In Indian epic Mahabharata, Bhima (Sanskrit: भीम, IAST: Bhīma) is the 2nd born of the Pandavas. The Mahabharata relates many events which portray the might of Bhima. Bhima alone killed hundred Kaurava brothers in the Kurukshetra war. He was considered to have the physical strength of 10,000 elephants approximately. In addition, he is known to be a great devotee of Sri Krishna and is highly respected in the Madhva Vaishnava sect.

Mahabharata character
Bhimasena- the King of Kamyaka Forest
In-universe information
AffiliationCharacter of Mahabharata
WeaponGada, bow and arrows
FamilyVayu(spiritual father)
Sahadeva(brothers) ; Hanuman (spiritual brother)
SpouseHidimbi, Draupadi and Valandhara [1]
ChildrenGhatotkacha (son from Hidimbi)
Sutasoma (son from Draupadi)
Sarvaga (son from Valandhara)


The word Bhima in Sanskrit means 'big' or 'tall'. His other names are ( Dandum Wacana, Kusuma Waligita, Pondan Paksajandu and Satria Jodipati ) – Bhima was popularly known as Bhimasena (भीमसेन) – he who is equivalent to a formidable army

  • Vrikodara (वृकोदर) – wolf bellied or voracious eater
  • 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 rivalry with the Kauravas

Child Bhima crack the stones

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 Vayu and was very happy that Vayu deva was his father because he was very affectionate towards him, he would get to have a lot of strength as he was born because of the blessings of Vayu and that Hanuman would be his celestial brothers as both of them are Vayuś children. He prayed to Vayu and idolized his brother Hanuman. 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 Ravi. Thankfully, the Naga king Vasuki saved Bhima and also apprised him of Duryodhana's hatred for him. It is also Vasuki who bestowed him the immense strength of ten thousand elephants.[6]

Bhima fighting with the Nagas

Duryodhana 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]

Bhima fighting with Bakasura

Kunti and the Pandavas were living in agyatavaasa (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 West Bengal), 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 and when Bhima killed Bakasura, it was confirmed that Duryodhana, Kichaka, and Jarasandha would be killed by Bhima. Bhima, Duryodhana, Jarasandha, Kichaka and Bakasura were born in the same cosmic phase. As a result of that, the first of these strong people to kill another, the other three would eventually die. Besides the renowned sages like Vyasa, only Krishna and Sahadeva knew this.[8][9]

Marriage and children

Bhima (right) with his wife Hidimbi and son Ghatotkacha.

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.[10] In Mahabharata, the demon army from Kamyaka fought the war alongside Pandavas.

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.[11] Among Bhima's three sons, Sarvaga did not participate in the Kurukshetra war, Sutasoma was killed by Ashwatthama and Ghatotkacha was killed by Karna.[12] In the Hindu epic Mahabharata, Sarvaga was the son of Bhima and his wife Valandhara. He ascended to the throne of Kashi.[1][13] In the Hindu epic Mahabharata, Valandhara was the princess of Kashi and the wife of Bhima. They had a son Sarvaga.[13][1]

Conquest for Rajasuya

Bhima slays Jarasandha

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.[14] The Mahabharata mentions several kingdoms to the east of Indraprastha which were conquered by Bhima.[7] Key victories include his fights with:

  • Jarasandha of the Magadha empire: Jarasandha was a major hurdle before Yudhishthira when the latter decided to perform the Rajasuya yagna. As Jarasandha was a poweful warrior, it was extremely necessary for Pandavas to eliminate him. Lord Krishna, Bhima and Arjuna disguised as Brahmins travelled to Magadha and met Jarasandha. After a formal meeting, Jarasandha enquired about their intentions. Krishna, Bhima and Arjuna revealed their actual identification. Lord Krishna then challenged Jarasandha for duel and gave him freedom to choose any one belligerent. Jarasandha selected Bhima for duel. Both Bhima and Jarasandha were accomplished wrestlers. The duel continued for several days and neither of them was willing to give up. Bhima overpowered Iarasandha after a long duel and almost took Jarasandha to death but Bhima was unable to kill Jarasandha. When Bhima looked at Krishna for guidance, Krishna picked a twig and dissected it into two halves and threw the parts in opposite directions. Bhima complied with his instructions and dissected the body of Jarasandha. He threw the dissected parts in opposite directions. Jarasandha was killed as two halves of the body could not conjoin.Jarasandha held 100 kings in prison and made them ready to sacrifice them. He was known to have a rivalry with Krishna and he wanted the 101st king to be given for the sacrifice. Since Bhima killed Jarasandha, the 100 kings became the supporters of Yudhishthira and accepted him as the chakravarti Samrat.[15]
  • 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.[16]
  • 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


