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Mahabharata - The Great Epic

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The Mahabharata is one among the two great Sanskrit epics of ancient India. Ramayana is the other epic. The main aim of Mahabharata is to explain the four goals of life: dharma, artha, Kama, and moksha. Mahabharata is considered as the longest epic in the world. Mahabharata has more than 74,000 verses, lengthy passages, and about 1.8 million words. It was written in Sanskrit language. The oldest preserved parts of the text were believed to be written in around 400 BCE.

GANAPATI, THE SCRIBE: Veda Vyasa, the renowned compiler of the Vedas, was the son of the great sage Parasara Muni. Vyasa presented the divine epic of Mahabharata to the world.

Having visualized the Mahabharata he decided to present this sacred story to the world. So he meditated on Brahma, who is considered as the Creator. Brahma appeared in front of him and asked about his reason for meditation. Vyasa saluted the god and he folded his hands and prayed. He said to Brahma that “Lord, I have conceived an excellent work called “Mahabharata”, but I need a writer to note down my dictation. Brahma told him to invoke Lord Ganapati and beg him to become your amanuensis. Vyasa meditated on Ganapati, who appeared before him and with all respect he sought his help. Lord Ganapati agreed to dictate the story with a condition that, Vyasa should not take a pause or hesitation during dictation. Vyasa agreed the condition by guarding himself that Ganapati should grasp the meaning of lines before writing.  Ganapati smiled and agreed to the condition. Vyasa then started to sing the stanzas of story of the Mahabharata step by step. Occasionally, Ganapati took the pause to grasp the complex stanzas. Vyasa thus got the interval to compose many stanzas in his mind. Thus the Great Mahabharata came to be scripted by Vyasa with Lord Ganapati as scribe. After the completion of writing, Ganapati blessed Vyasa and disappeared. It is believed that the dictation of Mahabharata was done in Akshaya Tritiya, the third day of the waxing moon in the month of Vaishaka.
About the Book: Mahabharata is separated into eighteen books. They are Adi-parva, Sabha-parva, Vana-parva, Virata-parva, Udyoga-parva, Bhishma-parva, Drona-parva, Karna-parva, Shalya-parva, Sauptika-parva, Stri-parva, Shanti-parva, Anusasana-parva, Ashvamedhika-parva, Ashramavasika-parva, Mausala-parva, Mahaprasthanika-parva and Svargarohana-parva.

Adi-parva: Adi Parva has 19 upa-parvas (sub-books) and 236 adhyayas (chapters) in original book. Adi Parva is the first book and it is regarded as the Book of Beginning.In this Parva, it is described how the Mahabharata was narrated by Ugrashrava to the assembly of sages gathered in Naimisha Forest. He begins the story by giving an introduction to brahmin warrior, Parasurama (Sixth avatar of Lord Vishnu), the son of a great saint Jamadagni who waged war against all the Kshatriya communities 21 times in vengeance of father's death. He killed all the kings for this Adharma which happened in the end of later Treta Yuga. The blood flown out of their bodies formed into five lakes. Those five lakes of blood are called “Samanta-panchaka”. At that place later, Mahabharata war took place and the name of that place is Kurukshetra. Parshurama’s massacre of kings only stopped when he met Lord Rama (seventh avatar of Lord Vishnu) from Ikshvaku dynasty, who was so perfect king that he restored Parasurama’s faith in kings and ended his slaughter. He then threw his bloodstained axe into the sea, but the sea withdrew in horror and a new coast was formed. It marked the beginning of Dwapara Yuga.

The wives of all Kshatriyas remained as widows without having a son to become the next heir. They approached virtuous Brahmins and with their blessings, they begot male children. Again, the Kshatriya community began to grow. ILA and Ikshvaku dynasties are the only two prime and real Kshatriya dynasties survived from Parasurama Massacre. It was from ILA, the kuru dynasty later descended. All those kings started to rule the people without violating Dharma. The wet land slowly started to get rain and the foodgrains went abundance. Slowly adharma begun to rose in Dwapara Yuga. It later resulted in the Kurushetra War. At last, Dharma wins over Adharma. After giving the introduction by Ugrashrava, he started the tale with the story of King Janamejaya and the incidents that led him to hear about his forefather's ancestry. Here is the tale taken from Adi Parva of Mahabharata is as follows.

In Kali Yuga (Age of the Demon Kali ):

Chapter 1: The Spread of Mahabharata
Chapter 2: King Janamejaya's Curse
Chapter 3: Uddalaka Aruni, Upmanyu and Ved
Chapter 4: Ved and his student Uttank

Flashback of Stories from Satya Yuga (Era of Truth).

