Mahabharata Stories: 11 – Big, Bold and Beautiful

At some time or other we come to hear of someone who has suddenly turned a new leaf. It may even be ourselves that we are talking about. The whole world then is a different place, just because of the change in this one person. For, now, there is much to be happy about, much to hope for. Such changed people make us happy, happier than a naturally good person would make us.

Once the Pandavas had to escape a plot on their lives. They fled unseen by their enemies and went very far. Bhima carried his mother on one shoulder and one of his brothers by turn on the other. At last, they reached a forest and, coming by an enchanting lotus pond, they settled to rest. Bhima, feeling fatigued, went into the pool and refreshed himself. When he came out, he found his mother and brothers fast asleep. He gently bade them drink the rejuvenating water out of lotus-leaf cups and let them sleep again. Feeling revived, Bhima settled down to keep guard over his mother and brothers.

This forest was known by the name Hidimbavana and was the abode of the terrible Rakshasa, Hidimba. He had a special liking for human flesh and whenever he came by humans he would kill them and make a repast of them. Now, Hidimba came to sense the presence of humans in his forest and told his sister Hidimbi: Dear sister! I can smell food! I know there are humans in this forest. Go and fetch them! Let us enjoy a feast!

Hidimbi came by the Pandavas and was taken in by their graceful looks. She looked at Bhima, well built and with a body as graceful as that of a wolf. She was spontaneously drawn to him and changed her mind about taking them back to her brother. She, ere Bhima should see her, changed her form to one of a beautiful woman and approached him. Bhima looked at her and fell in love with her. He asked her: Who are you, beautiful one?

She asked him: May I first know who you are? Who is this beautiful woman sleeping here like a flower? Who are these handsome young men?

Bhima said: I am Bhima, the son of King Pandu. These are my brothers, that is my elder brother and these are my younger brothers. This is my mother, Kunti. Are you a goddess?

Hidimbi said: I am Hidimbi, the sister of Hidimba, who rules this forest. If he finds you he would eat you. I cannot bear to lose you thus. I would like to protect all of you from my cruel brother. I shall carry you all away to the mountain yonder where he would not be able to find us!

Bhima proudly said: Do not think so low of me, lady! Let your brother come here. I shall kill him!

Soon they heard a rumbling; it was that of a hungry, impatient Hidimba. Hidimbi nervously set down beside Kunti to watch the match. Hidimba appeared from behind the trees and was furious when he saw his sister in a pretty form settled amidst humans.


Bhima challenged him and a terrible fight ensued, arousing Kunti and the Pandavas. Kunti enquired of Hidimbi of her identity and was surprised to know her tale. Yudhishtira called out to Bhima: Rakshasas gain on strength after dark. Be quick for it is about time for the sun to set!

Hurriedly, Bhima crushed the Rakshasa with his massive arms and pounded him into a shapeless lump.

The Pandavas and Kunti then started their journey on. Poor Hidimbi followed them. Kunti, taking note of this, asked her: Dear child, why are you following us?

Hidimbi shyly looked at Bhima and said: You are his mother…

Kunti bade Bhima to tell his mind out. Bhima wiggled his toes, stared at the ground and, trying to hide a smile, looked away.

They all reached a beautiful place where Hidimbi made a cottage for the Pandavas to stay. Bhima was married to Hidimbi and they lived together until a son was born to them. They, for the time, had to leave her with the child, the famed Ghatotkacha, in the ashrama to continue on their unfinished mission.



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