For Balarama Rasa-yatra, we shall read from Srila Prabhupada’s summary study of the Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, called Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead—about Lord Balarama’s visit to Vrindavan after He and Krishna had been away from Vrindavan for many years.
In our meditation on the deity of the Lord, we begin from His lotus feet and then gradually progress upward to His ankles, knees, thighs, waist, navel, chest, neck, and face. Srimad-Bhagavatam is also a form of the Lord, and so we begin its study with the lotus feet, which are the First and Second Cantos, and gradually progress upwards until we get to the Tenth Canto, which is compared to the Lord’s smiling face. The topics in the Tenth Canto are very elevated and can actually be fully appreciated only by liberated souls—because Krishna’s pastimes with His pure devotees are enacted on the liberated platform—but on special occasions like Balarama Rasa-yatra we do explore such topics.
On this occasion some years ago, I was in Vrindavan tending to a disciple, Arca-vigraha dasi, who was preparing to leave her body. Many senior devotees would come every day and read to her, discuss with her, and chant for her, and on this particular occasion I read the same pastime—about Lord Balarama’s visit to Vrindavan—from both the Tenth Canto and the Krsna book. The basic features of the pastime were the same in both texts, though there were little differences in terms of details and revelations of insights into the pastime. Today I shall read from the Krsna book, Chapter Sixty-Five: “Lord Balarama Visits Vrndavana.”
Lord Balarama became very anxious to see His father and mother in Vrndavana. Therefore, with great enthusiasm He started on a chariot for Vrndavana. The inhabitants of Vrndavana had been anxious to see Krsna and Balarama for a very long time. When Lord Balarama returned to Vrndavana, all the cowherd boys and the gopis had grown up; but still, on His arrival, they all embraced Him, and Balarama embraced them in reciprocation. After this He came before Maharaja Nanda and Yasoda and offered His respectful obeisances. In response, Mother Yasoda and Nanda Maharaja offered their blessings unto Him. They addressed Him as Jagadisvara, or the Lord of the universe who maintains everyone. The reason for this was that Krsna and Balarama maintain all living entities. And yet Nanda and Yasoda were put into such difficulties on account of Their absence. Feeling like this, they embraced Balarama and, seating Him on their laps, began their perpetual crying, wetting Balarama with their tears. Lord Balarama then offered His respectful obeisances to the elderly cowherd men and accepted the obeisances of the younger cowherd men. Thus, according to their different ages and relationships, Lord Balarama exchanged feelings of friendship with them. He shook hands with those who were His equals in age and friendship and with loud laughing embraced each one of them.
COMMENT by Giriraj Swami
There are many points in just this one paragraph. First, Lord Balarama offered obeisances to Nanda and Yasoda, who had played the roles of His parents, and they in turn offered their blessings to Him—yet they referred to Him as Jagadisvara, the Lord of the universe. It appears contradictory that the Lord of the universe is offering obeisances to Nanda and Yasoda and that they are offering blessings to Him. But in transcendental pastimes there are two considerations: rasa and tattva. Rasa means the transcendental mellows exchanged between the Lord and the devotee in a loving relationship, and tattva means their existential positions. Although in terms of tattva, Balarama is the Personality of Godhead, vishnu-tattva, and Nanda and Yasoda are devotees, in terms of rasa, their transcendental relationship, Nanda and Yasoda are in the position of parents to Balarama and Krishna (vatsalya-rasa).
Queen Kunti prayed to Krishna,
gopy adade tvayi krtagasi dama tavad
ya te dasasru-kalilanjana-sambhramaksam
vaktram niniya bhaya-bhavanaya sthitasya
sa mam vimohayati bhir api yad bibheti
“My dear Krsna, Yasoda took up a rope to bind You when You committed an offense, and Your perturbed eyes overflooded with tears, which washed the mascara from Your eyes. And You were afraid, though fear personified is afraid of You. This sight is bewildering to me.” (SB 1.8.31) The image of Mother Yasoda with rope in hand and Krishna trembling in fright with tears in His eyes—even though Krishna is feared by fear personified—caused Kunti to become transcendentally bewildered.