ISKCON Houston Celebrated Balaram Purnima

Photos: Nagalla Nagaraj

Photos: Nagalla Nagaraj

By Ganga Narayan Das            

 HOUSTON: ISKCON Houston grandly celebrated Balaram Purnima (Appearance day of Lord Balaram) on Aug 20. This annual festival falls on the full moon night right before the appearance of Krsna.

Balaram is known as the elder brother of Krsna and the son of Rohini. Garga Muni, the royal priest of the Yadu dynasty, gave three names to the son of Rohini: since he would be very pleasing to everyone, his name would be Rama. Because he would possess unlimited strength, he would be called Baladeva. And finally, the third name given by Garga Muni was, Sankarshana.


Someone may ask, can God have a brother? The answer is, yes, He can have a brother. He can have a mother as well as a father and friends. In fact, we notice these relationships amongst us, within this material realm, only because they first exist in the spiritual world. But unlike ours, which begin and end with the body, these are not material relationships. These are completely spiritual relationships. These spiritual relationships or “rasas” are unique to the Vedic theology. God or Krsna has a unique relationship with every individual soul. The basis of that relationship is loving devotional service, although, the expression of that relationship may differ from soul to soul. There are five primary rasas or relationships which Krsna enjoys with His devotees: shantya rasa (neutrality), dasya rasa (servitude), sakhya rasa (friendship), vatsalya rasa (parental) and madhurya rasa (conjugal). For example, Hanuman is considered as a devotee in the mood of servitude or dasya rasa, and Arjuna is considered as a devotee in mood of friendship or sakhya rasa. The gopis of Vrindavan relate to Krishna in a conjugal relationship.

Balaram is also called Adisesha. Adi means the foremost and sesha means servant. So Balaram is considered the foremost servant of Lord Krsna. He loves to serve Krsna so much that he serves Krsna in all the five rasas. In shantya rasa, Balaram expands as the paraphernalia of Krsna – flute, slippers, crown, jewellery, bed, etc. Even the abode of the Lord’s descent is an expansion of Balaram for his service in shantya rasa. In sakhya rasa, Balaram joins Krsna in playing games with the cowherd boys of Vrindavan. They steal butter together and fight demons as a team. In vaatsalya rasa, Balaram relates to Krishna as the elder brother who sometimes corrects Krishna. In madhurya rasa, Balaram expands as Ananga Manjiri, the younger sister of Srimati Radharani.

Balaram represents spiritual strength. He provides the capacity to carry our devotional service. Lord Balaram is the original spiritual master. The various spiritual masters derive their spiritual strength from Balaram! Thus is the exalted position of Lord Balaram.

On the very auspicious day of the appearance of Lord Balaram, the devotees pray to Lord Balaram to give them the strength to face the waves of material existence and carry on their journey of spiritual realization with determination. It is customary for devotees of Krishna undertake a complete fast untill noon and spend that time chanting and hearing the glories of Lord Balaram. The joyous occasion was graced by the auspicious presence of His Holiness Romapada Swami who made a PowerPoint presentation on the appearance and pastimes of Lord Balaram. Devotees sang Kirtans to their hearts content and finally concluded the festival with a delicious prasadam (food offered to Krsna) feast.

Actual day of Sri Krishna Janmashtami was on Aug 28 but ISKCON Houston will conduct a public celebration of the Janmashtami festival on Sun, Sep 1, from 5:30pm, with a bonanza of cultural activities, dramas and dances. We take this opportunity to welcome all of you to ISKCON Houston, Hare Krishna Dham (1320 W 34th Street, Houston TX – 77018,, 713-686-4482) to take part in Janmastami celebrations.