The epic Mahabharata depicts Indo-Aryan society at the zenith of its glory and is a work of great antiquity. In its present form it is said to have been compiled around the 4th century A.D. The Mahabharata is supposed to have one hundred thousand verses in Sanskrit language, composed by the sage Veda Vyas.

The story centres upon two brothers, Dhuitarashtra and Pandu. Dhritarashtra was blind, therefore unfit to rule, but was the regent for Pandu’s sons (the Pandavas) after his death. But Duryodhana, eldest of Dhritarashtra’s hundred Sons (the Kauravas) was jealous and could not see how the Pandavas were to be the heirs when his father was the elder brother. Court intrigues started and the Pandavas had to go into exile where they formed secret allianes with many powerful kings including Krishna,Visbnu’s incarnation, the king of Dwaraka. When they felt strong enough, they demanded their kingdom back. Duryodhana wanted to wage a war but the court elders prevailed upon Dhritaraslura to divide the kingdom equally between the two groups. The Kauravas got Hastinapur as their capital and the Pandavas got Indraprastha (present greater Delhi).

The Kauravas again became jealous and there were many petty quarrels culminating in the famous dice game in which the Pandavas lost everything, including their wife Draupadi. The Pandavas also had to bear the shame of the Kauravas wanting their wife to be stripped in public. They bad to go into exile for twelve years during which there were many unsuccessful attempts to kill them. After the term of exile was over, the Pandava brothers demanded their kingdom back and on the refusal of the Kauravas, a full-scale war was fought for eighteen days on the fields of Kurukshetra (near Delhi). In the battle thousands of combatants died, the only survivors being the Pandavas. They got disillusioned with all the bloodshed that had taken place and, after installing their grandson Parikshit on the throne, started on a long and perilous journey towards the heaven of god Indra, beyond the great Himalayas.


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