Episode # 71 – Sage Vaishampayana to start proceedings of the Mahabharata narration!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed the commencement of the “Amsa-Avatarana” Parva, wherein we’re going to see in detail as to who took birth in this world as which character. Just like in the Ramayana we had witnessed how Surya Bhagawan took birth as Sugriva, Vaayu Bhagawan took birth as Hanuman, etc. to be of help to Bhagawan Rama in accomplishing His divine mission in this world, we’re going to witness here how the same Devas are going to take birth again in this world, along with Bhagawan Krishna to be of service to Him in accomplishing His divine mission. As we had seen yesterday, if we know the purpose behind Bhagawan Krishna’s incarnation, we would automatically be able to understand why the others were born around Him. We’ve witnessed a glimpse of Bhagawan Krishna’s purpose of incarnation too – Goddess Bhoomadevi was being tortured every passing day by the increasing population of “Raakshasas” and “Wicked people”, and she was unable to bear them anymore. She first rushed to Bhagawan Brahma for a solution. Deeply concerned, Bhagawan Brahma too did not have a direct answer to Goddess Bhoomadevi’s problem. Thus, as they both approached Bhagawan Vishnu at Vaikunta together, Bhagawan Vishnu reassured them that He would be incarnating in this world very soon, so that the “Bhoomi-Baaram” (Heaviness of the world because of evil people) would come down. 

Thus, as we commence this important “Upa-Parva”, we’re diverting ourselves again to Naimishaaranya wherein the sages, including Sage Shounaka are listening from Sage Pouranika as to what happened at the “Sarpa-Yaaga” that was being conducted by King Janame-Jaya. As they heard every detail of the “Yaaga” per say, they were also interested in knowing what were the other conversations that happened around the “Yaaga”. This is like how we too go to a marriage function, greet the couple and involve ourselves in conversations with all our friends and relatives who would have gathered there for the function. We would also exchange many fond past memories, experiences, etc. with people around, isn’t it? Here too, as part of the “Sarpa-Yaaga”, there were hundreds of people who had gathered there for the event. There were innumerable conversations that took place. Of course, we would have just had some gossip about someone and something during our functions, whereas, the Sages weren’t interested in such things at all. They wanted to know what were the important spiritual messages that were being spoken about during the “Sarpa-Yaaga”. 

As Sage Shounaka asks thus, Sage Pouranika replies to him and the sages, “Oh great Sages! Yes! I should talk about how the Mahabharata was discussed in the sidelines of the “Sarpa-Yaaga” of King Janame-Jaya! There was an extensive discussion on how Sage Veda-Vyaasa has beautifully compiled and constructed the Mahabharata text and how various events conspired with regards to King Janame-Jaya’s forefathers and ancestors! With this, King Janame-Jaya too understood his past and how his ancestors were protected by Bhagawan Krishna Himself, and how he should conduct himself further!” This is thus, the start of the narration of the great Mahabharata text. We should understand one important point here – The Mahabharata text was originally written and documented by Sage Veda-Vyaasa. This text was being spoken about at length by the sages assembled at the Naimishaaranya-Kshetra. Under this discussion comes the event of the “Sarpa-Yaaga”, which Sage Vyaasa himself has documented as part of the first “Aadhi Parva”. We’re currently in discussion of this “Aadhi Parva” only. Thus, this discussion of the sages at Naimishaaranya and what Sage Veda-Vyaasa wrote would often be referred to interchangeably time and again and readers shouldn’t get confused. The original text was documented by Sage Veda-Vyaasa only. It was only this text that was being discussed in detail by these sages at Naimishaaranya. 

Thus, moving forward, one of the important sages who were part of the “Sarpa-Yaaga” was Sage Vaishampayana. It was Sage Vaishampayana who took the lead in narrating the entire Mahabharata text to King Janame-Jaya and the entire gathering there. It is this conversation between Sage Vaishampayana and King Janame-Jaya that Sage Vyaasa documented first-hand! Readers should never forget this link forever throughout this project. I shall summarize this again for the benefit of readers here – First, it was Sage Vaishampayana’s narration. Subsequently, Sage Veda-Vyaasa documented it. Thirdly, this documentation was discussed in detail by the Naimishaaranya sages. 

In fact, Sage Vyaasa himself is part of the “Sarpa-Yaaga”, sitting in one corner. As Sage Vyaasa comes to the venue and after the “Sarpa-Yaaga” comes to a halt, King Janame-Jaya goes to Sage Vyaasa, offers his respects to him and requests thus, “Oh great Sage! You’re the person who had witnessed the entire set of happenings at Kurukshetra and before that as well. I request you to throw some light on why my Paandava forefathers entered into a fight with the Kauravas. Please explain to me why did their feud end up in such a huge war, and how did Bhagawan Krishna contribute to all this? What was Bhagawan Krishna’s role in the Kurukshetra war? Why didn’t the seniors in the form of Bhishmacharya and Guru Dhronaachaarya stop this huge war that happened? Please, can you explain all this in detail to all of us assembled here?” As King Janame-Jaya requests thus, Sage Vyaasa was extremely happy. However, he did not have the time to answer King Janame-Jaya directly. Sage Vyaasa replies thus, “Oh Janame-Jaya! You’ve asked a very important question here. However, there is this Sage Vaishampaayana amidst this gathering, and he knows in and out of whatever I’ve documented as part of your question’s answer. You can ask him to narrate the entire story in front of the gathering, and he would be extremely happy to do it!” 

With this, Sage Vyaasa leaves the “Sarp-Yaaga” place, and it is now all over to Sage Vaishampayana to take charge of the proceedings! What did Sage Vaishampayana say? How did it all begin? Let us wait for this interesting accord in our next episode! 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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