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UKT: The author of Mahabharata epic is Vyasa (यास्क) {bya-a.} - not Krishna Vasudeva commonly referred to as Lord Krishna .

Hindus [UKT: Hindu-religionists] traditionally hold that Vyasa categorised the primordial single Veda into four. Hence he was called Veda Vyasa, or "Splitter of the Vedas," the splitting being a feat that allowed people to understand the divine knowledge of the Veda. The word vyasa means split, differentiate, or describe.
   It has been debated whether Vyasa was a single person or a class of scholars who did the splitting. -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vyasa#Veda_Vyasa 121124

[Rishi] Vyasa is traditionally known as author of this epic. But he also features as an important character in it. His mother [UKT: In Mahabharata - the word "father" can mean: the official but not the genetic father. But the "mother" means the genetic mother] later married the king of Hastinapura, and had two sons.
   His mother was Matsyakanya-Satyavathi Devi -- who as Matsyakanya had the odour of "fish", but became sweet-smelling as Satyavathi
-- UKT from: Wikipedia & www.hindupedia.com/en/Maharshi_Vyasa 121124

Textual history and structure
Accretion and redaction
Historical references
The 18 parvas
Historical context
The older generations
The Pandava and Kaurava princes
Lākṣagrha (The House of Lac) : UKT: Lac presumably is 'sealing wax' - the exudate of the Lac tree. It softens and burns fiercely.
Marriage to Draupadi (polyandrous common wife)
The dice game
Exile and return
The battle at Kurukshetra
The end of Pandavas
Versions, translations, and derivative works
Critical Edition
Modern interpretations
English translations
Abridged versions
Jain version
Kuru family tree
Cultural influence

Passages worthy of note in this file:
After going through this file, and others especially with some Sanskrit-Devanagari words, I can now accept Krishna Vasudeva (1000 years before Christ) as a historical religious figure on par with the Gautama Buddhist (500 years before Christ), Jesus Christ (central figure in my rough time line), and Mohamed (500 years after Christ). - UKT101112
Niyoga (Skt-Devan: नियोग --> Pali-Myan: {ni.yau:ga.} is the precursor of the modern "artificial insemination". Though, actual coitus is involved it is said that "The act will be seen as that of Dharma ... not passion nor lust. [The man is just the donor of the sperm.] ... the woman will accept it only to bear the child for herself and her husband." In Niyoga, the bodies were covered with "ghee" 'butter' to prevent lust entering the minds of participants. The child is considered not to be the offspring of the donor. - UKT101117

UKT notes
Krishna Vasudeva in the Mahabharata niyoga ("artificial" insemination) Parāśara {pa.ra-Sa.ra.} purushartha 'life's purpose' Satyavati Vyāsa {bya-a.}

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The Mahabharata (Skt: Mahābhārata महाभारत , IPA:  [məɦɑːˈbʱɑːrətə] is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the other being the Rāmāyaṇa. The epic is part of the Hindu itihāsa (or "history").

UKT: इतिहास(:) (itihaasa(H) 
  Skt: history; epic - OnlineSktDict
  Skt-Devan: इतिहास - itihāsa  h. chronicle. m.   history - SpkSkt
  Pal-Lat: itihāsa, m. legendary lore, tradition - UPMT-PED042
  Pal-Myan: {I.ti.ha-a.} - UHS-PMD0192

Besides its epic narrative of the Kurukshetra War and the fates of the Kauravas and the Pandavas, the Mahabharata contains much philosophical and devotional material, such as a discussion of the four "goals of life" or purusharthas (12.161) (see my note). The latter are enumerated as dharma (right action), artha (purpose), kāma (pleasure), and moksha (liberation). Among the principal works and stories that are a part of the Mahabharata are theBhagavad Gita -- [See Gita.htm] , the story of Damayanti, an abbreviated version of the Ramayana, and the Rishyasringa, often considered as works in their own right.

purushartha 'life purpose' : पुरुषार्थ = प ु र ु ष ा र ् थ --> {pu.ru.Saar-hta} [UKT transcription-translation]
Skt-Devan: पुरुषार्थ  "that which is sought by man; human purpose,
  aim, or end" - Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puru%E1%B9%A3%C4%81rtha  101116

dharma 'right action' : धर्म = ध र ् म  --> {Dar ma.}   [UKT transcription]
Skt-Devan: धर्म  dharma  adj.  dharma-knowing.
  m. practice, nature, attribute, observance, religious merit,
  moral merit, duty, propriety of conduct, religion, virtue,
  usage, law, righteousness, custom, manner - SpkSkt
Pal-Myan: {Dam~ma.} - - UHS-PMD0495

artha 'purpose' : अर्थ = अ र ् थ  --> {ar hta.} [UKT transcription]
Skt-Devan: अर्थ artha  m. object, material object, sake, meaning,
  concerns, respectful person, thing, purpose, true sense, matter,
  affair, sense, object of desire, occurrence (event), profit, wish,
  desire, aim, wealth.
  m.n. reason, motive, advantage, utility, use, cause - SpkSkt
Pal-Myan: {t~hta.} - - UHS-PMD0037

kāma 'pleasure' :  काम = क ा म --> {ka-ma.} [UKT transcription]
Skt-Devan: काम  kāma   m. wish, affection, will, pleasure, desire,
  enjoyment, love [erotic, sexual], longing [erotic, sexual]
  n. semen virile, object of desire - SpkSkt
Pal-Myan: {ka-ma.} - - UHS-PMD0306

moksha 'liberation' : मोक्ष = म ो क ् ष --> {mauk~Sa.} [UKT transcription]
  [fricative sibilant {Sa.} is further changed into non-fricative {hka.}] --> {mauk~hka.} ]
Skt-Devan: मोक्ष moksha   m. release from rebirth, deliverance,
  settling a question, salvation, riddance, release from, liberation,
  discharge of debt, freedom, release, solution (of a problem),
  solution, absolution, redemption, emancipation -- SpkSkt
Pal-Myan: {mauk~hka.} - - UHS-PMD0788

Traditionally, the authorship of the Mahabharata is attributed to Vyasa  व्यास, vyāsa  {bya-a.} (See my note). There have been many attempts to unravel its historical growth and compositional layers. The earliest parts of the text are not appreciably older than around 400 BCE. [1] The text probably reached its final form by the early Gupta period (ca. 4th c. CE). [2] The title may be translated as "the great tale of the Bhārata dynasty". According to the Mahabharata itself, the tale is extended from a shorter version of 24,000 verses called simply Bhārata. [3]

With about one hundred thousand verses, long prose passages, or about 1.8 million words in total, the Mahabharata is roughly ten times the length of the Iliad and Odyssey combined, or about four times the length of the Rāmāyaṇa. [4] [5]

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Textual history and structure

The epic is traditionally ascribed to Vyasa, who is also a major character in the epic. The first section of the Mahabharata states that it was Ganesha who, at the request of Vyasa, wrote down the text to Vyasa's dictation. Ganesha is said to have agreed to write it only on condition that Vyasa never pause in his recitation. Vyasa agreed, provided Ganesha took the time to understand what was said before writing it down.

The epic employs the story within a story structure, otherwise known as frame-tales, popular in many Indian religious and secular works. It is recited to the King Janamejaya who is the great-grandson of Arjuna, by Vaisampayana, a disciple of Vyasa. The recitation of Vaisampayana to Janamejaya is then recited again by a professional storyteller named Ugrasrava Sauti, many years later, to an assemblage of sages performing the 12 year long sacrifice for King Saunaka Kulapati in the Naimisha forest .

Jaya, the core of Mahābhārata is structured in the form of a dialogue between Kuru king Dhritarashtra and Sanjaya, his advisor and chariot driver. Sanjaya narrates each incident of the Kurukshetra War, fought in 18 days, as and when it happened. Dhritarāshtra sometimes asks questions and doubts and sometimes laments, knowing about the destruction caused by the war, to his sons, friends and kinsmen. He also feels guilty, due to his own role, that led to this war, destructive to the entire Indian subcontinent.

In the beginning Sanjaya gives a description of the various continents of the Earth, the other planets, and focuses on the Indian Subcontinent and gives an elaborate list of hundreds of kingdoms, tribes, provinces, cities, towns, villages, rivers, mountains, forests etc. of the (ancient) Indian Subcontinent (Bhārata Varsha). He also explains about the 'military formations adopted by each side on each day, the death of each hero and the details of each war-racings. Some 18 chapters of Vyasa's Jaya constitutes the Bhagavad Gita [sermon of Krishna Vasudeva (my rough timeline: 1000 BCE, or 500 years before Gautama Buddha). See my note.], the sacred text of the Hindus. Thus, this work of Vyasa, called Jaya deals with diverse subjects like geography, history, warfare, religion and morality. According to Mahabharata itself, Vaisampayana's Bharata expanded on the story, with Vyasa's Jaya embedded within it. Ugrasrava eventually composed the final Mahabharata, with both Vyasa's Jaya and Vaisampayana's Bharata embedded within the epic.

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Accretion and redaction

UKT: When were spoken Indian languages put to written forms? The oldest or earliest written script was found on Asoka pillars, and is now known as the Brahmi script. Since this script was based on sound phonemic principles it is now known as an alph-syllabic aka abugida script.

Research on the Mahabharata has put an enormous effort into recognizing and dating various layers within the text. The background to the Mahabharata suggests a time "after the very early Vedic period" and before "the first Indian 'empire' was to rise in the third century B.C.," so "a date not too far removed from the eighth or ninth century B.C." [7] It is generally agreed, however, that "Unlike the Vedas, which have to be preserved letter-perfect, the epic was a popular work whose reciters would inevitably conform to changes in language and style." [7] The earliest surviving components of this dynamic text are believed to be no older than the earliest external references we have to the epic, which may include an allusion in Panini's {pa-Ni.ni.} fourth century BCE grammar (Ashtādhyāyī 4:2:56). [1] [7] It is estimated that the Sanskrit text probably reached something of a "final form" by the early Gupta period (about the 4th century CE). [7] Vishnu Sukthankar, editor of the first great critical edition of the Mahabharata, commented: "It is useless to think of reconstructing a fluid text in a literally original shape, on the basis of an archetype and a stemma codicum. What then is possible? Our objective can only be to reconstruct the oldest form of the text which it is possible to reach on the basis of the manuscript material available." [8] That manuscript evidence is somewhat late, given its material composition and the climate of India, but it is very extensive.

