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Title: Bhima  
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Subject: Glossary of Hinduism terms, Kurukshetra War, Nishada Kingdom, Duryodhana, Draupadi
Collection: Characters in the Mahabharata
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General Bhimasen

In the Hindu epic Mahabharata, Bhima (Sanskrit: भीम), is the second of the Pandavas. The Mahabharata relates many events which portray the immense might of Bhima. Bhima is responsible for slaying all hundred Kaurava brothers in the Kurukshetra War.


  • Etymology 1
  • Birth and early years 2
  • Trouble with Kauravas 3
    • Escaping fire and killing Purochana 3.1
    • Slaying Bakasura 3.2
  • Marriage and children 4
  • Conquest for Rajasuya 5
  • Exile 6
    • Slaying Kirmira 6.1
    • Searching for Saugandhika flower 6.2
    • Killing Jatasura 6.3
    • Humiliation of Jayadratha 6.4
    • Cook at Virata's kingdom 6.5
    • Defeating Jimuta 6.6
    • Kichaka Vadha 6.7
    • Susarma's defeat 6.8
  • During the Kurukshetra War 7
  • Later years and death 8
  • Skills 9
    • Combat Skills 9.1
  • In the media 10
  • Citations 11


The word bhima in Sanskrit means 'terrible' or 'awful'. His other names are-

  • Bhimasena (भीमसेन) - he who have a formidable army.
  • Vrikodara (वृकोदर) - wolf bellied or voracious eater.
  • Gadadhara (गदाधर) - mace holder.
  • Jarasandhajit (जरासन्धजित्) - he who won over Jarasandha.
  • Hidimbabhid (हिडिम्बभिद्) - he who pierced Hidimba.
  • Kichakajit (कीचकजित्) - he who defeated Kichaka.
  • Jihmayodhin (जिह्मयोधिन्) - fighter against falsehood.
  • Ballava (बल्लव) - cook.

Birth and early years

Child Bhima magic

Once, a Brahmin rishi Kindama and his wife were making love in the forest when Bhima's father Pandu accidentally shot them, mistaking them for deer. Before dying, Kindama cursed the king to die when he embraces his wife. 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.[1]

After Pandu's disability, the Pandavas were conceived in an unusual way. His wife, 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.

Along with other Pandava brothers, Bhima was trained in religion, science, administration and military arts by the Kuru preceptors, Kripacharya and Dronacharya. Specifically, he became a master in using the mace. Bhima's strong point throughout the epic remains his towering strength. He was so wrathful and strong that it was impossible even for Indra to subdue him in a battle.[2]

Bhima was also renowned for his giant appetite – at times, half of the total food consumed by the Pandavas was eaten by him.[3]

Trouble with Kauravas

Bhima fighting with the Nagas

Bhima, being as powerful as his father, was a natural bully. He used to play practical jokes on the Kaurava brothers; he used to engage in wrestling bouts where he out-powered them with consummate ease.[4][5]

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.[6]

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.[7]

Slaying Bakasura

Bhima fighting with Bakasura

Kunti and the Pandavas were living in agnyatavaasa (living incognito) after they escaped from the murder plot (Kunti suggests they be incognito to avoid further problems from the Kauravas). During their stay at Ekachakra or kaiwara (in Karnataka), 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.[8]

Marriage and children

At the time Bhima kills the rakshasa Hidimba, he meets his sister Hidimbi; they eventually get married and have a son, Ghatotkacha. Hidimbi promises Kunti that she and Ghatotkacha will stay out of the Pandavas' lives and away from the luxuries of court.

Then 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. At a later stage, Bhima also married Valandhara, the daughter of the king of Kasi, and had a son named Sarvada.[9] Among Bhima's three sons, Sarvada did not participate in the Kurukshetra war, Sutasoma was killed by Ashwatthama and Ghatotkacha was killed by Karna.

Conquest for Rajasuya

Bhima Slays Jarasandha
Bhima sena went on Rajasuyayaga

When Yudhishthira became emperor of Indraprastha he sent his four younger brothers out in different directions to subjugate kingdoms for the rajasuya sacrifice. 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.[10] The Mahabharata mentions several kingdoms to the east of Indraprastha which were conquered by Bhima. Some of them are as listed:[11]

