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(Hidimva-vadha Parva continued)

"Vaisampayana said, 'Hidimva, the chief of the Rakshasas, seeing that his sister returned not soon enough, alighted from the tree, proceeded quickly to the spot where the Pandavas were. Of red eyes and strong arms and the arms and the hair of his head standing erect, of large open mouth and body like unto a mass of dark clouds, teeth long and sharp-pointed, he was terrible to behold. And Hidimva, beholding her brother of frightful visage alight from the tree, became very much alarmed, and addressing Bhima said, 'The wicked cannibal is coming hither in wrath. I entreat thee, do with thy brothers, as I bid thee. O thou of great courage, as I am endued with the powers of a Rakshasa, I am capable of going whithersoever I like. Mount ye on my hips, I will carry you all through the skies. And, O chastiser of foes, awaken these and thy mother sleeping in comfort. Taking them all on my body, I will convey you through the skies.'

"Bhima then said, 'O thou of fair hips, fear not anything. I am sure that as long as I am here, there is no Rakshasa capable of injuring any of these, O thou of slender waist. I will slay this (cannibal) before thy very eyes. This worst of Rakshasas, O timid one, is no worthy antagonist of mine, nor can all the Rakshasas together bear the strength of my arms. Behold these strong arms of mine, each like unto the trunk of an elephant. Behold also these thighs of mine like unto iron maces, and this broad and adamantine chest. O beautiful one, thou shall today behold my prowess like unto that of Indra. O thou of fair hips, hate me not, thinking that I am a man.'

"Hidimva replied saying, 'O tiger among men, O thou of the beauty of a celestial, I do not certainly hold thee in contempt. But I have seen the prowess that Rakshasas exert upon men.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Then, O Bharata, the wrathful Rakshasa eating human flesh heard these words of Bhima who had been talking in that way. And Hidimva beheld his sister disguised in human form, her head decked with garlands of flowers and her face like the full moon and her eyebrows and nose and eyes and ringlets all of the handsomest description, and her nails and complexion of the most delicate hue, and herself wearing every kind of ornament and attired in fine transparent robes. The cannibal, beholding her in that charming human form, suspected that she was desirous of carnal intercourse and became indignant. And, O best of the Kurus, becoming angry with his sister, the Rakshasa dilated his eyes and addressing her said, 'What senseless creature wishes to throw obstacles in my path now that I am so hungry? Hast thou become so senseless, O Hidimva, that thou fearest not my wrath? Fie on thee, thou unchaste woman! Thou art even now desirous of carnal intercourse and solicitous of doing me an injury. Thou art ready to sacrifice the good name and honour of all the Rakshasas,

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thy ancestors! Those with whose aid thou wouldst do me this great injury, I will, even now, slay along with thee.' Addressing his sister thus, Hidimva, with eyes red with anger and teeth pressing against teeth, ran at her to kill her then and there. But beholding him rush at his sister, Bhima, that foremost of smiter, endued with great energy, rebuked him and said, Stop--Stop!"

"Vaisampayana continued, 'And Bhima, beholding the Rakshasa angry with his sister, smiled (in derision), and said, addressing him, 'O Hidimva, what need is there for thee to awaken these persons sleeping so comfortably? O wicked cannibal, approach me first without loss of time. Smite me first,--it behoveth thee not to kill a woman, especially when she hath been sinned against instead of sinning. This girl is scarcely responsible for her act in desiring intercourse with me. She hath, in this, been moved by the deity of desire that pervadeth every living form. Thou wicked wretch and the most infamous of Rakshasas, thy sister came here at thy command. Beholding my person, she desireth me. In that the timid girl doth no injury to thee. It is the deity of desire that hath offended. It behoveth thee not to injure her for this offence. O wicked wretch, thou shalt not slay a woman when I am here. Come with me, O cannibal, and fight with myself singly. Singly shall I send thee today to the abode of Yama (Pluto). O Rakshasa, let thy head today, pressed by my might, be pounded to pieces, as though pressed by the tread of a mighty elephant. When thou art slain by me on the field of battle, let herons and hawks and jackals tear in glee thy limbs today on the ground. In a moment I shall today make this forest destitute of Rakshasas,--this forest that had so long been ruled by thee, devourer of human beings! Thy sister, O Rakshasa, shall today behold thyself, huge though thou art like a mountain, like a huge elephant repeatedly dragged by a lion, O worst of Rakshasas, thyself slain by me, men ranging these woods will henceforth do so safely and without fear.'

"Hearing these words, Hidimva said, 'What need is there, O man, for this thy vaunt and this thy boast? Accomplish all this first, and then mayst thou vaunt indeed. Therefore, delay thou not. Thou knowest thyself to be strong and endued with prowess, so thou shalt rightly estimate thy strength today in thy encounter with me. Until that, I will not slay these (thy brothers). Let them sleep comfortably. But I will, as thou art a fool and the utterer of evil speeches, slay thee first. After drinking thy blood, I will slay these also, and then last of all, this (sister of mine) that hath done me an injury.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Saying this, the cannibal, extending his arms ran in wrath towards Bhimasena, that chastiser of foes. Then Bhima of terrible prowess quickly seized, as though in sport, with great force, the extended arms of the Rakshasa who had rushed at him. Then seizing the struggling Rakshasa with violence, Bhima dragged him from that spot full thirty-two cubits like a lion dragging a little animal. Then the Rakshasa, thus made to feel the

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weight of Bhima's strength, became very angry and clasping the Pandava, sent forth a terrible yell. The mighty Bhima then dragged with force the Rakshasa to a greater distance, lest his yells should awaken his brothers sleeping in comfort. Clasping and dragging each other with great force, both Hidimva and Bhimasena put forth their prowess. Fighting like two full-grown elephants mad with rage, they then began to break down the trees and tear the creepers that grew around. And at those sounds, those tigers among men (the sleeping Pandavas) woke up with their mother, and saw Hidimva sitting before them.'"

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