‘A moving and evocative retelling of the story of Bheem and Hidimbi, and their son Ghatotkach, that embodies the moral conflicts and dilemmas of the Mahabharata.’—Namita Gokhale
Deep in a forest on the outskirts of Varnavat, the beautiful Hidimbi encounters Bheem, strong and strikingly handsome. The attraction is mutual and instantaneous. But their union seems doomed from the start: she is a rakshasi, a demoness; he is a Pandava, son of Pandu, erstwhile ruler of the fabled kingdom of Hastinapur. It is Kunti, Bheem’s mother, who senses an opportunity in this unlikely match. She and her five sons—Yudhishthir, Arjun, Bheem and the twins Nakul and Sahadev—must remain in exile in the forest for a year before they can do battle with their Kaurava cousins, and stake their claim to Pandu’s kingdom. What better than to spend the time under the protection of a rakshasi? And if a son is born to her, he will have the strength of a rakshasa—a valuable ally in the battle with the Kauravas. So a deal is struck. Hidimbi will be Bheem’s wife—but only for a year. And any son born of their union will come to the aid of the Pandavas whenever they call him.
When the battle of Kurukshetra finally takes place, it is Ghatotkach, son of Bheem and Hidimbi, who fights valiantly for his father, until he is struck down by the mighty warrior Karna, Kunti’s secret son, who has aligned with the Kauravas. But in killing Ghatotkach, Karna uses his most powerful weapon, leaving himself vulnerable. The Pandavas’ victory is assured.
The story of Bheem and Hidimbi—and their star-crossed son, Ghatotkach— is one of the most fascinating from the Mahabharata. Madhavi Mahdevan’s retelling of it is spell-binding.