Balarama and the apple orchard16

Krishna was very dark, but his brother, Balarama, was light-complexioned. Some Puranas are of the opinion that Balarama was the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, while others believe that he was the incarnation of the cosmic serpent, Shesha. Again, still others feel that he was the incarnation of Lakshmana, Sri Ramachandra’s younger brother.

Balarama and Krishna were always adventurous. In their boyhood, both brothers were extremely, extremely fond of each other. Krishna always enjoyed doing mischievous pranks, but Balarama was not inclined that way. Still, he used to love Krishna for his cute mischief.

On one occasion, when they were in their teens, they were passing an orchard, when they saw some apples. Naturally they picked some and ate them, as is quite natural for young boys to do.

The orchard was owned by a demon named Dhenuka. Dhenuka was an admirer of Kangsa, the hostile force incarnate, who was ruling the kingdom at that time. Dhenuka hated Krishna and Balarama. Since he had the capacity to take the form of an ass, he immediately did so and started kicking the two boys very hard. But Balarama and Krishna ate to their heart’s content, not paying any attention to the ass.

When they had eaten as much as they wanted, Balarama said, “Now that we have eaten your apples, we are strong; so we are ready to fight with you.” Then he caught the ass by its heels and whirled him around his head until the ass died. Then Balarama flung its carcass onto a nearby palm tree. Many came to see the deplorable incident and they also fought with Balarama and Krishna. But alas, it was all in vain. They too met with the same fate, and the palm tree was soon festooned with the carcasses of asses.

Children often do a little mischief. If older ones punish them beyond their due, this is what happens. Children have strength indomitable and the older ones, because of their lack of wisdom, suffer what they rightfully deserve. But if they forgive the children when they do something wrong, or if they illumine them, then all the catastrophes and hurtful incidents that children can create for grownups can easily be avoided.

GIM 115. 29 January 1979