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Mahaabhaarat is one of the two history books of India, the other one is Raamaaayan. Mahaabhaarat was written by Ved Vyaas Jee and Raamaayan was written by Vaalmeeki Jee.

After he had divided Ved in four parts for which he is known as Ved Vyaas; he wrote many other books for easy reading and made Ved's contents available to those people who were not legible to read Ved, e.g. women, Shoodra, bi-caste people, etc so that they can know what are their Dharm and Karm. He taught these books to his four disciples: Pail, Vaishampaayan Jee, Jaiminee and Sumantu. Then these disciples divided them further while teaching to their disciples.

How Ved Vyaas Jee Wrote MBH?
He wrote Mahaabhaarat. It is famous about him, that when he intended to write Mahaabhaarat, he needed a scriber to write it, since it was a huge Granth (book). He used to create Shlok very soon in his mind, so he needed a very fast writer to write them on paper. Now who could write them that fast and correctly? So he went to Brahmaa Jee for his advice. Brahmaa Jee thought for a few moments and told him that he had nobody in mind, except Ganesh Jee who was perfectly suitable to do this job. So Vyaas Jee called on Ganesh Jee and Ganesh Jee agreed to write his Mahaabhaarat, but on one condition: that he was not going to wait while writing, means he would write continuously. If there will be any delay in telling the next Shlok, he will quit the work.

At this Ved Vyaas Jee said, "Then I also have one condition." "What?" "That you will not write anything without understanding its meaning first." "Fine" and thus the writing work of Mahaabhaarat began, scribed by Ganesh Jee and created and spoken by Vyaas Jee. It is said that in whatever time Ganesh Jee wrote a given Shlok (of course understanding it first), in the same time Vyaas Jee used to create many Shlok - because his Shlok contained so deep meaning that Ganesh Jee took some time to understand it, so neither Ganesh Jee had to wait for Shlok nor Vyaas Jee was short of time to create Shlok.

Three Editions of MBH
Ved Vyaas Jee taught Mahaabhaarat to his five pupils - one of them was
(1) One is Vaishampaayan Jee who told this story to Janamejaya, son of Pareekshit at the time he performed the Sarp Yagya (snake sacrifice). In this version Janamejaya asks the questions and Vaishampaayan Jee answers his questions.
(2) Another one is told by Jaimini.
(3) Another was Soot Jee (Romharshan's son Ugrashravaa) who told this Mahaabhaarat in a simplified way to Shaunak Jee when he was performing a 12-year sacrifice. At that time also it was told in question-answer form.

One may have curiosity, as how the must have been converted in question-answer form? It is certain that Ved Vyaas Jee must not have written in question-answer form, then? Only possibility is that they must have heard in simplified form and then as the listeners had asked the questions from they manipulated it in answer form. Thus these three editions should be there - Vyaas' original edition, Vaishampaayan's edition and Soot's edition.

It also means that there must be three beginnings - one according to the author Vyaas Jee and the other two according to the listeners' question patterns or tellers' telling styles. Some believe that MBH begins from the story of Uparichar Vasu, while others believe that it begins with the story of Aasteek, yet others believe that it begins with the word Manu. Different lengths and different divisions of the epic are also indicated. Even different names have also been found.

It is guessed that the original work must have been the writing of historical nature. Why? because Ved Vyaas Jee has declared it as Itihaas (history) and named it as "Jaya" (victory). The first Shlok of the MBH mentions "Tato Jayamudeerayet"; and surprisingly enough the same name is given in the last Parv (Swargaarohan) also. The commonly used version is the version of Vaishampaayan Jee, so it seems that the first Shlok is spoken by Soot Jee himself, as  nobody will say "Jaya" to himself, thus it is not written by Vyaas Jee.

Vyaas' Edition
It is already mentioned in Janamejaya's MBH that Vyaas Jee wrote this History initially in 8,800 Shlok. It does not seem logical, for just to write only 8,800 Shlok he could not have asked Ganesh Jee to write it, because he told Brahmaa Jee that "I have written a huge epic or book for which I need a scriber." It is also mentioned in the MBH that he wrote it in three years working day and night. The 63rd Chapter begins with "Raajo Paricharo Namah..." which clearly shows that before this 63rd Chapter, all the 62 Chapters have been written either by Vaishampaayan Jee or Soot Jee. But it does not mean that the whole work after the Chapters 62 is the original work of Vyaas Jee.

Vaishampaayan Edition
Vaishampaayan Jee was his own pupil and Vyaas Jee taught him MBH along with his four other pupils -  Shuk Dev Jee (Vyaas Jee's his own son), Pail, Jaimini, Sumantu. It has been said in MBH that each of them published his own edition - so certainly each edition should be different according to one's own understanding. We have only one version among us that is Vaishampaayan version - with the exception of Ashwamedh Parv of Jaimini version.

