Mahabharat is an epic, written in Sanskrit, centuries ago in India. Ramayana had been seen as the oldest and holiest epic. Hence, it was already read with reverence during the month of Karkataka, as per solar calendar. After paddy cultivation, in Kerala, during the month of Karkataka, people could be seen reading Ramayana daily. Even after that one month, some energetic and young farmers of our country felt the necessity of another epic with a different taste. In the next month, as the paddy plants show growth slowly, and farmers have to simply watch their growth, feeding the natural monsoon water to the plants. This month is the Leo or Chingam under solar calculation system. Thus, people used to read the epic Mahabharat.

Mahabharat war
Kurukshetra or Dharmakshetra from Mahabharat

The benefits of reading or memorizing the main characters of the epic, Mahabharat had been appreciated in the following verse:

धर्मो विवर्धति युधिष्टिर कीर्तनेन
पापं प्रणश्यति वृकोदर कीर्तनेन ।
शत्रुर्विनश्यति धनंजय कीर्तनेन
माद्रीसुतौ कथयथां न भवंति रोगाः ॥

The meaning: By reciting the name of Yudhishtira, Dharma had been flourishing. The sins would be nullified by reciting the name of Bheema. The enemies would be eliminated by reciting the name of Arjuna, if there had been any. No illness would cause to suffer if the names of the sons of Madri are recited, as Nakula and Sahadeva. The knowledge of Mahabharat certainly bestows good and proven results upon the life of the readers, as experienced from the past many years.     

Veda Vyasa Rishi had composed this epic and he was also one of the characters appearing in it. As usual, due to its volume of verses, the authors had divided the collection of events, story portions, into eighteen parvas and one hundred upa parvas. Mahabharat had been translated into various languages of this world, by linguistic scholars and during their editions; they had rewritten the old, inner stories in such a manner to please their readers. As per the author, Veda Vyasa, the original narration in the form of verses, the main master message was conveyed as a war result between Yudhishtira and Duryodhana with the help of God Krishna who took birth as incarnation to preserve the human Dharma in this universe.

Many secrets and interesting items make the events of the story portions crazier.  In this epic, Yudhishtira had become victorious and Duryodhana with his brothers died along with Karna. In the war, Karna was unlucky; otherwise he should have won the war. He was a sincere worshipper of God Krishna. He considered Yudhishtira, Bheema, Nakula and Sahadeva as his brother and decided not to kill them except Arjuna. On the eighteenth day of war, he defeated Yudhishtira, Bheema, Nakula and Sahadeva but declared them as they surrendered to him, but forgot to report to Duryodhana due to the curse on him. At one moment, Arjuna was on some other rows fighting away from Karna and Yudhishtira disliked him keeping away from Karna. Then Krishna immediately intervened and pacified Yudhishtira and reminded to Arjuna that it was Karna who had stabbed Abhimanyu from his back and killed him who was his own son.

The war time words of Krishna had rekindled the valor of Arjuna, and Yudhishtira was then saved and as a result, Arjuna thronged to face Karna immediately. Karna had a policy and had to keep his promise towards his biological mother, Kunti that he would not kill any of the Pandavas except Arjuna, so that in total her five sons would remain alive. But Arjuna had killed Karna and Yudhishtira had killed Shalya.

Duryodhana had lost his life in the war with Bheema to his mace during the fight. Finally, Yudhishtira won the war and was crowned.

Kripacharya and Kripi were orphan children received in the forest to Shantanu Emperor. Shantanu, the emperor, had brought them up and educated them. Later, Kripi had been given in marriage to Dronacharya as his wife. Kripacharya was an efficient warrior and during the regime of Dhritarashtra, he was serving in his palace as the priest cum guardian to the royal throne. He seldom attended the court proceedings and always kept himself reserved to his own works inside the palace rooms discharging his routine priesthood duties.

After war, Bheeshma , Ashwathama and Kripacharya  were alive. Bheeshma remained on the bed of arrows at Banganga Kurukshetra.  Ashwathama went to Badarikashram for reading Bhagavatha Purana regarding the historical events of God Krishna. When Yudhishtira was left in the battle field alone, Kripacharya had visited him alone without wearing the war dress codes. Then Kripacharya had asked Yudhishtira as to whether he had any desire to fight with him and in case if further fight was desired by him, he was ready to come with any kind of weapons and would wear the war dresses. Then Yudhishtira prostrated before Kripacharya and requested him to arrange for anointing him instead of fighting.

