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Chapter 154

Mahabharata English - ADI PARVA

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Not far from the place where the Pandavas wereasleep, a Rakshasa by name Hidimva dwelt on the Sala tree. Possessed ofgreat energy and prowess, he was a cruel cannibal of visage that was grimin consequence of his sharp and long teeth.

He was now hungry and longingfor human flesh. Of long shanks and a large belly, his locks and beardwere both red in hue. His shoulders were broad like the neck of a tree;his ears were like unto arrows, and his features were frightful. Of redeyes and grim visage, the monster beheld, while casting his glancesaround, the sons of Pandu sleeping in those woods. He was then hungry andlonging for human flesh. Shaking his dry and grizzly locks and scratchingthem with his fingers pointed upwards, the large-mouthed cannibalrepeatedly looked at the sleeping sons of Pandu yawning wistfully attimes. Of huge body and great strength, of complexion like the colour ofa mass of clouds, of teeth long and sharp-pointed and face emitting asort of lustre, he was ever pleased with human flesh. And scenting theodour of man, he addressed his sister, saying, ‘O sister, it is after along time that such agreeable food hath approached me! My mouth waters atthe anticipated relish of such food. My eight teeth, so sharp-pointed andincapable of being resisted by any substance, I shall, today, after along time, put into the most delicious flesh. Attacking the human throatand even opening the veins, I shall (today) drink a plentiful quantity ofhuman blood, hot and fresh and frothy. Go and ascertain who these are,lying asleep in these woods. The strong scent of man pleaseth mynostrils. Slaughtering all these men, bring them unto me. They sleepwithin my territory. Thou needest have no fear from them. Do my biddingsoon, for we shall then together eat their flesh, tearing off theirbodies at pleasure. And after feasting to our fill on human flesh weshall then dance together to various measures!’

“Thus addressed by Hidimva in those woods, Hidimva, the female cannibal,at the command of her brother, went, O bull of Bharata’s race, to thespot where the Pandavas were. And on going there, she beheld the Pandavasasleep with their mother and the invincible Bhimasena sitting awake. Andbeholding Bhimasena unrivalled on earth for beauty and like unto avigorous Sala tree, the Rakshasa woman immediately fell in love with him,and she said to herself, ‘This person of hue like heated gold and ofmighty arms, of broad shoulders as the lion, and so resplendent, of neckmarked with three lines like a conch-shell and eyes like lotus-petals, isworthy of being my husband. I shall not obey the cruel mandate of mybrother. A woman’s love for her husband is stronger than her affectionfor her brother. If I slay him, my brother’s gratification as well asmine will only be momentary. But if I slay him not, I can enjoy, with himfor ever and ever.’ Thus saying, the Rakshasa woman, capable of assumingform at will, assumed an excellent human form and began to advance withslow steps towards Bhima of mighty arms. Decked with celestial ornamentsshe advanced with smiles on her lips and a modest gait, and addressingBhima said, ‘O bull among men, whence hast thou come here and who artthou? Who, besides, are these persons of celestial beauty sleeping here?Who also, O sinless one, is this lady of transcendent beauty sleeping sotrustfully in these woods as if she were lying in her own chamber? Dostthou not know that this forest is the abode of a Rakshasa. Truly do Isay, here liveth the wicked Rakshasa called Hidimva. Ye beings ofcelestial beauty, I have been sent hither even by that Rakshasa–mybrother–with the cruel intent of killing you for his food. But I tellthee truly that beholding thee resplendent as a celestial, I would havenone else for my husband save thee! Thou who art acquainted with allduties, knowing this, do unto me what is proper. My heart as well as mybody hath been pierced by (the shafts of) Kama (Cupid). O, as I amdesirous of obtaining thee, make me thine. O thou of mighty arms, I willrescue thee from the Rakshasa who eateth human flesh. O sinless one, bethou my husband. We shall then live on the breasts of mountainsinaccessible to ordinary mortals. I can range the air and I do so atpleasure. Thou mayest enjoy great felicity with me in those regions.’

“Hearing these words of hers, Bhima replied, ‘O Rakshasa woman, who can,like a Muni having all his passions under control, abandon his sleepingmother and elder and younger brothers? What man like me would go togratify his lust, leaving his sleeping mother and brothers as food for aRakshasa?’

“The Rakshasa woman replied, ‘O, awaken all these, I shall do unto youall that is agreeable to thee! I shall certainly rescue you all from mycannibal brother?’

“Bhima then said, ‘O Rakshasa woman, I will not, from fear of thy wickedbrother, awaken my brothers and mother sleeping comfortably in the woods.O timid one, Rakshasas are never able to bear the prowess of my arms.And, O thou of handsome eyes, neither men, nor Gandharvas, nor Yakshasare able to bear my might. O amiable one, thou mayst stay or go as thoulikest, or mayst even send thy cannibal brother, O thou of delicateshape. I care not.'”

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