Bhima (भीम) is a heroic warrior mentioned in Mahabharata. He is distinguished from his brothers by his great stature and strength. He was recognized as the strongest man in the three worlds (heaven, hell and earth) and was a rival to Duryodhana for the title of the best warrior with a mace.
Birth of Bhima
Once a Brahmin rishi, Kindama and his wife were making love in the forest when Yudhisthira's father Pandu accidentally shot them, mistaking them for deer. Before dying, Kindama cursed the king to die when he engages in intercourse with any woman. Due to this curse, Pandu was unable to father children. As an additional penance for the murder, Pandu abdicated the throne of Hastinapura and his blind brother Dhritarashtra took over the reins of the kingdom.
After Pandu's disability, the Pandavas were conceived in an unusual way. His mother, Queen Kunti, had in her youth been granted the power to invoke the Devas by Rishi Durvasa. Each Deva, when invoked, would bless her with a child. Urged by Pandu to use her boons, Kunti gave birth to Bhima by invoking the God of wind, Vayu. And also to the younger half brother to Hanuman who also have been born due to a boon of the wind God during the Treta Yuga.
He was son of Kunti by Vayu, but the acknowledged son of Pandu and the second eldest of the Pandava brothers (if Karna, son of Kunti by Surya is considered, then Bhima becomes the third eldest son of Kunti).
Along with other Pandava brothers, Bhima was trained in religion, science, administration and military arts by the Kuru preceptors, Kripa and Drona. Specifically, he became a master in using the mace. Bhima's strong point throughout the epic remains his towering strength. He was a skilful rider of elephants. The strength of his arms is equal to that of ten-thousand elephants. He was so wrathful and strong that it was impossible even for Indra to subdue him in a battle. Bhima's prowess in archery is evident during the Kurukshetra war especially when he fought Karna, Ashwatthama, Duryodhana and Shalya.
Bhima was also renowned for his giant appetite – at times, half of the total food consumed by the Pandavas was eaten by him, which gave rise to his name of Vrikodara, (one with a wolf's belly). His repeated failures and fecklessness against Bhima angered Duryodana so much that he wanted him dead. He hatched a cunning plot where he poisoned Bhima's food and drowned him in River Ganga. Thankfully, the Naga king Vasuki saved Bhima and also apprised him of Duryodana's hatred for him. It is also Vasuki who bestowed him the immense strength of a thousand elephants.
Escaping fire and killing Purochana
Duryodana with his counsellor Purochana hatched a plan to burn the Pandavas alive at a lac palace lakshagraha at Varnavrata that Duryodana had built there, (lacquer is highly inflammable). Thanks to Vidura, the Pandavas managed to escape out from the palace. Bhima played a major role in carrying all five of them (Kunti and brothers) and escaping to safety. Bhima also barricaded the palace of Purochana and set fire to it, thereby ensuring Purochana became a victim of his own evil plot.
Kunti and the Pandavas decided to stay anonymously, as the Kauravas thought they were dead in the fire. During their stay at Ekachakra, they came to know of a demon, Bakasura who troubled people by eating out their provisions. The powerful Bhima brought his might to the fore and trumped Bakasura, much to the delight of the villagers.
Sons of Bhima
During this time, the Pandavas attended the Swayamvara of Drupada princess, Draupadi. The Pandavas, led by Arjuna, were successful at the Swayamvara. With his brothers, he was married to Draupadi, who gave birth to a son, Sutasoma. During this period, he also chanced upon the demoness Hidimbi whom he married. Ghatotkacha was the son born to the two of them. At a later stage, Bhima also married Valandhara, the daughter of the king of Kasi, and had a son named Sarvaga. Among Bhima's three sons, Sarvaga did not participate in the Kurukshetra war, while the two others died in the battle. 1. Ghatotkacha: With his brothers, he is married to Draupadi. Before the marriage with Draupadi, he lived for a year in the forest with his brothers. There he met Hidimbi, a tall, dusky beauty whom he married after killing her brother Hidimba in a duel. He had a son from her named Ghatotkacha. His grandson was Barbarika.
2. Sarvaga: Adi Parva, Mahabharata/Mahabharata Book I Chapter 95 mentions that - "Bhima also obtaining for a wife Baladhara, the daughter of the king of Kasi, offered his own prowess as dower and begat upon her a son named Sarvaga."
