258,337 words | ISBN-10: 8121505933
The English translation of the Mahabharata: one of the two major Sanskrit epics of India. Besides its epic narrative of the Kurukshetra War and the fates of the Kaurava and the Pandava princes, the Mahabharata contains philosophical and devotional material, such as a discussion of the four "goals of life". NOTE: this is a Summary Study (...
While the palace of shellac was burning intensely, the Pandavas escaped unnoticed. Upon immerging from the tunnel, they looked back and saw the palace blazing in the distance. They then looked toward the bank of the Ganges and saw a man sitting in a boat. The man was sent by Vidura, and by signals he indicated that they should board the boat. He convinced the Pandavas by certain messages that he was actually sent by their uncle. The Pandavas then boarded the boat and the boatman lead them across the river Ganges to safety. They thanked the boatman and sent a message back to Vidura that they were heading in a southerly direction.
Then Bhimasena, who was endowed with supernatural power, placed his mother on his shoulders, the twins on his sides, Yudhisthira and Arjuna on his arms, and proceeded quickly through the darkness. The son of the wind god ran at the speed of the wind, breaking the trees and bushes before him. With every step he caused the earth to tremble. The motion of his legs created a wind so intense that it was comparable to the March winds. Indeed, so great was the force with which Bhima moved that his brothers and mother seemed to faint on his body. Before the day was over, Bhima had covered a distance of one hundred and sixty miles.
Towards the evening Bhima reached a densely dark forest where fruits and water were scarce and which echoed terrible cries of wild birds and beasts. The wind blew strongly, breaking the branches of the trees. Afflicted with hunger, thirst, and sleep, they were unable to proceed further. Bhimasena carefully lifted his mother and brothers off his body. Exhausted, they all lay down to sleep with the exception of Bhima, who stayed awake to guard against Duryodhana's spies or any Rakshasas who lived in the forest. As Bhima glanced over his mother and his brothers, he felt a deep pain in his heart. After all it was just a night ago that they were sleeping in the finest beds, and eating the finest foods. Did Queen Kunti, the wife of the great Pandu and the daughter of King Surasena, deserve to lie on the bare ground? Did the sister of Vasudeva and the mother of the Pandavas deserve leaves as a bed sheet? Yudhisthira, the son of Yamaraja, was lying on the bare ground. Did he deserve such a fate? Did he not deserve sovereignty of the three worlds? Did Arjuna, the greatest bowman the world has ever known, deserve to lie on the ground like an ordinary man? Did Nakula and Sahadeva, who are like demigods in appearance, deserve to be soiled by the dust of the earth? Bhima then spoke as if the sons of Dhritarastra were present, You sons of Dhritarastra have little foresight. You wicked fellows may enjoy your temporary success. You still breathe only because Yudhisthira does not command me to take your lives. If ordered by him, I would send you all to the region of Yamaraja this very day! Having said this, the mighty armed Bhima squeezed his palms, breathing heavily in anger. Looking over his dear brothers and mother, he continued to guard the rest of the night.
Not far from where the Pandavas were sleeping, there lived a rakshasa (man eater) named Hidimva and his sister Hidimvi. Hidimva was not an ordinary rakshasa for he ruled over all others in his race. He had sharp teeth and a protruding belly. His shoulders were like the neck of a tree, and he was reddish in hue. Longing for human flesh, he sat in a tree along with his sister. Understanding by the scent in the air that some humans were nearby, he ordered his sister, O Hidimvi, I smell human flesh close by. My mouth waters at the thought of eating, for I have not satisfied my hunger all day. Go and see who has come. Attacking the human throat and opening the veins, I shall drink to my full satisfaction a large quantity of human blood. Go and bring to me any human beings who are nearby. We will feast on human flesh and dance together in happiness.
