It is said that Mahabharata is story of 5 generations, then how Maharshi Vyasa knew all the story of Mahabharata, did he survive through all 5 generations?
We believe the Great epic
Mahabharathawas written by the great
sage Veda Vyasa. He was the grandfather of the
Kauravas. He had
great powers of meditationand hence lived a very long life (One of the Immortals). He lived even after all his grandchildren – the Pandavas and the Kauravas had died.
अश्वत्थामा बलिव्र्यासो हनूमांश्च विभीषण:। कृप: परशुरामश्च सप्तएतै चिरजीविन:॥
सप्तैतान् संस्मरेन्नित्यं मार्कण्डेयमथाष्टमम्। जीवेद्वर्षशतं सोपि सर्वव्याधिविवर्जित॥
Ashwathaama Balirvyaaso Hanumanshcha Vibheeshanaha Krupaha Parshuramascha Saptaitey Chiranjivinaha Saptaitaan Samsmareynnityam Markandeymathaashtamam Jivedvarshshatam Sopi Sarvavyadhivivarjit
The above lines mean that by daily remembering these 8 immortals (Ashwatthama, King Bali, Veda Vyasa, Hanuman, Vibhishan, Kripacharya, Parashuram and Rishi Markandaya.
Veda Vyasa is one of eight Immortals according to our Hindu Scriptures. He lived through all the 5 generation
There is real story behind Who wrote the Mahabharatha?
Once when Veda Vyasa was meditating in the Himalayas, the God of creation –
Lord Brahmaappeared before him. Brahma asked Veda Vyasa to write the story of Mahabharatha. Brahma told Veda Vyasa that as he had seen the entire story and knew all the characters intimately, he was the best person to write the story. However Veda Vyasa was perturbed when he heard this. He knew that the Mahabharatha was a very complex story. He could not compose and write such a huge story at the same time. He needed somebody's help to write the story.
Brahma told Veda Vyasa to ask
Lord Ganesha– the elephant headed God, for help. He knew that Vyasa was capable of composing the epic at a very fast pace. In order to test Vyasa, he imposed a very novel condition. Veda Vyasa knew that
Lord Ganeshabeing the
God of Knowledgewould take down the narration very fast. He smiled and asked a favour of Lord Ganesha. He said that Lord Ganesha was not to write anything unless he understood the meaning of what was narrated to him. Lord Ganesha smiled and accepted the condition.
Thus Veda Vyasa began narrating the story and Lord Ganesha wrote down the story accurately. Whenever the sage needed some rest, he would compose a stanza (a verse) with a very difficult meaning. Lord Ganesha would ponder over the meaning of the stanza, while the sage refreshed himself, or composed more stanzas. The 'pen' with which Lord Ganesha started writing the story was not able to keep up with the pace of the two of them. Lord Ganesha was writing the story so fast that the pen broke! However Lord Ganesha did not stop writing, he just broke one of his tusks and started writing with it. That is the reason Lord Ganesha is seen in most of the pictures with only one tusk and the
broken tusk in his hand. Thus, though the
Mahabharathawas the longest story ever written, it was written in a total of three years!
First of all, it is true that Vyasa lived through all the generations of the Mahabharata. He was the son of Satyavati and the sage Parashara, as described in this chapter of the Adi Parva of the Mahabharata:
And Satyavati gratified with having obtained the excellent boon in consequence of which she became sweet-scented and her virginity remained unsullied conceived through Parasara's embraces. And she brought forth the very day, on an island in the Yamuna, the child begot upon her by Parasara and gifted with great energy. And the child, with the permission of his mother, set his mind on asceticism. And he went away saying, 'As soon as thou rememberest me when occasion comes, I shall appear unto thee.' And it was thus that Vyasa was born of Satyavati through Parasara. And because he was born in an island, he was called Dwaipayana (Dwaipa or islandborn). And the learned Dwaipayana, beholding that virtue is destined to become lame by one leg each yuga (she having four legs in all) and that the period of life and the strength of men followed the yugas, and moved by the desire of obtaining the favour of Brahman and the Brahmanas, arranged the Vedas. And for this he came to be called Vyasa (the arranger or compiler).
