In the Mahabharata, Duryodhana has been depicted with a wide range of characteristics - in some versions as the pure embodiment of evil and in others as a highly virtuous person fighting for his rightful place as the king.

We know that Krishna favored the Pandavas while Balarama favored Duryodhana. Why did Balarama, who upheld moral values better than Krishna, favor Duryodhana if the latter's character was suspicious? Even if Duryodhana was highly righteous and an excellent person - the attempted stripping of Draupadi occurred under his watch. How is Balarama still justified in siding with Duryodhana?


2 Answers 2


As per Mahabharat Tatparya Nirnaya of Madhavacharya, it was because Balarama had come under the influence of kali and had deviated from bhagavata dharam. The reason he deviated from dharma was because he disbelieved Krishna's words, who was God Himself.

Krishna and Balarama chased the fleeting Satadhanwa as he had killed Satyabhama's father Satrajit for the Syamantaka jewel. But after Krishna killed him, He didn't find the precious jewel with him. He told Balarama that the jewel was not with Satadhanwa. But Balarama didn't believe Krishna. He thought that Krishna had kept the jewel and lying to him.

Balarama did not believe Shri Krishna. Out of anger went to Videha and lived there for five years. Duryodhana, realizing that it is impossible to get Shri Krishna leave the Pandavas and come to his side, decided to attract Balarama to his side, and went there. [MBTN - 20.33]

Duryodhana became the pupil of Balarama for learning the art of mace warfare. Knowing that Shri Krushna was not around, he requested Balarama to give his sister Subhadra in marriage to him and Balarama promised him to grant his wish. [MBTN - 20.34]

If you read the notes that Shri Madhavacharya gives to the verses, it will become apparent how Duryodhana cheated Balarama for his purpose and how Balarama having disbelieved Krishna had deviated from the path of dharma. But Balarama being simple (or probably due to the influence of shani as Acharyaji mentions) was affectionate for his favorite disciple. Probably that is why he favored Duryodhana and ignored his misdeeds like people often ignore misdeeds of persons they like.

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    How can Balarama, a Personality of Godhead, come under the influence of Kali? All vishnu-tattva, or expansions of Sri Krishna, are above the influence of maya according to Srila Prabhupada. Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 15:52

Balarama did not always favor Duryodhana. It is explained in Vana Parva SECTION CXIX that Balarama favored Yudhishthira.

Then Valarama, resembling in hue the milk of the cow and the Kunda flower and the moon and the silver and the lotus root and who wore a wreath made of wild flowers and who had the ploughshare for his arms, spake to the lotuseyed one, saying, 'O Krishna, I do not see that the practice of virtue leads to any good or that unrighteous practices can cause evil, since the magnanimous Yudhishthira is in this miserable state, with matted hair, a resident of the wood, and for his garment wearing the bark of trees. And Duryodhana is now ruling the earth, and the ground doth not yet swallow him up.

He even reprimanded Bhishma, Dronacharya, and Kripacharya and Dhritarashtra.

How is it that Bhishma and Kripa and the Brahmana Drona and the aged king, the senior member of the house, are living happily, after having banished the sons of Pritha? Fie upon the vicious-minded leaders of Bharata's race! What will that sinner, the chieftain of the earth, say to the departed forefathers of his race, when the wretch will meet them in the world to come? Having hurled from the throne his in-offensive sons, will he be able to declare that he had treated them in a blameless way? He doth not now see with his mind's eye how he hath become so sightless, and on account of what act he hath grown blind among the kings of this entire earth.

Another example of how Balarama supported Yudhishthira.

And the son of the god of virtue,--virtue which stands at the head of all the there pursuits of life--and the son of the wind-god and also the son of the lord of celestials, and those two sons of the celestial physicians,--being the sons of all those gods and always accustomed to a life of happiness, how are they living in this wood, deprived of all comforts? When the son of Virtue met with defeat, and when his wife, his brothers, his followers, and himself were all driven forth, and Duryodhana began to flourish, why did not the earth subside with all its hills?"

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