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"After praying to Naaraayana, Nara, Sarasvathi and Vyaasa, then one should read the Jayam."



Parva means a node of sugar cane.

The works in Samskritham are divided into parts of different nomenclature. Normal poetry books are divided into Sarga's. Dramas are divided into Anka's (Acts).

The epic Raamaayanawas divided into 7 Kaanda's. Kaanda means the stem of a tree. These Kaanda's were again sub-divided into sarga's of some shlokas each. the number of shlokas in a Sarga is not fixed.It may be as small as 10 or as large as 150.

Some Puraanas were divided into books called Skandhas meaning the same as Kaanda i.e.stem of a tree. Some other books in the literature were divided into division scalled Lambakam, Tharangam,Ullaasam,Prakaranam,Sthabakam,Avadaatham,Patalam etc, the primary sense of the words being roughly "chapter" or "section', though these words have a separate literal meaning .

Likewise, The Mahaabhaaratham too was divided into parts called parvas. Each main parva was sub-divided into smaller sub-parvas which in turn were further divided into adhyaayas containing some shlokas each, varying between 10 to 150, the number being the choice of the poet.

The 18 main parvas comprised 100 sub-parvas in all.

The 18 main parvas with the number of their sub parvas,chapters and shlokas is given below, as is given in the index chapter in the beginning of the epic itself. But, It should be remembered that the number is considered according to one particular tradition. Different traditions give different number of Adhyaayas and sub-parvas. It is highly difficult to decide which is correct. Yet, to learn about the epic, it does not stand in the way.

Details of parvas and their shlokas.

parva sub-parva's adhyaaya's shlokas
Aadi 18 218 9 984
Sabhaa 9 72 4 311
Aaaranya 16 269 13 664
Viraata 4 67 3 500
Udyoga 11 186 6 998
Bheeshma 5 118 5 884
Drona 8 170 10 919
Karna 1 69 4 900
Shalya 4 59 3 220
Soupthika 3 18 2 870
Sthree 5 20 1 775
Shaanthi 4 339 14 525
Aanushaasanika 2 155 12 000
Asvamedha 4 133 4 420
Aashramavaasa 3 42 1 106
Mousala 1 8 300
Mahaaprasthaanika 1 3 120
Svargaarohana 1 5 200

Note that the count of Adhyaayas starts at the beginning of the main parva only, but not from the beginning of each sub parva. That is to say for examlple, if a sub-purva ends with chapter 37, the next sub-parva runs from chapter 38 in that main parva.

Also, an appendix ( called khila-parva) named Harivamsham, of about 25,000 shlokas is also treated as a part of this epic.

The names of the parva's indicate the story they contain. For example, Aadi parva contains the stories of the earlier kings and incarnations of past times and the earlier part of the main story. Sabhaa parva depicts that part of the story about the incidents occurred in the sabhaas (= assembly halls ) of the Paandavas and the Kouravas. Aaranya parva tells that part of the story happened in the forest while the Paandavas were on exile (Aaranya = Of forests). Likewise, the other parva's too. Details about each parva can be seen in the INDEX.


"After praying to Naaraayana, Nara, Sarasvathi and Vyaasa, then one should read the Jayam."