Episode # 5 – Introduction to MAHABHARATA – Part 5 – From “Vedas” to “Brahma-Sutra” to “Mahabharata”!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed the continuation of the significance of Sage Veda-Vyaasa, who had authored this great text called “Mahabharatham”. The work that Sage Vyaasa had done is something that no human being can even comprehend in the mind. Structuring and restructuring the Vedas isn’t a simple task. It requires an enormous amount of knowledge, expertise, willpower, patience and perseverance. Of course, what can happen if Bhagawan’s divine grace isn’t assisting him? We’ve witnessed that Sage Vyaasa is also one of the incarnations of Bhagwan Vishnu and it is only because of this fact, all whatever has happened had happened successfully. I’m saying this for a reason here – For instance, now we’re starting the Mahabharata text right now. After hundreds of episodes of discussion, we might not even remember what we witnessed during the first few episodes. In fact, by the time we finish this mega-project, our heads would start whirling in all four directions. Such is the work that is done by Sage Vyaasa. 

In fact, it is for this reason that we refer to this text as “Mahabharata”, and not just “Bharata”. Sage Vyaasa could have easily named it as “Bharata”, isn’t it? But why has he included the phrase “Maha” before “Bharata”? It is solely because of the vastness of the text. The extensive level to which Sage Vyaasa has described each and every event that had happened, makes it look extremely huge and complicated. However, we’ve to understand that this text is a complete package of whatever the Vedas and Upanishads are trying to convey to mankind. In fact, Bhagawad Ramanuja explains this in a beautiful way in his “Shribhaashyam” text. He compares the extent of Sage Vyaasa’s work to how Bhagawan Vishnu helped the Devas and Raakshasas explore the “Ocean of Milk” (Paarkadal) in order to obtain the “Amrut” (Divine Nectar). We’ve witnessed this story during our previous “Shrimad Bhaagawatha Puraana” project, wherein Indra and the Raakshasas were at loggerheads as to who should consume the divine “Amrut”. It was Bhagawan Vishnu who finally gave a solution. With the help of the Devas and the Raakshasas, Bhagawan Vishnu dredged the “Ocean of Milk” and from beneath the ocean floor came the pot of “Amrut”. 

Now, just like how Bhagawan Vishnu dredged the ocean of milk, Bhagawad Ramanuja explains that Sage Vyaasa explored the ocean of knowledge. Just like how Bhagawan Vishnu explored the ocean of milk deeper and deeper, Sage Vyaasa explored the Vedas deeper and deeper to extract the essence and knowledge from it, which is nothing but the divine “Amrut”. Just like how Bhagawan Vishnu has the divine name called Bhagawan Krishna, Sage Vyaasa also has a divine name called “Krishna-Dvaipaayana”. We can witness how significant Sage Vyaasa is. So, according to Bhagawad Ramanuja, the process of authoring the Mahabharata text is the same as Bhagawan Vishnu exploring the “Ocean of Milk”. With this, we can also understand how this text assumes enormous significance in our Sanaatana Dharma literature. 

Now having understood the enormous significance of both the text and its author, we should also understand how Sage Vyaasa obtained the divine name called “Krishna-Dvaipaayana”. “Dveepa” in sanskrit means “island”. Since Sage Vyaasa was born in a small island in between the River Yamuna, he is referred to as “Dvaipaayana”. Many of us might know that the phrase “Krishna” means “black”. Since Sage Vyaasa was also of a black color by nature, he obtained the name “Krishna-Dvaipaayana”. It is the same Sage Krishna-Dvaipaayana who also composed yet another important text in Sanaatana Dharma literature called as “Brahma-Sutra ”. This is an extremely complex text to decipher for people like us. This is where the “Aachaaryas” chip in. For instance, we can come across a lot of commentaries that are written by the great Sage Shankaracharya, Sage Madhwachaarya, etc. on this “Brahma-Sutra”. 

In fact, the work of Sage Vyaasa starts from the Vedas segregation, which leads him to author the “Brahma-Sutra”. It is only after this “Brahma-Sutra”, Sage Vyaasa authors the “Mahabharata”. After the herculean task of segregating the Vedas, Sage Vyaasa himself thinks for a moment thus, “Oh! I’ve done this complex text. However, only one or two learned scholars in this world would be able to understand what I’ve done. Hence, I’ve to simplify this and author something else so that many more people can understand!” It is with this idea that Sage Vyaasa composed the “Brahma-Sutra”. After this, Sage Vyaasa again thought, “Oh! I’ve composed this text. Even this can be deciphered only by a few learned scholars. I should compose something wherein even women and children should easily understand the concepts and underlying messages of this Brahma Sutra. I should compose something from which people from all the four “Varnaashrama Dharmas” should be able to understand and appreciate the underlying messages!” With this intention in mind, Sage Vyaasa composed the Mahabharata text. 

Thus we can see here that as compared to the Vedas, Upanishads and the Brahma-Sutra, the Mahabharata is a much simpler text for normal people like us to understand and comprehend, and it is because of this reason, we’re also trying to analyze this particular text in detail. So for today, let us understand this in detail and let us wait for the next episode to continue this discussion further! Stay tuned! 🙂 

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 International School of Business & Media, Pune, 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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