Mahabharata is one of the two great epics of India, which narrates the story of the Kurukshetra war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas. It is also a rich source of wisdom, history, culture and spirituality for millions of people. In this article, we will present a summary of the Mahabharata story in Tamil with audio links for each episode.
The Mahabharata story begins with the birth of Shantanu, the king of Hastinapura, who falls in love with Ganga, the river goddess. She agrees to marry him on the condition that he never questions her actions. She gives birth to seven sons and drowns them in the river one by one. When she is about to drown the eighth son, Shantanu stops her and asks for an explanation. Ganga reveals that she was fulfilling a curse on the eight Vasus, who were condemned to be born as humans for stealing a cow belonging to sage Vasishta. She says that she has saved them from the misery of human life by drowning them as soon as they were born. She then leaves Shantanu with their eighth son, who is named Devavrata.
Devavrata grows up to be a brave and virtuous prince, who learns from many sages and masters. He also acquires a boon from his father's ancestor Ganga Datta, who grants him the power to choose the time of his death. This boon earns him the name Bheeshma, meaning the one who has a terrible vow. Bheeshma's vow comes into play when Shantanu falls in love with Satyavati, the daughter of a fisherman. The fisherman agrees to give his daughter in marriage only if Shantanu promises that Satyavati's sons will inherit the throne of Hastinapura. Shantanu is unable to make such a promise, as it would deprive his son Bheeshma of his rightful claim. Bheeshma, however, sacrifices his right to the throne and also vows to remain celibate for life, so that his father can marry Satyavati. This vow makes him one of the most respected and revered characters in the Mahabharata.
Shantanu and Satyavati have two sons, Chitrangada and Vichitravirya. Chitrangada becomes the king after Shantanu's death, but he is killed by a gandharva (celestial being) who bears the same name. Vichitravirya then becomes the king, but he is weak and sickly. Bheeshma arranges his marriage with two princesses of Kashi, Amba and Ambika. Amba, however, reveals that she is in love with another king, Salva, and asks Bheeshma to let her go. Bheeshma agrees, but Salva rejects her as he considers her tainted by Bheeshma's abduction. Amba then blames Bheeshma for ruining her life and vows to kill him. She seeks the help of many kings and sages, but none of them can defeat Bheeshma. She finally performs austerities and obtains a boon from Lord Shiva, who grants her a rebirth as a man who will be able to kill Bheeshma.
Vichitravirya marries Ambika and Ambalika, but he dies without leaving any heirs. Satyavati then asks her son from a previous union, Vyasa, to perform niyoga (a practice of begetting children with a chosen partner) with Vichitravirya's widows. Vyasa agrees, but he is ugly and terrifying in appearance. When he approaches Ambika, she closes her eyes in fear and gives birth to a blind son named Dhritarashtra. When he approaches Ambalika, she turns pale and gives birth to a pale son named Pandu. Satyavati then asks Vyasa to try again with Ambika, but she sends her maid instead, who remains calm and respectful. She gives birth to a wise son named Vidura.
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