Comments on Critical Edition – Part 2

Read Part 1 :- Comments on Critical Edition

How to treat the passages inserted by scribes of the 1159 mansucripts?

Rule 1: If the story represented by passage is in several editions then only it is checked for further reliability. Other wise it is dropped. So imagine, you have a story in 100 of the 1159 manuscripts. Then these 100 are in all 8 scripts. Then it is tolerably reliable. But it contradicts a known fact is 700 manuscripts in all 8 scripts. Then, it is looked at from other angles and most likely dropped. Many places, the language or original manuscript editor commentary helped. These manuscript editors also left copious notes on the margins, as part of slokas, as full folios, as atra sodhepatrams!! (The original RESEARCH patrams!!). These were very useful also.

If a story is in 100 of 1159 manuscripts, all of whom are devanagari, then rejected.

Rule 2: The passages which pass the first test were called Interpolations. Then they were critically tested. If still they pass the test, they were kept else removed.

They used the parvasangraha of the second chapter of adiparva which describes number of slokas and what chapters contains and upa parvas as a factor too. But, Anukarmika and Parva sangraha disagree and especially Sauptika and Anushasana fall away. They had decided not to remove any Mahaparvas. Yet!

Finally on September 22, 1966, Dr Radhakrishnan, president of India came down to BORI and pushed the button which finished the printing of the Anushasana Parva and completed the seven decade old dream dreamt by a crazy Frenchmen in Paris and made reality in Pune.

These were the singular achievements of this work:

  • Proved beyond doubt that Both Northern and Southern editions are Independent copies of orally handed down single text.
  • It is purer than any printed text. It is free from copyist errors and proof read.
  • It kept the various versions of slokas in footnotes and in appendix so was complete record of manuscript tradition.
  • It removed many interpolations spuriously added over the time.

The Popular Interpolations removed by BORI

And this section is what most of the post readers would be interested in.

  1. Interpolation 1: Naham Vareyami Sutam.

Draupadi’s statement to Karna at swvyamvara.

It is found in three of 21 Devanagari manuscripts, in the commentary also it is noted to be a false interpolation; it does not appear in any Sanskrit script editions of Bengali, Maithili, Nepali, Sarada. It does not appear in any Southern script version as well. It seems to have been born in one of the local language folk Mahabharata’s and found its way in 3 of 21 Devanagari editions somehow.

BORI removed it.

In all editions of Mahabharata, another sloka appears that states Karna failed like all the other kings. That sloka also appears in the 3 Devanagari editions where Draupadi sloka appears. By removing the Draupadi sloka, BORI has also gotten rid of the contradiction created by these two slokas.


  1. Draupaadi’s 11 sloka prayer to Krishna at Dyuta Sabha.

The Bhajans and Kirtans and Krishna worship extol this. It is not found in Kashmiri or Nepali versions, the slokas in southern and northern are totally different. They are in 30 of the 40 northern manuscripts but their content and information denotes several different sources and also created at different times of the history.


BORI maintains that Dharma (not Krishna) saved Draupadi. This BORI contention is misused by many people on the net to claim Dyuta did not happen or cheeraharana did not happen. THAT IS FALLACY of these misanthropic microbes.

  1. The Sudarshana Chakra and Jayadratha

BORI also examined this incident and concluded that there was no agency of Krishna in creating the darkness or eclipse and Arjuna killed Jayadratha as is and continued to fight.

I have already discussed this on the blog in Racing the Sun.

There are several more such interpolations we can discuss. The thing is I am really not in mood for those type of arguments and counter arguments. So I am not going to talk about those interpolations dropped by BORI.

To quote Dr. Edgerton

“Let us avoid entering into the illogical passion and propaganda driven realm of higher criticism.”


BORI editors are first to claim that Critical edition is not the authographable copy of Maharishi Vyas or the exact replica of the poem narrated by Vaishampayana. The critical edition only reaches and presents text which the extant manuscript evidence enables us to reach. It does represent part of the text as it existed at a certain point of time much older than us.

Further work will only purify and push its age older.

Second limitation concerns the interpolations. Thankfully most of the certain interpolations easily discovered and discarded occurred recently, very recently. Also the three we discussed all are easily documented.

But then there are older interpolations, we do not have many older texts so there still are interpolations in the text which cannot be easily ignored and also there are the pamphlet Mahaparvas.

Sauptika and Stree both lost 500 slokas each (literally half their sizes, they could be completely ignored but remember the rules. Karna Parva and Anushasana Parva lost a third of their sizes.

There are clear contradictions also still left. It is to the credit of many old Mahabharata manuscript copyists that they themselves added statements and identified the contradictions and described and left pointers to missing data, slokas and the propensity of the editors to hide Puranic stories.