The Mahabharata itself (1.1.61) distinguishes a core portion of 24,000 verses, the Bharata proper, as opposed to additional secondary material, while the Ashvalayana Grhyasutra (3.4.4) makes a similar distinction. At least three redactions of the text are commonly recognized: Jaya (Victory) with 8,800 verses attributed to Vyasa, Bharata with 24,000 verses as recited by Vaisampayana, and finally the Mahabharata as recited by Ugrasrava Sauti with over 100,000 verses. [9] [10] However, some scholars such as John Brockington, argue that Jaya and Bharata refer to the same text, and ascribe the theory of Jaya with 8,800 verses to a misreading of a verse in Adiparvan (1.1.81). [11] The redaction of this large body of text was carried out after formal principles, emphasizing the numbers 18 [12] and 12. The addition of the latest parts may be dated by the absence of the Anushasana-parva and "Virat-parva" from MS Spitzer, the oldest surviving Sanskrit philosophical manuscript dated to Kushan Period (200 CE), [13] that contains among other things a list of the books in the Mahabharata. From this evidence, it is likely that the redaction into 18 books took place in the first century. An alternative division into 20 parvas appears to have co-existed for some time. The division into 100 sub-parvas (mentioned in Mbh. 1.2.70) is older, and most parvas are named after one of their constituent sub-parvas. The Harivamsa consists of the final two of the 100 sub-parvas, and was considered an appendix (khila) to the Mahabharata proper by the redactors of the 18 parvas.

According to what one character says at Mbh. 1.1.50, there were three versions of the epic, beginning with Manu (1.1.27), Astika (1.3, sub-parva 5) or Vasu (1.57), respectively. These versions would correspond to the addition of one and then another 'frame' settings of dialogues. The Vasu version would omit the frame settings and begin with the account of the birth of Vyasa. The astika version would add the sarpasattra and ashvamedha material from Brahmanical literature, introduce the name Mahabharata, and identify Vyasa as the work's author. The redactors of these additions were probably Pancharatrin scholars who according to Oberlies (1998) likely retained control over the text until its final redaction. Mention of the Huna in the Bhishma-parva however appears to imply that this parva may have been edited around the 4th century.

The Adi-parva includes the snake sacrifice (sarpasattra) of Janamejaya, explaining its motivation, detailing why all snakes in existence were intended to be destroyed, and why in spite of this, there are still snakes in existence. This sarpasattra material was often considered an independent tale added to a version of the Mahabharata by "thematic attraction" (Minkowski 1991), and considered to have a particularly close connection to Vedic ( Brahmana) literature. The Panchavimsha Brahmana (at 25.15.3) enumerates the officiant priests of a sarpasattra among whom the names Dhrtarashtra and Janamejaya, two main characters of the Mahabharata's sarpasattra, as well as Takshaka, the name of a snake in the Mahabharata, occur.[14]

The state of the text has been described by some early 20th century Indologists as unstructured and chaotic. Hermann Oldenberg supposed that the original poem must once have carried an immense "tragic force", but dismissed the full text as a "horrible chaos." [15] The judgement of other early 20th century Indologists was even less favourable. Moritz Winternitz (Geschichte der indischen Literatur 1909) considered that "only unpoetical theologists and clumsy scribes" could have lumped the various parts of disparate origin into an unordered whole.


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Historical references

The earliest known references to the Mahabharata and its core Bharata date back to the Ashtadhyayi (sutra 6.2.38) of Pāṇini (fl. 4th century BCE), and in the Ashvalayana Grhyasutra (3.4.4). This may suggest that the core 24,000 verses, known as the Bharata, as well as an early version of the extended Mahabharata, were composed by the 4th century BCE.

The Greek writer Dio Chrysostom (ca. 40-120) reported, "it is said that Homer's poetry is sung even in India, where they have translated it into their own speech and tongue. The result is that...the people of India...are not unacquainted with the sufferings of Priam, the laments and wailings of Andromache and Hecuba, and the valor of both Achilles and Hector: so remarkable has been the spell of one man's poetry!",[16]Despite the passage's evident face-value meaning that the Iliad had been translated into Sanskrit some scholars have supposed that the report reflects the existence of a Mahabharata at this date, whose episodes Dio or his sources syncretistically identify with the story of the Iliad. Christian Lassen, in his Indische Alterthumskunde, supposed that the reference is ultimately to Dhritarashtra's sorrows, the laments of Gandhari and Draupadi, and the valor of Arjuna and Duryodhana or Karna.[17] This interpretation, endorsed in such standard references as Albrecht Weber's History of Indian Literature, has often been repeated without specific reference to what Dio's text says.[18]

Several stories within the Mahabharata took on separate identities of their own in Classical Sanskrit literature. For instance, Abhijānashākuntala by the renowned Sanskrit poet Kālidāsa (ca. 400 CE), believed to have lived in the era of the Gupta dynasty, is based on a story that is the precursor to the Mahabharata. Urubhanga, a Sanskrit play written by Bhāsa who is believed to have lived before Kālidāsa, is based on the slaying of Duryodhana by the splitting of his thighs by Bhima.

The copper-plate inscription of the Maharaja Sharvanatha (533-534 CE) from Khoh (Satna District, Madhya Pradesh) describes the Mahabharata as a "collection of 100,000 verses" (shatasahasri samhita).

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The 18 parvas

The division into 18 parvas is as follows [UKT: Wikipedia gives the parvas in tabular form, which I have reformatted]:

Parva #01. Adi Parva (The Book of the Beginning)  : sub-parva 1 - 19
How the Mahabharata came to be narrated by Sauti to the assembled rishis at Naimisharanya. The recital of the Mahabharata at the sarpasattra of Janamejaya by Vaishampayana at Takṣaśilā. The history of the Bharata race is told in detail and the parva also traces history of the Bhrigu race. The birth and early life of the Kuru princes. (adi means first)

Parva #02. Sabha Parva (The Book of the Assembly Hall) : sub-parva 20 - 28
Maya Danava erects the palace and court (sabha), at Indraprastha. Life at the court, Yudhishthira's Rajasuya Yajna, the game of dice, and the eventual exile of the Pandavas.

Parva #03. Vana Parva also Aranyaka-parva, Aranya-parva (The Book of the Forest) : sub-parva 29 - 44
The twelve years of exile in the forest (aranya).

Parva #04. Virata Parva (The Book of Virata) : sub-parva 45 - 48
The year in incognito spent at the court of Virata.

Parva #05. Udyoga Parva (The Book of the Effort) : sub-parva 49 - 59
Preparations for war and efforts to bring about peace between the Kurus and the Pandavas which eventually fail (udyoga means effort or work).

Parva #06. Bhishma Parva (The Book of Bhishma) : sub-parva 60 - 64
The first part of the great battle, with Bhishma as commander for the Kauravas and his fall on the bed of arrows.

Parva #07. Drona Parva (The Book of Drona) : sub-parva 65 - 72
The battle continues, with Drona as commander. This is the major book of the war. Most of the great warriors on both sides are dead by the end of this book.

Parva #08. Karna Parva (The Book of Karna) : sub-parva 73
The battle again, with Karna as commander.

Parva #09. Shalya Parva (The Book of Shalya) : sub-parva 74 - 77
The last day of the battle, with Shalya as commander. Also told in detail is the pilgrimage of Balarama to the fords of the river Saraswati and the mace fight between Bhima and Duryodhana which ends the war, since Bhima kills Duryodhana by smashing him on the thighs with a mace.

Parva #10. Sauptika Parva (The Book of the Sleeping Warriors) : sub-parva 78 - 80
Ashvattama, Kripa and Kritavarma kill the remaining Pandava army in their sleep. Only 7 warriors remain on the Pandava side and 3 on the Kaurava side.

Parva #11. Stri Parva (The Book of the Women) : sub-parva 81 - 85
Gandhari, Kunti and the women (stri) of the Kurus and Pandavas lament the dead.

Parva #12. Shanti Parva (The Book of Peace) : sub-parva 86 - 88
The crowning of Yudhisthira as king of Hastinapura, and instructions from Bhishma for the newly anointed king on society, economics and politics. This is the longest book of the Mahabharata (shanti means peace).

Parva #13. Anushasana Parva (The Book of the Instructions) : sub-parva 89 - 90
The final instructions (anushasana) from Bhishma.

Parva #14. Ashvamedhika Parva (The Book of the Horse Sacrifice) [19]  : sub-parva 91 - 92
The royal ceremony of the Ashvamedha (Horse sacrifice) conducted by Yudhisthira. The world conquest by Arjuna. The Anugita is told by Krishna to Arjuna.

Parva #15. Ashramavasika Parva (The Book of the Hermitage) : sub-parva 93 - 95
The eventual deaths of Dhritarashtra, Gandhari and Kunti in a forest fire when they are living in a hermitage in the Himalayas. Vidura predeceases them and Sanjaya on Dhritarashtra's bidding goes to live in the higher Himalayas.

Parva #16. Mausala Parva (The Book of the Clubs) : sub-parva 96
The infighting between the Yadavas with maces (mausala) and the eventual destruction of the Yadavas.

Parva #17. Mahaprasthanika Parva (The Book of the Great Journey) : sub-parva 97
The great journey of Yudhisthira and his brothers across the whole country and finally their ascent of the great Himalayas where each Pandava falls except for Yudhisthira.

Parva #18. Svargarohana Parva (The Book of the Ascent to Heaven) : sub-parva 98
Yudhisthira's final test and the return of the Pandavas to the spiritual world (svarga).

Parva # khila. Harivamsa Parva (The Book of the Genealogy of Hari) : sub-parva 99 - 100
Life of Krishna which is not covered in the 18 parvas of the Mahabharata.

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Historical context

The historicity of the Kurukshetra War is unclear. Some historians like A L Basham estimate the date of the Kurukshetra war to Iron Age India of the 10th century BCE.[20]

Other historians like M Witzel have corroborated that the general setting of the epic has a historical precedent in Iron Age (Vedic) India, where the Kuru kingdom was the center of political power during roughly 1200 to 800 BCE.[21] A dynastic conflict of the period could have been the inspiration for the Jaya, the foundation on which the Mahabharata corpus was built, with a climactic battle eventually coming to be viewed as an epochal event.

