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The Mahabharata
The Mahabharata
Description

Foreword

The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are the two renowned epics of India. The Mahabharata - as its name hints - tells the story of the noble descendants of King Bharata. Its reputed author wasVedavyasa.

The Mahabharata is known as Panchama Veda, the fifth Veda. It was specially written in order to make the sublime knowledge of the four Vedas available to the common folks. Few books have ever exerted such profound influence on the minds of men as the Mahabharata.

The immortal epic Mahabharata is unique in every way. It gives-an account of persons with different qualities, maxims for right conduct and indicates the ways -to realize God. With its hundred thousand slokas, it is a “full treatise on the science of society giving portraits, customs, heroic deeds of persons and contains a picture of universal movement, light and shades”. In his own inimitable manner Vyasa has brought home to us the truth that sin and sinfulness are certain to be destroyed and even goodsouls, if they associate with these.

Philosophy seldom appeals to the mind. But in Mahabharata even the most abstruse philosophic truths are put across by means of stories and legends. This is the secret of its popularity among all classes of people.

We may find priceless teachings in the great Hindu poem of the Mahabharata. This is a book which must be placed in the bands of the young to awaken in them an awareness of our rich moral heritage and to lift them from the dropping faith in values.

Sanskrit, as a tool of cultural communication, holds a unique place among the languages of the world. Nowadays, there are very few youngsters who are familiar with Sanskrit to read through the book in the original. The only alternative is to read translations.

Dr. Nanduri Ramakrishnamacharya has rendered the epic into English. Nothing of importance in the ethical and the spiritual teaching of Mahabharata is left out. At places, it reads not as a summary, but the original. Reading the book is liberal and religious education.

A very noteworthy point about the book is its excellent readability. The book is a tribute to the scholarship and erudition of Dr. Acharya. We hope that this volume will be of considerable value for both spiritual men and laymen.

Preface

The Mahabharata is the largest literary work ever composed in the annals of the world. It comprises eighteen voluminous treatises, containing about one lakh verses of four lines each. In sheer size, it is six times bulkier than the Iliad and the Odyssey put together.

The Mahabharata is the’ most important landmark in the cultural evolution of mankind ‘and the biggest heritage which ancient India has bequeathed to the succeeding generations.

However, this modest book,-the epitome of the great Indian Epic, the Mahabharata in a nutshell-is conceived as a compendious composition mirroring the monumental work in a small compass.

The Samskrit Mahabharata-to borrow the native idiom is a gigantic equatorial forest harbouring a dazzling variety of flora and fauna, girdling the globe. This little volume, is neither a translation nor a judicious abridgement of the original. To continue the metaphor, this is a mini-municipal park. However, sincere care has been taken to transplant all the botanical specimens from the mother forest into the miniature nursery.

The Mahabharata is essentially a literary masterpiece narrating the secular as well as the spiritual experiences connected with the Bharata Dynasty extending over several generations. Bhagavadgita, the Song Celestial is a part and parcel of this epic. The Mahabharata together with its innumerable parables and fables, episodes and anecdotes, has propounded a theory of philosophical Relativity, harmonizing the secular and the spiritual into a synthesis and symphony wherein the parameters and paradoxes, contradictions and conflicts of life lose their static connotations to acquire a dynamic concord and concomitance.

Thus all the concepts including truth and non-violence, justice and fairplay, crime and punishment, good and evil, right and wrong etc. are viewed by the Mahabharata and evaluated vis-a-vis their geocentric longitude and latitude, different chronological axes, and diverse human aptitudes. It is maintained that no man can ever bathe in the same river twice; the water is not the same; the man as well is not the same. Change is the inexorable law of nature as well as the secret of the atoms. The Mahabharata has dealt with the world of relativity synthesizing secular dimensions with spiritual dynamics. Thus no concept or ideal, according to the Mahabharata, has an absolute value or a circumscribed meaning. Sri Krishna, the practical philosopher par excellence, has been the author of this way of life distinct from the doctrinaire approach of didactic dogmatism.

The original Mahabharata in the Sanskrit is replete with many ‘Majestic Maxims’ - ‘antithetical aphorisms’ with their crisp cadences and metrical melodies. I have tried, - in my own humble way-to translate some of them into English and to incorporate them into this book. Thus this venture is not a prosaic paraphrase of the poetry and philosophy embedded in the Mahabharata. I have tried to add explanation as well as expansion, elucidation and elaboration wherever necessary. Here and there, there may be some sentences influenced by the Sanskrit syntax and Indian idiom. The native reader will of course experience no difficulty with them. Even the foreign student, I hope, will be pleased to enjoy the unfamiliar fragrance and flavour for a while. The English language is known for its catholicity and capacity for absorption and assimilation of international influences and is certainly richer benefitted by cross-fertilisation of cultures.

