Introduction mahaabhaarata is the largest epic in the history of mankind. it originates form bhaarata (india) - the land of king bharata, son of duushyanta and shakuntalaa. mahaabhaarata is one of the two itihaasa (historical account) scriptures of sanaatana dharma (Hindu-dharma), the other being the raamaayaNa. It describes events that took place in ancient bhaarata around 5000 BCE (before common era - also known as B.C.) The main event was the appearance of Lord krishNa - the 8th avataara (incarnation) of Lord vishNu towards the end of dwaapara yuga (the penultimate age among the four ages in a mahaayuga which corresponds to a complete cycle of the earth's percession). A greater account of shrii krishNa's life can be found in the shrii bhagavata puraaNa (one of the 18 puraaNas which are among the older Hindu scriptures written after the four vedas). shrii krishNa's revelation to arjuna also known as shriimada bhagavada geeta ("the song celestial" - popularly known as geeta) are also in the mahaabhaarata. In the bhagavada geeta, bhagawaan krishNa reveals the essence of the vedas. The puraaNas, mahaabhaarata and the bhagavada geeta are considered (both-independently and together) by many as a fifth veda. Among the four most popular sets of Hindu scriptures - the vedas, puraaNas, itihaasas and tantras, the itihaasas (raamaayaNa & mahaabhaarata) are the most popular among Hindus all around the world today.
In conclusion, the salient features of the mahaabhaarata are: A historical account especially of the kuru and paandu dynasties circa 5000 BCE The appearance of bhagawaan shrii krishNa The bhagavada geeta
It is a religious, spiritual and historical manual. Many have been inspired by the message of the geeta - including Mahatma Gandhi, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, Leo Tolstoy, etc. to name a few in this century. It continues tp affect almost a billions around the world. The theory of karma and karma-yoga are among the many practical things that krishNa tells us in His geeta.
The mahaabhaarata was authored by r^shi (Seer, Sage) vyaasa and written out by bhagawaan Ganesha with one of his tusks. r^shi vyaasa himself is a prominent figure in the mahaabhaarata. He was the father of dhr^taraashtra, paandu and vidur. dhr^taraashtra was the father of kauravas (continuing the kuru dynasty). paandu started his own dynasty - the paandu dynasty, and was the father of the paandavas; the main characters of the mahaabhaarata, besides shrii krishNa. vidur was an advisor to these kingdoms.
In its present form, the mahaabhaarata has eighteen parvas (chapters or books).
aadi sabhaa vana viraaTa udyoga bhiishma droNa karNa shalya sauptika strii shaanti anushaashana aashvamedhika aashramavaasika mausala mahaaprasthaanika swargaarohaNa