Sri Krsna's Vrindavan Associates Sridama,
Part Seven


Balarama Kills Dhenukasura
Folio from a Harivamsa, c. 1590

Apr 10, 2011 — CANADA (SUN) — A serial presentation of Sri Krsna's transcendental Vrindavan associates.

Lord Krsna's Vrindavan friend, Sridama gopa, took part in many transcendental pastimes which are recorded in texts like Srimad Bhagavatam and various writings of the Vaisnava saints. A number of these pastimes involved the liberation of demons like Pralambasura and Dhenukasura, as well as the killing of Sankhacuda and Kamsa.

Another category of pastimes involving Sridama are those involving the transcendental play of Krsna and the gopas. And of course, Sridama played a role in various arrangements between Radha and Krsna.

The first of the demon pastimes we'll discuss in which Sridama participated is the killing of Pralambasura. This is described in Srimad Bhagavatam 10.18.24:

uvaha krishno Bhagavan
sridamanam parajitah
vrishabham bhadrasenas tu
pralambo rohini-sutam

Srila Prabhupada narrates the pastime in Chapter 18 of Krsna Book:

    "Once while they were engaged in their transcendental pastimes, a great demon of the name Pralambasura entered their company, desiring to kidnap both Balarama and Krsna. Although Krsna was playing the part of a cowherd boy, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead He could understand everything--past, present and future. So when Pralambasura entered their company, Krsna began to think how to kill the demon, but externally He received him as a friend. "O My dear friend," He said, "It is very good that you have come to take part in our pastimes." Krsna then called all His friends and ordered them: "Now we shall play in pairs. We shall challenge one another in pairs." With this proposal, all the boys assembled together. Some of them took the side of Krsna, and some of them took the side of Balarama, and they arranged to play in duel. The defeated members in duel fighting had to carry the victorious members on their backs. They began playing, and at the same time tended the cows as they proceeded through the Bhandiravana forest. The party of Balarama, accompanied by Sridama and Vrsabha, came out victorious, and Krsna's party had to carry them on their backs through the Bhandiravana forest. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, being defeated, had to carry Sridama on His back, and Bhadrasena carried Vrsabha. Imitating their play, Pralambasura, who appeared there as a cowherd boy, carried Balarama on his back. Pralambasura was the greatest of the demons, and he had calculated that Krsna was the most powerful of the cowherd boys.

    In order to avoid the company of Krsna, Pralambasura carried Balarama far away. The demon was undoubtedly very strong and powerful, but he began to feel the burden, and thus he assumed his real form. When he appeared in his real feature, he was decorated with a golden helmet and earrings and looked just like a cloud with lightning carrying the moon. Balarama observed the demon's body expanding up to the limits of the clouds, his eyes dazzling like blazing fire and his mouth flashing with sharpened teeth. At first, Balarama was surprised by the demon's appearance, and He began to wonder, "How is it that all of a sudden this carrier has changed in every way?" But with a clear mind He could quickly understand that He was being carried away from His friends by a demon who intended to kill Him. Immediately He struck the head of the demon with His strong fist, just as the King of the heavenly planets strikes a mountain with his thunderbolt. Being stricken by the fist of Balarama, the demon fell down dead, just like a snake with a smashed head, and blood poured from his mouth. When the demon fell, he made a tremendous sound, and it sounded as if a great hill were falling upon being struck by the thunderbolt of King Indra.

    All the boys then rushed to the spot. Being astonished by the ghastly scene, they began to praise Balarama with the words "Well done, well done." All of them began to embrace Balarama with great affection, thinking that He had returned from death and they offered their blessings and congratulations. All the demigods in the heavenly planets became very satisfied and showered flowers on the transcendental body of Balarama, and they also offered their blessings and congratulations for His having killed the great demon Pralambasura."

