Conversion: 27 Apr 2012
Time: 2h, 1h
The Mahabharata, is the greatest, longest and one of the two major
Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the other being the Ramayana. With more
than 74,000 verses, plus long prose passages, or some 1.8 million words
in total, it is one of the longest epic poems in the world.
It contains eighteen Parvas or sections viz., Adi Parva, Sabha Parva,
Vana Parva, Virata Parva, Udyoga Parva, Bhishma Parva, Drona Parva, Karna
Parva, Shalya Parva, Sauptika Parva, Stree Parva, Shanti Parva,
Anushasana Parva, Asvamedha Parva, Ashramavasika Parva, Mausala Parva,
Mahaprasthanika Parva and Swargarohanika Parva. Each Parva contains many
sub-Parvas or subsections.
This wonderful book was composed by Sri Vyasa (Krishna Dvaipayana) who
was the grandfather of the heroes of the epic. He taught this epic to his
son Suka and his disciples Vaisampayana and others. King Janamejaya, son
of Parikshit, the grandson of the heroes of the epic, performed a great
sacrifice. The epic was recited by Vaisampayana to Janamejaya at the
command of Vyasa. Later on, Suta recited the Mahabharata as was done by
Vaisampayana to Janamejaya, to Saunaka and others, during a sacrifice
performed by Saunaka in Naimisaranya, which is near Sitapur in Uttar
It is very interesting to remember the opening and closing lines of this
great epic. It begins with: “Vyasa sang of the ineffable greatness and
splendour of Lord Vasudeva, who is the source and support for everything,
who is eternal, unchanging, self-luminous, who is the Indweller in all
beings, and the truthfulness and righteousness of the Pandavas.” It ends
with: “With raised hands, I shout at the top of my voice; but alas, no
one hears my words which can give them Supreme Peace, Joy and Eternal
Bliss. One can attain wealth and all objects of desire through Dharma
(righteousness). Why do not people practise Dharma? One should not
abandon Dharma at any cost, even at the risk of his life. One should not
relinquish Dharma out of passion or fear or covetousness or for the sake
of preserving one’s life. This is the Bharata Gayatri. Meditate on this
daily, O man! when you retire to sleep and when you rise from your bed
every morning. You will attain everything. You will attain fame,
prosperity, long life, eternal bliss, everlasting peace and immortality.”
C Rajagopalachari’s Version
This is the text which is made available on this site.
PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION
IT is not an exaggeration to say that the persons and incidents portrayed
in the great literature of a people influence national character no less
potently than the actual heroes and events enshrined in its history. It
may be claimed that the former play an even more important part in the
formation of ideals, which give to character its impulse of growth.
Don Quixote, Gulliver, Pickwick, Sam Weller, Sir Roger de Coverley,
Falstaff, Shylock, King Arthur, Sir Lancelot, Alice and her wanderings in
Wonderland, all these and many such other creations of genius are not
less real in the minds of the British people than the men and women who
lived and died and lie buried in British soil.
Since literature is so vitally related to fife and character, it follows
that so long as the human family remains divided into nations, the
personae and events of one national literature have not an equal appeal
to all, because they do not awaken the same associations. A word or
phrase about Falstaff or Uncle Toby carries to English men a world of
significance, which it does not to others.
Similarly, a word or phrase about Hanuman, Bhima, Arjuna, Bharata or Sita
conveys to us in India, learned and illiterate alike, a significance all
its own, of which an English rendering cannot convey even a fraction to
outsiders, however interested in Indian mythology and folklore.