Maha-bharata, Adi Parva, Anukramanika Parva, Adhyaya 1, verses 48-87

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Adhyaya 1
Vyasa composes Maha-bharata


Sauti said:
And innumerable creatures and their abodes. There were produced the three fold Mysteries, the Vedas, Yoga and Vijnana: Dharma, Artha and Kama. – 48

The three main topics are: Vedas, teaching worldly welfare; Yoga, teaching elevation to upper planets; and Vijnana Dharma, teaching liberation.

Dharma, Artha and Kama:
Books on religiosity for material benefits (dharma); economic improvement (artha); wordly pleasures (kama). However each of these words need further study that we’ll offer during this work.

The various books on Dharma, Artha and Kama; the rules for the conduct of mankind. – 49

The histories and discourse and various Shrutis. These are the signs of this work (Mahabharata). – 50

All this, having been seen by Rishi Vyasa, is mentioned here in due order as a specimen of the book. Rishi Vyasa declared this mass of knowledge in both abridged and detailed forms. The learned of the world wish to possess both the detailed and the abridged accounts. Some read the Bharata from the first Mantra, some from the story of Astika, some again from Uparichara, while some Brahmanas read the whole. – 51, 52

The first mantra:
Narayanam namaskritya… The invocation.

Learned men display their various knowledge of Smritis in commenting on this composition. Some are skillful in explaining it while others in remembering it. The son of Satyavati, by penances and mediation, having classified the ever-lasting Veda, composed this holy history. – 53, 54

The son of Satyavati:
Vyasadeva. So there is no doubt the the Maha-bharata was seen by Vyasa’s in his spiritual mind and dictated it to Ganesa who wrote it down.

When the learned and the strict vowed Brahmarshi, Dvaipayana Vyasa, the son of Parashara, completed this greatest of narrations, he began to consider how he could teach it to his pupils. 55, 56

A Brahmarsi is a very elevated class of sage. Brahmana means “one who knows Brahman” or spiritual knowledge, and Rishi means “seer”. Someone derive the word “Rishi” from the sanskrit root “rish”, to go, to move. Therefore a Rishi is one who “one who reaches beyond this mundane world by means of spiritual knowledge”. Other say that Rishi derives from the root “drish”, which means to see”. Therefore a Rishi is someone who has transcendental vision.

Parasara Muni:
His genealogy recites as follows: Visnu – Brahma – Vasistha – Saktri – Parasara. He was the son of Saktri and Adrisyanti.

Then did that preceptor of the world, Brahma Bhagavan, knowing the anxiety of Rishi Dvaipayana, came in person to the place where the Rishi was, so that he might gratify the Saint and benefit the people. 57

Bhagavan means the possessor of the six attributes.

When Vyasa, who was surrounded by all the classes of Munis, saw him, he was much surprised. Standing with his joined hands, he bowed at his feet and ordered a seat to be brought. 58

Then going round to the side of the distinguished seat on which sat Hiranyagarbha, he stood near it. 59

Brahma, born from the golden womb.

But being commanded by Parameshti, Brahma, full of love, he sat down near the seat; smiling in joy. 60

Then addressing Brahma, the greatly glorious Vyasa thus said:

“O Divine Brahma, a poem, which is greatly respected, had been composed by me.” 61

It contains the mystery of Vedas and other subject that have been explained by me; (it contains) the various hymns of the Vedas, Upanishads with their Angas. 62

Books of philosophy.

1) Siksha, education, 2) Kalpa, the creation, 3) Vyakarana, grammar, 4) Nirukta, etymology, 5) Chhanda, metric and 6) Jyotisha, mathematics and astronomy.

And a compilation of the Puranas and the history which has been composed by me and named after, the three divisions of time, namely, Past, Present and Future. 63

And it contains the nature of decay, death, fear, disease existence and non-existence; a description of creeds and the account of various modes of life. 64

And it also contains the rules of the four castes and the essence of all the Puranas, an account of asceticism and rules for the religious student; the dimensions of the earth, of the sun and moon. 65

Planets, stars and constellations and the length of the duration of the four Yugas and it further more contains Rik, Saman, Yajur Vedas, the Adhyatma. 66
Knowledge of the self; spiritual knowledge.

Nyaya, orthoeopy and pathology, Charity, Pashupata and celestial and human births for particular purposes. 67
Nyaya is Logic

It contains a description of pilgrimages and holy places, of rivers, mountains, forests, seas. 68

Of celestial cities and of the Kalpas; the ait of war, different kinds of nations and the languages and the manners of the people. 69

The word kalpa has two different meanings: one is a period of time, a day of Brahma. The other is the customary proceedings of yajnas.

