Mahabharata is one of the greatest epics of the world. An epic is a long story written in verse. Mahabharata was written by Muni Vyas.
The theme of Mahabharata is a war between two branches of the tribe, the descendants of Kuru, to capture the government of Hastinapura, commonly supposed to be the same place as modern Delhi.
The elder branch of the tribe is called by the general name of the whole tribe, the kurus. The younger branch is called after Pandu, the father of the principal leaders. This war between the Kauravas and the Pandavas covers about twenty five thousand shlokas. That is a quarter of the whole book which has a hundred thousand shlokas. That is what is called an epic.
The battle was fought at kurukshetra, now in the state of Haryana in India. It is situated between Delhi and Ambala. The city of Ambala is named after two sisters in Mahabharata, The Amba and Ambalika.
Dhritrashtra, the father of the Kurus was blind. Therefore, eldest son Duryodhan directed the war on his behalf. The Pandavas were led by Yudhishtra, the eldest of the brothers, but Arjuna was the real hero of the war.
When the battle was about to begin, Arjuna was not willing to fight against his kinsmen and asked the advice of which Lord Krishna is embodied in the Bhagwad Gita, the great scripture of the Hindus.
“Although they will kill me,” said Arjuna, “I wish not to fight them: no, not even for the dominion of the three regions of the universe, much less of this little earth!”
Lord Krishna said to him: “Those who are wise in spiritual things grieve neither for the dead nor for the living. Make pleasure and pain, gain and loss, victory and defeat the same to thee, and then prepare for battle.”
The battle lasted for eighteen days in which the Kurus were defeated and Pandavas were victorious under the generalship of Arjuna and patronage of Lord Krishna. It was a victory of virtue over vice, good over evil. Truth finally triumphed. Falsehood was defeated. The lesson of Mahabharata is:
Satyameva jayate nan ri tam