Introduction section of Mahabharata details about total number of verses.

Vyasa executed the compilation of the Bharata, exclusive of the episodes originally in twenty-four thousand verses; and so much only is called by the learned as the Bharata. Afterwards, he composed an epitome in one hundred and fifty verses, consisting of the introduction with the chapter of contents. This he first taught to his son Suka; and afterwards he gave it to others of his disciples who were possessed of the same qualifications. After that he executed another compilation, consisting of six hundred thousand verses. Of those, thirty hundred thousand are known in the world of the Devas; fifteen hundred thousand in the world of the Pitris: fourteen hundred thousand among the Gandharvas, and one hundred thousand in the regions of mankind. Narada recited them to the Devas, Devala to the Pitris, and Suka published them to the Gandharvas, Yakshas, and Rakshasas: and in this world they were recited by Vaisampayana, one of the disciples of Vyasa, a man of just principles and the first among all those acquainted with the Vedas. Know that I, Sauti, have also repeated one hundred thousand verses.

So, total 600,000 verses. Of which 100,000 for mankind. This leaves 500,000 verses for Devas, Pitris and Gandharvas. But if we add the totals of 30 hundred thousands + 15 hundred thousand + 14 hundred thousand, it does not come to 500,000. Should the total be 60 hundred thousand and not 6 hundred thousand? Then, it will be 30+15+14+1 becomes 60.

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    The verse no. 122 in Sanskrit is: षष्टिं शतसहस्राणि चकारान्यां स संहिताम्। this translates to 60 x 1,00,000 = 60 lakhs or 60 hundred thousand. The English translation is wrong
    – Adiyarkku
    Commented Jan 24, 2021 at 17:28
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    @archit, please can you post full sloka and link as answer. I tried to find the sloka in sacred-texts without success.
    – Kanthri
    Commented Jan 24, 2021 at 19:56
  • Sure, here: Mahabharata Gita Press 1.1.105. The verse is - ततोऽन्येभ्योऽनुरूपेभ्यः शिष्येभ्यः प्रददौ विभुः। षष्टिं शतसहस्राणि चकारान्यां स संहिताम्॥१०५॥ then he gave it to other worthy disciples. He made another Samhita of 60,00,000 verses.
    – Adiyarkku
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 2:39
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    Why this mistake is seen in every English translation found on internet? Found 3 websites, one book (on archive) commiting this mistake! Not yet found correct English translation.
    – Second
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 3:12
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    @Proxy, read Srimad Bhagavatam of vedabase (the common one which we use as reference on HSE) it’s filled with translation errors. You can see this huge essay for 2 errors in SB: hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/40509/20129. English is not a 100% appropriate language for scriptures. Only Indian languages give that effect.
    – Adiyarkku
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 6:59

1 Answer 1


Here's how those verses from the Critical Edition of Mahābhārata read and there is no contradiction here:

01,001.061a   caturviṃśatisāhasrīṃ cakre bhāratasaṃhitām
01,001.061c   upākhyānair vinā tāvad bhārataṃ procyate budhaiḥ

01,001.062a   tato 'dhyardhaśataṃ bhūyaḥ saṃkṣepaṃ kṛtavān ṛṣiḥ
01,001.062c   anukramaṇim adhyāyaṃ vṛttāntānāṃ saparvaṇām

01,001.063a   idaṃ dvaipāyanaḥ pūrvaṃ putram adhyāpayac chukam
01,001.063c   tato 'nyebhyo 'nurūpebhyaḥ śiṣyebhyaḥ pradadau prabhuḥ

01,001.064a   nārado 'śrāvayad devān asito devalaḥ pitṝn
01,001.064c   gandharvayakṣarakṣāṃsi śrāvayām āsa vai śukaḥ


Without minor narratives, Vyasa originally composed Bharata in 24,000 twenty verses. The learned know this as the real Bharata. Later, he composed a summary in 150 verses, with an index of the chapters, contents and events. Dvaipayana first taught this index to his son Shuka and then to other disciples who had the same qualities. Narada recited it to the gods, Asita-Devala to the ancestors and Shuka to the gandharvas, yakshas and rakshasas.

Debroy, Bibek. The Mahabharata: Volume 1 (p. 6)

  • So, 60 hundred thousand or 6 hundred thousand are incorrect...but total 24 thousand with 150 additions is complete set?
    – Kanthri
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 20:34
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    The 60 lakh verses (and its division) is a fanciful number inserted by an interpolator. Scholars don't take that # seriously. Read the explanation provided here by P. P. S. Sastri. Also, this explanation from the Introduction to Bibek Debroy's translation. After removing all known interpolations, the Critical Edition of Mahabharata (including Harivamsha) only has about 79K verses. @SHebbar Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 21:58

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