Bhima – Hindu Warriors


In the Hindu epic Mahabharata, Bhima is the second of the Pandavas. The Mahabharata relates many events which portray the immense might of Bhima. Bhima is responsible for slaying all hundred Kaurava brothers in the Kurukshetra War.

1.Birth and early years
Once, a Brahmin Rishi Kindama and his wife were making love in the forest when Bhima’s father Pandu accidentally shot them, mistaking them for deer. Before dying, Kindama cursed the king to die when he embraces his wife. Due to this curse, Pandu was unable to father children. As an additional penance for the murder, Pandu abdicated the throne of Hastinapura and his blind brother Dhritarashtra took over the reins of the kingdom.

After Pandu’s disability, the Pandavas were conceived in an unusual way. His wife, Queen Kunti, had in her youth been granted the power to invoke the Devas by Rishi Durvasa. Each Deva, when invoked, would bless her with a child. Urged by Pandu to use her boons, Kunti gave birth to Bhima by invoking the God of wind, Vayu.

Along with other Pandava brothers, Bhima was trained in religion, science, administration and military arts by the Kuru preceptors, Kripa and Drona. Specifically, he became a master in using the mace. Bhima’s strong point throughout the epic remains his towering strength. He was so wrathful and strong that it was impossible even for Indra to subdue him in a battle.

Bhima was also renowned for his giant appetite – at times, half of the total food consumed by the Pandavas was eaten by him.

2.Trouble with Kauravas

a)Bhima fighting with the Nagas
Bhima, being as powerful as his father, was a natural bully. He used to play practical jokes on the Kaurava brothers; he used to engage in wrestling bouts where he out-powered them with consummate ease.

His repeated failures and fecklessness against Bhima angered Duryodhana so much that he wanted him dead. He hatched a cunning plot where he poisoned Bhima’s food and drowned him in River Ganga. Thankfully, the Naga king Vasuki saved Bhima and also apprised him of Duryodana’s hatred for him. It is also Vasuki who bestowed him the immense strength of ten thousand elephants.

b)Escaping fire and killing Purochana
Duryodana with his counsellor Purochana hatched a plan to burn the Pandavas alive at a lac palace lakshagraha at Varnavrata that Duryodana had built there, (lacquer is highly inflammable). Thanks to Vidura, the Pandavas managed to escape out from the palace. Bhima played a major role in carrying all five of them (Kunti and brothers) and escaping to safety. Bhima also barricaded the palace of Purochana and set fire to it, thereby ensuring Purochana became a victim of his own evil plot.

c)Slaying Bakasura
Kunti and the Pandavas were living in agnyatavaasa (living incognito) after they escaped from the murder plot (Kunti suggests they be incognito to avoid further problems from the Kauravas). During their stay at Ekachakra or kaiwara (in Karnataka), they came to know of a demon, Bakasura, who troubled people by eating out their provisions. The powerful Bhima brought his might to the fore and trumped Bakasura, much to the delight of the villagers.

3.Marriage and children
At the time Bhima kills the rakshasa Hidimba, he meets his sister Hidimbi; they eventually get married and have a son, Ghatotkacha. Hidimbi promises Kunti that she and Ghatotkacha will stay out of the Pandavas’ lives and away from the luxuries of court.

Then the Pandavas attended the Swayamvara of Drupada princess, Draupadi. The Pandavas, led by Arjuna, were successful at the Swayamvara. With his brothers, he was married to Draupadi, who gave birth to a son, Sutasoma. At a later stage, Bhima also married Valandhara, the daughter of the king of Kasi, and had a son named Sarvada. Among Bhima’s three sons, Sarvada did not participate in the Kurukshetra war, Sutasoma was killed by Ashwatthama and Ghatotkacha was killed by Karna.

4.Cook at Virata’s kingdom
Along with his brothers, Bhima spent his last year of exile in the kingdom of Virata. He disguised himself as a cook named Vallabh (within themselves Pandavas called him Jayanta).

5.Defeating Jimuta
Once during a great festival, people from neighbouring countries had come to the kingdom of Virata. There was a wrestling bout where a wrestler from a different state, Jimuta proved to be invincible. Much to the delight of King Virata and his subjects, Bhima challenged Jimuta and knocked him out in no time. This greatly enhanced the reputation of the Pandavas in an unfamiliar territory.

6.Kichaka Vadha
Kichaka, the army commander of Virata, tried to sexually assault Draupadi, who was under the guise of a maid named Sairindhri. Draupadi reported this incident to Bhima. Bhima covered himself with silk robes. He slew him the moment he tried to touch him. Kickaka was crushed and slaughtered in to a meat ball by Bhima. Later Kichaka’s allies plotted to murder Sairindri, but Bhima vanquished all of them.

7.Susarma’s defeat
The archenemy of Virata was King Susharma of the Trigarta Kingdom, under the aegis of Duryodana, waged a battle against Virata by stealing the cows in his kingdom. Bhima lead the other Pandavas and Virata, and helped to rout the army of Susarma easily. Before he was about to strangle Susarma to death, Yudhishthira told him to spare him.By this time, the 13-year exile period was completed and the rivalry between the siblings was renewed.

8.Later years and death
The blind Dhritarashtra attacks the statue of Bhima
After the war, Dhritarashtra was enraged by Bhima’s slaying of all his sons. He tried to crush Bhima, but Krishna, sensing his anger, asked Bhima to show Dhritarashtra an iron statue of himself. Dhritarashtra crushed the statue into pieces, but later realised his folly and apologised to Bhima.Yudhishthira appointed Bhima as the commander of Hastinapur after taking charge. Upon the onset of the Kali yuga, Bhima and the other Pandavas retired. Giving up all their belongings and ties, the Pandavas made their final journey of pilgrimage to the Himalayas.

On the journey, the group, one-by-one, begins to fall. When Bhima tires and falls down, he asks his elder brother why he, Bhima, is unable to complete the journey to heaven. Yudhishthira explains his brother’s vice of gluttony.

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