Kripacharya was a man of truthfulness, impartial and stood for righteousness. He could face any type of army at any time. Due to his impartial attitude, God Krishna had very much been pleased by him and offered a boon to him to live forever as Chiranjeevi. Kripacharya had happily arranged for the ceremony and crowned Yudhishtira in the palace of Hastinapura.

The characters of Mahabharat were very typical, showing many morals for guiding the human life. This epic differed from Ramayana in many ways. Krishna is the incarnation of God. Balarama is his elder brother but incarnation of Adishesha. The five Pandava brothers had born by the blessings of angels, and Indra of heaven. The eighteen parvas and hundred upa parvas are listed below. There are many editions and the chapters would differ in different editions but the number of parva and upa parvas usually would get tallied.

ParvaUpa parvaTitle
1. Adi Parva
111a. Anukramanika (Index)
122b. ParvaSangraha (Collection)
133c. Paushya (King Paushya)
144d. Pauloma (Chyavan, Son of Puloma)
155e. Astika (Astika, Son of Jaratkaru)
166f. Amshavatarana (Partial Reincarnation)
177g. Sambhava (Birth)
188h. Jatugriha-daha (Burning ofthe House of Lacquer)
199i. Hidimva-vadha (Falling of Hidimba)
11010j. Vaka-vadha (Falling of BakaSura)
11111k. Chaitraratha (Chitraratha, a Gandharva)
11212l. Swayamvara (Choosing the Bridegroom)
11313m. Vaivahika (Nuptials)
11414n. Viduragamana (Advent of Vidura)
11515o. Rajya-labha (Acquirement of Kingdom)
11616p. Arjuna-vanavasa (Exile of Arjuna)
11717q. Subhadra-harana (Abduction of Subhadra, Krishna’s sister)
11818r. Harana-harika (Fetching the nuptial present)
11919s. Khandava-daha (Burning of Khandava Forest)
2. Sabha Parva
2201a. Sabhakriya (Construction of the assembly-hall)
2212b. Lokapala Sabhakhayana (assembly-halls of guardians of worlds )
2223c. Rajasuyarambha (Beginning of Rajasuya Yajna)
2234d. Jarasandha-vadha (Falling of Jarasandha)
2245e. Digvijaya (Conquest of the directions)
2256f. Rajasuyika (Rajasuya Yajna)
2267g. Arghyaharana ( Robbing of the offering )
2278h. Shishupala-vadha (Falling of Shishupala)
2289i. Dyuta (Play at dice)
22910j. Anudyuta (Continuation of the Play at dice)
3. Vana Parva
3291a. Aranyak (Belonging to a forest)
3302b. Kirmirabadh (Falling of Kirmira)
3313d. Kirata (Shiva, mountain-dwelling hunter)
3324e. Indralokagamana (Journey to Indra’s Loka)
3335g. Tirtha-yatra (Pilgrimage)
3346jatasura vadha
357h. Yaksha-yudha (Battle with a Yaksha )
3368j. Ajagara (King Nahusha in the form of a boa)
3379k. Markandeya-Samasya (Issue told by Markandeya)
33810l. Draupadi-Satyabhama Samvada (Dialogue between Draupadi and Satyabhama )
33911m. Ghosha-yatra (Expedition, undertaken by Kings to inspect the cows in various lands)
34012n. Mriga Sapnovbhava (Dream of the Deer)
34113o. Vrihi Drounika (Sage Mudgala, one who lives on a measure of rice)
34214p. Draupadi-harana (Abduction of Draupadi)
34315t. Kundalaharana (Theft of Ear-rings)
34416u. Araneya (The Deer)
4. Virata Parva
4451a. Pandava pravesha (Entry of Pandavas)
4462b. Kichaka-vadha (Falling of Kichaka)
4473c. Go-harana (Abduction of Cows)
4484d. Vaivahika (Nuptials)
5. Udyoga Parva
5491a. Sainyodyoga (Efforts of Armies)
5502b. Sanjaya-yana (The arrival of Sanjaya)
5513c. Prajagara (Sleeplessness)
5524d. Sanatsujata (Sanatsujata,One of the 4 ManasPutras of Brahma)
5535e. Yanasandhi (Arrival of Treaty)
5546f. Bhagavat-yana (Arrival of Krishna)
5568g. Sainya-niryana (Muster of troops)
55810h. Ulukabhigamana (Travel of messenger Uluka, son of Shakuni)
55911i. Rathatiratha-sankhyana (Enumeration of Rathi and Atirathi)
55712j. Ambopakhyanamvopakkyana (Story of Amba)
6. Bheeshma Parva
6601a. Jamvu – khanda Vinirmana (Creation of insular region Jambu)
6612b. Bhumi (Earth)
6623c. Bhagavad Gita (Song of the God)
6634d. Bheeshma-vadha (Falling of Bheeshma)
6645Bheeshma shara shayya *
7. Drona Parva
7651a. Dronābhisheka (Installation of Drona)
7662b. Samsaptakabadha (Falling of SamsaptakasTrigarta warriors )
7673c. Abhimanyu-vadha (Killing of Abhimanyu)
7684d. Pratijna (The Oath)
7695e. Jayadratha-vadha (Falling of Jayadratha)
7706f. Ghatotkacha-vadha (Killing of Ghatotkacha)
7717g. Drona-vadha (Falling of Drona)
7728h. Narayanastra-mokshana (Liberation from Narayana’s Astra)
87318. Karna Parva: No Upa Parva
9. Shalya Parva
9741a. Shalya-vadha (Falling of Shalya)
9752b. Shalya (Shalya,Madri’s brother)
9763c. Hrada-praveca (Immersion in the Lake)
9774d. Gadayuddha (Mace-Fight)
10. Sauptika Parva
10781a. Sauptika (Sleeping)
10792b. Aishika (Aishika, an Astra)
10803Ashwathama Nirgamana
11. Stri Parva
11811a. Vishoka (Free of Sorrow)
11822b. Stri (Woman)
11833c. Shraddha (Funeral rites)
11844d. Jalapradanika (Oblation of water)
11855s. Pativrata-mahatmya ( chastity of Savitri)
12. Shanti Parva
12861a. Rajadharma anusasana (Duties of a king)
12872b. Apaddharma anusasana (adversity time rules)
12883c. *Moksha dharma (Rules of conduct to achieve moksha )
13. Anushasana Parva
13891a. Dana dharma (Dharma of Dāna)
13902b. Bheeshma svargarohana (Ascension of Bhisma to Swarga)
14. Ashvamedhika Parva
14911a. Aswamedhika (Horse Sacrifice )
15. Ashramavasika Parva
15931a. Asramavasa (Hermitage)
15942b. Putradarsana (Meeting with the spirits of deceased sons)
15953c. Naradagamana (Arrival of Narada)
1696116. Mausala Parva: No Upa Parva
1797117. Mahaprasthanika Parva: No Upa Parva
1898118. Svargarohana Parva: No Upa Parva
Harivamsha Krishna purana
Khila99khila 1Harivamsha parva
100khila 2Vishnu parva, Bhavishya purana
18 Parvas and 100 Upa parvas of Mahabharata

