Summary: Mahabharata has many valuable lessons, condensed and woven into stories about people, decisions, choices, and Dharma. Here, we’ll go through some stories from Mahabharata in Hindi to glimpse into the vast epic.
महाभारत की कहानियाँ
Many of us would have heard stories from Mahabharata in Hindi and other Indian languages. These tales of valor, justice, and Dharma are not limited to any language or region. You can find them in picture books, comics, and even textbooks, teaching a multitude of lessons and values to people of all ages.
English has become a universal language, so historical and mythological stories from around the world are easier to access when written in English. However, every such story is a vehicle for the culture and ethos of that land, and the most intimate thing to the culture and ethos of any land is its language.
Stories narrated in the native language will always give a more authentic taste of that culture. We’ve decided to publish this website in English because it makes the topic easier to access. However, reading or listening to a few stories in Hindi or regional Indian languages will give a flavor and foundation to really understand the stories from the Mahabharata. Further on in this page, we have included a couple of videos for listeners to enjoy the same narratives in Hindi. Most of these videos are about short stories from the Mahabharata.
However, if you’d like to enjoy stories of the Mahabharata in English, then we have a page for that too.
Stories from Mahabharata in Hindi (महाभारत की कहानियाँ)
Not all stories follow the traditional arc of storytelling (a beginning, middle, and end). Some are a collection of names or events but with deeper insights and meanings. For example, we have a story detailing the ten names of Arjuna. Though it’s not a conventional story, it has something to offer to the readers. The same goes for the Bhagavad Gita, which guides us to understand the intricacies of life.
Here are three stories from Mahabharata in Hindi.
Arjuna and His Ten Names (अर्जुन के दस नाम)
The Virata Parva has interesting short stories from Mahabharata. The Pandavas were in disguise and kept low while also solving the problems in the Matsya kingdom.
The Kauravas stole the cattle belonging to King Virata. They doubted that the Pandavas were spending the last year (in disguise) in the kingdom and wanted to expose them. If they were successful, they could force the Pandavas to another twelve years of exile and one year of disguise instead of letting them reclaim their kingdom.
The Kauravas intended to lure the Pandavas by forcing them to fight on behalf of their hosts. As expected, Arjuna, aka Brihannala, became the charioteer of Uttara Kumara, the son of King Virata, and drove the prince to the battlefield. However, the young prince was terrified of the mighty Kaurava army and asked Brihannala to turn back. He didn’t want to die.
Arjuna then convinced Uttara to become the charioteer while he took control of the situation. He also took the prince to the Sami tree, where the Pandavas hid their weapons. Arjuna had superior strength, and regular bows weren’t strong enough to be his weapon. After much persuasion, Uttara climbed the tree and brought the weapons down. He was mesmerized by how radiant the weapons were.
Brihannala asked the prince to hand him the Gandiva bow. Uttara said he would do so after Arjuna proved his identity by reciting his ten names and why he had gotten each name. Arjuna agreed and said the following were his names:
Arjuna, Phalguni,Jisnu, Kiritin, Svetavahana, Bibhatsu, Vijaya, Krsna, Savyasaci, and Dhananjaya.
Meanings of Each Name
- Dhananjaya (Wealth-Victor) – Meaning one who enjoyed the wealth of the lands he conquered.
- Vijaya (Conqueror) – because when he fought so-called invincible warriors, he returned only after defeating them.
- Svetavahana (White-Rider) – because his battle chariot had only golden-white horses.
- Phalguni – because he was born when in Himavant the constellation Uttara-Phalguni was in the ascendant.
- Kiritin (Diademed One) – because a sun-bright crown was placed on his head by Sakra-Indra when he battled the Danavas.
- Bibhatsu (Loathsome One) – because he never committed any atrocity on the battlefield.
- Savyasachi (Ambidextrous One) – because he could wield the Gandiva equally well with both hands.
- Arjuna (Spotless One) – because of his clear skin, which was rarely found in the four directions of the earth; also, because he did pure deeds.
- Jisnu (Triumphant One) – because he was the unapproachable, irrepressible, undefeatable son of Paka-slaying Indra.
- Krsna (Dark One) – because he was the dark boy of great purity (as named lovingly by his father, King Pandu).
After listening to this, Uttara was overcome with the emotion of meeting a mighty warrior. He said, “My name is Bhuminjaya, also called Uttara. It is my good fortune to have seen you, son of Prtha-Kunti!”
Uttara asked Arjuna for forgiveness because he had earlier doubted the great warrior’s words. He gladly took up the chariot reins and drove Arjuna to the battlefield to fight the Kaurava army and free their cattle.
Note: The interpretations are from Purushotam Lal’s translation of Mahabharata.
The Chakravyuha and Abhimanyu’s Death (चक्रव्युहा में अभिमन्यु की मृत्यु)
One of the popular and heartbreaking stories from the Mahabharata took place during the Kurukshetra War in Drona Parva. The Kauravas knew that only Arjuna could successfully enter and escape the Chakravyuha, an intricate formation meant to trap a warrior from all sides.
