A group of hermits.
Sixty thousand hermits were born to Kratu, one of the Saptarsis, by his wife, Santati (or Sannati). They are called Balakhilyas. Everyone of them was only the size of half a thumb, but they were as bright as the blazing sun and had attained control over their senses.
(Visnu Purana, Amsa 1, Chapter 10) .
2) Garuda (Eagle) and Balakhilya(s). A story connecting the birth of Garuda with Balakhilyas occurs in the Puranas.
Once Kasyapa Prajapati performed a sacrifice to obtain children. The work of bringing firewood for the sacrifice was entrusted to Indra and the other devas (Gods) and the Balakhilyas. When Indra was heaping up on heaps pieces of big logs the Balakhilyas who were very small were bringing in chips of wood. Seeing this Indra laughed. The Balakhilyas got angry and stopping the work entrusted to them began to do penance with a view to create another Indra. Knowing this Indra was much flurried. He went to Kasyapa and told him everything. Kasyapa went to the Balakhilyas and pacified them. At this time Vinata, a wife of Kasyapa, was doing penance to obtain a son. Kasyapa said that the penance of the Balakhilyas would not be fruitless and that as a result of their penance a son who would overpower Indra would be born to Vinata. Accordingly a son was born to her. Garuda was that son. The fact that Garuda overthrew Indra when he went to heaven for ambrosia, is well known.
(Maha-bharata, Adi Parva, Chapter 31) .
3) Routine of life. The Balakhilyas live in the mandala of Surya (solar region). They travel in front of the sun in the shape of birds. They wear hides of animals. They are righteous and are only as big as a thumb. They are very ardent in doing the works of devas. They are sinless. There are Balakhilyas living in the lunar region also. They worship the Sun daily. All the world stand firm in truth because of the penance of the Balakhilyas.
(Maha-bharata, Anusasana Parva, Chapter 141.).
4) Other information.
(1) Garuda who went to the realm of devas (gods) for Amrta (ambrosia) took rest on the branch of a banyan tree, and that branch was broken from the tree. Sixty thousand Balakhilyas were doing penance hanging head downwards on that branch. Garuda knew this only after the branch was broken. Fearing the curse form them he took the branch in his beak arid flew about here and there. At last, according to the advice of Kasyapa, he took the branch to the mount Gandhamadana and without causing any harm to the small hermits placed it there.
(Maha-bharata, Adi Parva, Chapter 30) .
(2) When Dusyanta entered the hermitage of Kanva he saw the Balakhilyas doing panance, hanging down on the trees in the vicinity.
(Maha-bharata, Adi Parva, Chapter 7) .
(3) In Valmiki Ramayana, Balakarda, Sarga 51, it is mentioned that the Balakhilyas were engaged in prayer and meditations and offering oblations to fire to the hermitage of Vasistha.
(4) It is mentioned in Valmiki Ramayana, Bala Kanda, Sarga 51, that in the period of the Ramayana, in South India, when Ravana was going to the house of Marica, he saw the Balakhilyas doing penance.
(5) The Balakhilyas learned the Vedas and Sastras (scriptures) sitting in the chariot of the sun. (Kampa Ramayana, Purvakanda).
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