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Based on events from about 1400-1000 B.C., the Mahabharata (the great epic
of the Bharata dynasty) is one of the two major epics of India. Its importance
stems largely from its high literary merit and the fact that one of its four
parts is the Bhagavadgita (Song of the Lord), the primary religious text of
Hinduism. With more than 100,000 couplets, the Mahabharata is approximately
seven times longer than the Iliad and the Odyssey combined.
Its main components are thought to have been compiled between 1400 and 1000
The Mahabharata as a whole is significant as an explication on the dharma
(codes of conduct) that provide rules of conduct for kings, warriors, and persons
seeking to attain emancipation from reincarnation (the endless cycle of death
and rebirth). In its religious role, the work embodies the transition from a
religion of Vedic sacrifice to sectarian Hinduism. The Bhagavadgita, for example,
reveals a deep concern with ethical questions, the nature of God, and the means
by which humans may come to know him. The Mahabharata has played a vital role
in the moral development of the Hindu world.
Raghavan, V., trans. The Mahabharata. 4th ed. Condensed by Paudet
A. M. Srinivasachariar. Madras: G. A. Nateson and Company.
Dutt, R.C., trans. The Ramayana and Mahabharata. Translated by R.
C. Dutt. London: J. M. Dent & Sons, Ltd.
The biographical material about the author originally appeared on The
Goodrich Room: Interactive Tour website.