Who is Lord Balarama?
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, is the fountainhead of all incarnations. Lord Balarama is His second body. They are both one and the same identity. They differ only in form. Balarama is the first bodily expansion of Krishna, and He assists in Lord Krishna’s transcendental pastimes. He is the source of the entire spiritual world and is the adi-guru, the original spiritual master.
He assumes five other forms to serve Lord Krishna. He Himself helps in the pastimes of Lord Krishna, and He does the work of creation in four other forms called the catur-vyuha (four armed) forms known as Vasudeva, Sankarshana, Pradyumna and Anirudha. He executes the orders of Lord Krishna in the work of creation, and in the form of Lord Sesa He serves Sri Krishna in various ways. In all the forms He tastes the transcendental bliss of serving Krishna. No one can approach Krishna without first getting the mercy of Baladeva.
Descent of Balarama
Whenever Krishna appears in the material world, He is accompanied by His associates and paraphernalia. Five thousand years ago when Krishna descended into the material world, He was first preceded by Baladeva. Only after Baladeva give His mercy did Krishna descend, such is the intimate relationship between Krishna and Baladeva.
When Baladeva appeared as the seventh child in the womb of Devaki, she could understand that this was a divine child and this made her all the more concerned about His safety. Even Kamsa could sense His potency and he became fearful, thinking he may have been tricked by the prophecy that he will be slain only by the eight child of Devaki. At this time Krishna instructed Yogamaya, His internal potency, to transfer the unborn child from the womb of Devaki to that of Rohini, one of the other wives of Vasudeva, who was hiding from Kamsa in the house of Nanda Maharaja in Gokul.
In this way Balarama was born in Gokul under the protection of Nanda Maharaja. Garga Muni the venerable kulguru (family priest) of the Yadu dynasty revealed to Rohini that the child she was carrying was indeed that of her husband Vasudeva. At the time of the name-giving ceremony he named the child Rama, one who gives all pleasures. Referring to the immense strength of the child, Garga Muni predicted that He will also be known as Balarama (bala meaning strength). Since He was forcibly attracted from the womb of Devaki to that of Rohini, He was also be called Sankarshana. As the son of Rohini He was known as Rohini-nandan and as the elder brother of Krishna He was also called Douji.