In the previous episode we had discussed two important points – The first one being the significance of the Mahaabhaarata in brief and the second being the significance of the author of this Mahaabhaarata text – Sage Veda-Vyaasa. The second point had been discussed in great detail, wherein we witnessed that it was Sage Vyaasa who had compiled the Vedas, categorized them into the four important sects – Rig, Yajur, Saama and Atharvana. This in itself is a huge task and the onus and credits for undertaking this complex task goes to Sage Vyaasa. It is because of this reason he is referred to as Sage “Veda-Vyaasa”. Apart from his contribution towards the Vedas, Sage Veda-Vyaasa has authored the Mahaabhaarata and subsequently the all-important “Shrimad Bhaagawatha Puraana”.
Having said thus, it is now time to have a glimpse on the significance of the Mahaabhaarata text. Before we move on to the specific subject of discussion from within the Mahaabhaarata text, we need to understand the importance of the Mahaabhaarata as a whole. We had already spoken about it in our previous episode, however there are a few points that need to be emphasized before we move on.
First, let us try and understand from where did this great Mahaabhaarata originate. From where did Sage Veda-Vyaasa obtain this great text? As the name suggests, “Mahaabhaarata” – This can be explained with the following phrase:
“Mahathvaacha bhaaravathvaaccha mahaabhaaratam ithi ucchyathe!!”
As we look into the meaning of the above phrase, it says, “Mahathvaath”, which means, the one that is the “most significant”, “Bhaaravathvaath”, which means, the one that is too huge. We’ve already said that this text comprises of eighteen “Paruvas” (Parts) and 1,25,000 slokas. Thus the first two words “Mahathvaath” and “Bhaaravathvaath” if combined together, would mean that this text is both extremely huge and significant. It conveys all the important “Dharma” (Righteous paths) that a human being should follow and implement in his/her lifetime in this earth.
“Mathi manthaanamaavidhya yenaasau shruti saagaraath!
Jagath hithaaya janithaha mahaabhaarata chandramaaha!!”
This is a very popularly known sloka. What does this sloka say? Just like how Lord Vishnu drilled the “Ocean of Milk” (“Paar-Kadal”) with the help of the “Manthana Mountain” to excavate the “Amruth” (Divine nectar), Sage Veda-Vyaasa used his extremely high brilliance to drill the ocean of “Upanishad” to obtain the divine nectar called the “Mahaabhaaratha”. Thus in simpler terms we can infer from the above sloka that Sage Veda-Vyaasa has packed into the “Mahaabhaarata” text, all the essence of the “Vedas” and “Upanishads”, thus communicating the message that if one reads the Mahaabhaarata, it is equivalent to reading the Vedas and Upanishads. Thus the Mahaabhaarata text is so significant that it has all the necessary messages that are required to guide a person to lead a happy and a contented life in this world (as per the principles of Dharma) and also sows the seeds for releasing oneself from the vicious cycle of birth and death in this world and thus attaining “Mukthi” (Salvation). Such is the significance of the great Mahaabhaarata and first up, let us fold our hands and bow to Sage Veda-Vyaasa and pay our due respects to him for gifting this text to us!
“Yathihaastheethadhanyathra yannehaasthee nathath kvachith!!”
This is again a very popular phrase, which says that there is nothing that we cannot find in this great Mahaabhaarata text! At the same time, if there is something that is absent in this Mahaabhaarata text, we wouldn’t be able to find that anywhere in this world! Thus the Mahaabhaarata is too huge a text – It talks about innumerable people who were born, innumerable people who died, who fought with whom, who made a foil plan against whom, who spoilt whom, etc. However, if we’ve to select portions from the Mahaabhaarata, there are innumerable portions like Bhagawat Gita, Vishnu Sahasranaama, Yaksha Prashnam, Sanath Sujaatheeyam, Moksha Dharmam, Aapath Dharmam, Raaja Dharmam, etc. which give us the essence of various aspects of “Dharma” (Righteous Paths). The most important thing about all this is that, all the “Dharma” that is spoken about in this great text, is step by step applicable in our modern day lives – both personal and professional. For instance, we’ve been hearing constantly on and off through various sources everyday that there are innumerable modern day scientists and researchers across the globe who are undertaking research on the Bhagawat Gita, Bhaagawatha Puraana, and the likes. Hence we can understand the significance of the Mahaabhaarata text not only with respect to the ancient day philosophical context, but also for the modern day context too!
Of course, it is highly impossible for us to grasp the entire Mahaabhaarata at a stretch, given its sheer volume. We were able to do that for the Ramayana as it was quite smaller in volume. However, we are going to select important portions from the Mahaabhaarata text and experience it completely from top to bottom.
As part of this second mega project, we are going to select one such important portion from the Mahaabhaarata text and ponder upon it in deeper detail. Which is that portion we are going to select? Why are we selecting this particular portion? What is the underlying message from this portion? I’m keeping it as suspense for today! Let us wait till the next episode to find out! 🙂