Chapter 5: The Birth of Gods and Manu
Chapter 6: Birth of Arun, Vasuki and Sheshanaga
Chapter 7: Churning the Ocean of Milk & Mohini
Chapter 8: Birth of Garuda and Vinata's Freedom
Chapter 9: Sheshnaga becomes Ananta Shesha
Chapter 10: The Curse on Snakes

Returing to Kali Yuga (Age of the Demon Kali ):

Chapter 11: Jaratkaru and the birth of Astika
Chapter 12: Snake Sacrifice of King Janamejaya

In Dwapara Yuga (Between Treta Yuga and Kali Yuga):

Chapter 13: Brihaspati, Chandra and Tara
Chapter 14: Budha and his wife Ila
Chapter 15: Urvashi and Pururavas
Chapter 16: Devayani, Kacha and Shukra
Chapter 17: Yayati, Devayani and Sharmishtha
Chapter 18: Madhavi ’s forgiveness
Chapter 19: Dushyanta and Shakuntala
Chapter 20: King Bharata and his Descendants
Chapter 21: King Shantanu and Ganga
Chapter 22: Veda Vyasa, the son of Satyavati
Chapter 23: Shantanu, Satyavati and Bhishma’s Oath
Chapter 24: Amba and Bhishma
Chapter 25: Birth of Dhritarashtra, Pandu and Vidura
Chapter 26: Birth of Pandavas
Chapter 27: Birth of Kauravas
Chapter 28: Death of Pandu
Chapter 29: Kripa And Kripi
Chapter 30: Drona - Teacher of Kauravas and Pandavas
Chapter 31: Arjuna, the greatest Archer
Chapter 32: Eklavya, the mighty Archer
Chapter 33: The Graduation Ceremony
Chapter 34: Karna - the Doomed Hero
Chapter 35: Bhima and the Nagas
Chapter 36: Lakshagraha - The House of Lac
Chapter 37: The escape of the Pandavas
Chapter 38: Bhima killing Bakasura
Chapter 39: Hidimba and Hidimbi
Chapter 40: A Gandharva called Angaraparna
Chapter 41: Drupada got boon from Shiva
Chapter 42: Draupadi ’s swayamvara
Chapter 43: The common wife and Krishna enters

Flashback of Krishna Story from Bhagavata purana

Chapter 44: Birth of Krishna and Balarama
Chapter 45: Childhood of Krishna and Balarama
Chapter 46: The End of Kamsa
Chapter 47: Migration to Dwaraka

Returning to Mahabharatha

Chapter 48: The division of Kuru lands
Chapter 49: The birth of Indraprastha
Chapter 50: Sharing Draupadi and Arjuna's exile
Chapter 51: Ulupi and Chitrangada
Chapter 52: Eloping with Subhadra
Chapter 53: Birth of Abhimanyu and Draupadi’s Sons
Chapter 54: Arjuna gets his Gandiva and Krishna his Chakra
Chapter 55: Nara and Narayana

Sabha-parva: Sabha Parva has 10 upa-parvas and 81 adhyayas in original book. Sabha Parva is the second book and it is regarded as the Book of Assembly Hall. This parva starts with the account of Maya Danava who constructed the assembly hall at Indraprastha. Moreover, the courteous life has also been narrated in a very attractive way in this parva. Other contents of the Sabha Parva are the Narada’s Guidance, Rajasuya Yajna of Yudhisthira, the game of dice and lastly the exile of the Pandavas to the forest.

Chapter 56: Maya builds a Hall
Chapter 57: Narada's guidance to Yudhisthira
Chapter 58: Pandu not qualified for Indrasabha, says Narada
Chapter 59: Yudhishthira consults Krishna on Rajasuya
Chapter 60: Two halves of a baby
Chapter 61: Can Jarasandha be killed?
Chapter 62: Financing the Rajasuya sacrifice.
Chapter 63: Yudhishthira’s Rajasuya sacrifice
Chapter 64: Sisupala obstructs the Rajasuya sacrifice
Chapter 65: The three eyes and four hands of Sisupala
Chapter 66: Sisupala’s blasphemy and its consequences
Chapter 67: Vyasa’s prediction after the Rajasuya
Chapter 68: Yudhishthira’s vow
Chapter 69: Duryodhana’s exhibition in Maya’s hall
Chapter 70: Sakuni’s scheme for a dice game.
Chapter 71: Pandavas invited for dice game
Chapter 72: Hurrah! I have won.
Chapter 73: Duryodhana insults Vidura.
Chapter 74: Yudhishthira wagers brothers .and Draupadi.
Chapter 75: Draupadi is dragged to the gambling hall.
Chapter 76: Draupadi’s appeals fall on deaf ears.
Chapter 77: The attempt to disrobe Draupadi.
Chapter 78: Radheya's hurting words.
Chapter 79: Bhima’s vow.
Chapter 80: Dhritarashtra is frightened
Chapter 81: Hook Yudhishthira once again, cries Duryodhana.
Chapter 82: The second dice game.
Chapter 83: Pandavas vow again.
Chapter 84: Vidura describes Pandavas’ exit.
Chapter 85: Ominous forebodings
Chapter 86: Drona’s warning to Duryodhana

