This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Ghatotkacha" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (January 2022) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

Karna Try To Kill Ghatotkacha.jpg
Karna and Ghatotkacha engaged in combat.
AbodeKamyaka Forest
WeaponGada (mace)
BattlesKurukshetra War
Personal information
ChildrenAnjanaparvan, Meghavarna, Barbarika

Ghatotkacha (Sanskrit: घटोत्कच, IAST: Ghaṭotkaca, literally: "Bald Pot") played a very important character in the story of Mahabharata.[1] His name comes from the fact that his head was hairless (utkacha) and shaped like a ghatam, or a pot.[2] Ghatotkacha was the son of the Pandava Bhima and the demoness Hidimbi.

He is the father of Anjanaparvan, Barbarika and Meghavarna. His second son Anjanaparvan participated in the war. His maternal parentage made him half-demon, which granted him several magical abilities such as the ability to fly, to increase or decrease in size and to become invisible. He was an important fighter from the Pandava side in the Kurukshetra war and caused a great deal of destruction to the Kaurava army on the fourteenth night. Ghatotkacha killed many demons like Alambusha, Alayudha and many gigantic Asuras. He was very powerful and fought valiantly from the former in the great war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, and courted a hero’s death in the great war.

Birth and the Legends

Bhima with his wife Hidimbi and Ghatotkacha with the rest of the Pandavas and their mother Kunti in the background
Bhima with his wife Hidimbi and Ghatotkacha with the rest of the Pandavas and their mother Kunti in the background

On the burning of the 'Lac Palace', the Pandavas escaped through a tunnel and reached a forest. While they were sleeping on the ground, the demon chief Hidimba in the forest saw the Pandavas from the top of a tree, and he appointed his sister Hidimbi to bring over the Pandavas to him for food. Hidimbi went to the Pandavas in the guise of a beautiful woman. She was attracted to Bhima and prayed for the return of her love, which Bhima refused. Impatient at the delay, Hidimba ran towards the Pandavas, and in a duel between him and Bhima, he was killed by Bhima. Hidimbi then approached Kunti and requested her to ask him to marry Bhima. The Pandavas agreed to the proposal on the condition that Bhima and Hidimbi should enjoy their marital life in the woods for the time a son his born, then Bhima should have to return to them.. Later, Ghatotkacha was the son born to Hidimbi and Bhima. Indra, the king of deity bestowed on Ghaṭotkacha prowess enough to be a suitable opponent to Karna.[3]

Ghatotkacha grew up and became a good friend of the Pandavas. When Hidimbi and Ghatotkacha bid farewell to him, Kunti said to Ghatotkacha: "You are the eldest son of the Pandavas. You should always be their support." To this Ghatotkacha replied that he would return to them whenever there was a need for it. Ghatotkacha grew up under the care of Hidimbi.[4] Like his father, Ghatotkacha's weapon of choice was the mace. According to folktales, Ahilawati married Ghatotkacha and their sons were Barbarika, Anjanaparva,[5] and Meghavarna.

Hidimbi's Sacrifice Request

According to a folktale (not mentioned in Mahabharata), one day Hidimbi asked Ghatotkacha to fetch a human to sacrifice to Kali. On his way to do so, he spotted a Brahmin and his wife traveling with their three children. Ghatotkacha approached them and requested one of them to come with him to be his mother's sacrifice to the goddess.

The Brahmin offered himself, but his wife insisted that she would go. Finally, their second son agreed to go with Ghatotkacha and asked for his permission to first bathe in the river Ganga. Bhima came across the scene and inquired as to what was the matter. Ghatotkacha then relayed the situation to Bhima, who agreed to serve as a sacrifice himself on the condition that Ghatotkacha defeat him in a fight. When the son failed to overpower his father, he agreed to his father's command to end the practice of human sacrifice throughout the forest.