A glossary is appended for the benefit of the reader. I hope, the prospective citizens of the world, in the rising generations of all the countries, will find ample corroboration for their convictions in this book as the Mahabharata is not merely an Indian classic but a truly international epic. World literature is one, though written in different languages. Mankind is one though designated into different races. Mythology is the shell and man is the kernel of the Mahabharata. Unity in diversity is the soul of the whole story. The burden of the song of this sublime saga of humanity, is ‘elasticity of the mind for the sake of enlightenment’.

In English there are very few books on the Mahabharata. They have viewed the epic from different angles. This book contains a connected account of the whole story, strictly following the Sanskrit original. I have appended a chapter, The Mahabharata-A Chronological Study, wherein I have incorporated all the theories enunciated so far by eminent scholars. Indian as well as foreign, who have done commendable research to determine the date of the Mahabharata war and the composition of the epic. Likewise I have appended another chapter, Mahabharata-Myth and Reality, analysing the latest views of eminent scholars as well as historians and archaeologists. In another chapter, I have traced the historical evolution of the epic and discussed the problem of authorship and red actors exhaustively. In this sense, I think, this is the first comprehensive book, in a concise compass, on the Mahabharata in English.

In the concluding verses of the epic, the Suta in his convocation address of the Satrayaga where the Mahabharata was narrated to the ascetics of Naimisa forest, says,

“Anything elsewhere is an echo of what is here,

What is not here is nowhere.”

The earnest reader of the Mahabharata is twice blessed- because he can secure the best of both the worlds, the sceptre here and the salvation in the next.

Even a casual reader who comprehends a single sentence or a solitary syllable will find the Mahabharata to be a sublime, spiritual sanctuary to which one can return for refuge, securing comfort and consolation, confidence and candour.

Anybody, who masters the epic, will become a practical philosopher - who can rise above life’s perplexities and puzzles, doubts and dilemmas and face all challenges with courage and conviction, scaling summits of prosperity and peace, success and self-realisation.

The claim made by Suta many centuries ago is more or less valid even today.

The Mahabharata, I hope as the author mentions, will illumine the mind of man as long as the sun and the moon shine and the stars twinkle, as it portrays the Eternal Drama of human existence, with all its ironies and intricacies, subtleties and susceptibilities, suffocations and satisfactions, mysteries and melodies, the psychological heights and emotional depths.

In conclusion, I thank the T.T.D. Tirupati for sponsoring the publication of this book. In particular, I offer my hearty congratulations to Shri P.V.R.K. Prasad, I.A.S , Former Executive Officer, T.T.D.

Introduction

The Himalaya mountain ranges of India present the spectacle of unparalleled geographicai splendour of the earth.

The intellectual majesty of the Mahabharata, depicting the eternal drama of human existence, with all its ironies and intricacies, complexities and cadences, mysteries and melodies, subtleties and susceptibilities, psychological heights and emotional depths, is equally unrivalled in the entire range of world literature.

Bharat is the traditional name of India-in legend and literature from times immemorial. The Mahabharata is the National epic of India.

The Bharatas are mentioned as a race of brave warriors inhabiting the region lying between the Yamuna and the Ganges in Vedic Literature.

The ancient lore of India mentions Bharata, the son of King Dushyanta by Sakuntala as having performed the Asvamedha Yajna signifying the successful completion of Digvijaya-the ceremonial conquest of the four corners of the country. Hence- forward Bharat-that is India came to be known after the name of the .great warrior emperor Bharata.

The word “Bharatat” - according to Panini, the foremost grammarian of the Sanskrit language, means-War. Maha-means ‘great’. Hence the compound “Maha-Bharata” connotes the Great War.

“Bharata” figures as the name of the epic, in the Grihya Sutras written by Asvalayana.

Thus “Bharata” signifies (i) the country, (ii) the race (iii) the founder emperor of the ancient kingdom (iv) the great War and (v) the National epic.

The title of the epic “The Mahabharata” finds ample justification from all the above counts and connotations and has finally come to signify the Great National Epic of India.

The Mahabharata is the largest work ever written in any language in the world. It comprises of eighteen volumes - called the Parvas and contains about one lakh verses of four lines each. “In India-literature, like the face of nature, is on a gigantic scale “-says M. Williams.

The ancient literature of India begins with the Vedas, which are considered to be the earliest literary records of mankind. Sanskrit, the language of the Vedas, preserves the earliest poetry of humanity. Sanskrit belongs to the Aryan or Indo-European family of languages.

Sanskrit has preserved the ancient Aryan civilization and culture together with a greater number of ancient forms than any of these languages; hence Sanskrit can throw light on the comparative study of Philology, Civilizations and Cultures of the ancient world.

