Dhritarashtra said: “O Vidura! I am desirous to hear of the destruction of Kirmira! Do tell me how the encounter took place between the Rakshasa and Bhimasena!”
Vidura said: “Listen to the story of that feat of Bhimasena of super human achievements! I have often heard of it in course of my conversation with the Pandavas.
“Defeated at dice, the Pandavas departed from here and travelling for three days and nights they at length reached the Kamyaka woods. Just after the dreadful hour of midnight when all nature is asleep, when man-eating Rakshasas of terrible deeds begin to wander, the ascetics and the cowherds and other rangers of the forest used to shun the woods of Kamyaka and fly to a distance from fear of cannibals. As the Pandavas were at this hour entering those woods, a fearful Rakshasa of flaming eyes appeared before them with a lighted brand, obstructing their path. With outstretched arms and terrible face, he stood obstructing the way on which the Pandavas were proceeding. With eight teeth standing out, with eyes of coppery hue, and with the hair of his head blazing and standing erect, the fiend looked like a mass of clouds reflecting the rays of the sun or mingled with lightning flashes and graced with flocks of cranes underneath on their wings. Uttering frightful yells and roaring like a mass of clouds charged with rain, the fiend began to spread the illusion, proper to his species. Hearing that terrible roar, birds along with other creatures that live on land or in water, began to drop down in all directions, uttering cries of fear. In consequence of the deer, the leopards, the buffaloes and the bears flying about in all directions, it seemed as if the forest itself was in motion. Swayed by the wind raised by the sighs of the Rakshasa, creepers growing at a great distance seemed to embrace the trees with their arms of coppery leaves. At that moment, a violent wind began to blow, and the sky became darkened with the dust that covered it. As grief is the greatest enemy of the object of the five senses, so appeared before the Pandavas that unknown foe of theirs. Beholding from a distance the Pandavas clad in black deer-skins, the Rakshasa obstructed their passage through the forest like the Mainaka mountain.
“At the sight of him never seen before, the lotus-eyed Draupadi, agitated with fear, closed her eyes. She whose braids had been dishevelled by the hand of Duhshasana, stationed in the midst of the five Pandavas, looked like a stream chafing amid five hills. Seeing her overwhelmed with fear, the five Pandavas supported her as the five senses influenced by desire adhere to the pleasures relating to their objects. Dhaumya, in the presence of the Pandavas, destroyed the fearful illusion that had been spread by the Rakshasa, by applying various mantras, calculated to destroy the Rakshasa. Beholding his illusion dispelled, the mighty Rakshasa of crooked ways, capable of assuming any form at will, expanded his eyes in wrath and seemed like death himself. Then Yudhishthira addressed him saying: ‘Who are you, and whose? Tell us what we should do for you.’
“The Rakshasa thus addressed, answered Yudhishthira, saying: ‘I am the brother of Baka, the celebrated Kirmira. I live at ease in these deserted woods of Kamyaka, daily procuring my food by vanquishing men in fight. Who are you that have come near me in the shape of my food? Defeating you all in fight, I will eat you with pleasure.’
“Hearing these words of the wretch, Yudhishthira announced his own name and lineage, saying: ‘I am king Yudhishthira, the son of Pandu, of whom you may have heard. Deprived of my kingdom, I have with my brothers Bhimasena, Arjuna and the others, in course of my wanderings, come into this terrible forest which is your dominion, desirous of passing my period of exile here!’
“Kirmira said unto Yudhishthira: ‘By good luck it is that fate has accomplished today my long-accomplished desire! With weapons upraised, I have been continually ranging the entire earth with the object of slaying Bhima. But Bhima I had found not. By good luck it is that slayer of my brother, whom I had been seeking so long, has come before me! It was he who in the disguise of a Brahmana slew my dear brother Baka in the Vetrakiya forest by virtue of his science. He has truly no strength of arms! It is also this one of wicked soul who formerly slew my dear friend Hidimba, living in this forest and ravished his sister! That fool has now come into this deep forest of mine, when the night is half spent, even at the time when we wander about! Today I will wreak my long-cherished vengeance upon him, and I will today gratify Baka with his blood in plenty! By slaying this enemy of the Rakshasas, I shall today be freed from the debt I owe to my friend and my brother, and thereby attain supreme happiness! If Bhimasena was let free formerly by Baka, today, I will devour him in your sight, O Yudhishthira! As Agastya ate up and digested the mighty Asura Vatapi, I will eat up and digest this Bhima!’
