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There are plenty of literary sources available to us to reconstruct the ancient Indian history. Mahabharata is one of them which is the most important historical literary sources available to us. Its importance has been recognized by foreign writers like Maurice Winternitz. His believes that Mahabharata represents an entire literature.
This great and colossal epic is full of various aspects of Indian life. This reading gives us a profound depth of Indian folk soul. It is written in simple Sanskrit hence making it possible to easily understand.
The content of the Mahabharata is classified under two sections by the historians. They are narrative and didactic. Narrative section contains stories and didactic sections contain prescriptions about social norms. But at some instances, there were a merger also.
Many historians believe that the Mahabharata was a spectacular moving story and that the didactic portions were a later interruption. We get several different views about the authorship about Mahabharata. It was believed that the original stories were composed by Sutras. They were the Charioteer bard. They accompanied Kshatriyas warriors to the battlefield and composed poems celebrating their achievements and orally transmitted the stories and poems. From fifth century BCE onwards Brahman took over the story and started writing it and compiling all these oral information together.
This great epic contains vivid description of battles, forests, palaces, settlements, culture, tradition and many more things. It also describes kingship, political life of then period, social priority and mobility. Major features of the family like such as Partriliny, different forms of marriage and rules related with marriage, position of women in the society. Social differences in the Indian society under jati and varnas can be traced back to the period of Mahabharata thus Mahabharata represents more of an entire literature and it contains so much and so many kinds of things and gives us an insight into the most profound depths of the soul of the Indian folk.
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