- भीमसेनॊ ऽपि काश्यां बलधरां नामॊपयेमे वीर्यशुल्काम
- तस्यां पुत्रं सर्वगं नामॊत्पादयाम आस Mahabharata (1.95.84)
3. Sutasoma: Sutasoma (सुत सॊम) - Adi Parva, Mahabharata/Mahabharata Book I Chapter 95 tells us that
- After that the Pandavas slew Hidimva, and then they went to a town called Ekachakra. There also they slew a Rakshasa of the name of Vaka and then went to Panchala. And there obtaining Draupadi for a wife they returned to Hastinapura. And there they dwelt for some time in peace and begat children.
- Yudhishthira → Prativindhya;
- Bhima → Sutasoma;
- Arjuna → Srutakriti;
- Nakula → Satanika; and
- Sahadeva → Srutakarman.
पुत्रांश चॊत्पादयाम आसुः परतिविन्ध्यं युधिष्ठिरः सुत सॊमं वृकॊदरः शरुतकीर्तिम अर्जुनः शतानीकं नकुलः शरुतकर्माणं सहदेवेति Mahabharata (1.95.82)
Jat Gotras from Sarvaga son of Bhima
- Balhara (बलहारा) Balhara (बलहारा) Balara (बलारा) Balhara (बलहरा) people descended from Bhima (भीम) of Mahabharata fame, who possessed a lot of strength. 
- Sarawag (सरावग) clan is probably descended from Sarvaga (सर्वग), son of Bhima, of the period of Mahabharata.
Bhima was sent out to the East, since Bhishma thought the easterners were skilled in fighting from the backs of elephants and in fighting with bare arms, he deemed Bhima to be the most ideal person to wage wars in that region. The Mahabharata mentions several kingdoms to the east of Indraprastha which were conquered by Bhima. According to Sabha Parva, Mahabharata/Book II Chapter 26 & Sabha Parva, Mahabharata/Book II Chapter 27 Bhimasena subjugated the countries including: Panchalas (पाञ्चाल), Gandakis (गण्डकी), Videhas (विदेह), Dasharnas (दशार्ण), Rochamana (रॊचमान) (K.Aswamedha) (अशवमेध), Pulinda city (पुलिन्द), Chedi (चेदि), Shrenimat (श्रेणिमन्त) (K.Kumara) (कुमार) , Vrihadvala (बृहद्बल) (K.Kosala) (कॊसल), Dirghapragya (दीर्घप्रज्ञ) (K.Ayodhya) (अयॊध्या), Gopalakachchha (गॊपालकच्छ), Mallas (मल्ल), Bhallata (), Suktimanta (), Suvahu (Kasi) (), Kratha (), Suparshva (सुपार्श्व), Matsya (मत्स्य), Malayas (मलय), Pashubhumi (पशुभूमि), Madarvika (मदर्वीक), Madahara (), Mahidhara (महीधर), Somadheya (?), Vatsabhumi (वत्सभूमि), Bhargas (भर्गा), Nishada (निषाद), Bhumipala (भूमिपाल), Manimat (मणिमत), Dakshina Malla (दक्षिणमल्ल), Bhagavanta (भॊगवन्त), Sharmakas (शर्मक), Varmakas (वर्मक), Videhas (विदेह), Kiratas (किरात), Suhmas (सुह्म), Prachyasuhmas (पराच्य सुह्म), Magadha (मगध), Sakas (?), Danda (दण्ड), Dandadhara (दण्डधार), Girivraja (गिरिव्रज) son of Jarasandha (जारासंध), Kansa (), Modagiri (मॊदागिरि), Mahaujasa (महौजस)(K.Kausika-Kachchha) (कौशिकी कच्छ), Vanga (वङ्ग), Samudrasena (समुद्रसेनं), Chandrasena (चन्द्रसेन), Tamralipta (ताम्रलिप्त), Karvata (), Suhmas (सुह्म), Lohitya (लौहित्य), Vasu (वसु), Mlechchhas (मलेच्छ),
Bhima during exile
After Yudhisthira succumbed to Shakuni's challenge in the game of dice, the Pandavas were forced into exile for 13 years, one of which was in anonymity. The exile period in the forests, saw the Pandavas come face to face with many rakshasas and asuras and Bhima played a crucial role in the epic in rescuing his brothers every time.
Slaying Kirmira: Right at the start of the exile, in the woods of Kamyaka, the Pandavas encountered the demon Kirmira, the brother of Bakasura and a friend of Hidimba. A fierce battle ensued between Bhima and the demon, where the two equally matched fighters hurled rocks and trees at each other. Eventually Bhima emerged victorious.