“Thus addressed by the Rakshasa, the virtuous Yudhishthira, steadfast in his pledges, said: ‘It can never be so,’ and in anger rebuked the Rakshasa. The mighty-armed Bhima then tore up in haste a tree of the length of ten Vyasas and stripped it of its leaves. In the space of a moment, the ever-victorious Arjuna stringed his bow Gandiva possessing the force of the thunderbolt. Making Arjuna desist, Bhima approached that Rakshasa still roaring like the clouds and said unto him, ‘Stay! Stay!’
“Thus addressing the cannibal, and tightening the cloth around his waist, rubbing his palms, biting his nether lip with his teeth, and armed with the tree, the powerful Bhima rushed towards the foe. Like unto Maghavat hurling his thunderbolt, Bhima made that tree, resembling the mace of Yama himself descend with force on the head of the cannibal. The Rakshasa, however, was seen to remain unmoved at that blow, and wavered not in the conflict. On the other hand, he hurled his lighted brand, flaming like lightning, at Bhima. But Bhima turned it off with his left foot in such a way that it went back towards the Rakshasa. Then the fierce Kirmira on his part, all of a sudden, uprooting a tree, darted to the encounter like unto the mace bearing Yama himself. That fight, so destructive of the trees, looked like the encounter in days of yore between the brothers Vali and Sugriva for the possession of the same woman. The trees struck at the heads of the combatants, were broken into shivers, like lotus-stalks thrown on the temples of infuriate elephants. In that great forest, innumerable trees, crushed like unto reeds, lay scattered as rags. That encounter with trees between that foremost of Rakshasas and that best of men lasted but for a moment. Then taking up a crag, the angry Rakshasa hurled it at Bhima standing before him, but the latter wavered not. Then like unto Rahu going to devour the Sun with extended arms, the Rakshasa with out-stretched arms darted towards Bhima, who had remained firm under the blow inflicted with the crag. Tugging at and grappling with each other in diverse ways they appeared like two infuriate bulls struggling with each other. Or like unto two mighty tigers armed with teeth and claws, the encounter between them waxed fierce and hard.
“Remembering their disgrace at the hands of Duryodhana, and proud of the strength of his arms, and conscious also of Draupadi looking at him, Bhima began to swell in vigour. Fried with anger, Bhima seized the Rakshasa with his arms, as one elephant in rut seizes another. The powerful Rakshasa also in his turn seized his adversary, but Bhimasena threw the cannibal down with violence. The sounds in consequence of those mighty combatants pressing each other's hands were frightful and resembled the sounds of splintering bamboos. Hurling the Rakshasa down, Bhima seized him by the waist, and began to whirl him about, as fierce hurricane shakes a tree. Thus seized by the mighty Bhima, the fatigued Rakshasa, became faint, and trembling all over, he still pressed the Pandava with all his strength. Finding him fatigued, Bhima twined his own arms round the foe, as one binds a beast with cord. The monster thereupon began to roar frightfully, as a trumpet out of order. The mighty Bhima for a long while whirled the Rakshasa till the latter appeared to be insensible, and began to move convulsively. Finding the Rakshasa exhausted, Bhima, without loss of time, took him up in his arms, and slew him like a beast. Placing his knee on the waist of that wretch of Rakshasa, he began to press the neck of the foe with his hands. Then Bhima, dragging along the earth the bruised body of the Rakshasa with the eye-lids about to close, said: ‘O sinful wretch! You will no more have to wipe away the tears of Hidimba or Baka, for you too are about to go to the mansions of Yama!’ Saying this, that foremost of men, his heart filled with wrath, beholding the Rakshasa destitute of clothing and ornaments, and insensible, and undergoing convulsions, let him dead. After that Rakshasa of hue like the clouds had been slain, Yudhishthira praised Bhima for his many qualities, and placing Draupadi in their front, set out for the Dwaita woods.
“It was thus, that Kirmira was slain in combat by Bhima, in obedience, to the commands of Yudhishthira! Having rid the forest of its pest, the victorious Yudhishthira began to live in that dwelling of theirs, with Draupadi. Those Pandavas, comforting Draupadi, began to cheerfully extol Bhima with glad hearts. After the Rakshasa had been slain, borne down by the might of Bhima's arms, those heroes entered into the peaceful forest freed from its annoyance. Passing through the great forest I saw lying the body of the wicked and fearless Rakshasa slain by Bhima's might. There I heard of this achievement of Bhima from those Brahmanas who have assembled round the Pandavas.”
Hearing the account of the slaughter in combat of Kirmira, that foremost of Rakshasas, the king sighed in sorrow and became absorbed in thought.