TTS Mahabharata 2003 - 1.08 - Ghatotkaca Born and Baka Slain


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MBK: 1.8: Ghatotkaca Born and Baka Slain
Chapter 8 Ghatotkaca Born and Baka Slain
Soon after Bhima had killed Hidimba, the sun rose and the brothers could see paths through
the forest. They decided to continue south. They were bound to come to a town at some
point.
As they walked off with Kunti between them, Hidimbi followed behind. Bhima became concerned
and said, "The Raksasas are known to avenge themselves on their enemies. They use deceptions
and illusions. Therefore, O Hidimbi, you shall go the way your brother has gone."
Bhima turned menacingly toward Hidimbi. He did not fear her in the least, but wished
only to scare her away before she tried any trickery. But Yudhisthira stopped his younger
brother. "O Bhima, you should never kill a woman even in anger. The attainment of virtue
is always a higher duty than the protection of one's body. Besides this, what harm can
this woman do to us? You have already slain her more powerful brother."
Hidimbi folded her palms to Yudhisthira and thanked him. She approached Kunti and said
with tears in her eyes, "Noble lady, you know well the suffering of a woman afflicted by
desire. The god of love has pierced me with his shafts and I am consumed by desire for
your son Bhima. If he does not accept me as his wife, I will not be able to live. Do not
doubt this."
Hidimbi begged Kunti to be merciful and allow her to marry Bhima. She would carry all of
them to a celestial region where they could rest for some time. There she could sport
alone with Bhima. Hidimbi promised Kunti that she would always be available to serve the
Pandavas. They had only to think of her and she would appear before them at once. Kneeling
before Kunti, Hidimbi said, "Please do not kill me by saying no. My request is in accord
with virtue and indeed saving one's life by any means is always considered virtuous by
the wise. Virtue itself protects and sustains life; therefore grant me my desire, for it
is not sinful."
Yudhisthira smiled. He was impressed by Hidimbi's knowledge of religion. She would be a good
wife for Bhima, whom he had noted was not above her sidelong glances. Yudhisthira said,
"You have spoken well. O highly attractive lady, it must be as you say. You shall become
Bhima's wife. Remaining with him by day, you may sport with him as you please. At night,
however, he should always be returned to our presence."
Hidimbi's face blossomed with happiness. She looked at Bhima with eyes full of love. The
prince smiled at her and said, "I agree to this union, but I shall make one condition.
As soon as you obtain a son I shall depart and leave you alone. My brothers and I have
much to achieve in order to win back our father's kingdom."
Hidimbi agreed. Then, assuming a large form, she carried them all to a high mountain lake
called Salivahana. In that beautiful woodland region the brothers constructed a wooden hut
on the lake shore. There they lived peacefully. Hidimbi took Bhima with her during the daytime.
She soared through the sky to celestial places and showed Bhima the numerous exquisite gardens
frequented by Siddhas and Gandharvas. There they lay together on the sandy banks of crystal
streams covered with blue and red lotuses. Hidimbi also took him to the land of the Guhakas,
which was situated on the shore of the divine Manasa lake. Bhima saw beautiful towns full
of shining mansions and palaces and groves of blossoming trees and heavenly flowers,
whose fragrance completely enchanted the mind.
Hidimbi was as dazzling as a goddess. She adorned herself with fine gems and gold ornaments
and she constantly poured forth sweet song. Bhima was captivated by her and the seven
months they enjoyed together seemed to pass as quickly as if it were seven days. At the
end of the seven months she gave birth to a son named Ghatotkaca. Within days of his
birth the boy grew to youthhood and he took on the terrible form of a Raksasa. His huge
body was fearsome, with knotted muscles, a head as bald as a pot, terrible red eyes,
a long pointed nose and ears like sharp arrows. His chest was broad and he stood as tall as
a palm tree.
Although a Raksasa by nature, Ghatotkaca was inclined to virtue and he became a great favorite
of the Pandavas. He was devoted to their service and they looked on him as a younger brother.
Taught by the Pandavas, the boy quickly became proficient at weaponry and fighting. After
a couple of months he asked permission from his parents to leave for the northern regions
where Yaksas and Raksasas dwell. He promised the Pandavas that they need only think of
him and he would return to render them any service they required. After touching the
feet of his mother and of all the Pandavas, he rose up to the sky and departed.
