Note: In this post, Sauti explains the benefits of reading the Mahabharata.
The study of the (Maha)Bharata is an act of worship. Those who read even a bit of this story with true belief have their sins purged away. This epic mentions devas, devarishis, and immaculate brahmarishis of good deeds. It also speaks of yakshas and great uragas (nagas). It describes the eternal Vasudeva possessing the six attributes. He is the true and just, pure and holy, the eternal Brahma, the supreme soul, the true constant light, whose divine deeds are recounted by the wise and learned. From him has arisen the non-existent and existent-non-existent universe that has within it, principles of creation, progression, birth, death, and rebirth.
The overseeing spirit of nature, which partakes of the attributes of the five elements, has also been discussed. Also discussed is Purusha, who is beyond any titles.
The foremost yatis, who have immense power of meditation and tapas, and are exempt from common destiny, dwell in their hearts beholding an image as a reflection in a mirror. This image is also discussed in the Mahabharata.
A devoted person who has faith and lives a virtuous life, is freed from sin by reading this introduction. If such a person listens to this section being recited, he does not fall into any difficulty. The person who repeats any part of this section during the two twilights is freed from the sins they may have committed during the day or the night. This section of the epic is like truth and nectar, and this entire epic (The Mahabharata) is the most refined of all histories. It is similar to what butter is to curd or what a brahmana is to two-legged creatures or what the Aranyaka is to the Vedas.
People offer food and drink to their ancestors during shradha. However, when that offering is combined with causing even a part of this epic to be recited to the brahmanas, their offering to the ancestors increases manifold and becomes inexhaustible.
The Vedas are explained with the help of itihaas (history) and Puranas. However, the Vedas are afraid of people with half information who may misrepresent their knowledge. The learned person who recites this fifth Veda (the Mahabharata) receives many advantages. This act can cleanse many sins including the sin of harming the embryo. Reading the introduction of the epic is similar to reading the entire epic. The person who listens every day to this sacred work with reverence acquires a long life, fame, and ascends to heaven.
In ancient days, the celestials wanted to determine which among the Vedas and this epic (the Bharata) was more important. When they weighed the qualities of all four Vedas on one side and the Bharata on the other, they found that the Bharata was of greater importance in comparison to all the four Vedas with their profound mysteries. From that time, this epic has been known as the Mahabharata (the great Bharata). It is considered to be of immense importance in both the quality and depth of its content. It is said that the person who understands the true meaning of the Mahabharata is saved from all sins.
Tapa is innocent. The study of scriptures and various subjects is harmless. The rules that the Vedas prescribe for all the tribes are harmless. The acquiring of wealth through hard work is harmless. However, they become harmful and the source of evil when they are misused.
Note: I want to take this opportunity to mention a concept that I have come across in recent times. It’s called transformative reading or therapeutic reading.
You might be surprised to know that the ancient Greeks considered Aristotle’s literature to be medicine for the soul. King Ramses of Egypt: a pharoah who lived between 1303–1213 BC, built a library that he called “House of Healing for the Soul.”
Doctors, in the 1800s prescribed books along with medicines to their patients, and soldiers returning from World War I read books to overcome war trauma. Caroline Schroder, a researcher of this topic, added that characters from literature influence readers who identify with them.
The Auroville Mother, Sri Aurobindo’s spiritual consort, used to say that reading Sri Aurobindo’s works can cause a transformation of the entire being over a period of time. I believe this is true for any literature that is written from a higher consciousness and without doubt, The Mahabharata has been written from a state of extremely high consciousness.
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