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.[17]

Searching for Saugandhika flower

Draupadi showing the flowers to Bhima
Bhima tries to lift Hanuman's tail (by Asi from Razmnama)

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.[18]

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. He warned Bhima of the path ahead, warned him of the prophesized war, 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.[19][20]

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 Vallabh (within themselves Pandavas called him Jayanta).[21]

Defeating Jimuta

Bhima kills 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.[22]

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. [23]

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

Bhima fighting with Duryodhana, Kalighat painting

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.[24][25] 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 whose strength is 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 Shrutayusha's son Sakradeva, and the two Kalinga general Satya and Satyadeva. He also kills Ekalavya's son Ketumat.

4th day

Bhima killed Duryodhana 8 brothers .In Anguish Bhima was defeated by Duryodhana but rescued by Abhimanyu

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 killed 11 of Duryodhana ,s Brothers infront of Drona. [26] Bhima was also involved in long fight with karna which was witnessed by celestial.Karna fought mildly (remembering his promise to Kunti) but Vrikodara fight exert himself to full extent fought madly remembering his insults and defeat in dice.Bhima broke 6 chariots .Seeing karna without chariot Duryodhana start sending his brother one by one.In process killed 20 of Duryodhana brothers .After long and exhausting he was defeated and spared by karna.Bhima in 14th day Killed 31 of Duryodhana brothers.Bhima was also defeated by kritavarma along with 3 brothers .Bhima kills Rishyaringa son Alambusha using Tvashrastra

14th Night

Bhima killed Balhika with help of satyaki .Bhima also killed 6 brothers of Shakuni and Vrikaratha (foster brother of karna) , 4 kalinga brothers Dushkarna ,Jayarata ,Durmada and Dhruva.As night attack continued He managed to kill Duryodhana 10 brothers with 10 arrows

15th day

He was defeated by Drona and then later karna and forced to take refuge in nakula chariot

Ashwatthama used Narayanastra while Bhima refused to surrender

Bhima was the only warrior who refused to submit to the invincible Narayanastra weapon launched 15th by Aswathamma. After Aswathamma astra foiled He fought with Aswathamma but Aswathamma vanquished Bhima ,Satyaki and kills youthful prince of Chedi and king of Mallava kingdom in front of Arjuna.

16th day

Bhima fought with Aswathamma on 16th day.Both of them become unconscious and taken out of field by their respective charioteers


17th day

On the 17th day of war, Bhima was defeated by Karna .Later Bhima was also involved in failed various group attacks against Karna along with Yudhamanyu Satyaki,Shikhandi ,Uttmaunja ,Draupadi 5 sons,Janmajey ,Sudharman with his 3 brothers along with panchals and Chedis to Check karna.He killed Dushashna by tearing his chest and drinking his blood (a vow taken in game of dice.) He also killed another 16 of Duryodhana brothers that day

Bhima is generally credited with killing all 100 sons of Dhritrashtra and Gandhari.[27]

Day 18

ON last day of war Bhima was defeated by Shalya twice but rescued by satyaki.Bhima on 18th day killed remaining brothers of Duryodhana including (Duryodhana himself and Sudarsana).At last 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 and tried to exhaust bhima and even faints him . Lord Krishna knew that it is not possible to kill Duryodhana because Duryodhana had practised 13 years with mace instrucuted Bhima to hit Duryodhana's thighs through giving a sign by patting his thigh . 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.

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. 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. He later hugged Bhima wholeheartedly.

Yudhishthira appointed Bhima as the commander-in-chief of Hastinapur and also King of Kamyaka forest.[28] 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.

In Popular Culture


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