Searching for Saugandhika flower: Once in Badarikasrama forest, Draupadi scented the Saugandhika flower and was deeply attracted to it. The lotus species was not to be located easily. Bhima went in search of the flower and ended up at Kubera's palace. He was stopped in his tracks by the rakshasas called Krodhavasas, but he defeated them all and reached the lotus pond. He also slew the rakshasa Maniman, who had in the past, incurred a curse from Rishi Agastya by spitting on his head. Being unused to the water of the pond, Bhima fell asleep on its shore. Later the Pandavas arrived with Krishna and Draupadi in search of Bhima. They met Kubera who offered them baskets of Saugandhika lotuses and sent them on their way. Kubera was especially happy, as the slaughter of Mahiman had relieved him of the curse too. It was also during this search that Bhima met Hanuman (his brother, as both were Vayu's children) in the forest and sought his blessings.
Killing Jatasura: In another minor incident in the epic, Jatasura, a rakshasa disguised as a Brahmin abducted Yudhisthira, Draupadi and the twin brothers, Nakula and Sahadeva during their stay at Badarikasrama. His objective was to seize the weapons of the Pandavas and to ravish Draupadi. Bhima, who was hunting during the abduction, was deeply upset when he came to know of Jatasura's evil act on his return. A fierce encounter followed between the two gigantic warriors, where Bhima emerged victorious by decapitating Jatasura and crushing his body.
Humiliation of Jayadratha: In another event in the Kamyaka forests, Jayadratha, a Sindhu King, abducted Draupadi when the Pandavas were away. On returning, the Pandavas learnt about this from Sage Dhaumya, followed and reached Jayadratha's army in the forest. Jayadratha was no match to the strength of Bhima, who humiliated him by shaving his head and leaving him with just five patches of hair. Jayadratha later plays a major role in the Kurukshetra War in slaying Abhimanyu.
Cook at Virata's kingdom: Along with his brothers, Bhima spent his last year of exile in the kingdom of Virata. He disguised himself as a cook named Vallabh (within themselves Pandavas called him Jayanta).
Defeating Jimuta: Once during a great festival, people from neighbouring countries had come to the kingdom of Virata. There was a wrestling bout where a wrestler from a different state, Jimuta proved to be invincible. Much to the delight of King Virata and his subjects, Bhima challenged Jimuta and knocked him out in no time. This greatly enhanced the reputation of the Pandavas in an unfamiliar territory.
Kichaka Vadha: Kichaka, the army commander of Virata, tried to sexually assault Draupadi, who was under the guise of a maid named Sairindhri. Bhima dressed himself as a woman and lay in wait for Kichaka inside Draupadi's room. He slew him the moment he tried to touch him. Later the other Kichakas tried to immolate Draupadi in the pyre. Bhima took the form of a giant and slew hundreds of them in a single go. This incident greatly infuriated the queen, but she let the Pandavas stay on for a few more days as the period of exile was coming to an end.
Susarma's defeat: Susarma of the Trigarta Kingdom, under the aegis of Duryodana, waged a battle against Virata by stealing the cows in his kingdom. Bhima, aided in part by the other Pandavas and Virata, helped to defeat the army of Susarma easily. By this time, the 13-year exile period was completed and the rivalry between the siblings was renewed.
Bhima in the Kurukshetra War
The flag of Bhima's chariot bore the image of a gigantic lion in silver with its eyes made of lapis lazuli. Some of Bhima's major onslaughts during the war are as under.
- Bhima withheld Dronacharya by breaking his chariot eight times while Arjuna was trying to find and kill Jayadratha.
- On the 15th day, he killed the elephant Ashwathama, an important but indirect cause for the death of Drona.
- On the final day of the battle, Bhima fought Duryodhana and he struck both his thighs with his mace. Thus, he fulfilled the vow he took during Draupadi's undressing.
- Bhima slew Dushasana, the Kaurava most responsible for undressing Draupadi.
- He also slew King Bahlika (Bhishma's paternal uncle)
- Bhima defeated Karna four times on the fourteenth day of the Kurukshetra war.
- It is claimed that Bhima destroyed six akshauhinis of the Kauravas.
Later years and death
Yudhishira appointed Bhima as the Yuvaraja (prince) of Hastinapur after taking charge. Upon the onset of the Kali yuga and the death of Krishna, Bhima and other Pandavas retired, leaving the throne to their only descendant to survive the war of Kurukshetra, Arjuna's grandson Parikshit. Giving up all their belongings and ties, the Pandavas, accompanied by a dog, made their final journey of pilgrimage to the Himalayas.
Back to The Ancient Jats