Thus commanded by Hidimva, Hidimvi proceeded to the spot where the Pandavas were resting. She saw four brothers lying asleep with their mother and the invincible Bhima guarding them. Beholding Bhimasena, unrivalled in strength and handsome appearance, the rakshasi immediately fell in love. She thought to herself, This person has a body like molten gold, and his shoulders are like those of a lion. His neck is shaped like a conchshell, and his eyes are like lotus petals. Truly he is worthy of being my husband. I shall disobey my brother's order, because affection for one's husband is greater than for one's brother.
The rakshasi, capable of assuming any form at will, assumed the form of a beautiful celestial woman. Approaching Bhima with a mind enchanting smile, she said to him, O bull among men, where have you come from and who are you? Who also, O sinless one, is this lady of transcendent beauty sleeping here so contently as if in her own chambers? Do you know that this forest is the abode of a rakshasa named Hidimva? I am his sister, and he has sent me here with the intention of killing you all. Speaking truthfully, I tell you that after beholding your celestial handsome features, I can accept no one else as my husband. My heart as well as my body have been pierced by the arrows of Cupid. I will rescue you from this brother of mine who eats human flesh. By my mystic power, I will take you wherever you like. Traveling to the celestial gardens, we can enjoy to our hearts content.
Hearing the affectionate words of the rakshasi, Bhima replied, O beautiful woman, how can I leave my brothers and mother simply to satisfy lusty desires. I will never run from fear of any rakshasa, for Rakshasas are never able to bear the prowess of my arms. What to speak of Rakshasas, neither mortals nor Gandharvas nor Yakshas can bear my strength. O celestial lady, you may either go or send your cannibal brother. I care not.
Hidimva, the chief of the Rakshasas, seeing that his sister had not returned, got down from the tree and proceeded quickly to where the Pandavas were. He saw that his sister had taken a celestial form bedecked with garlands of flowers and silken garments. The rakshasa, beholding her in that charming form, understood her motives. He was red hot with anger and scolded her, Why, O sister, have you thrown obstacles on my path when I am now overcome with hunger? O Hidimvi, don't you fear me in the least? You are desiring to enjoy intercourse with my evening meal. You are ready to sacrifice the good name and honor of all the Rakshasas for some gratification of the senses. Therefore, I will kill you this very moment!
Upon seeing the rakshasa rushing toward Hidimvi, Bhima, the foremost slayer of man eaters, jumped up and exclaimed, O Hidimva, what need is there to awaken these sleeping persons. O wicked cannibal, challenge me first, and do not touch your sister. Why do you want to kill a woman who is scarcely responsible for a desire that pervades all living entities? She does not deserve to be punished for this offense. Come and fight with me, O rakshasa, and I shall send you to the court of Yamaraja without delay!
Replying to Bhima, Hidimva said, What need is there for all this boasting. Accomplish what you have said and then crow with your tongue! You have wrongly calculated my strength, or else you would not have challenged me to combat. Let your brothers sleep comfortably, and after killing you and drinking your blood, I shall devour them one after another!
The most powerful Hidimva, whose eyes were burning like molten copper, ran at Bhima desiring to kill him. Very quickly Bhima grabbed the outstretched arms of Hidimva and began dragging him away from where his brothers and mother were sleeping. The Rakshasa, humbled by the might of Bhima, became furious, and squeezing the body of Bhima, sent forth a loud roar. The mighty son of Pandu then dragged the demon a further distance so the cries of the Rakshasa would not awaken his brothers. Fighting like two full grown elephants, they pulverized the nearby trees and bushes.
From the sound of falling trees, the sleeping brothers awoke. Kunti also awoke from sleep and gazed in wonder at the beautiful woman who was standing before her. Desirous of knowing her identity, Kunti said, O beautiful woman, whose complexion resembles the lotus, where have you come from, and what is your name? Hearing the inquiry of Kunti, Hidimvi replied, The forest that you have taken shelter in belongs to my brother Hidimva, the powerful Rakshasa. I have been sent here to kill all of you on his order. However, seeing the handsome features of your son Bhima, I have fallen in love with him and have chosen him as my husband. My name is Hidimvi. Presently your son Bhima has dragged my brother to a great distance, and they are engaged in combat.