BANGALORE : Maharshi Veda Vyaasa’s magnus opus, the Mahabharata, is a gigantic work of enduring value and significance. A master in the very best traditions of the Indian Rishi lineages, his prodigious and rare genius expresses the complex web of the drama of human life in a classic story of rivalry, jealousy and war between cousins, the Paandavas and the Kauravas, used as the center stage of this work.
The story of the Mahabharata, however, starts many generations earlier and traces parallel and intertwining stories between different kingdoms of ancient India, their rulers, their relations and their acts and omissions, more often than not rubbed against the touchstone of the ideals of the Sanaatana Dharma (the eternal law). Through the wheel of time, actions beget reactions and the story proceeds with ever more intrigue and consequences. It is not just the human world, but also the Devas, Yakshas, Gandharvas and heavenly maidens who are drawn into this elaborate drama featuring every nuance and possibility of human life, every turn that a human mind can possibly take, with no end left untied.
Through this labyrinth, there emerges the clear hand of the divine in the form of Lord Krishna, moving events and guiding lives towards Dharma and taking the heroic route of punishing the wicked and protecting the righteous. For the philosopher, Vyaasa presents the central gem, the Bhagavad Gita, embedded in the center of the great war of Kurukshetra. For the devout, he gives the Vishnu Sahasranaamam, preached by the great warrior patriarch Bheeshma at the end of the war; to the ruler as well as the commoner, he gives Vidura Neeti, a compendium of laws for peaceful coexistence in human society; for the questioning disciple, he has given the Yaksha Prashna answering many insightful questions with valuable sagacity and for the voracious reader, volumes of remarkable dialogues dissecting, differentiating and cataloguing every shade of internal psychological conflict imaginable. The situations and analyses are so universal that the Mahabharata retains a remarkable degree of relevance even after five thousand years.
A study of this great epic is certainly a study of life and it makes for a most absorbing lesson - and every student will take home to remember for the rest of his life, simple and enduring human values and attitudes along with a most interesting portion of Indian history, lore, heritage and culture, that the Mahabharata is, which, while being essentially Indian in flavour, carries an essence as real and nourishing as the earth itself while always maintaining its umbilical connection with that which is timeless and universal within all of us. One cannot but help develop a strange feeling - something akin to reverence for this great epic, its author and its heroes and feel at once purified and thrilled at the touch of the presence of the substratum and sustenance of this universe - the universal Lord - whose human touch is presented to us through the form of Lord Krishna - gifted to us by Veda Vyaasa, as the divine nucleus of this legendary and glorious epic.