Textual History and Structure of Mahabharata

An ancient religious epic of India, the Mahabharata is ascribed to Vyasa. Vyasa was the major character in Mahabharata who dictated Ganesha to write down the text. The Mahabharata was then recited by Vaisampayana, Vyasa’s disciple to King Janamejaya. Years later, the Mahabharata was again recited by Ugrasrava Sauti to an assemblage. Mahabharata’s core, Jaya, was formed as a dialogue between Kuru king Dhritarashtra and Sanjaya. The Jaya was also known as the foundation on which the Mahabharata was built.


The Mahabharata was written during the Gupta period or the post-Mauryan – which was considered as the golden period in Indian history. On the other hand, it was also said that the Mahabharata was written in 3102 BC. During this third millennium BC, the Indus-Saraswati was considered as the leader in science and technology and in trade and philosophy. The Pokharan (program for India’s nuclear site) nuclear tests acted as a revelation to Indians and foreigners.

The setting of Mahabharata has also a historical pattern when the Kuru kingdom had political power during roughly 1200 to 800 BCE.
Translation – Kisari Mohan Ganguli. Ganguli’s translation of the Mahabharata is the only considered complete translation in the domain until now and was published by  Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers.


Buitenen, J.A.B. The Bhagavadgita in the Mahabharata. Chicago, 1981.
In this book, Buitenen expressed his insights very well which affected many philosophers. It was a collection of legends, romances, epics, theology and metaphysical doctrines that showed the history and culture of the Hindu civilization.
Buck, William. Mahabharata. USA: University of California Press, 1973.
This book contained the heritage of the Indian civilization. Even if it was the longest epic poetry, it was still considered as one of Hinduism’s greatest works. The Mahabharata talked about the feud and battle between the Pandavas and the Kurus.
Narayan, R.K. The Mahabharata. USA: University of Chicago Press, 2000.
Here, Narayan abbreviated the epic, making it simpler and easier to read. He retold the Indian epic in a modern way, which became popular to many readers. This modern retelling was from Buck (the previous book stated), where Narayan presented a rivalry between the five Pandava brothers and their evil cousins.


Throughout the story, dharma or the observance of sacred duty was the most important. It was said that those who follow their dharma were rewarded, and those who disobey were terribly punished. Therefore, everyone during their time must follow their dharma.


Pradip Bhattacharya. “Tales and Teachings of Mahabharata.”
This article shared the portions of Mahabharata which had some lessons from the living or deceased, taught or experienced. The experiences of Yayati were also discussed here which epitomized the tormenting of modern man.


The Mahabharata was adapted in a mini-television series, which was directed and mostly written by Peter Brook in 1989. The story revolved around the jealousy and hatred that separates the Pandava and Kaurava.
The Mahabharata was also adapted as a full-length stage play, which was directed by Claude Carriere. The play premiered in Avignon, France in 1985. The story’s script was then adapted from Brook’s story.


“Mahabharata Stories.” Mahabharata Online. 28 July 2011. Web. 28 July 2011.
This website contains the summary, characters, translation, and articles of Mahabharata. It even provides videos about the Mahabharata, which can help when researching about it. The site also included the names of the parvis in the epic.

Elst, Koenraad. The Koenraad Elst Site. 28 July 2011.
Hindu Online. 2010. 28 July 2011.
Hindu Website. 28 July 2011.
IMDB. 28 July 2011.
Internet Archive Text Sacred. 28 July 2011.

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