Definition - What does Balarama mean?

Balarama is a Hindu deity and older brother of Krishna. In traditions that recognize Krishna as a principal deity, Balarama is typically considered one of the Dashavatara, or 10 main incarnations of Vishnu. A prominent god in many Hindu traditions, Vishnu is the supreme deity of Vaishnavism.

Sometimes called the god of agriculture, Balarama is often depicted with a plow. His name comes from the Sanskrit, bala, meaning “strength,” “stamina” or “power”; and rama, which has numerous meanings, including “beloved” and “white.” Balarama is most often depicted with white or light skin.

Yogapedia explains Balarama

As his name suggests, Balarama represents strength, and he symbolizes the ideal man with a sense of honesty and duty. He protects the faithful from desires.

There are numerous legends about how Balarama came to be. In one of them, the gods asked Vishnu to save them from the demon king, Kamsa. Vishnu plucked a single white and a single black hair from his head — representing the fair-skinned Balarama and the dark-skinned Krishna — and said they would destroy Kamsa. Both sons of the prince, Vasudeva, from different mothers, they were raised in a cowherd's family. Together, they killed many demons sent by Kamsa, who was eventually killed by Krishna.

Finally, in some stories, Balarama is considered an incarnation of the serpent, Shesha.

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