  •  and I discussed recently the term Tapatya for Arjuna by Chitraratha in Adi Parva. The one Sanskrit version I checked seem to call him “Tapatyaya” which means son of Rain God or one whose tapa and its heat causes life sustaining energy to those around him. Another later editor, saw the term, modified it and used it to hide a Puranic Upakhyana of Tapati, Kuru’s mother. Every Kuru would know it anyway, why would Chitraratha need to tell bona fide kurus, this story.
  • Savitri Upakhyan is repeated. So some original story is missing and one of the variants versions can be used to fill that missing story. But, Critical edition rules disallowed this accreditation. That may be part of a future project.
  • Nahusha met Yudhishthara. They had lively discussion. But Later Salya tells the story of Nahusha to Yudhishthara who had met the man, So Salya told another long story now lost. Nahusha and Yudhisthara discussed Mokshadharma which is cut short. Bheeshma informs Yudhishthara of that for 8500 slokas. Obviously, this section might be Nahusha-Yudhishthara conversations moved to Bheeshma-Yudhishthara conversations.
  • Same goes for Large sections of dandharma which would be Yudhishthara teaching Yaksha or Galava.
  • Then we have 4000 slokas of Rajadharma told by Pulastya to Bheeshma. It is told in Vanaparva but left and then Bheeshma teaches Yudhisthara. In Puranas, this conversation is told by Narada to Yudhishthara and the location would be before Arjuna went to his self imposed exile.
  • In Adiparva, Chapter 116, Madri commits sati with Pandu. In Chapter 117, their dead bodies are handed to Bheeshma and that is a contradiction. Greek historian Diodorus tells us of an Indian soldier in north west whose wives wanted to commit sati and only younger one was allowed. This was in 316BC. So in the death of Pandu, someone tried to add the real story of an Indian hero who died in foreign climes of North west.

The War Report

Sanjaya had a 24000 sloka war report in Four main parvas. Actually, the War part in Salya parva was only 1400 slokas while rest is Gadayudhha. Mehendale has argued passionately for the identification of Bhasa Plays in the sections of Karna and Salya parva.

The northern Salya parva is 3270 slokas but critical edition is uniquely larger at 3540 slokas. That is because of adding more slokas to the Salya Yudhha part and removing portions of Gada Yudhha.

Krishna has a war report too. The Puranas make it that it is some 14500 slokas or 7500 atleast. So that Prtyakshadarsi Maha Parva may be missing. This is Krishna’s report. Krishna’s word. It is lost.

The main popular edition has just 2 chapters of Krishna’s report. It also starts with contradiction, Vasudeva remarks to Krishna that several warriors who returned from war (That in itself contradicts the survivors) have told him the story but he wants the internal information and thinking.

In some editions of Mahabharata, this is 12 chapters long. In some even larger reaching some 3500 slokas and 90 chapters.

In most Part Krishna and Sanjaya agree but there are crucial contradictions that Krishna inflicts on Sanjaya’s statements. Krishna has no reason to lie to his father and they have already won!

Krishna contradictions over Sanjaya

  • Sanjaya describes five Kaurava commanders, Krishna describes four.
  • Sanjaya describes One Pandava commander, Krishna states that there were atleast four. This explains the story of Senapati Sveta and double coronation of Dhrishtadamyun. It also indicates that Dhrishtadamyun died in battle before even Karna’s death. This also explains the statement in Shatapatha Brahmana regarding Satanika, the deputy commander to Dhrishtadamyuna as being the Commander.
  • Shikhandi gets equal credit as Arjuna for defeating Bheeshma, who continued to fight all except Shikhandi.
  • Dhrishtadamyuna defeats and kills Drona. No Half lie were involved.
  • No reference to Karna’s wheel being stuck.

Contradictions of Bhima’s vow

  • There is contradiction on Bhima’s vow. Bhima swore to see Duryodhana killed. By his or hands of his relations is implied. Breaking Thighs is specific and may be interpolation. Duryidhana removes the garment from both his thighs and shows naked thighs to Karna and Bhima not Draupadi. Maitreya curses Duryodhana that his thighs will be broken.
  • Duryodhana fought many duels in war but never with gada. Bhima defeated him many times with bow and arrow. Bhima seems too have not remembered his vow to kill Duryodhana by mace as he defeats him by bow many times.
  • Arjuna fought Duryodhana too. In Chapter 77 of Drona parva, Krishna tells Arjuna to cut the head of Duryodhana. Why would Krishna say so if Bhima had sworn to break his thighs?
  • Arjuna chased Duryodhana running away in Chapter 26 of Salya Pava and Krishna reminds him to cut the head of Duryodhana. Arjuna procrastinates. Why would Krishna tell Arjuna that unless Bhima had no such vow.
  • Arjuna sort of reminds Bhima by tapping the thigh during Gada Yudhha. Bhima understands. In next sloka, Duryodhana jumps in air to get an advantage on much taller Bheema. Bheema executes normal chest level hit on the opponent, Duryodhana had jumped high so he got hit on the thighs. Bhima did not break any rules. So why are there slokas stating otherwise. BORI cleaned lot of those.

by Pranshu B. Saxena

Post Author: Mahabharata World

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