300+ Mahabharata Stories to Thrill, Delight and Enchant You

Mahabharata Stories - Featured Image - Picture of an old book representing the Mahabharata

Welcome to my giant resource of Mahabharata Stories!

The Mahabharata is the longest of all epic poems, and is considered one of the seminal works of Indian ancient literature.

On the surface, it is the story of an internecine feud between the Pandavas and the Kauravas for the throne of Hastinapur. But its breathtaking range covers subjects as diverse as philosophy, politics, law, ethics and morality.

In this post, I have gathered more than three hundred stories from different parts of the Mahabharata so that you can enjoy the depth and diversity of thought present in it.

This is by no means a full list – for that you will have to read the actual thing – but it will do nicely for a start.

Table of Contents

Miscellaneous Stories – Part 1

These are stories pulled from all parts of the Mahabharata. Perfect if you’re new to the epic and would like a quick firm footing on what it is all about.

25 Fun Stories from the Mahabharata

Notable stories in this article:

  • Pandu’s Last Wish
  • Yudhishthir’s Chariot
  • The Other Wives of Arjuna
  • Parashurama Kills the Kshatriyas
  • The Birth of Garuda

Miscellaneous Stories – Part 2

This is the second part of our collection of miscellaneous stories taken from different parts of the Mahabharata. Perfect if the first volume whetted your appetite and you want more.

26 Epic Stories from the Mahabharata

Notable stories in this article:

  • The Birth of Satyavati
  • The Blinding of Shukracharya
  • The Yaksha Prashna
  • The Seven Chiranjeevis
  • Nala Damayanti

Adi Parva Stories

The Adi Parva of the Mahabharata begins with an exploration of the birth of the universe, and ends with the conflagration of the Khandava forest.

It also contains a number of smaller stories that are unrelated to the main narrative. In this collection, I have focused primarily on those.

12 Mahabharata Stories from the Adi Parva

Notable stories in this article:

  • The Five Lakes of Blood
  • What is an Akshauhini?
  • The Eight Forms of Marriage
  • Dirghatamas
  • The Birth of Vyasa

Sabha Parva Stories

The Sabha Parva of the Mahabharata begins with the rise of the Pandavas – Yudhishthir becomes the emperor – and ends with their defeat in the game of dice.

The most important event of the Sabha Parva is the disrobing and humiliation of Draupadi in the court of Hastinapur. This sows the seeds of discord between the Pandavas and Kauravas that lead all the way to the Mahabharata war.

12 Mahabharata Stories from the Sabha Parva

Notable stories in this article:

  • The Treasures of Vindu
  • The Subjugation of Mahishmati
  • The Prophecy of Vyasa
  • Karna’s Rebuttal
  • Sisupala’s Monologue

Vana Parva Stories

The Vana Parva of the Mahabharata begins with the departure of the Pandavas into the forest, and ends when they finish their twelve-year exile in the forest.

This is a rather long section of the story and contains multiple arcs, so we will take two posts to present all the interesting stories in it.

12 Mahabharata Stories from the Vana Parva – Part 1

Notable stories in Part 1:

  • The Akshayapatra
  • The Curse of Urvasi
  • Ilwala and Vatapi
  • Shiva’s Cruel Boon
  • Mandhata

12 Mahabharata Stories from the Vana Parva – Part 2

Notable stories in Part 2:

  • Somaka
  • Usinara and the Hawk
  • Arjuna’s Exploits in Amaravati
  • The Frog Princess
  • Agastya Subdues Vindhya

Virata Parva Stories

The Virata Parva of the Mahabharata begins with the arrival of the Pandavas in Matsya, the kingdom of Virata, and ends with the dramatic single-handed victory of Arjuna over the Kaurava army.

The most significant events of this section are the killing of Kichaka by Bhimasena, and the victory of Arjuna – disguised as Brihannala – over the army assembled by Duryodhana.

12 Mahabharata Stories from the Virata Parva

Notable stories in this article:

  • Reasons for Choosing Matsya
  • Appointment at the Dance Hall
  • The Trigartas Lose to Matsya
  • Brihannala Fights and Wins
  • The End of the Virata Parva

Udyoga Parva Stories

The Udyoga Parva of the Mahabharata begins with the wedding of Abhimanyu and Uttara in Upaplavya, the capital city of Virata’s Matsya. It ends with the Pandava and Kaurava armies lining up against each other in Kurukshetra.

This is a prologue to the Mahabharata war. The most significant event that happens during it is the attempt at peacemaking that Krishna undertakes on behalf of the Pandavas.

One other important narrative thread that the Udyoga Parva refers to is the (unsuccessful) attempt by Krishna to bribe Karna.

12 Mahabharata Stories from the Udyoga Parva

Notable stories in this article:

  • Dividing Anarta
  • Shalya the Spy
  • A Summary of Peace Talks
  • Krishna’s Proposal for Karna
  • The Mahabharata War as Sacrifice

Bhishma Parva Stories

The Bhishma Parva of the Mahabharata begins with the beginning of the Mahabharata war and ends with the fall of Bhishma on his bed of arrows. It has a number of small incidents that set up the dramatic events that will happen later on during the battle.

