mentary of Nīlakaṇṭha. These two editions do not on the whole differ considerably. Being derived from a common source, they represent one and the same recension. The Bombay edition, however, generally has the better readings. It contains about 200 çlokas more than the Calcutta edition, but these additions are of no importance.
A third edition, printed in Telugu characters, was published in four volumes at Madras in 1855-60. It includes the Harivaṃça and extracts from Nīlakaṇṭha's commentary. This edition represents a distinct South Indian recension, which seems to differ from that of the North about as much as the three recensions of the Rāmāyaṇa do from one another. Both recensions are of about equal length, omissions in the first being compensated by others in the second. Sometimes one has the better text, sometimes the other.
The epic kernel of the Mahābhārata, or the "Great Battle of the descendants of Bharata," consisting of about 20,000 çlokas, describes the eighteen days' fight between Duryodhana, leader of the Kurus, and Yudhishṭhira, chief of the Pāṇḍus, who were cousins, both descended from King Bharata, son of Çakuntalā. Within this narrative frame has come to be included a vast number of old legends about gods, kings, and sages; accounts of cosmogony and theogony; disquisitions on philosophy, law, religion, and the duties of the military caste. These lengthy and heterogeneous interpolations render it very difficult to follow the thread of the narrative. Entire works are sometimes inserted to illustrate a particular statement. Thus, while the two armies are drawn up prepared for battle, a whole philosophical poem, in eighteen cantos, the Bhagavad-