Encyclopedia for Epics of Ancient India

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VYASA. [Source: Dowson's Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology] 'An arranger.' This title is common to many old authors and compilers, but it is especially applied to Vedavyasa the arranger of the Vedas, who, from the imperishable nature of his work, is also called Saswatas, 'the immortal.' The name is given also to the compiler of the Mahabharata, the founder of the Vedanta philosophy, and the arranger of the Puranas; all these persons being held to be identical with Vedavyasa. But this is impossible, and the attribution of all these works to one person has arisen either from a desire to heighten their antiquity and authority, or from the assumed identity of several different "arrangers."

Vedavyasa was the illegitimate son of the Rishi Parasara and Satyavati, and the child, who was of a dark colour, was brought forth on an island (dwipa) in the Yamuna. Being illegitimate he was called Kanina, the 'bastard;' from his complexion he received the name Krishna, and from his birthplace he was called Dwaipayana.

His mother afterwards married King Santanu, by whom she had two sons. The elder was killed in battle, and the younger, named Vichitravirya. By them he had two sons, Dhritarashtra and Pandu, between whose descendants the great war of the Mahabharata was fought.

The Puranas mention no less than twenty-eight Vyasas, incarnations of Vishnu or Brahma, who descended to the earth in different ages to arrange and promulgate the Vedas.

Modern Languages MLLL-4993. Indian Epics. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. The textual material made available at this website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one. No claims are made regarding the status of images used at this website; if you own the copyright privileges to any of these images and believe your copyright privileges have been violated, please contact the webmaster. Page last updated: October 16, 2007 12:22 PM