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?


Following are the set of situations which made Balarama take Duryodhana sides:-

  • Duryodhana was better then Bhima in skills, he was a better student, Bhima only had raw power but Duryodhana got all his power by hard work and skills. That's made Duryodhana his favorite student.

  • Balarama wished a successful marriage between Subhadra and Duryodhana but Arjuna kidnapped her.

  • Balarama didn't want to participate in the Kurukshetra war and asked Krishna to do the same. He believed that Yudhishthira had already lost the crown and that the war wasn't worth fighting.

So these are some of the reasons for Balarama's behavior, he still didn't .directly participate.

It can be also related to the fact that Krishna gave choice to take either him or Yadavas on their side and the Kauravas took Yadavas and Balaram is also a Yadav.

  • yes, Duryodhana became Balarama's favorite student, so Blarama had a partiality for Duryodhana and promised Duryodhana to wed Subhadra to him. I had read somewhere that Duryodhana did it on purpose. I am trying find it now and will post the reason if I get.
    – Be Happy
    Jul 3 '14 at 16:35
  • @jabahar will really like to see that. Jul 3 '14 at 16:38
  • ok..here you go..posted the reason. The reason is from Madhavacharya's commentry.
    – Be Happy
    Jul 3 '14 at 17:29
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    Agreed that Balram does not wish to participate in the Kurukshetra war. But how can he still not reprimand Duryodhana for the insult on Draupadi? He had atleast 13 years. Is it not his duty to call his favorite student to righteousness?
    – mustard
    Jul 7 '14 at 17:03
  • @AnkitSharma, so did all the yadavs fight for the kauravas? Also, Balarama never fought in the war. Nov 12 '18 at 15:50

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. Nov 12 '18 at 15:52

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