In Hindu mythology, Bhima (Sanskrit: भीम, IAST: Bhīma) is the second born of the Pandavas. The Mahabharata relates many events which portray the might of Bhima. Bhima is responsible for slaying all hundred Kaurava brothers in the Kurukshetra War. He was considered to have the physical strength of 10,000 elephants approximately.

The Strongest Pandava
Bhimasena the king of Kamyaka Forest by Raja Ravi Varma (1848–1906)
AffiliationCharacter of Mahabharata
WeaponGada, Bow and arrows
Personal information
SpouseHidimbi, Draupadi and Valandhara [1]
ChildrenGhatotkacha (son from Hidimbi)
Sutasoma (son from Draupadi)
Sarvaga (son from Valandhara)
SiblingsKarna, Yudhisthira, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva(brothers) ; Hanuman (spiritual brother)


The word Bhima in Sanskrit means 'big' or 'tall'. His other names are ( Dandum Wacana, Kusuma Waligita, Pondan Paksajandu and Satria Jodipati ) –

  • Bhimasena (भीमसेन) – he who is equivalent to a formidable army
  • Vrikodara (वृकोदर) – wolf bellied or voracious eater
  • Gadadhara (गदाधर) – mace-wielder
  • Vayuputra / Bayu Tanaya – son of Vayu – God of Wind
  • 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
  • Hanyalaurya (हन्यलौर्य) – creator.
  • Arya Bratasena

Birth and rivalry with the Kauravas

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 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]

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 Duryodhana 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 ten thousand elephants.[6]

Duryodana with his counsellor Purochana hatched a plan to burn the Pandavas alive at a lac palace Lakshagraha at Varnavrata that Duryodhana had built there (lacquer is highly inflammable). Thanks to prior notice from Vidura, the Pandavas managed to escape out from the palace with 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]

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 members of their village and their provisions. The powerful Bhima brought his might to the fore and killed Bakasura, much to the delight of the villagers.[8]

Marriage and children

At the time Bhima kills the demon Hidimba who was king of demons of forest Kamyaka, 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. When Bhima killed the demon Hidimba, he became the King of Kamyaka for 5 years. In Mahabharata, the demon army from Kamyaka fought the war alongside Pandavas. After the death of Ghatotkacha Bhima again became king of Kamyaka.

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 Savarga. Among Bhima's three sons, Sarvaga did not participate in the Kurukshetra war, Sutasoma was killed by Ashwatthama and Ghatotkacha was killed by Karna.

Conquest for Rajasuya

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.[9] The Mahabharata mentions several kingdoms to the east of Indraprastha which were conquered by Bhima.[10] Key victories include his fights with:

  • 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.[11]
  • 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.
  • Karna. When Bhima came to Anga Kingdom, Karna didn’t accept to make alliance due to which a terrific war took place between Bhima and Karna. Bhima and Karna both were very good archers. Each used some of their prominent weapons on each other. Bhima broke Karna’s bow. Then both of them fought with the mace. At last Bhima defeated Karna but failed to kill because of Karna’s Kavacha Kundal.[12]
  • Sishupala of Chedi Kingdom, (who welcomed Bhima and hosted him for thirty days)
  • 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


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

Once in Badarikasrama forest, Draupadi scented the Saugandhika flower and was deeply attracted to it. The lotus species was not to be located easily so 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.

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]

Meeting Hanuman

During his search for the Saugandhika flower, Bhima saw an old monkey, lying in the path, whose long tail was outstretching the region. Bhima in pride asked the monkey to move the tail blocking his path. But, the monkey replied saying he's too old and had no strength to do that and requested that Bhima do it instead. Outraged at being commanded by someone inferior to him, he grabbed the monkey's tail with his left hand with intention of swirling him via it and sending him in air and to his surprise he wasn't able to move it. So, he used both his hands and all his might but wasn't able to raise it. Defeated and surprised he asked the monkey for forgiveness with joined hands. The monkey revealed its true-self, Hanuman (his brother, as both were Vayu's children). Bhima received Hanuman's blessing in the form of increased strength which came from Hanuman's own body. He warned Bhima of the path ahead, blessed him of victory in all his endeavours and left.

Killing Jatasura

In another minor incident in the epic, Jatasura, a rakshasa disguised as a Brahmin abducted Yudhishthira, Draupadi and the twin brothers, Nakula, and Sahadeva during their stay at Badarikasrama. His objective was to seize the weapons of the Pandavas. 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]

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).[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

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. Kichaka was crushed and slaughtered into a meatball 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, Yudhishthira 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

Before the battle had begun, Bhima suggested that Satyaki would lead the Pandava forces, as their general, but Yudhishthira and Arjuna opted for Dhrishtadyumna. 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.[20][21] He wielded a celestial bow named Vayavya- which was given by Vayu deva(Wind God), had a massive conch named Paundra and also possessed a huge mace equivalent to a hundred thousand maces (presented by Lord Hanuman). Bhima distinguishes himself in battle several times throughout the war; some of Bhima's major engagements during the war include:

2nd day

On 2nd day of the war, he encounters the Kalinga army. He slays Kalinga King Srutyusha, his son Sakradeva, and the two Kalinga general Satya and Satyadeva. He also kills and Ekalavya's son Ketumat.

