Vyasa, the Supreme Writer
Vyasa, (Sanskrit: “Arranger” or “Compiler”) also called Krishna Dvaipayana or Vedavyasa (flourished 1500 bc?), legendary Indian sage who is traditionally credited with composing or compiling the Mahabharata, a collection of legendary and didactic poetry worked around a central heroic narrative.[http://global.britannica.com/biography/Vyasa]
His name alone,Vyasa,one of the seven immortals [Chiranjivins] an Avatar of Supreme Lord Vishnu, makes me fall on my knees in reverence.
I wouldn’t ever dream of writing on Gautama Buddha, the supremely enlightened being, the founder of my religion, Buddhism. So of Vyasa too. Fearing to write on Vyasa, Encyclopædia Britannica being a paysite, for the first type, I copied from Wikipedia, to this website of mine. bunpeiris
Author as well as a character in the Hindu epic Mahabharata
|Titles/honours||Festival of Guru Purnima, is dedicated to him, and also known as Vyasa Purnima as it is the day, which is believed to be his birthday.|
Vyasa (Sanskrit: व्यास, vyāsa, literally “Compiler”) is a central and revered figure in most Hindu traditions. He is also sometimes called Veda Vyāsa (वेदव्यास, veda-vyāsa, “the one who classified the Vedas”) or Krishna Dvaipāyana (referring to his complexion and birthplace). He is the author of the Mahabharata, as well as a character in it. He is considered to be the scribe of both the Vedas and Puranas. According to Hindu beliefs, Vyasa is an avatar of the god Vishnu. Vyasa is also considered to be one of the seven Chiranjivins (long lived, or immortals), who are still in existence according to Hindu belief.
Vyasa lived around the 3rd millennium BCE. The festival of Guru Purnima is dedicated to him. It is also known asVyasa Purnima, for it is the day believed to be both his birthday and the day he divided the Vedas.
In the Mahabharata
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Vyasa appears for the first time as the compiler of, and an important character in, the Mahabharata. It is said that he was the expansion of the god Vishnu who came in Dwaparayuga to make all the Vedic knowledge available in written form which was available in spoken form at that time. He was the son of Satyavati, daughter of the fisherman Dusharaj, and the wandering sage Parashara (who is credited with being the author of the first Purana: Vishnu Purana). He was born on an island in the river Yamuna. There are two different views regarding his birthplace. One of the views suggests that he was born in the Tanahun district in western Nepal, other view suggests that he was born on Island in Yamuna river near Kalpi, Uttar Pradesh, India. Vyasa was dark-complexioned and hence may be called by the name Krishna (black), and also the name Dwaipayana, meaning ‘island-born’.
Vyasa was grandfather to the Kauravas and Pandavas. Their fathers, Dhritarashtra and Pandu, the sons of Vyasa were Dhrutharashtra and Pandu and Vidura. THE third son, Vidura, was born to a serving maid Parishrami. Shere as Dhrutharashtra and Pandu are Sons of Ambalika and Ambika.
Vyasa is believed to have lived on the banks of Ganga in modern day Uttarakhand. The place was also the abode of sage Vashishta along with Pandavas, the five brothers of Mahabharata.
Hindus traditionally hold that Vyasa categorised the primordial single Veda into three canonical collections, and that the fourth one, known as Atharvaveda, was recognized as Veda only very much later. Hence he was called Veda Vyasa, or “Splitter of the Vedas,” the splitting being a feat that allowed people to understand the divine knowledge of the Veda. The word vyasa means split, differentiate, or describe.
The Vishnu Purana has a theory about Vyasa. The Hindu view of the universe is that of a cyclic phenomenon that comes into existence and dissolves repeatedly. Each cycle is presided over by a number of Manus, one for eachManvantara, that has four ages, Yugas of declining virtues. The Dvapara Yuga is the third Yuga. The Vishnu Purana (Book 3, Ch 3) says:
In every third world age (Dvapara), Vishnu, in the person of Vyasa, in order to promote the good of mankind, divides the Veda, which is properly but one, into many portions. Observing the limited perseverance, energy, and application of mortals, he makes the Veda fourfold, to adapt it to their capacities; and the bodily form which he assumes, in order to effect that classification, is known by the name of Veda-vyasa. Of the different Vyasas in the present Manvantara and the branches which they have taught, you shall have an account. Twenty-eight times have the Vedas been arranged by the great Rishis in the Vaivasvata Manvantara… and consequently eight and twenty Vyasas have passed away; by whom, in the respective periods, the Veda has been divided into four. The first… distribution was made by Svayambhu (Brahma) himself; in the second, the arranger of the Veda (Vyasa) was Prajapati… (and so on up to twenty-eight).