The most significant event that happens during the Bhishma Parva is the unvirtuous way in which the Pandavas – using Shikhandi as shield – removes Bhishma from the battlefield.

12 Mahabharata Stories from the Bhishma Parva

Notable stories in this article:

  • Rules of War
  • The Bhagavad Gita
  • Bhishma’s Blessing
  • Events of Day Ten
  • A Pillow for my Head

Drona Parva Stories – Part 1

The Drona Parva of the Mahabharata begins on the eleventh day of the Mahabharata war. It ends with the death of Drona on the fifteenth day.

The Drona Parva can be further broken down into three stages: (a) The death of Abhimanyu, (b) The revenge of Arjuna, and (c) The death of Drona.

In this section, we will look at the first of those stages.

12 Mahabharata Stories from the Drona Parva – Part 1

Notable stories in this article:

  • Drona’s Shame
  • Bhagadatta Fights with Valour
  • Abhimanyu Enters the Chakravyuha
  • Abhimanyu Fights to the Death
  • Arjuna Makes a Promise

Drona Parva Stories – Part 2

At the fall of Abhimanyu, Arjuna makes a promise that by the end of the next day, he will kill Jayadratha for the ‘sin’ of successfully guarding the mouth of the Chakravyuha.

The fourteenth day therefore develops as a bit of a cat-and-mouse game: with Arjuna steadfastly seeking Jayadratha and the Kauravas doing their utmost to protect the Saindhava king.

12 Mahabharata Stories from the Drona Parva – Part 2

Notable stories in this article:

  • A Three-layered Formation
  • Arjuna Fights on Foot
  • Satyaki Follows Arjuna
  • The Death of Bhurishrava
  • Krishna Creates an Illusion

Drona Parva Stories – Part 3

The third part of the Drona Parva recounts the happenings of Day fifteen of the Mahabharata war. This is by some distance the most eventful of all the days, not least because the fighting continues through the night.

It is also significant for the ultimate sin: Yudhishthir speaks an untruth to his Brahmin preceptor in order to have him killed.

(Since the Mahabharata often cites (a) lying, (b) disrespecting one’s preceptor, and (c) killing a Brahmin as the three biggest crimes one can commit, this act by the Pandavas combines them into a super-sin.)

12 Mahabharata Stories from the Drona Parva – Part 3

Notable stories from this article:

  • Battle at Night
  • Ghatotkacha’s Mission
  • Implications of Ghatotkacha’s Death
  • Ashwatthama is Dead
  • Dhrishtadyumna Fulfills his Destiny

Karna Parva Stories

The Karna Parva of the Mahabharata begins on the sixteenth day of the Mahabharata war. It ends with the death of Karna on the seventeenth day.

Karna is a popular character in the story for his many misfortunes, but he is also among the most disliked because of his active role as antagonist by Duryodhana’s side.

These stories serve to give us a glimpse into his personality.

12 Mahabharata Stories from the Karna Parva

Notable stories from this article:

  • Karna Becomes Commander
  • Nakula is Spared
  • Discord Between Brothers
  • Aswasena
  • Karna Dies

Shalya Parva Stories

The Shalya Parva of the Mahabharata begins on the eighteenth day of the Mahabharata war. It ends with the death of Duryodhana in a mace fight with Bhima.

Shalya is the final official commander of the Kaurava army, who takes over after the death of Karna. Shalya is the maternal uncle of Nakula and Sahadeva, brother to Madri the second wife of Pandu.

The most significant event of the Shalya Parva is the defeat of Duryodhana at the hands of Bhimasena – with a bit of help from Krishna.

12 Mahabharata Stories from the Shalya Parva

Notable stories in this article:

  • Shalya Dies
  • Duryodhana Disappears
  • Skanda’s Investiture
  • Arjuna Strikes his Thigh
  • A Hollow Victory

Sauptika Parva Stories

The Sauptika Parva of the Mahabharata begins with the installation of Ashwatthama as the commander of the Kauravas. It ends with the curse of Ashwatthama and the extinction of the Kuru dynasty.

The most significant event of the Sauptika Parva is how Ashwatthama is made commander by Duryodhana (even though the war has been declared complete), and how the son of Drona – aided by Shiva – unleashes a torrent of destruction upon the sleeping Panchala forces.

Single-handedly, Ashwatthama annihilates all the great warriors that fought on the Pandava side.

12 Mahabharata Stories from the Sauptika Parva

Notable stories in this article:

  • The Lesson of the Owl
  • The Favour of Shiva
  • Duryodhana Dies
  • Wombs of the Pandava Women
  • The Curse of Ashwatthama

Stree Parva Stories

The Stree Parva of the Mahabharata is a record of the immediate aftermath of the Mahabharata war. Dhritarashtra and Gandhari’s grief plays an important role in this section, and so do the ways in which different ladies of the Kuru court mourn their dead brothers, sons and fathers.

The most significant event of the Stree Parva is the curse that Gandhari places on Krishna. She predicts that the entire Yadava clan will perish – like the Kuru dynasty – by avoidable infighting.

(The curse does come true, as we will see in the Mausala Parva.)