UKT note of 101112: After going through this file, and others especially with some Sanskrit-Devanagari words, I can now accept Krishna Vasudeva (1000 years before Christ) as a historical religious figure on par with the Gautama Buddhist (500 years before Christ), Jesus Christ (central figure in my rough time line), and Mohamed (500 years after Christ).

Puranic literature presents genealogical lists associated with the Mahabharata narrative. The evidence of the Puranas is of two kinds. Of the first kind, there is the direct statement that there were 1015 (or 1050) years between the birth of Parikshit (Arjuna's grandson) and the accession of Mahapadma Nanda, commonly dated to 382 BCE, which would yield an estimate of about 1400 BCE for the Bharata battle.[22] However, this would imply improbably long reigns on average for the kings listed in the genealogies.[23] Of the second kind are analyses of parallel genealogies in the Puranas between the times of Adhisimakrishna (Parikshit's great-grandson) and Mahapadma Nanda. Pargiter accordingly estimated 26 generations by averaging 10 different dynastic lists and, assuming 18 years for the average duration of a reign, arrived at an estimate of 850 BCE for Adhisimakrishna, and thus approximately 950 BCE for the Bharata battle.[24]

B. B. Lal used the same approach with a more conservative assumption of the average reign to estimate a date of 836 BCE, and correlated this with archaeological evidence from Painted Grey Ware sites, the association being strong between PGW artifacts and places mentioned in the epic.[25]

Attempts to date the events using methods of archaeoastronomy have produced, depending on which passages are chosen and how they are interpreted, estimates ranging from the late 4th to the mid 2nd millennium BCE.[26] The late 4th millennium date has a precedent in the calculation of the Kaliyuga epoch, based on planetary conjunctions, by Aryabhata (6th century). His date of February 18 3102 BCE has become widespread in Indian tradition (for example, the Aihole inscription of Pulikeshi II, dated to Saka 556 = 634 CE, claims that 3735 years have elapsed since the Bharata battle.[27]) Another traditional school of astronomers and historians, represented by Vriddha-Garga, Varahamihira (author of the Brhatsamhita) and Kalhana (author of the Rajatarangini), place the Bharata war 653 years after the Kaliyuga epoch, corresponding to 2449 BCE.[28]

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The core story of the work is that of a dynastic struggle for the throne of Hastinapura, the kingdom ruled by the Kuru clan. The two collateral branches of the family that participate in the struggle are the Kaurava and the Pandava. Although the Kaurava is the senior branch of the family, Duryodhana, the eldest Kaurava, is younger than Yudhisthira, the eldest Pandava. Both Duryodhana and Yudhisthira claim to be first in line to inherit the throne.

The struggle culminates in the great battle of Kurukshetra, in which the Pandavas are ultimately victorious. The battle produces complex conflicts of kinship and friendship, instances of family loyalty and duty taking precedence over what is right, as well as the converse.

The Mahabharata itself ends with the death of Krishna, and the subsequent end of his dynasty and ascent of the Pandava brothers to heaven. It also marks the beginning of the Hindu age of Kali (Kali Yuga), the fourth and final age of mankind, in which great values and noble ideas have crumbled, and man is heading toward the complete dissolution of right action, morality and virtue.

Arshia Sattar states that the central theme of the Mahabharata, as well as the Ramayana, is respectively Krishna's and Rama's hidden divinity and its progressive revelation.[29]

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The older generations

Janamejaya's ancestor Shantanu, the king of Hastinapura, has a short-lived marriage with the goddess Ganga and has a son, Devavrata (later to be called Bhishma), who becomes the heir apparent. [UKT]

UKT: The son Devavrata (later to be called Bhishma) devoted to his father, took the vow of lifelong celibacy to fulfill his father's sexual desire for a fisherman's daughter who was not even a virgin: she already had a son, Vyasa, by a wandering Rishi Parashara. Vyasa, who later became the author of Mahabharata, was born in secret on an island in the river Yamuna. - UKT101112

Many years later, when King Shantanu goes hunting, he sees Satyavati, the daughter of a fisherman, and asks her father for her hand. Her father refuses to consent to the marriage unless Shantanu promises to make any future son of Satyavati the king upon his death. To resolve his father's dilemma, Devavrata agrees to relinquish his right to the throne. As the fisherman is not sure about the prince's children honouring the promise, Devavrata also takes a vow of lifelong celibacy to guarantee his father's promise.

Shantanu has two sons by Satyavati, Chitrangada and Vichitravirya. Upon Shantanu's death, Chitrangada becomes king. He lives a very short uneventful life and dies. Vichitravirya, the younger son, rules Hastinapura. Meanwhile, the King of Kāśī arranges a swayamvara for his three daughters, neglecting to invite the royal family of Hastinapur. In order to arrange the marriage of young Vichitravirya, Bhishma attends the swayamvara of the three princesses Amba, Ambika and Ambalika, uninvited, and proceeds to abduct them. Ambika and Ambalika consent to be married to Vichtravirya.

The oldest princess Amba, however, informs Bhishma that she wishes to marry Shalvaraj (king of Shalva) whom Bhishma defeated at their swayamvar. Bhishma lets her leave to marry Shalvaraj, but Shalvaraj refuses to marry her, still smarting at his humiliation at the hands of Bhishma. Amba then returns to marry Bhishma but he refuses due to his vow of celibacy. Amba becomes enraged and becomes Bhishma's bitter enemy, holding him responsible for her plight. Later she is reborn to King Drupada as Shikhandi (or Shikhandini) and causes Bhishma's fall, with the help of Arjuna, in the battle of Kurukshetra.

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The Pandava and Kaurava princes

When Vichitravirya dies young without any heirs, Satyavati asks her first son Vyasa to niyoga [father children with] the widows. The eldest, Ambika, shuts her eyes when she sees him, and so her son Dhritarashtra is born blind. Ambalika turns pale and bloodless upon seeing him, and thus her son Pandu is born pale and unhealthy (the term Pandu may also mean 'jaundiced' [30]). Due to the physical challenges of the first two children, Satyavati asks Vyasa to try once again. However, Ambika and Ambalika send their maid instead, to Vyasa's room. Vyasa fathers a third son, Vidura, by the maid. He is born healthy and grows up to be one of the wisest characters in the Mahabharata. He serves as Prime Minister (Mahamantri or Mahatma) to King Pandu and King Dhritarashtra.

UKT: Though the title "king" was given to Dhritarashtra, he was not given the throne. The throne was given to Pandu. However, when King Pandu abdicated the throne was eventually given to the blind man. Only then he could be rightfully called King Dhritarashtra.

When the princes grow up, Dhritarashtra is about to be crowned king by Bhishma when Vidura intervenes and uses his knowledge of politics to assert that a blind person cannot be king. This is because a blind man cannot control and protect his subjects. The throne is then given to Pandu because of Dhritarashtra's blindness. [UKT]

Pandu marries twice, to Kunti and Madri. Dhritarashtra marries Gandhari, a princess from Gandhara, who blindfolds herself so that she may feel the pain that her husband feels. Her brother Shakuni is enraged by this and vows to take revenge on the Kuru family. [UKT]

One day, when Pandu is relaxing in the forest, he hears the sound of a wild animal. He shoots an arrow in the direction of the sound. However the arrow hits the sage Kindama, who curses him that if he engages in a sexual act, he will die. Pandu then retires to the forest along with his two wives, and his brother Dhritarashtra rules thereafter, despite his blindness.

Pandu's older queen Kunti, however, had been given a boon by Sage Durvasa that she could invoke any god using a special mantra. Kunti uses this boon to ask Dharma the god of justice, Vayu the god of the wind, and Indra the lord of the heavens for sons. She gives birth to three sons, Yudhisthira, Bhima, and Arjuna, through these gods. Kunti shares her mantra with the younger queen Madri, who bears the twins Nakula and Sahadeva through the Ashwini twins. However, Pandu and Madri indulge in sex, and Pandu dies. Madri dies on his funeral pyre out of remorse. Kunti raises the five brothers, who are from then on usually referred to as the Pandava brothers.

Dhritarashtra has a hundred sons through Gandhari, all born after the birth of Yudhishtira. These are the Kaurava brothers, the eldest being Duryodhana, and the second Dushasana. Other Kaurava brothers were Vikarna and Sukarna. The rivalry and enmity between them and the Pandava brothers, from their youth and into manhood, leads to the Kurukshetra war.

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Lākṣagrha (The House of Lac)

After the deaths of their mother (Madri) and father (Pandu), the Pandavas and their mother Kunti return to the palace of Hastinapur. Yudhisthira is made Crown Prince by Dhritarashtra, under considerable pressure from his kingdom. Dhritarashtra wanted his own son Duryodhana to become king and lets his ambition get in the way of preserving justice.

Shakuni, Duryodhana and Dusasana plot to get rid of the Pandavas. Shakuni calls the architect Purvanchan to build a palace out of flammable materials like lac and ghee. He then arranges for the Pandavas and the Queen Mother Kunti to stay there, with the intention of setting it alight. However, the Pandavas are warned by their wise uncle, Vidura, who sends them a miner to dig a tunnel. They are able to escape to safety and go into hiding. Back at Hastinapur, the Pandavas and Kunti are presumed dead.[31]

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Marriage to Draupadi (polyandrous common wife)

During the course of their hiding the Pandavas learn of a swayamvara which is taking place for the hand of the Pācāla princess Draupadī. The Pandavas enter the competition in disguise as Brahmins. The task is to string a mighty steel bow and shoot a target on the ceiling, which is the eye of a moving artificial fish, while looking at its reflection in oil below. Most of the princes fail, many being unable to lift the bow. Arjuna succeeds however. The Pandavas return home and inform their mother that Arjuna has won a competition and to look at what they have brought back. Without looking, Kunti asks them to share whatever it is Arjuna has won among themselves. Thus Draupadi ends up being the wife of all five brothers.

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After the wedding, the Pandava brothers are invited back to Hastinapura. The Kuru family elders and relatives negotiate and broker a split of the kingdom, with the Pandavas obtaining a new territory. Yudhishtira has a new capital built for this territory at Indraprastha. Neither the Pandava nor Kaurava sides are happy with the arrangement however.