The Fifth Veda, The Mahabharata is hailed as the fifth Veda in Sanskrit literature. Vedas are termed as Sruti, meaning what has been heard. The Vedic compositions were called the hymns. The Vedas were never reduced to writing even after the Sanskrit alphabet and the script were systematised. The Hymns-the Vedic Riks were considered to be too holy to be recorded and the Vedas were communicated from generation to generation by word of the mouth.

All the four Vedas, the Rigveda - Yajurveda - Samaveda and Atharvaveda have original text toe Mantra portions besides the commentary portions called Brahmana portions.

The Brahmanas mainly deal with the ritualistic element and also interpret the philosophical content of the original text. Those portions of the Brahmanas which interpret the philosophical content are called the Upanishads. The Upanishads are styled as Vedanta (Veda-Anta)-the end of the Veda-the consummation of knowledge i.e. pure philosophy.

The evolution of the vast Vedic literature-the Vedas-Brahmanas-Aranyakas-Upanishads-Vedangas-Pratisakhyas together with the Sutra compositions extended over successive generations and covered many centuries. “In the more ancient parts of the Rig Veda Samhita, we find the Indian race settled on the northwestern borders of India, in the Punjab, and even beyond the Punjab on theKubha or Kwapna in Kabul. The gradual spread of the race from these seats, towards the east beyond the river Saraswati and over Hindustan as far as the Ganges, can be traced in the later portions of the vedic writings almost step by step. The writings of the following period-that of the epic consist of accounts of internal conflicts among the conquerors of Hindustan themselves as for instance, the Mahabharata or of the further spread of Brahmanism towards the South as for instance the Ramayana.

The soul of the Vedic literature is the attainment of Dharma the righteous course of conduct for the sake of self-realisation. In the evolution of the vast vedic literature with ramifications in different directions, the concept of Dharma became a complex postulate with conflicting connotations leading to differences in thought and divergencies in practice. The need for co-ordination and codification was felt. Dharma the singular end-all and be-all of early vedic times was supplemented with plural ‘Purusharthas’ of fullfledged life in later times. ‘Artha’ Economics, ‘Kama’, Desire, ‘Moksha’ release from the bondage of terrestrial existence were postulated as potential forces of human life along with Dharma.

The great personality who undertook the historic responsibility of co-ordination and codification of the vedic literature was the Krishna Dvaipayana, the son of the Vedic Rishi Parasara.

He edited the four vedas into their present shape. Tradition anointed him with the title Veda Vyasa (Co-ordinator of the Vedic lore) and acclaimed him as the incarnation of god Vishnu. At the time of Veda Vyasa, the meaning of Vedic composition was already becoming obscure and was leading to controversies and contradictions. Veda Vyasa was the morning star of the first and foremostvedic renaissance in Indian history.

Veda Vyasa-no more an individual, became an institution and a -legend in his life time. Tradition credits him with the authorship of the eighteen Puranas.

Even so Mahabharata acclaimed as the fifft veda in Sanskrit literature was his magnum opus.

Contents

 

PART I

 
 

Introduction

1

 

The Fifth Veda

2

 

Adi Parva

 

1

Ancestors

5

2

The Distinguished Father and the Dear Daughter

5

3

Marriage of Devayani .

8

4

The Baby of the Birds

13

5

Goddess Ganga in Human Form

17

6

The Fisher Girl of Fragrant Glamour

19

7

Vichitravirya

21

8

Son of the Sun God

26

9

Pandu Cursed

28

10

Birth of Panda vas

29

11

The Princes

31

12

The Golden Ball

33

13

Ekalavya: The Proverbial Pupil of the Prestigious Preceptor

37

14

Public Examination of the Prowess of the Princes

39

15

Guru Dakshina

44

16

The Wax Palace

46

17

The Escape

50

18

Hidimbi

52

19

Baka

53

20

Draupadi’s Svayamvara

56

21

Home Coming of the Pandavas

65

22

Arjuna’s Pilgrimage

70

23’

Subhadra

72

24

The Khandava Ordeal

74

25

Mandapala

75

 

Sabha Parva

 

26

Strength as well as Strategem

78

27

Jarasandha

81

28

The Digvijaya

84

29

The Rajasuya

87

30

Sisupala

89

31

Invitation to the Game of Dice

92

32

The Game of Dice

96

33

The Disgrace

99

34

Game of Dice-The Second Round

105

 

Aranya Parva

 

35

The Forest Exile

110

36

Janaka Gita

111

37

Vidura

113

38

Maitreya

115

39

Saumbhaka

117

40

The Domestic Debate

121

41

The Mystic Missiles

123

42

Arjuna at Amaravati

126

43

Blessing in Disguise

127

44

The Nivatakavachas

129

45

Catharsis

130

46

Kali

134

47

Karkota

 

