62. Reading Mahabharata equals reading Vedas

62. Reading Mahabharata equals reading Vedas

“Janamejaya said, ‘O excellent Dwija (Dwija means twice-born, while the first birth is natural, the second birth occurs upon the realisation of the Supreme Soul; Here Rishi Vaishampaayana is referred as a Dwija), you have, indeed, told me, in brief, the history, called Mahabharata, of the great acts of the Kurus. But, O you of wealth of Muni (Rishi Vaishampaayana), recite now that wonderful narration (of Mahabharata) fully. I feel a great curiosity to hear it. Therefore, it is your duty to recite it in full. I am not satisfied with hearing in a nutshell the great history. That could never have been a unimportant cause for which the Dharmic ones could slay those whom they should not have slain, and for which they are yet applauded by men.

“Why also did those tigers among men, innocent and capable of avenging themselves upon their enemies, calmly suffer the persecution of the wicked Kurus? Why also, O best of Brahmanas (Rishi Vaishampaayana), did Bhima of mighty arms and of the strength of ten thousand elephants, control his anger, though wronged? Why also did the chaste (Patni in Sanskrit) Krishna (Draupadi), the daughter of Drupada, wronged by those wretches and able to burn them, not burn the sons of Dhritarashtra with her angry eyes? Why also did the two other sons of Pritha (Bhima and Arjuna) and the two sons of Madri (Nakula and Sahadeva), themselves injured by the wretched (Duraatma in Sanskrit) Kurus, follow Yudhishthira who was greatly addicted to the evil habit of gambling? Why also did Yudhishthira, that foremost of all Dharmic men, the son of Dharma himself, fully familiar with all duties, suffer that excess of pain? Why also did the Paandavaa Dhananjaya (Arjuna), having (Sri) Krishna for his charioteer, who by his arrows sent to the other world that dauntless host of fighting men (suffer such persecution)? O you of wealth of Muni, speak to me of all these as they took place, and everything that those mighty charioteers achieved.’

“(Rishi) Vaishampaayana said, ‘O monarch (Janamejaya), you appoint a time for hearing it. This history (Mahabharata) told by Krishna-Dwaipayana (Rishi Vyasa) is very extensive. This is but the beginning. I shall recite it. I shall repeat the whole of the composition in full, of the Mahatma and Maharishi Vyaasa of immeasurable mental power and worshipped in all the worlds. This Bharata consists of a hundred thousand (100,000) sacred shlokas composed by the son of Satyavati (Rishi Vyaasa), of immeasurable mental power. He that reads it to others, and they that hear it read, attain to the world of (Lord) Brahma and become equal to the very Devas. This Bharata is equal to the Vedas, is holy and excellent; is the worthiest of all to be listened to and is a Puraana worshipped by the Rishis.

“It (Mahabharata) contains much useful instruction on Arthaa and Kaamaa (profit and pleasure). This sacred history makes the heart desire for salvation (Moksha in Sanskrit). Learned persons by reciting this Veda of Krishna-Dwaipaayana (Rishi Vyaasa) to those that are liberal, truthful and believing, earn much wealth. Sins, such as killing the embryo in the womb, are destroyed assuredly by this. A person, however cruel and sinful, by hearing this history, escapes from all his sins like the Sun from Raahu (after the eclipse is over). This history is called Jaya.

“It should be heard by those desirous of victory. A king by hearing it may bring the whole world under subjection and conquer all his enemies. This history in itself is a mighty act of appeasement, a mighty sacrifice productive of blessed fruit. It should always be heard by a young monarch with his queen, for then they beget a heroic son or a daughter to occupy a throne. This history is the high and sacred science of Dharma, Arthaa, and also of Moksha; it has been so said by Vyaasa himself of mind that is immeasurable. This history is recited in the present age and will be recited in the future. They that hear it, read, have sons and servants always obedient to them and doing their instruction. All sins that are committed by body, word, or mind, immediately leave them that hear this history. They who hear, without the spirit of fault finding, the story of the birth of the Bharata princes, can have no fear of sickness, let alone the fear of the other world.

