The river Yamuna18

Balarama had many, many good qualities: kindness, compassion, affection, love, forgiveness and so forth. But he also had one bad quality. He enjoyed drinking wine profusely. Then, when he was in a state of intoxication, he did not know what was going on and he was not fully conscious of outer happenings.

Once, after drinking wine, he asked the river Yamuna to come to him so that he could bathe. Yamuna laughed and laughed, “Look at the audacity of this mortal. How dare he summon me! I shall not go.”

Balarama waited and waited. Then he became furious and said, “Yamuna, you are not coming to me? Then I shall punish you badly.” He took his primary weapon, the ploughshare, into the river and dragged all of Yamuna’s water out of the river.

Yamuna was shocked; he never thought that a human being could do this. He begged for forgiveness. “I will never, never disobey you. I will always listen to your command. Please give me back my water,” he pleaded.

Balarama returned the river’s water.

Yamuna said, “Balarama, you are not only powerful, but also merciful. If you had not forgiven me, I would have remained empty, totally empty. I admire your power. I worship your forgiveness.”

GIM 117. 29 January 1979