Ghattu, the young Rakshasa, nabbed a young man as food for his fasting mother, Hidimba. He named his victim Madhyama — or the middle one — since he was the second of the three brothers. Ghattu allowed him time to have a dip in a pond and refresh himself. While he was away, Ghattu detained his family.
Ghattu waited for Madhyama, the middle one, to have his bath. After a while, he got impatient and started yelling for him. “Madhyama, come soon! What’s the delay? Be quick!”
Ghattu’s shout echoed throughout the forest. Far away, Bhima, the Pandava, was exercising. His brothers and wife, Draupadi, had gone to visit a hermitage. Bhima was all alone, when he heard the cry, “Madhyama, come soon.”
Kunti had three sons. Bhima was the middle one, or Madhyama. Hearing the cry, Bhima rushed towards the sound.
Soon, he arrived on the scene. Ghattu was surprised to see this stranger. The old man was relieved to see this man who looked like a wrestler — a fitting match to the Rakshasa. He quickly explained the situation to the stranger and pleaded with him to save his middle son.
Bhima asked Ghattu to let the old man and his family go.
“What about Madhyama?” asked Ghattu.
“Let him go as well,” said Bhima.
“Then what about food for my fasting mother?” asked Ghattu.
“Who’s your mother?” asked Bhima.
“Hidimba is my mother. And my father is mighty Bhima, the Pandava,” replied Ghattu proudly.
Bhima was very happy that this young Rakshasa was his son. And he was eager to meet Hidimba.
“I’ll come with you,” said Bhima.
“Good. You’ll serve as excellent food for my mother,” said Ghattu.
Meanwhile the old man’s second son returned. He was relieved to hear that some other person had agreed to take his place. Without any delay the family left the place.
Ghattu turned to Bhima. “Let’s hurry. My Mumma must be very hungry.”
“Take me with you,” Bhima said without moving.
Ghattu tried to pull him, but he couldn’t move the man an inch. He tried to lift him, but Bhima stood like a rock. Ghattu got angry and pulled up a huge tree and threw it at Bhima who simply pushed it away.
“Look, I can fight you and forcefully take you with me. But I’m running out of time,” said Ghattu. “You agreed you would come with me. Don’t break your promise.”
Bhima laughed and agreed to go with Ghattu.
On reaching his cave, Ghattu shouted, “Mumma, I’ve brought food for you.”
Hidimba came out of the cave and was stunned to see Bhima. “You can have him, all for yourself,” said Ghattu with a smile.
To his surprise, Hidimba hugged the ‘food’ Ghattu had brought. “You have brought me the one I love most — your father!” said Hidimba with a smile.
Ghattu was surprised to hear this. Then he grinned. “Happy Father’s Day, Papa,” he said.
Bhima hugged his son.
Adapted from Bhasa’s Sanskrit play, Madhyama Vyayoga. Bhasa was one of early playwrights in Sanskrit.