  • Jarasandha of the Magadha empire. This was the most important win, as Jarasandha had several allies in the region, including Shishupala and Bhagadatta. Krishna tricked Jarasandha into having a wrestling bout with Bhima. This was an agonizing battle that stretched for 13 long days. At the end, Bhima broke Jarasandha's backbone with his knee and tore apart his body into two.[12]
  • Panchalas, Gandakas, Videhas
  • Dasarnas, where the king called Sudharman with his bare arms fought a fierce battle with Bhima, who later appointed the mighty Sudharman as the first-in-command of his forces.
  • Rochamana, the King of Aswamedha
  • Pulinda in the south, Kings Sukumara and Sumitra
  • Sishupala of Chedi Kingdom, (who welcomed Bhima and hosted and entertained him for thirty days)
  • King Srenimat of the country of Kumara
  • King Vrihadvala of Kosala
  • King Dirghayaghna of Ayodhya
  • King Gopalakaksha and the northern Kosalas and the king of Mallas
  • Country of Bhallata, as also the mountain of Suktimanta
  • King Suvahu of Kasi
  • King Kratha of Suparsa
  • Matsya, Maladas and the country called Madahara, Mahidara, and the Somadheyas,Vatsabhumi, and the king of the Bhargas, as also the ruler of the Nishadas and Manimat
  • Southern Mallas and the Bhagauanta mountain.
  • Sarmakas and the Varmakas
King Yudhishthira Performs the Rajasuya Sacrifice
  • Janaka, the King of the Videhas
  • Sakas and other barbarians
  • Seven kings of the Kiratas living around the Indra mountain
  • Kings Danda, Dandadhara and Girivaraja
  • King of Madagiri
  • King of Pundra and King Mahaujah who reigned in Kausika-kachchha
  • King of Vanga
  • Samudrasena, Chandrasena and Tamralipta
  • King of the Karvatas and of the Suhmas and the Prasuhmas
  • Mlechchha tribes along the coast


Pandavas in Exile

After Yudhishthira 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 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.[13]

Searching for Saugandhika flower

Draupadi showing the flowers to Bhima

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 a wicked demon, 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 Maniman had relieved him of the curse too.[14] 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 Yudhishthira, Arjuna, 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 gone 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.[15][16]

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. They vanquished his army and he was nabbed by Bhima. Before Bhimasena was about to kill him, Yudhishthira told him not kill him, because he was their brother-in-law. Bhimasena 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, but is later trounced by Arjuna, the only Pandava he could not conquer.

Cook at Virata's kingdom

Bhima as cook Vallabh

Along with his brothers, Bhima spent his last year of exile in the kingdom of Virata. He disguised himself as a cook named Ballav (within themselves Pandavas called him Jayanta).[17]

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.[18]

Kichaka Vadha

Death of Kichaka

Kichaka, the army commander of Virata, tried to sexually assault Draupadi, who was under the guise of a maid named Sairindhri. Draupadi reported this incident to Bhima. Bhima covered himself with silk robes. He slew him the moment he tried to touch him. Kickaka was crushed and slaughtered in to a meat ball by Bhima. Later Kichaka's allies plotted to murder Sairindri, but Bhima vanquished all of them. [19]

Susarma's defeat

The archenemy of Virata was King Susharma of the Trigarta Kingdom, under the aegis of Duryodana, waged a battle against Virata by stealing the cows in his kingdom. Bhima lead the other Pandavas and Virata, and helped to rout the army of Susarma easily. Before he was about to strangle Susarma to death, Yudhistira told him to spare him.

By this time, the 13-year exile period was completed and the rivalry between the siblings was renewed.

During the Kurukshetra War

Bhima fighting with Duryodhana

The flag of Bhima's chariot bore the image of a gigantic lion in silver with its eyes made of lapis lazuli and his chariot was yoked to horses as black as bears or black antelopes, which was driven by Vishoka.[20][21] He wielded a bow named Vayavya, a massive conch named Paundra and a huge mace equivalent to a hundred thousand maces and was one and a half times heavier than Duryodhana's mace. Some of Bhima's major onslaughts during the war

  • Bhima defeats Dronacharya on the 14th day while penetrating the Kaurava formations in order to aid Arjuna in his quest to slay Jayadratha. In this pitched battle, Bhima broke Drona's chariot eight times before the latter withdrew from battle.
  • Bhima deprived Karna's chariot, slayed the horses and charioteer on the 14th day of battle.
  • On the 14th day, Bhima defeated the demon, Alambusha by invoking the Tvashtrastra. On the 17th day, Bhima invoked celestial weapons and slew thousands of enemy kings and soldiers in battle.
  • On the 15th day, he killed the elephant Ashwatthama, an important but indirect cause for the death of Drona.
  • Bhima was the only warrior who refused to submit to the 'invincible' Narayanastra launched by Ashwatthama.
  • Bhima also defeated Shalya, Duryodhana and Shakuni multiple times.
  • Bhima slew Bahlika, the king of Bahlika kingdom and paternal uncle of Bhishma.
  • Bhima slew Dushasana, the Kaurava most responsible for undressing Draupadi. Per his vow, he ripped out Dushasana's arms and drank the blood from his chest. The other story behind that Bhima killed Dushasana brutally to take revenge of Abhimanyu's killing. When Abhimanyu is being brutally killing inside the Chakravuh, the ramaining Pandavas unable to protect him. Therefore, the anger of Bhima was at his highest and he killed Dushasana, while no one in the army of Kauravas able to save him from Bhima.
  • Bhima is credited with killing all 100 sons of Dhritrashtra and Gandhari.
  • On the final day of the battle, Bhima fought with Duryodhana, striking both his thighs with mace. It was highly prohibited to strike below the waist in a mace fight, but in order to overcome the supremely skilled Duryodhana, Bhima broke the rule with Krishna's prodding. Thus, he fulfilled the vow he took during Draupadi's undressing. Duryodhana was the student of Krishna's brother Balarama and Balarama himself declared Duryodhana as the best mace fighter in the world, even better than Bhima. Witnessing the cheating done by Bhima, Balarama cursed Bhima to be known as a crooked warrior.

