Comparing Mahabharata to Mahabharata

Persian and Indonesian Mahabharata Cases – Part 3

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Comparing Mahabharata to Mahabharata

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Comparing Mahabharata to Mahabharata

Comparing Mahabharata War Parvas and BharataYudhha from Old Javanese Prose

It is a poem of 52 cantos. 9 Cantos and 89 chapters were the Udyoga Parva. Remaining 40 odd Cantos are the War.

Here I would like to point out a very interesting insight. Vyas taught the Mahabharata to five disciples, Paila, Sumantu, Jaimini, Vaisampayana and his son Suka who created five copies.

Vyas also divided his 60 lakh verse magnum opus which had a thrity lakh verse version which Narada sang in Devaloka. Then a fifteen lakh verse version sang by Asitadevala to Pitragana and 14 lakh version sung by Suka himself to Yaksha, Danava, Gandharvas. Final One lakh version is Vaishampayana samhita. But that means there are same sized samhitas written by Rigveda editor Paila, Atharvaveda editor Sumantu, Yajurveda editor Vaishampayana and Samaveda editor Jaimini.

Some scholars like Dr. Mehendale are of opinion that five versions are five Pandavas, Vaishampayana is Arjuna Mahabharata, Suka might be Yudhishthara, Jaimini is not available except for portions of Asvamedha, Sumantu and Paila samhitas are non existent.

We have small portions of Jaimini samhita which is focused on War in Asvamedha section. Vaishampayana just finished narrating 27000 verses on War so his War section in Ashvamedha parva is very brief, succinct even. That is where the Jaimini Ashwamedha Expanded War section makes sense. Jaimini does not have War parvas. We also have expanded Krishna narration of War in some recessions.

Vaishampayana war was Sanjaya narration to Dhritrashtra. We have Sri Krishna narration to his father Vasudeva as well. Why is this important?

The Bharata Yudhha in old Javanese prose has Vyas give the special sight to Draupadi. She is the Sanjaya of this narration to women and probably Vidura.

Vidura, Dhritrashtra and Pandu were three sons of Vyasa, fourth is Suka. Sanjaya does the narration to Dhritrashtra, Draupadi to Vidura and Krishna to Vasudeva (replacement for Pandu, as brother in law to Pandu). Indonesian Mahabharata Joglesemar has Parikshita dictating the story to Charudeshana as well. There is Skanda Purana version of Barbarika as witness to war and some narration of War on adhyatmika level.

Thus Bharata Yuddha and Indonesian Parvas because of their variations may be a missing Sumantu or Paila Samhita of Bharata but this is just a speculation.

Vaishampayana Narration has clear heroes, Arjuna, Bhima guided by Krishna. The BharatYuddha narration has a heroine as well as hero. Hero is Salya along with Arjuna and Bhima. Salya dominates the narration. More than a third of entire Bharata Yuddha is dominated by a person who appears in the Ninth Canto only. And the heroine is his wife Satyavati.

(Suka means parrot also, so Suka’s version of Mahabharata is same as that of his father, faithfully cloned!)

The variations of our Udyoga Parva and BharataYuddha Udyoga parva

  • Udyogaparva section is 89 chapters in 9 cantos. The stories are different, lot of extra warriors are mentioned. It becomes meaningless to detail changes without context. So I am not going to do that.
  • Remember Ekchakrapuri and Bakasura. Well Ekachakrapuri turns up to feed Pandavas and fight Kauravas for example. Karma karo, phala ki kamna mat karo.
  • The warrior Rishis of Dwvaitavan come to fight.
  • The Gandharvas come to fight on Pandava side.
  • Pandavas were the ones initially going to Hastinapur for final peace talks, Krishna smells a trap and decides to go himself and holds Pandavas back. Not only the local people were hoping to see Pandavas after a long time but even Champaka trees are dejected and shed flowers in disappointment. Pandavas are more important than Krishna to the Hastinapur people and trees is an indication. Krishna has a much smaller role in Bharatayuddha.
  • Duryodhana is cautioned by Dushasana and Shakuni but its is Karna who incites them to treat Krishna as enemy and kill him.
  • In our Udyoga Parva, we have 2500 verses of talks and teachings at this point, but in Bharatayuddha, Krishna spends 2 verses on peace and 25 verses on women of inner courtyard and weather. He is not interested in peace; he springs the trap and escapes after showing his Trivikama roopa. The Trivikrama roopa and subsequent puranic stories cover the entire canto.
  • Krishna does ask Karna to consider changing sides as do Kunti later calling Arkaputra as Kaunteya. Here Karna agrees!