Shortly after this, Arjuna elopes with and then marries Krishna's sister, Subhadra. Yudhishtira wishes to establish his position as king; he seeks Krishna's advice. Krishna advises him, and after due preparation and the elimination of some opposition, Yudhishthira carries out the rājasūya yagna ceremony; he is thus recognised as pre-eminent among kings.

The Pandavas have a new palace built for them, by Maya the Danava.[32] They invite their Kaurava cousins to Indraprastha. Duryodhana walks round the palace, and mistakes a glossy floor for water, and will not step in. After being told of his error, he then sees a pond, and assumes it is not water and falls in. Draupadi laughs at him and ridicules him by saying that this is because of his blind father Dhritrashtra. He then decides to avenge his humiliation.

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The dice game

Shakuni, Duryodhana's uncle, now arranges a dice game, playing against Yudhishtira with loaded dice. Yudhishtira loses all his wealth, then his kingdom. He then even gambles his brothers, himself, and finally his wife into servitude. The jubilant Kauravas insult the Pandavas in their helpless state and even try to disrobe Draupadi in front of the entire court, but her honour is saved by Krishna who miraculously creates lengths of cloth to replace the ones being removed.

Dhritarashtra, Bhishma, and the other elders are aghast at the situation, but Duryodhana is adamant that there is no place for two crown princes in Hastinapura. Against his wishes Dhritarashtra orders for another dice game. The Pandavas are required to go into exile for 12 years, and in the 13th year must remain hidden. If discovered by the Kauravas, they will be forced into exile for another 12 years.

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Exile and return

The Pandavas spend thirteen years in exile; many adventures occur during this time. They also prepare alliances for a possible future conflict. They spend their final year in disguise in the court of Virata, and are discovered just after the end of the year.

At the end of their exile, they try to negotiate a return to Indraprastha. However, this fails, as Duryodhana objects that they were discovered while in hiding, and that no return of their kingdom was agreed. War becomes inevitable.

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The battle at Kurukshetra

The two sides summon vast armies to their help, and line up at Kurukshetra for a war. [UKT]

The Kingdoms of Panchala, Dwaraka, Kasi, Kekaya, Magadha, Matsya, Chedi, Pandya, Telinga, and the Yadus of Mathura and some other clans like the Parama Kambojas were allied with the Pandavas. [UKT]

The allies of the Kauravas included the kings of Pragjyotisha, Anga, Kekaya, Sindhudesa (including Sindhus, Sauviras and Sivis), Mahishmati, Avanti in Madhyadesa, Madra, Gandhara, Bahlikas, Kambojas and many others. [UKT]

Prior to war being declared, Balarama, had expressed his unhappiness at the developing conflict, and left to go on pilgrimage, thus he does not take part in the battle itself. Krishna takes part in a non-combatant role, as charioteer for Arjuna.

Before the battle, Arjuna, seeing himself facing his great grandfather Bhishma and his teacher Drona on the other side, has doubts about the battle and he fails to lift his Gāndeeva bow. Krishna wakes him up to his call of duty in the famous Bhagavad Gita section of the epic.

UKT: This Wikipedia article does not give correct family relationships making the story unnecessarily confusing. For example, phrases like "great grandfather Bhishma" is misleading because Bhishma had undertook a vow of celibacy at the beginning of the story. See The older generations on this page. A phrase like "great grandsire Bhishma" would have been better. - UKT101116

Though initially sticking to chivalrous notions of warfare, both sides soon adopt dishonourable tactics. At the end of the 18-day battle, only the Pandavas, Satyaki, Kripa, Ashwathama, Kritavarma, Yuyutsu and Krishna survive.

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The end of Pandavas

After "seeing" the carnage, Gandhari who had lost all her sons, curses Krishna to be a witness to a similar annihilation of his family, for though divine and capable of stopping the war, he had not done so. Krishna accepts the curse, which bears fruit 36 years later.

The Pandavas who had ruled their kingdom meanwhile, decide to renounce everything. Clad in skins and rags they retire to the Himalaya and climb towards heaven in their bodily form. A stray dog travels with them. [UKT]

One by one the brothers and Draupadi fall on their way. As each one stumbles, Yudhishitra gives the rest the reason for their fall:

Draupadi was partial to Arjuna,
Nakula and Sahadeva were vain and proud of their looks,
Bhima and Arjuna were proud of their strength and archery skills, respectively.
Only the virtuous Yudhisthira, who had tried everything to prevent the carnage, and the dog remain. [UKT]

UKT: I find it strange not to include "gambling with dice" as a vice. - UKT101113

The dog reveals himself to be the god Yama (also known as Yama Dharmaraja), and then takes him to the underworld where he sees his siblings and wife. After explaining the nature of the test, Yama takes Yudhishthira back to heaven and explains that it was necessary to expose him to the underworld because (Rajyante narakam dhruvam) any ruler has to visit the underworld at least once. Yama then assures him that his siblings and wife would join him in heaven after they had been exposed to the underworld for measures of time according to their vices.

Arjuna's grandson Parikshit rules after them and dies bitten by a snake. His furious son, Janamejaya, decides to perform a snake sacrifice (sarpasattra) in order to destroy the snakes. It is at this sacrifice that the tale of his ancestors is narrated to him.

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Versions, translations, and derivative works

Many regional versions of the work developed over time, mostly differing only in minor details, or with verses or subsidiary stories being added. These include some versions from outside the Indian subcontinent, such as the Kakawin Bharatayuddha from Java. The plays of the Tamil street theatre, terukkuttu, use themes from the Tamil language versions of Mahabharata, focusing on Draupadi.[34]

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Critical Edition

Between 1919 and 1966, scholars at the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune, compared the various manuscripts of the epic from India and abroad and produced the Critical Edition of the Mahabharata, on 13,000 pages in 19 volumes, followed by the Harivamsha in another two volumes and six index volumes. This is the text that is usually used in current Mahabharata studies for reference.[35] This work is sometimes called the 'Pune' or 'Poona' edition of the Mahabharata.

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Modern interpretations

The Tamil writer S. Ramakrishnan has written a critically acclaimed book based on the Mahabharata called "Uba Paandavam". It discusses the story in a non-linear manner from a traveller's point of view.

The Kannada novelist S.L. Bhyrappa wrote a novel in Kannada (now translated into most Indian languages and English) titled Parva, giving a new interpretation to the story of Mahabharata. He tried to understand the social and ethical practices in these regions and correlate them with the story of Mahabharata.

Malayalam writer M. T. Vasudevan Nair's novel Randamoozham (English: Second Turn) tells the Mahabharata from Bhima's point of view. Mrityunjay (English: Triumph Over Death) written by Shivaji Sawant is a novel with Karna as the central character of Mahabharata.

In Indian cinema, several film versions of the epic exist, dating back to 1920.[36] The internationally acclaimed parallel Bengali film director Satyajit Ray also intended to direct a theatrical adaptation of the epic, but the project was never realized.[37]

In the late 1980s, the Mahabharat TV series, directed by Ravi Chopra,[38] was televised and shown on India's national television (Doordarshan). In the Western world, a well-known presentation of the epic is Peter Brook's nine-hour play, which premiered in Avignon in 1985, and its five-hour movie version The Mahabharata (1989). [39]

Among literary reinterpretations of the Mahabharata is Shashi Tharoor's major work entitled The Great Indian Novel, an involved literary, philosophical, and political novel which superimposes the major moments of post-independence India in the 20th century onto the driving events of the Mahabharata epic.

Mahabharata was also reinterpreted by Shyam Benegal in Kalyug. Kalyug is a modern-day replaying of the Mahabharata. [40]

Western interpretations of the Mahabharata include William Buck's Mahabharata and Elizabeth Seeger's Five Sons of King Pandu.

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English translations

The first complete English translation was the Victorian prose version by Kisari Mohan Ganguli, [41] published between 1883 and 1896 (Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers) and by M. N. Dutt (Motilal Banarsidass Publishers). Most critics consider the translation by Ganguli to be faithful to the original text. The complete text of Ganguli's translation is in the public domain and is available online. [42]

Another English prose translation of the full epic, based on the Critical Edition, is also in progress, published by University Of Chicago Press, initiated by Chicago Indologist J. A. B. van Buitenen (books 1-5) and, following a 20-year hiatus caused by the death of van Buitenen, is being continued by D. Gitomer of DePaul University (book 6), J. L. Fitzgerald of Brown University (books 11-13) and Wendy Doniger of the University of Chicago (books 14-18).

A poetic "transcreation" (author's own description) of the full epic into English, done by the poet P. Lalsince 1968 in monthly fascicules is incomplete following his death on 3 November 2010. In 2005 a completely revised edition began being published by Writers Workshop, Calcutta. The P. Lal translation is a non-rhyming verse-by-verse rendering, and is the only edition in any language to include all slokas in all recensions of the work (not just those in the Critical Edition). Sixteen of the eighteen volumes are now available. The Moksha-dharma parva of the Shanti Parva and the entire Anushasana Parva are left untranscreated.

A project to translate the full epic into English prose, translated by various hands, began to appear in 2005 from the Clay Sanskrit Library, published by New York University Press. The translation is based not on the Critical Edition but on the version known to the commentator Nīlakaṇṭha. Currently available are 15 volumes of the projected 32-volume edition. This project has run out of funds.

Indian economist Bibek Debroy has also begun an unabridged English translation in ten volumes. Volume 1: Adi Parva was published in March 2010.

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Abridged versions

Many condensed versions, abridgements and novelistic prose retellings of the complete epic have been published in English, including work by William Buck, R.K. Narayan, C. Rajagopalachari, Krishna Dharma, Romesh C. Dutt, Bharadvaja Sarma and J.D.Smith (Penguin, 2009).

A Kawi version is found on the Indonesian island of Bali and was translated by Dr. I. Gusti Putu Phalgunadi. Of the eighteen parvas, only eight Kawi manuscripts remain.