14th day

On 14th day of the war, Bhima defeated Drona by smashing his chariot twice and penetrating the Kaurava formation in order to aid Arjuna in his quest to slay Jayadratha. Bhima also defeated Karna and then spared his life remembering Arjuna's oath. Seeing Karna's failure, Duryodhana sends a legion of elephants to check Bhima's advance, and Bhima thoroughly destroys the army, leaving a bloody trail of elephant entrails. Durjaya (Dussasana's son), on Duryodhana's order, attempted to stop Bhima. But Bhima in his bloodlust killed Durjaya by hitiing Durjaya on head. Bhima, also defeated Alambusha on 14th day. On the same day, Bhima defeated Karna 7 times but spared his life remembering Arjuna's oath of assassinating Karna, 31 of Duryodhana brothers were also killed by Bhima in front of Karna. Bhima slew Bahlika, the King of the Bahlika kingdom on the night of the fourteenth day.

16th day

16th day of Kurukshetra war is completely dedicated to Bhima. He dominated other warriors and became Hero on 16th day of war.

Bhima was the only warrior who refused to submit to the invincible Narayanastra weapon launched by Ashwatthama on the 16th day of war.

On 16th day of war, Karna was appointed to protect Dushyasana from clutches of Bhima. As a reason Karna stood in path of Bhima asked to defeat him before heading to Dushyasana. Bhima took up his Vayvya bow and started attacking Karna. Both Karna and Bhima were good archers. Bhima defeated Karna by breaking his bow. Karna then took up sword and attacked Bhima. Bhima defeated Karna and when Bhima was about to stab Karna, Karna's son Banasena came in aid of his father. On seeing Banasena, Bhima got angered as his own son Ghatotkacha was slain by Karna. Banasena challenged Bhima and soon attacked Bhima with mace. Bhima brutally but fairly killed Banasena infront of Karna. Bhima killed Banasena by hitting him several times on Chest, stomach and head regions. Seeing his son's fate; Karna quickly picked up a mace and attacked Bhima. Still in anger, Bhima beat Karna several times and almost took Karna to death. But Bhima spared Karna remembering Arjuna's oath of assassinating Karna. Bhima asked Karna to take his son's body to perform funerals and later fight with Arjuna[22]Then Bhima headed to kill Dussasana.

Bhima defeated and brutally killed Dussasana on the 16th day of war in front of Karna and Duryodhana. Bhima killed Dussasana by separating and cutting his hands from the body. Bhima beat Dussasana in heart region. Bhima squeezed blood from Dussasana's heart and dressed Draupadi's hair. Bhima also drank off remaining blood.[23]

17th day

On the 17th day of war, Bhima defeated Karna and made him unconscious. Shalya took Karna away from battlefield.

Bhima is generally credited with killing all 100 sons of Dhritrashtra and Gandhari.[24]

Killing Duryodhana

After 18 days of war, Duryodhana went and hid under a lake. After given option to choose opponent & kind of duel, Duryodhana chose Bhima as his opponent & mace fight as duel. Bhima clashed with Duryodhana in a mace fight. Though Bhima had superior strength, Duryodhana started dominating. Lord Krishna knew that it is not possible to kill Duryodhana because Duryodhana's body turned as tough as a diamond with power in Gandhari's eyes. Krishna instrucuted Bhima to hit Duryodhana's thighs through gestures. Bhima did as Krishna directed & successfully broke thighs of Duryodhana. Enraged at this sight, Balarama grabbing his plough paced to attack Bhima, but was stopped by Krishna. Krishna convinced his brother by narrating the injustice death of Abhimanyu and evils committed by Duryodhana.

Later years and death

After the war, Dhritarashtra was enraged by Bhima's slaying of all his sons. When the Pandavas arrive at Hastinapur to claim the kingdom and pay their respects, Krishna, sensing his anger, placed an iron statue of Bhima in front of Dhritarashtra. When embracing Bhima, Dhritarashtra crushed the statue into pieces, but later realised his folly and apologised.

Yudhishthira appointed Bhima as the commander-in-chief of Hastinapur.[25] Upon the onset of the Kaliyuga, 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. In some versions of the story, Yudhishthira points out Bhima's boastfulness, pride, and battle-lust as the reasons for his fall.


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