Karna agrees to be neutral

The major change is that Karna agrees to not fight in the war. In Indian Mahabharata, Karna was asked to join Pandava side but in Bharatayuddha, Kunti asks him to be neutral, not fight for either side. Karna agrees. Like Balarama and other warrior holding Vijaya, Karna is neutral.

  • Bhanumati, wife of Duryodhana is saboteur and Pandava Man inside the enemy camp.
  • Then there is a large section called Prayana (12 chapters) where every hero on Pandava side is described and his background and great deeds. Draupadi accompanies with her bow and arrow, in a golden a palanquin, with a peacock parasol, her hair hanging loose. She is expert in Vayu Astra.
  • Pandavas make their camp and built a fort then palace and Vidura and Kunti come and live with them.
  • There is big and complete description of Bahalika and Salya camps, armies, families, family members as well as their background and foreground. Many new characters are introduced from this family. These are dharmika warriors through fortune and circumstances fighting on Kaurava side. The description of vibrant Madra palace and the independent women and Madra dignitaries is detailed.
  • There is no mention of other Kaurava supporters as they are deemed adharmi. One son of Vidura does fight for Kauravas because of his job. Other sons fight for Pandavas.
  • Toyasandha the Kamboja prince and Ambisa are two heroes on Kaurava side whose adventures are detailed. They are killed in War by Satyaki, oldest son of Yudhishthara!


  • Satyaki is a major change. In our Mahabharata, the Govasena is Shivi king whose daughter marries Yudhishthara. In Indonesian, his name is Govasini and Satyaki’s askhauhini is the Shivi army. Satyaki is also called Yuyudhana, a popular name in Indonesia. Except, here they call it Yudhayono, “produced from” Yudhishthara. He is adopted by his grandfather who is also a Yadava.

When I was researching Satyaki for racing the sun, Dakshinatya has troops under Satyaki called Shaivya again and again. Then, it hinted at him being a Yadava and Kaurava. Yudhishthara is worried about his brother Arjuna, so he sends Satyaki. Why would he send a friend into danger, he could have send Bhima or Nakula. He sends his son Satyaki as he is guilty conscious from death of Abhimanyu. All the time in our Mahabharata, Satyaki calls Bhima tata, calls Draupadi Mata, well he is closely related. In Rajasuya Yagna, he also takes the position of son at coronation holding the Chhatra.

  • We get a vibrant female characters Satyavati wife of Salya and her maid Sugandhika. Sugandhika reports the war to Satyavati.

Our Mahabharata has the petty minded Dhritrashtra lamenting his defeats and Sanjaya faithfully reporting the events. Here in Indonesia, they added the female perspective, neutral too. Though her daughters are married into Kaurava side, Satyavati, wife of Salya, always looks upon Pandavas as her dear nephews and knows that Yudhishthara will kill Salya. Sugandhika is also the first female war correspondent in history!! There are female warriors on both sides. Pandavas have more having smaller army.

War Parvas vs BharataYuddha

  • 9th Canto, Sveta is chosen as 1st commander in chief of Pandava forces. In Our Epic, Dhrishtadamyun is only commander. In AsvamedhaParva of our Epic, Krishna denotes 4 commanders for Pandavas as well.
  • 9th to 11th Cantos are Sveta command time. Uttara dies, then next day Sankha dies. Sveta fights valiantly and dies at hand of Bheeshma. Dhrishtadamyun is appointed commander in chief.

In Our Epic also, Dhrishtadamyun is appointed commander-in-chief on 1st night again! These three cantos cover 35 chapters. There is a beautifully written lament of Virata and his wife over his three sons who died valiantly.

  • 12th canto, Iravana dies fighting Sringi. Bheeshma falls against Shikhandini. Krishna loses his temper once only. Salya is constantly shown as one of top three Kaurava warriors with Pitamaha and Drona.

