Thursday, July 20, 2017

34. The Birth of Ghatotkacha

Not far from the place where the Pandavas were sleeping, a Rakshasa (demon) by name Hidimva was sitting on a Sala tree. He was a cannibal with a frightening appearance.

He was very hungry and was longing for human flesh. Scenting the odor of men, he walked some distance and sighted the Pandavas and Kunti sleeping in the forest.  

He became excited and told his sister “After a long time, I am looking at such a large quantity of food. My mouth is watering. I can’t wait to eat the flesh and drink the blood. Go and kill those people and bring them to me. We both will eat to our hearts’ content and then dance.”

Hidimva, the female cannibal went to the place where the Pandavas were sleeping. But looking at Bhima sitting near them, she, fascinated by his beauty, instantly fell in love with him. She decided to marry Bhima. Consequently, she also decided to disobey her brother.

She went near Bhima and told him “Oh, bull among men! Who are you and where have you come from? And who are these people sleeping here? They are all sleeping so peacefully. Don’t they know that this is an abode of the terrifying demon Hidimva? I have been sent by him on the mission of killing you all so as to make you all available as food for him and me, his sister. 

"But after looking at you, I have decided that I will have no one but you as my husband.Both my heart and my body have been pierced by the arrows of Manmata (the Cupid). I will save you from the demon. You and I can get married and live happily in the mountains.”

Bhima replied, “I have been living like a saint, keeping all my passions under control. I can’t abandon my mother and brothers to be consumed as food by a demon and come after you, led by my lust.”

She said, “Awaken them. I will save all of you.”

Bhima replied, “I will not awaken my mother and brothers from their sleep, out of fear for your wicked brother. No Rakshasa will be able to withstand  my prowess. Nor will be Gandharvas or Yakshas. You may do what you please to. You can even send your cannibal brother to me.”

The cannibal Hidimva, in the meanwhile, climbed down from the tree and walked towards Bhima, wondering what was keeping his sister from killing the people there. Seeing him coming towards them, his sister became alarmed. 

She told Bhima, “He is coming here. As a Rakshasa woman, I have extraordinary powers. I can carry all of you on my hip and quickly take you to a far off place. Please awaken your mother and brothers immediately.”

Bhima said, "Oh woman of beautiful hip! As long as I am here, your brother cannot do any harm to my mother or to my brothers. Look at my arms which have the strength of an elephant’s trunks, my thighs which are like iron maces and my broad chest. I have the strength of Indra. Don’t underestimate my power”

The cannibal Hidimva who had come near them, heard Bhima’s words and became very angry. He also observed that her sister had abandoned her original form and taken the form of a beautiful woman. He chided her for succumbing to her lust and sacrificing the honor of the Rakshasas.

When Hidimva advanced towards his sister with the intention of killing her, Bhima stopped him saying, “Oh Hidimva! Why do you want to wake up people who are sleeping peacefully? Don’t attack your sister. It is not her fault that she was overcome by the power of the Cupid. 

"She came her as per your command and she fell in love with me. Confront me and I will send you to the abode of Yama (the God of death.) Your sister will witness an elephant being dragged by a lion. This forest will be devoid of a wicked person like you and people will feel safe in the forest hereafter."

Hidimva said, “Stop boasting and fight me. I will not disturb your relatives before testing your strength in a fight. After drinking your blood, I will kill them and finally kill this sister of mine who has caused me an injury.”

So saying, he extended his arm. Bhima seized the extended arm and dragged the Rakshsa some distance after pushing him down. Hidimva began to yell, unable to bear the pain. They both fought like two big mad elephants seized by rage. 

Hearing the sounds, Kunti and her four sons woke up from sleep.
Looking at Hidimva who looked bewitchingly beautiful, Kunti aske her “Who are you young lady? Are you a forest angel? What are you doing here?”

Hidimva replied, “This forest is controlled by my brother Hidimva, a cruel demon. At his behest, I came here to kill you all. But after looking at your son, I instantly fell in love with him. Even as I was beseeching him to take me as his wife, my brother came after me. Your son and my brother are having a fight.”

Arjuna went to the site where Bhima was fighting Hidimva and told him that they had waken up and were ready to help him in fighting the Rakshasa.

But Bhima said, “Just witness this fight as an observer. I will finish him off.”

Arjuna said, “The morning twilight is about to set in. As you know, the Rakshsas will become more powerful  at the times of sunrise and sunset. Finish him off quickly. Don’t prolong the fight by playing with him and teasing him. We also need to move away from here fast.”

After hearing Arjuna’s words, Bhima invoked all his strength, lifted up the demon, whirled his body in the air a hundred times and then threw him down with great force. The Rakshasa died sending out a terrible yell which filled the entire forest.

Bhima’s brothers congratulated him on his feat.

Arjuna told Bhima, “I think there is a town not far from here. Let us go there so that Duryodhana won’t be able to trace us in the forest.”

Accepting Arjuna’s suggestion, his mother and brothers began to walk towards the town. Hidimva, the Rakshasa woman followed them.

Bhima told Hidimva, “ I know that Rakshasas take revenge on their enemies through deception. So, I will not be fooled by you. I will send you to the place your brother has gone.”

Yudhishtira told Bhima that one should not kill a woman. “Observance of virtue is even more important than saving one’s life. What harm can this woman do to us?” he asked.

Hidimva told Kunti, “As a woman, you can understand the pangs a woman is made to suffer at the hands of the God of love. Your son Bhima is the cause of my pain. I have given up my brother, my other relatives and my entire race for the sake of your son. 

"If your son is going to reject me, I will no longer be able to live. Please unite me with your son. I will take him with me to places I like. After sometime, I will return him to you. In the meantime, if you just think of me, I will come to you with your son. I will carry you all to wherever you want to go and I will save you from all dangers.”

Yudhishthira said, “Bhima will be with you during the day. But you must bring him back at the time of sunset. This should be the routine every day”

Bhima agreed to marry Hidimva on the condition that he would be with her only till she gives birth to a son. Hidimva agreed to this.

Bhima and Hidimva then travelled to various places like mountain peaks, sacred places, river banks, islands, pools caves, lakes (including the Manasarovara) etc. 

Hidimva assumed the figure of a beautiful woman when she was with Bhima  She gave birth to a son, who had the terrible appearance of a Rakshasa. He grew into a young man immediately after his birth and touched the feet of his parents. He was given the name Ghatotkacha (the pot headed) since his head resembled a pot. 

Ghatotkacha acquired proficiency in the use of all weapons within a short time. He became devoted to all the Pandavas and became their favorite too.

Hidimva realized that her stay with her husband had to end and took leave of Bhima, his mother and brothers. Ghatotkacha also took leave of his father and went northward promising to come whenever his father thought of him.

Ghatotkacha was created by Indra as an appropriate antagonist of Karna. His intention was that Karna would use the weapon to be given to him by Indra against Ghatotkacha so that the weapon could not be used against Indra’s son Arjuna. 

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