By Swami Harshananda
Ghatotkaca literally means ‘one whose head is hairless like that of a ghaṭa or pot’.
Out of the many characters of the Mahābhārata, character of Ghaṭotkaca is rather short but interesting. He was born absolutely bald, without any hair on his head.
Ghatotkaca was the son of Bhīma and Hiḍimbā, the sister of the demon Hiḍimbāsura whom Bhīma had slain. As per the boon received by the rākṣasa (or demon) race from the goddess Pārvati, any offspring of the rākṣasas would attain adulthood immediately right after the birth. So Ghatotkaca attained physical and mental adulthood soon after birth. When Bhīma left Hiḍimbā and her son Ghaṭotkaca, to rejoin his brothers and mother, Ghaṭotkaca promised to help him and serve him. Ghatotkaca would do it as soon as he only remembered him.
He helped the Pāṇḍavas in several ways especially when they were under-going banishment in the forest. He fought the Kauravas fiercely on behalf of the Pāṇḍavas but was killed by Karṇa. Karṇa was forced to use his weapon Śakti which he had reserved for Arjuna.
- Hence the name Ghaṭa + ut + kaca = Ghatotkaca.
- Bhīma is the second of the Pāṇḍava heroes.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore