The Ultimate Mahabharata Quiz

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By jwblackwell

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Summary

The Mahābhārata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India in Hinduism, the other being the Rāmāyaṇa. It narrates the struggle between two groups of cousins in the Kurukshetra War and the fates of the Kaurava and the Pāṇḍava princes and their successors. The Mahābhārata contains philosophical and devotional material, such as a discussion of the four "goals of life" or puruṣārtha. The authorship of the Mahābhārata is attributed to Vyāsa. The Mahābhārata is the longest epic poem known and has been described as "the longest poem ever written". The bulk of the Mahābhārata was probably compiled between the 3rd century BCE and the 3rd century CE. The oldest preserved parts of the Mahābhārata are not much older than around 400 BCE, and the text probably reached its final form by the early Gupta period (c. 4th century CE). The epic employs the story within a story structure, otherwise known as frametales, popular in many Indian religious and non-religious works. The redaction of this large body of text was carried out after formal principles, emphasizing the numbers 18 and 12. The historicity of the Kurukshetra War is unclear, but many historians estimate the date to Iron Age India of the 10th century BCE. The Mahābhārata is divided into 18 parvas or books. The evidence of the Puranas suggests a date of about 1400 BCE for the Bharata battle, but this would imply improbably long reigns on average for the kings listed in the genealogies.Dating the Mahabharata and Synopsis of the Story

Dating the Mahabharata

  • Two scholars estimated the date of the Bharata battle to be around 950 BCE, while another estimated it to be 836 BCE.
  • Attempts to date the events using methods of archaeoastronomy have produced estimates ranging from the late 4th to the mid-2nd millennium BCE.
  • The Aihole inscription of Pulakeshin II, dated to Saka 556 = 634 CE, claims that 3735 years have elapsed since the Bharata battle, putting the date of Mahābhārata war at 3137 BCE.
  • Another traditional school of astronomers and historians places the Bharata war 653 years after the Kali Yuga epoch, corresponding to 2449 BCE.
  • The core story of the Mahabharata is a dynastic struggle for the throne of Hastinapura between the Kaurava and Pandava branches of the Kuru clan.
  • The struggle culminates in the great battle of Kurukshetra, in which the Pandavas are ultimately victorious.
  • The Mahabharata ends with the death of Krishna and the subsequent end of his dynasty and ascent of the Pandava brothers to heaven.
  • It also marks the beginning of the Hindu age of Kali Yuga, the fourth and final age of humankind.
  • Shantanu, the king of Hastinapura, has a short-lived marriage with the goddess Ganga and has a son, Devavrata, who becomes the heir apparent.
  • When Vichitravirya, Shantanu's younger son, rules Hastinapura, Bhishma attends the swayamvara of the three princesses Amba, Ambika, and Ambalika, uninvited, and proceeds to abduct them.
  • When the princes grow up, Dhritarashtra is about to be crowned king by Bhishma when Vidura intervenes and uses his knowledge of politics to assert that a blind person cannot be king.
  • Kunti, the older queen of Pandu, had been given a boon by Sage Durvasa that she could invoke any god using a special mantra. She gives birth to three sons, Yudhishthira, Bhima, and Arjuna, through these gods.

Synopsis of the Story

  • The core story of the Mahabharata is a dynastic struggle for the throne of Hastinapura between the Kaurava and Pandava branches of the Kuru clan.

  • The struggle culminates in the great battle of Kurukshetra, in which the Pandavas are ultimately victorious.

  • The Mahabharata ends with the death of Krishna and the subsequent end of his dynasty and ascent of the Pandava brothers to heaven.

  • It also marks the beginning of the Hindu age of Kali Yuga, the fourth and final age of humankind.

  • The story begins with Shantanu, the king of Hastinapura, and his son Devavrata, who becomes the heir apparent.

  • When Vichitravirya, Shantanu's younger son, rules Hastinapura, Bhishma attends the swayamvara of the three princesses Amba, Ambika, and Ambalika, uninvited, and proceeds to abduct them.

  • Kunti, the older queen of PandSummary Title: The Epic of Mahabharata

  • The Mahabharata is an Indian epic that tells the story of a dynastic struggle for the throne of Hastinapur and the battle that ensues.

  • Yudhishthira gambles away his wealth, kingdom, brothers, himself, and his wife, leading to the Pandavas' exile and eventual war with the Kauravas.

  • The Pandavas spend thirteen years in exile, acquire divine weapons, and prepare alliances for a possible future conflict.

  • The two sides summon vast armies and line up at Kurukshetra for an 18-day war, with the Pandavas emerging as the victors.

  • The Mahabharata offers one of the first instances of theorizing about "just war," establishing criteria such as proportionality, just means, just cause, and fair treatment of captives and the wounded.

  • The Mahabharata has been translated into various languages, including Bengali, Persian, English, and Indonesian.

  • The Critical Edition of the Mahabharata, produced by scholars in Pune over 47 years, is the text that is usually used in current Mahabharata studies for reference.

  • Many regional versions of the Mahabharata developed over time, mostly differing only in minor details or with verses or subsidiary stories being added.

  • Bhasa, the 2nd- or 3rd-century CE Sanskrit playwright, wrote two plays on episodes in the Mahabharata, while Dharamvir Bharati's Andha Yug and V. S. Khandekar's Yayati are examples of derivative literature.

  • Pratibha Ray's Yajnaseni and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's The Palace of Illusions are novels that retell the story of Draupadi from her perspective.

  • The Mahabharata is a rich source of Hindu mythology and philosophy, and its characters and themes continue to influence Indian culture and art.

  • The Mahabharata presents a complex and nuanced view of human nature, with characters who display both admirable and flawed traits, and it raises questions about morality, duty, and the nature of reality.

  • The Mahabharata is a timeless epic that has captured the imagination of generations of readers and continues to be a source of inspiration and insight for people around the world.Mahabharata: its influence on literature, film, television, and culture

  • Modi, Udayasankar, and Pokhrel have written modern retellings of the Mahabharata.

  • Amar Chitra Katha published a comic book version of the Mahabharata.

  • Several films and TV series have been made based on the epic, including a 1988 TV series directed by Ravi Chopra, and a 2013 animated adaptation.

  • The Pandav Lila is an annual ritual re-enactment of episodes from the Mahabharata through dancing, singing, and recitation performed by villagers in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand.

  • Jain versions of the Mahabharata can be found in various Jain texts, with differences in characters and events from the Hindu Puranas.

  • The Kuru family tree shows the line of royal and family succession in the epic.

  • The Bhagavad Gita, a part of the Mahabharata, is often described as a concise guide to Hindu philosophy and has inspired several works of modern Hindi literature.

  • The Mahabharata has been used to inspire Indian independence movement leaders such as Swami Vivekananda, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, and Mahatma Gandhi.

  • Ramdhari Singh Dinkar's Rashmirathi is a modern Hindi rendition of the Mahabharata, centered around Karna and his conflicts.

  • The Mahabharata is a significant part of Indian culture and continues to influence literature, film, television, and performing arts.

  • The epic has been adapted and retold in various forms, showcasing its enduring relevance and appeal to audiences.

  • The Mahabharata remains one of the longest epics in world literature and is considered a classic of Indian literature.

Description

How well do you know the Mahabharata? Test your knowledge of this ancient Indian epic that tells the story of a dynastic struggle for the throne of Hastinapur and the battle that ensues. From the characters and themes to the historical context and cultural impact, this quiz covers it all. See if you can ace this quiz and prove yourself to be a true Mahabharata expert.

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