Episode # 4 – Sage Vaishampaayana narrates the Mahaabhaarata to King Janame-Jaya!!!


In the previous episode we had witnessed the reasons why the Mahaabhaarata as a text is extremely significant in our Hindu “Sanaathana Dharma” literature. We also witnessed that the Mahaabhaarata is a complete package of various principles of Dharma (Righteousness), which is very important for all of us to follow even in the modern day lives of ours! It is quite amazing to know that all our forefathers and ancestors like the great Sage Vaalmiki, Sage Vasishta, Sage Veda-Vyaasa, etc. have been able to foresee what kinds of problems would we be facing thousands of years into the future and have given apt solutions for all the various kinds of problems in their Ramayana and Mahaabhaarata texts respectively.

Thus it can be firmly asserted that such kinds of literature authored by such kind of brilliant people who were able to foresee future into thousands of years, will not be available anywhere in the world and with any religion in the world! This is why Hinduism or “Sanaathana Dharma” is highly respected across the world even today.

For instance, we speak about advancements in science and technology in the modern day world, discovery of new planets, new objects in the astronomical science, etc. However, the basis of all these scientific and technological advancements is the same at any given point of time. For instance, an atom is an atom, a molecule is a molecule, irrespective of whatever is the time period and only on this fundamental base, we build innumerable researches and studies every passing day. Similarly even in spirituality, the basic principles remain the same and it is only upon these fundamental principles we build our day-to-day lives with respect to the “Dharma”. Thus if a question arises as to why should we read the scriptures like Vedas, Epics (Ramayana, Mahaabhaarata), etc., the answer is that these scriptures convey the basic fundamental principles of Dharma and it is important for all of us to understand them fully. It is only with these fundamental principles that we build our lives towards Dharma and climb towards spiritual success.

Thus the Mahaabhaarata is a text that conveys the fundamental principles of Dharma. This Mahaabhaarata was propagated to this world by a king by name “Janame Jaya” and the aachaarya by name “Vaishampaayana”. This is a very interesting event and I shall try to describe this particular part in a brief, before we go into our actual subject of discussion. This king “Janame Jaya” was a part of the dynasty of the “Paandavas”. Vaishampaayana was a great Maharishi who actually had this Mahaabhaarata text with him. Sage Vaishampaayana had a desire that he should teach King Janame Jaya this Mahaabhaarata so that he could better understand the principles of Raaja Dharma. Accordingly one fine day, Sage Vaishampaayana visits the courtroom of King Janame Jaya and expresses his wish. Since Janame Jaya was very busy with his duties as a king, he was unable to allocate time for Sage Vaishampaayana. Even after repeated attempts, Sage Vaishampaayana wasn’t able to get access to King Janame Jaya.

At one stage, Sage Vaishampaayana requests the king, “Oh Janame Jaya, please give me just a few minutes of time. I shall narrate only one of the eighteen “Paruvas” of this great Mahaabhaarata!” However, King Janame Jaya refused yet again! Again, after repeated requests from Sage Vaishampaayana, finally King Janame Jaya accepts to listen to just one sloka from the Mahaabharata! He was afraid within himself that if he repeatedly refuses the words of a great Sage, he might end up being cursed! Hence King Janame Jaya accepts Sage Vaishampaayana’s request.

Now, Sage Vaishampaayana has just one sloka and he has to complete it within two minutes! Normally, if we have to talk for one hour or more, it would be easier for us to talk! However, if we’ve to precisely convey something within just two minutes, it would become extremely difficult for us to do so! Because, we need to put the right words at the right place and that itself would consume half of the two-minute deadline! 🙂 However, Sage Vaishampaayana is a great scholar, unlike us! See how beautifully he conveys the message of the entire Mahaabhaarata within just one sloka:

“Vanabhangathilum gograhanathilum vaibhavathaippaarthum suyodhananum dashaanananum sandaikki chendraargale! Ariviligal!!”

This is a beautiful quotation in Tamil and as Sage Vaishampaayana finishes saying thus, he says to King Janame Jaya that his one sloka is over! However, as King Janame Jaya listens to this quote, he did not understand head or tail of it! He was confused totally by the complex words that were used in the sloka! As he asks Sage Vaishampaayana for its meaning, the sage asks him back “For explaining this to you, how many slokas and minutes would you give me?” 🙂 King Janame Jaya replies, “Fine! Explain only this sloka alone!”

Accordingly, Sage Vaishampaayana explains thus, “Vanabhangam” means, in the Ramayana, Hanuman searched for Mother Sita in Lanka and destroyed Lanka with his fury. “Gograhanam” means, during the “Viraata Parva” in the Mahaabhaarata when Duriyodhana and his brothers kidnapped all the cows and calves, Arjuna opposed them, fought over them and released all the cows from their hostage. Thus, “Suyodhana” otherwise called “Dhuryodhana” witnessed the valor of Arjuna during this particular episode. Thus, even after knowing the invincibility and valor of Arjuna, Duryodhana again invited him for a full-fledged war! Thus Duryodhana was an “Arivili”, which means “Fool”!

Similarly, Ravana who is referred to as “Dashaanana” witnessed Hanuman’s invincible powers in the “Vanabhanga”. Ravana should have realized at that point that if a messenger can be so much invincible with powers, what kind of powers would Rama have! He failed to realize it and thus was an “Arivili”, which means, “Fool”!

Having explained thus, Sage Vaishampaayana says to King Janame Jaya, “Oh King! This is what I tried to explain in that one-line sloka! Can I leave now?”

Now was King Janame Jaya satisfied with this answer of Sage Vaishampaayana? The answer is “No”! Rather, it only kindled his interest to know more about it! What happened next? Here, we are going to see a very interesting phase how the Mahaabhaarata was propagated to the world! Let’s wait till the next episode to find out! 🙂

Published by Dr. Jeayaram

Holds a PhD in Management Psychology from Universite Paris Saclay, Paris, France. Also an Asst. Professor of Human Resources management at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham in Kerala, India. A professional South Indian classical musician (singer) performing concerts. Through this blog, I'm trying to bring out the richness of Indian culture & values and I request your support and feedbacks in making this humble effort a success!!

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