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 Odyssey combined. Its main components are thought to have been compiled between 1400 and 1000 B.C.
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.
The biographical material about the author originally appeared on The Goodrich Room: Interactive Tour website.
Last modified April 13, 2016