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Vishnu Purana – Fifth Kandha

Chapter 25

Balabhadra went to the woods of Vraja

1-11WHILST the mighty Śeṣa[1], the upholder of the globe, was thus engaged in wandering amidst the forests with the herdsmen, in the disguise of a mortal—having rendered great services to earth, and still considering what more was to be achieved—Varuṇa, in order to provide for his recreation, said to his wife Vāruṇī (the goddess of wine), “Thou, Madirā, art ever acceptable to the powerful Ananta; go therefore, auspicious and kind goddess, and promote his enjoyments.” Obeying these commands, Vārunī went and established herself in the hollow of a Kadamba tree in the woods of Vrindāvana. Baladeva, roaming about, came there, and smelling the pleasant fragrance of liquor, resumed his ancient passion for strong drink. The holder of the ploughshare observing the vinous drops distilling from the Kadamba tree, was much delighted, and gathered and quaffed them[2] along with the herdsmen and the Gopīs, whilst those who were skilful with voice and lute celebrated him in their songs. Being inebriated with the wine, and the drops of perspiration standing like pearls upon his limbs, he called out, not knowing what he said, “Come hither, Yamunā river, I want to bathe.” The river, disregarding the words of a drunken man, came not at his bidding: on which Rāma in a rage took up his ploughshare, which he plunged into her bank, and dragged her to him, calling out, “Will you not come, you jade? will you not come? Now go where you please (if you can).” Thus saying, he compelled the dark river to quit its ordinary course, and follow him whithersoever he wandered through the wood.
12-13Assuming a mortal figure, the Yamunā, with distracted looks, approached Balabhadra, and entreated him to pardon her, and let her go: but he replied, “I will drag you with my ploughshare in a thousand directions, since you contemn my prowess and strength.”
14-17At last, however, appeased by her reiterated prayers, he let her go, after she had watered all the country[3]. When he had bathed, the goddess of beauty, Lakṣmī, came and gave him a beautiful lotus to place in one ear, and an earring for the other; a fresh necklace of lotus flowers, sent by Varuṇa; and garments of a dark blue colour, as costly as the wealth of the ocean: and thus decorated with a lotus in one ear, a ring in the other, dressed in blue garments, and wearing a garland, Balarāma appeared united with loveliness.
18Thus decorated, Rāma sported two months in Vraja, and then returned to Dvārakā, where the married Revatī, the daughter of king Raivata, by whom he had two sons, Niṣaṭha and Ulmuka[4].


[1] The great serpent, of whom Balarāma is an incarnation.
[2] There is no vinous exudation from the Kadamba tree (Nauclea Kadamba), but its flowers are said to yield a spirit by distillation; whence Kādambarī is one of the synonymes of wine, or spiritous liquor. The grammarians, however, also derive the word from some legend, stating it to be so called because it was produced from the hollow of a Kadamba tree on the Gomantha mountain. The Hari Vaṃśa, which alone makes the Gomantha mountain the scene of an exploit of Kṛṣṇa and Rāma, makes no mention of this origin of wine; and the Bhāgavata merely says that Vāruṇī took up her abode in the hollow of a tree. There must be some other authority therefore for this story.
[3] The Bhāgavata and Hari Vaṃśa repeat this story; the latter very imperfectly; the former adds, that the Yamunā is still to be seen following the course along which she was dragged by Balarāma. The legend probably alludes to the construction of canals from the Jumna, for the purposes of irrigation; and the works of the Mohammedans in this way, which are well known, were no doubt preceded by similar canals dug by order of Hindu princes.
[4] See page 439.

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