Drona becomes commander

  • 13th canto, Bhagdatta falls. Both Arjuna and Bhima are lured from battlefields by samshaptakas.
  • 13th canto, Abhimanyuvadha Parva. Chapters 19 to 35.
  • 14th canto, Pandavas discuss retaliation for Abhimanyu and choose to target Jayadratha. They pray to Rudra who comes and guides them on the battle plan. Here Siva is more active in War counseling. In India in Jain Mahabharata, Chandrasekhara (Siva form) is the charioteer and guide of Arjuna.
  • 15th Canto, 43 chapters. Arjuna destroys and almost kills Duryodhana who escapes by luck. Bhurisrva with his sword Chandrahasa fight Satyaki with his sword ManekaBhama. When Bhurisrvas is about to kill unconscious Satyaki, Arjuna shoots his arm off. Bhursrvas had earlier tried to rape Subhadra and killed her in the process. Thankfully, Iravan saved Subhadra then using same mani Ullupi will use on Arjuna. Bhurisrvas had escaped punishment because of his father. Arjuna had taken oath that he will cut off arm of Bhurisrvas that had touched Subhadra. Bhurisrvas scrupulously avoided Arjuna till this point.
  • One armed Bhurisrvas challenged Satyaki to duel and Satyaki killed him. Actually, Bhurisrvas‘s death is described as wretched the local poet focuses more on his horrible crime against Krishna’s sister.

The Mahabharata Bhurisrvas is best friend in childhood to Yudhishthara, very dharmik and does yagnas. But there is a strange description in Stree Parva where Gandhari describes his arm which was used to take clothes of females lying as vulture feed. Strange thing for an aunt to say about her dead nephew.

  • 15th Canto, chase for Jayadratha. In Mahabharata, Srutayudha hurls the mace at Krishna and dies as the mace goes back. In BharatYudhha, Bhima kills him. Bhima can repel and turn back weapons. This is listed in Vana Parva as well in our version.
  • In our Epic, Satyaki loses 10 sons to Bhurisrvas in battle on 5th day. In Indonesian Bharata yuddha, Nine more sons of Satyaki are there throughout the War, especially on Jayadrartha‘s day taking names and killing Kaurava warriors. Actually, the Upapandavas and other same age warriors do a major share of killing along with Bhima and Arjuna.
  • Arjuna kills Jayadratha. Kaurava have daily night conferences where they fight each other, scream, total chaos and camp at odds with each other. Fights break out all the time and they lose several warriors in intercine fighting. This night Duryodhana blames Drona for the turn of events. Drona protests that no one is a match for Arjuna and Duryodhana should look for someone else to lead. Karna who had so far abstained from War, volunteers and take over command.

This is interesting change here. Karna had agreed to be neutral and stayed in Kaurava camp and participated in their plans. But day by day, successes of Arjuna and praises heaped on him were not helping his equilibrium. The amazing achievement of threading eleven Akshauhinis and killing Jayadratha was final straw and Karna takes up arms.

  • 16th canto, Karna enters war on death of Jayadratha. He was a spectator till now.

In our Mahabharata, Karna joined on fall of Bheeshma. But, in Indonesian Mahabharata, he joins at fall of Jayadratha. In our Mahabharata, Karna had weak 11th day, lost to Satyaki on 12th day, badly handled by Abhimanyu on day 13 and Bhima literally had 12 chapters of fun with him on day 14. He avoids all that in Indonesian Mahabharata. The Poet there likes him.

  • 17th canto, Bhima kills Bahalika. Krpa realizes that Drona is no longer fighting and sees Karna fighting. He and Asvwathamma come and have a heated quarrel with Karna, shooting arrows at each other. Krpa and Aswathhama leave the field. Karna starts fighting and started killing many soldiers.
  • Ghatotkacha meanwhile destroys four great Rakshasa kings Alambana, Alambusa, Alayudha and Srngavana and their armies. Actually, similar names are in Geeta Press edition as well.
  • 18th canto, Karna had to intervene and fight Ghatotkacha and broke his chariot. Ghatotkacha continues to fight from sky.
  • 19th canto, Ghatotkacha dies by Indra’s arrow.