All these have been placed is this poem, but a writer for this work is not to be found on earth. 70

Vyasadeva is asking for a scribe to help him put his dictation into writing.

Brahma said:
For your knowledge of the Divine Mystery, I have the highest regard for you amongst all the celebrated Rishis who are famous for their holy lives. 71

I know; you have revealed in the language of truth the divine words, even from the first of them. You have called your present work, a poem; Therefore it would be called a Kavyam? 72

Most scholars translate the Kavyam as a poem. However we feel that this word may misrepresent what the Maha-bharata is. While the style is certainly “poetic”, being rytmical etcetera, this is a book of history and philosophy. The content is not imaginary and a product of sentiments. Once understood this principle, we can use the term “poem”.

There will be no authors in this world whose works will equal this poem, as the three other Ashramas are never equal to the domestic Ashrama. 73

In the context of the Maha-bharata and other Vedic books, household life is certainly the best. We’ll see the evidences of this principle later in the Maha-bharata.

Let Ganesha be remembered, O Rishi, to write this poem. 74

Sauti said :
Having thus spoken to Vyasa, Brahma went away to his own place.

Then Vyasa remembered Ganesha in his mind. As soon as he was thought of the expeller of obstacles, Ganesha, who is always ready to fulfil the desire of his worshippers, came at once to the place where Vyasa was seated. 75, 76

A son of Siva with a head like that of an elephant. As Siva has appointed this son as chief of the ganas (attendants) he is called Ganapati. His birth: while Siva and Parvati assumed the form of monkeys and enjoyed themselves in the forest Parvati got pregnant, and Siva took the semen from the womb and gave it to Vayu. Vayu deposited it in the womb of Anjana, who delivered a son named Hanuman. Siva assumed the form of an elephant (tusker and Parvati that of a she-elephant. Parvati delivered a son in the form of an elephant. That son was named Ganapati. (Uttara Kanda, Ramayana). Second story: When once Siva tried to enter the room where Parvati had gone to take her bath clad in a single clothing Ganapati prevented diva from doing so. Siva, enraged at the obstruction made by Ganapati, cut off his head, and when his anger was cooled down he replaced Ganapati’s lost head with that of an elephant. (Padma Purana)
There are other stories about the birth of Ganesa.

When he was saluted and when he took his seat, Vyasa thus addressed him,
“O Ganesha, kindly become the writer of the Bharata, which I have composed in my mind, but which I shall now repeat.” 77

Meaning of Ganesha:
Leader of the Ganas.

On hearing this Ganesha thus replied;

I shall become the writer of your work, provided my pen is not made to stop even for a moment. 78

Vyasa also told him,
“without understanding it, please do not write anything.”

Ganesha assented by saying “Om.”
He proceeded to write and Vyasa began to dictate. 79

Ganesa asked that the dictation being without interruptions. But sometimes Vyasa needed to reflect on what there was to say, so he put the condition that Ganesa had to understand before writing and he accepted. So when Vyasa needed some interval he would dictate some especially difficult slokas. Then Ganesa had to pause and Vyasa could reflect.

The sacred Omkara is also a sign of assent. In this way Ganesa accepted the difficult task.

To take time to rest, Vyasa sometimes knit the knots of composition very close. Thus he went on dictating his work as he made engagement. 80

Sauti continued
In this poem there are eight thousand eight hundred verses, whose meaning I know, so does Shuka and perhaps Sanjaya also knows. O Muni, none is able to understand to this day the closely knit slokas for the mysteriousness of their meaning. 81, 82
Sukadeva, the son of Vyasadeva and his spiritual master.

Even self-knowing Ganesha had to take time to think (over their meaning), and during tha time, Vyasa continued to compose other verses great numbers. 83

The wisdom of this work, like the stick used for applying collyrium, has opened the eyes of the world which were covered by the darkness of ignorance. 84

As the sun drives away the darkness, so does this Bharata, by its discourses on Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha, drive the ignorance of men. 85
So it is very clear from this verse that the Maha-bharata deals mainly with the thems of Duty, Profit, Pleasure and final Liberation. Not only, of course, but mainly.

As the Full-Moon with its mild light opens the buds of the water-lily, so does this Purana with the light of Shruti expand the human intellect. 86

The whole house of the womb of nature is properly and completely lighted by the lamp of history which destroys the darkness of ignorance. 87





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