Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Powerful Women from the Mahabharata: Hadimbaa

Bhima and Hadimbaa: The Lovebirds
One of the most charming stories in the Mahabharata is the love story between Bhima and Hadimbaa, a flesh eating rakshasi. Hadimbaa, fell in love with Bhima and chose to follow the dictates of her heart, even if it meant severing hitherto binding familial ties.Bound to her brother and used to following his orders, she nevertheless disobeyed him when he ordered her to kill Bhima and his family. Initially, Bhima did not really reciprocate her feelings even disdaining her offer to help rescue them but Hadimbaa appealed to Yudhistra and Kunti, beseeching them to unite her with Bhishma. Sometimes a gal has to make the first move and do what it takes to get what she wants :) 

Having sported with Bhima to her heart's content in all her favorite spots and borne him a son, Hadimbaa was also wise enough to know that all good things must come to an end. When her grand passion had run it course, she chose to let her lover go because their lives were meant to intersect only briefly. It is wonderful that the ancients were so pragmatic about these things. Moreover, a flesh - eating rakshasi with a voluptuous appetite is given the respect she deserves and is neither judged nor reviled for choosing to live her life as she saw fit.

This episode of #MahabharataWithAnuja  also features a dastardly plot to burn the Pandavas and their mother alive. They do manage to escape but only after making the horrifying decision to allow six innocents to die in their stead. Recently I got a lot of messages regarding the deaths of the Nishada woman and her five sons at Varanavata. This incident  is a chilling one.

While it is true that the Pandavas were under duress and had decided to use clever strategy to protect themselves from Duryodhana's jealousy and malevolence there is no
 justifying their actions when a poor family of six invited for a feast were drugged and then left to burn to death. It is horrifying to suggest that these lives mattered not at all in the grand scheme of things. The Pandavas definitely deserve blame for this and it is to their eternal shame that they killed those poor people. But I wouldn't go so far as to say that this evil deed made them evil people and therefore entirely unworthy of their reputation as noble heroes celebrated for their righteousness.
All of us are capable of evil - dark thoughts and darker deeds. But ultimately what matters is the sum total of our actions which include the good, bad and middling, our intentions as well as a commitment towards doing the right thing. The Pandavas and Kauravas did evil things for sure but ultimately both sides achieved great things as well. Their lives were ultimately rewarded when they were judged worthy to enter heaven. That is the point of the Mahabharata. By judging them harshly for individual misdeeds and dismissing the wonderful things they also did we are doing all those characters a great disservice. We aren't doing ourselves any favours either if we fail to emulate the best qualities of the Pandavas and Kauravas and learn to avoid the mistakes they were clearly guilty off.

For the juicy details, do watch episode 7 of Mahabharata with Anuja right here. 

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