Mahabharata

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Mahabharata
Kurukshetra.jpg
Manuscript illustration of the Battle of Kurukshetra
Information
Religion Hinduism
Author Vyasa
Language Sanskrit
Verses200,000
Krishna and Arjuna at Kurukshetra, 18th-19th-century painting Krishna and Arjun on the chariot, Mahabharata, 18th-19th century, India.jpg
Krishna and Arjuna at Kurukshetra, 18th–19th-century painting

The Mahābhārata ( US: /məhɑːˈbɑːrətə/ , [1] UK: /ˌmɑːhəˈbɑːrətə/ ; [2] Sanskrit : महाभारतम्, Mahābhāratam, pronounced  [mɐɦaːˈbʱaːɽɐtɐm] ) is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the other being the Rāmāyaṇa . [3] It narrates the struggle between two groups of cousins in the Kurukshetra War and the fates of the Kaurava and the Pāṇḍava princes and their succession. Along with the epic Rāmāyaṇa, it forms the Hindu Itihasa.

American English Set of dialects of the English language spoken in the United States

American English, sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. American English is considered one of the most influential dialects of English globally, including on other varieties of English.

British English is the standard dialect of English language as spoken and written in the United Kingdom. Variations exist in formal, written English in the United Kingdom. For example, the adjective wee is almost exclusively used in parts of Scotland and Ireland, and occasionally Yorkshire, whereas little is predominant elsewhere. Nevertheless, there is a meaningful degree of uniformity in written English within the United Kingdom, and this could be described by the term British English. The forms of spoken English, however, vary considerably more than in most other areas of the world where English is spoken, so a uniform concept of British English is more difficult to apply to the spoken language. According to Tom McArthur in the Oxford Guide to World English, British English shares "all the ambiguities and tensions in the word 'British' and as a result can be used and interpreted in two ways, more broadly or more narrowly, within a range of blurring and ambiguity".

Sanskrit literature body of Indic literature

Sanskrit literature refers to texts composed in Sanskrit language since the 2nd-millennium BCE. Many of the prominent texts are associated with Indian religions, i.e., Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, and were composed in ancient India. However, others were composed central, East or Southeast Asia and the canon includes works covering secular sciences and the arts. Early works of Sanskrit literature were transmitted through an oral tradition for centuries before they were written down in manuscript form.

Contents

It also contains philosophical and devotional material, such as a discussion of the four "goals of life" or puruṣārtha (12.161). Among the principal works and stories in the Mahābhārata are the Bhagavad Gita , the story of Damayanti, an abbreviated version of the Rāmāyaṇa, and the story of Ṛṣyasringa, often considered as works in their own right.

Hindu philosophy various systems of thought in Hinduism

Hindu philosophy refers to philosophies, world views, and teachings that emerged in ancient India. These include six systems (ṣaḍdarśana) – Sankhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Mimamsa and Vedanta. These are also called the Astika (orthodox) philosophical traditions and are those that accept the Vedas as an authoritative, important source of knowledge. Ancient and medieval India was also the source of philosophies that share philosophical concepts but rejected the Vedas, and these have been called nāstika Indian philosophies. Nāstika Indian philosophies include Buddhism, Jainism, Cārvāka, Ājīvika, and others.

<i>Bhagavad Gita</i> A scripture of the Hindus in 700 Sanskrit verses

The Bhagavad Gita, often referred to as the Gita, is a 700-verse Sanskrit scripture that is part of the Hindu epic Mahabharata.

Damayanti Hindu mythological character

Damayanti is a character in a love story found in the Vana Parva book of the Mahabharata. She was a princess of the Vidarbha Kingdom, who married King Nala of the Nishadha Kingdom. The character is also found in other Hindu texts by many authors in numerous Indian languages. She, along with Nala, are the central characters in the 12th century text Nishadha Charita, one of the five mahakavyas in the canon of Sanskrit literature, written by Sriharsha.

Traditionally, the authorship of the Mahābhārata is attributed to Vyāsa. There have been many attempts to unravel its historical growth and compositional layers. The oldest preserved parts of the text are thought to be not much older than around 400 BCE, though the origins of the epic probably fall between the 8th and 9th centuries BCE. [4] The text probably reached its final form by the early Gupta period (c. 4th century CE). [5] [6] According to the Mahābhārata itself, the tale is extended from a shorter version of 24,000 verses called simply Bhārata. [7]

Vyasa central and revered figure in most Hindu traditions

Vyasa is the legendary author of the Mahabharata, Vedas and Puranas, some of the most important works in the Hindu tradition. He is also called Veda Vyāsa or Krishna Dvaipāyana.

Gupta Empire Indian empire existing from the 3rd-century CE to 543 CE

The Gupta Empire was an ancient Indian empire existing from the mid-to-late 3rd century CE to 543 CE. At its zenith, from approximately 319 to 543 CE, it covered much of the Indian subcontinent. This period is considered as the Golden Age of India by some historians. The ruling dynasty of the empire was founded by the king Sri Gupta; the most notable rulers of the dynasty were Chandragupta I, Samudragupta, and Chandragupta II alias Vikramaditya. The 5th-century CE Sanskrit poet Kalidasa credits the Guptas with having conquered about twenty-one kingdoms, both in and outside India, including the kingdoms of Parasikas, the Hunas, the Kambojas, tribes located in the west and east Oxus valleys, the Kinnaras, Kiratas, and others.

The Mahābhārata is the longest epic poem known and has been described as "the longest poem ever written". [8] [9] Its longest version consists of over 100,000 śloka or over 200,000 individual verse lines (each shloka is a couplet), and long prose passages. At about 1.8 million words in total, the Mahābhārata is roughly ten times the length of the Iliad and the Odyssey combined, or about four times the length of the Rāmāyaṇa. [10] [11] W. J. Johnson has compared the importance of the Mahābhārata in the context of world civilization to that of the Bible, the works of William Shakespeare, the works of Homer, Greek drama, or the Quran. [12] Within the Indian tradition it is sometimes called the Fifth Veda.

Shloka Sanskrit verse in Anustubh meter

Shloka is a category of verse line developed from the Vedic Anustubh poetic meter. It is the obasis for Indian epic verse, and may be considered the Indian verse form par excellence, occurring, as it does, far more frequently than any other meter in classical Sanskrit poetry. The Mahabharata and Ramayana, for example, are written almost exclusively in shlokas. The traditional view is that this form of verse was involuntarily composed by Valmiki in grief, the author of the Ramayana, on seeing a hunter shoot down one of two birds in love. The shloka is treated as a couplet. Each hemistich (half-verse) of 16 syllables, composed of two Pādas of eight syllables, can take either a pathyā ("normal") form or one of several vipulā ("extended") forms. The form of the second foot of the first Pāda (II) limits the possible patterns the first foot (I) may assume, as in the scheme below. Alternatively, a shloka is four quarter-verses, each with eight syllables.

<i>Iliad</i> Epic poem attributed to Homer

The Iliad is an ancient Greek epic poem in dactylic hexameter, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy (Ilium) by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles.

<i>Odyssey</i> Epic poem attributed to Homer

The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other Homeric epic. The Odyssey is fundamental to the modern Western canon; it is the second-oldest extant work of Western literature, while the Iliad is the oldest. Scholars believe the Odyssey was composed near the end of the 8th century BC, somewhere in Ionia, the Greek coastal region of Anatolia.