Interactions with Bhima

During their exile in the forest the Pandavas were too tired to walk further, then Bhima remembered Ghatotkacha, who immediately appeared before the Pandavas, and also brought down many demons at the behest of Bhima. Ghatotkach carrying Panchali on his shoulders, and the demons carrying Pandava brothers on their shoulders went by air to Badrikashrama, where Naranarayana was meditating, landed him there, and then he (Ghatotkach and his companions) bid farewell to the Pandavas.[6]

Kurukshetra War

Krishna asking Ghatotkacha to fight in Kurukshetra
Krishna asking Ghatotkacha to fight in Kurukshetra

In the Mahābhārata, Ghatotkacha was summoned by Bhima to fight on the Pandava side in the Kurukshetra War. In the battle of the first day he fought against Alambusha, Duryodhana and Bhagadatta. Terrified of the terrible course of the battle, the Kauravas deliberately postponed the battle for that day.[7] Invoking his magical powers, he brought great havoc in the Kaurava army using his power of illusion, even scaring away warriors like Duryodhana and Karna. His son Anjanaparvan was brutally killed by Ashwatthama. On the 14th night, Ghatotkacha comes into conflict with Ashwatthama, who was attempting to rally the fleeing soldiers. After dispelling Ghatotkacha's illusion, he managed to knock the demon unconscious. After coming to his senses, Ghatotkacha became furious and fought with Ashwatthama in a long duel. During the fight, both combatants used their celestial weapons, but the mighty asura wasn't able to withstand the attack of the other and was forced to flee.

After the death of Jayadratha on the fourteenth day, when the battle continued past sunset, Ghatotkacha truly shone; his powers were at their most effective at night as demons become endued with unlimited prowess, great might, and courage. Along with his asura troops, Ghatotkacha attacked the Kauravas at full power. He killed Alayudha during this time.

Eventually, a fight took place between Karna and Ghatotkacha. Upon seeing his efforts against the gigantic asura turn futile, Karna invoked his celestial weapons. Beholding a celestial weapon aimed at him, the foremost of all used his illusion to surround the Kaurava army. Beholding that, all kings with their sons and combatants, fled in fear. Karṇa clashed with Ghaṭotkacha and failing to kill him by any means he (Karṇa) used Vasavi Śakti(dart) as the last resort. This Śakti had been given to him by Indra in exchange for his kavach(armor) and earrings and which was sure to kill the person against whom it would be hurled due to the boon, and Karṇa had been keeping the Śakti in reserve to kill Arjuna. At any rate Karṇa used it against Ghaṭotkacha and he was killed. After killing Ghaṭotkacha the Śakti entered the sphere of the stars.[8]

Ghatotkacha's corpse falls on one of the Akshauhinis of the Kaurava army
Ghatotkacha's corpse falls on one of the Akshauhinis of the Kaurava army

Mortally wounded, Ghatotkacha rose to the sky. In the midst of dying, he managed to enlarge his body, crushing one akshauhini of the Kaurava army by his weight as he fell and before dying he destroyed 0.5 of Kaurava army, so he destroyed 1.5 army of his enemy.[9]The Pandavas were filled with grief at Ghatotkacha's death, while Krishna with the cosmic knowledge smiled as Ghatotkacha lost the demon bhava and reached heaven.

Indonesian version

Ghatotkacha as Javanese Wayang puppet in war attire.
Ghatotkacha as Javanese Wayang puppet in war attire.

The Kurukshetra War in Javanese and also Balinese wayang is usually called by the name Bharatayuddha. The story was adapted and developed from the script Kakawin Bharatayuddha written in 1157 during the time of the Kediri Kingdom (present day East Java, Indonesia). In the wayang puppet version, Ghatotkacha (locally spelled 'Gatotkaca') is very close to his cousin named Abhimanyu, son of Arjuna. Abhimanyu married Uttara the daughter of Virata Kingdom, after he claimed he was a virgin. In fact, Abhimanyu was married to Sitisundari, daughter of Krishna. Sitisundari who is entrusted in the palace of Ghatotkacha heard the news that her husband had remarried. Ghatotkacha's Uncle, named Kalabendana, came to Abhimanyu to take him home (Kalabendana was Arimbi's youngest brother, a dwarf giant but with a plain and noble heart). This had made Uttara jealous, and Abhimanyu was forced to swear that if he indeed had a wife other than Uttara, he would be willing to die beaten by his enemies later on. Kalabendana met with Ghatotkacha to report Abhimanyu's attitude. Ghatotkacha actually scolded Kalabendana, which he considered presumptuously interfering in his cousin's household affairs. Out of impulse anger, Ghatotkacha hit Kalabendana's head, and even though the act was carried out accidentally, Kalabendana was killed instantly.

