The Mahabharata or Mahabharata (Sanskrit: ?????????, Mahabharatam, pronounced [m ??a?'b?a?r?t??

m]) is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the o ther being the Ramayana.[1] Besides its epic narrative of the Kurukshetra War and the fates of the Kaurava a nd the Pandava princes, the Mahabharata contains much philosophical and devotion al material, such as a discussion of the four "goals of life" or purusharthas (1 2.161). Among the principal works and stories that are a part of the Mahabharata are the Bhagavad Gita, the story of Damayanti, an abbreviated version of the Ra mayana, and the Rishyasringa, often considered as works in their own right. Traditionally, the authorship of the Mahabharata is attributed to Vyasa. There h ave 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 a round 400 BCE, though the origins of the epic probably fall between the 8th and 9th centuries BCE.[2] The text probably reached its final form by the early Gupt a period (c. 4th century).[3] The title may be translated as "the great tale of the Bharata dynasty". According to the Mahabharata itself, the tale is extended from a shorter version of 24,000 verses called simply Bharata.[4] The Mahabharata is the longest Sanskrit epic.[5] Its longest version consists of over 100,000 shloka or over 200,000 individual verse lines (each shloka is a co uplet), and long prose passages. About 1.8 million words in total, the Mahabhara ta is roughly ten times the length of the Iliad and the Odyssey combined, or abo ut four times the length of the Ramayana.[6][7] W. J. Johnson has compared the i mportance of the Mahabharata to world civilization to that of the Bible, the wor ks of Shakespeare, the works of Homer, Greek drama, or the Qur'an.[8] Contents [hide] 1 Textual history and structure 1.1 Accretion and redaction 1.2 Historical references 1.3 The 18 parvas or books 2 Historical context 3 Synopsis 3.1 The older generations 3.2 The Pandava and Kaurava princes 3.3 Lakshagraha (The House of Lac) 3.4 Marriage to Draupadi 3.5 Indraprastha 3.6 The dice game 3.7 Exile and return 3.8 The battle at Kurukshetra 3.9 The end of the Pandavas 4 Themes 4.1 Just War 5 Versions, translations, and derivative works 5.1 Critical Edition 5.2 Modern interpretations 5.3 Persian translation 5.4 English translations 5.5 Abridged versions 5.6 Derivative works 6 Jain version 7 Kuru family tree 8 Cultural influence 9 See also 10 Notes 11 References 12 External links Textual history and structure

The addition of the latest parts may be dated by the absence of the Anushasan a-parva and the Virata parva from the "Spitzer manuscript".[11] Vishnu Sukthankar. Vyasa agrees on condition that Ganesha ta kes the time to understand what was said before writing it down. It is recited by t he sage Vaisampayana. It is generall y agreed that "Unlike the Vedas.4) makes a similar distinction. on the basis of an archetype and a stemma codicum." That this is "a date not to o far removed from the 8th or 9th century B. otherwise known as frametal es.000 verses. his scrib e. The text has been described by some early 20th-century western Indologists as un structured and chaotic.000 verses as recited by Vaisampayana.50.Depiction at Angkor Wat of Vyasa narrating the Mahabharata to Ganesha. Accretion and redaction Research on the Mahabharata has put an enormous effort into recognizing and dati ng layers within the text.81).1. which may include an allusion in Panini's 4th century BCE grammar As htadhyayi 4:2:56. editor of the first great critical edition of the Maha bharata. many years later.[17] The oldest survi ving Sanskrit text dates to the Kushan Period (200 CE). given its material com position and the climate of India. respectively. who is also a major charac ter in the epic.4. argue that Jaya and Bharata refer to the same text.C. The Mahabharata itself (1. a disciple of Vyasa. Hermann Oldenberg supposed that the original poem must o nce have carried an immense "tragic force" but dismissed the full text as a "hor rible chaos. but it is very extensive. which have to be preserved letter-perfect. The story is then recited again by a p rofessional storyteller named Ugrasrava Sauti. The epic employs the story within a story structure.1. He also describe s the Guru-shishya parampara. to an assemblag e of sages performing the 12-year sacrifice for the king Saunaka Kulapati in the Naimisha Forest. Wha t 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 a vailable.800 verses to a misread ing of a verse in Adiparvan (1.