Textual history and structure

Modern depiction of Vyasa narrating the Mahabharata to Ganesha at the Murudeshwara temple, Karnataka. Karwar Pictures - Yogesa 19.JPG
Modern depiction of Vyasa narrating the Mahābhārata to Ganesha at the Murudeshwara temple, Karnataka.

The epic is traditionally ascribed to the sage Vyāsa, who is also a major character in the epic. Vyāsa described it as being itihāsa (history). He also describes the Guru-shishya parampara, which traces all great teachers and their students of the Vedic times.

The first section of the Mahābhārata states that it was Gaṇeśa who wrote down the text to Vyasa's dictation.

Ganesha Hindu god of new beginnings, success, and wisdom

Ganesha, also known as Ganapati, Vinayaka, or by numerous other names, is one of the best-known and most worshipped deities in the Hindu pantheon. His image is found throughout India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Thailand, Mauritius, Bali (Indonesia) and Bangladesh. Hindu denominations worship him regardless of affiliations. Devotion to Ganesha is widely diffused and extends to Jains and Buddhists.

The epic employs the story within a story structure, otherwise known as frametales, popular in many Indian religious and non-religious works. It is first recited at Takshashila by the sage Vaiśampāyana, [13] [14] a disciple of Vyāsa, to the King Janamejaya who is the great-grandson of the Pāṇḍava prince Arjuna. The story is then recited again by a professional storyteller named Ugraśrava Sauti, many years later, to an assemblage of sages performing the 12-year sacrifice for the king Saunaka Kulapati in the Naimiśa Forest.

Sauti recites the slokas of the Mahabharata. Sauti recites the slokas of the Mahabharata.jpg
Sauti recites the slokas of the Mahabharata.

The text was described by some early 20th-century western Indologists as unstructured and chaotic. Hermann Oldenberg supposed that the original poem must once have carried an immense "tragic force" but dismissed the full text as a "horrible chaos." [15] Moritz Winternitz (Geschichte der indischen Literatur 1909) considered that "only unpoetical theologists and clumsy scribes" could have lumped the parts of disparate origin into an unordered whole. [16]

Accretion and redaction

Research on the Mahābhārata has put an enormous effort into recognizing and dating layers within the text. Some elements of the present Mahābhārata can be traced back to Vedic times. [17] The background to the Mahābhārata suggests the origin of the epic occurs "after the very early Vedic period" and before "the first Indian 'empire' was to rise in the third century B.C." That this is "a date not too far removed from the 8th or 9th century B.C." [4] [18] is likely. Mahābhārata started as an orally-transmitted tale of the charioteer bards. [19] It is generally agreed that "Unlike the Vedas, which have to be preserved letter-perfect, the epic was a popular work whose reciters would inevitably conform to changes in language and style," [18] so the earliest 'surviving' components of this dynamic text are believed to be no older than the earliest 'external' references we have to the epic, which may include an allusion in Panini's 4th century BCE grammar Aṣṭādhyāyī 4:2:56. [4] [18] It is estimated that the Sanskrit text probably reached something of a "final form" by the early Gupta period (about the 4th century CE). [18] Vishnu Sukthankar, editor of the first great critical edition of the Mahābhārata, commented: "It is useless to think of reconstructing a fluid text in a literally original shape, on the basis of an archetype and a stemma codicum . What then is possible? Our objective can only be to reconstruct the oldest form of the text which it is possible to reach on the basis of the manuscript material available." [20] That manuscript evidence is somewhat late, given its material composition and the climate of India, but it is very extensive.

The Mahābhārata itself (1.1.61) distinguishes a core portion of 24,000 verses: the Bhārata proper, as opposed to additional secondary material, while the Aśvalāyana Gṛhyasūtra (3.4.4) makes a similar distinction. At least three redactions of the text are commonly recognized: Jaya (Victory) with 8,800 verses attributed to Vyāsa, Bhārata with 24,000 verses as recited by Vaiśampāyana, and finally the Mahābhārata as recited by Ugraśrava Sauti with over 100,000 verses. [21] [22] However, some scholars, such as John Brockington, argue that Jaya and Bharata refer to the same text, and ascribe the theory of Jaya with 8,800 verses to a misreading of a verse in Ādiparvan (1.1.81). [23] The redaction of this large body of text was carried out after formal principles, emphasizing the numbers 18 [24] and 12. The addition of the latest parts may be dated by the absence of the Anuśāsana-parva and the Virāta parva from the "Spitzer manuscript". [25] The oldest surviving Sanskrit text dates to the Kushan Period (200 CE). [26]

According to what one character says at Mbh. 1.1.50, there were three versions of the epic, beginning with Manu (1.1.27), Astika (1.3, sub-parva 5) or Vasu (1.57), respectively. These versions would correspond to the addition of one and then another 'frame' settings of dialogues. The Vasu version would omit the frame settings and begin with the account of the birth of Vyasa. The astika version would add the sarpasattra and aśvamedha material from Brahmanical literature, introduce the name Mahābhārata, and identify Vyāsa as the work's author. The redactors of these additions were probably Pāñcarātrin scholars who according to Oberlies (1998) likely retained control over the text until its final redaction. Mention of the Huna in the Bhīṣma-parva however appears to imply that this parva may have been edited around the 4th century[ citation needed ].

The snake sacrifice of Janamejaya Snakesacrifice.jpg
The snake sacrifice of Janamejaya

The Ādi-parva includes the snake sacrifice (sarpasattra) of Janamejaya, explaining its motivation, detailing why all snakes in existence were intended to be destroyed, and why in spite of this, there are still snakes in existence. This sarpasattra material was often considered an independent tale added to a version of the Mahābhārata by "thematic attraction" (Minkowski 1991), and considered to have a particularly close connection to Vedic (Brahmana) literature. The Pañcavimśa Brahmana (at 25.15.3) enumerates the officiant priests of a sarpasattra among whom the names Dhṛtarāṣtra and Janamejaya, two main characters of the Mahābhārata's sarpasattra, as well as Takṣaka, the name of a snake in the Mahābhārata, occur. [27]

The Suparṇākhyāna , a late Vedic period poem considered to be among the "earliest traces of epic poetry in India," is an older, shorter precursor to the expanded legend of Garuda that is included in the Āstīka Parva, within the Ādi Parva of the Mahābhārata. [28] [29]

Historical references

The earliest known references to the Mahābhārata and its core Bhārata date to the Aṣṭādhyāyī (sutra 6.2.38) of Pāṇini (fl. 4th century BCE) and in the Aśvalāyana Gṛhyasūtra (3.4.4). This may mean the core 24,000 verses, known as the Bhārata, as well as an early version of the extended Mahābhārata, were composed by the 4th century BCE. A report by the Greek writer Dio Chrysostom (c. 40 - c. 120 CE) about Homer's poetry being sung even in India [30] seems to imply that the Iliad had been translated into Sanskrit. However, Indian scholars have, in general, taken this as evidence for the existence of a Mahābhārata at this date, whose episodes Dio or his sources identify with the story of the Iliad. [31]

