On the outset, the exclamation my son made in the spur of moment, stunned me. With normal stigma attached to the word and background of the she-demon. The name Hidimba (or sometimes referred as Hidimbi) usually sprouts images of dark, rough, huge, theoretically ugly she-demon that met the Pandavas while they were fleeing their cousin’s evil plot of burning them in the Lakshagruha (the house made of lacquer). This she-demon helped Pandavas in killing her own brother who shared her name (i.e. Hidimb) and then bore a son with third Pandav, Bheem.
Like all normal people, the name of the she-demon brings forth only images of ugly out of shape strange looking females that are used to portray her in the TV serials and movies. And the stigma of her being a demon hits you first when her name is uttered.
However, when my son called me Hidimba… I was forced to look at her in new light.
My 3.5 year old is very keen toon watcher. But instead of watching the popular Tom & Jerry, Shinchan or Doreamon, he has gotten into a habit of watching mytho stories. He is enthralled by the age old charm of magic and magicians, demons and sorcerers and gods. Like a sponge is absorbs the stories from Ramayan and Mahabharat. He remembers and quotes the characters like Jatayu and Sampati from Ramayan, better than most adults I’ve known. A few days back, since he has exhausted most of Ramayan and a big chunk of Mahabharat… I introduced him to Ghatotkach. The son that Hidimba bore to Bheem.
Ghatotkach is one of the underappreciated heros of the epic. He is a master of many magical abilities and prior to the battle of Kurukshetra has had a very eventful childhood. He is best remembered for saving life of Arjun on the battlefield of Kusukshetra. But other than that, he isn’t very popular in the day-to-day lore of the Mahabharata.
The movie that I gave to my son to watch is a beautiful rendition of Ghatotkach’s early years. His formative years. Years when he was honing his magical skills. Making friends with animals in the jungle. Learning to fight. Learning compassion and helping others. Years that shaped him to be what his mother wanted him to be…. A great warrior…a hero. Like most of the females in the great epic, Hidimba is also mentioned when she is useful to the five brothers and their mother. (can you tell, I don’t like the protagonists of the Epic, yet?) However, despite being a single mother (Bheem being busy playing politics with his cousins and plotting revenge for his “other” wife, Darupadi)… Hidimba raises her son to love and respect his father. Raises her only son and teaches him all arts that she knows of… including magic and combat.
The movie shows Ghatotkach learning how to wield his weapons, and combat skills from him mother. For a 3.5 year old, who has seen his mother bringing him bow and arrow and the traditional Gada (a mace)… seeing hero of a film learning how to fight from his mother, is the epitome of kool. She tells stories to Ghatotkach at night. And listens to him making demands of a certain story, and then relenting to his wishes after some protest. She feeds him and asks him to be careful when he is on his way out to play. She scolds him when he isn’t back on time and even does a little fight when he gets in trouble. Ghatotkach like any other … is very dedicated to his mom. He not only learns from her, but also troubles her enough for her to lose patience with him once in a while.
Why is it any wonder that my son, called me Hidimba? J
For those who are still stuck on the stigma of her being a she-demon… here’s how I see Hidimba.
A single mother, who is raising a strong confident son, overseeing a kingdom, no matter how small. She is a strong, independent woman who knows her place and has clear dreams and plans for her and her son’s life. She is working her way to make the dreams come true, following the plans that will see her enjoying the fruitarian of her goals. She is what every woman, I know should aspire to be. Someone who loves deeply, is ready to take risks for that love. Someone who has a dream and works towards making that dream come true. She is happy if she has the support, but doesn’t crumble if the support is missing. She has a son that she loves and who loves her…is devoted to her that on her words he marches into the battle… though the “battle” bit is a bit extreme from where I see it… I still find her to be an admirable character. Like many other unsung females in the Epic… she strums the strings of my heart in a very strong manner. And when I see her from my son’s eyes… I’m glad that my son chose her name to call me with…. J