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Jain version

UKT: Jainism is not Hinduism, and does not accept the notion of a Creator. And the account who goes to heaven and who to hell are bound to different from that of the Hindu version. -- UKT101117

Jain version of Mahabharata can be found in the various Jain texts like Harivamsapurana (the story of Harivamsa) Trisastisalakapurusa Caritra (Hagiography of 63 Illustrious persons), Pandavacaritra (lives of Pandavas) and Pandavapurana (stories of Pandavas). [43] From the earlier canonical literature, Antakrddaaśāh (8th cannon) and Vrisnidasa (upangagama or secondary canon) contain the stories of Neminatha (22nd Tirthankara), Krishna and Balarama. [44] Prof. Padmanabh Jaini notes that, unlike in the Hindu Puranas, the names Baladeva and Vasudeva are not restricted to Balarama and Krishna in Jain puranas. Instead they serve as names of two distinct class of mighty brothers, who appear nine times in each half of time cycles of the Jain cosmology and rule the half the earth as half-chakravartins. Jaini traces the origin of this list of brothers to the Jinacharitra by Bhadrabahu swami (3-4 century BCE). [45]. [UKT]

According to Jain cosmology Balarama, Krishna and Jarasandha are the ninth and the last set of Baladeva, Vasudeva, and Partivasudeva. [46] The main battle is not the Mahabharata, but the fight between Krishna and Jarasandha who is killed by Krishna. Ultimately, the Pandavas and Balarama take renunciation as Jain monks and are reborn in heavens, while on the other hand Krishna and Jarasandha are reborn in hell. [47] In keeping with the law of karma, Krishna is reborn in hell for his exploits (sexual and violent) while Jarasandha for his evil ways. Jaini admits a possibility that perhaps because of his popularity, the Jain authors were keen to rehabilitate Krishna. The Jain texts predict that after his karmic term in hell is over sometime during the next half time-cycle, Krishna will be reborn as a Jain Tirthankara and attain liberation. [46] Krishna and Balrama are shown as contemporaries and cousins of 22nd Tirthankara, Neminatha. [48] According to this story, Krishna arranged young Neminaths marriage with Rajamati, the daughter of Ugrasena, but Neminatha, empathizing with the animals which were to be slaughtered for the marriage feast, left the procession suddenly and renounced the world. [49]

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Kuru family tree


a: Santanu was a king of the Kuru dynasty or kingdom, and was some generations removed from any ancestor called Kuru. His marriage to Ganga preceded his marriage to Satyavati.
b: Pandu and Dhritarashtra were niyoga fathered by Vyasa after Vichitravirya's death. Dhritarashtra, Pandu and Vidura were the sons of Vyasa with Ambika, Ambalika and a maid servant respectively.
c: Karna was born to Kunti through her invocation of Surya, before her marriage to Pandu.
d: The Pandavas were acknowledged sons of Pandu but were begotten by Kunti's invocation of various deities. They all married Draupadi (not shown in tree). In particular:

Yama or Dharma (Dharmadeva), for Yudhishtira
Vayu, for Bhima
Indra for Arjuna
The twins, Nakula and Sahadeva were born to Madri through her invocation of The Ashvins

e: Duryodhana and his siblings were born at the same time, and they were of the same generation as their Pandava cousins.

The birth order of siblings is correctly shown in the family tree (from left to right), except for Vyasa and Bhishma whose birth order is not described, and Vichitravirya who was born after them. The fact that Ambika and Ambalika are sisters is not shown in the family tree. The birth of Duryodhana took place after the birth of Karna, Yudhishtira and Bhima, but before the birth of the remaining Pandava brothers.

Some siblings of the characters shown here have been left out for clarity; these include Chitrangada, the eldest brother of Vichitravirya. Vidura, half-brother to Dhritarashtra and Pandu.

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Cultural influence

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna explains to Arjuna his duties as a warrior and prince and elaborates on different Yogic[50] and Vedantic philosophies, with examples and analogies. This has led to the Gita often being described as a concise guide to Hindu philosophy and a practical, self-contained guide to life.[51] In modern times, Swami Vivekananda, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Mahatma Gandhi and many others used the text to help inspire the Indian independence movement.[52][53]

UKT: End of Wikipedia article.

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UKT notes

Krishna Vasudeva in the Mahabharata

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krishna_in_the_Mahabharata 101112

Within the Indian epic Mahabharata, Krishna was the son of the Yadava chief Vasudeva and his wife Devaki. Hence he was known as Vasudeva Krishna or Vasudeva.

UKT: Not to get confused, it might be better to refer to Krishna as Krishna Vasudeva in modern fashion. -- UKT101112

Krishna as a political reformer

Krishna was the key political figure, in overthrowing Kamsa or Kansa, the king of Surasena Kingdom. The kingdom of Surasena was the native kingdom of Yadava clans constituted by the Andhakas, Vrishnis and Bhojas. By overthrowing Kansa, Krishna re-established the old king Ugrasena on the throne and stabilized the kingdom, from collapse due to factional fighting within the kingdom.

The next threat came from outside the country, from the Magadha Kingdom. The ruler of Magadha, Jarasandha, attacked Surasena many times and weakened its military. Krishna and other Yadava chief tried all their best to hold on. At last they had to flee from their native kingdom to the south and to the west.

Later, with the initiative of Krishna, the Yadavas who fled from Surasena formed a new kingdom called Dwaraka. Its capital was Dwaravati a city well protected by mountains on all sides, in an island, not far from the Gujarat coast. This made it immune to attacks from land. The kingdom prospered by sea trade, with sea-faring kingdoms.

Krishna also established a tie-up of Yadavas with the Pandavas, a faction of Kurus, who were fighting against the established Kuru Kingdom. This tie up also benefited the Yadavas, strategically. With the help of the Pandavas they overthrew the Magadha king Jarasandha who was their biggest enemy. For this assistance, Krishna in turn helped the Pandavas to win the Kurukshetra War against the Kurus headed by Duryodhana. Thus the rule of the Pandava Yudhisthira was re-established by Krishna at Indraprastha, the modern-day (Delhi).

However, The Yadava chiefs fought the Kurukshetra War, on both sides, and even after the war ended, the enmity among the Yadava leaders continued. After 36 years, since the Kurukshetra War, another war broke among the Yadavas, in their own kingdom. This resulted in the absolute destruction of the Yadava kingdom in Dwaraka, with Balarama and Krishna also departing due to grief. This fight among Yadava is also attributed to curse from Gandhari, mother of Duryodhana to Krishna.

But the help Krishna extended to the Pandava Yudhisthira, paid off. When the rule of Yudhisthira ended, he established the Yadava prince Vajra on the throne of Indraprastha along with the Kuru prince Parikshit, at Hastinapura. Thus the royal lineage of the Yadavas continued through the prince Vajra. Parikshita was the son of Abhimanyu and the grandson of Arjuna and Vajra was the grandson of Krishna[1] was also grandson to Yudhisthara, son of Draupadi's daughter Sutanu and Asva, Krishna 's son by Jambavati. Similarly, Satyaki's daughter's son Bhuti who was grandson of Bhima and founder of Malavas was made king of Saraswat nagar. Krishna and Rukmini 's daughter was married to Bali, son of Kritavarma, whose son Andhaka got Mrittivakata. Bali was nephew to Yudhisthara and Duryodhana, married to their sister. Another son of Jambavati, Samba 's son, cousin to these three founded Moolsthana or Multana. Pradyumna, Krishna 's son, Krishna 's brother Gada and Samba had married three daughters of Vajranabha and shared his kingdom. What is the source for the reference to Draupadi's daughter and Satyaki's daughter's son as grandson of Bhima and Rukmini's daughter marrying Kritavarma's son who also married Duryodhana's sister? Late Sri. Kulapati K.M.Munshi's famous narration of the life of Lord Krishna, Krishnavatara (Volumes 1 to 8) published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan is a very good read into the political aspects of Lord Krishna, painting Krishna not as the God Almighty but as a human Hero and a Great Leader. A very interesting read between the lines into the inner aspects of politics by Krishna as a human being.

The following sections shows glimpses of Krishna's political life, as a supporter of the Pandava cause, and as a mediator among his own kinsmen.

Pacifying his kinsmen when Arjuna eloped with the Yadava Princess Subradra

(Mahabharata, Book 1, Chapter 223) Even this is my opinion: go ye cheerfully after Dhananjaya and by conciliation stop him and bring him back. If Partha goes to his city after having vanquished us by force, our fame will be gone. There is no disgrace, however, in conciliation.

Preparations for the Kurukshetra War

(Mahabharata, Book 5, Chapter 5) As we are desirous of adopting a politic course, this is, no doubt, our first duty; a man acting otherwise would be a great fool. But our relationship to both the Kurus and the Pandus is equal, howsoever these two parties may behave with each other. If that chief of the Kuru race should make peace on equitable terms, then the brotherly feelings between the Kuras and the Pandus will sustain no injury. If on the other hand, the son of Dhritarashtra should wax haughty and from folly refuse to make peace, then, having summoned others, summon us too, for war.

Offer of aid in war for both Arjuna and Duryodhana

(Mahabharata, Book 5, Chapter 7) There is a large body of cowherds numbering ten lakhs [1 million], rivalling me in strength and known as the Narayanas, all of whom are able to fight in the thick of battle. These soldiers, irresistible in battle, shall be sent to one of you and I alone, resolved not to fight on the field, and laying down my arms, will go to the other. You may, first select whichever of these two commends itself to you.

Peace mission to prevent the Kurukshetra War

(Mahabharata, Book 5, Chapter 83) I will go to king Dhritarashtra, desirous of accomplishing what is consistent with righteousness, what may be beneficial to us, and what also is for the good of the Kurus.

Politics within the Yadava Chiefs

(Mahabharata, Book 12, Chapter 80) I never behave with slavish obsequiousness towards my kinsmen by flattering speeches about their prosperity. I give them half of what I have, and forgive their evil speeches. As a fire-stick is ground by a person desirous of obtaining fire, even so my heart is ground by my kinsmen with their cruel speeches. Indeed those cruel speeches burn my heart every day. Might resides in Sankarshana (Balarama); mildness in Gada; and as regards Pradyumna, he surpasses even myself in beauty of person. Although I have all these on my side yet I am helpless. Many others among the Andhakas and the Vrishnis are possessed of great prosperity and might, and during courage and constant perseverance. He on whose side they do not range themselves meets with destruction. He, on the other hand, on whose side they do range themselves, achieves everything. Dissuaded (in turns) by both (viz., Ahuka and Akrura,) I do not side either of them. What can be more painful for a person than to have both Ahuka and Akrura on his side? What, again, can be more painful for one than not to have both of them on his side I am like the mother of two brothers gambling against each other, invoking victory to both. I am thus, afflicted by both.

