Balvala, and Lord Balaräma's Touring the Sacred Places
Lord Balaräma prepared Himself to meet the demon Balvala. At the time when the demon usually attacked the sacred place, there appeared a great hailstorm, the whole sky became covered with dust and the atmosphere became surcharged with a filthy smell. Just after this, the mischievous demon Balvala began to shower torrents of stool and urine and other impure substances on the arena of sacrifice. After this onslaught, the demon himself appeared with a great trident in his hand. He was a gigantic person, and his black body was like a huge mass of carbon. His hair, his beard and his moustache appeared reddish, like copper, and because of his great beard and moustache, his mouth appeared to be very dangerous and fierce. As soon as He saw the demon, Lord Balaräma prepared to attack him. He first began to consider how He could smash the great demon to pieces. Lord Balaräma called for His plow and club, and they immediately appeared before Him. The demon Balvala was flying in the sky, and at the first opportunity Lord Balaräma dragged him down with His plow and angrily smashed the demon's head with His club. By Balaräma's striking, the forehead of the demon became fractured. There was a profuse flow of blood from his forehead, and he began to scream loudly. In this way the demon, who had been such a great disturbance to the pious brähmaëas, fell to the ground. His falling was like a great mountain with a red oxide peak being struck by a thunderbolt and smashed to the ground.
The inhabitants of Naimiñäraëya, learned sages and brähmaëas, became most pleased by seeing this, and they offered their respectful prayers to Lord Balaräma. They offered their heartfelt blessings upon the Lord, and all agreed that Lord Balaräma's attempt to do anything would never be a failure. The sages and brähmaëas then performed a ceremonial bathing of Lord Balaräma, just as King Indra is bathed by the demigods when he is victorious over the demons. The brähmaëas and sages honored Lord Balaräma by presenting Him first-class new clothing and ornaments and the lotus flower garland of victory, the reservoir of all beauty, which was never to be dried up, being in everlasting existence.
After this incidence, Lord Balaräma took permission from the brähmaëas assembled at Naimiñäraëya and, accompanied by other brähmaëas, went to the bank of the river Kauñiké. After taking His bath in this holy place, He proceeded toward the river Sarayü and visited the source of the river. He began to travel on the bank of the Sarayü River, and He gradually reached Prayäga, where there is a confluence of three rivers, the Ganges, Yamunä and Sarasvaté. Here He also regularly took His bath, worshiped the local temples of God and, as it is enjoined in the Vedic literature, offered oblations to the forefathers and sages. He gradually reached the äçrama of the sage Pulaha and from there went to Gaëòaké on the river Gomati. After this He took His bath in the river Vipäçä. Then gradually He came to the bank of the Çoëa River. (The Çoëa River is still running as one of the big rivers in the Behar Province.) He also took His bath there and performed the Vedic ritualistic ceremonies. He continued His travels and gradually came to the pilgrimage city of Gayä, where there is a celebrated Viñëu temple. According to the advice of His father Vasudeva, He offered oblations to the forefathers in this Viñëu temple. From here He traveled to the delta of the Ganges, where the sacred river Ganges mixes with the Bay of Bengal. This sacred place is called Gaìgäsägara, and at the end of January every year there is still a great assembly of saintly persons and pious men, just as there is an assembly of saintly persons in Prayäga every year which is called the Magh Mela Fair.
After finishing His bathing and ritualistic ceremonies at Gaìgäsägara, Lord Balaräma proceeded toward the mountain known as Mahendra Parvata. At this place He met Paraçuräma, the incarnation of Lord Kåñëa, and He offered him respect by bowing down before him. After this He gradually turned toward southern India and visited the banks of the river Godävaré. After taking His bath in the river Godävaré and performing the necessary ritualistic ceremonies, He gradually visited the other rivers--the Veëä, Pampä and Bhémarathé. On the bank of the river Bhémarathé there is the deity called Svämé Kärttikeya. After visiting Kärttikeya Lord Balaräma gradually proceeded to Çailapura, a pilgrimage city in the province of Mahäräñöra. Çailapura is one of the biggest districts in Mahäräñöra Province. He then gradually proceeded towards the Draviòadeça. Southern India is divided into five parts, called Païcadraviòa. Northern India is also divided into five parts, called Païcagaura. All the important äcäryas of the modern age, namely Çaìkaräcärya, Rämänujäcärya, Madhväcärya, Viñëusvämé, and Nimbärka, advented themselves in these Draviòa Provinces. Lord Caitanya appeared in Bengal, which is part of the five Gauradeças.