The time had come for Bhima to leave Hidimbi. She embraced the Pandava tearfully and asked
if she would ever again see him. Bhima assured her that in the future, after he and his brothers
had overcome their obstacles and were free from danger, they could be reunited.
Leaving Hidimbi in their mountain dwelling, the Pandavas and Kunti resumed their travels.
They disguised themselves as ascetics by matting their hair and wearing tree-bark garments.
Bhima carried his mother as they traveled through the many different lands. Going from
forest to forest they passed through the countries of the Matsyas, the Trigartas and the Panchalas.
No one recognised them. They proceeded slowly, unsure of what to expect and awaiting the
Lord's indication as to what they should do next. While travelling they studied the Vedic
scriptures together and all five brothers imbibed the science of morality and many other
subjects described in the Vedas.
One day as they sat in the forest by their sacred fire, Vyasadeva came to see them. After
being received with due worship, the rsi sat down and said, "I have been aware of the Kauravas'
unjust behavior toward you. Although I see both the Kauravas and yourselves equally,
I feel a greater affection for you brothers due to your misfortune. I have therefore come
here wishing to do you some good."
Vyasadeva informed them of a nearby village called Ekacakra. He instructed them to live
there for some time, saying that he would come again to give them further directions.
The rsi then reassured the sorrowing Kunti. Her sons would in time rule the world. The
virtuous Yudhisthira, protected by his powerful brothers, would certainly become king. Soon
he would perform the great Rajasuya sacrifice, establishing himself as the emperor of the
entire globe.
The sage personally led them to Ekacakra. He brought them to a Brahmin's house where
they were received as guests. Vyasadeva then took his leave, telling them again that he
would return to them before long.
The Pandavas surveyed their new abode. The little village of Ekacakra was situated amid
beautiful woodlands. The Brahmin had kindly given the brothers two rooms in his house
for their residence. He had taken a vow that he would always receive any travelers who
came to his door. By day they went about the village begging for food and, due to their
gentleness and humility, they soon became dear to the people there. Everyone accepted
them as wandering ascetics staying briefly in the village and they gladly gave them alms.
Every night the brothers offered their mother whatever alms had been collected. She would
then prepare their meal. Half of the food was given to Bhima, and the rest was divided
among the other four brothers and Kunti.
When the brothers went out begging, a different one of them would remain behind each day to
protect Kunti. One particular day it was Bhima's turn to stay back. He was sitting with his
mother when they heard loud crying in the house. Hearing the piteous lamentations, Kunti's
heart was moved and she spoke to Bhima. "O son, due to this Brahmin's kindness we are
living here peacefully with no fear of Duryodhana and his brothers. I am always thinking how
we might repay this gentle Brahmin. A virtuous man should always return the good done to
him with an even greater good. Perhaps now our chance has come."
Kunti could understand that the Brahmin had fallen into some great distress. Bhima told
her to try to ascertain the cause. He would then try to remove it, no matter how difficult
a task it may prove to be.
Kunti slipped quietly into the inner apartments where the Brahmin lived with his family. She
stood unnoticed by the door while the Brahmin and his wife and children sat with downcast
faces. As Kunti watched, the Brahmin said to his wife, "Fie upon this wretched life
which affords one only misery. To live is to experience nothing but disease and pain.
Pursuing in turn religion, wealth and pleasure, one endeavors much but receives little happiness.
While everything leads to salvation, that is an impossible goal to achieve. Those who
desire riches suffer, while those who have riches suffer even more. Alas, why do I live?"
Kunti listened in silence as the Brahmin continued to condemn himself and his misfortune. He
spoke of a terrible danger that had befallen them. His wife wept as he censured her, blaming
their present predicament upon her wish to remain in the village due to affection for
her now dead relatives. The Brahmin held his head in anguish. "How can I abandon you to
save my own life? You were given to me by your parents. It is my duty to protect you.
You have always served me and borne my children. I can in no way let you go. Nor can I abandon
my only son or daughter. I shall go. Or maybe we should all die together."
