The Mahabharata

Discussing the impact of this epic poem on the Hindu religion.

The “Mahabharata” is the oldest of the great epics of Hindu literature. This paper looks at its contents – including the Bhagavad Gita,” or “The Lord’s Song, included within it, which stands as the single most significant religious text of Hinduism. A brief history of Hinduism is provided and the Mahabharata is analyzed for ways it impacted the development and evolution of Hindu prayer and ritual.
While there is no founder of Hinduism as such, Hinduism was shaped by the actions of a man shrouded in legend, and much of the knowledge of Hinduism as it has been passed down has been attributed to his efforts. He is said to have lived some 3,500 years ago. He was the great grandson of the sage Vasishta, the son of the sage Parasara and the fishergirl Satyavati. He was called Krishna Dvaipayana. Because he had a desire for order, he gathered together all the knowledge of his time in the form of the Vedic hymns and rituals. He edited these works into four huge volumes, producing the four Vedas, which stood as the earliest source of information on Indian thought. He was then given the title Veda Vyasa, or the Editor of Knowledge, and in this manner he created a tradition of teaching and learning through his disciples and through the legendary forest university he founded in Naimisaaranya. The writing of the masterpiece the Mahabharata has been attributed to Vyasa, though he may be more legend than real. The story in this epic concerns the legitimacy of the succession rights to the kingdom of Kurukshetra, the ancestral realm of King Bharata:”