Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mahabharata, The Greatest Indian Epic

Radhe krishna 12-11-2011

RADHE KRISHNA 12-11-2011

Mahabharata, The Greatest Indian Epic

Mahabharata, The Greatest Indian Epic

The Mahābhārata, is the greatest, longest and one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the other being the Rāmāyana. 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 Pradesh.

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."

parva title sub-parvas contents
1 Adi-parva 1-19 Introduction, birth and upbringing of the princes.
2 Sabha-parva 20-28 Life at the court, the game of dice, and the exile of the Pandavas. Maya Danava erects the palace and court (sabha), at Indraprastha.
3 Vana-Parva 29-44 The twelve years in exile in the forest (aranya).
4 Virata-parva 45-48 The year in exile spent at the court of Virata.
5 Udyoga-parva 49-59 Preparations for war.
6 Bhishma-parva 60-64 The first part of the great battle, with Bhishma as commander for the Kauravas.
7 Drona-parva 65-72 The battle continues, with Drona as commander.
8 Karna-parva 73 The battle again, with Karna as commander.
9 Shalya-parva 74-77 The last part of the battle, with Shalya as commander.
10 Sauptika-parva 78-80 How Ashvattama and the remaining Kauravas killed the Pandava army in their sleep (Sauptika).
11 Stri-parva 81-85 Gandhari and the other women (stri) lament the dead.
12 Shanti-parva 86-88 The crowning of Yudhisthira, and his instructions from Bhishma
13 Anusasana-parva 89-90 The final instructions (anusasana) from Bhishma.
14 Ashvamedhika-parva 91-92 The royal ceremony of the ashvamedha conducted by Yudhisthira.
15 Ashramavasika-parva 93-95 Dhritarashtra, Gandhari and Kunti leave for an ashram, and eventual death in the forest.
16 Mausala-parva 96 The infighting between the Yadavas with maces (mausala).
17 Mahaprasthanika-parva 97 The first part of the path to death (mahaprasthana "great journey") of Yudhisthira and his brothers.
18 Svargarohana-parva 98 The Pandavas return to the spiritual world (svarga).

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