Bhima was the second among the five Pandavas. His mother was the Yadava princess Kunti. It is believed that he was born by the practice of Niyoga by which a king obtains son to inherit his kingdom through his queen by the help of qualified sage like men. Kuru King Pandu thus obtained Bhima as son, through the practice of Niyoga.
Bhima was born and brought up along with his brothers Yudhishthira, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva in recluse of sages, in a forest surrounding the valley of Satasringa mountains, believed to be somewhere in Uttaranchal. Bhima later moved along with his brothers to live in the city of Hastinapura, the capital of Kuru kingdom. There he found Kaurava prince Duryodhana who was equal in his age. Duryodhana and Bhima disliked each other. The Kaurava prince tried to eliminate Bhima by poisoning him. After feeding Bhima with poisoned food Duryodhana threw Bhima into river Ganga. Bhima was rescued by the Nagas, who were his maternal kins. They neutralized the poison using medicines and gave him some herbal potion by which he became very strong and well built.
Bhima studied mace fight under the preceptor Drona and competed with Duryodhana, who also became skilled in mace fight. After the education with Drona, Bhima and Duryodhana became a disciple of Balarama of Dwaraka for advanced education on mace fight. Bhima married Hidimba belonging to the Rakshasa tribe. His son born of Hidimba became very famous by the name Ghatotkacha. Bhima assisted his younger brother Arjuna, in winning Panchala princess Draupadi in a self-choice ceremony. Later Draupadi became common wife of the Pandavas including Bhima.
Bhima's prowess as an archer became evident in the Kurukshetra War. He defeated even Karna in many battles with bows and arrows. However his main specialty was mace fight. With his speed and agility, he could easily penetrate ancient Indian armies consisting predominantly of archers and smite them with his mace or hurl upon them heavy weapons. Often the ancient Indian armies mentioned in Mahabharata, especially during Kurukshetra War had the weakness of relying much on the use of bows and arrows. Bhima exploited this weakness to his advantages and annihilated huge numbers of soldiers in the opposition. He even annihilated elephant armies using his skill in the use of mace. He had great skill in slaying an elephant with a single blow with his mace.