Anushasana Parva

Discover profound wisdom and ethical guidance in the "Anushasana Parva" book from the Mahabharata. Explore timeless teachings on dharma, duty, and righteous living. Unveil ancient insights for a harmonious life.
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The Mahabharata, an epic of unparalleled grandeur, is a treasure trove of wisdom encompassing a vast array of human experiences, dilemmas, and moral dilemmas. Nestled within this sprawling narrative is the Anushasana Parva, a remarkable book that offers profound insights into ethical and moral conduct. As one of the 18 parvas of the Mahabharata, the Anushasana Parva stands as a beacon of timeless wisdom and ethical guidance.


Anushasana Parva, also known as the “Book of Instructions,” comprises a series of discourses delivered by Bhishma Pitamah, the venerable and wise patriarch of the Kuru dynasty, on the eve of the great war of Kurukshetra. In these discourses, Bhishma imparts invaluable guidance and teachings to Yudhishthira, the eldest Pandava, addressing a wide range of topics including governance, dharma (righteousness), duties of various classes, virtues, vices, and the path to attaining spiritual enlightenment.

Read Also : The Iliad


The Anushasana Parva unfolds as a dialogue between Bhishma and Yudhishthira, set against the backdrop of the impending war. Bhishma, lying on a bed of arrows, shares his accumulated wisdom with Yudhishthira, who seeks answers to profound questions regarding life, duty, and morality. Throughout this parva, Bhishma emphasizes the significance of adhering to dharma and living a righteous life. He provides detailed instructions on the duties and responsibilities of rulers, priests, warriors, and householders, elucidating the path to a harmonious and virtuous society.


Readers and scholars alike have lauded the Anushasana Parva for its timeless wisdom and ethical teachings. The parva’s exploration of dharma and its practical applications resonates across cultures and eras. Its narrative simplicity and profound insights continue to captivate and inspire seekers of moral and spiritual guidance.

Renowned scholar Dr. Mira Gupta praises the parva, stating, “Anushasana Parva serves as a moral compass, guiding readers through the complexities of life’s dilemmas. Its teachings remain as relevant today as they were millennia ago.”


The Anushasana Parva is replete with thought-provoking quotes that reflect its moral depth and philosophical richness:

“The wise man sees with equal vision a Brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog, and a dog-eater.” – Bhishma

“Dharma is the root of wealth, fame, and happiness. Without dharma, there is no achievement.” – Bhishma

“One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one’s own self.” – Bhishma


Q : What is the significance of the Anushasana Parva within the Mahabharata?
A : The Anushasana Parva stands as a comprehensive guide to righteous living, offering guidance on dharma, duty, and moral conduct. It provides essential insights into societal structures and individual responsibilities, making it a crucial part of the Mahabharata’s philosophical fabric.

Q : How does Bhishma’s wisdom impact Yudhishthira’s decisions in the war?
A : Bhishma’s teachings deeply influence Yudhishthira’s perspective, guiding him to make morally sound decisions during the war. Yudhishthira’s commitment to upholding dharma shapes his actions, even in the face of challenging circumstances.

Q : Are the lessons from Anushasana Parva applicable in modern times?
A : Absolutely. The parva’s teachings transcend time and remain relevant in contemporary society. Its emphasis on moral integrity, duty, and compassion offers valuable insights for navigating complex ethical dilemmas.

Q : How does the Anushasana Parva contribute to the overall message of the Mahabharata?
A : The parva underscores the central theme of dharma and righteousness that runs through the Mahabharata. It serves as a philosophical guide, reinforcing the idea that adherence to dharma leads to harmony, prosperity, and spiritual growth.

the Anushasana Parva stands as a timeless testament to the profundity of ancient Indian wisdom. Its teachings on moral conduct, duty, and dharma continue to illuminate the path of righteousness for individuals across generations. As Bhishma imparts his final teachings, the parva leaves an indelible mark on readers, reminding us of the eternal relevance of ethical principles in navigating the complexities of life.