1. Mahabharat that we read starts with the arrival of Ugrshava who tells the story to some Brahmins.

  2. It is also told that the story was told to Janmayjey by Vaishampayana.

  3. It is also written that Ganesh wrote the story narrated to him by Vyas.

Who exactly wrote the book? I am unable to figure it out. It is quite confusing. I am not able to wrap my mind around it.


1 Answer 1


The third option; it was Lord Ganesha who wrote down the Mahabharata and Vyasa who dictated it.

"Brahma 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 Ganesa be thought of, O Muni, for the purpose of writing the poem.'

"Sauti said, 'Brahma having thus spoken to Vyasa, retired to his own abode. Then Vyasa began to call to mind Ganesa. And Ganesa, obviator of obstacles, ready to fulfil 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."

"Ganesa, upon hearing this address, thus answered, 'I will become the writer of thy work, provided my pen do not for a moment cease writing." And Vyasa said unto that divinity, 'Wherever there be anything thou dost not comprehend, cease to continue writing.' Ganesa having signified his assent, by repeating the word Om! proceeded to write; and Vyasa began; and by way of diversion, he knit the knots of composition exceeding close; by doing which, he dictated this work according to his engagement.

(Mahabharata, Adi Parva 1.1)

The confusion probably arises from the fact that the epic is told and retold many times.

  • Then why will Ganesh write about the event of Ugrashava going to Brahmins. Ugrashava himself is telling that Brahmins that Ganesh wrote it.
    – river
    May 21 at 20:35
  • @river - not sure what you mean. Could you clarify?
    – CDR
    May 21 at 22:12
  • 1
    It is Ugrashava who is telling "Ganesh wrote Mbh" . But the Mbh itself starts with the Ugrshava arriving and telling the story to some Brahmins . Then who wrote this part - i.e . the part where Ugrshava arrives in Naimisharanya and telling Mbh to Brahmins. ?
    – river
    May 21 at 22:39
  • @river - you're right. I can't think of how to explain that. It's an interesting quandary.
    – CDR
    May 24 at 18:48

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