Drona had promised the Kaurava camp to kill one Maharathi from the Pandava side. He ordered them to create the Chakravyuha formation the next day. Drona guarded the head, with Dhuryodhana in the middle, protected by Karna, Duhsasanna, and Kripacharya. The other Kauravas ensured that Arjuna and Krishna were occupied on the other side of the field fighting the Samsaptakas and had no chance to rescue the Pandvas stuck in the Chakravyuha.
As expected, Yudhistira was wary of the formation as he knew its complexity. After some Pandava soldiers failed to break into the Chakravyuha, Abhimanyu said he would do it. Yudhistira hesitated, knowing that the stakes were high. He also knew that Abhimanyu was aware of how to enter but didn’t know the exit route. Hence, he planned that the other warriors would immediately enter behind Abhimanyu to prevent the Chakravyuha from closing.
Bheema, Satyaki, and Dhrishtadyumna, along with their armies, were to follow Abhimanyu as he broke into the formation. This plan was supposed to work. However, Jayadratha (Dushala’s husband) guarded the formation’s inner circle.
How Jayadratha’s Boon Played Catalyst
Back when the Pandavas were in exile, Jayadratha insulted Draupadi. This led to Bheema and Arjuna teaching him a lesson by shaving half his hair. Jayadratha was enraged by this. He performed severe penance to get a boon from Shiva. His boon was that he could prove himself stronger than all the Pandavas combined, except Arjuna, for one day in a battle.
Jayadratha was waiting for this moment. He knew the right moment to redeem his boon had come when Abhimanyu entered the Chakravyuha. So, even the best warriors, Bheema, Yudhistira, Nakula, and Sahadeva, couldn’t defeat or suppress Jayadratha that day.
No matter how much the Pandavas, the Matsyas, the Kaikeyas, the Panchalas, the Srinjayas, and the Somakas fought, Jayadratha alone could tackle them that day.
The young warrior, Abhimanyu, was alone amidst several Kauravas. However, he continued to fight and defend himself. He even managed to defeat and kill Lakshmana Kumara (Dhuryodhana’s son), Vrishasena (Karna’s son), and Rukmaratha (Shalya’s son). Moreover, he also killed a hundred more princes from Madra.
Abhimanyu was no weak man. He fought against Drona, Karna, Kripacharya, Dhuryodhana, Ashwatthama, Brihadvala, and Kritavarma and successfully pushed back, forcing them to widen the formation. If he continued, the Chakravyuha would eventually break.
Then, Drona came up with a plan for a targeted attack. Karna first cut off his bowstring as Kritavarma killed the chariot’s horses. Kripacharya dealt with the two guards on the chariot’s rear end. With no choice but to fight on foot, Abhimanyu got down to the battle floor. All the six atirathas then lashed at him together.
Abhimanyu used his sword and shield, which were destroyed by Drona and Karna. He then picked up his chariot’s wheel to defend himself. Finally, Abhimanyu and Duhsasanna’s son had a mace fight. They fell to the ground in exhaustion after a long battle. However, Duhsasanna’s son recovered quickly and landed a heavy blow on Abhimanyu’s head, killing him towards the end of the thirteenth day of the Kurukshetra war. The Kauravas killed this young, valiant warrior when he was unarmed.
The news of Abhimanyu’s death shattered the Pandavas, especially Arjuna. So infuriated was Arjuna, that he immediately took an oath to slay Jayadratha the next day, failing which he would end his own life.
The Bhagavad Gita (भागवद गीता)
The Bhagavad Gita was a lesson imparted by Krishna to Arjuna when the latter was overcome with fraternal compassion and found himself unable to pick up arms against his relatives just before the Kurukshetra war was about to begin. This event is detailed in Bhishma Parva. Arjuna threw off his Gandiva bow and asked Krishna why it was worthwhile to fight his own people.
Krishna knew the Pandavas couldn’t afford to weaken at that point. After all, if the roles were reversed, the Kauravas would show no mercy. They would have happily annihilated Pandavas to retain power. Hence, Krishna shared fundamental messages/ lessons about life, Dharma, politics, philosophy, history, metaphysics, psychology, and much more.
We won’t go into the details in this post. However, three major focal points of the Bhagavad Gita are as follows:
Knowledge about self and universe – know yourself to understand the secrets of the universe. The more you understand who you are, the broader your perspective about the rest of the world.
Detachment without abstinence from action – you should always act when necessary. However, you should also ensure your actions come from a place of detachment. This has many advantages. Firstly, you won’t focus on self-importance by being detached. Secondly, you will do what the situation demands rather than what the people want.
Discernment – this is the most important element in life. Your knowledge and actions will be of little use if you cannot differentiate between right and wrong. The lines may blur, but certain basic ethics and morals cannot be ignored.
Note: This is a highly simplified interpretation of the original and cannot always be taken at face value. Technically, it is not one of the stories from Mahabharata in Hindi but an important event all the same.
There’s much to learn from the great epic, and stories from Mahabharata in Hindi and other Indian languages are a great way to take the contents closer to people and society. Mahabharata was, is, and will continue to be a vital part of Hinduism. Understanding the true essence of the epic is a way to decolonize ourselves.