As the Pandavas made their way from one holy tīrtha to another, they finally came to Badrikashrama in the Himalayan Mountains. It was a very scenic spot that could hardly be described in words. The flowers that bloomed there could not be found anywhere else in the world. One day, as Draupadi was gazing on the beautiful scenery, a strong wind arose and blew a thousand-petaled lotus flower into her lap. The flower had a celestial effulgence, a captivating aroma, and its beauty was unearthly. She took the flower to Bhima and requested, “Behold, O Bhima, this most celestial flower. O repressor of the foes, it has gladdened my heart. I shall present this one to Yudhisthira. Will you also obtain others for my satisfaction so that I may carry them to our hermitage in Kamyaka?”
Bhima was delighted to please Draupadi in some way, and he proceeded to follow the path the scented flower had left. He traced the perfumed air for some time, and suddenly he realized he had covered a long distance. When he blew his conch shell, rousing the lions in the area, he then heard a loud pounding that caused the earth to tremble. As Bhima approached that pounding sound, which was like a challenge to him, he suddenly saw a huge monkey lying on a stone slab. The monkey was waving his tail in the air and dashing it against the ground, causing the tremendous noise that spread in all directions. Bhima was completely amazed, for he had never seen a monkey like this before. The monkey was sitting there with half-opened eyes, calmly blocking the way. As Bhima approached, the monkey advised him, “Young man, why do you make so much noise? Most of the animals in this region were sleeping peacefully, and now you have awakened them. Please be more considerate, and do not be so cruel to the inhabitants of this region. Beyond this point, the forest is impassable. It is a path leading to heaven and cannot be taken by ordinary mortals. Rest awhile here and eat some fruits. After your fatigue is relieved, you may return to your residence.”
Bhima was surprised that the monkey could talk like a human being, and questioned him, “May I know who you are? What monkey speaks like a human being? You must be some demigod in disguise. As for myself, I am the son of Vayu, and my mother is the chaste Kunti. My name is Bhima, and I am one of the Pandavas.” Bhima then told him the history of how they were exiled to the forest. He also informed the monkey that at the present moment they were waiting for the return of their brother Arjuna from the heavenly planets. The monkey smiled when Bhima told him all this, and said, “I know that I am obstructing your path, but I have become ill and cannot move. If you want my advice, you should return via the path by which you came.”
Bhima’s eyes reddened in anger, and he became very impatient. “I do not want your advice,” he said. “Move out of my way, or I will have to move you myself.”
The monkey replied, “I have grown too old to move and most of the time I simply lie here. If you insist on going further, then you can do so by leaping over my body.”
Bhima was becoming frustrated with the whole matter. He said to the monkey, “You are an elderly personality, and you are lying on my path. It is not proper for me to jump over your body, for the Supreme Soul exists in everyone. It is also disrespectful to elders. If I had not known that Supreme Lord exists in everyone’s heart, then I would have leapt over your body and this mountain as the great Hanuman did when he crossed the sea to Lanka.”
The monkey inquired, “Who is this Hanuman who bounded over the ocean? You speak of him with respect. His name comes with affection from your mouth. Have you met him before? Can you relate something about him?”
The monkey looked at Bhima with a smirk on his face, and Bhima became furious. He exclaimed, “You are a monkey, and you do not know who Hanuman is? Hanuman is the greatest of all monkeys. He is also the son of the wind god Vayu and is, therefore, my esteemed brother. He is famed for his devotion to Lord Ramachandra. He is the illustrious chief of the monkeys, who is renowned in the Ramayana. When Lord Ramachandra lost his wife Sita, that brother of mine leaped across the sea to Ravana’s abode and discovered her whereabouts. He then set the city of Lanka on fire. Later, he killed many rākṣasa generals in the battle of Lanka. He even carried a huge mountain from the Himalayas just to save the life of Lord Ramachandra’s brother, Lakshman. I am insignificant in comparison to his strength, but I am able to fight with you if I have to. I must proceed further into this forest, and you must clear the way.”
The monkey smiled calmly when he saw Bhima’s impatience. He said, “Please do not be angry with me. I tell you the truth when I say that I am too old to move from this spot. If my tail obstructs your path, then just move it aside and go on your way.”
Bhima, thinking that the monkey was failing in energy, thought “I will take hold of his tail and throw this monkey, destitute of strength, to Yamaraja’s abode.” Assured of his prowess, and smiling, Bhima approached the tail, and with his left hand he tried to move the tail as if it were a twig on the ground, but the tail would not move. He tried with both hands, but still he could not lift the tail. He tried again and again, but still he could not budge the tail so much as an inch. The monkey was smiling in amusement, which only increased Bhima’s anger. Bhima tried repeatedly to lift the monkey’s tail till his face was completely red, his eyebrows tightened, his eyes rolled, his face was contracted in wrinkles, and his body was covered with sweat. Finally, Bhima had to admit his defeat. He went before the monkey and prostrated himself, saying, “Please forgive my harsh words. Out of ignorance I have transgressed the conduct of good behavior to elders. Your power is greater than mine, and therefore, you must be some demigod descended from the higher regions. Please tell me who you are.”
The monkey smiled at him and said, “I will gladly tell you who I am. I am the son of the wind god, Hanuman.”
With these words, they tightly embraced each other, and tears of joy came from their eyes. They talked for a long time, and Bhima was thrilled beyond words that he had finally met his brother, whom he had only heard about previously.
Before their departure, Hanuman bestowed a boon on Bhima,
vijayasya dhvajasthaś ca nādān mokṣyāmi dāruṇān
śatrūṇāṁ ye prāṇa-harāḥ sukhaṁ yena haniṣyatha
"Staying on the victory flag [of Arjuna], I will shout out fiercely in such a way that it will make the enemies almost lifeless, and thus it will be easy for you to kill them.”
After Hanuman gave this boon to the Pandavas, the brothers embraced and departed.
— Mahābhārata, unpublished manuscript. English translation by Hrdayananda Das Goswami. © Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.
— Sections adapted from Chapter 148-153 of the Mahābhārata, Vana Parva. Edited by T.R. Krishnacharya and T.R. Vyasacharya. Printed at Nirnaya Sagar Press, Bombay. 1908.
[Source: Bindu Magazine]