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Two Major Great Epics Of Ancient India - Mahabharata And Ramayana Page 2....

Mahabharata - The Longest Poem Ever Written

"The word Mahabharata comprises the syllables' maha', 'bha', 'ra' and 'ta'. 'Maha', of course, means great; 'bha', 'ra' and 'ta' stand for, respectively, 'bhava', 'rasa' and 'tala', the three attributes of dance. Mahabharata, the word, is thus an expression for the great dance – the Cosmic Dance of Shiva – and as personification, the Great Dancer, Lord Shiva Himself." 2

Although it is unlikely that any single person wrote the poem, the authorship of the Mahabharata is attributed to the sage Vyasa, who, as the grandfather of the Pandavas and Kauravas is himself, is the central character of the legend.

Consisting of almost 100,000 couplets and about 1.8 million words in total, the Mahabharata is the longest poem ever written. The ancient Hindu epic is ten times the length of the Iliad and the Odyssey combined.

The epic is based on the story of the conflict between two groups of cousins, the five Pandavas, who are the sons of King Pandu and Queen Kunti, and the one hundred Kauravas, who are the sons of King Dhritarashtra and Queen Gandhari. Pandavas are hailed as Indras or sons of Dharma, Vayu, Indra, and Ashvins. Both the Pandavas and the Kauravas are distant descendants of the ancient king of the Lunar Dynasty named Kuru.

Considered the greatest spiritual epic of all time, the Mahabharata takes the reader on a marvelous and unforgettable journey to wonderful places and encounters with sages, heroes, warrior kings, and other colorful personalities. What makes the Mahabharata so unique is that the epic also delivers profound lessons about every aspect of life.

The center plot of the story is about the dynastic struggle for the throne of Hastinapura, the kingdom ruled by the Kuru clan. One of the major characters in Mahabharata is Arjuna, one of the five sons of Pandu. Arjuna, who is considered a demigod, was born when Indra, the God of rain, blessed Kunti and Pandu with a son.

The struggle between the Pandavas and the Kauvaras culminates in the great battle of Kurukshetra. Shortly before the battle, Arjuna shows signs of insecurity and doubts about the fight's outcome, which will lead to the deaths of many worthy people, including his relatives. However, Lord Krishna convinces Arjuna to take part in the battle, explaining his duty as a warrior and a prince and setting out to him the various philosophical systems. The decisive battle of Kurukshetra ends with the total destruction of all the Kauravas. The five Pandavas, including Lord Krishna, are victorious.

The Mahabharata ends with the death of Lord Krishna and the subsequent end of his dynasty and ascent of the Pandava brothers to heaven. This event marks the beginning of the Hindu age of Kali Yuga, the fourth and final age of humankind. According to Hindu beliefs, we live in the yuga of "Kali," the Goddess of Destruction.

It cannot be denied that the Mahabharata is filled with stories about violence, deceit, bloodshed, war, abduction, injustice, greed, and lust. So, how can this epic be considered a spiritual masterpiece?

One of the reasons the Mahabharata is a sacred text is because of Lord Krishna's presence, but there is also much more this incredible literary work has to offer.

According to the author Diwaker Ikshit Srivastava, "all the strengths and weaknesses of human nature – valour and chivalry, cunning and deceit, daring and romance, lust and greed, righteousness and depravity – are woven into this intricate and fast-moving panoramic tale that has enthralled listeners for well over five millennia. The Mahabharata, however, is no fable; it is the pinnacle of human thought and understanding. This remarkable poem, which appears mythical in character, is the verbal expression of the direct experience by the sage Vyasa, of the ultimate truth – of Lord Shiva, the Primordial Creator and of His illusion – the Dance of Shiva, His dance of death, the evolution of a new creation.

The Mahabharata is the story of life. The purpose of life is to experience the divine mystery that is life: the majesty and glory expressed in the infinite forms of creation, our position in this cosmic order and the eventual realisation of our own divinity. Life is God's bounty, a gift that must be lived and enjoyed – with gratitude.

The Mahabharata is about life and living, the here and now, and covers the five stages of human life: Bal Avastha (living with our parents – experiencing God in our parents), Brahmacharya (living with a guru– experiencing God in our guru), Grihastha Ashram (living with society at large – experiencing God in every human being), Vana Prastha (living with nature – experiencing God in all nature) and Vairagya (living with self – experiencing God in oneself).

The Mahabharata is the most exhaustive exploration ever of the human condition.

It thus covers passion (Kama) and its exhaustion (Moksha) and the in-between, the wealth of happiness (Artha) and balance or order (Dharma) – the means of its achievement.

Next Level Ramayana - King Rama's Journey

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