The most important place of pilgrimage in southern India, or Draviòa, is Veìkaöäcala, commonly known as Bälajé. After visiting this place Lord Balaräma proceeded toward Viñëukäïcé, and from there He proceeded on the bank of the Käveré. He took His bath in the river Käveré; then He gradually reached Raìgakñetra. The biggest temple in the world is in Raìgakñetra, and the Viñëu Deity there is celebrated as Raìganätha. A similar temple of Raìganätha is in Våndävana, although not as big as the temple in Raìgakñetra.
While going to Viñëukäïcé, Lord Balaräma also visited Çivakäïcé. After visiting Raìgakñetra, He gradually proceeded toward Mathurä, commonly known as the Mathurä of southern India. After visiting this place, He gradually proceeded toward Setubandha. Setubandha is the place where Lord Rämacandra constructed the stone bridge from India to Laìkä (Ceylon). In this particularly holy place, Lord Balaräma distributed ten thousand cows to the local brähmaëa priests. It is the Vedic custom that when a rich visitor goes to any place of pilgrimage he gives in charity to the local priests gifts of houses, cows, ornaments and garments. This system of visiting places of pilgrimage and providing the local brähmaëa priests with all necessities of life has greatly deteriorated in this age of Kali. The richer section of the population, because of its degradation in Vedic culture, is no longer attracted by these places of pilgrimage, and the brähmaëa priests who depended on such visitors have also deteriorated in their professional duty of helping the visitors. These brähmaëa priests in the places of pilgrimage are called paëòa or paëòit. This means that they formerly were very learned brähmaëas and used to guide the visitors in all details of the purpose of coming there, and thus both the visitors and the priests were benefited by mutual cooperation.
It is clear from the description of Çrémad-Bhägavatam that when Lord Balaräma was visiting the different places of pilgrimage, He properly followed the Vedic system. After distributing cows at Setubandha, Lord Balaräma proceeded toward the Kåtamälä and Tämraparëé Rivers. These two rivers are celebrated as sacred, and Lord Balaräma bathed in both. He then proceeded toward Malaya Hill. This Malaya Hill is very great, and it is said that it is one of seven peaks called the Malaya Hills. The great sage Agastya used to live there, and Lord Balaräma visited him and offered His respects by bowing down before him. After taking the sage's blessings, Lord Balaräma, with the sage's permission, proceeded toward the Indian Ocean.
At the point of the cape there is a big temple of the goddess Durgä where she is known as Kanyäkumäré. This temple of Kanyäkumäré was also visited by Lord Rämacandra, and therefore it is to be understood that the temple has been existing for millions of years. From there, Lord Balaräma went on to visit the pilgrimage city known as Phälgunatértha, which is on the shore of the Indian Ocean, or the Southern Ocean. Phälgunatértha is celebrated because Lord Viñëu in His incarnation of Ananta is lying there. From Phälgunatértha, Lord Balaräma went on to visit another pilgrimage spot known as Païcäpsarasa. There also He bathed according to the regulative principles and observed the ritualistic ceremonies. This site is also celebrated as a shrine of Lord Viñëu; therefore Lord Balaräma distributed ten thousand cows to the local brähmaëa priests.
From Cape Comarin Lord Balaräma turned toward Kerala. The country of Kerala is still existing in southern India under the name of South Kerala. After visiting this place, He came to Gokarëatértha, where Lord Çiva is constantly worshiped. Balaräma then visited the temple of Äryädevé, which is completely surrounded by water. From that island, He went on to a place known as Çürpäraka. After this He bathed in the rivers known as Täpé, Payoñëé and Nirvindhyä, and He came to the forest known as Daëòakäraëya. This is the same Daëòakäraëya forest where Lord Rämacandra lived while He was in exile. Lord Balaräma next came to the bank of the river Narmadä, the biggest river in central India. On the bank of this sacred Narmadä is a pilgrimage spot known as Mähiñmaté Puré. After bathing there, according to regulative principles, Lord Balaräma returned to Prabhäsatértha, wherefrom He had begun His journey.