Later years and death

The blind Dhritarashtra attacks the statue of Bhima

After the war, Dhritarashtra was enraged by Bhima's slaying of all his sons. He tried to crush Bhima, but Krishna, sensing his anger, asked Bhima to show Dhritarashtra an iron statue of his. Dhritarashtra crushed the statue into pieces, but later realised his folly and apologised to Bhima.

Yudhishthira appointed Bhima as the commander of Hastinapur after taking charge.[22] Upon the onset of the Kali yuga, Bhima and the other Pandavas retired. Giving up all their belongings and ties, the Pandavas made their final journey of pilgrimage to the Himalayas.

On the journey, the group, one-by-one, begins to fall. When Bhima tires and falls down, he asks his elder brother why he, Bhima, is unable to complete the journey to heaven. Yudhishthira explains his brother's vice of gluttony.


Combat Skills

Bhima was the strongest and the most ferocious of his brothers. He possessed the strength of ten thousand elephants and was said to be as strong as Indra or Vayu. When Bhima was born, he roared like a blood thirsty tiger. As an infant, he once slipped from his mother's lap and fell of a hill. Bhima not only survived but the boulder on which he landed was smashed to smithereens.

Bhima favored the use of the mace or gada, and was also a great wrestler. He was also the fastest runner and swimmer amongst his brothers. Under Balarama, Bhima mastered the mace, as well as the sword and chariot driving.

Aside from fighting, Bhima was also a master chef. He was in charge of Matsya Kingdom's kitchen for one year.

In the media


  1. ^ Lochtefeld, James G. (2002). The illustrated encyclopedia of Hinduism. (1st. ed.). New York: Rosen. pp. 194–196.  
  2. ^ "Mahabharata Text". 
  3. ^ Kapoor, edited by Subodh (2002). The Indian encyclopaedia : biographical, historical, religious, administrative, ethnological, commercial and scientific (1st ed.). New Delhi: Cosmo Publications. p. 7535.  
  4. ^ Rao,, Shanta Rameshwar (1985). The Mahabharata (Illustrated). Orient Blackswan. pp. 25–26.  
  5. ^ Menon, [translated by] Ramesh (2006). The Mahabharata : a modern rendering. New York: iUniverse, Inc. p. 93.  
  6. ^ Menon, [translated by] Ramesh (2006). The Mahabharata : a modern rendering. New York: iUniverse, Inc. p. 103.  
  7. ^ "Mahabharata Text". 
  8. ^ "Mahabharata Text". 
  9. ^ "Mahabharata Text". 
  10. ^ "Mahabharata Text". 
  11. ^ "Mahabharata Text". 
  12. ^ "Mahabharata Text". 
  13. ^ "Mahabharata Text". 
  14. ^ "Mahabharata Text". 
  15. ^ "Mahabharata Text". 
  16. ^ Gupta, Rashmi (2010). Tibetans in exile : struggle for human rights. New Delhi: Anamika Publishers & Distributors. p. 625.  
  17. ^ Kapoor, edited by Subodh (2002). The Indian encyclopaedia : biographical, historical, religious, administrative, ethnological, commercial and scientific (1st ed.). New Delhi: Cosmo Publications. p. 4462.  
  18. ^ "Mahabharata Text". 
  19. ^ Menon, [translated by] Ramesh (2006). The Mahabharata : a modern rendering. New York: iUniverse, Inc. p. 645.  
  20. ^ "Mahabharata Text". 
  21. ^ Kapoor, edited by Subodh (2002). The Indian encyclopaedia : biographical, historical, religious, administrative, ethnological, commercial and scientific (1st ed.). New Delhi: Cosmo Publications. p. 4462.  
  22. ^ "Mahabharata Text". 
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