Balaram and the Yamuna River:

A. Whitney Sanford

in Growing Stories from India

Published by University Press of Kentucky

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780813134123
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813135915 | DOI:
 Balaram and the Yamuna River:

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This chapter introduces the story of the deities Balaram and the Yamuna River, which offers an honest reckoning with human dependence on the earth for sustenance and human entitlements to the earth's production in the context of Balaram's multiple obligations to the earth, his family, and his subjects. It situates Balaram's story in its geographical, religious, and cultural contexts, defines relevant terms and concepts from the Hindu tradition, and explains why devotees understand Balaram as a protector, agriculturalist, and guardian. This story both helps us recognize how a disconnect with the origins of our food both enable and result from assumptions—whether conscious or not—of entitlement to the earth's resources and helps us question why narratives that appear to justify aggression towards the earth prove so enduring. Exploring the moral aspects of food and food production bring this dilemma home and demonstrates that how and why we tell stories about agriculture must be central to our lives.

Keywords: food; Hinduism; India; Holi; Dharma; Balaram; Shesh; Krishna; Braj; goddess; Vaishnava

Chapter.  13465 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environment

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