As per Vishnu Purana, Guru Drona’s son rishi Aswatthama will become the next sage Vyasa (title), who in turn divide the Veda in 29th Mahayuga of 7thManvantara.
Author of the Mahabharata
Vyasa is traditionally known as author of this epic and likewise features as an important character in it. Vyasa told her that child would suffer from anaemia, and he would not be fit enough to rule the kingdom. Later this child was known as Pāndu. Then Vyasa told Satyavati to send one of them again so that a healthy child can be born. This time Ambika and Ambālika sent a maid in the place of themselves. The maid was quite calm and composed, and she got a healthy child later named as Vidura. While these are his sons, another son Śuka, born of his wife Pinjalā (Vatikā), daughter of the sage Jābāli, is considered his true spiritual heir. He makes occasional appearances in the story as a spiritual guide to the young princes.
In the first book of the Mahābhārata, it is described that Vyasa asked Ganesha to aid him in writing the text, but Ganesha imposed a condition that he would do so only if Vyasa narrated the story without pause. To which Vyasa then made a counter-condition that Ganesha must understand the verse before he transcribed it. Thus Vyasa narrated the entire Mahābhārata and all the Upanishads and the 18 Puranas, while Lord Ganesha wrote.
Vyasa is supposed to have meditated and authored the epic by the foothills of the river Beas (Vipasa) in the Punjab region.
Vyasa’s Jaya, the core of Mahābhārata is structured in the form of a dialogue between Dhritarashtra (the Kuru king and the father of the Kauravas, who opposed the Pāndavas in the Kurukshetra War) and Sanjaya, his adviser and chariot driver. Sanjaya narrates the particulars of Kurukshetra War, fought in eighteen days, chronologically. Dhritarāshtra at times asks a question and doubts, sometimes lamenting, knowing of the destruction caused by the war to his sons, friends and kinsmen.
Sanjaya, in the beginning, gives a description of the various continents of the Earth, numerous planets, and focuses on the Indian subcontinent. Large and elaborate lists are given, describing hundreds of kingdoms, tribes, provinces, cities, towns, villages, rivers, mountains, forests etc. of the (ancient) Indian subcontinent (Bhārata Varsha). Additionally, he gives descriptions of the military formations adopted by each side on each day, the death of individual heroes and the details of the war-races. Eighteen chapters of Vyasa’s Jaya constitutes the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred text of the Hindus. Thus, Jaya deals with diverse subjects like geography, history, warfare, religion and morality.
Ugrasrava Sauti’s Mahābhārata
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The final version of Vyasa’s work is the Mahābhārata. It is structured as a narration by Ugrasrava Sauti, a professional story teller, to an assembly of rishis who, in the forest of Naimisha, had just attended the 12 year sacrifice known as Saunaka, also known as “Kulapati”.
Reference to writing
Within the Mahābhārata, there is a tradition in which Vyasa wishes to write down or inscribe his work:
- The Grandsire Brahma (creator of the universe) comes and tells Vyasa to get the help of Ganapati for his task. Ganapati writes down the stanzas recited by Vyasa from memory and thus the Mahābhārata is inscribed or written.
There is some evidence however that writing may have been known earlier based on archeological findings of styli in the Painted Grey Ware culture, dated between 1100 BC and 700 BC. and archeological evidence of theBrahmi script being used from at least 600 BC.
Other texts attributed
Vyasa is also credited with the writing of the eighteen major Purāṇas. His son Shuka is the narrator of the major Purāṇa Bhagavat-Purāṇa.
The Yoga Bhashya, a commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, is attributed to Vyasa.
The Brahma Sutra is attributed to Badarayana — which makes him the proponent of the crest-jewel school of Hindu philosophy, i.e., Vedanta. Vyasa was conflated with Badarayana by Vaishnavas with the reason that the island on which Vyasa was born is said to have been covered by Badara (Indian jujube/Ber/Ziziphus mauritiana) trees. Although some modern historians suggest that these were two different personalities.
There may have been more than one Vyasa, or the name Vyasa may have been used at times to give credibility to a number of ancient texts. Much ancient Indian literature was a result of long oral tradition with wide cultural significance rather than the result of a single author. However Vyasa is credited with documenting, compiling, categorising or writing commentaries on much of this literature.
Within Buddhism Vyasa appears as Kanha-dipayana (the Pali version of his name) in two Jataka tales: the Kanha-dipayana Jataka and Ghata Jataka. Whilst the former in which he appears as the Bodhisattva has no relation to his tales from the Hindu works, his role in the latter one has parallels in an important event in the Mahabharata.
