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Mahabharat Chapter 9 : Bheema - His Childhood

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The five sons of Pandu, the Pandavas and the hundred sons of Dhritarashtra, the Kauravas, grew up together in Hastinapur. Kripacharya, their teacher taught them the art of archery and using the other weapons. He taught them the art of war and statesmanship. Yudhishthir was very good at statesmanship, the neeti and nyaya. But the little boys that they were, it was physical power that impressed them the most. And nobody could beat Bheema in raw physical prowess.

There was a certain animosity between the Kauravas and the Pandavas. Bheema would bully the Kauravas. He was a good swimmer and he would hold on to more than a couple of Kauravas under water. If they climbed a tree, he would shake it so hard that they would fall off like ripe fruits. The Kauravas were always bruised because of Bheema’s pranks and nursed hatred towards Bheema. Duryodhana was especially jealous and always worried about who would be the next King of Hastinapur. His father Dhritarashtra was the first born but was blind and hence, Pandu ruled the Kingdom. Amongst the Kauravas and Pandavas Yudhishthir was the oldest and was always considered the heir apparent. Duryodhana thought that was unfair since the crown belonged to his father in the first place and hence should be passed on to him. Given Bheema’s physical powers, Duryodhana thought Yudhishthir will easily be the King since no one will challenge Bheema.

In his jealousy Duryodhana devised many evil plans to kill Bheema. The death of Bheema would weaken the Pandavas, and he could imprison Arjuna and Yudhisthir to become the king. After careful planning, Duryodhana devised a plan to poison Bheema and throw him in the river. He put some spikes in the river bed and invited the Pandavas for a picnic by the banks of the river Ganga. Some poisonous snakes lived in that area of the river. Duryodhana had a fool proof plan. He would poison Bheema’s food. Then he would tie him up and throw him the river over the spikes. The spikes would pierce his body and the poisonous snakes would bite him. There would be no way for him to escape.

According to the plan, Bheema’s food was poisoned and he became unconscious after eating. Meanwhile, the Kauravas distracted the other Pandavas by taking them for swim in a different part of the river Ganga. Duryodhana and his brothers tied him up, but Bheema was so heavy, they could not lift him up. So they rolled him over into the river. However, because of the current of the river, Bheema did not fall on the spikes. The poisonous snakes came and bit him, but instead of killing him, the poison from the snakes neutralized the poison from the food. Bheema was washed ashore a couple of miles downstream.

Duryodhana was very certain that Bheema was dead and was very happy when he returned to Hastinapur. He told the other Pandava brothers that Bheema had already gone home. The unsuspecting Pandavas went home. However, when Bheema was not there, Yudhisthir was worried and when he did not return even after sunset, he went and told Kunti that he had some misgivings that something bad had happened to Bheema. Kunti went to Vidura with her worries.

Meanwhile, Bheema regained consciousness, feeling like awakening from a long sleep. He then trudged back home and reached by night time. He told Kunti and his brothers about what Duryodhana had done. Bheema was furious and wanted to teach Duryodahana a lesson. Vidura was there too when Bheema arrived and heard his tale. “Duryodhana is wicked and evil. He wants to kill Bheema so he can become King.” Said Kunti. “Keep this episode to yourselves. Exposing Duryodhana will increase his anger and hatred. It may also embolden him to try next attempts more openly. Dhritarashtra is truly blind in his love for Duryodhana and will never believe this story. Kunti, your sons are blessed with long lives. Be careful and protect each other” advised Vidura. Yudhishtrhira and others agreed with Vidura’s course of action.

Duryodhana was extremely surprised to see Bheema alive. He could not even imagine how Bheema escaped all the traps he had laid. His jealousy grew even more than before.

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