The Narration of the Maha-bharata Begins

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Srila Vyasadeva and Vaishampayana

At this point in the narrative, Suta stopped. Shaunaka, one of Naimisha’s most prominent sages said:

“You have just told us the story that refers to the sacrifice of the snakes wanted by Janamejaya and the reason that had pushed him to such a bloody revenge. A little while ago you also told us that on that occasion you listened to the chronicle of the deeds of the famous sons of Pandu. We know that at some point in their existence they collided with their cousins, the sons of Dhritarastra, on a battlefield, and that the result was devastating. Why did all this happen? What drove them, being so virtuous and detached from material possessions to fight against their own relatives and friends? Tell us the sacred story called Maha-bharata without omitting any details.”

Then, Suta agreed to tell them the circumstances in which he found himself listening to the narrative.


When the Rishi Krishna Dvaipayana Vyasa learned of Janamejaya’s sacrifice, he decided to go to attend the ceremony, accompanied by his son Shukadeva and his main disciples.

When he, with solemn steps, entered the arena, Janamejaya saw him and felt overwhelmed with joy; in his heart, moreover, he felt that thanks to the mere fact that the Rishi was present, victory would surely smile on him.

Rising immediately from his seat, he stepped forward to welcome him with all honors. Then, as soon as they were all comfortably seated, he told him:

“Oh, Brahmana, you were able to personally witness the events of the Kurus and Pandavas, my great-grandparents; you knew them and helped them with your wise advice, consoling them in the most difficult moments. No one better than you can therefore enlighten me about their true story. Tell me, what was the cause of such a serious disagreement? I would like to understand why elevated souls like the Pandavas went so far as to lash out at their own cousins. From what is said, the five brothers were completely pure and free from anger, envy, or of any vice. So, how did they agree to fight in a war that resulted in the extermination of the entire generation of Kshatriyas of that time? Obviously, they were darkened by some special design of fate. Tell me in detail everything that happened.”

Vyasa then said:

“My dear disciple Vaishampayana will share with you that sacred story. He has been my student for a long time and, under my direction, he has become perfectly adept at reciting and explaining this Purana.”

Thus, that Brahmana with a mild and gentle attitude began to relate the facts in question, as he had learned them from his master.

“That day I was there, among those present,” Vaishampayana stated, “and I could listen to its contents with rapt attention. Now I will repeat the whole story to you exactly as I heard it.”


This is a section of the book “Maha-bharata, Vol. 1”.

To buy the complete book, click above

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