Article

Mahābhārata

Simon Brodbeck

in Hinduism

ISBN: 9780195399318
Published online January 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195399318-0033
Mahābhārata

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The Mahābhārata is a vast array of narrative traditions in all varieties of media. It is also—and perhaps was originally—a massive (traditionally 100,000-verse) text in Sanskrit, mostly in the anuṣṭubh śloka meter, and often is categorized, along with the Rāmāyaṇa, as a Sanskrit “epic.” Presenting itself in eighteen books (parvans), this text tells the well-framed story of the deepening conflict between the Pāṇḍavas and their cousins the Kauravas over the kingship of their ancestral realm; it tells of the eighteen-day war at Kurukshetra, which settles the matter in favor of the Pāṇḍavas thanks in no small measure to the tactical advice of Krishna (Kṛṣṇa) Vāsudeva (that is, Lord Vishnu [Viṣṇu] in disguise); and it tells of the aftermath of war, in which the new king Yudhiṣṭhira receives extensive teachings, principally in matters of government and soteriology. The text includes dozens of subsidiary tales told by one character to another for purposes of entertainment or edification, and it also includes, just before the beginning of the war, the famous Bhagavad Gita.

Article.  11681 words. 

Subjects: Hinduism

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