Back of the Book
It all began with petty family jealousy. The Kaurava brothers tricked their Pandava cousins out of a kingdom, and even lord Krishna could not stop the horror and bloodshed that followed. Veda Vyasa composed an epic poem, the longest in the world, to describe the events that unfolded. In this epic tale of superhuman heroes and gory action, Veda Vyasa explores human ambitions, relationships and conflicts to find the true purpose of life.
The Mahabharata, the longest epic poem in the world, consists of about 100,000 slokas or Sanskrit verses. The author, it is said, is Veda Vyasa was a witness to all the events. He wanted to have them all written down in the Mahabharata, for posterity. He approached Lord Ganesha who agreed to take down the verses on condition that Veda Vyasa dictated the story without a pause. Veda Vyasa agreed provided Lord Ganesha grapsed the meaning of what was dictated before writing it down. Lord Ganesha was willing. And the Mahabharata came to be written. Subsequently, over the centuries, the original poem grew in size when many a popular story found its way into the text. A major portion of the Mahabharata consists of indipendent stories e.g. the stories of Nala and Damayanti, Savitri, Shakuntala, Kacha and Devayani. These are woven into the main story of the feud and final war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, cousins as well as rivals. The Kauravas are ultimately annihilated in the war. The Mahabharata's greatest contribution is the Bhagawad Gita. When Arjuna faces his cousins, arrayed before him for the fight, he becomes sad. He does not want to kill them for a paltry kingdom. Krishna, his charioteer, reprimands him and tells him that being a Kshatriya it is his duty to fight. Then, in eighteen long chapters he expounds his philosophy. He convinces Arjuna and in the process has given us one of the most valid scriptures of all times.