Several stories within the Mahābhārata took on separate identities of their own in Classical Sanskrit literature. For instance, Abhijñānaśākuntala by the renowned Sanskrit poet Kālidāsa (c. 400 CE), believed to have lived in the era of the Gupta dynasty, is based on a story that is the precursor to the Mahābhārata. Urubhaṅga, a Sanskrit play written by Bhāsa who is believed to have lived before Kālidāsa, is based on the slaying of Duryodhana by the splitting of his thighs by Bhīma.[ citation needed ]

The copper-plate inscription of the Maharaja Sharvanatha (533–534 CE) from Khoh (Satna District, Madhya Pradesh) describes the Mahābhārata as a "collection of 100,000 verses" (śata-sahasri saṃhitā).[ citation needed ]

The 18 parvas or books

The division into 18 parvas is as follows:

ParvaTitleSub-parvasContents
1 Adi Parva (The Book of the Beginning)1–19How the Mahābhārata came to be narrated by Sauti to the assembled rishis at Naimisharanya, after having been recited at the sarpasattra of Janamejaya by Vaishampayana at Takṣaśilā, modern-day Taxila, Pakistan. The history and genealogy of the Bharata and Bhrigu races is recalled, as is the birth and early life of the Kuru princes (adi means first).
2 Sabha Parva (The Book of the Assembly Hall)20–28Maya Danava erects the palace and court (sabha), at Indraprastha. Life at the court, Yudhishthira's Rajasuya Yajna, the game of dice, the disrobing of Pandava wife Draupadi and eventual exile of the Pandavas.
3 Vana Parva also Aranyaka-parva, Aranya-parva (The Book of the Forest)29–44The twelve years of exile in the forest (aranya).
4 Virata Parva (The Book of Virata)45–48The year spent incognito at the court of Virata.
5 Udyoga Parva (The Book of the Effort)49–59Preparations for war and efforts to bring about peace between the Kaurava and the Pandava sides which eventually fail (udyoga means effort or work).
6 Bhishma Parva (The Book of Bhishma)60–64The first part of the great battle, with Bhishma as commander for the Kaurava and his fall on the bed of arrows. (Includes the Bhagavad Gita in chapters 25–42.) [32] [33]
7 Drona Parva (The Book of Drona)65–72The battle continues, with Drona as commander. This is the major book of the war. Most of the great warriors on both sides are dead by the end of this book.
8 Karna Parva (The Book of Karna)73The continuation of the battle with Karna as commander of the Kaurava forces.
9 Shalya Parva (The Book of Shalya)74–77The last day of the battle, with Shalya as commander. Also told in detail, is the pilgrimage of Balarama to the fords of the river Saraswati and the mace fight between Bhima and Duryodhana which ends the war, since Bhima kills Duryodhana by smashing him on the thighs with a mace.
10 Sauptika Parva (The Book of the Sleeping Warriors)78–80 Ashvattama, Kripa and Kritavarma kill the remaining Pandava army in their sleep. Only 7 warriors remain on the Pandava side and 3 on the Kaurava side.
11 Stri Parva (The Book of the Women)81–85 Gandhari and the women (stri) of the Kauravas and Pandavas lament the dead and Gandhari cursing Krishna for the massive destruction and the extermination of the Kaurava.
12 Shanti Parva (The Book of Peace)86–88The crowning of Yudhishthira as king of Hastinapura, and instructions from Bhishma for the newly anointed king on society, economics and politics. This is the longest book of the Mahabharata. Kisari Mohan Ganguli considers this Parva as a later interpolation.'
13 Anushasana Parva (The Book of the Instructions)89–90The final instructions (anushasana) from Bhishma.
14 Ashvamedhika Parva (The Book of the Horse Sacrifice) [34] 91–92The royal ceremony of the Ashvamedha (Horse sacrifice) conducted by Yudhishthira. The world conquest by Arjuna. The Anugita is told by Krishna to Arjuna.
15 Ashramavasika Parva (The Book of the Hermitage)93–95The eventual deaths of Dhritarashtra, Gandhari and Kunti in a forest fire when they are living in a hermitage in the Himalayas. Vidura predeceases them and Sanjaya on Dhritarashtra's bidding goes to live in the higher Himalayas.
16 Mausala Parva (The Book of the Clubs)96The materialisation of Gandhari's curse, i.e., the infighting between the Yadavas with maces (mausala) and the eventual destruction of the Yadavas.
17 Mahaprasthanika Parva (The Book of the Great Journey)97The great journey of Yudhishthira, his brothers and his wife Draupadi across the whole country and finally their ascent of the great Himalayas where each Pandava falls except for Yudhishthira.
18 Svargarohana Parva (The Book of the Ascent to Heaven)98Yudhishthira's final test and the return of the Pandavas to the spiritual world ( svarga ).
khila Harivamsa Parva (The Book of the Genealogy of Hari)99–100This is an addendum to the 18 books, and covers those parts of the life of Krishna which is not covered in the 18 parvas of the Mahabharata.

Historical context

The historicity of the Kurukshetra War is unclear. Many historians estimate the date of the Kurukshetra war to Iron Age India of the 10th century BCE. [35] The setting of the epic has a historical precedent in Iron Age (Vedic) India, where the Kuru kingdom was the center of political power during roughly 1200 to 800 BCE. [36] A dynastic conflict of the period could have been the inspiration for the Jaya, the foundation on which the Mahābhārata corpus was built, with a climactic battle eventually coming to be viewed as an epochal event.

Puranic literature presents genealogical lists associated with the Mahābhārata narrative. The evidence of the Puranas is of two kinds. Of the first kind, there is the direct statement that there were 1015 (or 1050) years between the birth of Parikshit (Arjuna's grandson) and the accession of Mahapadma Nanda (400-329 BCE), which would yield an estimate of about 1400 BCE for the Bharata battle. [37] However, this would imply improbably long reigns on average for the kings listed in the genealogies. [38] Of the second kind are analyses of parallel genealogies in the Puranas between the times of Adhisimakrishna (Parikshit's great-grandson) and Mahapadma Nanda. Pargiter accordingly estimated 26 generations by averaging 10 different dynastic lists and, assuming 18 years for the average duration of a reign, arrived at an estimate of 850 BCE for Adhisimakrishna, and thus approximately 950 BCE for the Bharata battle. [39]

Map of some Painted Grey Ware (PGW) sites. Painted Grey Ware Culture (1200-600 BCE).png
Map of some Painted Grey Ware (PGW) sites.

B. B. Lal used the same approach with a more conservative assumption of the average reign to estimate a date of 836 BCE, and correlated this with archaeological evidence from Painted Grey Ware (PGW) sites, the association being strong between PGW artifacts and places mentioned in the epic. [40] John Keay confirms this and also gives 950 BCE for the Bharata battle. [41]

Attempts to date the events using methods of archaeoastronomy have produced, depending on which passages are chosen and how they are interpreted, estimates ranging from the late 4th to the mid-2nd millennium BCE. [42] The late 4th-millennium date has a precedent in the calculation of the Kaliyuga epoch, based on planetary conjunctions, by Aryabhata (6th century). Aryabhata's date of 18 February 3102 BCE for Mahābhārata war has become widespread in Indian tradition. Some sources mark this as the disappearance of Krishna from earth. [43] The Aihole inscription of Pulikeshi II, dated to Saka 556 = 634 CE, claims that 3735 years have elapsed since the Bharata battle, putting the date of Mahābhārata war at 3137 BCE. [44] [45] Another traditional school of astronomers and historians, represented by Vriddha-Garga, Varahamihira (author of the Brhatsamhita) and Kalhana (author of the Rajatarangini ), place the Bharata war 653 years after the Kaliyuga epoch, corresponding to 2449 BCE. [46]

Synopsis

Ganesha writing the Mahabharata Ganesha write Mahabharata.jpg
Ganesha writing the Mahabharata

The core story of the work is that of a dynastic struggle for the throne of Hastinapura, the kingdom ruled by the Kuru clan. The two collateral branches of the family that participate in the struggle are the Kaurava and the Pandava. Although the Kaurava is the senior branch of the family, Duryodhana, the eldest Kaurava, is younger than Yudhishthira, the eldest Pandava. Both Duryodhana and Yudhishthira claim to be first in line to inherit the throne.

