Once upon a time, Lord Balarāma heard that an arrangement was being made for a fight between the two rival parties in the Kuru dynasty, one headed by Duryodhana and the other by the Pāṇḍavas. He did not like the idea, and He tried to act as mediator to stop the fighting. Finding it impossible, and not wishing to take an active part on behalf of either party, He left Dvārakā on the plea of visiting various holy places of pilgrimage. He first of all visited the place of pilgrimage known as Prabhāsa-kṣetra. He took His bath there, and He pacified the local brāhmaṇas and offered oblations to the demigods, Pitās, great sages and people in general, in accordance with Vedic ritualistic ceremonies. That is the Vedic method of visiting holy places. After this, accompanied by some respectable brāhmaṇas, He decided to visit different places on the bank of the river Sarasvatī. He gradually visited such places as Pṛthūdaka, Bindusara, Tritakūpa, Sudarśana-tīrtha, Viśāla-tīrtha, Brahma-tīrtha and Cakra-tīrtha. Besides these, He also visited all the holy places on the bank of the Sarasvatī River running toward the east. After this He visited all the principal holy places on the bank of the Yamunā and on the bank of the Ganges. Thus He gradually came to the holy place known as Naimiṣāraṇya.
This holy place, Naimiṣāraṇya, is still existing in India, and in ancient times it was especially used for the meetings of great sages and saintly persons with the aim of understanding spiritual life and self-realization. When Lord Balarāma visited that place there was a great sacrifice being performed by a great assembly of transcendentalists. Such meetings were planned to last thousands of years. When Lord Balarāma arrived, all the participants in the meeting—great sages, ascetics, brāhmaṇas and learned scholars—immediately arose from their seats and welcomed Him with great honor and respect. Some offered Him respects by standing up and then paying obeisances, and those who were elderly great sages and brāhmaṇas offered Him blessings after standing up. After this formality, Lord Balarāma was offered a suitable seat, and everyone present worshiped Him. Everyone in the assembly stood up in the presence of Balarāma because they knew Him to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Education or learning means to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead; therefore, although Lord Balarāma appeared on the earth as a kṣatriya, all the brāhmaṇas and sages stood up because they knew who Lord Balarāma was.
Unfortunately, after being worshiped and seated in His place, Lord Balarāma saw Romaharṣaṇa, the disciple of Vyāsadeva (the literary incarnation of Godhead), still sitting on the vyāsāsana. He had neither gotten up from his seat nor offered Him respects. Because he was seated on the vyāsāsana, he foolishly thought himself greater than the Lord; therefore he did not get down from his seat or bow down before the Lord. Lord Balarāma then considered the history of Romaharṣaṇa: he was born in a sūta family, or a mixed family, born of a brāhmaṇa woman and a kṣatriya man. Therefore although Romaharṣaṇa considered Balarāma a kṣatriya, he should not have remained sitting on a higher seat; according to his position by birth he should not even have accepted the higher sitting position, because many learned brāhmaṇas and sages were present. Lord Balarāma also observed that Romaharṣaṇa not only refused to come down from his exalted seat but did not even stand up and offer his respects when Balarāmajī entered the assembly. Lord Balarāma did not like the audacity of Romaharṣaṇa and, becoming very angry at him, declared from His seat, “This man, Romaharṣaṇa, is so impudent that he has accepted a higher seat than that of all the respectable brāhmaṇas present here, although he was born in a degraded pratiloma family.”
When a person is seated on the vyāsāsana, he does not generally have to stand to receive a particular person entering the assembly, but in this case the situation was different because Lord Baladeva is not an ordinary human being. Therefore, although Romaharṣaṇa Sūta was voted to the vyāsāsana by all the brāhmaṇas, he should have followed the behavior of other learned sages and brāhmaṇas present and should have known that Lord Balarāma is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Respects are always due Him, even though such respects can be avoided in the case of an ordinary man. The appearance of Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma is especially meant for reestablishment of the religious principles. As stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, the highest religious principle is to surrender to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam also confirms that the topmost perfection of religion is to be engaged in the devotional service of the Lord.