The characters of Mahabharat were very typical, showing many morals for guiding the human life. This epic differed from Ramayana in many ways. Krishna is the incarnation of God. Balarama is his elder brother but incarnation of Adishesha. The five Pandava brothers had born by the blessings of angels, and Indra of heaven. The eighteen parvas and hundred upa parvas are listed below. There are many editions and the chapters would differ in different editions but the number of parva and upa parvas usually would get tallied.

Mahabharat epic is events-oriented. More than fifty places identified with the events of Mahabharat are present in our country. Currently, some places fall under the neighboring countries but in the actual time of events, in the very old times, the ruling systems were different. The Sanskrit words available in the book, called Amarakosha are more authentic for all times. Now, many religions has been popularized and propagated in India and surroundings. Hence Parsi, Sikh, Jain and Buddhism followers are living in this country under brotherhood. The founder less religion is called as Hindu religion. But the word Hindu is not available in the epics or in the book Amarakosha. Hindu religion is an Indian religion.

Not only Hindu followers, but people all over the world read Mahabharat and Ramayana. The reading of epics is treated as worship towards the Gods. People read three upa parvas per day and it would take thirty three days for completing the Mahabharat. There is no hard and fast rule to complete the reading of epics. One could repeatedly go on reading as and when one finds time convenient for reading.

The seer sage Swami Vivekananda has told the story of Mahabharat to the people of USA in the year 1900 and then achieved a great reputation as an Indian Monk.

It is humbly prayed for the blessings of God Krishna upon us.

Next post, Parva 1, Upaparva 1, Anukramanika, may not be missed.

Parva 1, Upaparva 2, Parvasangraha would be presented separately in another article.

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