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Ghatotkacha (Sanskrit: घटोत्कच, IAST: Ghaṭotkaca, literally: "Bald Pot") is an important character in the Mahabharata.[1] His name comes from the fact that his head was hairless (utkaca) and shaped like a ghatam.[2] Ghatotkacha was the son of the Pandava Bhima and the rakshasi Hidimbi.

Karna Ghatotkacha fight sculpture, Kota Rajasthan India.jpg
Ghatotkacha standing on horses in a fight with Karna, an artwork in Kota, Rajasthan, India

Ghatotkacha was very powerful like his Father Bhima and it is said that his strength was equal to that of 1000 elephants. He had the powers of a rakshasa as well as magical abilities. He is also known for being very large.

Ghatotkacha killed many rakshasas like Alambusha and many gigantic Asuras.

He is the father of Barbarika, Anjanaparvan, and Meghavarna. His second son Anjanaparvan participated in the war. His maternal parentage made him half-rakshasa, which granted him several magical abilities such as the ability to fly, to increase or decrease in size and to become invisible. He was an important fighter from the Pandava side in the Kurukshetra war, and caused a great deal of destruction to the Kaurava army on the fourteenth night. He is killed by Karna with Indra's missile.



Bhimsen and Ghatotkacha

Ghatotkacha was born to Hidimbi and the Pandava Bhima. When traveling the countryside with his brothers and mother as a brahmin, having escaped the lakshagraha, Bhima saved Hidimbi from her wicked brother Hidimba, the king of demons of Kamyaka Forest. Soon after Ghatotkacha was born, Bhima had to leave his family, as he still had duties to complete at Hastinapura.

Ghatotkacha grew up under the care of Hidimbi. Like his father, Ghatotkacha's weapon of choice was the mace. Lord Krishna gave him a boon that no one in the world would be able to match his sorcery skills, except for Krishna himself.[3] His wife was Ahilawati and his sons were Barbarika, Anjanaparvan, and Meghvarna.[citation needed]

Hidimbi's dinner requestEdit

One day Hidimbi asked Ghatotkacha to fetch a human for her dinner. On his way to do so, he spotted a Brahmin and his wife traveling with their three children. Ghatotkacha approached them and asked which one of them should come with him to be his mother's dinner.

The Brahmin offered himself but his wife insisted that she would go. Finally, their second son agreed to go with Ghatotkacha and asked his permission to first bathe in the river Ganga. After a few hours, Ghatotkacha began searching for the boy and started screaming, calling him "Madhyama". Bhima heard the scream and enquired as to what was the matter. Ghatotkacha then relayed the scenario to Bhima, who agreed to go with him on the condition that Ghatotkacha should defeat him in a fight.[citation needed]

Fight with BhimaEdit

The fight began with both father and son fighting barehanded. After days of fighting, both of them exhausted, they were stopped by Hidimbi. Hidimbi informed Ghatotkacha that Bhima is his father. Ghatotkacha fell at the feet of his father Bhima who embraced and praised his son, telling him that seldom has he fought anyone who could match him in terms of strength.

Kurukshetra WarEdit

In the Mahābhārata, Ghatotkacha was summoned by Bhima to fight on the Pandava side in the Kurukshetra battle. Invoking his magical powers, he wrought great havoc in the Kaurava army. On his first summon he caused terrible damage to the Kauravas by using his power of illusion. Even warriors like Duryodhana and Karna fled from the massacre leaving only the proud son of Drona standing ground fearlessly. After dispelling Ghatotkacha's illusion he managed to knock the rakshasa unconscious. After coming to his senses, Ghatotkacha became furious and fought with Ashwatthama in a long duel. During the fight, both combatants used their celestial weapons, but the mighty asura wasn't able to withstand the attack of the other and was forced to flee.

After the death of Jayadratha on the fourteenth day, when the battle continued past sunset, Ghatotkacha was summoned as per Krishna's advice and asked to slay Karna since the latter was wreaking havoc among the Pandavas. Ghatotkacha's powers were at their most effective at night as rakshasas become endued with unlimited prowess, great might, and courage. Along with his asura troops, Ghatotkacha attacked the Kauravas at full power.

Eventually, a fight took place between Karna and Ghatotkacha. Upon seeing his efforts against the gigantic asura turn futile, Karna invoked his celestial weapons. Beholding a celestial weapon aimed at him, the foremost of all rakshasas used his illusion to surrounded the Kaurava army. Beholding that, all kings with their sons and combatants, fled in fear. Only one among them -- Karna -- proud of the power of his weapons and nobility, managed to destroy all of Ghatotkacha's illusions.

When it became clear that Ghatotkacha couldn't prevail over Karna, he forged a fierce and terrible illusion into existence. He turned invisible and deceptively began to tear away large number of arrows and other celestial weapons at the Kaurava army and Kaurava army whom become fightened from Ghatotkacha cried out:

"O Karna, slay the rakshasa soon with thy dart!"

Karna invoked into existence that terrible missile (Vasavi Shakti) which he had kept and adored for years after slaughtering the Pandu son in battle. Seeing Karna holding blazing weapon that was capable of piercing the body of every foe, the rakshasa scrambled away in fear. Fierce winds blew, and roars of thunder fell on the face of the earth. Karna hurled the weapon at the rakshasa destroying his illusion and piercing him before it returned to Indra.

