Puranic encyclopaedia

by Vettam Mani | 1975 | 609,556 words | ISBN-10: 0842608222

This page describes the Story of Ghatotkaca included the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani that was translated into English in 1975. The Puranas have for centuries profoundly influenced Indian life and Culture and are defined by their characteristic features (panca-lakshana, literally, ‘the five characteristics of a Purana’).

Story of Ghaṭotkaca


Ghaṭotkaca, son of Bhīmasena played a very important part in the story of Mahābhārata. He was, from his very birth, a staunch friend and ally of the Pāṇḍavas. He courted a hero’s death in the great war.


On the burning of the 'lac Palace' the Pāṇḍavas escaped through a tunnel and reached a forest. While they were sleeping on the ground, Hiḍiṃba the Rākṣasa chief in the forest saw the Pāṇḍavas from the top of a tree, and he deputed his sister Hiḍimbī to bring over the Pāṇḍavas to him for food.

Hiḍiṃbī approached the Pāṇḍavas in the guise of a beautiful woman. She was attracted towards Bhīma and she prayed for the return of his love, which Bhīma refused. Impatient at the delay Hiḍiṃba rushed towards the Pāṇḍavas, and in the duel that ensued between him and Bhīma, he was killed by Bhīma.

Then Hiḍiṃbī approached Kuntī and requested her to ask Bhīma to marry her. The Pāṇḍavas agreed to the proposal on condition that Bhīma and Hiḍiṃbī should enjoy their honeymoon in the forest and on mountains, but Bhīma should return to them at dusk everyday. Ghaṭotkaca was the son born to Bhīma and Hiḍimbī, (Ādi Parva, Chapter 155).

Indra bestowed on Ghaṭotkaca prowess enough to be a suitable opponent to Karṇa. (Ādi Parva, Chapter 155, Verse 47).

Ghaṭotkaca grew up to become a good friend of the Pāṇḍavas. When Hiḍiṃbī and Ghaṭotkaca took leave of them Kuntī said to Ghaṭotkaca: "You are the eldest son to the Pāṇḍavas. You should be ever a support to them." To this Ghaṭotkaca answered that he would return to them whenever any need arose for it.

Carried the Pāṇḍavas on shoulders.

During their exile in the forest the Pāṇḍavas became too tired to walk any further when Bhīma remembered Ghaṭotkaca, who promptly appeared before the Pāṇḍavas, and at the instance of Bhīma got down a number of Rākṣasas also. Ghaṭotkaca carrying Pāñcālī on his shoulders, and the Rākṣasas carrying the Pāṇḍava brothers on their shoulders went by air to Badarikāśrama where Naranārāyaṇas were doing tapas, landed them there, and then they (Ghaṭotkaca and his companions) took leave of the Pāṇḍavas. (Vana Parva, Chapter 145).

Ghaṭotkaca in the great war.

(1) In the first day’s fighting he fought against Alambuṣa, Duryodhana and Bhagadatta. Frightened at the terrible course of the fight the Kauravas purposely postponed that day’s fighting. (Bhīṣma Parva, Chapters, 45, 57, 58).

(2) He defeated the King of Vaṅga and killed his elephant. (Bhīṣma Parva, Chapter 92, Verse 36).

(3) Defeated Vikarṇa. (Bhīṣma Parva, Chapter 29, Verse 36).

(4) On receiving blows from the great Kaurava heroes, Ghaṭotkaca rose up to the sky. (Bhīṣma Parva, Chapter 93, Verse 6).

(5) Ghaṭotkaca made the Kaurava army take to their heels by the exercise of his magic powers. (Bhīṣma Parva, Chapter 94, Verses 41-47).

(6) Fought a duel with Durmukha. (Bhīṣma Parva, Chapter 110, Verse 13).

(7) Dhṛtarāṣṭra praised the prowess of Ghaṭotkaca. (Droṇa Parva, Chapter 10, Verse 62).

(8) He fought with Alāyudha. (Droṇa Parva, Chapter 96, Verse 27).

(9) Killed Alambuṣa. (Droṇa Parva, Chapter 109, Verse 28).

(10) Aśvatthāmā, son of Droṇa killed Añjana Parvā, son of Ghaṭotkaca, (Droṇa Parva, Chapter 156, Verse 56).

(11) Ghaṭotkaca fought with Karṇa. (Droṇa Parva, Chapter 175).

(12) He fought with Jaṭāsura. (Droṇa Parva, Chapter 174).

(13) He killed Alāyudha. (Droṇa Parva, Chapter 178, Verse 31).

(14) Karṇa clashed with Ghaṭotkaca and failing to kill him by any means he (Karṇa) used Vaijayantī Śakti as the last resort. This Śakti had been given to him by Indra in exchange for his head-gear and earrings, and Karṇa had been keeping the Śakti in reserve to kill Arjuna. At any rate Karṇa used it against Ghaṭotkaca and he was killed. After killing Ghaṭotkaca the Śakti entered the sphere of the stars. (Droṇa Parva, Chapter 180).

Other information.

(1) Ghaṭotkaca hated the brahmins and their yajñas. (Droṇa Parva, Chapter 181, Verse 27).

(2) When the souls of the heroes killed in the great war were called upon the banks of Gaṅgā by Vyāsa, Ghaṭotkaca’s soul too had appeared. (Āśramavāsika Parva, Chapter 32, Verse 8).

(3) After death he lived with Yakṣadevas. (Svargārohaṇa Parva, Chapter 5, Verse 37).

Synonyms of Ghaṭotkaca used in Mahābhārata.

Bhaimaseni, Bhaimi, Bhīmasenasuta, Bhīmasenātmaja, Bhīmasūnu, Bhīmasuta, Haiḍimba, Haiḍimbi, Rākṣasa, Rākṣasādhipa, Rākṣasapuṅgava, Rākṣaseśvara and Rākṣasendra.

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