48

The Second Svayamvara

139

49

The Pilgrimages

 

50

Rishyasringa

146

51

Agastya

146

52

Sukanya

148

53

Sibi

148

54

Bhagiratha

149

55

Parasurama

150

56

The Golden Lotus

151

57

The Python

155

58

Markandeya

157

59

The Vanity Fair

159

60

The Bitter Boomerang

161

61

The Vaishnavayaga

164

62

The Abduction

166

63

The Classic Quiz

169

 

Virata Parva

 

64

Message of Dhaumya

175

65

The Incognito

179

66

The Ribald Lover

181

67

The Southern Battle for the Cattle

187

68

The Prince of Braggarts

190

69

The Northern Battle for the Cattle

194

70

The Revelation

198

71

The Wedding

201

 

Udyoga Parva

 

72

Peace Parley by the Panchala Priest

206

73

“Parthasarathi”-Arjuna’s Charioteer

208

74

Flattered Vanity

211

75

Pride Goeth Before Fall

215

76

Pleasant Platitudes and Hollow Hands

217

77

The Sleepless Night

219

78

Kunti and Karna

221

79

The Plenipotentiary of Peace

224

80

Karna and Krishna

234

81

The Pandava Generalissimo

236

82

Supreme Commander of the Kaurava Armies

239

83

Rukmi the Rejected Renegade

243

84

The Solitary Pilgrim of Peace

245

 

Bhisma Parva

 

85

The War Reporter

247

86

The March of the Kaurava Army

248

87

The Martial Code

250

88

Dharmaputra Seeks Benediction

252

89

Bhagavadgita, The Song Celestial

254

90

The Great War-First Day

265

91

The Great War-The Second Day

269

92

The Great War-The Third Day

272

93

The Great War-The Fourth Day

277

94

The Great War-The Fifth Day

280

95

The Great War-The Sixth Day

282

96

The Great War-The Seventh Day

285

97

The Great War-The Eighth Day

288

98

The Great War-The Ninth Day

293

99

The Secret Meeting

297

100

The Great War-The Teath Day

299

101

Karna and Bhisma

304

 

Drona Parva

 

102

The Great War-The Eleventh Day

306

103

The Preceptor’s Promise

308

104

The Great War-The Twelfth Day

313

105

Supratika

316

106

The Great War-The Thirteenth Day

320

107

Saindhava Jayadratha

322

108

Abhimanyu

323

109

The Father’s Grief

326

110

The Vow

328

111

The Great War-The Fourteenth Day

331

112

Duryodhana’s Discomfiture

334

113

Satyaki and Bhurisrava

336

114

Bhurisrava

338

115

Bhima’s Exploits

341

116

Humiliation of Bhima

343

117

Death of Saindhava

344

118

The Nocturnal Fight

346

119

The Great War-The Fifteenth Day

349

 

Karna Parva

 

120

The Great War-The Sixteenth Day

355

121

The Great War-The Seventeenth Day

358

122

Karna and Yudhisthira

360

123

Beloved Brothers At Loggerheads

363

124

Death of Duhsasana

366

125

Fall of Karna

367

126

Duryodhana’s Grief

371

 

Salya Parva

 

127

The Great War-The Eighteenth Day

373

128

Hypnotism of Hope

373

129

The Final Encounter

377

130

Balarama’s Indictment

379

 

Sauptika Parva

 

131

The Massacre at Midnight

382

132

The Gruesome Gem

385

 

Stri Parva

 

133

The Condolences

387

134

The Sorrowful Secret

390

 

Santi Parva

 

135

The Integral Equilibrium

392

136

The Coronation

393

 

Anusasanika Parva

 

137

The Instruction

395

 

Asvamedha Parva

 

138

Sri Krishna’s Exit

397

139

Udanka

397

140

The Still-Born Child

400

141

The Asvamedha

401

142

Saktuprastha

404

 

Asramavasa Parva

 

143

Death of Dhritarashtra

410

 

Mausala Parva

 

144

The Drunken Debacle

412

 

Mahaprasthanika Svargarohana parvas

 

145

The Mahaprasthana

416

 

PART II

 
 

A Chronological Study

 

1

Authorship of The Mahabharata-Vedavyasa

423

2

Evolution of the Epic

425

3

Ugrasravas and the Sattrayaga of Saunaka

429

4

Repetitions

437

5

Recensions

438

6

Commentaries

439

7

The Mahabharata-A Chronological Study

440

8

Geographical Evidence

449

9

Evidences of Sutra Literature

451

10

Astronomical References

452

11

Vidura Seva Ashram Seminar

455

12

Objections against the Traditional Theory

461

13

Archaeology

465

14

Mahabharata-Myth and Reality

473

 

Glossary

487

 

Index

493

 

The Mahabharata

Item Code:
NAG662
Cover:
Hardcover
Edition:
2012
Language:
English
Size:
8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
Pages:
516
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Foreword

The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are the two renowned epics of India. The Mahabharata - as its name hints - tells the story of the noble descendants of King Bharata. Its reputed author wasVedavyasa.

