Mahabharata is an epic tale from Hindu mythology. The story starts many generations ago with the dynasty of King Bharata of the Kuru dynasty until it comes all the way to the fight between the Pandvas and Kauravas. There are many stories that are a part of the Mahabharata. Here are the top 10 most famous stories from the Mahabharata.
Abhimanyu was the son of Arjun and the nephew of Krishna. He was as brave and adept at warfare as his father. He fought fearlessly for 12 days in the war and only Bhishma was able to match him on the side of the Kaurvas. His end came on the 13th day of the war when Dronacharya used the Chakravyuh defense formation which Abhimanyu knew how to enter but not how to defeat or exit. He entered and went on a rampage, defeating everyone in one on one fight. In the end the Kauravas had to resort to unfair means and they all attacked Abhimanyu simultaneously and killed him mercilessly.
Hidimba was a man eater demon who tried to kill the Pandavas but Bheem fought him and defeated him. Bheem later married his sister Hidimbi and gave birth to Ghatotkacha who played an important part later in the battle of the Mahabharata.
One famous story of the Mahabharata is about the young Arjuna. When they were getting training under Dronacharya they were told to aim at a bird. Dronacharya asked everyone about what they could see. Everyone talked about the tree and the bird and the sky and other things. Arjuna said that he could only see the eye of the bird. This was of course the right answer and talks about how focus is important to achieve your goals.
The marriage of Draupadi is an important part of Mahabharata. She had a swayamwar and every prince came to compete with each other for her hand. Most importantly it was Karna who also wanted to marry her but she refused him for not being of noble birth. To win her hand all suitors had to pierce the eye of a fist that was revolving on a disk and they had to do it while looking at the image of the fish in a container of water. Once Karna left the swayamwar it was only Arjuna who could achieve this fete as he did.
Another important part of the Mahabharata is the humiliation of Duryodhana by Draupadi which increases his hate towards Pandavas. The story is about a palace that was built with a lot of deceptions in it. Duryodhan walked into a hall that seemed to have a marble floor but it was actually full of water and he fell in the water. Draupadi, who was watching all this laughed at him and called him a blind son of a blind father which enraged Duryodhana.
Karna is one of the central characters of Mahabharata. He was born by virgin birth as a blessing of the Sun God to Kunti before she was married to Pundu. She was afraid of people finding out about her son born out of wedlock and so she put him a basket and set him afloat in the river. He was later found by Adhiratha and Radha and raised by them. Karna was a fierce warrior and as good an archer as Arjuna. He was also known for his generosity.
The game of dice in which the Pandavas lose everything is the most pivotal point in Mahabharata. It is a lesson against vices such as gambling and an important point in the story. The Pandavas keep laying everything on the line, including their kingdom, themselves and even their wife Draupadi and lose it all because of the cunning of Shakuni.
An interesting story within Mahabharata is how Dronacharya was killed. He was a great master and it was impossible to kill him unless he gave up his weapons by himself. So the Pandavas came up with the plan of telling him that his son, Ashwathama had died. In reality Bheem had killed an elephant who was also named Ashwathama. When Yudhishthira went to tell this news to Dronacharya he believed it because Yudhishthira was known as the champion of truth. Krishna convinced Yudhishthira to tell this white lie by telling him that he was not lying but just telling a half truth.
The most important story of the Mahabharata of course is the Gita; the teaching given by Lord Krishna to Arjuna in the middle of battlefield when Arjuna is distraught at the sight of brothers fighting against brothers and wants to quit. Gita has become a major philosophical treatise of Hindu tradition which offers several life lessons. It talks about the importance of doing one’s duty and leaving everything else to God.