The Pralambasura pastime is also mentioned in Srila Jiva Goswsami's Sri Sankalpa-kalpadruma, in a passage describing Sri Krsna:

    "[Krsna] ...who on the pretext of playing with Sridama, Sudama, Bhadrasena, Arjuna and the others, arranged for the killing of Pralambasura..." (65)

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur also purported the killing of Pralambasura, saying:

    "Pralambasura is a symbol of illicit sexual connection (stri-lampatya), aspiration for gain, adoration (labha-puja) and name and fame (pratishtha)."

In his Sri Amnaya-sutra, Srila Bhaktivinoda also mentioned the 10th Canto Bhagavatam sloka on Sridama's participation with Krsna in the liberation of Prahlambasura, using the pastime as an example of a particular rasa shared by the cowherd boys:

    "In the Taittiriya Upanishad (2.7.2) it is said:

    yada hy evaisha etasminn adrisye 'natmye 'nirukte 'nilayane 'bhayam pratishtham vindate. atha so 'bhayam gato bhavati.

    "Taking shelter of the Supreme, who is invisible to material eyes, not a material person, indescribable by material words, and without a material home, the living entity becomes fearless. He becomes fearless."

    In Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.18.24) it is said:

    uvaha krishno Bhagavan
    sridamanam parajitah

    "Defeated, Lord Krishna carried Sridama."

    Srila Rupa Gosvami (Sri Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu 3.3.108) explains:

    praptayam sambhramadinam
    yogyatayam api sphutam
    tad-gandhenapy asamsprishta
    ratih pranaya ucyate

    "When there is full knowledge of Krishna's superiority and yet in dealings with Him on friendly terms respectfulness is completely absent, that stage is called affection."*

    (Sri Amnaya-sutra, Part III, Chapter Two)

In Chapter 18 of Krsna Book, Srila Prabhupada narrates the pastime of Krsna and Balarama dispatching the demon Dhenukasura from Talavana forest -- another pastime that included Sridama sakha.

    "His most intimate friends Sridama, Subala and Stoka Krsna began to address Krsna and Balarama with great love and affection thus: "Dear Balarama, You are very powerful; Your arms are very strong. Dear Krsna, You are very expert in killing all kinds of disturbing demons. Will You kindly note that just near this place there is a big forest of the name Talavana. This forest is full of palm trees, and all the trees are filled with fruits. Some are falling down, and some of them are very ripe even in the trees. It is a very nice place, but because of a great demon, Dhenukasura, it is very difficult to go there. No one can reach the trees to collect the fruits. Dear Krsna and Balarama, this demon is present there in the form of an ass, and he is surrounded by similar demon friends who assume the same shape. All of them are very strong, so it is very difficult to approach this place. Dear brothers, You are the only persons who can kill such demons. Other than You, no one can go there for fear of being killed. Not even animals go there, and no birds are sleeping there; they have all left. One can only appreciate the sweet aroma that is coming from that place. It appears that up until now, no one has tasted the sweet fruits there, either on the trees or on the ground. Dear Krsna, to tell You frankly, we are very attracted by this sweet aroma. Dear Balarama, let us all go there and enjoy these fruits. The aroma of the fruits is now spread everywhere. Don't You smell it from here?"

    When Balarama and Krsna were thus petitioned by Their smiling, intimate friends, They were inclined to please them, and They began to proceed towards the forest, surrounded by all Their friends."

While no details are found in the passage above about Sridama's participation in the actual fight with Dhenukasura, in the Garga Samhita we find the following:

    Text 12
    murdhni kritva catuh-sringam
    dhritva rupam bhayankaram
    gopan vidravayam asa
    sringais tikshnair bhayankaraih

    "Then Dheunka manifested a terrifying form with four horns. With his sharp and terrifying horns he made the gopas flee.

    Text 13
    agre palayitan gopan
    dudravasu madotkatah
    sridama tam ca dandena
    subalo mushtina tatha

    When the boys fled, Dhenuka chased them. Angry Sridama hit Dhenuka with a stick, and Subala hit him with his fist."

    (Garga-samhita, Canto One, Volume Four, Chapter Eleven - Dhenukasura-moksha)


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