It might be possible that these five edition must have not been there during Ashwalaayan period as he has mentioned all these five Rishhi as Bhaarataachaarya (editors of Bhaarat). It is also possible that for the first time "Jaya" must have been started called "Bhaarat". Vaishampaayna's Bhaarat seems to have 24,000 Shlok, because Vyaas Jee has written "Bhaarat Sanhitaa" which is called Bhaarat without its "Upaakhyaan". In this Bhaarat, there was summary chapter of 15 Shlok, at the beginning in which number of chapters and Parv were mentioned. Vaishampaayan Jee should naturally begin his version with the account of Janamejaya, and the Sarp Satra where this MBH was told - and thus we have another beginning to MBH - means from Aasteek Upaakhyaan.

Jaimini's Edition

Soot Jee's Edition
The third version or edition, which Soot Jee narrated to Shaunak Jee. In this version, Soot Jee himself says - "O Rishi, I have recited the Bhaarat in 100,000 Shlok, Vaishampaayan being the first teller in this human world." Here Soot Jee clearly admits two things - one that he was retelling the MBH which was told by Vaishampaayan Jee, two he is telling 100,000 Shlok. The first 61 Chapters of Aadi Parv, or the chapters before the Chapter 62, are not the part of the Vaishampaayan's MBH version. And thus we have a third beginning of the MBH - with the word "Manu" - Soot Jee's edition. Soot Jee's edition is in the modern form - with a preface, an introduction, and a table of contents. So this was presented in a fixed form. The present MBH contains all about a 100,000 Shlok (minus only a few Shlok = 96,836), though some additional Shlok are found here and there. These additional Shlok and Chapters are found  at the end of the Aadi Parv (there are337 Chapters instead of 227 as indicated by Vyaas Jee) and Drone Parv.

The 69 Shlok, all starting from "Yadaa Shrausham", found in the 1st Chapter, cannot be a part of Vyaas' MBH as they are in long meter. Must be that Soot Jee have added these to it. Since Dhritraashtra has given this summary, so it is very strange way to tell the summary by the mouth of one of the actors himself. There was a short summary Bhaarat given by Vaishampaayan Jee also in 150 Shlok, but the present chapter exceeds this number by several Shlok. It means that this chapter has been reconstructed by Soot Jee.

Naming the "Jaya"
It seems that Soot Jee has given "Jaya" the name of "Mahaabhaarat".  Ashwalaayan has mentioned "Bhaarat" and "Mahaabhaaarat" names separately. Maybe Vaishampaayan Jee gave it the name "Bhaarat" and as the volume increased, Soot Jee named it "Mahaabhaarat". It is because that Soot Jee himself has said that it has been named "Mahaabhaaarat" because of its volume and weight. Paanini also mentions the name of "Mahaabhaarat" but in quite a different sense - Mahaabhaarat means - a great Bhaarat warrior. And since he uses the names of the same Mahaabhaarat (Yudhishthir etc) it leaves no doubt that he is talking about the same Mahaabhaarat.

Division of "Jaya"
Soot Jee divides this work in 18 Parv, but the names of the Parv are mentioned in MBH bear the same names but are greater in number. It is not possible that only one person has divided the poem in two different parts at the same time, because in that case both versions must have been named differently. It means that Vaishampaayan's work was not divided in 18 Parv, but into a large number of smaller Parv, which were named "Parv". Soot Jee divided it into a larger number of sections, though he also named them "Parv". There are two Parv like this which bear the same name as their big Parv - they are a Sabhaa Parv under the big Sabhaa Parv and Sauptikaa Parv under big Sauptikaa Parv.

These Parv were divided in chapters also. MBH says that they were less than 100 (number assigned to Vaishampaayan edition). In Chapter 2 of Aadi Parv where the 100 Parv are given, it is written that "Harivansh" is a Khilaa Parv (a Parv borrowed from another place) and is not a part of original Vyaas' MBH, but rather Vaishampaayan added to it. This is true that without giving the details of Krishn, MBH war story does not look complete, it is like as Raamaayan's story is not complete without the life story of Raavan. In this way Harivansh's place in MBH is the same as the place of Uttar Kaand's place is in Raamaayan. The difference is only this that Uttar Kaand is a part of Raamaayan, while Harivansh is left out from Mahaabhaarat. Soot Jee himself says that "These 100 Parv were composed by Vyaas, but after Lomharshan, the son of Soot, recited 18 Parv only in Naimish Aranya.

Thus the present Mahaabhaarat is Vyaas' poem written as "Jaya", in edited form as "Bhaarat" by Vaishampaayan, and "Mahaabhaarat" by Soot Jee with an introduction and table of contents etc.



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Created by Sushma Gupta On 05/27/04
Modified on 12/16/12