Conquest of Eastern Kingdoms of Pragjyotisha and Shonitapura

The epic Mahabharata describes many battles fought by Krishna, and his conquest of various kingdoms. He defeated the king Naraka of Pragjyotisha the modern day Guwahati, in Assam state of India. He was known as Bhumiputra (the son of the Earth) belonging to the Bhauma clan of kings. His kingdom was called Kamarupa.

UKT: Though Assam and Burma (Myanmar) have common borders, the Indians seemed to avoid entering Myanmar. My question was why. - UKT101112

He also conquered Bana or Vana of Shonitapura (Shonitpur of Assam), to the east of Pragjyotisha. However they became allies, as Krishna's grandson Aniruddha married Usha, the daughter of Bana. He belonged to the Daitya clan of Asuras.

In (Mahabharata, Book 5, Chapter 62), Krishna is described as the slayer of Vana and Bhumi's son (Naraka)

(Mahabharata, Book 5, Chapter 130) He hath slain Jarasandha, and Vakra, and Sisupala of mighty energy, and Vana in battle, and numerous other kings also have been slain by him. Of immeasurable might, he vanquished king Varuna and also Pavaka and Indra and Madhu and Kaitabha and Hayagriva)

Conquest of Vidarbha, Gandhara and Pandya

Krishna married Rukmini, his first wife, by abducting her on her request from the Vidarbha Kingdom, defeating her brother Rukmi. He also won in a contest and married a Gandhara princess, Satya, in the same manner. Krishna also attacked and conquered the Pandya Kingdom in the south.

(Mahabharata, Book 5, Chapter 48)...that Vaasudeva (Krishna), viz., who having mowed down in battle by main force all the royal warriors of the Bhoja race, had carried off on a single car Rukmini of great fame for making her his wife.

(Mahabharata, Book 7, Chapter 11) Krishna, vanquishing all the kings at a self-choice, bore away the daughter of the king of the Gandharas. Those angry kings, as if they were horses by birth, were yoked unto his nuptial car and were lacerated with the whip. The contest at swyamvara was chaining a set of bulls to plough.

(Mahabharata, Book 7, Chapter 23) The Pandya King Sarangadhwaja's country having been invaded and his kinsmen having fled, his father had been slain by Krishna in battle. Obtaining weapons then from Bhishma and Drona, Rama and Kripa, prince Sarangadhwaja became, in weapons, the equal of Rukmi and Karna and Arjuna and Achyuta. He then desired to destroy the city of Dwaraka and subjugate the whole world. Wise friends, however, from desire of doing him good, counselled him against that course. Giving up all thoughts of revenge, he ruled his own dominions.

Kishna as a philosopher

Krishna's philosophical conversation with his friend and cousin Arjuna during the Kurukshetra War later became known as the famous Bhagavad Gita, the holy book of Hindus. How he amassed this great knowledge is revealed in the Anugita chapters of Mahabharata, which states that he got this knowledge by interactions with many learned men, and by his own meditations.

The following was what Krishna told to Arjuna when later told to repeat what he discoursed as Bhagavat Gita, in the midst of the Kurukshetra War.

(Mahabharata, Book 14, Chapter 16) I made thee listen to truths that are regarded as mysteries. I imparted to thee truths that are eternal. Verily, I discoursed to thee on Religion in its true form and on all the eternal regions. It is exceedingly disagreeable to me to learn that thou didst not, from folly, receive what I imparted. The recollection of all that I told thee on that occasion will not come to me now. Without doubt, O son of Pandu, thou art destitute of faith and thy understanding is not good. It is impossible for me, O Dhananjaya (Arjuna), to repeat, in detail, all that I said on that occasion. That religion about which I discoursed to thee then is more than sufficient for understanding Brahma. I cannot discourse on it again in detail. I discoursed to thee on Supreme Brahma, having concentrated myself in Yoga.

The probable source of Krishna's knowledge

Krishna mentions about the knowledge he obtained from a certain Brahmana

(Mahabharata, Book 14, Chapter 16) On one occasion, a Brahmana came to us. Of irresistible energy, he came from the regions of the Grandsire. He was duly reverenced by us. Listen, to what he, said, in answer to our enquiries. The Brahmana said, That which thou askest me, O Krishna, connected with the religion of Moksha (Emancipation), led by thy compassion for all creatures and not for thy own good, -- that, indeed, which destroys all delusion, O thou that art possessed of supreme puissance I shall now tell thee duly. Do thou listen with concentrated attention as I discourse to thee.

Extracts from Bhagavat Gita the Philosophy of Krishna

(Mahabharata, Book 6, Chapter 26) There is no objective existence of anything that is distinct from the soul; nor non-existence of anything possessing the virtues of the soul. This conclusion in respect of both these hath been arrived at by those that know the truths of things. Know that the soul to be immortal by which all this [universe] is pervaded. No one can compass the destruction of that which is imperishable. It hath been said that those bodies of the Embodied soul which is eternal, indestructible and infinite, have an end.

(Mahabharata, Book 6, Chapter 26) As a man, casting off robes that are worn out, putteth on others that are new, so the Embodied (soul), casting off bodies that are worn out, entereth other bodies that are new. Weapons cleave it not, fire consumeth it not; the waters do not drench it, nor doth the wind waste it. It is incapable of being cut, burnt, drenched, or dried up. It is unchangeable, all-pervading, stable, firm, and eternal. It is said to be imperceivable, inconceivable and unchangeable.

(Mahabharata, Book 6, Chapter 26) All beings (before birth) were unmanifest. Only during an interval (between birth and death), O Bharata, are they manifest; and then again, when death comes, they become (once more) unmanifest.

(Mahabharata, Book 6, Chapter 27) In this world, two kinds of devotion; that of the Sankhyas through knowledge and that of the yogins through work.

(Mahabharata, Book 6, Chapter 29) Arjuna said, -- Thou applaudest, O Krishna, the abandonment of actions, and again the application (to them). Tell me definitely which one of these two is superior. The Holy One said Both abandonment of actions and application to actions lead to emancipation. But of these, application to action is superior to abandonment. He should always be known to be an ascetic who hath no aversion nor desire. For, being free from pairs of opposites, he is easily released from the bonds of action.

(Mahabharata, Book 6, Chapter 29) He who is wise never taketh pleasure in these that have a beginning and an end.

Evidence of early worship of Krishna's personality

The cult of Krishna Vasudeva (IAST kṛṣṇa vāsudeva "Krishna, son of Vasudeva") is historically one of the earliest forms of worship in Krishnaism and Vaishnavism. This tradition is considered separately to other traditions that led to amalgamation at a later stage of the historical development, that form the basis of current tradition of monotheistic religion of Krishna. [2] [3] Some early scholars would equate it with Bhagavatism, [4] and the founder of this religious tradition is believed to be Krishna, who is the son of Vasudeva, thus his name is Vāsudeva, and according to them his followers called themselves Bhagavatas and this religion had formed by the 2nd century BC (the time of Patanjali), or as early as the 4th century BC according to evidence of Pāṇini {pa-Ni.ni.} and that of Megasthenes and in the Arthasastra of Kautilya, when Vāsudeva was worshiped as supreme Deity in a strongly monotheistic format, where the supreme Being was perfect, eternal and full of grace. [5] In many sources outside of the cult, devotee or bhakta is defined as Vāsudevaka.[6] Harivamsa, a later addition to Mahabharata as well as Bhagavata purana speak about his childhood in the village of Vrindavana, where Krishna passed his childhood and teenage days.

UKT: End of Wikipedia article.

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UKT: Niyoga (Skt-Devan: नियोग --> Pali-Myan: {ni.yau:ga.} is the precursor of the modern "artificial insemination". Though, actual coitus is involved it is said that "The act will be seen as that of Dharma ... not passion nor lust. [The man is just the donor of the sperm.] ... the woman will accept it only to bear the child for herself and her husband." In Niyoga, the bodies were covered with "ghee" 'butter' to prevent lust entering the minds of participants. The child is considered not to be the offspring of the donor. - UKT101117

Skt-Devan: नियोग  niyoga
Pal-Myan: {ni.yau:ga.} - - UHS-PMD0538

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niyoga 101116

Niyoga (Skt: नियोग ) is an ancient Hindu tradition [also found in other cultures], in which a woman (whose husband is either incapable of fatherhood or has died without having a child) would request and appoint a person for helping her bear a child. According to this Hindu tradition the man who was appointed must be or would most likely be a revered person. There were various clauses associated with this process, as follows:

1. The woman would agree for this only for the sake of rightfully having a child and not for pleasure.
2. The appointed man would do this for Dharma, considering it as his duty to help the woman bear a child and not for pleasure.
3. The child thus born would be considered the child of the husband-wife and not that of the appointed man.
4. The appointed man would not seek any paternal relationship or attachment to this child in the future.
5. To avoid misuse, a man was allowed a maximum of three times in his life time to be appointed in such a way.
6. The act will be seen as that of Dharma and while doing so, the man and the wife will have only Dharma in their mind and not passion nor lust. The man will do it as a help to the woman in the name of God, whereas the woman will accept it only to bear the child for herself and her husband.

In Niyoga, the bodies were to be covered with "ghee" (so that lust may not take root in the minds of participants but actual act may take place for conception). Similar traditions are referred to in the Old Testament as levirate marriages see [1] and the Spartans.

Niyoga in Mahabharata

The most famous examples of Niyoga occurred in the Mahabharata. Dhritarashtra, Pandu and Vidura were the three children born by this process when Rishi Vedavyasa was the appointed man. Later Pandu himself was incapable of producing children. The five Pandavas, Yudhishthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva were the offspring born out of Niyoga, the respective biological fathers being various Devas.

Niyoga in Manusmṛti

In the Manusmṛti, niyoga is prescibed in IX.59-63, but the practice is also condemned in IX.64-68. This text (IX.167) describes the child born by niyoga as a kshetraja child of the husband-wife.[1]

UKT: More in Wiki stub.