In the 16th book of the epic, Mausala Parva, the end of the Vrishnis, clansmen of Vyasa’s namesake and Krishna is narrated. The epic says: One day, the Vrishni heroes .. saw Vishvamitra, Kanwa and Narada arrived at Dwaraka. Afflicted by the rod of chastisement wielded by the deities, those heroes, causing Samba to be disguised like a woman, approached those ascetics and said, ‘This one is the wife of Vabhru of immeasurable energy who is desirous of having a son. Ye Rishis, do you know for certain what this one will bring forth?Those ascetics, attempted to be thus deceived, said: ‘This heir of Vasudeva, by name Samba, will bring forth a fierce iron bolt for the destruction of the Vrishnis and the Andhakas.
The Bhagavata Purana (book 11) too narrates the incident in a similar manner and names the sages as Visvāmitra, Asita, Kanva, Durvāsa, Bhrigu, Angirâ, Kashyapa, Vâmadeva, Atri, Vasishthha, along with Nârada and others – it does not explicitly include Vyasa in the list.
The Ghata Jataka has a different version: The Vrishnis, wishing to test Kanha-dipayana’s powers of clairvoyance, played a practical joke on him. They tied a pillow to the belly of a young lad, and dressing him up as a woman, took him to the ascetic and asked when the baby would be born. The ascetic replied that on the seventh day the person before him would give birth to a knot of acacia wood which would destroy the race of Văásudeva. The youths thereupon fell on him and killed him, but his prophecy came true .
In Brahm Avtar composition present in Dasam Granth, Second Scripture of Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh mentioned Rishi Vyas as avtar of Brahma. He is considered as fifth incarnation of Brahma. Guru Gobind Singh had written brief account of compositions of Rishi Vyas, which he wrote about great kings like King manu, King Prithu, king Bharath, KingJujat, King Ben, King mandata, King Dilip, King RaghuRaj and King Aj.
Guru Gobind Singh attributed him the store of vedic learning.
In the Arthashastra
Arthashastra of Chanakya (Kautilya), Vyasa has an interesting entry. In chapter 6 of the first Department, it says;-
Whosoever is of reverse character, whoever has not his organs of sense under his control, will soon perish, though possessed of the whole earth bounded by the four quarters. For example: Bhoja, known also by the name, Dándakya, making a lascivious attempt on a Bráhman maiden, perished along with his kingdom and relations; so also Karála, the Vaideha… Vátápi in his attempt under the influence of overjoy to attack Agastya, as well as the corporation of the Vrishnis in their attempt against Dwaipáyan.
This reference matches the Jataka version in including Vyasa as the sage attacked by the Vrishnis, though Vyasa does not die here.
- The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa, translated by Kisari Mohan Ganguli, published between 1883 and 1896
- The Arthashastra, translated by Shamasastry, 1915
- The Vishnu-Purana, translated by H. H. Wilson, 1840
- The Bhagavata-Purana, translated by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, 1988 copyright Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
- The Jataka or Stories of the Buddha’s Former Births, edited by E. B. Cowell, 1895
Chiranjivi (Sanskrit nominative sing. ciranjīvī, चिरंजीवी) are immortal living beings in Hinduism who are to remain alive on Earth through this Kali Yuga till its very end.
- 1Etymology and scriptural context
- 4External links
Etymology and scriptural context
The term is a combination of chiram, or ‘permanent’, and jīvi, or ‘lived’. It is same as’amaratva, which refers to true immortality. At the end of the last Manvantara, a demon attempted to become immortal by swallowing the Vedas, as they escaped from the mouth of Brahma. The scripture was retrieved by the first (Matsya) avatar of Lord Vishnu. Incarnations of Vishnu also later fought and killed two other asuras, Hiranyakasipu and Ravana, who tried to become immortal through obeisance to Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva, respectively. In Hinduism, immortal does not mean eternal, as all physical bodies are foretold to become immaterial at the end of time, along with Brahma himself, with the destruction of the Universe.
The extant Puranas, the Ramayana, and the Mahabharata describe seven long-lived personalities in the Hindu pantheon. While there are others as well, which are not included in the one particular shloka. The Each represents a different attribute of man, which as long as they live, will exist amongst humanity.
“Ashwatthama Balir Vyaso Hanumanash cha Vibhishana Krupacharya cha Parashuramam Saptaita Chiranjeevanam” – ‘Ashwathama, King Mahabali, Vyasa, Hanuman, Vibhishana, Kripacharya and Parashurama are the seven death-defying or imperishable personalities ‘.
The chiranjivi are as follows:
- Ashwatthama, the son of Drona, a great warrior. Drona did many years of severe penance to please lord Shiva in order to obtain a son who possesses the same valiance as of Lord Siva. Aswatthama is the avatar of one of the eleven Rudras. Aswatthama and Kripa are believed to be the lone survivors still living who actually fought in the kurukshetra war. Aswatthama was born with a gem in his forehead which gives him power over all living beings lower than humans. This gem is supposed to protect him from attacks by ghosts, demons, poisonous insects, snakes, animals etc. Dronacharya loved him very dearly. Even though he was born immortal due to the blessing of Lord Siva, the rumours about his death in the Kurukshetra war led to the death of Drona at the hands of Prince Dhrishtadyumna. He is the grandson of the Brahmin sage Bharadwaja. Ashwatthama is a mighty Maharathi who fought on the Kaurava side against the Pandavas.
