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Kṛṣṇa's elder brother (also known as Rāma, Bala, Balabhadra, Baladeva, Saṃkarṣaṇa (‘the ploughing’), et al.). An avatāra of Viṣṇu; also considered to be an avatāra of Ananta or Śeṣa, the cosmic serpent, hence his occasional depiction as a nāga or snake-man. He may have been a folk hero who was later transmuted into an agricultural deity, associated with ploughing and irrigation. Balarāma is the subject of a considerable mythology, featuring, for instance, in the Mahābhārata (especially the Harivaṃśa), the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, and the Viṣṇu Purāṇa, but he has had a limited appeal as an independent object of worship. According to Tamil mythology, he is Viṣṇu's elder brother, and is referred to as Vāliyōṉ.

Subjects: Hinduism.

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