When Ghatotkacha was born, his umbilical cord could not be cut. The baby and mother were in peril. Yudhishthara prays to Gods and soon Narada is on the way with an arrow and case. He comes to earth and sees Karna who looks like Arjuna and gives him the weapon. On hearing Karna speak, Narada realizes his fault and snatches back the arrow but it remains with Karna and only the case comes to the Narada’s hand. He rushes to Pandavas and tells his mistake, Semar uses the case to cut the umbilical cord section of which wraps around the case. The prophecy was case would meet arrow once again.

In a lambi kahani, Ghatotkacha by accident kills his uncle Brajadanta who was a pure soul. Brajadanta’s soul was restless and would not go without his favorite nephew. So Ghatotkacha sought the death in War. He asked Krishna and Krishna advised him to fight Karna who has the arrow that will meet the case left in his nabhi. Karna fires the arrow and kills Ghatotkacha. Krishna is overjoyed to see Ghatotkacha and his uncle’s souls ascend to moksha together. That’s why he is happy at Ghatotkacha death. Indonesian Mahabharata is not Krishna centric, it is Siva and maybe Vishnu centric. Krishna is many times a side character in stories he dominates in our Mahabharata, Geeta came much later in Indonesian milieu. They have no reason to white wash his character.

Karna is still called Danaveera

  • 19th Canto: Kripa and Asvwathamma persuade Drona to return. Drona comes and in anger kills three grandsons of Drupada and Virata. Drona is like a man possessed. He had lost his temper and his command. He careens around the battlefield a crazed man and starts killing unarmed and sick soldiers. Suddenly, Bhima in an attack killed an elephant named Asvathhama. Suddenly commotion spreads that Asvwathamma is dead. Krishna suggests a stratagem and Yudhishthara utters the famous half-truth. At that point, Dhrishtadamyun attacks Drona with sword and Drona does not defend himself.

Narayanastra and Brahmasira

  • 20th canto, On learning the death of Drona, Asvwathamma releases all sorts of divine weapons and all are somehow foiled by Pandavas. The same Narayana and Varuna descriptions are there Pandavas then run after to catch or kill Asvwathamma, he fires Tejomaya Astra and that is also defeated by Arjuna using his invincible Brahma arrow. Asvwathamma then hides in the shrine of Vagisvara and Vyasa gives him refuge and asks Pandavas to go back, They take his mani. This happens on 15th night.
  • 21st Canto, Karna is made Commander. The ceremony has lot of issues. Kripa and many officers protest. Civil war starts in Kaurava camp. Many leave the Kaurava camp and go over to the Pandava side. Salya talks with his ministers and decides to stay but forces several of his ministers and officers to defect as well. Karna and Sakuni and some others kill 6 princes, sons of Subahu, trying to defect to Pandavas.
  • Pandavas pay homage to Drona, they call him Buddharupa, SivaRupa. They have a long conversation with Bheeshma on arrow bed. Drona is cremated. There is descriptions of heros, roll of heroes, who killed who.

From 21st to 24th canto is stories and not war. In 25th canto, Karna requests Salya to be charioteer. Karna takes a count of his troops. Pandavas examine the defectors and ask several to take positions. Some are tried and imprisoned while others who just followed orders were allowed to take the position in Pandava army. In our Mahabharata, Bhima would destroy three Akshauhinis on 17th day, here they join Pandava camp.

Next three cantos 26th to 28th is the long Karna Salya conversation. They are also father-in-law son-in-law and there is a brief background of family and events. Karna’s sons and grandsons died in battle alongside Drona. These are blows to Salya. He berates Karna and his choice. Karna had kept away from battle. Why did he return?

Karna also remembers the curse by Parasurama.

  • The role of Asvasena is done by Adravalika.
  • 29th Canto, Battle joins, Bhima almost kills Duryodhana who flees battlefield. But Bhima gets hold of and kills Dushasana. Kaurava army runs away.
  • 30th Canto: Karna and Arjuna fight a lot. This is rehash of Karna Bhima fight which in this Mahabharata did not take place. Arjuna constantly defeats Karna who could not remember mantras because of curse.

Ardavalika enters the arrow of Karna as per agreement. But, Salya gives the sign to Krishna to depress the chariot which Krishna does. Karna’s shot misses. Ardavalika comes for second try but Karna ignores him. Arjuna kills Ardavalika.