Along with sage Parashurama and sage Vyasa, Aswatthama is considered to be foremost among the rishis. Aswatthama will become the next sage Vyasa (title), who in turn divide the Veda in 29th Mahayuga of the 7th Manavantra. Aswatthama will also become one of the Sapta Rishis in the 8th Manavantara. His physical description in the Mahabharata is that he is incredibly tall, with dark skin, dark eyes, and a gem in his forehead. Like Bhishma, Drona, Kripa, Karna, and Arjuna, he is a master of the science of weapons and is regarded as the foremost among warriors. Aswatthama studied Dhanurveda or martial arts and Brahmavidya or the science of the Self or Atma from Lord Parasurama,Maharishi Durvasa,Maharishi Ved Vyasa, Bhishma,Kripa and Drona. Aswatthama is the master of all forms of knowledge and possess complete mastery over 64 forms of arts or Kalas and 18 Vidyas or branches of knowledge.
- Bali, also called MahaBali and his son Banasur, was the virtuous emperor of the three worlds and grandson of Prahlad who was of Asura descent. Every year on the day of Onam, he descends to earth from the heavens to visit his people, those of the region of Kerala.
- Hanuman, served Rama. He stands for selflessness, courage, devotion, strength, and righteous conduct.
- Kripa, military guru of the princes in the Mahabharata.
- Parashurama, 6th avatar of Vishnu, master of all astras, sastras and divine weapons. The Kalki Purana writes that he will re emerge at end time to be the martial guru of Kalki. He will then instruct the final avatar to undertake penance to receive celestial weaponry, required to save mankind at end time.
- Vibhishana, brother of Ravana. Vibhishana surrendered to Rama before his battle with Ravana. Later, he was crowned king of Lanka after Ravana was killed by Rama. He stands for righteousness. Vibhishana is not a true Chiranjivi, as his boon of longevity is to remain on the earth only until the end of the Mahayuga.
- Vyasa, the sage who composed the Mahabharata. He represents erudition and wisdom. He was the son of sage Parashara and grandson of sage Vashishtha. He was born towards the end of Tretayuga, lived to see the complete Dwaparayuga, and also saw the initial phase of Kalyuga.
Other famous immortals or Chiranjivins. Jambavan, Markandeya, Devapi, Maru, Saptarishis, Bhusunda (Crow),Banasur(son of King Bali) by Boon of Shiva, and Udal.
Hindu scripture contains a mantra about the seven immortals, in which their names are recited for luck and longevity:
अश्वत्थामाबलिर्व्यासोहनुमांश्च विभीषण:कृपश्चपरशुरामश्च सप्तैतेचिरंजीविन:।
- Ashwathaama Balirvyaaso Hanumanshach
- Vibhishanha Krupascha Parshuramascha
- Saptaitey Chiranjivinaha
Apart from the seven Chiranjivis above mentioned, there exist other Chiranjivis as well. For instance, Sage Markandeya, when at the age of sixteen, was blessed with immortality.
अश्वत्थामा बलिव्र्यासो हनूमांश्च विभीषण:। कृप: परशुरामश्च सप्तएतै चिरजीविन:॥ सप्तैतान् संस्मरेन्नित्यं मार्कण्डेयमथाष्टमम्। जीवेद्वर्षशतं सोपि सर्वव्याधिविवर्जित।।
- Ashwathaama Balirvyaaso Hanumanshcha Vibheeshanaha
- Krupaha Parshuramascha Saptaitey Chiranjivinaha
- Saptaitaan Samsmareynnityam Markandeymathaashtamam
- Jivedvarshshatam Sopi Sarvavyadhivivarjit
इस श्लोक का अर्थ यह है कि इन आठ लोगों (अश्वथामा, दैत्यराज बलि, वेद व्यास, हनुमान, विभीषण, कृपाचार्य, परशुराम और मार्कण्डेय ऋषि) का स्मरण सुबह-सुबह करने से सारी बीमारियां समाप्त होती हैं और मनुष्य 100 वर्ष की आयु को प्राप्त करता है।
The above lines means that by daily remembering these 8 immortals (Ashwatthama, King Bali, Ved Vyasa, Hanuman, Vibhishan, Kripacharya, Parashuram and Rishi Markandaya) one can be free of all problems and live for 100 years. These are also called as 8 great warriors.