“For extending the fame of the high-souled Paandavaas and of other Kshatriyas versed in all branches of knowledge, high spirited, and already known in the world for their achievements, Krishna-Dwaipaayana (Rishi Vyaasa), guided also by the desire of doing good to the world, has composed this work. It (Mahabharata) is excellent, productive of fame, grants length of life, is sacred and heavenly. He who, from desire of acquiring merit of Dharma, causes this history to be heard by sacred Brahmanas, acquires great merit and Dharma that is inexhaustible. He that recites the famous generation of the Kurus becomes immediately purified and acquires a large family himself and becomes respected in the world. That Brahmana who regularly studies this sacred Bharata for the four months of the rainy season, is cleansed from all his sins. He that has read the Bharata may be regarded as one acquainted with the Vedas.

“This work presents an account of Devas, Rajarishis (Kings) and sacred Dwija Rishis, the sinless Keshava (Sri Krishna); the Bhagawaan Deveshaa (Lord Shiva) and Devi Paarvati; the birth of Kaartikeya (Lord Muruga) who sprang from union of Paarvati with Mahadeva and was reared by many mothers; the greatness of Brahmanas and of cows.

“This Bharata is a collection of all the Srutis (Vedas, Samhitas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads), and is fit to be heard by every Dharmic person. That learned man who recites it to Brahmanas during the sacred lunar months, becomes cleansed of all sins, and, not caring for heaven as it were, attains to a union with (Lord) Brahma. He that causes even a single foot of this poem to be heard by Brahmanas during the performance of a Sraddha, makes that Sraddha inexhaustible, the Pitris becoming ever pleased with the articles once presented to them.

“The sins that are committed daily by our senses or the mind, those that are committed knowingly or unknowingly by any man, are all destroyed by hearing the Mahabharata. The history of the noble birth of the Bharata princes is called the Mahabharata. He who knows this etymology of the name is cleansed of all his sins. As this history of the Bharata race is so wonderful, that, when recited, it assuredly purifies mortals from all sins. The sage Krishna-Dwaipayana (Rishi Vyasa) completed his work in three years. Rising daily and purifying himself and performing his devotions pertaining to a Rishi, he composed this Mahabharata. Therefore, this should be heard by Brahmanas with the ceremony of a vow (Sankalpa in Sanskrit).

“He who recites this holy narration composed by Krishna (Rishi Vyaasa) for the hearing of others, and they who hear it, in whatever state he or they may be, can never be affected by the fruit of karma – good or bad. The man desirous of acquiring Dharma should hear it all. This is equivalent to all histories, and he that hears it always attains to purity of heart. The gratification that one derives from attaining to heaven is scarcely equal to that which one derives from hearing this holy history.

“The Dharmic man who with respect hears it or causes it to be heard, obtains the fruit of Raajasooya (yagna) and Ashwamedha (yagna). The Bharata is said to be as much a mine of gems as the vast Ocean or the great mountain Meru. This history is sacred and excellent, and is equivalent to the Vedas, worthy of being heard, pleasing to the ear, sin-cleansing, and increasing Dharma.

“O monarch (Janamejaya), he that gives a copy of the Bharata to one that asks for it does indeed make a present of the whole earth with her belt of seas (Belt of seas indicate the speaker knows that the southern hemisphere is filled with seas and oceans and stating that it as a belt which surround waist taking a round shape, the author also seems to know that the Earth is spherical in nature). O son of Parikshit (Janamejaya), this pleasant narration that gives Dharma and victory I am about to recite in its entirety: listen to it. The sage Krishna-Dwaipaayana (Rishi Vyaasa) regularly rising for three years, composed this wonderful history called Mahabharata. O bull amongst the Bharata monarchs (Janamejaya), whatever is spoken about Dharma, Arthaa, Kaamaa, and Moksha may be seen elsewhere; but whatever is not contained in this is not to be found anywhere.’”


King Janamejaya requests Vaishampaayana to completely and elaborately narrate Mahabharata. Vaishampaayana begins with stating the benefits of reading and chanting Mahabharata completely.




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