The struggle culminates in the great battle of Kurukshetra, in which the Pandavas are ultimately victorious. The battle produces complex conflicts of kinship and friendship, instances of family loyalty and duty taking precedence over what is right, as well as the converse.

The Mahābhārata itself ends with the death of Krishna, and the subsequent end of his dynasty and ascent of the Pandava brothers to heaven. It also marks the beginning of the Hindu age of Kali Yuga, the fourth and final age of humankind, in which great values and noble ideas have crumbled, and people are heading towards the complete dissolution of right action, morality and virtue.

The older generations

Shantanu woos Satyavati, the fisherwoman. Painting by Raja Ravi Varma. Ravi Varma-Shantanu and Satyavati.jpg
Shantanu woos Satyavati, the fisherwoman. Painting by Raja Ravi Varma.

King Janamejaya's ancestor Shantanu, the king of Hastinapura, has a short-lived marriage with the goddess Ganga and has a son, Devavrata (later to be called Bhishma, a great warrior), who becomes the heir apparent. Many years later, when King Shantanu goes hunting, he sees Satyavati, the daughter of the chief of fisherman, and asks her father for her hand. Her father refuses to consent to the marriage unless Shantanu promises to make any future son of Satyavati the king upon his death. To resolve his father's dilemma, Devavrata agrees to relinquish his right to the throne. As the fisherman is not sure about the prince's children honouring the promise, Devavrata also takes a vow of lifelong celibacy to guarantee his father's promise.

Shantanu has two sons by Satyavati, Chitrāngada and Vichitravirya. Upon Shantanu's death, Chitrangada becomes king. He lives a very short uneventful life and dies. Vichitravirya, the younger son, rules Hastinapura. Meanwhile, the King of Kāśī arranges a swayamvara for his three daughters, neglecting to invite the royal family of Hastinapur. In order to arrange the marriage of young Vichitravirya, Bhishma attends the swayamvara of the three princesses Amba, Ambika and Ambalika, uninvited, and proceeds to abduct them. Ambika and Ambalika consent to be married to Vichitravirya.

The oldest princess Amba, however, informs Bhishma that she wishes to marry king of Shalva whom Bhishma defeated at their swayamvara. Bhishma lets her leave to marry king of Shalva, but Shalva refuses to marry her, still smarting at his humiliation at the hands of Bhishma. Amba then returns to marry Bhishma but he refuses due to his vow of celibacy. Amba becomes enraged and becomes Bhishma's bitter enemy, holding him responsible for her plight. Later she is reborn to King Drupada as Shikhandi (or Shikhandini) and causes Bhishma's fall, with the help of Arjuna, in the battle of Kurukshetra.

The Pandava and Kaurava princes

Draupadi with her five husbands - the Pandavas. The central figure is Yudhishthira; the two on the bottom are Bhima and Arjuna. Nakula and Sahadeva, the twins, are standing. Painting by Raja Ravi Varma, c. 1900. Draupadi and Pandavas.jpg
Draupadi with her five husbands - the Pandavas. The central figure is Yudhishthira; the two on the bottom are Bhima and Arjuna. Nakula and Sahadeva, the twins, are standing. Painting by Raja Ravi Varma, c. 1900.

When Vichitravirya dies young without any heirs, Satyavati asks her first son Vyasa to father children with the widows. The eldest, Ambika, shuts her eyes when she sees him, and so her son Dhritarashtra is born blind. Ambalika turns pale and bloodless upon seeing him, and thus her son Pandu is born pale and unhealthy (the term Pandu may also mean 'jaundiced' [47] ). Due to the physical challenges of the first two children, Satyavati asks Vyasa to try once again. However, Ambika and Ambalika send their maid instead, to Vyasa's room. Vyasa fathers a third son, Vidura, by the maid. He is born healthy and grows up to be one of the wisest characters in the Mahabharata. He serves as Prime Minister (Mahamantri or Mahatma) to King Pandu and King Dhritarashtra.

When the princes grow up, Dhritarashtra is about to be crowned king by Bhishma when Vidura intervenes and uses his knowledge of politics to assert that a blind person cannot be king. This is because a blind man cannot control and protect his subjects. The throne is then given to Pandu because of Dhritarashtra's blindness. Pandu marries twice, to Kunti and Madri. Dhritarashtra marries Gandhari, a princess from Gandhara, who blindfolds herself so that she may feel the pain that her husband feels. Her brother Shakuni is enraged by this and vows to take revenge on the Kuru family. One day, when Pandu is relaxing in the forest, he hears the sound of a wild animal. He shoots an arrow in the direction of the sound. However the arrow hits the sage Kindama, who curses him that if he engages in a sexual act, he will die. Pandu then retires to the forest along with his two wives, and his brother Dhritarashtra rules thereafter, despite his blindness.

Pandu's older queen Kunti, however, had been given a boon by Sage Durvasa that she could invoke any god using a special mantra. Kunti uses this boon to ask Dharma the god of justice, Vayu the god of the wind, and Indra the lord of the heavens for sons. She gives birth to three sons, Yudhishthira, Bhima, and Arjuna, through these gods. Kunti shares her mantra with the younger queen Madri, who bears the twins Nakula and Sahadeva through the Ashwini twins. However, Pandu and Madri indulge in sex, and Pandu dies. Madri Commits Sati out of remorse. Kunti raises the five brothers, who are from then on usually referred to as the Pandava brothers.

Dhritarashtra has a hundred sons through Gandhari, all born after the birth of Yudhishthira. These are the Kaurava brothers, the eldest being Duryodhana, and the second Dushasana. Other Kaurava brothers were Vikarna and Sukarna. The rivalry and enmity between them and the Pandava brothers, from their youth and into manhood, leads to the Kurukshetra war.

Lakshagraha (the house of lac)

After the deaths of their mother (Madri) and father (Pandu), the Pandavas and their mother Kunti return to the palace of Hastinapur. Yudhishthira is made Crown Prince by Dhritarashtra, under considerable pressure from his courtiers. Dhritarashtra wanted his own son Duryodhana to become king and lets his ambition get in the way of preserving justice.

