Duryodhana Failed Attempt to Kill Bhima
Pandavas and Kauravas received early training in administration and science from Kripacharya (Royal Guru) and Bhishma. The second son (Bhima) of King Pandu was the strongest of the rest. When Bhima was still a toddler, Kunti (his mother) accidentally dropped him. The child fell over a huge boulder, but to Kunti’s surprise, the boulder smashed into pieces while the child was lying as if nothing had happened. Bhima was interested in mace since his younger days and eventually mastered it. Bhima could even defeat Indra (lord of heaven) in a battle.
Whenever Pandavas and Kauravas played together, Bhima used to bully Kauravas on account of his superior strength as compared to others. He was very fond of teasing Kauravas. Although Kauravas were 100 and Pandavas were just five, Kauravas failed when it came tackling with Bhima. He would drag them, beat them, pulled their hair, and in no way they could match Bhima in strength. If they climbed trees to pluck fruits, he would kick the stem of the tree, result all Kauravas ended up falling on the ground like fruits. If they went swimming, Bhima would join them, he would grab at least ten of them and dive so deep that they would clasp helplessly in his arms, And he would not allow them to reach the surface of the water till they were almost drowned. When food was served, Bhima was so quick that he would finish most of them, leaving nothing for other princes. His pranks never ended; he would often pull their hair to make them fight against one another. When they cried, Bhima would laugh at them. Due to this, Kauravas always suffered from sores and bruises. Even other Pandavas excelled the Kauravas in areas like statecraft, handling of weapons and knowledge. This gradually leads to deep hatred towards Pandavas, more precisely Bhima. Duryodhana’s jealousy towards Bhima intensifies as Shakuni kept poisoning his mind and turned him against the Pandavas.
Duryodhana felt Bhima was a potential threat between him and the throne of Hastinapur, so he came up with a plan to kill Bhima. Duryodhana had a palace called Pramankoti, on the bank of river Ganga. Pramankoti was used as a picnic spot and a place for sporting in the water. He invited all his brothers and cousins to this Pramankoti palace to spend a holiday there. Without knowing the evil intention of Duryodhana, Pandavas accompanied Kauravas to Pramankoti. Duryodhana made all arrangements for different entertainments and also skilled chefs to prepare delicious food. The Pandavas were awed by the hospitality provided to them. All were served with various kinds of food. Duryodhana finding the right time when no one was watching, offered Bhima poisoned food. Bhima unknowingly consumes them. After feasting, all started playing in the water. Bhima fell unconscious due to the poison. He could not venture into the river so, he was lying alone on the bank of river Ganga. When no one was observing, Duryodhana tied Bhima’s hands and legs with wild creepers. Duryodhana had earlier marked the spot with a vortex and threw Bhima exactly on the same spot. This was done with the intention that Bhima be caught in the whirlpool and then drown to death. After executing his plan, Duryodhana ran back and joined the others as if nothing had happened.
Fortunately, there was no spike in the place where Bhima fell. Bhima sank to the bottom of river Ganga and was carried by the water current to Patala (the lowest realm, the region of the Nagas). When Bhima reached Patala, poisonous snakes living there bit him all over his body. The poison of Nagas acted as an antidote to the poison of Duryodhana, thus neutralizing the poison in Bhima’s body. Bhima slowly came back to his senses and woke up to find himself surrounded by serpents. Bhima untied himself and started attacking Nagas and killing them. The terrified Nagas fled to their king Vasuki asking him to save them against newly arrived human. Vasuki assumed a human form and went to meet Bhima. One of the serpent called Aryaka recognized Bhima as his kin. Aryaka belonged to the same Naga clan as Vasuki. Kunti’s father Shurasena married a Naga princess Marisha (granddaughter of Aryaka). Aryaka was extremely happy to see the son of his great-granddaughter, he introduced himself to Bhima and embraced him. Bhima then explained the sinister plan of Duryodhana to kill him. Listening to Bhima, Vasuki offered eight bowls of nectar so that he can be safe from future attacks. By drinking this divine nectar, Bhima got the strength of ten thousand elephants. After drinking nectar from eight bowls, Bhima laid down on a celestial bed prepared by Nagas and slept for nine days.
Meanwhile, all cousins were contented playing in the water when it was time to set out for Hastinapura. Bhima was missing, Yudhishthira was anxious inquired about the whereabouts of Bhima with everyone present there. No one suspected foul play of Duryodhana and assumed he must have gone ahead without informing them. While heading back, Duryodhana was happy speculating Bhima’s dead. On reaching the palace, Yudhishthira asked his mother Kunti whether Bhima had returned home but, Kunti was clueless. Anxious Kunti sent men in search of Bhima, but Bhima was nowhere found. Kunti was inconsolable, thinking Bhima might have caught up with some danger. Just then, Vidura entered the court and reminded Kunti about the Veda Vyasa’s blessing to Bhima that he would live a very long life. He then continued saying Vyasa’s blessing never fails that leaves no room for worry.
Bhima woke up on the 9th day having enormous energy due to the elixir. Nagas dressed him in fine clothes and jewellery and returned him to the palace by the river Ganga. After saying farewell to Nagas, Bhima headed for Hastinapura. As he entered the royal palace, he bowed to the feet of elders and his mother. All Pandavas welcomed him warmly. Duryodhana was astonished to see him alive. He glanced up with a frowning face. Bhima then secretly explained the treachery of Duryodhana and how he reached Naga Loka. He also explained hospitality given to him by Naga king Vasuki and eight bowls of immortal elixir, which increased his strength a thousand times. Kunti and Pandavas were horrified when they heard what had happened. Vidura considered the situation carefully, as Pandavas position was not stable, as their father was dead and Dhritarashtra was the king. So advised them to remain silent, not to tell anyone about it. Going forward, Pandavas became more cautious while dealing with Duryodhana and his brothers. This incident deepened the enmity between the cousins, which eventually ended in the war of Kurukshetra.