The Mahabharata in the context of Indian Civilization and Humanitarianism



There are two ancient epics in India: the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The Mahabharata which is attributed traditionally to Vyasa is the longest epic consisting of 1,00,000 sloka. The significance of the Mahabharata lies in the fact that it is not only a scripture but an epic too. The story is so ingenious that it attracts readers of all time. The motivation it creates in the mind of its readers proves it to be one of the greatest works in world literature. As Sydney says in his An Apology for Poetry, the two functions that poetry performs are to teach and to delight (Tilak, 1996). 

The Mahabharata is not exception in this regard. From Vedic times to the present era, it has not lost its popularity due to its multiple kinds of approaches to humanity. However, the term ‘Dharma’ is vastly used in the epic. As far as prominent from the reading of the epic, the two terms ‘Dharma’ and ‘Humanity’ are closely related. Without the acts of dharma, no humanity can exist on earth (Basu, 2016).

The main story of the Mahabharata relates the war for possessing the throne of Hastinapur, between the Kauravas and Pandavas, who were actually cousins. The story also speaks of the injustice done by the Kauravas to the Pandavas. Both became hostile to each other. The war fought between them was the biggest war fought in the Indian history. Lord Krishna who is supposed to be the human incarnation of Lord Vishnu takes the side of the Pandavas and the Pandavas turned to be the victorious in the war. 

Lord Krishna’s advice to Arjuna, the third Pandava, constitutes the content of Bhagavat Gita, one of the most widely read and accepted philosophical and theological works ever written. It is surprising that all this happened in pre-historic India, when there were saints, and ‘Guru- Shisya tradition prevailed. The epic denotes how humanity and justice existed and was put into crisis by evil doers (the Kauravas in the epic). Dharma which is the combination of duty and justice was rewritten in the time of Mahabharata.  The epic is an epitome of the fundamental value system of India’s ancient civilization. It is also a document of the political, economic, and educational system of the ancient India (Jairam, 2017).

The book is a complete storehouse of lessons relevant in the present era also.

Need of Research: The present age focuses on some major religious issues which have divided the human society into pieces. A vast section of the people with liberal attitudes towards life has started hating religion as the core cause of social conflicts.

Now the question arises, “Is there any need to read a religious scripture?” The answer is “yes”.  These books can be studied as literature also. We need a scientific approach to the philosophical contents of these books. We can learn, unlearn and relearn things, and can add new value and consider its relevance in the present era. The point is that the study must go on for new discoveries and new realizations. 

The next question is, “is there any problem to be solved?” The answer is “yes”.  So far as the religious scriptures are concerned, the problem is about the ‘Superhuman’ and ‘Superstitious’ aspects in them. As its solution, we have to search for more of facts and less of imagination to know our remote past society.


  • Ambition to get a research degree along with its consequential profits.

  • A passion to acquire knowledge for its own sake.

Research Methodology

Methodology in a research explains the methods of research as how research is conducted and why the research is done in a particular way. Explaining the methodology helps other to know why the researcher conducted the research and the significance of it.

Research Design

The researcher will conduct qualitative research.

Tools of Data Collection

Both primary and secondary data collection methods are used.


Basu, A. (2016, 08 25). Encyclopedia. Retrieved 08 25, 2016, from Ancient History Encyclopedia:

Jairam, R. (2017). Importance of Mahabharata – A Brief Overview. Imperial Journal of Interdisciplinary Research , 669-670.

Tilak, R. (1996). An Apology for Poetry. New Delhi: Rama Brothers.


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2 Thoughts on The Mahabharata in the context of Indian Civilization and Humanitarianism
    Mrinal Debbarman
    17 Jan 2021

    Your doctoral thesis !!! Very ambitious one though. What do you think about the Devadutta mythological theory of Ramayana and Mahabharata !!! Just asking.

    Gitima Deka
    23 Jan 2021

    I have gone through a few of Devadutt Patnaik’s articles which are really enlightening !