Mahabharata (book)

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Krishna and Arjuna in chariot

The Mahābhārata (Sanskrit: महाभारतम्) is one of two major Sanskrit epics and foundation texts of ancient India. Modern scholars agree that it was composed in the fifth or fourth century BCE. It was originally rather short but over time grew through oral tradition to the modern version, now 1.8 million words, in length nearly seven times longer than Homer’s combined epics, the Iliad and Odyssey.

It is an epic depicting the battle between one’s mixed higher spirituality against one’s baser inclinations.

The epic tells of two branches of one family, cousins who vied against each other for power, the Pandavas and their cousins the Kauravas, sons of two brothers, Dhritarashtra and Pandu. War for control of the kingdom eventually became unavoidable. Sri Krishna, by that time the eighth incarnation of Vishnu, one of the Hindu Trinity, became the war charioteer of the Pandava brother Arjuna.

It was Arjuna’s reluctance to engage in bloody battle against the other branch of his own family that gave rise to the dialog between himself and his divine charioteer Sri Krishna, the book known as the Bhagavadgita, concerning human nature, ignorance of body and soul, worldly illusion, noble duty, karma, and spiritual growth towards moksha - ultimate release from Samsara, the cycle of death and rebirth.

Digital Versions

Numerous translations and editions are available on the Internet, including:

Translations by Theosophists:

Additional resources

Theosophy Wiki articles

Articles and pamphlets


  • Nikhilananda, Swami. The Bhagavad Gita: translated from the Sanskrit. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1944. Fifth printing, 1987.
  • Thirlwall, M. A. C. "Hindu Morality as outlined in the 'Mahabhartata.'" The Theosophist 22 (May, 1901), 472-480 and (June, 1901), 533-539. See Google Books.


Numerous documentaries, films, and television series have been based on The Mahabharata. Here are examples in English or with English subtitles:

  • Mahabharat was an Indian television series aired 1988-1990. It was so popular that the country virtually shut down during broadcasts, and the actor who played Sri Krishna was elected to the Indian Parliament. The series was issued in a set of 16 3-hour DVDs. Episodes have been posted to YouTube, but are no longer available on that platform.
  • The Mahabharata was a 1989 miniseries and film by Peter Brooks.
  • Myths of Mankind: Mahabharata is a documentary available on YouTube.
  • Real Proof of Mahabharat War on YouTube.

In addition, there are many fan-fiction or amateur videos:

  • Top 10 warriors of Mahabharata on YouTube.
  • Unfair Deaths in Mahabharatha on YouTube.


Several recordings of the entire epic are available in English and other languages:

  • The Mahabharata: the Epic of Ancient India, in English on YouTube.