The Mahabharata is known as Panchama Veda, the fifth Veda. It was specially written in order to make the sublime knowledge of the four Vedas available to the common folks. Few books have ever exerted such profound influence on the minds of men as the Mahabharata.

The immortal epic Mahabharata is unique in every way. It gives-an account of persons with different qualities, maxims for right conduct and indicates the ways -to realize God. With its hundred thousand slokas, it is a “full treatise on the science of society giving portraits, customs, heroic deeds of persons and contains a picture of universal movement, light and shades”. In his own inimitable manner Vyasa has brought home to us the truth that sin and sinfulness are certain to be destroyed and even goodsouls, if they associate with these.

Philosophy seldom appeals to the mind. But in Mahabharata even the most abstruse philosophic truths are put across by means of stories and legends. This is the secret of its popularity among all classes of people.

We may find priceless teachings in the great Hindu poem of the Mahabharata. This is a book which must be placed in the bands of the young to awaken in them an awareness of our rich moral heritage and to lift them from the dropping faith in values.

Sanskrit, as a tool of cultural communication, holds a unique place among the languages of the world. Nowadays, there are very few youngsters who are familiar with Sanskrit to read through the book in the original. The only alternative is to read translations.

Dr. Nanduri Ramakrishnamacharya has rendered the epic into English. Nothing of importance in the ethical and the spiritual teaching of Mahabharata is left out. At places, it reads not as a summary, but the original. Reading the book is liberal and religious education.

A very noteworthy point about the book is its excellent readability. The book is a tribute to the scholarship and erudition of Dr. Acharya. We hope that this volume will be of considerable value for both spiritual men and laymen.

Preface

The Mahabharata is the largest literary work ever composed in the annals of the world. It comprises eighteen voluminous treatises, containing about one lakh verses of four lines each. In sheer size, it is six times bulkier than the Iliad and the Odyssey put together.

The Mahabharata is the’ most important landmark in the cultural evolution of mankind ‘and the biggest heritage which ancient India has bequeathed to the succeeding generations.

However, this modest book,-the epitome of the great Indian Epic, the Mahabharata in a nutshell-is conceived as a compendious composition mirroring the monumental work in a small compass.

The Samskrit Mahabharata-to borrow the native idiom is a gigantic equatorial forest harbouring a dazzling variety of flora and fauna, girdling the globe. This little volume, is neither a translation nor a judicious abridgement of the original. To continue the metaphor, this is a mini-municipal park. However, sincere care has been taken to transplant all the botanical specimens from the mother forest into the miniature nursery.

The Mahabharata is essentially a literary masterpiece narrating the secular as well as the spiritual experiences connected with the Bharata Dynasty extending over several generations. Bhagavadgita, the Song Celestial is a part and parcel of this epic. The Mahabharata together with its innumerable parables and fables, episodes and anecdotes, has propounded a theory of philosophical Relativity, harmonizing the secular and the spiritual into a synthesis and symphony wherein the parameters and paradoxes, contradictions and conflicts of life lose their static connotations to acquire a dynamic concord and concomitance.

Thus all the concepts including truth and non-violence, justice and fairplay, crime and punishment, good and evil, right and wrong etc. are viewed by the Mahabharata and evaluated vis-a-vis their geocentric longitude and latitude, different chronological axes, and diverse human aptitudes. It is maintained that no man can ever bathe in the same river twice; the water is not the same; the man as well is not the same. Change is the inexorable law of nature as well as the secret of the atoms. The Mahabharata has dealt with the world of relativity synthesizing secular dimensions with spiritual dynamics. Thus no concept or ideal, according to the Mahabharata, has an absolute value or a circumscribed meaning. Sri Krishna, the practical philosopher par excellence, has been the author of this way of life distinct from the doctrinaire approach of didactic dogmatism.

The original Mahabharata in the Sanskrit is replete with many ‘Majestic Maxims’ - ‘antithetical aphorisms’ with their crisp cadences and metrical melodies. I have tried, - in my own humble way-to translate some of them into English and to incorporate them into this book. Thus this venture is not a prosaic paraphrase of the poetry and philosophy embedded in the Mahabharata. I have tried to add explanation as well as expansion, elucidation and elaboration wherever necessary. Here and there, there may be some sentences influenced by the Sanskrit syntax and Indian idiom. The native reader will of course experience no difficulty with them. Even the foreign student, I hope, will be pleased to enjoy the unfamiliar fragrance and flavour for a while. The English language is known for its catholicity and capacity for absorption and assimilation of international influences and is certainly richer benefitted by cross-fertilisation of cultures.

