The Mahabharata, that is, the great Bharata, is one of the two most important ancient epics of India, the other being the Ramayana. The Mahabharata was compiled in Ancient India. One of the rishis named Vyasa is believed to have composed the work. The legend states that God Ganesha wrote the Mahabharata while Vyasa dictated the same in the city of Rourkela in Odisha State. It is possibly one of the longest work of its kind in the world. The epic contains about 110.000 shloka in eighteen sections. These sections deal with a number of topics such as a number of aspects of Hinduism, Hindu mythology, ethics, and the Hindu way of life. There is also a nineteenth section named Harivamsha. The Bhagavadgita, a dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna, is a part of the Mahabharata.
Sage Vyasa taught this epic to his son Suka and his students Vaisampayana and others. King Janamejaya, the son of Parikshit and grandson of the heroes of the epic, performed a great sacrifice yajna. The epic was retold by Vaisampayana to Janamejaya at the advice of Vyasa. Later on, the other sage Suta retold the Mahabharata similar to Vaisampayana to Janamejaya, to Saunaka and others, during a sacrifice performed by Saunaka in Naimisaranya, which is near Sitapur in Uttar Pradesh.
Noted below are few words about the eighteen sections of the Mahabharata. In Mahabharata, these sections are called parvan. A parvan means a book. The names of all parvas or books of the Mahabharata are noted below.
1. The Pandavas
Kunti wants to fulfil her maternal expectations, but she has no man. She recollects the moment when her first son Karna was conceived from an arcane mantra which had given her once. Surya, the Sun God, appeared to her then. Thus, Kunti remembers her secret mantra and gives birth to the three sons – Yudhistra, Bhima and Arjuna. Yudhisthira’s father was god Yama, Bhima’s father was god Vayu, and Arjunas father was Indra.
Madri, the second wife of Pandu, gave birth to two other sons - the twins, whose fathers were Ashwins divine twins. Madris sons are Nakula and Sahadeva.
These all are called the five Pandavas.
2. Donation for its compilation
In the year 1932, The Bhandarkar oriental research institute located in Pune, needed money for the compilation and publication of the Holy Mahabharata and a guest house. A formal request was made to the seventh Nizam of Hyderabad State, Mir Osman Ali Khan who in no time released a farman to donate Rs.1000 per year for a period of 11 years.
Whereas, Rs. 50.000 was offered for the guest which is known as "Nizam guest house".