Baladeva is Kṛṣṇa Himself in the form of the Supreme Guru to teach others how to serve His lotus feet. They are one, but there is a slight difference in their forms: Kṛṣṇa is black and Baladeva is white; Kṛṣṇa carries a flute whereas Baladeva carries a buffalo horn. Because Baladeva teaches service to Kṛṣṇa, He is called akhaṇḍa-guru-tattva: the complete and undivided principle of guru.
When Śrī Baladeva killed the donkey-shaped demon named Dhenukāsura, He showed that only guru can remove our ignorance. When He killed the demon Pralambāsura, He showed that only the bona fide guru can remove our hypocrisy and tendency towards political diplomacy. During the battle of Kurukṣetra, when Bhīma was fighting with Duryodhana, Bhīma cheated, according to the codes of a kṣatriya, by striking Duryodhana on his thigh. Baladeva became angry because Duryodhana was His disciple. However, when He understood that Bhīma had gotten the indication from Kṛṣṇa to do what he did, Baladeva didn’t say anything and simply left to go on pilgrimage.
If there is no guru-bhakti, life is useless. Guru-niṣṭhā (steady faith in guru) is the backbone of bhakti, and without it life has no use.
August 12, 2003 Vṛndāvana