What texts describe Mahabharat


Mahabharata (Sanskrit: महाभारत mahābhārata n.) literally: "the great (Maha) story of the Bharatas". The Mahabharata is next to the Ramayana the second great Indian heroic epic. It contains the Bhagavad Gita (Bhishma Parva chap. 25-42). The work consists of about 106,000 verses, which are spread over eighteen books, parvans. The sage Vyasa is considered to be the author of the epic.

Mahabharata महाभारत Mahābhārata pronunciation

Here you can hear how the Sanskrit word Mahabharata, महाभारत, Mahābhārata is pronounced:

Sukadev via Mahabharata

Transcription of a lecture video (2014) by Sukadev on Mahabharata

Mahabharata - one of the great Indian epics, Mahabharata - one of the important scriptures, Mahabharata - the great scripture in which the Bhagavad Gita is also located, also some other Gitas, chants for instruction. Bhagavad Gita - chant of the sublime. Bhagavad Gita - two-way conversation between Krishna and Arjuna. You have probably heard of the Bhagavad Gita, if not you can learn a lot from the Bhagavad Gita.

Mahabharata is the greatest epic in history. I am currently reading something from the book, "Spiritual Dictionary", which you can also order from the Yoga Vidya website. It says: Mahabharata consists of 106,000 verses, these are divided into 18 Parvas, i.e. books. Mahabharata is the story of a king named Bharata and this Bharata who had descendants. And so it is also the story of his descendants. One can say that the Mahabharata goes over many generations, it is the description of the history of India over several generations and the description of a ruling family, descendants of Bharata.

The Indians also referred to themselves as "Bharatias" or also as Bharatas, that is, the descendants of Bharata. And India itself is usually called "Bharata Varsha", the land of the Bharatas or the land of the Bharatas or simply Bharata. And Mahabharata, it could also be said, is the great story of India and the great story of the descendants of Bharata.

Mahabharata, also written in the Shloka meter, so relatively easy to recite if you know the Shloka meter and you know Devanagari or the scientific transcription.

In our wiki at yoga-vidya.de, you just have to look under Mahabharata, there you will find a complete description of the Mahabharata, you will find a table of contents of all 18 Parvas and you will also find the description of almost a hundred characters of the Mahabharata. So if you ever dare to read the Mahabharata in full and you are confused about which trait or character is meant by which name, just go to wiki.yoga-vidya.de, you will find a list of all the people in the Mahabharata .

Background of the Mahabharata

In addition to the story of the Kurukshetra war and the fate of the Kauravas and Pandavas, the Mahabharata contains philosophical and metaphysical statements. Parts of the Mahabharata are the Bhagavad Gita, the story of Damayanti, a shortened form of the Ramayana and the Rishyashringa. All these parts of the Mahabharata are considered to be works in their own right.

Vyasa is considered to be the author of the Mahabharata. The oldest surviving parts are around 400 BC. c. originated. The origin of the epic ‘can be traced back to the 8th and 9th centuries BC. C. to be dated. The text probably reached its perfection in the Gupta period around the 4th century BC. C. Mahabharata means 'The Great Tale of the Bharata Dynasty'. As the Mahabharata itself tells us, the story has been expanded from a short version of 24,000 verses called the Bharat.

The Mahabharata is the longest Sanskrit epic, it consists of 100,000 stanzas and 1.8 million words. The Mahabharata is ten times longer than the Iliad and the Odyssey combined and four times as long as the Ramayana.

The first part of the Mahabharata says that Vyasa dictated the text Ganesha. Ganesha made one condition: Vyasa had to tell without a break. Vyasa agreed and in return demanded that Ganesha must have understood everything before He wrote it down.

Summary of the Mahabharata

The Mahabharata is about the war between two dynasties for the throne of Hastinapura. The kingdom is ruled by the Kuru family. The opposing parties are the Kauravas and the Pandavas. The Kauravas are the older part of the family. Duryodhana, the eldest Kaurava, is younger than Yudhishthira, the eldest Pandava. Both claim the line of succession for themselves. This leads to the Kurukshetra War in which the Pandavas are victorious.

The war reveals conflicts between relatives and friends as well as being torn between loyalty, duty and rightness of action. The Mahabharata ends with the death of Krishna and the associated end of His dynasty and the rise of the Pandavas into higher worlds. It marks the beginning of Kali Yuga, the fourth and last age of humanity, in which virtue, morality and righteousness deteriorate more and more.

The beginnings in the Mahabharata

The Mahabharata epic begins with the listing of the ancestors of the Kauravas. Then it goes on as follows: Shantanu, the king of Hastinapura had a short romance with the goddess Ganga and from it a son, Devavrata, who was later called Bhishma. He was the rightful heir to the throne.