The Brahmin fell to the ground sobbing. His wife lifted him gently and said, "This lamentation
does not befit a learned man like yourself. No one should lament inevitable death. Nor
shall you or our children die. I shall go. Indeed, a woman's highest duty lies in sacrificing
her life to serve her husband. Undoubtedly such an act will confer upon me regions of
eternal bliss."
Kunti was curious. The Brahmin's wife continued to implore her husband to allow her to die.
She said that neither she nor her children could possibly survive in his absence. If
she were left a widow, she would become a prey to dishonorable men, who would seek her
just as crows descend upon a piece of meat left on the ground. How then could she protect
their two young children and keep them on the path of truth and virtue? She folded her
hands and begged her husband for permission to leave. He could then accept another wife,
while she would earn undying religious merits by her final service.
The Brahmin sat with his head in his hands and made no reply. Then his daughter began
to speak. "O father, why are you sorrowful when you have me? Allow me to go and thus
save yourself. It is a child's duty to save the parent. This is why the wise have called
one's child putra, one who delivers the parents from hell. My duty to my forefathers is to
bear a son to offer them the sacred sraddha, but by the grace of Providence I may now serve
my forefathers by saving my father. O Father, you will one day have to abandon me. Therefore
do not hesitate to do so now."
The girl wept along with her parents. The Brahmin's small son then said in broken speech,
"None of you should cry. Send me and I shall kill the cannibal Raksasa in a moment." The
boy smiled and brandished a piece of long grass as if it were a weapon.
Although they were grief-stricken, they all laughed at the young boy's words. Kunti took
the sudden change of mood as an opportunity to inquire about the cause of their distress.
Could she do anything to help? The Brahmin replied that their grief could not be removed
by any human being. The country where they lived was protected from enemies by a powerful
Raksasa named Baka. He had long terrorized the people, who found no protection from their
weak king. The Raksasa used to come whenever he wanted and kill them for his food. Finally
the people went to Baka and proposed that if he would stop attacking them at will, then
each week one of them would go to him with a large cartload of food. In turn he should
protect them from attackers. The cannibal agreed, but he demanded that he also eat the
man who delivered his food.
The Brahmin told Kunti that the turn of each man in their country came only after many
years. Tomorrow it was his turn. He did not know what to do. He could not leave his young
family alone, nor could he send them to their deaths. Therefore they would all go to meet
the demon. Perhaps Baka would show compassion and spare them. Or they would all be devoured
at once.
Kunti said, "I see a means by which you may be delivered from this fear. Although you
have but two children, I have five sons. Therefore let one of them go with the Raksasa's tribute."
The Brahmin was shocked. "I can never cause the death of a guest and a Brahmin to save
my own life. Even the most sinful man would not do this. Rather, one should sacrifice
himself and his children for the sake of a Brahmin."
Kunti was grave. "I am of the same opinion that Brahmins should always be protected,
but you need not fear for my son. The Raksasa will not be able to kill him. He is powerful
and knows the science of mantras."
Kunti told the Brahmin that she had already seen her son kill a powerful Raksasa. Baka
would prove no problem to him. She asked the Brahmin not to disclose to anyone else what
she had told him. If others learned of her son's powers, they would harass him for his
knowledge and the power of the mantras would be diminished if they were given to others.
The Brahmin looked carefully at Kunti's expression. She was obviously speaking the truth. Her
son must surely possess some extraordinary powers. With tears in his eyes he assented
to her suggestion.
Kunti went to Bhima and told him everything. She asked him to go to Baka. Bhima agreed
at once. His eyes lit up at the thought that he would be able to exercise his strength,
while at the same time show their gratitude to the gentle Brahmin and his family.
Just as Kunti and Bhima finished speaking, the other Pandavas returned. Yudhisthira caught
Bhima's eye and sensed at once that his younger brother was contemplating something wonderful.
He sat by his mother and asked quietly, "What does Bhima have on his mind? It seems he is
about to do some extraordinary deed. Is it something you have ordered, or is it some
plan of his own?"
Kunti told her son what had transpired. When Yudhisthira learned that Bhima was about to
go out to meet Baka he became alarmed. "O Mother, you have made this Brahmin a rash
promise. Surely it is never sanctioned to sacrifice one's own son for that of another.
All my hopes of overpowering Dhrtarastra's sons and regaining the kingdom are dependent
on Bhima's power."
