This year Balarama Purnima falls on Monday, 7th August 2017. It marks the most auspicious appearance day of Lord Balarama. It is said in the scriptures that only through the medium of Lord Balarama can one understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Sri Krsna. One who is practicing devotional service in the line of Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya sampradaya, one of the four bonafide Vaisnava sampradayas, must necessarily understand the position and glories of Lord Balarama to cultivate proper devotional attitude.

Lord Sri Krsna, the absolute Personality of Godhead, is the primeval Lord, the original form of Godhead, and His first expansion is Sri Balarama. They both are one and the same identity with the only difference being Their bodily structure. Lord Krsna appears like a dark rain cloud whereas Lord Balarama appears white. As the first expansion of Godhead, Balarama is the chief Deity among the first quadruple forms (Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Pradyumna, Aniruddha), and He is the foremost assistant of Sri Krsna in His transcendental activities.

Before the appearance of Lord Krsna from the womb of Devaki, He instructs His yoga-maya potency, “My plenary expansion Ananta Sesa is within the womb of Devaki. On account of being forcibly attracted to the womb of Rohini, He will be known as Sankarsana and will be the source of all spiritual power, or bala, by which one can attain the highest bliss of life, which is called ramana. Therefore, the plenary portion Ananta will be known after His appearance either as Sankarsana or as Balarama.”

In the Upanishads it is stated, nayam atma bala-hinena labhyah. The purport is that one cannot attain the supreme platform of self-realization without being sufficiently favoured by Balarama. Bala does not mean physical strength. No one can attain spiritual perfection by physical strength. One must have the spiritual strength which is infused by Balarama, or Sankarsana. Ananta, or Sesa, is the source of the power which sustains all the planets in their different positions. Materially this sustaining power is known as the law of gravitation, but actually it is a display of the potency of Sankarsana.

Lord Balarama has two key roles to play in His manifestation. Firstly, He represents the principle of Servitor Godhead, that is, He expands Himself unlimitedly to assist Lord Krsna in His pastimes and to perform unlimited services for Him. Thus, He assumes the name of Ananta, one who is unlimited. Though He is non-different from Lord Krsna in His potencies as Godhead, still He assumes the role of a servant of Krsna. According to expert opinion, Balarama, as the chief of the original quadruple forms, is also the original Sankarsana. Balarama, the first expansion of Krsna, expands Himself in five forms: (1) Maha-sakarsana, (2) Karanabhisayi, (3) Garbhodakasayi, (4) Ksirodakasayi, and (5) Sesa. These five plenary portions are responsible for both the spiritual and material cosmic manifestations. In these five forms Lord Balarama assists Lord Krsna in His activities. The first four of these forms are responsible for the cosmic manifestations, whereas Sesa is responsible for personal service to the Lord. Sesa is called Ananta, or unlimited, because He assists the Personality of Godhead in His unlimited expansions by performing an unlimited variety of services. Sri Balarama is the servitor Godhead who serves Lord Krsna in all affairs of existence and knowledge. Srila Jiva Goswami, one of the most prominent Gaudiya acaryas, has said wonderfully that if you ask Krsna, “Who is God?”, then Krsna will say, “I am God”. But if you ask Lord Balarama, “Who is God?”, He will say, “Krsna is God.” Lord Balarama is an embodiment of this loving mood of servitude to Krsna that upholds the principle that “ekale isvara krsna, ara sab bhrtya”, Krsna is the only one God and everyone else is His eternal servant.

Second aspect is that Lord Balarama is the source of all other expansions of Godhead and thus it is only through Him that one can approach Lord Krsna. Hence, He assumes the role of the original Spiritual Master or Adi-guru because it is only through the mercy of a spiritual master that one can understand and approach Krsna and get His mercy, yasya prasadad bhagavad prasado. Therefore, all the spiritual masters are in the line of disciplic succession and Lord Balarama is the fountainhead of this principle of servitorship to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As the Supreme spiritual master, Lord Balarama performs two very important roles, 1) to cultivate the hearts of living entities so that the seed of devotional creeper can be planted in them and 2) to remove all impediments in the path of those who want to progress in devotional service to achieve the ultimate perfection of life, which is to attain the love of Godhead. Thus, He always carries a plough (to represent cultivation of the heart) and a mace (to destroy all impediments). Balarama, or Sankarsana, is the source of spiritual power, or the original spiritual master. Therefore, Lord Nityananda Prabhu, who is also the incarnation of Balarama, is the original spiritual master. And the spiritual master is the representative of Balarama, the form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead who supplies spiritual strength.

On this most auspicious appearance day of Lord Balarama, let us pray with our sincere hearts to Lord Balarama so He can bestow upon us the spiritual strength by which to overcome our material desires and in this way be situated on the eternal platform of servitude to Krsna and His devotees.

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Sri Balaram Purnima Ki Jai!

Srila Prabhupada Ki Jai! Srila Gurudev Ki Jai!