12 Mahabharata Stories from the Stree Parva

Notable stories from this article:

  • Freedom from Grief
  • Dhritarashtra Hugs Bhima
  • Yudhishthir’s Toenail
  • A Curse upon Krishna
  • Kunti Reveals her Secret

Ashwamedhika Parva Stories

The Ashwamedhika Parva of the Mahabharata contains a description of Yudhishthir’s Ashwamedha sacrifice performed after his victory in the war. It contains a number of stories and philosophical treatises.

The most significant event of the Ashwamedhika Parva is the expedition of conquest that Arjuna undertakes around the world. On this adventure, he meets, and engages in a battle with, his son Babruvahana.

Also curious is the way in which the Ashwamedhika Parva ends: with a golden mongoose declaring that Yudhishthir’s victory is not at all impressive.

12 Mahabharata Stories from the Ashwamedhika Parva

Notable stories in this article:

  • A Warning from Krishna
  • The Birth of Parikshit
  • Babruvahana
  • Giving Away the Earth
  • The Blue-eyed Mongoose

Ashramavasika Parva Stories

The Ashramavasika Parva of the Mahabharata begins with the departure of Dhritarashtra and Gandhari (accompanied by Kunti, Vidura and Sanjaya) into the forest. It ends with their deaths.

At this stage, the Mahabharata story is winding down to a close. We see the final chapters in the lives of Dhritarashtra, Gandhari, Kunti, Vidura and Sanjaya.

12 Mahabharata Stories from the Ashramavasika Parva

Notable stories in this article:

  • Bhimasena Brags
  • Dhritarashtra Pays off his Debts
  • At the Bhagirathi
  • Vidura Dies
  • A Reunion

Mausala Parva Stories

The Mausala Parva of the Mahabharata begins with some evil portents that appear to Yudhishthir thirty six years after the Kurukshetra war. It ends with the destruction of Dwaraka, and the defeat of Arjuna in the hands of unnamed robbers.

The most significant event of the Mausala Parva is the destruction of Dwaraka, the impregnable city over which Balarama and Krishna have ruled for decades. It overlaps with the deaths of Krishna and Balarama themselves.

The Mausala Parva happens in order to honour the curse of Gandhari during the Stree Parva. She, however, does not live to witness it.

11 Mahabharata Stories from the Mausala Parva

Notable stories in this article:

  • Evil Portents
  • A Fight Erupts
  • Krishna Dies
  • Dwaraka Sinks
  • Vyasa Explains

Mahaprasthanika and Swargarohana Parva Stories

The Mahaprasthanika and Swargarohana parvas of the Mahabharata are two of the shortest sections of the story, and they describe how the Pandavas leave their mortal bodies.

The Mahaprasthanika Parva describes the Pandavas’ journey around the world, and their final journey up the mountain of Meru. The Swargarohana Parva describes Yudhishthir’s adventures in the land of the gods.

9 Mahabharata Stories from the Mahaprasthanika Parva

Notable stories from this article:

  • The Pandavas Leave
  • The Pandavas Die
  • Duryodhana in Heaven
  • Abandon the Dog
  • Janamejaya’s Question

Shanti Parva Stories

The Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata occurs right after the Stree Parva, as Yudhishthir is preparing himself to ascend the throne of Hastinapur after his victory in the Mahabharata war.

This is a lengthy section in which Vyasa and other sages on the banks of the Ganga educate Yudhishthir on a number of philosophical subjects. We will cover this in two parts.

12 Mahabharata Stories from the Shanti Parva – Part 1

Notable stories in this article:

  • Mourning Karna
  • The Rod of Punishment
  • Suvarnashtivin
  • The Four Modes of Life
  • The King Makes the Age

In Part 2, Yudhishthir continues to ask questions of the sages in attendance (and Bhishma), and they continue to give him answers in the form of stories and prescriptions.

12 Mahabharata Stories from the Shanti Parva – Part 2

Notable stories in this article:

  • A Tree Called Desire
  • What is Dharma?
  • Tuladhara the Trader
  • The Origin of Jwara
  • Pravritti and Nivritti

Anushasana Parva Stories

The Anushasana Parva of the Mahabharata occurs right after the Shanti Parva, as the conversation between Yudhishthir and Bhishma evolves to cover diverse topics such as politics and law.

We will cover the Anushasana Parva also in two parts.

11 Mahabharata Stories from the Anushasana Parva – Part 1

Notable stories in this article:

  • The Princess of Mahishmati
  • Bhangaswana
  • Qualities of Mahadeva
  • The Many Forms of Indra
  • Breach of Marital Promises

In Part 2, Bhishma continues to instruct Yudhishthir on various aspects of ethics. At the end of the Anushasana Parva, Bhishma chooses to take his final breath. The longest-living character of the story thus dies, mourned by his mother Ganga.

11 Mahabharata Stories from the Anushasana Parva – Part 2

Notable stories from this article:

  • Respect for Women
  • On Fatherhood
  • Krishna and Nriga
  • Agni Unites with Ganga
  • Child of Six Mothers

Further Reading

If you liked this post, you may find these interesting also:

Enjoy!