Showing posts with label Epic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Epic. Show all posts

Hinduism - What Is The Mahabharata?


The mythological sage Vyasa is credited with writing one of the two major Sanskrit epics.

The Mahabharata is substantially lengthier than the Ramayana, the other great epic.

The Mahabharata is the world's longest epic poem, with about 100,000 stanzas.

If the Ramayana is the story of the "good" family, in which brothers work together to maintain and protect their family, the Mahabharata is the story of the "bad" family, in which an extended royal family's hardheartedness and ambition for power leads to its demise.

The epic is located west of modern-day Delhi and tells the story of a fratricidal civil war.

The following is a substantially condensed version of the story: Shantanu is the Kurus's ruler.

He dies in an untimely and heirless manner.

Satyavati, Shantanu's wife, calls for her oldest son, the guru Vyasa, who fathers offspring by Shantanu's two women, in a desperate bid to maintain the royal dynasty.

Because Dhrtarashtra, the oldest son, is born blind, his younger brother Pandu inherits the crown.

Because of a curse, Pandu abdicates his kingdom and retires to the forest with his two wives, Kunti and Madri, allowing his older brother to govern in his stead.

Dhrtarashtra's wife, Gandhari, mysteriously bears a hundred sons, the eldest of them is Duryodhana; the hundred sons are known as the Kauravas and are the epic's enemies.

Yudhishthira, Bhima, and Arjuna are Kunti's three sons in the jungle, while Madri had twins Nakula and Sahadeva.

The Pandavas, the epic's heroes, are these five sons.

Pandu has been cursed to perish the instant he hugs his wife in loving embrace, hence none of these children are his sons.

Rather, they were created by the use of a mantra given to Kunti by the sage Durvasas, which gives the woman who recites it the ability to summon any of the gods and bear a son equal to that god's might.

Kunti gets the mantra long before her marriage and recites it spontaneously while staring at the sun, giving birth to a radiant kid.

Kunti, distraught and desperate, places him in a box and throws him into the Ganges.

The charioteer Adhiratha adopts the kid, who grows up to be the heroic Karna.

Pandu dies young as a consequence of his curse, and Kunti (his wife) and his sons (the Pandavas) return to Hastinapur, where the boys are nurtured as princes.

Duryodhana (the oldest of the Kauravas) and his cousins have had a tense relationship from the start, owing to Duryodhana's ambition for the throne, which rightfully belongs to Yudhishthira (one of the Pandavas).

The Pandava brothers leave the realm to become mercenaries after foiling many assassination attempts.

Arjuna wins the hand of Princess Draupadi on one of their adventures, and she becomes their common wife (their mother commands that Arjuna share whatever he wins with his brothers).

After a while, Dhrtarashtra (the Kauravas' father) abdicates the throne and divides his country.

The Pandavas construct a new capital at Indraprastha, which is located near modern-day Delhi.

Things remain peaceful for a time, but Duryodhana isn't satisfied to share his kingdom.

He challenges Yudhishthira to a dice game, pitting him against Shakuni, the most skilled gambler alive.

Yudhishthira is an example of honesty and decency, but his fatal fault is his addiction to gambling.

Yudhishthira loses his kingdom, all of his belongings, his brothers, himself, and eventually his wife in the match.

Duryodhana's brother, Duhshasana, pulls Draupadi into the assembly hall by her hair, her garments soiled with her menstrual blood, in one of the epic's most devastating sequences.

Dhrtarashtra is moved to set them free by Draupadi's humiliation, but it also initiates the hostility that drives the remainder of the tale.

Following some haggling, the parties agree that the Pandavas will spend twelve years in exile and the thirteenth in secret.

They will reclaim their kingdom if they can stay undetected for the thirteenth year.

However, if they are found, the cycle of exile will begin all over again.

Yudhishthira and his brothers approach Duryodhana for their fair portion after thirteen years, but are haughtily rejected.

All attempts at reconciliation fail because Duryodhana states he won't give them enough land to poke a needle in.

The Pandavas, pressed against a wall, prepare for combat.

Yudhishthira and his siblings are on one side, supported by their advisor Krishna.

Duryodhana and many esteemed characters, like as Drona, Bhishma, and Karna, are on the opposing side.

The fight rages for eighteen days, until the majority of the important individuals have died.

Yudhishthira and his brothers make it through.

Yudhishthira is anointed king and reigns for many years in righteousness.

He appoints his grandson, King Parikshit, to the throne later in life.

He embarks on a last expedition into the Himalayas with his siblings.

Yudhishthira ultimately joins the divine world after his siblings die one by one throughout the voyage.

This synopsis does not cover the whole of the epic.

One of the epic's characteristics is that it incorporates several unrecorded stories, with the main plot serving as a frame.

Aside from being a story of a dysfunctional family, the Mahabharata has a wealth of cultural wisdom, with character names that are still meaningful today.

The text's TV serial, which aired for more than a year in 1989–90, was a huge hit in India.

It's also worth noting that many traditional Indian families will not maintain a copy of the book in the home since it's thought that doing so may cause family strife.

You may also want to read more about Hinduism here.

Be sure to check out my writings on religion here.