Bhima and the Saugandhika flowers


Image courtesy: deviantart.com
Image courtesy: deviantart.com

Right from a very young age Bhima had always been very proud of his physical prowess. So much so that his pride bordered on arrogance due to the fact that but for Duryodhana, nobody else in this world could pretty much match up to his physical strength.

One fine day when the Pandavas were in exile, Draupadi was enchanted by the sweet soulful fragrance of a flower. When she asked Bhima about the smell, he told her that it was of the Saugandhika flower. She immediately insisted that he get her some of these flowers so that she could adorn herself with them.

As he was walking in the forest searching for the source of these flowers, he thought he heard someone call out his name in a low tone. At first he dismissed it believing it to be a figment of his imagination. However, he heard it again. This time he was alone in the middle of an empty field, but was certain that he heard someone whispering his name.

Going closer to the source of the sound, he happened to be moving along a very narrow path on which only one person could walk at a time. He then suddenly noticed that his way was blocked by an old monkey which was sleeping right in the middle of the path.

Bhima then asked the monkey to move aside and make way for him. When the monkey did not even respond to him, he was enraged and ordered it to make way for him. To his order, the monkey replied “I am too old and weak to move. Push my tail aside and make way for yourself.

By now Bhima did not even have the patience to argue with this monkey who was wasting his time. He bent down with the intention of pushing the monkey’s tail aside and continue on his quest of finding the flowers. But he could not move the monkey’s tail even an inch. Despite his best efforts, he could not even lift the tail, let alone move it aside. He then realized that this was no ordinary monkey and he then asked “You sir, are no ordinary monkey. Please tell me who you are.

When Bhima asked this question, the monkey mysteriously smiled and then revealed his true form. He was none other than Hanuman, the elder son of Vayu and therefore a brother of Bhima who was also the son of the Wind God. “I am Hanuman, your brother. I have come to warn you that the path that you and your brothers have chosen is perilous and fraught with dangers.

Bhima unsuccessfully trying to lift the monkey's tail
Bhima unsuccessfully trying to lift the monkey’s tail

Hanuman then proceeded to show Bhima where the Saugandhika flowers would be found and then before bidding farewell embraced his brother. The purpose of this embrace was two-fold. While it increased Bhima’s already formidable strength and physical prowess, the second and more important purpose of the same was to help Bhima shed his ego so that his modesty and humility would add even more prowess to his already powerful personality.

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This post has been written for Today’s Author Write Now Prompt for Nov 1, 2013 where the post had to include the phrase he was alone in the middle of an empty field, but was certain that he heard someone whispering his name which is the reason why this phrase has been specifically highlighted in the post.

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27 thoughts on “Bhima and the Saugandhika flowers

    • @Nish, well, actually, this time around I am just doing a series of mythology related posts, that’s all, not specifically Mahabharata related. But am really glad that you are enjoying these posts nevertheless 🙂

  1. I love this story and was fascinated the first time I heard it! It connects the Mahabharata and Ramayana – and it is a great lesson in humility. Thanks Jairam. I am enjoying reading your blog so very much! 🙂

    • @Vidya, absolutely, this story is mentioned in a lot of childrens’ books as an example of a lesson in humility, and that was the reason that I decided to include this in the blog 🙂

  2. Finally!!! A story I have read. But did learn the meaning of hanuman’s embrace. 🙂 u had suggested for reading …the oath of the vayuputras. Read the trilogy. Loved it. What was your favorite part in yhe book? Mine was sita’s last fight. 🙂

    • @Preethi, I assume you mean Sati’s last fight and not Sita’s last fight. Yes, I have read the trilogy and I really cannot decide what my ‘favorite part’ of the book actually was, but I really loved how the character of Shiva was introduced right at the beginning of the first book itself 😀

      • Oh…yes..sorry about that. True about the character. .loved the way he was so human yet his greatness brought out in several instances both subtle and obvious. The mark of a great person is in his treatment of all others as equals. 🙂

      • @Preethi, yes, the author Amish Tripathi brought out that aspect of Shiva wonderfully well in the trilogy, didn’t he? 😀

  3. Love this story…there is one more version I’ve read when Hanuman Ji is mentioned in Mahabharata to teach Bhima a lesson in humility… Don’t remember clearly but Bhima mocks that how Ramji used stones to create bridge to reach Lanka and why didn’t he use his powers in a more effective manner, going on to boast how he had created a bridge from heaven to earth just with his arrows….hearing this Hanuman Ji in his monkey avtar had come to teach Bhima a lesson.

      • If you are talking of the one where Arjuna claims that Rama could have built a bridge of arrows – I know that. (Where Krishna holds up the arrow bridge which Arjuna builds while Hanuman walks over it) Don’t know if this is in the original or whether this was an interpolation.

      • @Suresh, wait for the post :D, and BTW, my stories are from all over the place and I don’t claim for any of them to be parts of the original texts of the epics themselves. I just pick and post those which I find interesting, that’s all 🙂

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