Shakuni, Duryodhana and Dusasana plot to get rid of the Pandavas. Shakuni calls the architect Purochana to build a palace out of flammable materials like lac and ghee. He then arranges for the Pandavas and the Queen Mother Kunti to stay there, with the intention of setting it alight. However, the Pandavas are warned by their wise uncle, Vidura, who sends them a miner to dig a tunnel. They are able to escape to safety and go into hiding. During this time Bhima marries a rakshashi Hidimba and has a son Ghatotkachh. Back in Hastinapur, the Pandavas and Kunti are presumed dead. [48]

Marriage to Draupadi

Arjuna piercing the eye of the fish as depicted in Chennakesava Temple built by Hoysala Empire Swayamvara Draupadi Arjuna Archery.jpg
Arjuna piercing the eye of the fish as depicted in Chennakesava Temple built by Hoysala Empire

Whilst they were in hiding the Pandavas learn of a swayamvara which is taking place for the hand of the Pāñcāla princess Draupadī. The Pandavas disguised as Brahmins come to witness the event. Meanwhile, Krishna who has already befriended Draupadi, tells her to look out for Arjuna (though now believed to be dead). The task was to string a mighty steel bow and shoot a target on the ceiling, which was the eye of a moving artificial fish, while looking at its reflection in oil below, a feat only Karna, Arjuna and Krishna himself could perform. After all the princes fail, many being unable to lift the bow Karna proceeds to the attempt but is interrupted by Draupadi refusing to marry a sut putra. After this the swayamvara is opened to the Brahmins leading Arjuna to win the contest and marry Draupadi. The Pandavas return home and inform their meditating mother that Arjuna has won a competition and to look at what they have brought back. Without looking, Kunti asks them to share whatever Arjuna has won amongst themselves. Thus, Draupadi ends up being the wife of all five brothers.

Indraprastha

After the wedding, the Pandava brothers are invited back to Hastinapura. The Kuru family elders and relatives negotiate and broker a split of the kingdom, with the Pandavas obtaining and demanding only a wild forest inhabited by Takshaka, the king of snakes and his family. Through hard work the Pandavas are able to build a new glorious capital for the territory at Indraprastha.

Shortly after this, Arjuna elopes with and then marries Krishna's sister, Subhadra. Yudhisthra wishes to establish his position as king; he seeks Krishna's advice. Krishna advises him, and after due preparation and the elimination of some opposition, Yudhishthira carries out the rājasūya yagna ceremony; he is thus recognised as pre-eminent among kings.

The Pandavas have a new palace built for them, by Maya the Danava. [49] They invite their Kaurava cousins to Indraprastha. Duryodhana walks round the palace, and mistakes a glossy floor for water, and will not step in. After being told of his error, he then sees a pond, and assumes it is not water and falls in. Bhima, Arjun, the twins and the servants laugh at him. In popular adaptations, this insult is wrongly attributed to Draupadi, even though in the Sanskrit epic, it was the Pandavas (except Yudhisthira) who had insulted Duryodhana. Enraged by the insult, and jealous at seeing the wealth of the Pandavas, Duryodhana decides to host a dice-game at Shakuni's suggestion.

The dice game

Draupadi humiliated Disrobing of Draupadi.jpg
Draupadi humiliated

Shakuni, Duryodhana's uncle, now arranges a dice game, playing against Yudhishthira with loaded dice. In the dice game, Yudhishthira loses all his wealth, then his kingdom. Yudhishthira then gambles his brothers, himself, and finally his wife into servitude. The jubilant Kauravas insult the Pandavas in their helpless state and even try to disrobe Draupadi in front of the entire court, but Draupadi's disrobe is prevented by Krishna, who miraculously make her dress endless, therefore it couldn't be removed.

Dhritarashtra, Bhishma, and the other elders are aghast at the situation, but Duryodhana is adamant that there is no place for two crown princes in Hastinapura. Against his wishes Dhritarashtra orders for another dice game. The Pandavas are required to go into exile for 12 years, and in the 13th year, they must remain hidden. If they are discovered by the Kauravas in the 13th year of their exile, then they will be forced into exile for another 12 years.

Exile and return

The Pandavas spend thirteen years in exile; many adventures occur during this time. They also prepare alliances for a possible future conflict. They spend their final year in disguise in the court of Virata, and they are discovered just after the end of the year.

At the end of their exile, they try to negotiate a return to Indraprastha with Krishna as their emissary. However, this negotiation fails, because Duryodhana objected that they were discovered in the 13th year of their exile and the return of their kingdom was not agreed. Then the Pandavas fought the Kauravas, claiming their rights over Indraprastha.

The battle at Kurukshetra

A scene from the Mahabharata war, Angkor Wat: A black stone relief depicting a number of men wearing a crown and a dhoti, fighting with spears, swords and bows. A chariot with half the horse out of the frame is seen in the middle. The center of battle of Kurukshetra.jpg
A scene from the Mahābhārata war, Angkor Wat: A black stone relief depicting a number of men wearing a crown and a dhoti, fighting with spears, swords and bows. A chariot with half the horse out of the frame is seen in the middle.

The two sides summon vast armies to their help and line up at Kurukshetra for a war. The kingdoms of Panchala, Dwaraka, Kasi, Kekaya, Magadha, Matsya, Chedi, Pandyas, Telinga, and the Yadus of Mathura and some other clans like the Parama Kambojas were allied with the Pandavas. The allies of the Kauravas included the kings of Pragjyotisha, Anga, Kekaya, Sindhudesa (including Sindhus, Sauviras and Sivis), Mahishmati, Avanti in Madhyadesa, Madra, Gandhara, Bahlika people, Kambojas and many others. Before war being declared, Balarama had expressed his unhappiness at the developing conflict and leaves to go on pilgrimage; thus he does not take part in the battle itself. Krishna takes part in a non-combatant role, as charioteer for Arjuna.

Before the battle, Arjuna noticing that the opposing army includes his own kith and kin, including his great grandfather Bhishma and his teacher Drona, has grave doubts about the fight and falls into despair.At this time,Krishna reminds him of duty as a Kshatriya to fight for his just cause in the famous Bhagavad Gita section of the epic.

Though initially sticking to chivalrous notions of warfare, both sides soon adopt dishonourable tactics. At the end of the 18-day battle, only the Pandavas, Satyaki, Kripa, Ashwatthama, Kritavarma, Yuyutsu and Krishna survive.

The end of the Pandavas

Gandhari, blindfolded, supporting Dhrtarashtra and following Kunti when Dhrtarashtra became old and infirm and retired to the forest. A miniature painting from a 16th-century manuscript of part of the Razmnama, a Persian translation of the Mahabharata Totheforest.jpg
Gandhari, blindfolded, supporting Dhrtarashtra and following Kunti when Dhrtarashtra became old and infirm and retired to the forest. A miniature painting from a 16th-century manuscript of part of the Razmnama, a Persian translation of the Mahabharata

After "seeing" the carnage, Gandhari, who had lost all her sons, curses Krishna to be a witness to a similar annihilation of his family, for though divine and capable of stopping the war, he had not done so. Krishna accepts the curse, which bears fruit 36 years later.