UKT: Practices similar to niyoga were present in societies other than in ancient India. e.g.:
In the Hebrew Bible
When brothers live together, and one of them dies childless, the dead man's wife shall not be allowed to marry an outsider. Her husband's brother must cohabit with her, making her his wife, and thus performing a brother-in-law's duty to her. The first-born son whom she bears will then perpetuate the name of the dead brother, so that his name will not be obliterated from Israel. -- Deuteronomy 25:5-6 .
UKT quote from: http://forums.sulekha.com/forums/philosophy/levirate-marriages-indian-equivalent-niyoga-system-of-begetting-a-son-126598.htm 101116

The following is from Niyoga system of fertilization by Seva (Subhash C. Sharma)
http://www.hindunet.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/73891/Niyoga_system_of_fertilization.html 101116

To have a healthy baby long ago (several thousand years ago), especially when the mortality rate for infants and young children used to be very high, was a social need to keep the race and family going (genealogically), as well as a personal need to ensure that there would be someone later (grown up son etc.) to look after the aging parents and other family members (a kind of old age security). Moreover, the offspring might be needed anyway when the male spouse was incapable of impregnating his female counterpart.

Thus the religion (Hinduism) and society's elders devised a system, Niyoga, giving seven (or more) choices of men -- starting with immediate family members (husband's brothers etc.) and lastly the outsiders (learned brahmins etc.) -- to a childless woman (including a widow) so that she could obtain the seed (from these men, in order of priority) to bear a child, if she so wished. Note that the basis for Niyoga was to get pregnant to have a child and not the sexual gratification.

Since having an offspring might be very important to a childless woman or a couple, from societal and personal considerations (as indicated above), Niyoga system of fertilization, sanctioned by religion and society, was perhaps the most practical, humane and easy to employ.

Note that the system, even though practiced long ago, is now becoming quite popular around the world (in a slightly different form) as more and more single women and childless couples go for having babies through artificial insemination etc. by using sperm (seed) from outside males. In that sense, Niyoga seems to have been an ultra modern and liberal system of fertilization. There are even rumors that something similar to Niyoga was used by royalty outside India not long ago, with positive outcome.

Incidentally, in the Mahabharata, king Vichitravirya died suddenly leaving two young widowed queens (Ambika and Ambalika) behind without any heir. Then Satyavati (Vichitraviryas mother and Bhishmas stepmother) asked Bhishma to do the right thing as Vichitraviryas half-brother and impregnate Ambika and Ambalika to get a child (heir) so that their family and kingdom would continue. But Bhishma, having taken earlier the vow of celibacy and to never father a child, declined this request from his stepmother. Satyavati then had to ask another male, as sanctioned by Niyoga, to carry out the act of fathering children with Ambika and Ambalika, which took place and led to the births of Dhritarashtra (from Ambika) and Pandu (from Ambalika).

Needless to say, it seems from the above example in Mahabharata that Hindu widows long ago did not commit sati or shave their heads and move to remote places (temples) after their husbands' deaths. The widows like Ambika and Ambalika even had children by another man after their husband died. Moreover, another widow (Satyavati) lived at home in her palace and made important decisions for the family and kingdom. All these rights and privileges to women, including widows, were in agreement with the society and religion.

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Parāśara {pa.ra-Sa.ra.}

UKT: The name Parāśara [assumed to be IAST] on transliteration gives: पराशर (needs to be checked) can be further transcribed to {pa.ra-a.ra.} (changing the sibilant /ʃ/ --> thibilant /θ/). The name could also be {pa.ra-Sa.ra.} (changing the sibilant /ʃ/ --> another sibilant /s/). It is necessary to do this to relate the name to an astrological text for further work. I am waiting for input from my peers. -- UKT101117

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parashara 101116

Parāśara is a Rigvedic Maharishi and author of many ancient Indian texts. Parāśara was the grandson of Vasishtha, the son of Shakti-muni, and the father of Vyasa. There are several texts which give reference to Parāśara as an author/speaker. Modern scholars believe that there were many individuals who used this name throughout time whereas others assert that the same Parāśara taught these various texts and the time of writing them varied. The actual sage himself never wrote the texts, he was known as a traveling teacher, and the various texts attributed to him are given in reference to Parāśara being the speaker to his student.


According to vedas which is the word of GOD The Supreme personality of Godhead Lord Krishna, Brahma created Vasishtha who with Arundhati had a son named Shakti-muni who sired Parāśara. [UKT]

UKT: Words and phrases like "GOD", "The Supreme personality of Godhead Lord Krishna" had confused me. I am now (101116) looking at the authors of Mahabharata and BhagavaGita as humans and "historical figures" and am identifying them together with their father's names in the modern fashion. Thus the names of the authors of Mahabharata is Vyasa Parāśara, and that of BhagavaGita is Krishna Vasudeva and that they had lived at least 500 years before the Gautama Buddha or 1000 before Jesus Christ. -- UKT101116

With Satyavati [fisherman's daughter], Parāśara fathered Vyasa [in secret on an island]. Vyasa niyoga-sired Dhritarashtra, Pandu and Vidura through his dead half-brother's wives. [UKT]

UKT: I have used my own term "niyoga-sire" to show that Vyasa was the sperm donor in "artificial" insemination. And therefore it is not correct to refer to him as the "father" and the word "sired" is incorrect. The father of Dhritarashtra, Pandu and Vidura was Vichitravirya.

He sired Śuka through his wife, Jābāli's daughter Pinjalā (Vatikā) [1]. Thus Parashara was the great-grandfather of both the warring parties of the Mahābhārata, the Kauravas and the Pāndavas.


Parāśara Muni was raised by his grandfather, Vasishtha, because he lost his father at an early age. His father, Shakti-muni, was on a journey and came across an angry Rakshasa (demon) {yak~hka.} who had once been a king but was turned into a demon feeding on human flesh as a curse from Vishwamitra. The demon devoured Parāśaras father. In the Visnu Purana, Parāśara speaks about his anger from this: [2]

"I had heard that my father had been devoured by a Rakshasa employed by Vishwamitra: violent anger seized me, and I commenced a sacrifice for the destruction of the Rakshasas: hundreds of them were reduced to ashes by the rite, when, as they were about to be entirely exterminated, my grandfather Vasishtha said to me: Enough, my child; let thy wrath be appeased: the Rakshasas are not culpable: thy father's death was the work of destiny. Anger is the passion of fools; it becometh not a wise man. By whom, it may be asked, is any one killed? Every man reaps the consequences of his own acts. Anger, my son, is the destruction of all that man obtains by arduous exertions, of fame, and of devout austerities; and prevents the attainment of heaven or of emancipation. The chief sages always shun wrath: be not subject to its influence, my child. Let no more of these unoffending spirits of darkness be consumed. Mercy is the might of the righteous.

Sage Parashara, on one of his travels across the country, halted for the night in a little hamlet on the banks of the river Ganga. He was put up in the house of the village chief. When dawn broke, the chief asked his daughter, Satyavati, to ferry the sage to his next destination. When in the ferry, Parashara was offended by the stench of raw fish. According to legend, the Ganga has no fish within her waters. He asked Satyavati as to from where the foul stench was emanating. Satyavati was a fisherman's daughter, and pursued the same occupation. It was from her the stench emanated. Realising this, Parashara gave her the epithet "Matsyagandha", meaning "one with the smell of fish". Satyavati was thoroughly ashamed. Parashara felt sorry for his cruelty, and instantly granted her the boon, that the finest fragrance may emit from her person.

Parashara grew attached to Satyavati, and desired to perform coitus with her. But Satyavati was terrified of him and gave an excuse that there were many people present on either sides of Ganga. So Parasara Muni, with his mystic power, created a dense sheet of mist around the boat. He then took her to an island on Ganga and in due course, they had a son, by name Vyasa. But Parashara's wandering ascetic life did not suit Satyavati, and the couple separated. While parting, Parashara granted Satyavati another boon; that she may have her lost virginity back. Satyavati returned to her father after this, and in due course, married Shantanu.

Parāśara was known as the "limping sage". He had his leg wounded during the attack of his ashram. When a rishi dies he merges back into an element or an archeype, Sage Jaimini was trampled by wild elephants, Sage Gautama was eaten by Cannibals, etc. When Sage Parāśara was walking through a dense forest he and his students were attacked by wolves. He was unable to get away in his old age with a lame leg he left this world merging into the wolves [3].

UKT: Does "merging into the wolves" mean 'eaten by wolves'. - UKT101116

The birth place of Parashar Muni is believed to be at Panhala fort in Kolhapur district of Maharashtra. A cave supposed to be of Parashar Muni is present at the fort.


In the Rigveda, Parāśara, son of Sakti-Muni (Parāśara Śāktya), is the seer of verses 1.65-73 which are all in praise of Agni (the sacred fire), and part of 9.97 (v.31-44) which is in praise of Soma. Below is 1.73.2

devo na yaḥ savitā satyamanmā kratvā nipāti vṛjanāni viṣvā
purupraṣasto amatirna satya ātmeva Sevo didhiṣāyyo bhūt

He who is like the divine Sun, who knows the truth (of things), preserves by his actions (his votaries) in all encounters; like nature, he is unchangeable and, like soul, is the source of all happiness: he is ever to be cherished.[4]

Texts attributed to Parāśara

Author of verses in the Rigveda: recorded as the author of RV 1.65-73 and part of RV 9.97.

Parāśara Smriti (also called Parāśara Dharma Samhita): a code of laws which is stated in the text (1.24) to be for Kali Yuga.[5]

Speaker of Visnu Purana considered by scholars as one of the earliest Puranas.[6]

Speaker of the Bṛhat Parāśara Horāśāstra, also written as BPHS. It is considered a foundational text of astrology. The Sanskrit in which it is composed dates to the 7th or 8th centuries CE .

Speaker of the Vrikshayurveda ("the science of life of trees"), one of the earliest texts on botany. [1] This text was considered to be an ancient botany primer for students of Traditional Indian Medicine.

