Romaharṣaṇa Sūta was given the position of a spiritual master, he was going to speak on Vedas but why Lord Balarama killed him?
To know this first let us first understand who Balarama is and then we will discuss why Balarama killed Romaharṣaṇa Sūta.
We find that Lord Balarama who is a plenary expansion of Krishna manifests his anger quite a number of times during his pastime with Krishna on earth.
It is explained that the only physical difference between Krishna and Balarama is that Krishna is blackish in complexion and Balarama is white. Krishna is the Supreme Lord and since he wants to perform many different pastimes, so he decides to expand. And his first expansion is Balarama.
Balarama plays the most significant role in Krishna’s lila. He is always there to serve Krishna, every moment. This is why Balrama is also called servitor Godhead.
Balarama serves Krishna in five rasas
There are five primary rasas, in which devotees serve Krishna. A devotee serves Krishna in only one rasa. For example, Srimati Radharani serves Krishna in Madhurya rasa and Mother Yashoda serves Krishna in Vatsalya rasa.
Now if we see Balarama, then he serves Krishna in all the five rasas.
Balarama is always with Krishna and Krishna can never be alone without Balarama. In the spiritual world everything is spiritual. The garments, the crown, the earrings, the jewelleries which Krishna wears are expansion of Balarama. Goloka Vrindavan is an expansion of Balarama.
In Krishna lila he is the elder brother of Krishna and in Rama lila, he is the elder brother of Krishna. He expands as Ananga Manjari, younger sister of Radharani, and assists her in her Madhurya lila. Now these are the ways in which Balarama is serving Krishna directly.
Balarama is adi guru
But one of the most important services of Balarama is to guide the misguided souls and help them to reunite with Krishna. The best guide is the guru who is not just a teacher but a friend, philosopher and guide. So, Balarama is the adi guru, the first guru, the original guru. Without the mercy of Balarama, it is not possible to get Krishna.
Now guru can help disciples in many ways. He can be friendly and teach his pupil how to practice devotional life. But sometimes a guru has to show his anger not because he is under the influence of anger but because anger is required to control an unruly conditioned soul.
So, we see in Krishna lila, Balaram has showed his angry quite often. Sometimes the anger is to enhance the rasa. But many times, to correct those conditioned souls who are committing grave sins.
If we analyse the activities of Balarama, then we will find that he is such a compassionate personality that he is not shying away from helping even the most demoniac person.
But sometimes he goes on to punish someone who may be on an exalted position. One such pastime is Balarama killing of Romaharṣaṇa Sūta.
Why Balarama killed Romaharṣaṇa Sūta?
Balarama did not want to participate in the Mahabharat war. He tried his best to stop the gruesome war, but he did not succeed. Why? Although he is the Adi guru, the Supreme servitor God, but still, he does not force the conditioned souls to do what he wants them to do.
We are free to exercise our free will
Balarama does not interfere in anyone’s free will. A guru guides, inspires, motivates, encourages and shows the right path. But later it is up to the disciples to decide if he (or she) wants to sincerely follow the guidelines of the guru or not.
In Bhagavad Gita we see that after imparting all the knowledge to Arjuna, Krishna says to Arjuna that he is free to do whatever he wants to do now. But as an ideal disciple, Arjuna says to Krishna, “I will do whatever you want me to do.”
however if you and I want to do things as per our own independent mindset and act against the injunctions of the sastras then guru with a heavy heart leaves us and does not interfere in our life. But for our actions, we have to face the consequences.
So, Balarama does not force anyone to stop Mahabharat war. The war was against his wishes, so he leaves and decides to visit holy places and take bath in holy rivers.
Balarama goes to Naimiṣāraṇya
On his pilgrimage he comes to Naimiṣāraṇya, a holy place. This place is quite famous because transcendentalists assemble at this place to perform sacrifices and to discuss on topics related to God and self-realization.
When Balarama arrived, he found that many great sages, ascetics, brahmanas and learned scholars had assembled for a great sacrifice. These great personalities immediately rose up as soon as they saw Lord Balarama.
Many offered obeisances to him and those who were elderly showered their blessings upon him. These transcendentalists knew that Lord Balarama is the Supreme Lord, first plenary expansion of Krishna and they knew that the two brothers, Krishna and Balarama, had appeared for a specific purpose. After honouring Balarama, they provided him a suitable place to sit.
Romaharṣaṇa Sūta disrespects Balarama
Balarama took his seat but to his surprise, he saw that Romaharṣaṇa Sūta who was sitting on vyāsāsana, did not get up to offer respects to him. In fact, he was ignoring him. Romaharṣaṇa Sūta was a disciple of Śrīla Vyāsadeva, so he must be knowing who is Balarama.
What is the use of being a Vedic scholar if one does not recognize the Supreme Lord and even disrespects him even after knowing him? Demons and atheists abhor the Lord, but they do not pretend to be transcendentalist.
But if someone in the guise of being a Vedic scholar and brahmana is trying to show impudence towards the Lord then it’s a sin, an offence.
Krishna and Balarama had appeared to establish religious principles. Balarama, the Adi guru, could not allow such hypocrisy to continue. He was extremely angry at Romaharṣaṇa Sūta.
