Balarama is said to be the incarnation of Vishnu as also of serpent Shesh on Vishnu's behest. As scriptures have it, when the misdeeds of many kings, more so of Kansa, Mathura's king, became cumbersome to Bhoodevi, the mother earth, she transformed into a cow and reached before Vishnu praying him to redeem her of the evil powers tramping her under their feet. Vishnu promised her that he would take birth as Vasudeo's sons, Balarama and Krishna, and redeem her of Kansa and other wicked kings. Vasudeo and Devaki were in Kansa's prison and six of their children had been killed by Kansa as soon as they were born. The seventh in her womb was Balarama or Balabhadra. Now the myth slightly varies. Instead of incarnating himself Vishnu directs Shesh to incarnate as Balarama to help Vishnu, when he incarnates as Krishna, in his mission against demons. As Kansa was sure to kill this seventh child too, as soon as it was born, Vishnu directed Yogamaya to transfer the foetus from Devaki's womb to Rohini's, Vasudeo's other wife. In due course Rohini bore a child who was initially named Sangharsana, but became popular later as Balarama or Balabhadra.
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