A glossary is appended for the benefit of the reader. I hope, the prospective citizens of the world, in the rising generations of all the countries, will find ample corroboration for their convictions in this book as the Mahabharata is not merely an Indian classic but a truly international epic. World literature is one, though written in different languages. Mankind is one though designated into different races. Mythology is the shell and man is the kernel of the Mahabharata. Unity in diversity is the soul of the whole story. The burden of the song of this sublime saga of humanity, is ‘elasticity of the mind for the sake of enlightenment’.

In English there are very few books on the Mahabharata. They have viewed the epic from different angles. This book contains a connected account of the whole story, strictly following the Sanskrit original. I have appended a chapter, The Mahabharata-A Chronological Study, wherein I have incorporated all the theories enunciated so far by eminent scholars. Indian as well as foreign, who have done commendable research to determine the date of the Mahabharata war and the composition of the epic. Likewise I have appended another chapter, Mahabharata-Myth and Reality, analysing the latest views of eminent scholars as well as historians and archaeologists. In another chapter, I have traced the historical evolution of the epic and discussed the problem of authorship and red actors exhaustively. In this sense, I think, this is the first comprehensive book, in a concise compass, on the Mahabharata in English.

In the concluding verses of the epic, the Suta in his convocation address of the Satrayaga where the Mahabharata was narrated to the ascetics of Naimisa forest, says,

“Anything elsewhere is an echo of what is here,

What is not here is nowhere.”

The earnest reader of the Mahabharata is twice blessed- because he can secure the best of both the worlds, the sceptre here and the salvation in the next.

Even a casual reader who comprehends a single sentence or a solitary syllable will find the Mahabharata to be a sublime, spiritual sanctuary to which one can return for refuge, securing comfort and consolation, confidence and candour.

Anybody, who masters the epic, will become a practical philosopher - who can rise above life’s perplexities and puzzles, doubts and dilemmas and face all challenges with courage and conviction, scaling summits of prosperity and peace, success and self-realisation.

The claim made by Suta many centuries ago is more or less valid even today.

The Mahabharata, I hope as the author mentions, will illumine the mind of man as long as the sun and the moon shine and the stars twinkle, as it portrays the Eternal Drama of human existence, with all its ironies and intricacies, subtleties and susceptibilities, suffocations and satisfactions, mysteries and melodies, the psychological heights and emotional depths.

In conclusion, I thank the T.T.D. Tirupati for sponsoring the publication of this book. In particular, I offer my hearty congratulations to Shri P.V.R.K. Prasad, I.A.S , Former Executive Officer, T.T.D.

Introduction

The Himalaya mountain ranges of India present the spectacle of unparalleled geographicai splendour of the earth.

The intellectual majesty of the Mahabharata, depicting the eternal drama of human existence, with all its ironies and intricacies, complexities and cadences, mysteries and melodies, subtleties and susceptibilities, psychological heights and emotional depths, is equally unrivalled in the entire range of world literature.

Bharat is the traditional name of India-in legend and literature from times immemorial. The Mahabharata is the National epic of India.

The Bharatas are mentioned as a race of brave warriors inhabiting the region lying between the Yamuna and the Ganges in Vedic Literature.

The ancient lore of India mentions Bharata, the son of King Dushyanta by Sakuntala as having performed the Asvamedha Yajna signifying the successful completion of Digvijaya-the ceremonial conquest of the four corners of the country. Hence- forward Bharat-that is India came to be known after the name of the .great warrior emperor Bharata.

The word “Bharatat” - according to Panini, the foremost grammarian of the Sanskrit language, means-War. Maha-means ‘great’. Hence the compound “Maha-Bharata” connotes the Great War.

“Bharata” figures as the name of the epic, in the Grihya Sutras written by Asvalayana.

Thus “Bharata” signifies (i) the country, (ii) the race (iii) the founder emperor of the ancient kingdom (iv) the great War and (v) the National epic.

The title of the epic “The Mahabharata” finds ample justification from all the above counts and connotations and has finally come to signify the Great National Epic of India.

The Mahabharata is the largest work ever written in any language in the world. It comprises of eighteen volumes - called the Parvas and contains about one lakh verses of four lines each. “In India-literature, like the face of nature, is on a gigantic scale “-says M. Williams.

The ancient literature of India begins with the Vedas, which are considered to be the earliest literary records of mankind. Sanskrit, the language of the Vedas, preserves the earliest poetry of humanity. Sanskrit belongs to the Aryan or Indo-European family of languages.

Sanskrit has preserved the ancient Aryan civilization and culture together with a greater number of ancient forms than any of these languages; hence Sanskrit can throw light on the comparative study of Philology, Civilizations and Cultures of the ancient world.

