The story teller, Sauti, called Ugrashrava or the one with a powerful sense of hearing, begins his narration to the assemblage of rishis who are seated with Kulapati Shaunaka, after performing their day’s fire rituals. Ugrashrava begins with a prayer to the most auspicious of all auspicious beings—Maha Vishnu. “O venerable Rishis, I begin my narration of the most amazing creation of Maharshi Veda Vyasa.”
Poets have sung this history, some are singing and yet others will continue to do it in the ages to come. There is a deep repository of knowledge in these tales about all the three worlds of waking, dream and deep sleep. The work has been decorated with auspicious expressions, containing divine conversations between humans and the gods. It has different poetical metres and has been most sought after by the learned Masters.
Then comes a description of the beginning of the Universe. When everything in this world is covered by darkness, there emerged a big and bright cosmic egg, which contained in it the seed of creation. This egg called Mahad Divya or the great divine was created at the very beginning. In that golden egg lay the unmanifest cause of all that was to come in the form of the world. That was Brahma or the creator.
From Brahma—called Pitamaha or the grandfather of all creation—came the Prajapatis or the progenitors of various races. All the different types of beings, ethereal, human, plant and animal alike came from this. The years, seasons, months, the dark and the bright quarters of each month, day and night came one after the other in succession. All these beings will again be thrown back into that great darkness at the end of that period of time.
When the time comes again, the same cycle of creation will begin. There is a mysterious wheel that keeps revolving without a beginning or an end. Just to name a few of creation, Sauti says that there were 33,33,035 divine beings. Along with them came the Vedas, the knowledge of yoga, dharma or righteous living; Artha or the ways to seek wealth. The great sage, son of Satyavati, composed this text by sheer austerity and control of senses. As he completed the composition, he was contemplating on to whom it could be taught when Brahma visited his ashram. With all reverence, the Sage told the contents of the Mahabharata, which has all the knowledge in the universe.
Brahma praises the poem saying just as the life of a householder is the best when compared to that of a student, a forest dweller or a renunciate, in the same way the Mahabharata is the best of all epics. He advises him to remember Ganesha to write out the epic.
The author is Acharya, Chinmaya Mission, Tiruchi (www.sharanyachaitanya.blogspot.in)