When Lord Balaräma returned to Prabhäsatértha He heard from the brähmaëas that most of the kñatriyas in the Battle of Kurukñetra had been killed. Balaräma felt relieved to hear that the burden of the world had been reduced. Lord Kåñëa and Balaräma appeared on this earth to lessen the burden of military strength created by the ambitious kñatriya kings. This is the way of materialistic life: not being satisfied by the absolute necessities of life, people ambitiously create extra demands, and their illegal desires are checked by the laws of nature or by laws of God, appearing as famine, war, pestilence and similar catastrophes. Lord Balaräma heard that although most of the kñatriyas had been killed, the Kurus were still engaged in fighting. Therefore He returned to the battlefield just on the day Bhémasena and Duryodhana were engaged in a personal duel. As well-wisher of both of them, Lord Balaräma wanted to stop them, but they would not stop.
When Lord Balaräma appeared on the scene, King Yudhiñöhira and his young brothers, Nakula, Sahadeva, Lord Kåñëa and Arjuna, immediately offered Him their respectful obeisances, but they did not speak at all. The reason they were silent was that Lord Balaräma was somewhat affectionate toward Duryodhana, and Duryodhana had learned from Balarämajé the art of fighting with a club. Thus, when the fighting was going on, King Yudhiñöhira and others thought that Balaräma might come there to say something in favor of Duryodhana, and they therefore remained silent. Both Duryodhana and Bhémasena were very enthusiastic in fighting with clubs, and in the midst of large audiences, each was very skillfully trying to strike the other, and while attempting to do so they appeared to be dancing. But although they appeared to be dancing, it was clear that both of them were very angry.
Lord Balaräma, wanting to stop the fighting, said, "My dear King Duryodhana and Bhémasena, I know that both of you are great fighters and are well known in the world as great heroes, but still I think that Bhémasena is superior to Duryodhana in bodily strength. On the other hand, Duryodhana is superior in the art of fighting with a club. Taking this into consideration, My opinion is that neither of you is inferior to the other in fighting. Under the circumstances, there is very little chance of one of you being defeated by the other. Therefore I request you not to waste your time in fighting in this way. I wish you to stop this unnecessary fight."
The good instruction given by Lord Balaräma to both Bhémasena and Duryodhana was intended for equal benefit of both of them. But they were so enwrapped in anger against each other that they could only remember their long-lasting personal enmity. Each thought only of killing the other, and they did not give much importance to the instruction of Lord Balaräma. Both of them then became like madmen in remembering the strong accusations and ill behavior they had exchanged with one another. Lord Balaräma, being able to understand the destiny which was awaiting them, was not eager to go further in the matter. Therefore, instead of staying, He decided to return to the city of Dvärakä.
When He returned to Dvärakä, He was received with great jubilation by relatives and friends, headed by King Ugrasena and other elderly persons; all of them came forward to welcome Lord Balaräma. After this, He again went to the holy place of pilgrimage at Naimiñäraëya, and the sages, saintly persons and brähmaëas all received Him standing. They understood that Lord Balaräma, although a kñatriya, was now retired from the fighting business. The brähmaëas and sages, who were always for peace and tranquillity, were very pleased at this. All of them embraced Balaräma with great affection and induced Him to perform various kinds of sacrifices in that sacred spot of Naimiñäraëya. Actually Lord Balaräma had no business performing the sacrifices recommended for ordinary human beings; He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and therefore He Himself is the enjoyer of all such sacrifices. As such, His exemplary action in performing sacrifices was only to give a lesson to the common man to show how one should abide by the injunction of the Vedas.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead Balaräma instructed the sages and saintly persons at Naimiñäraëya on the subject matter of the living entities' relationship with this cosmic manifestation, on how one should accept this whole universe and on how one should relate with the cosmos in order to achieve the highest goal of perfection, the understanding that the whole cosmic manifestation is resting on the Supreme Personality of Godhead and that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is also all-pervading, even within the minutest atom, by the function of His Paramätmä feature.
Lord Balaräma then took the avabhåtha bath which is accepted after finishing sacrificial performances. After taking His bath, He dressed Himself in new silken garments and decorated Himself with beautiful jewelry amidst His relatives and friends. He appeared to be a shining full moon amidst the luminaries in the sky. Lord Balaräma is the Personality of Godhead Ananta Himself; therefore He is beyond the scope of understanding by mind, intelligence or body. He descended exactly like a human being and behaved in that way for His own purpose; we can only explain His activities as the Lord's pastimes. No one can even estimate the extent of the unlimited demonstrations of His pastimes because He is all-powerful. Lord Balaräma is the original Viñëu; therefore anyone remembering these pastimes of Lord Balaräma in the morning and evening, will certainly become a great devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and thus his life will become successful in all respects.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Second Volume, Twenty-fourth Chapter, of Kåñëa, "The Liberation of Balvala, and Lord Balaräma's Touring Sacred Places."