Ved Vyasa was one sage who gave the entire humanity a gigantic and everlasting storehouse of realism, spiritual knowledge and compassion through his literary works. Author of ‘Mahabharata’, he is also a character in the epic.
Believers hold that Sage Vyasa did his best to document the story as-it-is, and also at the same time, compressed the wisdom of Vedas in it.
1. It was Ved Vyasa who documented ‘Mahabharata’ in great detail as itihaas or history.
Hindus refer to the events taking place during and preceding the ‘Mahabharata’ as itihaas or authentic history.
2. Ganesha, the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, was Vyasa’s scribe.
Ved Vyasa is credited with having scripted the Vedic knowledge into the written form with Ganesha as his scribe. He divided Vedic knowledge into 4 different Vedas for easy comprehension.
Such division was done once every few ages to make it easier for the people to grasp the spiritual knowledge. Ved Vyasa was dividing the Vedas for the 28th time.
3. He was born by the end of Tretha Yuga, lived through all of Dwapar Yuga and was around until the early arrival of Kaliyuga.
4. Ved Vyasa was the 18th avatar of Lord Vishnu; Lord Rama was the 17th.
Balrama and Krishna were the 19th and 20th respectively. All of these have been mentioned in ‘Srimad Bhagvatam’, which was composed by Ved Vyasa by the end of the Dwapar Yuga, just after he finished documenting ‘Mahabharata’.
5. Ved Vyasa was born in Damauli of Tanahu district in Nepal.
The cave where he documented ‘Mahabharata’ still exists in the Himalayan country. Seen below is the location of Tanahu district in Nepal.
Seen below is the Vyasa Cave in Damauli in Nepal.
6. Ved Vyasa was born to Satyavati and sage Prashar.
Satyavati, as a young woman, met the wandering sage Prashar while ferrying the latter across a river. The sage requested Satyavati to satisfy his sexual urges. She agreed only after he promised to bless her with the boon of ‘virginity intact’, lifelong youth and a bodily fragrance as strong as that of a musk deer.
7. Ved Vyasa was step-brother of Bheesma.
Satyavati later married the King Shantanu, the father of Bheesm. She or her father, chief of fishermen, imposed the condition that her sons will inherit the throne. By then, Shantanu had declared Bheesma as the prince and heir to the throne. To get Shantanu out of distress, his son Bheesma pledged to serve Satyavati’s offspring. He was to never claim any right to the throne, which rightfully belonged to him.
8. He was biological/spiritual father of Dhritarashtra, Pandu and Vidur.
Satyavati had two sons but eventually, both of them died one after the other. After the younger son, Vichitravirya died, Satyavati requested Ved Vyasa to perform niyoga on Ambika and Ambalika, the two widows.
Niyoga is an ancient Hindu ritual of impregnating (whether physically or by projecting spiritual energy is unknown) a woman at her request so as to help her bear a child in case the latter’s husband is dead or incapable of doing so.
9. Guru Purnima commemorates the birthday of Ved Vyasa.
This one sage is credited with having documented all Vedic knowledge in the form of Puranas, Upanishads and ‘Mahabharata’ during the entire length of Dwapara Yuga.
On Guru Purnima, celebrated to this day, disciples pray to their spiritual masters.
10. Ved Vyasa literally means ‘the splitter of Vedas’.
11. He is considered to be one of the 7 chiranjivis (immortals or long lived).
There is no historical record of Ved Vyasa after the early part of Kaliyuga. He is believed to have retreated to the mountains for meditation.
12. Ved Vyasa has been mentioned in two Buddhist Jataka tales called ‘Kanha-Dipayana’ and ‘Ghata’.
In the first Jataka tale, he is mentioned as Bodhisattva, with no mention of his Vedic works and in the second, he is said to have been closely associated with ‘Mahabharata’.