  • Arjuna smashes Karna’s chariot one more time. Karna now does not retreat. Arjuna carries on onslaught with a bow charged with mantras, and puts a yoga powered arrow. While Karna is invoking another extraordinary arrow, he is hit by Arjuna’s arrow in the neck and dies in 25th chapter of 31st canto.
  • 32nd canto is complete chaos in Kaurava ranks. Salya rallies the troops and tries to persuade Duryodhana for peace.
  • 33rd canto, Duryodhana knows they cannot win the war and asks Sakuni to devise a new strategy. Sakuni declines and asks Duryodhana to appoint Salya as commander in chief or make peace. Duryodhana and Kripa have a conversation in Salya parva in our Epic, in Indonesian, its is between Sakuni and Duryodhana.
  • 34th and 35th canto, Salya declines command and suggests reconciliation. Asvwathamma had returned from Vagishwara and accuses Salya of being partial to Pandavas. Asvwathamma attacks Salya who violently defeats him and his cohorts like Kritvarma. Asvwathamma runs away again realizing he has no powers left. Many of his followers are killed or leave the battlefield.
  • 35th Canto, With heavy heart Salya finally accepts and is appointed Commander. The entire Madrapura palace turns up at Kurukshetra. There is a big Madra party, Nakula also comes there. Salya tells him that Pasupati has decreed Yudhishthara kills Salya using a certain book. Sudhirakadgan Pustaka.

Salya tells him that instead of using just sword, Yudhishthara uses the book to kill six inner enemies which are greatest enemies anyone can have.

Lobha, Moha, Mada, Maan, Maatsarya, Himsa. Avarice, Infatuation, Rut or pride, Jealousy, dissatisfaction and violence. That person can literally forge a sword or lance from the book.

In our Mahabharata, Salya gives a lecture and tells Nahusha story to Yudhishthara. Here in this, he give Nakula a long lecture on the merits and great deeds of Yudhishthara.

Nakula returns and tells Yudhishthara’s son Kalimahosadha to prepare a lance from Yudhishthara’s book which he does and it looks like a gleaming jeweled staff.

  • Yudhishthara regularly visits Bheeshma and seeks advice.
  • Next two cantos describe the love and romance of Satyavati and Salya. Salya sleeps soundly but wakes before dawn. He does not want to wake the sleeping Queen but she was lying on his garment. He takes his knife and cuts off the cloth and leaves quietly.
  • Bhima and Arjuna destroy Kaurava forces. Salya fights alone, He uses Rudrarosa arrow. Krishna immediately stops the war and like Narayanastra, Rudrarosa arrow too fails. But Salya in unbeatable before Yudhishthara intervenes with heavy heart and kills him with his new staff. Satyavati had woken to see the piece of cloth and realized what has happened. She cries and when news of Salya’s death comes, Satyavati and Sugandhika run to the battlefield and take the sword of Salya and stab themselves.
  • 43rd Canto, Sakuni is killed by Bhima. Sakuni had taken an oil from Vyasa long back (even before Drona met Pandavas) which rendered his body immune to weapons. But, Bhima and Sahadeva had been growing and making a weapon over time from their Nail. The Nail weapon was used by Bhima to penetrate into the rectum of Sakuni only place not touched by oil. And he then scooped Sakuni’s insides out and Sakuni met a horrible death.
  • 44th canto, Yudhishthara killed Salya and then 45th canto Satyavti and Sugandhika have beautiful lament and both also die.

The 32nd to 45th Canto are an independent Epic in itself Khyatin Bharatyudhha Salyavadha.

  • The 46th to 52nd cantos are mostly Amrit Manthana and also Draupadi returning her divine sight back to Vyasa. In Indonesian Mahabharata, Vyasa gave Krishnaa the divine sight against Sanjaya in this.
  • In 49th canto, Bhima kills Duryodhana after finally hunting him down at 3 AM in night.


Post Author: Mahabharata World

1 thought on “Comparing Mahabharata to Mahabharata

    Lakshmi Seshu

    (February 10, 2019 - 9:24 pm)

    Excellent Article.

    A question on Satyaki. Satyaki did the funeral rites of Pandavas after lac house fire as Krishna has to rush back to Dwaraka. That means Satyaki has to be atleast 8-9 by that time as he should already have gone through upa nayana. So when did Yudhistara marry and more importantly what happened to Satyaki’s mother?
    She is not present at Yudhistara’s coronation as crown prince and she did not accompany them to Varnavrat

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