The Mahabharata

It’s essentially the story of five princes, the Pandavas, going to war against their cousins, the Kauravas. With the help of Krishna, a divine incarnation of the great Hindu god Vishnu, the Pandavas win the decisive battle at Kurukshetra. The Mahabharata is a Sanskrit epic ascribed to the sage Vyasa. Besides the main story there are many small episodes, describing live of the ancient Indians and their practical solutions for difficult situations in life. The core piece of the Mahabharata is the Bhagavad Geeta, which has become the most famous Hindu scripture. The Geeta is a talk by Krishna to one of the Pandava brothers, Arjuna. He is a master archer and is chosen to lead the Pandavas into battle against the Kauravas, but he is suddenly overcome by doubt, whether this war is really necessary. Krishna convinces Arjuna that in the given situation battling his opponents rather than conceding will be better for the future of mankind, even though it appears to be a cruel act at the time being. Arjuna has a great realization, when Krishna reveals to him the overwhelming magnificence of existence. He understands that he can’t escape his karma as a warrior, which means in this situation to exterminate his misguided relatives. Many fierce battles are fought and many lives are lost. With Krishna as his charioteer and advisor, Arjuna has the decisive advantage over his opponents in the end.


Arjuna (left) is shooting arrows, while Krishna (right) is holding the reins. Popular motive which has been painted by various artists. This version by ISKCON.

In the eighties the story was made into a TV serial with 94 episodes, which you can find on YouTube.

For the full text in English (transl. by Kisari Mohan Ganguli) as PDF file please click here: The Mahabharata