[18] According to what one character says at Mbh. popular in many Indian religious and non-religious works.000 verses: t he Bharata proper.3."[12] That manuscript evidence is somewhat late. Astika (1.[10] The background to the Mahabharata suggests the origin of the epic occurs "after the very early Vedic period" and before "the first In dian 'empire' was to rise in the third century B. Ganesha is said to have agreed to write it only if Vyasa never paused in his recitation. beginning with Manu (1.61) distinguishes a core portion of 24. emphasizing the numbers 18[16] and 1 2. 1. The first section of the Mahabharata states that it was Ganesha who wrote down t he text to Vyasa's dictation. These versions would correspond to the addition of one and the . which traces all great teachers and their students of the Vedic times. commented: "It is useless to think of reconstructing a fluid text in a literally original shape.5 7).800 verses attributed to Vyasa. At least three redactions of the text are commonly recognized: Jaya (Victory) with 8. to the King Janamejaya who is the gre at-grandson of the Pandava prince Arjuna."[2][11] is likely. Vyasa described it as being itihasa (history).1.1. as opposed to additional secondary material.[2][11] It is estimated that the Sanskrit text probably reached something of a "final form" by the early Gupta period (about the 4th century CE ). The epic is traditionally ascribed to the sage Vyasa."[9] Moritz Winternitz (Geschichte der indischen Literatur 1909) con sidered that "only unpoetical theologists and clumsy scribes" could have lumped the parts of disparate origin into an unordered whole.C. while the Ashval ayana Grhyasutra (3. there were three versions o f the epic. the epic was a popular work whose reciters would inevitably conform to changes in la nguage and style.[13][14] Ho wever."[11] so the earliest 'surviving' components of this dynamic te xt are believed to be no older than the earliest 'external' references we have t o the epic. some scholars such as John Brockington. Bharata with 24.[15] The redaction of this large body of te xt was carried out after formal principles. and finally th e Mahabharata as recited by Ugrasrava Sauti with over 100. Some elements of the present Mahabharata can be trace d back to Vedic times. sub-parva 5) or Vasu (1.27). and ascribe the theory of Jaya with 8.

occur. were compos ed by the 4th century BCE. intr oduce the name Mahabharata.15.c. Abhijñanashakuntala by the renowne d Sanskrit poet Kalidasa (c. 4th century BCE) and in the Ashvalay ana Grhyasutra (3. Aranya-parva (The Book of the Forest) 29 44 The twelve years of exile in the forest (aranya). The redacto rs of these additions were probably Pancharatrin scholars who according to Oberl ies (1998) likely retained control over the text until its final redaction. as well as an early version of the extended Mahabharata. and identify Vyasa as the work's author. This sarp asattra material was often considered an independent tale added to a version of the Mahabharata by "thematic attraction" (Minkowski 1991). 5 Udyoga Parva (The Book of the Effort) 49 59 Preparations for war and efforts to bring about peace between the Kurus and the Pandavas which eventuall . For instance.4. Life at the court. there are still snakes in existence. known as t he Bharata. after having been recited at the sarpasattra of Janamejaya by Vaishampayana at Tak?asila.000 verses" (shatasahasri samhita). the game of dice. The history and genealogy of the Bharata and Bhrigu races is recalled. detailing why all snakes in existence were intended to be des troyed. Yudhishthir a's Rajasuya Yajna. a Sanskrit play written by Bhasa who is believed to have lived before Kal idasa. is based on the slaying of Duryodhana by the splitting of his thighs by B hima. 120 CE) about Homer's po etry being sung even in India[20] seems to imply that the Iliad had been transla ted into Sanskrit. believed to have lived in the era of the G upta dynasty. The Panchavims ha Brahmana (at 25. 4 Virata Parva (The Book of Virata) 45 48 The year spent incognito at the court of Virata.38) of Pa?ini (fl.