60. Beginning of Mahabharata

60. Beginning of Mahabharata


“Son of Soota (Sauti) said, ‘Hearing that Janamejaya was installed in the Sarpa Satra (snake-sacrifice), the learned Rishi Krishna-Dwaipaayana (Vyaasa) went there on the occasion. He (Rishi Vyasa), the grand-father of Paandavaas, was born in an island of the (river) Yamuna, of the virgin Kaali by Shakti’s son, (Rishi) Paarasharaa.

“The highly famed one (Rishi Vyaasa) developed by his body by his will alone as soon as he was born, and mastered Vedas with their branches (Vedangas in Sanskrit), and all the histories (Itihaasa in Sanskrit). He readily obtained that which no one could obtain by Tapas, by the study of the Vedas, by vows (Vrata in Sanskrit), by fasts, by children, and by yagna. The first of Veda-knowing ones, he (Rishi Vyaasa) divided the Vedas into four parts (Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Saama Veda and Atharvana Veda). The Brahmarishi (Vyaasa) had knowledge of the supreme Brahma, knew the past by intuition, was holy, and cherished truth (Satya Vrata in Sanskrit). Of sacred action and great fame, he fathered Paandu, Dhritarashtra and Vidura in order to continue the line of (King) Shaantanu.

“The Mahatma Rishi (Vyaasa), with his disciples all knoweledgeable with Vedas and their branches (Vedangas in Sanskrit), entered the pavilion of yagna of the Rajarishi Janamejaya. He saw that the king Janamejaya was seated in the region of yagna like Purandara (Lord Indra), surrounded by numerous Sadasyas (members), by kings of various countries whose crown locks had undergone the sacred bath, and by competent Ritwiks like to (Lord) Brahma Himself.

“That foremost one of Bharata’s race, the Rajarishi Janamejaya, seeing the Rishi (Vyaasa) come, advanced quickly with his followers and relatives in great joy. The king (Janamejaya) with the approval of his Sadasyas, gave the Rishi a golden seat as (Lord) Indra did to (Deva Guru) Brihaspati. When the Rishi (Vyaasa), capable of granting boons and adored by Devarishis themselves, had been seated, the king of kings (Rajendra in Sanskrit) worshipped him according to the rites of Shaastraas. The king (Janamejaya) then offered him – his grandfather Krishna (Rishi Vyaasa) – who fully deserved them, water to wash his feet and mouth, the Arghya, and cows.

“Accepting those offerings from the Paandavaa Janamejaya and ordering the cows also not to be slain, Vyaasa became much pleased. The king (Janamejaya), after those adorations bowed to his great-grandfather (Rishi Vyaasa), and sitting in joy asked him about his welfare. The illustrious Rishi also, casting his eyes upon him (King Janamejaya) and asking him about his welfare, worshipped the Sadasyas, having been before worshipped by them all. After all this, Janamejaya with all his Sadasyas, questioned that first of Dwijas (Rishi Vyaasa), with joined palms as follows:

‘O Dwija (Rishi Vyaasa), you have seen with your own eyes the acts of the Kurus and the Paandavaas. I am desirous of hearing you recite their history. What was the cause of the disunion among them that was fruitful of such extraordinary actions? Why also did that great battle, which caused the death of countless creatures occur between all my grandfathers – their clear sense over-clouded by fate? O excellent Dwija, tell me all this in full as everything had happened.’

“Hearing those words of Janamejaya, Krishna-Dwaipayana (Rishi Vyaasa) directed his disciple Vaishampaayana seated by his side, saying, ‘The conflict that happened between the Kurus and the Paandavaas in ancient times, narrate all to the king (Janamejaya) as you have heard from me.’

“Then that blessed Brahmana (Vaishampaayana), at the command of his Guru (Rishi Vyasa) recited the whole of that history to the king (Janamejaya), the Sadasyas, and all the kings there assembled. He told (Vaishampaayana) them all about the hostility and the utter extinction of the Kurus and the Paandavaas.’”



Sauti narrates briefly about Brahmarishi Vyaasa and his greatness; Sauti points out to the visit of Vyaasa to the Sarpa Satra conducted by Janamejaya and Janamejaya giving due respect to Vyaasa; Janamejaya enquires to Vyaasa about the war that happened between Kurus and Paandavaas; Vyaasa directs his disciple Vaishampaayana to narrate Mahabharata as he had heard from Vyaasa.



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