Bhīma

(‘the terrible one’):

The heroes and the villains portrayed in the two epics—the Rāmāyaṇa and the Mahābhārata—have not only swayed the emotions of the Indian masses for millennia but also kept the ideals before them: the positive ideals or how to be, and the negative ideals or how not to be.

Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Bhīṣma, Vidura and the Pāṇḍava heroes of the Mahābhārata have provided the positive ideals.

Bhīma, or Bhīmasena the second of the Pāṇḍavas, was not only the very personification of physical prowess but also of fearlessness. Born to Kuntī, the first wife of the king Pāṇḍu, by the grace of Vāyu, the god of wind, Bhīma was celebrated for his large frame and immense strength equal to that of ‘ten thousand elephants!’All efforts of the wily Duryodhana, the eldest of the Kauravas, an inveterate enemy of the Pāṇḍavas and especially of Bīma, to liquidate him were set at naught by the latter’s strength aided by divine grace. Feeding with poisonous food, attack by venomous reptiles and arson were some of the methods tried out by Duryodhana.

Bhīma was an adept in the art of fighting with the gadā or the mace, in which he had been vigorously trained by Balarāma, the elder brother of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. He had been presented with a divine mace by Mayāsura, the chief architect of the Asuras or demons. Apart from Draupadī, the common wife of the Pāṇḍava brothers, Bhīma had wedded Hiḍimbā and Jalan-dharā. Ghaṭotkaca, another colossus, was his son from Hiḍimbā.

The number of demons and villains killed by Bhīma was legion: Hiḍimbāsura, Bakāsura, Jarāsandha and Kīcaka to name a few. He did so under great personal risk but inspired by the desire to protect the good, the meek and the weak.

The crowning success of Bhīma was achieved when he killed Duśśāsana and Duryodhana (the eldest of the Kaurava brothers) in the Kurukṣetra war, thus avenging all the wrongs done by them to the Pāṇḍava family.

He was a great source of strength and support to Yudhiṣṭhira, after the latter was crowned as the emperor at Hastināpura.

In spite of his massive appearance and all his fierce exploits, Bhīma had a simple and tender heart and was deeply devoted to Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

See also MAHĀBHĀRATA.

Bhīmā

In all religions, centres of pilgrimage occupy an important place since they bring peace, solace and spiritual upliftment to the persons that visit them. In Hinduism such pilgrim centres are innumerable. Sea-beaches, banks of rivers, hills and dales as also forests are the most favoured places for the location of such centres. they are, almost invariably, associated with some ancient legends concerned with gods or holy persons; or, the resorts of saints and sages. And, of course, there must be some temples too.

One of the less known rivers of India is the Bhīmā. Taking its birth in the Western Ghats from the summit of the Sahya mountain in Maharashtra, it flows towards the south-east and joins the river Kṛṣṇā, a little north of Raichur in Karnataka.

At the source of this river is situated the famous Jyotirliṅga, Bhīmāśaṅkara, one of the twelve such liṅgas mentioned in the ancient and medieval works of Hinduism.

According to one of the legends, Lord Śiva, after vanquishing Tripurāsura, came to this place for rest. At that time, Bhīmaka, a king of Ayodhyā, had been doing tapas or penance there to propitiate Śiva. Being pleased by his tapas Śiva revealed himself to the king and offered a boon. The king requested Śiva that the beads of perspiration on his forehead be discharged as a river for the purification of mankind. Thus was born the river Bhīmā.

The river Indrāyaṇī joins Bhīmā near Tulāpur.

Phaṇḍarāpura, the well-known place of pilgrimage of Maharashtra is situated on the right bank of Bhīmā.

The river Bhīmā is also called Bhīmarathī; and occasionally, as Mahānadī too.

The word Bhīmā is sometimes used to denote Durgā.

See also JYOTIRLIṄGAS.