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The Mahabharata is to be known as the longest poem ever written. It has over 200,000 verse lines. This poem was written by the epic god Ganesha and was dictated by the great sage Veda Vyasa. It was written in between the eighth and the sixth century BCE.
The story begins when Pandu, who was on the throne of Hastinapura, got exiled to the forest with his two wives for many years because he killed a sage who was in the form of a deer. While the sage was dying from the arrow Pandu shot, he cursed him, thereby keeping Pandu from having children on his own. Therefore, during his exile, he asked the gods to father children for him. Consequently, Dharma Raja (king of death) gave birth to Yudhishtira, Vayu (god of wind) fathered Bhima, Lord Indra (king of the heavens) gave birth to Arjuna, and the Ashvin twins (the divine twin horsemen) fathered Sahadeva and Nakula (also twins). Thus, began the era of the Pandava brothers.
Meanwhile, Dhritarashtra (Pandu's brother) had fathered the Kauravas, one hundred brothers. These one-hundred brothers wanted the throne of Hastinapura for themselves, but they knew they could not do so.
When Yudhishtira turned sixteen years old, he led his father, his father's wives, and his four siblings back to Hatsinapura, to rule again. The Kauravas, who were jealous of the Pandavas' claim to the throne, tried to kill them in a variety of ways. Bishma, the head of the family, demanded that the Kauravas and the Pandavas rule the kingdom separately. Some time later, Yudhishtira was invited to a game of dice by Sakuni, who played for the Kauravas. The loser of the game of dice was to be exiled from the kingdom for thirteen years. Sakuni won the game, and the Pandavas were exiled for thirteen years in the forest. According to one condition, however, the Pandavas were exiled for twelve years instead of thirteen.
When they returned, the Kauravas had taken the kingdom. The Pandava brothers wanted to, once again, have control over the kingdom, but the Kauravas didn't want to release their hold on the land. Thus began the Kurukshetra war.
It was a long and horrible war, but the Pandava brothers ultimately won and ruled over the kingdom for thirty-six years. The crown was then transferred to their grandson Parikshit because they wanted to return to the forest with their wife Draupadi, and they lived there for the rest of their humble lives.
Basu, Anindita. “Mahabharata.” Mahabharata . Ancient History Encyclopedia, August 25, 2016. https://www.ancient.eu/Mahabharata/.
Rajagopalachari, Chakravarti. Mahabharata. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay: Bhavan's Book University, 1958.