[21] Several stories within the Mahabharata took on separate identities of their own in Classical Sanskrit literature. as well as Takshaka. This may suggest that the core 24.n another 'frame' settings of dialogues. However. The 18 parvas or books The division into 18 parvas is as follows: Parva Title Sub-parvas Contents 1 Adi Parva (The Book of the Beginning) 1 19 How the Mahabharata came to be narrated by Sauti to the assembled rishis at Naimisharanya. and considered to hav e a particularly close connection to Vedic (Brahmana) literature. The Vasu version would omit the frame s ettings and begin with the account of the birth of Vyasa. as is the bi rth and early life of the Kuru princes (adi means first). The copper-plate inscription of the Maharaja Sharvanatha (533 534 CE) from Khoh (S atna District.000 verses.[19] Historical references See also: Bhagavad Gita#Date and text The earliest known references to the Mahabharata and its core Bharata date to th e Ashtadhyayi (sutra 6. the name of a snake in the Mahabharata.2. is based on a story that is the precursor to the Mahabharata. scholars have.4). Madhya Pradesh) describes the Mahabharata as a "collection of 100 . explaini ng its motivation. 40 . The snake sacrifice of Janamejaya The Adi-parva includes the snake sacrifice (sarpasattra) of Janamejaya. and the eventual exile of the Pandavas. taken this as evidence fo r the existence of a Mahabharata at this date.3) enumerates the officiant priests of a sarpasattra among whom the names Dhrtarashtra and Janamejaya. at Indraprastha. and why in spite of this. The astika version wou ld add the sarpasattra and ashvamedha material from Brahmanical literature. 3 Vana Parva also Aranyaka-parva. Ment ion of the Huna in the Bhishma-parva however appears to imply that this parva ma y have been edited around the 4th century[citation needed]. two main characters of the Mahabhar ata's sarpasattra. 400 CE). A report by the Greek writer Dio Chrysostom (c. 2 Sabha Parva (The Book of the Assembly Hall) 20 28 Maya Danava erec ts the palace and court (sabha). Urub hanga. in general. whose episodes Dio or his sources identify with the story of the Iliad.

[26] A dynastic conflict of the period could have been the inspiration for the Jaya. and instructions from Bhishma for the newly anointed king on society. with Shalya as commander. where t he Kuru kingdom was the center of political power during roughly 1200 to 800 BCE . since Bhima kills Duryodhana by smashing him on the thig hs with a mace. Most of the great warriors on both sides are dead by the end of this book. 13 Anushasana Parva (The Book of the Instructions) 89 90 The final instru ctions (anushasana) from Bhishma. (Includes the Bhagavad Gita in chapters 25[22]-42. Vidura predeceases them and Sanjaya on Dhritaras htra's bidding goes to live in the higher Himalayas. Puranic literature presents genealogical lists associated with the Mahabharata n arrative. Of the first kind. with a climactic battle eventually coming to be viewed as an epochal event. with Karna as commander. commonly d ated to 382 BCE. The evidence of the Puranas is of two kinds. This is the major book of the war. 8 Karna Parva (The Book of Karna) 73 The battle again.[27] However. This is the longest book of the Mahabh arata (shanti means peace).[25] The s etting of the epic has a historical precedent in Iron Age (Vedic) India. with Drona as commander. with Bhishma as commander for the Kauravas and his fall on the bed o f arrows. economics and politics. The Anugita is told by Krishna to Arjuna. 14 Ashvamedhika Parva (The Book of the Horse Sacrifice)[24] 91 92 The royal ceremony of the Ashvamedha (Horse sacrifice) conducted by Yudhisthira. Historical context Further information: Epic India 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. 11 Stri Parva (The Book of the Women) 81 85 Gandhari. khila Harivamsa Parva (The Book of the Genealogy of Hari) 99 100 This is an addendum to the 18 books. 9 Shalya Parva (The Book of Shalya) 74 77 The last day of the batt le. the foundation on which the Mahabharata corpus was built. which would yield an estimate of about 1400 BCE for the Bharata battle. Kunti and the women (stri) of the Kurus and Pandavas lament the dead. The world conquest by Arjuna. and covers those parts of the life of Krishna which is not covered in the 18 parvas of the Mahabharata.