Anusasana Parva Mahabharata

The topic of Shanti Parva is continued in Anushasana Parva with a discussion of the responsibilities of a ruler, the rule of law, and advice on dharma for people near to the leader. The conversation is between Bhishma, Yudhishthira, and other sages. The book discusses how men and women should carry out their responsibilities and behave in different ways. The benefits of various marital arrangements are discussed and contrasted. The parva also recounts a number of symbolic myths and stories, including the story of Nachiketa and the funeral ceremonies for Bhishma, the eldest Kuru family member.

Anusasana Parva Mahabharat Overview

Traditionally, Anushasana Parva (section/book) includes 168 adhyayas and 2 sub-parvas (sub-sections, chapters).

The sub-parvas are as follows:

(a) Chapters 1–152 of the Dana-dharma Parva
(b) Chapters 153–168 of Bhishma-svargarohana Parva

The Parva begins with a visit to the dying Bhishma. In addition to Vashishta, Maitreya, Sanatkumara, Valmiki, Kapila, Vyasadeva, and Narada, he is surrounded by rishis and sages. Similar to Shanti Parva, Bhishma responds to Yudhishthira’s request for advice. It covers the responsibilities of the monarch, kingdom officials, males, and women. The book has extensive chapters devoted to cows, discussing their value to agriculture, prosperity, and household food security.

Shri Vishnu Sahasranama, a list of 1,000 names (sahasranama) of Bhagwan Vishnu, is recited in Chapter 134 of Anushasana Parva. Shiva, Sharva, Sthanu, Ishana, and Rudra are among the 1000 names given to Vishnu. All of the gods recorded in Vedic literature are thought to be one due to the Mahabharata’s synonymic naming of Shiva and Vishnu as one. After making a kind speech to all the kurus in the final chapter, Bhishma exhaled his last breaths. Then, as others looked on, the Pandavas and Vidura constructed a funeral pyre and lit it on fire. Then they all came to Bhagirathi and made water sacrifices. The goddess emerged from the water and began to weep for her son. The strong Krishna comforts her before leaving with the others.

Numerous fables and symbolic stories are included in Anushasana Parva, in addition to treatises that discuss proper human conduct. These include considerations of the conflict between human free choice and destiny, as well as the obligations and rights of women.

One of several discussions on free choice (exertion) and fate in the Mahabharata is presented in Chapter 6 of Anushasana Parva. Yudhisthira asks Bhisma, who is dying, a question that sparks the discussion. The dying scholar responds by recalling the exchange between Vasishtha and Brahmana regarding whether factor shapes a person’s existence more significantly: karma from previous lives (destiny) or karma from this life (exertion via free will). In response, the Brahmana uses the example of seeds. Fruits cannot develop without seeds. When planted, excellent seeds produce good fruits. When sowed, poor seeds produce weeds and undesirable fruits. There are no fruits if no seeds are sowed. Without effort, destiny in this world is worthless. The seeds are like fate, and one’s current efforts are like tilled soil. The harvest is created when seeds, which represent a person’s current work and destiny inside the seed, are combined with tilled soil. Happiness comes from good acts, suffering from bad ones; as one sows, so shall he reap. Destiny alone cannot bring success. To achieve everything, including riches and expertise, one must put forth personal effort. A person who takes initiative is their own greatest friend; a person who just depends on fate is their own worst adversary.

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Anusasana parva (Chapters 113–118) are used to present a notion of compassion. Yudhisthira is advised by Vrihaspati that having compassion for all people is essential for living a fulfilling life. All creatures must be treated with the same respect and consideration as oneself. Anushasana parva advises against ever doing anything to another person or any living thing that you would consider to be harmful to yourself. When one person hurts another, the hurt person then turns around and hurts the hurt person. Similar to this, when one cherishes another, the cherishee is also treasured. Before doing or speaking, one should consider their impacts with respect to oneself, whether they include denials or gifts, causing happiness or sorrow, or acceptable or disagreeable deeds. According to Vrihaspati, compassion is the act of seeing another person’s interests as one’s own. Compassion is a fundamental Dharma principle.

In Chapter 114 of Anushasana Parva, Bhisma emphasises that this philosophy of compassion encompasses not just one’s thoughts and deeds but also one’s words. According to Bhisma, the practise of ahimsa, or the refrain from doing damage to anybody, is one of the results of compassion. This is stated in Chapter 117’s famously renowned Ahimsa verse:

The obligations and rights of women are listed in several chapters of Anushasana Parva. In the lines of Chapter 11, the goddess of prosperity Lakshmi claims that she resides in women who are honest, true, modest, organised, loyal to their husbands and children, health-conscious, patient, and kind to visitors. The goddess claims she does not live in sinful, dirty, often at odds with her husband, lacking in both patience and fortitude, indolent, and argumentative with her neighbours and family. The 123rd chapter.

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In Chapter 146, the deity Shiva and his wife, the goddess Uma, have a dialogue in which Shiva inquires about the obligations of women. According to Uma (Parvati), women’s responsibilities include having a positive outlook, pleasant speech, sweet behaviour, and sweet features. Uma asserts that for a woman, her spouse is her deity, her best friend, and her high shelter. The responsibilities of a woman include providing for her spouse and her children’s physical and emotional needs as well as their fulfilment. Her responsibility is to remain joyful even when her husband or children are furious, to be there for them in times of need, such as sickness, and is considered as really virtuous in her behaviour. Their happiness is her happiness, and she upholds the same vows as those upheld by her husband.

In Chapters 19 through 21 of the Anushasana Parva, Ashtavakra travels to Mahadeva’s home where he encounters Apsaras. The topic of whether women are ever autonomous or constantly reliant on men is then discussed by Ashtavakra and a woman. According to Ashtavakra, a woman is never truly autonomous since her father protects her as a kid, her husband as a young lady, and her sons as an elderly woman.

Over the course of several chapters, Anushasana Parva explores a woman’s inheritance rights. This debate is contradictory since some chapters differentiate women’s inheritance rights based on caste depending on whether the husband and wife are from the same caste or from separate castes. Other chapters do not address caste but do differentiate women’s inheritance rights according on the form of marriage. The daughter, O King, has been ordered in the Scriptures to be equal to the son. This is stated in Chapter 47, verse 26.

Anushasana Parva asserts that every inheritance a woman receives becomes her own. If a woman becomes a widow, she has the right to use but not sell her husband’s possessions.

Anushasana Parva includes several passages that praise Mahadeva and Uma. These chapters are crucial to the Shaivist bhakti group because they explain their authority, urge worship of them, and do both.

Anushasana Parva has chapters honouring Vishnu and Lakshmi in addition to chapters honouring Shiva and Parvati. These chapters are crucial to the Vaishnavism bhakti cult. Chapter 149 of the Anusasana Parva is a source of mantras and chants in this school of Hinduism. A list of 1000 names of Bhagwan Vishnu is also known as Viusahasranama. There are several lost original sub-parvas in the Anushasana parva. Among siddh sages, the original texts are still held in secrecy.

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You can read other chapters from the table below. Click on the respective link to understand about the summary of that book/section of Mahabharata.

Mahabharat All Chapters Summary Guide

1) Adi Parva 10) Sauptika Parva
2) Sabha Parva 11) Stri Parva
3) Vana Parva 12) Shanti Parva
4) Virata Parva 13) Anushasana Parva
5) Udhyoga Parva 14) Ashvamedha Parva
6) Bhishma Parva 15) Ashramavasika Parva
7) Drona Parva 16) Mausala Parva
8) Karna Parva 17) Mahaprasthanika Parva
9) Shalya Parva 18) Swaraga Arohana Parva

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