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How the story of Mahabharata started?

 The core story of the work is that of a dynastic struggle for the throne of Hastinapura, the kingdom ruled by the Kuru clan. The two collateral branches of the family that participate in the struggle are the Kauravas, the elder branch of the family, and the Pandavas, the younger branch.

The struggle culminates leading to the Great battle of Kurukshetra, and the Pandavas are ultimately victorious. The Mahabharata itself ends with the death of Krishna, and the subsequent end of his dynasty, and ascent of the Pandava brothers to Heaven. It also marks the beginning of the Hindu age of Kali (Kali Yuga), through the steady breakdown of truths of which the eighteen-day war of Kurukshetra, the clash of hundreds of thousands of men, elephants and horses, consisted. This is the fourth and final age of mankind, where the great values and noble ideas that humanity represented have crumbled, and man is speedily heading toward the complete dissolution of right action, morality and virtue in general. (Note that four such yugas - Satya (Truth), Dwapar (second), Treta (third) and Kali (dark) - comprise one cycle of 4.32-million years and represent {1/1000} of Brahma's (God's) day or kalp. After a full kalp, all material and celestial abodes are in a suspended state within Brahma as Brahma 'sleeps' in the kalp-pralaya ('night') of {1,000 * 4.32-million years} 4.32-billion years. For the next kalp, they are created again as they were at the end of the previous kalp. In this way, Brahma lives for 50 years (each year being 360 kalp and 360 kalp-pralaya). In human terms, Brahma's age is 155.521972 trillion years. References from the Bhagwatam 12/4/2 to 12/4/6.)

Some of the history's most noble and revered figures end up fighting on the side of the Kauravas, due to allegiances formed prior to the conflict.

Shown here is the scene when Arjuna stops Krishna from attacking Bhishma during the Kurukshetra war. Artwork © courtesy of The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust

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