How did Bhima marry Hidimbi?

How did Bhima marry Hidimbi - Featured Image - Picture of a woman's hands raised in a Namaste shape. Representing union.

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: How did Bhima marry Hidimba?

Bhima is the first of the Pandava brothers to marry. After escaping from the burning house of wax in Varanavata, the Pandavas and Kunti find refuge in a forest, where they are accosted by a Rakshasa named Hidimba. Bhima kills this Rakshasa, and marries his sister – whose name is also Hidimba (sometimes called Hidimbi). They have a son, Ghatotkacha.

Read on to discover more about how Bhima married Hidimba.

(For answers to all Bhima-related questions, see: Bhima: 10 Questions about the Mahabharata Hero Answered.)

Escape from Varanavata

A short while after the completion of the graduation ceremony, Duryodhana sends the Pandavas to Varanavata on a pretext. Here, the Pandavas realize that the house in which they are meant to stay is built of highly inflammable material.

With the help of a miner sent by Vidura, they get a tunnel dug from the main room of the house of wax to a safe location some distance away.

Once the tunnel is complete, Yudhishthir calls his brothers and sets a date on which they will set fire to the house.

On the agreed-upon day, the Pandavas begin to set fire to the building themselves. And after having made sure the flames are strong enough to claim the house completely, they escape through the tunnel and reach the riverbank.

On the northern shore of the Ganga they meet another man sent by Vidura, and this man, after identifying himself, directs the Pandavas to a boat. Taking this boat, aided by a favourable wind, they reach the other side of the river and enter a deep forest.

Bhima’s Anger

They come upon a large banyan tree in the middle of the forest, under which Bhima places his four brothers and Kunti. With all five of them complaining of thirst, he runs to a nearby stream and brings back water by soaking his upper garment.

Each time the garment becomes dry, he rushes back to the stream to soak it again. Their thirsts thus quenched, the four Pandava brothers and Kunti descend into sleep, with Bhima keeping watch.

In the shadow of contemplation, anger washes over Vrikodara in waves. His heart torn at the sight of Kunti sleeping on bare ground, he laments:

‘She who has borne sons of the gods themselves, she who has ever slept on the softest silks fanned by maids, now sleeps on the harsh ground covered by leaves and pebbles. Her feet bleed! She is consumed by hunger and exhaustion, and here I sit, her son, unable to reduce her suffering.

‘This is all because of you, O Kauravas, led by Duryodhana, blessed by Dhritarashtra. Enjoy your temporary victory, and soak in its warmth, for I, Bhimasena, the seond-born son of Kunti, shall see to it that you are sent to the abode of Yama at the right time.’

Saying this (and a lot more), Bhima squeezed his palms together, overwhelmed by wrath.

Hidimbi falls in Love

Not far from where the Pandavas are sleeping, two cannibals, brother and sister, by names Hidimba and Hidimbi, live atop a sala tree. The brother detects the scent of human flesh in his nostrils and sends his sister to investigate who had come.

‘If they are people you can kill yourself,’ he tells her, ‘do so and bring the corpses to me, Sister, and we shall feast on them. Otherwise, you may return and we shall hunt them together.’

Hidimbi comes to the foot of the banyan tree and spots Bhimasena. She falls in love with him at first sight and thinks to herself:

If this man is killed, my brother and I shall have but momentary enjoyment which would last only until the next time hunger strikes us. But if I could make this man mine, eternal pleasure of his company awaits.

So using her dark powers, she transforms into a beautiful human maiden, and steps into the clearing, her head lowered demurely. She addresses Bhima and says:

‘O handsome one, if you have chosen this place to rest among the many that are available in these woods, then you must not be from these parts, for here is where the fierce rakshasa Hidimba dwells. And he is known for his love of human meat. Make haste, therefore, and come with me. I shall protect you against the wrath of my brother.’

Hidimba Arrives

Bhima laughs at Hidimbi’s presumption that he is afraid of Rakshasas. ‘I need no protection against any rakshasa, fair maiden,’ he says. ‘I am awake to protect my mother and brothers who sleep in the shade of the tree.

‘And our words might also awaken them, so please leave us alone, and do not worry for our safety. As long as I draw breath, no rakshasa can touch even a hair on my mother’s head.’

While this conversation between Hidimbi and Bhima is going on, Hidimba, wondering why his sister is taking so long to return, alights from his home and comes to the Banyan, following the trail of his scent.

Upon arriving on the scene and seeing that Hidimbi is decked in the form of a human maiden, he guesses that she has taken a liking for the mountain-like man standing next to her.

‘How dare you allow your lust to dictate your behaviour towards your race, Hidimbi,’ he says, snarling in anger and advancing toward her. ‘Watch. I shall now kill all of these men, and then punish you for your unchaste behaviour.’

Bhima steps between brother and sister and raises his hand.

‘You shall not harm a woman in my presence, O Rakshasa,’ he says. ‘If you indeed wish to engage in battle, get through me first before you sacrifice the good name of all rakshasas in the world with your spiteful nature. Come, let me see your strength.’

Bhima kills Hidimba

Thus begins the fight between Bhima and Hidimba. After a prolonged duel, during which the Pandavas and Kunti wake up and find the beautiful Hidimbi among them, Bhima kills the rakshasa.

Hidimbi then bows to Kunti. ‘Mother,’ she says, ‘who better than you knows a woman’s heart? I have fallen in love so deeply with your son that I was willing to forsake my brother for him. Even now, I am prepared to renounce everything in my life for his sake. Let me unite with him while you stay in these woods; I promise that I shall bring him back to you whenever you wish.’

To this Yudhishthir says, ‘You can take him with you wherever you want during the day, O Hidimbi. But you shall bring him back every day at nightfall without fail.’

Hidimbi and Bhima both agree to this arrangement, and thus did Bhima gain for himself a wife, and for the Pandavas a powerful rakshasa tribe as future ally.

Birth of Ghatotkacha

Hidimbi takes Bhimasena with her flying along the skies to pristine lakes and valleys outside the reach of normal men. They visit faraway towns and sport together in hidden gardens. They are said to have gone as far as Manasarovar.

As per their condition, every day at nightfall, Bhima comes back to Kunti and the other Pandavas, and at dawn goes with Hidimbi wherever she wishes.

In time, Hidimbi gives birth to a son. We’re informed that rakshasa women deliver their children on the same day after conception. Their duration of pregnancy is but a few hours. The boy, born with a long nose, broad chest, large calf-muscles, and bulging eyes, grows into a youth within an hour of being born.

He does not bear any similarity to the human form even though born of a man. He does not have any hair on his head, and owing to a remark made by Hidimbi that his head looks like a ghata (a pot), he comes to be named Ghatotkacha (the pot-headed).

Kunti blesses her first grandson with all the good fortune in the world, and Ghatotkacha, in a short time, becomes exceedingly devoted to the Pandavas.

Further Reading

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