Mahabharata, which is Sanskrit for a “Great Epic of the Bharata Dynasty” is
indeed a great epic. Alongside the Ramayana, it is one of the greatest and most
significant epics in Indian literature. However, its significance extends
beyond India and beyond Hinduism. It is, in fact, one of the greatest and
longest epics in world literature as a whole.
Not only a
lengthy poem, the Mahabharata is actually considered the longest epic poem ever
written. It is made up of one hundred thousand verses, which are divided into
eighteen parvans or sections, and also includes a supplement entitled the
Harivamsha, which means “Genealogy of the God Hari.” The Mahabharata is
actually seven times longer than the renowned Iliad and Odyssey epics combined.
scholars suggest that, given its length, it is unlikely that only one
individual wrote the Mahabharata. However, this legendary story is believed to
have been composed by the sage Krishna-Dwaipayann Vyasa, who narrated it to no
less than the god Ganesha. Being such a long piece of literature, it is said
that Vyasa could find no one on earth to write the Mahabharata and he therefore
asked for the help of Ganesha, who is the lord of success and the destroyer of
obstacles. Ganesha made a vow to write the entire Mahabharata and while doing
so, broke his pen. Fulfilling his promise, Ganesha, who is depicted with the
head of an elephant, broke one of his tusks and used it to continue writing the
Mahabharata as it was dictated to him by Vyasa.
Mahabharata is well-known for its length, its main storyline can be summarized
as a tale that revolves around two brothers who are princes and the conflicts
between them and their respective family branches as they go to war, fighting
for the throne of Hastinapura. Vyasa’s role in the Mahabharata isn’t only as
composer but he also appears in the story itself as the grandfather of the
story goes, Prince Dhritarashtra, who is the older of the two princes, was
blind. Although he was the rightful heir to his father’s throne, because of his
disability, he was overlooked as king and not granted his birthright. Instead,
his younger brother, Pandu, was crowned king upon their father’s death. While
he may have been king, Pandu was cursed and this curse prevented him from
having any children or heirs to his throne. As a result of this, Pandu’s wife
Kunti requested the gods to instead father children in Pandu’s honor. The gods
granted Kunti her request.
The god of
the Wind fathered Bhima, the god Dharma fathered Yudhishtira, Indra bore the
child Arjuna, and the twin gods Ashvin fathered twin children Nakula and
Sahadeva. All five children – Bhima, Yudhishtira, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva –
were then the sons of King Pandu and known as the Pandavas. Conflict, jealousy,
and resentment arise between the Pandavas and their cousins, the Kauravas, who
are the children of Prince Dhritarashtra. Upon the death of Pandu, the Pandavas
are forced into exile and made to leave the kingdom.
Mahabharata goes on to narrate the Pandavas time in exile, including the joint
marriage of five brothers to Draupadi. The Pandavas eventually return to the
kingdom. However, during their time back, Yudhishthira goes against Duryodhana,
the oldest of the Kauravas, in a game of dice and loses everything. This forces
the Pandavas out of the kingdom once again. They then spend twelve years exiled
in the forest.
feud between the cousins, and the many wars and conflicts throughout the
Mahabharata builds up to a series of grand battles on the Kurukshetra field, in
the Haryana state. At the end of the battle, all the Kaurava brothers are
defeated and killed. While the side of the Pandavas emerge victorious, the only
survivors are the five brothers, Draupadi, and the god Krishna.
महासती द्रौपदी - Mahasati Draupadi
victorious survivors then make their way to Indra’s heaven. However, along the
way, they each fall away and only Yudhisthira makes it to the gates of paradise.
The story doesn’t end there as Yudhisthira is still made to face further tests
to his faithfulness. After passing these final tests, Yudhisthira is not only
reunited with his Pandava brothers and their wife Draupadi but also with his
enemy cousins, the Kauravas. Reunited, they enjoy eternal bliss together.
Mahabharata- An Authentic Presentation
Mahabharata is a vital source of knowledge and insight on the evolution of the
Hindu faith, particularly between 400 BCE and 200 BCE. The great epic is
considered by many Hindus as both a historical piece of literature, narrating
past events in the itihasa genre, but also as reference text about dharma or
Hindu moral law.
महाभारत - Mahabharata in Simple Hindi Language
the major and minor storylines narrated in the Mahabharata, as well as the
grand battles, it also includes philosophical discourse and devotional
material, including the Purusartha, which is known as the four goals of life.
The Mahabharata is so significant in Indian tradition and Hinduism that it is
sometimes considered the fifth Veda.
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