Mortally wounded, Ghatotkacha fell to the ground. In the midst of dying, he managed to enlarge his body, crushing one akshauhini of the Kaurava army by his weight.[4] The Pandavas were filled with grief at Ghatotkacha's death, while Vasudeva danced at the knowledge that Karna could no longer use his dart. To remove confusion of Pandu all sons and whole army of pandava, Vasudeva explained:

"Listen to me, Dhananjaya! This that I will tell thee will immediately dispel thy sorrow and infuse delight into thy heart. O thou of great splendour, know, O Dhananjaya, that Karna, his dart being baffled through Ghatotkacha, is already slain in battle. The man does not exist in this world that could not stay before Karna armed with that dart and looking like Kartikeya in battle. By good luck, his (natural) armour had been taken away. By good luck, his earrings also had been taken away. By good luck, his infallible dart also is now baffled, through Ghatotkacha. Clad in (natural) coat of mail and decked with his (natural) ear-rings, Karna, who had his senses under control, could singly vanquish the three worlds with the very gods. Neither Vasava, nor Varuna the lord of the waters, nor Yama, could venture to approach him.

Indeed, if that bull among men had his armour and ear-rings, neither thyself, bending the Gandiva, nor myself, uplifting my discus, called Sudarsana, could vanquish him in battle. For thy good, Karna was divested of his ear-rings by Sakra with the help of an illusion. Similarly was that subjugator of hostile towns deprived of his (natural) armour. Indeed, because Karna, cutting off his (natural) armour and his brilliant car-rings, gave them unto Sakra, it is for that he came to be called Vaikartana. Karna now seems to me to be like an angry snake of virulent poison stupefied by power of incantation, or like a fire of mild flames. From that time, O mighty-armed one, when the high-souled Sakra gave that dart unto Karna in exchange for the latter's ear-rings, and celestial armour, that dart, viz., which has slain Ghatotkacha, from that time, Vrisha, having obtained it, had always regarded thee as slain in battle! But though deprived of that dart, O sinless one, I swear to thee that hero is still incapable of being slain by anybody.

Devoted to Brahmanas, truthful in speech, engaged in penances, observant of vows, kind even unto foes, for these reasons Karna is called Vrisha. Heroic in battle, possessed of mighty arms and with bow always uplifted, like the lion in the forest depriving leaders of elephantine herds of their pride, Karna always deprives the greatest car-warriors of their pride on the field of battle, and resembles the mid-day sun at whom none can gaze. Contending with all the illustrious and foremost of warriors of thy army, O tiger among men, Karna, while shooting his arrowy showers, looked like the autumnal sun with his thousand rays. Indeed, incessantly shooting showers of shafts like the clouds pouring torrents of rain at the end of summer, Karna is like a pouring cloud charged with celestial weapons.

He is incapable of being vanquished in battle by the gods, he would mangle them in such a way that their flesh and blood would fall copiously on the field. Deprived, however, of his armour as also of his car-rings, O son of Pandu, and divested also of the dart given him by Vasava, Karna is now like a man (and no longer like a god). There win occur one opportunity for his slaughter. When his car-wheels will sink in the earth, availing thyself of that opportunity, thou shouldst slay him in that distressful situation. I will make thee a sign beforehand. Warned by it, thou shouldst act. The vanquisher of Vala himself, that foremost of heroes, wielding his thunder, is incapable of slaying the invincible Karna ."[5]|}}

On 17th day of war Krishna told Arjuna that :

"Karna is possessed of might. He is proud and accomplished in weapons. He is a maharatha. He is accomplished (in the ways of battle) and conversant with all modes of warfare. He is also well-acquainted with all that suits place and time. What need is there of saying much? Hear in brief, O son of Pandu! I regard the mighty car-warrior Karna as thy equal, or perhaps, thy superior! With the greatest care and resolution shouldst thou slay him in great battle. In energy he is equal to Sankara(Shiva) himself. As regards speed, he is equal to the impetuosity of the wind. In wrath, he resembles the Destroyer(Shiva) himself again. Endued with might, he resembles a lion in the formation of his body. He is eight ratnis in stature. His arms are large. His chest is broad. He is invincible. He is sensitive. He is a hero. He is, again, the foremost of heroes. He is exceedingly handsome. Possessed of every accomplishment of a warrior, he is a dispeller of the fears of friends. Engaged in the good of Dhritarashtra's son, he always hates the sons of Pandu. No one, not even the gods with Vasava weilding his thunder at their head, can slay the son of Radha. Slay, therefore, the Suta's son today. No one possessed of flesh and blood, not even the gods fighting with great care, not all the warriors of the three worlds fighting together can vanquish that car-warrior."


' Yonder, O Partha, Karna himself, equal unto Sankara(Shiva} in energy '
A sketch showing the death of Ghatotkacha


In popular cultureEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Datta, Amaresh (1 January 2006). "The Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature (Volume Two) (Devraj to Jyoti)". ISBN 978-81-260-1194-0.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 January 2007. Retrieved 3 December 2006.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Dutt, Romesh. "Maha-Bharata, The Epic of Ancient Indi". Missing or empty |url= (help)
  4. ^ Amar Chitra Katha #592, ISBN 9788184821994
  5. ^ Ganguli, Kisari Mohan (1883–1896). "Book 7: Drona Parva". The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa Translated into English Prose. Calcutta: Bharata Press.
  6. ^ "Ghatothkach, Cannes-bound!". Rediff. Retrieved 5 June 2019.

External linksEdit