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Madhva's view on Mahabharata: Summary

Selected Quotes from
MahAbhArata TAtparyanirNNaya
vAkyOdhAra nAma dvitIyAdhyAya (Second chapter named Vakyodhara)

"manvAdi kEcid bruvate hyAstikAdi tathA pare
tathOparicarAdyanyE bhAratam paricakSatE"

Mahabharata, Adi Parva, AnukramaNika Parva

sak.rSNAn pANDavAn g.rhya yOyamarthaH pravarttatE
prAtilyOmyAdi vaicitryAt tamAstIkaM pracakSatE

[ The meaning of the Bharata in so far as it is a relation of the facts and events with which Sri Krishna and the Pandavas are conected is called Astikadi (historical) ]

dharmmO bhaktyAdidasakaH srutAdiH sIlavainayau
sa brahmakAstu tE yatra manvAdim tam vidurbudhAH

[ That intrepretation by which we find lessons on virtue, divine love and other ten qualities, as sacred study and righteous practices, on chaacter and training, on Brahma and other gods is called Manvadi (religious and moral) ]

nArAyaNasya nAmAni sarvANi vacanAni tu
tasyAmarthyAbhidhAyIni tamauparicaram vidhuH

[ Thirdly, the interpretation, by which every sentence, word or syllable is shown to be the significant name or to be the declaration of the glories of the Almighty ruler of the universe is called auparicara (transcendental) ]

English translation of Madhva's versus in A. D. Pusalkar, "The Mahabharata: Its History and Character", in The Cultural Heritage of India, 4 vols., 2nd Edition, Haridas Bhattacharya et al. eds., (Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Calcutta, 1953-1962), Vol. II, Itihasa, Puranas, and other Sastras, p.68
Quoted in Destiny and Human Initiative in the Mahabharata Julian F. Woods State University of New York Press, 2001


The Critical Edition however renders the sloka in question as follows:
manvAdi bhArataM ke cid AstIkAdi tathApare
tathoparicarAdy anye viprAH samyag adhIyate

This sloka has been rendered by various translators as follows:

P. Lal:
Some read the Mahabharata from the first mantra, others begin with the story of Astika; others begin with Uparica; and some Brahmins read it all the way through.

Kisari Mohan Ganguli:
Some read the Bharata beginning with the initial mantra (invocation), others with the story of Astika, others with Uparichara, while some Brahmanas study the whole.

J.A.B. van Buitenen:
There are brahmins who learn the Bharata from Manu onward, others again from the tale of the Book of Astika onward, others again from The Tale of Uparica onward.

Following sloka:
vividhaM saMhitAjJAnaM dIpayanti manISiNaH
vyAkhyAtuM kuzalAH ke cid granthaM dhArayituM pare

(Critical Edition)

P.Lal:
The learned show how well they know the smritis by commenting on the epic. Some are good at explaining, others at remembering it.

Kisari Mohan Ganguli:
Men of learning display their various knowledge of the institutes in commenting on the composition. Some are skilful in explaining it, while others, in remembering its contents.

J.A.B. van Buitenen:
Learned men elucidate the complex erudition of this Grand Collection; there are those who are experienced in explaining it, others in retaining it.