The Bhagavata Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 780,972 words | ISBN-10: 8120838203 | ISBN-13: 9788120838208

This page describes Dantavaktra and Viduratha Slain: Balarama’s Pilgrimage which is chapter 78 of the English translation of the Bhagavata Purana, one of the eighteen major puranas containing roughly 18,000 metrical verses. Topics include ancient Indian history, religion, philosophy, geography, mythology, etc. The text has been interpreted by various schools of philosophy. This is the seventy-eighth chapter of the Tenth Skandha of the Bhagavatapurana.

Chapter 78 - Dantavaktra and Vidūratha Slain: Balarāma’s Pilgrimage

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

[Padaratnāvalī’s Text adds at the beginning:]

0.1.2.: Having heard that Kṛṣṇa had gone to the bank of the Yamunā for the concluding bath (avabhṛtha snāna) of the Rājasūya sacrifice, Dantavaktra, the king of Kaliṅga, accompanied by his younger brothers’ and a big army consisting of elephant corps, quickly marched to ambush Kṛṣṇa while he would proceed to Dvārakā.

0.3-5: Like unto a jackal obstructing a lion, the foolish Dantavaktra blockaded Kṛṣṇa who was accompanied by young Yādava princes, and was surrounded by the palanquins of his sixteen thousand queens, was followed by a group of kings, by a number of great sages, priests who officiate at sacrifices, family priests, preceptors and other Brāhmaṇas.

Śrī Śuka said:

1. The wicked Dantavaktra wished to demonstrate his friendship with Śiśupāla, Śālva and Pauṇḍraka who had gone to the next world (being killed by Kṛṣṇa). He wished to avenge their death by slaying Kṛṣṇa.

2. (Unaccompanied by an army or without riding a chariot) the foolish but mighty Dantavaktra rushed alone in rage with a mace in hand. Shaking the earth under his feet while walking, he confronted Kṛṣṇa.

3. Beholding him thus advancing, Kṛṣṇa quickly took up his mace and jumping down from his chariot, he resisted him as the seashore stops the flowtide of the sea.

4. Raising his mace, the foolishly arrogant king Kāruṣa (Dantavaktra) exclaimed: “How lucky it is! I am glad that down with the mace and Saubha was smashed to pieces, drums you have come within the range of my sight to-day!”[1]

5. O Kṛṣṇa! You are the son of our maternal uncle[2]. But you are treacherous to friends (and have killed them). You Fish to slay me as well. Hence I shall kill you with my mace which is as hard as thunderbolt.

[Padaratnāvalī’s Text gives the following version:]

5.1. O Kṛṣṇa! You are our maternal cousin but you are tracherous to friends and hunt after the wives of others. You are a traitor committing breach of trust, a murderer of relatives, fond of picking quarrels.

5.2. You have killed the son of my maternal uncle Pauṇḍraka in a battle. You have slain my cousins’ brothers Rukmī and Śiśupāla. (It was Balarāma and not Kṛṣṇa who killed Rukmi).

6. Being affectionate and loyal to my friends I shall pay off my debt (of friendship) to them by killing you, an enemy in the form of a cousin, just like a disease in one’s body, O ignorant fool.”[3]

7. Cutting to the quick Kṛṣṇa, with such harsh words like piercing an elephant with a goad, he hit Kṛṣṇa on the head with his mace and roared like a lion.

8. Though struck down with a mace in that battle, the descendant of Yadu (Kṛṣṇa) remained unshaken. Kṛṣṇa on his part hit Dantavaktra on the chest with his mace Kaumodakī.

9. With his heart shattered with the stroke of the mace, Dantavaktra vomitted blood through his mouth and he fell dead on the ground with his hair dishevelled and arms and legs outstretched.

10. Just as it happened after the slaying of Śiśupāla, a very subtle ray of light emanated from the body of Dantavaktra and entered in the person of Kṛṣṇa—a wonderful sight indeed—while all beings were witnessing it.

[Padaratnāvalī’s Text:]

10.1. Practically the same as verse 11 above.

10.2. He quickly jumped down from his chariot and brandishing his excellent sword and shaking the ground under his feet, he dashed against Kṛṣṇa.