The Pandavas, who had ruled their kingdom meanwhile, decide to renounce everything. Clad in skins and rags they retire to the Himalaya and climb towards heaven in their bodily form. A stray dog travels with them. One by one the brothers and Draupadi fall on their way. As each one stumbles, Yudhishthira gives the rest the reason for their fall (Draupadi was partial to Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva were vain and proud of their looks, and Bhima and Arjuna were proud of their strength and archery skills, respectively). Only the virtuous Yudhishthira, who had tried everything to prevent the carnage, and the dog remain. The dog reveals himself to be the god Yama (also known as Yama Dharmaraja), and then takes him to the underworld where he sees his siblings and wife. After explaining the nature of the test, Yama takes Yudhishthira back to heaven and explains that it was necessary to expose him to the underworld because (Rajyante narakam dhruvam) any ruler has to visit the underworld at least once. Yama then assures him that his siblings and wife would join him in heaven after they had been exposed to the underworld for measures of time according to their vices.

Arjuna's grandson Parikshit rules after them and dies bitten by a snake. His furious son, Janamejaya, decides to perform a snake sacrifice ( sarpasattra ) in order to destroy the snakes. It is at this sacrifice that the tale of his ancestors is narrated to him.

The reunion

The Mahābhārata mentions that Karna, the Pandavas, Draupadi and Dhritarashtra's sons eventually ascended to svarga and "attained the state of the gods" and banded together — "serene and free from anger." [50]

Themes

Just war

The Mahābhārata offers one of the first instances of theorizing about dharmayuddha , "just war", illustrating many of the standards that would be debated later across the world. In the story, one of five brothers asks if the suffering caused by war can ever be justified. A long discussion ensues between the siblings, establishing criteria like proportionality (chariots cannot attack cavalry, only other chariots; no attacking people in distress), just means (no poisoned or barbed arrows), just cause (no attacking out of rage), and fair treatment of captives and the wounded. [51]

Versions, translations, and derivative works

Critical Edition

Between 1919 and 1966, scholars at the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune, compared the various manuscripts of the epic from India and abroad and produced the Critical Edition of the Mahabharata, on 13,000 pages in 19 volumes, followed by the Harivamsha in another two volumes and six index volumes. This is the text that is usually used in current Mahābhārata studies for reference. [52] This work is sometimes called the "Pune" or "Poona" edition of the Mahabharata.

Regional versions

Many regional versions of the work developed over time, mostly differing only in minor details, or with verses or subsidiary stories being added. These include the Tamil street theatre, terukkuttu and kattaikkuttu, the plays of which use themes from the Tamil language versions of Mahabharata, focusing on Draupadi. [53]

The Pandavas and Krishna in an act of the Javanese wayang wong performance Wayang Wong Bharata Pandawa.jpg
The Pandavas and Krishna in an act of the Javanese wayang wong performance

Outside the Indian subcontinent, in Indonesia, a version was developed in ancient Java as Kakawin Bhāratayuddha in the 11th century under the patronage of King Dharmawangsa (990–1016) [54] and later it spread to the neighboring island of Bali, which remains a Hindu majority island today. It has become the fertile source for Javanese literature, dance drama (wayang wong), and wayang shadow puppet performances. This Javanese version of the Mahābhārata differs slightly from the original Indian version. For example, Draupadi is only wed to Yudhishthira, not to all the Pandava brothers; this might demonstrate ancient Javanese opposition to polyandry.[ citation needed ] The author later added some female characters to be wed to the Pandavas, for example, Arjuna is described as having many wives and consorts next to Subhadra. Another difference is that Shikhandini does not change her sex and remains a woman, to be wed to Arjuna, and takes the role of a warrior princess during the war.[ citation needed ] Another twist is that Gandhari is described as antagonistic character who hates the Pandavas: her hate is out of jealousy because during Gandhari's swayamvara, she was in love with Pandu but was later wed to his blind elder brother instead, whom she did not love, so she blindfolded herself as protest.[ citation needed ] Another notable difference is the inclusion of the Punakawans, the clown servants of the main characters in the storyline. These characters include Semar, Petruk, Gareng and Bagong, who are much-loved by Indonesian audiences.[ citation needed ] There are also some spin-off episodes developed in ancient Java, such as Arjunawiwaha composed in 11th century.

A Kawi version of the Mahabharata, of which eight of the eighteen parvas survive, is found on the Indonesian island of Bali. It has been translated into English by Dr. I. Gusti Putu Phalgunadi. [55]

Translations

Bhishma on his death-bed of arrows with the Pandavas and Krishna. Folio from the Razmnama (1761-1763), Persian translation of the Mahabharata, commissioned by Mughal emperor Akbar. The Pandavas are dressed in Persian armour and robes. Razmnama Bhishma.jpg
Bhishma on his death-bed of arrows with the Pandavas and Krishna. Folio from the Razmnama (1761–1763), Persian translation of the Mahabharata, commissioned by Mughal emperor Akbar. The Pandavas are dressed in Persian armour and robes.

A Persian translation of Mahabharata, titled Razmnameh , was produced at Akbar's orders, by Faizi and `Abd al-Qadir Bada'uni in the 18th century. [57]

The first complete English translation was the Victorian prose version by Kisari Mohan Ganguli, [58] published between 1883 and 1896 (Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers) and by M. N. Dutt (Motilal Banarsidass Publishers). Most critics consider the translation by Ganguli to be faithful to the original text. The complete text of Ganguli's translation is in the public domain and is available online. [59] [60]

Another English prose translation of the full epic, based on the Critical Edition, is in progress, published by University Of Chicago Press. It was initiated by Indologist J. A. B. van Buitenen (books 1–5) and, following a 20-year hiatus caused by the death of van Buitenen, is being continued by D. Gitomer of DePaul University (book 6), J. L. Fitzgerald of Brown University (books 11–13) and Wendy Doniger of the University of Chicago (books 14–18).

An early poetry translation by Romesh Chunder Dutt and published in 1898 condenses the main themes of the Mahābhārata into English verse. [61] A later poetic "transcreation" (author's own description) of the full epic into English, done by the poet P. Lal, is complete, and in 2005 began being published by Writers Workshop, Calcutta. The P. Lal translation is a non-rhyming verse-by-verse rendering, and is the only edition in any language to include all slokas in all recensions of the work (not just those in the Critical Edition). The completion of the publishing project is scheduled for 2010.[ needs update ] Sixteen of the eighteen volumes are now available.

A project to translate the full epic into English prose, translated by various hands, began to appear in 2005 from the Clay Sanskrit Library, published by New York University Press. The translation is based not on the Critical Edition but on the version known to the commentator Nīlakaṇṭha. Currently available are 15 volumes of the projected 32-volume edition.

Indian economist Bibek Debroy has also begun an unabridged English translation in ten volumes. Volume 1: Adi Parva was published in March 2010.

Many condensed versions, abridgements and novelistic prose retellings of the complete epic have been published in English, including works by Ramesh Menon, William Buck, R. K. Narayan, C. Rajagopalachari, K. M. Munshi, Krishna Dharma, Romesh C. Dutt, Bharadvaja Sarma, John D. Smith and Sharon Maas.

