Where did Bhima meet Hanuman?

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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: Where did Bhima meet Hanuman?

Bhima meets Hanuman in the mountainous region surrounding Kubera’s groves. He sets out to collect a certain blue lotus that has caught Draupadi’s eye, and enters a cave in which an old ape is resting. Not knowing that it is Hanuman, Bhima behaves vainly with him. But Hanuman cuts him down to size and eventually blesses him.

Read on to discover more about where Bhima met Hanuman.

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

At the Gandhamadana

During the course of their exile, the Pandavas and Draupadi – with the exception of Arjuna, who is living at Amaravati – reach the foothills of Mount Gandhamadana, where years ago the five brothers took birth.

Yudhishthir wishes to go to the top of the mountain and visit the area known as Vadari, where Nara and Narayana’s hermitage stands.

But since Draupadi is weakened by the harsh trek, Bhima summons Ghatotkacha and a bunch of Rakshasas, who carry the five people on their backs and transport them to the mountaintop.

The sages over there extend a warm welcome, and Draupadi is revived with mountain dew and fruits. They live there for six nights, joining the hermits in meditation and exploring the pristine surroundings.

During this time, Draupadi comes across a beautiful lotus, solitary among a sea of roses. She plucks it and tells Bhima, ‘Look, O Lord, how lustrous this flower looks, like it has grown in the garden of Kubera.

‘I intend to give this as a present to Yudhishthir, but I wish I could have more of them for myself. Can you find a few for me?’

Like any dutiful husband, Bhima says yes, and sets out in search of the rare flower. It is during this quest that he has a rather interesting meeting with Hanuman.

An Unusual Ape

The search for Draupadi’s flower leads Bhima to the topmost peak of the mountain, where at the mouth of a cave, he finds a large ape sprawled on the earth, coated with mud, and shivering in the cold. Seeing that the cave is the entry to heaven, Bhima lets out a yell that shakes the monkey awake.

‘Why do you disturb me, good sir?’ he says, rolling over on his side so that his tail falls across the opening of the cave. ‘I am old and ill and cold. I was sleeping well until you arrived.

‘I am an animal, so I do not know enough about what is good and what is bad. But you are a man, and by appearances you seem to be a man of privilege. You certainly ought to know that walking to a person’s home and waking him up like this is bad form?’

Bhima’s eyes are set on the hills in the distance. ‘I need to go there,’ he says. ‘Out of my way.’

‘Go where?’ asks the monkey, and smiles at the horizon. ‘There? Those hills are inaccessible to human beings and to animals, O Hero. Only celestials are allowed there. If you continue on this path, you will fall to your death – if the cold does not kill you, the wild beasts will.’

Bhima’s Pride

Bhima smirks at this, and looks at the monkey’s tail. ‘Beasts like you, I presume?’

‘Oh, there are much more fearsome beasts than me out there,’ the ape replies. ‘Why do you not turn back on your path? It is out of concern that I advise you thus.’

‘I do not have time to speak with you,’ says Bhima, taking a step forward. ‘I am Bhimasena, the son of Vayu, the brother of King Yudhishthir, he who was born of the womb of Kunti. I am the second of the Pandavas, if you know the name.’

‘Ah, yes,’ the monkey says. ‘Yes. The name does ring a bell. But I cannot give you way, O Pandava, because I am too tired to move. Perhaps you could set aside my tail so that you can pass.’

‘I shall do that with much pleasure,’ Bhimasena mutters, and bends down to pick up the monkey’s tail with his left hand. It does not budge.

He tries with his right hand, and then with both his hands. He looks at the monkey, who appears to be half-asleep. He tries one last time with all his strength, but he is still not able to move the tail even an inch.

He understands, then, that this is no ordinary animal. He joins his hands and says, ‘Pray, who are you, sir? Are you a Siddha or a god or a Gandharva or a Guhyaka?

‘You cannot be a beast of the mortal realm. No. I beg your forgiveness for the arrogance with which I spoke to you before. Please tell me who you are.’

And the monkey pushes himself to a sitting position with a groan of effort. He looks up at Bhima and motions him to sit down. Then, with a sparkle in his eye, he says, ‘I am Hanuman.’

The Four Yugas

Bhima asks Hanuman to show him the form that he assumed when he went to Lanka in search of Sita.

Hanuman replies, ‘I do not have the strength to do so, Brother. After all, many years have passed since the age of Rama. Even I have to give in to the ravages of time.’

Hanuman then tells Bhima about the four yugas, and how the cycle resets itself over and over again.

  • The first of the yugas is the Krita, named so because it is known as the perfect age. Even I (says Hanuman) have not lived in that time, but they say there were no gods back then. Neither were there Asuras, Gandharvas, Yakshas or Rakshasas or Nagas. All the races of men lived as one, united.
  • Then came the Treta Yuga, the epoch of Rama. Virtue had one of her legs cut off during this period, and she became three-legged. Sacrifices came into being, because as men sinned more, they needed to perform elaborate rites.
  • In the Dwapara, the end of which we are approaching, O Bhima, virtue crawls on just two legs. The Veda, which has been one all this while, was divided by Dwaipayana into four components. The intellect of people dwindles.
  • After this, people say, the Kali Yuga will come upon us. Virtue will limp along on one leg. This is the age in which selfishness, anger and fear will consume even the spiritual leaders, and they will guide their followers in paths that are laden with sin.

Hanuman also tells Bhima about the colour of attire that Vishnu (Narayana) wears during each epoch: he wears white in the Krita Yuga, red in the Treta, yellow in the Dwapara, and black during the age of Kali.

Hanuman’s Boon

Bhima asks Hanuman why, even though he was powerful enough to destroy Lanka on his own, he did not do so. Hanuman smiles and says, ‘I am powerful enough to kill all the Kauravas today, and the kingdom will become yours. Shall I do so?’

Bhima shakes his head forcefully. ‘For all the harm the sons of Dhritarashtra have heaped upon us, O Kesari, I want to kill them with my own hands!’

‘Then you understand,’ replies Hanuman. He then points Bhima to the Saugandhika forest. ‘There, in the garden of Kubera, guarded by Yakshas and Rakshasas, you will find a number of flowers that will please the heart of your wife.’

As Bhima prepares to leave, Hanuman gives him a parting gift. ‘I will fight on your side in the great battle, but in spirit. I will strengthen your roars, send shafts of fear flying into enemy hearts. I shall grace the flagstaff of Arjuna’s chariot. As long as it stands unbroken, the Pandavas will remain undefeated.’

Further Reading

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