Mahabharata: The Epic in a Nutshell

Dear Readers,

I know that a lot of you have enjoyed reading Pages from the Bhaagvad, Wisdom of the Scriptures, Message of the Masters on my web-site.

Now I would like to introduce to you, the colorful multi-hued characters from the Mahabharata. Since they will follow, I suggest that you read the story of the Mahabhaarata that I present in very brief.

The Epic (In a Nutshell)

The Mahabhaarata is considered a Great Epic of India and was compiled by the Sage Ved Vyaasa.

It tells us the history of Indian ancestors. It also describes to us their moral values.

The Mahabhaarata tells us the story that transpired in and around Hastinapura.

The story spans around 6 generations.

Though the Mahabharata has the story of many lives woven into one another, the predominant narration is of 2 brothers and their families.

Dhritrashtra and Pandu were brothers. Dhritrashtra married Gandhaari and Pandu married Kunti and Madri.

Pandu had 5 sons who are popularly known as Pandavas.

Dhriraashtra had 100 sons.They were called the Kauravas.

Pandu died and the Pandavas and Kauravas were brought up together.

The Kaurava’s maternal uncle Shakuni played a crucial role in the story of the Mahabhaarata.

The Pandavas performed a great sacrifice (Yajna)  which made Duryodhana, the chief of the Kauravas jealous and greedy.

Shakuni invited the Pandavas for a game of dice and cheated in the game.

The Pandavas lost all their possessions including Draupadi, their wife.

The Kauravas wanted to humiliate the Pandavas and hence dragged Draupadi to the main hall and tried to disrobe her in public.

She implored to Krishna who she affectionately called ‘Sakha’. Krishna came to her aid and miraculously kept Draupadi draped, despite the fact that the Kauravas kept pulling at her saree.

Finally, the Pandavas and Kauravas reached a settlement. The Pandavas were made to go to the forest for 12 years. They had to live for one more year in the forest incognito. The condition was that the Pandavas should not be traced by the Kauravas. While the Pandavas were away, the kingdom was to be ruled by the wicked Duryodhana.

The 13 years of exile were completed successfully. The Pandavas approached the Kauravas for their share of the kingdom.

However Duryodhana refused to part with as much land as would be covered by a needle.

Krishna tried very hard that the Pandavas and Kauravas reach an amicable agreement, but the Kauravas refused to relent.

War became inevitable. Both the Pandavas and the Kauravas wanted Krishna to help them. The Pandava Arjuna was a devotee and friend of Lord Krishna. Arjuna chose to have Krishna alone on his side, despite the fact that Krishna had warned that the latter would not pick up arms in the battle.

Duryodhana was overjoyed at Arjuna’s decision and chose to have Krishna’s powerful army to fight with him.

Just before the great war, Arjuna became despondent. He did not know which course to adopt. Would it be better for him to fight and have so many people killed, or should he renounce the Kingdom and take to a life in the forest.

This question also appears many times in a man’s life when faced with difficulties.

When one is restless and life seems difficult, we would like to give up.

Krishna explains to Arjuna that to fight (to face difficulties) with courage, is the right path. Arjuna asked Krishna many more questions which the latter answered, in a simple forthright manner.

Krishna explained to Arjuna that he should only be concerned with performing his duty to the best of his capacity, the fruits or results of the action, lie with God.

Krishna said:

Karmanye Vaadhikaa rastey, maa phaleshu kadaachana
Maa karmaphal hetur bhoor
Maa te sangostwa karmani.

The above dialogue is recorded in the Mahabharata and is known as the the Bhagvad Geeta.

It is said that if the Mahabharata can be compared to a priceless necklace, the Geeta is the pendant.

The terrible war of Mahabharata was fought. The Pandavas emerged victorious.