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Bakāsura (Sanskrit: बकासुर, IAST: Bakāsura) is a rakshasa in the Mahābhārata. He is also called Baka or Vaka.

Bakasura
Mahabharata character
Bhima fighting with Bakasura color.jpg
Bakasura was beaten by Bhima
Information
SpeciesDemon
GenderMale
AffiliationRakshasa

He was killed by Bhīma. The demon lived near the city of Ekacakrā (sometimes called Cakrangarī) and forced the king to send him a large quantity of provisions every week, which he devoured along with the men who provided them. Bhīma was eventually sent out to Bakāsura under the direction of his mother Kuntī.

The Mahābhārata accountEdit

The Pāṇḍavās and their mother Kuntī were in exile. While journeying from place to place, they eventually reached a quiet village. There they came across a Brahmin villager who had graciously provided them shelter in his house. The Brahmin had one elder daughter and a little boy.

A few days were spent in peace and happiness, until one day Kuntī heard cries from the Brahmin's house and she went to see what was the matter. She found the Brahmin family quarreling with one another about their willingness to sacrifice their life.

The Brahmin householder said that it was his responsibility to sacrifice his life, since he is the head of the household and it was his duty to save the family.

The wife said that it was her duty towards the family.

The daughter intervened, saying that it was her duty to offer her life.

Finally, the son also volunteered.

Kuntī didn't understand the reason behind this conversation. When she calmly requested the Brahmin to explain, he narrated the story of Bakāsura.

The Brahmin explained that the king, in his ignorance, had made an agreement with the demon. Bakāsura had recently eaten a cartload of food along with the man carrying it. The demon had killed many villagers in a similar manner and now that it was the Brahmin family's turn to take food and offer themselves to the demon.

Kuntī volunteered to send one of her sons to Bakāsura in order to save the Brahmin family. She explained that the guest becomes an integral part of the host's matters of happiness and sorrow; the Brahmin family's problem was her problem too. When the Brahmin insisted she not make the sacrifice, Kuntī insisted that she provide one of her five sons, and that no son is less dear to her. She explained that the rakshasa would not be able to kill her son skilled in mantras. She asked the Brahmin to not disclose this fact to anybody, for if this fact were revealed, people desirous of obtaining this power would become troublesome for her son.

She finally convinced the Brahmin to send one of her own sons to Bakāsura and insisted that the Brahmin had to survive and take care of his wife and children. After all, it would have been very difficult for the wife to bring up the children without a husband - a situation Kuntī herself was in. She asked Bhīma to take on the task, in order to save the family and people of Ekacakrā. Bhīma consented and departed in the early morning with a stead of a bait and supplies.

When Bhīma reached the forest, he found Bakāsura. The mighty son of Pāṇḍu, approaching the forest where the rakshasa dwelt, began to eat food he carried, calling loudly to the rakshasa by name. Bakāsura became infuriated at Bhīma's demeanor. Seeing Bhīma eating his food, the rakshasa swiftly approached him from behind and offered a heavy blow to his back. But Bhīma, though struck, did not even look up at the rakshasa. He continued to eat as before. Further enraged, Bakāsura tore up a tree and hurled it at Bhīma. Bhima had leisurely eaten up the rest of the food, and with a smile, caught the tree in midair.

The two brawlers began to display their strength by tearing trees out of the ground and hurling them at each other. The combat became so terrible that the region soon became clear of trees. Bakāsura was weak from fatigue, giving Bhīma the perfect opportunity to strike. He pressed him down, placing one knee in the middle of the rakshasa's back and seized his neck with his right hand, finally breaking him.

With a mighty roar, Bakāsura died and vomited blood onto Bhīmas knee. The relatives of the rakshasa came out, beckoned by the commotion. Bhīma, that foremost of all smiters, seeing them so terrified, comforted them and made them promise to never ever again kill human beings.

If ye kill men, ye will have to die even as Vaka![1]

Then Bhīma, dragging the lifeless cannibal, placed the body at one of the gates of the town and went on his way, unseen by any one.

The next day the villagers found the slain rakshasa. Everyone was delighted. They wanted to thank the person who killed Bakāsura, so the people went to assemble in the Brahmin's house. Although they wished to know their hero, the Brahmin wished to conceal the Pāṇḍavās' identity. He simply told them that a mighty Brahmin skilled in combat helped him and slayed the demon. From that day a festival was established in remembrance of that Brahmin who had relieved them from their fears of Vaka.

Thus ends the story of Bakāsura.

Possible LocationEdit

It is believed that the city of Ekacakrā is a small village near the town of Rampurhat in West Bengal. It is in this city that the Pāṇḍavās stayed during their exile. According to some historians and regional folklore, the town of Pandaveswar near Durgapur in the district of Burdwan is the site where that village existed, with a well known temple having several ancient ShivaLingams near the banks of the Ajay River. It is said to have been established by the Pāṇḍavās and their mother Kuntī.

This temple is partly controlled by the Mahants of the Nimbārka Sampradāya. A mutt of that sect, established by the erstwhile Zamindar of Ukhra, exists in the locality of Ukhra near Pandaveswar. The site of the slaying of Bakāsura is said to be in a place called Bhimgarh situated on the other side of the Ajay River.[2][3]

As per other sources, the city of Ekacakrā (Ekcakranagarī) is attributed to a contemporary village Erandol, Jalgaon district, Maharashtra. Today, tourists on the outskirts of Erandol can see the fallen rice markings of that era and a nearby water pond. The nearby Padmalaya Ganesh temple on the hills is also an important tourist and pilgrim destination.

Pratapgarh district in Uttar Pradesh is an ancient religious site. According to Bhayaharan Nath Dham's legends, Bakāsura was killed in South Pratapgarh which was once called "Dwaitwan". Remains have been found of several Pāṇḍavā sculptures. After Bhīma killed the demon Bakāsura, a Lingam was established here. Today, it is knownas the location of the Shaivite Bhayaharan Nath Dham Temple, and serves as a reminder of the story of the Pāṇḍavās and Bakāsura.[citation needed]

Another story claims that the location of Ekacakrā is in modern day Kaivara in Karnataka. Around 75km from Bengaluru, there is a hill where Bakāsura resided. The location can be seen by ascending the hill through a series of stairs. It is said that blood occasionally flows from here.[citation needed]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam, ed. India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 75.
  2. ^ "Khoni Shohore Pran Peyeche (Bengali)". anandabazar.com. Retrieved October 10, 2017.
  3. ^ "বীরভূমের ইতিহাসে পৌরাণিক এবং তান্ত্রিক প্রসঙ্গ". bongodorshon.com. May 17, 2017. Retrieved October 10, 2017.
  • Dowson's Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology
  • Acharya Chandra Shekhar Shastri: Puranon ki Anmol Kahanian, 2006 ISBN 81-902258-6-3