10.3. When Kṛṣṇa cut off his sword with an arrow, he took up a terrible sharp-pointed śakti.

10.4. Determined to strike down Kṛṣṇa in the battle the foolish fellow darted towards him like an arrow discharged from a bow.

11. Overwhelmed with grief for his brother, Vidūratha, Dantavaktra’s brother, armed with a sword and a shield, came there having heavy sighs, but desired to kill Kṛṣṇa.

12. As he was advancing, Kṛṣṇa with his discus of sharp edge, severed off his head adorned with a diadem and ear-rings.

13-15. Having thus demolished (the aerial car) Saubha and slain Śālva, Dantavaktra and his younger brother (Vidūratha) who were irresistible to others, Kṛṣṇa entered the decorated city of Dvārakā while his victory was being glorified in songs by gods, men, sages, siddhas, Gandharvas (celestial singers), Vidyādharas, big serpents and by celestial damsels (apsaras), manes (ancestors), Yakṣas, Kinnaras and while he was being showered over with flowers and was accompanied by prominent Vṛṣṇis.

[Padaratnāvalī’s version:]

13-15.1. Having thus killed both Dantavaktra and Vidūratha in the battle, the Lord put to flight their army and captured their elephants (horses, etc.)

13.15.2. Kṛṣṇa again mounted his divine chariot Puṣparatha which was tastefully decorated. He was accompanied by the Yādava clansmen and was praised by gods and men (in songs).

16. In this way, the glorious Lord Kṛṣṇa, the master of Yoga and the Almighty controller of the Universe is ever victorious, though to the ignorant (lit. persons with the vision of brutes), he appears at times vanquished.

[Padaratnāvalī’s Text adds after verse 16:]

16(A). O descendant of Bharata! The noble deeds of the Lord of hallowing renown are such as cannot be recounted in tens of thousands of years (even god Brahmā and others cannot do this, what of me?).

17(B). O chastiser of enemies! In this way the slayer of the demon Madhu (Śrī Kṛṣṇa) began (the destruction of Rākṣasas) with the demoness Pūtanā and killed all the Asuras who were a burden to the earth.

[Here ends Chapter No. 101 in Padaratnāvalī’s Text)]

[Padaratnāvalī’s introduction:]

Though the life of Balarāma is interwoven with that of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, two more chapters are added specifically to the life and deeds of Balarāma.

King Parīkṣit said:

1. I pay my obeisance to the Soul of the universe who through dint of his deluding potency brought about the destruction of the eighteen akṣauhiṇīs of army (in the Mahābhārata war) in equal number of days.

2. By listening to his stories and deeds in aggregate, my bewilderment, wonder and fear go on increasing again and again.

3. I consider that most probably my sinfulness which is difficult to cross has ceased to be. My senses are wide awake and the mind is extremely delighted and serene.

4. My hunger and thirst have subsided. My soul (mind) is filled with ecstatic delight. It is through your grace, O expert in religion (religious discourse) that I feel that I have accomplished all my objects in this world.

5. I. however, wish to hear from you something more. When Balarāma found that his friends (both Kauravas and Pāṇḍavas) were bent on fighting and that he could not prevent them from doing so, he went to perform ablutions in sacred places. O sage rich in penance! Narrate to me what Balarāma did.

17. It is reported that when Balarāma heard of the war-preparations of the Kauravas against the Pāṇḍavas, he, being neutral[4] (with reference to the belligerent parties) went away on the pretext of a pilgrimage for performing ablutions in sacred voters.

18. After taking bath at Prabhāsa[5] and propitiating gods, sages and manes (pitṛs) by offering oblations of water and satisfying men (by serving them food), Balarāma, surrounded by Brāhmaṇas, went from the mouth of the Sarasvatī[6] to its source.

19.[7] (On the way) he visited various holy places like Pṛthūdaka[8], Bindusaras[9], Tritakūpa[10], Sudarśana[11], Viśāla, Brahmatīrtha,[12] Cakratīrtha and the spot where the Sarasvatī flows to the east[13].

20. And passing through the various sacred places which were on the Yamunā and the Gaṅgā, he went to the Naimiṣa forest[14] where sages were holding a prolonged sacrificial session.

21. Having come to know that the distinguished guest was Balarāma, the sages who were engaged in the prolonged sacrifice, received him with due formalities, rose from their seats, bowed down to him and worshipped him.

