The Mahabharata

World’s Longest Epic

By Krsna Dvaipayana Vyasa
Translated By John D. Smith
India, written c. 400 BCE
Epic Poetry, Foundational Myth

Main Attractions
Translated by John D. Smith
1. Many stories woven into one.      
2. Ample philosophical discussions.
3. Endless supernatural elements.
4. Begins w/ origins of the world.
5. A few legendary, iconic characters.
6. Contains Ramayana & Bhagavad Gita.
7. Gruelling,detailed battles. 
8. Lots of philosophical commentary.
9. Many surprising scenes of wisdom. 
10. Amazing main story arc.


Cuisine & Delicacies
Ranked as: Han Jeon Shik
This is the world’s longest epic and is said to contain all of the world’s knowledge.  There’s such a vast number of stories, characters, schools of philosophy, nuggets of wisdom & surprising outcomes.  The unabridged edition is about 13 encyclopedic volumes long, so it’s quite an undertaking to read it all.  Since quantity doesn’t always mean quality, this abridged version is brilliantly translated so it contains the heart & soul of the original.  Smith painstakingly numbered each of his translated & summarized paragraphs so the reader can easily find the unabridged section for a closer reader later.      

Why Visit Here

This is one of India’s most beloved epics and after reading it, I can certainly understand why.  The more well known, Bhagavid Gita is actually a brief scene within The Mahabharata.  While the Bhagavid Gita does contain some of the heart of Indian Philosophy, it can in no way give a comprehensive understanding of the elaborate philosophy.  The other well loved epic, The Ramayana is also contained within The Mahabharata.  It represents some of the idealistic characters that people can live up to.  It provides a detailed guide for each type of relationship; kings & their kingdom, parents & their children, brothers, friendship and love within a marriage.  The Mahabharata contains all of this and so much more.  It begins with the creation of the cosmos, concludes with the breakdown of our current age & the final outcome of everything that took place.  Within this lengthy story, we have examples of every crime, battle outcome & even some redemption.  We also have philosophy, magic & supernatural characters who drop in their opinions.  We also have the most beautiful descriptions of setting, character & philosophical ideals.

Off the Beaten Path

Decoding the Gita, India's book of answers | By Roopa Pai | TEDxNMIMSBangalore
A 17 min. TED talk, she gives some lighthearted insight into why the Gita's so applicable to any situation.

Packing List
✓ Dash of familiarity with Indian Philosophy
✓ A Red Lotus growing in your backyard 
✓ Exquisite Indian Artwork on your walls

Recommended Resources
Alternate Books
✓ Bhagavad Gita, Unknown Author (C. 400 BCE-200 CE) - This book is a short chapter from the heart of The Mahabharata.
A Sourcebook of Indian Philosophy (1957) Edited By  Radhakrishnan & Moore - Provides a great overview of the development of Indian thought & many cornerstone texts.
✓ The Ramayana By Valmiki (written C. 500 BCE)- a love story that's widely celebrated in India, Sri Lanka & many South East Asian countries.