When the Bharatayuddha war broke out, Abhimanyu was actually killed by the Kauravas on the 13th day. On the 14th day, Arjuna managed to avenge his son's death by beheading Jayadratha. Duryodhana was very sad over the death of Jayadratha, his own brother-in-law. He forced Karna to attack the Pandava camp that night. Karna obeyed even though this violates the rules of the war. After learning that the Kauravas launched a night attack, the Pandavas sent Ghatotkacha to head off. Ghatotkacha was deliberately chosen because Kotang Antrakusuma armor which he wears is able to emit bright light to shine on Kaurava's army. Ghatotkacha successfully killed a Kaurava ally named Lembusa. Meanwhile, two of his uncles, Brajalamadan and Brajawikalpa, died at the hands of their enemies, each named Lembusura and Lembusana.

Ghatotkacha faced Karna, the wielder of Kontawijaya weapon. He created his twins as many as a thousand people to make Karna feel confused. On the instructions of his father, named Surya, Karna managed to find the original Ghatotkacha. He then released Konta weapon in the direction of Ghatotkacha. Ghatotkacha tried to evade this by flying as high as possible. But the spirit of Kalabendana suddenly appeared to catch Kontawijaya while delivering news from heaven that the death of Ghatotkacha had been set that night. Ghatotkacha surrenders himself to his fate and requests that his body would be used to kill Kaurava's armies. Kalabendana agrees, then stabbed Ghatotkacha's navel using Konta weapon. The weapon merges back into its sheath, which is the mastaba wood still stored in Ghatotkacha's gut. Ghatotkacha dies, and the spirit of Kalabendana threw his body towards Karna which managed to jump to escape death. Karna's chariot was shattered to pieces as a result of being crushed by Ghatotkacha's body, and the fragments of the chariot shot in all directions and killed the Kaurava soldiers who were around it.


Ghatotkacha had 3 sons - Barbarika, Anjanaparvan and Meghavarna. The existence of Barbarika is debated as he is mentioned in the later additions to the Skanda Purana, and not in the official renditions of the Mahabharata.

However, Ghatotkacha's Lineage is supposed to have extended longer. The royal family of the Dimasa Kingdom claimed descent from Ghatotkacha.


Gatotkaca temple in Central Java, Indonesia.
Gatotkaca temple in Central Java, Indonesia.

In popular culture

See also


  1. ^ Datta, Amaresh (1 January 2006). The Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature (Volume Two) (Devraj to Jyoti). ISBN 978-81-260-1194-0.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 January 2007. Retrieved 3 December 2006.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "The Mahabharata, Book 1: Adi Parva: Hidimva-vadha Parva: Section CLVII".
  4. ^ "Story of Ghaṭotkaca". 28 January 2019.
  5. ^ "The Mahabharata, Book 7: Drona Parva: Ghatotkacha-badha Parva: Section CLV".
  6. ^ "The Mahabharata, Book 3: Vana Parva: Tirtha-yatra Parva: Section CXLIV".
  7. ^ "The Mahabharata, Book 6: Bhishma Parva: Bhagavat-Gita Parva: Section LXIV".
  8. ^ "The Mahabharata, Book 7: Drona Parva: Ghatotkacha-badha Parva: Section CLXXIX".
  9. ^ Amar Chitra Katha #592, ISBN 9788184821994
  10. ^ Ashish Rajadhyaksha; Paul Willemen (2014). Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema. Taylor & Francis. p. 39. ISBN 978-1-135-94325-7.
  11. ^ "Ghatothkach, Cannes-bound!". Rediff. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  12. ^ "Ghatotkacha". 14 July 2011.
  13. ^ "The Amar Chitra Katha Animated Series - Season 1". Amazon Prime Video.
  14. ^ Novita, Cicik. "Film Satria Dewa GatotKaca: Sinopsis dan Jadwal Tayang Terbaru". (in Indonesian). Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  15. ^ "Satria Dewa: Gatotkaca". IMDB. IMDB. 9 June 2022. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  16. ^ Mack, Andrew (16 February 2021). "SATRIA DEWA: GATOTKACA: Teasers, Proofs of Concept & More For Indonesian Heroic Martial Arts Movie". ScreenAnarchy. 2021. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  17. ^ Sutetjo, Kenneth (21 February 2021). "Mobile Legends Gatotkaca Guide: Best Build, Emblem and Gameplay Tips". GamingonPhone. Retrieved 22 May 2022.