It is widely known that Mahabharata was written by Lord Ganesha under the dictation of Sage Vyasa. Quoting from Wikipedia:

The first section of the Mahabharata states that it was Ganesha who wrote down the text to Vyasa's dictation. Ganesha is said to have agreed to write it only if Vyasa never paused in his recitation. Vyasa agrees on condition that Ganesha takes the time to understand what was said before writing it down.

Sage Vyasa already knew the complete chain of events. So, he could have written them all by himself. But he didn't. Is there any specific reason why Lord Ganesha had to write the Mahabharata instead of Vyasa writing it by himself?


As per Mahabharata, it was Brahma who suggested Vyasa to take help of Ganehsa. Veda Vyasa had conceived the whole poem in His mind but he was in anxiety regarding how to propagate it to his disciples. Brahma seeing Vyasa's anxiety came to Him and said:

I esteem thee for thy knowledge of divine mysteries, before the whole body of celebrated Munis distinguished for the sanctity of their lives. I know thou hast revealed the divine word, even from its first utterance, in the language of truth. Thou hast called thy present work a poem, wherefore it shall be a poem. There shall be no poets whose works may equal the descriptions of this poem, even, as the three other modes called Asrama are ever unequal in merit to the domestic Asrama. Let Ganesha be thought of, O Muni, for the purpose of writing the poem.

The Mahabharat doesn't give any specific reason why Ganesha was thought of for writing and not any other god, but Veda Vyasa did thought of Ganesha as he is the remover of obstacles and then narrated him the poem to be written:

Then Vyasa began to call to mind Ganesha. And Ganesha, remover of obstacles, ready to fulfill the desires of his votaries, was no sooner thought of, than he repaired to the place where Vyasa was seated. And when he had been saluted, and was seated, Vyasa addressed him thus, 'O guide of the Ganas! be thou the writer of the Bharata which I have formed in my imagination, and which I am about to repeat.

Taking the help of lord Ganesha for writing was certainly faster than the time Vyasa would have taken to write the whole poem Himself. It is because, lord Ganesha's pen didn't even stop writing for a moment apart from some difficult verses that Vyasa intentionally narrated. So apart from any other reasons, faster completion of such a huge work is certainly one reason why Veda Vyasa took the help of Ganesha, the god of knowledge and education.

Mahabharat, Adi Parva, 1


The story of Ganesha writing the Mahabharata is told in the first chapter of the Adi Parva of the Mahabharata. Vyasa asked Brahma to recommend someone to write his epic poem, because "no writer of this work is to be found on earth":

O divine Brahma, by me a poem hath been composed which is greatly respected. The mystery of the Veda, and what other subjects have been explained by me; the various rituals of the Upanishads with the Angas; the compilation of the Puranas and history formed by me and named after the three divisions of time, past, present, and future; the determination of the nature of decay, fear, disease, existence, and non-existence, a description of creeds and of the various modes of life; rule for the four castes, and the import of all the Puranas; an account of asceticism and of the duties of a religious student; the dimensions of the sun and moon, the planets, constellations, and stars, together with the duration of the four ages; the Rik, Sama and Yajur Vedas; also the Adhyatma; the sciences called Nyaya, Orthœphy and Treatment of diseases; charity and Pasupatadharma; birth celestial and human, for particular purposes; also a description of places of pilgrimage and other holy places of rivers, mountains, forests, the ocean, of heavenly cities and the kalpas; the art of war; the different kinds of nations and languages: the nature of the manners of the people; and the all-pervading spirit;--all these have been represented. But, after all, no writer of this work is to be found on earth.

I see two ways we can interpret that statement:

  1. No one on Earth can possibly write it - Writing was a very rare skill in ancient times; if you go back far enough the only people who were literate were professional scribes. So it could be that Vyasa couldn't find anyone who was literate. Or it could be that no one on Earth had the stamina to write a work that was a hundred thousand verses long, plus many hundreds of thousands of verses which were only revealed in worlds other than Earth.

  2. No one on Earth should write it - Given that right before making that statement, Vyasa is describing the divine content of his work, he could be saying that no one on Earth, even Vyasa himself, is worthy of writing down such a divine work. Or at least that no one on Earth is worthy of committing such a divine work to writing for the first time.

Of these, the second interpretation seems more plausible to me, because there probably was some writer in the world who could write down hundreds of thousands of verses.

  • "there probably was some writer in the world who could write down hundreds of thousands of verses." Who is it you are talking about? – Yogi Jan 12 '17 at 18:04
  • @Yogi I didn't have a specific person in mind, I just assumed that there was probably someone. – Keshav Srinivasan Jan 12 '17 at 18:05
  • Well that cannot be a justification for assuming there would be someone of that caliber on earth. – Yogi Jan 12 '17 at 19:08
  • @Yogi Well, it's not a question of caliber, it's just a question of whether there were people who knew how to read and write, plus the stamina to write hundreds of thousands of verses. – Keshav Srinivasan Jan 12 '17 at 21:42
  • Isn't it qualifying caliber? – Yogi Jan 13 '17 at 2:35

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