Vana Parva: Aranyaka Parva or Vana Parva, which is also known as the Book of the Forest, is the third book in the sequel of the great epic of Mahabharata. This book narrates the tale of the twelve years of exile of the Pandavas in the forest. It also gives an account of the incident that how the Pandavas were deceitfully defeated in the game of dice by the sons of Dhritarashtra and their counsellors and in addition to that how the Kaurava’s cruel words brought about Kuru Clan’s two branches. This parva comprises of sixteen sub parvas.

Chapter 87: The celestial bowl from the Sun god.
Chapter 88: The irresolute king.
Chapter 89: Duryodhana desires to kill the Pandavas.
Chapter 90: Duryodhana collects a curse.
Chapter 91: Bhima kills Bakasura’s brother.
Chapter 92: Salwa’s action brings his own doom.
Chapter 93: Pandavas proceed to Dwaita.
Chapter 94: Arjuna leaves to acquire weapons.
Chapter 95: Arjuna meets Indra.
Chapter 96: Arjuna’s scorching penance.
Chapter 97: Siva gives Arjuna the Pasupata.
Chapter 98: The gods give Arjuna their weapons.
Chapter 99: Arjuna reaches Indra’s hall.
Chapter 100: Urvasi curses Arjuna.
Chapter 101: Arjuna subdues the Nivata-Kavachas.
Chapter 102: Brihadwaswa tells Nala’s story to Yudhishthira, teaches dice game
Chapter 103: Pandavas plan pilgrimage.
Chapter 104: The pilgrims’ progress.
Chapter 105: The lotus of Gandhamadana.
Chapter 106: The monkey that subdued Bhima.
Chapter 107: A traitor in the Pandava camp.
Chapter 108: Arjuna returns.
Chapter 109: A fallen Indra is redeemed.
Chapter 110: Return to Dwaitavana.
Chapter 111: The arrival of Kalki.
Chapter 112: A needless humiliation for Duryodhana.
Chapter 113: Duryodhana's strange dream.
Chapter 114: The Vaishnava sacrifice.
Chapter 115: Pandavas' hospitality tested.
Chapter 116: Give me food, demands Krishna.
Chapter 117: Jayadratha is chastised.
Chapter 118: The love story of Savitri and Satyavan
Chapter 119: Radheya loses his ear-rings and mail.
Chapter 120: Yudhishthira answers the Yaksha.

Virata Parva:

Chapter 122: A disguise for each Pandava.
Chapter 123: Dhaumya’s words of wisdom.
Chapter 124: Pandavas infiltrate Virata’s court.
Chapter 125: Bhima’s wrestling match.
Chapter 126: Kichaka’s overtures to Draupadi.
Chapter 127: Kichaka’s infatuation and devious plans.
Chapter 128: Kichaka pays dearly.
Chapter 129: The scene at Kichaka’s funeral.
Chapter 130: Duryodhana’s search for the Pandavas.
Chapter 131: Duryodhana battles Virata.
Chapter 132: Who is that eunach?
Chapter 133: Arjuna routs the Kauravas.
Chapter 134: Virata hits Kanka.
Chapter 135: Abhimanyu marries Uttara.

Udyoga Parva:

Chapter 136: The gathering storm.
Chapter 137: Duryodhana and Arjuna both seek Krishna’s help.
Chapter 138: Duryodhana manipulates Salya.
Chapter 139: How Nahusha became a serpent.
Chapter 140: Drupada’s messenger to Dhritarashtra.
Chapter 141: Sanjaya reports to Dhritarashtra.
Chapter 142: Elders’ plea to Duryodhana.
Chapter 143: Duryodhana’s rage at elders.
Chapter 144: Krishna counsels Pandavas.
Chapter 145: Krishna goes to Kaurava court.
Chapter 146: Krishna’s no to Duryodhana.
Chapter 147: Rishis invited to court.
Chapter 148: Krishna’s brief to Kauravas.
Chapter 149: Not a needlepoint, says Duryodhana.
Chapter 150: Duryodhana plans to imprison Krishna.
Chapter 151: Krishna shows Duryodhana his terrible form.
Chapter 152: Krishna’s encounter with Karna.
Chapter 153: Karna’s vow to Kunti, I shall kill only Arjuna.
Chapter 154: Commander-in-Chief of Pandava army.
Chapter 155: The Army marches.
Chapter 156: Either Karna or I, says Bhishma.
Chapter 157: Balarama leaves on pilgrimage.
Chapter 158: Rukmi makes a spectacle of himself.
Chapter 159: A jesting Duryodhana sends Sakuni’s son to the Pandavas.
Chapter 160: Karna in special category.
Chapter 161: How long would the War last?.

