The greatest sage, Vyasa, is the compiler and important participant of the Mahabharata. He is one of the Avatara of Lord Vishnu, who came to Dwapar Yuga to make Vedic knowledge available in writing.
It is believed that Vedas were a single vast knowledge inaccessible to simple humankind, and later Vyasa divided it into three parts, making it simpler. The fourth, known as Atharva Veda, was recognized by the Veda only much later.
Therefore, he is known as Veda Vyasa, or One who divided the Vedas into parts; it was an achievement that allowed people to understand divine knowledge of the Vedas. The word Vyasa means to divide, differentiate or describe.
He has even taught Lord Dattatreya, who is known to be the Guru of Gurus and a manifestation of Trinity – Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.
The Luminary Lineage of Vyasa
Maharshi Veda Vyasa was believed to have been born at the end of Dwapar Yuga. His father is Parashara, a great sage, and his mother Satyavati is an adopted daughter of a boatman.
Parashara was one of the highest authorities on astrology and his book Parashara Hora is a textbook on astrology used even in the modern era. He has also written a scripture known as Parashara Smriti, which is held in such high value that it is cited even by modern scholars in sociology and ethics.
Birth of Veda Vyasa
Maharishi Parashara was blessed by Lord Shiva, who told him that a child would be born as the greatest man of all time as part of Lord Vishnu himself at a certain time in history.
On that eventful day, Parashara was traveling in a boat and spoke with the ferryman about the approach of that auspicious time. The boatman had adopted a daughter named Satyavati. The boatman was impressed with the sanctity and greatness of Parashara and offered his daughter Satyavati in marriage.
Vyasa’s father Parashara named him Krishna because Vyasa was of dark complexion in addition to the name Dvaipayana, which means born on an island.
According to the Vishnu Purana, Vyasa was born on the island of Yamuna in Kalpi. From his very birth, he already knew the Vedas, Dharmashastras, and Upanishads.
Enlightenment from the early age
Vyasa revealed to his mother Satyavati his life purpose at a young age that he should go to the forest and practice Akhanda Tapasya or continuous penance. At first, his mother disagreed but later approved on one important condition: that he appears before her whenever she wishes. He studied the Shastras or scriptures with the sages Sanaka and Sanandana and others.
Vyasa also received his knowledge from the four Kumaras, Narada, and Lord Brahma himself.
Life and Work of Veda Vyasa
He edited and divided the Vedas in the simpler form and wrote the Brahma Sutras for the quick and simple understanding of the Shrutis. He also wrote the Mahabharata to enable ordinary people to understand higher knowledge in the simplest way.
Vyasa wrote the 18 Puranas and formed the teaching system through Upakhyanas or discourses. In this way, he established the two paths of Karma, Upasana (devotion) and Jnana (knowledge). At the instigation of divine sage Narada Muni, Vyasa wrote the Bhagavatam.
In Dwapar Yuga, Vyasa divided the Veda, which is, in fact, one, into many parts to adapt it to the abilities of the living beings and the bodily form that he takes to carry out this classification.
He is known as the chronicler of the epic Mahabharata and also plays an important role in it. In the first book, Vyasa asks Ganesha to help him write a text that imposes a precondition that Ganesha will only do so if Vyasa tells the story without pause.
Vyasa also requested Lord Ganesha that he would first understand the verses before writing them. Thus, Vyasa narrated the entire Mahabharata (including the Gita), all the Upanishads, and 18 Puranas, while Lord Ganesha wrote them down.
He is the greatest sage whose eternal contributions are as follows:
Author and participant in Mahabharata
Vyasa is the narrator of the Mahabharata and Srimad Bhagavatam and a direct participant in the events. Satyavati had two sons from an alliance with Shantanu: Chitrangada, who surpassed all people in strength, and the great archer Vichitravirya.
The brothers inherited the throne but soon perished one after another, leaving no heirs. According to ancient tradition, Satyavati approached Sri Dvaipayana Vyasa with a request to conceive the heir to the throne of Hastinapura in the bosom of two widowed daughters-in-law.
From this union were born two brothers, Dhritarashtra and Pandu, and Vyasa; Vidura was born in the womb of the concubine of one of the queens, who sent a maid in her place. Subsequently, a war breaks out between the Kauravas and the Pandavas, described in the Mahabharata.
The Bhagavad Gita, recorded by Vyasa, is part of the Mahabharata, but due to its uniqueness and deep philosophical meaning, it is considered a separate Vedic work.
Sri Krishna told Arjuna the Gita, but Dhritarashtra’s advisor Sanjaya also heard and recounted their entire conversation with the help of mystic power. This mystical power was bestowed on him by Vyasa.
Because of Maharishi Vyasa, the world recognized Krishna as he mentioned Lord Krishna in his Mahabharata as an immortal preacher.
The heir of the Kuru dynasty, the grandson of Arjuna, Maharaja Parikshit, was cursed to death by a brahmana. And during the remaining seven days, he listened to Srimad Bhagavatam from the mouth of the 16-year-old son of Vyasa – Sukadeva Goswami. Sukadev learned about the essence of the Bhagavatam from his father, Vyasa.
The Brahma Sutras
The Brahma Sutras, also known as the Vedanta Sutras, are believed to have been written by the joint efforts of Vyasa and Badarayana. They are divided into four chapters, each subdivided into four sections.
It is interesting to note that they begin and end with Sutras, which together inquires into the true nature of Brahman. Brahman has no return, pointing to the reality that one reaches Immortality and no longer returns to the world. On the authorship of these Sutras, tradition attributes it to Maharshi Vyasa.
Vyasa is also credited with writing the main eighteen Puraṇas, works of Sanskrit literature covering a wide range of subjects, myths, stories, legends, lives of saints, kings, and great men, allegories, and chronicles of great historical events.
The Eternal Influence of Vyasa
Hindus believe that Maharishi Veda Vyasa is Chiranjivi or immortal, someone who still lives and walks the earth for the well-being of his devotees. It is said that he gives his Darsana to the true and faithful only and that Adi Shankaracharya had his darshan like many others.
Maharshi Vyasa’s life is a unique example of someone born for the welfare of humankind and the dissemination of spiritual knowledge. His work and life story inspire us and the entire world to this day in countless ways.(Last Updated On: March 21, 2022)