Satyavati later went on to become the wife of the king Shantanu, who was the father of Bhishma, Vichitravirya and Chitrangada. When Vichitrayirya and Chitrangada died, Vyasa fathered children with Vichitravirya's wives Ambika and Ambalika, through the practice of Niyoga, as described in this chapter of the Adi Parva of the Mahabharata. These children were Pandu and Dhritarashtra. Pandu was the adopted father of the Pandavas, and Dhritarashtra was the adopted father of the Kauravas. So Vyasa's Mahabharata is essentially an epic poem about Vyasa's own grandchildren.
But we need not even stop at the Pandavas and the Kauravas; Vyasa met Arjuna's great-grandson Janamejaya, as described in this chapter of the Adi Parva of the Mahabharata:
Formerly, the spirited and virtuous Krishna-Dwaipayana, by the injunctions of Bhishma, the wise son of Ganga and of his own mother, became the father of three boys who were like the three fires by the two wives of Vichitra-virya; and having thus raised up Dhritarashtra, Pandu and Vidura, he returned to his recluse abode to prosecute his religious exercise. It was not till after these were born, grown up, and departed on the supreme journey, that the great Rishi Vyasa published the Bharata in this region of mankind; when being solicited by Janamejaya and thousands of Brahmanas, he instructed his disciple Vaisampayana, who was seated near him; and he, sitting together with the Sadasyas, recited the Bharata, during the intervals of the ceremonies of the sacrifice, being repeatedly urged to proceed.
And there are even stories of Adi Shankaracharya and Madhvacharya meeting Vyasa!
But it is not through his longevity of life that Vyasa was able to compose the Mahabharata, but rather through divine vision obtained through Tapasya, s described in this chapter of the Adi Parva of the Mahabharata:
The son of Satyavati having, by penance and meditation, analysed the eternal Veda, afterwards composed this holy history, when that learned Brahmarshi of strict vows, the noble Dwaipayana Vyasa, offspring of Parasara, had finished this greatest of narrations, he began to consider how he might teach it to his disciples.
In that respect Vyasa is similar to Valmiki, who lived through the events of the Ramayana but composed the Ramayana through divine vision as I discuss here.
Janamejaya questions Vaisampayana about what was the end and what lokas were attained by Bhishma, Drona, king Dhritarashtra, and Virata and Drupada.
Janamejaya said, "Bhishma and Drona, those two high-souled persons, king Dhritarashtra, and Virata and Drupada, and Sankha and Uttara. Dhrishtaketu and Jayatsena and king Satyajit, the sons of Duryodhana, and Shakuni the son of Subala, Karna’s sons of great prowess, king Jayadratha, Ghatotkaca and others whom thou hast not mentioned, the other heroic kings of blazing forms—tell me for what period they remained in Heaven. O foremost of regenerate persons, was theirs an eternal place in Heaven? What was the end attained to by those foremost of men when their acts came to an end? I desire to hear this, O foremost of regenerate persons, and therefore have I asked thee. Through thy blazing penances thou seest all things.
Vaisampayana tells that not everybody is capable of returning to his own nature which was told by Vyasa.
Vaishampayana said, "Every one, O king of men, is not capable of returning to his own nature at the end of his deeds. Whether this is so or not, is, indeed a good question asked by thee. Hear, O king, this which is a mystery of the gods, O chief of Bharata’s race. It was explained (to us) by Vyasa of mighty energy, celestial vision and great prowess, that ancient ascetic, O Kauravya, who is the son of Parasara and who always observes high vows, who is of immeasurable understanding, who is omniscient, and who, therefore knows the end attached to all acts.
Sauti explains it to Brahmanas the story of Janamejaya at his snake's sacrifice. Even he also said that Vyasa knew the future.
I have now told everything that Vaishampayana narrated, at the command of Vyasa, unto the king at his snake sacrifice. Called a history, it is sacred, sanctifying and excellent. It has been composed by the ascetic Krishna, O Brahmana, of truthful speech. He is omniscient, conversant with all ordinances, possessed of a knowledge of all duties, endued with piety, capable of perceiving what is beyond the ken of the senses, pure, having a soul cleansed by penances, possessed of the six high attributes, and devoted to Sankhya Yoga. He has composed this, beholding everything with a celestial eye that has been cleansed (strengthened) by varied lore. He has done this, desiring to spread the fame, throughout the world, of the high-souled Pandavas, as also of other Kshatriyas possessed of abundant wealth of energy.