[23]) 7 Drona Parva (The Book of Drona) 65 72 The battle continues. 18 Svargarohana Parva (The Book of the Ascent to Heaven) 98 Yudhisth ira's final test and the return of the Pandavas to the spiritual world (svarga). 15 Ashramavasika Parva (The Book of the Hermitage) 93 95 The eventual dea ths of Dhritarashtra. 10 Sauptika Parva (The Book of the Sleeping Warriors) 78 80 Ashvatta ma. Only 7 warriors remain on the Pandava side and 3 on the Kaurava side. 6 Bhishma Parva (The Book of Bhishma) 60 64 The first part of the gr eat battle. Gandhari and Kunti in a forest fire when they are living i n a hermitage in the Himalayas. this would imply improbably long reigns on average for the kings listed in the genealogies. 16 Mausala Parva (The Book of the Clubs) 96 The infighting between t he Yadavas with maces (mausala) and the eventual destruction of the Yadavas. 17 Mahaprasthanika Parva (The Book of the Great Journey) 97 The grea t journey of Yudhisthira and his brothers across the whole country and finally t heir ascent of the great Himalayas where each Pandava falls except for Yudhisthi ra.[28] Of the second kind are analyses of paralle . 12 Shanti Parva (The Book of Peace) 86 88 The crowning of Yudhisth ira as king of Hastinapura. Kripa and Kritavarma kill the remaining Pandava army in their sleep. Also told in detail is the pilgrimage of Balarama to the fords of the river Saraswati and the mace fight between Bhima and Duryodh ana which ends the war. there is the direct statement that there were 1015 (or 1050) years between the birth o f Parikshit (Arjuna's grandson) and the accession of Mahapadma Nanda.y fail (udyoga means effort or work).

The two collateral branches of the family that participate in the struggle are the Kaurava and the Pandava. morality and virtue. Lal used the same approach with a more conservative assumption of the aver age reign to estimate a date of 836 BCE. The battle produces complex conflicts of kinship an d friendship. It also marks the beg inning of the Hindu age of Kali Yuga. . Varahamihira (author of the Brhatsamhita) a nd Kalhana (author of the Rajatarangini).[30] Attempts to date the events using methods of archaeoastronomy have produced.[33] Synopsis Ganesha writing the Mahabharata The core story of the work is that of a dynastic struggle for the throne of Hast inapura. is younger than Yudhisthira. corresponding to 2449 BCE.[31] The late 4th millennium date has a precedent in the calculation of the Kaliyuga epoch. the fourth and final age of mankind. and man is heading towards the c omplete dissolution of right action. Althoug h the Kaurava is the senior branch of the family. The struggle culminates in the great battle of Kurukshetra. claims that 3735 years have elapsed si nce the Bharata battle. instances of family loyalty and duty taking precedence over what i s right. Pargiter accordingly estimated 26 generation s by averaging 10 different dynastic lists and.[29] B. by Aryabhata (6th century). Duryodhana. assuming 18 years for the averag e duration of a reign. in which the Pandava s are ultimately victorious. dated to Saka 556 = 634 CE. Both Duryodhana and Yudhisthi ra claim to be first in line to inherit the throne. represented by Vriddha-Garga. B. place the Bharata war 653 years after the Kaliyuga epoch. the Aihole inscription of Pulikeshi II. dep ending on which passages are chosen and how they are interpreted.[32]) Another traditional school of astronomers and histo rians. and the subsequent end of his dynasty and ascent of the Pandava brothers to heaven. the kingdom ruled by the Kuru clan. the eldest Kaurava . as well as the converse. The Mahabharata itself ends with the death of Krishna.l genealogies in the Puranas between the times of Adhisimakrishna (Parikshit's g reat-grandson) and Mahapadma Nanda. based on planeta ry conjunctions. in wh ich great values and noble ideas have crumbled. arrived at an estimate of 850 BCE for Adhisimakrishna. the association being strong between PGW artifacts and places mentioned in the epic. and correlated this with archaeological evidence from Painted Grey Ware sites. estimates rang ing from the late 4th to the mid-2nd millennium BCE. the eldest Pandava. an d thus approximately 950 BCE for the Bharata battle. His date of February 18 3102 BCE ha s become widespread in Indian tradition (for example.