The Mahabharata,Originally Called Jaya - (victory)
The Mahabharata, perhaps with some justification, is said to be the
longest poem in the world. 100,000 stanzas strong, the epic has a story
which is as relevant to the world today as it was then. and if the Greek
Epics - Iliad and the Odyssey are considered to be long, then it
wouldnt be amiss to mention that the Mahabharata is eight times
longer than Homers two epics combined!
Tradition has it that the Ramayana (see Ramayana) was written at the
date much earlier than the Mahabharata. History, however, tells another
tale. Polyandry was an early Aryan concept. Further, the Ramayana talks
about the southern peninsula, which had not been penetrated into in the
time of the Mahabharata.
The Legendary Tale of Mahabharata
The story of the Mahabharata revolves around two families, the Pandavas
and the Kauravas who were cousins. They were children of Dhritrashtra
and Pandu, the sons of Shantanu. The Pandavas were: Yudhishtra the
righteous, Bhima of prodigious strength, Arjuna the warrior and Nakula
and Sahdev, the twins who were known for their good looks. There were a
hundred Kaurava children, of whom the eldest was Duryodhana who along
with his uncle Shakuni are the main villains of the epic.
The whole rigmarole starts when Dhritrashtra, though being the elder
son, does not succeed to the throne because he is blind. Pandu does, and
that makes fertile ground for future rivalries to gain ground especially
when Pandu dies and Dhritrashtra becomes the regent of his children and
The bitterness between the two families starts taking shape early even
in school days. and as the children grow, things get progressively worse
as the Kauravas repeatedly attempt to assassinate their more popular and
accomplished cousins. However, that was nothing compared to the trouble
that starts when the Pandavas demand their kingdom back from their
This request is turned down by Duryodhana and just as things seem to be
headed for a colossal clash, Krishna the suave master strategist and
statesman, intervenes and resolves the crisis. The Pandavas are given
the area of the present Delhi (called Indraprastha) to rule. Tales are
told of the fabulous city that
Indraprastha grew into under the Pandavas. Came the day when the
Kauravas decided to pay their cousins a visit, and dazzled by the city
decided to get that back too.
What happened next is one of the Mahabharata's most well-known and
oft-played episodes which has moved many pious hearts. The Pandavas were
invited to capital of the Kauravas where Yudhishtra (the head of the
Pandavas) is tricked into gambling with them. Duryodhana well knew that
with Shakuni, his clever uncle who was an expert at gambling, at the
helm things were bound to go his way. After having lost everything in
the game including his brothers Yudhishtra, in a bid to
get back everything he has lost, bids his wife Draupadi. and loses.
In a very emotion-charged scene, Draupadi is dragged into the court by
Dhushashan, Duryodhana's younger brother, and an attempt is made to
strip her. Which fails. For Lord Krishna performs a miracle her
sari goes on for yards and refuses to come off. Following this, Pandavas
are forced into exile and are told to wait thirteen years before they
can reclaim their kingdom.
Thirteen years and many adventures later, the Pandavas return and are
again refused access to their kingdom. Upon which the Pandavas decide
that enough is enough and a terrible war ensues. The Bhagwad Gita (see
Bhagwad Gita) was expounded by Lord Krishna at the beginning of this
war. In the end only one survivor, Manu, remains to keep the dynasty
Mahabharata A Wondrous Tale Full of Twist and Curves
The Mahabharata is an amazing tale full of drama, scheming, jealousy,
human foibles and failings. The legendary author of the epic is called
Vyasa, which means the compiler so we dont really know the real
name of the writer; although it has been suggested that a whole team of
Brahmins composed it under the alias of Vyasa.
About his tale Vyasa is supposed to have said, 'that which cannot be
found exists nowhere.'
Well, as Brahma (of the Hindu Trinity of Gods) would say, tathastu (so