The Fifth Veda, The Mahabharata is hailed as the fifth Veda in Sanskrit literature. Vedas are termed as Sruti, meaning what has been heard. The Vedic compositions were called the hymns. The Vedas were never reduced to writing even after the Sanskrit alphabet and the script were systematised. The Hymns-the Vedic Riks were considered to be too holy to be recorded and the Vedas were communicated from generation to generation by word of the mouth.

All the four Vedas, the Rigveda - Yajurveda - Samaveda and Atharvaveda have original text toe Mantra portions besides the commentary portions called Brahmana portions.

The Brahmanas mainly deal with the ritualistic element and also interpret the philosophical content of the original text. Those portions of the Brahmanas which interpret the philosophical content are called the Upanishads. The Upanishads are styled as Vedanta (Veda-Anta)-the end of the Veda-the consummation of knowledge i.e. pure philosophy.

The evolution of the vast Vedic literature-the Vedas-Brahmanas-Aranyakas-Upanishads-Vedangas-Pratisakhyas together with the Sutra compositions extended over successive generations and covered many centuries. “In the more ancient parts of the Rig Veda Samhita, we find the Indian race settled on the northwestern borders of India, in the Punjab, and even beyond the Punjab on theKubha or Kwapna in Kabul. The gradual spread of the race from these seats, towards the east beyond the river Saraswati and over Hindustan as far as the Ganges, can be traced in the later portions of the vedic writings almost step by step. The writings of the following period-that of the epic consist of accounts of internal conflicts among the conquerors of Hindustan themselves as for instance, the Mahabharata or of the further spread of Brahmanism towards the South as for instance the Ramayana.

The soul of the Vedic literature is the attainment of Dharma the righteous course of conduct for the sake of self-realisation. In the evolution of the vast vedic literature with ramifications in different directions, the concept of Dharma became a complex postulate with conflicting connotations leading to differences in thought and divergencies in practice. The need for co-ordination and codification was felt. Dharma the singular end-all and be-all of early vedic times was supplemented with plural ‘Purusharthas’ of fullfledged life in later times. ‘Artha’ Economics, ‘Kama’, Desire, ‘Moksha’ release from the bondage of terrestrial existence were postulated as potential forces of human life along with Dharma.

The great personality who undertook the historic responsibility of co-ordination and codification of the vedic literature was the Krishna Dvaipayana, the son of the Vedic Rishi Parasara.

He edited the four vedas into their present shape. Tradition anointed him with the title Veda Vyasa (Co-ordinator of the Vedic lore) and acclaimed him as the incarnation of god Vishnu. At the time of Veda Vyasa, the meaning of Vedic composition was already becoming obscure and was leading to controversies and contradictions. Veda Vyasa was the morning star of the first and foremostvedic renaissance in Indian history.

Veda Vyasa-no more an individual, became an institution and a -legend in his life time. Tradition credits him with the authorship of the eighteen Puranas.

Even so Mahabharata acclaimed as the fifft veda in Sanskrit literature was his magnum opus.

Contents

 

PART I

 
 

Introduction

1

 

The Fifth Veda

2

 

Adi Parva

 

1

Ancestors

5

2

The Distinguished Father and the Dear Daughter

5

3

Marriage of Devayani .

8

4

The Baby of the Birds

13

5

Goddess Ganga in Human Form

17

6

The Fisher Girl of Fragrant Glamour

19

7

Vichitravirya

21

8

Son of the Sun God

26

9

Pandu Cursed

28

10

Birth of Panda vas

29

11

The Princes

31

12

The Golden Ball

33

13

Ekalavya: The Proverbial Pupil of the Prestigious Preceptor

37

14

Public Examination of the Prowess of the Princes

39

15

Guru Dakshina

44

16

The Wax Palace

46

17

The Escape

50

18

Hidimbi

52

19

Baka

53

20

Draupadi’s Svayamvara

56

21

Home Coming of the Pandavas

65

22

Arjuna’s Pilgrimage

70

23’

Subhadra

72

24

The Khandava Ordeal

74

25

Mandapala

75

 

Sabha Parva

 

26

Strength as well as Strategem

78

27

Jarasandha

81

28

The Digvijaya

84

29

The Rajasuya

87

30

Sisupala

89

31

Invitation to the Game of Dice

92

32

The Game of Dice

96

33

The Disgrace

99

34

Game of Dice-The Second Round

105

 

Aranya Parva

 

35

The Forest Exile

110

36

Janaka Gita

111

37

Vidura

113

38

Maitreya

115

39

Saumbhaka

117

40

The Domestic Debate

121

41

The Mystic Missiles

123

42

Arjuna at Amaravati

126

43

Blessing in Disguise

127

44

The Nivatakavachas

129

45

Catharsis

130

46

Kali

134

47

Karkota

 

