The Mahabharata is a comprehensive account of relationships, values, conspiracies, loyalty, courage, and every possible accountable human emotion and traits. It is about family and foes, about the Gods and mortals, and about the struggles and victories in human life. It is also about immortal love stories, which have not faded away through the ages, and still finds relevance in contemporary society. One such tale of love and sacrifice that is never highlighted is the love story between Bhima and Hidimbi (sister of Rakshasa Hidimba).
The second son of Kunti, the epitome of strength, the Pandava, who was also a voracious eater (‘Vikrodara’), Bhima was conceived when Kunti invoked the God of Wind, Vayu to bless her with a child as per the boon given to her by sage Durvasa.
Bhima was powerful and strong, and very well trained in physical combat, and other military arts. He loved his family and was loyal to his clan. He was a royal prince, but went through a lot of hardships along with his mother and brothers, but he never left their side.
On the other hand, Hidimbi was a rakshasa, and lived in the jungle with her brother. Her brother tormented the villagers and killed people for food. But Hidimbi was a good person at heart and wanted to save the people from her brother’s wrath.
An unusual love story
During the long exile in the forest, the Pandavas faced many obstacles. One of them was Bhima’s encounter with Hidimba and killing him, which also gave rise to a beautiful love story. Hidimbi fell in love with Bhima and persuaded Kunti to allow them to get married. They consummated their marriage in the forest and their son, Ghatotkacha was born.
Later, Bhima left Hidimbi and their son in the forest and continued his life with his family. Even before Draupadi, Hidimbi was the first wife of a Pandava brother and the first daughter-in-law of the royal empire. But she never got the honour and place in history that she was entitled to.
It is a love story of sacrifice, belief and mutual understanding that we can easily relate to in our modern society also.
Love can happen to anyone
Falling in love with someone outside the caste or religion or with someone from a lower caste is still considered a taboo in our society. But love can blossom anywhere is what Bhima and Hidimbi’s love story teaches us. An eternal bond between a royal prince and a monster shows us that human emotion is bounded by caste, religion and creed.
Woman, you go gal
In our patriarchal society, we always think that the man should propose first or he should make the first move. However, Hidimbi was the one who confessed her love for Bhima and was upfront in her proposal to Kunti about marrying him.
A woman’s sacrifice for her husband
We all know that after 14 years of vanvas of the Pandavas, they had to return to the kingdom. Hence, Bhima left Hidimbi in the forest with her clan and went away. She agreed and supported this decision. Though we might not agree on whether what Bhima did was right, we can definitely compare her dedication, loyalty and sacrifice with the women of today, who let go of their husbands, who serve their country. The wives of armed forces sacrifice a lot when their husbands leave them for a greater cause.
Related reading: What is it like to be a soldier’s wife… #MyStory
Raising a child alone
When Bhima left Hidimbi, they already had a son named Ghatotkacha. She single-handedly raised her son without any help from her spouse. Today, single mothers, widows and others raise their children without any help from a male. They are strong-willed and independent women, who are also an inspiration for others.
Hidimbi might be the forgotten queen of the Mahabharata, but she will always remain an integral part of the epic that guides our values and shapes our society today. Their love story is very close to reality, and full of human emotions.