22. Balarāma who was thus worshipped, took his seat along with his followers. He noticed that Romaharṣaṇa, the disciple of the great sage Vyāsa, remained seated there, occupying a higher seat in front of the Brāhmaṇas.

23. Balarāma, the descendant of Madhu, got enraged when he found that Romahaṛṣaṇa, a sūta, did not rise from his seat to show reverence to him after his arrival, nor did he fold his palms to bow him and continued to occupy a higher seat in the presence of the Brāhmaṇas.

24. (He said to the Brāhmaṇas) “Why does this Sūta, a child of irregular marriage (between a Kṣattriya father and a Brāhmaṇa (mother) occupied a seat higher than Brāhmaṇas and us who are the protectors of religion and social code of conduct. This evil-minded fellow deserves to be killed.

25-26. In spite of being a disciple of that worshipful sage Vyāsa and having studied many smṛtis (codes of righteous and religious conduct—social and personal) along with all the works on Itihāsa and purāṇaṣ, he lacks self control, has no sense of discipline or modesty; he vainly pretends to be a learned man. His scholarship and learning do not contribute to his real excellence as in the case of an actor who lacks control over his mind and senses.

27. It is with this specific purpose that I have taken incarnation in this world, viz. those imposters and hypocrites who merely pretend to be religious should be done away with by me; for such people are more sinful than the unrighteous.”

28. Balarāma had desisted from slaying even the wicked ones (as he was a pilgrim then). But as fate would have it, the mighty Lord spoke these words and pierced the Sūta with the end of a Kuśa grass.

29. Terrified and dismayed in their minds, all the sages screamed out exclaiming, “Alas! Alas”. They said to Balarāma, “O Lord! You have perpetrated an irreligious and unrighteous deed.

30. O descendant of Yadu! This elevated seat of a Brāhmaṇa has been offered by us to him as also, a long period of life and indefatiguate body till the sacrificial session lasts.

31. May be unknowingly but you have committed what amounts to be the sin of killing a Brāhmaṇa. (It is true that) being a master of Yoga, even the Vedic injunction against killing a Brāhmaṇa is not binding on you.

32. O purifier of the world! If your worship, however, performs, of your own accord, the expiation for the sin of Brahmahatyā without being prompted to do so by others, you will be setting a noble example to others.[15]

The glorious Lord Balarāma said:

33. I shall expiate for this act of Brāhmaṇa-cide in order tc set an example to the world. Be pleased to prescribe to me the best course of atonement for such an act.

34. Be pleased to tell me whatever is expected by you for him—such as a long span of life, strength, sound-ness of sense-organs—and I shall accomplish it for him by my Yogic potency.

The sages replied:

35. O Balarāma! May you be pleased to act in such a way as will preserve the infallibility of your missile (charged in the Kuśa grass), the efficacy of your prowess, the inevitability of death and that our boon (that the sūta should narrate the purāṇas to the end of our sacrificial session) also may not prove untrue.

Lord Balarāma said:

36. It is declared by the Vedas that it is one’s own self that is born as a son.[16] His son Ugraśravas will now be the expounder of the Purāṇas and he will be blessed with a long life, bodily strength and keenness of senses (and intelligence).

37. O great sages! Be pleased to tell me what else you wish to have and I shall accomplish it for you. O learned sages! Please consider and advise me the course of expiation for the sin committed by me unknowingly.

The sages said:

38. There is a terrible Dānava, named Balvala, the son of Ilvala. On every parva (full-moon and new-moon) days, he comes here and pollutes the sanctity of our sacrifice.

39. He showers (on the sacred sacrifice) puss, blood, faeces, urine, wine and flesh. Please kill that wicked demon and that will be the most valuable service rendered to us by you, O descendant of Daśārha.

40. Thereafter, for twelve months you go round the Bhāratavarṣa and with a serene mind take bath in the sacred waters. Thereby being absolved of the sin, you will be purified.

Footnotes and references:


As in the case of Śiśupāla’s censure of Kṛṣṇa (vide Supra 10.74. 34-37) Bhāvāratha Dīpikā gives another interpretation of Dantavaktra’s reproachful speech implying Kṛṣṇa’s glorification as Dantavaktra was Viṣṇu’s attendant in Vaikuṇṭha.

