Mahabharata was initially called Jaya which means victory. But then it was called Bharata.

Why is Mahabharata called Mahabharata?


2 Answers 2


Mahatvaat Bharavatvaat Cha MahaBharatam - Mahat - Big/Important. Bharam - Heavy/Deep

Since it is important and deep (in spiritual knowledge), it is called Mahabharatam

SaPaada Laksha Grantham - 1.25 lakh shlokas

Bharatah Panchamo Vedah - Bharata is 5th Veda

Raja Bharata, upon whom India (Bharat) is named, was one of the previous ancestors/kings of the Kuru race, who later fought in Mahabharat war, which was a World War 5000 years ago, with 18 Akshauhinis (~40 lakh soldiers) dying on battlefield.

(I don't know which scripture these phrases occur in. I have heard them used in traditional Upanyas/Pravachan)


Mahabharata was initially called Jayasamhita written by Ganesha and narrated by Vyasa.

Om! Having bowed down to Narayana and Nara, the most exalted male being, and also to the goddess Saraswati, must the word Jaya be uttered.

After that it was narrated by Vaishampayan to King Janmajaya and was called Bharata.

We are desirous of hearing that history also called Bharata, the holy composition of the wonderful Vyasa, which dispelleth the fear of evil, just as it was cheerfully recited by the Rishi Vaisampayana, under the direction of Dwaipayana himself, at the snake-sacrifice of Raja Janamejaya?

After some times, gods measured the knowledge of Vedas and Bharata in which Bharata overweighted Vedas. Hence onwards it was called Mahabharata (The great Bharata).

In former days, having placed the four Vedas on one side and the Bharata on the other, these were weighed in the balance by the celestials assembled for that purpose. And as the latter weighed heavier than the four Vedas with their mysteries, from that period it hath been called in the world Mahabharata (the great Bharata).

Adi Parva Section 1

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