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Mahabharat Chapter 1 - Ganapathi the scribe

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Rishi Ved Vyasa wrote the Mahabharata. He was the son of Rishi Parshar. Vyasa also wrote the Vedas.Mahabharat is written in Sanskrit in poetry form. When Vyasa conceived Mahabharata, he knew he needed a good scribe to take down his dictations.

He asked Lord Brahma who would be the ideal scribe for Mahabharata? It is an epic and the scribe should be up to the task of matching Vyasa’s creations. Brahma suggested that only Ganapathi was up to this task. There is no one superior to him in intellect.

Ved Vyasa approached Ganapathi with his request to be his scribe for the epic composition of Mahabharata. Ganapathi did not appreciate very much being asked to be a scribe. But he did not want to offend Brahma by saying no. So he put forward a condition. “I will be your scribe, and I will take down your dictations. You say you want a scribe of superior intellect who can take down your dicatations non stop, so be it. My pen must not stop; you must not pause while dictating.” Rishi Vyasa thought long and hard. He knew it was impossible for anyone to compose the epic non stop. So he countered Ganapathi’s offer. “I will not let your pen to stop from writing. However, I have a condition too. You must grasp the meaning of what I dictate before you write it down.”


Both Ganesha and Vyasa agreed to each other’s conditions. Vyasa began to sing Mahabharata and Ganesha began to scribe. Occassionaly Vyasa would compose some very complex stanzas forcing Ganesha to pause to think and grasp the meaning, giving Vyasa just enough time to compose the next stanzas in his head.


This was before the age of printing when everyone wrote on bark of trees with a feather for pen. The only way pass things from generation to the next were through memorizing. Vyasa taught the epic to his son Rishi Shuka and to his other disciples. Shuka taught it to the gandharvas, rakshasas and yakshas. Vyasa’s disciple Vaisampayana revealed it to the masses for the benefit of the humanity. King Janamejaya, son of King Parikshit, held a big Yagna. During this Yagna, he asked Vaisampayana to reveal Mahabharata to the masses.

Vyasa composed Mahabharata to teach humanity dharma and other ends of life.

“After the death of King Shantanu, his son Chitrangada became the King. He was succeeded by Vichitravirya. Vichitravirya had two sons Dhritarashtra and Pandu. Dhritsrashtra was the older one but was blind and so Pandu ascended the throne. He later committed an offense and had to go to the forest for penance with his two wives Kunti and Madri.

During their stay in the forest, the two wives of Pandu, Kunti and Madri gave birth to five sons who became well known as the five Pandavas or Panch Pandava. Pandu passed away while they were still living in the forest. The sages brought up the five Pandavas during their early years.

When Yudhishthira, the eldest, attained the age of sixteen the rishis led them all back to Hastinapura and entrusted them to the old grandsire Bhishma. In a short time the Pandavas gained mastery over the Vedas and the Vedanta as well as over the various arts, especially pertaining to the Kshatriyas. The Kauravas, the sons of the blind Dhritarashtra, became jealous of the Pandavas and tried to injure them in various ways.

Finally Bhishma, the head of the family, intervened to bring about mutual understanding and peace between them. Accordingly the Pandavas and the Kauravas began to rule separately from their respective capitals, Indraprastha and Hastinapura.

Some time later, there was a game of dice between the Kauravas and the Pandavas. Sakuni, who played on behalf of the Kauravas, defeated Yudhishthira. As a result, the Pandavas had to be in exile for a period of thirteen years. They left the kingdom and went to the forest with their devoted wife Draupadi.

According to the conditions of the game, the Pandavas spent twelve years in the forest and the thirteenth year incognito.

When they returned and demanded of Duryodhana their kingdom, the latter, who had in the meanwhile usurped their kingdom, refused to return it. War followed as a consequence.

The Pandavas defeated Duryodhana and ruled the kingdom for thirty-six years. Afterwards, they transferred the crown to their grandson, Parikshit, and retreated to the forest with Draupadi.

This is the substance of the story of the Mahabharata. Besides the tale of Pandavas, the epic contains tales and sublime teachings. It has countless treasures of pearls and gems of wisdom. It is the history, culture and religion of India.

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