Kunti smiled slightly and reassured Yudhisthira. She reminded him of Bhima's superhuman prowess末how
even as an infant he had crushed a great rock to powder, how he had easily carried all of
them through the forest while running at the speed of the wind, how he had slain the immensely
strong Hidimba. "It was not out of foolishness that I made my offer to the Brahmin. It is
always a ruler's duty to protect the Brahmins. By this act we will achieve two things: we
will reward the Brahmin's kindness toward us, and we will earn much religious merit."
Kunti told her son that she had been wondering how to repay the Brahmin for some time. This
opportunity was obviously the Lord's arrangement for them.
Yudhisthira pondered Kunti's words. Looking across at the smiling Bhima, he replied, "You
have spoken well. Your decision is well considered. Because of your compassion toward the Brahmin,
Bhima will surely kill the demon Baka, but you must ensure that no one comes to know
that it was him."
Yudhisthira was not sure if the Kauravas knew that he and his brothers were still alive.
Their spies would soon inform them of Baka's death. They may well suspect that it was Bhima
who had killed him. Few other men were capable of killing such a powerful Raksasa.
That night while the village slept Bhima quietly left the Brahmin's house. He drove the cart
loaded with food toward the forest where Baka dwelt. The aroma of the food was overpowering.
After living for so long on meager forest fare and whatever alms the brothers were able
to collect, Bhima was ravenous. He began to eat the food from the cart. On his way into
the forest, he shouted Baka's name.
The Raksasa heard Bhima's approach and became inflamed with anger. He ran toward the Pandava,
yelling, "I am Baka!"
Bhima saw him emerge from among the trees. The earth resounded with his footsteps and
his shouts were deafening. He had a huge body, red eyes, red beard and red hair. His mouth
opened from ear to ear, and his forehead was furrowed into three lines as he looked upon
Bhima eating his food. Baka stopped near the cart and thundered, "Who is this fool who
desires to be dispatched at once to death's abode by eating in my presence the food intended
for me?"
Bhima glanced derisively at the Raksasa and smiled. He ignored his challenge and continued
eating.
Baka roared in fury. He rushed at Bhima with his arms upraised. Still the Pandava continued
to eat. Baka brought his two fists down upon Bhima's back with the force of a thunderbolt.
Without flinching, Bhima went on eating. He did not even look at the Raksasa. Baka roared
again and tore up a huge tree. As he whirled it above his head, Bhima stood up and washed
his hands from the pitcher of water on the cart. Then he leapt down from the cart and
faced the infuriated demon.
Baka hurled the tree at Bhima with all his strength. Bhima smilingly caught it in his
left hand and threw it back. The Raksasa uprooted one tree after another and hurled them at
Bhima, who caught each of them and sent them back. Soon the whole area was cleared of trees.
Screaming out his own name again and again, Baka threw himself upon Bhima and seized him.
Bhima also gripped the demon with his own powerful arms. The two dragged each other
violently, each trying to kick the other's legs out from underneath him. Then they fell
to the ground, still locked in one another's arms. They rolled about, making the ground
tremble. Bhima tightened his grip. He repeatedly smashed the demon's head with his own forehead.
Gradually, Baka tired. Bhima pulled free of his grasp and pounded the demon with his fists.
He pressed down on Baka's chest with his knees and struck him crushing blows which made the
earth shake. Baka fell unconscious and Bhima rolled him onto his stomach. Placing one knee
on his back, he seized his neck with one hand and his waist-cloth with the other. With great
force Bhima broke the demon's back in two. As he died Baka vomited blood and let out
a fearful yell which filled the forest.
Hearing him scream, Baka's friends and relatives came out of their houses. They looked with
horror at his mountainous form lying in a pool of blood. Bhima reassured the terrified
Raksasas that he was not going to attack them. "This one has been killed due to his excessive
fondness for human flesh. Give up killing men. Otherwise this fate awaits you all."
The Raksasas immediately assented saying, "It shall be so." Then they ran from that
place, leaving Bhima with Baka's body. From that time on the people of Ekacakra noticed
the Raksasas became peaceable toward them.
Bhima lifted Baka's corpse and placed it on the cart. Unseen by anyone, he deposited it
by the town gates and then returned to the Brahmin's house. His mother and brothers were
relieved to see him, and he described to them all that had happened.