Derivative literature

Bhasa, the 2nd- or 3rd-century CE Sanskrit playwright, wrote two plays on episodes in the Marabharata, Urubhanga (Broken Thigh), about the fight between Duryodhana and Bhima, while Madhyamavyayoga (The Middle One) set around Bhima and his son, Ghatotkacha. The first important play of 20th century was Andha Yug (The Blind Epoch), by Dharamvir Bharati, which came in 1955, found in Mahabharat, both an ideal source and expression of modern predicaments and discontent. Starting with Ebrahim Alkazi it was staged by numerous directors. V. S. Khandekar's Marathi novel, Yayati (1960) and Girish Karnad's debut play Yayati (1961) are based on the story of King Yayati found in the Mahabharat. [62] Bengali writer and playwright, Buddhadeva Bose wrote three plays set in Mahabharat, Anamni Angana, Pratham Partha and Kalsandhya. [63] Pratibha Ray wrote an award winning novel entitled Yajnaseni from Draupadi's perspective in 1984. Later, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni wrote a similar novel entitled The Palace of Illusions: A Novel in 2008. Gujarati poet Chinu Modi has written long narrative poetry Bahuk based on character Bahuka. [64] Krishna Udayasankar, a Singapore-based Indian author has written several novels which are modern-day retellings of the epic, most notably the Aryavarta Chronicles Series. Suman Pokhrel wrote a solo play based on Ray's novel by personalizing and taking Draupadi alone in the scene.

Amar Chitra Katha published a 1,260 page comic book version of the Mahabharata. [65]

In film and television

Krishna as portrayed in Yakshagana from Karnataka which is based largely on stories of Mahabharata FullPagadeYakshagana.jpg
Krishna as portrayed in Yakshagana from Karnataka which is based largely on stories of Mahabharata

In Indian cinema, several film versions of the epic have been made, dating back to 1920. [66] In Telugu film Daana Veera Soora Karna (1977) directed by and starring N. T. Rama Rao depicts Karna as the lead character. [67] The Mahābhārata was also reinterpreted by Shyam Benegal in Kalyug. [68] Prakash Jha directed 2010 film Raajneeti was partially inspired by the Mahabharata. [69] A 2013 animated adaptation holds the record for India's most expensive animated film. [70]

In the late 1980s, the Mahabharat TV series, directed by Ravi Chopra, [71] was televised on India's national television (Doordarshan). The same year as Mahabharat was being shown on Doordarshan, that same company's other television show, Bharat Ek Khoj , also directed by Shyam Benegal, showed a 2-episode abbreviation of the Mahabharata, drawing from various interpretations of the work, be they sung, danced, or staged. In the Western world, a well-known presentation of the epic is Peter Brook's nine-hour play, which premiered in Avignon in 1985, and its five-hour movie version The Mahābhārata (1989). [72] In the late 2013 Mahabharat was televised on STAR Plus. It was produced by Swastik Productions Pvt.

Uncompleted projects on the Mahābhārata include a ones by Rajkumar Santoshi, [73] and a theaterical adaptation planned by Satyajit Ray. [74]

Jain version

Depiction of wedding procession of Lord Neminatha. The enclosure shows the animals that are to be slaughtered for food for weddings. Overcome with Compassion for animals, Neminatha refused to marry and renounced his kingdom to become a Shramana Neminath Wedding.JPG
Depiction of wedding procession of Lord Neminatha. The enclosure shows the animals that are to be slaughtered for food for weddings. Overcome with Compassion for animals, Neminatha refused to marry and renounced his kingdom to become a Shramana

Jain versions of Mahābhārata can be found in the various Jain texts like Harivamsapurana (the story of Harivamsa) Trisastisalakapurusa Caritra (Hagiography of 63 Illustrious persons), Pandavacaritra (lives of Pandavas) and Pandavapurana (stories of Pandavas). [75] From the earlier canonical literature, Antakrddaaśāh (8th cannon) and Vrisnidasa (upangagama or secondary canon) contain the stories of Neminatha (22nd Tirthankara), Krishna and Balarama. [76] Prof. Padmanabh Jaini notes that, unlike in the Hindu Puranas, the names Baladeva and Vasudeva are not restricted to Balarama and Krishna in Jain puranas. Instead they serve as names of two distinct class of mighty brothers, who appear nine times in each half of time cycles of the Jain cosmology and rule the half the earth as half-chakravartins. Jaini traces the origin of this list of brothers to the Jinacharitra by Bhadrabahu swami (4th–3rd century BCE). [77] According to Jain cosmology Balarama, Krishna and Jarasandha are the ninth and the last set of Baladeva, Vasudeva, and Partivasudeva. [78] The main battle is not the Mahabharata, but the fight between Krishna and Jarasandha (who is killed by Krishna). Ultimately, the Pandavas and Balarama take renunciation as Jain monks and are reborn in heavens, while on the other hand Krishna and Jarasandha are reborn in hell. [79] In keeping with the law of karma, Krishna is reborn in hell for his exploits (sexual and violent) while Jarasandha for his evil ways. Prof. Jaini admits a possibility that perhaps because of his popularity, the Jain authors were keen to rehabilitate Krishna. The Jain texts predict that after his karmic term in hell is over sometime during the next half time-cycle, Krishna will be reborn as a Jain Tirthankara and attain liberation. [78] Krishna and Balrama are shown as contemporaries and cousins of 22nd Tirthankara, Neminatha. [80] According to this story, Krishna arranged young Neminath's marriage with Rajamati, the daughter of Ugrasena, but Neminatha, empathizing with the animals which were to be slaughtered for the marriage feast, left the procession suddenly and renounced the world. [81] [82]

Kuru family tree

This shows the line of royal and family succession, not necessarily the parentage. See the notes below for detail.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Kuru a
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Anasawana
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Parikshit(1)a
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Janamejaya(1)a
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Bheemasena(1)a
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Pratisravasa
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Pratipa a
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Gangā
 
Shāntanu a
 
Satyavati
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Pārāshara
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Bhishma
 
 
 
Chitrāngada
 
 
 
Ambikā
 
Vichitravirya
 
Ambālikā
 
 
 
Vyāsa
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Dhritarāshtra b
 
Gāndhāri
 
Shakuni
 
 
Surya Devaa
 
Kunti
 
Pāndu b
 
Mādri
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Karna c
 
Yudhishthira d
 
Bhima d
 
Arjuna d
 
Subhadrā
 
Nakula d
 
Sahadeva d
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Duryodhana e
 
Dussalā
 
Dushāsana
 
(98 sons)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Abhimanyu f
 
Uttarā
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Parikshit
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Janamejaya

Key to Symbols

Notes

The birth order of siblings is correctly shown in the family tree (from left to right), except for Vyasa and Bhishma whose birth order is not described, and Vichitravirya and Chitrangada who were born after them. The fact that Ambika and Ambalika are sisters is not shown in the family tree. The birth of Duryodhana took place after the birth of Karna, Yudhishthira and Bhima, but before the birth of the remaining Pandava brothers.

Some siblings of the characters shown here have been left out for clarity; these include Chitrāngada, the eldest brother of Vichitravirya. Vidura, half-brother to Dhritarashtra and Pandu.

Cultural influence

In the Bhagavad Gita , Krishna explains to Arjuna his duties as a warrior and prince and elaborates on different Yogic [83] and Vedantic philosophies, with examples and analogies. This has led to the Gita often being described as a concise guide to Hindu philosophy and a practical, self-contained guide to life. [84] In more modern times, Swami Vivekananda, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Mahatma Gandhi and many others used the text to help inspire the Indian independence movement. [85] [86]

Various modern day television shows and novels have taken inspiration from the Mahabharata.