This clearly explains that Vyasa had celestial vision by which, he could see the past, the present, and also the future. He knew the end attained to all acts.
After war, Krishna and other rishis such as Valmiki, Vyasa, and Parashara advice Yudhisthira to hymn the names of Mahadeva.
"Vaisampayana said, 'After Vasudeva had ceased to speak, the great Yogin, viz. the Island-born Krishna, addressed Yudhisthira, saying,--O son, do thou recite this hymn consisting of the thousand and eight names of Mahadeva, and let Maheswara be gratified with thee.
Then, Parashara described that he did penance to Shiva in desire of having a great son of who possessed great ascetic merit.
"Parasara said,--'In former times I gratified Sarva, O king. I then cherished the desire of obtaining a son that would be possessed of great ascetic merit, endued with superior energy, and addressed to high Yoga, that would earn world-wide fame, arrange the Vedas, and become the home of prosperity, that would be devoted to the Vedas and the Brahmanas and be distinguished for compassion. Even such a son was desired by me from Maheswara.
Mahadeva gave boons that made all of Parasara's desires come true and in addition, his son would be one of the Saptarshis. Shiva blessed Parashara that his son would be the author of ancient histories. This should explain it.
Knowing that this was the wish of my heart, that foremost of Deities said unto me.--Through the fruition of that object of thine which thou wishest to obtain from me, thou shalt have a son of the name of Krishna. In that creation which shall be known after the name of Savarni-Manu, that son of thine shall be reckoned among the seven Rishis. He shall arrange the Vedas, and be the propagator of Kuru's race. He shall, besides, be the author of the ancient histories and do good to the universe. Endued with severe penances, he shall, again, be the dear friend of Sakra. Freed from diseases of every kind, that son of thine, O Parasara, shall besides, be immortal.--Having said these words, the great Deity disappeared there and then. Even such is the good, O Yudhishthira, that I have obtained from that indestructible and immutable God, endued with the highest penances and supreme energy.'
A lot of people do not know that Vyasa's father Parasara did penance to have Vyasa. They only know Parashara meeting Satyavati but Parasara did penance to Shiva so that his son would be arranger of Vedas and have great ascetic merit.
Even this is Shanti Parva and it tells about Vyasa.
Know that the Island-born Krishna, otherwise called Vyasa, is Narayana on Earth. Who else than he, O tiger among kings, could compile such a treatise as the Mahabharata? Who else than that puissant Rishi could discourse upon the diverse kinds of duties and cults for the observance and adoption of men?
It describes that Vyasa is Narayana on earth and only he could have compiled such a treatise as Mahabharata.
This clearly explains how and ONLY Vyasa was able to compile Mahabharata.
The main reason also is that Vyasa had divine vision.
In [Mahabharata] Sabha Parva-Dyuta Parva-Chapter-46 , we find Maharshi Vyasa telling what is going to come in the future to Yudhisthira. Vyasa thus told Yudhisthira that he officially will be the sole cause of the destruction of all Kshatriyas in Kurukshetra war for the sins of Duryodhana.
Vaisampayana continued,--"Hearing these words of the king, the exalted son of Parasara, the island-born Vyasa of dark hue, spoke these words,--'For thirteen years, O king, those portents will bear mighty consequences ending in destruction, O king of kings, of all the Kshatriyas. In course of time, O bull of the Bharata race, making thee the sole cause, the assembled Kshatriyas of the world will be destroyed, O Bharata, for the sins of Duryodhana
P. 92 and through the might of Bhima and Arjuna. In thy dream, O king of kings thou wilt behold towards the end of this might the blue throated Bhava, the slayer of Tripura, ever absorbed in meditation, having the bull for his mark, drinking off the human skull, and fierce and terrible, that lord of all creatures, that god of gods, the husband of Uma, otherwise called Hara and Sarva, and Vrisha, armed with the trident and the bow called Pinaka, and attired in tiger skin. And thou wilt behold Siva, tall and white as the Kailasa cliff and seated on his bull, gazing unceasingly towards the direction (south) presided over by the king of the Pitris. Even this will be the dream thou wilt dream today.
He warned Yudhisthira in Rajasuya Yagna itself. This clearly shows that Vyasa had divine vision.