Episode # 3 – Introduction to MAHABHARATA – Part 3 – “The fifth Veda”!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed the continuation of the detailed introduction that we are giving for this enormous text called “Mahabharata”. In this, we had witnessed the significance of the person who had authored this great text, who is none other than Sage Veda-Vyaasa. We had seen how Sage Vyaasa had obtained the name “Sage Veda-Vyaasa”. Because of the enormous contribution he has made in compiling all the four Vedas – Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharvana Vedas into a readable format, Sage Veda-Vyaasa occupies a prime position in the Sanaataha Dharma Literature. Apart from compiling the Vedas, Sage Vyaasa has also authored this great “Ithihasa” by name “Mahabharata”. This is the reason why we say that Sage Vyaasa is not an ordinary sage by any means. Like how we saw in the first episode, the sloka explains, 

“Vyaasaaya vishnu roopaaya vyaasa rupaaya vishnave”!

The Sanaatana Dharma wholeheartedly accepts the fact that Sage Vyaasa was none other than the very incarnation of Bhagawan Vishnu Himself. If not for Bhagawan Vishnu, who else on this earth can compile all the Vedas so accurately and who on this earth can author such a great epic or “Ithihasa”? Thus, it is evident from the enormous work that Sage Vyaasa has done, that he is none other than Bhagawan Vishnu Himself at work! Till now we’ve been talking a lot about the magnitude of this great Mahabharata text, isn’t it? Readers might be wondering why am I giving so much of stress on the magnitude of this text. Let us witness some details of it in today’s episode. Of course, we shall talk in detail about it later as we progress, but here, let us witness a glimpse of what Mahabharata really is! 

As we had seen earlier in the case of Shrimad Ramayana, it comprises of around 24,000 slokas, packed into seven different “Kaandas”. If we’ve been thinking that the Ramayana is an enormous text, then it is time for us to think again! The Mahabharata is much more enormous than the Ramayana text. It comprises around 1.25 lakh slokas (Roughly 125 thousand slokas) packed into 18 “Parvas”. Just like how the Ramayana text is packed into “Kaandas”, the Mahabharata slokas are packed into “Parvas”. However, in the Ramayana, we wouldn’t have subdivisions inside the Kaandas. We only have Baala Kaanda, Ayodhya Kaanda, Aaranya Kaanda, etc. Whereas unlike the Ramayana, the Mahabharata has enormous amounts of subdivisions called “Upa-Parvas”. In other words, every “Parva” in the Mahabharata text would have a number of “Upa-Parvas” under it. If we take a count, there would be around 95 to 99 “Upa-Parvas” in total. Under each “Upa-Parva” there would be various “Adhyaayas”. In that way, if we again take a count, there would be around 2000 “Adhyaayas” in the entire “Mahabharata” text. Thus, all these “Parvas”, “Upa-Parvas” and the “Adhyaayas” under them together comprise of this enormous text called “Mahabharata”. 

Having given a brief about the enormity of this text, we shall now look into why this text obtained the name called Mahabharata. There are many reasons. The simplest of all is that, since this text contains various life lessons that are extremely important for leading a peaceful and a spiritual life in this world (“Mahat”) and since these lessons are described in great detail (“Bhaaram”), this text obtained the name called “Mahabharata”. Since this is the fact behind the “Mahabharata”. It is revered and respected in our “Sanaatana Dharma” as the fifth Veda sect, after Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharvana Vedas. The Mahabharata text is often referred to as “Bhaaratah panchamo Vedaha”. Here, “Pancha” means “five”. This simply means that the Mahabharata is considered as the fifth Veda in our Sanaatana Dharma literature. 

So what is the significance of this text? Who is the main character spoken widely in this text? What is the real significance of Sage Veda-Vyaasa? All these questions are going to be answered slowly in the subsequent episodes. In our next episode, we’re going to talk in greater detail about Sage Veda-Vyaasa. Of course, we’ve seen a glimpse of who Sage Vyaasa is. We shall continue this further and witness how Sage Vyaasa emerged as an important person in our Sanaatana Dharma literature. Stay tuned for more! 🙂 


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 Bharatidhasan Institute of Management (BIM) Trichy, 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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