Many years later, Shantanu meets Satyavati, the daughter of a ferryman and asked her father for her hand. The father consented only on the condition that the son would become Satyavati's heir to the throne. To enable his father to marry Satyavati, Devavrata swore to renounce the throne. Satyavati's father insisted that even if Devavrata renounced the throne, his children would lay claim to it. Devavrata then took the vow of lifelong abstinence, Brahmacharya. Devavrata was now called Bhishma - "The One with the Terrible Oath".

Satyavati and Shantanu had two children, Chitrangada and Vichitravirya. Chitrangada follow Shantanu. After Chitrangada's early death, the throne went to Vichitravirya. Bhishma ruled on behalf of his stepbrother under Satyavati until he was an adult.

The king of Kashi organized the celebration of the choice of spouses, Swayamvara, for his three daughters Amba, Ambika and Ambalika. Bhishma was sent by Satyavati to win the princesses over to Vichitravirya. Bhishma informed the suitors that he had chosen the princesses for Vichitravirya, dragged them into his car and drove away. King Salva pursued them, fought with Bhishma, but lost. The robbery of a woman and the fight for her was a respectable act for a warrior at the time. Ambika and Ambalika were married to Vichitravirya. Amba explained to Bhishma that she had already chosen a man for herself, King Salva. Bhishma agreed to return to him. Salva, however, now refused Amba. Amba goes back to Bhishma and asks him to marry her. He was bound by his vow and also rejected it. Amba thus became the enemy of Bhishma, whom she held responsible for her fate and swore vengeance. She will be reborn as Shikhandi or Shikhandini in her next life and causes Bhishma to die in the Kurukshetra War. Such is the background on which the full drama of the Mahabharata epic can unfold.

The wax palace

After the death of Madri and Pandu, the Pandavas and Kunti went back to the palace of Hastinapura. Yudhishthira, the eldest son of Pandu, became crown prince. But Dhritarashtra wanted to see his son Duryodhana on the throne. Shakuni, Duryodhana and Dushasana hatched a plan to destroy the Pandavas. They had the architect Purochana build a palace out of easily flammable wax or lacquer. They wanted the Pandavas and Kunti to live in it and then set it on fire. But Vidura warned the Pandavas and they were able to save themselves. Back in Hastinapura, the great family quarrel began, which will unfold through the further Mahabharata and determine the Mahabharata drama.

Pandavas and Kauravas - the two disputing parties in the Mahabharata

Vichitravirya was king of Hastinapura, the main kingdom in the Mahabharata. Vichitravirya died early and without an heir. His mother Satyavati had a son, Vyasa, from a previous relationship. She asked him to take care of the two widows, Ambika and Ambalika. Vyasa was torn from years of meditation and looked completely neglected. When Ambika saw him she was startled and covered her eyes, her son Dhritarashtra was born blind. When Ambalika saw him, she turned pale with shock. Their son Pandu was then born pale. After Dhritarashtra was born, Satyavati asked Vyasa to visit Ambika again. However, Ambika wanted to save himself the sight a second time and sent a servant. She gave birth to a healthy son, Vidura.

The princes grew up and Dhritarashtra was to become king. But Vidura objected that a blind man cannot become king. This is how Pandu came to the throne. Pandu married Kunti and Madri. Dhritarashtra married Gandhari. In order to share the fate of her husband, she blindfolded her whole life.

When Pandu was out hunting he thought he heard a deer and shot in the direction from which the sound was coming. He met the sage Kindama and his wife, who made love in the forest. Before Kindama died, he cursed Pandu to die in the next sexual intercourse. Because of this curse, Pandu was unable to father children. As punishment for his murder, he renounced the throne of Hastinapura and handed over the reign of the kingdom to his blind brother Dhritarashtra.

Pandu's wife, Kunti, was given a favor in her youth. She could father a child with any deity she invoked. Kunti gave birth to Yudhishthira by invoking Dharma, the god of righteousness (also called Yama, god of the dead), Bhima by invoking Vayu, the god of wind, and Arjuna by invoking Indra, the king of gods. She was able to transfer this favor to Madri, she called the Ashvin, the Divine Twins, and gave birth to Nakula and Devavrata. After a while, Pandu could no longer keep his passion under control and enjoyed himself with Madri. He died instantly. Madri burned herself at the stake. The five brothers grew up with Kunti. So all the Pandavas saw Kunti as their mother.

Dhritarashtra had one hundred sons with Gandhari who were called Kauravas. They were all born after Yudhishthira. The oldest was called Duryodhana, the second Dushasana. The rivalry between the Kauravas and Pandavas led to the Kurukshetra War. The Mahabharata describes in great detail how this came about.

The paint palace

After Madri and Pandu died, the Pandavas and Kunti went back to the palace of Hastinapura. Yudhishthira became crown prince. But Dhritarashtra wanted to see his son Duryodhana on the throne. Shakuni, Duryodhana and Dushasana had a plan to destroy the Pandavas. They had the architect Purochana build a palace from easily combustible paint. They wanted the Pandavas and Kunti to live in it and then set it on fire. But Vidura warned the Pandavas and they were able to save themselves. Back in Hastinapura, the great family quarrel began, which was to determine the further course of the Mahabharata.