48

The Second Svayamvara

139

49

The Pilgrimages

 

50

Rishyasringa

146

51

Agastya

146

52

Sukanya

148

53

Sibi

148

54

Bhagiratha

149

55

Parasurama

150

56

The Golden Lotus

151

57

The Python

155

58

Markandeya

157

59

The Vanity Fair

159

60

The Bitter Boomerang

161

61

The Vaishnavayaga

164

62

The Abduction

166

63

The Classic Quiz

169

 

Virata Parva

 

64

Message of Dhaumya

175

65

The Incognito

179

66

The Ribald Lover

181

67

The Southern Battle for the Cattle

187

68

The Prince of Braggarts

190

69

The Northern Battle for the Cattle

194

70

The Revelation

198

71

The Wedding

201

 

Udyoga Parva

 

72

Peace Parley by the Panchala Priest

206

73

“Parthasarathi”-Arjuna’s Charioteer

208

74

Flattered Vanity

211

75

Pride Goeth Before Fall

215

76

Pleasant Platitudes and Hollow Hands

217

77

The Sleepless Night

219

78

Kunti and Karna

221

79

The Plenipotentiary of Peace

224

80

Karna and Krishna

234

81

The Pandava Generalissimo

236

82

Supreme Commander of the Kaurava Armies

239

83

Rukmi the Rejected Renegade

243

84

The Solitary Pilgrim of Peace

245

 

Bhisma Parva

 

85

The War Reporter

247

86

The March of the Kaurava Army

248

87

The Martial Code

250

88

Dharmaputra Seeks Benediction

252

89

Bhagavadgita, The Song Celestial

254

90

The Great War-First Day

265

91

The Great War-The Second Day

269

92

The Great War-The Third Day

272

93

The Great War-The Fourth Day

277

94

The Great War-The Fifth Day

280

95

The Great War-The Sixth Day

282

96

The Great War-The Seventh Day

285

97

The Great War-The Eighth Day

288

98

The Great War-The Ninth Day

293

99

The Secret Meeting

297

100

The Great War-The Teath Day

299

101

Karna and Bhisma

304

 

Drona Parva

 

102

The Great War-The Eleventh Day

306

103

The Preceptor’s Promise

308

104

The Great War-The Twelfth Day

313

105

Supratika

316

106

The Great War-The Thirteenth Day

320

107

Saindhava Jayadratha

322

108

Abhimanyu

323

109

The Father’s Grief

326

110

The Vow

328

111

The Great War-The Fourteenth Day

331

112

Duryodhana’s Discomfiture

334

113

Satyaki and Bhurisrava

336

114

Bhurisrava

338

115

Bhima’s Exploits

341

116

Humiliation of Bhima

343

117

Death of Saindhava

344

118

The Nocturnal Fight

346

119

The Great War-The Fifteenth Day

349

 

Karna Parva

 

120

The Great War-The Sixteenth Day

355

121

The Great War-The Seventeenth Day

358

122

Karna and Yudhisthira

360

123

Beloved Brothers At Loggerheads

363

124

Death of Duhsasana

366

125

Fall of Karna

367

126

Duryodhana’s Grief

371

 

Salya Parva

 

127

The Great War-The Eighteenth Day

373

128

Hypnotism of Hope

373

129

The Final Encounter

377

130

Balarama’s Indictment

379

 

Sauptika Parva

 

131

The Massacre at Midnight

382

132

The Gruesome Gem

385

 

Stri Parva

 

133

The Condolences

387

134

The Sorrowful Secret

390

 

Santi Parva

 

135

The Integral Equilibrium

392

136

The Coronation

393

 

Anusasanika Parva

 

137

The Instruction

395

 

Asvamedha Parva

 

138

Sri Krishna’s Exit

397

139

Udanka

397

140

The Still-Born Child

400

141

The Asvamedha

401

142

Saktuprastha

404

 

Asramavasa Parva

 

143

Death of Dhritarashtra

410

 

Mausala Parva

 

144

The Drunken Debacle

412

 

Mahaprasthanika Svargarohana parvas

 

145

The Mahaprasthana

416

 

PART II

 
 

A Chronological Study

 

1

Authorship of The Mahabharata-Vedavyasa

423

2

Evolution of the Epic

425

3

Ugrasravas and the Sattrayaga of Saunaka

429

4

Repetitions

437

5

Recensions

438

6

Commentaries

439

7

The Mahabharata-A Chronological Study

440

8

Geographical Evidence

449

9

Evidences of Sutra Literature

451

10

Astronomical References

452

11

Vidura Seva Ashram Seminar

455

12

Objections against the Traditional Theory

461

13

Archaeology

465

14

Mahabharata-Myth and Reality

473

 

Glossary

487

 

Index

493

 

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