Legacy YM

Chapter 59 - Balarama


BALARAMA, the illustrious brother of Krishna, visited the Pandavas, in their encampment. As Halayudha (plough bearer), clad in blue silk, entered majestically like a lion. Yudhishthira, Krishna and others gave the broad-shouldered warrior a glad welcome. Bowing to Drupada and Virata, the visitor seated himself beside Dharmaputra.

"I have come to Kurukshetra," said he, "learning that the descendants of Bharata have let themselves be overwhelmed by greed, anger and hatred and that the peace talks have broken down and that war has been declared."

Overcome by emotion, he paused for a while and then continued: "Dharmaputra, dreadful destruction is ahead. The earth is going to is a bloody morass strewn with mangled bodies! It is an evil destiny that has maddened the kshatriya world to foregather here to meet its doom. Often have I told Krishna, 'Duryodhana is the same to us as the Pandavas. We may not take sides in their foolish quarrels.' He would not listen to me. His great affection for Dhananjaya has misled Krishna and he is with you in this war which I see he has approved. How can Krishna and I be in opposite camps? For Bhima and Duryodhana, both of them my pupils, I have equal regard and love. How then can I support one against the other? Nor can I bear to see the Kauravas destroyed. I will therefore have nothing to do with this war, this conflagration that will consume everything. This tragedy has made me lose all interest in the world and so I shall wander among holy places."

Having thus spoken against the calamitous war, Krishna's brother left the place, his heart laden with sorrow and his mind seeking consolation in God.

This episode of Balarama�s, keeping out of the Mahabharata war is illustrative of the perplexing situations in which good and honest men often find themselves.

Compelled to choose between two equally justifiable, but contrary, courses of action, the unhappy individual is caught on the horns of a dilemma. It is only honest men that find themselves in this predicament. The dishonest ones of the earth have no such problems, guided as they are solely by their own attachments and desires, that is, by self-interest.


Not so the great men who have renounced all desire. Witness the great trials to which, in the Mahabharata, Bhishma, Vidura, Yudhishthira and Karna were put.

We read in that epic how they solved their several difficulties. Their solutions did not conform to a single moral pattern but reflected their several individualities. The conduct of each was the reaction of his personality and character to the impact of circumstances.

Modern critics and expositors sometimes forget this underlying basic factor and seek to weigh all in the same scales, which is quite wrong. We may profit by the way in which, in the Ramayana, Dasaratha, Kumbhakarna, Maricha, Bharata and Lakshmana reacted to the difficulties with which each of them was faced.

Likewise, Balarama's neutrality in the Mahabharata war has a lesson. Only two princes kept out of that war. One was Balarama and the other was Rukma, the ruler of Bhojakata. The story of Rukma, whose younger sister Rukmini married Krishna, is told in the next chapter.

Chapter1 - Ganapati
Chapter2 - Devavrata
Chapter3 - Bhishma's Vow
Chapter4 - Amba And Bhishma
Chapter5 - Devayani And Kacha
Chapter6 - The Marriage Of Devayani
Chapter7 - Yayati
Chapter8 - Vidura
Chapter9 - Kunti Devi
Chapter10 - Death Of Pandu
Chapter11 - Bhima
Chapter12 - Karna
Chapter13 - Drona
Chapter14 - The Wax Palace
Chapter15 - The Escape Of The Pandavas
Chapter16 - The Slaying Of Bakasura
Chapter17 - Draupadi's Swayamvaram
Chapter18 - Indraprastha
Chapter19 - The Saranga Birds
Chapter20 - Jarasandha
Chapter21 - The Slaying Of Jarasandha
Chapter22 - The First Honor
Chapter23 - Sakuni Comes In
Chapter24 - The Invitation
Chapter25 - The Wager
Chapter26 - Draupadi's Grief
Chapter27 - Dhritarashtra's Anxiety
Chapter28 - Krishna's Vow
Chapter29 - Pasupata
Chapter30 - Affliction Is Nothing New
Chapter31 - Agastya
Chapter32 - Rishyasringa
Chapter33 - Fruitless Penance
Chapter34 - Yavakrida's End
Chapter35 - Mere Learning Is Not Enough
Chapter36 - Ashtavakra
Chapter37 - Bhima And Hanuman
Chapter38 - I am No Crane
Chapter39 - Wicked Are Never Satisfied
Chapter40 - Duryodhana Disgraced
Chapter41 - Sri Krishna's Hunger
Chapter42 - The Enchanted Pool
Chapter43 - Domestic Service
Chapter44 - Virtue Vindicated
Chapter45 - Matsya Defended
Chapter46 - Prince Uttara
Chapter47 - Promise Fulfilled
Chapter48 - Virata's Delusion
Chapter49 - Taking Counsel
Chapter50 - Arjuna's Charioteer
Chapter51 - Salya Against His Nephews
Chapter52 - Vritra
Chapter53 - Nahusha
Chapter54 - Sanjaya's Mission
Chapter55 - Not a Needle-Point Of Territory
Chapter56 - Krishna's Mission
Chapter57 - Attachment and Duty
Chapter58 - The Pandava Generalissimo
Chapter59 - Balarama
Chapter60 - Rukmini
Chapter61 - Non-Cooperation
Chapter62 - Krishna Teaches
Chapter63 - Yudhishthira Seeks Benediction
Chapter64 - The First Day's Battle
Chapter65 - The Second Day
Chapter66 - The Third Day's Battle
Chapter67 - The Fourth Day
Chapter68 - The Fifth Day
Chapter69 - The Sixth Day
Chapter70 - The Seventh Day
Chapter71 - The Eighth Day
Chapter72 - The Ninth Day
Chapter73 - The Passing Of Bhishma
Chapter74 - Karna and the Grandsire
Chapter75 - Drona in Command
Chapter76 - To Seize Yudhishthira Alive
Chapter77 - The Twelfth Day
Chapter78 - Brave Bhagadatta
Chapter79 - Abhimanyu
Chapter80 - The Death Of Abhimanyu
Chapter81 - A Father's Grief
Chapter82 - The Sindhu King
Chapter83 - Borrowed Armor
Chapter84 - Yudhishthira's Misgivings
Chapter85 - Yudhishthira's Fond Hope
Chapter86 - Karna And Bhima
Chapter87 - Pledge Respected
Chapter88 - Somadatta's End
Chapter89 - Jayadratha Slain
Chapter90 - Drona Passes Away
Chapter91 - The Death Of Karna
Chapter92 - Duryodhana
Chapter93 - The Pandavas Reproached
Chapter94 - Aswatthama
Chapter95 - Avenged
Chapter96 - Who Can Give Solace?
Chapter97 - Yudhishthira's Anguish
Chapter98 - Yudhishthira Comforted
Chapter99 - Envy
Chapter100 - Utanga
Chapter101 - A Pound Of Flour
Chapter102 - Yudhishthira Rules
Chapter103 - Dhritarashtra
Chapter104 - The Passing Away Of The Three
Chapter105 - Krishna Passes Away
Chapter106 - Yudhishthira's Final Trial

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