Bhishma Parva:

Chapter 162: Sanjaya becomes Dhritarashtra’s eyes.
Chapter 163: Battle positions.
Chapter 164: The conches sound.
Chapter 165: Arjuna lays down his bow.
Chapter 166: The god speaks.
Chapter 167: Yudhishthira’s strange move.
Chapter 168: Krishna meets Karna again.
Chapter 169: Yuyutsu joins Pandavas.
Chapter 170: Day 1 of Battle – Bhishma routs the Pandavas.
Chapter 171: Day 2 of Battle – Duryodhana taunts Bhishma.
Chapter 172: Day 3 of Battle – Bhishma pleads with Krishna to kill him.
Chapter 173: Day 4 of Battle – Bhima causes havoc.
Chapter 174: Day 5 of Battle – Honours are shared.
Chapter 175: Day 6 of Battle – Dhritarashtra’s frustration and Sanjaya’s answer.
Chapter 176: Day 7 of Battle – Abhimanyu lets off Duryodhana’s brothers.
Chapter 177: Day 8 of Battle – Iravat, Arjuna’s valiant son.
Chapter 178: Day 9 of Battle – How to kill Bhishma?
Chapter 179: Day 10 of Battle – Closing-in on Bhishma..

Drona Parva:

Chapter 180: Day 11 of Battle – Drona becomes Kaurava military chief.
Chapter 181: Day 12 of Battle – I shall capture Yudhishthira, vows Drona.
Chapter 182: Day 13 of Battle – Abhimanyu and the Chakra formation.
Chapter 183: Day 14 of Battle – A day without end for Jayadratha.
Chapter 184: Day 15 of Battle – The prince of truth utters a lie.

Karna Parva:

Chapter 185: Day 16 of Battle – Kauravas’ new general.
Chapter 186: Day 17 of Battle – The tragedy that was Karna.

Salya Parva:

Chapter 187: Day 18 of Battle – The sun sets on the Great War.
Chapter 188: Duryodhana goes into hiding.
Chapter 189: I have nothing to fight for, says Duryodhana.
Chapter 190: A sudden-death offer from Yudhishthira.
Chapter 191: Duryodhana and Bhima, the final showdown.
Chapter 192: Duryodhana accuses Krishna.

Sauptika Parva:

Chapter 193: Aswatthama on the rampage.
Chapter 194: Mission accomplished,
Chapter 195: Aswatthama reports to dying Duryodhana.
Chapter 196: The hunt for Aswatthama.

Stree Parva:

Chapter 197: Dhritarashtra’s deadly embrace.
Chapter 198: Gandhari curses Krishna.

Santhi Parva:

Chapter 199: Bhishma’s discourse

Anusasana Parva:

Chapter 200: Death waits on Bhishma

Aswamedha Parva:

Chapter 201: Finance for a Horse sacrifice.
Chapter 202: Abhimanyu’s son is born.
Chapter 203: Yudhishthira performs the Horse sacrifice.
Chapter 204: Ulipi engineers Arjuna’s death.
Chapter 205: A strange intruder during sacrifice

Asramavasaka Parva:

Chapter 206: Yudhishthira, a benevolent monarch.
Chapter 207: Bhima’s remarks and Dhritarashtra’s reaction.
Chapter 208: Dhritarashtra takes to the forest.
Chapter 209: The soul of Vidura.
Chapter 210: The living meet the dead.
Chapter 211: Dhritarashtra, Gandhari and Kunti die.

Mausala Parva:

Chapter 212: Story of the iron rod.
Chapter 213: Asses born to cows, mules to elephants.
Chapter 214: Krishna’s death.
Chapter 215: Arjuna visits Dwaraka.
Chapter 216: Dwaraka disappears.

Mahaprasthanika Parva:

Chapter 217: Pandavas’ journey to the next world.
Chapter 218: “Why has Draupadi fallen?”
Chapter 219: The dog that followed Yudhishthira

Svargarohana Parva:

Chapter 220: Duryodhana in Heaven.
Chapter 221: Yudhishthira’s visit to Hell.
Chapter 222: Yudhishthira attains Heaven

To be Contd...

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