Lord Balarama said, “Although he is a disciple of the divine sage Vyāsa and has thoroughly learned many scriptures from him, including the lawbooks of religious duties and the epic histories and Purāṇas, all this study has not produced good qualities in him. Rather, his study of the scriptures is like an actor’s studying his part, for he is not self-controlled or humble and vainly presumes himself a scholarly authority, though he has failed to conquer his own mind.” Srimad Bhagavatam 10.78.25-26
Scriptures are not just for verbal recitation. It is the purity of the speaker which transforms the heart of the listener. Someone may be a great orator but if he does not have love and respect for the Lord then he might speak eloquently but it will not transform the heart of people.
The purpose of knowing Vedic scriptures is to know the Supreme Lord and to know how to approach the Lord. But if one does not respect a guru then how will he get the mercy of Krishna? Because without the help of a guru one cannot attain Krishna.
In such a scenario, a guru cannot be a mute spectator.
Seething with anger, Balarama further said, “The very purpose of My descent into this world is to kill such hypocrites who pretend to be religious. Indeed, they are the most sinful rascals.” Srimad Bhagavatam 10.78.27
Balarama had stopped punishing the demons, but he would not allow such hypocrisy to continue. Romaharṣaṇa Sūta had to be punished.
Balarama kills Romaharṣaṇa Sūta
The Lord picked up a blade of kusa grass and with its tip touched Romaharṣaṇa Sūta, he died immediately on the spot.
No ordinary person can kill someone by a blade of grass. But here we see Balarama killed Romaharṣaṇa Sūta just by touching him with a blade of grass.
Balarama killing Romaharṣaṇa Sūta is actually saving him from committing more such sins. Because of the impurities in his heart, he would have committed more sins and would have suffered more.
But the assembled transcendentalists were shocked. They knew that what Balarama did was appropriate. But the sages were sad and perturbed.
They said, “We had chosen him as the spiritual master and had made him sit on vyāsāsana. Not just that, we had blessed him with a long duration of life and freedom from any pain till the sacrifice continues.So now how our sacrifice will continue. Moreover, you have killed a brahmana which is improper, irreligious.”
Balarama said, “Although, I killed Romaharṣaṇa Sūta but if you want I can bring back his life. Let me know what you want me to do? ”
Romaharṣaṇa Sūta’s son given the position of his father
The sages replied, “Dear Lord, you are the upholder of religious principles, so you know what is appropriate to do. We cannot direct you. But we request you to do something so that you killing him with kusa grass and we giving him the benediction both remain intact.”
Balarama said, “Son is the representative of the father. So, whatever benediction like long life, freedom from pain, stamina etc which was given to Romaharṣaṇa Sūta can be transferred to his son, Ugraśravā Sūta. He can sit on vyāsāsana for the spiritual discourse.”
“The Supreme Lord said: The Vedas instruct us that one’s own self takes birth again as one’s son. Thus let Romaharṣaṇa’s son become the speaker of the Purāṇas, and let him be endowed with long life, strong senses and stamina.” Srimad Bhagavatam 10.78.36
Everyone was happy to hear this and Ugraśravā Sūta occupied the divine position and became the speaker.
It was not the caste why Balarama killed Romaharṣaṇa Sūta
When in the beginning Balarama was chastising, Romaharṣaṇa Sūta then he said, son of a suta caste, which means low born. Romaharṣaṇa Sūta was born in a pratiloma family because his father was a kṣatriya and mother a brāhmaṇa.
But still Romaharṣaṇa Sūta was given the position of a brāhmaṇa. But since he was not acting as a brāhmaṇa so Balarama was furious.
Brāhmaṇa is not a position which one acquires by birth but is given based on one’s character and qualification. But Romaharṣaṇa Sūta was misusing the position.
Balarama wanted to end this hypocrisy, so he killed him. But immediately, we see that Lord Balarama awarded the same benediction to his son. So, Balarama was not in fact criticizing the birth of Romaharṣaṇa Sūta but was angry because of his irreligious act.
Since Romaharṣaṇa Sūta’s son had the qualification to be a brahmana so he was installed on that position by Lord Balarama himself.
Just like anyone is eligible to become a doctor. But only one who qualifies the entrance exam, studies for five years and gets the degree and license to practice from the government can become a doctor.
But later, if it is found that the doctor’s conduct is not good then his license to practice is revoked by the government.
Similarly, one who is following the Vedic scriptures and living it as per its directions can become a brahmana but if he is misusing his position then he can be removed from the position of a brahmana from a superior authority.
Initially I thought that since Romaharṣaṇa Sūta was not a brāhmaṇa so Lord Balarama killed him. But when I read the pastime completely then I understood that Romaharṣaṇa Sūta was not killed because of his caste but because of his irreligious act, Balarama punished him.
Sinless Balarama atones for his sin
Balarama further asked the sages to tell him how he can atone for his sins.
The Supreme Lord Balarama had not committed any sins and so there was no need for him to atone. But to set a higher standard that the words of the sages should be honoured, he asked them how he can atone for his sins?
The sages knew the strength of Balarama, so they requested him to kill a ferocious demon named Balvala who was disturbing them in their sacrifices. The sages further said that after killing the demon, he should continue with its pilgrimage for twelve months.
“Thereafter, for twelve months, You should circumambulate the land of Bhārata in a mood of serious meditation, executing austerities and bathing at various holy pilgrimage sites. In this way You will become purified.” Srimad Bhagavatam 10.78.40
Balarama happily agreed. After killing the demon, he went to many holy places situated in the holy land of Bharatvarsha.