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BHIMA, BHIMASENA. [Source: Dowson's Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology] `The terrible.' The second of the five Pandu princes, and mythically son of Vayu, `the god of the wind.'

He was a man of vast size, and had great strength. He was wrathful in temper, and given to abuse, a brave warrior, but a fierce and cruel foe, coarse in taste and manners, and a great feeder, so that he was called Vrikodara, `wolf's belly.' Half of the food of the family was allotted to him, and the other half sufficed for his four brothers and their mother. The weapons he generally used were a club, which suited his gigantic strength, and he had been trained in the use of it by Drona and Balarama.

His great strength excited the envy of his cousin Duryodhana, who poisoned him and threw his body into the Ganges; but it sank to the realm of the serpents, where it was restored to health and vigour, and Bhima returned to Hastinapura.

At the passage of arms at Hastinapura, he and Duryodhana engaged each other with clubs; but the mimic combat soon turned into a fierce personal conflict, which Drona had to put an end to by force. It was at this same meeting that he reviled Karna, and heaped contempt upon him, increasing and converting into bitter hatred the enmity which Karna had previously entertained against the Pandavas.

When he and his brothers were in exile, and an attempt was made, at the instigation of Duryodhana, to burn them in their house, it was he who barricaded the house of Purochana, the director of the plot, and burnt him as he had intended to burn them.

Soon after this he met the Asura Hidimba, whom he killed, and then married his sister Hidimba.

He also slew another Asura named Vaka [Baka], whom he seized by the legs and tore asunder; afterwards he killed his brother, Kirmira, and other Asuras. This brought the Asuras to submission, and they engaged to refrain from molesting mankind.

After the Pandu princes were established at Indraprastha, Bhima fought in single combat with Jarasandha, king of Magadha, who had refused to recognise their supremacy.

As `son of the wind,' Bhima was brother of Hanuman, and was able to fly with great speed. By this power of flight, and with the help of Hanuman, he made his way to Kuvera's heaven, high up in the Himalayas.

When Jayadratha failed in his attempt to carry off Draupadi, he was pursued by Arjuna and Bhima. The latter overtook him, dragged him by the hair from his chariot to the ground, and kicked him till he became senseless. At Arjuna's remonstrance Bhima refrained from killing him; but he cut off all his hair except five locks, and compelled him to acknowledge publicly that the was the slave of the Pandavas. Bhima refused to listen to his brother's plea for Jayadratha's release, but at Draupadi's intercession he let him go free.

In the second exile of the Pandavas, they went to the Raja of Virata, whose service they entered. Bhima, holding a ladle in one hand and a sword in the other, undertook the duties of cook; but he soon exhibited his prowess by fighting with and killing a famous wrestler named Jimita.

Draupadi had entered into the service of the queen as a waiting-maid, and attracted the admiration of the king's brother-in-law, Kichaka. When she rejected his advances, he insulted and brutally assaulted her. Her husbands did not seem disposed to avenge her, so she appealed to Bhima, as she was wont when she sought revenge. Draupadi made an assignation with Kichaka, which Bhima kept, and after a sharp struggle with the disappointed gallant, he broke his bones to atoms, and made his body into a large ball of flesh, so that no one could tell how he had been killed or who had killed him. Draupadi was judged to have had a share in his death, and was condemned to be burnt alive; but Bhima drew his hair over his face, so that no one could recognise him, and, tearing up a large tree for a club, he rushed to the rescue. He was taken up a large tree for a club, he rushed to the rescue. He was taken for a mighty Gandharva, the crowd fled, and Draupadi was released. Kichaka had been the general of the forces of Virata and the mainstay of the king.

After his death, Susarman, king of Trigartta, aided and abetted by the Kauravas and others, determined to attack Virata. The Raja of Virata was defeated and made prisoner, but Bhima pursued Susarman and overcame him, rescued the prisoner, and made the conqueror captive.

In the great battle between the Kauravas and Pandavas, Bhima took a very prominent part. On the first day he fought against Bhishma; on the second he slew the two sons of the Raja of Magadha, and after them their father, killing him and his elephant at a single blow. In the night between the fourteenth and fifteenth day of the battle, Bhima fought with Drona until the rising of the sun; but that redoubted warrior fell by the hand of Dhrishtadyumna, who continued the combat till noonday.

On the seventeenth day he killed Duhsasana, and drank his blood, as he had long before vowed to do, in retaliation of the insults Duhsusana had offered to Draupadi.

On the eighteenth and last day of the battle Duryodhana fled and hid himself in a lake. When he was discovered, he would not come out until he had received a promise that he should not have to fight with more than one man at a time. Even than he delayed until he was irritated by the abuse and the taunts of the Pandavas. Bhima and Duryodhana fought as usual with clubs. The battle was long and furious; the parties were equally matched, and Bhima was getting the worst of it, when he struck an unfair blow which smashed Duryodhana's thigh, and brought him to the ground. Thus he fulfilled his vow and avenged Draupadi. In his fury Bhima kicked his prostrate foe on the head, and acted so brutally that his brother Yudhishthira struck him in the face with his fist, and directed Arjuna to take him away. Balarama was greatly incensed at the foul play to which Bhima had resorted, and would have attacked the Pandavas had he not been mollified by Krishna. He declared that Bhima should thenceforward be called Jihmayodhin, `the unfair fighter.'

After the conclusion of the war, the old king, Dhritarashtra, asked that Bhima might be brought to him. Krishna, who knew the blind old man's sorrow for his son, whom Bhima had killed, and suspecting his intention, placed before him an iron statue, which Dhritarashtra crushed in his embrace. Dhritarashtra never forgave Bhima, and he returned the ill feeling with insults, which ended in the old king's retiring into the forest.

Bhima's last public feat was the slaughter of the horse in the sacrifice which followed Yudhishthira's accession to the throne.

Apart from his mythological attributes, the character of Bhima is natural and distinct. A man of burly form, prodigious strength, and great animal courage, with coarse tastes, a gluttonous appetite, and an irascible temper; jovial and jocular when in good humour, but abusive, truculent, and brutal when his passions were roused. His repartees were forcible though coarse, and he held his own even against Krishna when the latter made personal remarks upon him.

By his Asura wife Hidimba he had a son named Ghatotkacha; and by his wife Balandhara, princess of Kasi, he also had a son named Sarvatraga or Sarvaga. Other appellations of Bhima are Bhimasena, Bahusalin, `the large armed,' Jarasandhajit, `vanquisher of Jarasandha.'

VRIKODARA. [Source: Dowson's Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology] 'Wolf belly.' An epithet of Bhima.

BHIMA. [Source: Dowson's Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology] Name of the father of Damayanti.

Modern Languages MLLL-4993. Indian Epics. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. The textual material made available at this website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one. No claims are made regarding the status of images used at this website; if you own the copyright privileges to any of these images and believe your copyright privileges have been violated, please contact the webmaster. Page last updated: October 16, 2007 12:22 PM