Reading Guide. Unlike Shurpanakha's ill-conceived love for Rama in the Ramayana, the love affair between Bhima and the rakshasi Hidimbi is a happy one!
Image. You can see the couple's new-born rakshasa son, Ghatotkacha, in the illustration below; rakshasas are born full-grown —and that is a story you can read about in this comic book: Kubera, The Lord of Wealth.
Source. Indian Myth and Legend by Donald A. Mackenzie (1913). [600 words]
At length the dread clamor awoke the Pandavas, and they gazed with wonder on the beautiful woman who kept watch in Bhima's place.
Said Kunti, "O celestial being, who art thou? If thou art the goddess of woods or an apsara, tell me why thou dost linger here?"
The fair demon said, "I am the sister of the chieftain of the rakshasas, and I was sent hither to slay you all, but when I beheld thy mighty son, the love god wounded me, and I chose him for my husband. Then my brother followed angrily, and thy son is fighting with him, and they are filling the forest with their shouting."
All the brethren rushed to Bhima's aid, and they saw the two wrestlers struggling in a cloud of dust, and they appeared like two high cliffs shrouded in mist.
Arjuna cried out, "O Bhima, I am here to help thee. Let me slay the monster."
Bhima answered, "Fear not, but look on. The rakshasa will not escape from my hands."
Said Arjuna, "Do not keep him alive too long. We must hasten hence. The dawn is near, and rakshasas become stronger at daybreak; they exercise their powers of deception during the two twilights. Do not play with him, therefore, but kill him speedily."
At these words Bhima became strong as Vayu, his sire, when he is angered, and, raising aloft the rakshasa, he whirled him round and round, crying, "In vain hast thou gorged on unholy food. I will rid the forest of thee. No longer wilt thou devour human beings."
Then, dashing the monster to the ground, Bhima seized him by the hair and by the waist, laid him over a knee, and broke his back. So was the rakshasa slain.
Day was breaking, and Kunti and her sons immediately turned away to leave the forest. The rakshasa woman followed them, and Bhima cried to her, "Begone! Or I will send thee after thy brother."
Said Yudhishthira, "It is unseemly to slay a woman. Besides, she is the sister of that rakshasa, and even although she became angry, what harm can she do us?"
Kneeling at Kunti's feet, the demon wailed, "O illustrious and blessed lady, thou knowest the sufferings women endure when the love god wounds them. Have pity upon me now, and command thy son to take me for his bride. If he continues to scorn me, I will slay myself. Let me be thy slave, and I will carry you all wheresoever you desire and protect you from perils."
Kunti heard her with compassion, and prevailed upon Bhima to take her for his bride. So the two were married by Yudhishthira; then the rakshasa took Bhima upon her back and sped through the air to a lonely place among the mountains which is sacred to the gods. They lived together beside silvery streams and lakes sparkling with lotus blooms; they wandered through woods of blossoming trees where birds sang sweetly, and by celestial sea-beaches covered with pearls and nuggets of gold. The demon bride had assumed celestial beauty, and ofttimes played sweet music, and she made Bhima happy.
In time the woman became the mother of a mighty son; his eyes were fiercely bright, like arrows were his ears, and his mouth was large; he had copper-brown lips and long, sharp teeth. He grew to be a youth an hour after he was born, but, still remaining bald, his mother named him Ghatotkacha, which signifies "pot-headed."
Bhima then returned to his mother and his brethren with his demon bride and her son. They abode together for a time in the forest; then the rakshasa bade all the Pandavas farewell and departed with Ghatotkacha, who promised to come to aid the Pandavas whenever they called upon him.