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Chapter 01: The Spread of Mahabharata

Posted by Arun Mohan ~ on ~ 0 comments

Vyasa first educated the great epic to his parrot-headed son, the sage Suka. Suka narrated it to Parikshit, Janamejaya’s father. Later, he explained it to numerous other followers so that it must pass through generations.  Tradition believes that Narada conveyed this Mahabharata to devas, while Suka conveyed it to Gandharvas, Rakshasas and the Yakshas.

Jaimini, one of Vyasa’s students heard the story from his teacher. But he was confused and Vyasa is not there to clarify his doubts. He approached Markandeya (a sage blessed with long life) to clear his doubts. But during that time, Markandeya renounced his speech as a part of his Sannyasa. Markandeya’s students directed Jaimini to four birds who had witnessed the Kurukshetra war. They explained Jaimini about the connection of those birds with Kurukshetra war. The story is during Kurukshetra war, the mother of these birds was flying over the battlefield. Suddenly an arrow struck the bird and opened her womb. Four eggs fell out to the ground from her womb. The ground was bloodsoaked, so it doesn’t break. At that time, a bell from the war elephant fall over the egg protected it from battle. The Rishis discovered and realized that the birds inside the eggs had much heard the conversations during the war. So the rishis granted the gift of human speech to these birds. Jaimini cleared his doubts from the birds and he also heard other stories that were not written by Vyasa.

Vaisampayana, another student of Vyasa is the traditional narrator of Mahabharata who revealed the epic for the benefit of humanity. He narrated the story (in the name Jaya) to King Janamejaya (12th or 11th century BCE, Vedic Period) during Sarpa Yaga (Snake Sacrifice). This was overheard by a Suta called Romaharshana, who teach it to his son Ugrashrava. Ugrashrava made a long pilgrimage to various sacred places mentioned in the story and also he visited the battlefield of Kurukshetra war. Afterwards, this story was recited by Ugrashrava (in the name Bharata) to the assembly of sages gathered in Naimisha Forest under the leadership of the Rishi Saunaka.  As Vyasa’s tale moved from one narrator to another, new tales were included. The story grew from a small sapling into a vast tree with many branches and it is renamed to "Mahabharata". 

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