WHEN the world was ruled by asuras (demons), Vishnu decided to descend on Earth. He took two hairs, one black and one white, and set them afloat in the river. One became Krishna and the other turned to Balaram, both of whom took birth in Devaki’s house.
King Kansa, the children’s uncle had been told that Devaki’s sons would kill him, so he got all her children murdered. But Balaram and Krishna were smuggled away to Gokul and thus they survived.
One day an asura, dressed like a cowherd, came near Balaram and lured him away, saying, “I have come to take you as your father wants you to see a new calf that he has.”
Balaram became suspicious because he knew all the cows and calves and no cow was expected to give birth to a calf. He suddenly noticed that the asura was going in the wrong direction, so he asked, “Where are you taking me? This is not the way to my house.”
The asura replied, “To your death.”
Balaram became angry and began to beat the asura till the latter collapsed.
A few days later, Balaram was crossing a narrow bridge when a demon named Dhenuka, disguised as a donkey, appeared on his path. Balaram pleaded with him, “Please move aside and do not block the path. How can I cross the bridge?”
But the donkey refused to budge and raised its leg to kick Balaram. Balaram had quick reflexes and he moved aside. Now Balaram became suspicious that this donkey was no ordinary animal and catching hold of its hind leg, swung him round and round till the donkey became giddy. With great force, Balaram threw Dhenuka against a tree. The asura fell dead as he hit the tree with great impact. Balaram went home happily to meet Krishna. -MG