(Adivansavatarana Parva continued)
"Janamejaya said, 'O excellent Brahmana, thou hast, indeed, told me, in brief, the history, called Mahabharata, of the great acts of the Kurus. But, O thou of ascetic wealth, recite now that wonderful narration fully. I feel a great curiosity to hear it. It behoveth thee to recite it, therefore, in full. I am not satisfied with hearing in a nutshell the great history. That could never have been a trifling cause for which the virtuous ones could slay those whom they should not have slain, and for which they are yet applauded by men. Why also did those tigers among men, innocent and capable of avenging themselves upon their enemies, calmly suffer the persecution of the wicked Kurus? Why also, O best of Brahmanas, did Bhima of mighty arms and of the strength of ten thousand elephants, control his anger, though wronged? Why also did the chaste Krishna, the daughter of Drupada, wronged by those wretches and able to burn them, not burn the sons of Dhritarashtra with her wrathful eyes? Why also did the two other sons of Pritha (Bhima and Arjuna) and the two sons of Madri (Nakula and Sahadeva), themselves injured by the wretched Kurus, follow Yudhishthira who was greatly addicted to the evil habit of gambling? Why also did Yudhishthira, that foremost of all virtuous men, the son of Dharma himself, fully acquainted with all duties, suffer that excess of affliction? Why also did the Pandava Dhananjaya, having Krishna for his charioteer, who by his arrows sent to the other world that dauntless host of fighting men (suffer such persecution)? O thou of ascetic wealth, speak to me of all these as they took place, and everything that those mighty charioteers achieved.'
"Vaisampayana said, 'O monarch, appoint thou a time for hearing it. This history told by Krishna-Dwaipayana is very extensive. This is but the beginning. I shall recite it. I shall repeat the whole of the composition in full, of the illustrious and great Rishi Vyasa of immeasurable mental power, and worshipped in all the worlds. This Bharata consists of a hundred thousand sacred slokas composed by the son of Satyavati, of immeasurable mental power. He that reads it to others, and they that hear it read, attain to the world of Brahman and become equal to the very gods. This Bharata is equal unto the Vedas, is holy and excellent; is the worthiest of all to be listened to, and is a Purana worshipped by the Rishis.
[paragraph continues] It contains much useful instruction on Artha and Kama (profit and pleasure). This sacred history maketh the heart desire for salvation. Learned persons by reciting this Veda of Krishna-Dwaipayana to those that are liberal, truthful and believing, earn much wealth. Sins, such as killing the embryo in the womb, are destroyed assuredly by this. A person, however cruel and sinful, by hearing this history, escapes from all his sins like the Sun from Rahu (after the eclipse is over). This history is called Jaya. It should be heard by those desirous of victory. A king by hearing it may bring the whole world under subjection and conquer all his foes. This history in itself is a mighty act of propitiation, a mighty sacrifice productive of blessed fruit. It should always be heard by a young monarch with his queen, for then they beget a heroic son or a daughter to occupy a throne. This history is the high and sacred science of Dharma, Artha, and also of Moksha; it hath been so said by Vyasa himself of mind that is immeasurable. This history is recited in the present age and will be recited in the future. They that hear it, read, have sons and servants always obedient to them and doing their behests. All sins that are committed by body, word, or mind, immediately leave them that hear this history. They who hear, without the spirit of fault finding, the story of the birth of the Bharata princes, can have no fear of maladies, let alone the fear of the other world.
"For extending the fame of the high-souled Pandavas and of other Kshatriyas versed in all branches of knowledge, high spirited, and already known in the world for their achievements, Krishna-Dwaipayana, guided also by the desire of doing good to the world, hath composed this work. It is excellent, productive of fame, grants length of life, is sacred and heavenly. He who, from desire of acquiring religious merit, causeth this history to be heard by sacred Brahmanas, acquireth great merit and virtue that is inexhaustible. He that reciteth the famous generation of the Kurus becometh immediately purified and acquireth a large family himself, and becometh respected in the world. That Brahmana who regularly studies this sacred Bharata for the four months of the rainy season, is cleansed from all his sins. He that has read the Bharata may be regarded as one acquainted with the Vedas.
"This work presents an account of the gods and royal sages and sacred regenerate Rishis, the sinless Kesava; the god of gods, Mahadeva and the goddess Parvati; the birth of Kartikeya who sprang from union of Parvati with Mahadeva and was reared by many mothers; the greatness of Brahmanas and of kine. This Bharata is a collection of all the Srutis, and is fit to be heard by every virtuous person. That learned man who reciteth it to Brahmanas during the sacred lunations, becometh cleansed of all sins, and, not caring for heaven as it were, attaineth to a union with Brahma. He that causeth even a single foot of this poem to be heard by Brahmanas during the performance of a Sraddha, maketh that Sraddha
inexhaustible, the Pitris becoming ever gratified with the articles once presented to them. The sins that are committed daily by our senses or the mind, those that are committed knowingly or unknowingly by any man, are all destroyed by hearing the Mahabharata. The history of the exalted birth of the Bharata princes is called the Mahabharata. He who knoweth this etymology of the name is cleansed of all his sins. And as this history of the Bharata race is so wonderful, that, when recited, it assuredly purifieth mortals from all sins. The sage Krishna-Dwaipayana completed his work in three years. Rising daily and purifying himself and performing his ascetic devotions, he composed this Mahabharata. Therefore, this should be heard by Brahmanas with the formality of a vow. He who reciteth this holy narration composed by Krishna (Vyasa) for the hearing of others, and they who hear it, in whatever state he or they may be, can never be affected by the fruit of deeds, good or bad. The man desirous of acquiring virtue should hear it all. This is equivalent to all histories, and he that heareth it always attaineth to purity of heart. The gratification that one deriveth from attaining to heaven is scarcely equal to that which one deriveth from hearing this holy history. The virtuous man who with reverence heareth it or causeth it to be heard, obtaineth the fruit of the Rajasuya and the horse-sacrifice. The Bharata is said to be as much a mine of gems as the vast Ocean or the great mountain Meru. This history is sacred and excellent, and is equivalent to the Vedas, worthy of being heard, pleasing to the ear, sin-cleansing, and virtue-increasing. O monarch, he that giveth a copy of the Bharata to one that asketh for it doth indeed make a present of the whole earth with her belt of seas. O son of Parikshit, this pleasant narration that giveth virtue and victory I am about to recite in its entirety: listen to it. The sage Krishna-Dwaipayana regularly rising for three years, composed this wonderful history called Mahabharata. O bull amongst the Bharata monarchs, whatever is spoken about virtue, wealth, pleasure, and salvation may be seen elsewhere; but whatever is not contained in this is not to be found anywhere.'"