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From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puru%E1%B9%A3%C4%81rtha 101116

In Hinduism, puruṣārtha (Skt: पुरुषार्थ: "that which is sought by man; human purpose, aim, or end") refers to a goal, end or aim of human existence.[1] There are generally considered to be four such puruṣārthas, namely:

Dharma: "(religious, social and/or moral) righteousness, both spiritual and ritual"
Artha: "(material and/or financial) prosperity as well as pursuit of meaning"
Kāma: "(sensory and/or sexual) pleasure as well as spiritual love"
Mokṣa: "(spiritual) liberation; or renunciation as well as detachment"


The notion that proper living entails the pursuit of four goals or ends first took shape in the literary traditions of the Dharmaśāstras and the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata.[2] Early texts treating the goals of human life commonly refer to kāma, artha and dharma as the "trivarga" or "three categories" of possible human pursuits. This is generally interpreted as indicating that the notion of mokṣa as one of the puruṣārthas is a product of a later age.[3] As Hiltebeitel (2002) notes, however, this is not necessarily the case: given that the trivarga focuses on the interests and concerns of the individual during the householder (grihastha) stage of life and mokṣa, though to be pursued throughout life, is the particular goal of the renunciate (sannyasa) stage, the opposition between the trivarga on the one hand and mokṣa on the other can be understood as a reflection of the householder-renunciate opposition as seen in the aśrama system prevalent in India during the ancient and medieval periods. In a similar vein, Prasad (2008) argues that the division between the trivarga and mokṣa is intended to highlight the distinction between values in the social (trivarga) and personal (mokṣa) spheres.[4] While it may remain somewhat unclear as to when it was articulated as a goal of human life on par with the trivarga, mokṣa was certainly integral to the matured conception of the puruṣārthas, eventually becoming known as the caturvarga, the "four-fold set".


Each of the four canonical puruṣārthas was subjected to a process of examination and elaboration which produced several key works in the history of Indian philosophy, including the Kamasutra of Vātsyāyana (treating kāma, particularly as "sexual gratification"), the Arthashastra of Kauṭilya (treating artha as "material pursuits"), the Dharmaśāstras of various authors, most notably Manu (treating dharma as "religious, social and personal ethics") and the principle sūtras of the six orthodox schools of philosophy or darśanas, all of which are principally concerned with the attainment of mokṣa, often referred to as the parama-puruṣārtha or "chief end of human life".[5]

Puruṣārthas and the Varnāśrama system

There is a popular correspondence between the four puruṣārthas, the four stages of life (Skt.: āśrama : Brahmacharya [student life], Grihastha [household life], Vanaprastha [retired life] and Sannyasa [renunciation]) and the four primary castes or strata of society (Skt.: varna : Brahmana [priest/teacher], Kshatriya [warrior/politician], Vaishya [landowner/entrepreneur] and Shudra [servant/manual labourer]). This, however, has not been traced to any primary source in early Sanskrit literature.[6]

UKT: End of Wiki article.

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UKT: Satyavati , Skt-Devan: सत्यवती = स त ् य व त ी --> {t-ya. wa.ti} ?
For transcription into Pal-Myan, I divide the word into two: {t-ya.} and {wa.ti}. Transcription unreliable - UKT101117

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satyavati 101111

Satyavati (Skt: सत्यवती) was the queen of the Kuru king Shantanu and the great-grandmother of the Pandava and Kaurava princes, principal characters of the Mahābhārata, one of the principal texts in Hindu mythology. According to the Puranas, she was born to the Chedi king Vasu (also known as Uparichara Vasu) and a fish, who was actually an Apsara, Adrika. But she was nevertheless brought up as a commoner, an adopted daughter to a ferryman or fisherman or a daseyi (a dasa aboriginal princess).[1][2]. She was also known as Matsyagandha (one who has the smell of fish) in her earlier life and yojanagandha in her later life. Her another name was Kali.

As a young woman, she met the wandering Rishi Parashara, by whom she had a son, Vyasa. His birth took place in secret on an island in the river Yamuna. This island in the shallow river Yamuna exists even today, and is enigmatic to say the least. At this point, the east-flowing river actually flows towards the west, giving the locale it's local name --- Pachmani ( Paschim being West). This situation has existed for thousands of years, over a vast plain where there is no reason for the Yamuna to flow a tortuous path, rather than straight ahead. No hills or mountains cause the extreme meandering of the flow, and even the times of great floods have failed to alter the path of the river in this area. This strip of land surrounded by water on all sides is ideally located from safety point of view and is known as Manchodri in local parlance.

Later, King Shantanu of Hastinapura saw her and asked her to marry him. Her father allowed her to marry on condition that their children would inherit the throne. Their children were Chitrāngada and Vichitravirya. After Santanu's death, she with her princely sons ruled the kingdom. Although both these sons died childless, she arranged for her first son Vyasa to niyoga-father the children of the two wives of Vichitravirya (Ambika and Ambalika).

UKT: The original Wiki article states "... she arranged for her first son Vyasa to father the children ..." Since, the process was the ancient "artificial insemination" aka niyoga, I have changed it to "niyoga-father". Vyasa was the sperm donor and not the father. The father was Vichitravirya.

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Vyāsa - {bya-a.}

UKT: Skt-Devan व्यास vyāsa  = व ् य ा स --> Pal-Myan {wya-a.}. Since it is common for {wya.} to become {bya.}, the name could be {bya-a.}. I will tentatively use the name {bya-a.}.

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vyasa 101110

Vyasa (Skt: व्यास, vyāsa) [UKT: व्यास = व ् य ा स --> {wya-a.}. Since it is common for {wya.} to become {bya.}, the name could be {bya-a.}] is a central and revered figure in the majority of Hindu traditions. Vyasa is conflated by Vaishnavas with Badarayana, the author of the Vedanta Sutras. He is also sometimes called Veda Vyasa (वेद व्यास, veda vyāsa), (the one who compiled the Vedas) or Krishna Dvaipayana (referring to his complexion and birthplace). He is considered to be the scribe of both the Vedas, and the supplementary texts such as the Puranas. A number of Vaishnava traditions regard him as an avatar of Vishnu.[1] Vyasa is also considered to be one of the seven Chiranjivins (long lived, or immortals), who are still in existence according to general Hindu belief.

The festival of Guru Purnima, is dedicated to him, and also known as Vyasa Purnima as it is the day, which is believed to his birthday and also the day he divided the Vedas.[2][3]

In the Mahabharata

Vyasa appears for the first time as the author of, and an important character in the Mahābhārata. He was the son of Satyavati (also known as Matsyagandha), daughter of a ferryman or fisherman [4], and the wandering sage Parashara. He was born on an island in the river Yamuna. The place is named after him as Vedvyas . He was dark-complexioned and hence may be called by the name Krishna (black), and also the name Dwaipayana, meaning 'island-born'.

Vyasa was grandfather to the Kauravas and Pandavas. Both Dhritarashtra and Pandu, adopted as the sons of Vichitravirya by the royal family, were fathered by him. He had a third son, Vidura, by a serving maid.

UKT: The above needs a rewrite. Vyasa was the sperm donor of niyoga ["insemination"] to the mothers of Dhritarashtra, Pandu, and Vidura. The correct names (modern fashion using the father name as surname) were: Dhritarashtra Vichitravirya and Pandu Vichitravirya. Since "serving maids" can very well be concubines of Vichitravirya, Vidura may also be Vidura Vichitravirya. However, the title "Prince" would not be attached to his name while we can say Prince Dhritarashtra Vichitravirya (father of Kauravas) and Prince Pandu Vichitravirya (father of Pandavas). I am waiting for input from my peers. -- UKT101117

... ... ...

Author of Mahabharata

Vyasa is traditionally known as author of this epic. But he also features as an important character in it. His mother later married Shantanu, the king of Hastinapura, and had two sons. Both sons died without an issue and taking recourse to an ancient practice called Niyoga where a chosen man can father sons with the widow of a person who dies issueless, she requests Vyasa to produce sons on behalf of her dead son Vichitravirya.

UKT: The ancient practice of Niyoga was the precursor of modern artificial insemination - the difference is "actual" instead of "artificial" involving coitus. -- UKT101116

Vyasa fathers [UKT: The word "fathers" is not culturally correct. Vyasa was just the "donor of the sperm". - UKT101116] the princes Dhritarashtra and Pandu by Ambika and Ambalika, the wives of the dead king Vichitravirya. Vyasa told them that they should come alone near him. First did Ambika, but because of shyness and fear she closed her eyes. Vyasa told Satyavati that her child would be blind. Later this child was named Dhritarāshtra. Thus Satyavati sent Ambālika and warned her that she should remain calm. But Ambālika's face became pale because of fear. Vyasa told her that child would suffer from anaemia, and he would not be fit enough to rule the kingdom. Later this child was known as Pāndu. Then Vyasa told Satyavati to send one of them again so that a healthy child can be born. This time Ambika and Ambālika sent a maid in the place of themselves. The maid was quite calm and composed, and she got a healthy child later named as Vidura. [UKT]

UKT: The "culturally correct" names of the fathers of warring factions were:
Dhritarāshtra Vichitravirya - being the son of queen Ambika should be called Prince Dhritarāshtra Vichitravirya
Pāndu Vichitravirya - being the son of queen Ambalika should be called Prince Pāndu Vichitravirya
Vidura Vichitravirya - being the son of a commoner cannot be called "Prince".
Vyasa was just the "donor of the sperm".

Vyasa had [While these are his sons, UKT overwrite 101116] another son Śuka, born of his wife, sage Jābāli's daughter Pinjalā (Vatikā),[5] is considered his true spiritual heir. He was thus the [genetic] grandfather of both the warring parties of the Mahābhārata, the Kauravas and the Pāndavas. Vyasa makes occasional appearances in the story as a spiritual guide to the young princes: Kauravas the sons of Dhritarāshtra Vichitravirya, and Pandavas the sons of Pāndu Vichitravirya .

UKT: The above para needs a re-write. - UKT101116

In the first book of the Mahābhārata, it is described that Vyasa asked Ganesha to aid him in writing the text, however Ganesha imposed a condition that he would do so only if Vyasa narrated the story without pause. To which Vyasa then made a counter-condition that Ganesha must understand the verse before he transcribed it.

Thus Lord VedVyas narrated the whole Mahābhārata and all the Upanishads and the 18 Puranas, while Lord Ganesha wrote.

Vyasa is supposed to have meditated and authored the epic by the foothills of the river Beas (Vipasa) in the Punjab region.

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