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Manuscript illustration of the Battle of Kurukshetra The Mahbhrata (Devanagari: ), /mabart/ is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the other being the Ramayana. With more than 74,000 verses, long prose passages, and about 1.8 million words in total, the Mahbhrata is one of the longest epic poems in the world. Including the Harivamsa, the Mahabharata has a total length of more than 90,000 verses. It is of immense importance to the culture of India and Nepal, and is a major text of Hinduism. Its discussion of human goals (artha or wealth, kama or pleasure, dharma or duty/harmony, and moksha or liberation) takes place in a long-standing tradition, attempting to explain the relationship of the individual to society and the world (the nature of the 'Self') and the workings of karma. The title may be translated as "the great tale of the Bharata Dynasty", according to the Mahbhrata's own testimony extended from a shorter version simply called Bhrata of 24,000 verses The epic is part of the Hindu itihsa, literally "that which happened", which includes the Ramayana and the Puras. Traditionally, Hindus ascribe the Mahabharata to Vyasa. Because of its immense length, its philological study has a long history of attempts to unravel its historical growth and
composition layers. Its earliest layers date back to the late Vedic period (ca. 5th c. BCE) and it probably reached its final form in the early Gupta period (ca. 4th c. CE).
1 Influence 2 Textual history and organization 3 Historicity 4 Structure and authorship 5 Synopsis o 5.1 The elder generations o 5.2 The Pandava and Kaurava princes o 5.3 Laakshagriha (The House of Wax) o 5.4 Marriage to Draupadi o 5.5 Indraprastha o 5.6 The dice game o 5.7 Exile and return o 5.8 The battle at Kurukshetra o 5.9 The end of the Pandavas 6 Versions, translations, and derivative works o 6.1 Critical Edition o 6.2 Modern Interpretations o 6.3 English Translations 6.3.1 Lal version 6.3.2 Clay Sanskrit Library version 6.3.3 Chicago version 6.3.4 Ganguli version 7 Kuru family tree 8 See also 9 Notes 10 References 11 External links
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Rigveda Yajurveda Samaveda Atharvaveda Divisions Samhita Brahmana Aranyaka Upanishad Upanishad Aitareya Brihadaranyaka Isha Taittiriya Chandogya Kena Mundaka Mandukya Katha Prashna Shvetashvatara Vedanga Shiksha Chandas Vyakarana Nirukta Jyotisha Kalpa Mahakavaya (epics) Mahabharata Ramayana Other scriptures Smriti ruti Bhagavad Gita Purana Agama Darshana Pancharatra Tantra Sutra Stotra Dharmashastra Divya Prabandha Tevaram Akhilathirattu Ramacharitamanas Shikshapatri VachanamrutThis box: view talk edit
In its scope, the Mahabharata is more than simply a story of kings and princes, sages and wise men, demons and gods. Vyasa, says that one of its aims is elucidating the four goals of life: dharma (duty),artha (wealth),kama (pleasure), and moksha (liberation). The narrative culminates in moksha, believed by Hindus to be the ultimate goal of human beings. Karma and dharma play an integral role in the Mahabharata. The Mahabharata includes aspects of Hinduism, stories of the gods and goddesses, and explanations of Hindu philosophy. Among the principal works and stories that are a part of the Mahabharata are the following (often considered isolated as works in their own right):
Bhagavad Gita (Krishna advises and teaches Arjuna when he is ridden with doubt. Anushasanaparva.) Damayanti (or Nala and Damayanti, a love story. Aranyakaparva.)
Krishnavatara (the story of Krishna, the Krishna Lila, which is woven through many chapters of the story) An abbreviated version of the Ramayana. Aranyakaparva. Rishyasringa (also written as Rshyashrnga, the horned boy and rishi. Aranyakaparva.) Vishnu sahasranama (a hymn to Vishnu, which describes his 1000 names; Anushasanaparva.)
The Mahabharata expresses an epic tendency towards all-inclusiveness at the beginning of its first parva (section): "What is found here, may be found elsewhere. What is not found here, will not be found elsewhere."
