Bhima Krupa: Killing of Bahlika

On the 15th day of the great war, upon the fall of his father Drona, Ashwathama was uncontrollable. His fury knew no bounds and the Pandava warriors paid a heavy price.

Many sons of Drupada, the sons of Kuntibhoja and thousands of Rakshasa warriors who were part of Ghatotkacha’s army fell to Ashwathama’s arrows. Seeing the large scale destruction of their fellow warriors, the Pandava army panicked and started to run away.

Yudhisthira, Bhimasena, Dhrishtadyumna and Yuyudhana (Satyaki) made a lot of effort and succeeding in stopping their soldiers from leaving. A fierce battle resumed. As the two sides continued their battle, Satyaki and Somadatta came face to face. Somadatta, still reeling from the loss of his son Bhurishravas, attacked Satyaki with many arrows, covering him completely. Dhristadyumna, who came to side with Satyaki had to face the sharp, piercing arrows of Somadatta.

Bhimasena had to intervene in this battle to rescue both Satyaki and Dhrishtadyumna.

दशभिः सात्वतस्यार्थे भीमो विव्याध कौरवम् |
सोमदत्तोsपि तं वीरं शतेन प्रत्यविद्ध्यत ||

“Bhima hurled ten arrows at the Kaurava Somadatta in order to protect Satvata (Dhrishtadyumna). Somadatta too returned a hundred arrows at Bhima”

At the same time, King Bahlika, the oldest participant in the war, entered the battle, coming to the aid of his son Somadatta. He attacked Satyaki.

Sensing great danger to Satyaki, Bhimasena picked up a parigha and hurled it at Somadatta. Satyaki too, at the same time, hurled a long arrow at Somadatta. He was hit by both the weapons at the same time and fell down from his chariot.

Seeing his son defeated in this way, Bahlika was infuriated. He rushed there hurling arrows at Bhima, just as a dark cloud drops water in the rainy season. The son of Prateepa, the old warrior, shot nine sharp arrows at Bhima.

Note: Bahlika was the son of Prateepa and the older brother of Shantanu. Bhishma was Shantanu’s son. Bahlika’s son was Somadatta who in turn had three sons Bhuri, Bhurishrava and Shala.

Bahlika put all his energy together and aimed to hurt Bhima badly. He shot an arrow directly at Bhima’s chest. That arrow caused Bhima to almost lose consciousness for a moment.

Bhima decided the time had come to oblige Bahlika’s wish (his wish was to die at the hands of Bhimasena). He hurled a massive gada at Bahlika.

स पाण्डवेन प्रहिता बाह्लीकस्य शिरोsहरत् |
स पपात हतः पृथ्व्यां वज्राहत इवाद्रिराट् ||

“That mace which was hurled by the Pandava caused Bahlika’s head to fly. Like the King of the mountains who was hit by the Vajra, he died and fell down on the ground”

Thus, the great old warrior of the Kuru clan met his end on the sacred battlefield of Kurukshetra.

Seeing Bahlika killed this way, ten brothers of Duryodhana rushed towards Bhima. They were each treated with a sharp naracha (special arrow) by Bhima and all of them fell down dead.

Not able to tolerate the killing of so many important warriors, Vrusharatha, the son of Karna, attacked Bhima. He too was killed by Bhima. Four brothers of Shakuni – Shatachandra, Gajaksha, Sharabha and Vibhu – attacked Bhima next. It took just five arrows for Bhima to dispatch them to Yama’s abode.

Thus, the Kauravas paid a heavy toll on the 15th day for daring to challenge the unstoppable Vrikodara.

Special Note:

In the Mahabharata Tatparya Nirnaya, Sri Madhwacharya explains the special circumstance under which Bahlika was killed. Being a Vaishnava, Bhima’s vow was to not kill any devotee of Vishnu. And Bahlika was a great satvika Vaishnava.

It was Bahlika’s special request to Bhima that he should meet his end at the hands of Vrikodara himself.

बाह्लीकः प्रार्थयामास पूर्वं स्नेहपुरःसरम् |
भीम त्वयैव हन्तव्यो रणेsहं प्रीतिमिच्छता || 26 – 265 ||

Bhima obliged but had placed a condition that Bahlika should cause great hurt to him. Only then he would kill him. It was for this reason that Bahlika hit Bhima with the most powerful arrows at his chest.

इत्युक्त आह तं भीमो नितरां व्यथितस्तदा |
हन्यां नैवान्यथा युद्धे तत् ते शुश्रूषणं भवेत् || 26 – 266 ||

Bhima then showed compassion on Bahlika, fulfilled his wish, and killed him. Bahlika got the most noble death at the hands of Sri Mukhyaprana.

Sri Krishnarpanamastu

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