The marriage with Draupadi

Draupadi's Swayamvara, Arjuna shoots the fish

The Pandavas heard about the feast of the choice of spouses for Princess Draupadi and took part in it. Among all the applicants, Arjuna was the only one who could hit the golden fish with his arrow. This was the task that the Panchala King Drupada had set the applicants. The test required the highest concentration of the shooter that only Arjuna could bring. The brothers returned with Draupadi. Arjuna told his mother that he had brought something pretty. Mother Kunti said he should distribute it fairly among the five brothers without asking what Arjuna was referring to. Since it was the holy duty of the Pandavas to do everything the mother says Draupadi had to marry all five Pandavas. There are many extraordinary family constellations in the Mahabharata: A woman with five men who had concubines themselves. Women who have had sexual intercourse with gods for the purpose of procreating heirs. A married Rishi (Vyasa) who had sex with his slurs in order to procreate heirs ... In the Mahabharata a lot is different than it is today - maybe not that different at all, it is just not so much hidden ...


Dhritarashtra decided to divide the Kingdom of Hastinapura between the Kauravas and Pandavas. Yudhishthira accepted this offer and took possession of the barren land of Khandavaprastha. With the help of Krishna and the architect of the demons, Mayasura, the Pandavas built a magnificent city and a magnificent palace, later also called Indraprastha. Their land became prosperous, and Yudhishthira was a good and powerful king. This further fueled the hatred of the Kauravas.

The Dice Game

Shakuni had the plan to take the kingdom from the Pandavas by playing dice. Shakuni knew how to cheat at the game. He wanted to play against Yudhishthira.

Yudhishthira gambled everything away. Then he sat his brothers and lost them too. At last he sat himself and lost again. But that wasn't enough for Shakuni. He provoked Yudhishthira that he had not gambled everything away, he still had Draupadi. To the horror of everyone, Yudhishthira put Draupadi in the next game. Again Shakuni won. Duryodhana ordered his brother Dushasana to bring Draupadi into the hall. Dushasana hurried into Draupadi's room and pulled her by the hair into the gaming room. Duryodhana asked the Pandavas to take off their clothes. They did so, but the horror struck everyone when Duryodhana asked Dushasana to strip Draupadi of her sari. Since her husband could not help her, she prayed to Krishna. Her sari became endlessly long, Dushasana developed layer by layer, the material never ended. Dushasana gave up undressing Draupadi. Shakuni and Duryodhana persuaded Dhritarashtra to invite the Pandavas to play dice again, this time with modified rules. The loser would have to spend twelve years in exile, plus another in anonymity. The Pandavas lost again and were ready to go into exile for thirteen years.

Exile and return

The Pandavas spent their exile in the forest, the last year anonymously at the court of King Virata. Then they came back to Indraprastha, but the kingdom was denied them. The war became inevitable. The stay of the Pandavas in the forest dexil takes up two whole chapters in the Mahabharata, but is only mentioned briefly here.

The Kurukshetra War

Both sides, Pandavas and Kauravas allied with other kingdoms and raised their armies. Krishna took part in the Mahbharata war as a charioteer for Arjuna, He had clearly said that He would not touch a weapon.

When they drove onto the battlefield and Arjuna saw his relatives and friends, he no longer wanted to fight, but Krishna told him that he was of the warrior caste and that it was his duty to fight. The philosophical dialogue that emerged from this is known as the Bhagavad Gita.

The Mahabharata War lasted 18 days, the only survivors were the Pandavas, Satyaki, Kripa, Ashvatthama, Kritavarma, Yuyutsu and Krishna.

The end of the Pandavas

All hundred of Gandhari's sons died in the war. Krishna went to her to give her condolences. Gandhari was in a rage and swore that Krishna and the whole Yadu dynasty would be wiped out after 36 years. Krishna knew and wanted it to happen, so he replied: 'So it will be'.

After a successful reign, the Pandavas withdrew to the solitude of the Himalayas. A dog went with them. One by one died on the way, except for Yudhishthira. He attributed this to the fact that they still had attachments. Draupadi was proud of Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva were vain, Bhima and Arjuna were proud of their powers. So there remained only the virtuous Yudhishthira and the dog. The dog revealed himself to be Dharma, the Lord of Righteousness, Yudhishthira's father. He takes Yudhishthira with him to the lower worlds where he carries his brothers and Draupadi again. Then Dharma leads him to the higher worlds. He explained that Draupadi and the brothers would follow him as soon as their karma allowed it.

Arjuna's grandson Parikshit was the next regent, a curse caused him to die prematurely from the bite of a snake. So closes the great Mahabharata epic.

Mahabharata people

Over 100 people are described in the Mahabharata. These appear again and again in new constellations. Here in the wiki there is a nice overview page of all the people in the Mahabharata. This contains an alphabetical listing of all characters in the Mahabharata and then a thematic listing with family relationships. Check the overview page Mahabharata people.

See also


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