Editions

See also

Related Research Articles

Arjuna Character from Indian epic Mahabharata

Arjuna is a central character of the ancient Indian epic Mahabharata. Arjuna was the son of Pandu in the Kuru Kingdom. In a previous birth he was a saint named Nara who was the lifelong companion of another saint, Narayana, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu who took rebirth as Lord Krishna. He was the third of the Pandava brothers and was married to Draupadi, Ulupi, Chitrāngadā, and Subhadra at different times. His children included Srutakarma, Iravan, Babruvahana, and Abhimanyu. Arjuna's daughters with Draupadi were Pragati and Pragya.

Pandava Sons of king Pandu in the Mahabharata, all married to Draupadi

In the Mahabharata, a Hindu epic text, the Pandavas are the five acknowledged sons of Pandu, by his two wives Kunti and Madri, who was the princess of Madra. Their names are Yudhishthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva. All five brothers were married to the same woman, Draupadi.

Draupadi main female character in the Hindu epic Mahabharata

Draupadi is the most important female character in the Hindu epic, Mahabharata.

Duryodhana eldest son of Dhritarashtra in the Hindu epic the Mahābhārata

Duryodhana, also known as Suyodhana, is a major character in the Hindu epic Mahabharata and was the eldest of the Kauravas, the hundred sons of blind king Dhritarashtra and Queen Gandhari. Being the first born son of the blind king, he was the crown prince of Kuru Kingdom and its capital Hastinapura along with his cousin Yudhishtra who was older than him. Karna was the closest friend of Duryodhana. Notably, Duryodhana, with significant assistance from Karna, performs Vaishnava Yagna when the Pandavas are in exile.

Gandhari (character) character in the Hindu epic

Gandhari is a prominent character in the Indian epic the Mahabharata. She was a princess of Gandhara and the wife of Dhritrashtra, the blind king of Hastinapura, and the mother of a hundred sons, the Kauravas.

Vidura Character of Hindu epic Mahabharata writen by tulsi das.

Vidura is one of the central characters in the Mahabharata, a major Hindu epic. He is described as the prime minister of the Kuru Kingdom and also the uncle of Pandavas and Kauravas.

Dhritarashtra character from Indian Epic Mahabharata

In the Hindu epic Mahabharata, Dhritarashtra is the King of Kuru Kingdom with its capital Hastinapur. He was born to Vichitravirya's first wife Ambika, and was fathered by Veda Vyasa. Dhritarashtra was blind from birth, and became father to one hundred sons and one daughter by his wife Gandhari (Gāndhārī), and another son Yuyutsu by Sughada, his wife's maid. These children, including the eldest son Duryodhana, came to be known as the Kauravas.

Drupada Character in the Hindu epic Mahabharata

Drupada, also known as Yajnasena, is a character in the Mahābhārata. He was the king of the land of Southern Panchala. His capital was known as Kampilya. His father's name was Prishata.

Yudhishthira Character from Indian epic Mahabharata

In the Hindu epic Mahabharata, Yudhishthira was the eldest son of King Pandu and Queen Kunti and the king of Indraprastha and later of Hastinapura (Kuru). He was the leader of the successful Pandava side in the Kurukshetra War. At the end of the epic, he ascended to heaven. He was also blessed with the spiritual vision of second sight by a celestial Rishi as a boon.

Sahadeva character from Indian epic Mahabharata

In the Hindu epic Mahabharata, Sahadeva was the youngest of the five Pandava brothers. Nakula and Sahadev were twins born to Madri, who had invoked the Ashwini Kumaras using Kunti’s boon.Sahadeva had two wives Draupadi and Vijaya. Draupadi was common wife of Pandavas. Vijaya was beloved wife of Sahadeva.

Shakuni character from Hindu Epic Mahabharata

Shakuni also known as Saubala, Gandhararaja (Sanskrit: गान्धारराज, and Subalraja : सुबलराज, lit. "King of the Kingdom of Subala" was the prince of Gandhara Kingdom in present-day Gandhara, later to become the King after his father's death. He is one of the main villains in the Hindu epic Mahabharata. He was the brother of Gandhari and hence Duryodhana's maternal uncle.

Bharatayuddha or Bharat Yudha is a term used in Indonesia for the Kurukshetra War, and to describe the Javanese translation and interpretation of the Mahabharata. The Mahabharata was translated into (old) Javanese under the reign of king Dharmawangsa of Medang. The current poem was started by Sedah in 1157, and finished by mpu Panuluh. Mpu Panuluh also wrote the Kakawin Hariwangsa.

Kurukshetra War War described in the Hindu epic Mahabharata

The Kurukshetra War, also called the Mahabharata War, is a war described in the Indian epic poem Mahābhārata. The conflict arose from a dynastic succession struggle between two groups of cousins, the Kauravas and Pandavas, for the throne of Hastinapura in an Indian kingdom called Kuru. It involved a number of ancient kingdoms participating as allies of the rival groups.

Kekeya is a kingdom grouped among the western kingdoms in the epic Mahabharata. The epic Ramayana mentions One of the wives of Dasharatha, the king of Kosala and father of Raghava Rama, was from Kekeya kingdom and was known as Kaikeyi. Her son Bharata conquered the neighbouring kingdom of Gandhara and built the city of Takshasila. Later the sons and descendants of Bharata ruled this region from Takshasila.

Kunti Character from Indian epic Mahabharata

In Mahabharata, Kunti or Pritha was the daughter of Shurasena, and the foster daughter of his cousin Kuntibhoja. She is the aunt of Krishna. She was married to King Pandu of Hastinapur and was the mother of Karna and the first three Pandava brothers Yudhishthira, Bhima, Arjuna. She was the paternal aunt of Krishna, Balarama, and Subhadra. She was the step mother or foster mother of Nakula and Sahadeva. She was very beautiful and intelligent. She is often regarded as one of the protagonists of the Mahabharata.

Mahabharat is an Indian television series based on the Hindu epic of the same name. The 94-episode Hindi series had its original run from 2 October 1988 to 15 July 1990 on DD National. It was produced by B. R. Chopra and directed by his son, Ravi Chopra. The music was composed by Raj Kamal. The script was written by the Urdu poet Rahi Masoom Raza, based on the original story by Vyasa. Costumes for the series were provided by Maganlal Dresswala.

Udyoga Parva fifth book of the Mahabharata

The Udyoga Parva, or the Book of Effort, is the fifth of eighteen books of the Indian Epic Mahabharata. Udyoga Parva traditionally has 10 sub-books and 199 chapters. The critical edition of Sabha Parva has 12 sub-books and 197 chapters.

Bhishma Parva sixth book of the Mahabharata

The Bhishma Parva, or the Book of Bhishma, is the sixth of eighteen books of the Indian epic Mahabharata. Bhishma Parva traditionally has 4 sub-books and 122 chapters. The critical edition of Sabha Parva has 4 sub-books and 117 chapters.

Stri Parva eleventh book of the Mahabharata

The Stri Parva, or the "Book of the Women," is the eleventh of eighteen books of the Indian Epic Mahabharata. It traditionally has 4 sub-books and 27 chapters, as does the critical edition.

Characters in the Mahabharata The most important characters of Mahabharata can be said as Krishna, the pandavas as Dharmaraj ,Bhim, Arjun ,Nakul and Sahdev, next are the kourvas as dhuryodhan and his 98 Brothers and one sister as her name was dushila and still many other characters are there in Mahabharata.

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