 Textual history and organizationIt is undisputed that the full length of the Mahabharata has accreted over a long period. The Mahabharata itself (1.1.61) distinguishes a core portion of 24,000 verses, the Bharata proper, as opposed to additional secondary material, while the Ashvalayana Grhyasutra (3.4.4) makes a similar distinction. According to the Adi-parva of the Mahabharata (shlokas 81, 101-102), the text was originally 8,800 verses when it was composed by Vyasa and was known as the Jaya (Victory), which later became 24,000 verses in the Bharata recited by Vaisampayana, and finally over 90,000 verses in the Mahabharata recited by Ugrasravas. As with the field of Homeric studies, research on the Mahabharata has put an enormous effort into recognizing and dating various layers within the text. The complex structure had caused some early Western Indologists to refer to it as chaotic. The earliest known references to the Mahabharata and its core Bharata date back to the 6th-5th century BC, in the Ashtadhyayi (sutra 6.2.38) of Pini (c. 520-460 BC), and in the Ashvalayana Grhyasutra (3.4.4), while various characters from the epic are also mentioned in earlier Vedic literature. This indicates that the core 24,000 verses, known as the Bharata, as well as an early version of the extended Mahabharata, were composed by the 6th-5th century BC, with parts of the Jaya's original 8,800 verses possibly dating back as far as the 9th-8th century BC. The Greek writer Dio Chrysostom (ca. 40-ca. 120) reported, "it is said that Homer's poetry is sung even in India, where they have translated it into their own speech and tongue. The result is that...the people of India...are not unacquainted with the sufferings of Priam, the laments and wailings of Andromache and Hecuba, and the valor of both Achilles and Hector: so remarkable has been the spell of one man's poetry!" Despite the passage's evident face-value meaningthat the Iliad had been translated into Sanskrit some scholars have supposed that the report reflects the existence of a Mahabharata at this date, whose episodes Dio or his sources syncretistically identify with the story of the Iliad. Christian Lassen, in his Indische Alterthumskunde, supposed that the reference is ultimately to Dhritarashtra's sorrows, the laments of Gandhari and Draupadi, and the valor of Arjuna and Suyodhana(or aka Dhuryodhana) and Karna. This interpretation,
endorsed in such standard references as Albrecht Weber's History of Indian Literature, has often been repeated without specific reference to what Dio's text says. Later, the copper-plate inscription of the Maharaja Sharvanatha (533-534) from Khoh (Satna District, Madhya Pradesh) describes the Mahabharata as a "collection of 100,000 verses" (shatasahasri samhita). The redaction of this large body of text was carried out after formal principles, emphasizing the numbers 18 and 12. The addition of the latest parts may be dated by the absence of the Anushasana-parva from MS Spitzer, the oldest surviving Sanskrit philosophical manuscript dated to the first century, that contains among other things a list of the books in the Mahabharata. From this evidence, it is likely that the redaction into 18 books took place in the first century. An alternative division into 20 parvas appears to have co-existed for some time. The division into 100 sub-parvas (mentioned in Mbh. 1.2.70) is older, and most parvas are named after one of their constituent sub-parvas. The Harivamsa consists of the final two of the 100 sub-parvas, and was considered an appendix (khila) to the Mahabharata proper by the redactors of the 18 parvas. The division into 18 parvas is as follows: parv title a subcontents parvas Introduction, birth and upbringing of the princes. Life at the court, the game of dice, and the exile of the Pandavas. Maya Danava erects the palace and court (sabha), at Indraprastha.
Aranyaka-parva (also 29-44 Vanaparva, Aranyaparva) Virata-parva Udyoga-parva 45-48 49-59
The twelve years in exile in the forest (aranya).
The year in exile spent at the court of Virata. Preparations for war. The first part of the great battle, with Bhishma as commander for the Kauravas.
The battle continues, with Drona as commander. The battle again, with Karna as commander. The last part of the battle, with Shalya as commander. How Ashvattama and the remaining Kauravas killed the Pandava army in their sleep (Sauptika). Gandhari and the other women (stri) lament the dead. The crowning of Yudhisthira, and his instructions from Bhishma The final instructions (anusasana) from Bhishma. The royal ceremony of the ashvamedha conducted by Yudhisthira. Dhritarashtra, Gandhari and Kunti leave for an ashram, and eventual death in the forest. The infighting between the Yadavas with maces (mausala). The first part of the path to death (mahaprasthana "great journey") of Yudhisthira and his brothers.