Ghatotkacha , is a character in the Mahābhārata epic and the son of Bhima and the giantess Hidimbi (sister of Hidimba). His maternal parentage made him half-Rakshasa (giant), and gave him many magical powers that made him an important fighter in the Kurukshetra war, the climax of the epic. He got his name from his head, which was hairless and shaped like a pot (in Sanskrit, Ghatam means pot and “Utkach” means hairless “.)


Ghatotkacha, when he was young, lived with his mother Hidimbi. One day he got a moti which he gave to his brother Abhimanyu. After many years, when one day he had a fight with Abhimanyu, his cousin, without knowing that Abhimanyu was Arjuna’s son.

Ghatotkacha is considered to be a loyal and humble figure. He made himself and his followers available to his father Bhima at any time; all Bhima had to do was to think of him and he would appear. Like his father,Ghatotkacha primarily fought with the mace.

His wife was Ahilawati and his sons were Barbarika and Meghvarna.

In the Mahābhārata, Ghatotkacha was summoned by Bhima to fight on the Pandava side in the Kurukshetra battle. Invoking his magical powers, he wrought great havoc in the Kaurava army. In particular after the death of Jayadratha, when the battle continued on past sunset, his powers were at their most effective (at night).Ghatotkach had received the ultimate boon from Shri Krishna that nobody in all the worlds could match his magical capabilities, except himself.

At this point in the battle, the Kaurava leader Duryodhana appealed to his best fighter, Karna, to kill Ghatotkacha as the whole Kaurava army was coming close to annihilation due to his ceaseless strikes from the air. Karna possessed a divine weapon called vasavi shakti, granted by the god Indra. It could be used only once, and Karna had been saving it to use on his arch-enemy, the best Pandava fighter, Arjuna.

Unable to refuse Duryodhana, Karna used the Shakti against Ghatotkacha, killing him. This is considered to be the turning point of the war. After his death, the Pandava counselor Krishna smiled, as he considered the war to have been won for the Pandavas now that Karna no longer had a divine weapon to use in fighting Arjuna.

There is a temple built in Manali, Himachal Pradesh for Ghatotkacha near Hidimba Devi Temple.

In Other Literature

Ghatotkacha is the main character in Bhasa’s play, Madhyamavyayoga. This play depicts a scene outside the Mahabharata in which Ghatotkacha is sent by his mother to bring back a human for her to feast on, but he is hindered by the appearance of his father, Bhima.



One thought on “Ghatotkacha

  1. This is a great image and do you have a high resolution photo or could you tell me where I might find the image? I’m working on a Lao image with similar rickshas called nyaks.

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