Mahabharata – The Great Epic of Hindus


is one of the major epics of ancient India. Mahabharata and Ramayana are the two epics which are basis of ancient Hindu culture and civilization. Read on to know what is Mahabharata all about.

Mahabharata: The Description

Mahabharata is composed by Srila Vyasadeva. He is also a major character in the epic. There are about

100 thousand verses

in the book. It has long prose passages and about 1.8 million words in total. It is roughly four times the length of Ramayana. The first part of Mahabharata was written as text by Lord Ganesha at the request of Srila Vyasdeva with a condition that Srila Vyasadev will never pause in his recitation.

Mahabharata is also called

Shatasahasri samhita

for its collection of 100,000 verses. It has eighteen chapters namely:

  1. Adi Parva:

    This section describes how Mahabharata came into existence. It is narrated by Sauti at Naimisharanya. It also covers the birth and childhood of Kurus (Pandavas and Kauravas).

  2. Sabha Parva:

    This section is about assembly hall at Indraprasta. In this section there is narration of Yudhisthira’s Yagna, the defeat of Pandavas in the game of dice and exile of Pandavas to the forest.

  3. Vana Parva:

    Narration of 12 years spent by Pandavas in the forest.

  4. Virata Parva:

    Thirteenth year of incognito of Pandavas is described here.

  5. Udyoga Parva:

    In this section, the preparation of war between Kauravas and Pandavas is described.

  6. Bhishma Parva:

    In this parva, the beginning phase of the war is described.

    Srimad Bhagavad Gita

    is found in this parva. In this parva Bhisma, the commander for Kauravas, falls in the bed of arrows. It is named in honor of the episode.

  7. Drona Parava:

    The battle of Kurukshetra continues with Drona as commander. Most of the warriors are dead by the end of this parva.

  8. Karna Parava:

    The battle with Karna as commander is described in this parva.

  9. Shalya Parva:

    On the last day of the battle Shalya becomes the commander. Bhima kills Duryodhana and Lord Balaram goes on pilgrimage.

  10. Sauptika Parva:

    Pandava army is killed by Ashvattama, Kripacharya and Kritavarma.

  11. Stri Parva:

    Kuni, Gandhrai and other women (Stri) lament the dead Kauravas and Pandavas.

  12. Shanti Parva:

    The peace following the war. Yudhisthira becomes the new king and gets instructions from Bhishma in matter of governing the kingdom.

  13. Anushasana Parva:

    Describes the final instructions from Bhishma.

  14. Ashvamedhika Parva:

    Describes about Yudhistra conducting the horse sacrifice. Anugita is told to Arjuna.

  15. Ashramavasika Parva:

    Describes the death of Dhritarastra, Gandhari and Kunti in a forest fire.

  16. Mausala Parva:

    The fighting between the Yadavas with Mausala and eventual collapse of Yadavas.

  17. Mahaprasthanika Parva:

    Five Padavas with Draupadi renounce everything and ascent to Himalayas where each Pandava fall except for Yudhisthira.

  18. Svargarohana Parva:

    Yudhisthira’s final test and all Pandavas return to the spiritual world forever.

One more parva that describes the role of Lord Krishna is Mahabharata is known as

Harivamsa Parva:

This is not covered in other parvas.

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