Bhāvāratha Dīpikā’s glorificatory interpretation of this verse:

Dantavaktra whose pride had already disappeared (at the sight of his master Viṣṇu in his original birth in Vaikuṇṭha) welcomed him, “How- fortunate it is! How glad I am that your worship has presented yourself to my vision. It is certainly lucky! Really very lucky!


Dantavaktra was the son of Śrutadevī, the sister of Vasudeva.

Bhāvāratha Dīpikā’s interpretation of some adjectives to show that this is Kṛṣṇa’s praise is far-fetched. For example the 2nd line in verse 5.

atastvāṃ gadayā manda haniṣye vajrakalpayā is taken as gadayā amanda haniṣye a-vajrakalpayā.

“O Lord capable of bearing anything! Bear up with the stroke of my gadā which is tender like a wreath of lotus.


Bhāvāratha Dīpikā’s second interpretation of some adjectives in this verse:

ajña-(na vidyate jñaḥ yasmāt saḥ) Omniscient, Vyādhi—One who abides in the body as Inner Controller.

hatvā—Having arrived at the realization of your essential nature (han to go) ānṛṇyam upaimi: Pay off the debt of my ancestors (by realization of the Brahman).

“O Omniscient Lord! Due to Sanaka’s curse, I have become your cousin and enemy. But having realized your essential nature as one who abide as Inner Controller of all beings or facing you in the ways of Kṣattriyas, I shall pay off the debt of my manes.”


KD. states that Balarāma, out of sympathy, wanted to intervene between the warring parties incidently, when he would reach Kurukṣetra in the course of his pilgrimage—78.146.


Somanath or Verawal in Saurashtra. It is also called Devapattana. Somanath is one of the famous twelve jyotir-liṅgas of god Mahādeva. In its neighbourhood are the spots where Yādavas’ internecine battle and death of Kṛṣṇa took place.—GDAMI. p. 157.


It appears that at that time, the Sarasvatī was still flowing into the Gulf of Cutch i.e. The Arabian sea. There is a small river Rauṇākṣī, also known as the Sarasvatī in Vāmana P. (ch. 84) which falls in the sea near Prabhāsa. But the later description shows that Balarāma followed the course of the Vedic Sarasvatī to its source.


It appears that no geographical sequence is followed in the description of this pilgrimage.


Pehoa in the Karnal district, Panjab. It is 14 miles to the west of Thanesvar. This Tīrtha is on the Sarasvatī, near the famous (Brahmayoni TīrthaGDAMI, p. 16. Vainya performed nine aśvamedha sacrifices at Pṛthūdaka (VT).


VT. states this to be the hermitage of the sage Kardama near Siddhapura in Gujarat. N.L. De identifies it with the same: Sitpur to the northwest of Ahmedabad—GDAMI, p. 38.


Tritakūpa—A place near the Sarasvatī. In that well Trita fell and was taken out of it by god Soma (VT). Probably this refers to the incident supposed to be the basis of Ṛg Veda Saṃhitā. 1.105.


In Kurukṣetra, the same as Rāmahrada—a sacred tank to the north of Thanesvar. Bhāvāratha Dīpikā identifies Sudarśana and Cakra Tirtha.—GDAMI, p. 43, 166.


A certain Tirtha on the Sarasvatī.


The Kurukṣetra Sarasvatī is called Prācī or Eastern Sarasvatī (Padma-purāṇa uttara khaṇḍa (ch. 67). N.L. De states that this name is specially- applied to the Sarasvatī that issues out of the Puṣkara Lake—GDAMI, p. 187.


Modern Nimsar on the left bank of the Gomatī in the Sitapur district of U.P. It is 20 miles to the North-West of Lucknow.—GDAMR p. 135.


yad yad ācarati śreṣṭhas tat tad evetaro janaḥ /
sa yat pramāṇaṃ kurute lokas tad anuvartate //
  —Bhagavad Gītā3.2


aṅgād aṅgāt sambhavasi hṛdayād abhijāyase /
ātmā vai putra-nāmāsi sa jīva śaradaḥ śatam //
  —Kauṣitaki Up. 2.7.

Balarāma exhorts the sages to install Ugraśravas in the place of Romaharṣaṇa and all the boons promised to him by the sages will be now effective in the case of the son of Romaharṣaṇa.

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