The Mahabharata – Background


I am very happy to start this series on Mahabharata today. As I have already started writing under the label of the great Geeta, I feel it is necessary to talk about the Mahabharata too. I know that plenty of literature is already available on this great epic, but i feel a need to write what i feel is important for my readers to know about the backdrop of the rendering of the Geeta to Arjuna by Sri krishna in the battlefield.

For a starting point, i would like to ask my readers one question. Everyone knows that the mahabharata happened after a long long long time after Sri Rama’s time — (or do people know this??) But – do you know this – the starting of the Bharat Vamsha – in which pandavas and kauravas were born – are traceable back to the great sage Vishwamitra – who took Sri Raama to Sri Seeta Mataji’s swayamvara ?? i feel most people do not know this. But it is true. and we will start our story with sage Vishwamitra – who was NOT a Brahmin by birth (do we know this ??) – he was a warrior king – a Kshatriya. In the next post in this series, we will talk about sri Vishwamitra’s relationship with the bharat vamsha dynasty – in which we will be meeting our well versed characters of the mahabharata – bheeshma and others ….. Today we will talk about who he was and how he became a sage….

Actually Sri Vishwamitra was a great sage, as most of us know. But earlier he was a king – who got lost in the jungle and reached Maharshi Vashishtha’s Aashrama (remember – Sri Rama’s guru Vashishtha?) where he was catered to very lovingly. He observed that Vashishtha had a divine cow which would give everything asked of it and could feed his army without any ado. While returning back , he wanted the cow for himself, but Vashishtha would not allow this because he said the cow was divine and had been granted to him to take care of the ashram nivasis’ needs. Upon this, Vishwamitra attacked the ashrama, but was summarily defeated because of sage Vashishtha’s spiritual powers. Seething under the insult of the humiliating defeat, Vishwamitra renounced his kingdom and started doing tapa. After a great many years of severe austerities, he himself became a great sage, and lost the anger which had initially started him on the path of tapasya. He reached a stage of spirituality, and we have already seen his peaceful part in the Ramayana, where he called upon Dashratha to lend him Raama to drive away the demons disturbing his sacrifices, not willing to fight them himself, because he had realised that it is the duty of the king to protect the tapovanas of sages. We will discuss about his link to the Bharat vamsha in the next post under this label.