“The above are the contents of the Eighteen Parvas. In the appendix (Khita) are the Harivansa and the Vavishya. The number of slokas contained in the Harivansa is twelve thousand.”
These are the contents of the section called Parva-sangraha. Sauti continued, “Eighteen Akshauhinis of troops came together for battle. The encounter that ensued was terrible and lasted for eighteen days. He who knows the four Vedas with all the Angas and Upanishads, but does not know this history (Bharata), cannot be regarded as wise. Vyasa of immeasurable intelligence, has spoken of the Mahabharata as a treatise on Artha, on Dharma, and on Kama. Those who have listened to his history can never bear to listen to others, as, indeed, they who have listened to the sweet voice of the male Kokila can never hear the dissonance of the crow’s cawing. As the formation of the three worlds proceedeth from the five elements, so do the inspirations of all poets proceed from this excellent composition. O ye Brahman, as the four kinds of creatures (viviparous, oviparous, born of hot moisture and vegetables) are dependent on space for their existence, so the Puranas depend upon this history. As all the senses depend for their exercise upon the various modifications of the mind, so do all acts (ceremonials) and moral qualities depend upon this treatise. There is not a story current in the world but doth depend on this history, even as body upon the food it taketh. All poets cherish the Bharata even as servants desirous of preferment always attend upon masters of good lineage. Even as the blessed domestic Asrama can never be surpassed by the three other Asramas (modes of life) so no poets can surpass this poem.
“Ye ascetics, shake off all inaction. Let your hearts be fixed on virtue, for virtue is the one only friend of him that has gone to the other world. Even the most intelligent by cherishing wealth and wives can never make these their own, nor are these possessions lasting. The Bharata uttered by the lips of Dwaipayana is without a parallel; it is virtue itself and sacred. It destroyeth sin and produceth good. He that listeneth to it while it is being recited hath no need of a bath in the sacred waters of Pushkara. A Brahmana, whatever sins he may commit during the day through his senses, is freed from them all by reading the Bharata in the evening. Whatever sins he may commit also in the