Bhima is the second of the Pandavas (in order of birth) in the Mahabharata. He is the third biological son of Kunti – her first being Karna, and second being Yudhishthir. His biological father is Vayu, the wind god. Pandu, the king of Hastinapur, is his adoptive father.
He is considered physically the strongest of the Pandavas. He is also described by Bhishma as the ‘best all-round warrior’ among all the heroes that assemble at Kurukshetra.
Bhima is a mace-fighter, a wrestler, a Rakshasa-killer – and not a bad chariot-archer.
In this post, we will answer the question: Did Bhima love Draupadi the most?
No explicit claims are made in the Mahabharata about who loves who the most. But Bhima is the one husband that Draupadi turns to the most in times of her need. Bhima also helps Arjuna fight off the angry suitors at Draupadi’s swayamvara. Some scholars have suggested this as evidence that of all the Pandavas, Bhima loves Draupadi the most.
Read on to discover more about where Bhima loved Draupadi the most.
(For answers to all Bhima-related questions, see: Bhima: 10 Questions about the Mahabharata Hero Answered.)
The question of Draupadi’s favourite husband is answered explicitly by Yudhishthir at the very end of the Mahabharata. When Bhima asks him why Draupadi had been denied entry in to heaven, the elder brother says, ‘Because she loved Arjuna more than she loved the rest of us.’
He says this as if it’s a self-evident fact, but of course we can assume that it is merely his opinion.
It’s a fairly reasonable opinion, because after all, Draupadi has been won by Arjuna – and therefore feels that she belongs to him more than she does to the others.
Also, Arjuna is the one husband who stays away from the family the most – first during his twelve-year exile and then with his five-year quest for weapons and divine gifts. For a total of seventeen years, therefore, Draupadi is forced to remain separated from Arjuna.
And as they say, distance makes the heart grow fonder.
Now, the interesting question to ask is who among the Pandavas loved Draupadi the most.
Ruling out the twins
At the outset, we can rule out Nakula and Sahadeva as being candidates for this honour. We simply do not know enough about these two men to make reasonable guesses either way about them.
The Mahabharata is largely focused on Yudhishthir, Bhima and Arjuna (on the Pandava side), and on Duryodhana and Karna (on the Kaurava side).
While this does not mean that Nakula and Sahadeva did not love Draupadi at all, or that they loved her less than their three more famous brothers, it is true that a reader cannot find evidence for it.
The main contenders for the spot are therefore Yudhishthir, Bhima and Arjuna.
Yudhishthir and Arjuna
Yudhishthir’s primary motivations in the story are to do with wisdom and duty. He is obsessed with discovering and understanding the complexities of human life.
To the extent that he interacts with Draupadi, it is to debate with her on some matter of morality or to bear the brunt of her emotional outbursts, during which she blames him for all the troubles that the Pandavas are facing.
As for Arjuna, right from the beginning, he considers Draupadi as a prize that he has been tasked to win for the sake of his elder brother’s ambitions. He does not ever betray any feelings of affection or love toward her.
Whether this is out of resentment – for being forced to share Draupadi with his brothers – or if he is just not that attracted to her, we do not know. But he displays a lot more passion with his other wives: Ulupi, Chitrangada, and Subhadra.
The long periods of absence do not help in this matter either. While Draupadi pines for Arjuna during these times of separation, Arjuna has a lot to occupy his mind – building alliances for Yudhishthir, making friends with Krishna, practicing his archery, collecting divine weapons, and so on.
It is likely, therefore, that Arjuna thinks of himself as nothing more than a dutiful husband to Draupadi. He reserves his love for his other wives – chiefly Subhadra.
Among the Pandavas, Bhima often takes on the role of chief protector. He always remains with his brothers – in contrast with Arjuna, who is required to travel often – and guards their safety with much fervour.
Whenever a Rakshasa needs to be killed, or a town needs to be liberated, or one of the Pandavas or Draupadi needs to be carried, Bhima steps up to the plate.
With Draupadi alone, Bhima has plenty of points of contact where he becomes her rescuer. For instance:
- At Draupadi’s swayamvara, Bhima helps Arjuna in pushing back the swathe of angry suitors after the ceremony finishes. While Arjuna defeats Karna in an archery-battle, Bhima wins a mace challenge against Shalya.
- When Jatasura the Rakshasa abducts Draupadi, it is Bhima who gives chase, kills the interloper, and brings Draupadi back.
- When Draupadi wants a flower to be brought back from the forest of Saugandhika, Bhima undertakes the quest. He defeats an army of Rakshasas to procure the flower.
- When Jayadratha abducts Draupadi, Bhima and Arjuna both follow the Saindhava king. It is Bhima who administers the punishment of shaving Jayadratha’s head.
- During the Virata Parva, it is Bhima who exacts Draupadi’s revenge by killing Kichaka, and then later rescues her from being burnt alive by Kichaka’s brothers.
- During the Kurukshetra war, Bhima kills Duryodhana and Duhsasana, the primary insulters of Draupadi.
- After the end of the war, it is Bhima that Draupadi addresses when she wishes that Ashwatthama should be captured. While the rest of the Pandavas are reluctant, Bhima jumps into his chariot and sets out.
The above examples show that of all the Pandava brothers, it is Bhima who is always eager to do Draupadi’s bidding. He fusses over her welfare. He protects her from harm. He does small things for her pleasure. He is driven to crazed fury whenever her honour is compromised.
From this, we can conclude with reasonable certainty that Bhima loved Draupadi more than all his other brothers did.
However, we must also remember that with a thing such as love, we can never tell for sure. People have different ways of loving – some do it publicly in big ways, others silently in small ways – so we cannot completely rule out the notion that Yudhishthir and Arjuna also loved Draupadi as much as Bhima did – in their own ways.
But if we are drawing conclusions from actions, we must give the prize to Bhima.
Also, Draupadi seems to know this, because at the end of the story, when Ashwatthama kills the Upapandavas, she turns to Bhima knowing full well that he will not say no to her request.
If you liked this post, you may find these interesting also:
- Bhima: 10 Questions about the Mahabharata Hero Answered
- Krishna: 36 Questions about the Mahabharata Hero Answered
- Arjuna: 51 Questions about the Mahabharata Hero Answered
- Karna: 41 Questions about the Mahabharata Hero Answered
- Draupadi: 46 Questions about the Mahabharata Heroine Answered